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Week 13 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Trevor Lawrence (@ DET)

Lawrence had his best performance as a pro last week by throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-27 win over the Ravens, and it seems all the flashes we’ve seen out of him have come together. Now, the former No. 1 overall pick will get a great matchup versus a Detroit defense allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league (259.9), and they also struggle to contain athletic quarterbacks as runners. Start Lawrence with confidence as a QB1.


Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v LAC)

The Chargers are much more susceptible on the ground than through the air, but Carr has been hot with 277.3 passing yards per game and a 9:2 touchdown-interception ratio over the past four weeks—attempting at least 36 pass attempts in every game over than span. Carr not having to deal with Joey Bosa (3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in the previous three meetings) further boosts hit outlook, and I have him as a low-end QB1 with the Raiders maybe not likely to give Josh Jacobs (calf) another 35+ touches.


Thumbs Up: Mike White (@ MIN)

It’s a small sample size, but White has thrown for 300+ yards and three touchdowns in two of his four career starts—and he’s actually two-for-three if we exclude the game he got injured in last season (the other was a four-interception performance versus the league-best Buffalo defense). Another big outing would not at all be surprising based on how White has played and the struggles for Minnesota in coverage (NFL-high 276.1 passing yards per game and 8.3 yards per attempt allowed). White is an excellent streamer.


Thumbs Up: Kenny Pickett (@ ATL)

You could feel the confidence grow for Pickett on Monday night with an efficient game versus a tough Indianapolis defense, and the rushing numbers were encouraging with six carries for 32 yards. Pittsburgh will ideally shutdown the Atlanta offense and not need to air it out too much, but Pickett has the weapons to do more as a passer in another comfortable indoor game, and the Falcons—because they haven’t had their bye week—have allowed the most passing yards in the league. In two-quarterback formats, Pickett should be a quality start.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Kirk Cousins (v NYJ)

Cousins just overcame a difficult matchup versus New England to throw for 299 yards and three touchdowns (plus one interception) on Thanksgiving Night, so perhaps getting another tough opponent at home will lead to more fantasy success. The Jets are extremely stingy on the backend, though, and they have some similarities to the Dallas defense that completely shut down Minnesota in Week 11. I’d view Cousins as a clear QB2.


Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (@ PHI)

The Eagles will surely make it a focus to stop Derrick Henry, and Tannehill has done well as a passer since returning from injury with 293.0 yards per game in November. Still, the rushing production hasn’t been there for Tannehill in 2022 (only one game with double-digit rushing yards, with 12 yards), and the Eagles have the second-best pass defense in the league in terms of both yards per game (183.6) and yards per attempt (6.0) allowed. Unless Tannehill suddenly runs more, he’s unlikely to provide strong fantasy numbers in Week 13.


Thumbs Down: Marcus Mariota (v PIT)

Mariota is a quarterback that has done a quite a bit of running this season, but the Steelers have often done a great job of containing mobile quarterbacks on the ground—which is bad news for Atlanta’s quarterback from a fantasy perspective considering he operates a low-volume passing attack. Also, T.J. Watt has been abnormally quiet since his return, and it feels like a game-wrecking performance could be coming from him this weekend.


Thumbs Down: Aaron Rodgers (@ CHI)

Dealing with a rib injury on top of his broken thumb, Rodgers is very difficult to trust in fantasy lineups—even versus a Chicago defense that he typically owns and has only gotten worse defending the pass in recent weeks. Look for the Packers to run their offense through Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, with the chances of a low-scoring game being significantly increased if Justin Fields (shoulder) remains out for the Bears.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: David Montgomery (v GB)

There is no explanation needed here for anyone that watched the Green Bay run defense last Sunday night, but Montgomery has handled 18.5 touches per game in two weeks since Khalil Herbert (hip) went down and should be a locked-in RB1 option. Back in Week 2, Montgomery rushed 15 times for 122 yards against the Packers, and he’s gone for yardage totals of 143, 132, 81, and 136 in four matchups with the NFC North rival since his rookie year.


Thumbs Up: Brian Robinson Jr. (@ NYG)

Coming off the first 100-yard game of his career, Robinson has a tremendous opportunity to keep it going for a matchup versus a New York defense that’s allowing 5.2 yards per carry and has surrendered six rushing touchdowns over the past two weeks. Robinson also showed his ability as a pass-catcher with a receiving score against the Falcons, and Washington will lean on the rookie in close games.


Thumbs Up: Kyren Williams (v SEA)

Everything is pointing to a big role down the stretch for Williams, who has seen his carries (one > seven > 11), touches (four > eight > 14), and playing time (27% > 55% > 70%) all increase in three games since coming off injured reserve. Facing a Las Vegas defense that was just shredded by Josh Jacobs to the tune of 303 total yards, Williams should at least be a solid FLEX option—and he’s available in far too many leagues.


Thumbs Up: Kareem Hunt (@ HOU)

Nick Chubb is the top running back in our Week 13 rankings, but Hunt can also have a productive day because of the matchup versus a Houston defense allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing runners (27.6). Although the workload has been disappointing in recent weeks, Hunt should be boosted by Deshaun Watson increasing the upside of the offense—which should include more creativity in the passing game.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Rachaad White (v NO)

I highlighted White’s ability as a pass-catcher last week as reason to be optimistic about him in addition to the increased rushing volume, but I don’t see a repeat of the nine-reception outing this week versus a New Orleans defense that has their season on the line and has always played the Bucs tough. Leonard Fournette (hip) being back would decrease the floor and ceiling for the rookie, so I’d view him as more of a low-end RB2 rather than the top-15 option he was in Week 12.


Thumbs Down: Cordarrelle Patterson (v PIT)

It’s encouraging that Patterson has handled 12+ touches in three-of-four games since his return at the beginning of November, but Pittsburgh has tightened up their run defense in recent weeks—limiting the opposition to 64 carries for 201 yards (3.1 YPC) and one touchdown over the past three games. Patterson has fewer than 20 receiving yards in every game this season and might need a touchdown to be more than a decent FLEX on Sunday.


Thumbs Down: Latavius Murray (@ BAL)

While the first start of the season for Murray was promising (14 touches for 98 total yards), the Broncos could be getting healthier with Mike Boone (ankle) nearing a return—making Latavius more of a touchdown-dependent FLEX option. I know Baltimore gets a lot of criticism for their blown leads, but defending the run hasn’t been an issue with the NFL’s No. 2 run defense, and the veteran could find limited running room this week.


Thumbs Down: Alvin Kamara (@ TB)

The 2022 campaign has been a major disappointment for Kamara, and it’s unlikely he suddenly provides RB1 value this week versus a Tampa Bay defense that’s held him to 3.9 yards per carry in ten career matchups. Fantasy owners need to hope that a determined Kamara—coming off two lost fumbles—is given plenty of work in the passing game as his best chance of at least producing RB2 numbers on the road.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: A.J. Brown (v TEN)

Brown is obviously a slam-dunk start in all redraft leagues, but he’s the case of putting someone here that I’d feel confident about locking into DFS lineups. Basically, the Eagles might want to get a monster game out of their new wideout versus his former team, and I don’t see Mike Vrabel—who clearly was upset about trading Brown—changing the defensive philosophy to eliminate him with routine double coverage. An explosion could be coming for Brown with 60 or fewer yards in four games since the 6/156/3 performance in Week 8.


Thumbs Up: Christian Kirk (@ DET)

He was relatively quiet during Trevor Lawrence’s huge passing day last week, but Kirk still saw nine targets against the Ravens, and he’ll now take on a Detroit defense that he stung for a 9/94/1 line last year with the Cardinals. Still sitting as the overall WR10 on the season, Kirk should be started as a high-end WR2, and Zay Jones can also be played this week as an upside FLEX option following a career-best game with 11 receptions for 145 yards.


Thumbs Up: Garrett Wilson (@ MIN)

Even though we have seen Wilson get hot before his production fell off a cliff once already this season, the insertion of Mike White into the starting lineup feels like it has stabilized the offense—and the rookie wideout has gone for 92+ yards in three of his past four appearances. As stated, the Vikings have the NFL’s worst pass defense, and Wilson should be able to exploit it as a top-20 option at wide receiver this week.


Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (v IND)

Gallup still might be rounding into form coming off the torn ACL suffered last season, but he’s shown flashes—including five receptions for 63 yards on Thanksgiving. I think there will be enough snaps away from Stephon Gilmore for Gallup to have success, and I really like how he matches up with Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and Brandon Facyson as the other perimeter cornerbacks for Indy. Consider Gallup an upside FLEX.


Others: Julio Jones (v NO), Donovan Peoples-Jones (@ HOU)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Michael Pittman Jr. (@ DAL)

Pittman has seen his production climb with Matt Ryan getting the starting job back, and he’s now up to 74 receptions on the season despite lacking the big plays that fantasy owners were hoping for. Still, I’m avoiding him—if you have a strong alternative—for a matchup versus Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys, and the Colts being unable to protect Ryan could result in very limited time for him to find his top target. Pittman is ranked as a WR3 for me this week.


Thumbs Down: Allen Lazard (@ CHI)

The emergence of Christian Watson over the past three games has resulted in Lazard taking a hit from a fantasy perspective, and you’ll probably need him to capitalize in scoring territory to return WR2 value—particularly with Aaron Rodgers not himself right now. On the bright side, Lazard has scored in four of his past five matchups versus Chicago, but it’s not something I’d feel confident betting on again.


Thumbs Down: Drake London (v PIT)

London is another option that is heavily dependent on finding the end zone to be worth a start—as he’s not had more than 40 yards since September, and the rookie struggled with a couple of bad drops last week. Pittsburgh is allowing the most passing yards per attempt in the league, but I don’t think the volume is there for London to take advantage of it if the Steelers dominate up front. We have him outside the top 40 at wide receiver.


Thumbs Down: Mike Evans (v NO)

The rivalry between Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore reached a boiling point in the first matchup this season that resulted in both players being ejected, and the battle will be must-see TV on Monday night. Perhaps Evans—who hasn’t scored since Week 4—will get the better of his rival, but he’s been held to yardage totals of zero, 69, two, 64, three, 48, 14, and 61 over the past eight matchups (including playoffs).


Others: Treylon Burks (@ PHI), Mack Hollins (v LAC)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Hayden Hurst (v KC)

The Bengals are set to get Ja’Marr Chase (hip) back on Sunday, but Hurst is worth considering as a TE1 for a possible shootout after season-highs in targets (nine), receptions (six), and receiving yards (57) last week. A couple of years ago when he was in Atlanta, the former first-rounder caught five-of-six targets for 47 yards and a touchdown versus Kansas City, and he’s shown a fairly high floor this season with more than 20 yards in all but one game.


Thumbs Up: Juwan Johnson (@ TB)

Johnson was a Thumbs Down last week due to the matchup, but the Buccaneers will be much more favorable than the 49ers were—and the former college wideout has the trust of Andy Dalton in scoring territory. For the first matchup this season, Johnson caught four-of-seven targets for 40 yards, and he should be ranked as a low-end TE1 in the rematch.


Thumbs Up: Foster Moreau (v LAC)

With Darren Waller (hamstring) out of the lineup, Moreau has played at least 96% of the team’s offensive snaps in each of the past six games—seeing a very respectable 5.5 targets per game over that span. With a touchdown in two of the past three games and the Chargers allowing some big games to opposing tight ends this year, Moreau should be a solid streamer if you don’t have a clear starter.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Gesicki (@ SF)

Gesicki unfortunately didn’t pay off last week with zero receptions, and now he’ll take on the vaunted San Francisco defense (though he did catch five passes for 91 yards against them a couple of years ago). It will probably take a touchdown for Gesicki to hit based on the matchup and his limited target opportunities in Mike McDaniel’s offense.


Thumbs Down: Hunter Henry (v BUF)

I’m of the belief that Henry was robbed of a touchdown on Thanksgiving, but he still had three receptions for 63 yards and another score, which could have fantasy owners wanting to roll with him on another Thursday night. However, the Bills limited Henry to just two receptions on ten targets last season—resulting in 39 scoreless yards (three matchups, including playoffs). I’d look elsewhere.


Thumbs Down: Cade Otton (v NO)

Otton seeing his playoff time decline since the return of Cameron Brate is a mistake in my opinion, and fantasy owners can’t rely on a rookie tight end that’s playing half of the team’s offensive snaps versus a defense that typically eliminates the position. We might need to wait until 2023 for Otton to hopefully be unleashed.