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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 13 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely be filling out my cash lineups with on Sunday. As is the case each week, I’m ignoring the Thursday night game.


Start of the Week: Alex Smith at Raiders: This is a different Raiders team under coach Jack Del Rio, but Smith has had recent success against the Silver and Black. In his past three starts against the Raiders, Smith has completed 55-of-86 passes (64 percent) for 818 yards (9.51 YPA) and a 9:0 TD:INT ratio. That’s about as good as Smith gets, and the Raiders still have a very weak pass defense that is allowing 294.6 yards per game and the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Smith is coming off arguably his best game of the season, throwing for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns against an above-average Bills pass defense. He challenged Buffalo vertically and hooked up with Jeremy Maclin for a number of lengthy gains. There will be opportunities to do the same again on Sunday. And Smith hasn’t been turning the ball over, as he hasn’t tossed an interception since Week 3. Sure, the Chiefs are a balanced, run-preferred offense, but Smith is doing enough the return value, especially with his legs. He’s rushed for at least 30 yards in four-straight games and 179 yards in total over that span with one touchdown. Ultra-cheap on DFS sites, priced as QB22 on FanDuel, Smith is in play as a punt and a must-start in two-quarterback season-long leagues with top-12 upside.


Jay Cutler vs. 49ers: This spot would be a lot better for Cutler if the Bears and 49ers weren’t two of the slowest-paced teams in the league. But there should be enough of a floor here to make Cutler worthy of streaming consideration Sunday. He’s posted at least 17 fantasy points in six of his past eight starts. The 49ers are 31st against the pass in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and have been even worse on the road. San Francisco allows 289 yards passing per game on the season, and that number jumps to 314.4 in road games. That also includes a pitiful 191-yard effort from Nick Foles. Cutler should be a lock for 250-plus yards and flirt with multiple touchdowns with Alshon Jeffery in a prime spot as healthy as he’s been all year and the rest of the Bears’ weapons at full strength.

Marcus Mariota vs. Jaguars: Mariota’s three touchdown passes last week against the Raiders carried him and helped players win weeks and take down DFS tournaments. But the rookie wasn’t efficient whatsoever, completing just 45.9 percent of his passes and averaging 5.89 YPA. Mariota has topped 231 yards passing once in his past six starts, and one of those included a 231-yard, 0:0 TD:INT effort against these same Jaguars two weeks back. Mariota was able to buoy that stat line with his first rushing score of the season, however. But that game was also on a short week on the road for Thursday Night Football. With a full seven days between games and getting the Jaguars’ 30th-ranked pass defense in DVOA at home, Mariota is worth streaming consideration. The Titans’ “weapons” at receiver have surely limited Mariota’s output, but Kendall Wright (knee) has had a chance to knock the rust off and is back to 100 percent. The Jaguars have allowed multiple touchdown passes seven times and surrender the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Giants: As mentioned above, this battle between the two teams that call East Rutherford, New Jersey home has some shootout potential. This isn’t a true road game for Fitzpatrick. In six starts at MetLife Stadium this season, Fitzpatrick has a 14:7 TD:INT ratio and has tossed multiple touchdowns in every one of them. The Giants have been dreadful against the pass, ranking 25th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and giving up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. They allow over 315 passing yards per game. And the Jets are the league’s top red-zone offense, scoring a touchdown 72.97 percent of the time they’re inside the 20-yard line. Fitzpatrick has really meshed well with big-bodied WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. According to Rich Hribar’s Week 13 Worksheet, Marshall (19) and Decker (18) are second and third in red-zone targets. Both are as good a bets as anyone to score any given week. Fitzpatrick is also sneaky-athletic and has rushed for over 30 yards three times and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Eli Manning vs. Jets: This will be viewed as a contrarian, off-the-board play to many, but Manning is quietly in a really good spot coming off a disastrous Week 12 against the Redskins that saw him toss three interceptions. Week 13 isn’t loaded with projected high-scoring games. Jets-Giants has a Vegas total of 45 points, but this one could easily sneak into the fifties. The Giants don’t play sound defense against the pass or the run, and the Jets are going to be without arguably their two-best corners in Darrelle Revis (concussion) and Marcus Williams (knee). Revis shadows No. 1 receivers, and Williams leads the team in interceptions, despite being the dime corner. Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine are left outside and are followed up by Dexter McDougle, Darrin Walls, and Dee Milliner. It’s not a scary group, and Odell Beckham should go bananas. The Giants also don’t have a running game, and run defense is the strength of the Jets anyway, while the offensive line for the G-Men should be getting two starters back this week. This sets up well for Manning to have to throw the ball 40-50 times in a date between two higher-paced offenses.


Tyrod Taylor vs. Texans: Entering last week, Taylor had thrown for fewer than 200 yards in 3-of-4 games and managed four total touchdowns over that span. He rebounded and lit up the Chiefs for 291 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 46 yards and finishing as the overall QB5 for Week 12. There will be owners chasing those points and Taylor’s big-time upside, but this doesn’t look like a good spot to do it with a loaded slate and no teams on bye. The Texans are playing really strong defense and have been doing so for the past month. They’ve allowed just one passing score over their past four games to go along with four interceptions. Houston has shut down Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, and Ryan Fitzpatrick over that time. The Texans field Football Outsiders’ sixth-ranked pass defense in DVOA and allow the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Russell Wilson at Vikings: Wilson is on fire right now with 605 yards and eight touchdown passes to zero interceptions the past two weeks. He’s put up 25 and 35 fantasy points, respectively, for his two-best finishes of the season. The Vikings’ pass defense is much better than the 49ers’ and Steelers’ versions Wilson has seen in back-to-back games. And both the Seahawks and Vikings are bottom-12 in plays per game. This figures to be a slow-paced, grind-it-out, run-centric, cold-weather battle between two old-school-type teams jockeying for playoff position. Coach Mike Zimmer’s Vikings defense allows just 239.5 passing yards per game and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs. No. 1 CB Xavier Rhodes had a bounce-back game Week 12 and effectively shut down Julio Jones.

Philip Rivers vs. Broncos: Rivers gets his first date of the season with the Broncos’ league-best pass defense. He’ll get them again in the meaningless Week 17. But Rivers is coming off his latest monster game, an impressive 300-yard, four-touchdown thrashing of the Jaguars on the road. Rivers has a number of 20-plus point efforts this season, but recently sprinkled in a six-point dud at home against the Chiefs in Week 11. Back home, this isn’t a spot to be looking to fire Rivers back up. He doesn’t have any receivers who can effectively separate from the Broncos’ defensive backs in what will likely be a struggle for the Chargers’ passing game. Denver allows just 218.1 passing yards and one touchdown per game to quarterbacks. It has also allowed the fewest fantasy points to the quarterback position by more than 22 fantasy points. The rest of the top-10 is separated by a total of 27 fantasy points. With a banged-up offensive line, Rivers is outside the top-12 this week.

Drew Brees vs. Panthers: Brees missed the game between these two teams earlier this season with a shoulder injury. The 11-0 Panthers seem to be getting better as the season goes along and are coming off a Thanksgiving shellacking of the Cowboys. Carolina is well rested and fields Football Outsiders’ No. 2 pass defense in DVOA. The Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Benching Drew Brees in the Superdome doesn’t seem like the greatest idea, but this is the spot to do it. Carolina is the only team that has picked off more passes than it has allowed touchdowns. And No. 1 CB Josh Norman essentially takes half the field away.

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Start of the Week: David Johnson at Rams: Johnson was the hottest pickup of the week off the waiver wire and will be the chalkiest DFS play of Week 13. He should be inserted directly into season-long lineups without much thought. Chris Johnson is done for the regular season and at least the first three rounds of the playoffs with a fractured tibia, and Andre Ellington is doubtful with a case of turf toe. Johnson has already been pegged the new No. 1 running back by coach Bruce Arians, and he’ll be backed up by fringe players Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams. Taylor has averaged 3.2 YPC on 108 career carries, and Williams was just promoted from the practice squad. Johnson will get all he can handle as a legitimate playmaker who can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. On paper, this looks like a tough matchup for Johnson, as the Rams field Football Outsiders’ fifth-ranked run defense in DVOA. But with all of St. Louis’ offensive problems, the defense has been worn down of late. As pointed out by Rotoworld’s Graham Barfield, the Rams have allowed 324 yards and one touchdown on 86 carries to opposing running backs the past three games. With opposing teams building big leads against the Rams, running backs are getting a ton of volume. Johnson should be a lock for 15-plus touches at minimum. The rookie has yet to see more than seven carries or four catches in a single game, but should surpass both those marks Sunday. Despite his limited touches, Johnson still has eight all-purposes touchdowns — four rushing, three receiving, and one as a kick returner. At the very least, he’s an RB2, but the upside is there for a top-five week.


Jeremy Hill at Browns: This is a week to fire up all the Bengals, from Hill and Giovani Bernard in the backfield to Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and Marvin Jones in the pass game. Cincinnati fields one of the league’s three-best offenses, while the Browns are 29th in Football Outsiders’ total defense DVOA and bottom-five against both the run and pass. Hill flopped in the Week 9 tilt against the Browns with 52 scoreless yards on 15 carries, but this looks like a good spot to go back to the well. The Bengals are heavy 10-point favorites, which should translate to a heavy helping of carries in the second half. The Browns allow a whopping 4.82 YPC and the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Hill has been a monster 2015 disappointment, but has a chance to do his owners right in a prime spot this Sunday. He’s coming off a strong game against the Rams and has multi-touchdown upside. Both Hill and Bernard are strong RB2/FLEX plays with the Bengals’ 26.75 team total.

Shaun Draughn at Bears: It’s not often we see a running back play 100 percent of his team’s snaps, but Draughn did just that Week 12 against the Cardinals. With Carlos Hyde (foot) out, Draughn is all the 49ers have in the backfield. He’s averaged just 3.4 YPC in his three weeks with the team, but is getting heavy volume averaging 20 touches per game. Even if Draughn isn’t doing a whole lot with his looks, as he’s yet to score a touchdown, it’s hard to ignore the workload. Draughn is easily returning value in PPR formats with 17 catches the past three games. The Bears are ranked 31st against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and allow over 4.63 YPC to running backs. The 49ers have the second-lowest projected team total of the week at 18 points, so this isn’t a team we want to target too heavily. But there are a couple offensive players in play for San Francisco.

LeGarrette Blount vs. Eagles: No Julian Edelman. No Rob Gronkowski. A less-than-100-percent Danny Amendola. Most expect Amendola to return this week, but if he doesn’t, the Patriots are left with Brandon LaFell, Scott Chandler, and Keshawn Martin as Tom Brady’s pass catchers. That’s not a group with who many would want to go to battle. This looks like a “Blount Game.” The big-bodied downhill runner has been quiet in recent weeks, averaging 3.39 YPC on 44 totes with just one touchdown, but this looks like a spot for him to potentially get right. The Eagles seem to have given up on their season and have been getting killed by running backs the past month-plus. Over the past six games, the Eagles have allowed monster rushing days to Doug Martin (27-235), Darren McFadden (27-117), and Jonathan Stewart (24-125). The only success they’ve had is keeping those three from finding the end zone on the ground. The Patriots are 18th against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Patriots field the No. 1 run-blocking offensive line. New England is favored by 10 points at home in a game that might be over by halftime. Blount should get 20-plus carries, while Brandon Bolden and James White duke it out for pass-game snaps.

Darren McFadden at Redskins: McFadden is coming off a horrific Thanksgiving performance against the Panthers, but none of the Cowboys played well in the defeat. McFadden rushed for 11 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 45 yards. That’s become his floor at this point, and it’s still 9.6 PPR points, which isn’t going to sink you. Since taking over as the Cowboys’ workhorse six games ago, McFadden is averaging 25.2 touches and 110 total yards per game. But he hasn’t scored since Week 7. It’s a bit flukey, however, as McFadden remains the preferred running back in the red zone. He’s bound to find pay dirt more over the season’s final five weeks. The Redskins allow over 4.58 YPC to running backs and are 21st against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. With Tony Romo (collarbone) back on the shelf, the Cowboys will again lean on McFadden and get whatever they can out of him before his contract expires at season’s end. He’ll flirt with 20-plus touches.


Lamar Miller vs. Ravens: The Dolphins are saying the right things about wanting to get their run game going, but the words aren’t being put into action. OC Bill Lazor was fired this week, so maybe that will spark the flame, but it’s hard to get behind Miller in this spot. Miller has totaled 17 touches for 68 scoreless yards the past two games, while he’s been splitting work with rookie Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams. The Ravens are allowing 3.55 YPC to running backs and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Third-year NT Brandon Williams is singlehandedly wrecking opposing run games, and it doesn’t help Miami’s case that C Mike Pouncey was carted off the field with a foot injury last week. He’s being labeled as day-to-day. The Dolphins’ offensive line was already bad with Pouncey in the lineup. It might be wise to take a wait-and-see approach with Miami’s run game.

Melvin Gordon vs. Broncos: Gordon has been a no-brainer sit for much of his rookie season. He’s not helping owners by remaining without a touchdown through 12 weeks of the season. But the past four weeks, Gordon has seen steady carries, averaging 14.5 per game, with 14 catches out of the backfield during that span. It’s clear the Chargers want to see more of the rookie over the final half of their lost season, but fantasy football isn’t about development. This isn’t a spot to plug Gordon into lineups. While the Broncos are No. 1 against the pass, their run defense isn’t far behind as the No. 6-ranked unit in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They’re allowing a minuscule 3.14 YPC to running backs. The only real damage running backs are doing against Denver is out of the backfield as pass catchers. The Broncos have allowed the 11th-most catches to the position. Danny Woodhead makes for a fine bounce-back candidate with the Bolts possibly playing catch-up in the second half.

Frank Gore at Steelers: Gore is “beat to crap,” according to coach Chuck Pagano. That doesn’t give confidence to fantasy owners looking for a win before fantasy playoffs begin in the next week or two. Gore was banged up Week 11 against the Falcons and is averaging a pitiful 2.55 YPC over his past four games with one touchdown. The Steelers have been terrible against the pass this season, but their run defense remains strong. They’re ninth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and allow the fewest fantasy points to running backs. The Colts just plucked 2014 contributor Dan Herron off waivers from the Bills. He’s likely to siphon some work from the run-down 32-year-old Gore.

Alfred Morris vs. Cowboys: Morris played his most snaps last week since Week 1 and ran for 78 scoreless yards on 23 carries (3.39 YPC). Those aren’t impressive numbers by any means, and Morris has still yet to find the end zone this season while being a non-factor as a pass catcher. The Cowboys get killed by opposing running backs, allowing 4.17 YPC and the seventh-most fantasy points, but both the Redskins and Cowboys are bottom-10 in offensive plays per game. Monday night figures to be a slow game, and with Morris still part of a timeshare and a non-scorer, this isn’t an ideal spot to use him. In his contract year, Morris is averaging 3.6 YPC and not breaking any tackles.


Start of the Week: Danny Amendola vs. Eagles: The tentative expectation is that Amendola returns to action this week after sitting out Week 12 with his knee injury. He admitted he could barely run last week, and that’s definitely cause for concern. But with Rob Gronkowski (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) out, Amendola, Brandon LaFell, and Scott Chandler are all Tom Brady has at his disposal. Amendola is far-and-away the top talent of that group. LaFell simply isn’t a very good football player, and Chandler is a “dad runner.” All the matchups at receiver go in New England’s favor in this one, as Philadelphia’s defense has gone in the tank. Amendola projects to run most of his routes out of the slot at nickel CB E.J. Biggers. Biggers is Pro Football Focus’ 88th-ranked corner out of 113 qualifiers and has been rinsed in recent weeks with the rest of his teammates. Amendola would be a candidate for 15-plus targets on Sunday if he plays.


Kamar Aiken at Dolphins: In the three games since Steve Smith Sr. went down with a torn Achilles’, Aiken has seen 14, eight, and nine targets. He’s settled in as the default No. 1 receiver and is being fed heavy volume. Aiken isn’t a downfield playmaker, but he gets what the defense gives him. Luckily for him, the Dolphins have been very giving to opposing receivers. They allow the seventh-most fantasy points to the position, and only three teams have surrendered more touchdowns to wideouts. Aiken moves all over the formation for the Ravens, so he’ll see all of the Dolphins’ corners unless Brent Grimes is deployed to shadow him. That doesn’t seem likely to happen, but either way, Grimes hasn’t been good in 2015 as a 31-year-old. He’s surrendered four touchdowns, and Aiken is seeing more red-zone looks with Smith Sr. out of the picture.

DeVante Parker vs. Ravens: On the opposite sideline from Aiken stands the rookie Parker. Rishard Matthews went down early last week with multiple fractured ribs and is likely done for the season. Parker has been handed a golden opportunity and will take over as the starting X receiver and play in two-wide sets opposite Jarvis Landry. Parker played a season-high 61-of-75 snaps last week against the Jets and reeled in 4-of-10 targets for 80 yards and his first career touchdown. Now he gets a Ravens pass defense that checks in at 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and has allowed the third-most fantasy points and second-most touchdowns to wide receivers. Parker is a legitimate downfield playmaker and will run all of his routes at Ravens outside CBs Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright. Smith has been one of Pro Football Focus’ worst cover corners all season. Wright had a rough start with the Ravens, but has played better of late. He’s still a run-of-the-mill talent. Parker (6’3/218) has four inches and 36 pounds on Wright, who checks in at 5’11/182.

Anquan Boldin at Bears: In two games with Blaine Gabbert, Boldin has seen 18 targets and posted back-to-back 93-yard games. He isn’t finding the end zone with Gabbert looking for his tight ends down near the goal line, but Boldin and Shaun Draughn are doing the heavy lifting to get the offense into scoring position. Boldin figures to run most of his routes at UDFA rookie slot CB Bryce Callahan. He’s held his own since being inserted into the lineup five weeks ago, but Boldin is a savvy veteran with toughness, and Gabbert has displayed accuracy in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. Give the edge to Boldin. He’s seen enough volume to be on WR3 map in PPR formats.

Eric Decker at Giants: Decker is about as safe as they come, yet continues to be one of the more overlooked receivers in the sport. He’s scored a touchdown in 8-of-10 games played, and as pointed out above, is third in the league in red-zone targets for the league’s top red-zone offense. Trevin Wade covers the slot for the Giants, and quarterbacks have a 122.6 passer rating when throwing at him. The Giants get killed in the middle of the field where Decker runs more than two-thirds of his routes. Tight ends have absolutely killed the G-Men this season. The Jets don’t have a legitimate one, but Decker projects as the closest thing as a big-bodied slot receiver. Both Decker and Brandon Marshall are solid bets for touchdowns come Sunday’s battle of East Rutherford.


Vincent Jackson vs. Falcons: Jackson and Mike Evans move around the formation enough so that they’ll both avoid Falcons stationary LCB Desmond Trufant. That’s not the biggest concern here, but Jackson figures to see the most of Trufant, who’s graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 11 corner through 12 weeks. In Jackson’s eight games played this season, he’s seen five or fewer targets in five of them. He’s getting by on touchdowns and big plays. The Falcons have surrendered just three touchdowns to receivers all season and the second-fewest fantasy points to the position. In standard formats, Jackson’s a fine boom-or-bust play, but the floor has proven to be about zero.

Doug Baldwin at Vikings: Baldwin has had two monster games in the Seahawks’ past three with a 7-134-1 outing against the Cardinals in Week 10 followed up by a 6-145-3 line against the Steelers in last week’s shootout. It’s still hard to get behind Baldwin, though theoretically he gets a bum with Jimmy Graham done for the season with a torn patellar tendon. This Seahawks-Vikings tilt simply doesn’t shape up as one that will be an aerial assault. Both Seattle and Minnesota field top-end pass defenses. Baldwin runs close to 90 percent of his routes out of the slot and will be matched up with Vikings nickel CB Captain Munnerlyn, who’s graded out as a top-25 cover corner at Pro Football Focus. The Vikings have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to receivers. This figures to be a knock-down, drag-out physical game that features both Adrian Peterson and Thomas Rawls.

Stefon Diggs vs. Seahawks: Diggs exploded onto the scene when given his chance in Week 4, but he’s been really quiet the past four weeks with Adrian Peterson heating up and putting the offense on his back. Now Diggs gets the toughest matchup of his rookie season. Richard Sherman has been shadowing opposing receivers more this year and very well could be tasked to stick with Diggs on Sunday, as the Vikings don’t have any other capable wideouts. Averaging just 4.75 targets per game over his last four contests and drawing Sherman’s shadow coverage, Diggs is an easy avoid.

Brandin Cooks vs. Panthers: Cooks has five touchdowns over his past four games and has really come on after his slow start to the season. He posted a 7-79 receiving line on eight targets against these same Panthers back in Week 3, but that was before his breakout. With Cooks establishing himself as the Saints’ No. 1 receiver, he could see shadow coverage from Panthers shutdown CB Josh Norman, who’s Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 cover corner. In the Week 3 tilt, Norman was in coverage on three of Cooks’ eight targets, allowing two catches for 23 yards. The only way Cooks may avoid Norman is if No. 2 CB Charles Tillman returns and the Panthers play sides, or Cooks moves into the slot more, since Norman rarely travels to cover inside. Still, Tillman has been well above-average in coverage this season, and slot CB Bene Benwikere has picked up his play of late.


Start of the Week: Julius Thomas at Titans: Allen Hurns suffered a severe concussion late in last week’s game against the Chargers and was hospitalized afterward. He hasn’t practiced at all this week and isn’t going to play Sunday. That means more targets for Allen Robinson and Thomas. Marqise Lee projects to fill in for Hurns, but he’s been a chronic underachiever to this point, and he and slot man Bryan Walters will fight for the leftovers. Thomas has seen his usage rise the past couple weeks, seeing seven targets against these same Titans in Week 11 before drawing 10 looks last week against San Diego. He’s turned them into 14 catches for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas scored against Tennessee two weeks ago, and only three teams have allowed more touchdowns to tight ends than the Titans.


Gary Barnidge vs. Bengals: The thought of Barnidge playing without Josh McCown is scary to some. The breakout tight end has struggled with Johnny Manziel under center, but Austin Davis is getting the nod at quarterback for the Browns this week. In Davis’ eight starts for the Rams last season, TE Jared Cook led the team in targets in five of them. Davis is popgun-armed quarterback who likes to hammer the middle of the field before taking shots downfield like he did to Travis Benjamin for a 42-yard touchdown last week. Barnidge will remain the preferred red-zone target and chain-mover for Cleveland with Benjamin as the deep threat and Brian Hartline the No. 3 option.

Jacob Tamme at Bucs: Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) hasn’t practiced at all this week and should miss his second consecutive game. In the four games Hankerson hasn’t played, including Week 7 when he was injured eight snaps into it, Tamme has averaged 8.5 targets as the No. 2 pass-game option behind Julio Jones. The Bucs tend to leave the middle of the field open for tight ends and have allowed the eighth-most catches to the position. Falcons-Bucs has one of the higher Vegas totals of the week at 46 points and is an important game in the race for a Wild Card spot.

Travis Kelce at Raiders: Kelce has been gobbling up targets all season and has seen at least six in every game but one. The Raiders were the defense to stream tight ends against the first half of the season. They’ve since corrected the issue a bit, but through 12 weeks, Oakland has allowed the most touchdowns to the position, and only the Saints and Giants have allowed more fantasy points. Kelce is the go-to option in the red zone and did a good job to box out impressive Bills rookie CB Ronald Darby for an 11-yard touchdown last week. He’s a matchup nightmare over the middle.


Charles Clay vs. Texans: Clay has taken a back seat in the passing game in recent weeks with LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins back to full health. His eight targets last week were a five-week-high, but he’s been held under 52 yards in all five games and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3. The Texans have allowed just one passing touchdown in their past four and surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the tight end position. Clay isn’t scoring or seeing volume.

Jason Witten at Redskins: Witten hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1 and topped 50 yards receiving just three times with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel under center. With Tony Romo (collarbone) now done for the season, Cassel will be reinserted at quarterback, leaving Witten as a low-ceiling tight end. His floor remains somewhat safe if you’re okay with four catches and about 40 yards without a touchdown, but we aim higher around here. The Redskins have yielded the second-fewest touchdowns and seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.

Ben Watson vs. Panthers: The Saints’ passing game is clearly one to avoid when making lineup decisions this week. Watson has tailed off since his big four-game stretch from Weeks 5-8 that saw him score three touchdowns and post a pair of 100-yard receiving games. Since, he hasn’t topped 60 yards or visited pay dirt. In the Week 3 tilt with the Panthers, Watson caught four balls for 42 yards. If there’s a weakness in the Panthers’ pass defense, it’s their coverage of tight ends, but they’re still in the top half of the league in defending the position at No. 14.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.