• Dan Larocca

NFL Starts/Sits: Week 13

It's been a long and winding road, but we’ve made it to the final week of the fantasy regular season. Week 12 was undoubtedly the craziest of the season to date – not only did it have the most COVID-related player absences from games, but it also gave us six 22+ performers in half-PPR, including the third-best fantasy performance ever with Tyreek Hill’s 51.4 point spectacle.

When it comes to accuracy, we had another above-average week last week, finishing 14 wins and 10 losses. Notable wins included all three RB starts in Gallman, Drake, and Jones, who combined for 58.2 points. Notable misses included Derek Carr and Antonio Brown as starts – the pair finished with 3.7 points combined. All in all, that puts us at 99 wins and 69 losses on the season.

Win/loss methodology: I look at fantasy finishes for all my previous week’s picks, including honorable mentions, to assess which players were start-worthy or not. In other words, if they finish within QB12, RB30, WR30, or TE12 (accounting for a RB/WR flex spot). On average for half-PPR scoring, that means the following:


START: Ryan Tannehill, Titans

For the most part, Ryan Tannehill has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers this year – he comes into the week as the QB9 on the year, with 23 passing TDs and only 4 picks to go along with 2 rushing TDs. This week Tannehill gets a matchup against the Browns, the 10th easiest matchup for fantasy QBs. The Browns defense has looked better as of late, at least on paper (no QB has more than 18 points against them in the last 4 weeks), but their numbers have been inflated by a string of bad weather games, and they did just allow an 18 point performance to Mike Glennon in Jacksonville.

Passing volume is the biggest question mark for Tannehill, who’s thrown more than 30 passes only once in his last six games. Look for him to overcome that this week though in what Vegas predicts will be the highest-scoring game of the slate (53 point O/U).

Honorable mentions: Kirk Cousins (vs. Jaguars), Derek Carr (at Jets)

SIT: Carson Wentz, Eagles

Garbage time saved Wentz’s fantasy day last week, but fantasy managers who watched the game probably didn’t like what they saw from him against Seattle. Wentz was indecisive, made poor decisions and was not accurate with the football last week, and the offense as a whole looked flat. Wentz has been sacked 46 times this year, the most in the league by a wide margin (Russell Wilson is second with 35). Without much time to throw the ball, and a receiving corps that has yet to find its rhythm, it’s no wonder that Wentz hasn’t topped 19 points in his last four games.

The Eagles are up against the Packers this week, who rank as the 7th toughest matchup for fantasy QBs. We haven’t seen enough from Wentz or the Eagles offense to have confidence starting him in tough matchups. Avoid him this week.

Honorable mentions: Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Washington), Matthew Stafford (at Bears)

Running Back

START: David Montgomery, Bears

For a lead back with a relatively clean bill of health, Montgomery sure has frustrated managers this year. He has only scored double-digit half-PPR points in five of his 11 games played, despite having at least 13 touches in every game this year.

Last week though everything came together for Montgomery, who finished with 11 rushes, 5 catches, 143 total yards and 22.8 fantasy points against a weak Packers run defense.

Montgomery gets an even easier matchup this week against the Lions, who give up the most fantasy points to RBs (28.2 points). Opportunity is king for the RB position in fantasy, and as one of the league’s few feature backs (Montgomery ranked second in RBs in snap percentage last week with 85%), it’s hard to bet against him this week.

Honorable mentions: Raheem Mostert (vs. Bills), Damien Harris (at Chargers)

SIT: Zack Moss, Bills

Moss has been trending up in the Bills offense, leading the RB room in snaps and goal-line opportunities in recent weeks. But despite being the 1A in Buffalo’s backfield, Moss hasn’t totaled more than 9 rushes or 2 targets in any of his last three games. Without steady volume, that makes him difficult for managers to trust in must-win games with playoffs on the line.

The Bills play the 49ers this week, who are the 7th toughest matchup for fantasy RBs this year. With Raheem Mostert back and healthy for the 49ers, I expect them to lean on the running game and try to control the time of possession this week. Moss’ floor is too low to be trusted this week.

Honorable mentions: Todd Gurley (vs. Saints), Darrell Henderson (at Cardinals)

Wide Receiver

START: Jarvis Landry, Browns

Landry showed up big for the Browns in their win last week against the Jaguars, finishing with 11 targets, 8 catches, 143 receiving yards, and a TD. Landry has largely been a disappointment for fantasy this year, but much of that has been due to an inconsistent offense (19th ranked in the league) and in particular, an uninspiring passing game (30th ranked).

Landry’s performances have followed a predictable pattern though – his top 3 performances this season have come in 3 of Cleveland’s top 4 scoring games, meaning that when the Browns are scoring points, Landry is involved. As mentioned above, Vegas predicts this to be the highest-scoring game of the week. The Browns should be able to move the ball through the air against the Titans, who are allowing the 12th most points to fantasy WRs. Start Landry with confidence.

Honorable mentions: Brandin Cooks (vs. Colts), Corey Davis (vs. Browns)

SIT: Mike Williams, Chargers

Williams has been a boom or bust option this season, although he has started to see more target consistency of late (5+ targets in his last five games). Despite the steady target share, Williams hasn’t been able to top 81 yards in his last four games and only has 1 TD over that span.

He gets a tough test against the Patriots this week, who tend to make life difficult for outside receivers. Bill Belichick is known for shutting down opposing offensive weapons by using their number 2 corner along with safety help. With Keenan Allen lining up in the slot often and likely drawing that double-coverage, expect to see Williams matched up against reigning defensive MVP Stephon Gilmore on the outside a decent amount. That’s not a matchup Williams is likely to win often. Fade him if you can this week.

Honorable mentions: Amari Cooper (at Ravens), Travis Fulgham (vs. Packers)

Tight End

START: Robert Tonyan

I’ll admit I have been slow to board the Robert Tonyan express this year. But despite ranking 18th among TEs in targets, Tonyan ranks 9th in receiving yards and is tied for 2nd in TDs. His efficiency has been a bright spot for a position lacking production this year.

In looking at Tonyan’s game logs a clear pattern shows up - in every game Tonyan has totaled 5 targets or more this season (five of 11 games), he has scored double-digit fantasy points, including each of the last two weeks. The Eagles are coming to town this week, which is good news for the Packers TE – Philadelphia has allowed the 6th most passing attempts to opposing teams this year. The Eagles haven’t allowed a TE to reach double-digit fantasy points since week 6, but I see Tonyan breaking that trend this week.

Honorable mentions: Hayden Hurst (vs. Saints), Kyle Rudolph (vs. Jaguars)

SIT: Zach Ertz, Eagles

Ertz is returning to the lineup this week after missing 5 games with an ankle injury, and he’ll be doing so against a Green Bay defense that ranks as the 7th toughest against fantasy TEs. While the Eagles have struggled offensively, TE has been a rare bright spot for them in recent weeks, with Dallas Goedert and Richard Rogers combining for 25 catches, 346 yards and 4 TDs over the past three weeks. I don’t expect this pair to vanish with Ertz easing back into the lineup. And in a passing attack that is 6th worst in the NFL, it’s difficult to trust Ertz in his first game back.

Honorable mentions: Logan Thomas (at Steelers), Austin Hooper (at Titans)

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