By Joe Sparacio
There are likely only one or two weeks before your fantasy playoffs begin, so Week 13 might represent a win-or-go-home scenario for some owners. Take a deep breath and take a look at your roster, because we are here to help you make the tough decisions.
5 players to start
Davante Adams, WR, Packers (TB @ GB)
Adams has been a completely different player with Brett Hundley under center following the injury to Aaron Rodgers, but many people haven't quite caught onto this yet. While Jordy Nelson's production has plummeted, Adams' has spiked: Adams has topped either 80 yards or seven receptions every game since Week 9 and scored touchdowns in two of his past three games. Green Bay now heads to Tampa to face off against a cushy pass defense, and with Adams and Hundley's connection as strong as ever, he should have no trouble racking up receptions and yardage.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers (CLE @ LAC)
Is there any team hotter than the Chargers right now? Things are only set to get better as they head to Cleveland this weekend. The end of the season is drawing closer, so the Browns undoubtedly want to get a win and will likely try to feed the ball to newly reinstated Josh Gordon. What does this mean for Allen? Well, Philip Rivers will throw to him all afternoon to make sure that Los Angeles keeps a big lead while the Browns try to push the ball down the field. Allen is sizzling right now with 11 or more receptions, over 100 yards and a score in each of his past two games. He's going to give the mediocre Cleveland secondary fits out of the slot.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins (DEN @ MIA)
Typically, I weigh matchups heavily when I write this column, but Drake is an exception this week. In the end, I feel that his role outweighs his unfortunate matchup. The Dolphins lost Damien Williams last week to injury, leaving Drake as the only viable member of the Miami backfield. The Dolphins certainly aren't a great rushing team and the Broncos, meanwhile, can stifle the running game, having allowed only two 100-yard rushers on the season. That being said, Denver also blankets wide receivers and doesn't have a very good offense, meaning that Miami may actually take a lead in this game. Drake can catch passes and has amassed over five yards per carry, so I think that he will have a high-floor showing despite the difficult environment.
Case Keenum, QB, Vikings (MIN @ ATL)
Keenum was just named NFC Player of the Month. Yes, you read that correctly. The Falcons defense has struggled against the pass. Add to that the fact that the team will likely be without cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Brian Poole, and you have a great scenario for a sizzling Keenum. His wide receivers have all the talent in the world and will likely feast on this defense, and Matt Ryan has the weapons to try to make this game a shootout. It's time to start giving the Vikings' QB the respect he deserves, even with Teddy Bridgewater waiting in the wings.
Jared Cook, TE, Raiders (NYG @ OAK)
Well, you couldn't dream up a more perfect spot for a tight end this season than that of Cook in Week 13. The Raiders tight end gets to face the hobbled Giants in the middle of the Eli Manning benching mess. Couple that with the fact that Amari Cooper is injured and Michael Crabtree is suspended, and you have a lot of targets up for grabs on the Oakland side of the ball. Where else would they be funneled than to the tight end, a position that has burned New York game after game this season?
5 players to sit
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders (NYG @ OAK)
Related to Jared Cook's potential to have a big game is Carr's potential to have a bad game against what many would consider a weak passing defense. A quarterback without his top two receivers is going to struggle regardless of who is covering the second-stringers. With Justin Pugh out for the weekend, Kahlil Mack could wreak havoc and make this a defensive game for the Raiders, who will likely rely upon their running backs to move the ball.
Derrick Henry/DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans (HOU @ TEN)
Henry is talented and Murray has a history of success, but their near-equal timeshare is holding them both back from being successful from a fantasy perspective. Titans coach Mike Mularkey recently stated that he has two starting running backs, which means that fantasy owners don't have one as a result. The Houston run defense isn't elite by any means, but it's not a pushover, either.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams (LAR @ ARI)
Watkins is primed to be Patrick Peterson's latest victim. The Rams head to Arizona in a game that they should win easily, but that sets the scene for a big day on the ground for Todd Gurley. With Robert Woods banged up, one might think that Watkins would get all the run he could carry, but in reality, this game sets up nicely for Cooper Kupp, who will likely avoid Peterson's elite coverage. Watkins has shown life of late, but this week it's better off to leave him alone.
T.Y. Hilton, WR Colts (IND @ JAX)
The Cardinals upset the Jaguars last weekend, but without the help of Larry Fitzgerald. The surefire Hall of Famer was matched up against elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey and managed only one catch. Hilton is likely to meet a similar fate this weekend. Already a big boom-or-bust player, Hilton is far likelier to bust than boom against the Jaguars' stifling coverage. It also doesn't help that Hilton hasn't cleared 30 yards through the air in five of his past six games.
Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants (NYG @ OAK)
As you might have been able to tell from the earlier entries, both the Giants and the Raiders are a mess. New York is missing players on the offensive line and benched Eli Manning after a tumultuous week. The Raiders are without their top two receivers. In the end, I don't think that Darkwa can capitalize. Wayne Gallman is now taking snaps away from Darkwa, and it seems as though New York's backfield has reverted back into a true committee. Darkwa didn't look all that impressive last week against Washington and has cleared 75 yards only once this season. I wouldn't bet on him this week.
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Joe Sparacio is an associate producer for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @joetsparacio.