Welcome to your Start/Sit for Week 13!
I hope everyone enjoyed a Thanksgiving full of family and food. It’s the best time of year, especially for football. Something about the nostalgia of watching age-old rivals duke it out in the gridiron brings a sort of calming to me, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you.
The bye weeks are done with, meaning you should be back to full strength on your rosters. With that in mind (and with a full slate of games to run through), let’s get into this week’s start/sit.
As per the usual, here’s my master key to give you an idea of how I break down these players:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Winston has evolved into the fantasy asset you know he can be, but the threat of turnovers hangs over him. The No. 7 QB in PPR travels a short way away to take on the Jags in Duval, a team that’s pretty middling against the quarterback position. Throw him out there but be wary of interceptions.
Evans and Godwin have a slightly tougher matchup. This defense isn’t what it was in the past, but it’s still pretty dominant. A.J. Bouye and Tre Herndon will present tough matchups, but the Jags are giving up roughly 33.3 points a game to wideouts. Evans and Godwin are WR1 for a reason, so keep them locked in.
Flex Start: Ronald Jones II (RB)
Save for his Week 11 shut out, Jones has been a terrific RB2 for the past month after receiving the go-ahead from HC Bruce Arians. The Jags are among the most favorable matchups for running backs, allowing the 3rd-most points to backs (29 ppg).
Every week is a guessing game with these two tight ends, and a great opportunity for a lead back diminishes the chances for the back-up. Bench these three (probably for the rest of the season).
** Quarterback Start of the Week **: Nick Foles (QB)
This is the week that Foles gets that energy back. It’s been quiet the past two weeks, and the accompanying losses haven’t helped. Foles gets a Bucs secondary that’s allowed the 2nd-most passing touchdowns (26) and the 2nd-most points to quarterbacks (23.3). I love him as the top streaming option this week.
Must Start: D.J. Chark (WR)
You know who he is and what he can do. He’s a bonafide No. 1 receiver.
Fournette gets a very tough Bucs defensive line this week that’s pushing him into RB2/high flex territory. Tampa Bay is among the toughest teams to beat on the ground, singling a higher need for damage done through the air.
I expect Westbrook and Conley to help out with that. Westbrook’s showing himself more and more as the WR2 with an established rapport with Foles, while Conley is dangerous down the field as a boom play. Flex either of them this week, they’re probably available on your waiver wire.
Sit: Keelan Cole (WR)
Stream the starters, not the WR4. Sorry Cole.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
A rematch after their win in Week 11 brings a flurry of start/sit questions to the forefront. Yes, you should start Nick Chubb, Mayfield, and Landry.
Chubb got stuffed last time, but his upside and volume is too high to bench him. Mayfield may see some digressions, but I expect him to still have a good game against a Steelers defense that is going to be on the field A LOT. Landry has been a more consistent and better fantasy option than OBJ, so I’m sticking by him for this one
These guys are opportunity takers, but Hunt has been the more consistent of the two. I like them both as high-end flex’s.
I never thought I would have to say this, but I would honestly not play a single Steeler this week. A third stringer with the RB1 and WR1 out, a demanding defensive front, and a uncertainty with who should be the red zone makes me want to look at ANYONE on this team. Sorry Pittsburgh fans, though I’m sure you understand. I hope I’m wrong (looking at you Snell).
Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
This is a get-right match for Rodgers (which is a weird thing to type), and a fantastic opportunity for Adams. Adams got his first touchdown last week, and it’s not crazy to think he’ll get another (or two) this week. Start ’em up.
Start: Aaron Jones (RB)
Last week’s stifling should be in the back of your mind as Jones gets a middling Giants rush defense this week. New York is giving up 23.7 points a game on the ground to running backs (17th most), aiding Jones’ case as an RB2 this week.
Flex Start: Jamaal Williams (RB)
Williams has slowly emerged as a streamable flex option and a low-end RB2. The Giants are better against the run then the pass, so I expect some PPR work for Williams, who had 7 receptions for 35 yards last week.
A team without a definite WR2 and a Giants team that’s the 4th-toughest against tight ends warrants benching for these players.
** Running Back Start of the Week **: Saquon Barkley (RB)
This guys needs to catch a break…or a pass. Luckily, Green Bay is among the most giving teams to dual-threat backs like Barkley. They’re allowing 28.8 points a game to the position (4th-most), setting up the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year for a huge outing.
I’m expecting Tate to be out this week while he slowly works his way back fro a concussion. That leaves the now “concussion-free” Sterling Shepard on the fantasy radar and Darius Slayton, the rookie who’s made the most of his opportunities. These guys are high-end flex options for this game, especially is Evan Engram is out again.
I’m expecting Tate and Engram out due to injury, but they’re both flex starts if they make it in. I’m also sitting Jones due to a poor matchup. Green Bay’s allowing an average of 16.1 points a game to the QB position, meaning it’s probably best to avoid Jones for this home game.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins
What a fantastic opportunity for this offense. Wentz, Sanders, and Ertz have some of most positive game scripts of the year this week, as the Dolphins rank 5th, 6th, and 19th in the most point allowed to those positions, respectively.
Ertz has been a side note this week as he’s been held out of practice with a hamstring injury. I’m writing this before Friday’s final report, so keep an eye on his status. Goedert gets a Top-5 bump up if Ertz is unavailable to go0.
Flex Start: Dallas Goedert (TE), Alshon Jeffrey (WR)
Goedert is set up well to succeed whether Ertz is in or not. Alshon is the more questionable one, as he looked set to go last week but was ultimately ruled out. He’s practicing in a limited fashion this week, so keep an eye on the final injury report going into the weekend, as he may also be a game-time decision. If he is a game-time decision, bench him.
These wide receivers are too risky to trust, and these backs are too hurt or ill-used to be considered a lineup option.
Must Start: Devante Parker (WR)
Philly’s 38 points a game to wideouts makes Parker a must-start for me this week. As good as the Eagles are on the ground, they’re equally as bad through the air. A porous pass defense makes Parker a WR1.
Flex Start: N/A
Tough outings await this whole unit as the Eagles are fairly dominant against opposing running backs, quarterbacks, and tight ends. Sit these guys.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
The Colts defense is currently 5th and 11th against running backs and quarterbacks. Normally, that would worry me, but I’m a crazy person. Henry’s insane volume and Tannehill’s efficiency through the air makes them top options at their positions. Tannehill is owned in only 21% of ESPN leagues, making him widely available despite scoring the 2nd-most points (behind only Lamar Jackson) since his first start in Week 7.
Flex Start: Jonnu Smith (TE)
With Walker heading to IR, Smith is the top tight end option in Tennessee. The colts are pretty average in terms of tight end defense, making Smith an interesting streamer for this home bout.
The hot-and-cold attitudes that these receivers seem to have his getting old, eliminating chances of me starting them. Also, I keep seeing people start Dion Lewis. Why? He hasn’t scored more than 9 points in any game in any format this year. Bench this trio.
Brissett gets himself a nice opportunity to put up a solid stat line against a mediocre Titans pass defense. He’s in the streaming category for this week. Williams also has opportunity as Frank Reich showed his faith in the every-down back last week. These guys are both low-end 1’s this week.
Flex Start: N/A
With Hilton out this week, I’m not very big on the other receiving options that the Colts have to offer. Hines is a downgrade after a disappointing showing last week, though he’s okay in PPR formats with multiple flex spots.
Sleeper: Jack Doyle (TE)
Just like Jonnu Smith, Doyle has his best chance to make a permanent rest of season with Ebron being on IR. The Titans are allowing 12.6 points a game (12th-most) to the position, making Doyle a nice sleeper pick to have a big game.
New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals
Must Start: Sam Darnold (QB), Le’Veon Bell (RB)
Darnold Schwarzenegger is back, baby. I mean, he was never really there until recently, but the joke wouldn’t have worked otherwise.
This is one of the easiest teams to throw and run on, meaning Darnold and Bell are must starts this week. Get ’em in there.
Start: Jamison Crowder (WR)
How a team can be so hapless against signal callers yet so tough on receivers is something I’ll never understand. Crowder has been his constant go-to guy. Don’t let boom weeks from these other players fool you; Crowder is a WR2 for this one.
Flex Start: Ryan Griffin (TE)
A team that’s as average at tight end defense as Cincinnati makes a receiving threat like Griffin a streamable asset for this week.
Consistency is a nice thing to have in a receiver. These guys must’ve forgotten to pack theirs this week.
I guess I’ll forget to lock them in.
Dalton back under center gives me some hope for his receivers, who I’ve been off of since his benching. Jets are among the friendliest to quarterbacks and wideouts, making Dalton a high-end streamer with upside and returning Boyd to the WR3/2 conversation.
Mixon will have a tougher time on the ground, but his volume and receiving capabilities make him a high end flex/RB2. Tate also returns to some relevance, being the No. 2 option behind Boyd.
The backup running back and a stout tight end defense present equal cases for a benching. Sit both of these guys.
Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers
Okay Terry, I’ll take another shot on you. Guice and McLaurin have favorable matchups with a Panthers defense that’s constantly being beat, giving up 39.7 points a game (5th-most) to wideouts. They’re also surrendering 28.4 points (5th-most) to running backs. I like their odds for this one.
A negative game script and a less involved role in the backfield make this duo a turn off for fantasy rosters. Put your pants back on and send these two guys to the bench.
Must Start: Christian McCaffrey (RB)
My wide receiver start of the week last week exploded for 126 yards and two scores on 6 receptions. Moore has crazy high upside, evidenced by that production against the Saints. He gets a matchup with a battered Washington secondary this week, who are also giving up 12.8 points on average (10th-most) to tight ends.
Flex Start: Curtis Samuel (WR)
Samuel is also a good play this week, albeit a flex. Washington’s allowing 34.6 points a game to wideouts, which is pretty middle of the pack, making Samuel more of a touchdown dependent play this week. He still posts decent reception numbers, so I don’t see a problem in trying to work him into your lineup for this home game.
Sit: Kyle Allen (QB)
Allen’s floor is just as low as his interception ceiling is high. While this is a good game script for him to play against, I just don’t trust his judgment enough to want to roll him out.
San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens
Must Start: George Kittle (TE)
Kittle is a machine. He’s going to be heavily targeted, which means he’s going to be double-covered the entire matchup. He’s a star in thew NFL foe a reason, so don’t hesitate on playing him. He may not put up a huge game, but his upside is too large to ignore.
The top weapons are going to need to pull together and make something happen this week. Baltimore is on fire this month after taking down pretty much every top team, and I don’t think this 49ers defense is going to be able to hold them back for long.
Samuel and Sanders are practicing in limited fashion this week, but they’re the top options. If you had to choose, I feel more comfortable rolling with Samuel over Sanders, but this a tough matchup regardless. The Ravens are allowing 38.4 points a game to wideouts, making them pretty middle of the pack, but don’t let the numbers fool you. This squad shut down the Rams trio last week.
The Ravens are entering shutdown territory for QBs, limiting Jared Goff to 4.4 points last week in PPR. Breida is returning from injury, but I don’t think he will see much action. Bourne was serviceable, but this is not the matchup for a dart throw. Sit all of these guys for this week.
Sleeper: Raheem Mostert (RB)
I expect Breida to be limited in his returning involvement, so I’m rolling with Mostert as my sleeper pick for this one. He’s a great goal line back and his highly explosive.
Must Start: Lamar Jackson (QB)
You really want a blurb on why you should start Jackson? This is a negative game script, yet so was New England, Seattle, and LA. Play your superstars.
Honestly, I don’t care what the game script reads against this Baltimore team. They have risen above negative connotations surrounding their team’s capabilities to produce for fantasy. There will be some digression from previous games, but Andrews is still a TE1 and Ingram a high-end RB2 with upside for this game.
Flex Start: N/A
Brown and Snead had great games last week, but this defense can shut down anyone that’s not a consistent threat. Sit ’em.
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
This is a super positive matchup on paper. Now when I say that, that should be good enough to want to roll with these guys. The Rams have fallen off the fantasy radar the past month, but this is a get-right match for your high draft picks. Roll ’em out.
Start: Jared Goff (QB), Brandin Cooks (WR)
The Cardinals are allowing 26.2 points a game to quarterbacks (most in the league) and 43.8 points a game to wideouts (2nd-most). This is a game I can get behind for Goff to put up a respectable performance.
Flex Start: Robert Woods (WR)
Woods was the only LA wideout….or player…to do anything of note last week. I don’t think he’ll find his hay in the long-bomb plays this week, but the short, middle of the field passes. He’s a fine flex against a terrible pass defense.
Everett has been held out of practice this week and Reynolds should see a lot less playing time with the return of Woods and Cooks. Sit these players.
Sleeper: Tyler Higbee (TE)
This is really based on Everett’s availability. If he’s out, Everett makes a fine flier. The Cards give up the most points a game to tight ends (19.9), making Higbee a nice streamer in the event that Everett can’t make it onto the field.
The rookie is quietly having himself a great fantasy year. A midseason slump sent him off of fantasy radars, but he’s been the No. 3 QB through his past 3 games. His rushing upside and knack to get out ion trouble helps his case as a playable option against a Rams defense that was just obliterated by Lamar Jackson.
Kenyan Drake also has opportunity, with the Rams falling middle of the pack in rushing defense. David Johnson‘s lack of involvement and success means more time for Drake to make a fantasy impact. He’s a nice RB2 this week.
Honestly, either of these guys could have a surprisingly big week or be completely shut out. It’s up to you on which one you’d rather slot in, but I see them as equal flex plays against Jalen Ramsey and company.
Sit: David Johnson (RB), Chase Edmonds (RB)
Injury and lack of efficiency makes me not want either of these guys at the moment. I actually dropped David Johnson in my league. hey, there’s nothing wrong with cutting bait right before playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
** Tight End Start of the Week **: Hunter Henry (TE)
The red zone monster gets a Denver defense allowing 12.4 points on average to tight ends, but I’ll gladly take the over on that.
Start: Melvin Gordon (RB)
This is a really tough match for a Chargers team that’s slipping further and further away from any sort of playoff contention. The Broncos are 9th against running backs this year, allowing an average of 20.7 points to the position. A lack of an air attack makes Gordon an RB2 based on volume for this away game.
Flex Start: Austin Ekeler (RB)
Ekeler is only a play in PPR formats. The pass-catcher sees plenty of dump-off looks from Rivers to keep him relevant, and he’ll need it against this top Denver pass rush.
Rivers’ fantasy value is dead to me, and Allen and Williams will suffer because of that. Allen was held to under 20 yards last time these teams met, and with LA barreling in the wrong direction, I don’t see that changing for this meeting.
Must Start: Phillip Lindsay (RB)
Lindsay gets a Chargers defense that has Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. You know what else they have? A Top 10 favorable matchup for running backs, allowing 27.1 points a game on average to the position. Lindsay is explosive and hard to tackle, making him an easy RB1.
The Chargers are allowing the 2nd-least points to wideouts (27.6), behind only New England. Sutton’s volume and upside keep him flex consideration. Freeman might see an expanded role with the air attack shut down for this match, so you can take a chance on him this week as well.
This team likes to shut down quarterbacks and tight ends. This isn’t the match to take a shot on these guys. Sit them.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
Must Start: Josh Jacobs (RB)
This is the best matchup for backs, and Jacobs should be able to have himself a field day. He’s been a limited participant this week, so keep an eye on his status leading up to kickoff.
I’m staying the flames with these two. A Top 10 matchup for both of these players make me comfortable with rolling them out last least one more time this year.
Flex Start: N/A
A pass attack that shuts down wideouts shouldn’t be trifled with. Roll with Waller, not these guys.
** Wide Receiver Start of the Week **: Tyreek Hill (WR)
An explosive wideout coming off a bye week with fresh legs against a beaten secondary makes for one savory fantasy matchup. I want this play this week.
Must Start: Patrick Mahomes II (QB), Travis Kelce (TE)
Take what I said above about Tyreek and apply it here.
Start: LeSean McCoy (RB)
I believe Damien Williams will remain out with a ribs injury, setting up Shady for plenty of passing down work and goal line opportunities against an Oakland defense giving up 23.9 points a game (14th-most) on average to tailbacks.
Flex Start: Mecole Hardman (WR)
This is a team to beat down the field, and Hardman has that capability. This is a pretty boom-bust option, so take this flex consideration with a grain of salt and more of a wink than a definite “yes, play him”.
As I always say, inconsistency and injury do not go together. Since none of these guys seem to have either, sitting them is your safest bet.
New England Patriots @ Houston Texans
This duo seems to always get it done, and an indoor game against a poor pass defense makes for fantasy magic. I like them both as Top 12 options at their positions for this away game.
Start: James White (RB)
The PPR machine is a great play for me this week, as the Texans seem to have a zero pressure rate in backfields and give up about 27.3 points a game (8th-most) to running backs.
Flex Start: Sony Michel (RB)
Michel is a strictly boom-bust player for the rest of the season, but at least he’ll get plenty of goal line opportunities against a Texans team missing J.J. Watt. Try him out for this one.
Don’t take shots on unsure players. Sit these guys.
Start: DeAndre Hopkins (WR)
Hopkins is better than Amari Cooper in my opinion, and the offense flows through him the most. A matchup with Stephon Gilmore is not ideal at all, but Hopkins is a rare talent. Trust him this week in a negative matchup.
Flex Start: N/A
The Pats are first across the board in terms of quarterback, wide receiver, and running back defense. This is a tough matchup, and I actually played Josh Allen over Watson this week (which worked out well). I suggest you do something similar and find other options for this one.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
Must Start: Dalvin Cook (RB)
He’s back from the bye and into your lineups. Cook is a fantasy God-send, so make sure he’s back into your starting roster for this week’s game.
This is a great match across the board for this Vikings team, and honestly I can’t wait for Monday night. The Seahawks are among the most favorable matchups for tight ends, making Rudolph a great pick (especially if Thielen is out again).
Seattle is giving up 35.9 points a game to wideouts, so keep an eye on Thielen’s status before the game and make sure he’s in if he’s practicing in full. Hamstring injuries carry a high re-injury risk (which we’ve already seen), so be mindful of that.
Flex Start: N/A
Sit: Irv Smith Jr. (TE)
Bottom options in a likely high-scoring game aren’t worth consideration. Sorry Irv.
A couple of bad games in a row from Lockett might scare you, but don’t let it. Wilson to Lockett is one of the best duos in the league, and this is a premiere matchup against a Minnesota defense that’s been beaten through the air for most of the year. I like both of these guys as top options at their positions this week.
A pass defense that’s been rocked by great quarterback play will get the same treatment this week. Hollister has filled in nicely for Will Dissly, and Metcalf has proven to be one of the most dangerous vertical threats. That, accompanied with Carson’s volume, make all these guys high-end flex options and even Tier 2 plays this week.
I’m still waiting for Gordon to have that big game, and I don’t see it happening soon. Penny is also a hard trust, but he’s shown some promise. Until he’s more involved (and not because of a Carson benching), I’m not going to look his way.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, doing voice impressions, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.