Many of the usual studs were quiet in Week 13, with some big performances coming from unexpected places. Some of them are notable, and some are not. But which players are seeing their stock increase or decrease as a result? Read on to find out.
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Dynasty Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers
The rookie tight end out of Tight End U (Iowa) made the risers list early in the season, and he continues to exceed expectations at a position where that is rarely seen. It was clear in the early part of the season that LaPorta could be special. There’s no longer a “could be” attached to that statement – he is special. LaPorta led the Detroit Lions in targets on Sunday with 10, doubling up Amon-Ra St. Brown, and coasted to a team-high 149 yards on nine receptions to go with a touchdown. His 29 fantasy points are the most at the tight end position in Week 13 and the highest total of his young career. He’s my top-ranked dynasty tight end and will be the consensus number one tight end before long.
At the start of the season, Michael Pittman Jr. was being drafted as the WR28 in dynasty startups. Heading into Sunday, he was sitting at WR12 in fantasy points and delivered 105 yards and a score for 27.5 points. Pittman caught 11 of 16 targets and has now seen double-digit targets in eight of 12 games this season. And he’s tallied at least eight grabs in all but three games. Only once, in Week 4, has Pittman failed to reach double-digit fantasy points. He’s as bankable of a WR2 as they come and has obvious WR1 upside.
The Panthers gave big money to Miles Sanders in the offseason, but Hubbard has been the more effective running back this season. Hubbard seemed to move ahead of Sanders earlier this season, but Sanders garnered more carries in each of the past two weeks. This week, however, Hubbard handled 25 carries to Sanders’ eight, which is particularly notable since this was the first game after the firing of head coach Frank Reich. The usage today is likely a sign of things to come, especially after Hubbard totaled 104 rushing yards and two scores on the day.
With Jerick McKinnon on the shelf the past two weeks, Pacheco has posted 165 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, eight receptions and 47 receiving yards for 47.2 fantasy points. McKinnon will likely return soon, but Pacheco has shown he’s capable of an every-down role in McKinnon’s absence. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the only other running back to get a touch on Sunday, receiving two carries and two targets. Pacheco may keep some of his receiving work even when McKinnon returns.
For the third week in a row, Jonathan Mingo led the Panthers wide receivers in snaps. He also led the group in targets with 10, receptions with six and yards with 69. It was far from a breakout performance, but we can’t expect much with the way this passing offense is functioning. It’s a positive sign the team is making an effort to get him more involved, and he’s providing solid returns in an underwhelming offense.
The usage has remained consistent, but the production has taken a hit for Lockett. He has failed to reach 100 yards in a game this season and has topped 50 yards in just half of his games. He’s averaging just over eight points per game when he does not score a touchdown, and he’s only crossed the goal line in three games this season. With the recent uptick in usage and production from rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba, its possible Lockett’s targets begin to dwindle.
We used to hear about the rookie wall – when a rookie would wear down as the season progresses. Perhaps we should now take note of the veteran wall, which appears to be creeping up on Adam Thielen. Through the first six weeks of the season, Thielen was on a terror while averaging over 84 yards per game and 21 fantasy points per game. Thielen has averaged 40.6 yards and 9.23 points per game in the six weeks following the team’s Week 7 bye. We might be witnessing the beginning of the end for Thielen as the Panthers turn their attention to the younger players.
Miles Sanders first made the fallers list in Week 4 and it’s only gotten worse since. While his usage was solid through Week 4, Sanders has reached double-digit carries in just two of seven games since then and has not scored a touchdown or hit double-digit fantasy points. On top of the lack of production, the coaching change resulted a heavy shift towards Hubbard in the backfield on Sunday, as noted above.
To be clear, we shouldn’t panic and sell Mims. He appeared to be on the rise earlier this season but has since fallen off the radar. With splash plays in Weeks 2-4, it was fair to assume Mims would see his role grow as the season progressed. Instead, his role has been shrinking over the last few weeks. He was playing behind Brandon Johnson to start the season before Johnson landed on injured reserve, but Johnson returned to the field this week and further mitigated Mims’ role in the offense. Since Week 4, Mims has caught just seven passes for 47 yards. He’s nothing more than a stash at this point, but he will need to earn a larger role next year to have true fantasy value.