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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Best fantasy football plays for Week 13

/ by Matt Weyrich
Presented By TAP Sports Bar
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The playoffs have nearly arrived, but not before a decisive Week 13 that could extend the season for some fantasy owners — and put an end to it for others.

With so many fantasy implications on the line this weekend, every roster decision should see an added level of scrutiny. Here are the players you should have on your radar this week.

Byes: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterbacks

Start ’em

  • Kirk Cousins, MIN (vs. JAX)
  • Taysom Hill, NO (at ATL)
  • Kyler Murray, ARZ (vs. LAR)

Kirk Cousins goes into Week 13 boasting an 11-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his last four games, his best of any four-game stretch since Weeks 6 through 9 in 2019. The Jaguars allow the third-most fantasy points to QBs in the NFL., so ride the hot hand…One of the two teams giving up more fantasy points to signal callers than the Jaguars is Atlanta, which allows a whopping 291.5 passing yards per game. Taysom Hill has been hit or miss on deep shots — when he even takes them — but he still racked up 24.2 fantasy points against the Falcons two weeks ago…It might seem like a no-brainer to start Kyler Murray, but he’s going up against the team with the fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs. Only Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers have scored more fantasy points over the last four weeks, so it’s OK to feel confident starting Murray against the Rams.

Sit ’em

  • Jared Goff, LAR (at ARZ)
  • Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. NO)
  • Philip Rivers, IND (at HOU)

Jared Goff throws the ball as often as anyone, but the Cardinals’ secondary figures to cause problems for him this week after limiting Cam Newton to 84 passing yards with two interceptions in Week 12. Patrick Peterson and Co. have allowed just one quarterback to break 300 yards passing this year, and Goff is no Russell Wilson…Matt Ryan has his full arsenal of wide receivers healthy, but he’s still looked like a shell of his former self most of the year. The Falcons couldn’t get anything going offensive against the Saints two weeks ago and there’s no evidence to suggest that will change Sunday…Houston gives up yards in bunches, but Philip Rivers’ style doesn’t include many deep shots down the field. The Colts’ 68 attempted deep throws this season are the 10th fewest in the NFL. There are better options this week.

 

Running backs

Start ’em

  • Raheem Mostert, SF (vs. BUF)
  • Wayne Gallman, NYG (at SEA)
  • Jonathan Taylor, IND (at HOU)

In his first game back off IR, Raheem Mostert led the 49ers’ backfield with 18 touches compared to Jeff Wilson (12) and Jerick McKinnon (5). Even with Tevin Coleman’s impending return, Mostert figures to still be the No. 1 option for San Francisco moving forward. The Bills are 25th in rushing yards allowed to RBs…He’s not Saquon Barkley, but Wayne Gallman has put together an impressive run in his own right. Gallman has scored a touchdown in each of his last five games and nearly eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game for the first time in his career last week against the Bengals with 94…Jonathan Taylor’s usage has been wildly inconsistent this season, but this matchup is too good to pass up. Houston is allowing the most rushing yards (142.8 YPG) and rushing touchdowns (1.3 TPG) to running backs in the NFL this season. That should spell plenty of opportunities for Taylor rather than Nyheim Hines, who does most of his work in the passing game.

Sit ’em

  • Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (at BAL)
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (vs. DEN)
  • Myles Gaskin, MIA (vs. CIN)

Washington held Ezekiel Elliott to 32 rushing yards on Thanksgiving, the second-lowest total of his career. The Cowboys’ struggles on the offensive line are only expected to get worse following the injuries to Zack Martin and Cam Erving, which doesn’t bode well for Elliott this week against the Ravens…It’s been encouraging to see Clyde Edwards-Helaire rack up double-digit carries each of the last two weeks, but the Chiefs’ offense simply hasn’t needed to rely on him all that much. Over its last three games, Kansas City has rushed the ball 19.3 times per game — third-fewest in the NFL…Both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are hoping to return this week, which will create a convoluted running back situation in Miami. Ahmed played well off the practice squad in Gaskins’ absence, but the latter was producing early on in the season.

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Wide receivers

Start ’em

  • Brandin Cooks, HOU (vs. IND)
  • Michael Thomas, NO (at ATL)
  • Jarvis Landry, CLE (at TEN)

The Texans’ loss of Will Fuller can only be good news for Brandin Cooks’s fantasy owners. Deshaun Watson is playing some of the best football of his career, and even before Fuller was suspended for PEDs, Cooks edged him out by three targets for the team lead. Plug Cooks in and ride him until he proves he can’t handle defenses’ attention as a No. 1 receiver…The 2019 Offensive Player of the Year was expected to be a consistent fantasy performer this year, but a combination of injuries, locker room issues and a change at quarterback have resulted in an up-and-down year for Michael Thomas. Taysom Hill targeted him 12 against the Falcons in Week 11, so he should be involved once again with Atlanta once again on the other side of the ball…Jarvis Landry is coming off a huge game in which he caught eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars. While he can’t be expected to post numbers like that every week, Landry’s job as the No. 1 receiver in Cleveland is still his to lose.

 

Sit ’em

  • Marvin Jones Jr., DET (at CHI)
  • Christian Kirk, ARZ (vs. LAR)
  • Brandon Aiyuk, SF (vs. BUF)

Even though Kenny Golladay is still in jeopardy of missing his fifth-straight game with a hip injury this week, Marvin Jones Jr. is a risky play against a Bears secondary limiting opposing receivers to the fourth-fewest receiving yards per game. Jones has struggled to turn in big plays and while he gets plenty of targets from Matthew Stafford, the Lions’ offense isn’t productive enough to make Jones a must-start…This might seem like the perfect week to start Christian Kirk given DeAndre Hopkins will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey most of the afternoon, but the Rams aren’t giving up big plays to any receivers regardless of who’s covering them. For a player like Kirk who relies on the deep ball, this isn’t a matchup that should pay fantasy dividends…Brandon Aiyuk is finally back and looking to prove his hot stretch before landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list was no fluke. The Bills’ secondary is getting better, however, and Nick Mullens is still throwing the ball for San Francisco. Leave Aiyuk on the bench for this week and see how he does before inserting him into starting lineups.

Tight ends

Start ’em

  • Eric Ebron, PIT (vs. WSH)
  • Evan Engram, NYG (at SEA)

Over the past four weeks, three tight ends are tied for the most targets at the position with 30: Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry and Eric Ebron. The Steelers’ tight end has proven to be one of Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to red zone weapons, scoring a touchdown in three of his last five games. Look for him to do so once again this weekend against Washington…Evan Engram is finally starting to make big plays for the Giants. Even with Daniel Jones expected to miss this weekend’s game against the Seahawks, Engram showed a strong rapport with backup QB Colt McCoy after Jones left last week’s contest with an injury. Given Seattle’s struggles against the passing game, Engram is an easy lock at tight end this weekend.

Sit ’em

  • Dallas Goedert, PHI (at GB)
  • Hayden Hurst, ATL (vs. NO)

He’s coming off a strong performance against Seattle, but Dallas Goedert’s role may diminish this week thanks to the expected return of Zach Ertz. While Ertz wasn’t producing at his normal level prior to hitting IR, he remains one of Carson Wentz’s favorite targets and will still eat into Goedert’s looks…For a player who was drafted to be a TE1, Hayden Hurst hasn’t lived up to fantasy expectations this year. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 6 and only broke 70 receiving yards once all year. After how much the Falcons struggled against New Orleans two weeks ago, it’s hard to trust him here.

 

Defense/special teams

Start ’em

  • Vikings D/ST (vs. JAX)
  • Packers D/ST (vs. PHI)

The Jaguars are starting Mike Glennon this week, their third starting quarterback of the season after Gardner Minshew and Jake Luton failed to impress. While Minnesota hasn’t been the toughest defense in the league, the group is playing better and should have an easy matchup in Jacksonville…If there’s one offense that pays off to stream against, it’s the Eagles. Carson Wentz leads the NFL in interceptions and sacks while also fumbling the ball 10 times in 11 games. Green Bay still can’t tackle, but the Packers are an enticing start with Philadelphia going against them.

Sit ’em

  • 49ers D/ST (vs. BUF)
  • Washington D/ST (at PIT)

The 49ers’ defense has absorbed significant injuries this season, leaving the group looking like a shell of the unit that led San Francisco to a Super Bowl last winter. Josh Allen is still tearing things up at quarterback and he has the weapons to attack the 49ers at their weak spots. Best to stream another group this week…Washington is coming off a stretch of favorable matchups that have helped it gain national attention for its defensive prowess. However, none of those teams boast the firepower that Pittsburgh has, making this a tough matchup even with Washington getting extra rest.