Week 13 gives us two games in the showdown slates that may be better real-life games than fantasy games. This is especially true on Monday Night between the Redskins and Eagles. Sunday Night's game has a lot of AFC Playoff implications and should be the more exciting of the two, from a fantasy persepective.
The Eagles rank 24th in DVOA vs the Rush and 18th vs the Pass. Against postions, the Eagles rank 9th vs WR1, 28th against WR2, 5th against TE, and 25th vs pass catching RBs.
Colt McCoy (8,800) is one of the cheaper quarterbacks I've seen on these showdown slates. With the mini-bye and an Eagles defense that has suffered numerous injuries in the secondary, I think McCoy is a nice play. In his two games this season, he has rushed for 28 and 35 yards, helping raise his floor. The 3 interceptions on Thanksgiving didn't help, but I think 20 is possible for McCoy, and upside for more. Adrian Peterson (7,400) has slowed down after a torrid start. AP hasn't gotten 4 yards a carry the past four games. I don't see myself playing him at this price. However, Chris Thompson (4,400) is one I have plenty of interest in. He's returning from injury and may very well be the best receiving option here. He does have three games with at least seven targets this year, and the Eagles are bottom ten vs the pass-catching RB. Thompson is definitely in play as a cheap Captain.
Jordan Reed (8,200) has seen his targets go up since McCoy took over at QB. He is Questionable, so make sure he's in before you play him. But, I don't like the price, as I think 20 is his ceiling, with a low floor that won't play in this game. Josh Doctson (6,800) has seen 16 targets the past two weeks, but hasn't found the end zone. He's probably my favorite WR of this bunch, and the price is fair. I don't think you have to play him but he's a viable play in this mid-range. Trey Quinn (5,800) and Jamison Crowder (5,000) are both Questionable. I like Quinn if Crowder is out, but he is more of a floor play, with a small chance of getting to 15 or higher. If Crowder plays, he would be viable if healthy. However, I do have some concern that he may be limited if active. I want to take a wait and see approach on him. Mo Harris (2,400) has been losing production to Trey Quinn, and would only be in consideration for me if both Quinn and Crowder are out. Finally, Dustin Hopkins (3,200) is not a bad play if you think Washington scores 20 or less. He could get to 10, but is most reliable of anyone in this range for Washington.
Possible Captains: Colt McCoy, Chris Thompson, Josh Doctson
Washington ranks 26th in DVOA vs the Rush, and 12th against the Pass. Against positions, Washington ranks 20th vs WR1, 8th against WR2, 10th vs TE, and 4th vs pass catching RBs.
Carson Wentz (10,600) had been playing well into the past two weeks, where he has only thrown for one touchdown. Prior to that, he was consistently scoring 20-25 fantasy points a week. Outside of a rough first game vs Washington, Wentz has gone 314/1/1, 307/2/1 and 268/4/1 in the last three matchups. I prefer him to McCoy, but don't think you must play him. As far as the running backs go: Good luck. Darren Sproles (2,000) is expected to return, but I wonder how quickly they will get him involved. Josh Adams (8,000) should play but is Questionable, and while Washington does struggle against the run, Adams past two games have seen him end up at 16 fantasy points in each. I don't mind the play, but I just don't like the price. I don't mind Corey Clement (2,600), as I would think he would see the most touches if Adams can't go or is limited. He's my "favorite" of the running backs, but that's simply due to price. I have no interest in Wendell Smallwood (1,800) unless both Sproles and Adams miss. If that happens, then I really like the idea of playing both Smallwood and Clement.
Zach Ertz (11,200) is the most expensive player on the slate. I don't remember the last time we saw a TE be the most expensive. Ertz has three career games of double-digit receptions and 100+ yards vs Washington, but only has one career TD in eight games. He's fine from a floor perspective, but at this price and Washington's ability to defend the position, I don't think you have to play him. Alshon Jeffery (8,600) has been losing targets to Golden Tate (7,200) the past couple of weeks. Since the Eagles may not have the strongest run game, I could see Tate being the "run game" option. Tate has outtargeted Jeffery 16 to 8 the past two games. I prefer Tate, but could see myself playing Jeffery as well. I really don't have interest in Nelson Agholor (5,400), but as a last player punt, I could take a flyer on Jordan Matthews (1,400) or Dallas Goerdert (1,000) and hope they find the end zone or four catches. It's the same range I have as Agholor, but for 4,000 cheaper. Jake Elliott (3,400) hasn't gone over 11 fantasy points in a game this season, so he's fine from a floor perspective.
Possible Captains: Carson Wentz, Golden Tate, Zach Ertz
Before I get to the teams, this game has an over/under of 51.5. I took at look at the past winning lineups with a total between 50 and 59 points this season.
What I notice is that five of the nine times had an RB at Captain and unlike other ranges of points, we haven't seen a 4 WR winning roster yet. Outside of that, there isn't a to of other trends sticking out. Just something to keep in mind as you start building rosters.
Pittsburgh ranks 12th in DVOA against the Rush and 16th against the Pass. The Steelers are 10th against #1 WR, 17th against #2 WR, 29th against TE, and 7th against pass-catching RBs.
There's nothing that really sticks out for the Chargers in this game. Philip Rivers (9,800) has only averaged 17.6 points on the road this season. However, a game without Melvin Gordon could result in more pass attempts. In Week 7 when Gordon missed, Rivers only threw 26 times; yet, had 300+ yards. In the three losses for the Chargers, Rivers had thrown for 400+ yards in two of those games. He also has been consistently around 20-25 fantasy points this season. I think he's a safe play in this range, but I don't think he's a must-play. Austin Ekeler (8,200) hasn't been the most efficient player this season, but has commonly seen 5-7 carries and 2-3 targets. Without Gordon in Week 7, Ekeler was on the field for 95% of the snaps, seeing 12 carries and 7 targets. Last week, Ekeler did see 11 targets, catching 10 of them. I think he's fine from a floor perspective, but I don't really like the price on him. Justin Jackson (2,800) should be a popular value option after rushing for 50 yards last week. However, he only saw 13% of the snaps and back in Week 7, only saw 11% of the snaps. I wouldn't immediately enter him into your lineups, but is fine as a last player on your roster play.
The best play here I think is Keenan Allen (10,000), who has seen double-digit targets in two of the last four games, with a TD in three straight games. I can see the Chargers relying on him more with Melvin Gordon out and think he can get to 2x-2.5x easily. Tyrell Williams (6,400) is likely to miss this game, so if he's active, he could be low-owned. Mike Williams (5,400) should benefit the most from Tyrell's absence. He does have 7 touchdowns on the year, but only one game with more than 4 targets. He's the boom/bust option here, but maybe we will see more targets his way if Tyrell misses. If you are looking for a punt, Antonio Gates (2,400) does have the best matchup, as the Steelers do struggle against TEs. You know Rivers will look for him in the red zone. Finally, we have yet another viable play at minimum salary, as Travis Benjamin (200) saw 64% of the snaps last week. He will be the deep threat on the outside if Tyrell Williams misses, and always has a 50-yard TD play in him. The only other play would be Michael Badgley (3,400) if you needed to round out a roster, but has been between 8 and 12 points this season, and Heinz Field can be a tough place to kick in.
Possible Captains: Keenan Allen, Philip Rivers, Austin Ekeler (I won't be playing Ekeler at captain, but understand the play)
Los Angeles ranks 16th in DVOA against the Rush and 6th against the Pass. The Chargers rank 22nd against #1 WR, 14th against #2 WR, 1st vs TE, and 16th vs pass-catching RBs. Before I get into the individual plays, I did notice that the Chargers have given up 21 or fewer points in their wins. In their three losses, they have given up 23 (DEN), 35 (LAR), and 38 (KC).
We know Ben Roethlisberger (10,800) has always been great at home. He has only two games where he has thrown less than 30 times (one was against Carolina, where he had 5 TDs on 25 attempts). He's averaging 27.4 fantasy points at home this season and only has one home game where he didn't throw for multiple touchdowns. I prefer him over Rivers at QB. The best value in my opinion on this slate is James Conner (8,800). He hasn't been as productive as late, not even seeing 15 carries in any of his last three games. We saw Phillip Lindsey run all over the Chargers two weeks ago, and I would expect Pittsburgh to re-commit to Conner in this game. The e Chargers are easier to attack on the ground and are league average against pass-catching RBs. I will project 20 carries and 5-7 targets for Conner. I think he gets to 2x of 17.6 points easily, with a ceiling for much more.
At receiver, it's Antonio Brown (11,000), Juju Smith-Schuster (10,400), or both. I will be curious to see who is the higher owned of these two, as Brown is the bigger name, but Smith-Schuster should avoid Casey Heyward and is coming off a big game in Denver last week. I belive Tyreek Hill and Robert Woods are the only receivers to go over 100 yards on the Chargers this season. I expect one of these two receivers to do so, and slightly prefer Smith-Schuster due to price and avoiding Heyward. I have no interest in Vance McDonald (5,200) as the Chargers have been stingy against the TE. I'm not buying another 8 target game for Ryan Switzer (4,000) so I'm not going to him at this price. James Washington (1,200) is a big-play, upside dart. Just realize he only has eight catches on the year. I don't have any interest in the Steelers Defense or Chris Boswell, as the Steelers are one of the more aggressive teams to go for 2-point conversions.
Possible Captains: James Conner, Ben Roethlisberger, Juju Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown.