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Matchups

Silva's Week 13 Matchups

by Evan Silva
Updated On: December 2, 2018, 6:48 am ET

1:00 PM ET Games

Baltimore @ Atlanta
Team Totals: Falcons 25, Ravens 23

Fast falling out of the NFC playoff race with three straight losses, Atlanta hosts Baltimore in desperate need of a win. Matt Ryan has flashed matchup-proof scoring ability with top-12 fantasy results in eight of his last ten starts, including top-eight numbers in 5-of-7 home games. As three of the last four passers to face Baltimore finished with top-ten scores, this matchup may not be as difficult as it looks on paper. Ryan averages 2.4 more yards per pass attempt at home than on the road, and Baltimore has played just one road game since Week 6. Ryan is a fringe QB1 and contrarian DFS-tournament option. … With 14 or fewer touches in six of his last seven games, Tevin Coleman is a low-end RB2/flex play against a Ravens Defense that has permitted 80 yards from scrimmage to just two enemy running backs all year. … Ito Smith is no longer a flex option with touch counts of 8 – 8 – 6 over the last three weeks. If the Falcons are going to pull off this victory, it seems likelier to happen on Ryan and the passing game’s back.

 

 

Ryan’s post-bye target distribution: Julio Jones 44; Calvin Ridley 31; Austin Hooper 27; Mohamed Sanu 23; Coleman 19; Smith 11. … Julio enters Week 13 on a white-hot tear with 100-plus yards in six straight games. As Jones runs a team-high 51% of his routes at right cornerbacks, he will encounter Ravens RCB Jimmy Smith the most among Atlanta’s pass catchers. Smith has disappointed since returning from his early-season suspension, allowing 19-of-26 targets (73.1%) against him to be completed for 239 yards (9.2 YPA) and two touchdowns (PFF) over the last six games. … Ridley cleared 75 yards for the second time all season in last week’s loss to New Orleans and has finished below 55 yards in six of his last eight games. Always a volatile WR3 play, Ridley will primarily do Week 13 battle with Ravens second-year LCB Marlon Humphrey, who has outplayed Smith this year. … With Julio and Ridley as Atlanta’s clear Nos. 1 and 2 passing-game options, Sanu and Hooper wage a weekly battle for No. 3 treatment. Particularly with Ravens SS Tony Jefferson (ankle) on the shelf, Hooper’s Week 13 matchup stands out as superior.

Lamar Jackson will make his first-career away-game start on the fast track beneath Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz dome facing a Falcons Defense that has surrendered the NFL’s seventh-most QB rushing yards. His fantasy game built on dual-threat dynamism, Jackson has finishes of QB13 and QB12 under his belt even as we haven’t seen his ceiling maximized yet. Jackson attempted only 19 passes and didn’t account for a single touchdown in his first game. Last week, he threw two interceptions on tipped passes and lost a 60-yard deep-ball connection with John Brown to a holding flag on RT Orlando Brown. Jackson remains a high-floor, high-ceiling QB1 play against an Atlanta team yielding the NFL’s fourth-most points (27.9) and fifth-most yards (396.7) per game. … Baltimore’s first running back to rush for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games since Justin Forsett in 2015, Gus Edwards seized Ravens lead-back duties on rushing lines of 17/115/1 and 23/118/0 in Weeks 11-12. There are causes for Week 13 pause, however. The Ravens are underdogs on the road, and Edwards has one target all season. Ty Montgomery shined by turning 11 touches into 64 yards last week, and he is a far superior passing-game weapon. Even as Alex Collins (ankle) was placed on injured reserve, the Ravens activated Kenneth Dixon (knee) from I.R./return. Javorius Allen is still around to siphon a small handful of touches. Edwards offers decent upside as an RB2 play, but his floor is concerningly low.

Jackson’s Weeks 11-12 target distribution: Michael Crabtree 9; Willie Snead and John Brown 8; Nick Boyle 6; Hayden Hurst 4; Montgomery 3; Chris Moore and Mark Andrews 2; Edwards 0. … Crabtree’s stat lines through two Jackson starts are 1/7/0 and 3/21/1. Crabtree was targeted on Jackson’s second Week 12 pick in the near-left corner of the end zone, but the pass was underthrown and volleyed to Raiders CB Gareon Conley. Crabtree did hit pay dirt in the second half, beating Daryl Worley from eight yards out. … Snead drew eight targets in Jackson’s first start, and zero in his second. Get used to this kind of inconsistency on the NFL’s run-heaviest team. … Brown was targeted once in Week 11 and seven times last week. His box-score results are 1/23/0 and 1/25/0, losing the aforementioned bomb to a flag and dropping a pass. … Jackson’s biggest passing gain so far came on last week’s 74-yard play-action connection with Andrews. It was Andrews’ lone target of Week 12. Continue to avoid the Ravens’ three-man TEBC.

Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Ravens 23

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Denver @ Cincinnati
Team Totals: Broncos 25, Bengals 20

New Bengals QB  Jeff Driskel lost his job at the University of Florida to “Treon Harris,” transferred to Louisiana Tech, played well enough to get drafted in the 2016 sixth round by the 49ers, got cut, and spent the last two-plus seasons in Cincinnati’s system. Long an erratic passer, Driskel’s calling cards are size and mobility at 6-foot-4, 234 with 4.56 speed. Driskel was sharp in the last two preseasons, completing 52-of-79 throws (65.8%) for 612 yards (7.75 YPA) and a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio, adding a fourth score on the ground. Driskel has hit pay dirt twice as a runner on 61 snaps this year. As Cincinnati is down to third-string LT Cedric Ogbuehi due to Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher's back injuries and Week 13 opponent Denver ranks top eight in both sacks (33) and QB hits (69), Driskel is entering an unideal environment for his first NFL start. Nevertheless, A.J. Green’s (toe) return combined with Driskel’s dual threat and non-embarrassing to-date play give him two-QB-league and DFS-tournament appeal. … Even as Driskel played over half of last week’s game, Joe Mixon stayed the course with four-week highs in touches (21) and snaps (72%) and ran 32 routes, his most all year. Mixon’s 155 total yards were also a season high. Denver has played shutdown run defense over its last five games, however, stymieing enemy backs for a combined 99/309/0 (3.12 YPC) rushing line. Mixon is a good-not-great RB2 play in Week 13.


Driskel’s 2018 target distribution: C.J. Uzomah 10; Auden Tate 7; Tyler Boyd and John Ross 5; Mixon and Cody Core 4; Giovani Bernard 1. … Playing with a different quarterback and probably not yet 100%, A.J. Green is best approached as a boom-bust WR2 in his return from a four-week toe injury. His matchup is gorgeous, though; perimeter WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster (13/189/1), Robby Anderson (3/123/2), Robert Woods (7/109/0), Sammy Watkins (8/107/2), and DeAndre Hopkins (10/105/1) have given the Broncos’ secondary the most recent fits. Bradley Roby has been a full-on disaster as Denver’s “top” cover man on the outside. … Uzomah has exceeded 45 yards once all year, but his second-team practice connection with Driskel gives Uzomah low-end streamer life. The Broncos allow the NFL’s seventh-most yards per game to tight ends (65.9), including an 8/85/0 receiving line on ten targets to Steelers TEs last week. … Boyd’s Week 13 draw is concerning versus shutdown slot CB Chris Harris. Driskel hit Boyd for a 28-yard touchdown in last week’s second half, but Boyd is a fade-matchup WR3 at best with Green back to hog targets. … Ross has topped 40 yards twice all year and is scoring TDs at a wildly regression-bound clip.

The Bengals’ defense went 17 straight offensive possessions without forcing a punt before doing so in last week’s third quarter. Indeed, this is a defense to attack aggressively with league highs allowed in points (31.5) and total yards (439.6) per game. … Despite Royce Freeman’s (ankle) return two games ago, Phillip Lindsay has deservedly remained Denver’s offensive focus with 29 touches to Freeman’s 14 and 216 yards with three scores to Freeman’s 47 yards with one TD. In the last three weeks, Cincinnati was pasted for 93/460/5 (4.95 YPC) rushing by enemy backs. On the year, the Bengals have given up a league-high 17 all-purpose TDs to Lindsay’s position. … Cincinnati’s defense is bad enough that even Case Keenum may offer streamer value. 10-of-11 quarterbacks to face the Bengals have top-13 fantasy results with the sole exception of Ryan Tannehill, who played with an injured throwing shoulder against them back in Week 5. Only the Bucs (26) have allowed more touchdown passes than the Bengals (25).

Keenum’s Weeks 9-12 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 27; Jeff Heuerman 18; Courtland Sutton 15; Lindsay 8; Devontae Booker and Matt LaCosse 7; Tim Patrick 5; DaeSean Hamilton 3. … Sanders has commanding team leads in targets (27) and Air Yards (260) in the three games since Demaryius Thomas was traded and is popping as Week 13’s No. 1 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model. Seeing WR1-caliiber usage, Sanders now catches a Bengals secondary allowing the NFL’s fifth-most yards per game to wide receiver groups (182.1). Price permitting, Sanders deserves to be a DFS staple in Week 13. … Heuerman’s year-ending rib/lung injuries give LaCosse legitimate TE1 streamer appeal coming off last week’s 3/34/1 receiving line on four targets in limited work. Allowing the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to tight ends, the Bengals got torched for a perfect 6/69/2 receiving line on six targets by Browns tight ends last week. LaCosse is a respectable athlete with 4.71 speed at 6-foot-6, 257 and has always been regarded as a better receiver than blocker. … Although box-score results have remained elusive for Sutton, his 170 Air Yards rank second on the team since Thomas was dealt. Sutton’s 11.3-yard Average Depth of Target is nearly a full yard higher than Sanders’ 10.4, and Cincinnati has permitted the NFL’s third-most completions of 20-plus yards (45). Sutton is a volatile WR4 with DFS-tournament upside.

Score Prediction: Broncos 24, Bengals 20

 

 

LA Rams @ Detroit
Team Totals: Rams 32.5, Lions 22.5

The Lions host the Rams with one win – by one point – since Week 7 while attempting to nurse back to health a broken offense averaging a pitiful 16.2 points over its last five games. As Matthew Stafford’s weaponry has eroded and he’s managed one top-12 fantasy score through 11 starts, Stafford’s Week 13 fantasy appeal would be driven entirely by this game’s domed environment and shootout potential versus the high-flying Rams. Los Angeles has also been torched for a 25:6 TD-to-INT ratio over its last nine games, good for an average of 2.78 passing scores allowed. … Kerryon Johnson (knee) will miss at least one more game, forcing LeGarrette Blount back into lead-rushing duties after his 20-touch, 103-yard, two score Thanksgiving eruption against the Bears. The Rams are vulnerable on the ground, giving up 4.92 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns in 11 games to running backs. Blount’s floor is painfully low due to his near-nonexistent receiving role, however, and Detroit is a two-score underdog in a game that could get out of hand quickly. Ultimately, Blount is best approached as a boom-bust RB2/flex play with touchdown dependency. … Theo Riddick’s target counts are 8 – 7 – 7 – 7 since the Golden Tate trade, good for catch totals of 7 – 6 – 5 – 7. Riddick is PPR flex-play viable and would benefit if the Lions do fall behind.

Stafford’s Weeks 11-12 target distribution: Kenny Golladay 22; Bruce Ellington 16; Riddick 14; Michael Roberts 6; Andy Jones 3; Kerryon Johnson, T.J. Jones, and Luke Willson 2; Blount and Levine Toilolo 1. … Golladay will remain a rest-of-season target monster with Tate gone to Philadelphia and Marvin Jones (knee) on injured reserve, especially exciting in this likely high-scoring game and plus draw. The Rams’ secondary has been lit on fire by Tyreek Hill (10/215/2), Michael Thomas (12/211/1), Davante Adams (5/133/0), Chris Conley (7/74/2), Tyler Lockett (5/67/1), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2/45/1) over its last four games. Aqib Talib’s return will eventually help, but he is a 32-year-old corner returning from a near-three-month ankle injury. Golladay has 36 targets over the last three games. … Slot man Ellington offers mild PPR appeal with consecutive six-catch games since signing off the street on November 6. … Roberts (shoulder) is doubtful, leaving Willson and Toilolo as the Lions' two tight ends.

Jared Goff visits Detroit coming off Los Angeles’ Week 12 bye following Week 11’s 105-point eruption win over Kansas City. Carved by popgun-armed backup Chase Daniel for 230 yards and two touchdowns on Thanksgiving – even as Daniel missed several big-play opportunities in the downfield passing game -- the Lions pose minimal defensive resistance with a 24:4 TD-to-INT ratio and the NFL’s third-most yards per pass attempt (8.6) allowed. Matt Patricia’s club generates the league’s third-lowest pressure rate (24%), letting enemy quarterbacks stand tall in clean pockets and securing Goff as a high-floor, high-ceiling QB1. … Detroit’s run defense has stiffened since trading for NT Damon Harrison, limiting enemy backs to 99/382/3 (3.86 YPC) rushing over its last five games after coughing up 5.99 yards per carry to Todd Gurley’s position in the season’s initial six weeks. To keep Gurley rolling, savvy coach Sean McVay should explore copying the wheel-route-heavy approach Matt Nagy took against the Lions in Week 12. Tarik Cohen, Taquan Mizzell, and Jordan Howard combined for 10/68/2 receiving on 13 targets and could’ve had more had Daniel not missed Cohen for another would-be early-game wheel-route score.

Goff’s target distribution sans Cooper Kupp (ACL): Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks 25; Gurley 15; Josh Reynolds 14; Tyler Higbee 9; Gerald Everett 8. … It’s unclear which Rams wideout will draw Darius Slay’s shadow coverage, if any. As a smallish speedster with lightning quicks, Cooks poses the toughest draw for Slay from a man-coverage standpoint. With fantasy results of 4/64/1 - 3/74/0 - 8/107/0 in Kupp’s three missed games, Cooks is a WR2 with WR1 upside regardless of Slay’s whereabouts. In his career, Cooks has averaged 0.59 touchdowns per game indoors versus 0.38 TDs outdoors. … Running nearly 70% of his routes inside, Woods is the likeliest Rams receiver to avoid Slay, who plays 90% of his snaps on the perimeter. Woods has cleared 70 yards in ten straight games with stat lines of 5/78/0 - 5/70/0 - 4/72/1 in Kupp’s missed games. … Reynolds set season highs in routes run (55) and snaps (98%) with Kupp shelved in Los Angeles’ pre-bye win over Kansas City, tallying receiving lines of 3/42/2 and 6/80/1 in Kupp’s last two absences. Reynolds is a WR3 play with WR2 upside as a frequent scoring-position target for Goff and full-time wideout in the Rams’ high-octane attack. … Although Everett scored twice and Higbee set season highs across the board (6/63/0) against the Chiefs, they continued to be deployed as rotational players. Higbee ran more routes (25) than Everett (18), and Everett played only 28% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps. The Lions allow the NFL’s 11th-fewest receptions per game to tight ends (4.0).

Score Prediction: Rams 31, Lions 24

Arizona @ Green Bay
Team Totals: Packers 29, Cardinals 15

Settled in as the most-consistent member of Green Bay’s disappointing offense, Aaron Jones is a layup RB1 against a Cards defense hemorrhaging 177.0 total yards per game to running backs, including 190 to the lowly Raiders backfield in Week 11 and 241 with three TDs to Chargers backs last week. Jones’ weekly touch counts are 20 – 16 – 18 – 16 to Jamaal Williams’ 1 – 1 – 3 – 9 over the last month. A viable DFS cash-game play, Jones’ matchup is bolstered by Arizona’s loss of run-stuffing MLB Josh Bynes (thumb) to I.R. … In a strange twist, Aaron Rodgers can only be logically viewed as a Week 13 floor play based on this matchup and his own to-date performance. Rodgers has eked out just three top-ten fantasy scores over his last ten starts, while the Cards have permitted the NFL’s second-fewest touchdown passes (15) armed by an underrated pass rush that ranks No. 2 in sacks (37) and No. 3 in QB hit rate (18.8%). Still, the biggest reason for low defensive passing-score production versus the Cardinals is their allowance of 16 running back TDs, second most in the NFL. In a game even the reeling Packers should dominate, Rodgers remains squarely in DFS-tournament play.

 

 

Davante Adams has overcome a brutal cornerback schedule for receiving lines of 9/140/1 (Darius Slay), 8/81/0 (Tre’Davious White), 8/64/1, 5/69/1 (Xavier Rhodes), 4/57/2 (Xavien Howard), and 6/40/1 (Stephon Gilmore). Adams draws 26% of his targets in the slot, whereas Patrick Peterson has traveled inside on just six snaps all year. … With just 13 and 17 routes run over the past two weeks, it would not be crazy to consider tight end streamers over Graham. Arizona permits the NFL’s ninth-fewest yards per game to tight ends (41.5), and Graham has finished below 35 yards in four of the last five weeks. … Although both rookies’ usage and production have frustrated in a wayward Green Bay passing attack, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown offer Week 13 sleeper appeal based on the idea of Peterson slowing down Adams and Green Bay getting minimal passing-game results from anywhere else. With Valdes-Scantling outside and St. Brown in the slot, both plus-sized speedsters have favorable draws against Cardinals Nos. 2 and 3 CBs Leonard Johnson and David Amerson, who were both signed on November 14. Johnson runs an embarrassing 4.71 forty. Amerson stays getting cooked. Randall Cobb's (questionable, hamstring) return would throw a wrench into MVS and/or ESB's playing time, however.

Yet to record a single top-12 fantasy score in eight starts, Josh Rosen is a better target for Green Bay’s D/ST than two-quarterback-league play with 15-20 MPH winds in the Lambeau forecast. The Packers rank third in sacks (36) and have allowed just 18.8 points per game at home versus 28.8 PPG on the road. Even since Byron Leftwich took over as play caller, Arizona’s offensive line has allowed an NFL-high 37% pressure rate. … A blowout loss like last week’s to the Chargers is the biggest concern for David Johnson. His matchup is favorable with DE Mike Daniels (foot) on I.R. and Green Bay coughing up 147/699/5 (4.76 YPC) rushing to enemy backs over the last six weeks. Johnson’s usage has stayed bankable with 19-plus touches in seven of his last eight games. He's averaging 23.3 touches since Leftwich replaced Mike McCoy. … As Ricky Seals-Jones can’t catch a cold and rookie Christian Kirk’s results are all over the map, Larry Fitzgerald is Arizona’s lone bankable passing-game asset. Fitzgerald’s matchup is a good one; 35-year-old slot CB Tramon Williams has been burned for five TDs on just 11 slot targets this year, and Williams’ 125.8 passer rating allowed is easily worst on the Packers. Kirk will wage more battles with lockdown rookie CB Jaire Alexander, whose passer rating allowed is a stingy 81.8 (PFF).

Score Prediction: Packers 24, Cardinals 13

Buffalo @ Miami
Team Totals: Dolphins 22, Bills 18

Although Miami was more competitive than expected in last week’s three-point loss to the Colts, Ryan Tannehill’s usage in his return from a throwing-arm injury bodes poorly for his going-forward outlook. Tannehill attempted 28 passes or fewer for the fifth time in six starts and has yet to reach 290 yards in a game this season. Eight of the last nine quarterbacks to face Buffalo finished with fantasy results of QB19 or worse. … Although Kenyan Drake’s dynamic playmaking ability reappeared on 14- and 33-yard Week 12 touchdowns, he was again out-touched 15 to 13 by Frank Gore and aggravated a preexisting shoulder injury late in the game. Gore and Drake’s committee usage on a low-scoring team renders both low-floor flex plays regardless of opponent. Buffalo’s allowance of 15 all-purpose TDs in 11 games to running backs and Miami’s home-favorite spot do enhance Drake and Gore’s Week 13 playability.

Tannehill’s 2018 target distribution: Drake 31; Kenny Stills 24; Danny Amendola 21; Mike Gesicki 13; DeVante Parker 6; Gore and Durham Smythe 4; Leonte Carroo 2. … Stills hasn’t gone over 40 yards since Week 3 and is a big-play-dependent commodity facing a Bills Defense that has permitted league lows in 20-plus-yard completions (27) and 40-plus-yard pass plays (1). Stills did complain about his lack of usage this week, giving him the “squeaky wheel” narrative for Week 13. … Battling a sprained shoulder, Parker gutted out 12 pass routes on 45% of Miami’s Week 12 snaps and won’t be playable until he gets back to 100%. … With Amendola (knee) sidelined, the Dolphins' top-four receivers in Week 13 are likely to be Stills, Parker, Carroo, and Brice Butler. … Carroo Mossed Colts CB Pierre Desir for a 74-yard touchdown in last week’s loss. He was targeted twice all game on 11 pass patterns. … Gesicki hasn’t been a fantasy factor all year.

Although his passing-game performance will likely always remain uneven, Josh Allen reminded of his upside by setting a Bills franchise record for rushing yards (13/99/1) in last week’s upset of the Jaguars, also hitting rookie deep threat Robert Foster for a 75-yard touchdown bomb late in the first quarter. Allen finished with eight completions, though, and he hasn’t completed 20 passes in a game all season, another reminder that Bills pass catchers can never be trusted. Nevertheless, Allen is worth a Week 13 dice roll in two-quarterback leagues and DFS tournaments against a Fins defense that has permitted top-15 fantasy results to five of its last six quarterbacks faced, including top-five scores to fellow dual threats Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky. Allen’s erratic week-to-week play and tendency to hold the ball too long in the pocket keep Miami playable as a D/ST streamer. … Poor run blocking combined with Allen’s frequent read-option keeps limited LeSean McCoy to 53 scoreless yards on 18 touches in Week 12. This week’s matchup is far more favorable; Miami has served up 100-plus rushing yards in eight of its last nine games, including a hyper-efficient 205/1,092/7 (5.33 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs over its last eight. McCoy has 18-plus touches in five of his last seven games. … Buffalo’s lone wideout worth mentioning is UDFA rookie Foster, a shot-play specialist with back-to-back 90-plus-yard weeks, albeit on target counts of 4 and 3. Miami’s secondary is highly vulnerable to speed, a box Foster checks (4.41).

Score Prediction: Dolphins 14, Bills 13

Chicago @ NY Giants
Team Totals: Bears 24.5, Giants 20.5

Although New York’s offense has shown signs of competence during a forgiving stretch of defenses (CAR – PHI – ATL – WAS – SF – TB – PHI), this is a matchup to avoid for Eli Manning, who has finished QB20 or worse in 6-of-11 starts with one top-ten fantasy score all year. Just three of the last ten quarterbacks to face Chicago logged top-16 scores, while the Bears’ ability to generate pressure keyed by Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack is sure to cause New York’s leaky offensive line fits.. … All-purpose usage and talent keep Saquon Barkley among fantasy’s most matchup-irrelevant players, but the Bears’ ability to hold enemy backs to below-expectation results remains noteworthy. Running backs average just 3.41 yards per carry and the NFL’s tenth-fewest receiving yards per game (39.9) when facing Chicago. Even without Kerryon Johnson (knee), however, Detroit’s backfield was its best source of offense on Thanksgiving against the Bears. LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner combined for 176 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.74 yards per carry to offer more than enough Week 13 optimism for Saquon.

Eli’s Weeks 7-12 target distribution: Odell Beckham 46; Barkley 36; Sterling Shepard 27; Evan Engram 20; Bennie Fowler 13; Rhett Ellison 11. … Beckham is Week 13’s “squeaky wheel” after expressing public displeasure with last week’s game plan, which OBJ didn’t believe was designed to attack Philadelphia’s injury-ruined secondary enough. (He was right.) Fellow perimeter WRs Albert Wilson (6/155/2), Stefon Diggs (13/126/1), DeSean Jackson (5/112/0), Josh Gordon (4/100/0), Christian Kirk (7/90/0), Davante Adams (5/88/1), Kenny Golladay twice (5/90/0, 6/78/1), and Geronimo Allison (5/69/1) have all beaten up on the Bears’ secondary. After disappointing with 85 scoreless yards at high Week 12 DFS ownership, Beckham figures to go lower owned than he should in this prime bounce-back spot. … Shepard has finished below 40 yards in four straight games, devolving into a fringe WR3/flex play with OBJ and Barkley’s passing-game usage up. … Engram pulled his hamstring during pre-game warmups in last week’s loss to Philadelphia, didn't play, and was ruled out for Week 13 on Friday. Ellison is next in line. No tight end has reached 50 yards against Chicago this year.

Chase Daniel’s successful Thanksgiving start was a testimony to Matt Nagy’s brilliant offensive designs and quarterback maximization, concepts and strategies with deep roots in Andy Reid’s coaching tree. But where fellow Reid apostle Doug Pederson has failed this year, Nagy hasn’t. Daniel finished as a top-15 fantasy passer despite missing Tarik Cohen and Anthony Miller for wide-open touchdowns in a scheme that actively gets guys free. Now visiting The Meadowlands, Daniel catches a Giants Defense allowing 27.7 points over its last three games. He’s a two-QB-league starter. … Nagy’s Week 12 backfield distribution suggests he’s further soured on struggling Jordan Howard, who tallied eight touches to Cohen’s ten and Taquan Mizzell’s three. A poor man’s Derrick Henry at this point, Howard has been getting phased out for weeks. Cohen is Chicago’s lone fantasy-playable back against the lowly G-Men, who have allowed 15 running back touchdowns in 11 games. Cohen is a perfect match for checkdown-specialist Daniel’s skill set and should be teed up as an upside RB2 in PPR leagues.

Daniel’s 2018 target distribution: Cohen and Taylor Gabriel 8; Trey Burton 7; Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson 4; Mizzell 3; Howard 2; Josh Bellamy 1. … There are no Week 13 matchups to fear in Chicago’s pass-catcher corps, but pinpointing target domination is always difficult regardless of the Bears’ quarterback identity. On paper, Burton’s matchup does stand out; the Giants have conceded 58-of-75 (77.3%) targets for 705 yards (9.4 YPA) to tight ends over their last eight games, including a 10/124/1 receiving line to Eagles tight ends last week. Regardless of matchups, Burton remains a fringe TE1 with hulking red-zone vulture Adam Shaheen (concussion) on his way back. … Production distribution among Bears wideouts is almost impossible to forecast, but recent results suggest Gabriel is the best bet for catches, Robinson the favorite for a potentially dominant game, and Miller a WR4/flex option.

Score Prediction: Giants 21, Bears 20

 

 

Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Panthers 29, Buccaneers 25.5

Fresh off arguably his best game all year in last week’s 27-9 beatdown of San Francisco, Jameis Winston catches a badly-struggling Panthers Defense that yielded multiple touchdown passes in nine of its last ten games with 28 or more points allowed in three of the last four weeks. After his turnover-free, two-score Week 12 performance, Winston’s odds of being benched during this game should be significantly lessened barring a worst-case-scenario first-half implosion. In this same Todd Monken-called offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick tallied top-five fantasy results when the Panthers and Bucs played to a 42-28 track meet in Week 9. As we’ll touch on momentarily, matchups are golden throughout the Bucs’ pass-catcher corps. … As Tampa Bay maintained a Week 12 lead over the non-competitive 49ers, Peyton Barber benefited in positive script with 20 touches to Jacquizz Rodgers’ 9. Barber managed 63 yards from scrimmage, however, and the Panthers held Barber to 40 total yards in Week 9. Because he doesn’t break big plays and is used sparingly in the passing game, Barber’s touchdown dependency is as high as any running back’s in football. He’s a low-floor flex play.

Winston’s Week 12 target distribution: Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson 8; Adam Humphries 6; Rodgers 5; Cameron Brate and Chris Godwin 4; Barber 2. … Evans lost his Week 9 matchup with Panthers top CB James Bradberry, managing 16 scoreless yards on ten targets. Evans enters the rematch coming off consecutive 100-yard games, while PFF charged Bradberry with 12-of-18 (67%) targets allowed for 255 yards (14.2 YPA) and two touchdowns over the last three weeks. Evans dusted Richard Sherman last week for a 42-yard gain, joining Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history to open their careers with five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. … D-Jax's (thumb) absence will elevate Godwin to a full-time player; to this point, Godwin had played only 57% of Tampa Bay's offensive snaps. A physical contested-catch winner, Godwin (6'1/209) has a distinct size advantage on speedy but spindly Panthers No. 2 CB Donte Jackson (5'11/178). Godwin is a DFS cash-game play with ample upside. … Slot man Humphries is an underrated WR3 in this probable shootout. Slot CB Captain Munnerlyn is Carolina’s weakest cover man, as Tyler Boyd (6/132/1), Tyler Lockett (5/107/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (3/90/1), Humphries himself (8/82/2), Sterling Shepard (4/75/0), Cole Beasley (7/73/0), and Bruce Ellington (6/52/0) can all attest. … In the Bucs’ first post-O.J. Howard game, Brate logged season highs in routes (33) and snaps (70%) and drew two end-zone targets, scoring from six yards out on the first. As Carolina allows the NFL’s most fantasy points to tight ends, Brate is a quality TE1 start as Winston’s favorite scoring-position option.

Carolina visits Tampa Bay desperate for a win after three straight losses, the last two by one (Lions) and three (Seahawks) points. Amid Week 12 concerns over knee and ankle injuries, Cam Newton ran for a season-high 63 yards and has now thrown multiple touchdown passes in ten straight starts. Last week’s shutdown of San Francisco’s passing game wasn’t a sign of things to come for the Bucs’ defense; Nick Mullens was to blame in a dreadful, inaccurate showing that nearly got him benched. This is an obvious blowup spot for Cam. Tampa Bay is missing first-team RCB Carlton Davis (knee) and slot CB M.J. Stewart (foot). … Christian McCaffrey set a franchise record for yards from scrimmage (237) in last week’s loss to Seattle by accomplishing the rare feat of topping 100 rushing and receiving yards in the same game. Creamed by Matt Breida and “Jeffery Wilson” for 181 total yards last week, Tampa Bay conceded a combined 104/567/4 (5.45 YPC) rushing line to running backs in Weeks 9-12. The Bucs got heated up by McCaffrey for 157 yards and two touchdowns in these teams’ midseason meeting. DFS players should consider running Newton and McCaffrey together in the same lineups.

Newton’s Weeks 6-12 target distribution: McCaffrey 42; D.J. Moore 35; Devin Funchess 32; Greg Olsen 28; Curtis Samuel 21; Jarius Wright 14; Torrey Smith 6. … Funchess’ (back) return to practice throws a wrench into usage expectations for Carolina’s wideout corps, frustrating in such a fantasy-friendly matchup. The Panthers appear likely to have Funchess, Moore, Smith, Samuel, and Wright at their disposal in a potential five-man WRBC. … Barring further injury developments, Olsen looks like by-far Carolina’s most-bankable pass catcher. Tampa Bay has been shredded by tight ends all year, notably Vance McDonald (4/112/1), Zach Ertz (11/94/0), Trey Burton (2/86/1), Austin Hooper (9/71/1), David Njoku (4/52/1), and Olsen himself (6/76/1).

Score Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Panthers 27

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
Team Totals: Colts 25.5, Jaguars 21.5

The Jaguars will turn to weak-armed backup Cody Kessler after Blake Bortles’ latest multi-turnover game and their seventh straight loss. Although Kessler is a capable distributor with a career 64.5% completion rate and 7:4 TD-to-INT ratio despite mostly playing on miserable Browns teams, he is set up to fail in the box score due to Jacksonville’s run-dominant approach and in real life with LG Andrew Norwell (ankle) joining C Brandon Linder (knee) and LT Cam Robinson (ACL) on I.R. The Colts’ D/ST is playable. … Leonard Fournette’s one-week ban for fighting the Bills gives the Jaguars an opportunity to justify their strange in-season acquisition of Carlos Hyde. In four games as a Jaguar, Hyde has 93 scoreless yards on 27 runs (3.44 YPC) and zero catches on two targets, getting out-touched by T.J. Yeldon (29). Against the Colts, Hyde will be a better bet for carry volume and potentially goal-line work, while Yeldon will continue to dominate passing-down usage as a vastly superior PPR play. Jacksonville falling behind the red-hot Colts would benefit Yeldon far more than Hyde, while Indianapolis is most giving to pass-catching backs with the NFL’s second-most receptions (7.5) and third-most receiving yards (62.9) per game allowed to Yeldon’s position. Behind a depleted line on a downright terrible offense, Hyde checks numerous trap-play boxes. … Kessler’s 2018 target distribution: Donte Moncrief 6; Yeldon and D.J. Chark 5; Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook 4. … You’re on your own throwing darts at Jaguars pass catchers.

 

 

Jacksonville’s defense hasn’t posed a matchup to fear for quite some time, yielding top-seven fantasy results to five of its last six quarterbacks faced, including top-five scores to otherwise-underwhelming Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, and Carson Wentz. Albeit in the comfy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, Andrew Luck lit up Jacksonville for 285 yards and three scores on 21-of-29 passing (72.4%) in these clubs’ Week 1 date. “I don’t know what happened to this defense,” remarked NFL Films guru Greg Cosell after watching the Jaguars’ All-22 film. “When you watch the tape, you don’t get any sense at all of this being a strong defense.” … Marlon Mack (concussion) appears on track for Week 13 clearance. Even as Jacksonville has done well to limit yards per carry, hot-seat DC Todd Wash’s unit got stomped for 125-plus rushing yards in five of its last seven games and has given up nine rushing TDs during its seven-game losing streak. With 17-plus touches in four of his last five games, Mack is a volume-based RB2 with big-play ability on a high-scoring offense facing an overrated defense. Nyheim Hines remains Mack’s change-of-pace complement with 23 touches in three games since the Colts’ Week 9 bye. Jordan Wilkins has only eight touches in that span and lost a first-half fumble last week.

Jack Doyle’s year-ending hip injury solidifies Eric Ebron as a top-five TE1 play for the remainder of 2018, and his Week 13 matchup is a familiar one after Ebron scored three TDs and gained 71 yards on four touches against the Jags in Week 10. Ebron has averaged 10.0 targets per game in Doyle’s five missed games this year, a colossal improvement on his 3.7 targets when Doyle plays. Mo Alie-Cox (calf) and Erik Swoope’s (knee) injuries further lock in Ebron as the Colts’ full-time tight end. … Beginning with most recent, T.Y. Hilton’s last five receiving lines against Jacksonville are 3/77/0 - 3/51/1 – 2/27/0 – 6/95/0 – 7/42/1 despite frequently contending with Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage. The good news is Hilton has run 33% of his routes in the slot since Indianapolis’ Week 9 bye, while Ramsey covers the boundary on 95% of snaps. Ramsey also missed most of the practice week with a knee injury. … Behind Hilton’s team-high 34 pass patterns, these were Week 12’s route totals for the rest of the Colts’ wideout corps: Dontrelle Inman 28; Chester Rogers 19; Ryan Grant 14; Zach Pascal 6. Inman and Rogers each drew four targets, but Inman is the preferred WR4/flex option based on opportunity.

Score Prediction: Colts 28, Jaguars 17

Cleveland @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 26.5, Browns 20.5

Despite attempting 25 passes or fewer for the sixth straight game, Deshaun Watson exploded for last week’s QB1 fantasy score on a season-best 9/70/1 rushing line and three all-purpose TDs in Houston’s eighth straight win. Although he's lacked box-score consistency, Watson's upside is undeniable with seven top-ten fantasy scores and three top-five finishes in his last ten starts. Four of the last five quarterbacks to face Cleveland logged top-12 results. … As Watson’s dropbacks have dwindled to keep him out of harm’s way amid Houston’s defensive improvement, Lamar Miller has flourished with an 111-total-yard average over his last five games. Cleveland has yielded nine rushing TDs over its last six games and failed to limit rushing efficiency all year, serving up 4.74 yards per carry to running backs. Favored by nearly a touchdown at home in a plus draw, Miller is an upside RB2 against the Browns.

Watson’s Weeks 11-12 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 12; Keke Coutee 11; Miller and Demaryius Thomas 6; Ryan Griffin 4; Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas 3. … Hopkins’ volume has correspondingly dipped along with Watson’s reduced pass attempts, drawing double-digit targets in five straight games to begin the year but averaging 7.5 targets in six games since. Hopkins remains an every-week WR1, but expectations for his ceiling should be ticked down. He seems certain to draw impressive Browns rookie CB Denzel Ward’s shadow coverage in this game. PFF has credited Ward with the NFL’s ninth-lowest passer rating allowed when targeted (69.7) among 114 qualified cornerbacks. … On the off chance Ward bottles up Hopkins and Coutee’s hamstring remains problematic, Thomas would stand a chance to build on last Monday night’s two-touchdown performance. Demaryius is averaging just three targets a game since the Texans acquired him, but they did so for scenarios like this. He’s a matchup-based WR3 play. Coutee is unplayable until he reproves his health. … Avoid the Texans’ three-way tight end committee.

Baker Mayfield visits domed Reliant Stadium with top-13 fantasy results in four of his last five starts, including consecutive top-five finishes in Weeks 10 and 12. This will be his toughest matchup in many weeks, however; Houston allows the NFL’s fifth-fewest points per game (20.2) and sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks while ranking sixth in sacks (34) and seventh in QB hit rate (17.1%). Especially at offensive tackle, the Browns have pass-protection deficiencies the Texans can exploit that Weeks 10 and 12 opponents Atlanta and Cincinnati could not. … Nick Chubb put on a Week 12 show in the passing game of all places, gobbling up 23 yards on a first-quarter screen before posterizing Bengals S Brandon Wilson on a 14-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. In order, Chubb’s touch counts are 20 – 23 – 23 – 31 over Cleveland’s last four games. Chubb’s increased passing-game usage is vital to his ability to overcome negative game script, which projects to occur here with the Browns slotted as underdogs by nearly a touchdown on the road. Ultimately, Chubb is a volume-based RB2 facing the AFC’s best run defense. … Chubb’s hiked usage has taken a toll on Duke Johnson with touch counts of 10 – 7 – 3 since Freddie Kitchens replaced Todd Haley as play caller. Johnson could benefit if the Browns play this game from behind, but he is an unsafe flex. The Texans are 20th in receiving yards per game allowed to backs (42.2).

Mayfield’s target distribution with Kitchens as OC: Jarvis Landry 17; Johnson 15; Antonio Callaway 12; David Njoku 11; Breshad Perriman 9; Rashard Higgins 8; Chubb 7. … Simply not being prioritized in the passing game any longer, Landry’s weekly target counts are 6 – 6 – 5 with Kitchens calling plays. Landry has 50 yards or fewer in five of Cleveland’s last six games. … This was the Browns’ distribution of routes run at receiver in Week 12, after their Week 11 bye: Callaway 23; Landry 23; Higgins 14; Perriman 11. Based on usage and matchup, it’s not crazy to call Callaway a superior Week 13 fantasy play to Landry. A 4.41 speedster, Callaway will run most of his routes at 34-year-old LCB Johnathan Joseph and 31-year-old RCB Shareece Wright while Landry contends with much-stingier Kareem Jackson and Aaron Colvin inside. … Not only does Njoku have 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of Mayfield’s eight starts, he catches a gorgeous Week 13 draw. Tight ends facing Houston have caught 61-of-75 targets (81.3%) for 742 yards (9.90 YPA) and six touchdowns. The Texans coughed up Jeff Heuerman (10/83/1) and Jordan Reed’s (7/71/1) season-best games in Weeks 9 and 11, then got creamed for a perfect 8/142/1 receiving line on eight targets by Titans tight ends last week. Njoku is a high-confidence TE1 play in this game. Last week’s All-22 film revealed that Njoku is the NFL’s only player capable of crowd surfing into end zones.

Score Prediction: Texans 24, Browns 21

4:05 PM ET Games

NY Jets @ Tennessee
Team Totals: Titans 24.5, Jets 15.5

Back home following Monday night’s primetime road loss to Houston, this is a classic bounce-back spot for a 5-6 Titans team still in the AFC playoff hunt. The Jets’ defense has supported high fantasy floors by yielding top-16 results to eight of its last ten quarterbacks faced, while Marcus Mariota’s finishes are QB8 (@ HOU) – QB6 (vs. NE) – QB7 (@ DAL) in his last three full games. Todd Bowles’ man-coverage, blitz-heavy scheme can also be vulnerable to QB rushing. Sure to have minimal ownership, Mariota is an intriguing DFS-tournament play in stacks with Dion Lewis and/or Corey Davis. … The biggest threat to Mariota’s Week 13 upside is the possibility the Titans control this game, leaning on their rushing attack and slowing down pace. Bowles’ defense was pasted for a 176/872/6 (4.95 YPC) rushing line by enemy backs in Weeks 5-12, including Sony Michel and James White’s 30/206/1 (6.87 YPC) demolition last week. This game’s matchup and projected script are such that Derrick Henry is a rare-viable flex play, albeit always with a worrisome floor, especially after last week’s lost fumble. The next time Henry clears 70 total yards will be the first since January’s playoff upset of Kansas City. … Lewis continued to out-touch (14) and out-snap (53%) Henry (10, 49%) against the Texans and remains the superior RB2 bet.

Mariota’s Weeks 9-12 target distribution: Corey Davis 26; Lewis 14; Jonnu Smith 11; Cameron Batson 8; Tajae Sharpe and Anthony Firkser 6; Henry 5; Taywan Taylor 2. … Davis is a high-ceiling Week 13 play in large part because of his versatility; he leads all Titans pass catchers in slot targets (18) over the last three games. Using slot receivers against the Jets has been profitable all year as fantasy leaguers who started Dede Westbrook (9/130/0), Adam Thielen (9/110/1), Jarvis Landry (8/103/0), Zay Jones (8/93/1), Julian Edelman (4/84/1), Golden Tate (7/79/1), Emmanuel Sanders (9/72/0), Chester Rogers (4/55/1), and Anthony Miller (3/37/1) intimately know. … Smith has cleared 40 yards in three straight games and scored a touchdown in three of his last four, putting him on the low-end streaming radar. Smith’s floor remains unsafe with one game above three targets all year and Firkser’s pass-catching role growing. Strong at safety, the Jets have permitted league lows in receptions (29) and yards (365) to tight ends. … Taylor (foot) and Sharpe (ankle) are expected to gut out their injuries, rotating with Batson behind Davis.

The Jets’ offense has been broken for weeks, relying on pass catchers to play through high ankle sprains, failing to pass protect, and deploying a three-way RBBC. The environment became so dysfunctional Jets brass decided to give rookie Sam Darnold a four-week breather. Beleaguered OC Jeremy Bates will undoubtedly be fired along with Bowles’ entire staff at the end of the season. This is an offense to aggressively stream defenses against. The lone skill-position player worth mentioning is rookie TE Chris Herndon, who unfortunately squares off with a Titans Defense allowing the NFL’s third-fewest yards per game to tight ends (35.5).

Score Prediction: Titans 27, Jets 13

 

 

Kansas City @ Oakland
Team Totals: Chiefs 35.5, Raiders 20

Beginning with most recent, these are the last nine fantasy D/ST results against the Raiders: DST1 (BAL) – DST19 (ARZ) – DST5 (LAC) – DST5 (SF) – DST21 (IND) – DST4 (SEA) – DST10 (LAC) – DST10 (CLE) – DST10 (MIA). Had you simply used whatever defense played Jon Gruden’s team for the last nine games, you would’ve secured seven top-ten scores, including three top-five results in the last month. Derek Carr has taken at least three sacks in eight of his last nine games. Kansas City’s D/ST is a very-viable streamer. … In the same week Gruden called Jalen Richard the Raiders’ “MVP” and compared him to Charlie Garner, Richard touched the ball three times at Baltimore. Doug Martin led the team in touches (14), and even DeAndre Washington (4) got more work than Richard. Although Richard rebounding is possible if the Raiders fall behind the Chiefs -- as expected -- Martin looks like Oakland’s lone semi-stable backfield option with somewhere between 11 and 18 touches in five straight games. … UDFA rookie Marcell Ateman led Oakland in Week 12 targets (10), only to deliver 16 yards on three grabs. With Jordy Nelson (knee) still hobbled and Seth Roberts devoid of playmaking ability, Ateman is this week’s top play in the corps. … Jared Cook’s Week 12 snaps (55%) inexplicably fell for the seventh straight game as the Raiders follow through with their tank. He’s still the top fantasy bet on the roster with touchdowns in three of the last five games facing a Chiefs Defense permitting an AFC-high 73.8 yards per game to tight ends.

The Raiders are 1-4 at home, their losses coming by 20, 24, 14, and 14 points. Their defense generates pressure at a league-low 21% clip, while Patrick Mahomes’ 142.4 passer rating in clean pockets is easily the NFL’s highest (PFF). As usual, Mahomes is Week 13’s top QB1 play. … With Kareem Hunt sent packing following Friday's release of a video showing him violently pushing, tackling, and kicking a woman, Spencer Ware becomes an immediate RB2 play against a Raiders Defense surrendering 171.1 total yards per game to running backs. Hunt leaves behind the NFL’s third-most carries inside the five-yard line (11). Ware has 36 touches on the year, and Damien Williams (6) is the only other Chiefs back to touch the ball this season. … Tyreek Hill is an obvious top-five WR1 play as quite possibly the NFL’s fastest player facing the league’s slowest defense. In the three games where Sammy Watkins (foot, out) has played fewer than 15 snaps or sat entirely, Hill's target counts are 13 - 10 - 14. He's averaged 7.1 targets in Kansas City's other eight games. … Travis Kelce is this week’s premier TE1 play against an Oakland defense surrendering the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends. PFF has charged Raiders MLB Tahir Whitehead with a perfect passer rating (158.3) allowed in coverage, surrendering 28-of-32 targets for 439 yards (13.7 YPA) and seven (!) touchdowns. … Chris Conley’s career-best 7/74/2 receiving line on eight targets in the Chiefs’ pre-bye loss to the Rams puts Conley on the WR3/4 map in another gorgeous draw. Conley has a low floor, but he is big (6’2/213) and fast (4.35), and the Raiders have allowed the NFL’s fifth-most touchdown catches to wide receivers (16).

Score Prediction: Chiefs 40, Raiders 21

4:25 PM ET Games

Minnesota @ New England
Team Totals: Patriots 27, Vikings 22

Solid if unspectacular in New England’s post-bye 27-13 win over the Jets, Tom Brady returns to Foxboro for a much tougher draw against a Vikings Defense that has held six straight quarterbacks to fantasy results of QB16 or worse, including last week’s QB25 shutdown of Aaron Rodgers. The stoutness of Minnesota’s run defense, ferocity of their pass rush, and top CB Xavier Rhodes’ (hamstring) shaky health do suggest this could be a game where Brady leans on a high-volume, quick-passing approach to move the chains. Nevertheless, Tom Terrific is best viewed as a high-variance QB1 option with an underwhelming 2018 fantasy resume overall. He’s logged top-12 scores in just 4-of-11 starts. … Rex Burkhead’s (neck) activation from I.R. has a chance to threaten both Sony Michel and James White’s usage, although there are no guarantees Rex plays much or at all in his first eligible game. A quick-pass game plan would benefit White over Michel, but the Patriots have shown a commitment to feeding their first-round pick whenever Michel has been healthy, and the rookie remains the best bet for goal-line work of the bunch. Michel is a risky-if-viable RB2 against the Vikings. White is a PPR-specific RB2/flex.

 

 

Brady’s post-bye target distribution: Rob Gronkowski 7; White, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon 5; Michel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett 2. … Gronk’s 2018 has been an inarguable disappointment, but he has 15 targets over his last two games and looked spry on last week’s 34-yard first-quarter touchdown, splitting the Jets’ two-deep coverage. Fellow TEs Zach Ertz (10/110/1), Jimmy Graham (6/95/0), George Kittle (5/90/0), Ricky Seals-Jones (5/69/0), and Chris Herndon (4/42/1) have produced above expectation versus Minnesota. … Edelman was New England’s most-efficient Week 12 receiver, dusting Jets CB Morris Claiborne for a 36-yard catch and run on the opening drive before turning a routine underneath hookup into a third-quarter 21-yard score. Slot CB Mackensie Alexander is the least-feared member of Minnesota’s secondary, although Alexander has played the best football of his career over the last month. Running 70% of his routes inside, it would not be the least bit surprising if Edelman gave Alexander a rude awakening in a quick-pass-heavy attack. … Gordon is the likeliest candidate for Rhodes’ shadow coverage, and therefore would be the biggest beneficiary if Rhodes suffers an in-game setback or plays well short of 100%. An every-week WR2, Gordon has 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in four of his last five games. Gordon also checks in as Week 13’s No. 2 buy-low wideout in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model.

Kirk Cousins travels to Foxboro coming off arguably his best game all season in last Sunday night’s key division win over Green Bay. Cousins has been a high-floor, high-ceiling fantasy passer all season with top-16 scores in 8-of-11 starts and five top-ten finishes. Seven of the last ten quarterbacks to face New England logged top-14 results, exceptions being Josh McCown, Derek Anderson/Nathan Peterman, and Ryan Tannehill/Brock Osweiler. … Although Week 12’s box score shows Latavius Murray with 11 touches to Dalvin Cook’s 13, eight of Murray’s occurred in fourth-quarter clock-killing mode with Minnesota up by ten and later seven points. Cook remained the clear lead back on a 59% playing-time clip with 22 routes run to Murray’s 13. It makes sense for OC John DeFilippo to keep Murray involved as an interior grinder considering Cook’s injury history, but this game sets up best for Minnesota’s all-purpose back. The Vikings are road underdogs in this spot, and New England has yielded the NFL’s sixth-most receiving yards per game (55.1) to running backs. Cook is a mid-range RB2 with elevated appeal in PPR leagues. Murray won’t be flex viable outside of home games where the Vikings project to play in positive script.

Cousins’ post-bye target distribution: Stefon Diggs 29; Adam Thielen 21; Kyle Rudolph 12; Cook and Laquon Treadwell 6; Aldrick Robinson 4. … With double-digit targets in eight of his last nine games, Diggs is a locked-in WR1 despite the likelihood he draws shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore. Diggs’ crisp route running and voluminous usage keep him opponent proof. … Thielen enters Week 13 with 100-plus-yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-11 games and the top matchup in Minnesota’s pass-catcher corps. Tyreek Hill (7/142/3), Corey Davis (7/125/1), Dede Westbrook (4/82/1), Golden Tate (6/69/0), Jermaine Kearse (6/66/1), Chester Rogers (8/66/0), Zay Jones (6/55/0), and Bruce Ellington (4/37/1) have all produced at or above expectation against New England while running over 40% of their routes in the slot. Thielen has drawn 57% of his targets on slot routes. … Rudolph matched a season high with seven targets in last week’s win over the Packers. His Week 13 draw is favorable; New England has given up the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including receiving lines of 9/126/1 (Trey Burton), 7/57/0 (Chris Herndon), 4/55/1 (Jimmy Graham), and 3/45/1 (Jonnu Smith) within their last five games.

Score Prediction: Patriots 23, Vikings 21

San Francisco @ Seattle
Team Totals: Seahawks 28, 49ers 18

Back in prime playoff position following consecutive three-point wins over Green Bay and Carolina, the Seahawks catch their softest opponent since October with 2-9 San Francisco coming to town. Fried by Jameis Winston (QB9), Eli Manning (QB14), and Josh Rosen (QB13) in three of their last four games, the 49ers lack pass-rush firepower to upset Russell Wilson’s pocket, and have allowed a near-perfect 23:2 TD-to-INT ratio on the year. With top-12 fantasy results in seven straight starts, this is a high-floor, high-ceiling draw for red-hot Russ. … Chris Carson maintained a convincing Week 12 grip on Seattle’s lead-back job with 18 touches on 52% of the snaps, while Mike Davis (4, 29%) worked as No. 2 and Rashaad Penny (4, 16%) took a third-string backseat. Although San Francisco’s run defense has not been a 2018 weakness, being favored by ten points at home sets up Seattle for a high-volume rushing attack. In a game the Seahawks should control, Carson is a high-ceiling RB2 play with multi-score upside; his 11 carries inside the ten-yard line are more than twice as many as runner-up Davis’ 5. Penny has rushed just twice inside the ten – combining to lose two yards – and has zero rushing attempts inside the five.

Wilson’s Weeks 4-12 target distribution: Doug Baldwin 44; Tyler Lockett 37; David Moore 36; Davis 27; Nick Vannett 23; Ed Dickson 7; Penny and Carson 5. … The 49ers have been carved up in the slot all year as Golden Tate (7/109/0), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3/103/0), Larry Fitzgerald (8/102/1), Adam Thielen (6/102/0), Robert Woods (5/78/0), Keenan Allen (7/63/0), and Adam Humphries (6/54/1) can attest. Baldwin runs over 60% of his routes inside and Lockett nearly 50%, so both can capitalize. Although Baldwin’s box-score results have underwhelmed all year, he has five-plus catches in three straight games and a team-high 17 targets over the last two. … Fourth-year breakout WR Lockett has shown no signs of slowdown with 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 9-of-11 games, earning every-week WR3 treatment with WR2 upside. Last week, Lockett dusted Panthers slot CB Captain Munnerlyn for a 43-yard fourth-quarter gain. … Moore is Seattle’s main outside receiver, but he runs 65% of his routes at right corners and will therefore avoid stationary LCB Richard Sherman on most of Sunday’s snaps. Moore joined Lockett in Week 12’s 100-yard club by running a superb route to force Panthers top CB James Bradberry off his feet for a 54-yard gain early in the second half on a third-and-12 play. In the fourth frame, Moore pulled in a 35-yard touchdown bomb on fourth-and-three versus Panthers CB Corn Elder. Wilson is now proactively looking for Moore in clutch situations, a great sign for Moore’s WR3 stability. … Sharing time at tight end, Vannett and Dickson are touchdown-or-bust dart throws with low ceilings and lower floors.

Getting worse by the start, Nick Mullens was lucky to avoid an in-game benching in last week’s 27-9 loss to Tampa Bay, throwing a pair of picks for the second straight game and becoming increasingly frenetic in the pocket. As Kyle Shanahan openly considered turning back to C.J. Beathard, Mullens is sure to be on a short leash. Tee up Seattle’s D/ST. … Negative game script is a legitimate worry for Matt Breida, but his individual play and run-defense matchup are not. Breida has topped 130 total yards in back-to-back games, while Seattle was creamed for 64/424/4 (6.63 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in Weeks 9-12. The Seahawks also allow the NFL’s seventh-most receiving yards per game to backs (54.6). Breida remains an every-week RB2. … Mullens’ downward trajectory bodes poorly for the fantasy prospects of his pass-catcher corps. George Kittle felt the Week 12 effects (6/48/0), saving his PPR results on garbage-time checkdowns in San Francisco’s blowout loss to the Bucs. Kittle did pop as Week 13’s No. 1 tight end and No. 2 overall player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards buy-low model, enhancing Kittle’s DFS-tournament appeal. Kittle’s matchup is further upgraded by Seahawks WLB K.J. Wright’s (knee) absence. … Dante Pettis (4/77/1) turned in a breakout game with Pierre Garcon (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (personal) sidelined in last week's loss to the Bucs. As Garcon and Goodwin are out again, Pettis maintains Week 13 sleeper appeal after setting Week 12 career highs in routes run (38) and playing time (91%).

Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, 49ers 10

Sunday Night Football

LA Chargers @ Pittsburgh
Team Totals: Steelers 27, Chargers 24

Even as Ben Roethlisberger turned in back-to-back uneven real-life performances against the Jags and Broncos, he logged top-12 fantasy results in both games and now has top-12 scores in six of his last seven starts. This is far from a pushover matchup; the Chargers have held eight of their last ten quarterbacks faced to fantasy scores of QB17 or worse with difference-maker RE Joey Bosa back at full strength after he tormented Arizona’s offense last week. Good offense consistently beats good defense in today’s NFL, though, and Roethlisberger’s primetime track record is nearly impeccable, including high-production 2018 efforts in Weeks 3 (QB10) and 10 (QB1) beneath the bright lights. Big Ben at home is an unfailingly good bet, and this game offers shootout potential with Week 13’s fifth-highest total (51.5). … Los Angeles’ defense is most vulnerable on the ground, missing NT Brandon Mebane (personal) with DT Corey Liuget (knee) and LBs Denzel Perryman (knee) and Kyzir White (knee) already on I.R. Enemy backs average a clean 4.31 yards per carry and the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards per game (61.8) against the Bolts. A Week 10 concussion followed by pass-heavy scripts in Weeks 11-12 limited James Conner’s box-score results, but this is a prime bounce-back spot as a home-favorite bellcow in a high-totaled game facing a depleted defensive front. 

Big Ben’s post-bye target distribution: Antonio Brown 51; JuJu Smith-Schuster 47; Conner 29; Vance McDonald 24; Ryan Switzer 18; James Washington and Jesse James 11; Jaylen Samuels 6. … Selling out to stop Brown in last week’s upset, the Broncos did as well as any team could by holding A.B. to 67 scoreless yards on 13 targets and intercepting Ben’s game-ending goal-line pass intended for Brown. Brown’s last six stat lines when held below 70 yards in his prior game are 6/96/1 – 6/101/2 – 5/62/1 – 6/50/1 – 7/132/2 – 10/144/3. … One reason to not necessarily expect Chargers top CB Casey Hayward to shadow Brown is that JuJu ran a year-high 76% of his routes outside at Denver and went off (13/189/1) with Switzer taking over as Pittsburgh’s full-time slot receiver. The Bolts’ No. 2 outside corner is second-year UDFA Michael Davis. Either way, Brown and Smith-Schuster are confident plays on Sunday night. … Switzer is a WR4 sleeper in PPR leagues after setting Week 12 career highs in routes run (48), targets (8), and production (6/67/0). It’s possible Switzer’s ramped-up usage was specific to last week’s opponent – slot CB Chris Harris is Denver’s best corner, and moving Brown and JuJu away from him would be smart strategy – but there have been indications for weeks Switzer was working his way into Roethlisberger’s circle of trust. … A hip injury cost McDonald Week 12 snaps, but he practiced fully and should be all systems go on Sunday night. McDonald has out-targeted James 21 to 8 over the past four games.

This game’s lofty total and Philip Rivers’ marksman-level efficiency are the main justifications for his Week 13 fantasy usefulness. It’s not the matchup; Pittsburgh’s defense has permitted an average of just 19.0 points over its last seven games with all seven enemy quarterbacks finishing QB18 worse, including Cam Newton (QB20), Matt Ryan (QB24), and Baker Mayfield (QB19). Even in a Week 12 game where he set the NFL’s single-game record for consecutive completions (25), Rivers managed QB14 fantasy results. Rivers has scored higher than QB10 in just 2-of-11 starts. … One reason to buy into Rivers overcoming matchup concerns is Melvin Gordon’s (MCL) absence, thrusting diminutive (5/8/195) pass-catching maven Austin Ekeler into lead-back duties with also-small rookie Justin Jackson (6’0/199) spelling him, perhaps encouraging OC Ken Whisenhunt to dial up more pass plays than usual. (The balanced Bolts rank 25th in pass attempts per game at 31.6.) This would also bring Pittsburgh’s D/ST into play, however, as more Rivers dropbacks increase the probability of picks and sacks, and Rivers has taken seven sacks in the past two weeks. Key to Pittsburgh’s defensive turnaround is its pass-rush explosion, moving to No. 1 in the NFL in sacks (31) and No. 2 in QB hit rate (18.9). Ekeler remains an exciting RB2 with RB1 upside in PPR leagues against a Steelers Defense that hemorrhaged herculean touches/yardage/touchdown stat lines to Panthers (21/137/3), Jaguars (45/217/1), and Broncos (21/133/1) running backs in Weeks 10-12. The Steelers blitz at the NFL's highest frequency (38%), and Ekeler screens are ideal blitz-beating plays.

Rivers’ post-bye target distribution: Keenan Allen 38; Gordon 18; Ekeler and Tyrell Williams 15; Antonio Gates and Virgil Green 11; Mike Williams 10; Travis Benjamin 7. … Interior receivers have had no trouble knifing through Pittsburgh’s secondary this year, notably Jarvis Landry (7/106/0), Emmanuel Sanders (7/86/1), Mohamed Sanu (4/73/1), Tyler Boyd (7/62/2), and Willie Snead (7/58/0, 6/56/0). Allen has a touchdown and/or 100-plus yards in four straight games. … Tyrell unsuccessfully gutted out a Week 12 quad injury, drawing zero targets on nine snaps. Already a low-volume commodity, Tyrell will have to reprove his health to earn back WR3/flex trust. … Benjamin’s 28 routes run with Tyrell hobbled were his most since Week 1. Benjamin only earned three targets against the Cardinals, but he offers big-play ability and some long-shot DFS appeal. … Mike scored twice on Arizona but finished below 60 yards for the eighth straight game and remains a touchdown-reliant WR3/flex. Mike figures to draw the most of Joe Haden on Sunday night; Haden covers the perimeter on 99% of his snaps, and Mike runs a team-high 70% of his pass patterns outside. … Gates has run 19 routes in back-to-back games on snap rates of 33% and 38%. Green’s Weeks 11-12 route totals were 24 and 14. Pittsburgh allows the NFL’s ninth-most yards per game to tight ends (64.1), yet Gates is always a touchdown-dependent punt on low usage.

Score Prediction: Steelers 28, Chargers 21

 

 

Monday Night Football

Washington @ Philadelphia
Team Totals: Eagles 25.5, Redskins 18.5

Albeit not without a major first-half scare, Philadelphia ended its losing skid in last week’s desperately-needed 25-22 comeback win over the Giants. Newly-anointed feature back Josh Adams was the star of the second-half show, parlaying season highs in snaps (62%) and touches (22) into 84 yards and a score despite losing a 52-yard rushing touchdown to C Jason Kelce’s holding penalty in the first quarter. Corey Clement operated as a mere change-of-pace back on seven touches, and Wendell Smallwood has been phased out. As a home-favorite lead runner in a plus draw, Adams can build on his breakout game against a Washington defense that has surrendered 95/476/1 (5.01 YPC) rushing to running backs over the last month and allows the NFL’s fifth-most receptions per game to enemy backs (6.4) on the year. Adams is a high-end RB2 in this plum spot. … Darren Sproles’ (hamstring) return would hurt Clement and Smallwood more than lead-runner Adams. … Washington’s pass defense has also fallen apart, conceding top-12 fantasy scores to six of its last nine quarterbacks faced and 285-plus passing yards in four of its last five games. Dak Prescott carved the Skins for 9.3 yards per attempt and his season-best 121.6 passer rating on Thanksgiving. In a game Philly projects to control with Colt McCoy playing behind an injury-ruined offensive line on the other side, Carson Wentz is an underrated QB1 play against Washington.

Wentz’s Weeks 10-12 target distribution: Zach Ertz 27; Golden Tate 20; Alshon Jeffery 16; Nelson Agholor 10; Adams and Jordan Matthews 7; Clement 6; Dallas Goedert 5; Smallwood 2. … Ertz’s Week 13 matchup is Philly's toughest on paper; no tight end has reached 60 yards against Washington all year, and only seven teams have allowed fewer yards per game to Ertz’s position (39.9). Still leading all NFL tight ends in targets per game (10.0) and just 16 catches shy of Jason Witten’s single-season record for receptions among tight ends, Ertz is a matchup-irrelevant top-three TE1 each week. … Jeffery got off to a roaring start after returning from his shoulder injury, but he’s now finished below 50 yards in four straight games with especially disappointing target counts of 5 – 8 – 5 – 3 over the last month. On lowered volume, Alshon has to be downgraded to a boom-bust WR3 until/unless his usage picks back up. The Skins stopped using Josh Norman as a shadow corner with RCB Quinton Dunbar (leg) back on Thanksgiving, so Alshon should avoid Washington’s top cover man for over half of this game. Amari Cooper (8/180/2) did make the Skins pay handsomely. … The Eagles’ trade for Tate has been a disaster with 97 scoreless yards on 20 targets. It doesn’t help that Washington has played stingy slot coverage all year. In front of their home crowd in primetime, though, the Eagles may feel pressure to keep forcing targets Tate’s way. … Agholor logged season lows in snaps (72%) and targets (1) in Week 12 and hasn’t had value since Tate was acquired. … Goedert has five targets in three games since the Tate trade, although four came last week. Goedert ran only 11 routes, however, and lacks streamer appeal.

Colt McCoy played more like a quarterback to stream defenses against than consider a fantasy starter on Thanksgiving, throwing three picks and taking eight hits with three sacks behind Washington’s makeshift line at Dallas. … Losing OGs Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao to I.R. and LT Trent Williams to thumb surgery, then last week’s rib injury has broken Washington’s once-vaunted running game. Averaging just 3.05 yards per carry over the last month, Adrian Peterson hasn’t totaled 70 yards from scrimmage since October 28 while managing touch counts of 12 – 6 – 14 – 16 – 14 in the Redskins’ five losses. As a road underdog, Peterson is a low-floor RB2/flex who will likely need a touchdown to pay off. Philly has yielded just six rushing TDs to running backs in 11 games. Chris Thompson (ribs) looks on track to return, lowering Peterson’s receiving expectation and rendering Kapri Bibbs obsolete.

Josh Doctson cleared 50 yards for the first time all year (6/66/0) in McCoy’s first start, leading the team with ten targets. Among McCoy’s 50 pass attempts this season, Doctson’s 15 lead the team. Doctson also draws the top Week 13 matchup in Washington’s pass-catcher group versus Philadelphia’s injury-ruined cornerback corps, which yields the NFL’s second-most yards per game to wide receiver units (203.0). … Doctson led Skins wideouts in Week 12 routes run (43) with Trey Quinn second (36), Maurice Harris (25) third, and Michael Floyd (20) fourth. Jamison Crowder’s (ankle) return would shake up the depth chart behind Doctson with Floyd leaving the rotation and Quinn and/or Harris losing snaps. … McCoy hit Jordan Reed for a Week 11 touchdown, then quarterbacked Reed’s season high for yardage (75) in Week 12. As injuries have taken a toll on Philly’s linebacker and safety positions, they coughed up 4/77/0 receiving to Giants blocking TE Rhett Ellison last week. Reed’s outlook has improved with McCoy replacing Alex Smith. … Vernon Davis ran only 14 routes to Reed’s 40 on Thanksgiving but dented the box score with a 53-yard touchdown bomb. Davis is a fantasy option only on single-game DFS slates.

Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Redskins 14

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .