Week 13 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to be prepared prior to the holiday weekend. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 13 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, Ian Hartitz dives into which running backs are destined for production as he continues Taking Stock in All 32 Backfields, Hayden Winks breaks down every Thanksgiving matchup in his famous Fantasy Forecast Column, and I analyze the week's top waiver pickups in our Waiver Wire piece.
I'm also here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners on Thanksgiving Day and will be back with the rest of the slate Saturday morning as injury reports continue rolling in. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond.
Editor's Note: Need an extra edge heading into the fantasy playoffs? Want to dominate in DFS throughout the postseason? Find out how to get the NFL Season Pass, NFL DFS Toolkit and other products for free with our Black Friday sale! Click here to learn more!
Bears @ Lions
*Taylor Gabriel’s (concussion, out) absence vacates 5.7 targets and a nice 69.3 air yards per game, which should fall directly into Anthony Miller’s lap. It would normally be labeled as a blowup spot for Miller since the Lions have permitted the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing slot wideouts — where Miller has run 78 percent of his routes from this year — but friendly reminder offensive-minded play-caller Matt Nagy shifted Allen Robinson into the slot on a season-high 55.2 percent of his snaps the last time these two teams squared off in Week 10. I would still start Miller in season-long leagues over fringe WR3 names such as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandin Cooks, Curtis Samuel, and Larry Fitzgerald. Javon Wims projects to play along the perimeter in three-wide sets, as he did on 93.5 percent of Chicago’s snaps in the two games Gabriel missed earlier this year. He ran a route on 68 of Mitchell Trubisky’s and Chase Daniel’s combined 71 dropbacks in that stint.
Either Jesper Horsted or inline-blocking option J.P. Holtz figure to run away with Chicago’s tight end role since all of Trey Burton (calf, IR), Adam Shaheen (foot), and Ben Braunecker (concussion) are also sidelined. Horsted (6’4/229), an Ivy League wideout who careered with 28 touchdowns and a Shrine Game invite at Princeton, is an intriguing dynasty TE2 and stone-minimum DFS flier if only for his soft hands and college box score.
*Former Browns fourth-stringer David Blough offers little to nothing under center, as he showed in completing 58.1 percent of his passes for 271 yards (6.3 YPA), two touchdowns, and two picks on 54 snaps this preseason. I recently downgraded Kenny Golladay to WR34 behind Will Fuller, Dede Westbrook, and Marquise Brown, but would still play him over Sammy Watkins, for example, for the former’s sheer upside. Driskel’s absence also tanks any value Bo Scarbrough had in a previously advantageous spot against a Bears front-seven missing both Akiem Hicks (elbow, IR) and Danny Trevathan (elbow, out). T.J. Hockenson (shoulder, questionable) will undoubtedly suit up after his full participation in Wednesday’s practice, but note his 10-game high in receiving yards (56) since beginning his career with an absurd 6/131/1 against...who else...the Cardinals in Week 1. He can be avoided in season-long leagues, but his 31 routes on Driskel’s 45 dropbacks (69%) last week at the very least make the rookie an intriguing DFS tournament dart if Blough proves to be competent.
Bills @ Cowboys
*Robert Foster (hamstring, questionable) has only totaled 10 snaps the past two weeks, so his impact is up for debate. Even if ‘Foster’ is Australian for ‘active’, however, the Bills are still fully expected to utilize a heavy dose of 11 personnel, as they’ve done on a whopping 97 percent of their offensive plays in their last two games (per Warren Sharp). That two-week uptick in three-wide sets with John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Isaiah McKenzie permanently glued to the field not so coincidentally overlaps with their increased no-huddle rate (32.5%) which, as Establish The Run’s Pat Thorman noted, includes the team’s highest rate in over five years last Sunday. The Cowboys meanwhile have been scorched for 8.0 yards per attempt through the air by opposing 11 personnel this year.
*Jeff Heath (shoulder, questionable) muscled through extreme pain against New England but I’d be shocked if he suits up Thursday.
Saints @ Falcons
*Starting LG Andrus Peat (forearm) and LT Terron Armstead (ankle) won’t suit up against a “revamped” Falcons pass rush that failed to notch a single sack against Jameis Winston last week. Even a makeshift o-line shouldn’t affect New Orleans’ offense since 53.2 percent of Drew Brees’ pass attempts since Week 10 have been quickly doled out 0.5 and 7.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Marshon Lattimore’s (hamstring, questionable) assignment depends solely on Julio Jones’ (see below) availability.
*It sounds as if Julio Jones (shoulder, game-time decision) will test his shoulder pregame to ensure he can absorb contact. He participated in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s walkthroughs, but that obviously doesn’t prove a thing. While his status is an easy landmine to avoid in season-long leagues, cheaper DFS pivots include 1) Calvin Ridley, who smoked the Saints for 15/239/4 in ‘18, 2) Russell Gage, who recorded 8/76 on 10 targets and 64 snaps without Jones available in the second half last week, and 3) Christian Blake, who quietly saw nine targets on 32 routes once Julio left against the Bucs. Devonta Freeman (foot) “looks good” and is cleared to return no matter.
Austin Hooper’s (knee, out) absence stands out if only because backup TE Luke Stocker (back, questionable) could also miss this one. The Falcons also recently promoted TE Carson Meier from their practice squad — an ominous sign Stocker’s unlikely to suit up. Rather than lean on an unknown practice squad call-up, however, fantasy players should fully expect Atlanta to disperse second-year UDFA Jaeden Graham (6’4/250) as an every-down asset, as they did in Week 12 when he led his entire position in routes run (47). I would rank Graham as the TE16 if Stocker’s officially ruled out Thursday night.