Top fantasy takeaways from Week 13's action
The fantasy playoffs are coming. With over three months in the rearview mirror, the rubber meets the road in just a few days. But first, let’s process what we just saw. Here are the biggest fantasy takeaways from Week 13 of the NFL season:
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Kansas City @ Atlanta
Two scores each for Spencer Ware and Devonta Freeman.
The matchup set up well for Ware in this contest, and he delivered for fantasy owners despite only managing 52 scrimmage yards on 17 touches. However, his two scores ranked him as a top-10 fantasy option for the week. Freeman cracked the top five with two scores of his own and 105 scrimmage yards on 19 touches. While he hasn’t been able to recreate last season’s productivity, Freeman currently sits seventh among running backs in both standard and PPR scoring.
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Detroit @ New Orleans
Golden Tate goes off.
This game didn’t quite live up to its billing as the highest-scoring affair on the Week 13 slate, but Tate certainly delivered for fantasy purposes. With Marvin Jones sidelined, Tate led the Lions with eight catches for 144 yards and a score that came on a 66-yarder toward the end of the game. He topped double-digit targets for the fourth time this season, and his 3.35 yards per route run ranked third among wide receivers for the week. Tate is still a volatile fantasy option due to the low floor he’s displayed this season, but his enormous ceiling makes him an appealing receiver for the stretch run. The Lions get the Bears, Giants and Cowboys in the fantasy playoffs.
Los Angeles @ New England
Game script favored LeGarrette Blount.
We figured as much entering the week with the Patriots heavy favorites over the Rams. In those types of games, Blount tends to dominate touches, which isn’t a good thing for anyone who rolled the dice on Dion Lewis. Blount out-touched Lewis 18-9 and was the vastly superior fantasy option. However, there’s good news for Lewis owners. For the first time since returning to action, Lewis actually saw more targets than James White. It was close, but Lewis edged White five to four. With the Ravens, Broncos and Jets on the schedule over the next three weeks, we should see Lewis’ touch share increase.
Denver @ Jacksonville
Devontae Booker is still dominating the Broncos backfield touches.
Since taking over as the lead back, Booker has done little to inspire confidence in his abilities. That continued on Sunday, as the rookie managed just 34 yards on 18 carries. Fortunately for those who started Booker, he did find the end zone, which help salvage a decent enough fantasy day. Kapri Bibbs looked to be the superior player on the day, but he left the game with an ankle injury. Booker remains on the fantasy radar, especially if Bibbs misses time, but he’s at best a borderline RB2 for the fantasy playoffs.
Houston @ Green Bay
Who is the Packers lead running back?
That’s a great question. Entering the week, we thought it was clearly James Starks. But the veteran struggled on Sunday and only played seven snaps. Christine Michael looked decent in the first half, but he too saw minimal work with only 11 snaps on the day. So, that brings us back to Ty Montgomery, who played 29 snaps and led the team in rushing with 40 yards on six carries. For fantasy purposes, this situation is a mess that is best avoided. The Packers remain the most pass-heavy offense in the league, and there’s very little value to be had in their run game.
Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
Andy Dalton got the deep ball working.
Despite not having all-world receiver A.J. Green, Dalton was effective downfield against the Eagles, completing 5-of-6 passes over 20 yards in the air for 159 yards and a score. He connected multiple times deep with Brandon LaFell, and his longest pass of the game came on a 50-yarder to rookie Cody Core. The important fantasy takeaway here isn’t necessarily Dalton’s play sans Green, but rather Philadelphia’s deficiencies in the secondary. Starting corners Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll gave up a combined 11 catches on 13 targets for 173 yards. For the fantasy playoffs, the Eagles face the Redskins, Ravens and Giants. Upgrade all three wide receiver corps in these matchups.
Miami @ Baltimore
Ravens offensive line kept Joe Flacco clean.
Flacco’s stat line was one of the biggest surprises of Week 13, as he currently (entering Monday) ranks as the top fantasy scorer among quarterbacks with 381 yards and four passing scores. A big reason for his success was the play of his offensive line. Flacco threw from a clean pocket on 70.2 percent of his dropbacks, completing a whopping 87.9 percent of his throws for 318 yards and three scores. Flacco has struggled under pressure this season with a completion rate of 48 percent. This pass-blocking performance was especially impressive given the Dolphins recent ability to generate pressure, especially with Cameron Wake, who was held sackless for the first time since Week 5.
San Francisco @ Chicago
Colin Kaepernick was a disaster.
And that might even be an understatement. Poor weather conditions in Chicago aside, Kaepernick dropped back to pass 12 times and completed just one of five attempts for four yards. He has as many sacks taken as he did passing yards. You can’t make this stuff up. Kaepernick was benched in the fourth quarter for Blaine Gabbert and is no guarantee to start in Week 14.
Buffalo @ Oakland
No touchdowns, but a big day for LeSean McCoy.
Mike Gillislee got both Bills rushing scores for running backs – Tyrod Taylor also ran for a score – or else we might be talking about McCoy having a huge day in Week 13. McCoy was dominant on the ground, racking up 130 yards on 17 carries. He added another 61 yards on seven catches as a receiver. McCoy is seeing a feature back workload and should be considered an elite fantasy option for the playoff stretch run.
NY Giants @ Pittsburgh
Odell Beckham sees heavy target volume.
Like McCoy, Beckham failed to score a touchdown, but Eli Manning peppered him with a season-high 16 targets, which led all wide receivers for the week. Beckham snagged 10 receptions for 100 yards. It wasn’t the best performance on a yards per-catch basis, but he now has double-digit targets in three of the last four games. Beckham has an appealing playoffs schedule with the Lions in Week 15 and the Eagles in Week 16. We should also mention that Ladarius Green exploded in this game for 110 yards and a score on six catches. He saw 11 targets despite playing less than 50 percent of the Steelers offensive snaps. Green should be considered a TE1 going forward.
Washington @ Arizona
Larry Fitzgerald keeps on going.
It was a milestone day for the future Hall of Famer, as Fitzgerald moved into third all-time in receptions after catching 10 balls on 12 targets. Remarkably, the veteran is tied with Antonio Brown for the league lead in reception with 88. Only Brown and Mike Evans have seen more targets than Fitzgerald’s 119. While he doesn’t have the upside he once possessed, Fitzgerald has one of the highest weekly floors and currently sits sixth among wide receivers in PPR scoring.
Tampa Bay @ San Diego
Melvin Gordon continues to rack up touches.
It was another heavy workload for Gordon on Sunday, as the second-year player touched the ball 21 times. That brings his season total to 292 which is just one behind David Johnson. After a disappointing rookie season, Gordon has been impressive in 2016. He’s just eight yards away from topping 1,000 and is currently one of just five running backs with double-digit touchdowns. Gordon has also taken a step forward as a receiver, ranking seventh at the position in targets with 53. His long-term arrow is pointing straight up.
Carolina @ Seattle
The Seahawks ride Thomas Rawls.
Luke Kuechly’s presence was sorely missed on Sunday night, as Rawls ran all over the Panthers to the tune of 106 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Carolina has been one of the best run defenses this season, but have been without Kuechly for the last two weeks due to a concussion. They’ve given up three rushing scores to running backs over that span. Next up for Carolina is the Chargers. Melvin Gordon could go nuts next week if Kuechly remains sidelined.