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Week 13 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Tua Tagovailoa (@ WAS)

Anyone with Tagovailoa is probably already starting him this week, but I think it will be an absolute blow-up spot for the Miami offense with Washington continuing to spiral—and the firing of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio won’t suddenly fix things on the backend. It could make sense to do a mega stack in DFS lineups with Miami’s duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle perhaps going off, and Tua has 30-point fantasy upside this weekend to rank as our overall QB2.


Thumbs Up: Brock Purdy (@ PHI)

Purdy had a quiet night on Thanksgiving despite a couple of tremendous throws, but Philadelphia is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and being at home—even with the crowd expected to be crazy for a playoff rematch—hasn’t really made a difference on defense this season. Plus, the San Francisco offense might have some new wrinkles with this matchup on their minds for nearly a year, so Purdy is a borderline top-five option on Sunday.


Thumbs Up: Russell Wilson (@ HOU)

Facing the league’s No. 1 pass defense last week, Wilson still put up a respectable 16.76 fantasy points in a win over Cleveland—which is largely due to his 11 carries for 34 yards and a score on the ground. Houston will be a much easier opponent in Week 13 with the sixth-most passing yards per game allowed (252.5), and Wilson hasn’t thrown an interception during Denver’s five-game winning streak. If still available, add the former Super Bowl-winner as a low-end QB1 this week and for plus matchups down the stretch.


Thumbs Up: Kenny Pickett (v ARI)

Stalled drives limited the upside, but Pickett had perhaps his best game of the season last week by completing 24-of-33 passes for 278 yards, and it was very encouraging to see Pittsburgh attack the middle of the field more than they have all year—especially considering that was a strength for Pickett at Pitt. This week, the second-year passer will take on an Arizona defense that just allowed Matthew Stafford to toss four touchdowns against them, and I like his outlook as a great streaming option at home.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Matthew Stafford (v CLE)

The four-score performance for Stafford came on the heels of four consecutive games with just one touchdown, and the yardage total was again modest with 229 passing yards—giving him zero games with more than 231 yards over his past six appearances. Now taking on a Cleveland defense allowing NFL-lows in passing yards per game (142.0) and touchdown passes (ten), Stafford should be downgraded to a borderline top-20 play.


Thumbs Down: Sam Howell (v MIA)

As mentioned last week, the passing volume and rushing upside makes Howell someone to consider every week, and we have him as a borderline QB1/QB2 for Week 13. That said, the Dolphins have played much better defensively in recent weeks, and their cornerbacks can give problems to Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson—both of whom haven’t really gotten going with Howell under center anyway. I’d rather go with someone like Jared Goff or Russell Wilson.


Thumbs Down: Geno Smith (@ DAL)

Smith is another option that—particularly with six teams on a bye—can be a top-15 play this week, but Dallas has been dominant at home with 11.06 fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and the Seahawks have struggled offensively. So, with Kenneth Walker III (oblique) likely out again to decrease the big-play upside for Seattle, Geno’s ceiling isn’t very exciting, and he is still working to get on the same page with DK Metcalf.


Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (v DET)

Carr having Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (quad) healthy would take him off the “Thumbs Down” section, but they are both highly questionable—potentially leaving the Saints with rookie A.T. Perry and Lynn Bowden Jr. as the top wide receivers on Sunday. While the timing is unfortunate for those perhaps looking ahead to this matchup with Detroit being very attackable on the outside, Carr doesn’t make the top 15 assuming both Olave and Shaheed are out.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: De’Von Achane (@ WAS)

Achane being here last week didn’t pan out with him sitting again due to his knee injury, but it sounds like he should suit up on Sunday—in which case fantasy owners shouldn’t waste time getting him in lineups as an upside RB1 option. I know the Commanders expect defensive changes made by Ron Rivera will lead to improvement down the stretch, but linebacker is a glaring weakness, so good luck stopping Achane and the speed of Miami.


Thumbs Up: Zach Charbonnet (@ DAL)

The Thanksgiving loss was essentially a throw-out-the-tape game for Seattle with the offense barely being on the field in the first half, but Charbonnet still handled 18 touches, and Dallas can be run on if teams are willing to commit to it. To snap out of the recent struggles, I’m expecting the Seahawks to see if Charbonnet can spark the offense like Kenneth Walker did to begin the season, and we have him optimistically ranked in the top 12 at running back.


Thumbs Up: Jaylen Warren (v ARI)

Warren was a disappointment last week with just 5.7 fantasy points on 16 touches, but he is a slashing-type runner that has given Arizona problems this year—including Christian McCaffrey (45.2 fantasy points) and Kyren Williams (35.4) both going off. Look for Warren to get back to what he did in the first three games of November with yardage totals of 113, 110, and 145 to make him a top-20 option.


Thumbs Up: Ezekiel Elliott (v LAC)

The upside for Elliott hasn’t been very high this year due to general struggles for the New England offense, but he has been steady behind Rhamondre Stevenson with double-digit touches in six-of-11 games. This week, Zeke will be in a good spot versus an attackable run defense for Los Angeles, and he turned 18 touches into 97 total yards and a score against them a couple of years ago. If you are in a pinch with bye weeks, I like Elliott as a solid FLEX option.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Joe Mixon (@ JAX)

Mixon was limited to eight carries for 16 scoreless yards in the first game without Joe Burrow (wrist), and running room won’t be any easier to come by in Week 13 with a trip to Jacksonville—allowing the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game in the league (87.4)—on Monday night. A hopeful increase in volume keeps Mixon in the RB2 ranks, but his ceiling and floor are both lowered, and he’ll drop further in the rankings with another quiet outing.


Thumbs Down: D’Andre Swift (v SF)

While he has been a spark for the Eagles in back-to-back games and is now up to 4.8 yards per carry on the season, Swift will take on a San Francisco defense that has allowed the fewest rushing yards in football this week—and a big reason for their success is a lack of chunk gains by opponents. Swift being more decisive and/or Philly having a greater commitment to the run can lead to another big game, but I’m concerned about the floor to make him more of a low-end RB2 on Sunday.


Thumbs Down: Chuba Hubbard (@ TB)

Hubbard again had a heavy workload last week with 19 touches for 92 yards and a touchdown, and it seems like Carolina will remain committed to him over Miles Sanders the rest of the way. At the same time, Tampa Bay has been much more stingy against the run when facing lesser rushing attacks, and I would expect the unit to be prepared to stop Hubbard in what is a very important game for them to keep pace in the NFC South. Consider the 24-year-old a quality FLEX with a capped ceiling.


Thumbs Down: Jaleel McLaughlin (@ HOU)

McLaughlin was looking like a potential every-week starting option (at least in deeper leagues) in October, but he’s been limited to 16 total touches and 31 total yards in three games this month—while Samaje Perine has emerged as the clear 1B option to Javonte Williams. The eye test also shows McLaughlin being less decisive than Williams and Perine in recent games, so the undrafted rookie has fallen out of favor since his hot start.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: DeVonta Smith (v SF)

Smith has caught fire with fantasy-point totals of 19.4, 12.6, 12.9, and 20.1 over the past four games, so it makes sense to include him here with others still viewing the former Heisman winner as an option ranked in the WR20-WR30 range rather than a definite top-15 play. The 49ers might be tough, but Smith’s value has increased with more slot usage, which almost makes him a matchup-proof option—and that’s even without considering he’s simply a tremendous player in an elite offense.


Thumbs Up: Courtland Sutton (@ HOU)

The touchdown streak for Sutton ended at five games, but he still had 61 yards last week on a day where Russell Wilson completed just 13 passes, and the big-bodied wideout has eight touchdowns on the year. Last season, Sutton was able to bring in seven-of-11 targets for 122 yards against Houston, and I like him more than ever on Sunday for a potential high-scoring game if C.J. Stroud is able to pick apart Vance Joseph’s defense. We have Sutton as our overall WR19 for Week 13.


Thumbs Up: George Pickens (v ARI)

Right behind Sutton in the rankings is Pickens—who has the size to present serious problems for the Cardinals and could be “due” for a touchdown with no trips to the end zone since the end of October. The past five games have been a disappointment, but Pickens is a talent to bet on breaking out down the stretch, and Arizona has shown vulnerability to Amari Cooper (5/139/1) and Tank Dell (8/149/1) in recent weeks as pass-catching options that work vertically on the perimeter.


Thumbs Up: Rashee Rice (@ GB)

I said last week that Rice’s “invisible ceiling” in terms of targets/role was difficult to explain, but injuries allowed him to step up last week—resulting in an 8/107/1 line on ten targets. The impressive rookie is moved around enough that he should avoid a potential assignment from Jaire Alexander (shoulder) if Green Bay’s top cornerback returns, and Rice is clearly trusted in scoring territory to make him a top-24 option.


Others: Demario Douglas (v LAC), A.T. Perry (v DET)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Garrett Wilson (v ATL)

A touchdown saved Wilson last week, but he’s been limited to yardage totals of nine and 44 over the past two weeks, and Tim Boyle had just 4.7 yards per attempt in his first start of 2023. Although the Falcons have busted in coverage at times this year, I don’t think that’s something to count on, and New York’s offense hasn’t really shown they can take advantage in recent weeks with the big plays from Wilson and Breece Hall becoming less frequent. Talent is the only thing keeping the second-year wideout on the fringes of WR2 territory.


Thumbs Down: Terry McLaurin (v MIA)

McLaurin is averaging career-lows in receiving yards per game (57.8), yards per reception (11.6), and yards per target (7.2) this season, and he’s simply difficult to trust with Sam Howell spreading the ball around too much rather than playing through McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. With the cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard coming to town this weekend, McLaurin owners need to hope Howell is suddenly willing to give him a shot on more contested catches to pay dividends.


Thumbs Down: Drake London (@ NYJ)

London is coming off a 91-yard performance in Week 12, and he’s been very productive in the past handful of games with Desmond Ridder under center for Atlanta. The Jets are a matchup to avoid, though, as London should see a lot of Sauce Gardner, and Arthur Smith probably won’t be too aggressive airing it out knowing that New York has major struggles moving the ball themselves. I’d look elsewhere this week.


Thumbs Down: Skyy Moore (@ GB)

“KC WR not named Rashee Rice” is another possible description here, as Moore, Justin Watson, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling combined for five receptions for 36 yards and one touchdown last week—and the Chiefs are coalescing the offense around Travis Kelce, Isiah Pacheco, and Rice. Taking on a Green Bay defense that has long been underrated and is now playing up to their full potential, Moore should be avoided with zero scores since Week 2.


Others: Nico Collins (v DEN), Quentin Johnston (@ NE)


Tight end


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

Because of the injuries on the New Orleans offense, Hill should see plenty of touches this week—whether it be as a runner, thrower, receiver, or a plethora and a barrage of other things. Overall, Hill should be featured at a high level, and good things usually happen in the fantasy world when that’s the case, so we have him as a top-five option at tight end for Week 13.


Thumbs Up: David Njoku (@ LAR)

It’s unclear who will start at quarterback this week for Cleveland, but no matter what, Njoku should be a big part of the game plan with 11.0 targets per game over the past three weeks—and Los Angeles is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position. At worst, Njoku is a high-floor TE1, and returning to the end zone for the first time since Week 9 should make him one of the position’s top scorers.


Thumbs Up: Juwan Johnson (v DET)

In addition to Taysom Hill seeing increased usage on Sunday, Johnson will perhaps operate as the primary traditional pass-catcher for Derek Carr, which could lead to a late breakout. Last week, the former college wide receiver caught four-of-seven targets for 45 yards, and Detroit—while better recently—were exposed by opposing tight ends earlier this season. We have Johnson as a TE1 play.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Higbee (v CLE)

Higbee caught two touchdowns in last week’s win over Arizona, and that might lead to some deciding to start him in Week 13 lineups. However, it can be dangerous to put too much weight on a single game, as Higbee is having a quiet season in general, and Cleveland has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. I’d say there are better alternatives.


Thumbs Down: Mike Gesicki (v LAC)

Gesicki has been held without a catch in two of the past three games, and he only has a 21/182/1 line on the season with New England’s offensive struggles impacting the entire passing attack. Bill Belichick turning to Bailey Zappe or rookie Malik Cunningham isn’t expected to have much of an impact on Gesicki and the pass-catchers, so he can be avoided despite a plus matchup.


Thumbs Down: Hayden Hurst (@ TB)

Hurst is another player that will have a change on offense this week (following the firing of Frank Reich), but like Gesicki, I just don’t see a sudden upturn in terms of outlook for him and the offense as a whole. Since a 5/41/1 line in the opener, Hurst has just one game with more than 21 yards, and he’s been stuck at one touchdown on the season.