A rash of heretofore unheralded players this season made their biggest Fantasy impacts in Week 12. What’s old is new again as Lions’ duo Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson shredded the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day, while Adrian Peterson is chugging along and may be finishing the season like a freight train. In Seattle, the previously low-key tandem of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin made mincemeat of the Steelers’ secondary while Markus Wheaton returned the favor.
We chipped in with our recommendations last week as Julius Thomas had his breakout and Marcus Mariota kept pace with Derek Carr and the Raiders. Alfred Blue was helpful in PPR formats and Rueben Randle saved us with a long TD catch. But, as always, we are looking forward and diving deep into your rosters, rankings and waiver wires. We need these finds more than ever, as we are on the precipice of the playoffs. It’s your Sneaky Plays for Week 13!
Marcus Mariota vs. Jaguars – For the first time this season, we’re going back to the well for two straight weeks at the QB position. Last week, despite throwing two costly picks in a controversial loss to Oakland, Mariota fired three touchdown passes to three different pass- catchers on 37 passing attempts. His (lack of) accuracy still leaves us wanting more, but he has exceeded 20 Fantasy points in two consecutive weeks and we don’t feel that we are chasing past performances with his main receiving weapons in Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker off the injury report. He faces a Jaguars defense that ranks third in Fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs, has yielded over 290 passing yards six times this season and has seen Fantasy QBs post double-digits against them in every game. Mariota has put up strong Fantasy numbers in three of the last four games as he has gotten healthier so we’ll roll with the rookie yet again.
Honorable mentions in QB category: Ryan Tannehill vs. Baltimore, Matt Schaub vs. Miami
Giovani Bernard vs. Browns – Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill saw nearly an identical number of snaps in Week 12, which can be frustrating for Fantasy owners. But, when you consider that Gio is averaging over five yards per carry and over 10 yards per reception (6.34 per touch overall), then it should soothe your fears about plugging him into your lineup in Week 13. The Bengals’ ground attack ranks inside the Top 10 in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns through the first 12 contests, and they’re facing a Browns defense that has ceded almost 2000 yards from scrimmage to running backs. Bernard will see enough touches to do real damage in the passing game; his perception of being a smaller, pass-catching running back artificially pushes down his week-to-week ranking and it’s our recommendation to take advantage of that as often as possible.
Honorable mentions in RB category: Charlie Sims vs. Falcons, Ronnie Hillman vs. Chargers, Matt Jones vs. Cowboys
Kamar Aiken vs. Dolphins – Fantasy owners have been looking toward Aiken for a couple of months, as the Ravens have been decimated with injuries. His expectations went from complementary receiver to one-week fill-in for the banged up Steve Smith to full-time replacement when Smith landed on IR. In his first week with Matt Schaub under center, Aiken caught six of nine targets on his way to an 80-yard performance with a score. Aiken has at least five receptions AND 50 yards in each of his last four outings and will face a Miami defense that has yielded 23 passing touchdowns on a relatively low number of passing attempts (seventh-fewest in the league). With WR1 seeing over eight passes and 86 yards per game against the Fish, we see Aiken as a legitimately overlooked option at wideout.
Honorable mentions in WR category: Brandon LaFell vs. Bills, Donte Moncrief vs. Steelers, Roddy White vs. Buccaneers
Kyle Rudolph vs. Seahawks – Many Fantasy players have been burned by Kyle Rudolph in the past, but we may be seeing a slight bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Over the last two weeks, Rudolph has turned 19 targets into 13 receptions for 159 yards and a score perhaps hitting a sorely-needed groove with QB Teddy Bridgewater. Given the low volume of passes thrown by the Vikings (31st in the NFL), it is a calculated risk. However, the Seahawks have been the fourth least-efficient defense against tight ends this year, while allowing the fourth-most Fantasy points to the position.
Honorable mentions in TE category: Vance McDonald vs. Bears, Owen Daniels vs. Chargers