Skip to main content

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (Week 13)

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (Week 13)

News of Jonathan Taylor‘s thumb injury was a gut punch to his fantasy investors.

The poor souls who drafted Taylor had already endured a four-game IR stint at the start of the season, not to mention a pair of reconditioning games in Weeks 5-6 in which Taylor had a combined 14 carries.

But Taylor had been on a roll of late. He scored five touchdowns over his last five games and had been RB7 in fantasy points per game since Week 7.

When Taylor stakeholders woke up on Tuesday morning, they had every reason to be cheery. They had one of the NFL’s best running backs on their roster heading into the most important games of the fantasy season. Their coffee probably seemed extra tasty that morning.

Then, the news: Taylor was dealing with a thumb injury that could keep him out of multiple games. I first heard about it on the car radio as I was pulling into a Chipotle parking lot to grab lunch, and I almost drove into the building. I’m a Taylor investor myself. I did not take the news well.

Injuries are an unpleasant reality in the NFL, and they are a source or torment for fantasy managers throughout the season. But injuries this time of year are especially vexing.

The endgame is nigh. The regular season is almost over in fantasy leagues, and we’re only about a month away from the awarding of trophies and winner’s checks. To lose an important contributor at this late date is soul-crushing.

The blow of the Taylor news was cushioned for those who had managed to roster Zack Moss, Taylor’s backup and fantasy handcuff. There are different schools of thought on the merits of handcuffing your top running backs. Some think it’s a must. Some think that dedicating two roster spots to the RB position on a single team reduces your chances of finding a surprise gem at the position. But there’s broad consensus that it’s wise to handcuff high-value RBs this late in the season to mitigate the damage from injuries such as Taylor’s. Thing is, that’s not always possible. Other managers recognize that some backup RBs could become immensely valuable if the starter were to get hurt, so they want to roster those players, too.

The reality is that injuries are often zero-sum events in fantasy football. One fantasy manager suffers, but one or more other managers benefit. Take Tank Dell as an example. Dell missed practice on Wednesday with a reported calf injury. That news undoubtedly spiked the blood pressure of his investors, but Dell was back at practice Thursday and is expected to play in Week 13. Had Dell missed a game or two, however, there would have been a residual benefit to the people rostering Nico Collins and other Houston pass catchers, because Dell’s targets would have to go somewhere.

Most fantasy leagues have only five weeks left in the season. The finish line is in sight. But in the short time we have left, we’re going to see injuries shift the balance of power in our leagues, strengthening some hands and weakening others. There’s not much we can do about it at this point, since most trading deadlines have passed, and waiver wires tend to be pretty sparse this late in the season.

This is a grim little essay, I know. Injuries suck, but they are an inevitable reality of fantasy football, and they are especially consequential this time of year.

Here’s hoping your luck runs pure and you’re able to escape the injury gauntlet undamaged as we navigate the final weeks of the fantasy season.

As always, feel free to use these tiered rankings as a tiebreaker for your difficult lineup decisions. Beneath the tiers, I’ll offer a few brief thoughts on some of the borderline start/sit guys and some other interesting cases.

Check out the rest of our fantasy football content partner-arrow

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Week 13 Tiers & Rankings

QUARTERBACKS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

There’s no way I’m going to try to talk you out of starting Sam Howell when the Commanders are throwing at the highest rate in the league and walking into an O.K. Corral game script against the high-scoring Dolphins. But it’s worth noting that Howell has really struggled as a passer over the last two weeks. In losses to the Giants and Cowboys in Weeks 11-12, Howell threw for a combined 556 yards, but he’s thrown four interceptions over the last two weeks and just one TD pass, and he’s averaging a mediocre 6.2 yards per attempt over that span. Howell had a rushing touchdown in each of his last two games, so his fantasy point totals were still decent. I’m not sure if Howell will right the ship against a respectable Miami defense that ranks 12th in DVOA against the pass, but Howell has more than 40 pass attempts in each of his last six games, and we can probably count on heavy pass volume in a matchup that seemingly demands it.

Russell Wilson isn’t putting up the sort of fantasy points he did during his heyday in Seattle, but he’s been a solid, consistent performer. Wilson ranks QB14 in fantasy scoring, which is impressive when you consider than he’s only 22nd in pass attempts. Russ is averaging 29 pass attempts per game and has thrown more than 35 passes in a game only once all season. But Wilson has his mojo back as a runner. He’s averaging 28 rushing yards over his last seven games, and he’s had 30 or more rushing yards in five of those games. It’s possible we’ll see Russ get a boost in passing volume this week in a matchup against C.J. Stroud and the Texans. Wilson profiles as a low-end QB1 this week.

Jordan Love has thrown multiple TD passes in three consecutive games and is QB6 in fantasy points per game over that stretch. Love has a tricky Week 13 matchup against a Kansas City defense that’s much better against the pass than the run. But with RB Aaron Jones expected to miss another game with a sprained knee, the Packers aren’t equipped to be run-heavy in their prime-time matchup with the Chiefs. I have Love ranked just out of QB1 range at QB13.

Gardner Minshew has thrown just one TD pass over his last three games, but he’s still a reasonably decent fantasy option in a week where Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields are on bye. Minshew has run a gauntlet in his seven starts as far as schedule difficulty. Four of his starts were against teams inside the top 11 in pass defense DVOA, including the No. 1-ranked Ravens and No. 2-ranked Browns. The Titans, who rank 30th in DVOA vs. the pass, will be the worst pass defense Minshew has seen all year. Tennessee is allowing a 67.9% completion rate and giving up 7.1 yards per pass attempt.

RUNNING BACKS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

I generally limit commentary in these articles to players who might present fantasy managers with start/sit dilemmas. I’m going to make an exception for Austin Ekeler, a weekly auto-start. It’s fair to wonder, though, how much longer Ekeler will maintain auto-start status. Since coming back from an ankle injury in Week 6, Ekeler is averaging 3.2 yards per carry and hasn’t run for more than 67 rushing yards in any game. Over that seven-game stretch, Ekeler is RB21 in fantasy points per game. We haven’t seen the usual burst from Ekeler, who’s actually looked slow at times. It’s possible Ekeler’s ankle is still bothering him and we’ll see a good-as-new Ekeler in 2024. But it’s also possible that 1,374 career touches (playoffs included) have taken a toll on a 28-year-old running back who’s generously listed at 200 pounds. Ekeler’s FantasyPros Expert Consensus Ranking for this week is RB6. I have him ranked RB11 for a neutral matchup against the Patriots, and even that feels generous. Yes, you’re starting him this week and probably for as long as your team is still alive. But I’m concerned that he won’t provide typical Austin Ekeler fantasy goodness down the stretch, and I worry about his longer-term outlook. I won’t have Ekeler on any of my teams in 2024.

Remember how anemic the Pittsburgh running game was early in the season? Over their first seven games, the Steelers averaged 79.7 rushing yards. Over their last four games, they’ve averaged 174.0 rushing yards. During that fruitful stretch, Jaylen Warren has been RB5 in fantasy scoring, and Najee Harris has been RB12. Yes, this is a split backfield, but you can feel good about starting either Pittsburgh running back in a favorable matchup against a soft Arizona defense that was mauled by Rams RB Kyren Williams last week.

Joe Mixon investors are probably feeling panicky after Mixon had a season-low eight carries and produced 60 yards from scrimmage in the Bengals’ first game without Joe Burrow at quarterback. Yes, Mixon’s ceiling is lower and his TD potential diminished without Burrow in the lineup. But Mixon ranks sixth in the league in carries, and last week was the first time all year that he didn’t get double-digit carries. He also has 33 catches on the season, and last week’s 44 receiving yards were a season high. It’s possible Mixon’s usage in the passing game increases, since Jake Browning is probably more likely to check down to his running back than Burrow was. And Burrow’s absence incentivizes the Bengals to keep Mixon heavily involved.

Devin Singletary is an interesting case this week. Singletary out-snapped Dameon Pierce 49-11 in Week 12, and Singletary has had a snap share of 75% or higher in each of his last four games. He’s RB6 in fantasy scoring over that span. Singletary has a favorable Week 13 matchup against a leaky Denver run defense. But there are a few reasons I’m reluctant to give Singletary a ringing endorsement. It’s possible the Texans will get Pierce more involved. Last week, in his first game back from an ankle injury, Pierce had an 18% snap share. He had logged a snap share of 33% or higher in every other game, and in most games his snap share hovered around 50%. It’s also possible that the Texans choose Pierce over Singletary for goal-line carries, since Pierce is 5-10 and 218 pounds, and Singletary is 5-7, 203 pounds. Also, Singletary hasn’t been all that busy as a pass catcher. He had a season-high seven targets last week, but he hadn’t drawn more than two targets in any other game all season. In a six-team bye week, you’re probably starting Singletary this week if he’s on your roster, but I’m not sure he’ll give you another smash game.

A big part of James Connor’s appeal during fantasy draft season was the promise of workhorse usage. Sure, the Arizona offense was probably going to be terrible, but Connor would get a lot of touches. Well, the Cardinals have been surprisingly competent on offense, but Conner’s usage hasn’t been as generous as expected. The last time Conner had more than 16 touches in a game was Week 2. Last week, Conner played only three more snaps than the recently acquired Michael Carter, and Emari Demercado played 14 snaps in his first game back from a toe injury. It’s possible the Cardinals were just sparing Conner unnecessary wear and tear in a game that turned into a 37-14 blowout loss to the Rams. But it’s also possible this is turning into a committee, in which case Conner will be a borderline fantasy starter in the weeks to come.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Tier 7

Enthusiasm for Rashee Rice is running high after the Chiefs rookie had a season-high eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders last week. Rice is electric with the ball in his hands and has a bright NFL future, but he’s still a somewhat unstable fantasy asset. The breakout game against Las Vegas was the first time all season that Rice has drawn more than seven targets in a game, and his average depth of target is just 4.9 yards. Rice’s snap share has been below 70% in every Chiefs game this season. You’re probably starting Rice in a six-team bye week, but he doesn’t crack my top 25 at the position this week.

Josh Downs has been dealing with a knee injury, but it seems safe to start him after he had a season-high 13 targets last week against the Buccaneers. Downs only caught five of those targets for 43 yards, but that’s the sort of high-volume usage we’re looking for with Downs, and now he gets a nice matchup against the Titans, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Since Diontae Johnson came back from injury in Week 7, George Pickens has averaged 5.5 targets and 44.8 receiving yards per game. Pickens has had six or fewer targets in each of his last five games. And now it’s not just Diontae Johnson diverting targets away from Pickens. TE Pat Freiermuth returned from a hamstring injury last week and had a team-high 11 targets. Pickens’ matchup against Arizona is a good one, but we’re once again seeing the primary problem with Pickens as a fantasy asset: his inability to command targets when all of the Steelers’ other pass catchers are healthy. I have Pickens ranked as a low-end WR3.

Everyone got excited about Jahan Dotson when he had 12 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 8 and 9. But it appears that Dotson’s midseason mini-breakout was directly related to the absence of fellow WR Curtis Samuel. In Week 8, Samuel left with a toe injury after 14 snaps, and Dotson put up 8-108-1 against the Eagles. Samuel was ruled out for Week 9, and Dotson had 4-69-1 vs. the Patriots. Samuel returned in Week 10, and in the three games since he’s been back, Dotson has averaged four targets and 25 receiving yards per game. The Commanders are the NFL’s pass-heaviest team, throwing on 67.8% of their offensive snaps, and their game against the Dolphins this week profiles as a potential shootout, with a Vegas total of 49.5 points — the highest total on the board for Week 13. Still, it would be hard to start Dotson with any degree of confidence.

Saints WR Rashid Shaheed has a quad injury and is unlikely to play this week. The Saints could also be without WR Chris Olave, who’s in the concussion protocol. If one or both of Olave and Shaheed are out (and with WR Michael Thomas on injured reserve), rookie A.T. Perry becomes an interesting option in deeper leagues. The 6-foot-5 Perry is a king-sized target for Saints QB Derek Carr. The rangy receiver had 2-38-1 against the Vikings in Week 10. Perry played 53 snaps against the Falcons last week but had only a single 7-yard catch on two targets. We’re likely to see Perry get a lot more targets this week if he’s suddenly Carr’s No. 1 receiver by default.

FantasyPros Mobile Apps: Dominate your NFL, MLB and NBA fantasy leagues from anywhere

TIGHT ENDS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Saints QB Derek Carr continues to struggle inside the red zone, and now the Saints have major injury problems at wide receiver, with Michael Thomas on IR and Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (quad) questionable for Week 12. Send up the Bat Signal for Taysom Hill! I think Hill will play a substantial role in the New Orleans offense this week considering all of the issues the Saints are dealing with. Hill will be facing a Detroit defense that has been very tough against the run, but Hill is a jack of all trades who can also do damage as a pass catcher and, occasionally, as a passer. Hill isn’t the only Saints tight end whose fantasy outlook looks bright for Week 13. I also have Juwan Johnson ranked inside TE1 range. With Olave and Shaheed getting hurt last week, Johnson had a season-high seven targets and finished with 4-45-0 in a loss to the Falcons. Johnson should see a half-dozen targets or more if Olave and/or Shaheed are out, and he gets a reasonably good matchup against a Detroit defense that’s only been so-so at defending TEs.

Dalton Schultz has been a solid fantasy performer for most of the season, but he might not be a safe option going forward. TE Brevin Jordan logged a season-high 43% snap share for the Texans last week, and Schultz had a season-low 48% snap share. It’s hard to fathom why the Texans would cut Schultz’s snaps to give more playing time to the perennially disappointing Jordan, but it’s a situation worth monitoring. Schultz had a single 2-yard catch last week on only two targets.

No one was expecting Pat Freiermuth to explode for a 9-120-0 stat line in his first game back from a significant hamstring injury, but it was a nice reminder that Freiermuth is still a fantasy TE1. He has a difficult matchup this week against a Cardinals defense that has allowed the eighth-fewest receptions and 10th-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but Freiermuth is still a solid fantasy option.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

More Articles

FantasyPros Football Podcast: Dream Fits & NFL Player Comparisons for 18 of the Best Draft Prospects

FantasyPros Football Podcast: Dream Fits & NFL Player Comparisons for 18 of the Best Draft Prospects

fp-headshot by FantasyPros Staff | 2 min read
5 Players Experts Avoid Drafting (2024 Fantasy Football)

5 Players Experts Avoid Drafting (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by FantasyPros Staff | 3 min read
8 Dynasty Trade Targets Before NFL Free Agency (2024 Fantasy Football)

8 Dynasty Trade Targets Before NFL Free Agency (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by Andrew Hall | 4 min read
12 Perfect NFL Draft Landing Spots (2024 Fantasy Football)

12 Perfect NFL Draft Landing Spots (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by Marco Enriquez | 6 min read

About Author

Current Article

9 min read

FantasyPros Football Podcast: Dream Fits & NFL Player Comparisons for 18 of the Best Draft Prospects

Next Up - FantasyPros Football Podcast: Dream Fits & NFL Player Comparisons for 18 of the Best Draft Prospects

Next Article   arrow-image