Week 13 Start/Sit


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Week 13 Start/Sit

Graham Barfield and Scott Barrett are here to help you out with all of your Start / Sit needs with a deep rundown of their favorite- and least-favorite plays every single week. This article will be continually updated with news throughout the week, so make sure you keep it locked on our projections and on this column all the way through to kickoff on Sunday.

Start / Sit recommendations for “Shallow” leagues refer to 10-team leagues while “Deep” is 12- or 14-teamers.


Shallow leagues

Start: Tua Tagovailoa at 49ers

Since returning to the field from back/concussion injuries in Week 7, Tua Tagovailoa is third among QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.60) – trailing only Justin Fields (0.65) and Jalen Hurts (0.61) in this span. Tua is tied with Patrick Mahomes for the league-lead in completion rate over expectation (+9.0%) since Week 7.

This is where the rubber meets the road for the Dolphins offense. For as good as they have been offensively, this is the toughest test they’ve had in quite some time.

Now, this is not to take away from Tua and the Dolphins at all – I have been a Tua defender for years – but their last five games have all come against opponents in the bottom-16 of FootballOutsiders Pass Defense DVOA. The 49ers rank #10 In DVOA and have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per dropback.

Ultimately, I am siding with Tua as a back-end QB1 play because he is playing at an extremely high level and the QB pool is completely dry this week. Even in a tougher matchup, there are only 6-7 QBs I’d rather play this week. [GB]

Sit: Deshaun Watson at Texans

As I outlined here, I’m very bullish on Watson (and the rest of Cleveland’s offense) long-term and throughout the fantasy playoffs. But I’m skeptical Watson does very much this week; 700 days removed from his last regular season game, and up against the league’s biggest run funnel defense. (The Texans rank 7th-best in passing FPG allowed to QBs, but worst in rushing FPG allowed to RBs.) To me, he’s just a high-end QB2 this week. But, if he doesn’t look too dissimilar from the Watson of old, he’s probably a mid-range QB1 every week after that. [SB]

Deep leagues

Start: Trevor Lawrence at Lions

Lawrence had the best game of his NFL career last week, capping off a stellar three-game stretch. After a very shaky mid-season in Weeks 4-8, Lawrence has been sensational over his last three games – sporting a 77% completion rate, 815 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs (two fumbles) while adding 12/80 rushing. This is a matchup we have been circling all year for our QBs in fantasy and I see no reason to get away from it here. On the year, the Lions are allowing the second-most fantasy points per dropback and are allowing a league-high +5.8% completion rate above expected. We like Lawrence as a back-end QB1 starter this week. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Mike White at Vikings

White has only played in three full games in his career – he averages 20.6 FPG (~QB8) in those games. Over the past two seasons, there are only 7 instances of a non-Zach Wilson Jets QB starting and finishing a game, but we see non-Wilson highs of 28.1, 26.9, 25.5, 24.8, 17.9, and 15.4over the past two seasons. For perspective, just the 5th-best number in this string would be equivalent to the overall QB11 on a FPG basis.

Collectively and over the past two seasons, the Jets average 319.9 passing YPG when Zach Wilson is out. This means, somehow, that the combination of White, Joe Flacco, and Josh Johnson has been more productive than Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or any other QB in football.

White draws an excellent matchup this week – the Vikings are giving up the most schedule-adjusted passing FPG over the last five weeks (+6.1). But ultimately, he’s just a high-end QB2 this week, so he’s probably not deserving of a start this week. But he is a player to possibly stash (for QB-needy teams) and monitor further over the coming weeks. [SB]

Running Backs

Shallow leagues

Start: David Montgomery vs. Packers

The Packers have been a run defense we have targeted for two seasons now – they rank 28th in YPC allowed (5.02) and are 32nd in FootballOutsiders Run Defense metrics. In fact, Montgomery had one of his best games of the season already against the Packers back in a blowout Week 2 loss (15/122 rushing). You’re not moving off Montgomery as a RB2 play no matter what just because his volume is so strong, but he carries a RB1 ceiling if Justin Fields (shoulder) can start on Sunday. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Dameon Pierce vs. Browns

Over the last two weeks, Pierce averages 7.5 carries, 5.0 targets, and 4.2 FPG. Over his previous 7 games, he averaged 20.1 carries, 3.4 targets, and 17.3 FPG.

What’s gone wrong? Well, a few things. Pierce isn’t quite a bell cow, he’s “merely” a highest-end workhorse. And as such, he’s heavily gamescript-dependent. And well, gamescript has been abysmal the last two weeks – Houston has spent 80% of their offensive snaps trailing by 10 or more points. That, and the passing offense appears fully broken, gaining just 3.1 net yards per dropback over this span.

Unfortunately, gamescript isn’t likely to be too much better this week, facing off against the Browns as 7.0-point underdogs. And the passing game isn’t likely to be too much better, with Kyle Allen set to start again next week. But the on-paper matchup is otherwise excellent for Pierce – the Browns rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+3.9) as well as worst over expectation, and 3rd-worst by YPC allowed (5.20).

So, although I can’t say I’m very confident, I’ll be starting Pierce this week as a mid-range RB2. [SB]

Start: Brian Robinson at Giants

Just as it seemed like Antonio Gibson was set to take over this backfield, Brian Robinson looked like his old ‘Bama self last week as he shredded the Falcons for 18/105 on the ground while adding 2/20/1 through the air. Robinson showed that his burst is back on a few nice runs last week, something we haven’t seen much of this season (for obvious reasons).

With Gibson dealing with a foot injury, I could see Washington dialing up Robinson for 18-20 carries on Sunday. The Giants have been gashed all year long on the ground and rank 31st in YPC (5.20) and 29th in FootballOutsiders Run Defense metrics. I really just want exposure to this high-volume rushing attack. Since Taylor Heinicke took over as the starter in Week 7, the Commanders are fifth in run rate over expectation (+7.7%). Robinson is a strong RB2 with a RB1 ceiling if you squint hard enough. [GB]

Sit: Leonard Fournette vs. Saints

Fournette’s fantasy season is hanging in the balance here with a hip injury slowing him down and the rookie Rachaad White looking like the better RB. Even if Lenny does get back this week, I think we will see White take over as the lead RB. He just has juice that Fournette hasn’t had since very early in the season. White is averaging 4.7 YPC over his last two games while Fournette has one game above 4.1 YPC this season and that was all the way back in Week 1. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Jaylen Warren at Falcons

If Najee Harris (abdomen) sits…

Then I think we will see Jaylen Warren slide into a 13-15 touch role against this Falcons defense that is allowing the 11th-most scrimmage yards to RBs (135.5 per game). Warren was back practicing in full on Wednesday and should take over as the lead RB just as the Steelers have started to run it much better as of late. Over their last five games, the Steelers have rushed for 95 yards (vs. MIA), 144 (vs. PHI), 217 (vs. NO), 102 (vs. CIN), and 172 (vs. IND) against five sturdy run defenses.

Warren is on the low-end RB2 radar in full-PPR leagues. [GB]

Underrated: Gus Edwards vs. Broncos

After missing about a month with a hamstring injury, Gus Edwards returned to the lineup last week and dominated the Ravens backfield. On a season-high 50% snap rate, Edwards got 16 of the Ravens 19 RB carries vs. the Jaguars. Now he gets a great spot against a Broncos defense that is susceptible to the run. Denver got absolutely bludgeoned by Carolina’s RBs last week (41 carries, 178 yards, 4.3 YPC) and the Ravens should have a similar gamescript here as massive 8.5/9-point favorites. Edwards is a strong FLEX option in all leagues and a playable RB2 in deeper, 12-team formats. [GB]

Wide Receivers

Shallow leagues

Start: Christian Kirk at Lions

Kirk currently ranks 15th among all WRs in FPG (15.4).

But if we exclude Week 4 (Kirk was forced to play outside with Zay Jones out), Week 5 (against the league’s 3rd-best defense against slot WRs), Week 8 (against the league’s 2nd-best defense against slot WRs), and Week 12 (Baltimore’s standout CB1 Marlon Humphrey moved back into the slot full-time)… then Kirk is averaging 20.0 FPG (less than 1.0 FPG behind Davante Adams), and hitting at least 17.0 in 6 of 7 games.

This may feel somewhat cherry-picked or arbitrary. But what I’m trying to get at is this – when playing in his natural position and not up against a top-3 slot defender, Kirk has only ever produced like a fantasy juggernaut. And not only is Kirk’s matchup not bottom-3 this week, it’s top-3 – the Lions rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (+2.9).

So, start Kirk as a top-10 option this week. [SB]

Start: Keenan Allen at Raiders

Since returning from injury in Week 11, Allen averages 7.5 targets and 14.7 FPG. Crucially, he was back to a full-time workload last week (91%) and back into the slot full-time (67%). Which sets him up for an excellent Week 13 matchup, up against a Las Vegas defense that’s giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing slot WRs (+5.1). Start him this week as a top-12 option. [SB]

Sit: Mike Evans vs. Saints

Over the last four weeks, Evans averages 8.7 targets per game but only 8.2 FPG. Since Week 5, he ranks 5th in XFP/G (18.2) but just 37th in FPG (11.7). Over this span, he’s fallen 6.5 FPG short of his volume-based expectation, which ranks 2nd-worst among all WRs (ahead of only Diontae Johnson).

Unfortunately, I’d bet Evans’ cold streak extends for at least one more week, because Evans has his biannual appointment with Marshon Lattimore (presuming Lattimore returns from injury this week). And Lattimore has dominated Evans over the past four seasons, holding him to just 7.0 FPG (high of 12.8 fantasy points) in 7 shadow games over this span. To me, he’s just a high-end WR3 this week. [SB]

Deep leagues

Start: Garrett Wilson at Vikings

In four games without Zach Wilson, Garrett Wilson averages: 9.3 targets, 8.8 first-read targets, 17.8 XFP, and 19.4 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank: 12th-, 3rd-, 8th-, and 8th-best.

Basically, Wilson is extremely talented (see above), and the upgrade from Zach Wilson to just about any other QB is almost unquantifiably immense (see below).

This week, Wilson faces off against a Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs, both over the last five weeks (+16.4) and over the full season (+7.0). As such, we like him this week as a high-end WR2. And moving forward, I’m open to the idea that he might just be the 2022 version of 2021’s Amon-Ra St. Brown. Which is to say, he’s probably a league-winner. [SB]

Start: Amari Cooper at Texans

Noisy road splits be damned, I like Cooper as a WR2 play this week. I agree with Scott that some caution is wise when it comes to Deshaun Watson this weekend, but I can stomach that to a certain extent at WR. And stomaching caution is basically the story of Cooper’s career to this point. The Texans are not giving up a ton of bulk stats because they’re steadily getting rinsed every week and their opponents barely have to throw against them, but the efficiency that they’re giving up is terribly bad. On the year, Houston is allowing the second-most yards per target to outside WRs (9.9). Cooper is a boom-or-bust WR2 play for Week 13 and a fun one at that. [GB]

Start: Courtland Sutton at Ravens

The Broncos are a dumpster fire and I haven’t been able to stomach playing any of their guys in fantasy or betting for well over six weeks now. This offense has zero TD upside, which is a rough starting point. However, Courtland Sutton has been the lone semi-usable player here (and that is not saying much). In the five games where Jerry Jeudy has played fewer than 60% of the snaps or was out, Sutton is averaging 6.4 receptions and 88 yards (on 9.4 targets) per game. This is as good of a spot as Sutton will see against a Ravens secondary that is allowing the second-most yards per game (130.5) to outside WRs. If Jeudy sits again, Sutton is a fine WR2/3 play. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at Eagles

Westbrook-Ikhine shouldn’t be started this week; I don’t even think he should be rostered in deeper leagues. But I could see him surprising with a big game. After all – since the return of Ryan Tannehill three weeks ago – his numbers have been respectable, averaging 5.3 targets and 14.5 FPG. And he gets a flawless matchup this week, running 70% of his routes against the league’s top slot funnel defense. The Eagles have two of the league’s best perimeter CBs, but they’ve given up a league-high 39% of their receiving fantasy points allowed to slot WRs. And over the last five weeks – partially coinciding with the loss of their starting slot CB Avonte Maddox, and more recently S C.J. Gardner Johnson – the Eagles are giving up a league-high +8.3 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing slot WRs (while ranking 3rd-best over the same span against outside WRs). [SB]

Tight Ends

Shallow leagues

Start: Dalton Schultz vs. Colts

In my eyes, Schultz isn’t just a must-start mid-range TE1 (at worst). He might also be – warning: hot take – Dallas’ true WR1. After all, Schultz averages 15.0 FPG over his last 10 games with Dak Prescott under center. For perspective, that would rank 2nd-most among all TEs and 16th-most among all WRs. CeeDee Lamb, meanwhile, averages just 13.5 FPG (~WR25) over his last 10 games with Prescott under center. In any case, that distinction probably doesn’t matter too much for your start/sit decisions. But I do know you should be starting him this week, and just about every week moving forward. [SB]

Deep leagues

Start: David Njoku at Texans

Njoku registered a 77% route share last week (8th-most among TEs), suggesting he’s over his high ankle sprain.

Over his last 6 healthy games, Njoku is now averaging 7.2 targets, 68.0 YPG, and 14.5 FPG. For perspective, those numbers would rank 3rd-, 2nd-, and 2nd among all TEs this year. And among WRs, that would rank 18th-best by YPG, in between Terry McLaurin (70.0) and Michael Pittman (67.2).

In other words, Njoku is a must-start mid-range TE1 at worst this week, and every week moving forward. And if Deshaun Watson plays at all like he did in 2020, he could be a top league-winner and maybe even push Mark Andrews for overall TE2 status.

Of course, his status must be monitored — Njoku missed practice on Wednesday with what coach Kevin Stefanski called a “new” knee injury. Yikes. [SB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Hayden Hurst vs. Chiefs

Ok, Hurst isn’t really underrated. No tight end in fantasy is underrated, for that matter. Outside of the top-8 or so plays this week, trying to project TE9-TE20 is nearly impossible. A dart board may literally be more accurate. Hurst could very well only give you 5 FP, but I am chasing players in Bengals-Chiefs in what should be a high-scoring shootout (52.5 over/under). Hurst set a season-high in targets (9) and yards (57) last week. [GB]