Week 13 is upon us, and as always, there’s a ton of appealing matchups on paper for fantasy purposes. Some of them stand head and shoulders above the rest, and they quickly turn into the chalk players of the week. Before we dig into the week’s top chalk selections and how to approach them, let’s take a look at the games that everyone will have on their radar this week.
Chalk Games Of The Week
Kansas City Chiefs @ Atlanta Falcons
This game has shootout written all over it, but we’ll have to wait and see if the Chiefs offense is willing to cooperate. The talent is certainly there, but Andy Reid and company seem to enjoy throwing a wrench into things. We’ll keep that in the back of our minds as a distinct possibility, but we won’t let it deter us from a matchup that should be chock full of fantasy goodness.
For starters, Matt Ryan at home is an appealing prospect. He’s cooled off over the past two weeks, but we’ll look for him to do his part to make this matchup live up to its billing. We all know that Julio Jones is capable of exploding at a moment’s notice, but we’ll expect him to receive some extra attention from a strong Chiefs secondary.
That could open things up for Taylor Gabriel, Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper. We’ll look towards Sanu as the sneaky upside option from this one, and expect Gabriel to attract strong interest off of his recent strong play. The return of Tevin Coleman limits the upside of Devonta Freeman, but both players at least deserve consideration for the multi-lineup crowd.
Moving on to the Chiefs, we find boom-bust possibilities up and down the lineups. Alex Smith can certainly hang if it devolves into a shootout, but it’s unclear if Reid will take the training wheels off. That relegates Smith to a contrarian option, but he’s an intriguing one at that. Tyreek Hill has been a revelation this season, and we can expect him to have some strong interest this week at his low price.
If Jeremy Maclin sits out again, we’ll share the enthusiasm - but we’ll temper it if Maclin’s good to go. Spencer Ware has been disappointing of late for fantasy purposes, but he has a prime matchup on his plate this week. The Falcons have allowed plenty of points to opposing backs in 2016, and it’s not too hard to see Ware adding to those totals in Week 13.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
This is another matchup that shapes up to be a shootout, and we’re not as nervous about both teams coming in with that mindset. There’s not many teams capable of slowing down Drew Brees at home, and we don’t anticipate the Lions being able to turn that trick. Michael Thomas is a solid stacking option with Brees, but we can expect Brandin Cooks to receive his fair share this week as well. He wasn’t pleased with his role last week, and we can expect a few extra targets to sail in his direction against the Lions.
Matthew Stafford also has plenty of options on the target front, and we could make a case for several Lions pass catchers. We’ll look towards Golden Tate as the safest option. For the running games, both Mark Ingram and Theo Riddick are appealing options this week. They both offer similar upside, and they’re similarly priced to boot.
In short, points are in the forecast down in New Orleans. The passing games are the preferred ways to attack it, and we can expect stacks featuring both Brees and Stafford to be quite popular. There’s no glaring reason to fade either player, and you’ll want some exposure to pass catchers even if you decide to roll with a different signal caller.
Let’s take a look at this week’s top chalk plays by position and how we can approach them for our lineups, starting with the quarterback position.
QB Drew Brees, $7,600. Despite being the week’s most expensive quarterback, we can expect interest to be extremely high in him this week. We outlined the shootout possibility up above, but that’s not the only reason why many users will be clicking the plus sign next to his name. He’s thrown 12 touchdowns over his past four games, and he also happened to top 300 passing yards in three of them. In short, Brees has been playing at a high level, and there’s no evidence that he’ll be cooling off this week.
There’s easily a case to be made for Brees as this week’s top signal caller, and he definitely deserves a spot on your short list. While there’s no valid reason to fade him outside of differentiation, you should know that you’ll have plenty of company. He’ll be quite popular this week, but there’s plenty of other places you can look at quarterback this week.
You can save a little cash and look towards the criminally underpriced Aaron Rodgers, or stay in the same price range and look towards Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford are some additional options for those looking to save a little money. Bottom line, don’t hesitate to roster Brees, but consider shaking things up elsewhere for a little uniqueness if you go that route.
RB Jordan Howard, $6,900. There’s a couple of valid choices for the chalk running back of the week, but we think that Howard’s low price and the futility of his opponent will help him win out. The 49ers have some serious problems with stopping the run, and Howard has the skill set to take advantage of that fact. Despite the massive upside, Howard has only cracked the 20 point threshold twice in 2016.
That gives us a little bit of pause, but we’ve seen numerous backs explode for monster outings this season. Howard is in good shape to be the latest entry to that list, but we’ll hold off on calling him a must play. That’s the realm of the much more expensive David Johnson, who we can also expect to be pretty popular this week.
LeVeon Bell and Melvin Gordon are also in line to produce at a similar level as Howard this week. Bell will cost you a pretty penny, but Gordon’s price is more in line with Howard’s. For a little uniqueness, LeSean McCoy is coming in off of a massive outing against the Jaguars, and he’s preparing to face off with the Raiders in a potentially high scoring affair. For cheaper backs with upside, there are plenty of options in Week 13 - namely Theo Riddick and Spencer Ware.
WR Mike Evans, $8,600. When a wide receiver delivers a multi-touchdown effort against the Seahawks, there’s a good chance that he’ll be on the radars of most users the following week. When you combine that with the fact that the receiver is in the midst of a stellar season in general, you can expect that receiver’s ownership percentage to be through the roof. That’s the situation that we find surrounding Mike Evans, who checks in as one this week’s most expensive wideouts.
He just may be worth every penny, as last week’s performance was his third multiple-touchdown outing of the season. Touchdowns aside, Evans sees a boatload of targets - and he hauls in a large amount of them. The Buccaneers face off against the Chargers this week in the late afternoon window on Sunday, and it has the markings of a potential shootout. Evans is a fantastic choice for Week 13, and he deserves a spot on your short list.
For differentiation purposes, he’s blanketed on the salary scale by Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. Both players are in line to be pretty popular as well, so we’ll have to dig a little deeper for uniqueness. Jordy Nelson and Larry Fitzgerald offer tremendous upside in their respective home matchups, and they come in much cheaper than Evans to boot. They’ll have their fair share of supporters as well, but it will likely be on a lower scale than Evans.
TE Jimmy Graham, $5,500. Graham is in a good spot to produce against the Panthers, which is a club that has allowed a few big games to opposing tight ends in 2016. His solid rapport with Russell Wilson won’t hurt his popularity either, and we can expect a stack of this pair to be a pretty popular choice. While he’s a solid choice for the week, there’s also plenty of other directions we can look to fill our tight end slot.
Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Tyler Eifert all check in at lower prices than Graham, but they all offer similar upside. Tight end as a whole has been pretty hit or miss this season, so we can expect most users to pull the trigger on the more reliable options for the week. For those that are inclined to take a little risk at the position, you can look towards Eric Ebron, Martellus Bennett and Vernon Davis. All three players offer some nice upside if their respective games break correctly, but there’s also a considerable risk of a poor outing from all three.
D New England Patriots, $3,700. The Patriots are the second-most expensive defense of the week, but there’s a pretty good chance that a bunch of users don’t look too far past them. The club is a big favorite at home against an offensively challenged squad. That squad is coming in with a rookie quarterback at the helm in the form of Jared Goff, and that’s typically not a recipe for success against a team led by Bill Belichick. Turnovers and sacks could be in the forecast up in New England, so you’ll want to give serious consideration to choosing the Patriots this week.
You can find similar upside in the same price range by choosing the Broncos or Seahawks, but both clubs should have their fair share of supporters as well. To really shake things up, you’ll have to look a little further down the salary scale. The Ravens and Packers look like the most appealing options if you’re looking to save a little money at defense, but this may be one of these weeks where you’ll want to pay up and look for uniqueness elsewhere.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 13. Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.