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5 Burning Questions For Week 13 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Dec 2, 2021
Alexander Mattison

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1. Just how highly should we be viewing Alexander Mattison?

It’s hard to put a limit on it. In Mattison’s previous two spot starts from 2021 he finished as the RB7 and RB6 in fantasy. Now it appears as if Dalvin Cook will miss at least the next two games while dealing with a torn labrum and dislocated shoulder. We can’t rule out the possibility of him missing additional time, either. The most encouraging aspect of Mattison’s two games sans Cook this year were the receptions. He hauled in 13-of-15 targets in Weeks 3 and 5. The catches from those two games alone equal his previous career-high.

In Week 13 Mattison draws a porous Detroit Lions defense who ranks 23rd in PFF’s run defense grade. Their D also ranks 32nd in PFF’s coverage grade, which means Minnesota should have little trouble building a lead before establishing the run with Mattison. Fire him up as a rock-solid RB1 this Sunday. The Vikings’ upcoming schedule also includes the Steelers in Week 14 and the Bears in Week 15.

2. Is Elijah Mitchell a RB1 down the stretch?

If his health cooperates then it certainly seems so. Mitchell (finger) returned in Week 12 and was given 27 carries for his second straight start. He turned them into 133 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while adding five receptions for an additional 35 yards through the air. Entering Week 13 Mitchell now ranks 15th in elusive rating and 18th in breakaway%. As PFF’s Dwain McFarland points out, the rookie doesn’t play much in long-down-and-distance or two-minute situations, but it hasn’t mattered with how hot San Francisco’s rushing attack has been.

The 49ers have won 4-of-5 to climb back into the NFC playoff picture, but it’s their schedule for the fantasy football playoffs that could turn Mitchell into a league-winning RB1. From this Sunday through Week 17 the 49ers face the Seahawks, Bengals, Falcons, Titans, and Texans. None of those opponents are shy-away matchups for Mitchell and this rushing attack. The rookie RB makes for an excellent buy-high candidate for fantasy managers looking ahead to the postseason.

3. Will Week 13 be Brandon Aiyuk Week?

Sticking with the 49ers for a moment, let’s talk about Aiyuk. The sophomore wideout was firmly in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse earlier this season, but he has since emerged (and thrived) in recent games. Aiyuk’s box score results since Week 8 are 4-45-0, 6-89-1, 3-26-0, 7-85-1, and 3-91-0. Those aren’t superstar numbers, but considering where we were at midseason they might as well be.

Now Aiyuk is set up for additional targets with Deebo Samuel possibly missing 1-2 games with a groin injury. Samuel has mostly been utilized as a rusher lately, but removing him from the offense still removes a potential target stealer. In 2020 Aiyuk played four games without Samuel. His targets counts were 10, 14, 16, and 13. Finally freed from Shanny’s wrath, fantasy managers can fire up Aiyuk as a WR2 against the Seahawks this Sunday.

4. Is the Rams’ offense going to be a problem moving forward?

The Rams returned from their Week 11 bye and lost to the Packers this past Sunday. It was reported earlier in the morning that quarterback Matthew Stafford “has elbow pain and his back is a chronic issue.” That doesn’t sound good. Through eight weeks of the season the Rams were Super Bowl favorites with a 7-1 record. Stafford was a MVP candidate during this time, ranking first in EPA per play (per Ben Baldwin’s website). Since then, LA is winless and Stafford ranks an unfathomable 34th in EPA per play, ahead of just Trevor Siemian.

What has gone wrong? It mostly seems like injuries. Not only did the team lose Robert Woods to a torn ACL, but Stafford’s issues are unlikely to go away before the year is up. It’s worth mentioning that Stafford was better in Week 12 than he was in Weeks 9-10 (finishing 17th in EPA per play against Green Bay). Perhaps the bye week helped from a rest perspective.

The issues certainly haven’t slowed down Cooper Kupp, who has just one game without seven receptions or 92 receiving yards this season. It came in Week 4 and Kupp had 13 targets. Darrell Henderson salvaged his Week 12 fantasy performance with a receiving touchdown. Odell Beckham caught a long touchdown. Tyler Higbee once again failed to produce. This offense is one to keep a close eye on against the lowly Jaguars in Week 13. My preference would be to only start Kupp and Henderson from this group.

5. Is there any value to be had from the Patriots’ backfield?

The Rhamondre Stevenson truthers won’t die. The rookie RB continues to look explosive with the ball in his hands. He rushed nine times for 46 yards in Sunday’s Week 12 win over the Titans. It was his fourth straight game averaging over five yards per carry. Damien Harris, meanwhile, hasn’t been as efficient as of late, though he remains the starter and is the one who found the end zone against Tennessee. Then there’s Brandon Bolden, who continues to play on 100% of New England’s long-down-and-distance and two-minute snaps. He’s clearly the back they trust in pass protection right now.

With both Harris and Stevenson cooking in the ground attack and Bolden handling all of the LDD/two-minute work, the Patriots’ backfield has become a dreaded three-way running back by committee. Typically for fantasy purposes we can live with two-way RBBCs. Three’s a crowd, though. On Sunday against the Titans Harris played 37% of the snaps while Stevenson was given 33% of the snaps and Bolden 32%. A nightmare. The team’s upcoming schedule through Week 16 (Bills, bye week, Colts, Bills) lacks any true smash spot. At least the Pats draw the Jaguars in Week 17 AKA championship weekend. Monitor the playing time for all three RBs against Buffalo on Monday night.

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Brendan Tuma is a featured writer at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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