Finally out of the byes, we are at full strength this week, which is both great and difficult. It means you probably have more decisions than ever to make in a week where, for many folks, the stakes couldn't be higher. You need a win to get into the playoffs, a win to improve seeding, a win to keep the person you can't stand out of the playoffs or, in some non-standard ESPN leagues, a win to secure a bye in Week 14.
So with many choices, decisions become even harder, especially at running back this week, where I felt many of the big-name guys have tough matchups. They are studs for a reason, so you're starting them but certainly, in a must-win week, you'd love it if Marshawn Lynch weren't facing San Francisco or Matt Forte were facing a team other than Detroit. On the flip side, be happy if you aren't facing my No. 1 player overall this week, Le'Veon Bell in his home date with New Orleans.
Beyond the starting lineup, I hope you've listened and have built your bench for the playoffs. I'd much rather have the backup to my stud running back than a No. 5 or No. 6 back that I am ideally never going to play. If I own Forte, I'd much rather have Ka'Deem Carey than, say, Jonathan Stewart or Chris Ivory. If Forte gets hurt, you'd feel much better about starting Carey than some low-upside, low-usage "starting" running back on another team.
What else can you do with your bench? Start looking at upcoming schedule for team defenses. I'd never draft more than one defense, but at this point I'd be OK rostering multiple defenses to play the matchups and, just as important, prevent my competition from playing them against me. I could easily see grabbing, say, the Giants this week for their matchup with the Jaguars, especially if you owned the Patriots and were reluctant to play them at Green Bay, but it may be worth holding on to them if only for their date with the New York Jets in Week 16.
In short, this is a money week. This is where you earn your keep as an owner. From whom to roster, to whom to start, to whom to drop. As you make these moves, please keep in mind the most important piece of advice I can ever give about fantasy football.
Fantasy football is, at its fundamental level, all about minimizing risk and putting yourself in the best position to win. That simple. Play the odds, hope for the best and let the chips fall where they may.
I'm here to help but ultimately, your team is your team. You've studied everything, you know your players, your matchups, your opponent, your league's scoring a lot better than I. So take a look at these rankings (updated throughout the week) and then ask yourself what's most likely to happen?
And then, you know, do that.
As always, these rankings will be updated throughout the week, and will change drastically once the six Thanksgiving teams have played and they are removed Friday. So check back often, have a great and safe holiday weekend and may the odds be in your favor in Week 13.
(Updated Sat., 10:09 p.m. ET)