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Week 13 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Taysom Hill (v DAL)

Hill is slated to start on Thursday night, and he should bring immediate QB1 upside in a potential shootout versus Dallas. The concern would be Hill’s foot injury limiting his mobility, but it’d be a surprise if he played without quarterback runs being a central part of the game plan, and the secondary of the Cowboys could be susceptible to big-play threats Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris. I have Hill ranked as a top-ten play for Week 13.


Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v WAS)

Carr was the beneficiary of facing Dallas on Thanksgiving, and he threw for 371 yards and a touchdown in the overtime win. Most of the damage came without Darren Waller (knee), so possibly not having the superstar tight end this week isn’t reason enough to go away from him as a borderline QB1/QB2. Contributions from DeSean Jackson (three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown) and Zay Jones (five receptions for 59 yards) on Thanksgiving—combined with Josh Jacobs creating balance—will hopefully help Carr stay hot on Sunday.


Thumbs Up: Taylor Heinicke (@ LV)

Washington has also gotten the running game going in recent weeks, and that’s made things easier on Heinicke—who has completed 77.5% of his passes with a 5:1 touchdown-interception ratio during the team’s three-game winning streak. Las Vegas just allowed Dak Prescott to throw for 375 yards and two scores without his top two wideouts in the lineup, and Heinicke’s supporting cast is getting healthier with Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel in the fold. I like him as a strong QB2.


Thumbs Up: Matt Ryan (v TB)

Quarterback appears to be somewhat lacking this week beyond the top 15 or so, but Ryan is undervalued in a spot where Atlanta will have to score points, and Cordarrelle Patterson being back changes the entire dynamic of the offense (even without Calvin Ridley). While the floor is much lower than you’d like for the Falcons, I’d say Ryan brings quality upside if Tampa Bay’s pass rush doesn’t get to him, and the Bucs’ primary focus will be stopping the run. Matty Ice is worth a look for desperate owners.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tua Tagovailoa (v NYG)

Tagovailoa has done an excellent job managing the offense since his return in Week 10, but New York’s defense is coming on strong, so this isn’t a great matchup for his chances at returning more than decent QB2 value. The Giants starting Mike Glennon in place of Daniel Jones (neck) arguably downgrades Tua further because it increases the chances of a slugfest (or Miami simply playing from ahead again); I’d rather take a chance on more upside in Week 13.


Thumbs Down: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ SEA)

Garoppolo has also played great in recent weeks, but Seattle hasn’t been a favorable matchup for him throughout his career—going 1-4 against them with 195.5 passing yards per game and a 2:3 touchdown-interception ratio. Losing Deebo Samuel (groin) and his playmaking ability is a blow to Jimmy G’s outlook, and I’m sure Kyle Shanahan will want to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible this weekend. It might take the Seahawks waking up on offense for Garoppolo to need to put up numbers.


Thumbs Down: Teddy Bridgewater (@ KC)

The Broncos have quietly won three-of-four games to snap out of their cold stretch, but Bridgewater hasn’t been lighting it up—completing just 17.8 passes per game with three touchdowns over than span. Kansas City’s defense becoming much stingier makes this a tough draw on the road, and the Denver offense only scored 16 points in each of their 2020 matchups. A run-heavy game plan to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field is the best chance to pull off the upset.


Thumbs Down: Ben Roethlisberger (v BAL)

Perhaps I’m too low on Roethlisberger (ranked outside the top 24) against a Baltimore defense allowing the most passing yards per game in the league (275.7), but Ravens-Steelers usually isn’t a high-scoring matchup, and Sunday might be a Najee Harris game with Pittsburgh going back to basics in the rivalry. Big Ben notably hasn’t thrown for 275+ yards in a game since September.


Running Back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Jamaal Williams (v MIN)

It sounds like D’Andre Swift (shoulder) will be out this week, which would set up Williams—who handled 20 touches on Thanksgiving— to be the workhorse for a run-heavy Detroit offense. Minnesota’s defense is allowing the most yards per carry (4.8) and third-most rushing yards per game (134.4) in the league, so Williams carries a high floor with the potential to go off he can find the end zone. Even if Swift ends up playing, Williams would be a stronger-than-usual low-end RB2/FLEX this week.


Thumbs Up: Javonte Williams (@ KC)

As stated, the Broncos need to run if they want to win on Sunday night, and Williams emerged last month with 111 total yards in two-of-three games (the other was Denver’s blowout loss to the Eagles). Melvin Gordon will remain a significant factor, too, but Denver’s rookie runner has gotten the edge in terms of snaps for each of the past two games—and the team trusts him around the end zone and to close out games. Williams is a top-20 option at the position.


Thumbs Up: Boston Scott (@ NYJ)

The health of Miles Sanders (ankle) and Jordan Howard (knee) needs to be monitored, but Scott could be in line to start this weekend—and the upside is high versus a New York defense that’s allowed a whopping 20 rushing touchdowns this season. In four games with more than ten touches this year, Scott has gone for fantasy point totals of 18.0, 11.5, and 12.2. He’d be a plug-and-play RB2 as the starter and can be a FLEX option if not.


Thumbs Up: Patriots RBs (@ BUF)

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both appear destined to handle 12 or so touches every week, but I wouldn’t shy away from a matchup versus Buffalo on Monday night. Although Sean McDermott’s defense is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing runners, the schedule has been very soft for them—overshadowing that the Titans (34.6 fantasy points) and Colts (56.2) each showed the Bills can be run on. New England’s offensive line can open holes for Harris and Stevenson, and both players seem like they’d thrive running in the snow if weather becomes a factor.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Ezekiel Elliott (@ NO)

Elliott will be playing on Thursday night despite rest reportedly being an option to allow his knee to get healthy, but can fantasy owners expect his usual workload despite Jerry Jones saying he will carry a “serious load” for Dallas? Already limited to nine carries in back-to-back games, Zeke hasn’t seen more than 17 touches in a game since October, and the Cowboys have a very talented backup in Tony Pollard to handle a larger role. I’d view Elliott as more of an RB2 than RB1 on normal rest for a tough matchup.


Thumbs Down: Jeff Wilson Jr. (@ SEA)

San Francisco unleashed rookie Elijah Mitchell after missing one game with a finger injury, and it led to Wilson Jr. seeing the field for just ten snaps last week (which resulted in seven total yards on three touches). The veteran is averaging 2.7 yards per carry on 31 attempts since making his season debut, and he’s looking like a handcuff-only option with the Niners having no issues handing the ball to Mitchell 25+ times as the lead back.


Thumbs Down: Myles Gaskin (v NYG)

Gaskin remains a volume-based RB2 with 19.8 touches per game in six appearances since returning from London, but might he be too touchdown-dependent to rely on as a top-20 play? Miami’s starter is averaging 3.1 yards per carry during the current featured stretch, and run blocking remains a significant concern against a New York defense—that while statistically not great defending the run—has some stout players up front to dominate the trenches. I’d at least avoid Gaskin in DFS lineups.


Thumbs Down: Seahawks RBs (v SF)

In general, Seattle’s backfield has underperformed without Chris Carson (neck) in the lineup, so even with San Francisco missing Fred Warner (hamstring) and Dre Greenlaw (groin) at linebacker, I’d have a difficult time trusting Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas. During the three-game losing streak for the Seahawks, Collins has rushed 27 times for 91 scoreless yards, and we probably can’t start Dallas until we see him used in a more substantial early-down role.


Wide Receiver 


Thumbs Up of the Week: Brandon Aiyuk (@ SEA)

Aiyuk—already emerging with 85+ receiving yards in three-of-four November games—will be featured similar to how he was in the second half of his rookie campaign, so he can be boosted into the high-end WR2 ranks for Week 13. If anyone needs a refresher, Aiyuk caught 45 passes for 568 yards and four touchdowns over a six-game stretch last season, and the second-year wideout should give Seattle fits this weekend.


Thumbs Up: Antonio Brown (@ ATL)

Antonio Brown (ankle) isn’t a lock to return on Sunday, but if he does, fantasy owners shouldn’t waste any time getting him back in lineups. While there may be quiet outings because of how many weapons there are in Tampa Bay, AB has gone for lines of 5/121/1, 7/63, 7/124/2, and 9/93/1 in four of his five appearances this season, and I’m not worried about the only disappointing game (one reception for 17 yards) coming in the first matchup versus Atlanta. Look for Brown to make up for lost time if he’s back.


Thumbs Up: T.Y. Hilton (@ HOU)

A lack of opportunities for Hilton—who hasn’t seen more than five targets in a game this season—is a concern for a spot where Indianapolis is expected to lean heavily on Jonathan Taylor, but it’s impossible to ignore his history versus Houston; including an 80-yard performance earlier this year (on just four targets), T.Y. has averaged 94.6 yards per game against the Texans in 19 career matchups. Hilton should be viewed as an upside FLEX for Week 13.


Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (@ NO)

Amari Cooper has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, but Gallup can still have another big performance as a full-time player in the Dallas offense. Although the 25-year-old didn’t really get going until the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving, he had clutch grabs of 41, 32, and 17 yards, and Dak Prescott should be confident in him as a downfield threat versus New Orleans. Gallup is a low-end WR2/FLEX on Thursday night.


Others: Saints WRs (v DAL)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Amari Cooper (@ NO)

Cooper is back for Dallas, but I highly doubt he will play a full complement of snaps with limited practice time and conditioning, so he’s ranked as more of a volatile FLEX than upside WR2. It’s unfortunate because this would have likely been a plus matchup if Cooper was fully himself against the man-to-man coverage of New Orleans, but fantasy owners with better options should keep his history of low-floor games in mind when making lineup decisions.


Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (@ KC)

He missed both games last season on injured reserve, but Sutton had previously done well versus the Chiefs with 78+ yards in the previous three meetings—though that was as the team’s clear No. 1 wideout, and there’s nothing to suggest he will suddenly get hot following a four-game stretch in which he caught seven passes for 95 scoreless yards (on just 12 targets). Overall, I’m not optimistic about his outlook in terms of the matchup and projected role, so it might take a touchdown for Sutton to pay dividends in primetime.


Thumbs Down: Corey Davis (v PHI)

Davis (groin) will likely be questionable after missing Week 12, but he could see a lot of Darius Slay if active, and the Jets don’t want to have Zach Wilson operate a high-volume passing attack if they can help it. Also, I believe the Eagles would be more prone to a big game from Elijah Moore, so Davis is a risky, low-floor FLEX option on an inconsistent, rookie-led offense.


Thumbs Down: Kenny Golladay (@ MIA)

Golladay was going to be a “Thumbs Down” even before Daniel Jones popped up on the injury report, and now fantasy owners would likely be taking a massive gamble on a touchdown from Mike Glennon in a matchup versus Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Unless the Giants suddenly start using Golladay more in the slot, his fantasy appeal will be limited and dependent on the matchup—making him a definite fade this week.


Others: Tyler Lockett (v SF), Marvin Jones (@ LAR)


Tight End


Thumbs Up of the Week: Foster Moreau (v WAS)

Moreau only caught one pass in the Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys, but he played a career-high 77 snaps, and the LSU product will be a huge part of the offense if Darren Waller (knee) is out. Earlier this season, Moreau caught six-of-six targets for 60 yards and a score in extended action versus the Eagles, so we’ll see if he can have a similar performance versus Washington. Moreau is a top-ten play.


Thumbs Up: Ryan Griffin (v PHI)

Speaking of Philadelphia, they remain the easiest matchup in the NFL for opposing tight ends, and the results allowed to the position seem impossible with 17.7 fantasy points per game for opposing tight ends since Week 3. Griffin has been the clear top option at tight end since Tyler Kroft (chest) was placed on injured reserve, so Sunday might finally result in a big game for him.


Thumbs Up: Mike Gesicki (v NYG)

The Dolphins being on a four-game winning streak hasn’t been a good thing for Gesicki’s fantasy prospects (12 receptions for 121 scoreless yards over that span), but he’s still on pace for a career year, and I’d keep rolling with him based on the talent/upside. Before holding Dallas Goedert in check last week, New York had allowed 200 combined yards to the tight ends of the Raiders and Bucs last month.


Thumbs Down of the Week: T.J. Hockenson (v MIN)

Hockenson came through with a touchdown on Thanksgiving, and that’s probably what fantasy owners will need out of him on Sunday to return strong TE1 value. In each of his four career matchups against the Vikings, Hockenson has been held below 40 yards, including a 22-yard performance back in Week 5. He’s a backend TE1 option with a low floor.


Thumbs Down: Cole Kmet (v ARI)

Kmet also came through on Thanksgiving with eight receptions (on 11 targets) for 65 yards, but now he’ll be facing an Arizona defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. A big reason for that is only one touchdown ceded to the position, and you might be better off targeting a player with a better matchup in Week 13.


Thumbs Down: Hunter Henry (@ BUF)

Of course, Henry has cooled off just when many bought into him as a weekly starter at tight end, and the Bills have historically been a stingy matchup for the position. Consider him a touchdown-or-bust option with 42 or fewer yards in all but one game this season.


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