Week 13 ... man, where has the time gone? Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, the fantasy playoffs start next week, and Christmas music is on the radio. I don't have much else to say at this juncture that isn't included in the preview below. So, with that in mind, let's get to it.
As always, this is where I go game-by-game and player-by-player for every Week 13 contest. Those looking for quick-hitting start/sit/flex/stream analysis will find that listed for the main players for every team. Below that, I do my best to preview the game with additional insight, stats, and analysis to contextualize my recommendations.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday)
Ben Roethlisberger has played lights out the last two weeks, throwing for 650 yards with eight touchdowns and two picks, finishing as the QB1 and QB2. However, I'm putting him back on the bench this week. He abused two cupcake secondary matchups in these games, but now has to face a strong Cincinnati secondary, not to mention a team he historically doesn't post huge numbers against. In 27 career games against the Bengals, Big Ben averages just 236 yards, 1.3 touchdowns, and one pick. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are weekly starts, but other than that this is a bad game to chase the ancillary pieces of either offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster is still coming off his hamstring injury, and if he does he'll eat into Martavis Bryant's opportunities. The Steelers defense is in play, though, despite putting up a disappointing performance at home against Brett Hundley last week (three fantasy points). These games have a history of being low-scoring, and Andy Dalton averages at least one pick and nearly two sacks per game against the Steelers.
Much like with Ben Roethlisberger in this rivalry, Andy Dalton tends to struggle against the Steelers. In 12 career games against them (regular season, not counting his thumb injury game in 2015) he's thrown 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, averaging 219 passing yards per game. Joe Mixon finally broke out last week, and will be a low-end flex play here. Jamaal Williams had a great game against the Steelers last week, but 40 percent of his yardage came on the screen pass he took for a touchdown. He averaged just 3.14 yards per carry, which could be more in line with what Mixon should expect. A.J. Green four-plus catches and 50 or more yards in each game back since his ejection in Week 9, with two touchdowns as well. He's not someone to sit here. Tyler Kroft is a decent streamer, but I think there are better options to stream than Kroft, as the Steelers have speedy linebackers and young safeties who have helped limit tight end production this year (43.8 ypg, two touchdowns). The Bengals defense could be a desperation streamer at home, but odds are Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown do enough damage to mitigate any points to be gained from a few sacks or turnovers.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins, 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC
At this point, we have a large enough sample size to know we can no longer trust Dak Prescott in starting lineups. Over the last three weeks he's averaged 166.7 passing yards per game, with zero touchdowns and eight turnovers. Game script is becoming a serious concern for Alfred Morris. He's run well enough filling in for Ezekiel Elliott these last three weeks (37 attempts, 180 yards, zero touchdowns), but he's been out for just four of Dallas' 46 plays in the fourth quarter in that span and hasn't received a touch. The Washington run defense is pretty stout, too, though recent games against the vaunted Vikings and Saints rushing attacks have skewed their numbers a bit. With Dallas likely to be chasing Washington on the scoreboard, Rod Smith comes into play as a low-end flex option as well. He played more than Morris last week (30 to 19), and out-touched him as well (11 to 10). Just remember that tying your fantasy lineup to committee backs in lackluster offenses can result in extreme tilt and disappointing final totals. Dez Bryant has not recorded a 100-plus yard receiving game since Week 10 of 2016, hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 7, and has three games with fewer than 40 yards in his last five. He's getting volume and is hard to sit, but don't feel obligated to start him -- especially against Josh Norman, whom Bryant has historically struggled against. Jason Witten has just one catch in two of his last four games, but seven catches in the other two. He's only crossed 60 receiving yards twice this year and also hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 7. The Dallas defense is getting pushed around in all phases of the game of late and shouldn't be considered a fantasy start on the road.
Kirk Cousins is the elite fantasy quarterback not enough people are talking about. He's crossed 20 fantasy points in six of his last nine games, with multiple touchdowns in seven. The Dallas defense has been shredded in recent weeks, giving up seven passing touchdowns with just one pick over their last three games. Samaje Perine has handled 51 touches the last two weeks, which he's turned into 256 total yards and a touchdown. His locked-in volume plus a solid matchup against the Cowboys (six top-30 RB finishes allowed in the last three weeks) makes him a must-start. Over his last four games, Jamison Crowder is averaging seven catches for 103 yards on 10 targets per contest. He plays 67 percent of his snaps from the slot, and Keenan Allen just torched the Cowboys last week with four catches, 75 yards and a touchdown coming when he was lined up in the slot. Josh Doctson has 23 targets over the last four games, which is more than he had the prior seven games combined. He's gaining Cousins' trust and is being targeted both deep and in the end zone. He scored last week but a blow-up game is still coming, and it could happen this week against a poor Dallas secondary. Vernon Davis ghosted fantasy owners last week but with Jordan Reed (hamstring) out, we can go back to the well again. Davis is second on the team in targets over the last month despite seeing just one target on Thanksgiving. The Washington defense has two-plus sacks in six of their last seven games, and at least one turnover in all seven. Facing a struggling Dallas offense on their home field, they'll be one of the top streaming targets this week.
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Case Keenum is one of the hottest quarterbacks in fantasy over the last three weeks with QB5, QB13, and QB3 finishes. He's averaging 289 passing yards per game in that span, with eight total touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 71 percent completion percentage. He should be able to keep it up against an Atlanta defense that has been average at defending the past recently. Latavius Murray has been the more consistent piece of the Vikings backfield of late, averaging 82 rushing yards per game since the team's Week 9 bye and scoring four rushing touchdowns. However, this could be a good week for Jerick McKinnon to get back on track. He's the preferred pass-catching option out of the backfield, and no team has allowed more receptions to backs than the Falcons (71). This game could also be high-scoring, which would potentially keep McKinnon more involved. Stefon Diggs is getting back on track since the team's bye, with four-plus catches in each game and 66-plus yards in two of three. A potential shootout in Atlanta could be his chance to post big totals again. Adam Thielen has been one of, if not the most, consistent wideouts in fantasy. He has five-plus catches in every game this season and 89-plus yards in seven games. He's a must-start every week. Kyle Rudolph has logged four-plus catches in seven straight games now, and while his yardage totals (high of 63) and touchdowns (four total) have left a little something to be desired, it's hard to turn away from that level of involvement at the tight end position. Minnesota's defense is typically a locked-in start, but on the road against the red-hot Atlanta offense, I'd look to stream a different unit this week.
The Falcons offense has found its form recently, and Matt Ryan's returned to his old form as a reliable fantasy quarterback. He has two touchdown passes and/or 300-plus yards in each of his last five games. He'll get a big test this weekend against the Vikings to see if this turnaround is for real, as they're allowing just 231 passing yards per game with 11 passing touchdowns (third-fewest) allowed. Ryan's a low-end starter for me. Devonta Freeman has now missed two games with his concussion, and his status will need to be monitored as games approach. In his stead, Tevin Coleman has handled 39 carries for 140 yards (3.6 average) and scored three touchdowns. If Freeman returns, it could be hard to trust either back against a Minnesota defense allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (66) and fewest total touchdowns (four) to the position. However, if it's once again the Coleman show he'll be a decent RB2/flex play. Oh, hello Julio Jones. We've missed seeing this version of you in 2017. In case you were living under a rock last weekend, Jones exploded for 12 catches, 253 yards and two touchdowns. Even though he could draw shadow coverage from Xavier Rhodes, you're still starting Jones ... as should have been the case all season. Mohamed Sanu isn't likely to throw another 50-plus yard touchdown pass to Julio, but he can offer a reasonable floor as a WR3/flex. He has 64-plus receiving yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last six games. Austin Hooper's usage varies week-to-week, and the Vikings are tough on tight ends (seventh-fewest yards allowed, three touchdowns). There are better streamers available. Same goes for the Falcons defense. Believe it or not, Case Keenum is a terrible quarterback to stream defenses against this year.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Even in a decent matchup, I'm not trusting any sort of fantasy lineup with Tom Savage under center. He's thrown four passing touchdowns and committed 11 turnovers. Lamar Miller is still receiving volume worthy of flex consideration (17 touches per game over the last four), even on an offense averaging 19.7 fewer points per game with Savage than they were with Deshaun Watson. Miller scored a touchdown against the Ravens, left briefly with an injury but returned to finish the game. DeAndre Hopkins has devoured nearly 33 percent of the team targets since Watson's injury, and is the WR7 in standard scoring in that span (398 yards, two touchdowns). He's a must-start and should smash the Titans. In his career against them he averages 6.4 receptions, 103.3 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns per game. Bruce Ellington saw eight targets against the Ravens, but only managed three catches for 29 yards. He'll be at best a risky flex play, but I'd sit him. C.J. Fiedorowicz is worth watching. He saw eight targets against the Ravens, but had just two the week before. If his volume becomes more consistent he could be a streaming option down the stretch. Marcus Mariota is playing poorly, and the Titans offense, in general, is kind of uninspiring of late, making the Texans a decent streamer. Mariota's thrown seven interceptions and been sacked nine times in the last three weeks.
We're past the point of starting Marcus Mariota in fantasy. Even in a great matchup this past week he failed to deliver, finishing as the QB27 against the Colts. Since his Week 8 bye he's thrown five touchdowns versus eight interceptions. DeMarco Murray is somehow managing to post reasonable fantasy outings despite lackluster yardage totals and minimal touches. He's produced 70-plus scrimmage yards in just three of his last seven games, but has found the end zone in three of those. It looks like his injuries could still be dogging him, as he's slow to hit the hole and isn't breaking tackles. Derrick Henry deserves more work, and hopefully, the team gives it to him. He racked up 11 touches and 89 yards in the fourth quarter alone, looking far more effective and dangerous than Murray. He's a risky flex play, as the Titans clearly want to keep Murray heavily in the mix, but Henry could be on the verge of a breakout. Rishard Matthews' late-week hamstring injury kept him out of the game against the Colts, and could make it tough for him to suit up against the Texans. Watch his status closely, but if he plays he could be in the mix as a flex option. Corey Davis disappointed big time last week in Matthews' absence and is going to be tough to trust until Mariota's play improves or Davis shows more with his volume. Delanie Walker has four-plus catches and 63-plus yards in five straight games and is a TE1 the rest of the way as the only consistent option in this passing attack. The Titans defense hasn't been great this year, but all defenses facing Tom Savage are in play for fantasy purposes, especially at home. Opposing defenses have averaged nine points per game against the Savage-led Texans the last four weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Alex Smith is running a broken offense right now set to face an underrated defense on the road. He's averaging 223.5 yards per game with four touchdowns and four picks over his last four. Kareem Hunt ... ugh. What a strange ride it's been. He's still receiving volume and producing decent yardage floors for the most part (just don't look at last week's box score). His ceiling has been decimated by the struggles of this offense, however, so if you have the depth to bench Hunt it's not out of the question. He's amassed a mere 232 scrimmage yards since Week 8 after leading the league scrimmage yards after week 7 (1,002). Tyreek Hill remains a boom-or-bust play, but he's seeing more looks as the Chiefs shrink their passing attack. He's had seven catches in each of the last two games, but amassed 68 and 41 yards, respectively. Travis Kelce still cannot be benched despite the team's struggles. He leads all tight ends in targets (86), receptions (62), and yards (777). The Chiefs defense has posted six or fewer fantasy points in five of its last six outings and isn't on the fantasy radar at this point.
After a slow start to the year, Josh McCown has been really consistent for fantasy football. Over his last seven games he's scored 16 total touchdowns (14 passing, two rushing) with five interceptions while averaging 246 yards per game. The Chiefs defense has improved statistically over its last four games, but also hasn't played a string of tough quarterbacks (Eli Manning, Trevor Siemian, Tyrod Taylor, Dak Prescott). McCown will once again be a solid streamer. I'm out on the Jets backfield. This is a full-fledged committee between Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire, and only one of them has posted a good week since the Week 4 explosion (Forte, Week 9). The once reliable passing game work for Forte and Powell has dried up and shifted hands into an unpredictable mess. It's best to just avoid this group for now. Robby Anderson has been a weekly starter for damn near a month, but added to his resume by catching his two touchdowns last week, giving him six over the last five games. Jermaine Kearse popped up for 105 yards and a score last week, but I wouldn't chase the points. That was his first game with more than 70 yards since Week 6 and his first score since Week 7. His production/target share is too up-and-down to trust. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has some awful luck this year. He dropped a touchdown last week and then had another overturned on review. He's getting high-value targets, though, and remains worth a start given the state of tight ends. Even with the Chiefs struggles on offense, I'd be hesitant to start the Jets D/ST. They've scored more than five fantasy points in a game just twice in the last six games.
Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Trevor Siemian looks to be back under center for the Broncos and is a streamable choice this week. Four of the last five quarterbacks to start and finish a game against the Dolphins have posted top-10 fantasy numbers for that week. Siemian threw two touchdowns in a relief appearance last week. The Broncos backfield is a frustrating committee buried on a subpar offense ... so basically a fantasy manager's nightmare. That being said, Devontae Booker is showing up more and more and juuuuust missed a touchdown last week. He's a decent flex as he's getting more work in the passing game, too, with a backfield leading 12 targets over the last month (10 catches, 90 yards). C.J. Anderson has 15 or more carries just once in the last six games and should be benched. Siemian's return should help Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. who were startable volume hogs early in the season. Other than that, there's no remaining fantasy value to discuss here.
The Broncos may allow the third-fewest passing yards per game (213.5), but their 24 passing touchdowns allowed are the most in the league. Still, I'm not starting Jay Cutler because, well, he's Jay Cutler and has one weekly fantasy finish inside the top 18. No teams are on byes and there are better options available. Damien Williams suffered a shoulder injury in last week's game and is not expected to play. That could mean Senorise Perry sees a few more touches, but more than likely it puts a semi-featured back workload on Kenyan Drake's plate. That'll make him a solid RB2 or flex play, even in a tough matchup against a Denver run defense that is conceding just 3.1 yards per carry over its last three games. As for the passing attack, Jarvis Landry is the only trustworthy player in the bunch, independent of the quarterback under center or their quality of play. Kenny Stills could be a deep flex if Matt Moore is under center, but DeVante Parker hasn't been the same player since returning from injury a few weeks back and should be benched. Aqib Talib's one-game suspension doesn't improve this matchup enough to buy into starting volatile receivers on a bad offense. Julius Thomas is a streaming candidate this week, as Denver is soft against the tight end position allowing the second-most yards per game (70.1) and seven touchdowns overall. Thomas has four-plus targets in four straight games and is facing his former team, so REVENGE! You could talk yourself into streaming the Dolphins defense at home, but the Broncos offense could rebound with Trevor Siemian under center so I'm looking elsewhere personally.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
The Colts offense isn't exactly a high-powered unit and now must travel on the road to face the league's best defense in Jacksonville. The Jaguars D currently ranks first in points per game (15.3), first in yards per game (281.8), first in passing yards per game (168.7) and first in sacks (41). The last time these two teams met, the Jaguars stomped the Colts 27-0 in Indianapolis. Jacoby Brissett managed just 200 yards. Frank Gore had nine carries for 34 yards. T.Y. Hilton caught two of eight targets for 27 yards. In three matches against Jalen Ramsey, Hilton was held to eight catches on 15 targets for 103 yards when covered by Ramsey. Jack Doyle was the only semi-usable fantasy play, catching six of seven targets for a team-high 44 yards. With no teams on byes it's best to avoid this offense at all costs, though Doyle could offer a reasonable PPR floor at his position.
Those hurting at quarterback could, believe it or not, look to Blake Bortles this week. He threw for over 300 yards when these teams last met, but he's averaged just 157 passing yards per game over his last two outings. There's loads of risk, but the Jaguars should run away with this game and that could be in part from some early Bortles touchdowns. Leonard Fournette hasn't been the same world-beater from earlier in the season over the last three weeks (68.7 rushing yards per game, no touchdowns), but the talented rookie is still receiving plenty of volume (21.3 touches per game). He missed the last game against the Colts, but the rest of his squad ran roughshod as T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory combined for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. I like Fournette's odds of getting back on track against an Indy defense that just got steam-rolled by Derrick Henry for 8.3 yards per carry in the fourth quarter alone last week. Marqise Lee was, predictably, shut down by Patrick Peterson last week, but he's in a great spot to bounce back against a Colts secondary that's simply been decimated by injuries. Their top cover corner, Rashaan Melvin, is going to miss at least this week with a hand injury, and Lee averaged 10 targets per game in the five prior to last week. The Jacksonville defense is the highest scoring unit in fantasy facing an offense that gives up the second most fantasy points per game (12.09) to D/STs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Jameis Winston is set to return for the first time in three weeks, and lands in a very favorable fantasy matchup. The Packers can't rush the passer right now with Clay Matthews injured (they barely could before), and the last five quarterbacks to face them have finished as the QB1, QB22, QB14, QB7, and QB10, with Joe Flacco and Mitchell Trubisky representing the lowest outings. Their secondary is banged up, too, so Winston will be a solid streamer as he was likely dropped while injured. Doug Martin suffered a concussion last week and could miss this game, but even if he does play he'll be hard to start in fantasy. He's not involved in the passing game (seven catches all year) and has a season-high yardage total of 74 ... which he posted in Week 5. If Martin sits, Jacquizz Rodgers may be worth a spot in the flex. While Martin served his suspension to start the year, Rodgers posted two double-digit outings in his three weeks as the "starter." Green Bay had been stout against the run recently, but losing Kenny Clark hurt, and they just gave up 95 yards on 20 carries to Le'Veon Bell. Rodgers should offer a safe-ish floor if Martin sits. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson are both great starts here against the Packers injured secondary. Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown combined for over 200 yards and three touchdowns against this group last week. I'm steering clear of the Buccaneers tight ends for the most part, as this has become a committee between O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Over the last four weeks they've seen 10 and 12 targets, respectfully, though Howard has been the more productive option, catching seven of his for 110 yards and a touchdown (versus 4-37-0 for Brate). The Bucs defense isn't a great fantasy unit in general, and a road start against a possibly improving Brett Hundley seems dicey.
Has Brett Hundley finally turned a corner? The much-maligned backup put together his best performance yet on Sunday night, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Regardless, the Buccaneers defense is a great opportunity for Hundley to produce solid fantasy totals again as they lead the league in passing yards allowed, and every quarterback to face them save one (Cam Newton) has thrown for at least 250 yards. Jamaal Williams is tied for the league lead in rushes over the last three week with Tevin Coleman with 59. He's become a de facto workhorse for the Packers and will be a fantasy starter again. It'll be worth watching Aaron Jones, though, as he returned to practice this week and had been a much more effective runner when healthy. Jordy Nelson has a mere 103 yards in Hundley's five starts and isn't fantasy relevant. Davante Adams owns 28 percent of the team targets in Hundley's starts and has posted 27 receptions for 363 yards and two touchdowns. He's a solid play against a Bucs defense allowing 205.3 yards per game to opposing wideouts (most in the league). Randall Cobb found his way into the end zone last week, but in Hundley's four starts prior he averaged three catches and 40 yards per game. The Packers defense is struggling to pressure opposing passers, but the Bucs just placed two starting lineman (Ali Marpet, Demar Dotson) on IR. Winston has eight turnovers to his name in his eight starts this year, giving the Packers decent upside as a low-end streamer.
Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Matthew Stafford performed admirably against the tough Vikings defense on Thanksgiving, but now has an even tougher task going on the road to face the Ravens. On the season, opposing quarterbacks on average complete 57.8 percent of their passes for 196.1 yards with nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions. I'd look elsewhere for a quarterback, but if the pickings are slim you could give Stafford a go. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are not only mired in a committee but an unproductive one at that. Plus, they must face a Ravens defense allowing just 64.3 rushing yards per game since Week 8. Golden Tate has just seven catches for 39 yards over the last two weeks after four consecutive weeks with 86-plus yards and six-plus catches. The target volume returned for Tate last week (eight) but the production didn't follow suit. He's still one of Stafford's favorite targets, though, and merits a start in this tough matchup. Marvin Jones is proving he can overcome even the toughest matchups. There's risk for a ghost appearance (as we saw in Week 10), but Jones has been more on than off over the last month-plus and is hard to sit. The Ravens might offer up a decent matchup for a more featured tight end, but Eric Ebron is a part-time player who loses red-zone targets to Darren Fells. Any defense facing the lackluster Ravens offense is in play for fantasy, even on the road. Four of the last six defenses to face the Ravens have posted at least five fantasy points.
There is no reason whatsoever to even consider starting Joe Flacco in fantasy. Among 35 qualified quarterbacks, he ranks last in yards per attempt (5.3), 32nd in yards per game (170.5), and tied for 31st in interceptions (11). As promised by the coaching staff a few weeks back, Alex Collins remained the "featured" back. He saw 18 touches to eight for Danny Woodhead and six for Javorius Allen. Collins found the end zone, too, and will be a solid flex play moving forward. Woodhead is flirting with PPR-flex status, but it'd be great to see his playing time climb a bit higher still (23 percent in Week 11, 31 percent in Week 12). There have only been three instances of a Ravens pass-catcher posting more than 57 yards this year, and seven of 50-plus. There's no reason to chase pass-catchers in the league's last-place passing offense. The Ravens defense at home is always in play, and Matthew Stafford's protection has been shaky of late, as he's been sacked three-plus times in three straight games.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Tom Brady is averaging 306.6 yards per game with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. He's an every-week starter. Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are morphing into a highly productive committee, even for fantasy. Lewis became the team's first 100-yard rusher of the season last week and is averaging roughly 14 touches and 74 total yards per game since Week 6, with three touchdowns in that span. Burkhead bounced back after fumbling two weeks ago, scoring two touchdowns on his 15 touches. Burkhead played 41 percent of the snaps to 39 for Lewis. Chris Hogan (shoulder) has shed his sling, but still isn't practicing. He feels like a longshot to play, which is great news for Brandin Cooks, who's been remarkably consistent with 65-plus yards in eight games. Danny Amendola only played 53 percent of the snaps last week and saw four targets. He's not stepping into a big enough role with Hogan out to warrant fantasy consideration. You're starting Gronk, end of story. Even though they're on the road, the Patriots defense has been improving of late and could be a decent streamer. They'll likely force the Bills into a pass-heavy script that could lead to more sacks and/or turnovers.
Tyrod Taylor has posted reasonable numbers the last two weeks in relief and as the starter, and is a solid play here. Odds are he's forced into a pass-heavy game script attempting to keep pace with the Patriots, which is good news for fantasy. LeSean McCoy remains the workhorse and will be saddled with tons of touches, though expectations should be measured as the Patriots typically try to stop a team's top weapon. That being said, McCoy has gone for over 100 scrimmage yards in each of his three games against the Patriots as a Bill, and scored a touchdown in two of them. Zay Jones is a decent deep play, as he has target totals of seven, seven and 10 in his last three games and has posted 68 yards or a touchdown in each. Charles Clay's playing time is on the rise as he gets back into the mix following his knee injury, and he's seen four targets in each game since returning. With a potentially pass-heavy game script in this one, Clay and Jones are OK to target in fantasy. There's no reason to ever start a fantasy defense against the Patriots while Tom Brady is under center.
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
We're finally going to get our first look at the Jimmy Garoppolo era in San Francisco, but this is a terrible spot for him fantasy-wise. The team is reportedly shrinking the playbook for him a bit, and he has to travel across the country to face an underrated Bears defense (12th against the pass). Carlos Hyde is a solid RB2/flex play as usual, but his targets could come back to Earth with a quarterback change. He'd seen eight-plus looks in four of his last five games, which is outrageous volume for a running back to receive. Marquise Goodwin is the wide receiver to look to in this offense, though everything could be changing with Garoppolo under center (he may favor a different wideout, for instance, we know nothing yet of how he fits in with this team). He owns over 28 percent of the targeted air yards for the team, is a big-play deep threat and has 68-plus yards in four of his last six games. George Kittle saw just two targets in his return from injury, and is playing behind Garrett Celek now, making these two unusable. Even against Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, I'd lean away from using the 49ers in fantasy. They likely offer a decent floor, as Trubisky has been sacked two-plus times in five of seven starts, but there are better teams with more upside to stream.
Mitchell Trubisky has thrown for more than 180 yards just once as the starting quarterback of the Bears and has four touchdowns to four interceptions on the season. Jordan Howard should be able to bounce back here, as the 49ers shouldn't put this game out of reach in the first half as the Eagles did to Howard and the Bears last week. In the five games prior to last week's seven-carry, six-yard debacle, Howard had averaged 22 carries per game and 102.6 yards per game. Tarik Cohen is losing too much work at unpredictable rates to Benny Cunningham. Cohen was used on the fewest offensive plays of the bunch last week, and can't be trusted in fantasy. Dontrelle Inman is a decent dart throw in deeper leagues. Since joining the starting lineup in Week 10 he leads the team in targets (22), receptions (13), and receiving yards (195), and has played 90 percent of the snaps. The Bears defense averages 9.2 fantasy points per game at home versus six on the road, and could be a low-end streamer against Jimmy Garoppolo in his first start. Garoppolo played well starting for the Patriots, but this 49ers offense is a far cry from the unit he played with in New England.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX
DeShone Kizer will have some usable weeks in fantasy down the stretch (like next week against the Packers), but this isn't one of them. The Chargers defense is playing lights out right now and has a great pass rush and secondary. Isaiah Crowell has 95-plus scrimmage yards in three of his last four games and has two touchdowns in that span as well. He's a decent flex option (finally). Duke Johnson hasn't had the same yardage floor as Crowell, but he's a great option in PPR as he has four-plus catches in five straight games and is averaging 35 receiving yards per game in that span. The Chargers give up the fifth-most receiving yards per game to opposing backs (51.2), and Johnson could be heavily involved as the Browns try to keep pace with the Chargers. Josh Gordon is back, ya'll. Despite reports that Gordon will start and the team wants him to play as much as possible, the best approach to this situation is a cautious one. Gordon hasn't played in an NFL game in over 1,000 days, and is joining a mediocre offense with a rookie quarterback. I'm sitting him this week, but if you want to throw a dart at him feel free. We know his upside is massive. Corey Coleman has seen 19 targets over the last two weeks, posting 80 and 64 yards in his two games back. He'll be a nice flex play, especially if Gordon draws the attention of the Chargers top cover corner Casey Hayward.
Philip Rivers is averaging over 300 passing yards and two touchdowns per game over his last three outings, and should absolutely carve up the Browns. Their 6.4 touchdown rate allowed to opposing quarterbacks trails only Denver. Melvin Gordon remains a safe play based on volume alone. Despite the emergence of Austin Ekeler, Gordon's averaged 22 touches per game over his last three, scoring once and averaging around 70 yards per game. The Chargers should handle this game, which could put Gordon in a decent game script against a tough run defense (though Joe Mixon did have a career day against the Browns last week). Ekeler has been a great start of late, but I worry that he might not see as much work here based on the game script. He's a risky flex in my eyes. In case you missed it, Keenan Allen has caught 23 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks. He's a must-start here. James Koh talked up Travis Benjamin as a deep sleeper in this week's NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast, and I kind of like that call. This is a REVENGE game for Benjamin, after all. Hunter Henry caught all five of his targets for 76 yards and a touchdown last week. If he receives that same amount of usage against a Browns defense that struggles to cover tight ends (56.5 yards per game allowed, nine touchdowns allowed) he'll be a top-10 option this week, easily. The Chargers defense is on a roll and is set to face the most generous offense for fantasy defensive scoring.
New York Giants at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Geno Smith is starting for the Giants at quarterback. Don't, I repeat, don't start him in fantasy. Orleans Darkwa should offer a safe enough floor in standard leagues to merit a flex spot. He's had 79-plus scrimmage yards in four of his last six games. Sterling Shepard is returning after missing time with migraines and should have enough volume to be an OK flex as well. His targets are higher percentage throws with him working primarily in the slot, so Smith should be able to hit him regularly. Same goes for Evan Engram, though I won't fault anyone for sitting him. Hard pass on the Giants defense in fantasy.
Derek Carr is playing poorly this year and will have to lead this offense without his top two receivers. With no teams on byes, there are far better options available. Marshawn Lynch could be the biggest beneficiary with Michael Crabtree suspended and Amari Cooper (concussion, ankle) likely out with an injury. As Matt Franciscovich notes, "New York is allowing 153.5 total yards per game to opposing running backs, that's the fourth-most in the league." Oakland should be able to handle the Giants here, which would mean more touches for Lynch as he averages nearly nine more touches per game in Raiders wins than in losses. Seth Roberts is likely to step into the No. 1 wide receiver role in terms of playing time, but I want no part of Roberts in my fantasy lineups. He's a fine player but offers minimal upside. If there's a dart throw to make here it's with Cordarrelle Patterson, who's shown his trademark big-play ability at times this year. With increased opportunities and playing time, he's a high-upside, but risky flex play. Jared Cook is the player to look to in this passing game, though, as he is facing one of the league's worst defenses at covering tight ends and currently ranks third on the team in targets (65). The Raiders defense notched five sacks last week and is a decent streaming option at home against Geno Smith.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
During the Panthers four-game win streak Cam Newton is leading the team in rushing with 253 yards and two touchdowns. He's thrown five touchdowns to one interception, too, and should have a nice ceiling against the Saints in the Superdome, as he's scored at least three touchdowns in each of his last three trips to New Orleans. Christian McCaffrey has touch totals of just eight and nine his last two games, but he still offered decent flex appeal as he scored twice in Week 10 and posted nearly 100 scrimmage yards in Week 12. He'll be a solid flex play against a New Orleans defense that allows the sixth-most receiving yards per game (49.8) to opposing backs. I'd sit Jonathan Stewart, though, as his 110-yard game in Week 10 appears to be an outlier. He's rushed for a combined 81 yards in the three other games during Carolina's win streak. Devin Funchess is the team's No. 1 wideout by a longshot now, as he's had five catches and 86-plus yards in every game since the Kelvin Benjamin trade and owns 28.7 percent of the team targets as well. Don't be afraid of starting Funchess even if Marshon Lattimore returns for the Saints. Greg Olsen aggravated his foot injury last week, and as a result, could miss this game or at least be highly limited. He's best left on the bench until he gets right. The Saints offense is one of the hardest to score against in fantasy football as they play clock control and don't turn over the ball. Keep the Panthers on the bench this week.
Over his last six games, Drew Brees is averaging 285 yards and one passing touchdown per game. He's taken a back seat to his tremendous backfield, and even though he's at home this is a bad spot to start him against a Carolina defense that allows just 14.34 fantasy points per game to opposing passers on the year. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are weekly must-starts regardless of the matchup. In three career games against the Panthers, Michael Thomas averages 5.7 receptions, 77.7 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns per game. He's been one of the safest floor plays at wide receiver this year and nothing has changed heading into this matchup. Ted Ginn gets a revenge game, but more importantly, he's been the true No. 2 option behind Thomas. He's posted 59-plus yards in six of his last seven games. Coby Fleener has been ruled out with a concussion, which could open up some more targets. This isn't a reason to consider Willie Snead or Josh Hill, though. The Panthers offense is a bit banged up and Cam Newton is prone to some mistakes, but the Panthers have been heating up of late averaging 29.3 points per game with a plus-three turnover differential over their last four games.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
The Cardinals are allowing 18.26 fantasy points per game to opposing passers since their bye, and every quarterback to face them in that span save C.J. Beathard has scored multiple touchdowns. Goff should be able to post solid numbers at the very least. We're starting Todd Gurley every week, regardless of the matchup. On paper, the Cardinals allow seventh-fewest total yards per game to backs, but Gurley tagged Arizona for 154 total yards and a touchdown the last time these two teams faced off. Sammy Watkins hit big last week, but is likely to draw Patrick Peterson in this matchup, which relegates him to the bench for me. Cooper Kupp, on the other hand, should be able to pick on the Cardinals remaining cornerbacks and is set up for another big game following the first 100-yard performance of his career (8-116-0). Josh Reynolds missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury but if he is healthy enough to play Sunday he'll be a decent dart throw in deeper leagues. He filled in as the team's third receiver last week with Robert Woods out and caught a touchdown. The way to attack Arizona all year has been through the second and third wideouts on a team. The Rams defense could make life miserable for Blaine Gabbert, though he did just overperform against the Jaguars. Still, Aaron Donald is reason enough to start the Rams, as one play from him can pretty much return value for starting this squad.
I know it's going to sound crazy, but Blaine Gabbert is streamable this week. He's the QB8 and QB14 in his two starts, averaging just under 250 yards a game with five touchdowns and three picks. Don't drop a realistic starter to play Gabbert, as the Rams have allowed just three quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns against them all year, but he's certainly in the mix for those in a pinch. Adrian Peterson popped up on the injury report with a neck injury, but it doesn't seem to be serious. Regardless, I'm not playing him in this game. Odds are the Cardinals fall behind and Peterson loses touches in a poor game script. And even if he does play a lot, the Rams run defense is a solid front (despite what Alvin Kamara did to them last week). Larry Fitzgerald should be able to bounce back now that he's not being erased by Jalen Ramsey. Ricky Seals-Jones isn't playing a lot, but when he is he's running routes and Gabbert is looking for him. He's a decent stream this week, as all we ever want out of a tight end is a touchdown and RSJ has three on 11 targets over the last two weeks. Don't start the Cardinals against one of the league's highest-scoring offenses.
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Carson Wentz has multiple touchdown passes in seven straight games and should never leave your starting lineup. The Eagles backfield is the largest, and arguably most productive committee in the league. That being said, this is a week to avoid this bunch. A road trip into the teeth of a Seattle front seven allowing a meager 2.5 yards per carry over the last four games is not what fantasy managers want. You'll be banking on LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, or Corey Clement to score a touchdown, and that's a risky proposition for your fantasy squad if they don't get in. With Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out, the Seahawks secondary is far more vulnerable to the pass. As a result, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz are all strong plays. Jeffery has at least one touchdown in four straight games, while Agholor returned to the painted area last week for the first time since Week 7. Ertz is among the league leaders in every statistical category at his position and simply cannot be benched. The Eagles defense could be a low-end start here, even on the road, as Wilson has been sacked two-plus times in all but three games this year and the Eagles lead the league in quarterback pressures with 160, per Next Gen Stats.
Russell Wilson is averaging a combined 311.8 rushing and passing yards per game, the most in the league and more than five TEAMS this season (NYG, CHI, MIA, BAL, CIN). His upside is the QB1 every week, and he's a must-start for me even against a tough Eagles defense. The Eagles own the league's best rushing defense and the Seahawks own one of the league's worst rushing attacks. I'd steer clear of this entire group, though players in deep leagues could give J.D. McKissic a look, as he's posted four-plus catches in three straight games with an average of 48 scrimmage yards per game in that span. The Seahawks offense runs through Russell Wilson, which means we want to start Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham in what figures to be a high-scoring game. The Eagles allow the ninth-most receiving yards per game to wideouts (157.5) but have kept them out of the end zone, allowing just six scores to the position. The matchup for Graham is irrelevant, as he leads the league in both targets inside the 20 (23) and targets inside the 10 yard-line (14). Those high-value targets are why he's scored eight touchdowns in the last seven weeks (all of which have come in the red zone). Tyler Lockett feels like the odd man out, as his stat lines in the four games since a big 6-121-0 game against Houston have been 2-10-0, 1-16-0, 4-37-0, and 0-0-0. Normally, the Seahawks defense at home is an auto-lock into our lineups, but that isn't the case this week. The Eagles offense is scoring too many points to risk starting the injury-ravaged Seahawks.