Week 13 has arrived, and that means it’s the final week before the fantasy playoffs begin. For some, you’re probably already comfortably in the playoffs—good for you. For others, you’re going to be fighting tooth-and-nail to either claim the final spot, or secure that first-round bye. Don’t worry, I’m here to help you make some (hopefully) smart choices.
This match-up between the Falcons and Vikings is a bit of an enigma due to the strong defenses involved. However, it also involves two good offenses—and with the Falcons at home, I don’t anticipate a defensive slugfest. Let’s take a look at some of the top players to consider starting and sitting in your lineup this week.
WR Julio Jones
You may be spooked about starting Jones this week with the Vikings and Xavier Rhodes on the docket, but don’t be too concerned. Julio just had one of the best games of his career, and it seems like Sark is figuring out more ways to get him involved all over the field. You should never bench Julio unless he’s injured, anyway. Fire him up as a low-end WR1 with the potential for more.
WR Mohamed Sanu
Another week, another Sanu game where he’s continued to earn our trust as a dependable WR3/FLEX option. Now he’s even adding passing TDs to his resume. Sanu will have his opportunities to make plays with the Vikings dedicating plenty of resources to Julio. He’s emerged as one of Ryan’s favorite targets on third down and in the red zone, and with the improved scoring output of the Falcons over the past several weeks, his stock continues to rise.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan is a somewhat risky play this week—so if you have a slam-dunk option on your roster, I’d favor the other guy. However, if the Falcons are going to win this game, they’re going to do it through the air. If you’re bullish on the Falcons’ chances, then you’re bullish on Ryan. He’s been having a phenomenal month, and would’ve had even more production last week if Sanu hadn’t thrown that TD pass. Slot him in as a QB1 with upside for a shootout game.
WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs
If the Falcons are down Trufant and/or Poole, you’ll want to get these two into your lineups as much as possible. Thielen is the preferred option, as he’s delivered consistent WR1 numbers as Case Keenum’s favorite (and most reliable) target. Diggs is a WR2 candidate this week, as he’ll likely draw the coverage of C.J. Goodwin on the outside—which is a huge mismatch.
RBs Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon
The Falcons can’t stop the run, and the Vikings like to rely upon it. That sets up this duo—who have both managed to be fantasy relevant since Dalvin Cook’s injury—for a nice day overall. Murray gets most of the goal line work and is the bigger threat to score TDs, but McKinnon gets most of the receiving yardage and targets. Murray is better for standard, McKinnon is preferred for PPR. They’re both RB2s in their respective formats, and good FLEX options otherwise.
TE Austin Hooper
With TE being a barren wasteland, you may be stuck with trying to stream players based on match-ups in deeper leagues. You’ll want to avoid Hooper this week, however, as the Vikings have been good at limiting TEs in 2017. He’s essentially a TD-or-bust play anyway, as he doesn’t receive a consistent enough target share to warrant our trust otherwise.
RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman
If you have Tevin Coleman, hopefully you enjoyed the last two weeks of production you got out of him. However, Freeman’s return could lead to a full-blown committee approach for the Falcons going forward. Against the Vikings—one of the most dominant run defenses—I just don’t feel good trusting either to get enough touches to justify a start. As FLEX options, fine—but I would break ties in favor of your other players.
TE Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph has had a good season as a dependable, mid-range TE1 in fantasy. The Falcons, however, have been excellent at limiting TE production in 2017. With so many better match-ups for the Vikings (the WRs and RBs, for example), I have a feeling that Rudolph won’t get as many looks as he’s accustomed to. If you have no better options, Rudolph should still get you ~5 points, but don’t expect a big game from him on Sunday.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
QB Case Keenum
If you’re like me and were depending on QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott, you need another option to help stabilize your team. Keenum could be that option—this week and going forward. He’s had several excellent games, including two multi-TD games in his last three. Keenum isn’t necessarily a high-end starter week-to-week, but as a capable, low-end QB1 he can certainly get the job done for you. This week against Atlanta provides a unique opportunity for rushing TDs, as the Falcons have been downright awful at slowing down QBs that run. Outside of that, however, the Falcons have been good at limiting passing production. He’s a solid starter this week that should get you 18 or so points reliably.
Good luck in your leagues this week, and I hope you all make the playoffs! If you have any pressing fantasy questions, feel free to send them to me @FalcoholicKevin.