Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 13
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Derrick Henry was the RB1 in all of fantasy in half-PPR formats in 2020, but Henry himself only had three weeks as the top fantasy scorer. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may lead the league in fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Sa(quon) It Ain't So: Barkley Returns to the Top-10 Scorers at Running Back
As fantasy football tends to work, the three best current running backs from the approximate first round in your fantasy draft were the three most controversial picks.
Barkley returned to an 86.2% snap rate and ran 71.0% of the Giants' pass routes on Sunday. He turned that into 13 carries and 5 targets. Saquon has quietly one of the best workloads of a running back in a landscape increasingly filled with injuries, committees, and other general production problems.
While his health is always a concern, this might be the final window to buy Barkley in fantasy if you so choose to. Barkley gets a workable matchup with the Dolphins this weekend before a slam-dunk spot with the Chargers next.
Miami's defense is allowing 0.01 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry to opposing ball carriers, which is just the 17th-most in the league.
2. Carr in Motion: Derek Posts 300 Yards Passing Again
Carr surprised everyone with 373 yards passing on Thanksgiving in Dallas -- his sixth game with at least 300 yards passing this season. Once seen as a low average depth of target (aDOT) quarterback without upside, Carr has eclipsed 20 fantasy points each week he's dialed up that passing volume.
His largest concern was the impact of losing Henry Ruggs. Now, with DeSean Jackson in a similar role, the Raiders' offense appears to be rejuvenated, and they get a pristine matchup with Washington this week.
The dysfunctional effort on Monday by Seattle aside, the Football Team has been horrible against opposing passing offenses. Washington's 0.28 Passing NEP per drop back to opponents is the second-worst mark in the league to Detroit.
For those paying close attention, this isn't very bold. Carr is projected for 294.6 yards as a median by numberFire's model. However, Carr's lack of mobility and general concerns around the Raiders' offense -- now without Darren Waller -- may scare folks off the top streaming option of the week.
3. Not Quite a "Deadbolt": Mike Williams Eclipses 15 Fantasy Points
If your trade deadline hasn't passed, I would attempt to get Mike Williams for any collection of bench fodder if possible.
Williams has been poor since Week 5. He's eclipsed six half-PPR points just once in his last six games, and fantasy managers are likely frustrated after another dud in a decent spot against Denver.
There's really no guessing as to why Williams' production tailed off. The team reported a knee injury after Week 5, and it wasn't until after the bye week that Williams has returned to practicing in full without limitations. It clearly bothered him.
Now, Williams' peripherals have returned to his pre-Week 5 marks -- even with the dud Sunday. In that game, Williams saw a team-high 87.5% snap share for a pass catcher, and he saw 8 targets; that tied with Austin Ekeler for second on the team.
Justin Herbert had an up-and-down day that wasn't stellar for the entire offense, but Williams' peripherals are back. That could be a sign his 20.1 half-PPR fantasy points per game average could return soon behind it.
The 50.5-point total in Los Angeles' game with Cincinnati is tied for the highest of the week, so in a tremendous fantasy environment, fire up Williams with moderate confidence despite the bad results.
4. Down With the Gesickness: The Dolphins' Tight End Posts a TE1 Week
It's tough to pinpoint why Mike Gesicki has had such a miserable run of production in a Dolphins' pass-catching room devoid of many talents. Jaylen Waddle's breakout in Week 12 was noted, but Gesicki should still be relevant at a position as bad as tight end.
Considering Miami uses four different tight ends including Gesicki, his snaps were the first concerns. Durham Smythe actually did see 7 more snaps than Gesicki, but he amazingly ran 11 fewer routes than Gesicki with the extra work. Gesicki's 27 routes were the most of any Dolphins' pass catcher.
Smythe is just a blocker, and Gesicki is more than viable considering Miami likely will not get to stick to the 46% pass rate they had in Week 12's blowout of the hapless Panthers. In fact, Miami's 63% pass rate overall this season is the sixth-highest in the league. As a result, he's still seen at least six targets in three of his last four games.
Assuming the aforementioned Saquon Barkley and the Giants can put up some points, Gesicki should be the second option in a frequently-used passing game again behind Waddle. He may have even been dropped because of his recent poor production, but he shouldn't have been.
Gesicki is comfortably a TE1 prospect this week with some yardage upside in an average matchup with the Giants.
5. Fjord Field: The Vikings Defense Dominates in Detroit to a Top-5 D/ST Effort
It's difficult to see the Lions' path to points in Week 13.
Detroit already has the league's third-worst offense in terms of points per game (15.8), and they'll likely be missing D'Andre Swift as they did for much of Week 12. That resulted in just 14 points against Chicago, and an arguably better Vikings defense enters Ford Field this Sunday.
The Minnesota defense likely isn't well-respected. They're allowing the 13th-most Adjusted Defensive NEP per play (0.10) in numberFire's metrics. That can still be a workable defense to stream on a given week regardless of context, but the Vikings' nightmarish schedule is finally softening.
The Vikes have played the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Packers, and 49ers in their last five games. All but Baltimore (21st) rank inside the top-10 spots in numberFire's Adjusted NEP per play metric. The Lions (-0.05) are second-worst in that category.
Even despite the schedule, the Minnesota D/ST has been scoring points. They have at least 2 sacks in every game this season, and they have 14 takeaways in 11 games.
Minnesota is not only worth a stream this week, but their next two opponents are the immobile Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh on a short week, and then they get Chicago the following week. They can have staying power on your roster if you're making a playoff push.