Week 13 of the 2017 NFL season is nearly in the books and there are a number of major takeaways. Here’s what you need to know from every game on the Sunday slate.
Julio Jones got shut down.
A week after exploding for one of the biggest fantasy performance of the year, Jones came crashing back to earth and managed just two catches on six targets for 24 yards. So what happened? A lot of credit has to go to Xavier Rhodes, who was on Jones for much of the day. In Rhodes coverage, Jones caught 1-of-4 targets for 13 yards. While it’s easy to be frustrated with Jones, it isn’t wise to underestimate Rhodes’ impact. That being said, Jones has two potentially tough matchups on tap against Marshon Lattimore in Weeks 14 and 16.
Rex Burkhead is surging.
While the Patriots continue to use a committee in their backfield, Burkhead has emerged as the priority red zone back. That role has made him a very productive fantasy option. Over the last four weeks, Burkhead ranks fifth among running backs in fantasy scoring. Burkhead is shaping up to be a borderline RB1 option for the stretch run.
Bears run only 37 snaps.
If you were wondering what happened to Jordan Howard this week, here’s your answer. The Bears were utterly unable to sustain their drives. With so few opportunities, Howard managed just 13 carries for 38 yards. What’s especially puzzling here is that this performance came against arguably the league’s worst run defense. While Howard is still in play as a fantasy option for the playoffs, it’s going to be tough to trust him as anything more than an RB2.
Jamaal Williams clearly in the lead in the Packers backfield.
There was a lot of concern for Williams in fantasy circles this week due to the news of Aaron Jones’ return. And yes, Jones did rip off a 20-yard run to win the game in overtime, but that was actually his only touch and just his second snap of the day. Meanwhile, Williams touched the ball 23 times and played 48-of-55 offensive snaps. Better yet, Williams played well, topping 100 scrimmage yards for the second straight week. With Ty Montgomery now on injured reserve, look for the Packers to lean on Williams for the remainder of the season.
Don’t get too carried away with Derrick Henry.
Yes, Henry did put up a big stat line in Week 13 with 109 yards and a score, but keep in mind that most of his production came on a 75-yard touchdown scamper at the end of the game. This big fantasy day is not the sign of things to come for Henry. Unfortunately, the Titans plan to continue to use Henry and DeMarco Murray in a committee, and that means a lot of volatility when it comes to trusting Henry in starting lineups during the fantasy playoffs.
Kenyan Drake goes off.
We didn’t quite know what to expect from Drake this week, but he was excellent. With Damien Williams sidelined, Drake handled 26 touches. He was extremely effective on the ground with 120 yards and a score on 23 carries. Drake also forced seven missed tackles as a runner, which led all running backs for the week. He also notched an impressive 4.61 yards after contact per attempt. Drake is still a volatile fantasy option, but he should be considered an upside RB2 as long as Williams is sidelined.
Kareem Hunt sees 12 touches.
Ouch. The downward spiral for Hunt continued in Week 13, as the Chiefs managed to give Hunt just 12 touches despite the fact that they were able to put 31 points on the board. Kansas City seemed to be able to score at will early on, yet they were unable to generate a run game. The Chiefs also ran just 46 offensive snaps, which is well below the league average. However, there’s no sugar coating the fact that Hunt’s fantasy stock has plummeted into the RB2 range.
Dede Westbrook’s large role continues.
The rookie receiver has yet to produce a big fantasy outing, but he’s seen 19 targets over the last two weeks with six catches in both contests. That healthy volume is certainly a positive sign, but keep in mind that Westbrook has served as the Jags’ slot receiver with Allen Hurns out. There’s a chance Westbrook could leapfrog Hurns, but that’s far from a safe bet. For now, Westbrook should continue to be stash. However, we may not see him emerge as a fantasy-relevant option outside of deep leagues until 2018.
Alex Collins dominates touches in the Ravens’ backfield.
It wasn’t a surprise that Collins saw the lion’s share of carries on Sunday with 15, but Danny Woodhead owners are likely disappointed that Collins equaled Woodhead in targets with two and out-touched Woodhead 17-5. To be fair, the game script didn’t favor Woodhead’s role as a passing down option, but this usage certainly raises a red flag on Woodhead’s reliability as a fantasy option in the playoffs. At this point it isn’t advisable to use Woodhead until he proves otherwise. Collins, on the other hand, should be considered a solid RB2 with top-10 fantasy upside going forward.
Josh Gordon heavily involved.
It wasn’t the explosive debut that fantasy Twitter predicted, but Gordon played very well in his first game in nearly three years. More importantly, DeShone Kizer seems to have taken a liking to Gordon, as he peppered the receiver with 11 targets. Of course, Gordon only caught four of them, but managed an impressive 85 yards in the process. As crazy as it may be, this volume plus Gordon’s play are enough to position him as an upside WR2 going forward.
Beast Mode stepping up.
Marshawn Lynch looks like the player of old over the last three weeks. On Sunday, he topped 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 7 of 2015. He also found the end zone and posted top-10 fantasy numbers among running backs for the week. Look for Lynch to continue to see a healthy dose of touches down the stretch with the Raiders squarely in the playoff hunt.
Alvin Kamara’s hot streak continues.
The Saints rookie runner is in the midst of a historic run. Since Adrian Peterson was traded, Kamara leads all running backs in fantasy scoring. He’s racked up 990 scrimmage yards and nine scores on 110 touches. What’s even more striking is that Kamara has managed this streak of productivity despite being the Saints No. 2 back. With no signs of decline, Kamara is locked in as an elite fantasy running back for the playoffs.
Larry Fitzgerald tops 10 targets again.
That’s three times in the last four weeks that the veteran receiver has topped double-digit targets. Of course, the one game he failed to do so came in a rough matchup against Jalen Ramsey last week. Typically with older players, we expect to see a decline at this point in the season, but Fitzgerald is showing no signs of slowing down and he remains a high-floor WR2 option.
Mike Davis leads the Seahawks backfield.
The carousel continued at running backs for the Seahawks this week, as Davis got back on the field and played 45-of-62 snaps on Sunday night. Davis wasn’t especially effective with 64 yards on 16 carries, but he was clearly ahead of Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls, who both played just three snaps. Davis should be added off the waiver wire this week for the fantasy playoff push.