After the first half of the Broncos-Patriots game on Sunday night, it seemed that Denver had solidified their position as the NFL’s clear-cut best team. After the second half, that, um, wasn’t the case. New England erased a 24-0 halftime deficit on their way to a fantastic 34-31-overtime win that leaves their conference completely up for grabs with five weeks to go.
jumbled AFC, your fantasy league’s playoff picture is probably pretty clear at this point. Any changes you make to your team at this point should be based mostly on short-term matchups rather than long-term productivity. With that in mind, your fantasy football expert is back with another edition of Who’s Up, Who’s Down. Hopefully these picks will be good enough to make you forget I recommended starting Case Keenum last week (sorry about that). We’re braving the cold in this week’s trends.
Dylan Sinn is a freelance contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSinn or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook .
Photo Credit: Getty
Week 13 Who's Up Down
Carson Palmer QB – Arizona
Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Cardinals' brand new “franchise quarterback” looked more washed up than Michael Jordan circa 2002. In those games, Palmer threw 13 picks and only eight touchdowns and posted a
QBR above 42 just once.
The former Heisman winner has looked like a completely different player the last several weeks, however, tossing eight touchdowns and only two
INTs in his last four games, all Arizona victories. Palmer compiled a QBR above 78 in three of those contests and completed over 70 percent of his passes three times, as well. The eleven-year veteran’s early-season struggles can be partially attributed to the complexity of first-year head coach Bruce . Now that the Cardinals and Palmer are seemingly beginning to gel, they could be downright scary in the coming weeks.
Arians’ offensive schemes
Palmer is only owned in 10 percent of ESPN leagues currently, but his production of late has been start-worthy and that should continue as he faces the Eagles and Rams in his next two games, both of which have bottom feeding pass defenses. It suddenly appears as though Palmer has more left in the tank than people thought and is a fantasy quarterback to be reckoned with going forward.
Arrow Pointing: UP
Delanie Walker TE – Tennessee
Walker appears to be one of the primary beneficiaries of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s presence under center for the Titans. In the two games since Fitzpatrick replaced the injured Jake Locker at quarterback, Walker has seen nineteen combined targets. This is a dramatic increase in workload, as the 29-year old hadn’t seen more than eight passes thrown his way in any previous game this season.
The eight-year veteran has rewarded Fitzpatrick’s faith in him, as he’s caught 15 of those 19 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Walker has quietly caught three touchdowns in the last five games and five on the season. The Titans face the reeling Colts in Week 13, a team that is fresh off a 40-11
beatdown at the hands of the Cardinals. Just two weeks ago, Walker torched Indy for 91 yards and a touchdown on ten catches. He’s in line for another big game in Week 13 as he continues to play the role of Fitzpatrick’s security blanket.
Arrow Pointing: UP
Roddy White WR – Atlanta
White has battled injuries all year, playing through a high ankle sprain the first five weeks of the season and then being sidelined for a month by a pulled hamstring, so I have given him something of a grace period to see if he can work himself back into fantasy relevance. He has had three games since his return from the aforementioned hamstring injury, however, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the South Carolina native is not the same dynamic receiving threat he’s been in years past, whether healthy or not.
After averaging 14.7 yards per catch on his 92 receptions a season ago, the nine-year vet has averaged just 10.5
YPC in 2013 and has failed to break 50 yards receiving in any game. In the last three weeks (in which he has, presumably, been healthy) White has caught a total of seven passes for 56 yards and hasn’t found the end zone. Even worse, Matt Ryan has only targeted the 32-year old ten times in those games. He doesn’t seem confident that White is a viable playmaker right now.
UAB star has earned himself the benefit of the doubt over the course of his highly productive career, but I would sit him against a solid Bills pass defense this week. If he still seems to be a relatively forgotten part of the Atlanta offense, it’s probably best to just cut him. This has been a lost season for both White and the Falcons.
Arrow Pointing: DOWN
Stevan Ridley RB – New England
Ridley has been a powerful runner this season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and crossing the goal line seven times. In recent weeks though, he’s had more turnovers than a Thanksgiving dinner, losing a fumble in three straight games. The former LSU standout sat out 18 straight snaps after putting the ball on the ground in Week 11 and saw only four total carries in New England’s wild comeback against Denver after fumbling in the first quarter.
Ridley currently finds himself firmly entrenched in Bill
Belichick’s doghouse and it’s tough to trust his fantasy value going forward. With Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden all seeing touches out of the Patriots’ backfield, the 24-year old Ridley could see his workload decrease dramatically until he’s proven he can hang on to the ball. Fantasy owners can’t afford to wait for that to happen, so I highly recommend sitting him in Week 13. He’s a great runner, but he won’t get consistent carries until he fixes the one glaring hole in his game.
Arrow Pointing: DOWN
Toby Gerhart RB – Minnesota
Gerhart will always be a risky fantasy start as long as he’s playing in the same backfield as Adrian Peterson and Adrian Peterson’s muscles, but he’s paid high dividends for his few fantasy owners in each of the last two weeks. In those two games, the former Heisman Trophy runner-up has carried the ball 15 times and gained 158 yards on the ground. Those games have bumped his season YPC average to a whopping 9.8.
The Vikings are out of playoff contention at 2-8-1 and Peterson is nursing a groin injury, so Minnesota might very well give
Gerhart more touches over the next few games in order to protect the health of their star ball-carrier. If the Stanford alum does indeed see an increased workload, he will be in line for a big game in Week 13. The Vikings face a Bears defense that just allowed over 250 rushing yards to the Rams and is seemingly becoming more porous by the game. Gerhart could be a winning lottery ticket for fantasy owners this week.
Arrow Pointing: UP