Fantasy Football: 5 Things We Learned in Week 13
Weeks like Week 13 are part of what makes the NFL so much fun. With a full 16-game slate, we got a taste of everything we could hope for.
Are you interested in one-sided blowouts? The Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs had you covered. Are you interested in a high volume of touchdowns? Just four games this week went under 40 points. Do you find yourself rooting for underdogs? The three worst teams in the league -- the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, and Cincinnati Bengals -- each won. No matter what you watch football for, you pretty much got it in spades in Week 13.
Weeks like that usually have big ramifications for fantasy football as well. Every team has had its bye-week, so we get 16 games of NFL action from here on out. That's a ton of fantasy information to process each week, and you're going to have to stay on top of it with fantasy playoffs starting as early as this week in most leagues. But don't worry -- we've got you covered. Here are five things we learned in Week 13.
Minshew-Mania Will Live Forever
If you've been watching the Jacksonville Jaguars recently, you've probably noticed that Nick Foles just can't turn that offensive engine over. Instead, he's been turning the ball on. Since resuming the starting role in Week 11, Foles has thrown two interceptions, lost two fumbles, and taken eight sacks. It wasn't shocking that the Jags decided to bench their expensive quarterback at halftime of Sunday's brutal loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Foles on the bench means Gardner Minshew is back in play for fantasy football. Head coach Doug Marrone wouldn't commit to either quarterback following the game, but it would make sense for the team to give their rookie the rest of the season as a tryout. And if Marrone is looking to keep his job -- which he could be after rumors emerged this weekend concerning his job security -- moving to Minshew makes sense.
Putting the two quarterbacks side-to-side, Minshew has averaged 7.45 adjusted yards per attempt as a rookie, compared to Foles' 6.03 mark. According to numberFire's Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) model -- which uses historical down and distance data to determine how much value a quarterback adds or subtracts from his team's expected points total -- Minshew has added 0.04 NEP per pass attempt, while Foles has actually cost the Jaguars 0.07 NEP per pass attempt. The decision to go with Minshew seems pretty clear from where we're sitting.
If the Jags do go back to Minshew, your D.J. Chark shares will probably be grateful. While Chark did have a monstrous game in Foles' return to action, he's become a frustrating fantasy option in the past couple weeks. In Week 13, all of Charks fantasy points came in the second half with Minshew at the wheel. Minshew's presence should buoy the fantasy value of each Jaguars player if he is given the starting role again.
Drew Lock is Better than Brandon Allen
Fans of the Denver Broncos have been through the wringer this season. They had to suffer through several weeks of Joe Flacco guiding the team to a 2-6 record, then had to watch Brandon Allen complete less than 50% of his pass attempts over the last few weeks as they waited for 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock to heal up. Week 13 -- Lock's debut -- was likely the most exciting event of the season for many Broncos fans out there.
Lock looked promising in his debut. He guided the Broncos to an early lead over the Los Angeles Chargers with two first-quarter touchdowns to Courtland Sutton -- who should benefit from playing on a competent offense -- then helped put the team in position to win in the last few seconds of the game. His interception wasn't a great look, as he clearly did not see Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, but overall it was a solid debut and a much-needed win for a struggling franchise.
Lock's box score numbers don't jump off the page -- he completed 18 of his 28 pass attempts for just 134 yards, plus the 2 touchdowns and interception -- but digging a little deeper, there's reason for optimism. Lock completed 3.9% more of his passes than he should have per Next Gen Stats, and his 46.45% Pass Success Rate -- a numberFire metric that measures the percentage of a quarterbacks passes that added positive NEP to their team's expected points total -- was about average for the week. He could have taken over the game too, but the Broncos really took their foot off the gas once they took the lead -- Lock attempted just nine passes in the second half.
Things are looking up in a lost season for the Broncos, and Lock can help breathe life into an offense that hasn't gotten much going in 2019. Like with Minshew and the Jaguars, a rising tide raises all ships, and Lock's presence should lift the fantasy value of each of the Broncos' offensive pieces.
The 49ers Backfield Just Got Even Murkier
The San Francisco 49ers backfield has been two things all year -- fantasy gold and difficult to project. At times, it looked like a split backfield between Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. When Coleman was injured, it looked like a Breida-led committee with Jeff Wilson vulturing goal-line carries. In the past few weeks with Brieda sidelined, Coleman led the way with a healthy sprinkling of Raheem Mostert and just a dash of Wilson. But Week 13 definitely complicated things.
In a game where Coleman struggled -- he notched just six yards on five carries --, Mostert stole the show. Kyle Shanahan gave Mostert the dominant workload, and Mostert delivered 146 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. It wasn't all just on a couple of big carries either, as he posted a solid Rushing Success Rate of 42.1%. If we isolated Week 13, Mostert would look like he convincingly stole the lead-back role from Coleman.
Even looking at it from a season-long perspective, Mostert has shown more juice than Coleman or even Breida. Mostert's season-long Rushing Success Rate of 40.22% compares favorably to Breida's 36.7% and Coleman's 31.67% -- surprisingly, Wilson leads the team with a superb 51.9% rate. And while Coleman is typically considered one of the fastest backs in the league, Breida has posted the fastest recorded speed in the league -- he hit 22.3 miles per hour in Week 5 -- and Mostert has made the weekly top 20 leaderboards on Next Gen Stats' fastest players on 5 separate plays, more than the other backs on the team.
Considering that Mostert has played third fiddle on this offense for most of the year, we can say that Mostert is consistently getting to his top speed, and that his top speed is very, very fast. There's legitimate reason for Shanahan to consider him as the team's RB1 going forward, but things will become even murkier with Breida expected to return in Week 14. Regardless of how this shakes down, Mostert is worth an add on your waiver wires this week as the most impressive running back on a stacked running back depth chart.
The Rams are Still Good. They Just Aren't Great
There have probably been thousands of pages written this season about the Los Angeles Rams' fall from grace in 2019. And they definitely have fallen off from their world-beating performance the past two seasons, but the team showed this weekend that they are still capable of being a good team in the NFL -- they're only terrible when compared to the heights we saw last season.
The Rams dominated the Arizona Cardinals in this one and held a 34-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Their defensive performance was impressive, but that's not why we're here -- we're here to talk about fantasy football, and the Rams offensive skill position players showed up in Week 13.
Starting at the top, Jared Goff broke his month-long scoreless streak, finding the end zone twice. His 424 passing yards demonstrated that he could still dice up bad defenses. The Rams have just faced a lot of tough defenses. In November, they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chicago Bears, and the Baltimore Ravens, each of whom have top-six pass defenses, according to SharpFootballStats.com. Goff has obviously struggled this year, but the Rams have put up points against plenty of teams.
The Rams receivers -- with the exception of Brandin Cooks -- had a field day in Week 13. Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee each had over 100 receiving yards, while Cooper Kupp and Higbee each caught touchdowns. Woods had an especially dominant day, catching 13 of a ridiculous 19 targets for 172 yards.
Todd Gurley showed us he can still get it done as well, racking up 19 carries and 98 yards in the win and adding another 20 yards on his only reception. Gone are the days of Gurley scoring three touchdowns and catching five or six passes per game, but he's still the workhorse on the Rams offense. His usage was a major concern at the beginning of the season, but as the weeks have worn on, the Rams have leaned on him more and more. He's a borderline weekly RB1 in fantasy from his volume alone.
The Rams have been a massive disappointment in 2019, but only because we've been comparing them to the ridiculous standard they set a season ago. They're still more than capable of putting up points and dunking on bad football teams.
Kareem Hunt is a Thorn in Nick Chubb's Side
This has to be the darkest possible timeline for anyone who drafted Nick Chubb this year in fantasy football.
Chubb started out the year as one of the most dominant workhorses in the league. Sure, he surrendered some passing-down work to the Cleveland Browns B-list running backs, but otherwise, he had one of the most bankable workloads in fantasy football. But that has been changing slowly since Kareem Hunt returned from suspension back in Week 10.
Chubb maintained his heavy volume in the first three weeks of Hunt's return, but that changed in Week 13. With Cleveland's offense struggling to establish itself, Chubb played on a season-low 59% of the team's offensive snaps and handled just 17 touches. Hunt, on the other hand, played 65% of the snaps and tallied 12 touches, including 5 receptions and a receiving touchdown.
The most frustrating part for anyone who drafted Chubb has to be that Hunt has been impressive since returning from suspension. He's averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has put up a stellar 54.2% Rushing Success Rate, not to mention that he has been heavily involved in the passing game. Hunt's impressive play should lead to increased opportunities, and those opportunities will, unfortunately, come at a cost to Chubb.
You were probably ecstatic to have Nick Chubb on your fantasy teams for the first half of the season, but Kareem Hunt's recent emergence on the Browns offense could not have come at a worse time with the fantasy playoffs already at our doorsteps. You'll still have to roll Chubb out there each week -- and he should definitely clean up these next two weeks against the Bengals and Cardinals -- but Hunt's presence caps his upside in fantasy.