Thumbs Up of the Week: Philip Rivers (@ PIT)
Philip Rivers has thrown for multiple touchdowns passes in every game this season, and his high-floor QB1 status should be boosted this week as Los Angeles plays without offensive centerpiece Melvin Gordon (knee) in a game they will likely need to score points in. Gordon is obviously one of the NFL’s best pass-catchers at running back, but the Chargers still have weapons all over the place, and I think Pittsburgh’s league-leading pass rush (39 sacks) can be neutralized by an elite line that has allowed less than two sacks per game through 12 weeks. After setting records last week, Rivers should stay hot on Sunday Night Football.
Thumbs Up: Kirk Cousins (@ NE)
I am usually lower on Kirk Cousins than most, but New England doesn’t have a fearsome pass rush, so he should have time to find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs for some chunk plays in what will probably need to be a shootout at Gillette Stadium. For what it’s worth, Cousins’ four best fantasy performances of the year have come in high-scoring affairs against Aaron Rodgers (383.5 YPG and a 7:1 touchdown-interception ratio), Jared Goff (422 yards and three touchdowns), and Drew Brees (359 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception), which is good for 27.3 fantasy points per game—compared to just 13.9 fantasy points per game in seven other outings. Cousins is my No. 8 quarterback for Week 13.
Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (v MIN)
Perhaps Tom Brady won’t hold up his end of an offensive duel this weekend against Cousins and the Vikings because he simply hasn’t played great in 2018, but we should start to see him round into form as December games get underway. While Minnesota is hopeful to have Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) healthy despite “TV doctors” calling his injury season-ending on Sunday night, it might not be a huge downgrade for Brady, who should attack inside with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and James White anyway. I have the 41-year-old as a backend QB1 at home.
Thumbs Up: Case Keenum (@ CIN)
This is all about the combination of a great matchup and a confident quarterback/team, as Cincinnati has been shredded through the air all season, and they have only gotten worse in recent weeks with 24.8 fantasy points per game allowed by opposing signal-callers during their current 1-5 stretch; and for Denver, Case Keenum—who had zero turnovers in November—is looking to lead a playoff push after a couple huge wins against the Chargers and Steelers over the past two weeks. Even with bye weeks concluded, Keenum deserves consideration in two-quarterback leagues.
Others: Marcus Mariota (v NYJ), Josh Allen (@ MIA)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Matt Ryan (v BAL)
Fantasy owners might be understandably hesitant to bench the No. 3 fantasy quarterback at this point in the season (i.e. with fantasy playoffs potentially on the line), but Matt Ryan probably doesn’t carry his usual floor or upside in a matchup against a Baltimore defense that has allowed just one 300-yard passer in 2018. I still have Ryan as a top-15 option—and if you told me Atlanta would get Tevin Coleman more involved as a receiver, he would likely crack the top ten—but fantasy owners should look elsewhere if possible for this week.
Thumbs Down: Deshaun Watson (v CLE)
Rushing production helped Deshaun Watson last week when he ran for 70 yards and a score, but the 23-year-old has averaged just 182.7 passing yards per game since Week 6, and he hasn’t thrown for 240+ yards in a game during this current stretch. On Sunday, I’m worried about the surging Cleveland defense wrecking a sub-par offensive line that remains the weakness for Houston, and the Browns have athletes capable of spying Watson. Fantasy owners will probably need a big passing day to see QB1 results.
Thumbs Down: Jameis Winston (v CAR)
As stated last week, I simply cannot trust or recommended Jameis Winston with the fantasy playoffs near. The supporting cast is all there, but Winston is quite frankly due for an interception—perhaps multiple—after not turning the ball over in last week’s win over the 49ers, and Ron Rivera’s defense has given him problems throughout his career (2-4 record and a 5:9 touchdown-interception ratio). Ranked by many analysts ahead of guys like Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins, Jameis is a hard sell as a solid QB1 for me.
Thumbs Down: Andrew Luck (@ JAX)
Similar to Matt Ryan, it might be difficult to bench Andrew Luck based on how hot he has been with at least three touchdowns in every game since Week 4, and that includes a win over the Jaguars last month in which he threw for 285 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. All streaks end at some point, though, and I think Jacksonville will have more efficient, clock-killing drives with Cody Kessler replacing Blake Bortles at quarterback; plus, the defense will come to play if they have any pride left at 3-8. Luck should still be a borderline starting option in 10- or 12-team leagues, but I would take the under on 21 fantasy points (his lowest total over the past eight games).
Others: Matthew Stafford (v LAR), Eli Manning (v CHI)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Gus Edwards (@ ATL)
It looks like Gus Edwards will be a fantasy star the rest of the way, as he’s rushed 40 times for 233 yards (5.8 YPC) and one touchdown over the past two games, and at the very least, Baltimore is expected to feature Lamar Jackson more as a change-of-pace quarterback if Joe Flacco (hip) returns as the starter. That means plenty of ground-and-pound for Edwards, and the undrafted rookie should be locked into 18-22 carries this weekend against the Falcons, who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing runners in standard leagues, including 32.9 points to Nick Chubb—another between-the-tackles grinder—just three weeks ago. The Rutgers product has suddenly emerged as a top-12 option.
Thumbs Up: Derrick Henry (v NYJ)
Derrick Henry continues to be significantly more effective on his touches than Dion Lewis, and with any luck, the Titans will self-evaluate to realize they need to feed their monster runner, especially after backup tight end Luke Stocker got stuffed on a fourth-and-inches that changed the game in Monday night’s loss to the Texans. Along with Marcus Mariota’s clutch play, Henry was a big reason for Tennessee making the postseason and beating the Chiefs last January, and now is the time to get him going for another run, as the Jets have been dominated by the Bills and Patriots (combined 70 carries for 388 yards and two touchdowns) in back-to-back games. The former Heisman winner is optimistically trending towards low-end RB2 status for me this week.
Thumbs Up: LeGarrette Blount (v LAR)
Of course, this is under the assumption Kerryon Johnson (knee) misses another game, but the best spot to attack the Rams is right up the middle to neutralize Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh as pass-rushers. Wade Phillips’ defense has allowed 5.2 yards per carry this season (second worst in the league), and Blount showed on Thanksgiving that he still has some juice left in the tank by rumbling for 88 yards and two touchdowns. The floor is extremely low if the scoreboard gets lopsided early on, but Blount is worth considering in all leagues thanks to his nose for the end zone.
Thumbs Up: Jaguars RBs (v IND)
Trading a fifth-round pick for Carlos Hyde didn’t work out like Jacksonville had hoped, but the veteran will hopefully get a chance to handle 15+ touches this week if newly-promoted offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich commits to the running game (I think he will to make a bid for the permanent OC gig in 2019 and beyond). T.J. Yeldon should also be involved as an outlet receiver for Cody Kessler, and we just saw both Frank Gore (7.7 standard fantasy points) and Kenyan Drake (21.6 standard fantasy points) both have success against the Colts. I think Hyde and Yeldon are quality FLEX plays with Leonard Fournette suspended.
Others: Justin Jackson (@ PIT), Ty Montgomery (@ ATL)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Adrian Peterson (@ PHI)
Saved by a two-touchdown performance against the Texans in Week 11 to keep his fantasy value afloat over the past month, Adrian Peterson rushed 56 times for just 171 yards (3.1 YPC) in November, and his future outlook doesn’t look very promising behind an injury-ravaged offensive line. The Redskins can basically put the Eagles away in the NFC East with a victory on Monday night, so I would be shocked if Philly didn’t come to play behind their home crowd with the season hanging in the balance, and the defensive front should be able to dominate up front despite struggling against the Cowboys, Saints, and Giants. Consider AD a somewhat volatile FLEX option.
Thumbs Down: Dion Lewis (v NYJ)
Tennessee could easily stick with Dion Lewis as their lead back, and it would likely lead to some strong numbers in a favorable matchup. However, this should be a Derrick Henry game against the collapsing Jets, and Lewis has seen decreasing efficiency in each of the past four games (3.3 YPC > 2.9 YPC > 2.4 YPC > 1.1 YPC). Plus, receiving production might be difficult to come by, as New York held James White to one reception last week, and they typically defend pass-catching backs well. I have Lewis as an uninspiring FLEX option.
Thumbs Down: Doug Martin (v KC)
Doug Martin has looked great since taking over as the starter in Oakland, rushing 60 times for 285 yards (4.8 YPC) and one touchdown while proving the doubters wrong with good vision and underrated punch to finish off runs. That said, Martin has disappeared in the second half of two games in a row, first due to a minor ankle injury and then last week because of the game script tilting in Baltimore’s direction. Defensively, the Chiefs are an inviting matchup, but Oakland might be trailing 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, which makes me uneasy about Martin in fantasy lineups.
Thumbs Down: Tevin Coleman (v BAL)
He was bottled up as a runner last week in New Orleans, but Tevin Coleman still came away with a respectable 8.3 standard fantasy points thanks to another touchdown reception, and he’s averaged 13.0 fantasy points per game—putting him right below the elite tier as the overall RB9—since Devonta Freeman (groin) was placed on IR in the middle of October. But while I actually have Coleman higher than most with the stout Ravens coming to town, he is more of a low-end RB2/FLEX option than high-upside, borderline RB1 like usual, and he might finally put up a dud if he isn’t able to break a big play or find the end zone.
Others: Alex Collins (@ ATL), T.J. Yeldon (v IND)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Keenan Allen (@ PIT)
Fantasy owners that have Keenan Allen are obviously starting him, but he is severely undervalued as the No. 14 wide receiver in FantasyPros expert consensus rankings. And that’s despite a hot streak since the start of November with lines of 6/124, 6/57/1, 9/89/1, and 7/72/1, not to mention the fact that Allen will be the team’s No. 1 offensive weapon now that Melvin Gordon is week-to-week. Allen is a borderline top-five option for me in a probable high-scoring affair on Sunday Night Football.
Thumbs Up: Allen Robinson (@ NYG)
All bets are off if Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) misses another game, but if not, Allen Robinson should be viewed as a high-upside WR2 for Week 13 and the rest of the year as a premier perimeter threat in a creative offense. Robinson averaged 19.0 yards per reception last month, and the Giants have struggled at times—not just this season—to defend big-bodied targets on downfield passes. Even if Chase Daniel gets another start, I think Robinson would be in play as a high-ceiling FLEX option for this matchup.
Thumbs Up: Sammy Watkins (@ OAK)
Those who gambled on Sammy Watkins a couple weeks ago in a primetime shootout were disappointed with a one-catch, four-yard performance as his night was quickly finished because of the foot injury, but there’s no reason to hold that against the former first-round pick. Watkins will likely be 100% if cleared ahead of what looks to be a very winnable week off the bye for Andy Reid’s squad, and I could see Jon Gruden and the Raiders trying to make sure Tyreek Hill doesn’t beat them after “Cheetah” posted lines of 7/117/2 and 10/215/2 in Week 10 and Week 11. That would open things up for Watkins in one-on-one matchups against an overmatched secondary. Start the Clemson product in all formats.
Thumbs Up: Julian Edelman (v MIN)
It’s a very small sample size, but Julian Edelman accounted for the majority of New England’s receiving production in his only meeting against Vikings with Mike Zimmer at the helm, catching seven-of-eight targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in a 30-7 victory where Tom Brady completed just 14 passes for 149 yards. Edelman will likely be the main means of moving the ball through the air again on Sunday, as Minnesota remains much more susceptible inside. There might not be a safer WR2 option in the fantasy world.
Others: Mike Williams (@ PIT), Nelson Agholor (v WAS)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Alshon Jeffery (v WAS)
As pointed out in this week’s fantasy stock report, since the Eagles acquired Golden Tate last month, Alshon Jeffery has seen his raw targets decrease 41.0% over the past four weeks (39 targets in his first four games compared to 21 targets over his past four games). Basically, the offense funnels through Zach Ertz now, and Jeffery has been downgraded to a complimentary piece, which is bad news facing a Washington secondary that matches up better against size than they do against speed. Alshon is better viewed as a FLEX than WR2.
Thumbs Down: Josh Gordon (v MIN)
Whether or not Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) is able to play against the Patriots, this is a rare spot for me to be low on Josh Gordon, as I think Tom Brady would rather play between-the-numbers with Edelman, Gronk, and White rather than forcing the ball to the strength of Mike Zimmer’s defense. The former All-Pro receiver remains a borderline top-20 option based on upside—and he would have a higher chance of a big day if Rhodes sits and Trae Waynes doesn’t shadow—but anyone loaded at receiver might want to sit Gordon before he’s potentially unleashed in the fantasy playoffs.
Thumbs Down: Christian Kirk (@ GB)
Christian Kirk has been a rare bright spot for the Cardinals this season, but he could be set to do battle against another standout rookie when he hits the Lambeau Field grass to take on Jaire Alexander and the Packers on Sunday. Kirk, who just turned 22 less than two weeks ago, has the talent to overcome a difficult matchup, but I wouldn’t feel confident about his chances with a struggling rookie quarterback that has thrown for a combined 241 yards over the past two weeks throwing passes. Kirk is a shaky FLEX option for Week 13.
Thumbs Down: T.Y. Hilton (@ JAX)
Jalen Ramsey (knee) apparently might not play this weekend, so if that’s the case, just ignore this and slot T.Y. Hilton in lineups as a high-end, high-upside WR2. I would think Jacksonville knows they need to cover Andrew Luck’s No. 1 target, though, and Eric Ebron is really the only other prominent threat to worry about after Jack Doyle (kidney) was placed on injured reserve. T.Y. had three receptions for 77 yards in the previous matchup between these AFC South rivals (a 29-26 Indy win), but I think fewer points will be scored in the rematch.
Others: Emmanuel Sanders (@ CIN), Tyler Boyd (v DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Cameron Brate (v CAR)
O.J. Howard (ankle) being placed on IR opened the door for Cameron Brate to have TE1 value once again, and he got things started last week with a touchdown against the 49ers. Carolina has tightened up their coverage over the past couple weeks, but they have allowed nine touchdowns and the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far this season, setting Brate up for another strong fantasy showing at a shallow position.
Thumbs Up: David Njoku (@ HOU)
He still isn’t being used as a dynamic weapon that can consistently do damage from the slot or in one-on-one coverage outside, but David Njoku is coming off his most productive game of the season (5/63/1), and a highlight touchdown will hopefully get the 2017 first-round pick more looks down the stretch. Houston has been shredded by the position with lines of 11/127/1, 7/71/1, and 8/142/1 allowed this month, so Njoku needs to be in lineups as a solid TE1.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (@ DET)
The bye week might have halted Gerald Everett’s momentum, but his confidence should be at an all-time high after catching three touchdowns in two close wins, including a 40-yard score—which will be remembered for quite a while—in the thrilling MNF win over Kansas City. Everett is worth a look as a top-15 option in Sean McVay’s offense.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Evan Engram (v CHI)
I hope Evan Engram didn’t burn too many fantasy owners last week when he didn’t see the field due to a hamstring issue in pre-game warmups, but if he is able to get healthy and play on Sunday, I wouldn’t feel great about the Ole Miss product against stud Chicago linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan, both of whom have the speed to match Engram. It’s probably wise to look elsewhere.
Thumbs Down: Ricky Seals-Jones (@ GB)
Ricky Seals-Jones followed up a five-yard game in Week 11 with a five-yard game in Week 12, and he is closer to falling out of the rankings altogether than he is reaching the TE2 ranks. For a potential snow game in Green Bay, RSJ is only a very deep desperation option.
Thumbs Down: Dallas Goedert (v WAS)
We saw him get a bit more involved last week, but Dallas Goedert is a risky TE2 option on an underperforming offense that has been struggling to get Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate, and Nelson Agholor consistent targets. Goedert probably best viewed as a dynasty prospect.