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10 Risky & Safe Starts: Week 13 (2023 Fantasy Football)

10 Risky & Safe Starts: Week 13 (2023 Fantasy Football)

Week 13’s Bye-pocalypse is here, and for many fantasy managers at this point in the year, the starting options won’t be plentiful, but where possible, we need to be making the best decisions we can for our lineups as it’s never been more important to pick up wins than at this point in the season.

These are the riskiest and safest starts ahead of Week 13.

Riskiest & Safest Starts for Week 13

Riskiest

DK Metcalf (WR – SEA) vs. Dallas Cowboys

We’re staring down the barrel of another year where DK Metcalf fails to pay off his Average Draft Position, as people chased the upside several rounds higher than Tyler Lockett, who has once again produced similarly to Metcalf. In seasons gone by, Metcalf was breaking long catches for touchdowns, but this year, Metcalf has only three touchdowns, all coming inside the red zone where he’s seen the tenth most targets leaguewide but hasn’t been able to be dominant.

The Cowboys allow the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and give up the second-fewest yards to wide receivers. Metcalf is a great player, but he’s got the deck stacked against him this weekend and has struggled to earn the right to be an every-week starter.

Garrett Wilson (WR – NYJ) vs. Atlanta Falcons

Try as Garrett Wilson might, there is only so much one pass-catcher can do when the rest of your receiver room is there because of friendships rather than merit and the quarterback room isn’t fit to be in the XFL. Wilson is averaging 63.5 yards per game, 27th among all receivers and has been over 17 PPR points in four of the last six games. However, Wilson also had a 0.9-point performance in that spell and faces a Falcons team that is good at pressuring the quarterback and taking away a team’s top option. With Tim Boyle in at quarterback, you might do your nerves some good to look elsewhere.

Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA) vs. Washington Commanders

Week after week, fantasy managers look at the Dolphins matchups and try to convince themselves that Jaylen Waddle is going to kick into gear and return to the scintillating form, and yet Waddle has delivered only two top 24 performances all season, in contrast to 2022 when he had six such performances. The Commanders have been a positive matchup for wide receivers all year, allowing the second most points to the position, but with De’Von Achane supposedly ready for his return and the ever-dominant Tyreek Hill, will there be enough points to go around?

Brian Robinson (RB – WAS) vs. Miami Dolphins

Speaking of the Commanders, with the return of Antonio Gibson for Thanksgiving, Brian Robinson’s target share evaporated down to 6.8% as the Commander faced a negative game script throughout against the Cowboys. In the two games Gibson had missed, Robinson saw target shares of 14.3% & 21.4%, helping him to his first top-10 performances since Week 2. Gibson’s involvement has been tricky to predict, but if he’s healthy, we likely continue to see less work in the passing game for Robinson, who now faces a Dolphins side allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR) vs. Cleveland Browns

This wasn’t how it was meant to be for Cooper Kupp after the Rams elected to start his season with him on injured reserve. Of course, there’s always an element of reinjuring a soft-tissue injury, but Kupp has instead dealt with other niggles and pains as well as poor quarterback play, not just from Brett Rypien, and a more run-heavy approach than in recent years under Sean McVay.

Kupp faces a Browns defense, allowing the second-fewest points to receivers, the lowest catch rate and the fewest receptions per game. Unfortunately, now Kupp is potentially doing more harm than good to your roster until we see otherwise.

Safest

Michael Pittman (WR – IND) vs. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have struggled against the pass all season, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to receivers and the second-highest catch rate (70.5%). The Titans have allowed seven different receivers to score over 19.0 PPR points, including three since Week 9. Pittman has had at least eight catches in his last four games and is seventh among all receivers with 10.1 targets per game. Gardner Minshew might be a tough watch at times, but Pittman is getting it done in PPR leagues this season and has earned confidence in him.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF) vs. Philadelphia Eagles

There were always going to be weeks where the Niners had too many mouths to feed, and it’s the kind of problem Kyle Shanahan loves to have, far more than fantasy managers do. Last week’s matchup against the Seahawks was a clear Deebo Samuel week due to the way the Niners use him against zone defense, which Seattle employs heavily.

This week, however, against an Eagles defense allowing a league-high 45.8 points to wide receivers, Aiyuk should fare better. Those 45.8 points allowed per game are 3.7 than the next nearest, and to say the Eagles have struggled in the secondary is an understatement. Nine different receivers have scored 18 or more PPR points against the Eagles, including both Gabe Davis and Stefon Diggs in Week 12. Aiyuk can get back on track in what looks like one of the games of the week.

Kyren Williams (RB – LAR) vs. Cleveland Browns

If it wasn’t for the nature of Sunday’s blowout win against the Cardinals, Kyren Williams likely would have touched the ball even more than the 22 touches he had as he strolled his way to 204 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Williams has had 20+ touches in four of his seven appearances this year and has been a top-two RB in all but two appearances.

The Browns’ run defense is no cupcake but isn’t as strong as its much-vaunted passing defense, allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to the position at the eighth-highest yards per carry (4.4). With one of the Browns’ sub-par backups in at quarterback, the game script should stay favorable enough for Williams to see large volume.

Rachaad White (RB – TB) vs. Carolina Panthers

Typically, in 2023, Rachaad White has racked up fantasy points due to his involvement in the passing game, averaging the fourth most catches per game among his position group (3.9). In Week 12, however, White put up the second-most rushing yards of his career, crossing the 100-yard barrier for the second time in two years, saving his fantasy football output as he was held to only two catches for the third time this year.

Next up for White is a Panthers defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs and giving up a league-high 1.4 running back rushing touchdowns per game, 0.3 more than the next team. If White can be a more proven player in the ground game as well as the receiving game, he could be a true superstar at the position.

A.J. Brown (WR – PHI) vs. San Francisco 49ers

After seven straight weeks inside the top 15 wide receivers, A.J. Brown has disappointed in back-to-back games, including a particularly disappointing game in Week 11, where he scored less than two PPR points. The Niners’ defense, like the Eagles, is more of an issue than it was in 2022, seeing them give up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers lining up out wide, where Brown typically lines up having an average of only 23% slot alignment. This can be the spot Brown needs to get hot again ahead of the playoffs.

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