There were some very late lineup changes last week, with Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner being removed from the lineup over the weekend, and Michael Turner being a surprise starter. Remember that both this column and the accompanying video are posted on Thursdays, so please make sure to check your players’ status as close to kickoff as possible. My morning blog is published on Fridays, and I’ll tweet lineup-related news all weekend as I hear it. The last thing you want is to set your lineups with dated information.
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Read on for your Week 13 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget that there’s a Thursday night game – set your lineups early if you own any Jets or Bills.
As always, all this week’s recommendations aren’t included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Write video blog .
Start him: Jay Cutler, Bears
He’s baaaaaack! Yes, Cutler has been awful. Yes, I know he threw five interceptions the last time I recommended him in this space – I still have the hate e-mails to prove it. But he’s playing at home against the Rams this week. The Rams! Unless you think the former Pro Bowler is going to stink every week for the rest of the season, wouldn’t this be the logical game for him to throw us a bone with 250 yards and a couple of touchdowns?
Need another reason? The holidays are upon us, and Cutler was born in SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA! His karma has to change this month, right?
If you’re not with me on this one, I’ll understand. Really.
Sit him: Joe Flacco, Ravens
Before the Ravens’ bye week, Flacco averaged 282 yards and threw 11 touchdown passes in six games. In five games since the bye, Flacco has tossed only two touchdowns and averaged 214 yards. This week, the Ravens visit the formerly frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to play the Packers, who have the league’s fifth-ranked passing defense, and have held opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 53.4 completion percentage. I’m a stat geek, and the stats say that Flacco should have a rough outing.
Pick him up: Kyle Orton, Broncos
Orton was in this space last week, and since he had a pretty good game against the Giants (18-for-28, 245 yards, TD), let’s take him again with a road game in Kansas City on tap. The Broncos have some trouble in the red zone, and Orton’s no fantasy superstar. But if you’re in a pinch with Matt Ryan out for Week 13, or if Eli Manning breaks his foot in practice later this week, then Orton is probably your best free-agent option. Going further down the QB food chain would require you to grab someone like Jason Campbell, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Chris Redman, and I’m afraid I can’t allow that.
Start him: Fred Jackson, Bills
Jackson’s owners can thank new Bills head coach Perry Fewell for their newfound starter. In Fewell’s first game calling the shots, Jackson got 20 touches, 116 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, while Marshawn Lynch got four touches and 15 yards. This committee appears to have a new leader, and President Jackson should be in your lineup until further notice if you own him. I just picked him up in a 10-team league, so check your free-agent wire.
Sit him: Beanie Wells, Cardinals
I’ve been a big Beanie backer all year, but the Cardinals host the Vikings this week, and the Vikings’ run defense only allows 81 yards per game, which is second-best in the league behind the Steelers. Maybe the Cardinals will counter the Vikes’ strong run D by throwing to their backs more often, but when they do that, the target is usually Tim Hightower, not Wells. You never know when someone is going to get a goal-line opportunity, but the fantasy odds aren’t in Wells’ favor this week.
Pick him up: Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Charles has averaged 19 touches over the last three weeks, totaling 330 yards and scoring three touchdowns – and that’s not even counting his 97-yard kickoff return TD in Week 11. Charles isn’t available everywhere, but there are plenty of leagues in which you’ll still be able to pick him up. If you can, do it.
If you need a more widely available option, try Atlanta’s Jerious Norwood, who’s in line for a timeshare with Michael Turner probably out again this week, or maybe even Houston’s Chris Brown, who’s in a timeshare of his own with “Fantasy Bust of the Year” candidate Steve Slaton.
Start him: Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
DeSean Jackson’s chances of playing this week don’t sound good, as he’s recovering from a concussion. TE Brent Celek has a decent chance to play, but he sprained his thumb last week. The Eagles throw the ball about 60 percent of the time, so who’s Donovan McNabb going to look for against the Falcons’ 27th-ranked pass defense?
Over the last three weeks, Maclin and teammate Jason Avant have each caught 17 passes and one TD, with Avant holding a 276-203 advantage in yardage. But look at the targets:
(Player: Week 10-Week 11-Week 12)
Maclin: 8-9-7 (24 total)
Avant: 9-5-6 (20 total)
You can feel good about starting either one of these receivers this week – especially if Jackson is out – but I’d give an edge to Maclin if I had to pick one.
Sit him: Terrell Owens, Bills
This is more about Jets all-world CB Darrelle Revis than Owens. Revis has shut down some of the best in the business this season, with his most recent conquest a one-catch, five-yard throttling of Carolina’s Steve Smith.
After struggling all season, Owens exploded with 14 receptions for 293 yards and two TDs in Weeks 11 and 12, but don’t forget that Revis held him to three catches for 13 yards in Week 6. As good as Owens has been recently, his quarterback is still Ryan Fitzpatrick, and it’s a well-known fantasy axiom that you should never put too much faith in an Ivy League quarterback. I’d be wary of starting T.O. this week.
Pick him up: Kenny Britt (WR) and Bo Scaife (TE), Titans
No, I haven’t chugged all the Vince Young Kool-Aid just yet, and I don’t think the Titans’ passing game is especially explosive. Here’s why these two guys are worth a look if you’re itching to fill a roster spot or two: Britt has stepped up over the last two games, catching 11 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. If Young looks for the home run, Britt is the most likely target. He’s the team’s most talented wideout. Scaife is Young’s security blanket. His reception and yardage numbers haven’t been eye-catching lately, but he’s been targeted 23 times over the last three games. That’s a pretty healthy number. In Weeks 14 through 16, the Titans have three home games against the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers. The first two are fantasy-friendly, as those teams are currently ranked 22nd and 23rd in the league in pass defense.
If you play mix-and-match with your tight ends, Scaife is absolutely worth a pickup. And as third wide receivers go, you could do worse than Britt in those weeks ahead.
Also: Here’s what I wrote last week: “RB Julius Jones is expected to return this week for the Seahawks, but I wouldn’t lose faith in Justin Forsett’s chances to take Jones’ job just yet.” Ditto for this week, except I have even more faith in Forsett after his 130-yard, two-touchdown game against the Rams. The Seahawks say Jones will start when he returns. I say it’ll be a timeshare for him at best … If you’re looking for a team defense, the Bears at home against the Rams sure sounds like a nice play …. The concussed Clinton Portis is out again for the Redskins.
Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.
John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy. You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37).