Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 13
We all probably did some form of Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping this past extended weekend. Maybe we found some great deals for our friends and family. Maybe we found some deals for ourselves. After all, holiday shopping doesn't necessarily have to be for everyone else.
I shop almost exclusively online, and that means that I have basically unlimited choices of sales to dig through, especially when the deals hit. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that you can't always use everything you buy. Would I love to have a new pair of Chuck Taylors for $20? You betcha. Do I need another pair of shoes right now? Nope. Do I have the space in my studio apartment to store them? Nope. Are new shoes for someone who doesn't leave the house a smart purchase? Nope.
That, believe it or not, extends beyond shoes. Even though I could have gotten any number of new items for myself, I can only use so many in my daily life.
Just like with my fantasy football lineups, I can only start two to three running backs and receivers and a quarterback and a tight end. That's it. And if I already have
shoes a Cam Newton at quarterback, I don't need to roll out Baker Mayfield against the Houston Texans. But if I've been relying on the constantly-busting Matthew Stafford, then I can stomach Mayfield on the road against a solid defense. The context -- the choices -- drive every decision.
For many reasons, I like to bucket players into groups when deciding who we should start or sit in a given week. To me, no player is ever a must-sit, but there are players you should want to sit if you have other, more viable options. That's the goal here, as well as to show why we should feel certain ways about players.
So, based on market shares, snap counts, betting lines, and defensive matchups, I'll be grouping players into three tiers to help with start-or-sit decisions: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider playing whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives.
These players are listed in order of confidence and preference (so higher on the list means more startable; these aren't rankings, but they're close), and the groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench, should I want to start this player this week? Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.
Start With Confidence
- Patrick Mahomes at OAK: Mahomes has averaged 0.41 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (league average is 0.12) and 9.28 yards per attempt (league average is 7.52) this season and now faces the 32nd-ranked adjusted pass defense by our metrics, the Oakland Raiders.
- Drew Brees at DAL: Brees' efficiency is basically a joke at this point, as his 0.47 Passing NEP per drop back is nearly four times the league average (0.12), and his passing success rate (60.8%) is well above the league average (51.3%). The Cowboys are just 19th in adjusted pass defense, based on our NEP metrics.
- Cam Newton at TB: Newton has had at least 15.7 fantasy points in every game and has averaged 37.9 rushing yards per game on the full season. Tampa Bay ranks 30th in adjusted pass defense and 22nd in yards per carry allowed to quarterbacks.
- Andrew Luck at JAC: Luck has thrown for at least 3 touchdowns in eight straight games and has posted a 0.32 Passing NEP per drop back mark in that split despite a barely-above-average 7.83 yards per attempt mark. The Jaguars are 17th in Passing NEP per drop back allowed since Week 7 and may be missing star cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
- Jared Goff at DET: Goff has averaged 9.31 yards per attempt and 0.35 Passing NEP per drop back, stellar marks. He now faces the Lions' 31st-ranked adjusted pass defense in a dome with an implied total of more than 32 points.
- Russell Wilson vs. SF: Wilson has averaged 22.0 fantasy points and 8.50 yards per attempt in five post-bye games. Now, he hosts the 49ers' 23rd-ranked adjusted pass defense for the first time this season.
- Ben Roethlisberger vs. LAC: The Chargers have limited passers to 6.16 yards per attempt (third-best) since Week 6 and are ninth in adjusted pass defense overall on the season, but Roethlisberger leads the league's eighth-ranked adjusted pass offense and is playing at home. Roethlisberger has thrown 14 touchdowns to 3 picks at home (good for 0.30 Passing NEP per drop back).
- Jameis Winston vs. CAR: This game has a 56-point total, and the Carolina Panthers are 28th in adjusted pass defense. Winston has posted league-average metrics on the full season, as well as 8.41 yards per attempt. In the past two games, he's been elite: 0.67 Passing NEP per drop back, 65.5% success rate, and 9.46 yards per attempt. He's also run 12 times for 40 yards in those.
Consider If Needed
- Aaron Rodgers vs. ARI: Rodgers is a massive home favorite on the Cardinals, who do rank 13th in adjusted pass defense. Rodgers has averaged just 17.3 fantasy points in his past five and shouldn't need to throw much, so he's a bottom-half QB1 given the matchup.
- Lamar Jackson at ATL: Jackson hits the road for the first time and will play in a dome against the Falcons' 29th-ranked adjusted pass defense. He's lived with his legs, running 37 times for 190 yards and a touchdown, while throwing just 44 times (for a near-league-average 7.45 yards per attempt but 0.00 Passing NEP per drop back). The Falcons have let up 4.93 yards per carry to quarterbacks, 24th in the NFL.
- Deshaun Watson vs. CLE: The Browns are the top adjusted pass defense in football, but Watson has averaged 8.53 yards per attempt and 28.1 rushing yards during an eight-game win streak (and 20.5 fantasy points on the whole season).
- Matt Ryan vs. BAL: Ryan has notched 0.47 Passing NEP per drop back and a 61.6% passing success rate at home, marks that would basically tie him for the league lead on the full season. However, he's played some low-level pass defenses in Atlanta. The Ravens have limited production from passers and rank third in adjusted pass defense. Overall, he's a low-end QB1 whom you don't have to start but who can overcome a tough matchup because of how good he has been at home.
- Baker Mayfield at HOU: Mayfield faces a Texans defense that ranks 17th on the full season when adjusted for opponent but is 2nd since Week 6 in Passing NEP per drop back allowed. Mayfield has been dynamite with his efficiency under his new offensive coordinator, but as a road underdog, he's not a locked-in must-start.
- Philip Rivers at PIT: Rivers has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game and has commanded the league's fourth-ranked adjusted passing offense. Against the fifth-ranked pass defense on the road, though, Rivers is a floor play with a decent ceiling, given the shootout potential.
- Marcus Mariota vs. NYJ: Mariota has topped 21 fantasy points in three of his past four games and is now a 10-point home favorite against the Jets' 20th-ranked adjusted pass defense.
- Tom Brady vs. MIN: The Vikings have let up just one top-20 passer since Week 6 (Mitchell Trubisky was the QB13 in Week 11), and they're easily the top-ranked pass defense by Passing NEP per drop back in that span. Brady has averaged just 15.0 fantasy points per game over his past four.
- Kirk Cousins at NE: Cousins hits the road as a 6-point underdog against the Patriots' 18th-ranked adjusted pass defense. In seven games against top-20 pass defenses, Cousins has been below league average in Passing NEP per drop back (0.10) and yards per attempt (7.03), pushing him out of must-start status.
- Carson Wentz vs. WSH: Wentz has been a tick below league average in Passing NEP per drop back (0.11) and passing success rate (48.8%), and Washington is eighth in adjusted pass defense but has let up a league-high 9.35 yards per attempt in four games since Week 9.
Bench If Possible
- Dak Prescott vs. NO: Prescott has been a below-average passer (0.04 Passing NEP per drop back with a 42.9% success rate on the season) and faces a trending-up pass defense. The New Orleans Saints are already 14th in adjusted pass defense, but rank 6th in Passing NEP per drop back since Week 8. Prescott has five rushing scores in his past six but is more of a floor play than a confident start, pushing him to this range in 12-team leagues. There are a ton of viable options who we should feel comfortable ranking higher than Prescott this week.
- Matthew Stafford vs. LAR: Stafford has averaged 12.6 fantasy points in six post-bye games. He'll be forced to throw as a heavy home underdog against the Rams but hasn't shown a ceiling all season, and now the floor is nonexistent.
- Everyone else: It's hard this far into the season to gauge which quarterbacks carry realistic, season-long ownership because of dead leagues skewing the rates, but with even Prescott and Stafford as just barely priority benches, there are 20 solid-at-worst options, and dipping outside of this list is hard to justify unless you're in a deeper league.
Start With Confidence
- Todd Gurley at DET: Gurley's dud in Week 11 (10.9 fantasy points on 15 touches while still playing 85.0% of snaps) apparently had to do with a tweaked ankle, something that shouldn't be a bother after two weeks to rest up against the league's 26th-ranked adjusted rush defense. Since the Damon Harrison arrival in Week 8, the Lions have let up the eighth-lowest success rate, but does that matter even a little for Gurley's season-long startability and expectations?
- Saquon Barkley vs. CHI: The Bears are 1st in adjusted rush defense and rushing success rate allowed to backs but 21st in target success rate, and Barkley owns an 18.8% target share in three post-bye games.
- Christian McCaffrey at TB: McCaffrey has gone over 30 fantasy points in three of his past four games and owns a team-high 22.7% target share (7.1 per game) since Greg Olsen's Week 6 return. The Bucs are 20th in rushing success rate allowed to backs.
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. NO: Elliott has averaged 21.2 carries and 6.5 targets for 160.8 yards in four games since the Amari Cooper trade, fixing any issues we have about his matchup with a top-eight adjusted rush defense.
- Alvin Kamara at DAL: Kamara has held roughly a 60% snap rate over the past few games that weren't blowouts, and he now faces a Cowboys team more vulnerable out of the backfield (17th in target success rate) than on the ground (4th in adjusted rushing defense).
- James Conner vs. LAC: A home favorite against the league's 22nd-ranked adjusted rush defense, Conner is bankable for a ceiling game, which he hasn't shown in three straight (13.8, 7.9, and 9.5 fantasy points) while seeing 14, 18, and 17 opportunities after averaging 25.1 per game prior.
- Aaron Jones vs. ARI: Jones faces the league's 26th-ranked defense by rushing success rate and is a 14.5-point home favorite who has averaged a 79.7% snap rate the past three games.
- Nick Chubb at HOU: Chubb runs into a top-six rush defense this week as a road underdog but is a workhorse back, having played 79.2% and 71.9% of snaps the past two games, helping him to RB1 and RB3 finishes.
- Spencer Ware at OAK: Ware is a heavy road favorite against the Raiders, who are 30th in adjusted rush defense and 31st in rushing success rate allowed to backs. The Raiders have let five backs post 20-plus fantasy points.
Consider If Needed
- David Johnson at GB: A massive road underdog, Johnson's ceiling is capped but he's still averaged a 78.3% snap rate and 26.0 opportunities in three post-bye games, finishing as the RB3, RB14, and RB30.
- Mark Ingram at DAL: Ingram has averaged a solid 13.3 fantasy points in his past five games on 14.4 opportunities. He could push for a ceiling game as a heavy road favorite over the Cowboys, though they're fourth in adjusted rush defense. Either way, he's not safe enough to lock him in without pause, and he'll never be a bench play with a steady role in the league's best offense.
- Phillip Lindsay at CIN: Lindsay's been uber consistent this season, finishing as the RB27 or better in every game but one (when he was ejected) and played a season-high 63.2% snap rate last week. The Bengals' defense ranks 31st in rushing success rate allowed.
- Joe Mixon vs. DEN: Mixon should be leaned on more with Jeff Driskel under center, but the offense will be worse, limiting Mixon's touchdown equity. Still, the Broncos are 21st in rushing success rate and can give up big production.
- Matt Breida at SEA: Breida is still experiencing limited snaps (47.0%, 49.1%, 60.3%, and 48.4%) but has averaged 17.0 opportunities (and 4.0 targets) in those four games. As a 10-point underdog, he's in the mix as a high-end RB2 against the Seahawks.
- Dalvin Cook at NE: Cook has played 57.1%, 88.1%, and 58.6% of snaps in his three games since returning with a modest 4, 3, and 3 targets. That's noteworthy because he's a solid underdog against the Patriots (25th in target success rate allowed to backs).
- Sony Michel vs. MIN: A six-point home favorite, Michel is almost guaranteed steady work, as he sees a touch on 71.1% of snaps, the highest rate of all backs, per FantasyData.com.
- Chris Carson vs. SF: Carson opened as a 10-point favorite against the 49ers, who are fifth in rushing success rate allowed to backs. Carson has played 41.4% and 51.6% of snaps the past two weeks, so he's outside of a firm start range but in a spot that puts him in low-end RB2 status. His 57.2% touch rate is second among backs playing in Week 13.
- James White vs. MIN: White has averaged a 69.4% snap rate when Sony Michel hasn't played meaningful snaps and 54.3% with Michel in the mix. The opportunity average drops from 18.8 to 12.7, too.
- Lamar Miller vs. CLE: A home favorite, Miller gets the league's 24th-ranked rush defense by success rate. He's played at least 53.5% of snaps in every healthy game and has averaged 67.5% of snaps this season, keeping him in the RB2/RB3 range.
- Jordan Howard at NYG: Howard has played at least 51.0% of snaps in every game, and the Giants have let up 5.20 yards per carry and the 22nd-ranked success rate to backs since trading Damon Harrison after Week 7.
- Tevin Coleman vs. BAL: Coleman has played at least half the snaps in every game and played 50.0% last week on Thanksgiving but now faces the second-ranked rush defense by success rate allowed and the fifth-ranked defense in target success rate allowed to backs. Coleman's big saving grace is that he's a home favorite.
- Josh Adams vs. WSH: A 6.5-point home favorite against a below-average rush defense, Adams, who has played 54.9% and 61.5% of snaps the past two weeks, is slotted in as a high-end RB3 option.
- Austin Ekeler at PIT: The Steelers are first in target success rate allowed to backs, but Ekeler's 11 targets from last week can transcend the matchup. He's played a 95.5% snap rate without Melvin Gordon already this year, so he's a fine RB2 or flex play this week.
- Marlon Mack at JAC: Mack is on track to play this week as a 4.5-point road favorite but faces a top-10 rush defense by success rate and may not be a full-go after his concussion. Even if he is, Mack has been more of an RB2 than a stud of late, and that makes him just a flex-if-needed play who we can feel comfortable benching if we have the luxury.
- LeSean McCoy at MIA: McCoy has played 40.7%, 67.1%, and 63.8% of snaps the past three games, producing 4.9, 24.3, and 5.8 fantasy points (RB41, RB9, RB38 finishes). As a road underdog against the league's 15th-ranked rush defense by success rate since Week 6, it's not the best situation to deploy McCoy, but there never is a good one given his offense.
- Kenyan Drake vs. BUF: Drake has been the RB10, RB7, RB38, RB44, and RB5 in his past five games despite just 12.2 opportunities (4.8 targets) in those. The Bills are 26th in rushing success rate and 23rd in target success rate allowed to backs.
- Adrian Peterson at PHI: Peterson is just barely above a priority bench, as he has averaged just 7.4 fantasy points in games in which he hasn't scored a touchdown. The Eagles are a top-12 rush defense, and Peterson has maxed out at a 60.3% snap rate all year.
- Theo Riddick vs. LAR: Riddick still didn't crack a 50.0% snap rate without Kerryon Johnson last week but has 21 targets in his past three games, keeping him in play as a home underdog.
- Gus Edwards at ATL: Edwards has played 66.7% and 61.4% of snaps the past two weeks but has one target this year. The Falcons are 28th in rushing success rate allowed and target success rate allowed to backs. He's a low-end flex play, assuming Edwards is a full go.
- Dion Lewis vs. NYJ: A 10-point home favorite against a mid-level rush defense, Lewis has the right script but most recently played just 52.7% of snaps and has averaged only 13.0 opportunities in his past two games (9 of the 26 being targets).
- T.J. Yeldon vs. IND: Yeldon has averaged 5.9 targets per game on the full season and 6.6 in games with at least half the snaps. He'll benefit from the Leonard Fournette suspension enough as a home underdog to be a viable flex play given the receiving work.
Bench If Possible
- Tarik Cohen at NYG: Cohen played his second-lowest snap rate of the year on Thanksgiving and has played his two lowest snap rates since Week 3 the past two games. The Bears are favored, making Cohen a priority bench if you can swing it, given the dwindling snap rate and script that should favor Jordan Howard.
- Derrick Henry vs. NYJ: Henry played 49.1% of snaps last week, his highest rate since Week 3, and is now 10-point favorite at home but still has averaged just 10.6 opportunities per game since a resurgence five games ago.
- Doug Martin vs. KC: The Chiefs are 32nd in adjusted rush defense and in rushing success rate allowed to backs, and Martin has finished as the RB32 or better in five straight games, but he's just a floor option.
- Carlos Hyde vs. IND: Hyde could see similar usage to what Fournette averages as the early-down back against the league's 10th-ranked adjusted rush defense, but Hyde has a 37.0% rushing success rate with the Jags, compared to 43.3% for Fournette and 41.3% for Yeldon. You can flex him, but you shouldn't be trying to do so.
- LeGarrette Blount vs. LAR: Blount played 50.0% of snaps in negative script last week and handled 19 carries but is never going to be an active start candidate as a 7.0-point underdog, given his lack of receiving work.
- Peyton Barber vs. CAR: Barber played 49.3% of snaps this past week, besting Jacquizz Rodgers by just two snaps. He's averaged just 3.86 yards per carry and a 35.9% success rate but does play in a game with a 56-point total as a slim home underdog. If the snaps were higher, he'd push for a fine flex play in that spot.
- Frank Gore vs. BUF: A five-point home favorite, Gore should be leaned on against the league's 26th-ranked rush defense by success rate allowed to backs. He's averaged a 47.3% snap rate in his past five games but has just three top-24 weeks to date.
- Jalen Richard vs. KC: Richard has a 17.5% target share (5.0 per game) in five post-bye games, and the Chiefs are 29th in target success rate allowed to backs if you need a desperation flex.
- Duke Johnson at HOU: Johnson should be a fine play as a road underdog but has played just 32.1% and 28.1% of snaps the past two games with just 11 total opportunities.
- Elijah McGuire at TEN: McGuire has played at least half the snaps in three straight games, owning a 12.0% target share (4.3 per game) in that split. He's not the worst punt as a 10-point underdog, but the 15.25-point implied team total, but there's no way he's a 12-team start.
- Isaiah Crowell at TEN: As a 10-point road underdog, Crowell isn't in play. Volume has carried him to at least an RB38 finish in his past seven games, at least.
- Royce Freeman at CIN: Freeman has played just a quarter of the snaps the past two games and has 14 total opportunities in those games.
- Giovani Bernard vs. DEN: Denver is 27th in target success rate allowed to backs, but Bernard has just three, four, and one target in his past three games while playing 27.9%, 47.3%, and 31.1% of snaps.
- Ito Smith vs. BAL: Smith has played 29.3%, 35.7%, and 37.1% of snaps the past three games but faces a top-five rush defense and trails Tevin Coleman 9-3 in red zone chances the past three games.
Start With Confidence
- Michael Thomas at DAL: The Cowboys are a tough receiver defense, letting up just four games of at least 15 fantasy points to wideouts, the fourth-fewest in the league. Still, Thomas has averaged 8.0 targets per game in six post-bye weeks, while seeing 28.6% of the team's red zone looks in that span.
- Julio Jones vs. BAL: Jones has a 26.0% target share in four post-bye games and 57.1% of the Falcons' deep targets. With at least 96 yards in all but two games and at least 107 yards in six straight, he's still a WR1 against the league's top-ranked receiver defense by target success rate.
- Tyreek Hill at OAK: Hill owns 24.9% of the Chiefs' targets and faces the league's 23rd-ranked defense against deep passes. Hill has averaged 2.9 deep targets per game and ranks third in total deep targets (32).
- DeAndre Hopkins vs. CLE: Nuk has been the WR25 and WR35 the past two games with six targets in each. Still, he owns 31.4% of his team's targets and 43.5% of their air yards, helping overcome a matchup with the sixth-best team by fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts.
- Odell Beckham vs. CHI: The Bears are 16th in target success rate allowed to receivers and 10th in fantasy points per target, which just doesn't matter either way because OBJ has a 49.4% air yards share in three post-bye games, as well as 28.2% of the team's overall targets.
- Keenan Allen at PIT: Allen's floor has been elevated since the bye (WR8, WR17, WR12, WR13) with 17.3 fantasy points per game in those four. He's got a 29.5% target share and 36.0% of the air yards since then and figures to see extra work without Melvin Gordon and in negative game script.
- Antonio Brown vs. LAC: Brown has struggled for his usual standards this year, maxing out at 117 yards and posting just three 100-yard games. The Chargers are 18th in target success rate on the full season but are 2nd since Week 6. Brown has a good-not-great 24.5% target share in five post-bye contests.
- Adam Thielen at NE: Thielen faces the Patriots, who are third in target success rate allowed to receivers and eighth in fantasy points per target but who have gotten touched up from the slot, letting up the third-most points per game to slot receivers, via Rich Hribar. He's finished as the WR25 or better in every game but has dipped to a 24.4% market share over his past five games.
- Brandin Cooks at DET: Cooks had 12 targets in Week 11 without Cooper Kupp (26.1%) and 5 deep targets (41.7%). He's now in a dome against the league's most-generous defense by fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Detroit is 24th in success rate allowed on deep passes.
- Robert Woods at DET: Woods had 11 targets in Week 12 (23.9%) and 5 deep targets (41.7%) and has had at least 9.5 fantasy points in every game since Week 2. He now matches up with the most-generous per-target defense in football.
- Davante Adams vs. ARI: Adams could draw Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage, but Adams has been matchup proof all season, finishing with at least 12.1 fantasy points in every game. He's got 27.8% of the Packers' targets on the year and 40.0% of the air yards since a Week 7 bye.
Consider If Needed
- JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. LAC: The Chargers are up to second in target success rate allowed to receivers since Week 6, but JuJu has averaged 13.5 targets in his past two games (27.0%) and has finished as a top-26 receiver in six of his past seven.
- Mike Evans vs. CAR: Evans has averaged 17.5 yards per target over the past two weeks from Jameis Winston and has 11 of his targets (a 20.3% target share). The Panthers are 19th in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts but held Evans to 1 catch for 10 yards on 10 targets (PFF counted 8 targets for Evans, just 3 of which were catchable).
- T.Y. Hilton at JAC: Hilton gets bumped down when he heads outdoors, but he's still a road favorite with a solid implied team total. In Week 10 against the Jags, he caught 3 of 7 targets for 77 yards (71 air yards) to finish as the WR29. He's not a bench if we're being realistic, but he's not a locked-in WR1.
- Stefon Diggs at NE: Diggs puts forth elite volume against a pretty tough individual matchup, likely facing shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore. Diggs has been the WR6 for three straight games, a span during which he's averaged 13.3 targets (28.2% of the Vikings' attempts).
- Kenny Golladay vs. LAR: Golladay has 30.6% of the Lions' targets and 74.5% of their air yards the past two games, and Marvin Jones is out for the year. The Rams are 26th in target success rate and 31st in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers.
- Julian Edelman vs. MIN: The Vikes have let just nine receivers get to double-digit fantasy points, fewer than all but one team. He saw just 5 targets last week (13.8%) after averaging 9.3 prior. He's still not close to a bench option unless you're loaded.
- A.J. Green vs. DEN: Denver hasn't been a must-avoid matchup this season, particularly on the outside, and the Bengals have shown the tendency to shift Green around to advantageous matchups when he was healthy. He was still limited in practice on Thursday, making him more of a low-end WR2 but still entirely startable in standard-sized leagues.
- Amari Cooper vs. NO: Cooper has a 25.6% target share in four games with the Cowboys, including 31.8% of the red zone targets (7 of 22). The Saints are 29th in target success rate allowed to receivers, making for a strong matchup for Cooper.
- Corey Davis vs. NYJ: Davis has had just four targets in each of his past two games, and as a home favorite by 10 points, volume could elude him again, against a stingy perimeter defense. However, Marcus Mariota's restored health keeps Davis in the low-end WR2 range entering Week 13.
- Sammy Watkins at OAK: Watkins was limited in Week 11 but profiles for a strong start if he's 100%. The Raiders are 26th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers, and Watkins had a 17.8% target share (6.0 per game) prior to Week 10.
- Josh Gordon vs. MIN: Gordon's matchup is dreadful for his ceiling, as the Vikings have let just five wideouts get to 15 fantasy points. He had 5 targets last week after 10 and 12 the week prior, suggesting that Rob Gronkowski's return is bad news for Gordon's reliability.
- Emmanuel Sanders at CIN: Sanders has a 27.2% target share and a 42.3% air yards share since the Demaryius Thomas trade, finishing as the WR35, WR38, and WR8 in those games. The Bengals are 20th in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts since Week 7.
- Tyler Boyd vs. DEN: Boyd has to face Chris Harris in the slot and is transitioning to Jeff Driskel at quarterback, so we have to bump him down, but he still has played at least 92.3% of snaps in his past six games with 22.3% of the targets in that span.
- D.J. Moore at TB: Moore has seen 6.0 targets per game over his past five, a 20.7% target share. The Buccaneers have let 12 receivers score at least 15 fantasy points, most in the league.
- Doug Baldwin vs. SF: Baldwin leads the Seahawks with a 22.1% target share in five games since the bye but could be scripted out as a heavy favorite.
- Golden Tate vs. WSH: Tate has a 19.8% target share (6.7 per game) in three games with the Eagles, and Washington has let 15 receivers post at least double-digit fantasy points and are trending down fast (allowing 10.3 yards per target since Week 9, fourth-highest in the NFL).
- Alshon Jeffery vs. WSH: He likely will be shadowed by Josh Norman, who let Amari Cooper catch all 5 targets (47 yards) last week. Jeffery, though, has just a 15.8% target share (5.3 per game) in three post-bye tilts and is dropping far down the reliability list. Overall, Washington has let eight receivers get to 15 fantasy points, seventh-most in the NFL.
- Josh Reynolds at DET: Reynolds has now played 83.6%, 88.5%, and 97.5% of snaps in three games without Cooper Kupp, scoring 2.4, 17.5, and 17.0 fantasy points in those.
- DeSean Jackson vs. CAR: The Panthers are 20th in deep ball defense, and Jackson has 11 targets from Winston over the past two games (4 of them being deep but no catches on those). His snap rate plummeted to 49.3% last week, but he still saw 8 targets on the limited snaps.
Bench If Possible
- Larry Fitzgerald at GB: Fitzgerald is a bust waiting to happen, as his target totals have dropped off harshly the past two games (12, 10, 4, and 2) and is coasting on touchdowns, scoring five times in his past five games. The Cardinals' tiny implied total makes him a bench-first option this week, even in negative script.
- Tyler Lockett vs. SF: Lockett has just 5.3 targets per game since the bye but could cash in against the league's 22nd-ranked deep ball defense. As a heavy favorite and with target competition, though, he's a priority bench.
- Demaryius Thomas vs. CLE: He scored twice last week and ran a route on 91.2% of drop backs but is up against a top-flight pass defense and still saw only five targets in his breakout game. He's fine to plug in if you need to, but it's not an optimistic situation just yet, no matter how much we hear the team wants to get him the ball.
- Taylor Gabriel at NYG: Gabriel leads the Bears with a 21.7% target share over the past five games, including a tied-for-team-high eight last week, but the Giants are 12th-best against the deep ball.
- Jarvis Landry at HOU: Landry has a 24.4% target share after a Week 7 ceiling game but has averaged 5.9 fantasy points in those and runs into a slot matchup with Tyrann Mathieu. I can't fault you for benching him after 67.9% and 60.9% of snaps the past two games with just 10 targets in those.
- David Moore vs. SF: Moore actually has the best high-leverage profile (40.0% of the deep targets) for the Seahawks since the Week 7 bye but a tertiary option in a run-first offense as a double-digit home favorite isn't a confident start in standard-sized leagues.
- Chris Godwin vs. CAR: Godwin saw a spike in snaps from Week 11 to Week 12 (32.4% to 67.1%) but had just 4 targets in the most recent game (3 in Week 11). The arrow is pointing up on him, but he's not a 12-team start.
- Sterling Shepard vs. CHI: Shepard has just 3.7 targets per game (12.9%) in three post-bye games, and the Bears aren't the most enviable defense to bank on a hyper-efficient game from a low-volume wideout.
- John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree at ATL: It's a great matchup, but the Ravens don't want to throw much with Jackson under center, and these receivers are now full-on migraine headaches from a predictability standpoint. Brown has one and seven targets in Jackson's two starts. Snead has eight and zero. Crabtree has three and six.
- Calvin Ridley vs. BAL: Ridley has an 18.3% target share in four post-bye games (9, 5, 4, and 13 targets in those) but played just 74.3% of snaps last week and saw his first red zone work since Week 4 last week. The matchup bumps him down to a priority bench.
- Allen Robinson at NYG: Robinson led the Bears with an 87.9% snap rate on Thanksgiving but had just four targets. Over the past five games, he has a 13.3% target share, tied for fourth on his own team. The matchup is promising (the Giants are 23rd in target success rate allowed to receivers), but Robinson's middling share pushes him down to a priority bench.
- John Ross vs. DEN: Ross has played an average snap rate of 89.4% in his past three games with an aDOT of 15.5 yards. Denver is dead last in Passing NEP per attempt allowed on deep passes, but Ross still isn't a confident 12-team start even though the arrow is pointing up. He's a DFS tournament play.
- Courtland Sutton at CIN: Sutton has 5, 6, and 4 targets in three games without Demaryius Thomas and a 13.3-yard average depth of target on the full season. The Bengals are 25th in deep ball defense by Passing NEP per attempt if you need a reason to roll the dice. The loss of Jeff Heuerman could lead to more looks for Sutton.
- Anthony Miller at NYG: Miller's snap rate dwindled to 56.9% last week, and he has just seven targets in his past two games.
- Mohamed Sanu vs. BAL: Sanu played 81.4% of snaps last week but had just four targets, a script all too similar for Sanu this year. Against a tough but small Tavon Young, he is intriguing but not a start in shallow leagues.
- Kenny Stills vs. BUF: Stills plays a boatload of snaps (95.6% and 96.2% the past two weeks) but has just 3.7 targets per to show for it on the season, and the Bills are sixth in deep-ball defense.
- Tyrell Williams at PIT: Williams played just nine snaps last week and now faces the league's third-ranked deep ball defense.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. ARI: MVS has fallen out of favor, seeing five total targets the past two games, and as a massive favorite, volume concerns make him an easy bench-first option.
- Christian Kirk at GB: Kirk has averaged 5.8 targets per game (21.3%) in four games under Byron Leftwich with spiked results: 11.7, 1.8, 15.2, and 6.1 fantasy points, not enough to start in shallow leagues.
- Danny Amendola vs. BUF: Amendola most recently played 26.4% of snaps while limited with a knee injury, and he doesn't get force-fed from Ryan Tannehill like he did from Brock Osweiler.
- DeVante Parker vs. BUF: Parker's snaps have dipped to 66.2% and 45.3% the past two games after a Week 8 surge, and he most recently had just three targets in a passing offense that spreads it around.
Start With Confidence
- Travis Kelce at OAK: The Raiders are 31st in target success rate and 32nd in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends. Kelce leads the Chiefs with 9.2 targets per game (26.7%).
- Zach Ertz vs. WSH: Washington is fourth in target success rate allowed to tight ends, but Ertz has been the TE11 or better in all but one game and has a 25.7% target share (8.7 per game) in three-post bye games.
- Rob Gronkowski vs. MIN: Gronkowski ran 27 of 31 routes last week (87.1%), in line with his early-season rates, meaning he blocked less than he had been during the middle of the year.
- George Kittle at SEA: Kittle has 22 targets over his past two games and has averaged 13.5 fantasy points in three games started by Nick Mullens. Seattle is just 23rd in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends.
- Jordan Reed at PHI: Reed has 11 and 8 targets the past two weeks for 71 and 75 yards, respectively, giving him a team-high 25.7% target share in that span. The Eagles are the top tight end defense by success rate allowed, but the target totals keep Reed toward the front half of the TE1s.
- Greg Olsen at TB: Olsen has a 15.9% target share (5.0 per game) since a Week 6 return, as well as a 20.0% red zone share. Against the Bucs' 25th-ranked tight end defense by success rate, Olsen is a viable bet for a touchdown.
- Eric Ebron at JAC: Ebron's snap rate spiked to 71.0% last week, and he ran a route on 85.0% of drop backs, highest since Week 3. With Jack Doyle on IR, Ebron is a good bet to cash in against the league's 27th-ranked tight end defense by fantasy points per target.
- Jared Cook vs. KC: Somehow the Raiders have a 19.75-point total, and Cook has -- somehow -- been the TE10 or better in three of five post-bye games. The Chiefs are 22nd in target success rate allowed to tight ends but 2nd against receivers, so he's the best bet to move the ball in Week 13.
Consider If Needed
- Trey Burton at NYG: Burton has just 37 yards on 8 targets over his past two games and has just a 13.3% target share over his past five games, tied for fourth-highest on the Bears. The Giants are a top-seven tight end defense by target success rate.
- Austin Hooper vs. BAL: Hooper has a 16.0% target share in four post-bye games (6.8 per game) and is a home underdog. Baltimore is much more beatable via tight ends than any other position and rank 17th in target success rate allowed to tight ends.
- David Njoku at HOU: Njoku's snaps aren't what they used to be (an average of 83.2% of snaps the first eight games and 68.8% the past three), and he has had just 11 targets in his past three games. Houston is 25th in fantasy points per target allowed to the position, keeping him out of a priority bench tag.
- Cameron Brate vs. CAR: Brate played 69.9% of snaps and ran a route on 72.1% of drop backs, both season highs, but he had just 4 targets to show for it. The Panthers are 29th in target success rate allowed to the position.
- Jimmy Graham vs. ARI: The Cards are 15th in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends, and Graham has played just 42.9% and 41.5% of snaps the past two games while running a route on fewer than 60.0% of drop backs in three straight.
- Kyle Rudolph at NE: Rudolph has played at least 81.1% of snaps in every game, and the Pats are 22nd in fantasy points per target allowed to the position. He hasn't hit double-digit fantasy points since Week 3.
Bench If Possible
- C.J. Uzomah vs. DEN: Uzomah has been targeted on 10 of Driskel's 36 attempts this season and has played 97.7%, 100%, and 100% of snaps the past three games, but his offense has just a 19.25-point implied team total. He's a fine punt but not an optimistic start, given the offensive expectation.
- Antonio Gates at PIT: Gates had just one target last week after seven the week prior despite running 17 routes (37.0%) in Week 11 and 19 routes (50.0%) in Week 12. The Steelers are 22nd in target success rate at the position and are more beatable inside than out.
- Ricky Seals-Jones at GB: Seals-Jones has played just 38.9% and 40.4% of snaps the past two games with five total targets in those games.