The struggle is real, folks.
The fact that I’ve been battling a small cold for a week is the epitome of what life feels like right now. The simplest things have become insurmountable mountains to climb. All this just to get up and go to work in the morning. It’s exhausting. Many fantasy managers feel my pain, though.
You just got CMC back in your lineup and are ready for a playoff push? Nope, sorry. He’s now out for the year.
Ezekiel Elliott, despite a lingering knee issue, is set for a full load on Thursday? Yeah, 47 total yards is just what the doctor ordered.
No Alvin Kamara for a 3rd straight week? Mark Ingram should be a home run plug-in, except not. Just 26 total yards. Woof.
These are just a few of the many late-season cases that fantasy managers are encountering. What we do to pivot and improve is the real hero of this story. So while you all look for the Taysom Hills and Chuba Hubbards on waivers to plug and play out of desperation, I’ll be sucking down DayQuil and cough drops so I can make it to work on time.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week. As for last week’s results, it was a much-needed bounce back. I hit on all four of my Thanksgiving Day Plays, and for the week, I hit on 10 of 17. As for the Fades, well, the inverse was true. If we’re keeping score, Dawson Knox will forever be a thorn in my side. I hit on seven of 17. But a couple of inactives left me above .500 for the week, so I’ll take it!
A quick reminder of what Play and Fade mean: Play simply means players that I love based on matchups and my expectation that they’ll finish with more points than projected. Fade indicates players that I think will underperform their projections/consensus weekly rankings. It doesn’t mean I’m outright benching them, but I’m likely not rushing to put them in any DFS lineups either. Onto the rest of Week 13!
QB Derek Carr (LV) vs. WAS – Remember when we all thought the Washington defense was arguably the best in the NFL? Preseason takes are fun, aren’t they? But here’s the real story: only twice this year has a QB not scored at least two touchdowns against them — Justin Herbert in Week 1 and Teddy Bridgewater in Week 8. In four of his six games, Derek Carr has topped 22 fantasy points (six points per passing TD scoring). That’s four top-12 performances. The addition of DeSean Jackson has revitalized the deep passing game that worked so well for Carr early in the season, and we know how great Jackson is in revenge games. (He played for WAS from 2014 to 2016.) Carr is in for a big week, even without his star TE, which is unlikely to play this week.
Other QBs with good matchups: Carson Wentz (IND) at HOU and Tyrod Taylor (HOU) vs. IND
RB Antonio Gibson (WAS) at LV – An insane 36 touches last week–36 touches last week! Antonio Gibson FINALLY saw the type of workload so many of us were hoping he’d see from the start of 2021. I talked about Gibson in last week’s article about why I liked him in a good matchup, and this week isn’t much different. The Raiders allow the 5th-most fantasy points to RBs, and if Ron Rivera and Scott Turner know how porous the Raiders run defense is, why wouldn’t they implement a similar game plan? With J.D. McKissic questionable heading into this game, there’s also a chance that Gibson will see more work in the passing game. Seriously, why isn’t this a prime spot for Gibson to ball out? Fire him up with confidence this week.
RB Elijah Mitchell (SF) at SEA – Elijah Mitchell has 54 carries over his last two games. That’s a lot of usage for a team that wants to run the football. You know how to keep that kind of momentum going? You play a crappy run defense. The Seahawks have allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to RBs, faced the most rush attempts in the league, and allowed 12 total TDs to RBs. With the 49ers having won their last three games to get back into the playoff picture, I fully expect them to keep doing what has gotten them there. And that’s leaning on their run game. Mitchell has RB1 upside this week.
Other RBs with good matchups: Alexander Mattison (MIN) at DET, Myles Gaskin (MIA) vs. NYG, and Jamaal Williams (DET) vs. MIN
WR Brandin Cooks (HOU) vs. IND – At this point, why do we doubt Brandin Cooks’ production? He’s been a WR2 or better in seven of eleven games. In his last meeting against the Colts, he saw 13 targets and finished as the WR18. In fact, he’s seen five or fewer targets in only three games this year. The problem? Two of those three games have occurred the last two weeks with Tyrod Taylor back at quarterback. Taylor has helped the Texans remain competitive the previous two weeks, even upsetting the Titans in Week 11. But the way the Colts offense has been humming with Jonathan Taylor toting the rock, I’m betting Taylor is going to have to throw quite a bit to keep up. That’s great news for Cooks and his fantasy outlook this week.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR) vs. JAX – Yes, I’m aware that OBJ logged a DNP on Thursday, but all reports suggest OBJ will play this week. And what a game he should be in for. He scored a touchdown in last week’s game and saw just as many targets as Cooper Kupp (10). OBJ’s game-breaking speed was on display on his 54-yard TD as well. As bad as this Jaguars team is, and the fact that the Rams 100% need this win to get their season back on track, can you honestly tell me you think OBJ won’t have a good game? I mean, come on.
Other WRs with good matchups: Marquise Brown (BAL) at PIT, Christian Kirk (ARI) at CHI, and Josh Reynolds (DET) vs. MIN
TE Logan Thomas (WAS) at LV – You’ll see later why I’m fading Thomas’ teammate, but this is reason number two as to why. The Raiders are atrocious at covering TEs, allowing the 2nd-most to TEs on the season. They allowed two more TDs to TEs just last week (the one time where Thursday logic makes sense), good for third-most among teams. Logan Thomas was a 4th quarter drop away from securing a TD in his return from IR and saw six targets, good for third on the team. The TE in this Washington offense gets fed, and when that happens against teams that can’t cover the position, good things happen.
Other TEs with good matchups: Pat Freiermuth (PIT) vs. BAL and Brevin Jordan (HOU) vs. IND
QB Joe Burrow (CIN) vs. LAC – Over the Bengals’ last three games, RB Joe Mixon has been the RB4, RB4, and RB2 in PPR scoring. In those same weeks, Joe Burrow has been QB26, QB20, and QB13. Not a single top-12 finish. It’s not that Burrow has been bad; he just hasn’t needed to throw much. He’s averaging less than 31 pass attempts per game, which is 10 fewer attempts per game compared to his rookie year in 2020. He’s also tied for 2nd with 12 interceptions on the year. Going up against a Chargers team that has allowed the most rushing yards in the league — 145.3 per game — it makes sense that Burrow probably won’t have three passing touchdowns and over 300 yards passing. This has the makings of a heavy Joe Mixon game, limiting Burrow’s ceiling.
Other QBs with bad matchups: Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. TB and Justin Fields (CHI) vs ARI
RB Saquon Barkley (NYG) at MIA – There wasn’t much to get excited about in Saquon Barkley’s return two weeks ago. Last week against the Eagles, Barkley managed one 32-yard run — and only 8 yards on the other 12 carries. And the Eagles have one of the worst run defenses in the league. This week’s opponent, the Miami Dolphins, has a better run defense, so things aren’t exactly looking up for Barkley. They are also in the bottom half of the league in receiving yards allowed to RBs (15th fewest). With Daniel Jones highly questionable for Sunday’s game, Barkley’s stock takes a bit of a hit with the statue that is Mike Glennon at QB this week.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) vs. DEN – In Edwards-Helaire’s return to the lineup in Week 11, he didn’t even lead the team’s RBs in snaps. Was that because the team was playing catchup in their loss to Dallas? Judging by CEH’s passing-game usage, yes. The lack of receiving work is undoubtedly disappointing for a running back whose most valuable trait is his ability in the passing game. Denver’s run defense has been one of the best in the league this year, and they’ve allowed only five rushing TDs to RBs this year, tied for 5th fewest. Without the receiving work that CEH is yielding to Darrel Williams, he needs to score a touchdown to have a viable fantasy day. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against him this week.
Other RBs with bad matchups: Melvin Gordon (DEN) at KC, Ty Johnson (NYJ) vs. PHI, and Damien Harris (NE) at BUF
WR Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) vs. LAC – Ja’Marr Chase shot out of a cannon to begin the year, but since he put up 201 yards against Baltimore in Week 7, he’s been the WR42 in fantasy. The most alarming stat? Chase averaged 3.34 yards per route run the first seven weeks of the season. Since Week 8? He’s averaging a paltry 1.13. I mentioned above why I’m fading Joe Burrow this week, and that same logic falls on Chase. The Chargers haven’t given up much to WRs on the year — the 2nd fewest to WRs –, and it’s largely because they haven’t been tested. Unless Zac Taylor dials up a deep shot or two to get Chase going, it could easily be another disappointing day.
WR Terry McLaurin (WAS) at LV – It’s been a roller-coaster season for Terry McLaurin managers. Basically, if he’s not a top-10 WR in a given week, he’s not even startable. The Raiders have been a stingy defense to WRs (as far as fantasy points scored are concerned). They’ve allowed the 5th-fewest receiving yards and only three 100-yard receiving yard games to WRs. While two of those were last week against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving (remember, logic doesn’t exist on Thursdays), the Raiders played without one of their starting corners, Trayvon Mullen. He’s been out since Week 4 and was just activated and slated to play this week. With no other real threat at WR, the Raiders can focus on shutting down McLaurin. I would be shocked if this were a McLaurin boom game this week.
Other WRs with bad matchups: Mike Williams (LAC) at CIN, Kenny Golladay (NYG) at MIA, and Marvin Jones Jr. (JAX) at LAR
TE Dawson Knox (BUF) vs. NE – Well, I whiffed on fading Dawson Knox last week, so let’s just return to the well for shits and giggles this week, huh? But seriously, I feel like this has more merit against the Patriots, who have locked down TEs for years. Andrew Cooper (@CoopAFiasco on Twitter) lays out the argument best, but in case you don’t feel like clicking it (or following him for that matter; a mistake, but your choice), here’s the summation — The Patriots have allowed 100 yards to a TE exactly zero times the last three seasons. More to the point, only 17 managed 10+ PPR points. That’s what we’re looking for from a TE, right? This year, Knox has been a TD monster, currently tied with Hunter Henry for the most TDs among TEs (7). He’s also pacing better than Robert Tonyan’s insane TD to reception ratio from last year (22.6% to Tonyan’s 21.1%). Banking on efficiency is always scary, but against a good opponent, it may be worth the gamble. So it’s okay to fade him this week in what is a difficult matchup.
Other TEs with bad matchups: T.J. Hockenson (DET) vs. MIN and Cole Kmet (CHI) vs. ARI
Looking for more Start/Sit suggestions? Club Fantasy does a show every Saturday morning at 11 AM EST on YouTube that is 100% dedicated to your questions. So tune in and fire away! It will be a boring show without you!