Welcome to Week 13’s Fantasy Football Rundown. What you’ll find here is at least one sentence on every fantasy viable player in each game this week. There’s a lot to talk about. I would highly recommending using your browser’s search function if you’re looking for a particular player.
Sunday 10:00am PST
Cleveland at Tennessee presents an interesting match-up for both squads. While both teams feature their running back, in albeit non-traditional, analytically-backed ways, they do so at differing frequencies. Cleveland runs just 61.5 plays per game, firmly in the slowest third of the NFL. Tennessee, meanwhile, runs 64.5 per game — solidly in the middle of the league. The cake match-ups for both backfields should provide enough meat for both units to feast, but there’s a chance that Cleveland could negatively impact the overall fantasy outcome on both sides, should they sufficiently establish themselves on the scoreboard first.
That said, the Browns’ passing game should experience one of their better outings against a Titans’ defense that’s plagued by pass rush issues. Tennessee’s 17.9% QB pressure rate is second only to Cincinnati’s atrocious front-seven, which should allow a peaceful presence of mind for the struggling Baker Mayfield. Now, it’s worth noting that the Titans’ secondary is not the problem as their 11 interceptions rank 7th in the NFL and 67 passes defended is actually the league’s top mark. But Mayfield’s dearth of non-wide receiver pass catching options should help him avoid Tennessee’s ball-hawking secondary en route to streamable fantasy production. “Aided” by their 23 passing touchdowns allowed, 2nd-most in the NFL, Tennessee is allowing 18.7 FPPG to opposing signal callers, the NFL’s 5th-highest weekly sum.
Perhaps because of Tennessee’s focus on snatching/batting footballs thrown their way — in a jump-route manner — Tennesee is allowing the 2nd-highest catch total per game to opposing wide receivers, 16, on their way to allowing the 8th-most .5PPR PPG to the position overall, 30.5. As a result, pass catcher extraordinaire, Jarvis Landry, should have no issue piling up points and hauling in balls against Tennessee. He’s a high-end flex play with a near impenetrable floor.
Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge are operating as the No. 2 and 3 receivers, respectively, and the match-up provide deep league boom/bust flex viability with Higgins as the preferred choice. Their downfield routes could result in a few splash plays.
Despite all three tight ends absorbing outstanding snaps shares — the trio clear 60% of the snaps or more, each, lat week — Austin Hooper is the only fantasy-relevant option, as David Njoku and Harrison Bryant have seen just three total targets between the two of them since Cleveland’s Week 9 bye. Hooper’s nine during that same span isn’t exactly world-beating though. Tennessee offers exciting opportunity, allowing 10.6 .5PPR PPG to the position (10.6), but given the snap counts of Njoku and Bryant, Hooper can only be deployed as a highly volatile TE1 option.
It took three weeks but Nick Chubb, for the first time since his return from injury, out-snapped backfield-mate Kareem Hunt last week (61% to 42%). Chubb’s usage was excellent too, out-carrying Hunt, 19-10, and even out-targeting Hunt, three to two(!). Against Tennesee’s Bottom-8 fantasy unit, Chubb can once again be trusted to produce at an elite RB1. Although Chubb’s return has dropped Hunt’s range of outcomes, Week 12’s 10 carries and two targets still made him the team’s second-most used player after Chubb. He’s on the RB2/high-end flex border.
Ryan Tannehill’s high-floor is secured in a delicious match-up against a thoroughly mediocre Browns’ defense. The Browns just barely produce more QB pressure than Tennessee, taking the 3rd-worst spot in the league with their 18.5% pressure rate, comfort in the pocket for the Titans’ signal caller. The Browns’ 53 passes defended (8th-most) almost appears indicative of a secondary that struggles to secure interceptions — their middling total of nine doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of many. Similarly, their 22 passing touchdowns allowed is tied for 6th-most in the NFL. Although pace might impact his ceiling, Tannehill should carry a floor of 17-18 points, with a solid ceiling, this week. He’s a locked-in QB1.
Given the run-heavy nature of the Titans’ offense A.J. Brown will likely never leap into the elite realm of 9+ targets per game — as it currently stands, he’s seeing 7.2. But the way that the Titans’ passing offense operates makes his targets much more valuable than the many receivers who are seeing more opportunities than he is. The Titans’ play-action-heavy offense — 129 play-action pass attempts this year, 2nd-most in the NFL — helps their pass catchers routinely gash secondaries for monster gains, none more so than A.J. Brown. The 2nd-year receiver’s 15.3 .5PPR PPG are 6th-most in the league, a mark that accurately represents his place in the position’s elite. Consider Brown week-in, week-out WR1 with an especially stellar ceiling this week, given the match-up.
No. 2 perimeter wide receiver Corey Davis has had a number of productive weeks, in a row now, but slot receiver Adam Humphries (concussion) practiced in full on Wednesday and should be back for the Week 13 contest. Humphries is likely to siphon work from both Davis and the two pass catching tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser, operating as a safety blanket option for Tannehill. That said, Cleveland’s secondary is bound to give up chunk plays and Davis is well-suited to take advantage of that with his team-leading 11.8 average intended air yards. Deploy Davis as his typical boom/bust flex-self, albeit with a great shot at hauling a few long ones this week. Humphries, meanwhile, should at least return value as a high-floor flex play in PPR leagues. Slot receivers like Willie Snead (4/4-64-1), CeeDee Lamb (5/7-79-2), Tyler Boyd (11/13-101-1), and Hunter Renfrow (4/4-26-1) have all had great success against the Browns this year.
Fantasy managers will need to monitor the status of boom/bust tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) who registered a Did Not Practice designation on Wednesday. Should Smith miss Week 13, No. 2 pass catching tight end Anthony Firsker would immediately vault onto the high-end streaming radar as he’d face next to no target competition from block-only tight end Geoff Swaim. That the Browns are offering the 6th-most .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends (10.7) is the icing on the cake (match-up).
At this point Derrick Henry has proven himself to be a match-up-proof, elite RB1. The Browns have played the run fairly well this year (1,190 rushing yards — 10th-fewest — and 10 rushing touchdowns — 12th-fewest) but with Tennessee’s highly efficient play-action passing game, opposing defense cannot afford to load the box with 8+ defenders, ensuring consistently manageable situations for Henry upon receiving the hand-off. If defenses had any hope of stopping Henry, they’d have to drastically increase the frequency with which 8+ men are stacked in the box. Currently, defenses only put 8 or more defenders in Henry’s path on just 26.56% of his snaps. That number falls firmly in the middle (14th) of the league average rates. Given the question marks surrounding the injuries of Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara (foot) and Dalvin Cook (ankle), Henry gets the overall RB1 spot this week.
Jeremy McNichols and D’Onta Foreman are just handcuffs.
Raiders and Jets
The Jets’ defense as a whole is in contention for worst in the league, but of course, the Raiders’ is as well. In sum, the New York’s 322 points allowed is 4th-most in the NFL, while Las Vegas’ 319 can be found in the next spot down. Both squads also own single-digit interception totals, in a league where the leaders hang in the mid-teens. The two pass rush units own QB pressure rates found in the bottom half of the league, while their missed tackle totals — the Raiders at 104 and the Jets at 95 — rank 1st and 2nd-worst, respectively.
The most likely outcome for this game is that the Raiders control the clock with running back Josh Jacobs (RB11), nuking QB Derek Carr’s fantasy outlook. Raiders’ tight end Darren Waller can, as always, be started as a stellar TE1 option though as his workload is largely bulletproof. Downfield receivers Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs make for outrageously low-floor flex options who could just as easily streak down the field for along score. Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow is just a high-floor play. The curve ball here though is Josh Jacobs’ ankle injury. Fantasy managers need to monitor his practice status as it could be Devontae Booker in the driver’s seat on Sunday morning, if Jacobs is unable to go. Pass catching back Jalen Richard sees just enough work to hurt Jacbs’ ceiling but not enough for fantasy relevance of his own.
Former Sam Darnold favorite, slot receiver Jamison Crowder is too tough to trust after being rendered obsolete in recent weeks. Downfield receivers Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims have a shot to return flex value, with the studly Perriman as the favorite for a touchdown. Game-script is likely to feature those two and NYJ tries to keep pace with Las Vegas. Darnold is still not a recommended start though. Tight end Chris Herndon is not fantasy relevant but running back Frank Gore, is seeing enough work for high-floor flex consideration.
Short staffed last week, fill-in QB Mike Glennon acquitted himself well against the Cleveland Browns despite being without the team’s top two pass catchers in D.J. Chark and Chris Conley. Although Gardner Minshew (thumb) has been cleared to play, the team is rolling with Glennon — a possible indication that Minshew is no longer thought of as their QB of the future. Facing a Minnesota Vikings secondary that’s allowed the 10th-most passing yards (2,874) and is tied with their Week 13 opponent for the 2nd-most passing touchdowns allowed (23), with an abysmal QB pressure rate (19.8%), Glennon is firmly in the streaming conversation.
Should D.J. Chark (ribs) and Chris Conley (hip) return to action, both can be fired up as flex options whose average targeted air yard marks (13.4 and 11, respectively) pair nicely with Glennon’s third deepest average intended air yards mark of Week 13 (10.8). The receiving duo managed limited participation in practice to start the week, a good sign for their availability.
Keelan Cole Sr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. would be relegated to low-end flex plays, with the former’s unique usage giving him some chance at a good week, given the stellar match-up.
A fantasy folly of this writer, advice urged by local writer and football film watcher, James Wolf, was ignored last week when Wolf advocated for backup receiver Collin Johnson to be considered as a strong flex option in Week 12. In his words via private communication, “backups build rapport with backups; Glennon has thrown to Collin a lot on the practice field... [the] day 3 prospect from Texas... Anyone 6’6” 220lbs should be given a chance”. The next day, Johnson went on to lead the team in targets (8), yards (96) and found himself on the receiving end of one of Glennon’s two touchdowns. Prior to his Week 12 80% snap share, Johnson’s season-high had peaked at just 31%. Following such a strong performance, it stands to reason that Johnson will once again be in the team’s plans, perhaps kicking Keelan Cole to the curb. Expect Johnson to be given a chance at locking down the No. 4 receiver role and deploy him as a low-floor/high-ceiling flex option. This is a great match-up for Johnson to build on his sound Week 12 performance.
Sticking with the big-bodied theme, both tight ends, Tyler Eifert and James O’Shaughnessy were decently involved in last week’s game plan, totalling 8 targets between them and Eifert finding the endzone. Eifert is a TE2 streaming option this week.
Concerns over running back James Robinson being game-scripted out of relevance have been completely quashed at this point. Almost never leading on the scoreboard, a fact reflected by their 1-10 record, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made Robinson their full-time bellcow. As evidenced by the chart below, created by Sam Hoppen, Robinson’s deployment stays steady no matter the team’s win probability.
Robinson has established himself as a member of the position’s elite. He’s a Top 5 play this week.
As mentioned before, this game features capable offenses and terrible defenses, setting the table for a fantasy friendly feast on both sides. With Jacksonville’s QB pressure rate (18.8%) coming within a percentage and a half of the league’s lowest mark, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins should find himself in comfortable pockets all morning. Armed with a stellar receiving corps, mostly being held back by subpar coaching, Cousins rises to the back-end of the QB1 ranks this week. He’s the QB11 overall.
Fully rested after being forced out of last week’s game due to a false positive COVID-19 test, wide receiver Adam Thielen is primed for a monster day against Jacksonville’s flailing secondary. He’s a Top 5 option at the position this week. Stud rookie Justin Jefferson is right there with him, posting the 2nd-highest .5PPR total (56.1) over the last three weeks. He’s a locked-in Top 12 option.
Olabisi Johnson and Chad Beebe both blew up the box score last week in the team’s nail-biting win over Carolina. Sifting through the slot route snap shares, it’s clear to see that Beebe’s the most likely to return flex value this week as the team’s primary slot receiver in 3-wide sets. Johnson is up for flex consideration in deep league’s only.
With tight end Irv Smith Jr. (groin) recording back-to-back Did Not Participate practice designations to start the week, it’s looking like Kyle Rudolph will be the only real pass catching tight end running routes on Sunday. the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing the 5th-most .5PPR PPG to opposing tight ends (12.2), cementing Rudolph’s status as a TE1 streamer.
Although nursing a minor ankle injury suffered in Week 12’s win, Dalvin Cook kicked off the week with a promising limited practice participation on Wednesday. The Vikings’ bellcow should be good to go. Cook takes the No. 2 spot on this week’s Tiered Running Back Rankings.
Alexander Mattison is just a handcuff.
The Miami Dolphins’ secondary has allowed the 2nd-fewest passing touchdowns this year (13), while recording the 3rd-most passes defended (57) and 7th-most interceptions (11). Do not start Brandon Allen against them.
Although slot receiver Tyler Boyd was the most targeted player (6) in Allen’s debut last week, the two couldn’t get on the same page. Instead, it was Tee Higgins who retained the most fantasy value, while tight end Drew Sample operated as the safety blanket option, catching 4 of 5 targets for 40 yards. Both Higgins and Boyd tip the scales as low-grade flex plays. Sample falls somewhere in the TE20-32 range.
Running back Giovani Bernard maintained lead back duties last week but failed to return flex value. Miami has been far more friendly to opposing backfields, content to invest in their pass defense personnel while opponents run their way to a loss. If Frank Gore can post flex-worthy numbers against the Dolphins (18-74 rushing and 3/3-12 receiving), so can Gio.
Samaje Perine is just a handcuff.
Rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) recorded back-to-back limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, putting him on track to play on Sunday. Although good for the long term future of the franchise, the immediate outlook of the Dolphins’ pass catchers is lessened with Ryan Fitzpatrick riding the pine. That said, Cincinnati’s league-worst QB pressure rate (17.6%) should help Tua work his way towards mid-tier QB2 numbers.
Update: Tua Tagovailoa reportedly suffered a setback with his thumb injury this week, likely giving way to another Ryan Fitzpatrick start in Week 13. With the aforementioned tremendous match-up, Fitz can be counted on as a Top 12 option this week.
DeVante Parker has a sky-high ceiling in this one, especially with Fitzpatrick at the helm. The duo’s production in Weeks 2-6 and Week 12 was extremely fantasy friendly and we should expect more of the same here. Parker is safely a Top 15 option.
Evidently unsatisfied with Jakeem Grant’s receiving production, both Antonio Callaway and Mack Hollins have had their roles increased in recent weeks. Callaway is the most talented (and troubled) player of the bunch, giving him the highest ceiling. Grant’ breakneck speed still gives him a shot at relevance, especially with his return game involvement. Hollins is extremely risky. All three are deep league flex considerations with contrarian DFS intrigue.
Tight end Mike Gesicki performs far better with Fitzpatrick than he does Tua. The former’s performance cements Gesicki’s place as an elite TE1 option. The Bengals are allowing the 3rd-most .5PPR PPG (12.6), furthering Gesicki’s upside. Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen are not recommended plays.
All signs point to Week 13 being the Myles Gaskin Show. Per Hal Habib, both Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) and DeAndre Washington (hamstring) are both listed as Doubtful for Sunday morning’s game. Gaskin (MCL) has been practicing for two weeks now while on Injured Reserve and Matt Breida has an illness. Should Gaskin be active, a move Miami’s brass must make on Saturday, he would immediately return to his pre-injury RB2 status. Cinicnnati has been blasted for 1,501 rushing yards this year, 3rd-most in the NFL, which bodes very well for Gaskin’s outlook, as does Miami being favored by -11.5 at home — the 2nd-largest spread of Week 13 at the moment.. Breida could return high-floor flex value in Gaskin’s return. He would be a high-end flex play, should Gaskin sit.
Patrick Laird and rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. would figure into the equation were both Gaskin and Breida to sit.
Update 11/4/20: Matt Breida has been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List, per Cameron Wolfe, increasing the likelihood of Gaskin seeing a monster workload. Laird is now in flex territory in full-point PPR leagues.
Colts’ QB Philip Rivers is cruising on a three-game streak, netting him the 8th-most fantasy points at the position. With match-ups against Houston (twice) and Las Vegas on tap — all in domed environments, a plus for his withering arm — he’s primed for another studly three-game stretch. Although there’s fear of game script taking a toll, as the Texans have allowed the 2nd-most rushing yards (1,702) and the 5th-most rushing touchdowns (15) this year, efficiency should be the name of the game here. Houston is also Top 12 in both passing yards (2,803) and passing touchdowns (20) allowed. Their abysmal secondary has registered just 3 interceptions (fewest in the league) and 35 passes defended (5th-fewest). Rivers is a high-end QB2.
Opposing receivers have torched the Texans’ for the 9th-most .5PPR PPG (32.4), and the 3rd-most receiving touchdowns (1.3), providing a get-right spot for rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and, for those interested in testing the devil, T.Y. Hilton. Count on Pittman as a match-up-based high-end flex play. Hilton can be gambled on as a cavernous-floor/dubious ceiling flex option. Zach Pascal has an outisde shot at high-floor flex value.
Tight end Trey Burton has passed Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle in recent weeks, as the Colts’ lone trustworthy tight end. Consider Burton a low-end TE1 option in a potential shootout.
With Jonathan Taylor returning from the COVID-19/Reserve List, the Indy backfield has once again been thrown into disarray. Taylor was the clear-cut lead back in Week 11 so there’s reason to believe he’ll be ushered back into that spot in a great match-up gainst the Texans’ aforemenionted dreadful defense. But if Houston is able to push the pace, Nyheim Hines will undoubtedly be called upon as the team’s primary pass catching back. Consider Taylor a high-ceiling high-floor flex play — and the same goes for Hines. Jordan Wilkins is not fantasy-relevant as the team’s third wheel.
The loss of Will Fuller is devastating, both emotionally for this writer and for Deshuan Watson’s on-field outlook. In the post-Fuller world, Brandin Cooks enters the position’s fantasy elite as the Texans’ downfield, primary receiver. Since Bill O’Brien’s firing between Weeks 4 and 5, Cooks has posted WR11 .5PPR results, and can be expected to maintain that production at minimum. Although Cooks will inevitably see tougher coverage assignments without Fuller, in fantasy football, volume is king. Cooks is a locked-in WR1. Watson, meanwhile, has been robbed of his most-tenured and accomplished play-maker. While this undeniably caps his passing outlooks for the rest of 2020, it’s entirely possible the loss of a passing game weapon increases his desire to get the job done on his own by tucking the ball and running more often. The uncertainty drops Watson to the QB7 spot but fantasy mangers should remain optimistic on his return to the position’s Top 3.
Forgotten slot receiver Keke Coutee is now the team’s No. 2 pass catcher, with Kenny Stills cut and Randall Cobb on Injured Reserve. Indy’s lock-down secondary (26.8 .5PPR PPG, 6th-fewest) limits him to just a high-floor flex play this week though. Coutee will remain fantasy-felevant as a flex play for the remainder of the year.
The No. 3 WR spot is unclear at this point but Isaiah Coulter looks to be the favorite. He could be stashed if necessary.
Tight ends Jordan Akins and Darren Fells continue to be function as a solid real-life duo and a bad fantasy one. Both are tought to trust as anything more than dart throw TE2s.
Lead back David Johnson (concussion) is on track to play in Week 13. His 20-touch floor is secure after Duke Johnson Jr. completely failed to impress in relief duty over the last three weeks. The return of stud DE DeForest Buckner dings DJ’s ceiling a bit but again, volume is king. Johnson remains a back-end RB2 while Duke can be dropped in all formats.
Outside of tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Lions’ offense is a complete avoid for fantasy purposes.
A evidenced by his Week 1 20/36-242-3-0 passing and 3-26 rushing lines, Mitchell Trubisky has actually played fairly well against the divisional rival Lions. His performance, of course, hinges on the availability of star wide receiver, Allen Robinson, who was removed from practice on Friday as a “precautionary” measure due to a knee injury, Chris Emma. Assuming A-Rob is good to go, Trubisky is as well as a high-floor/high-ceiling QB2. Allen Robinson will contend for overall WR1 honors again this week, facing a Lions secondary that’s allowing the 9th-most .5PPR PPG (32.4).
Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller are both just risky flex plays.
Although tight end Jimmy Graham carries touchdown-upside, as he currently sits as the league’s 2nd-most targeted tight end in the red zone, it appears as though rookie Cole Kmet may have just stolen Graham’s job after Kmet’s snap share continued its upward trajectory last week. Consider the duo in the TE12-15 range with Kmet as the current favorite to return fantasy value.
In his return from the concussion protocol in Week 12, lead back David Montgomery matched his season-high snap share mark (85%), en route to an RB1 finish against Green Bay’s lacking defensive-front. With minimal backfield competition, Montgomery takes the overall RB13 ranking into a Week 13 date with the NFL’s most RB-friendly defense. Detroit is allowing a whopping 30.3 .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields.
Saints QB Taysom Hill has posted 10 carries, 40+ rushing yards, and 2 touchdowns in each of his two starts for New Orleans, cementing his QB1 floor and now faces the ATL defense that the Saints shellacked just two weeks ago. Atlanta’s 3,206 passing yards allowed this year (2nd-most) and 22 passing touchdowns allowed (6th-most) ensure another fruitful outing for Hill at QB. Start him with confidence as a QB1.
Taysom Hill-target-magnet, wide receiver Michael Thomas was upgraded to a full participant in practice on Friday, indicating it’s all-systems-go for the All Pro. Thomas is a high-floor WR2 with easy Top 12 upside for Hill’s (likely) last game as a starter.
New Orleans employed a run-heavy game plan last week, featuring the big-boded Latavius Murray all day long against the offensivly incapable Chicago Bears. Although a return to a more pass friendly environment with Atlanta’s high-powered offense on the other side of the ball, Emmanuel Sanders rises to high-floor flex territory but is likely to be limited in the ceiling department.
The remaining NOLA WRs are not fantasy-relevant.
Head coach Sean Payton has kicked pass catching tight end Jared Cook to the curb, in favor of capable blocking tight ends Adam Trautman and Josh Hill. None of them are fantasy-relevant though.
Saints’ CB Janoris Jenkins is out this week, and as noted by Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks on twitter, the Saints have seen a league-leading sum of 25+ yard passes downfield. Jenkins manned up on Falcons’ stud receiver Calvin Ridley in Week 11 and the former’s absence is likely to mean many of the incoming deep shots will be completed. Accordingly, pass catching dynamo, running back Alvin Kamara should see a bit more action than he has over the last two weeks. Still the Saints’ reliance on Latavius Murray to batter and bruise would-be tacklers, while Taysom Hill is under center, drops Kamara to the RB2 ranks. Likewise, Murray is elevated to high-end RB2 status for Week 13.
The fantasy production of Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan is intrinsically tied to the health of wide receiver Julio Jones. Dr. Jesse Morse of The Fantasy Doctors has been adamant that Julio needs to take extended time off to deal with the scar tissue issues that currently plague the receiver’s hamstring. The Good Doctor’s advice has ranged from lowering expectations to avoiding if at all possible, something fantasy managers obviously do not want to hear. The dominant receiver is an undeniable Hall of Fame talent but the Questionable designation he’s earned ahead of Week 13’s game is not reassuring. If possible, make other plans. If not, understand that a bust week is fully within Julio’s range of outcomes — as is a stellar week, made possible by Julio’s one-of-a-kind talent. Matt Ryan brings up the rear of the high-floor/high-ceiling QB2 ranks.
Dr. Morse’ prognosis for Calvin Ridley’s ankle injury is that he’s cocked, locked, and ready to rock. Ridley’s an elite WR1 play, especially with Julio far from 100%.
With Olamide Zaccheus heading to Injured Reserve, slot receiver Russell Gage should be a regularly used player in the passing game. Gage deserves high-floor flex status with a shot at a high ceiling if Julio is out.
Christian Blake would round out 3-wide sets, should Julio sit. He would not be an advisable fantasy start though.
Although he rarely posts ceiling games, high-floor TE1 Hayden Hurst should continue his sturdy ways.
Running back Todd Gurley (knee) sandwiched a Thursday Did Not Participate practice designation in between limited sessions on Wednesday and Friday, making it unclear as to what his status for Sunday is. It’s likely that the coaching staff won’t want to push Gurley until he’s really ready to go. Expect another week of Brian Hill and Ito Smith splitting work for Week 13. Although Smith out-touched Hill last week, Hill was the starter and saw more time on the field. One possible explanation for the Smith-heavy day have been the fact that Atlanta hopped out to a 23-6 lead at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, perhaps reducing the need for Hill to be on the field. Whatever the case may be, both backs tip the scales as mid-tier flex options, assuming Gurley sits.
Sunday 1:05-1:25pm PST
With Giants’ QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) Doubtful, Colt McCoy is set to start in Seattle. The Giants’ terrible play-calling and McCoy’s general lack of talent render him just a QB3, despite a stellar. Seattle’s league-leading 3,617 passing yards allowed give go-to receiver Sterling Shepard a chance to return flex value but McCoy’s installation puts all of the pass catching targets on shaky ground. Tight end Evan Engram maintains back-end TE1 usage, given the likelihood of a safety blanket role.
The remaining pass catchers cannot be used this week.
Running back Wayne Gallman has been killing it for week’s now but in Week 13, there’s cause for concern. Colt McCoy will undoubtedly struggle to move the team downfield and Seattle’s front-seven has yielded just the 3rd-fewest rushing yards (982) on the year. Their penchance for allowing rushing touchdowns (15 — 5th-most) gives Gallman a shot to stay hovering around the Top 24 borderline though.
Dion Lewis and Alfred Morris are not fantasy-relevant.
Arrogant and ignorant, Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has now affirmed the writing on the wall: Seattle will be returning to their inefficient, run-first ways. Russell Wilson will continue to operate with his Hall of Fame caliber efficiency when allowed to pass, keeping him in the weekly Top 12 conversation, but with an opponent as tough as the New York Giants’ defense on tap, Wilson tumbles to the back portion of the QB1 tier.
D.K. Metcalf must now do battle with lock-down cornerback James Bradberry on a reduced target count. The talent and QB-WR connection is likely enough to overcome it but consider Metcalf more of a WR10-12 than the Top 3 option he’d become earlier this year.
As evidenced by slot receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/6-69-2), Cooper Kupp (5/7-69-1), CeeDee Lamb (8/11-124), and Greg Ward (5/6-42-1), Tyler Lockett has a great match-up on hand this week. Expect sturdy Top 15 results from him.
No. 3 receiver David Moore, as well as tight ends Jacob Hollister and Will Dissly are not fantasy-relevant this week.
With Carlos Hyde ailing (toe), Chris Carson should receive a full compliment of snaps and touches this week, en route to a Top 12 finish. Backup RB DeeJay Dallas should see decent relief duty with Travis Homer (wrist/thumb/knee) listed as Doubtful, along with Hyde this week. DJD is just a low-end flex play though.
Las Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s mid-tier defense should be too much of an issue for the Rams but but game script could hurt everyone. Jared Goff, ever a situational quarterback retains his middling QB2 status, while Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods continue to be the team’s only bankable fantasy assets. Kupp and Woods are both high-floor/high-ceiling WR2s.
No. 3 WR/deep threat Josh Reynolds has had an up-and-down season but Arizona does give him a chance at a good week. In the Cardinals’ most recent two games, downfield receivers Stefon Diggs (10/10-93-1) and D.K. Metcalf (3/5-46-1) both found success against Arizona’s secondary. Reynolds is firmly on the boom/bust flex radar.
Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee continue their uroboros of a season, destroying each other’s fantasy possibilities on a weekly basis. Against a Cards’ defense that’s allowing just the 6th-fewest .5PPR PPG to the position (7.4), both players should be avoided.
Running back Cam Akers has out-produced both Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown in back-to-back weeks while playing far fewer snaps. Deploying members of this three-headed backfield comes with intense risk — RBs trios always create murky waters for fantasy purposes. However, much of Arizona’s front-seven now resides on Injured Reserve, which brings intrigue to the the Rams rumblers. With consecutive strong showings, Akers can be flexed, albeit boldly, in this solid match-up. Choosing between Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. is a toss-up. Brown provides a veteran mindset and Henderson is the far more explosive athlete. Both are risky flex plays.
The bottom fell out of quarterback Kyler Murray’s fantasy floor in Week 12’s loss to the Patriots as the 2nd-year signal caller was clearly limited by his shoulder injury. Were the injury simply lowering Murray’s passing output, this would not be cause for concern. It appears, however, that since getting nicked up in their Week 11 loss to Seattle Murray has been reticent to takes hits from linebackers, while rushing in the open field. Against a Rams’ defense that’s limited passing games to just 2,239 passing yards (3rd-fewest) and 11 passing touchdowns (the fewest), fantasy managers may wish to look elsewhere. Perhaps most disconcerting, LAR has held quarterbacks to just 15.1 rushing yards per game (13th-fewest in the NFL). Murray’s talent, play-calling, and supporting cast keep him qualified for a QB1 ranking but there is an enticing bevvy of steaming options that my offer superior results this week.
No longer seeing unholy target totals and preparing to face Rams’ lock-down cornerback Jalen Ramsey, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins must be thought of as more of a high-end WR2 this week than an elite WR1.
Fellow wide receiver Christian Kirk is just an ill-advised boom/bust flex option, despite the potential for an increased workload with veteran slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald unlikely to be removed from the COVID-19/Reserve List in time for the Sunday afternoon game.
Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson are not recommended flex starts.
Tight end Dan Arnold has seen a nice bump in usage over the last few games but it’s still not enough for him to garner fantasy consideration.
Lead back Kenyan Drake is suddenly seeing dual threat usage, hopping from target totals in the 1-2 range to 5 and 4 over the last two weeks, aiding his fantasy cause. Likewise, Drake’s dominated red zone carries during that span, getting 12 totes inside the 20 while rest of the team’s totaled just 2. Looking at the team’s RZ carry data as a whole, it’s plain to see that Drake’s been the biggest beneficiary of Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury as Murray has the 2nd-highest RZ carry total on the team this year. With the quarterback still on the road to recovery, it’s all-systems-go for Drake, who finds himself in the back-end of the RB1 ranks this week.
No. 2 back Chase Edmonds is just a high-floor flex play.
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
The state of the Chargers’ defense has been one to monitor all year, as the highly talented unit perennially faces some of the worst injury luck in the league. Mostly healthy up front, the back-end of LA’s defense has begun to turn the corner too. Notably, the now-rich man’s version of Cam Newton, Josh Allen was held to a passing line of 18/24-157-1-1 and 9-32-1 rushing. Playing with significantly less talented pass catching options, Newton can only be deployed as a highly variant, low-floor/high-ceiling QB2.
The only Patriots’ receiver truly worthy of a Top 48 ranking is Cam’s top option, Jakobi Meyers. Meyers has largely only been fantasy-relevant when seeing gargantuan workloads though, a tough thing to depend on.
Damiere Byrd is an extremely risky boom/bust flex option.
There are no fantasy-relevant tight ends on the Patriots’ roster.
Running back Damien Harris has a stranglehold on the banger back role but his ceiling is terribly capped with his lack of receiving game usage. Against the Chargers’ solidly moderate run defense, Harris carries 50/50 touchdown odds as a flex play.
James White has managed to produce flex-worthy numbers despite wonky usage over the last two weeks. The Patriots clearly recognize that, in an albeit limited fashion, White is one of their best bets to move the chains on a weekly basis. He’s a high-floor flex play in Week 13.
Sony Michel is not fantasy-relevant at this time.
The Patriots have generally done a good job slowing opposing passing games, producing a sturdy QB pressure rate (24.5% — 8th-highest) and the league’s 4th-best interception total (12). Their diligent tackling has likely helped in the overall production column, having missed just 62 tackles on the year, 5th-fewest on the year. Fortunately for LAC their top receiving weapon, slot receiver Keenan Allen, will mostly avoid coverage from stud perimeter cornerback Stephon Gilmore and lead back Austin Ekeler returned to action last week (hamstring) and looked great doing so. QB Justin Herbert remains an elite option at his position, as does Allen — the league most targeted wide receiver (122).
Downfield receivers like D.K. Metcalf (4/6-92-1), Breshad Perriman (5/7-101-2), and the Texans’ former WR duo of Brandin Cooks (4/5-85) and Will Fuller (6/8-80) have all found success against the big-bodied Stephon Gilmore. On the surface, this looks like a good match-up for Mike Williams, who plays the deep threat role for LA. Unfortunately though, speed is a key aspect of the aforementioned receivers’ games. Williams is much more of a physical, jump-ball type of guy. It’s possible Williams is able to return flex value but it’s probably best to look elsewhere. He’s a thoroughly boom/bust player this week.
No. 3 WR Jalen Guyton is not fantasy-relevant this week.
Tight end Hunter Henry has been on a three-week tear, crushing opposing defenses to the tune of 34.0 .5PPR points — 3rd-most during that span. That said, New England has erased opposing tight ends this year, limiting the position to just 7.2 .5PPR PPG, 4th-fewest in the league. Unless Henry managers managed to pickup someone in-season, like a dropped Dallas Goedert or breakout tight end Robert Tonyan, Henry’s still likely to be the best bet to produce at the highest rate. Henry remains a Top 12 option.
As Establish The Run’s Adam Levitan pointed out on twitter, running back Austin Ekeler returned from his multi-week injury absence and racked up a career-high 25 touches — including a whopping 16 targets — in Week 12, silencing any questions as to his readiness to return. That kind of bulletproof usage is what elite RB1s are made of. Against New England’s mid-tier front-seven (20.1 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing RBs — 17th-most), Ekeler warrants a Top 3 ranking at the position.
Kalen Ballage (ankle) got in a full practice on Friday, inserting himself into the No. 2 RB role. He likely won’t see enough usage to garner flex consideration but he must be rostered in all formats as an elite fantasy handcuff.
The remaining backs are just stashes.
Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz isn’t long for Philadelphia. Regardless of his ability, his decision making is seemingly shot. As illustrated by the historically accomplished high school coach, Kevin Kelley of the notorious Pulaski Academy, much of Wentz’s struggles are self-inflicted:
Although Philly’s O-Line has been weakened by injury, Wentz bears a hefty share of responsibility for his league-leading (by a margin of 11!) 46 sacks.
Even though Green Bay doesn’t present the toughest of match-ups (18.7% QB pressure rate — 4th-lowest, a middling 43 passes defended, and just 7 interceptions — 8th-fewest), Wentz can’t be trusted as anything more than a back-end QB2.
As a result, dabbling with the Eagles’ receiving corps is risky proposition. No longer seeing a high volume of targets due to Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery returning to the lineup, X-receiver Travis Fulgham’s best performance since Week 8 was last week’s 2-catch, 16-yard performance. He’s an ill-advised start. Jalen Reagor has emerged as the top dog but only works out as a low-end WR4 or 5. Alshon Jeffery, Greg Ward, and John Hightower should not be anywhere near a starting lineup.
Regardless of whether or not the washed up tight end Zach Ertz (ankle) returns to action this week, Dallas Goedert remains a tried and true TE1 as seemingly the only pass catcher to have any sort of connection with Wentz.
No. 2 running back Boston Scott has carved out a much larger role for himself, as compared to the first half of the season, since the team’s Week 9 bye. Both his snap share and touch counts have increased, at the cost of lead back Miles Sanders’ fantasy ceiling. That said, the Green Bay Packers are surrendering 27.3 .5PPR PPG to opposing RBs, 3rd-most in the NFL, giving Sanders and Scott, mid-tier RB2 and flex-worthy opportunity, respectively.
Update 12/5/20: Per Ian Rapoport, the Eagles kicked 2019 and 2020 Miles Sanders drafters in their collective groin this morning, activating touchdown vulture, running back Jordan Howard. As Philly beat writer, Adam Caplan pointed out on twitter, Howard had great showing against the Packers last year. In that match-up, Howard out-carried, out-targeted, and out-produced Miles Sanders, the “starter”. While that kind of an outcome isn’t necessarily likely, Sanders must be reduced to a flex option now that Philly is rolling with a three-headed backfield. Scott is a full-point PPR flex option. Howard is a candidate to produce single-digit yardage, along with one or more touchdowns.
As outlined by Sharp Football Analysis on twitter, Aaron Rodgers leads the league in play-action touchdowns (15), after struggling to find play-action success for years. It’s no secret that the veteran signal caller hated the idea of turning his back on the defense to sell the fake hand-off, but those days are long gone. The defensive strength of Green Bay’s Week 13 foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, is their pass rush. Philly’s 25.2% QB pressure rate is 6th-best in the NFL. The Eagles’ secondary, despite bringing in stud cornerback Darius Slay in the offseason, has recorded just 3 interceptions, worst in the NFL, and just 29 passes defended, 2nd-worst in the NFL. The Packers, now well versed in play-action usage (103 play-action attempts, 7th-most in the NFL), should be able to largely negate the Eagles’ pass rushers by running a play-action-heavy game plan by getting the D-Line to focus on the ball carrier, and not the savvy passer. Rodgers is a Top 5 option at the position this week.
Davante Adams’ mind-meld connection, and outrageous talent, keep his as the overall WR1 on a week-to-week basis. Slay’s presence doesn’t chance that.
No. 2 WR Allen Lazard is still being worked back into the lineup following mid-season core muscle surgery. He’s a far better receiver than Nos. 2 and 4 WRs, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown though, and last week’s box score reflects that, despite Lazard trailing in the snap column. Consider Lazard as a high-floor flex option, while the two field stretchers, MVS and ESB, are just boom/bust flex options.
Aaron Rodgers has finally figured out how to keep tight end Robert Tonyan involved in the passing game while Davante Adams is also on the field, giving the breakout tight end locked-in TE1 status. Over the last two weeks, Tonyan’s rocked box scores en route to the overall TE3 spot in .5PPR scoring.
The Packers’ coaching staff has worked hard to get No. 2 back Jamaal Williams more involved on a weekly basis, bringing the snap share between he and lead back Aaron Jones to a near-even split.
Touch counts in Weeks 11 and 12:
Aaron Jones: 27 carries, 6 targets
Jamaal Williams: 22 carries, 2 targets
It’s clear that Jones is the top dog, especially in the passing game, but with that kind of usage, Williams is very much on the flex radar. In such a great match-up — Philly has welcomed running backs into the endoze at the league’s 3rd-highest rate (16) — Jones easily retains his season-long RB1 status.
Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
QB Drew Lock returns from the COVID-19/Reserve List in time to be eaten alive by Kansas City’s defense. KC continues to operate as a unit that allows decent production but racks up interceptions, generated by QB hurries and knockdowns. Lock may have some garbage time production but we’d much prefer him to have an increased time of possession. He’s just a QB3.
Jerry Jeudy’s been slowed by an ankle injury for some time now, which has reopened the opportunity box score perimeter receiver Tim Patrick, who is currently the preferred flex start of the Broncos’ outside receivers. As evidenced by the recent performances of, the admittedly more talented, Curtis Samuel (9/9-105-1) and Chris Godwin (8/9-97), slot receiver K.J. Hamler has a decent shot to return flex value as well against KC’s leaky slot coverage.
DaeSean Hamilton is not fantasy-relevant at the moment.
Tight end Noah Fant has really struggled to produce a ceilng game, but there’s no doubt his mid-season injuries have had an impact in that regard. With Fant off of the injury report, and presumably back at full health, we can look to the recent performances of Darren Waller (7/7-88-1) and Rob Gronkowski (6/7-106) vs KC for comfort. Fant is a high-floor/high-ceiling TE1 this week.
No. 2 back Phillip Lindsay’s injury status (knee) ran the gamut this week, hitting Did Not Participate, Limited Participation, and Full Participation from Wednesday to Friday. He’s ready to rock for Week 13, which immediately hurts lead back Melvin Gordon’s ceiling. With both seeing low passing volume, neither one is a world beater anyway. Consider Gordon a high-end flex option and Lindsay a low one.
Match-ups are mostly irrelevant for the Chiefs’ offense. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are all in contention to be the highest scorers at their positions. Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are both high-floor flex plays who rarely find their ceiling. Mecole Hardman cannot be started outside of contrarian DFS lineups.
The intrigue kicks in at the running back position. Head coach Andy Reid has assured fans that Clyde Edwards-Helaire will play on Sunday night, even though a stomach bug kept him from practicing all week long. Le’Veon Bell needs to be owned everywhere as a contender for bellcow usage, should CEH be limited — or unable to go entirely. If active, CEH is a Top 15 option while Bell is a high-floor flex. Darrel Williams would siphon pass catching work, should CEH sit.