Kyle Soppe’s Week 13 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Outlooks for Puka Nacua, D’Andre Swift, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Others

Have questions? Every single player on your radar is covered in this Week 13 preview of the 2023 fantasy football season!

We have officially entered the grind of the fantasy football season. Every decision is magnified, and you have to make these calls while hiding out in your in-laws’ coat closet while your wife and her sisters argue about the appetizer presentation.

C’mon, I’m not alone. Admit it or not, “life” things come up this time of year, and that’s a good thing — balance is good. All the more reason to dive into this novel: your one-stop shop for everything you need to know!

Join me. Join me on this journey through the Week 13 slate. We are dangerously close to the fantasy postseason, and any misstep this time of year could prove fatal.

Bye Weeks: Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

  • Spread: Cowboys -9.5
  • Total: 46.5
  • Seahawks implied points: 18.5
  • Cowboys implied points: 28

Quarterbacks

Geno Smith: A quarterback with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and a first-round pick at his disposal should be fantasy relevant. “Should be” doesn’t mean “is,” and Smith is proving that accurate.

After last week, Smith’s game count with zero touchdown passes (three) is nearing his multi-TD game count (four). For the season, he has just a pair of finishes inside the top 15 at the position, and I’m not at all counting on a third this week.

Smith and Matthew Stafford are the veteran QBs with high-end teammates who are barely viable QB2s this week.

Dak Prescott: This run by Prescott is as impressive as anything we’ve seen at the position — five top-three finishes in his past six games. He has 300+ passing yards and 3+ TD passes in four of his past five games, stabilizing himself as a safe weekly option that possesses elite upside.

His production deserves to be highlighted, but the offensive line and coaching staff get a tip of the cap as well. Prescot hasn’t been sacked in back-to-back-to-back games, an ode to both the blocking and the scheming to his strengths. All systems are firing in this passing game right now, and you’d be crazy not to ride the wave!

Running Backs

Kenneth Walker III: The Seahawks are reportedly optimistic about how Walker’s rehab (oblique) is coming along, but I’m assuming he sits out this week and takes advantage of the mini-bye to get ready for Week 14 at SF.

Walker was losing some work to Zach Charbonnet prior to the injury, and that worries me when it comes to attempting to project his role. We know the upside in his bag, but at 3.0 yards per carry over his past three games, Walker is the type of player I want to ease back into my fantasy lineups (the opposite of Week 12 Kyren Williams).

Zach Charbonnet: The role is there (87.5% of RB carries last week) as long as Walker sits, but this matchup has Charbonnet checking in as nothing more than a Flex play.

The Cowboys allow the third-fewest red-zone trips per game (2.5), making a day-saving touchdown a tough sell. The rookie has run for 94 yards on 29 carries (3.2 ypc) over the past two weeks with extended work. If neither efficiency nor TD equity are in Charbonnet’s profile, what exactly are you chasing?

Tony Pollard: Are we finally there? Is Potential Pollard back and Pitiful Pollard a thing of the past?

He has a rush TD and at least five targets in consecutive games, propelling him to consecutive RB1 finishes (doubling his season total in the process). With a 15+ yard carry in four straight games, we’ve caught glimpses recently of what we thought would be the norm. He’s got me sucked back in.

MORE: Should You Start Tony Pollard, Kenneth Walker III, or Zach Charbonnet for Fantasy Football Week 13?

The Seahawks are the fourth-worst red-zone defense, adding scoring equity to what we think is a solid touch foundation (16.5 touches over his past six after a dip in usage). Welcome back to the top 10, Mr. Pollard! Now let’s get to work.

Wide Receivers

DK Metcalf: His pace since the beginning of October is 68 catches for 1,079 yards. That’s not what we paid for, and I’m not sure it gets better anytime soon.

Metcalf has finished five weeks outside of the top 35 fantasy receivers this season, downside that I could swallow if it was offset by elite upside. But it hasn’t been (two top 20s).

Last week was a pretty good snapshot of things — 33.3% target share and a whopping 4.7 half-PPR points. I’m not going to tell you to outright bench Metcalf, but he’s been firmly removed from my “must start” tier that he entered November as.

I currently have him ranked a tick above the aforementioned “talented WR, bad QB” tier (Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson), simply because he’s been playing with his below-average QB for the entire season. But Metcalf’s barely inside my top 25 and is dropping in a hurry.

Tyler Lockett: Remember way back in Week 2 when Lockett scored a pair of touchdowns in the Seahawks’ win over the Lions? He has found paydirt just twice since and last week was his fifth game this season with under 40 receiving yards.

The occasional flashes of upside are almost more detrimental than they are helpful. They provide hope. Since Seattle’s bye, Lockett has three top 25 finishes and three finishes of WR50 or worse.

He’s likely to decide your matchup in one direction or the other and that’s a terrifying proposition when the QB isn’t playing at a high level.

If we scrap last week with the understanding that the 49ers are a rare level of elite, Lockett’s average positional finish is WR32 over his past seven games. That is right where he lands for me this week. We rank for mean outcomes, even if the most likely outcome this week (and any week) is for him to finish 15+ spots away from this rank.

He’s a true matchup play. Not his matchup, your matchup. If you can take on the risk that Lockett comes with, go for it. If you’re in a battle that you expect to be close and you want to lock in safe production, I’d look elsewhere.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: As inconsistent as his teammates are, JSN has been essentially the same statistical player week in, week out (36-63 receiving yards in seven straight games). That’s who he is right now — a low-upside option that is best to be rostered as a handcuff as opposed to a reasonable Flex play.

Optimists will point to him leading the ‘Hawks in receiving yards last week, but in doing so on an 11.1% target share isn’t near sustainable. Smith-Njigba is outside of my top 40 this week, even with six teams on a bye.

CeeDee Lamb: The recent run of production is a touch underwhelming (91 receiving yards over his past two games after clearing 115 in each of his four games prior), but with a TD in three straight games, the fantasy bills continue to be paid.

The last time Lamb failed to return top 20 production was Week 5. He has allowed Prescott to play with confidence, and as long as that is the case, Lamb is on the short list of players capable of leading the position in scoring any given week.

Brandin Cooks: The touchdown on Thanksgiving gives Cooks a score in four of his past six games, but the volume — or lack thereof — leads to some serious inconsistencies. With more than five targets just once over his past eight games, runs like this for a talented WR shouldn’t be surprising:

Week 8 vs LAR: WR21
Week 9 at PHI: WR97
Week 10 vs. NYG: WR3
Week 11 at CAR: WR49
Week 12 vs. WAS: WR18

Seattle ranks as an above-average pass defense in both yards per attempt and yards per completion — numbers that have me taking more of a pessimistic view on Cooks in this spot (WR39).

Tight Ends

Jake Ferguson: Did we jump the gun on anointing Ferguson as a Tier 2 tight end? He has just two games this season with 50+ yards and has seen his target total decrease in three straight weeks.

Thanks to some target-earning potential that he’s flashed (five games with 7+ targets), I do have Ferguson inside my top 10 and above the TE blob. However, his footing isn’t as sturdy as it was less than a month ago.

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

  • Spread: Colts -2
  • Total: 43
  • Colts implied points: 22.5
  • Titans implied points: 20.5

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew II: Sometimes, there is elite production to chase, and other times, you try to get ahead of the play-calling. The Minshew play is certainly the latter, but we aren’t shooting from the hip on this one.

In Week 12, Minshew faced a pass-funnel Buccaneers defense, and he threw 20 pass attempts through five drives against just six RB rush attempts from the Colts. While I don’t expect this to be their game plan for very long, it could be for one more week against a defense with similar strengths/weaknesses.

The floor is obviously a low one (just one TD pass on 95 attempts during this three-game win streak), but with three games of over 40 pass attempts, we at least have proof that this offense is willing to cut him loose in a fantasy-friendly way.

Will Levis: It feels as if more than a month has passed since Levis lit the Falcons on fire in his NFL debut with four touchdowns on 29 pass attempts. He has two touchdown tosses on his 123 attempts since.

Levis is averaging just 18.2 completions and has as many games this season with 20+ completions as he does finishes better than QB20. Uno.

With the Colts blitzing at the lowest rate in the league, I’m not expecting many single coverage/broken coverage situations down the field, giving the risky far more downside than upside.

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor: With a touchdown in three straight, and the Titans allowing the fifth-most red-zone trips, JT is in a prime spot to remind us of just how good he good is.

And then … thumb injury. We just can’t have nice things, can we?

You’re obviously sitting on Taylor, but this doesn’t sound great for fantasy managers looking to improve their seeding heading into the postseason.

Zack Moss: This is a simple situation: If JT sits, you play Moss. Easy.

He ran well in Taylor’s absence earlier this season and continues to do so (eight for 55 against the Bucs last week). Moss has five games this season with 15+ carries, and his average weekly finish in those games was RB14, which includes a pair of brutal matchups.

MORE: Zack Moss Fantasy Waiver Wire Week 13

It also includes a 23-carry, 165-yard performance against the Titans. That was Taylor’s return and a game that involved the chaos that came with an in-game QB change after Anthony Richardson got hurt.

With Taylor ruled out, they have time to prepare a Moss-friendly game plan, I think he exploits this matchup and is a strong RB2 that I’d rank over Javonte Williams, James Conner, and Rhamondre Stevenson.

Derrick Henry: The writing is on the wall, in my opinion, for what could be a bumpy ride to the finish line for Henry managers. He ended November without a 20-yard carry and has a total of two receiving yards over his past three games, numbers that simply don’t point to a late-season spike.

That said, I’m more worried about future matchups than this one. The Colts are an average defense across the board, and I’m not projecting any game script concerns.

Henry is a low-end RB1 for me.

Tyjae Spears: The rookie split 26 routes with Henry and had one whole yard to show for his work in the passing game. I have no issue if you want to move on from Spears. There is clearly no value here as long as Henry is playing. In deeper leagues, he’s worth holding onto as a clear handcuff, but any hope of standalone value is long gone at this point.

Wide Receivers

Michael Pittman Jr.: For the seventh time this season, Pittman is coming off a double-digit target effort, as he holds one of the safest roles at the position in the league. Against the Bucs, he posted his second 100-yard game of the season and fourth consecutive game with at least eight receptions.

Pittman has produced starter fantasy numbers in each of his past six games — average WR16 positional finish over that stretch — and he should extend that streak against a below-average pass defense in any metric you look at.

Josh Downs: He’s back! Downs was earning 25% of the targets from Minshew prior to suffering the knee injury and playing in a compromised fashion for a pair of games. Last week, he had 13 targets (32.5% share)!

For the month prior to getting hurt, Downs had established a double-digit half-PPR expectation, and I’m comfortable in getting back to that this week. The rookie is a top-30 WR for me this week, ranked ahead of bigger names like Chris Godwin and Tyler Lockett.

DeAndre Hopkins: Nuk has turned into one of the most risk/reward receivers in our game since Levis took the reins. In those five games …

Two top-15 finishes
One WR27 finish
Two finishes outside the top 50

There is no ranking that is unreasonable of him, no sit/start question that is crazy. The Colts rarely blitz, and that should allow Hopkins time to work into the holes of their average pass defense, a train of thought that has me ranking him as WR21 this week (just ahead of those receivers with even less stability under center in Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson).

Tight Ends

These offenses both carry some big-play upside through the air — just not by way of the tight end position. There are plenty of TEs who own more favorable roles than anyone in this game.

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots

  • Spread: Chargers -6.5
  • Total: 40
  • Chargers implied points: 23.8
  • Patriots implied points: 16.3

Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert: The three-game skid for the Bolts isn’t ideal, but 45.3 opportunities (passes plus rushes) per game over that stretch keeps Herbert away from the team struggles. He was QB15 in a tough spot last week against the Ravens after finishing three of his previous four games as a top-eight producer.

For you college football fans, Herbert is Penn State — dominate the teams you’re supposed to and underperform in the other spots.

Average Positional Finishes This Season

  • Tough Matchups (BAL, KC, NYJ, DAL): QB17
  • Easier Matchups (everyone else): QB6

So his ranking comes down to how you evaluate the Patriots. I think they’re good but not elite, making Herbert a top-10 play for me.

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler: I wrote about Ekeler’s fantasy value following the Sunday Night Football dud against the Ravens, and I encourage you to check it out. I had more space to go into detail there than I do in a weekly preview like this.

Better times are ahead once you manage your expectations a touch.

Rhamondre Stevenson: I’m not ready to bend the knee and say that Stevenson should be considered moving forward how he was viewed in August, but he’s certainly trending in that direction by finishing as an RB2 or better in five of his past six games (three top 10s).

The first step in that process is a lead role. Last week, he held a 53-15 snap edge over Ezekiel Elliott (25-5 advantage in routes run) and posted 20+ carries for the second straight game, bringing his season total to two such games.

The other significant step for fantasy managers is the fact that Stevenson has seen at least four targets in six straight games. The Chargers’ run defense has been more vulnerable through the air than on the ground of late, but let’s not confuse this as some defensive front to fear.

I have Stevenson as my RB19 this week, with the thought being that New England continues to funnel their offense through him in what figures to be a close game; it’s the Chargers, almost all games are like that.

Ezekiel Elliott: We thought he’d be a touchdown vulture, but Elliott’s been held out of the end zone in nine of 11 games and has just three games this season with 10+ carries. He’s Tyler Allgeier, just older and on a team that’s less competitive. If you’re still holding Zeke for any reason, it’s time to move on.

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen: This offense is built to provide Allen with a high floor (four straight top-20 finishes), and the veteran has shown more juice after the catch than any of us could have expected. That ability has fueled some very nice upside (five top-five finishes) and has shown no signs of letting up. You need to track his status as he deals with a quadriceps injury, but if he plays for LA, he plays for you.

MORE: PFN’s FREE NFL Playoff Predictor

Allen’s name is going to be a popular one on teams that finish this fantasy season with a title. Good on you for labeling him a strong value this summer!

Joshua Palmer: The encouraging third-year receiver is eligible to come off of IR this week (knee) and should walk right back into the WR2 role given that none of his teammates came even remotely close to assuming that role.

To further solidify that notion is the fact that Quentin Johnston missed most of the second half of the Week 12 loss to the Ravens. Palmer saw at least seven balls thrown his way in each of his past four healthy games, a level of involvement I’d expect him to see this week.

In a perfect world, you can wait to Flex Palmer and make sure he is 100% healthy for a stretch run that is fantasy friendly (DEN-LV-BUF-DEN). It sounds unlikely the you will have his services this week, but keep an eye on his rehab as you prepare for your fantasy postseason.

Demario Douglas: The Patriots getting their top receiver hurt (head) on a punt return is a pretty good summation of their 2023 season. Loaded teams in PPR leagues that want a solid floor for their Flex play need to keep an eye on Douglas’ health for next week — he will NOT play on Sunday.

The slot receiver has caught at least five balls in four straight games and earned a target last week on 40.9% of his routes. That’s an elite rate, and with little talent around him, all of the target metrics should continue to impress when healthy.

Douglas has been a top-40 receiver in four of five games since returning from injury. While that may not sound like much, it’s a level of floor that is tough to find on the wire. On the right fantasy roster, Douglas makes plenty of sense. It’s important to know what your specific roster needs and your future trajectory.

Tight Ends

Gerald Everett and Donald Parham Jr.: Everett was the productive option this week (four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown), but the role remains murky. Parham didn’t earn a single target, but his route participation was in the same range as that of Everett — and, even more concerning was the fact that he ran a route on 78.6% of his snaps.

The Chargers have identified Parham as a valuable pass-catching asset in big spots, and that limits Everett’s projectable production to a point where I’m not comfortable putting him inside of my top 12 this week or moving forward.

With Joshua Palmer expected back, targets are likely going to be even more difficult to come by, making both of these options mid-blob tight ends that can be streamed but are not must-rosters by any means.

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

  • Spread: Lions -4
  • Total: 46
  • Lions implied points: 25
  • Saints implied points: 21

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: Last week, Goff recorded his fourth game this season with over 320 passing yards and now has multiple TD passes in each of his past three games (doubling his season total in the process). With at least 23 completions in six straight games, Goff’s floor is enough to make him a top-12 option, and his ability to excel indoors is certainly a plus in this spot.

But the ceiling isn’t overly appealing given his struggles against strong defenses. Goff was QB18 against the Chiefs in Week 1, QB24 in Baltimore in Week 7, and QB16 in Week 11 against an upwards-trending Bears defense. The Saints are the seventh-best defense in pass yards per attempt and per game this season, making him a low-end option that carries quite a bit of risk.

Derek Carr: Much like Goff, Carr has been piling up the yardage of late with 300+ passing yards in four of his past six games. The yardage has enabled him to post six top-15 finishes this season, but with only three multi-TD games on his résumé, Carr has yet to finish a week better than QB9 this season.

The Lions’ defense has cratered of late — 31 points per game allowed in the three games following their bye, up from 19.3 in their three games pre-bye — which makes Carr an interesting DFS play if and only if he has some of his pass catchers back on the field.

Michael Thomas was placed on IR ahead of Week 12, while Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed left last week’s loss early. If the injuries linger, Carr isn’t on my radar if I’m replacing Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson for the week. But should his receivers bounce back, Carr is very much in the mix with Jordan Love and Gardner Minshew as the top QB streamers of the week.

Running Backs

Jahmyr Gibbs: Part of Gibbs’ dominating snap share on Thanksgiving (60-23 over David Montgomery) was due to game script. But that sort of advantage doesn’t happen if the team isn’t comfortable in allowing it to.

The rookie has been a top-30 RB in every game he has played outside of his debut, and, of course, we had the four straight top-six finishes at the position prior to last week against the Packers.

The skill set is nothing short of elite, and the Lions are seemingly increasingly open to the idea of featuring what Gibbs does well as they look to prepare for a deep playoff run.

Gibbs is clearly ahead of Montgomery in my Week 13 and rest-of-season ranks. He’s locked into your lineup every single week, no questions asked.

David Montgomery: There aren’t many offenses capable of sustaining a pair of top 20 running backs, but this Lions offense isn’t like most. Montgomery has a rushing TD in all three of his games back from injury and has scored in every single game that he’s finished healthy this season.

Montgomery loses the upside battle with Gibbs when it comes to role in the passing game (two catches on three targets in his past three games). I have a hard time seeing that change down the stretch given Gibbs’ success, but that doesn’t mean Montgomery’s 13-16 carries should be on your bench.

I have Montgomery ranked as my RB16 this week and feel good about penciling him into all starting lineups.

Alvin Kamara: At this point in the fantasy season, minimizing risk and maximizing positive outs is the name of the game. Kamara has at least 33 receiving yards in seven of eight games (top-15 RB in seven of eight) and at least 15 carries in five of his past seven games.

His role is as safe as it gets and has me willing to overlook the fact that Kamara doesn’t have a gain longer than 25 yards this season. The Lions own the third-worst red-zone defense, and that adds TD equity to the already strong profile.

Wide Receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: Perfect. That is the only word to describe the fact that St. Brown has 95 receiving yards or a touchdown in every single game he has played this season.

He’s the closest thing to inevitable at the WR position. Hopefully, you’re embracing the discount you got this summer in acquiring The Sun God — it won’t be that easy in 2024.

Josh Reynolds: He runs slightly ahead of Jameson Williams when it comes to snaps and routes, but it doesn’t matter. He’s been held under 20 receiving yards in four straight games and hasn’t had more than two catches in a game since mid-October.

This is an offense with plenty of potential and should finish the regular season strong — that doesn’t mean they need to have a secondary receiver. This offense runs through St. Brown and Sam LaPorta, don’t overthink it.

Chris Olave: We are monitoring his status after he left Week 12 with a concussion. All signs last week pointed to the Saints very much making getting Olave going a priority (three catches for 57 yards on the first drive), and it helped field a third straight top-20 finish despite the early exit (after seven straight weeks finishing outside of the top 20 at the position).

Olave deserves to be locked into fantasy lineups across the board against the Lions defense that was systematically picked apart by Jordan Love on Thanksgiving. Just make sure you’re keeping tabs on his status as we approach kickoff.

Rashid Shaheed: The burner is dealing with a thigh injury that forced him to miss the second half last week and will sideline him this weekend as well. While the recovery process could work in such a way that he’s active next week, a less-than-full-strength player with a profile like this is not something I’m interested in as I battle for playoff positioning.

Shaheed deserves to be rostered. His upside is great enough to propel you to an upset in the right spot, but I want confirmation that he’s functioning at full strength before I even consider rolling those dice.

Tight Ends

Sam LaPorta: With under 60 receiving yards in eight straight games, I understand the minor worries that are coming in on behalf of LaPorta. I’m not at all concerned.

LaPorta’s averaging 56.4 air yards over that stretch and is averaging a red-zone target per game over his past six, two underlying metrics that put him in position to return TE1 numbers sooner than later.

The Saints shut down the fearsome TE tandem in Atlanta last week, but in the two games prior, T.J. Hockenson and Cole Kmet combined for 16 catches, 189 yards, and three scores. You’re playing LaPorta with confidence this week and moving forward.

Juwan Johnson: The Lions’ defense has shown some serious cracks of late, and with Johnson coming off of seeing a season-high seven targets (85% route participation), he is plenty capable of getting you through this week.

And maybe more?

The schedule is awfully favorable (DET-CAR-NYG-LAR-TB) during the rest of the fantasy football season, and with all of the injuries at pass catcher, his role as a featured route runner is very much here to stay. I worry about the upside of this offense as a whole, and that’ll impact Johnson’s scoring equity, but with consistent volume, he should be just fine.

Taysom Hill: The Saints have been losing pass catchers left and right, but Hill remains. Against the Falcons last week, he ran seven times (the third time this season he has reached that level of usage on the ground) and caught both of his targets for 55 yards. Even with Johnson fully healthy, New Orleans is scheming Hill into their plans and making a point to get his versatile skill set on the field.

MORE: Week 13 Buy Low, Sell High Tight Ends Include Taysom Hill and Dalton Schultz

It never feels comfortable, but Hill is easily inside of my top 10 at the position and is a tight end you can plug in across all formats.

Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets

  • Spread: Falcons -3
  • Total: 34
  • Falcons implied points: 18.5
  • Jets implied points: 15.5

Quarterbacks

If it needs to be said, don’t get cute here. Not in DFS, and ideally, not in 2QB formats.

Running Backs

Bijan Robinson: One game is nice to see. Two games is the beginning of a trend.

Robinson did it again last week in the win over the Saints (19 touches for 123 yards and two scores) and now deserves to be easily be ranked as a top-10 RB moving forward.

This matchup is obviously not ideal, but 43.4% of yards gained against the Jets this season have come on the ground, and Robinson is dominating the playing time in this backfield (39-18 snap edge over Tyler Allgeier last week). You spent a first-round pick on the rookie this summer and can feel good about his status as you gear up for your run to fantasy glory.

Tyler Allgeier: With the Robinson development, Allgeier has become expendable. If you have the depth to roster a handcuff without hope at standalone value, hold tight. But in leagues with shallow benches or managers who need help now, he can be cut loose.

Allgeier has just two top-30 finishes in his past 10 games after the impressive season opener. He has a role that matters for the Falcons, not for fantasy managers.

Breece Hall: The seven-carry, 25-yard effort against the Dolphins on Black Friday was underwhelming, but Hall did haul in seven passes to help salvage his fantasy day.

Hang tight.

Game script was an issue last week, something that I don’t expect to be the case this week. We did see Hall post three straight top-10 finishes when the Jets were able to compete, which is more along the lines of what I expect in Week 13.

Wide Receivers

Drake London: I was encouraged by London leading the Falcons in catches (five), targets (seven), and receiving yards (91) against the Saints last week, but it’s going to take more than one impressive effort for him to move inside of my top 30.

Sure, he’s seen at least seven targets in six of his past seven games. That’s fair. That involvement, however, has led to just one top-20 finish (four finishes outside the top 45 receivers). London hasn’t scored in the United States since Week 2, and this specific matchup is doing him no favors.

With the Jets owning the second-lowest opponent aDOT and blitzing at the second-lowest rate, it’s tough to imagine a successful outing for London. The low aDOT rules out a big play, the low blitz rules out favorable coverage schemes, and Atlanta’s offense failing to move the ball takes elite volume out of the projectable range of outcomes.

Talented? Yes. Trustworthy for fantasy purposes? No.

Garrett Wilson: Last week, Wilson led the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards. He scored their only offensive touchdown (his first since Week 2) and did essentially all you could ask for — he finished the week as WR23.

The fact that Wilson has been able to finish five of his past six games as a WR2 in fantasy is nothing short of astounding, but even a talent like this can only do so much when the offense around him is crumbling.

Over the past two weeks, Wilson’s 18 targets haven’t resulted in a single catch gaining more than 11 yards, and this passing game is showing no signs of life. He’s a low-end WR2/Flex play for me, a ranking that is a nod to his raw talent more than it is anything matchup-related (ATL: third-best red-zone defense).

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith: I’m not going out of my way to start any Falcons pass catcher this week, and that very much applies to a TE committee. Pitts held a 16-9 edge in routes run last week (vs. NO) over Smith and caught both of his targets (22 yards), while the veteran didn’t earn a single look.

Neither should be trusted this week, but I do prefer Pitts to Smith moving forward. And with the Bucs, Panthers, Colts, and Bears up next, it’s possible he provides low-end TE1 fantasy production during the fantasy postseason.

Arizona Cardinals at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Spread: Steelers -5.5
  • Total: 39.5
  • Cardinals implied points: 17
  • Steelers implied points: 22.5

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray: The upside is intoxicating, and we’ve seen glimpses of peak Murray. He has a rush TD in all three of his games this season and is averaging 40.3 opportunities per game. That rate isn’t drastically different than what he posted last season (41.5) or in 2021 (40.6) and provides him with every opportunity to produce in a massive way.

There is some risk here and moving forward due to the schedule, plus the lack of reliable playmakers around him. The Steelers are the fifth-best red-zone defense and are capable of slowing down the game, but I do believe Murray’s potential against a blitz-heavy unit is too great to ignore.

Murray is a top-10 play for me this week, though. He was my nomination on Tuesday’s podcast as the best sell-high option at the QB position for leagues that have yet to see their trade deadline pass.

Kenny Pickett: The upside is limited, but this is a better matchup than what Pickett faced last week in Cincinnati, a game in which he recorded season-highs in passing yards (278) and completion percentage (72.7%).

Normally, I wouldn’t weigh one game too heavily, but it is worth noting that the strong performance came in the first game following the firing of Matt Canada as the offensive coordinator.

Pickett falls just outside of my top 15 this week due to the low ceiling, but if you’ve built a solid team in a deeper league and are just in search of a decent floor while you deal with a Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson bye, you could do worse.

Running Backs

James Conner: When your calling card is volume, 10 touches for 32 yards is not going to cut it for fantasy managers. Conner’s role was obviously impacted by the game script that occurred in a 23-point loss to the Rams, something that we don’t expect to be the case against a Steelers team that has been held under 25 points in nine straight games.

You can panic if you want, I’m not. I have Conner ranked as a low-end RB2 this week, projecting him for essentially the exact stat line I opened the season expecting from him: 15-18 touches for 65-80 yards, with his finish ultimately depending on if he can find the end zone.

He’s essentially ranked behind the top-flight running backs stuck in brutal matchups (Bijan Robinson, D’Andre Swift, and Kyren Williams are all in tough spots but still preferred) and ahead of RBs in offenses that I view as having even less upside than the Cardinals (the Joe Mixons and Rhamondre Stevensons of the world).

Najee Harris: The Steelers can label either one of their RBs the “starter,” but with a 38-34 snap share (this week, it was in favor of Harris), this is as even a committee as we have. Harris has been an RB1 in three of his past four games — not bad for a player who opened the season finishing outside of the top 30 in four of five games.

The 20-yard run may look like an explosive play in the box score, but it was a two-yard dive up the middle that somehow resulted in an additional 18 yards. Harris’ game is far less visually appealing than that of Jaylen Warren’s, but we get points for production, and he’s offered that at a nice clip over the past month.

I continue to rank Warren over Harris due to the advantage in ceiling, but both are starting RBs for me at the moment against the 26th-ranked per-carry run defense. The Cardinals also allow a league-high 4.5 red-zone trips per game, giving Harris the TD equity he needs to have access to if you’re like me and not willing to count on splash plays.

Jaylen Warren: Harris held the edge in snaps while Warren ran one more route than his backfield mate. The efficiency numbers are nothing short of special (82.2% catch rate to complement 5.8 yards per carry).

Last week was a Harris week (Warren: RB45) after the second-year back had posted three straight top-15 finishes. I don’t expect consistency to be the calling card of this backfield, but in games where Pittsburgh is favored, I’ll be ranking both of them as viable starters.

Wide Receivers

Marquise Brown: For the first time since Murray returned under center, we saw glimpses of the promise we heaped onto Brown. The 11.8 half-PPR points are a nice start, but it was the 27.3% target share last week, and the fact that his aDOT is up 51.4% since Murray took over that gives me reasons for hope.

The nature in which the Steelers play defense makes this an all-or-nothing week for Hollywood in my opinion. Does he exploit single coverage with Murray running around to avoid the blitz and hit on a few big plays? Or does his downfield role not get any love with Murray forced to get rid of the ball in a hurry?

MORE: Fantasy News Tracker

I tend to lean the former, putting Brown on the fringe of my WR2 tier. The Steelers have played two divisional opponents with no real upside under center. The last time they played a team that could threaten them vertically was the Packers in Week 10, a game in which three different players had a 30+ yard catch against them (including a 35-yard TD from Jayden Reed).

I’m starting Brown and thinking he has as good a chance this week as any to give us his first top-15 finish of the season.

Michael Wilson: The rookie has missed consecutive games after suffering a setback to his shoulder, and with the Cardinals on bye next week, they’re likely to continue to be cautious with him. I’m not overly optimistic Wilson plays this week. Even if he does, a pitch count seems more than likely, with an early exit also on the table.

I maintain my thought that he can play at this level and that he might be a viable free stash this time next week in deeper leagues.

Greg Dortch earned a target on 20.5% of his routes against the Rams, a number that nearly tripled that of Rondale Moore (7.5%). I’m not of the belief that either is destined to matter, but it has become clear over the past two weeks that if Wilson remains inactive, Dortch (my WR48) is the proper flier to take.

Diontae Johnson: Your fantasy receiver can go viral for a few reasons, most of them are good. Johnson, however, was the exception in Week 12.

The clip of him showing no effort on a run play and then having no idea the ball was fumbled wasn’t flattering. Nor was him failing to finish the catch on a 15-yard touchdown.

Johnson hasn’t been a top-45 receiver in three straight games, production that I’m not willing to write off due to health (he was a top-25 receiver in each of his first three games back from IR).

In theory, the 43 targets Johnson’s seen over the past five weeks should create enough of a floor to consider him a Flex option. Barely. This is a good matchup, and in PPR leagues, he’s a Flex, but the lack of a ceiling is going to prevent me from ranking him as anything higher than a middling one for the foreseeable future.

George Pickens: Johnson’s outlook wasn’t rosy, and it doesn’t get much better for Pickens. He has finished as WR45 on the nose in three of his past five — and those are his peak finishes over that stretch.

Johnson’s target count is why he’s my preferred Steelers wideout. Pickens hasn’t earned more than six targets in a game since Week 7, and with my lack of trust in Kenny Pickett, I prefer betting on volume as opposed to single targets that carry more value.

Pickens is a low-end WR3 for me in leagues that require you to start three at the position. He’s off my Flex radar in all other formats (for context, I prefer both Steelers RBs to Pickens in a Flex situation, Jayden Reed and Josh Downs if you’re looking for positional reference points).

Tight Ends

Trey McBride: Here are McBride’s numbers if you project his past month over the course of an entire season:

112 catches
150 targets
1,194 yards

The pedigree is proving predictive, and against the fourth-blitz-heaviest defense in the league, I very much expect another high-volume afternoon from McBride. He’s solidified himself as a lineup lock, and I have him in my top five for this week.

Pat Freiermuth: We weren’t sure what to expect in the first game post-Matt Canada, but Freiermuth (67.6% route participation) seeing seven of Kenny Pickett’s 18 first-half targets was certainly noteworthy. He opened the game by completing his first six passes, two of which went to his reliable TE (gains of 24 and 29 yards).

The third-year tight end seems to be past the hamstring that cost him five games, and we have proof that he can be a viable option (seven touchdowns as a rookie and at least 60 catches in each of his first two NFL seasons).

This offense is not one that inspires a ton of confidence, but a consistent role with scoring upside is really all it takes to flirt with TE1 status.

Miami Dolphins at Washington Commanders

  • Spread: Dolphins -9.5
  • Total: 50.5
  • Dolphins implied points: 30
  • Commanders implied points: 20.5

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa: Miami’s skill-position players and Tagovailoa’s accuracy (70% completion or better in consecutive games and seven times this season) elevate his floor to a usable level. A matchup against the second-worst defense on a per-pass basis doesn’t hurt, either.

That said, the downside can’t be overlooked, which is why Tagovailoa is a low-end QB1 for me. He hasn’t run for 10 yards in a game this season and has as many finishes as QB18 or worse as he does top 10 (four).

In Tua’s last four road games, his average finish is QB21. Some of that stat has to do with the defenses played, but the point remains.

I’m a little less optimistic on Tagovailoa than the industry seems to be, but he remains a starter for me in this spot. One more road stat to consider as we move forward …

Percent of passes that result in TDs this season

  • Home: 8.2% (2.3% intercepted)
  • Road: 3.9% (2.9% intercepted)

Sam Howell: It seems that with each passing week, there are fewer things that we can count on. And yet, Sam Howell remains.

The man has posted five straight top-10 finishes. In fact, he’s accomplished that ranking in seven of his past eight games. It’s not always pretty, it’s rarely four clean quarters, but it’s essentially always there when all is said and done.

Howell threw 44 passes while you enjoyed your turkey dinner (forget turkey, by the way, hit me with all the sweet potatoes and stuffing) last week, the fifth straight game he reached that number (300+ passing yards in four of those games).

Over that stretch, he’s averaging 31.2 completions per game. If you need a marker for just how bananas that is, Tom Brady set the single-season completion record in 2021 averaging 28.5 per game that year.

My only concern here is that the Commanders use an offensive strategy that they’ve used in the past when overmatched with success: bleed clock. That’s not really playing to their strengths, but a shootout with the Dolphins isn’t exactly an option, either. That minor risk has Howell sitting at QB10 in my ranks, a spot that is still ahead of Jared Goff and Russell Wilson.

Running Backs

De’Von Achane: This nagging knee injury kept the explosive rookie out of Week 12’s win over the Jets. He is expected to suit up this week, though I’d be very surprised if he led this backfield in opportunities. With a 2.5-game lead in the AFC East, Miami has the luxury to be smart with Achane, and it’s not as if they lack depth at the position to help fill the void.

Should he clear all physical hurdles this week, Achane will rank behind Raheem Mostert for me, but he’ll still be a low-end RB2. I just laid out the case as to why he can be eased back into action, so if Miami elects to bring him back in any capacity, they’re confident that he can perform.

Keep an eye on this situation, but I’d tentatively plan on Flexing Achane this weekend.

Raheem Mostert: With Achane out and the game script working in his favor, Mostert handled 20 carries and scored twice in a tough matchup with the Jets on Black Friday. The veteran has strung together an impressive season that includes nine finishes as a fantasy starter and four top fives.

We have plenty of proof this season that Mostert deserves RB1 consideration should Achane sit this week. The complicated part comes when the rookie returns. We don’t really have a feel for how the touches will be distributed when everyone is healthy.

As mentioned, I’m labeling Mostert as the lead in this backfield for Week 13 no matter Achane’s status. That means if you roster him, you’re plugging Mostert into your starting lineup without much thought.

Brian Robinson: The scoring was never going to be sticky. That said, the versatility is proving to be much more stable than any of us thought coming into this season.

B-Rob has three straight games with a 14+ yard run and a 14+ yard catch, development that is critical in a game like this where Washington is a big underdog.

I don’t love the fact that Antonio Gibson out-snapped him last week (36-35), but the team clearly prioritizes getting Robinson the ball over Gibson. That’s enough to land him on my RB2 radar in a game where Washington is going to have to put points on the board.

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill: Cheetah has at least eight catches in five straight games and 10+ targets in six straight, making him an explosive play waiting to happen. The only thing that has been able to consistently slow Hill is the end zone (TD in six of his past seven), and with Washington owning the second-highest opponent aDOT, they don’t feel like the defense to slow his play for 2k.

Jaylen Waddle: On his last day as a 23-year-old, Waddle recorded a season-high eight catches last week on eight targets. The volume is one thing, but the plus-efficiency is another (65.7% catch rate through 11 weeks), and that provides me with optimism moving forward.

MORE: The Miami Dolphins Are Going To Light Up the Washington Commanders’ Defense in Week 13

Waddle’s showing against the Jets was his fourth top-20 performance of the season, and I have him adding to that total this week. That said, it would be irresponsible of me to not mention that he’s been held under 65 yards or cleared 110 in every game since the beginning of October.

Acknowledge the risk that comes with your decision to play him, but I’m taking Waddle’s current form and this matchup to the bank.

Terry McLaurin: I look at usage stats before anything when evaluating a box score, so McLaurin’s 11 targets last week (his fourth double-digit target effort of the season) caught my eye. Of course, four catches for 50 yards is underwhelming.

So what do we trust — the opportunity count or the inefficiency?

Usually, I’d hone in on the targets for a talent like McLaurin and trust that the production will follow. That’s generally where I’m headed, but not with the confidence I would have had a month ago.

McLaurin has just three top-25 finishes this season and has been held under 55 receiving yards on seven occasions. The volume has largely been empty in terms of fantasy production, and with one touchdown since Week 3, he really doesn’t have many avenues if the efficiency continues to lag.

This is a good game script spot, and if he can avoid a full-time shadow, I’m hanging in there for one more week. If McLaurin struggles to provide top 30 numbers this week, we’ll need to reevaluate for the fantasy postseason. That’s seven days down the road. I’m playing the volume angle one more time and hoping it pays off in a catchup spot against the ‘Fins.

Jahan Dotson: We are trending towards Dotson being a reasonable Flex option with the fantasy playoffs nearing. His profile is that of a boom/bust player, but with five catches or a touchdown in five of his past six games, there’s a floor here that I’m not sure any of us saw coming.

The weirdest part? The former Nittany Lion doesn’t have a 35-yard catch this season. The range of outcomes remains wide, which is preventing him from cracking my top 30 at the position. Nevertheless, he’s close and ranks in the Jayden Reed/Tyler Lockett range of risky options.

Curtis Samuel: By finishing as the WR21 in Week 12, Samuel’s name is back on the radar as a Flex option — I’m not interested.

The strong showing came on the heels of four straight finishes outside of the top 55. Samuel was targeted on 27.9% of his snaps last week (McLaurin was at 16.7% and Dotson 9.1%), an unsustainable rate. If you think that level of usage is here to stay, then we fundamentally see this situation differently, and I wish you the best of luck. I’m happy to oppose Samuel this week, he’s nowhere near my starting range of receivers.

Tight Ends

Logan Thomas: It’s possible that Thomas had his Thanksgiving meal pre-game last week, as he certainly slept through the majority of the blowout loss in Dallas (two catches for 15 yards). He has failed to score in four straight games and has been held under 60 yards in seven straight.

His status as a non-blob tight end is tied to Washington’s pass-heavy rate, and that’s not going anywhere. I find myself landing on Thomas as a TE option on good teams on which I’m trying to Band-Aid the position. He’s not going to win you any weeks, but I do trust him as a top-12 option (barely) in a game where the script should work in his favor.

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

  • Spread: Texans -3.5
  • Total: 46.5
  • Broncos implied points: 21.5
  • Texans implied points: 25

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson: The veteran has at least 30 rushing yards in three of his past four games and has cleared 20 in six of his past seven. That helps build up a profile that is already reasonably stable (68.1% complete, flirting with a career high).

And while he lacks the upside of his counterpart in this game or options like Jordan Love, his steady floor should be attractive to fantasy managers looking for a one-week fill-in option.

The Texans have allowed four straight QBs to total at least 265 passing-plus-rushing yards. If Wilson extends that streak to five straight, he likely pays off my QB12 ranking of him against a defense that misses the second-most tackles per game in the league.

C.J. Stroud: The rookie has looked like anything but in posting a QB13 finish or better in eight of his past 10 games. Hone in on the most recent tape he’s provided, and we’re talking about 1,466 passing yards (12 TDs) over a four-game stretch.

Heck, Stroud even ran for a season-high 47 yards last week against the Jags. The mobility he has is usually more within the pocket than something fantasy managers can benefit from, but he picks his spots well (six games this season with a 10+ yard carry).

MORE: Where Does C.J. Stroud Rank in Rest-of-Season Rankings?

If a defense is going to slow Stroud down, I have a hard time thinking it’s a Broncos team that is eighth worst on a per-pass basis through the air. Stroud is a top-five play for me this week and can be started with the utmost confidence.

Running Backs

Javonte Williams: We all want to believe that there is a special talent beneath the surface here, but fantasy championships are won on actual production, not potential. Don’t get me wrong, I, too, think Williams is a fantasy star in the making, but it’s hard to overlook his lack of efficiency over the past month when given a true bell-cow role (3.5 yards per carry).

Those concerns, along with a matchup against a top-five per-carry run defense in the league, have Williams barely inside of my top 20 at the position. The role keeps him in starting lineups, but I’m just adjusting my upside expectations.

For Week 13, he ranks in the same tier as RBs with similar “volume but efficiency concerns” written into their profiles — think James Conner, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Joe Mixon.

Devin Singletary: We here at PFN tried to warn you that betting heavily on this Texans ground game, even after consecutive strong showings, was dangerous. Dameon Pierce returned to action last week against the Jags, and he combined with Singletary to run for 32 yards on 11 carries.

Singletary was the clear featured back (49-11 snap edge) and out-targeted Pierce 6-1 (54 receiving yards for Singletary helped salvage an otherwise forgettable day at the office). That makes him the preferred option in this plus-matchup, but starting either Texan back comes with clear risk.

What we saw on Sunday is kind of how I expect this to go moving forward. Running behind this offensive line is a tough ask, so it will come down to efficiency in the passing game, a role that is clearly Singletary’s (35-6 edge in routes run). That creates a low floor and is why Singletary is more of a strong Flex for me this week than anything, but at least it gives him a path to production on an offense where the RB room is not the focal point.

Dameon Pierce: After missing three games with an ankle injury, Pierce returned in the form he left in — five carries for 14 yards. His yards-per-carry average for the season is now under 3.0, and not one of his 114 carries this season has gained more than 16 yards.

As mentioned above, the role in the passing game is pretty clearly in the hands of Singletary (Pierce hasn’t had a multi-catch effort since September), and that keeps him well off of fantasy radars against a top-10 per-carry run defense.

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: With a catch of 30+ yards in three straight and a TD in eight of 11 games this season, Sutton’s profile is that of someone you can trust in your lineup weekly. This offense is average at best in basically all respects, but it is clear that Wilson has a reasonable connection with Sutton, and in this era, even an average unit can support a weekly fantasy starter.

He gets a Texans defense that is bottom 10 in yards per play, percentage of yards that come through the air, and opponent completion percentage. I’m comfortable playing Sutton as a low-end WR2, landing him in the same conversation as some bona fide target earners in Adam Thielen and Garrett Wilson, who play with greater question marks under center.

Jerry Jeudy: If not for pedigree and a favorable schedule to close the season (two Charger games certainly help), would Jeudy be a drop candidate? He has one touchdown this season, hasn’t reached 65 yards since Week 2 (the 70-20 loss in Miami), and has yet to see more than seven targets in a single game (he averaged 6.7 targets per game last season).

There’s simply no excuse for slotting him into your fantasy lineup, no matter the matchup. Could that change down the stretch? There’s a non-zero chance, but I’m not banking on it. With one reception of 20+ yards since early October, Jeudy’s path to mattering in our game isn’t clear and isn’t something I’m remotely comfortable betting on with fantasy regular seasons nearing a conclusion.

Nico Collins: Against the Jags last week, Collins found the end zone for the second time in three games and recorded his first 100-yard effort since Week 4. He led the Texans in all receiving stats, something that I expect to be the case from this point forward.

Yes, Tank Dell has produced well above my (or anyone else’s) expectations this season, but the profile of Collins, along with an edge in experience, gives him the bump. He has caught 14 of 20 targets (169 yards) in his two games since missing one with an injury, and he should continue to trend up.

He’s a strong WR2 this week and is to be considered as such for the remainder of the season.

Tank Dell: There is no denying that Dell is officially a “thing.” I was dismissive during the preseason and skeptical at first when he was producing during the regular season, but we are allowed to adjust opinions when presented with new facts, and with Dell continuing to impress, I have.

I still prefer Collins for the remainder of the season, but there’s no denying it is close. In terms of rankings — they are basically like Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel in San Francisco. Certain matchups will dictate one over the other, but both are talented enough to count on each and every week.

The long-term conversation with Dell is where it gets interesting. On a per-target and per-catch basis, his rookie campaign looks similar to Mecole Hardman, Jahan Dotson, and Calvin Johnson. Talk about a wide range of outcomes!

I expect some waves in production (heck, we saw it last game where he was the targeted on three of the first four passes and just five times on the final 32), but at over 15 yards per catch this season and with 43 targets over his past four games, he is well past the “is he a flash in the pan?” conversation.

Noah Brown: Brown missed a second consecutive game (knee, still struggling to practice), something that wasn’t a surprise given that he hadn’t practiced all week. The lack of participation on the practice field is concerning for both his status this week and his return to actual full strength.

I’m skeptical about this offense producing three viable receivers on any sort of consistent basis (Robert Woods ran a route on 60.9% of dropbacks as the WR3 in this offense last week, well behind rates over 82% posted by both Dell and Collins), so I think it’s best to stash Brown through his return and make him show us a viable role with everyone on this offense healthy.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz: Almost everything touching this passing game has turned to fantasy gold this season, and, for a while, Schultz was a part of them. He scored in three straight games in October and opened November with a 10-catch performance against the Bucs — leading me to tout him as a secondary option in this passing game.

I was wrong. Dell is not only more ready to produce at this level than I gave him credit for, but Schultz doesn’t appear to be much more of a target earner than the blob tight ends.

He has seen just five targets over the past two weeks (6.8% target share) with this receiver room at less than full strength. He has no more than four catches in nine games this season, and, even more concerning than the catch count, he split the work against the Jags with Brevin Jordan (29-26 edge in snaps and a 22-20 edge in routes run).

Schultz (hamstring) has been announced as OUT for this weekend and while Jordan won’t fill that exact role, he makes for an interesting DFS option (not on my redraft streaming radar unless you’re really stuck).

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Spread: Buccaneers -5.5
  • Total: 37
  • Panthers implied points: 15.8
  • Buccaneers implied points: 21.3

Quarterbacks

Baker Mayfield: With multiple TD passes in four of his past five games (he failed to throw multiple TD passes in four of five games prior), Mayfield is making a run at the QB streamer tier. In fact, you could argue that he’s already a part it.

Mayfield’s average fantasy finish over his past five games that were not played against the 49ers is QB11. This matchup isn’t prohibitive, and while I have him ranked “only” as QB15, he’s part of a tier that extends from QB12 through QB17.

Mayfield’s downside is this offensive line (10 sacks over the past two games and 3+ sacks in five of his past six), a flaw that I’m not sure is exposed in this matchup. I don’t hate the idea of stacking up the Bucs in a GPP DFS build.

Running Backs

Chuba Hubbard: Most of fantasy analysis is the usage of past data to help make future decisions. Analysts use trends, health, and a dozen other factors to help them best form educated guesses about what the next week will hold.

That’s how most analyses work. The Panthers’ backfield, however, seems to be a moving target with little rhyme or reason. In situations like that, all we can do is present what happened most recently and go from there. In Week 12, Hubbard held a 47-27 snap edge over Miles Sanders (26-7 in routes) and posted his third top-25 performance in four games.

The 5-1 edge in targets is what has my attention the most. I’m not sure carries in this offense are going to be all that valuable, but receptions hold much more upside. I have Hubbard ranked a handful of spots higher, but neither Panther is a safe start.

Hubbard sits just inside of my top 30, while Sanders is on the outside looking in.

Miles Sanders: “An investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors.”

That’s a Ponzi scheme. That is also how current investors in Sanders feel. We were fed coach speak all summer about how this team paid Sanders and wanted to help him rediscover his receiving numbers from his rookie season.

Early in the season, it was working. We investors were being paid off in funds (catches) collected from new investors (the Panthers) with 12 receptions in September. The house of cards has come crashing down since.

Sanders has nine catches since and hasn’t returned top-25 value in a single game since Week 3. Over his past three games, he’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and has looked even worse.

I have no feel for this backfield. That’s a lie. I have a feel-ing for this backfield. It’s sadness. It’s disappointment.

Fantasy managers who don’t have to waste brain power on this backfield are lucky.

Rachaad White: The narrative for the majority of the season has been that White is only a productive fantasy option because of his consistent work in the passing game. Work in this industry long enough, and you’ll understand that the only thing we know is that we don’t know anything.

White ran for 100 yards and only saw two targets last week in Indy, showing some rushing chops that we weren’t sure he had. To be fair, I’m still not sure efficiency on the ground is something we can count on, but it was good to see him produce top-20 numbers for a sixth straight game in a different style.

To answer your question, no. No, I’m not worried about the one-week drop off in White’s passing-game numbers. He ran a route on 82.1% of Mayfield’s dropbacks last week and should be just fine in that regard moving forward.

Wide Receivers

Adam Thielen: Rookie quarterbacks are no fun. It’s easy to watch C.J. Stroud and believe that development can happen in a hurry, but that’s the exception – not the rule.

Thielen was one of the more productive receivers in October with Bryce Young producing, but as the NFL has caught up to him, Thielen’s fantasy stock has tanked.

Through the four games in November, Thielen saw 30 targets resulting in 147 yards and zero scores.

A pass funnel defense like the Bucs’ could be the get-right spot that Thielen needs. They blitz at the third-highest rate in an effort to hide their secondary, leaving them vulnerable to a pristine route-runner. Thielen has seen at least 10 targets in six of his past nine games, and if that trend continues, his return to WR2 status is going to be in the cards (my WR20).

Mike Evans: A pair of touchdowns allowed Evans to finish Week 12 as the most productive receiver in fantasy (6-70-2) — his fourth top-12 finish of the season. With a score in three straight games and six in his past six, Evans’ skill set is clearly being maximized by what Mayfield likes to do.

The touchdown equity is nothing new, but the elevated floor is. Evans has seven games with at least five catches – a level of involvement that I suspect is sustainable. Even if you’re pessimistic on the volume, this would profile as one of those peak Evans matchups, given that the Panthers are the second-worst red-zone defense. You’re playing him and continuing to profit from the discount you acquired him at this summer.

Chris Godwin: The veteran receiver carries some name value that exceeds what he is currently offering fantasy managers. He’s seen 6-7 targets in five straight games, and that role is generally something that would have my attention. Still, he’s been held under 55 receiving yards in each of those games.

After four straight games ranking inside the top 30, Godwin has spent his past four on the outside looking in at the top 35. He’s officially entered “prove it before I trust it” territory. Could he get there this week against a Panthers defense that misses over eight tackles per game (league-high)? It could happen, but I’m content to be a week late, given his struggles with Mayfield under center.

Tight Ends

Cade Otton: There is no discussion (nor should there be) of Otton being a fantasy league-winner, but with at least 8.5 PPR points in five of his past six, you’re not losing ground in your matchup by playing him.

MORE: Top Week 13 TE Waiver Wire Adds Include Pat Freiermuth and Cade Otton

He rarely comes off the field, and the Bucs are going to have a higher implied total this week than most — plug him in and let the rest of your lineup do the heavy lifting.

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams

  • Spread: Rams -4
  • Total: 39
  • Browns implied points: 17.5
  • Rams implied points: 21.5

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford: After throwing four touchdowns in four games (106 attempts), Stafford tossed four against the Cardinals on 33 attempts in Week 12. That was great production if you landed on it for some unknown reason, but don’t chase it. Please don’t chase it.

Stafford hasn’t reached 235 passing yards in any of his past six contests, and last week was his first finish better than QB14 on the season. He’s a below-average QB2 for Week 13 — even with six teams on bye.

Running Backs

Jerome Ford: This offense is anything but appealing, but Ford is a viable option — even if the environment is less than fantasy-friendly. He has returned top-25 production in four straight games (and in six of seven), matching a season-high seven targets last week.

The game script killed him last week and held him to just nine carries (65 yards). I don’t see that being the case this week (or most weeks for that matter, given this defense), so the 51-19 snap edge he held over RB Kareem Hunt last week puts him in position to be an RB2.

Kareem Hunt: The touchdown run was fun, but Hunt is trending out of fantasy relevance. He has seen multiple targets in just one of his past six games and has under 40 total yards in four straight games.

The role is limited, and the offensive potential is beyond limited. If you need the roster space, I don’t mind cutting ties with Hunt in favor of an upside receiver that has a higher ceiling.

His weekly finishes at the position since the bye, in succession, have been RB10, RB11, RB16, RB20, RB29, RB36, and RB56.

Kyren Williams: In his return to action, Williams out-snapped Royce Freeman 41-23 and held a 21-8 edge in routes. That’s an impressive usage rate after missing a month, and given how he was used pre-injury, I think it’s safe to say that the snap count moves further in his favor in short order.

Williams has four top-five finishes in his past six games, and while I’m not willing to go that high in the weekly rankings, he’s locked in top-15 play that carries significant TD equity. Through 12 weeks, 42.7% of yards gained against the Browns have been on the ground (second-highest). I don’t think the Rams have a ton of success here, but the damage they do do likely comes via the handoff.

For those playing in DFS contests, I’d let projected ownership drive your decision here. Williams is an interesting play if he comes in as an unpopular play, but the fact that he hasn’t been a top-25 fantasy RB in either game in which he has failed to score this season gives me pause about going his direction in a chalky situation.

Royce Freeman: The carry count in the first half was 10-5 in favor of Williams over Freeman before the starter took over in the second half. On the bright side, Freeman touched the ball on 56.5% of his snaps in Williams’ return. On the dark side, that snap count is in serious jeopardy, and that rate is anything but sustainable.

MORE: Should You Add Royce Freeman on the Week 13 Waiver Wire?

You can hang onto Freeman after the strong performance (13 carries for 77 yards and a TD) in Arizona, but expecting him to hold standalone value is a bit more optimistic than I’m willing to be. He’s my RB34 this week, and I’d rather roll the dice on Indianapolis Colts WR Josh Downs or Green Bay Packers WR Jayden Reed when it comes to a Flex decision.

Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper: Cleveland’s top receiver was blown up in the fourth quarter last week and didn’t return from the ribs injury, which makes him a name that needs to be tracked as the practice week concludes (Amari Cooper injury updates). That said, you can do better.

This pass game is broken. There have been 85 attempts for just 355 yards and one touchdown over the past two weeks. It is clear that the backup QBs prefer the short-target stylings of TE David Njoku, and if Cooper isn’t a lock for elite volume, he’s not going to return top-30 value.

I don’t think he does. Cooper is currently my WR37 — a spot behind a high-floor option in New England Patriots WR Demario Douglas. The WR position got ugly in a hurry, and Cooper isn’t immune to those struggles.

If the injury lingers, WR Cedric Tillman (89.4% route participation) is interesting when throwing darts at the end of your roster. The QB situation is obviously limiting in a massive way, but we’re talking about a 6’3” rookie (third-round pick) that the team is not only incentivized to develop but in need of to make plays as they make a push for the playoffs.

Cooper Kupp: The production has fallen off a cliff as of late. Maybe something bigger than a cliff. What’s bigger than a cliff? I can’t think of anything, so let’s call it a “Kupp.” When a star nosedives like this, he gets a label. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.

The Kupp that Cooper has fallen off of has seen him finish as WR45 or worse in five straight games. If the Cleveland Browns EDGE Myles Garrett injury is serious, my confidence in Kupp as a low-end WR2 elevates in a significant way. I still believe in his ability to earn targets in a hurry — something that figures to come in handy against the third-best pressure unit in the NFL.

Puka Nacua: The targets remain, but if it wasn’t for Kupp, we’d be naming a drop this steep in production after Nacua. He hasn’t finished as a top-50 receiver in three of his past four games, despite seeing at least seven targets in each of those games.

This might be more of a Stafford problem, but either way, it’s a concern. The return of Williams to stabilize this run game last week, combined with a matchup against an elite defense that wants to bleed clock, means this might not get better any time soon.

While Kupp sits just outside of my top 20, Nacua is on the fringe of falling outside of my top 30. What was once a promising offense with a pair of locked-in starters at the WR position is now a boring offense that is struggling to sustain one pass catcher.

It’s worth noting that WR Demarcus Robinson ran eight more routes than WR Tutu Atwell, gaining steam as the game went on. Atwell made the most of his three targets (three catches for 76 yards), but we are looking at a player with more projectable downside than upside moving forward. He’s not the type of player I want to burn a roster spot on at this point in the season.

Tight Ends

David Njoku: With a 30% target share over the past two weeks, it is clear that the backup QB situation (regardless of who it is) is helping stabilize Njoku as a TE1. The ceiling is limited, to say the least, but 4-7 catches make you a viable tight end, and that is something Njoku has done in six straight (and nine of 10) games.

The scoring opportunities are few and far between, though Njoku did have a touchdown in his hands last week in Denver that was knocked out at the last second. The scoring potential would be nice to have, but with this volume, it’s not a must-have to return TE1 value.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

  • Spread: 49ers -2.5
  • Total: 47
  • 49ers implied points: 24.8
  • Eagles implied points: 22.3

Quarterbacks

Brock Purdy: Last week was the first game since Week 1 that Purdy didn’t have a 30-yard completion, and it resulted in an underwhelming effort. I’ll tell you the same thing I’ll tell George Kittle managers in a few minutes — this is, to a degree, what you signed up for.

Purdy comes with a reasonable floor, thanks to him completing 70% of his passes in five straight games and with 75% of yards gained against the Philadelphia Eagles coming through the air. He also comes with a wide range of outcomes, given the needs of this offense.

In Week 11 against Tampa Bay, Purdy had 21 completions and a QB2 finish. Simultaneously, in Week 12 against the Seahawks in Seattle, he finished with 21 completions and a QB23 finish.

I’m a Purdy fan in this specific spot due to the matchup and the potential for the Eagles to push his aggression. He’s safely inside my top 10, but a savvy fantasy manager takes a look at the entire picture, and that’s what I’m trying to provide here.

Jalen Hurts: The rushing volume is back, and a healthy Hurts is a fantasy game-changer. He’s been a top-five quarterback in six of his past seven games and has scored 20+ fantasy points in 10 straight — the floor/ceiling combination is second to none at the position.

In the NFC Championship Game last season, Hurts had 15 completions and 11 rush attempts against the ‘Niners. He’s as matchup-proof of a player as we have in fantasy sports these days, so I’m not worried about the fact that San Francisco allows a league-low 2.3 red zone trips per game.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey: Nothing to see here — just normalizing 19 carries, six targets, 139 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. CMC has at least 16 carries and five catches in three straight games, making him the closest thing we have to “foolproof” in fantasy sports.

In eight of 11 games this season, McCaffrey has 100 rushing yards or a TD reception. I could write 20,000 words on what he is doing, but I’ll save that for the middle of the summer when content is thin. “Play CMC” probably covers all the analysis you need heading into Week 13.

D’Andre Swift: He’s the clear RB leading this backfield. The question just revolves around the value of that role. Swift hasn’t finished better than RB25 in three of his past five games, but he has been a top-30 back in every single game since taking over the bell-cow role in Week 2.

You’re starting Swift every week, so let’s get that out of the way. But I’m lowering expectations, and I’m not tempted to call his number in the DFS streets. His advantage over RB Kenneth Gainwell in the routes department was limited last week (19-15), and with Hurts running 10+ times in each of the past three games, those short RB dump-offs are turning into QB carries.

The ceiling isn’t what we thought it would be, but that shouldn’t have you worried about plugging him in weekly.

Wide Receivers

Deebo Samuel: With a rushing touchdown in two of his past three games, there are subtle markers pointing toward Samuel assuming the utility role that he has thrived in. That role, in the past, has come with limitations in the passing game — something we didn’t see at all last week.

Samuel led the 49ers in catches, targets (30% share), and receiving yards against the Seahawks. When he sees at least four targets in a game this season (something I feel good about projecting), his average finish at the position is WR20. That’s roughly where he starts for me each week, and with six teams on bye, he moves up the receiver hierarchy into a strong WR2 ranking.

Brandon Aiyuk: The late 28-yard touchdown saved you from a disaster last week, and a TD could well be in the cards again this week against the fifth-worst red-zone unit in the game.

We know the upside is great for any of the 49ers pass catchers, but it’s been the floor that has encouraged me most from Aiyuk this season. He has posted eight straight top-40 weeks, avoiding the week-killing performance that I viewed as inevitable for every member of this passing game at some point.

I have Aiyuk ranked over Samuel just about every week, and this one is no exception. He’s a WR1 for me and worthy of a look in DFS formats for those looking to pay up to get a piece of this game.

A.J. Brown: His touchdown last week saved fantasy managers from tilting two dud performances after a historic run from Brown. He has now found paydirt five times in his past five games.

The scoring is a good bet to continue, as long as the volume remains elite (8+ targets in eight of his past nine games), and there’s really no reason to project the opportunities to evaporate any time soon.

Brown saw a 33.3% target share last season when these teams met with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, and if his usage is anything like that this time around, he has a real chance to lead the position in scoring — even in a tough matchup (A.J. Brown injury updates).

DeVonta Smith: Things are beginning to look up for Smith at the right time for fantasy managers. He has scored in three of his past four games and has at least 99 receiving yards in three of four, as well. Smith has seen at least eight targets in consecutive games following the bye – an impressive usage pattern for a receiver that didn’t see even six targets in consecutive games prior.

MORE: Philadelphia Eagles Playoff-Clinching Scenarios

Smith was limited to just three targets (12.5% share) when these teams met in the NFC Title game last winter, but that was a one-sided game where the Eagles ran the ball 44 times, so reading too much into the numbers from that game isn’t wise.

Smith certainly carries risk, and Hurts’ 60.4% completion rate over the past two weeks doesn’t help those concerns. But the upside is high enough, and this offense is consistent enough to plug in Smith without much of a second thought.

Tight Ends

George Kittle: If you thought the good times from the three games prior (20 catches for 354 yards and two touchdowns) to Week 12 were going to last for the remainder of the season, that’s a you problem, not a Kittle problem.

We talked about this on the podcast all week — Kittle’s production profile is the same now as it was entering the week as it was entering the season. That is, his value to the 49ers comes in a variety of ways, and his role isn’t always fantasy-friendly. That didn’t change after a slow start to the season, nor did it change after stringing three straight big games together.

If you flipped a coin three times and you got heads each time, you wouldn’t be changing the math on what that four-flip return, would you?

Kittle is a great player, and San Francisco is a great team. He has at least one massive day and one dud left to give us in 2023. You drafted him knowing this, and you’re starting him weekly with the understanding that you’ll take the good with the bad.

The Eagles held him to four targets and 32 yards in the NFC Championship Game last season, but that was a game where Purdy was lost early, and the 49ers were without a legitimate signal-caller.

Dallas Goedert: Make sure he’s rostered. There aren’t any reports that I’ve come across up to this point that suggest that this week is a realistic return target, but next week figures to be in play, given that the team didn’t put him on IR following this injury back in Week 9.

Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers

  • Spread: Chiefs -6.5
  • Total: 42
  • Chiefs implied points: 24.3
  • Packers implied points: 17.8

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes: You’re not getting cute; let’s get that out of the way. Mahomes is locked into your lineup — zero questions asked.

But still, did you know that Mahomes has just two finishes better than QB7 this season?

That’s a negative to an otherwise sparkling résumé, but that’s just a way for you to win some sort of bar bet with your friends. It’s not an excuse to bench the best QB in the game. He completed a season-high 79.4% of his passes in Las Vegas last week against the Raiders — the fourth time in seven games that at least three-quarters of his passes found a home with one of his teammates.

Jordan Love: We’ve seen this before, so it goes without saying that you need to be careful, but Love looked put together on Thanksgiving and now gets extra time to prepare for a showtime showdown with Patrick Mahomes.

Over the past two weeks, Love has completed 68.1% of his passes for 590 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The most encouraging part of his Turkey Day wasn’t the raw numbers; it was the fact that he funneled half of his targets to either his presumed WR1 (Christian Watson) or his favorite budding star (Jayden Reed).

Love had been spreading out the targets all season, and that has its positives, but it also requires an experienced QB to be on the same page with numerous players. If this is the start of Love ironing out his target hierarchy, he could develop some sustainability in our game.

You’ve been warned — we did see Love turn 29 completions into 396 yards and six touchdowns. We’ve seen peaks like this before, something that makes Love a risky roll of the dice, but we do have proof that the ceiling is enticing. He’s on the streaming radar and currently sits as my QB15 for the week.

Running Backs

Isiah Pacheco: With RB Jerick McKinnon (groin) out last week, Pacheco caught five balls in addition to cashing in a pair of short TDs on the ground, again proving the value of the lead back in an offense that is routinely in position to do damage.

It’s worth noting that RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a chance to vulture a short touchdown, but he failed because that’s what he does when he’s in close. Pacheco has provided fantasy managers with top-15 numbers at the position in six of his past nine — a run of production that I expect to continue through the fantasy playoffs.

Nearly 40% of yards gained against the Green Bay Packers come on the ground (fifth-highest), a defensive flaw that elevates Pacheco’s floor above its already impressive level.

Lock him in and tweet at me (@KyleSoppePFN) if you were one of the few with me on the Pacheco vs. Dameon Pierce debates this summer. We’re winning that bet and fantasy leagues together.

Let’s go!

AJ Dillon: How long until the Packers fully give up on the run game? Dillon is the lead back with Aaron Jones sidelined, but at 3.4 yards per carry and one score on 131 carries, why not just take your chances on 50 Love dropbacks?

A big underdog on the basketball court has nothing to lose by launching three-pointer after three-pointer, so why not take a similar approach?

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. They aren’t doing that. Dillon only has one top-20 finish this season, and I can’t project him for a second against a strong defense. His volume (seven catches over the past two weeks don’t hurt, but Patrick Taylor held a 16-9 advantage over him in terms of RB routes run) alone makes him a low-end RB2 or Flex option, but he just comes without a significant ceiling.

Wide Receivers

Rashee Rice: All gas, no breaks! Rice was unleashed last week by leading the WR room in snaps, routes, and targets — and guess what? He came through in a massive way.

In Week 12, he earned a WR4 rank with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Injuries up and down this depth chart gave Rice a chance to strut his stuff last week, and with this volume of production, why would we project things to change moving forward?

Rice has been, on average, a top-30 receiver for two months now, and that is about where I think his floor sits for this game. His ceiling? A repeat of last week. The Packers own the third-lowest opponent aDOT this season, and I actually think that helps Rice. His 39-yard touchdown last week came on a four-yard pass with 35 YAC.

I have Rice flirting with my top 20, ranked ahead of big names like Tennessee Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins, Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf, and Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase.

Justin Watson: He has scored in consecutive games, and that’s nice, but with his target count dropping from 11 in Week 11 to three last week, is he any different than the other Kansas City receivers we’ve been chasing in circles all season long?

Mecole Hardman landing on IR opens up a spot for Watson to see consistent time on the field, but that doesn’t mean consistent fantasy production.

Watson might have another viable game or two, but you’re lying to yourself if you think you can project it. He’s on the fringe of being roster-worthy and is a more appealing DFS punt play than anything of value in season-long formats.

Christian Watson: That’s a score in consecutive games for Watson, and you have to love the fact that the coaching staff decided at the last minute to pivot off of their initial script to open Week 12 and throw a bomb to Watson on the first play. He hauled it in for 53 yards and reminded us all of the upside that we fell in love with just a season ago.

I still have my concerns about him being an alpha target earner, but with at least seven looks in three of his past five games, he’s trending in a positive direction. For the season, he has played in eight games and recorded two games with 90+ receiving yards and six games with under 40 receiving yards.

There simply is no middle ground, and that is terrifying in an offense headed by an inconsistent quarterback. The Chiefs are the top pressure unit in the league (26.7% of dropbacks), and that worries me a bit for a deep threat like Watson.

I’m personally not playing him this week, but that doesn’t rule him out from being productive. It only takes one play, and we know that this coaching staff isn’t afraid to call his number.

Jayden Reed: The explosive rookie has produced three straight top-25 finishes, thanks to finding the end zone in each of those games. The viable fantasy numbers really aren’t anything new. Since the Week 6 bye, Reed has an average weekly finish of WR26.

Let’s not get carried away. This Love season has been full of ups and downs, so riding too high after a few good games is dangerous. Reed doesn’t have a five-catch game on his NFL resume, and that keeps a concerningly low floor very much in play.

MORE: Top Week 13 WR Waiver Wire Adds Include Jayden Reed and Curtis Samuel

The signs are there, and that requires him to not only be rostered but considered a viable Flex play in a week like this where six teams are on bye, and various others are impacted by basement-level QB play. Reed has 14 targets and five rush attempts over the past two weeks as this coaching staff attempts to maximize his impact on the game.

Reed is my highest-ranked Packer receiver (Jayden Reed injury updates) this weekend, checking in just outside of my top 30.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce: With at least six catches in eight of his past nine games, Kelce’s floor continues to dwarf the others at the position. Rice’s big game only elevates that floor, in my opinion, as he will gradually require more defensive attention with time.

It could cap Kelce’s ceiling, but as long as he’s giving you a consistent and significant edge on your opposition, there’s nothing to complain about.

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Spread: Jaguars -8.5
  • Total: 38.5
  • Bengals implied points: 15
  • Jaguars implied points: 23.5

Quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence: Wheels up! Lawrence easily set a season high last week (at HOU) with 364 yards through the air, and the team was comfortable with him going over the top for a one-yard rush score. With this coming on the heels of his four-touchdown domination of the Titans, all signs are pointing in the right direction.

What has changed during these past two weeks? Well, Zay Jones returned to action, and that has seemed to have a trickle-down effect, allowing this offense to click on all cylinders. If you go a little deeper than the raw fantasy numbers, there are even more reasons to be encouraged:

aDOT up 36.7% from the month prior
One sack (70 pass attempts)

On the first drive last week, Lawrence led the Jags on a field goal drive and completed his four passes to four different players in the process. None of those players were Calvin Ridley. Ridley seems to be trending toward the alpha in this receiver room, but the fact that Lawrence isn’t force-feeding him is a great sign for his fantasy sustainability.

Lock in Lawrence this week and plan on that being the case for the remainder of the season.

Running Backs

Joe Mixon: A 39-yard catch bailed Mixon out from a complete dud performance last week against the Steelers — his fantasy value is on very thin ice in this offense that seemingly overachieved their way to 5.4 yards per play in Week 12 with Jake Browning under center.

There are two major concerns I have, and neither is directly a Mixon problem, but both significantly impact his ranking.

Are they going to have the ball?
Are they going to be in position to score?

Nothing Browning did last week gives me any confidence in either. The Bengals had the ball for under 23 minutes against the Steelers (a bottom-f9ve team in time of possession entering that game) and had more drives (10) than first downs gained (nine, not including penalty-aided first downs).

The Jags are a top-five team in time of possession this season and are much more of a threat to script Mixon out of the game than the Steelers were last week. He is teetering on the edge of my RB2 rankings this week, easily the lowest I’ve had him this season, and I fear that this is the new normal.

Travis Etienne Jr.: The lack of efficiency has become something we just have to accept with Etienne at this point (2.8 YPC last week, under 4.0 YPC in six straight). That’s obviously not ideal, but with eight touchdowns on his résumé and multiple receptions in every game, Etienne is locked in as an RB1 with a ceiling that ranks among those not named Christian McCaffrey at the position.

The Najee Harris/Jaylen Warren tandem ran for 148 yards and a touchdown against these Bengals last week after Gus Edwards/Keaton Mitchell piled up 95 yards and two touchdowns in Week in this spot. This is a favorable matchup as a part of an offense hitting its stride — week-winner potential!

Wide Receivers

Ja’Marr Chase: The “it’s not me, it’s you” tier of receiver is headed by Chase and is barely hanging onto WR2 status in Week 12. This tier includes Adam Thielen, DeAndre Hopkins, and Garrett Wilson — talented players who come with a far lower floor than their skills suggest due to inept play at the QB position.

Chase finishing with 81 yards last week (35.7% of Browning’s total) is about as misleading as a stat line can be — two of those catches came on deflected balls that had no business in being caught (they accounted for 44 of his 81 yards).

Me ranking him atop this ugly tier is me showing respect for his ability to rack up fantasy points in the red zone. He’s in a tough spot to bank on that (PIT: fifth-best red-zone defense), making him a bench candidate if you have a Rashee Rice type on your roster.

Tee Higgins: After not practicing during the week, Higgins missed his third consecutive game with a nagging hamstring injury. It should be noted that head coach Zac Taylor was “encouraged” about Higgins’ recovery progress, and that’s good to hear, but Higgins deserves to be on benches until we have visual proof of that being inaccurate (Tee Higgins injury updates).

MORE: Katz’s Fantasy Football Start ’Em, Sit ’Em Picks for Week 13

Tyler Boyd and Tanner Hudson were the two most targeted Bengals behind Chase — they turned 10 targets into 41 yards. This is beginning to look like a lost season for Higgins (he makes for a good dynasty buy if he’s on a team looking to win now).

Calvin Ridley: Here comes Ridley, just in time to pay off the draft pick you spent this summer! In Zay Jones’ two games back (knee), Ridley has posted consecutive 80-yard games, a massive step forward for a receiver that didn’t have consecutive 40-yard games during the first 10 weeks of this season.

Despite a slow first half, Ridley was able to pay off his loyal fantasy managers (5-89-1) nicely. There are two ways to look at any note, and I tend to skew optimistic, something that I’m going to do here — growth!

Ridley got you the numbers you needed despite earning just 16.2% of the targets. It’s clear that the presence of a second perimeter threat helps his per-target production, and if he is the player we think he is, that target share number should move up with time.

  • 17-game pace with Jones: 99 catches for 1,520 yards and 14 TDs
  • 17-game pace without Jones: 51 catches, 612 yards, three TDs

It’s been a slow burn, but with Lawrence playing as well as he has all season and Jones healthy, Ridley might well end up proving worthy of the preseason hype. The Steelers sans Matt Canada clearly wanted to get Pat Freiermuth involved against the Bengals last week, and they couldn’t stop it (nine catches on 11 targets for 120 yards).

Who’s to say that the Jags can’t get exactly what they want as well?

Clearly, Freiermuth’s role is different than that of Ridley, but you understand where I’m going. Prior to Jones’ return, we needed proof of production to combine with a strong target share. We are getting the former, and the ladder feels like it is just a matter of time. Ridley is my WR15 this week.

Zay Jones: The Jones impact has been great on this offense; it just doesn’t put any food on his plate. He has unlocked the best version of Ridley that we’ve seen this season and has allowed Lawrence to trend in the right direction — Jones has five catches (seven targets) for 30 yards to show for his efforts in his two games back from the knee injury.

Jones was very clearly the third receiver in this offense, and I’m not sure that changes.

Week 12 route participation:

  • Ridley: 95%
  • Kirk: 87.5%
  • Jones: 60%

Ridley and Lawrence managers need to embrace what Jones means to them but understand that he doesn’t hold Flex-worthy value himself.

Christian Kirk: The four-catch, 89-yard performance looks fine on the surface, but that was greatly buoyed by a 57-yard catch with 10 seconds left in the first half when the Texans were willing to give up the underneath route and just failed miserably in their execution of keeping the Jags in front of them.

Without that grab, and we are again left wanting more from Kirk in a game in which Jones plays. This season, Kirk’s catch rate is 58.3% on games where Jones catches a pass, a drastic decline from his 70% rate in all other games this season.

I have Kirk ranked as a Flex play this week that offers plenty of risk. That lands him in the same range as both Steelers receivers, your favorite Packers receiver, and Tyler Lockett. It’s not comfortable, but there is still enough upside to at least consider him to round out your Week 13 lineup.

Tight Ends

Evan Engram: He extended his season-long streak of games with 4+ catches and saw another eight targets, but again, he was held under 60 yards (something that has been the case in nine of 11 games) and failed to score.

Engram hasn’t scored this season, though Lawrence missed him on a five-yard end-zone target that should have been six points. At this point, you’re pot-committed. His volume elevates him above most other options, and his 82.5% route participation last week continues to point to better times ahead in an offense moving in the right direction.

Engram is my TE6 this week and could swing matchups in the final matchup of the week. Let’s speak a touchdown into existence!

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