Week 13: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
After not throwing a touchdown pass in his last three games, Eli Manning tossed three scores against the Packers last week. Coming off his Week 11 bye, the younger Manning connected with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and rookie Rueben Randle to lead the G-Men to victory. This is a big pivot point for the ninth-year signal-caller. New York will travel to Washington in Week 13 and the Redskins are still mathematically eligible for the postseason. With plenty to play for against a very poor pass defense, this is exactly the type of game where Manning should earn some consideration as a starter.
Cam Newton jumped up the QB rankings after posting huge numbers last week against the Phildelphia Eagles. He passed for 306 yards and two scores while also adding 52 rushing yards and two rushing TDs. With the Kansas City Chiefs scheduled next for the Carolina Panthers, Newton might be able push you into the playoffs. Kansas City has allowed at least two passing TDs in all but two games this year. Even though Newton has been unable to play consistently all year, the Chiefs are undoubtedly one of the league's worst teams and this matchup is definitely in his favor. Unlike last year, the former Heisman Trophy winner has been forced to spread the ball around rather than rely so much on Steve Smith for big plays. Look for Newton to finish the year strong with games against San Diego, Oakland, and New Orleans in the coming weeks.
Rather than relying on your ability to scout talent, remember that backup backs in good offenses tend to do very well. This leads us to Bryce Brown and his first game as the Eagles' featured back. Brown rushed for 178 yards on only 19 carries and added two scores. Sure, he lost two fumbles, but that seems to be par for the course in Philly. The Eagles will continue to rely on the rookie in Week 13 because LeSean McCoy is still slowly recovering from a concussion. Adding Michael Vick could potentially hurt Brown's production due to fewer carries and more throws, but either way, the fresh legs of Brown are serving him very well. Even though the Eagles face the Cowboys' tough run defense on Sunday night, the rookie is still worth a start as a flex play.
Remember this guy? Yes, we all do, but it should have come as a big surprise to see him step up the way he did last week. Knowshon Moreno rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries and caught four passes for 26 yards. Now, let's keep in mind that these numbers came against the woeful Kansas City Chiefs, so technically, they should have been better. In Week 13, Denver hosts Tampa Bay and their below-average run defense. The Bucs have allowed RBs to rush for 127 yards and three scores in their last two games, so Moreno has a shot to exceed expectations for two straight weeks. The key is that the Broncos must continue to feed the ball to him. Last week, he had 24 touches as previously mentioned. Repeating that is asking a lot for an offense with so many aerial threats.
A healthy Pierre Garcon is a dangerous weapon at Robert Griffin's disposal. The former Indianapolis Colts receiver had missed a significant portion of the season, but finally re-emerged last week with five receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins host the New York Giants in Week 13 on Monday Night Football. In their last three games, New York has allowed receivers to catch 31 passes for 413 yards and six TDs. The Giants rank towards the bottom of the NFL in fantasy points allowed to WRs. With this in mind, having Garcon as a potential WR3/flex is a huge late addition to any fantasy squad. The Redskins are still hopeful that they can make a push into the playoffs, so don't expect them to take their foot off the gas anytime soon.