Fantasy Football: Five Week 13 matchups to exploit

By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, or aFPA, is 4for4’s answer to biased statistics. By removing bias, we can level the playing field and compare matchups in an "apples-to-apples" manner. As the season moves along, the data will change. Regardless, aFPA is arguably the best tool available to gain an edge when using waivers and building lineups.

Another point to make: I could offer players such as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes pretty much every week, especially when they face awful units, according to aFPA. That does everyone a disservice, so I will do my best to avoid players rostered in the majority of fantasy leagues.

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Here are the best plays for Week 13.

Trevor Lawrence @ Detroit Lions

As easy as it was to pick on an injured/underperforming Baltimore pass defense, the Ravens have been one of the most improved defenses using aFPA. That makes Lawrence’s Week 12 outburst that much more encouraging. Prior to Week 12, the Ravens had allowed four 300-yard passers, with three coming in Weeks 1-3. The Ravens have also contained QBs that can use their legs to get chunk yards; Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow and Jacoby Brissett all finished with 18 or fewer rushing yards.

Now Lawrence gets to feast on the Lions' defense, a pass funnel unit that is 27th or worse in aFPA to QB, WR and TE. They are also 29th in total aFPA offense allowed. Detroit is expected to get CB Jeff Okudah back to help alleviate some of their secondary woes, but unless he can play seven other defensive positions at the same time, the Lions will have issues slowing the Jaguars' offense. Targeting Zay Jones, Marvin Jones Jr. and Evan Engram on waivers makes sense if you have players on bye this week. Zay Jones is coming off his ceiling game, but Marvin Jones and Engram could see one-week boosts getting targets from Lawrence.

Dameon Pierce vs. Cleveland Browns

It is OK to question Pierce’s spot in your starting lineup. He has 33 more total yards than you or I in the past two weeks. What works in his favor is a home matchup against the 32nd-ranked defense in RB aFPA. Cleveland knew Rachaad White was going to get run in both phases of the offense and still allowed the rookie to get 109 total yards on 23 total touches. Until we know Eno Benjamin’s role with the Texans, Pierce is the clear RB1 on all downs, and usage is still the most valuable tool of RBs in fantasy.

Texans RB Dameon Pierce has had a rough couple of weeks in fantasy, but he's positioned nicely to bounce back in Week 13.
Texans running back Dameon Pierce has had a rough couple of weeks in fantasy, but he's positioned nicely to bounce back in Week 13. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Corey Davis @ Minnesota Vikings

Garrett Wilson is locked in after his ceiling game in Week 12, and if you are looking to ride the Mike White wave in Week 13, play Davis. Only the Atlanta Falcons have allowed more passing yards than Minnesota, but the Vikings allow 0.5 more yards per attempt. Davis returned in Week 12 and played 68.3% of snaps, almost double Elijah Moore. Moore ended up with the touchdown, but he had one fewer target than Davis, and it is more reasonable to expect Davis to outproduce Moore in Week 13 when looking at the totality of the season. The Vikings are middle-of-the-road in receptions allowed to slot WRs where Moore resides now, but only 24% of Minnesota fantasy points allowed to WRs are inside. Davis has a chance against a banged-up secondary to see an expected increase in targets and production.

David Njoku @ Houston Texans

Njoku may be better off with Jacoby Brissett. He saw at least five targets in seven of his nine games played, and one of those sub-five-target games was Week 11 when Njoku played 37.3% of snaps. The Texans are in shambles and are allowing the fourth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Deshaun Watson has thrown 104 regular-season TDs — 21 of those went to a tight end.

Editor's note: Monitor Njoku's knee injury in the coming day. He missed practice on Wednesday and could end up having to sit.

[Week 13 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Baltimore Ravens defense vs. Denver Broncos

I talked about the Ravens earlier, and what better way to get past last week’s collapse than welcoming Russell Wilson to town? Baltimore is one of three teams ranked in the top 10 of Offensive and Defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. Both sides of the ball have to succeed in Week 13 or at least match Denver’s top-five defense. The Broncos are tied for the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses and are hoping any combination of Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Mike Boone will help boost what little excitement their offense can offer. Even if all three play, which optimistic, the Ravens have become a top-10 pass defense. Much like Denver, a few more healthy Ravens on the front seven is better than they hoped to have this week.

Honorable Mention

Mike White @ Vikings

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Dolphins

Jared Goff vs. Jaguars

AJ Dillon @ Bears

Kenneth Walker III @ Rams

Jamaal Williams vs. Jaguars

George Pickens @ Falcons

DeVante Parker vs. Bills

Zay Jones @ Lions

DJ Chark vs. Jaguars

Tyler Conklin @ Vikings

Hayden Hurst vs. Chiefs

Juwan Johnson @ Buccaneers

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Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur levels for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

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