As the fantasy football playoffs approach, the Week 13 start ‘em, sit ‘em decisions will be the difference for many teams between making the postseason in your league and missing them altogether.
Owners need to know which underrated players must be in their starting lineups.
All of the following players likely haven’t been starters on your team for weeks, but a huge projected stat line in Week 13 should result in a much needed late-season victory.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been terrible this season, but the emergence of wide receiver Cecil Shorts III as a viable bye-week replacement in fantasy leagues has been a pleasant surprise for owners.
Despite going up against Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, Shorts should see enough targets through the course of the game to warrant a start in Week 13. Jacksonville often trails in the fourth quarter of games and has targeted the No. 1 receiver 10 or more times in eight of 10 games this season.
After catching just four passes in the two previous games, Shorts racked up eight catches last week for 71 yards. While Haden is still likely to cover the Jaguars wideout almost exclusively, he gave up six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown to Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12.
Shorts should see a similar workload Sunday and his production should be along the same lines as the numbers Brown put up against Haden and the Cleveland secondary.
Predicted Week 13 Stat Line: Eight receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have a plethora of talented running backs on the roster, but fumbling issues from Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount have opened the door for dual-threat back Shane Vereen to shine.
Vereen is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL, and his 23 receptions in just three games proves he is the checkdown Tom Brady has lacked all season. Week 13 offers a favorable matchup against the Houston Texans, and it could be a continuation of the coming-out party Vereen and the offense had Sunday night against the Denver Broncos.
With the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski from multiple offseason surgeries and the emergence of Vereen as a reliable every-down back, New England will be able to build consistency on the ground and build a more balanced offense.
Expect big numbers rushing and receiving for Vereen as long as he too doesn’t fumble the ball.
Predicted Week 13 Stat Line: 15 carries for 50 yards and one touchdown; eight receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has dealt with a high ankle sprain and a hamstring injury for the majority of this season, and his numbers show his struggles.
With just 20 receptions, 209 yards and one touchdown in eight games, White has been a fantasy bust.
Not in Week 13, though.
The Falcons take on the Buffalo Bills' lowly secondary. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has not played up to his normal standards this season, but a matchup with a defense that gave up 332 yards and five touchdowns to the New Orleans Saints is a dream come true for White owners.
White only had two receptions last Thursday, but he was double-teamed most of the game. Buffalo doesn’t have the speed or size to cover a powerful player like White on the outside, and Ryan will look to the veteran early and often.
Atlanta targeted White nine times in the team’s Week 11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and fantasy owners should expect similar numbers Sunday. Instead of getting shut down, White will have the chance to shine and should make the most of it with his best game of the season.
Predicted Week 13 Stat Line: Seven receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown.
*Based on standard-scoring leagues. All stats via NFL.com.