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The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2023 Fantasy Football)

The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2023 Fantasy Football)

Wow, it’s Week 13. The twilight of the Fantasy Football season has begun. Fantasy football playoffs are on the horizon and are quickly approaching. These crunch-time weeks are the ones that can define your season.

Do you sneak into the playoffs as a final seed? Does your team crash and burn underneath the weight of injured fantasy superstars (hello, Jonathan Taylor)? The depths of your soul and your fantasy roster will be tested.

Are you ready? I hope so. The Week 13 Primer is here to illuminate the deepest, darkest corners of fantasy matchups.

SEA vs. DAL | IND vs. TEN | LAC vs. NE | DET vs. NO | ATL vs. NYJ | ARI vs. PIT | CAR vs. TB | MIA vs. WAS | DEN vs. HOU | CLE vs. LAR | SF vs. PHI | KC vs. GB | CIN vs. JAC

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Fantasy Football Primer

Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans

Pace and playcalling notes

  • With Gardner Minshew under center, Indy has ranked tenth in neutral pace and 13th in neutral rushing rate.
  • Tennessee has ranked 11th in neutral rushing rate with the fourth-slowest neutral pace with Will Levis starting.

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew: Since assuming the starting gig for the rest of the season in Week 6, Minshew has been the QB21 in fantasy points per game. Since Week 6, among 33 qualifying quarterbacks, he has ranked 25th in yards per attempt, 29th in passer rating, and 28th in CPOE. Minshew should be able to conjure up strong QB2 stats this week against a burnable Titans’ secondary. Since Week 7, Tennessee has allowed the 10th-most yards per attempt and passer rating while also giving up the third-highest CPOE. Week 13 Positional Value: QB2

Will Levis: Since Week 9, Levis has been one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in the NFL. Among 35 qualifying quarterbacks, he has ranked 24th in yards per attempt, 23rd in CPOE, and 33rd in adjusted completion rate and catchable target rate. Levis has not eclipsed 13 fantasy points in his last four starts. Tennessee should look to feed their ground game this week against an improved Colts’ pass defense. Since Week 7, Indy has allowed the 11th-fewest yards per attempt, the lowest passer rating, and the third-fewest fantasy points via passing. Week 13 Positional Value: Sit

Running Backs

Zack Moss: With the news of Jonathan Taylor‘s thumb injury, Moss resumes his previous role as Indy’s bell cow. In Weeks 2-5, he played at least 76% of the snaps weekly, averaging 24.2 touches and 129.3 total yards. Among 55 qualifying backs, Moss has been a king at tackle-breaking, ranking 18th in explosive run rate and 10th in missed tackles forced per attempt and yards after contact per attempt. Since Week 7, Tennessee has been a team that you can run the ball against, ranking 15th in rushing yards per game, 10th in explosive run rate, and 12th in yards after contact per attempt allowed. The last time that Moss tangled with Tennessee, he had 25 touches, rumbling for 195 total yards. Moss could easily see a similar workload this week. Week 13 Positional Value: RB1

Derrick Henry: Henry is the RB19 in fantasy, averaging 17.9 touches and 82.4 total yards. Tennessee continues to make questionable calls with the game plans weekly. Even in a smash matchup last week with positive game script, Henry only saw 18 carries. Henry has not managed at least 20 carries since Week 8. Among 55 qualifying backs, Henry ranks seventh in explosive run rate, 15th in missed tackles forced per attempt, and ninth in yards after contact per attempt. Indy has been a middle-of-the-road run defense in most metrics while ranking near the bottom of the league in others. Since Week 7, the Colts ranked 16th in explosive run rate and 18th in missed tackles allowed per attempt and yards after contact per attempt. They have struggled with letting rushers get into the second-level and against zone runs, which could be the coffin nail against Henry. Since Week 7, Indy has the third-lowest yards before contact per attempt and the 12th-highest yards per carry allowed to zone runs (4.43). 56.3% of Henry’s carries this season have come via zone plays. The King could be headed for his first 100-yard rushing day since Week 8. Week 13 Positional Value: RB1/2

Tyjae Spears: Spears is a handcuff only at this stage of the game. Over the last two weeks, he has averaged 43% of the snaps with 4.5 touches and 16.5 total yards per game. He remains a priority handcuff, though, ranking first in explosive run rate, second in missed tackles forced per attempt, and second in yards after contact per attempt. Week 13 Positional Value: Handcuff

Wide Receivers

Michael Pittman: With Minshew under center, Pittman has had a 28.5% target share, a 34.1% air-yard share, 2.22 YPRR, and a 37.0% first-read share. Pittman is the WR17 in fantasy and is tied for the second-most red zone targets in the NFL. Since Week 7, Tennessee has utilized zone coverage at the ninth-highest rate (75.6%). Since Week 6, with Minshew starting and Josh Downs playing at least 65% of snaps, Pittman has had a 22% target share, a 28.4% air-yard share, 1.54 YPRR, and a 29.4% first-read share against zone. Pittman should eat again this week against a Tennessee secondary that, since Week 7, has allowed the fifth-most PPR points per target to perimeter wide receivers. Pittman will run about 70% of his routes against Sean-Murphy Bunting (65.5% catch rate and 87.3 passer rating) and Kristian Fulton (72.3% catch rate and 122.5 passer rating). Week 13 Positional Value: WR1/2

Josh Downs: Since Week 6, Downs has four games in which he has managed at least 65% of the snaps played with Minshew. Since Week 7, Tennessee has utilized zone coverage at the ninth-highest rate (75.6%). In those four games against zone coverage, Downs has led the team with a 24% target share, 2.20 YPRR, a 22.9% air-yard share, and a 27.9% first-read share. Downs will run about 83% of his routes against Roger McCreary (68.8% catch rate and 83.3 passer rating). Tennessee has done a good job of holding slot receivers in check. Since Week 7, Tennessee has allowed the sixth-lowest PPR points per target to slot receivers. Week 13 Positional Value: WR3/4

DeAndre Hopkins: Since Week 9, with Levis under center, Hopkins has had a 23.6% target share, a 38.7% air-yard share, 1.93 YPRR, and a 28.6% first-read share. Sadly, these healthy market share metrics have only amounted to 48.8 receiving yards per game for Hopkins as he’s had to deal with Levis’s inaccurate target barrage. Since Week 6, Indy has ranked 17th in PPR points per target allowed to perimeter wide receivers. Two of their three receiving touchdowns allowed in this span to boundary wide receivers occurred in Week 12 against Mike Evans. Hopkins is an uninspiring WR3. Week 13 Positional Value: WR3

Treylon Burks: Burks has practiced in full in the last two practices to close the week. He has been listed as questionable (concussion). He has not been cleared from the concussion protocol. When Mike Vrabel discussed Burks’ possible availability this week, he didn’t give the young receiver a resounding pat on the back that he would be returning to a full workload this week. In the three games Burks has played at least 60% of the snaps this season, he has finished with double-digit fantasy points only once. Burks is a sit this week, even if he is active. Week 13 Positional Value: Sit

SEA vs. DAL | IND vs. TEN | LAC vs. NE | DET vs. NO | ATL vs. NYJ | ARI vs. PIT | CAR vs. TB | MIA vs. WAS | DEN vs. HOU | CLE vs. LAR | SF vs. PHI | KC vs. GB | CIN vs. JAC

Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Since Week 7, the Bolts have been 13th in neutral pace and 15th in neutral passing rate.
  • Over their last five games, New England has ranked 16th in neutral pace and passing rates.

Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert: Herbert is the QB4 in fantasy points per game. It hasn’t exactly been pretty week to week, but Herbert has still managed at least 24 fantasy points in three of his last five games. What has helped his fantasy stock has been his newfound rushing upside, with at least 47 rushing yards in each of his last two games. Herbert is fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in passer rating, and fourth in highly accurate throw rate. Since Week 7, New England has continued to struggle to stop passing attacks, ranking 13th in yards per attempt and CPOE while giving up the ninth-most passing yards per game. Herbert might not blow the roof off with a top-three performance in Week 13, but he can still post solid QB1 numbers. Week 13 Positional Value: QB1

NE QBs: It’s simple. New England doesn’t even know if any of their quarterbacks will make it through a full start these days, so there’s no way for fantasy managers to know this or trust it. Do not play a Patriots’ quarterback.

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler: Since his return in Week 6, Ekeler has averaged 17.3 touches and 78.5 total yards. Since Week 6, among 58 qualifying backs, he has ranked 42nd in explosive run rate and 46th in yards after contact per attempt. Over his last seven games played, Ekeler has surpassed 80 total yards only twice. Ekeler likely won’t reverse this concerning trend in Week 13. Since Week 7, New England has allowed the fifth-lowest explosive run rate and the third-lowest missed tackles per attempt and yards after contact per attempt. Ekeler still probably sees 15-20 touches this week, and despite the bad matchup, if he falls into the end zone, he’ll finish as a top-15 back in fantasy. Week 13 Positional Value: RB1/2

Rhamondre Stevenson: Since Week 9, Stevenson has been producing like his 2022 self. Over his last three games, Stevenson has averaged 20.7 touches and 112.7 total yards. Over that timeframe, among 44 qualifying backs, he has ranked 17th in missed tackles forced per attempt and third in yards after contact per attempt. Since Week 7, the Bolts’ run defense has fallen off the map, allowing the 12th-highest explosive run rate and the 10th-highest yards after contact per attempt. Stevenson should post borderline RB1 numbers again this week. Week 13 Positional Value: RB1/2

Ezekiel Elliott: Stevenson has shoved Elliott back into his desperation flex/handcuff-only corner since Week 9. Outside his outlier workload in Week 10, Elliott has averaged 10 touches and 41 total yards since Week 9. Hold him on your roster if you have Stevenson or flex him if you are struggling in deep leagues, but Elliott is not a must-play. In most 10-12 team leagues, he is not worth a roster spot. Week 13 Positional Value: Handcuff

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen: Allen remains the WR2 in fantasy, ranking 17th in deep targets and tenth in red zone targets. Allen has been on a tear with at least 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 106 receiving yards in his last three games. Allen has commanded a 31.8% target share, a 37.8% air-yard share, and a 41.3% first-read share while producing 2.75 YPRR. Since Week 7, New England has utilized man coverage at the highest rate in the NFL (46.4%). Against man, Allen has a 31.2% target share, 2.43 YPRR, and a 37.9% first-read share. Allen will run about 59% of his routes against Myles Bryant (84.3% catch rate and 111.9 passer rating). Allen opened the week with two DNPs (quad). He did practice on a limited basis on Friday and has been listed as questionable. I expect Allen to play his usual role this week. Week 13 Positional Value: WR1

Quentin Johnston: Since Week 7, New England has utilized man coverage at the highest rate in the NFL (46.4%). Since Week 4 against man, Johnston has had a 10.5% target share, a 14.7% air-yard share, 1.21 YPRR, and a 15.1% first-read share. Johnston is droppable at this point. Week 13 Positional Value: Droppable

Demario Douglas: Douglas has been ruled out (concussion).

Tight Ends

*There are no fantasy viable tight ends in this game.*

SEA vs. DAL | IND vs. TEN | LAC vs. NE | DET vs. NO | ATL vs. NYJ | ARI vs. PIT | CAR vs. TB | MIA vs. WAS | DEN vs. HOU | CLE vs. LAR | SF vs. PHI | KC vs. GB | CIN vs. JAC

Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Since Week 7, the Lions have ranked fifth in neutral pace and 12th in neutral rushing rate.
  • The Saints continue to sprint. Over their last five games, they have ranked sixth in neutral pace and 11th in neutral passing rate.

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: Goff is the QB13 in fantasy with five QB1 weeks on his 2023 resume, including two in his last three weeks. Goff ranks sixth in yards per attempt, eighth in passer rating, and third in adjusted completion rate. Goff should post a solid stat line this week and flirt with QB1 numbers against what has recently been a middle-of-the-road Saints pass defense. Since Week 7, they have ranked 17th in yards per attempt, 15th in CPOE, and 19th in adjusted completion rate. On Thanksgiving, everyone saw Goff get eaten alive by pressure, but the Saints won’t be able to bring the heat as Green Bay did. Since Week 7, New Orleans has generated the ninth-lowest pressure rate, along with ranking dead last in time to pressure. Week 13 Positional Value: Borderline QB1

Derek Carr: Carr could be dealing with a depleted receiver cupboard this week. Even with a full complement of weapons, he has been the QB24 in fantasy points per game this season. Carr ranks 23rd in yards per attempt, 19th in passer rating, and 22nd in adjusted completion rate. If Carr had all of his skill players healthy this week, he could make some noise. Since Week 7, Detroit has allowed the second-highest yards per attempt and passer rating while also giving up the fifth-highest CPOE and the 11th-highest adjusted completion rate. Week 13 Positional Value: QB2

Running Backs

David Montgomery: Montgomery was limited on Wednesday (foot). I’ll continue to monitor his practice reports this week, but for now, we’ll assume he’s good to go for Week 13. Since his return from injury in Week 10, he has played 27-40% of the snaps, averaging 13.7 touches and 95 total yards. During those three games, Montgomery split the red zone work down the middle with Gibbs, with each player getting 11 opportunities. Montgomery has been one of the most explosive backs in the league this season, ranking 15th in explosive run rate, third in missed tackles forced per attempt, and fourth in yards after contact per attempt. Montgomery should chew up some ground this week against a struggling New Orleans run defense. Since Week 7, they have allowed the sixth-highest explosive run rate and yards after contact per attempt while also bleeding out the second-highest yards per carry to zone runs (5.07). 53.4% of Montgomery’s runs have been on zone plays. Week 13 Positional Value: RB2

Jahmyr Gibbs: Gibbs is the RB6 in fantasy points per game, ranking 18th in snap share and 19th in weighted opportunities. He is third in targets, fourth in receptions, and 12th in receiving yards among backs. Since Montgomery’s return, he has played 56-71% of the snaps, averaging 15.3 touches and 93.4 total yards. Among 55 qualifying backs, he ranks third in explosive run rate, 11th in missed tackles forced per attempt, and 27th in yards after contact per attempt. Gibbs should also be able to take advantage of the Saints’ issues with defending zone runs. Since Week 7, they have allowed the sixth-highest explosive run rate and yards after contact per attempt while also bleeding out the second-highest yards per carry to zone runs (5.07). Since Week 10, 54.5% of Gibbs’ runs have come on zone plays. Week 13 Positional Value: RB1

Alvin Kamara: After a brief dip in snap share, Kamara has returned to playing 64-76% of the snaps over the last two weeks while averaging 17.5 touches and 97 total yards. His tackle-breaking remains a problem. Since Week 7, among 35 qualifying backs, he ranks 33rd in missed tackles forced per attempt and yards after contact per attempt. Kamara will have to rely on volume again this week as his ally against a tough matchup. Since Week 7, the Lions have contained backs with the seventh-lowest missed tackles per attempt, the second-lowest yards after contact per attempt, and the tenth-lowest yards per carry to gap runs (since Week 7, Kamara 55.2% gap). Week 13 Positional Value: Volume-based RB2

Wide Receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown is the WR4 in fantasy with a 28.1% target share, a 33.0% air-yard share, 2.79 YPRR, and a 35.6% first-read share. St. Brown ranks tenth in red zone targets and has six looks inside the 20-yard line over his last three games. He has been the model of consistency, with at least 95 receiving yards in 70% of his games this season. St. Brown will run about 55% of his routes against Alontae Taylor (66.7% catch rate and 99.1 passer rating). Since Week 7, the Saints have allowed the 11th-most PPR points per target to slot receivers. Week 13 Positional Value: WR1

Jameson Williams: Over the last two weeks, Williams has had a 61.4% route run rate, but he has only been able to turn that into a 7.6% target share, a 25.0% air-yard share, 1.76 YPRR, and a 9.4% first-read share. Since Week 7, the Saints have allowed the fourth-lowest PPR points per target to perimeter wide receivers. Sit Williams. Week 13 Positional Value: Sit

Josh Reynolds: Since Week 11, Reynolds has had a 69.3% route run rate, a 6.3% target share, a 7.4% air-yard share, 0.43 YPRR, and a 5.7% first-read share. Reynolds is droppable. Week 13 Positional Value: Droppable

Chris OlaveOlave will play this week (concussion). He managed limited practices on Wednesday and Thursday and a full practice on Friday. Olave will crush the Lions’ secondary. Olave is the WR18 in fantasy, leading all wide receivers in deep targets while seeing six red zone looks over his last five games. Since Week 7, Detroit has had the sixth-highest rate of single-high (63.4%). Against single-high, Olave has had a 29.1% target share, 2.91 YPRR, and a 34.2% first-read share. Since Week 7, the Lions have allowed the second-highest PPR points per target to perimeter wide receivers. Week 13 Positional Value: WR1 

Rashid ShaheedShaheed has been ruled out (thigh).

A.T. Perry: Over the last two weeks, Perry has had a 77.5% route run rate due to injuries to the wide receiver room. He hasn’t done much with the snap infusion, with a 5.3% target share, a 5.9% air-yard share, 0.23 YPRR, and a 6.7% first read share. Since Week 7, the Lions have allowed the second-highest PPR points per target to perimeter wide receivers. Perry is a deep-league desperation flex only. Week 13 Positional Value: Deep league flex dart throw

Tight Ends

Sam LaPorta: Ballgame is the TE4 in fantasy, ranking 14th in deep targets and ninth in red zone targets among tight ends. After a small dry spell, he has rebounded with top-nine finishes in three of his last five games (TE4, TE9, TE3). Ballgame has five red zone targets over his last four games. Among 49 qualifying tight ends, he is eighth in target share (19.0%), ninth in YPRR (1.72), and ninth in first-read share (20.2%). The days of the Saints being a lockdown defense against tight ends are over. They have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points per game and the most receiving touchdowns per game (tied) to the position. Week 13 Positional Value: TE1

Juwan Johnson: Last week, with the Saints’ depth chart depleted of receiving options, New Orleans turned to Johnson. He had an 85% route run rate, an 18.4% target share, 1.32 YPRR, and a 20% first-read share. These are all TE1 usage numbers. Johnson was already seeing more work with five red zone targets over the last four games he played. Johnson is a plug-and-play TE1 this week against a Detroit defense that has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points per game and yards per reception to tight ends. Detroit is also tied for the most receiving touchdowns per game given up to the position. Week 13 Positional Value: TE1

Taysom Hill: Over the last two weeks, Hill has seen his playing time reduced to 30-35% of the snaps played, but that likely changes this week with the Saints running out of healthy bodies on offense. Since Week 6, he has been the TE5 in fantasy points per game, averaging nine touches and 60.8 total yards without counting on his passing production. Hill is a weekly dice roll that can pay off big time with a top-five tight-end finish. Week 13 Positional Value: TE1

SEA vs. DAL | IND vs. TEN | LAC vs. NE | DET vs. NO | ATL vs. NYJ | ARI vs. PIT | CAR vs. TB | MIA vs. WAS | DEN vs. HOU | CLE vs. LAR | SF vs. PHI | KC vs. GB | CIN vs. JAC

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