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

Dec 2, 2021

This is a make-or-break week for many fantasy managers. Most of us are either vying for a first-round bye, trying to clinch a playoff berth, or aiming to stave off elimination for one more week. This is why each consecutive week moving forward will have more consequential start/sit decisions than the last. The fact that we’re still dealing with byes and a plethora of injuries to big names like Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook only serve to make these lineup choices even more difficult. Fortunately, our featured experts are here to share their insight on this week’s top spot starts and biggest disappointments. Read on below to see what the pros have to say.

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Q1. What player inside the top 40 flex rankings is likely to disappoint fantasy managers this week?

DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI) 
“Smith hasn’t seen more than six targets in a game since Oct. 24, and those targets are coming from Jalen Hurts, a below-average passer. The Eagles have gone extremely run-heavy in recent weeks, averaging just 21.8 pass attempts over their last five games. They’re likely to have the luxury of a run-friendly game script this weekend in a matchup against the 3-8 Jets. Smith is terrific, but the muted pass volume makes him a risky fantasy play.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Michael Pittman (WR – IND) 
“Pittman Jr. has now failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in three straight weeks. He has a ‘get right’ game on paper against Houston, but surprisingly, the Texans are 23rd in Points Allowed Over Average (BRoto Fantasy App) to opposing WRs on the season, so it is not as clear-cut as it may seem. The Colts are a run-first team with running back Jonathan Taylor, who we all know is playing absolutely out of his mind at the moment. If Houston fails to keep up with Indy, which is very possible, we could see a heavy dose of rushing, limiting the amount of pass attempts for Carson Wentz, and ultimately limiting the upside of his receiving options. A five or fewer target game is certainly a possibility for Pittman this weekend, who will likely need to find the end zone to not disappoint fantasy managers for the fourth straight game.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Chris Godwin (WR – TB) 
“Both Tampa Bay receivers could claim this spot, but with his higher flex ranking of 14th, Godwin is a trap. His inconsistency (seven games of 70 or fewer yards, coupled with three of 100 plus yards) throws him further into WR2 territory than WR1. It’s an enticing matchup, as Atlanta is the sixth-best matchup for receivers, but it’s just as likely that Mike Evans, rather than Godwin, will be the beneficiary. The return of tight end Rob Gronkowski (Tampa Bay’s leading receiver in Week 12) and Leonard Fournette’s four-score game showcase how effective Tampa Bay is at producing via any method.”
– Matthew McCarthy (Gridiron Ratings)

D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA) 
“It’s now been several weeks since we’ve seen Metcalf do anything noteworthy. After Seattle’s bye week, he has now finished as the WR54, the WR55, and the WR90 over the past three weeks and his situation doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. Russell Wilson does not look right and Seattle’s offense is struggling to move the ball at all on the ground, which would help open things up for the passing game. There’s always the potential that Russ figures things out and starts featuring Metcalf again, but I’ll start to believe it when I see it.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Q2. On the flip side, 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?

Josh Reynolds (WR – DET) 
“Reynolds posted career bests across the board in 2020, a season in which he saw increased playing time for the first time. His QB during his career-best season, and every other season of his career to date, was none other than his current Detroit QB Jared Goff. The connection between the two has been evident, as Reynolds stepped into an every-down role immediately upon arrival in Detroit, tying Amon-Ra St. Brown for first among WR targets over the last two weeks (nine). With D’Andre Swift likely to sit against Minnesota, Goff may be asked to throw downfield a bit more, which makes Reynolds a sneaky good play, as Minnesota ranks fifth in Points Allowed Over Average (BRoto Fantasy App) to opposing WRs. WRs have been the sweet spot for chasing fantasy points against Minnesota and that should not change this coming week, even if it is the anemic Detroit Lions offense.”
– Michael Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Curtis Samuel (WR – WAS) 
“When looking at players ranked 100 or lower, nobody stands out with more potential than Washington’s Curtis Samuel. The downgrade of value for him all along has been health, which had changed when he played 20 snaps in Week 12’s MNF win. Washington during their three-game win streak has had a massive 35 or more minutes of possession per game. The return of both Samuel and tight end Logan Thomas from injuries hopes to correct their inability to have more than one passing score in six of their last seven games.”
– Matthew McCarthy (Gridiron Ratings)

Rex Burkhead (RB – HOU) 
“Burkhead is a midrange RB3 in my rankings this week. Yes, the Texans backfield has been a fantasy swampland all year, but Burkhead has had 30 carries over his last two games, had a season-high 61% snap share in Week 12, and is a capable pass catcher. The Colts are a tricky matchup, but Burkhead should get at least 12-15 touches this week, making him a useful break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option in a week where injuries and byes are wreaking havoc with lineups.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

DeSean Jackson (WR – LV) 
“Earlier on this week on the FantasyPros Football Podcast Waiver Wire show, I talked about Jackson being a viable pickup for Week 13 against Washington. For fantasy managers that are in must-win territory, he is the perfect type of player to pick up and plug into your lineup as a flex play. With his big-play potential, Jackson has the ability to take a fantasy lineup and push it over the top. There’s the possibility that he doesn’t come through, but for lineups that are needing a win or they’re out of the playoffs, Jackson’s the perfect player to take the shot on over a low-upside option. Against Washington’s secondary, he could pop off for a big game again this week.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)


Thank you to all the experts for giving their sleeper starts and duds. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.


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