Gearing Up For the Playoffs: Start’Em / Sit’Em Week 13

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The playoffs are a’nearing. Each and every decision you make is crucial to making your own postseason from here on out.

Here’s some tips to gear up from your playoff stretch.

Start ‘Em:

Remember when you drafted DeAngelo Williams late in August. That new contract assured you D-Will would thrive in 2011; all that dough meant lots and lots of carries and fantasy glory.

Ugh, about that . . .

But last week, fantasy owners finally got a glimpse of what could have been. Williams posted 69 yards and two touchdowns on a season-high 15 carries. It does, however, have to be taken with a grain of salt – going against the porous Indy defense is pretty much a field day for any running back.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated he would like to see his team rush the ball at least 30 times per game, including at least a dozen carries apiece for Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and six for Cam Newton.

If that formula sticks for Week 13, give the edge to Williams and Stewart against the Bucs.

DeAngelo Williams returned to form against the porous Indy defense.

Williams, who is finally riding a wave of momentum in 2011, and Stewart, who’s making the most out of the workload he’s given, face a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed five double-digit fantasy point totals in three of their last five games, including a 160 yards per game average. During that span, the Bucs have surrendered 10 touchdowns and a trip to the end zone in six of their last seven games.

Overall, the Bucs allow the second most fantasy points to opposing backs. Cha-Ching! Heck, even Chris Johnson had his way with ‘em.

On the road, I really like the Panthers’ backfield’s prospects, as long as Rivera doesn’t fall in love with Newton’s stat line and remains dedicated to his running backs. Perhaps this is the week both find the end zone.

The last time A.J. Green lined up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was held to a single catch. Oh yeah, it was a 36-yard touchdown strike.

Green missed most of the previous Bengals-Steelers contest in Week 10 due to a knee injury, one that kept him from playing the following week.

Last week, however, Green returned . . . and he made it known.

Green caught three passes for 110 yards against the Browns’ No. 1-ranked pass defense. Of course the Steelers are no slouches on defense, but they have allowed opposing wide receivers to account for double-digit fantasy points in three of their last five games. They’ve also surrendered a touchdown in six of their last seven games, the exception, of course, being the Tyler Palko-led Chiefs.

Expect the Steelers to continue their tradition of taking away the running game when the Bengals travel to Heinz Field. That’ll force Andy Dalton to try and beat them through the air, and look to none other than Green to capitalize on his matchup with the Steelers cornerbacks.

I know. I know. The Jets have been dominant against the run as of late, limiting opposing backs to just nine total fantasy points and zero touchdowns since their bye week. But on closer examination, aside from Fred Jackson, who have they been stopping? (BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Willis McGahee and C.J. Spiller)

This week, as the Jets travel down to our nation’s capital, they’re run defense will finally be tested. Roy Helu will start against the Jets, who have allowed running backs to average 183 yards per game and surrendered six touchdowns on the road.

Helu, the fourth-round selection of the Redskins in the 2011 NFL Draft, is coming off a career-best performance in which he trounced the Seahawks defense for 108 yards on 23 carries and his first career touchdown. Previously, Seattle had not allowed a single 100-yard rusher at Qwest Field this season, and only two backs reached the end zone against them.

Roy Helu had a career-high in carries and yardage against Seattle, scoring his first career TD.

If the Jets plan to force Rex Grossman to beat them passing the ball, it’ll further boost Helu’s Week 13 stock. Helu led the Skins in targets (7) and was tied with Santana Moss and Jabar Gafney in receptions (7). He’ll be the center of the Washington offense Sunday.

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Sit ‘Em:

As of now, Miles Austin’s status for Sunday against the Cardinals is up in the air, though Jerry Jones believes his star wideout will suit up.

And if so, it’ll be a nice reward for those who drafted him. It won’t be for Laurent Robinson owners.

Robinson has shined without Austin in the lineup, and he’ll be the one who suffers as Austin returns in a tantalizing matchup against an Arizona defense that opposing wideouts have totaled more than 200 yards against in three of their last five games, and double-digit fantasy points in five of their last six.

Robinson will be relegated to the third wide receiver role if Austin starts, but don’t count on him to produce as he did over the last five games.

The Texans are going to move forward with T.J. Yates under center, which spells a bad string of games for Andre Johnson.

Johnson was targeted just three times last week against the Jags, hauling in a pair of passes for 22 yards in his return from a six-game absence. Unless the Texans fall into a deep deficit against Atlanta and they are forced to air it out every down, Johnson’s stock is on the decline.

Yates will rely on Arian Foster and Ben Tate to catch passes out of the backfield on check-down routes. Foster drew a team-high nine targets Sunday. He also showed a comfort level throwing to his tight end, Owen Daniels, who was targeted seven times.

T.J. Yates looked comfortable throwing to his backs and tight ends against the Jaguars, not Andre Johnson.

Unfortunately for owners of Texans players, Yates led the team to just a field goal. This offense could be heading towards trouble.

Last week, I warned you that with Adrian Peterson set to sit out, Percy Harvin would ultimately become the centerpiece of Minnesota’s offense.

Told you so.

Toby Gerhart, who actually got the nod as the team’s starting running back, did manage 17 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. But Gerhart is limited. He’s not a threat to catch passed out of the backfield for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Harvin, on the other hand, provides that added dimension, as he was targeted eight times against Atlanta.

It looks like A.P. will be held out again in Week 13, and I’m still not buying White Thunder (though, it is an awesome nickname).

The Broncos are the NFL’s 10th-best rush defense and have allowed just one touchdown all season. Only three backs ran for 100 yards against them, and a commonality among them: platoon backfields.

That’s right, only the Chargers and Raiders surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark, with their Ryan Mathews-Mike Tolbert, Darren McFadden-Michael Bush combos. Gerhart alone cannot match that workload.

Once again, I like Harvin more than I do White Thunder. Damn that nickname is cool.