Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 13: Lineup Advice, Stars to Exploit and Sleeper Options
It's been a long and winding road to this point, but Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season marks the playoff opening in many leagues.
If you're still standing, congrats. Navigating a campaign as challenging as this is no small accomplishment. If you failed to make the cut, well...your dedication to the craft is still commendable. After all, you're still reading this piece, right?
For those in the mix, though, now is the time to squeeze every last ounce of production out of your roster. Approach this weekend's slate like it's your last of the season, since it could well be that depending on how it all shakes out.
We're here to help with that daunting task by laying out start-or-sit recommendations for stars, sleepers and players with exploitable matchups.
Star to Start: Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Assuming Josh Jacobs gets the go-ahead to play in Week 13—he's dealing with a sprained ankle but "has a chance to play," per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport—then the second-year running back should be cleared for takeoff in a get-right game for the Raiders.
They're desperate for a win after back-to-back losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, and the scheduling gods may have scripted one here. Jacobs and the Raiders drew the lowly New York Jets, the NFL's only winless club and a team that has been outscored by a whopping 170 points through 11 games.
Essentially, every fantasy matchup against this defense is a favorable one, and it's no different for running backs. The Jets have yielded the ninth-most fantasy points to the position so far, per Yahoo.
Star to Sit: Todd Gurley II, RB, Atlanta Falcons
While a one-week break can be a good way to recharge the battery this late in the season, it's less inviting when the absence is forced by a knee injury, as was the case for Todd Gurley II in Week 12.
The Falcons hope to have the 26-year-old back in Week 13, but it shouldn't make much difference to fantasy managers. He's become a touchdown-dependent option at running back, and no team has surrendered fewer rushing scores than his next opponent, the New Orleans Saints (five in 11 games).
Gurley faced the Saints his last time out and promptly put together his worst fantasy outing of the season. He rushed the ball just eight times for 26 yards in that matchup and recorded a single reception for three yards.
Sleeper to Start: Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Recommending to start Kirk Cousins is sort of like offering up real estate on a lumpy couch. It's never going to be particularly comfortable, but it's there when you need it in a pinch and can be quite relaxing if you find the sweet spot.
The 32-year-old is quietly grooving. He's authored back-to-back performances with 300 passing yards, three touchdowns and nary an interception. Even better, the fantasy community hasn't bothered to take note. Despite the hot streak, the Minnesota signal-caller is still rostered in only 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros.
Take advantage while you still can. Cousins could quickly become coveted by those in the streamer market ahead of a juicy matchup with a Jacksonville Jaguars defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, per Yahoo.
Sleeper to Sit: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
All eyes are back on Fitzmagic after Miami's starter-turned-understudy sparked the club in relief of a hobbled Tua Tagovailoa (thumb). With the Cincinnati Bengals on the docket for Week 13, quarterback-needy shoppers will surely give waiver-wire consideration to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But that's a bigger gamble than you'd prefer to take at this point on the calendar.
While the 38-year-old can deliver a positive stat line, he's also capable of torpedoing your playoff run. He's played eight games this season. In four of them, he failed to crack 200 passing yards. In three, he didn't tally a single touchdown pass. Twice, he hit both unfortunate marks.
Plus, the Bengals aren't as generous as you might think. Cincinnati has allowed just the 12th-most fantasy production to the quarterback spot.
Player to Start in Exploitable Matchup: Michael Thomas at Atlanta Falcons
While nothing could get Michael Thomas going more than a healthy Drew Brees, a tussle with the Atlanta Falcons makes the short list of alternatives.
Atlanta has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season, per Yahoo. Thomas himself contributed to that total with a huge Week 11 effort in which he turned 12 targets into nine receptions for 104 yards.
What's more encouraging about that matchup is that the 27-year-old didn't have Brees in that game, either. Taysom Hill isn't the most reliable passer around (by any stretch), but even he looked the part against Atlanta (18-of-23 for 233 yards).
Player to Sit in Bad Matchup: Jerry Jeudy at Kansas City Chiefs
The one positive for Jerry Jeudy and all Denver Broncos receivers is the potential return of any quarterback after the club was forced into a quarterback-less contest on Sunday.
While Broncos coach Vic Fangio said additional discipline is still "on the table" for Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles after the passers broke protocols, the skipper also said he was hopeful the trio could be cleared to return to action Tuesday.
That's the good news for Jeudy, who had been heating up prior to the Week 12 debacle. The not-so-good news, though, is that he's now slated to face a Kansas City defense allowing the fourth-lowest fantasy production to the position.
The 21-year-old already drew this defense once, managing only two catches on four targets for 20 yards in a 43-16 Week 7 loss. Tack on the fact that the Broncos quarterback group remains in flux, and he is worth avoiding on any roster with viable alternatives.