Week 13 Fantasy Sleepers: Surging Hundley to push owners into playoffs

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Week 13 Flames: Pint-sized McKinnon, Cohen to post enlarged numbers 

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 13 Flames in the comments section below.

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[Week 13 fantasy rankings: Overall | PPR | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Ks]

Alex Smith, KC, QB (47 percent started, $33 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at NYJ (Game over/under: 44)

Can you hear the footsteps, Alex? Though Andy Reid remains steadfast in his commitment to Smith, KC’s faithful is starting to express their disdain for the quarterback. Amplified through megaphones, they want Patrick Mahomes to seize the reins. Yes, he’s an inexperienced rookie, but their passionate pleas are completely justified. The Chiefs, losers in five of their past six games, have gone from sure-fire to bubble playoff team. Yes, they are still in the diver’s seat of the AFC West, but hard-charging Los Angeles is breathing down their neck. Smith, who shed his game-manager image early in the season, has reverted. Since Week 8, he ranks an embarrassing No. 19 in fantasy points per game at the position. His sharp regression in completion percentage, touchdown rate and yards per attempt support the precipitous decline. Mahomes, who’s equally athletic but features a bazooka arm compared to the incumbent, could possibly reverse the club’s course. However, this is the week Smith gets right. The Jets pass defense, dragged down by the poor execution of Buster Skrine and Darryl Roberts (Total: 99.1 passer rating, 7 TDs allowed), present the ideal remedy. On the year, it has conceded 286.1 pass yards per game, 20 pass touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to signal-callers. It’s a ripe situation. Stumble again, however, and the screams for Mahomes will shatter eardrums.

Fearless Forecast: 269 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 turnovers, 19 rushing yards, 20.2 fantasy points

Jerick McKinnon, Min, RB (58 percent started, $18 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Atl (Over/Under: 47.5)

Oh how quickly the tables can turn. Only weeks ago, fantasy owners stiff armed Latavius Murray in favor of Minnesota’s lightning bolt. McKinnon, versatile, open-field explosive and running with previously unseen vigor, earned the upper hand in the backfield timeshare. But since Week 7 a very different story has unfolded. Over that five-game stretch, Murray has resurrected Pro Bowl form previously witnessed in Oakland. He’s blasted through initial contact (2.93 YAC/att), recorded 4.48 yards per carry and dominated work at the goal-line (five TDs). Ranking RB7 during that span, he’s completely outdistanced his rushing compadre (RB29) in standard leagues and put to rest concerns about his surgically repaired ankle. Though it seems McKinnon has been pushed out to sea, the plucky rusher is the Viking to employ this week in Atlanta. The Falcons, rigid in the trenches thanks to Derrick Shelby and Grady Jarrett, have given up an unattractive 3.98 yards per carry and five rushing TDs to RBs in 11 games. However, as documented repeatedly in this space, they’re very beatable in the short field. No defense has surrendered more receptions to the RB position (6.3 per game). The SPARQ heartthrob, who’s posted a 76.1 catch percentage and forced a missed tackle on 25 percent of his receptions, is in line to regain RB2 status. Trust him with the utmost confidence as a FLEX, at a minimum, in .5 PPR or greater formats.

Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 42 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 37 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.4 fantasy points

Tarik Cohen, Chi, RB (10 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. SF (Over/Under: 40)

Yogi. Berenstain. Paddington. Whatever cartoon bear you use to describe Chicago’s current state, it applies. There’s no use in sugarcoating, the team stinks. Hardly competitive last week against the juggernaut Eagles, it was picked apart in every facet. But San Francisco, still very blemished on the year and generally horrendous on defense, brings a unique opportunity. Quite possibly, this is the week the Bears molt their incompetent skins and fire on all cylinders offensively, including underused Cohen. Unquestionably, Jordan Howard is John Fox’s workhorse. In closely played affairs, he regularly nets 18-22 touches and threatens 100 yards. However, he remains limited in the pass game. That’s where the rookie comes in. This is the week Cohen could actually exceed his usually 34.9 percent snap share. The Niners have allowed 4.9 receptions per game and a league-high 59.6 receiving yards per game to the position. Mix in their atrociousness between the tackles (112.9 rush yards per game to RBs) and there’s a clear path to 60-plus total yards and a possible score for the bottle rocket. Light the wick.

Fearless Forecast: 6 carries, 22 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.2 fantasy points

Zay Jones, Buf, WR (3 percent started, $14 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at NE (Over/Under: 49)

At the beginning of the season, “Good morning Football’s” Peter Schrager and I placed a friendly wager on which rookie WR would lead the 2017 Draft class in receptions. He, correctly, sided with Cooper Kupp. Yours truly, a perpetual loser according to detractors and trolls, banked on Jones. Clearly Zay, down considerably in the category (23 to 46), has miles to travel to make the competition respectable, but he’s started to gain considerable momentum in recent weeks. Netting 24 total targets in his past three games, he’s amassed 13 receptions for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His persistent drops, misguided routes and general mistakes from earlier this year are no longer plaguing. Though an argument for Charles Clay can be made, Zay is Tyrod Taylor’s No. 1 target. With or without Kelvin Benjamin, I suspect that narrative won’t change in Week 13. Many believe his opponent, New England, has turned a corner defensively, but that’s deceiving. Yes, the Pats have battened down the hatches against the run, but they are still highly beatable vertically. Since Week 6, they’ve given up the third-most yards, five touchdowns and ninth-most points to WRs. Add a likely negative script and Jones has WR2 potential in 12-team leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 56 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.6 fantasy points

Ted Ginn Jr., NO, WR (38 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Car (Over/Under: 48)

Ginn is the rollercoaster attraction at any amusement park. His game log features numerous undulations and unpredictable turns. Six times he climbed the peak tallying 10-plus points in .5 PPR formats. Five times he tumbled into a valley failing to finish inside the WR top-36. He’s a thrill ride few would be willing to stand in line for, but this week, strapping yourself into the lead car is suggested. Carolina, burned by Robby Anderson for two TDs last week, sports an accommodating secondary. On the year, starters Daryl Worley and James Bradberry have surrendered a combined 98.9 passer rating, six touchdowns and 12.4 yards per catch to their assignments. It’s apparent the Saints are highly reliant on the one-two punch of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, but their presence only benefits Ginn despite his limited opportunities (12.8 TGT%). New Orleans’ injuries in the secondary, particularly to Marshon Lattimore, is another factor. Throw in the fact Ginn has stunningly developed hands that rival Michael Thomas’ – his 81.4 catch rate impossibly ranks No. 2 among all WRs – and he’s a bargain basement buy at $15 in Yahoo DFS.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points

WEEK 13 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Brett Hundley, GB, QB (1 percent started, $21 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. TB (Over/Under: OFF)

The evolution of Hundley is nothing shy of extraordinary. Just three weeks ago he couldn’t squarely hit the Incredible Hulk on a shallow cross. But in an extremely difficult tilt against Baltimore in Week 12 he made strides, ripping a handful of passes crisply and accurately downfield. However, it was Sunday night in Pittsburgh when everything really clicked. Poised in the pocket and aggressive, he attacked a Joe Haden-less Steelers secondary with the tenacity of Brett Favre. Nearly flawless, he completed 65.4 percent of his attempts, notched a stirring 9.4 yards per attempt and tossed three end-zone strikes. He was held to only six rushing yards, but the colossal step taken spoke volumes about his immediate potential. It’s important to remember he’s still surrounded by one of the best arsenals in the league. Yes, even with Jordy Nelson in a deep statistical hibernation. For DFS purposes, Hundley, at $21 in the Yahoo game, is better than scoring that heavily discounted Vitamix blender off Amazon on Cyber Monday. Tampa, as evidenced by Julio Jones’ volcanic eruption last week, features one of the worst secondaries in the league. It ranks top-five in most fantasy points allowed to passers, giving up 8.0 yards per attempt, 288.6 pass yards and 1.6 pass touchdowns per game. With his confidence rising, Hundley is a stream option sure to provide a rich statistical reward.

Fearless Forecast: 263 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 21 rushing yards, 23.6 fantasy points


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?

Fan Week 12 results: 1-6 (Season: 30-55)
My Week 12 results: 6-6 (Season: 53-83; W: Samaje Perine, Philip Rivers, Mo Sanu, New England D/ST, Martavis Bryant, Dion Lewis, Ben Watson; L: Derrick Henry, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Sheppard, Duke Johnson; DNP: Sterling Shepard)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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