Week 13 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

(Notable QBs on bye: Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, Baker Mayfield)

Start of the Week: Matthew Stafford vs. Jaguars -- Fantasy’s overall QB8 on the season, Stafford is coming off 302 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday in Green Bay as the week’s QB4, but garbage time played a part. Stafford has been a big part of the Rams’ problem throughout their current three-game losing streak, tossing a pick-six in three straight contests. Since Week 9, Stafford has been the overall QB11 with a 5:5 TD:INT mark. Once one of the leading candidates for MVP, Stafford has pretty much completely fallen out of contention. However, Week 13 presents a massive get-right spot. The Jaguars are dead last in pass-defense DVOA, 31st in opponent completion rate, 29th in yards per attempt, 30th in interceptions, and 29th in sacks despite being No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’re only that high because Jacksonville has faced the sixth-fewest pass attempts. The Rams need Stafford to play better if they want to go deep in the playoffs, and the Jaguars are a confidence-boosting opponent. L.A. is as pass-happy as anyone and isn’t going to go easy on this defense. The Rams’ implied team total of 30 points is the second-highest of the week.

Starts
Kirk Cousins at Lions -- Cousins has tossed just three interceptions this season and leads the league with his 0.7% interception rate. He’s fantasy’s overall QB11 on the year and has tossed multiple touchdowns in four straight games and five of his last six. Cousins was fantasy’s QB21 back in Week 5 when these two NFC North opponents clashed, but he did complete 73.5% of his passes at 8.1 YPA, all well above Cousins’ season averages. He finished with 275 yards and a touchdown. Detroit is 28th in pass-defense DVOA, last in opponent yards per attempt, 26th in QB rating allowed, and 31st in sacks. Cousins’ ceiling isn’t all that high, but he’s shown a steady floor averaging 274 yards per game with multiple scores in 8-of-11 weeks. The Lions are second-to-last in opponent plays per game over the last three weeks, and Minnesota’s implied team total of 26.75 points is the fifth-highest of the week. Cousins is a rock-solid top-15 play.

Derek Carr vs. Washington -- The NFL’s current passing leader with 3,414 yards, averaging over 310 yards per game, Carr is coming off a 373-yard performance on Thanksgiving, his most passing yards since Week 3. Carr is averaging a career-high 8.3 yards per attempt this year, but he just isn’t throwing many touchdowns with zero three-score outings and one touchdown pass in three of his last four appearances. The low touchdown numbers and zero rushing output has Carr just outside the top-12 fantasy scorers as the overall QB13 in points per game. A mouth-watering matchup with a Washington defense traveling cross-country on a short week coming off a Monday night win against the Seahawks might be the recipe for a Carr ceiling game. Washington is 30th in pass-defense DVOA, dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 28th in opponent completion rate, 26th in yards per attempt allowed, dead last in passing touchdowns surrendered, and 31st in opponent QB rating. This game’s 49.5-point total is the third-highest of the week while the Raiders are implied to score a healthy 26 points. Carr might be without Darren Waller (knee), but Foster Moreau proved he’s a very capable fill-in.

Taylor Heinicke at Raiders -- Just outside the top-12 scorers at quarterbacks, Heinicke is the season’s overall QB14 in fantasy points per game. He completed over 77% of his passes last Monday night against Seattle and has completed 76.67% of his throws over the last three weeks. That’s well above his 67.2% completion rate on the season. Heinicke just doesn’t have many touchdowns to show for it with 0-1 touchdown passes in six of his last seven games. He also has just one rushing score on the year, coming all the way back in Week 3. Heinicke, though, should’ve had a second touchdown pass last week, but it was curiously called back. The Raiders are 30th in opponent plays per game over the last three weeks, 25th in pass-defense DVOA, 20th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and dead last in interceptions. This game sports a strong 49.5-point total, the third-highest of the week, and a narrow 2.5-point spread under the Allegiant Stadium roof. It’s a high-scoring environment, supporting Heinicke as a capable streamer with a healthy supporting cast after getting Logan Thomas (hamstring) and Curtis Samuel (groin) back last week.

Sits
Russell Wilson vs. 49ers -- Either Wilson’s surgically-repaired finger isn’t right or he’s hit a wall at 33 years old. Something is just way off in Seattle. Hitting the reset button after the season would probably be for the best. Since returning from I.R. in Week 10, Wilson is averaging 205 passing yards per game with a combined 2:2 TD:INT mark. He’s fantasy’s QB30 in that span and has been out-produced by Joe Flacco on a per-game basis since Week 10. Wilson has just one 300-yard passing game on the year in eight tries. The 49ers aren’t exactly a stiff test, coming in at 14th in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks and 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, but they’re No. 2 in opponent plays per game and No. 9 in yards per attempt. The Niners don’t face many plays on defense, and Seattle is dead last in offensive plays per game. It’s difficult to envision this being Wilson’s breakout spot on such low volume. Seattle is implied to score just 21 points, the 11th-lowest team total of Week 13. Wilson is a middling QB2.

Mac Jones at Bills -- The current betting favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Jones is playing great football at the moment with the Patriots sitting atop the AFC East as the conference’s current No. 2 seed. Jones is third in the NFL with his 70.3% completion rate, and he’s actually completed an astronomical 79% of his throws over the last three weeks. Jones has tossed multiple touchdowns in two of his last three games and is fantasy’s QB10 in that span. The rookie doesn’t have a strong supporting cast of pass-catchers, but he’s been phenomenal in real life. On the year, however, Jones is the overall QB29 in fantasy points per game and now catches a road date with a Buffalo defense that is first in pass-defense DVOA, first in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, fourth in opponent plays per game, first in completion rate, first in yards per attempt, first in touchdowns surrendered, second in interceptions, and first in QB rating. Monday night’s 43.5-point total is the second-lowest of Week 13. While Jones has produced top-10 results over the last three weeks, this isn’t an exciting streaming spot no matter how we look at it. The only plus for Jones is CB Tre’Davious White (knee) is done for the year.

Teddy Bridgewater at Chiefs -- Bridgewater attempted his second-fewest passes of the season (18) last week in the win over the Chargers, but he missed a full quarter of action with a leg injury. Bridgewater could barely walk, but Drew Lock was so bad in relief that Bridgewater had to come back in after halftime to preserve the lead. Bridgewater tossed a touchdown and ran another in from 11 yards out. But he looked far less than 100 percent. Look for the Broncos to employ a run-heavy approach against the Chiefs as a means to protect Bridgewater and simultaneously keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. Bridgewater is the overall QB23 on the season, and some will see his matchup with the Kansas City pass defense as a chance to stream him. But playing at less than full health and in one of the more run-heavy offenses, Bridgewater is not a recommended play, even in a solid on-paper matchup in a game with a 47.5-point total. Bridgewater is best left for deeper SuperFlex formats.

RUNNING BACK

(Notable RBs on bye: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, Chuba Hubbard)

Start of the Week: Alexander Mattison at Lions -- Dalvin Cook is expected to miss at least the next two weeks with a shoulder injury. Mattison is the top pickup of the week ahead of another juicy date with the Lions after Mattison shredded Detroit for 153 total yards and one score on 32 touches as the overall RB9 back in Week 5 in place of Cook. Mattison is an easy RB1 whenever Cook misses action with touch counts of 32 and 32 in two games without Cook. The Lions are 30th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 21st in run-defense DVOA, 31st in opponent plays per game over the last three weeks, and 31st in rushing attempts against. Mattison couldn’t ask for a better spot with the Vikings implied to score 26.75 points. Also a factor in the pass game, Mattison has 13 catches on 15 targets in two games filling in for Cook.

Starts
Jamaal Williams vs. Vikings -- Opposite Alexander Mattison will be Williams filling in for an injured D’Andre Swift, who, like Cook, suffered a shoulder injury in Week 12. With Swift playing just 10 snaps last week, Williams set new season-highs in snap rate (63%) and carries (15) while catching his most passes (5) since Week 1. Williams hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3, but Minnesota has been a run-funnel unit this season, checking in at 29th in run-defense DVOA and 10th against the pass. The Vikings are 24th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 31st in opponent yards per carry, and 30th in rushing yards surrendered. Without much of a passing offense, the Lions will try to ride Williams as much as possible. He’s a real threat for 20-plus touches as a volume-driven RB2 despite Detroit’s mediocre implied team total.

Javonte Williams at Chiefs -- Melvin Gordon briefly exited last weekend’s win over the Chargers with a hip issue, but with the adrenaline worn off, Gordon has missed practice this week and is said to be truly “50-50” to play against Kansas City. Williams played a season-high 58% of the snaps last week and totaled over 100 yards with his first rushing score since Week 3. Williams has been one of the toughest running backs to tackle in football this season, but he and Gordon are canceling each other out enough that it keeps both as mid-range RB2 plays most weeks. If one misses action, though, the other would be a real threat for 20-plus touches in Denver’s run-heavy offense. Even if Gordon ends up being active, it sounds like he could be limited. The Chiefs are 28th in run-defense DVOA, 16th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and 27th in opponent yards per carry. If Gordon sits, this will be a true breakout spot for Williams. The only concern would be Denver being able to stay close enough to keep it a game.

Boston Scott at Jets -- Miles Sanders might have re-injured his ankle in Week 12, leading to his decreased snap share (33%), and he’s been limited in practice this week. Even with Jordan Howard (knee) out for Week 12, the Eagles remained a three-man committee, getting Gainwell back in the mix on pass downs. Sanders and Scott look like usable RB2/3 options ahead of a juicy Week 13 date with the Jets. Scott paced the backfield in playing time (51%) last week and went 15-64-1 on the ground. Scott is averaging a strong 4.7 YPC on the year while the Jets are 30th in run-defense DVOA, 32nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 27th in rushing yards allowed, 26th in yards per carry against, and 32nd in touchdowns surrendered on the ground. Scott has probably been the Eagles’ most impressive back this season.

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Sits
Matt Breida vs. Patriots -- Zack Moss was again healthy-scratched on Thanksgiving night against the Saints last week. In his absence, Devin Singletary played 68% of the snaps and registered a season-high 15 carries in that one while Breida scored his third touchdown in as many games since being added to the gameday roster. He easily looks like the freshest, most explosive back in Buffalo. But Breida is playing just a third of the snaps and is averaging just 7.7 touches per game the last three weeks. His touchdown efficiency can’t remain this high, and the Bills now get a New England defense that is 10th in DVOA against the run. It’s not an overly difficult spot, with the Patriots 20th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 29th in catches surrendered to the position. But Singletary has the big playing-time edge, and Moss could be back up this week to steal snaps. This game has a fantasy-unfriendly 43-point total.

Alex Collins vs. 49ers -- The Seahawks can’t seem to find a capable running back with Chris Carson (neck) done for the year, cycling through all four remaining options week in and week out. Rashaad Penny (hamstring) has been hurt and can’t ever seem to stay healthy. Collins is averaging a pitiful 3.2 YPC with no touchdowns over the last five weeks. The Seahawks are so desperate that they signed Adrian Peterson on Wednesday. The 49ers are No. 2 in run-defense DVOA and a middling 19th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Collins simply isn’t good. Look for Penny to get more looks and Peterson to be elevated in very short order.

Rex Burkhead vs. Colts -- Burkhead has 30 carries over the last two weeks following the trade of Mark Ingram and release of Phillip Lindsay, but Burkhead is averaging a brutal 2.6 YPC on the season. Burkhead is the early-down guy with David Johnson as the pass-game specialist. Johnson, however, is injured and could miss Week 13. Royce Freeman is next up as the No. 3 back and could enter the mix at any point. Playing in one of the league’s worst offenses with the Texans as significant 9.5-point underdogs, Burkhead is impossible to trust as anything more than a desperation FLEX play. The Colts are third in run-defense DVOA, 12th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and fifth in rushing touchdowns allowed.

WIDE RECEIVER

(Notable WRs on bye: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jarvis Landry, D.J. Moore)

Start of the Week: DK Metcalf vs. 49ers -- Throw the matchup out the window. It’s #SqueakyWheel week for Metcalf. Both Russell Wilson and OC Shane Waldron have come out this week and said Metcalf needs the ball more. Those are the two guys dictating where the ball goes. In three games since Wilson’s return, Metcalf has posted scoreless receiving lines of 3-26, 4-31, and 1-13 on a combined 20 targets against the Packers, Cardinals, and Washington. He’s produced the overall WR89 half-PPR points per game since Week 10. He’s been out-scored by WRs named Laquon Treadwell, Ja’Marcus Bradley, Zay Jones, and Ray-Ray McCloud in that span. I think I’d take the bet on Metcalf setting a new season-high in targets this week, besting his previous high of 11 way back in Week 2. He has just one 100-yard game on the year and hasn’t scored since Week 8 after producing eight touchdowns over the first eight weeks. Metcalf went 4-65-1 on eight targets against these Niners in Week 4. San Francisco is 10th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, but look for Metcalf to be peppered with targets after not seeing his first target in Week 12 until there was just over 19 minutes to play.

Starts
Michael Pittman at Texans -- Pittman drew double-digit targets for the fourth time this season last week in the loss to the Bucs, but he caught just 4-of-10 looks for 53 scoreless yards. Pittman was *this* close to making some big plays; the ball just didn’t break his way a couple times. Pittman hasn’t scored since Week 9 but has settled in as Carson Wentz’s clear-cut top target with the Colts playing some of their best football with five wins over the last seven tries. The Texans are 19th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and 25th in opponent yards per catch. They’ve truly faced one of the easiest pass schedules in recent weeks, as Zach Wilson did nothing last week, A.J. Brown was hurt against Houston the week before, and Jacoby Brissett was under center for Miami the game before that. The Colts stomped Houston 31-3 back in Week 6, and Wentz attempted just 20 passes that day. Pittman’s three targets were still second on the team. We will likely see a similar run-dominant approach, but when the Colts are dialing up pass plays, Pittman is typically the first read. It’s a very winnable matchup for him.

Brandon Aiyuk at Seahawks -- Deebo Samuel (groin) will miss 1-2 weeks at minimum, and we’ve seen soft-tissue issues linger in skill players. With Samuel taking on more of a “playmaker” role out of the backfield in recent weeks, Aiyuk has actually been the 49ers’ top wideout, averaging 6.4 targets per game over the last five weeks. He has 85 yards or a touchdown in three of the last five games and has played at least 88% of the snaps in five straight outings. Aiyuk will be counted on heavily, along with George Kittle, to carry the mail in the passing game sans Samuel. The Seahawks are ninth in fantasy points allowed to wideouts but 27th in pass-defense DVOA, 31st in catches given up, 27th in opponent passing yards, and dead last in opponent plays per game. Since Week 9, Aiyuk is the overall WR17.

Darnell Mooney vs. Cardinals -- There’s a very real chance Allen Robinson (hamstring) has played his final snap for the Bears. Some think Robinson might be gearing up for free agency and saving himself from further injury as he heads out of Chicago. Robinson hasn’t played since the Week 10 bye. In two games with Robinson out, Mooney has drawn 24 targets and posted back-to-back 100-yard games with 5-121-1 and 5-123 against the Ravens and Lions. Mooney is seeing elite usage as the Bears’ lone real playmaker in the passing game. The Cardinals have been tough on wideouts, checking in at 11th in fantasy points allowed to the position, fourth in receiving yards allowed, fifth in opponent yards per catch, and second in touchdowns, but Mooney is just seeing too much action to not trot him out there as a big-play WR2/3.

Sits
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Patriots -- Sanders has been a totally different player since the Bills’ Week 7 bye. Across the first six weeks of the season, Sanders was fantasy’s overall WR17. Since the open date, Sanders has failed to score a touchdown and has 27 yards or fewer in 4-of-5 games. He’s still playing heavy snaps in Buffalo’s pass-first offense, but the targets are starting to go elsewhere with Sanders’ 34-year-old legs failing to create much separation. He now gets a Monday night date with a Patriots defense that is fourth in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, second in pass-defense DVOA, eighth in catches surrendered, seventh in receiving yards, and second in touchdowns. If Sanders can’t get it done against the Jets and Jaguars, there’s no reason to get behind him as a fantasy play against one of the league’s top defenses.

Kenny Golladay at Dolphins -- Even with Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney out with quad issues last week against the Eagles, Golladay still did nothing of note in the box score with a scoreless 3-50 line on seven targets. He led the team in targets but was locked up in Darius Slay’s coverage most of the day. Daniel Jones (neck) is now in danger of missing this week or being at far less than 100% health, and the Dolphins are playing some top-notch defense of late with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones healthy on the outside. Miami is 29th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers but 14th in pass-defense DVOA and yielding just 11.5 real-life points per game over the last four weeks. Those have come against the Texans, Ravens, Jets, and Panthers, but the Giants fall right in line with those opponents as bordering on terrible, excluding Baltimore. Golladay has yet to score a touchdown in a Giants uniform and hasn’t cleared 50 yards since Week 4. It’s fair to wonder if he’s even healthy after battling injuries seemingly all year after missing almost all of training camp with a pulled hamstring.

Elijah Moore vs. Eagles -- It’s sad when the team’s actual starting quarterback seems to be worse for the entire offense, and that’s been the case with Zach Wilson under center. In six games with Wilson, Moore’s receiving lines have been 1-(-3), 4-47, 3-22, 0-0, 1-13, and 4-46 with no touchdowns. With four games with Mike White and Joe Flacco, Moore has caught all four of his touchdowns with 6-67, 7-84-2, 3-44-1, and 8-141-1 lines. Moore is now a full-time wideout with snap counts of 80% and 88% the last two weeks, but he’s likely to see a whole lot of Darius Slay in this one with Jamison Crowder operating as the Jets’ slot man. Crowder will run his routes against the soft part of Philly’s pass defense. The Eagles have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and are No. 2 in opponent yards per catch. Wilson, the date with Slay, and the Jets’ implied team total of 19.25 points are all marks against Moore.

TIGHT END

(Notable TEs on bye: Austin Hooper, David Njoku)

Start of the Week: Kyle Pitts vs. Bucs -- I’ve already sunk with this ship, so I might as well stay on board for the resurfacing. Over the last five weeks, Pitts has produced a combined receiving line of 14-190 receiving line with no touchdowns, averaging less than three catches and 38 yards per game in that span. It’s been ugly, but Pitts is still playing heavy snaps, and he and Cordarrelle Patterson are all this offense has, so Pitts is seeing a lot of attention. The Bucs are 25th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have surrendered the third-most catches to the position. Pitts went 5-73 on six targets against Tampa Bay back in Week 2. Look for the Falcons to again be chasing points as 10-point underdogs, and the Bucs always push opposing offenses into faster-paced games. With Calvin Ridley out, Pitts and Patterson have a stranglehold on red-zone targets for Atlanta. Pitts is again a top-12 option on paper.

Starts
Logan Thomas at Raiders -- After missing seven weeks with a strained hamstring, Thomas returned last week against the Seahawks to play 79% of Washington’s snaps. His six targets were a close third on the team, one behind both Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson. Thomas turned his looks into a 3-31 line but had a four-yard touchdown questionably called back late in the fourth quarter when it appeared he actually completed the catch. Thomas is one of Taylor Heinicke’s go-to red-zone targets. The Raiders are 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have allowed the third-most catches to the position. This game’s 49-point total is the third-highest of the weekend and will be played in a fantasy-friendly, warm dome environment.

Foster Moreau vs. Washington -- Opposite Logan Thomas will likely be Moreau with Darren Waller battling a knee injury suffered on Thanksgiving that has kept him from practicing this week. Waller is considered week-to-week. Moreau filled in for Waller back in Week 7 against the Eagles and played 100% of the offensive snaps while catching all six of his targets for 60 yards and one touchdown. Moreau would start on a lot of teams. And Waller’s absence gives him another showcase opportunity. Washington is 21st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Playing heavy snaps and running plenty of routes, Moreau is an easy plug-and-play streamer.

James O’Shaughnessy at Rams -- O’Shaughnessy’s early-season injury is what prompted the trade for Dan Arnold, and now Arnold is likely done for the season with a knee injury. He’s at least going to miss the next month with the MCL sprain. O’Shaughnessy just returned from I.R. last week after missing the previous 10 weeks. In his return and coupled with Arnold’s early-game injury, O’Shaughnessy played 81% of the snaps against the Falcons and saw five targets. The Rams are 19th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and the Jaguars are going to be playing catch-up most of the day with Los Angeles installed as heavy 12.5-point favorites.