The B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 13
And then there were two.
Weeks, that is.
In most fantasy football leagues, just two weeks remain in the regular season. It's a mad dash to claim a postseason spot. Sure, some lucky so-and-sos have already earned a playoff spot. And for some sad sacks, when the regular season ends, that's that. Time to pack it in and wait for baseball.
Nothing is more depressing than baseball.
But for a great many fantasy managers, these next two weeks will determine whether there's an opportunity to win a championship or a season that ends in disappointment. The stakes are higher now than ever. Every win is a step toward elation, and every loss is a lurch toward despair.
It's quite the emotional rollercoaster.
This column aims to keep your championship quest from being derailed. Enclosed here, you'll find everything necessary to earn a win in Week 13, from smash starts to must-fades to matchup plays and all things in between.
So if you want to keep from thinking about baseball a while longer, then read on.
And let's go get a win.
Week 13 Smash Starts
There were more than a few smash performances in Week 12.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts piled up 153 rushing yards against the Packers on the way to a big score. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson logged nine catches for 139 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving against the Patriots. Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz scored twice against the Giants.
Then there was the mother of all smash performances: 303 scrimmage yards and two scores against the Seattle Seahawks by Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.
If you had Jacobs in your lineup this past week, you more than likely won your matchup. And these players should offer fantasy squads a similar boost in Week 13.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIA) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,700)
Most weeks, Garoppolo is a better NFL quarterback than a fantasy option. But this week's matchup with the surging Dolphins smells of a game in which the 49ers may have to throw more than usual against a Miami defense that can be had through the air.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (at LV) (DraftKings DFS Value: $7,200)
Herbert's 10th-place ranking in fantasy points per game for the season isn't exactly what fantasy managers were hoping for in 2022. But he's coming off a solid showing against the Arizona Cardinals and draws a Raiders defense in Week 13 allowing the most fantasy points per game in the AFC to quarterbacks.
AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers (at CHI) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,600)
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Packers remembered that Dillon was on the team, and the result was Dillion's best fantasy output since the season opener. With Aaron Rodgers banged up, the Packers should lean on the run that much more in a plus fantasy matchup with the Bears.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (vs. GB) (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,200)
Like the Packers, the Bears are dealing with an injury to their starting quarterback, which should lead to more reliance on Montgomery and the ground game. The Packers have been kind to opposing running backs, allowing the seventh-most points-per-reception points per game to the position.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (at LAR) (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000)
Lockett caught fewer than half his targets last week against the Raiders, but he found the end zone for the fourth consecutive week. Lockett has been a top-20 fantasy option over that span in terms of points per game, and he faces a Rams team giving up the ninth-most PPR points per game to wide receivers in 2022.
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (at MIN) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,300)
The rookie from Ohio State had himself a day last week against the Bears, hauling in five passes for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The good times should continue this week against a Vikings defense that has allowed the most passing yards per game in the NFL.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers (at LV) (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,400)
Everett has been quiet over the past few weeks, managing just 11 catches for 77 yards over the last three weeks. Taking on a Raiders defense that has allowed the seventh-most PPR points per game to tight ends will help him break out of that funk.
Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders (vs. LAC) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,600)
Moreau has quietly been solid for fantasy managers the past few weeks, scoring in two of the past three games while ranking eighth in fantasy points among tight ends over that span. The Chargers have given up the 10th-most PPR points to tight ends this season.
Week 13 Must-Fades
The last thing fantasy managers can afford this late in the season is a dud performance. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop them from happening.
After shining early in the season, rookie running back Dameon Pierce of the Texans has managed just 16 yards on 15 carries in the past two weeks. Terry McLaurin's recent hot streak skidded to a halt last week, with the Commanders wideout finishing Week 12 outside the top 50 receivers.
George Kittle's three catches for 26 yards last week against the Saints barely landed the 49ers tight end inside the top 25 at his position. The writing was on the wall with Kittle against a Saints team that has surrendered the fewest PPR points per game to tight ends in 2022.
And there are similar warning signs with these players in Week 13.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs. NYJ) (DraftKings DFS Value: 5,700)
Cousins had a good game last week against the Patriots, flirting with 300 passing yards and tossing three touchdowns against a stout Patriots defense. But expecting Cousins to buck a bad matchup two weeks in a row feels like asking for trouble.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (at SF) (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,700)
When healthy this season, Tagovailoa has been a solid fantasy QB1. He has no shortage of passing-game weaponry, either. However, he draws a brutal fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in Week 13 against the 49ers, who have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (at TB) (DraftKings DFS Value: $7,000)
Of late, Kamara has been much more name than numbers. Over the past four weeks, he ranks 37th among running backs in PPR points per game. Only two teams have surrendered fewer fantasy points per game to running backs this season than the Buccaneers.
Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins (at SF) (DraftKings DFS Value: $6,100)
Wilson essentially had the Miami backfield to himself in a great matchup last week, and the numbers were underwhelming. He briefly exited the game against Houston last week with an injury, and now he has to take on the NFL's No. 1 run defense and a team allowing the fewest PPR points per game in the NFC to running backs.
Gabe Davis, Buffalo Bills (at NE) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,300)
Davis was a trendy breakout pick in some fantasy circles last summer. Instead, what we got was a high-variance wideout prone to exploding and vanishing in equal measure. The latter is more likely in Week 13 against a Patriots team allowing the seventh-fewest PPR points per game to receivers.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders (at NYG) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,800)
Fantasy managers looking for a rebound week from McLaurin need to look elsewhere. The Giants have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position this season, so the McSlump could drag into a second week.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots (vs. BUF) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,300)
Henry is coming off his second-best fantasy outing of the season after posting a 3/63/1 line on Thanksgiving against the Vikings. But the Bills haven't been kind to opposing tight ends in 2022, allowing the ninth-fewest PPR points per game to tight ends in 2022.
Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears (vs. GB) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,800)
Kmet has been on quite the roll of late, leading all NFC tight ends in fantasy points over the past month. But between Chicago's issues at the quarterback position and a bad matchup with the Packers, that roll is about to come to a screeching halt.
Week 13 Mastering the Matchups
Sometimes, a matchup play can make all the difference in the world. Just ask fantasy managers who started Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones in Week 12.
Jones had actually been a semi-reliable fantasy flex option this season. His ranking of WR41 in points per game entering Week 11 was nothing to write home about, but heading into a matchup with a Ravens defense that had allowed the seventh-most PPR points per game to receivers, Jones had posted four games with double-digit PPR points.
In Week 12, however, Jones went next-level—11 receptions, 145 yards, a two-point catch and the fourth-most fantasy points among wideouts.
It was a surprise smash that (given the matchup) wasn't really a surprise. And these players are in a similarly saucy situation in Week 13.
Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons (at PIT) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400)
Mariota has quietly been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in total points this season, largely because his 421 rushing yards ranks sixth at the position. Through 12 weeks, the Steelers have surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Mike White, New York Jets (at MIN) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400)
White was electric last week against the Bears, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns. The second-year pro should have a second straight solid showing in Week 13—the Vikings just allowed Mac Jones to throw for a career-high 382 yards on Turkey Day.
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. ATL) (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,900)
Warren missed last week's win over the Colts with a hamstring injury, but the rookie has been cleared to return to practice and appears on track to play in Week 13. With Najee Harris (abdomen) iffy to play after missing practice Wednesday, Warren could be the Steelers' lead back Sunday in a favorable matchup.
Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams (vs. SEA) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,200)
Placing fantasy faith in the floundering Rams offense admittedly requires a certain degree of either bravery or foolishness. But the Seahawks have struggled mightily to stop the run this season, allowing almost 154 yards per game on the ground.
Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars (at DET) (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,900)
There's that name again. Trevor Lawrence has demonstrated more than once this season that he trusts Jones, but this is less about the player himself than a Detroit defense that ranks 29th against the pass and third in PPR points per game allowed to wide receivers.
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots (vs. BUF) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,000)
Meyers was in and out of last week's loss to Minnesota with a shoulder injury, but he has insisted that he will be out there against a Bills defense surprisingly surrendering the eighth-most PPR points per game to opposing wideouts. He's easily New England's most reliable pass-catcher.
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (at TB) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,400)
A certain fantasy analyst who shall remain nameless cautioned against starting Johnson ahead of last week's goose-egg. But he should rebound nicely this week against a Buccaneers defense allowing over 14 PPR points per game to tight ends in average this season.
Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders (at NYG) (DraftKings DFS Value: $2,900)
Thomas hasn't done much over the past month, with just eight catches for 84 yards over the last four games combined. However, the Giants have been much kinder to tight ends than wide receivers in terms of fantasy points allowed this year, so Thomas may be a bigger part of the offense this week.
Week 13 Fantasy Stock Market
In quite a few fantasy leagues, the trade deadline has already come and gone. And in most redraft formats, if the deadline hasn't passed, it will soon. If you're going to play Let's Make a Deal, you better do it soon.
If you are looking to make a deal, you likely belong in one of two camps: fringe contenders looking to buy or teams that already have a playoff spot sewn up, looking to sell depth for an upgraded starter.
In either case, don't be afraid to get aggressive.
If you're buying, don't cling to elite players so stubbornly that it costs you a shot at the playoffs. No one wants to be the guy who trades Derrick Henry or Nick Chubb, but if he can get you a viable RB2 and a wide receiver that fills a gaping hole in your lineup, then the two "lesser" players have more value for you than that one high-end back.
Conversely, at this point in the season, depth isn't as important as it was a month or two ago. Sure, there are six teams on bye in Week 14, but if your playoff seed is locked in by then, who cares? You don't need five running backs now. Or five receivers. Or two quarterbacks. Use that depth to bolster your starters.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Lawrence is coming off arguably the best game of his career: a 321-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Baltimore Ravens. That stellar game could be just the beginning, too. Lawrence enjoys another excellent matchup this week with the Detroit Lions, a plus passing-game matchup the following week with Tennessee and a Week 17 tilt with the hapless Houston Texans.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has spent most of this season trying to drive fantasy managers bonkers with wonky usage for Kyle Pitts and Patterson. But Paterson's passing-game usage was way up in Week 12 (62 percent route participation and a 22 percent target share, per Dwain McFarland of Fantasy Life), and that could pave the way for a late surge that helps folks win fantasy championships.
Marquise Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
In his first game back from injured reserve, Brown led the team with eight targets and caught six of them for 46 yards. He won't recapture the target volume he had before DeAndre Hopkins returned, but he also won't receive as much attention from opposing defenses. And with the Cardinals on a bye in Week 13, you might be able to get a discount from fantasy managers who are hurting for depth and can't afford another loss.
Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints
I have already mentioned that I like Johnson's prospects on Monday night against the Buccaneers, but he could be more than just a one-week fill-in. He had three straight games with a touchdown catch before last week's doughnut in a bad matchup. The flip side of last week's vanishing act is that it should drive Johnson's asking price down.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
This is Tagovailoa's second appearance in this column this week, and both are in the wrong spots. The thing is, Tagovailoa's bad fantasy matchup this week with San Francisco is only the beginning. Between now and Week 17, the Dolphins face just one team (the Chargers) that ranks inside the top 20 in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Conner won't be easy to sell on his bye week, but file this info away and try to move him early next week to a team enamored with his top-five fantasy numbers over the last month. Conner's post-bye schedule is a nightmare: three straight matchups with bottom-10 fantasy matchups for running backs, including two with teams that rank 30th or worse.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Higgins has been outstanding for fantasy managers since Ja'Marr Chase got hurt, ranking ninth in PPR points per game among wide receivers since Week 8. But Chase is expected to be back on the field in Week 13, and in addition to a looming drop in target volume, there are some tough matchups looming during a brutal closing stretch of the season for Cincinnati.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Last week's highlight-reel game-tying touchdown catch was just the latest reminder that Njoku possesses elite athleticism and boatloads of potential. But in Week 16 and 17, the Browns host the New Orleans Saints, then travel to face the Washington Commanders—the two worst fantasy matchups in the league for tight ends in 2022.
Week 13 Reading the Defense
In most fantasy leagues, team defenses are an afterthought. You draft one late or stream matchups off the waiver wire. If one gets you 10-12 points in a given week, great. If they only get you three, oh well.
This time of year, however, many fantasy managers cannot afford that level of nonchalance. Not when the next loss could be the one that eliminates a team from postseason consideration. Every lineup decision matters. Every point is important.
With that in mind, here are some defensive plays set up for success in Week 13 and some primed for a letdown at the worst possible time.
Strong D/ST Plays
Baltimore Ravens (vs. DEN) (DraftKings DFS Value: $4,000)
The Ravens have quietly been a solid fantasy play this season, ranking sixth in fantasy points after 12 weeks. This week's matchup with the Broncos is about as good as it gets. Denver ranks 25th in total offense, dead last in scoring and fifth in fantasy points per game surrendered to defenses this season.
Cleveland Browns (at HOU) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,900)
The Browns haven't played especially well defensively this season from an NFL or fantasy perspective. But the Texans have a way of making every team look like the '85 Bears. The Texans are last in the league in yards per game, third from the bottom in points per game and third in fantasy points per game allowed to defenses.
Seattle Seahawks (at LAR) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,600)
Yes, the Seahawks just gave up 40 points and approximately all the yards ever to the Las Vegas Raiders. Put that woeful game out of your head, and live in the now. The Rams have completely fallen apart offensively, and even when the Rams had Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, the team ranked at the top of the league in fantasy points allowed to defenses.
Weak D/ST Plays
San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIA) (DraftKings DFS Value: $3,100)
San Francisco is first in total defense, first in run defense, first in scoring defense, tied for sixth in the league in sack percentage and third among defenses in fantasy points. However, if the 49ers do have a weakness defensively, it's the vertical passing game—an area where the Dolphins have been shredding opponents this year. The Dolphins are 22nd in fantasy points per game allowed to defenses this season
Denver Broncos (at BAL) (DraftKings DFS Value: $2,400)
It has been a nightmare season for the Broncos, but the defense can't be blamed for that. The Broncos are third in total defense, passing defense and scoring defense. However, after posting the seventh-most fantasy points before the bye, the Broncos have the sixth-fewest since. That's not likely to change in a bad matchup with the Ravens.
New England Patriots (vs. BUF) (DraftKings DFS Value: $2,400)
Fading the highest-scoring defense in fantasy football isn't an easy call, but this could be a rough game for New England. In the Patriots' last two meetings with Josh Allen and the Bills, Buffalo has dropped 80 points on them. The Bills have also given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to defenses in 2022.
Week 13 Fantasy Mailbag
Every week during the 2022 season, I'll be pulling a handful of fantasy football questions from the Bleacher Report app and answering them here. Hopefully, those answers will aid not only the managers making the query but others as well.
Have a question you want answered? Head on over to the fantasy football section of the app and make with the asking.
Foster Moreau or Tyler Higbee? Also have Hayden Hurst. -- @verkovod
That's quite the collection of mediocre tight ends you have there. Hurst is an OK low-ceiling option coming off a good game against Tennessee, but last week was his first double-digit effort in PPR points since Week 7. Higbee has a fantastic matchup this week with Seattle, but he wasn't even targeted by Bryce Perkins last week. Meanwhile, Moreau has a touchdown in two of his last three games and draws a similarly favorable fantasy matchup with the Chargers. He gets the nod here.
Got WR issues this week. Darius Slayton, Van Jefferson or Treylon Burks at WR3? -- @rcochra10
Jefferson is an easy pass here. He may have been Bryce Perkins' favorite target last week, but that doesn't mean much when Perkins threw for just 100 passing yards. Neither Slayton nor Burks has an especially favorable matchup, but over the past couple of weeks, Burks has been the hotter hand; he's a top-15 fantasy wideout over that span. Burks is the play.
Jaylen Waddle or Christian Kirk? Travis Etienne or Kenneth Walker? -- @rise510
Both of these are nice problems to have. At wide receiver, Waddle and Kirk are very similar options. But Kirk has a significantly better matchup this week against Detroit's nonexistent defense, so he has the edge.
At running back, it was good news that Etienne practiced Wednesday, albeit in a limited fashion. But his status for Sunday's trip to Motown remains in doubt, and even if he plays, he may not be 100 percent. Avoid the uncertainty and go with Walker in a game where Seattle should be playing from ahead.
If Justin Fields can't play in Week 13, should I start Russell Wilson or Mike White? -- @SadMax
Fields was limited in practice Wednesday, but the second-year signal-caller admitted he isn't sure if he'll be able to play Sunday against the Packers. Assuming he can't, this question is rock-bottom for Wilson's fantasy value because the answer is White.
In the fairly standard scoring I use for this article, White posted just under 25 points last week in his first start of the season. Wilson has topped that mark once in 10 games and finished with less than 10 points three times.
Have a Flex dilemma. Ezekiel Elliott, Antonio Gibson or Diontae Johnson? -- @Silvur22
If Elliott and Gibson are relegated to flex consideration, then your running backs are in better shape than many of my teams. Johnson could be a tempting option in PPR scoring systems, but his target share has fluctuated with Kenny Pickett under center, and he hasn't had more than five catches in a game since Week 3.
The shared backfields in Dallas and Washington are a concern, but Elliott is the best bet of the group to get a short-yardage score. It's close, but Elliott is the play.
THE Fantasy Boom of Week 13
Usually, no single player can make or break an entire season. Even cataclysmic injuries to top-five picks can sometimes be overcome with some waiver-wire magic and/or a trade or two.
However, one player can make or break a week. Get a huge game from the right guy, and a team can cruise. Have a starter lay an egg, though, and it can be game over. And at this juncture in the season, that one clunker can wreck the year—or at least your chances of moving on to the playoffs.
In the hopes of preventing wreckage, we're going to conclude each edition of the B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football with one player who will define the week to come, for better or worse. The Boom (or Bust) of the Week.
In Week 12, it's a "Boom" and a former first-overall pick who could be coming into his own.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (at DET) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,900)
Lawrence had maybe the best game of his career in last week's upset win over the Baltimore Ravens, throwing for 321 yards and three scores. It also marked the first time (and I kid you not) in 184 tries that the Jaguars came back from seven or more points down with less than a minute left in the game, per Elias Sports Bureau (h/t ESPN's Michael DiRocco).
Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said that Lawrence is growing into the player the Jaguars hoped they were getting when they drafted him No. 1 overall in 2021.
"You see the calmness with Trevor," Pederson said. "You see the maturation of him just understanding the time of the game, the situation, what we need. The [game-winning] touchdown throw to Marvin [Jones] was incredible. What a throw and catch there.
"There's actually a throw before that that Zay [Jones] actually caught going down the left sideline that set up the touchdown pass. That was a thing of beauty. That was between two defenders. So, you're starting to see that growth with him, that maybe at the beginning of the season, he wouldn't make those throws, or they might be a little bit high and something like that."
Now Lawrence will try to build on that performance Sunday in Detroit against a Lions defense that ranks last in yards allowed and 29th against the pass. For the season, the Lions are allowing an average of about 23.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. No team allows more.
Lawrence's coming-of-age continues Sunday in Motown.
So will his increase in fantasy value.
Looking for fantasy rankings? Check out Gary's Week 13 Big Board!
Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com for details.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.