Week 13, the most critical of the fantasy season for many, comes with its own brand of musical accompaniment. Whether it's "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, "Save the Best for Last" by Vanessa Williams or, in an effort to prove I'm not 100 years old, "F--- You" by Cee Lo Green, there is surely an apt song out there to conjure up your current fantasy mindset. (For the record, the Cee Lo choice is reflective of my thoughts after being Brees-ed last night and losing by a point to my opponent, who happens to be my fantasy nemesis. Grrr.)
But turn off the music for a minute and pay attention because most leagues' playoffs start Week 14, which means sporting the right lineup this week can make or break you. This week's waiver options are not as robust as normal, mainly because we didn't see as many injuries during Week 12 as we did earlier in the season. But that doesn't mean there weren't a few injuries, plus the usual crop of new guys getting hot at just the right time.
Here are this week's best options:
Vince Young, Philadelphia QB: With Michael Vick sitting out practice to begin the week, it seems likely that Young will get another start Thursday night against the Seahawks. Don't expect another 400-yard passing effort out of Young (thank you, Patriots), but he could have some opportunities against an inconsistent Seattle secondary.
Johnny Knox, Chicago WR: New Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie has a new best friend and his name is Johnny Knox. Knox was targeted 10 times last week on his way to four catches, 145 yards and a touchdown. Expect Hanie to continue to look Knox's way, as the Bears have a favorable matchup against the Chiefs this week. Also, Jay Cutler's favorite target, Earl Bennett, appears to be a nonfactor, so you should upgrade Knox's roster position.
Alex Smith, San Francisco QB: Smith was stymied by the Ravens on Thanksgiving, but don't expect the Rams to be able to do the same. The 49ers' offensive line should allow Smith to pick back up where he left off a couple of weeks ago: throwing the ball more than expected, to numerous targets, all in an effort to build a multidimensional offense heading to the playoffs.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo RB: Spiller, who was mentioned in this space last week, had a rough time against the Jets, rushing for 55 yards on 2.9 yards per carry and adding 15 receiving yards. But he has a better matchup this week against Tennessee. With Fred Jackson out for the season, Spiller should continue to be the workhorse for Buffalo.
Roy Helu, Washington RB: "He's our starter for sure," said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan yesterday in reference to Helu. Shanahan has been the ultimate flip-flopper when it comes to his running backs, but because of Helu's impressive performance last week -- 108 yards rushing, 54 yards receiving and one touchdown -- we'll believe him. For now.
New England defense: Terrible secondary aside, the Pats face the Colts this week, which means one of my Top 5 fantasy rules for 2011 applies to them: Any defense (except Carolina's) playing the Colts should be considered for a start. The Colts get more demoralized each week, and other than last week against Carolina, haven't put up more than 10 points since Week 6.
A few notes:
Raiders running back Darren McFadden is out of his walking boot and participated in a light workout Monday. If he gets more involved in practice, there's a chance he could play this week. Michael Bush owners should secure a backup just in case. Monitor this one closely.
Kevin Smith's MRI came back negative and it turns out Smith has a mild ankle sprain, much less severe than originally feared. He could play against the Saints this week. This is another one to monitor. Also, Jahvid Best was placed on injured reserve, so Smith has his opportunity if he can stay healthy.
The Texans' quarterback situation is just plain sad at this point. T.J. Yates is the starter for now, but I would imagine his leash is short, especially considering how he played last week. The Texans look like they'll be signing either Jeff Garcia or Jake Delhomme as Yates' "backup." If you really want to get creative and throw a dart, then pick up whichever '90s throwback becomes the newest Texan. I don't actually condone this, but Houston's aerial weaponry remains intriguing.
If you have questions about waivers or trades, or just want to commiserate about how it feels to face Drew Brees, the comment section is all yours. Just a reminder that I will be answering all your start/sit questions at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN.com. Hope you'll join me!