Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 13
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 an exciting Week 13.
D'Andre Swift is Back
After Swift suffered an ankle injury in the second week, the Lions hinted that it was significant and that Swift might be playing through the injury for quite some time. That led to Swift seeing above 41% of his team's snaps just once from Weeks 3 through 12, and he missed a couple of games in that span, as well.
In Week 13, Swift was back to a 51% snap share, and he logged 14 carries, 6 targets, and 111 total yards -- all his second-best marks of the year -- plus a touchdown. Even in a game where he was on the field just half of the game, he ended the week ranked 8th at the position in targets and tied for 10th in total opportunities. Imagine what Swift will be able to do if he starts getting the 65%-75% of offensive snaps he saw in 8 of his 13 games last season.
Fantasy managers who were able to hold onto Swift for this long were rewarded on Sunday and now are set up beautifully for the next few matchups.
Two of Swift's next three matchups are against the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers, both teams in the league's bottom half in fantasy points allowed to running backs. The other matchup with the New York Jets comes against a team that just let Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison run all over them for 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns on Sunday.
The goal-line looks for Williams are not going to go away, but it was very encouraging to see Swift lead the league with five red zone rush attempts and a short-yardage touchdown. It's a sign of positive things to come, and managers who were patient with Swift are about to be handsomely rewarded.
Allen Lazard is Lurking for the Fantasy Playoffs
Allen Lazard is taking a backseat to teammate Christian Watson, who is deservedly getting all of the fantasy hype for his eight touchdowns in his last four games. And while Watson is the next hot thing in both dynasty and redraft formats, the upcoming schedule and usage Lazard is seeing makes him a sneaky add ahead of the fantasy playoffs.
Lazard tied for the team lead with six targets on Sunday, the fourth time in his last six games he has accomplished that feat. His target share has fallen below 20% just one time since Week 3, and when the chips are down, Aaron Rodgers is frequently sending the ball toward the wideout he has come to trust over the past few years.
Most 3rd-down receptions converted for a 1st down:
1. Chris Olave (19)
T2. Amon-Ra St. Brown/Justin Jefferson (18)
4. Amari Cooper (17)
5. Travis Kelce (16)
6. Allen Lazard (15)
T7. Davante Adams, Ja'Marr Chase, Jauan Jennings, Jakobi Meyers, Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin (14)
— Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen) December 6, 2022
That's quite a list of trusted receivers to be surrounded by, and as the Green Bay Packers gear up to come out of their bye week for one last playoff push, they might just be looking to put the ball in the air more. With Aaron Jones slightly banged up, the Packers have been throwing the ball 58% of the time the last three weeks (12th in the NFL), and the schedule ahead favors the passing game and signals potential big fantasy days for Watson and Lazard.
After the bye, the Packers get the Rams, Dolphins, and Vikings. All three of those teams allow more than 20 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, and the Vikings and Rams are bottom-10 at defending the position. But looking at just recent trends, it gets even better. Just over the last three weeks, the Vikings and Rams are bottom-three in passing yards allowed per game. Their secondaries are decimated right now, and opponents are beating them through the air.
Look for Rodgers to try and take advantage of this during the fantasy playoff weeks. Christian Watson is certainly the name of the future, but in the present, we shouldn't forget how productive Lazard can be for this desperate team.
Cole Kmet Isn't Going Away
With Justin Fields back on the field in Week 13, one of 2022's breakout players, Cole Kmet, was once again at the top of almost every usage chart among tight ends. Kmet was the only tight end in the NFL to play 100% of his team's snaps on Sunday, and he was second at the position in target share (28%), beating players like Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and T.J. Hockenson. His six receptions on Sunday were also a season-high and tied for the league lead.
Cole Kmet led the Bears in routes run and targets today. He averaged 2.5 targets per game from Weeks 1 through 8, but is averaging 6 per game since then. (Remember, there's no Darnell Mooney now.)
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) December 5, 2022
The variable of no Darnell Mooney is going to help make Kmet one of the league-winning tight ends for the rest of the season. In the past five weeks, Kmet averages a 26.9% target share over the last five games, which is second only to Kyle Pitts, who has missed two of those games with injury.
The Chicago Bears have their bye in Week 14, but that should just give Fields and company a chance to heal, regroup, and be ready for the three games ahead that make up the fantasy playoffs. The Eagles and Bills in Weeks 15 and 16 are stiff tests, but the Detroit Lions await in Week 17. The Lions allow the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this year, including the second-most touchdowns allowed.
Somehow, someway, Kmet is still available in 23% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Maybe there are managers who dropped him when Fields was hurt or in advance of his bye week. If Kmet is available in your league, you have to grab him. The list of tight ends I would play above him for the remainder of the season might be just one name.