By Dalton Del Don
Justin Forsett, RB, SEA – Forsett ran for 130 yards on just 22 carries last week against the Rams, also scoring two touchdowns in the process. He's averaging 5.7 YPC on the year and continues to impress when given the opportunity. Forsett didn't record a catch in Week 12, but he racked up 18 receptions for 151 receiving yards over the three previous games, so even against tough run defenses and despite the fact Seattle's offensive line is shaky, he's a decent start regardless of matchup. Julius Jones' (rib/lung) status remains up in the air, but at this point, he needs to be relegated to backup duty regardless of his health. Forsett is clearly the superior running back.
Fred Jackson, RB, BUF – It's tough to get a good gauge on Buffalo's backfield situation, but Sunday may have marked a changing of the guard, as Jackson saw 20 touches compared to just four for Marshawn Lynch. While Lynch has averaged 3.1 YPC this season, the far more explosive Jackson has gotten 4.2 YPC, and he's also a better option as a receiver. The Bills' offense has really improved since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over quarterback duties (and since Dick Jauron was fired), so if Jackson truly is going to get the majority of carries, he would fast become an extremely valuable fantasy commodity down the stretch.
Chris Jennings, RB, CLE – With rumors swirling of Jamal Lewis being shut down for the season and placed on I.R., Cleveland has an opening in its backfield. Jerome Harrison remains in the mix, but he's fallen out of favor for some reason, so Jennings could be looking at a decent sized workload over the final stages of the season. The undrafted Jennings isn't a special talent, and the Browns' offense is terrible, but with the Chiefs and Raiders on Cleveland's upcoming schedule, he's worth stashing to see how things shake out.
Jason Avant, WR, PHI – Over the last three games, Avant has hauled in 17 catches for 276 receiving yards and a score. With DeSean Jackson looking unlikely to play Week 13 because of a concussion, Avant should see increased targets against a beatable Falcons' secondary. On an offense with a pass-first philosophy, it's a good situation to be in. Avant is a must-add in all leagues this week and makes for a decent flex option as long as Jackson is sidelined. Jeremy Maclin gets a boost in value as well, as he's now Philadelphia's No. 1 receiver.
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND – Garcon has at least 50 yards receiving in five straight games, and he's scored in two of the past three contests. He's fast emerging as Indy's No. 2 wide receiver, and with Anthony Gonzalez's (knee) return nowhere in sight, he should be able to finish the season that way. Having Peyton Manning throwing him passes is an obvious benefit, but Garcon himself has impressed, averaging 15.5 yards-per-catch and exhibiting strong ability to rack up yards after the catch. He's probably the Colts' most explosive option on offense right now.
Larry Johnson, RB, CIN – Johnson was given 22 carries last week, resulting in 107 yards (4.9 YPC) against the Browns. The matchup was favorable, and Cedric Benson is likely to return from his hip injury this week, but Bernard Scott (turf toe) is highly questionable for Week 13, so Johnson should remain involved in the offense. He'll likely take a backseat to the former starter once Benson proves he's back to 100 percent, but Cincy has gone ground heavy this season, and Johnson and the Bengals' rushing attack have an extremely favorable matchup at home against the Lions this week. He's at least worth stashing on benches now that he's apparently become the RB2 in Cincinnati.
Kenny Britt, WR, TEN – Britt had seven receptions for 128 yards and the game-winning touchdown catch last week, as he's emerging as Vince Young's favorite target. Tennessee remains a run-first team, as Young is rarely asked to throw more than 25 times in a given game, but the former first round pick has scored in back-to-back contests and should only get better with more experience. There aren't any other exciting options in the Titans' aerial attack, and after a tough matchup this week in Indy, Tennessee faces the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers all at home, so Britt is suddenly a viable fantasy option.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, SEA – Hasselbeck somehow managed just 102 passing yards (4.1 YPA) and zero touchdowns against a terrible Rams' secondary last week, and it's clear his best days are behind him. Despite an extremely favorable schedule, Hasselbeck has posted a 2:4 TD:INT ratio over the past four games, as he's been battling accuracy issues and a crumbling offensive line. Moreover, with Justin Forsett emerging as a big upgrade in the backfield, Seattle won't have to go so pass-heavy like when Julius Jones was getting shutdown.
Michael Turner, RB, ATL – Turner left last week after re-injuring his ankle, and it certainly appears he returned to action too soon. He was held out of practice Wednesday, and his status for Week 13 is in doubt. It's not a great matchup this week against a Philadelphia front seven that has allowed 3.9 YPC on the year, but Jason Snelling needs to be owned as insurance. Also, Jerious Norwood could become a big factor as well, especially if Turner is forced to miss multiple games.
Carson Palmer, QB, CIN – Palmer threw for just 110 yards against a bad Cleveland secondary at home last week, as the Bengals have really concentrated on running the football. In fact, Palmer hasn't attempted even 25 passes in each of the past two games, and he hasn't topped 35 attempts through the air since Week 4. Palmer hasn't played poorly, as he's limited interceptions, but he has just two touchdown tosses over the past four contests, and the team's philosophy clearly relies around its defense and rushing attack. With an upcoming schedule that gets much tougher starting in Week 14, Palmer and the Bengals are going to have to open it up or their season won't end well.
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL – Ryan suffered a turf toe injury last week, knocking him out of the game against the Bucs. The fact he was ruled out of Week 13 so soon isn't great news moving forward, as it appears the malady will keep him sidelined for a while. Ryan was struggling during his second year in the league, but Atlanta can ill afford losing its quarterback at this time of the year with the playoffs looking like a long shot. Chris Redman takes over QB duties, and it's worth noting the career journeyman played pretty well when last forced into action in 2007.
Jake Delhomme, QB, CAR – After another four-interception game last week (with a 41.2 completion percentage and 3.8 YPA), Delhomme is getting benched for Matt Moore. Delhomme also suffered a broken finger in last week's loss, but his play more than merited him sitting regardless. He's recorded an 8:18 TD:INT ratio this season, while also losing three fumbles and getting a career-low 6.3 YPA. After Steve Smith, there's little doubt Carolina has possibly the worst receiving situation in football, but the team also sports a strong running game, and Delhomme's ball security issues became too hard to ignore. Time to see what Moore can do.
Devin Hester, WR, CHI – Hester has totaled just 38 receiving yards over the past two weeks, as the Bears' passing attack continues to disappoint. He hasn't scored since Week 7 and is losing targets to Greg Olsen, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett. Still, despite the rough patch, Hester and the Bears have a tasty matchup at home against the Rams this week, as St. Louis' secondary has yielded 7.6 YPA and a 15:8 TD:INT ratio on the year.
Article first appeared 12/2/09