2020 Fantasy Football: Week 13 Loves & Hates
A game that was delayed approximately 50 times, a game with a wide receiver and tight end squaring off at quarterback, and then multiple PED suspensions after the week—it sure ain’t a walk in the park for fantasy owners. So of course, we’re here to help on a week-to-week basis. Welcome to this week’s loves and hates. I will review my picks for Week 12 then give you the rundown of the best and worst value players across each skill position in Week 13, perhaps the most pivotal week for most medium-sized leagues as we transition into playoff mode.
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Week 12 Review
My Week 12 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for myself in parentheses.
To start off, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of my picks this year — taking Derek Carr as a love pick at quarterback against the soft Atlanta Falcons pass defense. Yipee.
Coming into the week, Derek Carr was a top 5 quarterback in the NFL this season in passer rating, lowest interception rate, completion rate, and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. The stage was set for Carr to thrive and instead, he went 22/34 on passes with no touchdowns, 1 interception, and a season-high 3 fumbles. While fumbles have been somewhat of an issue with Carr, the Atlanta Falcons defensive unit put on a showcase, recovering 4 fumbles, tallying 5 sacks, and scoring a defensive touchdown. The Oakland Raiders were blown out and Carr was outscored in fantasy by his backup Nathan Peterman. My god.
Carr shouldn’t be too much of a concern going forward — while his timing was off and he was uncertain when pressured, he has an opportunity to bounce back in Week 13 against the New York Jets, who barely qualify as an NFL team.
On Monday Night Football, my hate pick, Carson Wentz, had yet another opportunity to put up a decent performance against one of the worst fantasy defenses against quarterbacks. But we pointed out the issues—a Wentz turnover in an NFL game has been one of the safest bets in sports this year and Jamal Adams and the Seahawks had an opportunity to disrupt Wentz, the most sacked quarterback in the NFL.
Additionally, ahead of gametime, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson hinted at possibly using 2020 draftee Jalen Hurts for important offensive snaps. Hurts only took 4% of the snaps but Wentz was horrendous yet again and the Eagles did not earn a first down until late in the second quarter. In garbage time, Wentz had an opportunity to make the game closer with a lax Seahawks secondary and earn some emergency fantasy points. While he was able to drive into a somewhat-fortuitous tipped-pass touchdown to Richard Rodgers, he threw an interception late to essentially ice the game.
Carson Wentz: 48 Turnover-Worthy Plays since 2019
Most in the NFL pic.twitter.com/M5If35tMBb
— PFF (@PFF) December 2, 2020
Wentz finished the game passing 25/45 for 215 yards and 42 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The late touchdown was enough to sneak him into the top 10 quarterbacks for the week but Wentz continues to be turnover-prone and vulnerable to sacks, making him a low-floor option for the remainder of the season at quarterback.
Running Back (B-)
Our somewhat-unintuitive love pick of James White was a hit. With Rex Burkhead down, many fantasy managers were excited about the Patriots workhorse Damien Harris finally getting the exposure he needs to flourish. Harris did get a majority of the workload but the New England Patriots, whose backfield has historically been tattooed with fantasy frustration, invited James White for their most important carries, making him the fantasy-relevant member of the backfield. Surprisingly, White didn’t see much action in the pass-catching game but he still outshone Harris due to his first two scores of the season. White finished as the PPR RB15 of Week 12 and ended up being one of the best value pickups in daily lineups.
|James White||37%||5 carries, 18 yards, 2 TD||1 catch (1 target), -1 yards|
|Damien Harris||65%||14 carries, 47 yards||0 catches (0 targets)|
* personal season-highs in bold
Sony Michel barely saw any snaps and did not get a touch. The Patriots face an exploitable Chargers defense in Week 13 but it remains to be seen whether White’s role will kick up a notch or Damien Harris will be the main man next time.
On the other hand, our running back hate pick ended up seeing a circumstance so unforeseen that it reaped sympathy from NFL fans across the nation. The Denver Broncos threw 9 passes all game, with practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton under center, and the only completion was to Noah Fant for 13 yards. They ran the ball with 5 different players, 3 of whom were running backs, and here is how they fared.
|Melvin Gordon||82%||12 carries, 31 yards|
|Royce Freeman||30%||8 carries, 50 yards|
|Phillip Lindsay||32%||9 carries, 20 yards|
* personal season-highs in bold
Naturally, no touchdowns were scored in the game and no Denver Broncos were fantasy-relevant. It’s clearly unfair to give myself full credit for the call as we didn’t have the news of the Broncos quarterbacks until late in the week.
There was a game today.
The final score is what it is.
Undrafted rookie WIDE RECEIVER @Kendall_Hinton2 came off the practice squad, had zero practice reps and competed in his first NFL game as the Broncos’ QUARTERBACK—an unprecedented situation.
He deserves all the respect. pic.twitter.com/C4UpkPTZBQ
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 29, 2020
Wide Receiver (B-)
Our hottest take of the week came out of the Thanksgiving afternoon matchup between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys. With concern surrounding the health of Terry McLaurin’s health at the start of the matchup, a troubled Dallas Cowboys defense meant opportunity for other pass-catchers. However, both McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas were in the receiving mix and the game was dominated by the backfield going crazy, led by Antonio Gibson.
Sims Jr. was targeted just once and he hauled in a reception for 8 yards. He did not find the end zone and does not need to be owned in most leagues at the time. That was a miss.
Meanwhile, our wide receiver hate pick of Christian Kirk was one of the biggest baits of the week. In the absence of Larry Fitzgerald, many thought Kirk would see more opportunity alongside the elite talent of DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, we correctly pointed out that Kirk would have to deal with a banged up Kyler Murray and a still-talented secondary of the New England Patriots with J.C. Jackson on duty for the Christian Kirk assignment.
Kirk drew exactly 6 targets for a third straight game and he made only 3 catches for 19 yards. Notably, one was a catchable ball in the end zone in the second quarter of what ended up being a close game. Kirk couldn’t haul that in and he continued his lack of fantasy relevance after a stellar Weeks 6, 7, and 9. Kirk rushed the ball once for 0 yards as well and was fantasy-irrelevant in Week 12.
Tight End (A)
Our best picks of the week were at the tight end position, one that the Buffalo Bills have had a tough time defending in 2020. Indeed, the size and skill of Hunter Henry was enough to exploit the Bills’ defense in Week 12. Henry made 7 receptions on 10 targets, both season-highs. He tallied 67 yards, his highest since Week 2, and despite not finding the end zone, he was the PPR TE7 of Week 12. Henry continues to be start-worthy in an otherwise shallow position this season.
Our hate pick of Jonnu Smith was about as spot-on as we can get. Coming into the weekend, the Titans tight end was the #5 PPR tight end of the season and tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns by a tight end with 7. However, those two stats have gone exactly hand in hand. Smith’s value has strictly come from the touchdown catch and has been arguably the most touchdown-dependent fantasy football stud this season. Indeed, against the tough tight end defense of the Indianapolis Colts, the Titans did exactly what I expected them to do—pound the ball with Derrick Henry in the absence of DeForest Buckner for the Colts and use your wide receivers to get the rest of the job done.
Smith was held to the ultimate goose-egg as he was not targeted. Through the Titans’ 11 games so far this season, Smith now averages 5.9 PPR fantasy points in his 5 games without scoring a touchdown. However, with some extremely attractive matchups coming up, Smith’s end zone potential cannot be ignored and he should not be discarded for no return late in the season.
Week 13 Loves & Hates
Love: Mitchell Trubisky (CHI)
With Nick Foles still down due to injury for a Week 13 matchup against Detroit, Mitch Trubisky will get the start for the Chicago Bears. In his career, Trubisky is 4-2 against the Detroit Lions with 15 total touchdowns and has thrown 4 interceptions. In Week 1 of this season, he had his best fantasy performance of 2020 against these very Lions when he threw for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he did fumble in the game, it was his only game of 4 starts this year with no interceptions.
In 2020, the Lions are a bottom 10 fantasy defense against quarterbacks. Now, cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Mike Ford are still likely out due to injury, meaning the ceiling for Trubisky is as high as a top 5 quarterback. If you’re worried about the game being in Chicago, fear not as the weather is set to be chilly but sunny throughout the weekend. Start Trubisky as a cheap but valuable option in dailies and if you’re in quarterback trouble in regular leagues, go ahead and grab that upside.
Hate: Deshaun Watson (TEX)
Yesterday, I took a deep dive into the outlook for the Houston Texans’ offense for the remaining of the 2020 fantasy football season, following the PED suspension of Will Fuller V. As part of the analysis, we pointed out the difficulty of matchups coming for Deshaun Watson, whose top two receivers are now Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee.
Indeed, the Indianapolis Colts are a complete defense — they are stingy with big plays and they get after the quarterback. Through 12 weeks this season, the Colts are among the 10 in the NFL in quarterback hurry percentage. Deshaun Watson, granted, has a well-above-average floor for a fantasy team due to the talent he possesses with his arm and his legs, but if you’re looking for ceiling, this is a way-too-expensive option for dailies and a risky play in regular leagues. Watson is also among the ten most-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL by percentage and he sees very little upside against the Colts, a top 3 fantasy defense against quarterbacks this season.
Love: Frank Gore (NYJ)
At 37 years old, Gore is the NFL equivalent of the fine wine. Over 15 years in the league, and the man can still sporadically produce and in the case of Week 13, provide noticeable fantasy value. The Raiders can’t defend an NFL team in any regard—the run, the pass, or anything else imaginable. Through Week 12, they are bottom 10 in the NFL in expected points contributed by rushing defense and no NFL team has allowed more rushing touchdowns that the Raiders.
Put all that together and you have one of the best touchdown potential games the Jets have had all year long, meaning it’s time for the Frank Gore Upside Game. A cheap option for a timeless classic, make sure you start Gore in Week 13 and don’t be afraid that he has found the end zone only once this season.
A top 3 defense in every available metric against the run, the New Orleans Saints are one of those matchups you hunt against. In Week 13, they face the Atlanta Falcons whose backfield situation may enter the weekend with extra uncertainty. If Todd Gurley is healthy enough to get the start, chances are he will still be at least slightly beaten up. If Brian Hill gets the starting job again, well—he’s just not good enough to break through the Saints matchup.
Instead, if you must own a Falcons running back, Ito Smith might just be the way to go. In the Falcons’ Week 12 blowout win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Smith carried the ball 12 times for 65 yards and a touchdown and caught the ball 4 times for 10 yards. If Julio Jones also has to see time off in Week 13, fire up Smith to take a slight uptick in the short pass-catching game.
Love: Tyler Boyd (CIN)
If you read a lot of my love/hate pieces, you know I like targeting matchups between Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard and the top receiver facing the Dolphins, this isn’t an ordinary matchup. In 2020, Xavien Howard has only guarded the slot man 6.7% of the time and in Week 13, the Dolphins will have to contend with one of the most productive slot receivers in the league. This season, Tyler Boyd has taken 450 snaps as a slot receiver, good for second in the NFL.
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) December 2, 2020
In Week 12 against the New York Giants, the downgrade at quarterback from Joe Burrow to Brandon Allen translated into Boyd’s worst game of the year as he only made 3 receptions for 15 yards and no touchdowns. However, don’t let the final result fool you—he still drew 6 targets. As the best offensive weapon on the team, Boyd will still get volume and the Dolphins have allowed their fair share of receiving yards to wide receivers in 2020.
Hate: DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)
Probably my favorite 1v1 matchup of Week 13, we’ve got elite vs. elite on the outside with DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jalen Ramsey. And I’m making a call—Ramsey, who has already shut down the likes of Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson, and DK Metcalf, will outright win the matchup.
Already familiar with each other, Ramsey and Hopkins have matched up a few times in the past and in 2018, when Hopkins was with the Texans and Ramsey was with the Jaguars, they split the individual wins.
In October, Hopkins was held to 3 receptions for 50 yards, but did score a touchdown. In December, Hopkins went off for 12 receptions for 147 yards. Now catching passes from Kyler Murray, Hopkins is still one of the best offensive players in the NFL and in 2020, he is third among wide receivers in receiving yards. However, don’t underestimate what the Rams defense can do to the pass-catching game of the Cardinals with Kyler Murray still dealing with shoulder issues.
Lowest yards per coverage snap:
1. Jimmy Smith – 0.37
2. Jalen Ramsey – 0.50
3. Bryce Callahan – 0.54
4. Bashaud Breeland – 0.57 pic.twitter.com/eb1B9ZBpAd
— PFF (@PFF) December 2, 2020
One week after getting mostly locked down by Stephon Gilmore, even though you aren’t benching DeAndre Hopkins in normal fantasy leagues, Week 13 is set to be a low-value matchup for daily lineups. In fact, with how well Jalen Ramsey has been playing, I’ll go ahead and drop my hottest take of the week—Hopkins will be limited to at most 5 catches and will not break the 50-yard mark.
Love: T.J. Hockensen (DET)
The Detroit Lions have had their ups and downs this year—mostly downs but with head coach Matt Patricia recently fired, the ups are on the horizon. A bright spot for them? The play of their 23-year-old tight end T.J. Hockensen.
In Week 13, Hockensen faces a Bears defense that has been elite against wide receivers but lax against tight ends. The Bears have allowed the fourth-both receptions, sixth-most yards, and second-most touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2020 and now they will have to face the big body of Hockensen, quite possibly in the absence of top wideout Kenny Golladay yet again. Hockensen is averaging 6.75 targets per game since Golladay went down due to injury. The PPR upside is as high as top 5 at the tight end position in Week 13.
Hate: Eric Ebron (PIT)
In Wednesday Afternoon Football against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12, Eric Ebron had his biggest non-touchdown PPR game of the year. He caught a season-high 7 passes on a season-high 11 targets. But don’t let that fool you—in Week 13, he will face a likely fully-healthy and well-regarded tight end defense in the Washington Football Team and give up those targets to the big wide receiver core of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even if James Conner is able to return for the Steelers, they pose as a pass-first offense due to the talent in their pass-catching unit but don’t expect Ebron to repeat his monster reception game against Washington, that doesn’t quite pose the cornerback talent to guard up against wide receivers that the Ravens do.
Who are your starts to steal and busts to bench for Week 13 to save or boost your season come playoff time?
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