Week 13 Fantasy Football Busts: Brady, Barkley to fail owners when needed most

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/30972/" data-ylk="slk:Saquon Barkley">Saquon Barkley</a> has beasted for fantasy purposes this year, but with the Bears on deck, his worst game of the season could come at the worst time. (AP)
Saquon Barkley has beasted for fantasy purposes this year, but with the Bears on deck, his worst game of the season could come at the worst time. (AP)

Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes will leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 13 Lames in the comments section below.

Tom Brady, NE, QB (64 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $32)

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Matchup: vs. Min
Vegas line/total: NE -6, 48.5

Bears have become bipedal and are plotting to exact their revenge on the human race. We’re all going to Hades in a hand basket unless wholesale changes are made to protect our environment. And Brady, one of the game’s true living legends, is no longer must-start material. Yes, folks, the end is so very near. It’s been an honor serving and ruining your fantasy rosters for close to 15 years. The G.O.A.T.’s milk has grown sour. Precipitous declines in various completion percentage categories, including red-zone, deep-ball and under pressure, have greatly hindered Brady’s fantasy production. Though well protected (74.2 clean pocket%) and aggressive downfield (No. 8 in total air yards), Tom Tepid’s frequent disconnections have resulted in a rather vanilla QB14 fantasy points per game standing. Even against exploitable competition he’s fallen short of the 20 fantasy point line. Heck, the last time he crossed it was Week 7 in Chicago.

Fantasy owners obsessed with celebrity will continue to blindly trot out Brady, especially against a Minnesota defense presumably down Xavier Rhodes. That, however, would be a tactical error. Rhodes’ backup, Holten Hill, has restricted opponents when pressed into action. On 93 snaps played, he’s given up a 60.4 passer rating and 0.73 yards per snap to his assignments. In other words, the Vikes, who’ve yielded the second-fewest fantasy points, 7.1 pass yards per attempt and three passing scores to QBs since Week 8, won’t skip a beat. For Mr. Avocado Ice Cream another ho-hum tally is in store.

Fearless Forecast: 259 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 17.4 fantasy points

Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB (99 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $30)

Matchup: vs. Chi
Vegas line/total: N/A

In an era where workhorse running backs are an endangered species, Barkley and his 18-wheeler-pulling quads, is exactly what the position needed. Thank you, fantasy gods. In his inaugural campaign, he’s made all bullheaded nincompoops who refused to draft him in Round 1 out of fears of the unknown appear even dumber. The lesson here: extraordinary, multidimensional talent almost always transfers to the next level, particularly when gifted an exhaustive workload. Anyone who watched one nanosecond of Penn St. football last season saw the potential.

One of four running backs to rank inside the top-10 in YAC per attempt and elusive rating, the Giants’ Clydesdale (83.0% opportunity share) is destined to be an RB1 fixture for years to come. He’s totaled at least 100 yards in 10 of 11 games this season. Consistent. This week, however, could be his quietest effort of the season.

The Monsters of the Midway, led by man-eater Khalil Mack, have rediscovered their stonewalling ways. Alongside Mack’s routine strip sacks, Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks have stuffed numerous gaps. Each ranks top-10 in run-stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus. As a unit, the Bears have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points, 106.2 total yards per game, 3.41 yards per carry and seven total touchdowns to rushers. Frank Gore and, of all people, LeGarrette Blount are the only RBs to eclipse 100 total yards against them. This is admittedly a HUEVOS GIGANTES call, but Barkley doesn’t hit the century mark.

Fearless Forecast: 15 attempts, 54 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 35 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 11.4 fantasy points

Nick Chubb, Cle, RB (81 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $29)

Matchup: at Hou
Vegas line/total: Hou -6, 48

When fantasy owners engage in their annual August ritual of smack talk, heavy consumption and draft picks next year, Chubb’s name is sure to be called in Round 1. Post-Carlos Hyde trade, he’s earned the designation and then some. Shouldering exhaustive loads, the rookie is the eighth-most valuable running back since taking over lead duties, sandwiched between Alvin Kamara and Aaron Jones in the category. Over that stretch he’s netted 116.4 total yards per game and crossed the chalk six times. Beneath the surface, he’s even better.

A rolling beer keg, Chubb has compiled a league-leading 4.71 yards after contact per attempt and forced a missed tackle 22.1 percent of the time. And all of that was accomplished behind an averaging run-blocking line. Much like fellow greenhorn, Baker Mayfield, it appears the running back will be an indispensable mainspring in Cleveland moving forward. However, his matchup this week is a formidable undertaking.

Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt have done a masterful job containing the run. Saquon Barkley is the only running back to surpass 75 rush yards against them. Overall, the Texans have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points, 3.43 yards per carry, 73.5 rush yards per game and five rushing scores to RBs. Again, Chubb’s volume is awfully enticing, but a high-touch, low-yield outcome is entirely plausible.

Fearless Forecast: 21 attempts, 68 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 16 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.9 fantasy points

Michael Thomas, NO, WR (98 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $32)

Matchup: at Dal
Vegas line/total: NO -7.5, 52

New Orleans is a city filled with personality. Its centuries-long European influences are noticeable throughout the French Quarter, Garden District and all points in between. Yes, test tube shots and other debauchery on Bourbon Street are the allure for many travelers, but there are few American cities that possess such a blended tapestry. It’s a wonderfully unique locale. Current Big Easy denizen, Thomas, is also a one-of-a-kind. Not to offend Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins or Julio Jones advocates, but it could be argued the former Ohio St. standout is the best wide receiver in the game today.

He’s ridiculously reliable, flawless in his routes, tough after the catch and fearless in traffic. It’s no surprise he ranks numero uno in YAC, catch rate (88.7%) and contested catch rate (94.1%). Also top-10 in air yards, yards per target (11.1) and touchdowns, he’s the epitome of complete. In .5 PPR setups, he trails only Tyreek Hill, Adam Thielen and Davante Adams in fantasy points per game. Still, like any fantasy commodity, Thomas isn’t immune from the occasional dud performance. Four times this season he’s ventured into “Lame” territory. This week could mark his fifth trip.

Dallas DB Byron Jones is human duct tape. The man sticks to virtually everything. Among eligible DBs, he ranks top-10 in passer rating (67.4), yards per snap (0.62) and catch percentage allowed (50.0). He’s the primary reason why Dallas has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs. Expected to dance with Thomas most often outside, Jones should largely hold him in check. For the second-straight week, the Saints target leaves a bitter taste.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.3 fantasy points

Tyler Boyd, Cin, WR (63 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)

Matchup: vs. Den
Vegas line/total: Den -3.5, 42.5

Entering Week 13, the pressure that owners squarely on the playoff cusp are feeling is so intense it could produce a Hope-sized diamond. Start Boyd, however, and only cubic zirconia will be formed. With Andy Dalton done for the rest of the season, wildcard Jeff Driskel steps in. The promoted backup flashed at times last week, including a 28-yard TD hookup with Boyd, but his general inaccuracy (58.6 completion percentage) and short-arm throws (5.3 ypa) raise many questions. Muddying the waters, targets-hog A.J. Green may return to action, reducing the lion’s share role Boyd has taken on. With the multi-time Pro Bowler on the field Weeks 1-8, Boyd did tally the 15th-most valuable per game line in .5 PPR formats. Again, though, it was with an established passer throwing him the pill.

Additionally, the matchup isn’t the friendliest. Yes, JuJu Smith-Schuster used and abused Chris Harris out of the slot last week, but few have registered success against the DB. On the year, he’s given up a 63.6 passer rating and 0.84 yards per snap to his assignments. With the Broncos ultra-confident after a pair of gigantic wins, Boyd is an avoidable play in 10- and 12-team leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.2 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 13 LAMES (Over 50 percent started)

RB: Marlon Mack, Ind (at Jax; $22) – If cleared from concussion protocol, Mack is sure to make owner heads throb. Yes, the Jags have come unraveled. Blake Bortles’ days under center are done. OC Nathaniel Hackett was canned. Leonard Fournette is unlikely to play due to a one-game suspension. For a team minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl last year, 2018 has been wrought with disappointment. Still, the Jags have surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points, 3.82 yards per carry, 109.3 total yards per game and five total TDs to rushers. Mack, working alongside Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, finishes well outside the RB top-20. Recall, he accounted for just 38 combined yards the last time he faced Jacksonville in Week 10. (FF: 14 ATTS, 42 YDS, 2 RECS, 13 YDS, 0 TDS, 6.5 FPTS)

WR: Josh Gordon, NE (vs. Min; $18) – To suppress my infatuation for Gordon and feature him in this space is an extraordinary measure, but, as an objective fantasy prognosticator, it’s the right move. With or without Rhodes, the Vikings are a tall task for Gordon. As discussed above, Hill has played brilliantly when pressed into action, giving up a 60.4 passer rating and 0.73 yards per snap. Overall, the Vikings have yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to WRs since Week 5. Add it up and Gordon once again wades in mediocrity. (FF: 5 RECS, 66 YDS, 0 TDS, 9.1 FPTS)

WR: Allen Robinson, Chi (at NYG; $18)Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel? That is the question Robinson backers are grappling with. Daniel did fill the incumbent’s shoes brilliantly last Thursday in Detroit, but the receiver has logged his best numbers, though terribly unpredictable, with Trubisky at the controls. The Giants are going through the motions but have defended the pass well. On the season, they’ve conceded the eighth-fewest fantasy points to WRs. Robinson’s primary foe, B.W. Webb, hasn’t served up many explosive plays, ranking noticeably in passer rating (79.4 rating allowed) and yards per snap allowed (0.92 yards per snap). You can do better. (FF: 3 RECS, 49 YDS, 0 TDS, 6.4 FPTS)

TE: Austin Hooper, Atl (vs. Bal; $15) – After a quick start to the season, Hooper has tossed up multiple bricks over the past several weeks. Over his past five games, he’s found the end-zone once and has tallied just a single 50-plus yard game. Four tight ends have hit the pylons against the Ravens since Week 7, but the trust level with Hooper has diminished greatly. A Dan Arnold (at Dal), Gerald Everett (at Det) or, lower hanging fruit, Cameron Brate (vs. Car) are wiser options. (FF: 3 RECS, 41 YDS, 0 TDS, 5.6 FPTS)

DST: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. LAC; $17) – After heavy bombardments to begin the season, the Steelers have turned a corner defensively. Since Week 7, Joe Haden and Co. have allowed the fewest fantasy points to QBs, giving up 6.0 pass yards per attempt, 178.4 pass yards per game and six passing touchdowns. Without Melvin Gordon, the pressure elevates for Philip Rivers to deliver. Expect that to happen. The passer has been sacked just 20 times and has thrown six interceptions. In a contest sure to light up the scoreboard, the Steelers are untrustworthy. (FF: 23 PA, 458 YDSA, 2 SCK, 1 TO, 4.0 FPTS)

Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader record: 33-47

Brad record: 70-43 (WK12 – 5-4; W: Adrian Peterson, Tevin Coleman, Aaron Rodgers, Alshon Jeffery, Pittsburgh D/ST; L: Phillip Lindsay, T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, Corey Davis; DNP: Alex Collins)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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