Week 13: The final opportunity to clinch a playoff berth for your fantasy football team. At least, I hope this is true for you and you are not in a league that utilizes week 17.
I hope this first season of Fantasy Football analysis has been useful for you. I know I have had a good time bringing you some bold predictions here from the Sauce and getting to know some of you through Twitter. Remember, you can follow me @john9williams for Sit/Start and waiver wire advice.
With that, let's see how we did with The Sauce in week 12.
- Josh McCown - 322 yards, 1 TD, 2 lost fumbles. BURNED
- Todd Gurley - 17 touches, 89 total yards. Mild Sauce
- Wendell Smallwood - 10 touches, 47 yards. BURNED
- Cole Beasley - 5 catches, 56 yards. Mild Sauce
- DeVante Parker - 3 catches, 64 yards. Mild Sauce
Week 12 Weak Sauce
- Kirk Cousins - 449 yards passing, 3 TDs. BURNED
- Lamar Miller - 22 touches, 75 yards. Mild Sauce
- DeMarco Murray - 22 touches, 84 total yards. Mild Sauce
- Golden Tate - 5 catches, 77 yards. Mild Sauce
- Mike Evans - 8 catches, 104 yards, 2 TDs. BURNED
[table id=108 /]
Hot Sauce For Week 13
QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills @ Oakland Raiders
Tyrod Taylor is an interesting fantasy football asset to me. I shy away from him because his passing numbers are typically too inconsistent for me to reap the rewards of his good games.
To me he's a very match-up dependent fantasy quarterback, and if you're looking for the perfect match-up to put him in, week 13 against the Oakland Raiders is the one to go with.
Taylor and the Bills will go on the road to face an Oakland team that ranks 26th in passing yards allowed, as well as 26th in rushing yards allowed. This sets up to be the kind of match-up which have allowed the Bills to put up some decent numbers.
In week 12 against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is better than the Raiders, Taylor had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown and was good for 20.44 standard fantasy points. He will have a good opportunity to match that number this week.
Flavorful Forecast: 190 passing yards, 45 rushing yards, 3 total touchdowns
RB Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears vs San Francisco 49ers
Over his last nine games, Jordan Howard has posted 90 or more total yards in seven of those games as he has taken over as the lead back in Chicago. Even against a tough New York Giants front seven, Howard was able to average 4.7 yards per carry while totaling 127 yards.
He is the best thing going for the Bears offense with Alshon Jeffrey suspended as well as Jay Cutler and Zach Miller out for the season. Howard will have another big opportunity in week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers are still pretty bad on defense, even though they've held two of their last four opponents to under 100 yards rushing. This season they've allowed teams to rush for more than 170 yards in seven games and three times teams have put up over 240 rushing yards (yikes).
With Chicago's focus on establishing the run game and utilizing Jordan Howard to catch passes out of the backfield, I expect a big game from Howard.
Flavorful Forecast: 22 touches, 150 total yards, 2 touchdowns.
RB Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have been surprisingly decent against the running game this year. While they have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns, they've allowed the 12th fewest rushing yards and only give up 3.9 yards per carry.
The good news for Theo Riddick is that he doesn't make his money as a pure runner. Riddick is a Darren Sproles type of running back. He will get 8-10 carries a game, but he really makes his money as a pass catching running back.
In 2016 Riddick has one more receiving yard (356) than he does rushing yards (355). He's averaging 79 total yards per game this season (nine games played) and has scored five touchdowns.
With New Orleans rekindling their offensive firepower, Detroit is going to have to throw to keep up and this is where Riddick comes in. He sees just under seven targets a game, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him have double digit targets in what I expect to be the highest scoring game of week 13.
Flavorful Forecast: 17 touches, 130 total yards, 1 touchdown.
WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs @ Atlanta Falcons
Tyreek Hill was amazing on Sunday Night Football. If you didn't already snatch him up, there is a good chance he will be claimed on the waiver wire this week. In PPR leagues, he will be a must start for me as long as Jeremy Maclin is sidelined.
Over the last three games, Hill has 23 catches for 194 yards. He's received at least one catch in all but two games this season and has been a dynamic player for the Chiefs.
The Atlanta Falcons continue to be able to score points, and I expect this to be another shootout for the Chiefs. Andy Reid has shown that he wants to get Hill involved every way he can.
Flavorful Forecast: 7 catches, 68 yards, 1 touchdown.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans @ Green Bay Packers
DeAndre Hopkins... That name has made ears bleed in 2016. In standard fantasy football leagues, many people spent a low first round draft pick on the Houston Texans wide receiver. If you went Zero Running Back, it's possible that you ended up with Hopkins and Allen Robinson. YUCK!!!
This week has a lot of potential for redemption for Hopkins. The Green Bay Packers secondary has been, for the most part, atrocious. The Packers have given up the 4th most passing touchdowns in 2016. There have only been three games this season where an opposing team didn't total more than 250 passing yards.
Even Carson Wentz was able to throw for more than 250. If he can do it, so can Brock Osweiler. Fire up DeAndre Hopkins this week and let him lead you to the playoffs.
Flavorful Forecast: Six catches, 90 yards, 1 touchdown.
Weak Sauce For Week 13
QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
The Carolina Panthers have been very up and down in the 2016 season. Their defense hasn't been the same since letting Josh Norman walk in free agency. Another reason is that Cam Newton hasn't been nearly as efficient as he has been in the past.
His touchdown and completion percentages, as well as his quarterback rating, are at career lows. Hard to say if he is facing a Super Bowl hangover or not, but his offense appears to be pretty much the same, though he has taken a few more hits this season than he has in seasons past.
I wouldn't want to be him going into Seattle after the Seahawks were embarrassed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 12.
Flavorless Forecast: 225 yards passing, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 20 rush yards
RB Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders vs Buffalo Bills
Latavius Murray has seen a bit of a resurgence since coming back from an injury in week seven. Murray has six touchdowns in the last five games and is averaging 88.2 yards from scrimmage over that same span. Not great, but solid fantasy football numbers when considering he's in a pass-heavy offense.
Limit your expectations as Murray and the Raiders face a Buffalo Bills defense that is allowing the 4th fewest yards from scrimmage to running backs in 2016. While the Raiders seem to be flying high at the moment, and that may continue in week 13, Murray won't be the reason why.
Flavorless Forecast: 17 touches, 68 total yards.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
While Seattle had a rough week 12, as has already been documented, they are still a very good defensive team.
Jonathan Stewart is coming off of a two touchdown game (his second such effort in the last five weeks) against the Oakland Raiders. Stewart, like Cam Newton, is going to be in for a difficult day on Sunday as the Panthers travel to Seattle to face a team in need of a bounce-back performance.
Unless you don't have any other options this Sunday, Stewart is a sit-able asset to me.
Flavorless Forecast: 16 touches 60 total yards.
WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers vs Houston Texans
In five of his last six games, Jordy Nelson has put up over 90 yards receiving as Aaron Rodgers has finally found a way to get his Pro Bowl receiver the ball.
This week will be a different story. The Houston Texans are actually a pretty good defensive team against the pass. The Texans rank in the top-ten in pass yards allowed, passing touchdowns, and net yards per attempt.
Nelson may still see a lot of targets, but I don't expect him to surpass the 90 yard total in week 13.
Flavorless Forecast: 5 catches, 70 yards.
WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars vs Denver Broncos
The enigma that is Allen Robinson's 2016 campaign continues.
After three straight games with a touchdown, Robinson faded back into mediocrity against a pretty good Buffalo Bills defense. Robinson saw a season-worst four targets after not seeing fewer than six a game all season.
The matchup doesn't get any better for him in week 13 as he faces the Denver Broncos.
Despite what Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs were able to do, don't expect it to happen two weeks in a row. The Broncos are too good against the pass (still leading the league) to expect Blake Bortles (who has been awful) to give Allen Robinson much of a chance this week.
Flavorless Forecast: 3 catches, 36 yards.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers - Kaepernick has been on fire since being reinserted into the starting lineup for the 49ers. As a fantasy quarterback he hasn't finished a day with fewer than 16 fantasy points and has averaged 20+ over his last five games. He is the quarterback Chip Kelly has been looking for since entering the NFL.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - Andy Reid and the K.C. offense has looked for ways to get Hill involved and he has become the primary receiving option since Jeremy Maclin has been out with an injury. In PPR leagues, he is my priority grab this week.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago Bears - Someone has to catch the ball in Chicago. Kevin White has been hurt all season. Alshon Jeffrey is suspended, and Cameron Meredith has been very inconsistent. Wilson is a player you can pick up this week and plug him into your WR3 spot or your flex against a really bad San Francisco defense.
Is Dak Prescott a Player to Avoid in Fantasy Football in 2018?
For the Dallas Cowboys, the plan is to stick with Dak Prescott to hopefully turn him into a successful long-term franchise quarterback. Going into his third year in the league, this could be a season that defines his future on America's Team.
However, after the entire team struggled in 2017 while trying to overcome several key absences (including Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith), Prescott's level of play has been questioned by plenty around the league. Fans, analysts and writers everywhere aren't as sure as they were in 2016 about the quarterback's future.
And now, according to NFL.com, Fantasy Football players should beware of drafting Dak Prescott once their "friendly" (we all know they're anything but friendly) seasons begin.
Earlier this week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Marcas Grant published an article telling us ten players to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season. Perhaps it may come as a surprise to some that Dak Prescott is in there among names like Ty Montgomery and Jack Doyle. You can read his full article here.
To be honest, I see his point here.
It's more than fair to say that it's not going to be an easy year for Dak. He's got to prove a lot in a year that could have a juicy extension at the end of it. After going through a sort of an expected sophomore slump, Prescott's third year in the NFL should be his best one yet.
There's a big but, though. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are long gone, leaving Dak Prescott with a promising yet unproven set of pass catchers.
Will a dominant running game led by five great offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott be enough to help Dak and the rest of the offense? Probably. but how much will Prescott be able to accomplish?
Through a painful 9-7 season in which the Cowboys never seemed to be able to find a steady pace, #4's stats took a hit. Here are his numbers from his two years in the pros:
- 2016: 311 completions, 67.8% completion percentage, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs.
- 2017: 308 completions, 62.9% completion percentage, 3,324 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
- He also ran for six touchdowns in each of his two seasons.
Per FantasyData.com, his fantasy points dropped from 286.88 in 2016 to 260.66 in 2017.
Despite his numbers dropping, Dak certainly took huge strides as a passer. From taking command of the offense as a captain to making throws he wouldn't make as a rookie, Prescott was able to demonstrate improvements during a rough sophomore slump.
Even with Dez gone, the receivers the front office brought in throughout the offseason are expected to be Dak-friendly. If the receiving corps actually make his strengths shine, the Cowboys' offense will take a huge step in 2018.
Maybe, as Jason Witten mentioned on Adam Schefter's Podcast, Dez is as good as anyone going up for the football. But that's not what will make Dak shine. This revamped WR room might be just what he needs, though.
At the end of the day, even though I truly believe he'll have a good career in the NFL and that he's the future of the Dallas Cowboys, I doubt he should be marked as an early target in the Fantasy Football world.
As of right now, from a Fantasy Football perspective, I would barely rank him as a Top 15 quarterback for many reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys' game will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Secondly, it doesn't matter how much faith we put into these pass catchers, they haven't proved anything yet.
Dak is not a bad player at all. But taking Prescott in the middle or even late rounds of a Fantasy Draft might be the safest way to go right now.
Lastly, I leave you with some "Fantasy Nuggets" from fellow Inside The Star writer and Fantasy Football Guru John Williams:
- Dak failed to score 10 standard format fantasy points only four times last season. He scored 15+ points nine times and 20+ six times in 2017.
- In 2017 - even with a down second half - he finished as the 13th best QB in points per game and as the tenth best in total QB scoring.
- In 2016, he was in the top 10 in both categories mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- His ability to run and score touchdowns on the ground easily make him one of the best 12 QB options for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.
At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.
Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.
McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.
Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.
Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.
If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.
As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.
The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.
When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.
How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?
That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.
Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.
Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.
When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.
Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.
While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.
In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.
With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.
Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.
Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed
Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.
Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.
You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.
Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.
The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.
We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.
Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.
Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.
If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.
If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.
The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.
Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.
For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.
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