Fantasy Football Recap and Takeaways: Week 13
For some unlucky players, Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Bengals will represent the season’s last contest with meaningful fantasy stakes. Week 13 posed a must-win matchup for many managers whose leagues begin the playoffs in Week 14.
Those who hitched their hopes to the Chiefs and/or Jets will likely live to see another weekend. For anyone who fell short, that’s the beauty of DFS.
Even if it’s just a consolation game, nobody needs to shut the book on the season after not securing a playoff bid. There’s too much fun remaining, so let’s run through every Week 13 game with a look ahead to the final three (or four for those who count Week 17) monumental slates.
Dallas Cowboys 38, Washington Redskins 14
- In Dallas’s first win since Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension, Alfred Morris turned 27 handoffs into 127 yards and a score against his former team. The team ran a combined 42 times. Rod Smith also submitted a rushing touchdown in one of his 10 carries. No matter who’s behind the offensive line, the Cowboys – who face the Giants and Raiders during the final two games of Elliott’s suspension – look intent on running when given the option. Morris deserves RB2 consideration for both upcoming favorable matchups.
- Dallas bounced back, but Dak Prescott stayed cold with 102 passing yards on 22 pass attempts. At least he tossed his first two passing touchdowns since Week 9. A malnourished aerial game didn’t hurt Dez Bryant, who still managed to procure 61 yards and a score. And yet the once-promising quarterback is averaging 165.7 passing yards over the last six games, three of which ended without a touchdown. A Week 14 matchup against the Giants may persuade frustrated investors to play him anyway, but no opponent can make him a must-start choice. Bryant, on the other hand, gets the green light with Janoris Jenkins out for the season.
- Josh Doctson has scored a touchdown in consecutive games, but it’s hard to get excited about the accompanying five catches for 54 yards on nine targets. He has 24 receptions this season and has yet to contribute more than four in a game. Ryan Grant, meanwhile, secured five of nine targets against Dallas for a season-high 76 yards and his fourth touchdown of the season. The only Washington wideout fantasy gamers can fully trust is Jamison Crowder, who has been targeted 49 times in the past five games.
San Francisco 49ers 15, Chicago Bears 14
- While Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t transform the 49ers into an offensive juggernaut during his first start, he prompted an immediate upgrade by going 26-of-37 for 293 yards and an interception. He also elevated his wideouts to relevancy by connecting with Marquise Goodwin (8-99) and Trent Taylor (6-92) on all 14 combined attempts. With 346 yards over the last four games, Goodwin is their undisputed No. 1 pass-catcher who deserves WR3 consideration against the Texans in Week 14. Taylor, a 5’8″ rookie taken in the fifth round, had not registered more than 47 yards in a game before Sunday. He’s no more than a deep-league add who could provide some PPR value down the stretch.
- An efficient passing game didn’t spark early dividends for Carlos Hyde, who accumulated 66 yards on 20 touches. He hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards in a game since Week 2 and has averaged 3.5 yards per run in those 10 bouts. The work has remained steady enough despite sharing a portion of his backfield duties with Matt Breida, so he’s still someone just about all investors will have to trust through the fantasy playoffs.
- San Francisco ran 73 plays to Chicago’s 36. As a result, Mitchell Trubisky threw for just 102 yards on 15 passes while Jordan Howard accrued 38 rushing yards on 13 rushes with a reception of minus-five yards. Tarik Cohen led the team in targets (four), receptions (four), and receiving yards (39). That was in a home game against the 49ers, NFL’s No. 28 defense entering the weekend. Only Howard can be started in a road tilt at Cincinnati, but he’s far more volatile than everyone would like from a late-first, early-second round selection.
New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 3
- The Patriots roster two highly valuable fantasy backs. Dion Lewis followed the first 100-yard rushing game of his career with 92 more on 15 carries. He has 544 rushing yards on 100 carries in the last eight games with double-digit handoffs in seven consecutive contests. Also given 15 touches (12 runs, three catches), Rex Burkhead stole the glory with his second straight two-touchdown game. All four scores came inside the red zone. Lock both Lewis and Burkhead into starting lineups for Week 14’s matchup against Miami.
- Tom Brady failed to register a touchdown for the first time since Week 1, but it was simply a matter of handing off in the red zone. He still went a methodical 21-of-30 for 258 yards, a slow day considering he’s averaging 302.7 passing yards per contest. The superstar should make amends next weekend versus the Dolphins, whom he burned for four touchdowns in Week 12. While Brandin Cooks drew the short straw with 17 yards, he’ll enjoy a couple more huge days before December ends.
- After tallying 65 yards and an interception on 15 passes, Tyrod Taylor was carted off the field with a knee injury. Nathan Peterman went 6-of-15 for 50 yards, but at least he didn’t throw any more picks. Zay Jones led the Bills with a whopping 22 receiving yards on two catches. With the Colts and Dolphins next in line, it’d be a horrible time for Taylor to miss any games. Even against vulnerable defenses, no Bills player besides LeSean McCoy can be started if Peterman must navigate the offense.
Miami Dolphins 35, Denver Broncos 9
- With Damien Williams unavailable, Kenyan Drake capitalized with 120 rushing yards and a 42-yard touchdown run on 23 carries. According to Pro Football Focus, he averaged 4.61 yards-after-contact per attempt. Even if Williams returns for Week 14, Drake might have earned an enhanced share of Miami’s running responsibilities. On the other hand, they will likely play with a huge deficit rather than a cushy lead against New England, so don’t expect another triple-digit outing.
- Jay Cutler‘s return could not save DeVante Parker, who duplicated Week 12’s line with one catch for five yards. As noted by the Miami Herald‘s Armando Salguero, five of the past nine throws directed his way were intercepted. The 6’3″ wideout also hasn’t established end-zone residency since Week 3. Forget the lofty preseason hype and cut him for a more productive replacement.
- Demaryius Thomas (27 yards) and Emmanuel Sanders (11 yards) once again both delivered duds. They have a combined 68 yards over the last two games with Trevor Siemian, who went 20-of-62 in losses to Oakland and Miami. Sanders is unstartable with 38 yards in the past three bouts. While Thomas remained a priority with 10 targets in Week 13, bad quarterback play has derailed his stock to WR3 territory.
Minnesota Vikings 14, Atlanta Falcons 9
- Minnesota’s passing offense has improved so much with Case Keenum that it fell short of expectations on a day in which he went 25-of-30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. While Adam Thielen had a season-low four catches with only 51 yards, Stefon Diggs‘s second 32-yard game in three weeks causes legitimate concern. Since returning from a groin injury in Week 8, he has amassed just 235 receiving yards and one touchdown in five games. For all his early-season promise, he’s now a big-play dependent receiver whom some gamers can afford to sit in Week 14’s tough matchup at Carolina. Despite his remarkably accurate arm, Keenum also isn’t a recommended start against the Panthers. Thielen is now a stud whose “bad” game is still solid.
- Matt Ryan‘s momentum halted with 173 passing yards and his first game of 2017 without a passing touchdown. Julio Jones followed his 253-yard tour de force with 24 yards, because football. (Also, Xavier Rhodes.) Matty Ice’s fantasy playoff value all depends on how one perceives the Saints, who play the Falcons twice in the next three weeks. Their defense has progressed remarkably, but not to an “avoid at all costs” level. He’s a steady option who could jump into Week 14’s top 10 if Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams sit again.
- Cleared from concussion protocol, Devonta Freeman collected 81 yards on 13 touches. Although Tevin Coleman stayed involved, he tallied just 49 yards (22 rushing, 27 receiving) on 11 touches. There appears to be little depth-chart controversy despite Coleman’s success in Freeman’s absence, so Coleman returns to flex territory while Freeman quickly regains his RB1 status.
Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Indianapolis Colts 10
- Blake Bortles has two 300-yard passing games this season. Both occurred against the Colts. Entering the game with a 58.3 completion percentage, he went an uncharacteristically effective 26-of-35 for 309 yards and two passing touchdowns. This doesn’t mean much for Week 14, as only a sadist would start him in the fantasy playoffs with Jacksonville playing Seattle. But what about when Bortles faces Houston and San Francisco in the pivotal Weeks 15 and 16? He just might be a championship streamer for a daredevil manager.
- Playing Marqise Lee presents far less danger. He grabbed seven of 10 targets for 86 yards and his third touchdown in the last five games. The Jaguars’s new No. 1 receiver is averaging 7.5 targets and 53.1 yards per game despite laying a Week 1 goose egg. He’s a fine WR3 for the final few weeks.
- Andrew Luck‘s injury could have doomed T.Y. Hilton‘s season. Instead, he has registered 791 yards and four touchdowns, all on passes of 40 yards or more from Jacoby Brissett. On the flip side of those explosive deep splashes, he has finished six games with 30 yards or fewer and no score. He’s still on pace for his fifth straight 1,000-yard campaign, but the Bills, Broncos, and Ravens put the Indianapolis wideout in grave danger of vanishing during the fantasy playoffs. A risk-adverse operator may prefer to sit him – especially in PPR leagues – for someone with a steadier range of outcomes.
Baltimore Ravens 44, Detroit Lions 20
- Throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns isn’t a major feat in 2017. Unless you’re Joe Flacco, who set a season-high in passing yards with just his third multi-touchdown game of the season. Mike Wallace led the way with 116 yards, giving him 14 catches for 220 yards and a score over the past three games. Flacco still can’t even be trusted in two-quarterback leagues when going to Pittsburgh in Week 14. Wallace is also a suboptimal choice, but keep him in mind with the Browns and Colts waiting in the ensuing two games.
- A competent passing offense allowed Baltimore to establish a ground game. Fifteen carries was all Alex Collins needed to compile 75 yards and two touchdowns, which matches his previous 2017 total earned in the previous two contests. Along with those four scores, he has received 59 touches in the past three games. He should keep getting far more than the nine carries, which he converted into 82 yards during Week 4’s meeting with Pittsburgh.
- With Ameer Abdullah out, Tion Green submitted 51 rushing yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. His first career carry went for 33 yards. Theo Riddick scored his first rushing touchdown of the season but made his biggest impact with five catches for 41 yards. Any success from a Lions running back is noteworthy, so Green validates a stash if Abdullah’s Week 14 availability comes into question. That doesn’t mean he should get tossed into starting lineups.
- After completing 24 of 29 passes on the road against an elite Ravens defense, Matthew Stafford left late in the loss with a hand injury. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, X-rays were negative, but he suffered a bruise on his throwing hand. The quarterback hasn’t missed a game since 2010, and it’s possible he can extend the streak with a more favorable Week 14 matchup against Tampa Bay. His absence would hurt Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate, who provided solid returns with 90 and 69 yards on four and eight catches, respectively.
Tennessee Titans 24, Houston Texans 13
- Despite producing a lackluster 150 passing yards, Marcus Mariota offered some fantasy utility with one touchdown apiece through the air and on the ground. Once again no Titans receiver properly filled Rishard Matthews‘s void, leading Delanie Walker to post a team-high 63 yards and a touchdown for the second straight week. Yet to fully make the most of a light schedule, Mariota can take a seat against the Cardinals before facing a tougher decision in Week 15’s tilt versus San Francisco. Another quiet Sunday from Eric Decker (3-27) and Corey Davis (2-12) means Walker is the only pass-catcher to start until Matthews returns.
- Derrick Henry‘s second 100-yard game was once again funded by one long run. By taking a 75-yard gain to the house, he suddenly transformed a subpar day into 109 yards on 11 runs. Given as many handoffs, DeMarco Murray mustered 66 rushing yards. Beware of jumping on the Henry bandwagon, as he’s still a dangerous hit-or-miss gambit unless Tennessee alters its workload allotment.
- Targeted a dozen times, Stephen Anderson accrued 79 yards and scored Houston’s only touchdown. Hey, what’s that over there? Hastily Googles “Stephen Anderson Texans.” The 24-year-old tight end, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, previously had 28 catches for 336 yards in 23 career games. After exiting the game, C.J. Fiedorowicz was diagnosed with his third concussion. Anderson could get an extended look as a much-needed complementary target to DeAndre Hopkins, so those with bench flexibility should examine Anderson in case Tom Savage – who recorded 365 passing yards, 105 more than his previous personal best – just stumbled upon a new weapon.
New York Jets 38, Kansas City Chiefs 31
- Those who benched Alex Smith after a rough patch watched him procure 366 passing yards and four touchdowns from the bench. He also broke loose for a 70-yard run. He recreated Kansas City’s early deep magic by throwing two touchdowns each – all over 20 yards – to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Hill had 211 yards in the last four games before burning the Jets for 185. If Geno Smith can have a decent day against Oakland’s secondary, so can Smith, who threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns when the AFC West foes met in Week 7. Kelce has endured the least damage from Kansas City’s slump, and Hill reminded everyone of the ceiling that makes him virtually impossible to bench.
- Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse both cleared 100 yards for the second consecutive week. This time Kearse led the way with 157 yards, and Anderson (107) went his first game without a touchdown since Week 6. Don’t forget Josh McCown in the Jets’ impressive passing game. He is now averaging 240 passing yards per game with a 67.8 completion percentage and 7.5 yards per attempt. The journeyman also punched in two rushing touchdowns, boosting his season tally to five. Despite Denver’s defensive decline, it’s still tough to justify McCown as a top-12 play at the Mile High City. Yet he’s not too far behind, and Kearse has earned starting consideration alongside Anderson with 16 catches for 261 yards and a score in the last two games.
- Imagine traveling back to October and telling someone that two quarterbacks and two Jets running backs would have a better day on the ground than Kareem Hunt. Even with McCown poaching two rushing scores, Bilal Powell still located the end zone in one of his 20 touches. Matt Forte also notched 91 total yards and a receiving touchdown. With seemingly every other notable player thriving in a shootout, Hunt posted 63 total yards on 13 touches. He still hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3. It’s gotten to the point where everyone must give serious thought to sitting the September superstar, but it’s a tough call to make against a lackluster Raiders defense. Those who benched Smith and/or Hill can attest to the risk of losing patience with a slumping player. A healthy Forte makes a serviceable PPR flex play in deeper leagues.
Green Bay Packers 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 (OT)
- Nobody was happier to see Jameis Winston than Cameron Brate. With the quarterback sidelined, the tight end caught three passes for 28 yards in three games. In his return, Winston found his favorite red-zone target for two touchdowns, giving the duo six touchdown connections in nine games. An afterthought while teaming up with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brate immediately returns to the TE1 discussion. While Winston finished with 270 yards, his turnover tendencies make him a borderline option during the fantasy playoffs.
- Winston’s return coincided with Doug Martin going on the shelf. Peyton Barber worked overtime during the overtime loss, leading Tampa Bay in rushing (102) and receiving (41) yards on 27 touches. An unproductive Martin averaged 17 touches per game prior to sustaining a concussion in Week 12, so the Buccaneers are one of few NFL teams who will stick with one back despite not possessing a star. A heavy workload makes Barber a must-add who holds low-end RB2 or flex appeal.
- Green Bay activated Aaron Jones after a two-week absence, but nobody would have noticed if the game did not extend beyond regulation. Jamaal Williams ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries before Jones turned his first touch into a walk-off touchdown. Williams has 353 yards and three touchdowns over the past three games, so look for him to remain Green Bay’s top rusher and an increasingly steady fantasy RB2. Yet Jones deserves to poach a few more touches against the Browns.
Los Angeles Chargers 19, Cleveland Browns 14
- The Browns didn’t waste any time easing Josh Gordon back in his highly anticipated return. Playing his first NFL game since Dec. 21, 2014, the wide receiver led the team in targets (11) and receiving yards (85). As pointed out by numberFire’s JJ Zachariason, only Odell Beckham Jr. has boasted a higher tally against the Chargers this season. It came at a great cost to Corey Coleman, who didn’t register a single catch. After seeing him produce with a bountiful workload, those who stashed Gordon now have the go-ahead to start him. The Packers are a considerably easier opponent than the Chargers.
- Keenan Allen stayed scorching hot with 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, extending his 10-100-1 streak to three games. He became the fifth receiver to join the 1,000-yard club and climbed to fourth on the reception leaderboard with 77, tying a career high. Philip Rivers has 1,029 passing yards and six touchdowns during those three tilts. The remaining schedule (Washington, Kansas City, NY Jets, and Oakland) offers no cool-down period for the sizzling duo. While Allen will eventually face some natural regression to the mean, they’re both locked in as top-10 players at their respective positions.
- Beyond each team’s top wideout, both tight ends also enjoyed big weekends. David Njoku garnered a career-high 74 yards and his first touchdown since Week 5. Hunter Henry matched a career-best seven catches for 81 yards to earn rare back-to-back gems. Njoku’s future is bright, but he’s still a touchdown-or-bust TE2. Henry is a wilder, but better boom-or-bust choice who gets another great matchup against Washington.
Oakland Raiders 24, New York Giants 17
- As the first quarterback besides Eli Manning to start for the Giants in 13 years, Geno Smith went 21-of-34 for 212 yards. He was competent enough to feed Evan Engram for seven catches, 99 yards, and a touchdown. In his first game since Week 10, Sterling Shepard did most of the work on a 47-yard catch and run. After bouncing back from two rough games, Engram solidified his spot as a top-10 tight end. Shepard was burgeoning into a high-upside WR2 with Manning, but he instead will have to settle for dicey WR3 standing. Keep in mind that Davis Webb should eventually get an audition before the season ends. That will derail Engram and Shepard even more.
- Without Michael Crabtree (suspension) and Amari Cooper (concussion), Derek Carr still compiled 287 yards and a touchdown. Buoyed by a 59-yard play, Cordarrelle Patterson topped the Raiders receivers with 97 yards. Seth Roberts led the team with five catches, and Johnny Holton received a team-high seven targets. That’s all to say nobody emerged as a temporary alpha. Crabtree’s suspension was reduced from two games to one, so he’ll return to face the imploding Chiefs. Cooper’s investors would certainly appreciate a Week 14 comeback, as he snapped out of a slump with 210 yards and two touchdowns in their previous meeting. Carr, who had 417 yards and three touchdowns in their Week 7 Thursday-night shootout, is a strong start even if Cooper needs another week to recuperate.
- Marshawn Lynch continued to look more like vintage Beast Mode with his first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 22, 2015. A 51-yard run nearly doubled his prior season-high gain of 26. Perhaps the early pitch count has helped the unretired runner stay fresh. He has 371 yards and four touchdowns in the last four games. Another great matchup against Kansas City makes him a top-12 running back to open the fantasy playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams 32, Arizona Cardinals 16
- Sammy Watkins scored his fourth touchdown in five games, but it came with three catches and 38 yards. Thirteen receptions for 264 yards in those five contests doesn’t quite support sustained end-zone success. The Rams are also hoping to get Robert Woods back for Week 14’s marquee NFC showdown against the Eagles. His return would make Watkins even more dependent on touchdowns to deliver any return on investment. With 400 yards in the last six games, Cooper Kupp is a better option with or without – but more of a PPR WR3 or flex with – Woods. Then again, Todd Gurley could just lead the team in receiving yards again.
- With Adrian Peterson sidelined by a neck injury, Kerwynn Williams recorded 97 yards on 16 carries. He likely would have received an even bigger role if the Cardinals did not trail 16-0 after the first quarter. The last time they offered him double-digit carries, he wielded 60 yards and a touchdown on New Year’s Day against the Rams. That said, he’ll probably fall by the wayside once Peterson returns, so he’s more of a low-end handcuff or Week 14 contingency plan.
- Little else is working for Arizona, so let’s take another moment to appreciate Larry Fitzgerald. The 34-year-old caught all 10 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown, giving him an NFL-high 82 receptions – Antonio Brown (80) will likely reclaim the lead if he plays on Monday night – for 878 yards and five touchdowns. He has played the last five games with Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. Don’t expect him to slow down with Tennessee, Washington, and the NY Giants on the schedule. Let’s hope he sticks around another year so shrewd drafters can keep stealing a star receiver at a confusingly cheap draft price.
New Orleans Saints 31, Carolina Panthers 21
- Alvin Kamara: still a stud. He added 126 more yards and two touchdowns to his stellar rookie campaign. He now has 903 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games since New Orleans traded Peterson. What running back would fantasy gamers rather roster for the rest of the season. Maybe Gurley? Maybe Le’Veon Bell? By the way, Mark Ingram also offered 122 yards and a score.
- Having once again lost Greg Olsen, Cam Newton went with a heavy dose of Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey, who each secured one of his two passing touchdowns. Funchess hasn’t received fewer than six targets in a game since Week 1, and McCaffrey maintained a narrow edge over Kamara for the most catches (64) among all running backs. The rookie running back has unfortunately reverted to a rushing non-factor with 18 carries in three games after getting a misleading 15 in Week 9. McCaffrey and Funchess should nevertheless remain trusted in a tough Week 14 spot against Minnesota. Newton is benchable, but he should produce workable return with help from his legs.
- Remember wondering if Willie Snead would rise to stardom in 2017? He recorded 31 yards against Carolina. That almost doubled his season output, which skyrocketed to 63. The 25-year-old has five catches all season, a mark he hit or cleared in eight games last year. Sean Payton must have locked him in the doghouse and lost the key after Snead got slapped with a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. And no, 31 yards does not signify major progress even though it decimated his other season rates.
Seattle Seahawks 24, Philadelphia Eagles 10
- So, about last week’s claim that no Seahawks running back is going to deliver any fantasy production. Mike Davis filed a dispute in the form of 101 total yards (64 rushing, 37 receiving) on 20 touches. J.D. McKissic scored his first touchdown since stringing together two in his NFL debut. Davis, who missed Week 12’s game with a groin injury, has commanded primary backfield duties aptly enough to garner a high-priority waiver claim and flex consideration against a Jaguars defense that will force the Seahawks to run more than usual.
- Carson Wentz turned around a sluggish start with two highlight passes to Nelson Agholor – the second of which went for a 27-yard touchdown – on the same drive. A laborious night on the road ended up with Wentz wielding 314 passing yards, but he failed to throw two or more touchdowns for the first time since Week 4. Then again, he hadn’t surpassed 300 yards since Week 5, so investors should embrace the trade-off since he was bound to face touchdown regression eventually. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, extended his multi-touchdown streak to seven games with three scores through the air. Wentz faces the Rams on the road and Wilson travels to Jacksonville, but no matchup could banish either to the bench.
- Zach Ertz left the game with a possible head injury. While Trey Burton visited the end zone when Ertz last missed a game, Brent Celek matched his four targets. They’re capable replacements for the Eagles, but not reputable fantasy alternatives. Perhaps that could portend more opportunities for Jay Ajayi, who produced 46 yards in his most touches (12) since joining the team. Maybe they would have given him more work if not for playing from behind, but he’s too risky to trust with so much on the line.