Week 13 Start’Em Sit’Em
We have now reached the planning process for Week 13. Which of course means that if you are in a league that begins the fantasy playoffs in Week 14, then this is the final week of your regular season. Or if your league begins the postseason in Week 15, you are now just two weeks away from the onset of your playoffs.
Those of you with teams that have already clinched those coveted spots in the postseason are to be congratulated for guiding your roster through the various obstacles that can suddenly arise during the regular season. But many of you are now preparing for what is essentially a playoff matchup. Because you absolutely must win in order to participate in the actual postseason for your league.
If that scenario applies to you, then planning lineups for Week 13 – which includes the recommendations of this Start’Em Sit’Em Week 13 column – should remain your unwavering focus. But for anyone who has the luxury of exploring beyond this week’s contests, it will be advantageous to also examine the matchups in Weeks 14-16, for the players that are most critical to your team’s success. Your time invested in analyzing which performers will be the recipients of both favorable and difficult matchups during those defining weeks, could eventually pave your path to a league championship.
With that advice now firmly delivered, we will shift focus to the more immediate goal of making roster decisions that are specific to Week 13. This Gridiron Experts Start’Em Sit’Em Week 13 column will assist with the process that is involved with finalizing your lineups. As it is designed to provide a strategic approach toward recommending your best starts, along with the players that should be excluded. Since you are already depending upon the performers that you selected at the onset of your drafts, along with the consistent leaders in fantasy points, this column will not confiscate your precious time by discussing them here. Unless the recommendation is that you need to sit any off those players.
Even though your team’s matchup might determine whether you are participating in the postseason, remember that the enhanced level of importance to this week’s planning process, and the various emotions that you might experience along the way, provide some of the most compelling aspects to being involved in fantasy football. Kickoffs are approaching, so let’s examine the players that are featured in this Start’em Sit’em Week 13 column. Remember to enjoy the games, and good luck to everyone in Week 13.
– Quarterback –
Philip Rivers vs. Browns
Week 13 Start’em Quarterback
During his Week 12 shredding of an overmatched Dallas defensive unit, Rivers stockpiled a season-high 434 yards and generated three touchdowns for the second time this season. In the aftermath of that impressive performance, the soon to be 36-year old has now produced the league’s seventh highest yardage total (2,948), and the eighth best YPG average (268). He has also thrown multiple touchdowns in seven different contests, including four of his five last five. Which has enabled him to construct a 20:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while building an impressive 7:1 ratio since Week 10. This assemblage of favorable numbers should combine with the appeal of his enticing Week 13, matchup to compel owners toward entrusting him in their lineups this week. As he should deliver another highly productive outing versus a Cleveland unit that has surrendered the 10th most fantasy points, and the second most touchdowns to opposing signal callers.
The Browns have yielded multiple scores to eight of the 11 starting quarterbacks that they have encountered this season. Ben Roethlisberger (2), Joe Flacco (2), Josh McCown (2), DeShaun Watson (3), Case Keenum (2), Matthew Stafford (3), and Andy Dalton in both Weeks 4 and 12 (4/2), have all connected on at least two touchdown passes. While Roethlisberger (263), Jacoby Brissett (259), Dalton (286), Keenum (288), and Stafford (249), have all registered noteworthy yardage totals. Rivers possesses the acumen and the collection of dangerous weaponry to dissect this unit for sizable yardage, and at least two touchdowns.
Also Start: Jared Goff at Cardinals, Josh McCown vs. Chiefs
Matthew Stafford at Ravens
Week 13 Sit’em Quarterback
Stafford has functioned as a reliable QB1 throughout the season, and his achievements include generating the league’s fifth-highest yardage total among quarterbacks (3.010), producing the sixth best YPG average (274), and accruing the fourth most touchdowns (21). He has also eclipsed 300 yards three times, and just missed a fourth when he amassed 299 yards in Week 11. Plus, Stafford has also generated multiple touchdowns in eight different contests, including each of his last four games. All of which builds a reasonable case for starting him regardless of the matchup, However, it is wise to also consider Baltimore’s season-long accomplishments in pass coverage. As the Ravens have consistently restricted the production of opposing quarterbacks, which should create legitimate concern for anyone who desperately needs Stafford to generate a high-quality performance.
Baltimore’s second-ranked pass defense has also yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to signal callers, while not allowing a quarterback to exceed 252 yards this season. As Andy Dalton (170), Ben Roethlisberger (216), Case Keenum (188), and Marcus Mariota (218), are among the notable quarterbacks that have manufactured only modest yardage totals. Baltimore has also permitted just two quarterbacks to generate multiple touchdowns, which has contributed to the unappealing 10:18 touchdown to interception ratio that opposing signal callers have been relegated to when contending with this unit. Anyone who starts Stafford will place themselves at risk of receiving only modest numbers this week.
Also Sit: Matt Ryan vs. Vikings, Jacoby Brissett at Jaguars
– Running Back –
Latavius Murray at Falcons
Week 13 Start’em RB
After Dalvin Cook’s promising season ended abruptly in Week 4, Jerick McKinnon initially performed with greater proficiency than Murray (Weeks 5-6), as the two fourth-year backs began operating in their ongoing timeshare. But as the season has unfurled, Murray’s production and reliability have soared in correlation with his workload. As he has been allotted double-digit rushing attempts for seven consecutive games (12/15/18/19/17/15/20) while accumulating 458 yards (65.4 YPG), and collecting five touchdowns during that span. Including four in Minnesota’s last three contests. While his role as a receiving option is minimal, his steady usage as the primary component of the Viking ground attack has also resulted in repeated opportunities near the goal line. As he now resides among the top 10 in carries inside the 20 (28), and also inside the 5 (9). Which should be particularly appealing to his owners. Those opportunities will exist once again this week, when he lines up against an Atlanta run defense that is not overly deficient, but ranks 21st and is allowing 4.4 YPC. Meanwhile, even though McKinnon has failed to reach 50 total yards in two of his last three games, the Falcons have surrendered the ninth-most receiving yards to opposing running backs (523). Which elevates him into RB3/Flex consideration for owners who are willing to undertake risk during this critical week. The favorable blend that comprises Murray’s usage makes him a safe RB2 option.
Isaiah Crowell at Chargers
Week 13 Start’em RB
After failing to exceed 44 rushing yards during Cleveland’s first four games, and averaging just 3.0 YPC during those contests, Crowell has now run for at least 60 yards in four of his last seven games. Including the season-high 95 that he assembled in Cincinnati last Sunday. It was also the second time that he has reached 90 yards since Week 10, and the fourth-year back has also averaged at least 5.6 YPC in three of the Browns’ last four contests. He has also averaged over 13 carries per game this season, leaving owners with little reason for concern regarding his workload. All of which makes Crowell an enticing RB2 option this week, when he faces a Charger defense that currently ranks dead last against the run, while allowing 133.5 YPG, and a league-worst 4.9 YPC.
Los Angeles has also yielded the sixth most fantasy points to opposing running backs, as Jay Ajayi (126 total yards), Kareem Hunt (183 total yards/1 touchdown), LeGarrette Blount (156 total yards), Marshawn Lynch (63 rushing yards), Wendell Smallwood (79 total yards/1 touchdown), Wayne Gallman (82 total yards), Orleans Darkwa (69 rushing yards), C.J. Anderson (88 total yards), James White (85 receiving yards), Corey Grant 56 (rushing yards/1 touchdown), and LeSean McCoy (126 total yards/2 touchdowns), have navigated success against the Chargers during various points of the season.
This unit is far more formidable against the pass, which should convince Hue Jackson to place even greater emphasis on Cleveland’s ground game. Providing that the game script does not include the Browns falling woefully behind. While Duke Johnson can be deployed as a flex, his touch total is less certain. But Crowell should have enough opportunities to deliver favorable output.
Also Start: Dion Lewis / Rex Burkhead at Bills, Marshawn Lynch vs. Giants
Kareem Hunt at Jets
Week 13 Sit’em RB
I have heard your frustration Kareem Hunt owners, and it has understandably been escalating for weeks. As Hunt’s production – which included a seemingly astronomical 609 rushing yards from Weeks 1-5, along with averages of 122 YPG, and 7.45 YPC – has virtually evaporated. Since Week 6, Hunt has failed to surpass 46 yards in four different games, while his YPC average has diminished to 3.15 during his last six contests.
While the fact that he has failed to score since Week 3 is equally alarming. Anyone who strictly examines his output since Week 6 without knowing the identity of the back that had manufactured those numbers, would be compelled to either downgrade or sit him. Of course, his statistical struggles are a microcosm of the comprehensive collapse of the Kansas City offense. While this is admittedly an oversimplification, much of the overall offensive erosion has resulted from opposing defenses being supremely focused on stopping Hunt and the Kansas City ground game, along with the throws that Alex Smith had been making earlier in the season, which were well within his comfort zone.
Now, Hunt is being stifled, as Smith remains incapable of overcoming this strategy, and fails to make plays. Considering the disintegration of what had been an explosive attack, along with the fact that Hunt’s 17-yard, 1,5 YPC effort in Week 12 occurred against a Buffalo defense that had entered the matchup having surrendered the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs, continuing to start him during a Week 13 matchup that you absolutely have to win is not recommended. As he will also be contending with a Jet run defense that has yielded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs since Week 7. Therefore, the belief from here is that you should sit Kareem Hunt. As a result of this overwhelming evidence to do so. This should be the case until there is a discernible sign that something will change for the better.
DeMarco Murray vs. Texans
Week 13 Sit’em RB
Anyone who owns the 29-year old Murray probably does not need a reminder that he has failed to exceed 44 rushing yards in a disturbingly large eight contests, and has exceeded 59 just once – which transpired back in September. What was already been disappointing production has actually degenerated further in recent weeks. As he has run for less than 20 yards three times in Tennessee’s last four games, including the paltry nine that he manufactured on 12 attempts (.08 YPC), against an unimposing Colt run defense in Week 12. His one-yard touchdown was not sufficient to overcome what was an otherwise discouraging outing, and this week’s arduous matchup will not provide owners with any semblance of relief. As he will be confronted by a Houston run defense that ranks seventh, is allowing 3.7 YPC, and has only yielded four touchdowns all season.
The Texans have also surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. As only two runners have surpassed 58 yards since Week 5, while Joe Mixon (36) Mike Gillislee (31), DeMarco Murray (31), Derrick Henry (7), Duke Johnson (40), Eddie Lacy (0), Thomas Rawls (-1), and Adrian Peterson (26) have all failed to surpass 40 yards. This also applies to Murray, who only manufactured 36 yards in Week 4. Adding to the growing collection of reasons for concern with Murray owners, is the 79 yards on 13 attempts (6.1 YPC), that Derrick Henry accumulated against the same Colt run defense that stifled Murray last Sunday. As he could suddenly (and finally) be entrusted with an extensive workload during this contest, since Murray’s output has been consistently underwhelming. Owners should strongly consider locating another option.
Also Sit: Jay Ajayi at Seahawks, Kenyan Drake/ Damien Williams vs. Broncos
– Wide Receiver –
Robby Anderson / Jermaine Kearse vs Chiefs
Week 13 WR Start’em
Anderson has provided his owners with a well-timed statistical surge. As the second-year receiver has erupted for 383 yards in his last four games, eclipsed 100 in two of those contests, and accrued a career-best 146 last Sunday against Carolina. He has also generated five touchdowns during that sequence of games, while also scoring in five straight. All of which has solidified his viability as a high-end WR3, with the potential to ascend to WR2 status. Kearse’s output had been vastly different heading into Week 12, as he had averaged just 29 YPG during his last four games. But he also surpassed 100 yards when facing the Panthers (105), while tying his season high of seven receptions. He can also be deployed as a WR3 when he lines up against the increasingly burnable Kansas City secondary, as the Chiefs now rank just 27th in pass defense, and have permitted 16 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers.
This unit has also surrendered the third most fantasy points to the position, as Brandin Cooks (88 yards) Alshon Jeffery (92 yards/1 touchdown), Travis Benjamin (105 yards), Terrelle Pryor (70 yards/1 touchdown), DeAndre Hopkins (52 yards/3 touchdowns), Will Fuller (57 yards/2 touchdowns), Antonio Brown (155 yards/1 touchdown), Amari Cooper (210/2 touchdowns, Terrance Williams (141), and Dez Bryant (73), have all flourished against KC’s inadequate coverage. Even the normally proficient Marcus Peters has displayed a certain degree of vulnerability, while the Chiefs’ multiple attempts to reshuffle their other cornerback components have only resulted in deficient performances. Anderson should provide his owners with excellent numbers when facing this unit, while Kearse should generate enough receptions and yardage to warrant starting him as a WR3.
Cooper Kupp at Cardinals
Week 13 WR Start’em
Kupp has rewarded the Rams for their investment of a third-round draft selection during last Aprils’ draft, while also justifying the confidence that owners placed in him during the fantasy draft process. He has been targeted at least six times in eight different contests, and has garnered at least six receptions in three consecutive games. He also collected eight of his team-high 11 targets last Sunday against New Orleans, which enabled him to establish a new career high in receptions, while also generating his first 100-yard performance (116). His steady production also places him first among all rookie receivers (46 receptions/597 receiving yards), and he should continue to operate as the Ram’s most targeted receiver while Robert Woods is sidelined with his shoulder issue. Kupp should also assemble favorable numbers this week, while running routes against an Arizona pass defense that has surrendered the eighth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. The Cardinals have been scorched for 18 touchdowns, and secondary options have habitually flourished when facing Arizona defensive backs that are not named Patrick Peterson. As the collection of slot receivers that have thrived against this unit includes Kupp, who assembled 51 yards and a touchdown versus Arizona in Week 7.
The Cardinals have also been burned by Golden Tate (107 yards), Nelson Agholor (93 yards/1 touchdown), Adam Humphries (51 yards), Doug Baldwin (95 yards), and Bruce Ellington (63 yards). The Rams can be expected to exploit this weakness, by having Jared Goff target Kupp heavily during this matchup. Allowing him to accumulate receptions and yardage, while his owners collect coveted fantasy points.
Also Start: Davante Adams vs. Buccaneers, DeSean Jackson / Adam Humphries at Packers
T.Y. Hilton at Jaguars
Week 13 WR Sit’em
Another week, another warning to eschew starting an otherwise talented wide receiver against Jacksonville’s smothering coverage. This unit continues to lead the NFL in pass defense, while allowing just 169 YPG. The Jaguars have also yielded the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, as the unyielding coverage of cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye has unfailingly diminished the production of perimeter receivers throughout the season. When Hilton moves inside to run routes from the slot, he can avoid the imposing tandem. However, he will then be contending with Aaron Colvin, whose proficiency nearly matches that of Ramsey and Bouye. In order to underscore just how unfavorable Hilton’s matchups will be regardless of where functions on the field, allow these facts to soak in: only three receivers have surpassed 59 yards all season against this secondary, and just one opposing wideout has discovered the end zone since Week 1. Hilton owners have already become far too accustomed to disappointment this season, as he has failed to exceed 30 yards in six of his last eight games. That includes his last two contests, during which he has managed a grand total of four catches for 38 yards. Even though he has also delivered two games with 175+ since Week 5, that production was generated against the vulnerable secondaries of San Francisco and Houston. This week’s output will be much closer to the paltry 27 yards that he managed against the Jaguars in Week 7.
Corey Davis / Rishard Matthews vs. Texans
Week 13 WR Sit’em
It is time for owners to cease all optimism that Marcus Mariota will suddenly resurrect what has been a highly disappointing season. As anyone who has the third-year signal caller on their rosters, is already cognizant that his burgeoning collection of unsatisfactory numbers, reside substantially below the output that many (including myself) had expected. That includes his disconcerting 9:12 touchdown to interception ratio, along with the unsightly 3:7 ratio since Week 10. Plus, arguably the most unsettling development, is that he could only manage 184 yards and one touchdown in Week 12, against an Indianapolis pass defense that entered the encounter ranked just 30th. This less than stellar review of Mariota is relevant for anyone who has been waiting for Davis to justify the belief that he can help lead teams to fantasy championships, or for anyone that owns Matthews. Who has manufactured one 100-yard game, might be hampered by his hamstring injury when he returns to Tennessee’s lineup, and will undoubtedly be hindered by both the shortcomings of Mariota, and the consistent targeting of Davis. Which has yet to yield favorable results. Once the lingering hamstring issue that sidelined Davis from Weeks 2-8 finally subsided, he was initially apportioned a sizable snap count, and has averaged 6.5 targets since his return. But that has yet to translate into meaningful production, as he has failed to attain 50 receiving yards during that four-game span, and has he not generated a touchdown.
Despite another favorable matchup this week, owners are advised not to risk believing that a long-awaited statistical surge for the Titan passing attack is imminent. Or that Matthews and Davis should be in their Week 13 lineups.
Also Sit: Corey Coleman at Chargers, Sammy Watkins at Cardinals
– Tight End –
Jared Cook vs. Giants
Week 13 TE Start’em
Cook’s recently elevated role within Oakland’s underperforming offense, combined with a favorable matchup, warranted his inclusion among the Week 12 recommendations in this column. Unfortunately, he proceeded to manufacture one catch for 12 yards, against a Denver pass defense that had surrendered the most fantasy points to the position since Week 6. However, Oakland led throughout the entire contest, which resulted in a game script that did not require his involvement. He also had an apparent touchdown overturned on replay, which would have boosted his production during an otherwise forgettable outing. Nevertheless, Cook remains an advised start this week, as he is primed to experience the ultimate dream matchup for anyone at the tight end position.
The Giants’ recurrent vulnerability during ill-fated attempts to contain opposing tight ends has been enormous. As this unit has surrendered the most fantasy points to the position, while also being burned for a league-worst 10 touchdowns. Jason Witten (59 yards/1 touchdown), Eric Ebron (42 yards/1 touchdown), Zach Ertz (55 yards/1 touchdown), Cameron Brate (80 yards/1 touchdown), O.J. Howard (63 yards/1 touchdown), Hunter Henry (42 yards/1 touchdown), Jimmy Graham (51 yards/1 touchdown), Garrett Celek (67 yards/1 touchdown), and Travis Kelce (109 yards), have all accrued yardage, or generated a touchdown when facing this burnable unit. Cook has garnered 5+ targets in each of his last five contests, and had collected 20 receptions for 326 yards since Week 7. That level of usage and output should be sustained during this matchup, as Cook can function as an unquestioned TE1. Plus, his role will expand even further with Michael Crabtree sidelined for this contest, and Amari Cooper possibly joining him.
Also Start: Evan Engram at Raiders, Hunter Henry vs. Browns
Cameron Brate / O.J. Howard at Packers
Week 13 TE Sit’em
Any of you who have rostered Brate throughout the season, reside among the minority of owners that have managed to locate a starting tight end who could deliver favorable production on a weekly basis. But while that was certainly the case when he assembled 30 receptions for 397 yards and four touchdowns during Tampa Bay’s first seven games, he has only collected one catch in each of the Buccaneers last four contests, while manufacturing a paltry 37 yards and no touchdowns during that span. Even though that statistical plunge coincides with the departure of Jameis Winston from Tampa Bay’s lineup, it has also transpired while O.J. Howard has been allotted an expanding role. The rookie has collected more targets than Brate in two consecutive games (8-5), while garnering three receptions for 52 yards during each of those contests.
While the value of both Buccaneer tight ends is currently heading in opposite directions, neither should be deployed during crucial Week 13 matchups. This will remain the case regardless of whether Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center on Sunday. As there is simply too much risk that anyone who starts either Brate or Howard will watch helplessly as the other tight end garners coveted targets and receptions. Most importantly, they will line up against a Green Bay pass defense that has consistently stifled tight ends throughout the season. Not only have the Packers yielded the fewest fantasy points, but they have allowed just one touchdown to the position, while only permitting one tight end to exceed 47 yards. There is sufficient rationale to avoid having either Buccaneer tight end in your lineups this week.
Also Sit: Tyler Kroft vs. Steelers, Charles Clay at Patriots
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