Fantasy Football: Week 13 start 'em sit 'em tips

Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 13 lineups!

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Atlanta Falcons

Start: George Pickens

Sit: Marcus Mariota

Pickens has put up similar fantasy production to Diontae Johnson despite seeing 30+ fewer targets (and being a rookie). He gets an indoor matchup this week versus an Atlanta defense still with just four QB hurries on the season while also allowing the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Jaylen Warren would become a top-20 RB should Najee Harris miss this matchup, but he's trending toward playing

Drake London hasn’t reached 50 receiving yards since Week 3, while Olamide Zaccheaus became the first Atlanta pass catcher to top 90 receiving yards all season last week. Mariota has reached 200 passing yards just once since Week 3. He’s a sit this week against a Steelers defense that limits QB running and is far better with a healthy TJ Watt.

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

Sit: All Broncos but Latavius Murray

Fade in DFS: Lamar Jackson ($30)

The Broncos are averaging the fewest points per game since the 2000 Browns. Russell Wilson was the QB33 in fantasy last week. Murray (and Courtland Sutton if needed) can be started thanks to volume, but temper expectations with Denver sporting the lowest implied team total (15.5 points) this week — and that includes a Rams team seemingly missing their entire offense.

After throwing 10 touchdowns over the first three weeks of the season, Jackson has just seven TD strikes over eight games since. A hip injury thankfully hasn’t prevented Jackson from running, but he’s clearly not 100 percent and gets as little help from his WRs and RBs as any quarterback in the league (while also currently missing his left tackle). Jackson’s rushing always keeps his fantasy floor high, but Sunday’s game script limits his ceiling as much as his supporting cast.

Denver is the worst kind of fantasy matchup, combining a league-worst offense with a defense that’s yielding an NFL-low 5.4 YPA and the fewest passing touchdowns (nine). The Broncos are also allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, including the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (12.2) to the position.

Moreover, the Panthers had an NFL-low 29.2 percent pass rate against Denver last week, as teams simply don’t have to throw against the legendary Russell Wilson/Nathaniel Hackett combo. This matchup’s total is the lowest (40.0 points) of the week, and the under is 10-1 in Broncos games this year. Jackson is a fade in DFS.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

Start: Christian Watson, David Montgomery

Watson has the third-most fantasy points among all receivers since Week 9, a span in which he also has more touchdowns than Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill and CeeDee Lamb this season. That type of production given his volume is obviously unsustainable, but the rookie’s speed is also undeniable. No matter who starts at QB for Green Bay, Watson can be viewed as a top-20 WR facing a Bears defense that’s been the worst in the NFL over the last five weeks.

Justin Fields may be less likely to run at his previously high rate after returning from a shoulder injury, and Chicago also lost Darnell Mooney to a season-ending injury last week. That means Montgomery should get all the touches he can handle against a Packers run defense allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (127.1) to running backs while ranking last in DVOA.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Detroit Lions

Start: Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff

Lawrence just finished an incredible November that included significant improvement in accuracy. Detroit’s defense has admittedly improved since switching DB coaches, but this is still a Lions D allowing an NFL-high 6.5 yards per play at home this season and the most fantasy points to quarterbacks by a wide margin. With a possibly banged-up Travis Etienne and likely needing to score plenty of points in a game up in pace, Lawrence is a strong DFS play and a top-five QB this week.

Goff is averaging more touchdown passes at home (2.5) this season than any quarterback in the league not named Patrick Mahomes (who’s averaged 2.6 on the year). The Lions are averaging the third-most points per game (30.5) at home this season, behind only the Bills and Bengals. Detroit has the fourth-highest implied team total and gets a shaky Jacksonville defense allowing the second-most yards per play over the last three weeks in a home matchup indoors. Goff should be considered a top-10 fantasy QB this week — when his WRs are healthier than at any point this season as well.

Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans

Start in DFS: Nick Chubb ($34), Dameon Pierce ($19)

Chubb hasn’t faced a bottom-15 run defense since Week 5 but has remained highly productive anyway. His schedule eases up significantly Sunday, when the Browns get a Texans defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Houston has let five different RBs run for 140+ yards, as game script is usually favorable for opponents as well. It remains to be seen how the return of Deshaun Watson affects the offense, but it’s safe to expect a run-heavy approach Sunday with the Browns eight-point favorites and their QB making his first start since 2020.

Cleveland has one of the highest implied team totals (27.3 points) this week. Chubb is getting 5.3 YPC on the road this season compared to 2.8 by Kareem Hunt. Chubb is a strong DFS building block this week.

Pierce likely won’t be a popular DFS play after he’s failed to reach 10 rushing yards in consecutive games and with the Texans touchdown underdogs, but he’s a sneaky tournament play. He’s been held back by a poor offense and game scripts, but Pierce encouragingly matched his season-high with six targets during Kyle Allen’s first game starting at QB last week (and Rex Burkhead has entered concussion protocol). Houston’s tough recent schedule against the run also becomes much more friendly Sunday, as the Browns have ceded the most EPA/rush, the second-most fantasy points to running backs and the third-most rushing scores (16) this year. Expect Pierce to bounce back — and possibly in a big way — this week.

New York Jets @ Minnesota Vikings

Start: Mike White, TJ Hockenson

White benefitted from facing a shaky Chicago defense last week but still impressed with a big performance in the rain. Magic Mike has reportedly stood out in practice all year, and he gets to throw to a truly special rookie wide receiver. The Jets get a Minnesota defense this week yielding an NFL-high 7.8 YPA this season, including the most yards per play (6.9) over the last three weeks. Start White.

New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) has fantasy value
Mike White is poised for another big fantasy performance. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hockenson has been targeted heavily as a top-12 TE during all four games since being traded to Minnesota. He should see double-digit looks Sunday against a Jets defense shutting down opposing wide receivers as much as any team in the league right now.

Washington Commanders @ New York Giants

Start: Terry McLaurin

Sit: All Giants but Saquon Barkley

McLaurin has a limited fantasy ceiling thanks to a Washington team with a strong defense yet a passing attack that didn’t attempt 30 throws in a game last month. But Scary Terry has a strong target% with Taylor Heinicke and should benefit from Adoree Jackson’s absence this week. McLaurin’s role could also easily grow Sunday with Antonio Gibson playing through a foot injury. The Giants have the 28th-ranked pass defense in DVOA.

Washington enters with the fourth-best run defense in DVOA and pressure rate in the league. Daniel Jones is often underrated in fantasy, but Washington has slowed running QBs as well, and New York’s pass catchers have become a bottom-three group in football (especially with an ailing Darius Slayton). Barkley’s recent and upcoming schedule is as rough as it gets (@Dal, Was, Phi, @Was).

Tennessee Titans @ Philadelphia Eagles

Start: Treylon Burks, DeVonta Smith

Derrick Henry is averaging 2.8 YPC over the last three weeks and gets an Eagles run defense that recently added Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph and could be getting back Jordan Davis. Facing a potent Eagles offense as well, the Titans figure to be passing more than usual this week. Burks’ increasing playing time and encouraging target% suggest a blowup game is coming.

The box score may not show it, but Smith has seen a significant increase in opportunity and a higher target share than AJ Brown since Dallas Goedert went down. Brown being sick factored into that during Sunday night’s game, but Jalen Hurts may be sore and run less after racking up 33 carries over the last two weeks. He’ll also be facing a pass-funnel Titans defense Sunday that ranks first against the run yet 16th versus the pass in DVOA, also allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams

Start: Seahawks D/ST

Sit: All Rams

Seattle was gashed on the ground last week, but LA is likely to struggle moving the ball down to backups and third-stringers at nearly every position on offense. The Rams just got an NFL-low 3.6 yards per play against Kansas City with this roster, and this week they sport the second-lowest implied team total (16.8 points). Kenneth Walker should benefit from both game script and Aaron Donald missing Sunday’s game.

Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers

Sit: Jeff Wilson Jr.

Start: Jimmy Garoppolo

Wilson gets an extremely tough matchup against a 49ers defense allowing NFL-lows in points per game (15.7), YPC (3.3) and yards per play (4.7). They haven't ceded a point after halftime since Week 7. San Francisco has yielded the fewest fantasy points to running backs, with none reaching 60 rushing yards against them this year (while missing Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw!).

Opponents also have the lowest run rate in the NFL in San Francisco this season, and Miami’s defense has been gashed for the most yards per play while on the road. Tua Tagovailoa is playing out of his mind, but Wilson could also cede more work with Raheem Mostert back for a revenge game of his own (joining JWJ and Mike McDaniel).

With both of Miami’s tackles injured as well, Wilson is a bench candidate this week.

Garoppolo is coming off his worst game in a while but gets a fantasy boost thanks to a matchup against a Dolphins offense that figures to up points. Jimmy G will also likely be asked to throw more than usual with Elijah Mitchell out and Christian McCaffrey banged up against a Miami defense allowing the most yards per play on the road this season. Brandon Aiyuk has a particularly favorable matchup against a man-heavy Dolphins defense that’s also struggled to defend tight ends (George Kittle gets a real boost this week as well, especially with Deebo Samuel battling hamstring/quad issues).

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start in DFS: Travis Kelce ($33)

Start: Hayden Hurst

Kelce has already recorded a career-high 12 touchdowns and still has six games left this season, as it appears he’s not indeed washed. His dozen TD catches are as many as (or more than) 10 other teams in the NFL this season. Kansas City has easily the highest implied team total (27.5 points) of the week, and Kelce is in a tier by himself when it comes to a dreadful tight end position this year. It helps having the world’s best quarterback throwing to him, as Patrick Mahomes has the most passing yards in NFL history through 80 games; he's played just 74. Kelce is as reliable as any pass catcher in the league right now.

Skyy Moore is also a real sleeper this week with Kadarius Toney out and Jerick McKinnon potentially limited with a hamstring injury against a Bengals run defense that’s been the best in the NFL with DJ Reader on the field.

Hurst should remain busy Sunday as a top-10 TE option with Ja’Marr Chase in his first game back from injury and Joe Mixon potentially having to miss another game and in a matchup with one of this season’s highest over/unders (53.0 points). The Bengals are averaging the second-most points (31.0) when playing at home this season.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Las Vegas Raiders

Start: Joshua Palmer

Start in DFS: Josh Jacobs ($32)

Palmer led LA in snaps, routes run and air yards last week when Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett both fully returned. His target% matched Allen’s. Palmer will continue to benefit from Mike Williams’ absence and gets a favorable matchup this week against a Raiders pass defense that ranks last in DVOA.

Joshua Palmer #5 of the Los Angeles Chargers
Joshua Palmer has big potential in Week 13. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Jacobs will be a popular DFS play after totaling more than 300 yards from scrimmage last week, but he’ll be tough to fade in this matchup and with a salary that’s 20 percent cheaper than Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler. Jacobs was just given a whopping 39 touches while playing through a sore calf and was held out of practice this week in hopes of playing Sunday. Keep an eye out for updates, but he’s been able to handle as big of a workload as any back in the league this year, when he’s lapped the league in 30+ point fantasy performances.

The Chargers have been gashed for an NFL-high 5.4 YPC and the second-most EPA/rush while allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Remarkably, Los Angeles has allowed their season-high in rushing yards to every opposing running back since Week 6! That includes 120 last week to James Conner, who previously hadn’t rushed for 70 yards in a game this season. Jacobs looks primed to smash yet again this week if he's able to play.

Indianapolis Colts @ Dallas Cowboys

Sit: All Colts but Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman

Start: Dalton Schultz

The Colts are the biggest underdogs (+10.5 points) this week and look like an especially poor matchup against a Dallas defense that ranks first in pressure rate. The Cowboys are yielding the fifth-fewest yards per play at home, while the Colts are getting the second-fewest yards per play on the road. Matt Ryan has a 3:8 TD:INT ratio with seven fumbles over five road games this season. Yikes.

Schultz has averaged more fantasy points than CeeDee Lamb over the last 10 games with Dak Prescott and should be extra busy Sunday against a Colts defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sit: All Saints but Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave

Start: Buccaneers D/ST

The Saints offense is bottom-10 in yards per play over the last three weeks, while Tampa Bay’s defense ranks top-five over that span. Fantasy expectations all around can be tempered during a Monday night matchup with one of the week’s lowest total (40.5 points).

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