By: Henry John
BANK IT! It’s the final week of the Fantasy Football regular season and Hank’s Bank has got you covered with previews of every game on the menu! Looking for the latest breaking news on the Chiefs disappearance? Need a recap of all the injuries headlining the showdown at Lambeau? Wondering how I’m feeling about my preseason crush, the Los Angeles Chargers (Spoiler alert: AWESOME!)? Read on for all this and so much more! BANK THAT!
Patriots @ Bills
BANK IT: ALL THE ZAY JONES
Both Bills fans and fantasy performers alike have been waiting for the emergence of rookie Zay Jones in a thin receiving corps this season. The Kelvin Benjamin acquisition has fallen flat, as he will again be sidelined this week with a meniscus injury. Over the last three games though, Jones has finally made his presence known, posting his three highest yardage totals of the season and his first 2 NFL touchdowns. With the New England offense humming, the offense will need to keep up. Jones’ boom volume potential makes him a sound WR3 play this week.
Chiefs @ Jets
BANK IT: THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING CHIEFS
Kansas City may want to send out multiple private eyes to find out where exactly their offense has gone amid their 4-game losing streak. Early-season MVP hype for Alex Smith has been replaced by clamouring for rookie Patrick Mahomes. Smith has thrown 4 interceptions in the last three games after throwing none in his first eight. Kareem Hunt, once a fantasy superstar, has not found paydirt since Week 3 and is a risky play against the solid Jets run defense. The Jets are in do or die mode with regards to the wild card hunt, so it will be tough sledding for the Chiefs once again. Meanwhile, the porous K.C. secondary will be no match for Robby Anderson.
Broncos @ Dolphins
BANK IT: DOLPHIN DEBACLE
The 2017 season is quickly getting out of hand for the Dolphins. Jay Cutler will be thrust back into the starting QB position this week against his former team as Matt Moore has missed practice this week with a foot injury. While this would appear to be good news for DeVante Parker, the wideout has had his own drama in the past few weeks. A rushing attack to provide balance will be tough to come by against the Broncos number 1 run D per Football Outsiders. Denver trots out Trevor Siemian after he was (and never should have been) benched for one Brock Osweiler. With the Broncos operating out of a RB by committee system behind a putrid offensive line, this is a game to stay away from on all levels for fantasy purposes.
49ers @ Bears
BANK IT: JIMMY GAROPPOLO
With C.J. Beathard injured, San Francisco finally begins the Jimmy Garoppolo era this Sunday. In his brief appearance at the end of Week 12’s contest, Garoppolo threw a touchdown as time expired. While the Bears defense has been good at home, Garoppolo’s presence under center boosts the fantasy value of Marquise Goodwin and Carlos Hyde. Tight end George Kittle is also in the mix and expected to get an increased workload after his initial return from injury last week. Chicago’s offense is a death trap in fantasy with the exception being Jordan Howard, a great volume play against the awful Niners defense this week.
Lions @ Ravens
BANK IT: LIONS’ BACKFIELD
When can anyone make the outrageous claim of banking Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick over Golden Tate and Marvin Jones? When the Lions are playing a road game in Baltimore! The Ravens sport Football Outsiders’ number 1 overall defense and number 2 against the pass. Then there’s the fact that they have given up almost 6 more fantasy points on average to opposing running backs than wide receivers this year according to Fantasy Data. Abdullah and Riddick both will need to turn into receivers out of the backfield to help Matthew Stafford. For Baltimore, look for Danny Woodhead to continue seeing increased reps in his third game back from injury.
Vikings @ Falcons
BANK IT: THE THIELEN TRAIN
Adam Thielen has been a stud for the Vikings all year, but his production has really picked up since the team played in London in Week 8. Excluding the bye that followed, Thielen has posted yardage totals of 98, 166, 123, and 89 in weeks 8-12 with a touchdown in three of those games. With Case Keenum continuing to amaze on a weekly basis, it’s hard not to love Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph as the primary Minnesota pass catchers against Atlanta this week. The other side of the ball pits two top units in the Falcons offense and Vikings defense. How the outside matchup between Julio Jones and Xavier Rhodes plays out could be critical.
Buccaneers @ Packers
BANK IT: INJURIES ABOUND
Whether it’s players returning, exiting, or rejoining practice, all of the storylines for this game revolve around injuries. Jameis Winston is back under center for the Buccaneers after dealing with shoulder soreness and missing three games. Doug Martin is officially inactive with a concussion, and Cameron Brate, who figured to see a boost with Winston’s return, is now questionable with a hip injury. For the Packers, Ty Montgomery will once again be sidelined, and Aaron Jones is a game-time decision to return to action. And of course, a Week 15 Aaron Rodgers’ return has been on the minds of all cheeseheads fans. Brett Hundley will need to tread the water and get some wins until then. His favorite target, Davante Adams, is a great play against the poor Bucs secondary.
Texans @ Titans
BANK IT: DO OR DIE FOR SUPER MARIOTA
It looked like Marcus Mariota had a great game to get back on track against the Colts last week. 2 interceptions and just 184 yards passing later, Week 13’s matchup against another soft secondary in the Texans has been dubbed critical for Mariota and the Titans going forward. Marred by injuries early, Mariota simply hasn’t looked comfortable in the pocket. He needs to trust his reads and utilize Delanie Walker, Corey Davis, and game-time decision Rishard Matthews. On the Houston sideline, Tom Savage is another QB who has been plagued by turnovers. Bill O’Brien said this week that he wouldn’t be afraid to bench him if the trend continues.
Colts @ Jaguars
BANK IT: RUNNING FOURNETTE
The Jaguars were lucky to lose on a last-second field goal against the Cardinals last week. When Blake Bortles is your leading rusher with just 45 yards, the chances of a team win are slim. Leonard Fournette should be in line for a big bounce back against the Colts this week. He was able to practice fully for the first time in three weeks due to a nagging ankle injury. With the Jags defense a lock to stifle Jacoby Brissett and Co., Fournette will be the offensive feature of this game. For Indianapolis, Jack Doyle has played his way into being a weekly starter at the tight end position.
Browns @ Chargers
BANK IT: THE LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
NFL fans across the country are anticipating the return of Browns receiver Josh Gordon. While I am pulling hard for him as he puts his addiction days behind him, the Los Angeles Chargers cannot be overlooked. Now just a game out of first in the AFC West, the Chargers are rolling on both sides of the ball, and have a great schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Keenan Allen has finally had the massive games we were waiting for, Philip RIvers looks great and has cut down the turnovers, and Melvin Gordon has maintained a solid floor even with the emergence of the rosterable Austin Ekeler. DeShone Kizer and the Browns offense will struggle to keep up agaisnt Football Outsiders’ 6th ranked passing defense.
Rams @ Cardinals
BANK IT: DOWNGRADED RAMS
Even without leading receiver Robert Woods in Week 12, the Rams as a unit came together to make up for the lost production and end the Saints 8-game winning streak. Woods is doubtful again for Week 13, and the Cardinals sport a very good defense. Patrick Peterson will likely take Sammy Watkins out of the picture. And while the other corners leave a bit to be desired and should yield a nice game to Cooper Kupp, the Arizona rush defense is ranked 4th by Football Outsiders. Todd Gurley may have a tough go of it. Arizona’s offense has looked much better under Blaine Gabbert. Eyes will be fixed on upstart tight end Ricky Seals-Jones to see if his role and production continue.
Giants @ Raiders
BANK IT: THE GAME OF UNKNOWNS
While the Giants top wideouts Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall have been out for the season for weeks, the Raiders will be without Michael Crabtree (suspension) and Amari Cooper (concussion) as well for this matchup. The Giants have benched Eli Manning in the most embarrassing of ways this week for Geno Smith. As a Jets fan, I can attest: Smith is no NFL quarterback. The fantasy value of Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard takes a hit without Manning under center. For Oakland, Derek Carr will be throwing to Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton, and Cordarrelle Patterson, listed in my order of preference.
Panthers @ Saints
BANK IT: DECEPTIVE DEFENSES
Led by Cam Newton and Drew Brees, one would think the Panthers and Saints offenses would rule the day playing indoors. And while the various fantasy studs on both teams are must-starts as always, I’m taking quite the opposite vantage point on the game itself, predicting a low-scoring, defensive contest. Carolina is Football Outsiders’ number 7 overall defense while New Orleans is number 10. A “bend but don’t break” mentality will be brought on both sides. Offensively, the Panthers need to present more viable receiving options beyond Devin Funchess. The Saints will need to keep Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara rolling in the run and short passing games to open up the deep ball for Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr.
Eagles @ Seahawks
BANK IT: AVOIDING THE PHILLY BACKFIELD
Ever since Jay Ajayi’s arrival in Philadelphia, fantasy players and analysts have been trying to decipher when exactly the Eagles would put their ground game on his shoulders. Five weeks later, we still have no clarity. LeGarrette Blount, who many thought was the clear odd man out behind Ajayi and Corey Clement, led the team in carries and rushing yards in Week 12. My favorite Eagles back for Week 13? None of them. This game will be an aerial shootout between Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and two of the best passing offenses in football. If you have Ajayi, you’re probably starting him based on where you drafted him, but otherwise focus on the pass catchers from both teams and get ready for some points on Sunday Night Football.
Steelers @ Bengals
BANK IT: ANTONIO BROWN VS. A.J. GREEN
Two of the best receivers in the NFL will be on display in this AFC North divisional matchup Monday night. The difference in what could be a defensive game is the talent level surrounding them. For Antonio Brown and the Steelers, Le’Veon Bell has been balling like the pro he is out of the backfield. Add the return of JuJu Smith-Schuster this week and Pittsburgh may be able to avoid the “Road Ben” Roethlisberger woes that have plagued them. For A.J. Green and the Bengals, Joe Mixon had the best game of his rookie season last week against the Browns. He will need to build on that, and Cincinnati will need something out of Tyler Kroft as well against a Steelers defense only allowing 5.5 fantasy points per game to tight ends per Fantasy Data, good for 3rd in the league.