Happy Thanksgiving Week! This is the time to be thankful for your friends, family… and no more bye weeks! Many teams are truly in a win-and-you’re-in situation. This week is tough because there are three “early” games on Thursday. Lineup decisions will have to be made for guys on six teams without knowing the status of some of the players for Sunday (or Monday). It is a tough week and the best advice is always: don’t over-think the lineup decisions. Start your best lineup. Don’t worry about your opponent. And see what the pink football has in store for this week:
1. It’s time to consider dropping Steve Smith.
He was likely drafted as your No. 2 receiver, however, his stats throughout the season have been mediocre. He’s actually been fairly consistent, averaging 4.6 receptions per game and about 53 receiving yards. He’s only scored three touchdowns on the year. The fewest receptions he’s had in a game was three; the most he’s had was six. The fewest yards he’s had in a game is 21 (but he did score a touchdown that week to “save” his Fantasy day). The most yards he’s had is 69.
Basically you’re holding onto a guy that hasn’t put up over 70 yards. He only found the end zone three times, and he has a decent quarterback throwing to him. It’s not like anyone else in Carolina is stealing his targets. Ted Ginn Jr. has seen a fair amount, and Newton does use Greg Olsen, but Smith is still the No. 1 guy in Carolina. It’s a combination of seeing the most coverage and getting older. Smith is 34 years old and he will be seeing a lot of Darrelle Revis if he plays in Week 13. It’s time to bench him, if not drop him entirely.
Other wide receivers that have been underperforming to consider dropping for a running back handcuff or even a second (better) defense if you’re playing the matchups: Roddy White, Terrance Williams, DeAndre Hopkins, Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks and Brian Hartline.
2. Start your studs, but play the matchups.
Before Week 12, a few people had asked me on Twitter if they should consider benching Adrian Peterson because he had missed practice time, he had underperformed the week before and he was nursing a groin injury. I had responded that I had thought the same thing, but I believed you should start your studs (the guys that are studs; this doesn’t apply to guys like Ray Rice and Trent Richardson). However, after you’ve plugged the studs into your lineup, you need to look at the matchups. There have been 12 weeks of the NFL season. That’s enough time to gather stats and information on opposing teams. Sure, due to injuries, things changed, but for the most part, you can predict how a game will likely play out. For example, in Week 12, many experts (including myself) recommended starting Mike Glennon. The logic was that Detroit had a decent defense against the run, but you could throw on them. Glennon had been decent since starting for Tampa Bay, although he didn’t put up a ton of yards. He also didn’t turn the ball over a lot. It was a semi-risky start, but for owners that started him, it paid off. He threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. It wasn’t amazing, but he finished in the Top 15 for quarterbacks in Week 12.
Based on that same logic, look ahead to Week 13. Guys that you may not be starting every week that have good matchups include Cam Newton and Josh McCown. Sure, McCown may be a gamble, but look at his matchup. Minnesota (McCown’s opponent) has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league (24). They’ve allowed the fourth-most yards to opposing quarterbacks as well. McCown has been good filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, so why not take a chance on him this week? Guys I’d start him over include: Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.
Also, many people drafted Newton and another QB, such as Russell Wilson or Ben Roethlisberger. This is the week to trust Newton. Tampa Bay has allowed 22 passing touchdowns and they’ve only sacked opposing quarterbacks 24 times. Newton is poised to have a great day.
3. An overreaction and an underreaction: Tiquan Underwood has replaced Vincent Jackson as the top wideout in Tampa Bay and Maurice Jones-Drew may have Fantasy relevance.
Reality: Vincent Jackson owners don’t need to panic. Sure, Underwood had three receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns in Week 12, but keep in mind that is only three receptions. He had five targets in the game, which was the most on the team, but Detroit focused on shutting down V-Jax. Underwood has started since Mike Williams was injured, but he hasn’t had more than three receptions in those four weeks. He has three touchdowns and aside from Week 12, and he hasn’t had more than 64 receiving yards in a game in that span. Don’t buy into Underwood as anything more than having a fluke game in Week 12. (See: Marvin Jones, Week 8 or Eddie Royal, Week 2).
At the beginning of the season, many owners drafted Jones-Drew to be a RB2 with potential upside. In Week 1, he had no receptions and only rushed for 45 yards. Things didn’t get better in Week 2. However, the past four weeks have been good for MJD. He put up 75 rushing yards and added six receptions for 47 yards in Week 8. After the bye, he’s found the end zone in three consecutive weeks. He had 41, 23 and 84 rushing yards respectively and at least four receptions in each of the games. In week 12, he had six receptions for 60 yards, his most of the season. He has been sharing carries with Jordan Todman, but it seems to be helping his cause more than hurting him. The Jaguars are using him as the goal-line back, so he does have the possibility to score each week. I’m not saying he’s a must-start, especially in a tough matchup (Week 13 at Cleveland might be a rough one), but don’t be afraid to start him. The remaining schedule for MJD: Houston, Buffalo, Tennessee and Indianapolis. There are good games ahead.
Check out our full suite of Fantasy Sports radio shows and podcasts! Listen to your favorite RotoExperts live or on demand, including the legendary Lenny Melnick, Tim McCullough, Jake Ciely, Gregg Sussman and many more. We cover Fantasy Football all week long and baseball year-round right here on ROTORADIO.