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NFL Fantasy Football, Week 13 Preview: Running to the finish

The Chiefs square off against the Raiders in our game of the week and we'll spotlight some potential big matchups. Plus, we'll get into our longshot picks for those in need.

Ooops! Did we get ahead of our blockers on the Todd Gurley love?
Ooops! Did we get ahead of our blockers on the Todd Gurley love?
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

About 6 years ago, I ran my first half marathon. It was supposed to be kind of a bucket list thing - do it once, move on and move on to other challenges. Unfortunately, I found that I enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong - the actual running part wasn't all that great not to mention the chafing, blisters, and bloody nipples. There are good runs, where everything just works, and there are bad runs, where it all falls apart. For me, the runner's high never happens when actually running, but during the recovery period when I can reflect back on the run. I think fantasy football is a lot like that. The weekly grind can be addicting even if that work delivers its share of metaphorical chafing, blisters, and yes, bloody nipples. The FFB high comes after a long season grind, where we can look back and figure out if it was a good run or a bad run. We're almost home, with a measly 2 weeks left to grind through the hard work. Remember, getting to the playoffs is skill, winning it once you get there is mostly luck. So let's dig into lucky Week 13.

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders - This week's slate lacks some of the top end games we've had over the past couple weeks. Given our look last week at the Vikings in this spot, who have a good one against the Seahawks coming up, I'm interested in this Chiefs / Raiders rivalry game. I was in KC earlier this year for the Bears game and they love their tailgating and BBQ. I don't know that they'd be allowed in the Black Hole though as these two teams don't play nice together. Kansas City is 6-5 and currently holding down a playoff slot while the Raiders are only a game behind them at 5-6. This should be an interesting game with some quality FFB action.

On the Kansas City side of the ball, the big story has been Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. West inherited the bell-cow back role from Jamaal Charles after the injury and appeared to be a huge boon for whoever scooped him up. Spencer Ware stepped in for an injured West and did the same thing. Starting to wonder if Andy Reid could make Trent Richardson look like a professional running back. Anyway, we should get West back this week and this is a good matchup for him to continue his run. This should also be a good chance for Alex Smith to throw the freaking ball to Travis Kelce. Oakland gets absolutely destroyed by tight ends and Kelce is one of the best...if only Smith would give him more than 7 targets a game.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr should be able to throw on the Chiefs, as Tyrod Taylor had a lot of success last week hooking up with Sammy Watkins. I would expect Carr to be able to find Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree early and often and try to play with a lead and make Kansas City throw the ball. In a shootout, I like Oakland's chances as I like Carr's talent more than Smith's and I think the talent gap at WR is even bigger. In fact, I think Cooper has a good chance to put up the best game of his career in this one.


Cam Newton vs. New Orleans - There are a few excellent QB matchups this week (Brady vs. Eagles, Dalton vs. Browns), but Cam Newton is at the top of his game and gets to play our BFF defense, the New Orleans Saints. Cam might run out of dance moves &/or footballs to hand to fans after scores in this one.  Cam is currently in the top 5 for QBs in our fake game and is certainly in the top 5 for the MVP discussion - maybe even the frontrunner. Cam has put together a few excellent games this year and while I expect this to be another, my only concern is the game being over by halftime. We need to start thinking about Cam in the conversation with Rodgers and company when drafting QBs next year.

T.Y. Hilton vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - Lost in the muck of the Andrew Luck issues is the inconsistent play of Hilton this year. TY was downright dominant last year at times and it looked like the Luck / Hilton combination was going to be up in lights this year. He has been incredibly inconsistent this year, catching almost exactly half of his targets (51 of 103). In fact, his best game this year was against the Saints where he caught 4 of 15 balls for 150 yards and 2 scores. 4 of 15! Hilton has some soft matchups remaining on the schedule and appears to have found a rapport with Matt Hasselbeck. I'd like to see him burn it down against the Steelers weak secondary this week.

Todd Gurley vs. Arizona Cardinals - Alert! Alert! We may have put Todd Gurley into the Hall of Fame a little prematurely. Gurley's production has taken a nose dive since tearing through the Packers, Browns, and 49ers. Geez...writing that makes me feel silly for jumping onto the Gurley hysteria. He's incredibly talented, no doubt, but he needs to get back on track and put some good games on the field. 9 carries for 19 yards last week against the Bengals is panic button time. The Cardinals D will come to play and will give us the best indication of whether or not Gurley should be in our lineups Week 16 against the Seahawks.

4 Defenses to Use - You've got to feel good about playing the Patriots defense against whatever they're doing over there in Philly. That defense is going to need to step up its game with Gronk out. I'd also feel good about the Bengals defense getting Austin Davis and the Browns. The Broncos continue to be a smart play, this week against the Chargers. I can't believe I'm going to do this, but feel free to run with the Chicago Bears D against the 49ers this weekend. I know Blaine Gabbert has been playing better than expected but this 49ers team hasn't traveled well this year. Plus...I really think there's a little extra motivation for the players to rally behind Vic Fangio.

4 Defenses to Abuse - Play all of your Panthers (vs. Saints) - all of ‘em. Do it. I'd also play my Bengals with confidence against the Browns - that means you, Marvin Jones - and my Patriots against the Eagles. Roll out your shiny new Scott Chandler waiver wire addition with confidence. I think it's also safe to play your Chiefs against the Raiders, as discussed above.

Shotgun Longshot - Ryan Fitzpatrick - There's a lot to like in the QB stream this week with Alex Smith vs. Oakland and even Matt Hasselbeck against the Steelers, but my preferred play is the Harvard man, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Giants secondary has been user friendly this year and Fitzpatrick has been on fire. This is an easy play for anyone as mad at Matt Ryan as I am. Switch a Ryan for a Ryan.

Toss Sweep Sleeper - Shaun Draughn - Okay, I know I just recommended the Bears D above but the 48% owned Draughn gets to attack the weak part of the Bears defense. Honestly, just about everyone has run on us and I think Draughn is worth starting for those in need (which, to be fair, we all are).

Fly Route Flier - DeVante Parker or Kenny Stills - With Rishard Matthews out, there are targets to be had in the Dolphins offense. Lucky for these guys, the Ravens are quite generous to opposing WRs. I've played the game with Stills one too many times and been left holding a goose egg. I think Parker will get the targets and Stills is always the HR threat. If you're stretched at WR, I'd look up one of these widely available Dolphins.

What are you looking forward to the most this weekend?