Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 13

Justin Herbert has been excellent over the past three weeks and has a soft schedule the rest of the way. Who else is stepping up in time for the fantasy playoffs?

Perhaps more than anything, fantasy football is a game of adjustments. Season-long fantasy doesn't end at the draft, and smart managers learn to take the trends and data that each week of games offers and apply it to their roster decisions moving forward.

This weekly piece will look at trends from the previous slate of games and determine which trends in snaps, usage, and matchups are actionable moving forward. Let's dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from Week 13.

Justin Herbert Has Been Historic

Sometimes you can find players who are on hot streaks, and sometimes you get players like Justin Herbert who are just playing out of their minds. In the midst of likely the hottest stretches of his career, Herbert is absolutely torching the league right now.

In each of his last three games, Herbert has at least 35 attempts, 300 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and a 63% completion percentage. Only four players since 1950 have had longer streaks than Herbert. Their names are Drew Brees, Joe Montana, Patrick Mahomes, and Philip Rivers. That's the kind of rarified air we are dealing with here for Herbert.

In fact, he has at least 22 fantasy points in four of his last five games, with one dud against the Minnesota Vikings thrown in there. His ranks among quarterbacks the last three weeks have been QB2 in Week 11, QB9 in Week 12, and QB3 in Week 13.

As long as the Los Angeles Chargers keep up with the aggressive offensive game plan in the coming weeks, there is no reason to think Herbert will slow down anytime soon. The Chargers have called pass 66.5% of the time the past three weeks, the fifth-most in the NFL. Their next three opponents are against the Giants, Chiefs, and Texans, none of which inspire fear or hesitation for anyone with Herbert on their roster.

If you were lucky enough to get Herbert in the seventh or eighth round this year, you just sit back and enjoy the ride to a top-five finish among quarterbacks this year.

David Montgomery Back to Being a Bell Cow

When David Montgomery returned from injury in Week 9, it looked as though the Chicago Bears might be easing him back into the game plan after missing a month. In Week 9, Montgomery only touched the ball 15 times with 13 via rush and 2 receptions. Then came the Week 10 bye and only 15 touches again in Week 11.

But in the last two weeks, the bell cow role for Montgomery roared back with 20 touches in Week 12 and an astounding 28 touches in Week 13.

Not only did Montgomery rush the ball 21 times on Sunday, but he led the team with 9 targets and 8 receptions, good for 141 total yards and a score. Montgomery finished the week as RB3 in half-PPR formats and is now firmly entrenched in back in the lead role. But what's interesting about the usage is that there actually could be more coming.

In Week 13, Montgomery played on 70% of the Bears' offensive snaps. That pales in comparison to the 85.2% of snaps he played in his last five full games and suggests an even bigger role could be on the horizon. With Andy Dalton likely locked into quarterback for another week or two, Montgomery frankly has a quarterback better able to get him the ball and someone who defensive backs have to respect in the secondary.

With fantasy playoffs coming against the Vikings, Seahawks, and Giants, Montgomery is back to full speed at just the right time to be a league-winning back for fantasy managers.

Russell Gage is Stepping Up

The first few weeks after Calvin Ridley went on in the inactive list, there was hope that Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage would step up into major roles in the Atlanta Falcons' passing attack considering the 120-plus target pace that Ridley left behind.

We are still waiting for Pitts to take the leap into the elite level many thought he would be in, but the past three weeks have been a revelation for Gage. In that timeframe, he ranks ninth in target share, eighth in targets, and fifth in receptions among all wide receivers.

All this production has come in spite of the performance of Matt Ryan. Ryan has only thrown for an average of 213.0 receiving yards and 22.7 completion in those three games, with a completion percentage below 70%. Ryan also has a 1:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, with the one score going to Gage.

Gage has at least seven targets in four of his last five games and has been able to sustain a top-15 WR rank the past two weeks despite the relatively low passing volume. With two of his next three games against the 49ers and Lions, who are both bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and wide receivers, Gage could have an opportunity to help propel his managers deep into the fantasy playoffs.

His Week 17 matchup against the Buffalo Bills looks daunting, but you can worry about the championship game when you get there. For many fantasy managers, Gage was (and still is) a player who could be found on the waiver wire scrap heap. He is still un-rostered in 65% of Yahoo leagues before waivers run tonight, so it's worth checking your league to see if you can put in a bid or a claim.