Fantasy News & Analysis

Erickson: Week 13 fantasy football rankings overview

In this week’s preview of the Week 13 NFL slate, I'm highlighting key insights for all the road teams playing this weekend. All my analysis on the home teams is featured in PFF’s huge NFL Week 13 Preview, but I'll be sure to include any updates considering all the injuries and Covid-19 cases that have occurred in the past few days.

I'll identify sleepers, busts, DFS picks and waiver-wire options with consideration for injuries and other fantasy-relevant news and notes. It’s a behind the curtains look into my Week 13 fantasy rankings

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

Taysom Hill has 20 rushing attempts for 93 yards and four touchdowns in his first two NFL starts, with one of those starts coming against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. He also completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards, which is probably closer to what we will see from him in Week 13 as opposed to the 87 yards he passed for in Week 12.

The Saints hardly had to do anything on offense against a Kendall Hinton-led offense, so New Orleans went with a simple game plan to come away with the win. I expect more wrinkles to be thrown into the offense this week, so fire Hill back up as a starting fantasy QB even after an impressive showing last week by the Falcons’ defense.  

Per PFF’s expected fantasy points model, Derek Carr should have scored 16.24 fantasy points — 229.1 passing yards and two passing touchdowns — instead of his abysmal 6.6 fantasy points. 

Hill under center has taken a toll on Alvin Kamara’s fantasy value. The Saints’ premier pass-catching back has just one reception on three targets over the past two weeks. This quarterback change has plummeted Kamara’s salary down to $7,000, which might garner some ownership in GPPs.

Still, Latavius Murray has had 34 touches compared to Kamara’s 25 over the past two weeks, which begs the question of whether there's upside with Kamara. His sub-50% snap share the past two weeks could also be tied to a lingering foot issue that has been keeping him limited in practice.

Kamara's yards per carry has fallen from 4.9 to 3.6 and his yards per attempt after contact has also decreased from his seasonal average over the past three weeks (2.8 versus 2.3). 

The Falcons’ defense has also turned over a new leaf after allowing pass-catching backs to terrorize their defense before the new coaching regime. They have allowed the third-fewest targets and fewest catches to RBs since Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach (Week 6). 

In Kamara’s last five games versus the Falcons, he has only scored 16-plus DraftKings points once (37.1, 2018).

Needless to say, Kamara is hardly a top-tier option and should only be rostered in lineups as a bring-back option in Matt Ryan stacks or a way to differentiate lineups should Michael Thomas become chalky by the time Sunday rolls around.

Considering Thomas is also 7K, ownership is going to be split on the two, but I’d favor Thomas in a vacuum. When Hill has passed this season, Thomas has been his primary target by far. His 46% target share over the past two weeks leads all players and his 57% share of the team’s air yards ranks third over that time span.

The opportunities are there for Thomas to smash in the spot versus the Falcons, who still rank 30th in yards per target and dead-last in explosive pass play percentage allowed to WRs. 

Thomas also leads the team in end-zone targets over the past four weeks, so I like his chance of scoring a touchdown through the air versus the Falcons' quintessential “pass funnel” defense. 

But be aware that this game becomes hands-off for me in DFS should Julio Jones not play. In games Atlanta has played this season with a healthy Jones, the game totals averaged 60-plus. But without the alpha wideout, those totals fall to 43. His missed practice on Thursday, which does not make me hopeful. 

Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins

Sitting at just a 42-point projected total, this game is one that fantasy managers can take a pass on, especially from the Cincinnati Bengals side of the ball. 

I love DeVante Parker from the Dolphins’ side across all formats because of his 40% target share with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Otherwise, the only legitimate fantasy option is probably Tee Higgins

Higgins tied Tyler Boyd for the team-lead in targets (seven) during Week 12 with all seven of his targets being deemed catchable. Brandon Allen threw a combined five catchable passes to all other Bengals wide receivers. 

Oct 18, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) runs with the ball while Indianapolis Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (26) defends in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Higgins has been the team’s deep threat all season (14.0 aDOT), and that could be where he delivers for fantasy. His projected WR/CB matchup has him going up against Xavien Howard,  PFF’s highest-graded cornerback through 12 weeks. 

But teams continue to test Howard with the deep ball — he has faced the most passes of 20 yards or more in coverage this season. Higgins leads the team in catches of 20-plus yards this season. 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings

In Mike Glennon’s first start this season, he finished as the QB13 on the week with 235 passing yards and two touchdowns. He's certainly worth utilizing as a second quarterback in two-QB leagues this week against the Minnesota Vikings, who just two weeks ago gave up three passing TDs to Andy Dalton

This game has the second-highest projected point total on the main slate (52.5), and it has gone up since it opened. Glennon is an extremely enticing option in cash games on DraftKings at just $4,800 with no free squares — at the time of this writing — available at the running back position. 

Pushing the button on Glennon becomes much easier if the team returns D.J. Chark Jr., who has been priced down to 5.4K on DraftKings coming off an injury. Chark has an interesting track record coming off rest weeks — he has four games with 95-plus yards after not playing the previous week.

If Chark can’t go, both Keelan Cole ($3,800) and Collin Johnson ($3,300) become priority pay-down options among WRs based on the high-value targets they both saw in Week 12. The Vikings have allowed the most touchdowns this season to slot WRs, so we might see Cole find paydirt in Week 13.

James Robinson should also be set up for success as a top-five running back based on his insane workload last week (97% snap share, 22 carries) and the matchup. Minnesota owns PFF’s 25th ranked run-defense this season and gave up over 100 yards to the struggling Ezekiel Elliott back in Week 11. 

Robinson also ran a season-high 31 routes and saw five targets in the passing game in Glennon’s first start, further bolstering his fantasy upside. 

Las Vegas Raiders @ New York Jets

Derek Carr crushed fantasy teams that streamed him last week in a dream matchup versus the Atlanta Falcons. He is absolutely primed to bounce back this week against the New York Jets, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs over the past four weeks.

Specifically, that production has gone to wide receivers (fourth-most fantasy points allowed to the position over the past four weeks) and tight ends (eighth-most fantasy points allowed to the position over the past four weeks).

Carr is an interesting target in DFS because of how bad he played last week — that will force extremely low ownership on him despite his great matchup. Josh Jacobs is also banged-up, so it would make sense if the Raiders just decide to throw all over the Jets’ 31st-ranked coverage unit instead of slamming their running back into PFF’s fourth-highest-graded run defense (75.4).

Savvy DFS players and fantasy managers desperate for WR production should go back to Darren Waller ($6,100), Nelson Agholor ($5,200) and Henry Ruggs III ($4,500). Agholor popped up on the injury report with an ankle injury this week, so we could see Ruggs’ role expanded. In Week 12, the rookie saw his most targets since Week 1 and saw two targets inside the 10-yard line. 

Because this game’s projected total is only at 47, this isn't a spot where a full-game stack is required, but be sure to sprinkle in some Raiders with a Denzel Mims run-back across tournament lineups. Mims has a 31% target share (eighth) and a 48% air yards share (seventh) over the past two weeks. 

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

Jonathan Taylor has been activated off the Covid/reserve list. If there’s any lesson I've learned this season with running back committees it's to chase the upside in a plus-matchup. Even though Taylor got the majority of looks (53% snap share, 22 carries, four targets) in Week 12, there’s no telling how the Colts’ backfield will operate.

I wish I could say that based on his Week 12 usage, the team will go right back to Taylor, but Nyehim Hines has performed well in recent weeks and is going to also be involved. Ideally, Jordan Wilkins just becomes zeroed out altogether, making this a two-man backfield.

The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards and the second-most fantasy points to RBs this season, so both Taylor and Hines fall in my top-24 running back rankings this week. 

There’s a pretty easy game script scenario where Houston struggles on offense early on as they adjust to life post-Will Fuller, so the Colts could let Taylor run wild with a lead. 

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) makes a catch during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Credit: Andrew Nelles / via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michael Pittman Jr. led the team in targets (nine) in Week 12, so he’s worth going back to versus a Texans defense that will be without its top cornerback, Bradley Roby. The Texans’ defense has been mediocre at best against WRs all season, but they were shredded in the two games without Roby. 

In Week 7, Davante Adams posted 196 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Week 9, D.J. Chark Jr. posted 146 receiving yards and one touchdown. Needless to say, Roby will surely be missed by the Houston faithful, but not by anybody rostering Colts wide receivers.

T.Y. Hilton popped up in my Week 13 high-value opportunities piece, so at $4,300 on DraftKings my interest is piqued in a great matchup. 

Hilton ranks first in the NFL in end-zone targets over the past two weeks (five), and the Texans have faced the sixth-most end-zone targets this season to WRs. The Colts’ speedster has  also routinely burned the Texans’ secondary year in and year out. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Hilton has averaged 96 receiving yards per game versus Houston.

Unless I am double-stacking both receivers with Phillip Rivers, I'll still try to get the extra $600 to get up to Pittman considering both receivers are seeing similar ownership projections

Trey Burton can be relied on for teams looking to stream the TE position this week, as he has been the most consistent Colts tight end this season. Houston ranks dead last last in yards per target to TEs this season, and Burton has 11 targets over his past two games.

Since Week 4, Burton leads all Colts tight ends in targets inside the 10-yard line with six to go along with two carries inside the 5-yard line. 

Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans

Nick Chubb is going to remind everybody in Week 13 why he should be viewed as the league’s best pure running back. He has rushed for over 100 yards five times this season despite playing only six full games all season. His 6.3 yards per attempt/4.4 yards after contact per attempt both rank No. 1 in the NFL.

The Browns’ elite running back has been a stud all season and has the chance to go nuclear against the Tennessee Titans. They have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs this season — four different RBs have surpassed 22 fantasy points. Those backs averaged 19.5 touches per game — since Chubb’s return, he has averaged 20 touches per game. 

Jarvis Landry emerged from his monthlong hiatus from fantasy production in Week 12, catching eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. But context matters here so it’s important to note that was versus a Jaguars secondary that was forced to play backup cornerbacks across the board due to injuries.

That’s not the case in Week 13 versus Tennessee, which own PFF’s fifth-highest coverage grade (72.6). Since they acquired Desmond King II in Week 9, they have PFF’s highest-graded coverage unit (85.2). Don’t blindly go chasing Baker Mayfield off the waiver wire. 

Tight end Austin Hooper is in the touchdown-or-bust territory, but fantasy managers should be confident he extends his touchdown streak to two games. Hooper has two end-zone targets in as many weeks, and the Titans have faced the second-most end-zone targets this season. 

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

The Lions need to get Kenny Golladay back in the lineup to make this game worth targeting in DFS. He helps increase Matthew Stafford’s production, and any offensive boost for the Lions will force Chicago to have to keep pace.

Marvin Jones Jr. is still in starting WR territory because his volume is too great to ignore even in a bad matchup. Jones was atop the air yards and end-zone targets list in Week 12, which usually bodes well for future production. 

He’s averaged eight targets per game since Golladay got hurt, and it’s been volume receivers that have been able to succeed in fantasy this year against the Bears.

Chicago also presents one of the best matchups for tight ends, so T.J. Hockenson slides in at TE3 overall this week in the rankings. They have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs over the past four weeks and have faced the third-most raw TE targets this season. 

The second-year tight end caught five passes for 56 yards and scored when these teams first met back in Week 1. 

If D’Andre Swift plays, he needs to be in starting lineups in both traditional leagues and in DFS. The Bears D ranks 30th in explosive run percentage allowed this season and could be without interior defender Akiem Hicks for a second straight week. 

Without him in Week 12, the defense gave up seven rushes of 10-plus yards and 5.5 yards per attempt. 

If Swift can’t go, I’d slightly lean Kerryon Johnson over Adrian Peterson because of his upside as receiver. That’s more reliable to bank on than Peterson stumbling his way into the end zone like he did on Thanksgiving. 

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Cooper Kupp has reached at least 60 receiving yards and caught at least six passes in his last three games versus the Arizona Cardinals, and that’s just one of the reasons why I love him this week. Arizona has also been routinely roasted by slot receivers — third-most targets, fifth in yards after the catch and eighth in receptions. 

The Rams are also throwing at the third-highest rate in neutral game script since coming out of the bye week (74%) — a full-on reversal from the first eight weeks of the season (59%) when they threw at the league average.

Sep 20, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) passes the ball in front of Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat (94) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This projects well for Jared Goff, who averaged over 300 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns in both his games last season versus Arizona. The Rams’ quarterback has been extremely up and down all season but seemingly always tends to bounce back in future road games after poor fantasy performances at home.

Three of his 29-plus point fantasy performances this season have come on the road following home games where he scored fewer than 13 fantasy points. 

New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks

It’s looking like a longshot that Daniel Jones suits up for the Giants in Week 13, which will thrust Colt McCoy into action. This is obviously a downgrade for the Giants offense as a whole and makes it extremely difficult to trust Darius Slayton, who McCoy did not target once entering the game.

It also hinders the ceiling of Wayne Gallman Jr., who has been lights out ever since taking over for an injured Devonta Freeman. He ranks as the RB7 over that time span thanks to high volume and six TDs. 

The matchup is far from ideal for Gallman because the Seahawks have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to RBs over the past four weeks. If Big Blue is trailing, fantasy managers might see more Dion Lewis than they would like to.

Gallman did see five targets last week and ran more routes than Lewis, so he still has RB2 value if the team falls behind in Seattle. 

New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Chargers

There aren’t many Patriots in play outside the running backs and Jakobi Meyers for Week 13. When Cam Newton throws, it’s almost certainly going to Meyers. He has seen almost 50% of the Patriots’ air yards over the past four weeks, and that means targets will be coming his way versus the Chargers.

Just last week, Meyers had 52 (62%) of Newton’s total passing yards. Meyers does have a tougher matchup in the slot versus Chris Harris Jr., who did a solid job neutralizing Cole Beasley in Week 12.

In DFS, I'd rather pay all the way down for Damiere Byrd ($3,700), who ranks fifth in weighted opportunity percentage (air yards plus targets) over the past two weeks. 

I would do my best to try and find alternatives for Newton who, is tough to rely on with his fantasy value being tied to touchdowns. He’s been inconsistent as a passer all year and losing left tackle Isaiah Wynn before last week's game did not help. 

Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers

It’s been a year to forget for Carson Wentz, but hopefully he can play just well enough in this game so that Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert can hit their fantasy ceilings. 

Sanders is a running back I would want to target on DraftKings at $6,700 — on the off-chance that Doug Pederson decides to feed his best offensive player, sparks are going to fly in this matchup.

October 4, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay has allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs this season and he ranks second in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.6). When these two teams met last season, the Eagles rushed 33 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Even if Phillip Lindsay is active in this game, it won’t change my stance on starting Melvin Gordon III. Though Gordon has not been involved in the passing game lately, he still owns that role and will surely be peppered with check-downs as the Broncos try to crawl their way back while trailing.

The Chiefs have allowed the fifth-most receptions and yards to running backs over the past four weeks — that’s why they've allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs in that same time span. 

Kansas City has also allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends, so fantasy managers should just throw out last week’s game and go right back to Noah Fant

Drew Lock can’t be started with any semblance of confidence in traditional leagues, but there is a chance he could provide value in a one-game DFS Showdown contest. He ranks second in the NFL in deep-ball rate (17.5%) and no team has seen more deep balls this season than KC.

Jerry Jeudy is dealing with an ankle injury, which could be the reason behind his lackluster play. My Broncos wide receiver of choice would be Tim Patrick — he leads the Broncos and ranks fifth in the NFL in catches of 20 yards or more this season. Patrick is my highest ranked Broncos’ wide receiver for Week 13. 

Washington Football Team @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Gibson broke out all over the place on Thanksgiving, rewarding fantasy managers who took him as third or fourth round pick during the summer. He has delivered in cake matchups (Dallas twice) but has yet to show out against a super strong opponent like Pittsburgh.

But the matchup is not nearly as it seems because the Steelers defensive unit has sustained injuries and it is affecting their play. Since Week 6, they have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards and the third-most rushing attempts of 10-plus yards. This defensive fall off aligns with the team’s loss of linebacker Devin Bush.

Their defense took another massive hit when Bud Dupree was lost for the season in Wednesday’s game win over the Baltimore Ravens

Gibson also saw a season-high seven targets in Week 12, so that could be a sign of things to come as the team morphs him to a three-down back. J.D. McKissic played a season-low snap share (39%). Treat Gibson like a top-10 running back from here on out. 

Buffalo Bills @ San Francisco 49ers

I suggested in my Week 12 preview that the Rams would attack the slot of the 49ers’ defense because their nickel cornerback K'Waun Williams was expected to miss the game. That came to fruition as the Rams’ WRs combined for 14 targets to the slot. Williams is expected to miss Week 13. 

Cole Beasley is the Bills’ No. 2 wide receiver as long as John Brown is out, so expect the Bills’ slot wide receiver to get fed in this matchup even after a disappointing performance in Week 12. Keep in mind that Allen attempted just 24 passes, which is well below is seasonal average (35). 

Dallas Cowboys @ Baltimore Ravens

No team gave up more catches in Week 12 to wide receivers than the Baltimore Ravens, so I think this is a spot where some of the Dallas wide receivers can deliver solid fantasy performances. 

Amari Cooper (23% target share) and CeeDee Lamb (22% target share) have both seen consistent volume from Andy Dalton this season. I would expect both of them to be heavily involved. 

The Ravens have allowed the second-most passing yards and catches to pass-catchers running out of the slot, and Lamb has the third-highest slot snap rate (93%) in the NFL. 

Ezekiel Elliott can’t be viewed as anything more than a low-end RB2 regardless of who returns for the Ravens off the Covid/reserve list. Despite them missing Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell and many others, they still held the Steelers’ running game to 69 rushing yards on 19 carries (3.6 yards per attempt). 

The Steelers have PFF’s 31st-ranked run-blocking grade, so they have their own problems, but without tackles Zack Martin and Cam Erving, Dallas might face similar challenges. 

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