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12 Sleeper Starts & Duds: Week 13 (Fantasy Football)

Dec 3, 2020

Welcome to December, folks! If the wind games in Cleveland have reminded us of anything, it’s that weather (particularly cold and wind) is sure to have a negative impact on passing attacks for plenty of games throughout the month. That is the primary wrinkle we are used to worrying about late in the season, but as Week 12 demonstrated, the pandemic will further alter our plans and continue to cause unprecedented uncertainty. Anything can change between now and next week … and that’s on top of the fact that we already have another wacky schedule to work with for Week 13.

All in all, there are multiple factors outside of our control that will affect the stretch run of what has been arguably the most interesting and difficult fantasy season we’ve ever witnessed. The savviest fake football GMs can still overcome the adversity and blaze a path to victory, though. You can gain a crucial edge over your leaguemates by utilizing our rankings, planning ahead by viewing each team’s strength of schedule, listening to our podcast, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter to stay on top of all the latest news, and reading articles like this one. Our featured analysts are back to assist you with your start/sit decisions! Read on below to see who you could consider starting if you’re desperate or who it might be wise to fade.

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Q1. Who is a player outside of our top 100 flex rankings that is a deep sleeper start and why do you think he has upside this week?

Keke Coutee (WR – HOU) 
“Coutee doesn’t just get a bump in value this week, he gets a massive boost with Will Fuller suspended the rest of the season. The Texans were already without Randall Cobb, who is on IR with a toe injury, and Kenny Stills has been waived. That means Coutee is the No. 2 target on a team with the eighth-highest passing play percentage at 68% and tied to a franchise QB in Deshaun Watson. He’s been scarcely used this season, but has five games of at least 50 receiving yards under his belt the past two seasons and has been effective when healthy. The matchup with Indianapolis isn’t ideal, but volume alone should propel him to a borderline WR3 in PPR leagues, especially if the Texans continue their slow-starting ways and fall back into come-from-behind mode again.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

“On Monday, the bombshell dropped that Will Fuller will miss the rest of the year due to a PED violation. That opens up a lot of targets in this Houston offense and they can’t all go to Brandin Cooks. The other last guy standing here is Keke Coutee, and I expect him to get plenty of looks against the Colts in Week 13. That defense has been solid overall this year, but they’ve shown some deficiencies the last couple of weeks with key players out due to injuries and COVID-19. Watson will still throw the ball 30+ times and Coutee has some flex appeal this week and beyond.”
– Bart Wheeler (Hail to Fantasy Football)

Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN)
Dalvin Cook has proclaimed himself ‘good to go’ after suffering an ankle injury last week against the Panthers and he rightly finds himself back at the very top of the running back ranks for Week 13. But let’s not forget about his direct backup, Mattison, who could be a poor man’s Latavius Murray this week. The Vikings are 10-point home favorites against the Jaguars, who have the fourth-worst run defense in the league. Backup RBs are always interesting in projected blowouts against soft run defenses, especially when the running back in question is as talented as Mattison. With Cook banged up, it would only make sense for Minnesota to let Mattison chip in, especially if the Vikings have the game well in hand.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Zach Pascal (WR – IND) 
“Choosing deep sleepers can prove difficult because typically there are solid reasons that a player hasn’t cracked the top-100 flex rankings. That being said, I think Pascal should get some consideration as a deep dart throw. Since Week 6, he has averaged more than five targets a game, which has exceeded that of former top receiver T.Y. Hilton during that same stretch. To put the cherry on top, Pascal goes up against a very mediocre secondary in Houston that just lost a big piece of their unit in Bradley Roby.”
– Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds)

Emmanuel Sanders (WR – NO) 
“After a one-target game, you probably aren’t considering Sanders as an option, but knowing the Falcons stop the run well as well as they do, you might want to. The last time they played against the Falcons, he finished with four catches for 66 yards on just five targets and it could’ve been much more than that had his 57-yard touchdown not gotten called back due to a penalty. The Falcons have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers and have allowed 21 wide receivers to finish as top-40 options against them.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Josh Reynolds (WR – LAR) 
“Reynolds is becoming more than just a character actor in the Rams’ offense. He has 24 catches on 39 targets over his last five games, and he’s played more snaps than Cooper Kupp in each of the last three, culminating in a 98% snap share in Week 12. Through the first five weeks of the season, Reynolds ranked WR89 in fantasy scoring (half-point PPR). From Week 6 on, he ranks WR39. Reynolds’ steady role makes him a viable Week 13 option against a so-so Arizona pass defense.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Boston Scott (RB – PHI) 
“We’re going to go way down the board here, but Scott is intriguing to me heading into this week’s matchups. He has now seen his snap share and routes run numbers drastically increase over the past few games and he’s seeing the targets out of the backfield. He’s nothing more than a deep sleeper option, but if you’re in a pinch, you can plug in Scott.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Q2. On the flip side, what player inside the top 40 flex rankings is likely to disappoint fantasy owners this week?

Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS) 
“Gibson is coming off a monster Thanksgiving day with a career-high 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns. While it all fell into place for him in Week 12, that came against a reeling Cowboys team that allows the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Game script went his way and allowed Washington to keep running, but it will likely be the opposite in Week 13 against the Steelers. Not only is Washington unlikely to manage a lead throughout the game, but Pittsburgh will make a concerted effort to shut down the run as they have all year, which is why they allow the second-fewest points per game to running backs. Gibson has largely thrived off of touchdowns this year, but has only gained more than 65 total yards four times, twice against Dallas. He could very well be shut down this week and be a complete bust if he fails to reach the end zone.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

“I’m going with Antonio Gibson. Opponents have put just 17.1 points per game up on the scoreboard against the Steelers, which is not what you want to see from a low-scoring offense like Washington. That has clearly affected the running backs and their production, as the Steelers have allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game to them (17.0 per game). If you separate the stats Gibson has posted in wins (93.3 rushing yards per game) versus the stats he has in losses (38.9 rushing yards per game), it’s a monumental difference. The Steelers have allowed just one top-12 running back since the start of last year, a span of 27 games.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC) 
“Edwards-Helaire has been disappointing his fantasy managers for more than a month, and there’s not much evidence to suggest that will change in Week 13. Back in August we all imagined that CEH was going to thrive as a pass catcher in the best passing attack in the league, but he has 65 receiving yards over his last six games and hasn’t exceeded 20 receiving yards in a game since Week 5. That wouldn’t be as big a deal if the Chiefs were featuring CEH as a runner, but he’s averaged 8.8 carries a game since the acquisition of Le’Veon Bell. So much for the idea that CEH was going to provide first-round fantasy value.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Miles Sanders (RB – PHI) 
“Sanders has finished as a top-10 running back only once all season, and yet, he finds himself slotted in as the RB8 for Week 13. That is probably due in part to his unquestionable talent and a very favorable matchup with Green Bay. But it may also be due to the misperception that Sanders is a bell-cow back and that is where he could fall short for fantasy managers. Eagles coach Doug Pederson hinted a couple weeks ago that he wanted to get back to a running-back-by-committee approach, something he’s been known for in the past, and sure enough, Boston Scott has begun taking more snaps away from Sanders. Given the overall dumpster fire that is the Eagles’ offense right now, Sanders’ talent and matchup simply aren’t enough to go on if he’s only playing 60% of the snaps.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)

Michael Thomas (WR – NO) 
“The Saints have been an extremely run-heavy offense with Taysom Hill as their quarterback the last two weeks. And while I know one of those was a weird game against a Denver squad with no quarterback, the other one was against this same Atlanta team in Week 11. Michael Thomas had a solid game against the Falcons, but I don’t expect him to have a 50% target share in the rematch. If New Orleans continues to run the ball at a 65-70% clip, Thomas could easily finish outside of the top-20 WRs this week.”
– Bart Wheeler (Hail to Fantasy Football)

DeAndre Hopkins (WR – ARI) 
“I have some very real concerns about Hopkins this week. In season-long leagues, I have rostered him on many teams and it has paid off handsomely. That being said, Kyler Murray hasn’t been throwing nearly as well since his shoulder got banged up a couple weeks ago versus Seattle and Hopkins’ targets have also dropped a bit as well over the past four weeks. One also has to assume that he will see his fair share of Jalen Ramsey this week and that’s never an ideal matchup. He’s more of a WR2 this week as opposed to a WR1.”
– Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds)

Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL) 
“Elliott sits just inside of the top 40 this week and I’d be very hesitant to plug him into my lineup against Baltimore. While the matchup could look different with Brandon Williams and/or Calais Campbell out, this Dallas offensive line is going to struggle mightily. Zeke’s unlikely to have much room to run this week and he presents very little upside in this offense. He’s still a top-24 RB in my rankings, but there’s a strong possibility that he disappoints fantasy managers in Week 13.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving their sleeper starts and duds for Week 13. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.

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