Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Tips for Fantasy Football Managers

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2020

Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Tips for Fantasy Football Managers

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    With Wednesday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens complete, we officially turn the page to Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season. For many fantasy managers, this means it is—or is at least close to—playoff time.

    While the stakes are generally higher at this point in the season, the task of finding the right fantasy plays remains largely the same. All-stars like Dalvin Cook and Davante Adams remain must-starts, but tough choices must be made among second-tier players—and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers on bye, some of your all-stars may not be available.

    Here, we'll examine some of those fringe starters you may be struggling with. We'll dig into players ranked outside the 10—top 20 for wide receivers—according to FantasyPros for Week 13, and determine which are start-worthy and which belong on the bench. We'll also examine three of the best matchups for fringe starters this weekend.

    All rankings and picks are for point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.

Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Start 'Em

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

    Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

    Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

    Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

    Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

    Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans

    Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos


    Sit 'Em

    Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

    Benny Snell Jr., RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills

    Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals

    Amari Cooper, WR, Baltimore Ravens

    Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

    Jordan Reed, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team

Start 'Em: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    OK, so there's a big caveat with Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. There's a chance that rookie Tua Tagovailoa will return from his thumb injury to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

    "He's working hard to get ready," Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said, per Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

    If you're planning on starting Fitzpatrick, it's worth trying to snag Tagovailoa off the waiver wire—he's currently rostered in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues.

    Whoever starts for Miami against the Bengals should be a valid fantasy play, but this is a better matchup with Fitzpatrick under center. The veteran was solid against the New York Jets last week, throwing for 257 yards and two touchdowns with 10 rushing yards. He should have a similar outing against the Bengals.

    While the Bengals defense has produced nine interceptions, it ranks just 22nd against the pass and 27th in yards per pass attempt allowed. It has also produced a mere 13 sacks on the season, suggesting that Fitzpatrick will have a clean pocket more often than not.

    When Fitzpatrick has time to throw, he can be fantastic, as he was against the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers earlier this season—he averaged 279 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

    Expect Fitzpatrick to be a high-end streaming option once again if he does get the start. According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins will decide on a starter on Sunday.

Start 'Em: Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is one of the top-ranked options for Week 13—and for good reason. Despite missing a quarter of the season with a knee injury, he's still on pace for 1,000 rushing yards. So is teammate Kareem Hunt, who falls outside the top 10 this week but is still a solid start against the Tennessee Titans.

    Hunt has only caught one pass in his last two games, which is the only real reason for trepidation here. However, he was targeted twice in Week 12 and averaged more than two receptions in his first nine games of the season.

    There is legitimate PPR upside with Hunt, as the Titans rank 28th against the pass. The Browns are likely to test the Tennessee defense with quarterback Baker Mayfield, and Hunt is one of his best outlet options.

    Hunt could also have a strong day on the ground if Cleveland looks to grind out yet another game with the run—and seeing as how the Titans rank fifth in scoring, this should be the strategy.

    Chubb is the back Cleveland will utilize most on the ground, but Hunt has seen double-digit carries in each of the three games since Chubb returned to the lineup. He had 10 carries for 62 yards last week and could see similar production this week.

    Tennessee ranks a good-not-great 17th in rushing yards allowed this season and has surrendered 120-plus rushing yards in two of the last three weeks. As long as Hunt is a factor in the passing game, he should have a good chance of approaching 100 scrimmage yards.

Start 'Em: Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel returned to the lineup in Week 12 and immediately made an impact. Against a very good Los Angeles Rams defense, he caught 11 passes for 133 yards. While he might not produce quite that many receptions in Week 13, he should still be Nick Mullens' go-to target.

    Against a Buffalo Bills defense ranked 18th against the pass and 18th in points allowed, a significant role should be enough for Samuel to have another strong stat line.

    The one concern that Samuel managers may have this week is an individual matchup with Bills standout cornerback Tre'Davious White. However, it's worth noting that White hasn't been as dominant as he was last season.

    In 2019, White allowed an opposing passer rating of just 43.3. That rating is up to 87.6 this season. That's still good, but it isn't good enough to warrant sitting Samuel in a game where he may not even face White on every snap.

    Managers should expect to see a sizeable target share for Samuel, as he has been targeted at least five times in each of his four starts this season—he was targeted three times in Week 4. Samuel has averaged five receptions per game, and at 11.8 yards per catch, that should put him on pace for a floor of 59 receiving yards.

    Don't anticipate the monster outing that Samuel had last week. Do expect him to be a high-upside flex play in Week 13.