NFC West Fantasy Preview: Week 13

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday 1.00pm ET)

Carson Palmer’s fantasy scores over the last 3 games show significant improvement. The Cardinals QB has thrown 6 TDs (2 in each game) and just 1 Interception (none for the last two weeks). This is the kind of form we expected Palmer to produce and his early season calamities appear to have been addressed. This week he faces the Eagles who allow the 8th most fantasy points to QBs. Interestingly, most of these points come in the air, as they haven’t allowed a rushing TD to a QB this season (only 6 other teams have). Since Palmer isn’t a runner, I think he could benefit from this lapse secondary and have a 16-20 point game this week in a game both teams need to win.

Mendenhall is getting more looks than Ellington at the moment, despite the fact that Ellington has a league high YPC of 6. Ellington is also questionable to start, and if he does sit I think Mendenhall will get the majority of carries, what he does with them is anyone’s guess. Mendenhall is potentially a flex starter if Ellington is out as the matchup is distinctly average. I wouldn’t be keen on starting either in leagues of under 14 teams.

If Ellington sits then Mendenhall has sneaky upside this week – photo from www.zimbio.com

Larry Fitzgerald caught a pair of TDs last week but Michael Floyd also got in on the act, topping a hundred receiving yards. Fitz is still the top dog in the group, but Floyd is establishing a great complimentary role (Fitz had 11 targets and Floyd had 7). Whilst Palmer is on an upswing Fitz is verging on WR1 and Floyd WR2 positions in fantasy, and given the sweet matchup (Philly allow the most points to opposing WRs) you could see these numbers as early as this week.

Rob Housler continues to see 5 or 6 targets a game, and came down with 50 yards last week. Housler is Palmer’s 3rd option for sure, but his roles has increased and there are worse places to be than the 3rd best option on an offence that prioritises passing the football. Housler is ownable in all leageus and startable in 16 teamers this week.

Cardinals D/ST up against the Eagles doesn’t present a great matchup, but I think the Cards D is better than the Eagles offence and can see a top 12 performance. Stick with them.

 

St Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (Sunday 4.05pm ET)

 

Colin Kaepernick put up over 20 points for only the third time this season as the 49ers carved up the poor Redskins defence. However, this week he will have a returning Michael Crabtree to throw to and I can see a boost in his fantasy performances as a direct result. Anybody who watches the 49ers can see that not one young WR has stepped up and delivered, which has given Kaepernick just two guys to throw at. With Manningham and Crabtree back he should be putting up much better numbers in the air. This week I’d peg him at 10-14 points as I believe the game will be won or lost in the running game for either team.

Frank Gore once again was limited in terms of carries (13), but his production was also pretty poor against one of the worst run defences in the league. This week he has another soft matchup in the form of the Rams, who he scored 19.30 points on earlier this year, his second highest total of the season. Gore should be topping 100 yards easily and could climb into the 20+ points territory. I can see a stat line of 22-125-1 for Frank this week, play him accordingly.

Anquan Boldin had a great week, catching 2 TDs from Kaepernick in the win against the Redskins, but this week all the talk is about Michael Crabtree who will be making his return against the Rams. Crabtree has been fully rested and has said himself he can’t wait to get back on the field, but be aware he will be out of practice and real game-time minutes, so don’t expect the old Crabtree to rock up straight off, I’d expect Crabtree to see maybe half a dozen targets during the game. I think Boldin will benefit from the attention spent on Crabtree and put up WR2 numbers against the Rams. Don’t sleep on Manningham this week either, though his long term value is minimal.

Crabtree’s return will give Kaepernick, Davis, Boldin and even Manningham a boost this week -photo from www.zimbio.cop

Vernon Davis caught his 9th TD of the year this week and continues to provide some good fantasy scores. Davis had just 2 catches against the Rams earlier this year, but one went for a TD. I think Davis also benefits from the return of Crabtree and could notch 8-12 points for your fantasy team.

49ers D/ST have been on form lately and should be able to handle the Rams.

 

Kellen Clemens is not startable this week against one of the best NFL defences. Stay away and find somebody else.

Zac Stacy looks likely to start against the 49ers after leaving with a head injury against the Bears (but not before racking up over 15 fantasy points). I don’t like to bet against my own team, but if anyone can run on the 49ers it’s Stacy. Not one team has shown they can stop him, and even if he is limited by the 49ers, he should still provide an 8 point floor, something not to be sniffed at at this stage.

Tavon Austin did it again when I said he wouldn’t. However my point remains the same, Austin sees so few touches that it is impossible to predict if he will be fantasy relevant as all his points come in bunches and TDs. If you want a gamble then put him in as a flex player but I can’t with good conscience recommend him as a starter. He will either score you 2 points or 22.

Jared Cook scored a TD and had 80 yards on 5 targets (4 catches). However I benched him in my home league. This week I am starting him, so expect him to do absolutely nothing once again. In all honesty though, Cook’s production is too volatile to consider starting him in anything but the deepest leagues. Like mine, where it’s a choice between Cook, Stephen Hill and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Yeah I know. Terrible.

Rams D/ST could struggle against the 49ers, they are a good defence on the whole but the lack of a run defence hinders their overall value, D/ST12-16 at best this week I feel.

 

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks (Monday 8.40pm ET)

 

Russell Wilson will face his biggest challenge yet as a Seahawk as they face the in-form Saints and could clinch a playoff berth potentially. The matchup is a poor one though, and the Saints have allowed just 12.11 points to opposing QBs this year. Wilson may put up a decent score with his legs but is unlikely to beat the Saints in the air, where they have been excellent (just 11 passing TDs allowed and 3rd fewest yards in the league at 2388) Wilson would be a borderline starter in 12 team leagues.

Marshawn Lynch should be started at will. The kid is on fire, especially at home where he has averaged a staggering 20.86 fantasy points.

Percy Harvin will be back this week after a limited role in week 11 and a bye week to rest. I said earlier that the Saints are great at stopping passes, but Harvin is the kind of guy to get in on the action in other ways, like screens, end arounds and other plays. A couple of weeks ago I said tame your enthusiasm on Harvin but this week I’d unleash him as a WR2 in 12 team leagues. Golden Tate on the other hand may struggle a little but he always has that high upside in him with his ability to make big plays. I’d peg him as a low end flex with considerable upside. Doug Baldwin is startable only in 16 teamers.

Harvin could be the key to a Seattle victory, Wilson will go to him early and often – photo from sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Luke Willson and Zach Miller are not effective or reliable enough to start in any league.

Seahawks D/ST against Drew Brees? Something has to give, this time I say it’s Brees. Don’t forget the importance of the Seahawks playing at home here, I say they will score a top 10 D/ST score this week.

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