Best, worst Week 13 matchups

Matt Flynn

The bye weeks are over, everyone has played 11 games and with Thanksgiving here, we are heading into the NFL's stretch run. With three games on Thursday, here's a look at the plus-minus projections for the notable fantasy players:

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: Anyone starting Scott Tolzien last week had to love his touchdown run, but overall it was a disappointing game. For Aaron Rodgers owners, can you trust Matt Flynn now? He's likely to get the start, hoping to recreate his 2011 magic, when he passed for 480 yards and six touchdowns against Detroit in a 45-41 win. He may need it, as the Lions have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs -- hence a minus-3 for Eddie Lacy. The Green Bay defense also has been struggling, so Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush are in great shape to make up for Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay in this battle for first place in the NFC North.

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys: If you spend Thanksgiving with your family and any of them are just casual football observers, then they must think Tony Romo is the greatest quarterback in the world. Romo averages 22.1 fantasy points on Thanksgiving and gets another favorable matchup here with Oakland's 23rd-ranked pass defense. For Oakland, Rashad Jennings is the top start against Dallas' 31st-ranked run defense. With Denarius Moore likely out, Rod Streater should be the top receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens: Do not be fooled by the 19-16 outcome in Week 7. Both offenses played well in a game with few possessions, but on a short week and with both teams desperately needing the win, expect a low-scoring affair. Ben Roethlisberger has been playing well, but receiver Antonio Brown is the real fantasy star with double-digit points in his past four games.

Here are the best and worst fantasy matchups for the rest of Week 13:

(Note: references to defensive rankings for the pass and run are based on Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, explained here).


Josh McCown (plus-3 points)

This one's hard to believe, but McCown has played well in all five of his appearances for the Bears this season. He even leads the NFL in Total QBR (81.0). It's time to trust him in his fourth start of the season. Minnesota (28th) is as bad as any pass defense he'll see.

Drew Brees (minus-6 points) and Philip Rivers (minus-5 points)

Normally elite projections, these two quarterbacks are playing against the two best pass defenses in the league with Brees in Seattle (No. 1) and Rivers hosting the Bengals (No. 2). Now, both already have overcome a very negative projection this season with brilliant games. Brees did it against Buffalo and Rivers did it in Week 12 in Kansas City. They have the ability to play well this week, too, but we should lower our expectations based on the matchup.

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