15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 13
There's one player who, if hurt, would make my fantasy football season a lot tougher. One specific player.
Gordon's Week 12 injury -- one that will sideline him a few weeks -- came at the worst time for fantasy football managers, myself included. But you don't really care about my fantasy teams, I know. Fortunately, I care about yours. Because it's my job to. So let's, together, make it better.
Note: Your trade deadline may have passed, but you can still treat "buy" and "sell" transactions as confidence picks. In other words, you can feel better about buy candidates, and vice versa.
Add Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson
With Gordon out, Austin Ekeler becomes the running back you want in Los Angeles. In Week 12, he played about 36% of the team's snaps, second-most at running back behind only Gordon. He carried the ball just 5 times, but he was targeted on 11 passes, by far a season high. When Gordon missed time earlier in the season -- he was out in Week 7 against the Titans -- Ekeler had 12 rushing attempts while seeing 7 targets and playing over 95% of the team's snaps. So, to be clear, Ekeler is the player you want if he's still, somehow, on your waiver wire.
But don't dismiss Justin Jackson. The rookie from Northwestern had a really strong college production profile, and on Sunday, he ran the ball 7 times for 57 yards. Not only could he see a little work without Gordon in the lineup, but he becomes somewhat of a handcuff to Ekeler over these next few weeks.
And speaking of handcuffs, while I'm not a big proponent of drafting them, I most definitely am someone who adds handcuffs as the season moves forward. That was talked about weeks ago in this very column. So if players like Spencer Ware, Malcolm Brown, or even Wayne Gallman are on your waiver wire, make sure to add them this week.
Buy Antonio Brown
After a big JuJu Smith-Schuster performance in Week 12, fantasy managers may be a little down on Antonio Brown, especially when you compare AB to what we expected at the beginning of the year. But not only was he still fine in Pittsburgh's game against Denver on Sunday (he had 9 catches on 13 targets), Brown's still seeing plenty of volume in the Steelers' O. On the season, he has a 25.6% target share, which is one of the better marks you'll find across football. And since Pittsburgh's thrown the ball more than any other team in the league, that target share creates even more volume than it would on most other teams.
And as I've been saying for weeks now, the Steelers have a juicy fantasy playoff schedule. They'll get Oakland in Week 14, then New England at home, and then New Orleans in the Superdome. Those are three plus matchups when you consider how many points Pittsburgh could score in those contests. So if you've got Brown, feel good about it. Don't sweat the big JuJu game.
Add Rex Burkhead
Remember this guy? Well, he's eligible to come back and play in Week 13 for the Patriots, and he's been practicing and appears healthy. How that will translate to the stat sheet is completely unknown, but he's worth a flier off the wire for two reasons. The first is obvious in that he may just get more work than expected. But he also would serve as a handcuff in that New England offense. If something were to happen to either James White or Sony Michel, then Burkhead would hypothetically see an expanded role. He's a dart throw-type add, but it's worth it given the time of year.
Sell Kenyan Drake
It's tough to find a less predictable fantasy asset than Kenyan Drake. He's now given fantasy footballers a weekly top-12 performance five different times, but he's also finished outside of the top-30 in five separate contests. And the thing is, Drake isn't seeing drastically different snap rates in games where he's blown up. In those five good performances, he's been on the field for about 58% of Miami's snaps. In the five mediocre ones, that number is roughly 56%.
His game against Indianapolis on Sunday was a little matchup-driven, too. The Colts entered the week as the top team in percentage of receiving yards allowed to wide receivers, giving up a hefty 21% of their receiving yards to running backs, one of the highest rates in the league. And Drake did most of his work fantasy-wise through the air, catching 5 of 6 targets for 64 yards and a score.
It's not that he can't produce moving forward. I'd still expect Drake to have a couple of strong games across the next month. The issue is predicting when those performances will happen and hoping that he's able to find the end zone in a below-average offense. With Frank Gore still very much in the mix, Drake isn't the easiest back to rely on.
Buy DJ Moore
Moore has now played three quarters of Carolina's snaps in each of the team's last four games. During this time, he's been on the receiving end of nearly 20% of Cam Newton's attempts, and he's scored 28.7 and 17.8 PPR points over his last two contests. This uptick in usage could and should be huge for fantasy managers from here on out. In Week 13, the Panthers will take on the Buccaneers. Then they'll face the Browns, Saints, and Falcons through the end of the fantasy football season. Those are all plus matchups, with the Saints and Falcons specifically allowing the most and third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year, respectively. This back-half breakout is no fluke.
Add Curtis Samuel
Curtis Samuel started playing more meaningful snaps around Week 7, when his snap rate jumped to the 30% range. With Devin Funchess sidelined on Sunday, though, Samuel was on the field for 91.5% of the Panthers' snaps. He saw only a pair of targets, but he found the end zone for the third time in four games. If Funchess misses more time, Samuel could have some flex appeal down the stretch while playing in those aforementioned favorable matchups. Even if Funchess returns, Samuel has done enough to warrant more playing time.
Add Nyheim Hines
Marlon Mack exited the Colts' Week 12 game with a concussion, which led to a 37% snap share for Nyheim Hines, his highest total since Week 6. That was the game before Mack's return from injury earlier in the season. A full week off may allow Mack to get through concussion protocol, but if he doesn't, Hines is an interesting option off the wire considering he ran the ball nine times in Sunday's contest, when teammate Jordan Wilkins didn't have a single rush. Don't forget, without Mack this year, Hines averaged over 16.5 PPR points per game. He's worth an add just in case Mack isn't able to go.
Add Bruce Ellington
Bruce Ellington now has 16 targets over Detroit's last two games, and he saw his snap rate increase from 50.8% in Week 11 to 81.8% in Week 12. According to Pro Football Focus, during this time, he's played 45.8% of his snaps from the slot, which leads the Lions. He hasn't totally been the Golden Tate replacement in the Lions' O, but things are trending in the right direction. With Marvin Jones now on IR, Ellington is a strong add off the waiver wire.
Sell Jarvis Landry
It's not like Jarvis Landry was posting epic numbers with Todd Haley as Cleveland's offensive coordinator, but he was seeing strong volume, averaging 11.6 targets per game and a 30.6% target share. That gave him a more predictable floor week in and week out in fantasy football. In three games with Freddie Kitchens as the OC, Landry's tallied just 5.7 targets per game and a 19.3% target share. That's alarming. And it's definitely alarming when factoring in matchups -- the Browns have faced the Chiefs, Falcons, and Bengals in their last three games. So even in plus matchups, Landry hasn't been effective in fantasy with Kitchens. That's hard to rely on down the stretch.
Hold Courtland Sutton
That's forced a lot of fantasy managers to question if they should just flat-out drop him or not. But doing so would probably be a bit premature, because Denver does have a nice rest-of-season schedule, as they'll go up against Cincy, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Oakland through Week 16. Even if he's just bench depth, the upside is there.
Add Ryan Switzer
Through Week 11, JuJu Smith-Schuster had played 76.2% of his snaps from the slot, per Pro Football Focus. Ryan Switzer's slot rate was at 74.4%, but he'd never been a full-time player, failing to hit a 30% snap share in all but two games heading into Week 12.
But then this past Sunday's game happened, and things looked a lot different offensively for the Steelers. Smith-Schuster ran just 24% of his routes from the slot, while Switzer was lined up there on almost 85% of his snaps. And all the while, Switzer's snap rate jumped to 66.7%, by far a season high.
Now, this could have easily been the Steelers just finding a better matchup for Smith-Schuster and shifting him away from slot corner Chris Harris. In fact, that's likely what happened. But on the off chance that they're looking to utilize Switzer a bit more in the offense -- after all, his snap rate was on the rise prior to Week 12 -- then he's worth a look in deeper formats. Vance McDonald is banged up as well, which could open up more opportunities in the middle portion of the field.
Add Jesse James
Speaking of that Vance McDonald injury, if he does miss time, Jesse James becomes an interesting option at the awful, awful tight end position. In Week 12, James ranked in the top-10 in routes run at tight end, and he saw four targets. With a favorable passing game schedule ahead for Pittsburgh, he's not a bad look if your squad needs tight end help.
Add Case Keenum
The quarterback streaming options this week -- and, really, moving forward -- are pretty rough. The main reason for that is because there are a ton of quarterbacks who are rostered in that 40% to 50% range, which pushes them out of streaming territory. So as we approach the end of the season, be prepared to see guys like Case Keenum being listed here. Hopefully you don't have an issue at quarterback, though, considering there are nearly 20 of them who are start-worthy in any given week.
Back to Keenum. The Broncos are on the road this week, but they're going up against a Bengals defense that's been terrible this season, having allowed nearly 300 more yards than any other group in football. No team is allowing more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than Cincinnati. That bodes well for Keenum, who's given fantasy managers 15-plus fantasy points in six of his games played this season.
Add the Miami Dolphins' Defense
Miami is a 6.5-point favorite against Buffalo this week with a low game total, making them a strong streaming option. Though the Bills are more explosive offensively with Josh Allen under center, they've still allowed an average of 3.6 sacks and 1 interception per game to opposing defenses when he gets the start. Miami is out there in 90% of Yahoo! leagues, making them a quality streaming option for Week 13.
Add or Hold the Buffalo Bills' Defense
The Bills aren't a bad play in Week 13, either, but the real reason they're on this week's list is because in Week 14 -- the standard first week of the fantasy football playoffs -- they'll face the Jets in Buffalo. New York has now allowed a top-10 defensive performance against them in four of their last five games, and they've averaged just 11.3 points per game on the road since their crazy Week 1 performance versus the Lions. So if you were planning on getting rid of that Buffalo defense -- one that was recommended as an add in this column last week -- hold tight. They should be good to go for at least a couple of weeks.