It’s time for start ‘em, sit ‘em, Week 13 edition. Injuries equal opportunities, and there are plenty of under-rostered players with big opportunities. Who are our favorite Sunday Week 13 starts and sits for fantasy football?
NFL Start ‘Em for Week 13
Which low-ranked players are most likely to outperform fantasy expectations on Sunday? We’ve run through likely game scripts and production projections to arrive at these recommendations.
Start ‘Em | Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: QB24
Last week, I wrongly recommended Big Ben one game after a shockingly good showing on the road against the Chargers. While most of that production came in a frantic fourth-quarter comeback attempt, it was fair to wonder if he still had enough in him to manufacture 225 yards and 2 scores — which is just about all you need to be a half-decent QB streamer most weeks.
This week’s home matchup against Baltimore gives him a real shot at semi-glory. The Ravens defense has only 5 interceptions on the year while yielding the third-most passing yards. Roethlisberger is a solid dart thrown in deeper leagues.
Start ‘Em | Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: RB46
To be clear, if you have top-20 RBs, fire ‘em up. I’m not going to make obvious calls. This is a column for people in need of a high-upside dart throw, and there are few better ones in Week 13 than Ronald Jones.
Leonard Fournette is deservedly getting most of the backfield love in Tampa Bay. But Jones has found the end zone in two straight games, carrying the ball a decent 15 times across those two contests. And in what should be a comfortable win against Atlanta this weekend, expect the Bucs to give Jones more late-game run when Fournette is no longer needed. That kind of volume could push Jones into the top 30.
Start ‘Em | Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: RB43
Same deal as Jones, different backfield. Sony Michel is picking up scraps behind Darrell Henderson. But the Rams should handle the Jaguars on Sunday, setting up a game script favoring second-half usage for Michel.
Henderson suffered a quad strain in the Rams’ Week 12 defeat and is no lock for a full workload in a favorable matchup. As of Friday, he’s listed as questionable. Michel is a sneaky RB3 if Henderson starts and a solid-upside RB2 if Henderson sits.
NFL Sit ‘Em for Week 13
None of these players are obvious sits in most leagues. But too often, managers feel pressure to start players who are supposed to do well, even if the circumstances are more challenging than they seem. Here are three under-the-radar Week 12 busts.
Sit ‘Em | Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: QB3
Update 12/05/2021: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kyler Murray is “expected to start” today.
I don’t understand why so many experts are high on Kyler Murray, who has been out since Week 8 with a sprained ankle. The latest reports are that he “hopes” to play Sunday. And on December 3, it was reported that Murray will be a game-time decision.
Even if he were 100% starting, expecting top-three production in his first game back on the road in Chicago . . . it doesn’t make sense. I traded him Wednesday minutes before my league’s trade deadline. If active, he’ll be a top 8-10 option at best, no thanks to his reduced rushing attempts compared to previous seasons, which has capped his ceiling.
Sit ‘Em | Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: RB15
NFL running backs have paid a heavy price this season, with most preseason top-10 options done in by injuries ranging from serious to truly serious (season-ending).
Saquon Barkley is the poster child for injury running backs — a reportedly generational talent who might never be the same after a rash of injuries beginning in 2019. Whether he’s still not 100% health-wise or trying to get back into game shape — or still running a little more tentatively, as sometimes happens with players who get hurt over and over again — Barkley will be a weekly fantasy risk until at least 2022. His Week 13 ranking is a best-case scenario against the ascending Dolphins.
Sit ‘Em | DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Expert Consensus Week 13 Ranking: WR12
12/05/21 Update: Adam Schefter reported that Hopkins is “likely to play”, “but could be used more sparingly than usual due to his injury and the weather conditions”.
See above with Murray. DeAndre Hopkins hasn’t played since October. As we know by now, hamstring injuries can linger longer than some people expect. He’s currently the WR16 in fantasy points per game. Being the 12th-best wideout in Week 13 would require above-average production in a crowded receiving corps with a QB also recovering from a multi-week injury. It’s a bad combination.
I know there’s a popular theory about “starting your studs no matter what.” I’ve never bought into that because it doesn’t always pan out. Hopkins might get you top 24-30 production if he’s active, but his floor is low enough to wait on him until Week 14 (or longer if he remains shelved).