As we enter the final week of the fantasy regular season, there are three types of teams out there. First, the teams that have been eliminated. You can still play spoiler and ruin your friend’s year, but unless there is a weekly points prize, you don’t have much to play for. Next, there are the teams that already have a playoff spot locked up. You get to relax for at least a week, and get your lineup set for Week 14, or even Week 15 if you’re lucky enough to have a bye. Finally, there are the teams who need a win to make the playoffs. For you, the playoffs have already started, as you’re truly in win-or-go-home mode. These are the teams who have no margin of error, and can’t afford to start the wrong guy. Don’t overthink things and get cute – Yes, Audie Cole looked great in place of an injured Erin Henderson, but you’re not starting him over Luke Kuechly. Stick with your studs, using matchups as tiebreakers if you have a close call, and then hope for the best.
Here are some players who are primed for a big Week 13:
Cameron Wake – He hasn’t lived up to his draft position, due to a combination of injuries, double teams and general ineffectiveness, but he’s got to be foaming at the mouth over his first matchup with Geno Smith. The Jets need to win this game to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, so they’ll need to rely on Geno more than they would probably like to. This bodes well for Wake as well as the other Miami pass-rushers, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, who should get their share of juicy third-and-long chances. With Chris Ivory likely out, the less-explosive Bilal Powell will be running the ball, giving the D-Linemen plenty of tackle opportunities as well.
Justin Smith – Another highly touted DL in the preseason who hasn’t quite lived up to expectation, Smith is my pick for DL who single-handedly gives the most teams a playoff spot this week. The Rams have had some surprising wins mainly due to their devotion to the run, making Zac Stacy one of the only 20-carry per game backs in the league. This is good news for Smith, who is a beast against the run, and should benefit from Aldon Smith getting back into groove.
Vontaze Burfict – I’ve talked about him enough, but it can’t be overstated how good he’s played this year. I mentioned trying to buy-low on him during his bye, because I’m likely putting him as my LB1 for the rest of the season. That starts this week against San Diego, where Danny Woodhead should be brought back down to earth with Burfict chasing him around.
Brandon Spikes – It took a bit longer than I expected, but Spikes has emerged as the clear-cut LB to own for New England. Houston remains an ever-evolving matchup for IDPs now that they’re on their third-string QB and RB, but I like Spikes to be a big factor against them no matter who has the ball.
DeAngelo Hall – No one in the NFL is more inconsistently reliable (or is it consistently unreliable?) than Eli Manning. I always hesitate to predict things like interceptions and fumble recoveries for IDPs, but doesn’t it feel like Hall is just destined to come up with a pick-six against the Giants on Sunday? Even if he doesn’t take one to the house, he’s still a good bet to rack up some tackles, but I’m expecting bigger things from Hall this week.
Eric Weddle – I don’t know if anyone has had a more underrated IDP season than Weddle has this year. I’m a huge proponent of Weddle, but even I was shocked to see that he’s DB4 on the season heading into Week 13. Maybe it was his relatively slow stretch from Weeks 2-7, or maybe it’s because the Chargers really haven’t been notable in any way this year, but I have a feeling that we’re going to look up at the end of the year and see that Weddle is at the very top of the DB charts.
Week 13 IDP Rankings: