Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Time to panic or Week 13 antic?

2RTD5EB Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert disappoints fantasy managers yet again: Week 13 marked his fourth game of 14 or fewer fantasy points in the last seven games.

Washington Commanders WR Terry McLaurin posts the second goose egg of his career: McLaurin has had an inefficient season despite the high passing volume, which will be difficult to trust moving forward into the fantasy playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth falls back to earth after his Week 12 breakout game: Freiermuth followed up a career game by catching three balls for 29 yards. He lost his starting quarterback Kenny Pickett… but it might not all be bad news.

 Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

With Week 13 in the rearview mirror, most leagues are likely approaching the final week in the regular fantasy football season. That means, with just one more week left on the schedule to clinch your trip to the playoffs, dissecting the ups and downs is as important as ever. Here are five stats highlighting various fantasy disappointments from Week 13 and a temperature check — is it time to panic, or a Week 13 antic?

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert posts another down week

Herbert has had a few down weeks as of late that may have fantasy managers in a tizzy, as he scored 14 or fewer fantasy points in three of the last five games. Despite the recent down weeks, Herbert’s generally been a pretty safe quarterback, finishing as a QB1 in all but five weeks so far this season, including four top-five weeks. 

When looking to identify a pattern in relation to Herbert’s down weeks, Each of his four games with 14 or fewer fantasy points has come against a defense that ranks bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Those games came against the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and New York Jets, each of which is averaging 15 or fewer fantasy points per game allowed to the position. While Herbert is certainly an above-average quarterback, he may not be a guy to target in below-average matchups for fantasy.

Temperature check: Week 13 antic

Philadelphia Eagles RB D’Andre Swift is outsnapped by Kenneth Gainwell for the first time since Week 1

There’s a lot to unpack in this Philadelphia Eagles backfield from Week 13. First, it’s worth noting that lead back D’Andre Swift exited their Week 13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter after a big hit that resulted in an undisclosed injury. That news comes after he opened up the week on the injury report, listed as a limited practice participant Wednesday, though he was upgraded to “full” participant ahead of Thursday. 

Even prior to the injury, however, Gainwell had been outsnapping Swift, finishing with 24 offensive snaps through the first three quarters to Swift’s 22. Though the split in snaps would generally be considered negligible, it could be a sign that he’s playing at less than 100% even if he is technically off of the injury report. Week 13 was an outlier both in terms of the limited workload and the significant inefficiency, averaging just 2.5 yards per touch on the day. However, fantasy managers should keep a close eye on Swift’s injury status moving forward.

Temperature check: Week 13 antic

Washington Commanders WR Terry McLaurin posts his second career game with zero receiving yards

If you had told fantasy managers that through 13 weeks of the season, Sam Howell would lead the league in pass attempts and completions while ranking second in total passing yards, they probably would have drafted wide receiver Terry McLaurin somewhere in the second round. Howell’s volume as a passer hasn’t been of much benefit to McLaurin, however, who just posted his second career goose egg – three targets, zero receptions in Week 13. He now sits as the overall WR30 heading into Week 14. 

While zero receiving yards might not necessarily be the norm for McLaurin, fantasy managers should exceed plenty of caution rolling with him in their lineups during the fantasy football playoffs. McLaurin has finished seven games as a WR3 or worse this season and is still seeking his first top-12 finish of the year, having been more of a risk than a reward. Through 13 weeks, McLaurin is averaging career-lows in yards per reception (11.6), yards per route run (1.29), yards after the catch per reception (3.5) and passer rating when targeted (82.7) – a potential recipe for disaster for fantasy football managers down the stretch. 

Temperature check: Time to panic

Carolina Panthers WR Adam Thielen totals 25 receiving yards

It’s been no secret that the Carolina Panthers offense hasn’t been productive this season. Team owner David Tepper noticed, too, clearing house with the coaching staff for a fresh start. Wide receiver Adam Thielen has also seemingly fallen victim to that lack of production, having been on a bit of a downturn since his red-hot start this season. After ranking as the overall WR8 for fantasy in Weeks 1-8, he’s since ranked as the WR48 since. 

Part of Thielen's drop in production has stemmed from a drop in his total target share, having averaged 10 targets per game to start the season to the 7.2 targets per game he’s averaged since Week 9. Not only is he being targeted on a lower percentage of his routes run in that span, he’s also seen a decrease in the percentage of targets that were deemed catchable from 84.7% down to 72.2%. With the struggles on offense, paired with the emergence of rookie Jonathan Mingo to siphon off targets, fantasy managers will want to exercise caution rolling out Thielen outside of full PPR formats, especially in the crucial upcoming weeks of the fantasy playoffs.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth falls back to earth after breakout game

Fantasy football managers likely rushed to the waiver wire to pick up tight end Pat Freiermuth after a career-best game yielded a finish as the overall TE1 in Week 12. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the Steelers offense came crashing back to reality in Week 13, and more speed bumps could be ahead with starting quarterback Kenny Pickett set to miss time with an ankle injury that forced him from Sunday’s game. 

Though unforeseen lineup changes are never positive, there is some reason to believe that Pickett’s absence might not be the worst for his fantasy assets. Over the past two seasons, Trubisky has started five games and subbed in mid-game several times following injuries to Pickett, and when he’s been on the field, he’s thrown for a 2.6% passing touchdown rate compared to Pickett’s 1.8%. Trubisky has also outpaced Pickett averaging 6.7 yards per attempt and 9.6 air yards per attempt, where Pickett’s averaged 6.3 yards and 7.3 yards, respectively.

In the four games Trubisky started and finished last season, Freiermuth averaged 9.3 fantasy points per game, ranking as the overall TE8 in that span. He totaled seven or more targets in three of those four games, with 41 or more receiving yards or a touchdown in each. Don’t be surprised if Trubisky’s presence under center is a positive for the receiving assets on the Steelers’ roster, even if he’s not necessarily vying for All-Pro status any time soon.

Temperature check: Week 13 antic


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