Week 13 has finally arrived, and for most this will be your last chance to get yourself into your league’s playoffs. If you are lucky enough to be looking ahead to the post season, then this week’s waiver run is an important time for you to take a good look at your roster and prepare for the important journey ahead. The injuries to some running backs the last two weeks underscores the importance of padding your roster with as many high-upside players, particularly RB’s, as you can reasonably roster. Don’t be afraid to cut that extra kicker, defense or WR5 types and instead use those roster spots to make sure you fortify your house in case of injury. No players can make a bigger impact if they rise to the rank of starter than those RB’s and the guys ahead of them on the depth chart also happen to be the guys who take the most punishment each and every week. To further drive the point home this week, I’ve listed a bunch of handcuffs that I like at the end of the RB section.
You have to weigh how much a particular handcuff is worth to your team. For example, I own Doug Martin and Trent Richardson on two of my playoff bound squads. This week I grabbed Montario Hardesty in both. I did not grab LeGarrette Blount. I chose Hardesty mainly because T-Rich has already gotten hurt once this year and missed time, but also because he is touching the ball 30 times a week. That workload puts him at risk of injury, so I’ve decided to cover my base here. You get the picture, now go out and make the moves you need to make to make your team stronger in your quest for fantasy glory.
Colin Kaepernick, SF – The Niners rookie tops the quarterback list once again this week after another solid effort against the Saints on Sunday. It is becoming ever clearer that this is Kaepernick’s job to lose now. Alex Smith just doesn’t bring the energy or excitement to the offense that Kaepernick does. If he’s still available in your league, you need to grab him this week since he now has Top 10 potential for the rest of the year. Even if you already have an elite starter on your bench you should make the move just to keep him off an opponent’s roster. I speculated on his talent two weeks ago on my two playoff bound squads, and now I am really excited about have this difference maker around for the playoffs.
Chad Henne, JCK – Henne returns to the list again this week after following up his Week 10 breakout with another solid effort against the Titans. I understand if you wanted to see him do it again before biting, but a matchup with the Bills should be more than enough to get him into some lineups this week. The schedule set up nicely through the playoffs, so he’s a nice backup plan, especially if you have a starter will some cold weather starts late in the year.
Russell Wilson, SEA – If it weren’t for Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Wilson would be getting even more attention for the fantastic rookie season he is engineering in Seattle. The Bears are a nasty matchup this week, but the Cardinals and Bills coming up next make him a great QB2 to have on hand as the playoffs approach.
Sam Bradford, STL – If you are looking a week ahead as you try to bolster your roster for a playoff run, then Bradford’s playoff schedule (@Buf, Min, @TB) should get your attention. He’s no great shakes, but could finish real strong and be a sneaky playoff weapon in two QB leagues.
Colt McCoy, CLE – Brandon Weeden suffered a concussion last week, so it’s possible McCoy will get the start against the Raiders generous defense this week. You’d have to be in a pretty deep league to have to take a shot like this, but at least the matchup is right.
Week 12 Update:
Jake Locker, TEN – I’ve been a pretty big Locker cheerleader this year, and he finally looks like he is healthy again. I mention him yet again since the Titans just fired their OC, so I am interested to see if Dowell Loggains can unlock the potential explosiveness of the Titans skill players.
Mark Sanchez, NYJ – Sanchez was serviceable last week against the Patriots and does have a favorable schedule (Ari, @Jac, @Ten, Sd) that could be enough to make him a factor in two QB leagues in the playoffs.
Bryce Brown, PHI – While I did recommend Brown last week as a player with the size and speed to do damage against a mediocre Panther defense, his breakout performance was a real eye-opener. He looked like a beast, plowing for 178 yards and 2 TD’s, one of which was a beautiful 65-yard scamper down the sideline. LeSean McCoy likely won’t be rushed back on a short week, so Brown will get at least one more week as the main back for the Eagles. It’s also a reminder of why you need to go out this week and back up your stud RB with his handcuff if you can. Don’t be afraid to cut those WR5’s to grab high-upside understudies for your playoff bench.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN – It seemed pretty clear that Ronnie Hillman was the guy to get last week, but that was before John Fox decided to channel his inner Shanahan. While I pumped Hillman, I did warn of the downside that the coaching staff still didn’t trust him in pass protection and had the veteran backs to deploy if that was the case. I obviously didn’t expect 24 touches to 3 for Hillman. Starting RB’s usually don’t appear this late in the year, so Moreno is this week’s top add regardless of format.
Chris Wells, ARZ – I was pretty harsh with my take on Well’s return last week, but I have to give him his due after a two touchdown day in his first week back. I still hate the schedule and the offensive line, but I you have him that means you might not have better options available. Regardless of what I think, he absolutely needs to be owned in all leagues the rest of the way. LaRod Stephens-Howling owners should take notice that he received only one carry. It’s time to move on.
Michael Bush, CHI – Bush’s value this week is directly tied to the health of starter Matt Forte. If Forte sits, Bush is a clear start this week at home against the Seahawks. Forte owners hopefully can continue to ride their handcuff, but those in shallow leagues might just find him sitting on the wire. If so scoop the battering ram up.
Rashad Jennings, JCK – Jalen Parmele suffered a season ending groin injury, which will give Jennings another start while the team waits for Maurice Jones-Drew to finally return to action. Jennings hasn’t done much this year when given the touches, but the Bills defense undeniably makes him much more attractive for this week at the very least.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR – I almost feel dirty having to write about Williams, as he and Beanie Wells basically helped torpedo my NFFC squad’s chances this year (so much for trying to cheat on RB’s in the draft). Regardless, the injury to Jonathan Stewart opens the door for him to get a starter’s workload against the lowly Chiefs, which at least makes him start worthy for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, if you own him your team is likely trying to do little more than play spoiler in your league this week.
David Wilson, NYG – The season-ending injury to Andre Brown finally opens the door for Wilson to get 5-10 touches a week the rest of the way. He isn’t the solid flex start that Brown had become, because he won’t get the goal-line carries, but he is a must have handcuff for fragile Ahmad Bradshaw owners.
Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL – I hyped Rodgers earlier in the season, but he never really delivered on my belief that he would seriously cut into Michael Turner’s workload. Finally, the Falcons seem to be admitting that they need him on the field more, and a great schedule the rest of the way makes him a solid flex start for those who stubbornly hung onto him.
Stud Handucuffs – Rather than write up all the guys that you should consider adding to your bench this week to prepare for the playoffs, I just list a few here that I would consider adding as high-upside plays if the starter ahead of them were to get injured: Ben Tate, Shane Vereen, Robert Turbin, Toby Gerhart, Bernard Pierce, Cedric Peerman, Cedric Benson, Evan Royster, Montario Hardesty
Week 12 Updates:
Jalen Parmele, JCK – Parmele’s injury means all that money you spent to get him didn’t amount to much production. Cut him and move on.
Bilal Powell, NYJ – Powell continued to share carries with Shonne Greene and has emerged as the back of choice in the red zone. He’s worth owning the rest of the way, and deep leaguers could do worse as a flex play the rest of the way.
Pierre Garcon, WAS – Garcon finally looked healthy, and as such needs to be picked up in any leagues he is available in. He was cut in one of my leagues after a lackluster return in Week 11, so make sure you check your wire to see if he’s there. His return to form will be a boon to Griffin’s and the team’s prospects down the stretch.
Ryan Broyles, DET – I said last week that the Titus Young suspension would provide Broyles the opportunity to truly breakout as Calvin Johnson’s running mate. He got 12 targets last week, and I think it is quite possible Jim Schwartz just moves on from Young. If you didn’t heed my advice to grab him last week, this is your last chance.
Julian Edelman, NE – Edelman was profiled last week, and was back at it for the Patriots with a touchdown grab and a special teams TD on a fumble recovery. He has been the biggest beneficiary of the Rob Gronkowski injury, and is worth taking a shot on in deeper leagues due to the explosive offense he plays in.
Davone Bess, MIA – Bess has a nice matchup at home against the Patriots this week. He’s getting a ton of targets lately, which makes him a very safe flex option this week.
Chris Givens, STL – Givens put himself back on the radar with his first 100 yard game of the season. As we noted open in our Bradford blurb, the schedule is nice enough to add Givens to your bench for your playoff run.
Damaris Johnson, PHI – DeSean Jackson is done for the year with broken ribs, which will open the door for Johnson. The Eagles are such a mess, it will be tough to trust anyone in the passing game after Jeremy Maclin, but deep leaguers can certainly take a shot here.
Mario Manningham, SF – Colin Kaepernick’s ability to extend the play with his legs gives Manningham’s value a little boost going forward. The two seem to be building some chemistry and the former Super Bowl hero has shown that he can be a difference maker in big games. I have to admit, I’m intrigued enough to have taken a shot in one of my leagues.
Week 12 Updates:
Justin Blackmon, JCK – While he obviously couldn’t duplicate his ridiculous Week 11 stats, he once again found the end-zone and will continue to be a solid starter in the new Jaguars offense.
T.Y. Hilton, IND – Hilton was at it again on Sunday, scoring on a punt return and a short pass in crunch time. I said it before, when you are looking for WR’s to fill out your bench, go for the guys with exciting QB’s. Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne will continue to keep Hilton as a WR3/Flex option. The Colts have one of the most pass-friendly schedules the rest of the way.
Mohamed Sanu, CIN – That’s 4 TD’s in three weeks since I wrote up Sanu in Week 9’s report. I think he’s done enough to be owned in most leagues at this point.
Marcedes Lewis, JCK – Lewis had another solid week, with Chad Henne getting him involved in the action yet again. I see no reason why the duo can’t keep it going against the Bills this week.
Rob Housler, ARZ – I wrote about Housler a couple weeks back, and he promptly delivered a goose-egg. Last week, rookie Ryan Lindley dumped the ball to him eight times and will likely have to lean on him again this week against the Jets.
Dallas Clark, TB – Don’t look now, but the wily veteran is slowly gaining momentum. He’s not producing eye-popping numbers, but it’s clear he’s back to at least being in the discussion for matchup starts again.
Week 12 Update:
Brandon Myers, OAK – Myers topped the list last week, and once again got you something. Cleveland is vulnerable to the TE, so he could finally get back into the end-zone this week.
Jets – Last week it was the Rams here and this week it’s the Jets. The common denominator is the Cardinals offensive line and rookie QB who threw 4 INT’s last week.
Cowboys – I called the Cowboys number when they played the Eagles a couple weeks back, and this time they get them at home in prime-time. Yeah, I like their chances again.
Bengals – Philip Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions on the year, and the Bengals defense is surging as the team makes a playoff push.
Browns – Gotta give my Browns defense for securing the big win against the Steelers last week with an 8 turnover performance. You might want to stash them for the KC game coming up in Week 14.
Connor Barth, TB – I profiled Adam Vinatieri as a nice weather-proof kicker to lean on for the playoffs. Barth is another warm weather kicker, with a good offense and a nice playoff schedule to consider hitching your fortunes to.
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