News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 13

(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

The thing to do this time of year is examine your roster, player-by-player. Byes are over. You aren’t likely to end up in a bye-like bind. So when you’re evaluating these players, ask yourself whether there will ever be a scenario where you’d put him into your lineup with any confidence. If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be rostering him at all.

For example, Jalen Richard. He’s the Raiders’ receiving back. Last week, he had 6 receptions for 47 yards. That’s not an unreasonable guess for what he could do each week. But his ceiling doesn’t climb much from there. Even if Josh Jacobs gets hurt, we’re never going to see Richard with double-digit carries. He might have a better weekly projection than, say, Tony Pollard or Gus Edwards. But there’s basically no scenario where you’ll have Richard starting and feel confident about it. Pollard and Edwards aren’t likely to help, but there is a scenario.

Or Vance McDonald. As bad as tight end is as a position, McDonald has offered basically no ceiling this season, topping out at 40 yards in a game. Maybe he has a higher floor than Mike Gesicki (and that’s debateable), but his ceiling is nothing, and you need ceiling in the fantasy playoffs.

Evaluate your players. Imagine a scenario where you’re starting him. And if you can’t, release him.

On to the Week 13 advice.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players worth dropping at this point in the season. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

6. Derrick Henry, TEN @ IND (RB5) — The Titans continue to feed Henry the rock, which means very good things for his fantasy value.
7. Tyreek Hill, KC vs OAK (WR2) — Kansas City put up over 400 passing yards and four passing scores against the Raiders in their previous meeting this season.
8. Le'Veon Bell, NYJ @ CIN (RB6) — Bell has quietly produced RB1 numbers this season and gets a very favorable matchup.
9. Aaron Jones, GB @ NYG (RB7) — Gamescript took Jones out of the Packers' Week 12 contest, but he should have no problem against the Giants this week.

Two starts, two sits

START Jarvis Landry in medium-sized leagues: Since Week 9, Landry leads all wide receivers in fantasy points, averaging 23.2 per game, and ranks second in targets (43). Keep in mind, one of these games came against the Steelers, who have given up 18.2 fantasy points per game (fourth-most) and 32% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed to opposing slot wide receivers (most).
START Jonathan Williams in deep leagues: Since Marlon Mack’s injury, Williams totals 36 carries, four targets, 230 yards, and a score. Keep in mind, this is all in less than two full games of work. Over this span he’s played on 67% of the team’s snaps while drawing 74% of the team’s touches out of the backfield.
SIT Tyrell Williams in shallow leagues: After busting in a dream matchup last week, Williams now draws a worst possible matchup against the Chiefs — Kansas City leads all defenses in fantasy points allowed to outside wide receivers.
SIT David Johnson in medium-sized leagues: How did we get here? I have no idea — but Johnson is no longer startable in any league. Since Week 7 he totals just 12 yards on seven touches.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Ryan Fitzpatrick: Over the last five weeks, Fitzpatrick has quietly been a top-10 fantasy quarterback, with more points than Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, or Russell Wilson in that span (albeit in one more game played). He has multiple touchdown passes, a rushing score, and/or 300-plus yards in every one of those games.
BUST: Will Fuller/Kenny Stills: Fuller’s return signaled the likely end of Stills’ real relevance. But that doesn’t mean we want much of Fuller this week, likely to see coverage from Jonathan Jones and the stout Patriots defense.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: Tyler Boyd: Andy Dalton started eight games this year, and the Bengals ran on 30.7% of the plays when he was starting, never topped 37.7% in a game. Ryan Finley started three games, and the Bengals ran on 48.8% of the plays when he was starting, never coming in below 41.5% in a game.
WORST: George Kittle: The Ravens struggled against tight ends early in the year, allowing 15.9 and 17.2 points to Travis Kelce and Ricky Seals-Jones in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. Since then, the best game against them from a tight end was Tyler Eifert’s 2-catch, 20-yard, 1-touchdown game in Week 10.

Waiver claims to make

ADD David Njoku in shallow leagues: Will he return this week? We aren’t sure just yet, but Njoku will be an every-week fantasy starter as soon as he's back on the field.
ADD Tony Pollard in medium-sized leagues: Keep grabbing handcuffs at this time of the year. Pollard is one of the better ones out there.
ADD N’Keal Harry in deep leagues: Harry found the end zone last week, but that was his only catch.

DST streamers

Philadelphia Eagles: For what feels like the 12th week in a row, [defense facing Miami] is one of our top streamers of the week. That’s because Miami is giving the most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses (13.1), yielding double-digit fantasy points in nine of 11 games.

QB streamers

Sam Darnold: With the exception of a few early losses, Darnold has pretty consistently thrown for about 20 completions on 30 passes with 250 yards and a touchdown or two. If that was all we were going to get this week, Darnold may not have made the cut. What also must be considered is that not only has he been picking up momentum lately, but Darnold is also heading to Cincinnati to face a bottom-five secondary in the Bengals.

Expected Fantasy Points

Tyler Lockett: Lockett ranks 11th in fantasy points per game (16.5) but just 28th in XFP per game (12.9). On paper it would appear Lockett is due for a regression. However, given the fact that Seattle’s WR1 has ranked as one of our five most efficient wide receivers for five straight seasons, I’m not too worried.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

DFS weekly preview

Chalk: D.J. Chark: Chark was mostly a disappointment in Week 12, but a matchup against the Bucs secondary should allow people to forgive him quickly. The Buccaneers have allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers, and the game currently has the third-highest over/under of 49 points.

DFS facts to know

Patriots vs. Texans: The league-leader in red-zone targets with 33 is… Julian Edelman. New England’s banged-up wide receiver corps really narrows the target distribution and makes Edelman an extremely strong play against the Texans – he has this week’s No. 7 WR/CB matchup.

Bargains

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: Ekeler has now put up three straight double-digit point performances on both platforms. Though he was out-touched by Melvin Gordon last weekend, he has averaged 12.0 touches per game over the last three games, giving him plenty of opportunities.
Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets: Griffin can be a boom-or-bust guy and his target share is volatile on a week-to-week basis. Finding the end zone four times in the last five weeks and catching 87.5% of his targets this season has made him a guy who is capable of big weeks.

Locks

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Not that you ever need a reason to use Mahomes, but you get one this week, facing a Raiders team that is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. And of course, we already saw Mahomes light the Raiders up for four touchdown passes (in a single quarter!) earlier this year.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: So, if you go to our WR/CB matchup chart, you can sort by matchup advantage, basically a fancy way of seeing which receivers have the best matchup of the week. And this week, the Packers have the top matchup, the second-best matchup, and the third-best matchup.

Fades

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: If we’re talking tournaments, this is probably the lowest ceiling Fournette will have all season, and some reasonable contribution in the passing game just isn’t enough to overcome the problems on the ground.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Our WR/CB matchup chart predicts shadow coverage for Kirk this week at the hands of Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey hasn’t been his best self this year, but he’s still a good corner, and in four games shadowing this year (between Jacksonville and Los Angeles), he’s held DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Allen Robinson to a total of 11 catches for 140 scoreless yards.

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