Every week, Graham Barfield and Scott Barrett (see if you can guess who wrote what) provide their most and least favorite plays for shallow (10-teams) and deep (12- and 14-teams) leagues.
Please note that the “sit” calls in this column are not universal but are more recommendations to consider if you have options that project similarly. As always, our projections should be used as the final call.
This week, the Buccaneers and Panthers are out on BYE.
Start: Justin Herbert vs. Patriots
I can’t wait for this matchup. The Patriots haven’t had a good pass rush all season long, but Bill Belichick did a phenomenal job mixing up his pressure looks last week against Kyler Murray while Stephon Gillmore limited DeAndre Hopkins all day long and J.C. Jackson shut down Christian Kirk. Still, even though Murray struggled last week, there is no way you can bench Herbert. He’s finished as a top-15 fantasy quarterback or better in six-straight games and averaged 303.3 yards per game in this span. Herbert is still a confident QB1 this week.
Sit: Josh Allen at 49ers
Not only is Allen without field stretcher John Brown, the 49ers are finally getting a little bit healthier. Richard Sherman returned last week and played extremely well, which was a part of the reason Jared Goff posted a season-low 198 yards. Allen’s splits are downright scary without Brown in the lineup — he’s averaged 27.3 fantasy points per game with Brown and 17.7 FPG without him — and now he faces a bottom-8 matchup with Sherman back. Jason Verrett has been playing well in recent weeks and finally has a good running mate opposite him in Sherman. Allen still has a high floor because of his rushing ability, but his ceiling is much lower in this spot.
Start: Taysom Hill at Falcons
If you’re looking for a QB streamer this week, you can go back to Carr in a soft matchup against the Jets. Though, I completely understand if that leaves you with a queasy feeling after he bombed in last week’s softer draw. But I actually prefer Hill anyway, and feel comfortable starting him this week as a low-end QB1.
Hill was atrocious in Week 12, but that was also a game that was never going to be even remotely competitive. And still, he walked away with 18.5 fantasy points. In Week 11, his first career start, he dropped 25.2 fantasy points against this same Falcons defense. You know, the one that’s allowing opposing QBs to out-score their per-game average by a league-high 5.8 FPG.
Hill ranked 6th-best in PFF Pass Grade in Week 12. He leads all QBs this season in fantasy points per dropback (0.86). In the preseason (starting at QB), since 2018, he averaged 0.65 fantasy points per dropback, which is more than Patrick Mahomes averages across his full career. Basically, he should be viewed for fantasy as an upper-middle-class man’s Cam Newton (the 2020 version). He’s a safe bet for 40-60 rushing yards and 1-2 rushing touchdowns, and then whatever he does through the air is a nice bonus.
Sit: Matthew Stafford at Bears
Stafford averages 14.5 FPG over his last 4 games. He’s still limited in practice with an injury to his throwing thumb. Kenny Golladay is unlikely to return this week. And now he gets a bottom-5 matchup against the Bears, after a top-5 matchup last week. This one’s easy – he’s just a low-end QB2 this week.
Start: James Robinson vs. Broncos
True bell-cow backs have been hard to come by this season, but Robinson’s role is as secure as it gets. Over his last five games, Robinson leads all running backs in snap rate (83%) and is getting a monster 24.4 touches per game. With Chris Thompson on IR, the Jaguars don’t have a decent change-of-pace back on their roster and it has forced Robinson into a true every-down role. Just last week with Mike Glennon under center, Robinson set a season-high in routes run with 33. Against this Broncos front-seven that is quietly tied for the fifth-most YPC allowed (4.7), we’re firing Robinson up as a top-3 play for Week 13.
Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Broncos
Why run the ball when you have Patrick Mahomes? That is the Chiefs current game-plan and honestly, who can blame them? Over the last four weeks, Kansas City is the most pass-heavy team in the league (73%) and it has resulted in Mahomes throwing for a ridiculous 399.5 yards per game. It has also resulted in Edwards-Helaire being relegated to just a FLEX play with the massive dip in volume. Not only are the Chiefs barely running it, CEH is splitting carries when they do actually go away from the pass. In their last four games, Edwards-Helaire has 36 carries to Le’Veon Bell’s 22. There simply just isn’t enough work to go around to trust CEH in a lineup right now.
Start: David Montgomery vs. Lions
Montgomery is understandably tough to trust, even coming off of the best game of his career in a pillow-soft matchup last week, but he is seeing terrific usage. Since Week 5, he’s played on 80% of the team’s snaps, averaging 14.8 carries, 5.3 targets, 18.2 XFP (3rd-most), and 15.0 FPG (13th-most). And he gets an even better matchup this week – the Lions are allowing opposing RBs (collectively) to out-score their per-game average by a league-high 9.3 FPG. They rank worst in total FPG allowed (33.0), 2nd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (13.8), and 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.3) to opposing RBs. He’s a high-end RB2 this week.
Start: Raheem Mostert vs. Bills
Adjusting for injury, Mostert is averaging 16.8 carries, 3.5 targets, 124.0 scrimmage yards, 0.75 touchdowns, and 20.2 fantasy points per four quarters. For perspective, 20.2 FPG would rank 4th-best among RBs, tied with Derrick Henry. Mostert – the all-time leader in career YPC – should be started with confidence as a high-end RB2 this week. Buffalo ranks 8th-worst in YPC allowed (4.57) and 7th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (15.9) to opposing RBs.
Sit: Todd Gurley vs. Saints
You’re never excited to play Todd Gurley, but he has been moderately productive, ranking 19th in FPG (13.9). Really, when you do play him, you’re never expecting much – about 17 carries and 55 yards, and hopefully he can fall into the end zone once or twice. But you’re better off benching him as just a high-end RB3 this week. New Orleans ranks top-3 in YPC allowed (3.46), rushing FPG allowed (8.6), and total FPG allowed (16.7) to opposing RBs.
Start: Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool vs. Washington
The Steelers have completely scrapped their run game and are instead opting for about a billion short throws from Ben Roethlisberger. Ok, maybe not a billion. But it’s still a ton. Over their last six games, Big Ben is averaging a ridiculous 44.3 attempts per game and it’s fueling plenty of volume to their wide receivers. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool have both turned into target monsters since Pittsburgh is going so pass-heavy with Johnson averaging 11.4 targets per game over their last six games while Claypool has seen 8 or more targets in five-straight contests. And this week, Johnson and Claypool have the best matchups among Steelers wideouts. 50% of Washington’s overall production to receivers is coming when they align out wide, which is tied for the fourth-highest percentage in the league. The Football Team is just far better against slot wideouts and rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to interior receivers (16.0).
Start: DeVante Parker vs. Bengals
Now that his guy Ryan Fitzpatrick is back starting, DeVante Parker has league-winning potential down the stretch run. Fitzpatrick is just light years better than Tua Tagovailoa and it showed last week with Parker crushing the Jets for 8/119 on 14 targets. Now, that doesn’t mean Tua can’t be a good starter one day, but we do have a big enough sample of games to safely say Parker is a borderline WR1 when Fitzpatrick is under center and sketchy WR3 without him. This season, Parker is averaging 5.3 receptions and 69 yards per game in Fitzpatrick’s starts and just 3.8 receptions and 39.8 yards per game with Tua. With Preston Williams on IR, Parker is the only show in town for Fitzpatrick and this week’s matchup couldn’t really get much better. The Bengals are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game (18.9) to receivers that line up out wide, which is where Parker aligns 77% of the time.
Sit: Amari Cooper at Ravens
After making our “start” list last week (and exploding for 6/112/1), Cooper is a fade here in this spot. The Ravens have been a nightmare for boundary receivers all year long and have limited them to just 12.6 fantasy points per game (fifth-fewest). This past week, Baltimore did an excellent job holding Diontae Johnson (8/46) and Chase Claypool (6/52) in check on Wednesday Afternoon Football. Cooper has been consistent with Andy Dalton under center, but he’s just a WR3 for Week 13 lineup decisions.
Start: Brandin Cooks vs. Colts
Since the Bill O’Brien firing in Week 5, Cooks ranks 17th in XFP per game (14.7) and 14th in FPG (16.9). With Will Fuller suspended, he should see even better volume now, but there’s a chance that whatever that amounts to (in XFP) gets offset by a reduction in efficiency (due to an increase in defensive attention). He gets a brutal matchup this week, against a Colts defense that – for the 3rd straight season – ranks top-5 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s. Still, Deshaun Watson is rolling, and you should feel safe starting Cooks as a mid-range WR2.
Start: Michael Pittman at Texans
Pittman – a Fantasy Points-favorite all throughout Draft season – may have finally emerged as Indianapolis’ true WR1. He flopped last week, but the volume was good, earning 9 targets, which was as much as Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton combined. That was the 3rd time he saw 7 or more targets over his last 4 games, averaging 6.8 and 62.8 YPG over this span. Pittman is no lock, but I’m fine starting him as a mid-range WR3 in this dream matchup. Houston was stout against WR1s, using Bradley Roby to shadow, but weak at the other 2 CB positions. When he missed time earlier in the year, WR1s Davante Adams and DJ Chark combined for 72.2 fantasy points in 2 games. Now starting Vernon Hargreaves, Phillip Gaines, and Eric Murray at CB, this is arguably now the best WR matchup in fantasy.
Sit: CeeDee Lamb at Ravens
Washington ranks best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs. With Lamb running 93% of his routes from the slot, that meant he had a worst-possible matchup last week. Understandably, he struggled. Through 2 games against Washington, he totals just 21 yards on 12 targets. This week’s matchup is just as tough – Marlon Humphrey is arguably the league’s best slot CB. Add all of this to Lamb’s QB concerns – 22% YMS with Dak Prescott (371.2 YPG) vs. 16% with Andy Dalton (189.8 YPG) – and he’s just a high-end WR4 this week.
Start: Kyle Rudolph vs. Jaguars
If Irv Smith (groin) misses yet again this week, Rudolph should be fired up as a strong TE1 play. In the two contests that Smith has been held out, Rudolph has turned in his two best games of the season — going for 4/63 against the Bears and 7/68 against the Panthers last week. Unsurprisingly, Rudolph’s 5 and 8 targets in these games were both high marks for this season, too. What’s more, this matchup couldn’t really get much better considering the Jags’ are allowing the second-most fantasy points per target and the ninth-most receiving yards per game to tight ends.
Sit: Austin Hooper at Titans
Unless you have Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, tight end is a nightmare every single week. And this week is no different! We have Jordan Akins and Mike Gesicki inside of our top-12 for crying out loud. Finding a tight end streamer is all about chasing upside, and right now, Hooper’s scoring potential is completely limited on this run-heavy Browns attack. Since returning to the lineup three weeks ago, Hooper has seen just nine targets from Baker Mayfield. That’s good enough for a 13% target share, which isn’t nearly a big enough slice of the pie.
Start: Dallas Goedert at Packers
Goedert has played on a whopping 100% of Philadelphia’s snaps over the last 2 weeks. Over this span, he’s averaging 8.0 targets, 76.0 receiving yards, and 19.6 FPG. Of course, the Eagles will get Zach Ertz back this week, but that didn’t really slow Goedert down at all earlier in the year. He averaged 8.5 targets and 10.4 FPG prior to injury. And 7.9 targets and 12.5 FPG across the final 7 games of the 2019 season. Philadelphia’s offense is an absolute mess, and this is a brutal matchup, but – given the state of the TE position – you’re still starting Goedert as a mid- to low-end TE1 this week.
Sit: Logan Thomas at Steelers
Thomas has come on strong in the second-half, averaging 4.7 targets and 10.3 FPG since Week 6. Still, he has a worst-possible matchup in Week 13. Against the Steelers, opposing TEs are falling short of their per-game average by a league-best 5.5 FPG.