Making lineup decisions can be the most frustrating or most rewarding part of fantasy football. Here to help you make those decisions are our start ’em and sit ’em picks. Lineup decisions are crucial as fantasy managers make that final playoff push. Let’s take a look at our early Week 13 start/sit plays.
Start ‘Em Picks for Week 13
Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders (vs. MIA)
Every quarterback has duds, but seldom few do it as rarely as Sam Howell. I would argue he has just two all season.
Howell has scored at least 18 fantasy points in eight of his last nine games. While his true ceiling games come against bad defenses, the pass-happy nature of the Commanders’ offense keeps Howell’s fantasy value afloat even against good ones.
The Miami Dolphins have been average against quarterbacks this season, allowing 17.0 fantasy points per game. In a game where the Dolphins are likely to jump ahead early, and mostly score at will, Slingin’ Sammy will be slingin’ all over the place. There may be turnovers, but there should be at least two touchdowns.
Devin Singletary, RB, Houston Texans (vs. DEN)
I wouldn’t call Devin Singletary’s performance last week a flop, but it was certainly a dip from his previous two weeks. Singletary carried the ball six times for a mere 18 yards. He managed 13.2 fantasy points on the heels of six receptions for 54 yards, both season-high marks.
Dameon Pierce returned but was a pure backup, playing just 11 snaps. There may be some fear he was being eased back in and will see a larger workload this week. While I do think his snap share will tick up to around 30%, this remains Singletary’s backfield.
Things should be much smoother for Singletary this week. The Denver Broncos are the ultimate run-funnel defense. They are a top-10 defense against the pass but remain the worst against the run, allowing the most ppg to running backs.
The Broncos allow 5.8 yards per carry and 133 rushing yards per game. Both numbers are the worst in the league. Singletary has a good shot to post RB1 numbers this week.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. ARI)
For all this talk of Jaylen Warren being the starter, Najee Harris continues to out-snap and out-touch him. Warren is clearly the better player, but that doesn’t mean Harris is incompetent or incapable. They both are useful players.
Harris did not log a single target last week but did carry the ball 15 times for 99 yards and a touchdown. Naturally, he has become quite a touchdown-dependent option, but given that he remains the Steelers’ goal-line back, he has a decent chance to score against an Arizona Cardinals defense allowing one whole rushing touchdown per game to running backs.
The aforementioned Broncos are the most favorable matchup for running backs. The Cardinals are second, allowing 28.8 ppg to the position, as well as 4.4 ypc and 120 yards per game.
Warren remains the superior start due to his receiving role, but Harris is firmly on the RB2 radar this week.
Josh Downs, WR, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)
After battling a knee injury for a couple of weeks, the bye week worked wonders for the rookie. Josh Downs looked fully healthy and was back to a 68% snap share. Unfortunately, he only managed five catches for 43 yards, scoring 9.3 fantasy points.
Fantasy managers may look at Downs’ last three games and be ready to abandon ship. Do not. Things are going to get better.
For starters, Downs is a talented player. That always helps. He was just inefficient last week. What I care about more are the 13 targets he was able to command, a season-high.
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a favorable matchup for wide receivers last week and Downs couldn’t take advantage, it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I don’t think a second favorable matchup will get away from him.
MORE: PFN’s Consensus Rankings
The Tennessee Titans allow the sixth-most ppg to wide receivers. More specifically, they allow the eighth-most ppg to the slot, where Downs primary lines up. A whopping 72.2% of the total receiving yards allowed by the Titans go to wide receivers.
Michael Pittman Jr. is going to get his. But there should be plenty left for Downs as the clear second option in this passing game to post at least WR3, if not WR2, numbers this week.
Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers (at TB)
The 33-year-old Adam Thielen’s production has come crashing back down to Earth over the past month. After four outings of 20+ points in his first six, Thielen has barely cracked 15 fantasy points just twice since.
Last week, Thielen could not capitalize on the aforementioned soft Titans pass defense. Fortunately, I do think he will be able to take advantage of the Bucs this week.
The Bucs allow the fourth-most ppg to wide receivers. More specifically, they allow the most ppg to the slot. Thielen runs 64% of his routes from the slot and has run the second-most total routes from the slot this season.
But most important of all is the narrative. The Carolina Panthers just fired their head coach and several other coaches due to offensive ineptitude. While this isn’t the most talented roster, we’ve seen far worse offenses come together for an explosion of points the week after they fired their coach. I am banking on some of that this week. Do not abandon Old Man Thielen just yet.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Houston Texans (vs. DEN)
Editor’s Note: Dalton Schultz appeared on the Houston Texans injury report Wednesday as a non-participant with a hamstring injury. At this stage we do not know the severity of the injury, so Schultz may still play at the weekend. Stay tuned to PFN’s coverage in the days ahead to see if Schultz is on course to play or will miss Week 13.
Last week, Dalton Schultz was in the sit column. Hopefully, you were able to find an alternative to his two-target, one-catch, two-yard effort. This week, Schultz is back on the menu, though!
I’ve been calling Schultz a sell for a couple of weeks now due to a brutal rest-of-season schedule. That remains true. But amid that brutality, there is one respite, and that is this week against the Broncos.
The Broncos remain the most favorable opponent for tight ends, allowing 16.8 ppg to the position, the most in the league. With C.J. Stroud playing extremely high-level football, there should be plenty of meat on the bone left over for Schultz after Tank Dell and Nico Collins get their fill.
Plus, the Broncos have been better against receivers over the past several weeks. It may actually be prudent for the Houston Texans to intentionally target Schultz more, attacking the Broncos’ weakness.
Only the Atlanta Falcons see opponents target the tight end position more than the 28.6% target share the Broncos face. Schultz should see plenty of opportunities. Get him in fantasy lineups for what may be the final time this season.
Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 13
Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers (vs. KC)
Jordan Love has enjoyed a resurgence since his midseason lull. He’s now topped 18 fantasy points in three straight games. Of course, two of those came against bottom-10 pass defenses.
This week, Love gets the Kansas City Chiefs. They are quite the formidable pass defense, allowing the eighth-fewest ppg to quarterbacks.
Love has thrown a touchdown in all but one game this season. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight. The latter streak is almost certainly coming to an end. The former might as well. Love is a very risky start in Week 13.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (at JAX)
Joe Mixon deserves better. Sadly, there is no more hope for him this season. His four-game touchdown streak came to an end last week, and my prediction is he won’t score another one this season.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ offense just can’t function with Jake Browning. In a game where the Bengals never really fell behind by a ton, Mixon managed 10 touches for 60 scoreless yards. So much for the offense running through Mixon.
The Jaguars just held Singletary to 18 yards on six carries. They allow 3.6 ypc to running backs and 59 rushing yards per game. They have been vulnerable through the air, though, with 18.4% of their total receiving yards allowed going to running backs. That would be Mixon’s best shot at a usable fantasy day. But without a touchdown, he’s likely capped at around 10 points. You can do better.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers (at TB)
It has been nearly impossible to predict this Panthers backfield. Perhaps I am foolish for even trying.
Last week, Chuba Hubbard had his best game of the season, totaling 92 yards, catching five passes, and scoring a touchdown for 17.7 fantasy points. All of those numbers were season-highs. He also did them against a collapsing Titans run defense.
The Bucs are a different animal. They are a pass-funnel defense that is suffocating against the run. They allow the fifth-fewest ppg to running backs.
On the season, the Bucs surrender just 0.2 touchdowns per game to running backs. They also are quite effective at stopping backs in the receiving game, with just 10.3% of their total receiving yards allowed going to running backs. Essentially, the two ways in which Hubbard scores his points are unlikely to be beneficial to him this week.
There is the narrative of the Panthers having just fired their head coach, which often leads to a short burst of offensive improvement. However, that can happen without Hubbard being particularly involved. Fantasy managers relying on Hubbard this week will need a short touchdown. If not, it will look quite ugly.
Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons (at NYJ)
Outside of Drake London’s Week 1 bagel, it really hasn’t been that bad for the mega-talented sophomore WR. Sure, fantasy managers were hoping for more of a breakout, but London has hit double-digit fantasy points in all but two games since that Week 1 disaster.
Last week, with Desmond Ridder back under center and back to his usual turnover shtick, London still managed five catches for 91 yards. He is going to be fine to use over the final five weeks of the season … just not this week.
The New York Jets are the worst matchup for wide receivers, allowing the fewest ppg to the position. Their 8.8 ppg allowed to outside receivers is the third-fewest in the league, and no team has allowed fewer than the 0.3 touchdowns the Jets allow to wide receivers.
The Falcons want to run the ball. The way to move the ball against the Jets is on the ground. With Bijan Robinson really starting to percolate, this is a perfect opportunity for the Falcons to call 40 run plays. When they do throw, they are better off targeting running backs, which is the only area of pass defense where the Jets struggle. Just 58.6% of its total receiving yards allowed go to wide receivers, but 20.9% go to running backs.
London could be looking at something like a 3-30 line this week, which is not going to do fantasy managers chasing playoff spots any favors.
Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers (vs. KC)
Finally, Christian Watson showcased why he was a popular breakout selection in the fourth round of fantasy drafts. The sophomore WR caught five of seven targets for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. All of those numbers were season highs.
Please be reminded that before last week Watson had just one other game with more than 37 receiving yards. I am going to need to see more from Watson before he is restored to the ranks of the WR3s.
I already mentioned the challenges the Green Bay Packers face with a tough Chiefs pass defense in the Jordan Love section. If Love is struggling, it stands to reason his wide receivers are as well.
The Chiefs allow the sixth-fewest ppg to outside receivers, which is where Watson primarily lines up. The Packers are likely to funnel targets more to Jayden Reed and the slot when they do opt to pass.
After this week, Watson has a bunch of favorable matchups remaining. He very well may be startable for the rest of the season. But in Week 13, he is best left on benches.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. ARI)
Sit Pat Freiermuth coming off his first-career 100-yard game? Surely I jest. But I don’t.
The Cardinals have done a complete 180 from the team we used to aggressively target for tight end streamers. Now, we want to avoid them at all costs.
Sure, Tyler Higbee broke loose for two touchdowns against them last week. He also only caught five passes for 29 yards. Of course, Freiermuth is liable to find the end zone. No matter what his other stats are, if he scores, you will be upset you sat him. But don’t expect anything near what he did against the Bengals last week.
The Cardinals allow 10.0 ppg to tight ends, the 10th-fewest in the league. That number should be even lower, but Higbee’s two-touchdown performance inflated it a bit. From a yardage standpoint, only three teams allow fewer yards per game to tight ends than the paltry 37 the Cardinals surrender. The Muth is unlikely to get luth this week.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!