Week 13 Sleepers and Busts: Benny on the Bench
I must admit that coming up with Week 13 sleepers and busts was a bit more challenging than in weeks past. As we all know, three games have already been played, and rankings for Thursday players are already locked. As luck would have it, several players who have already played would have fallen into one of the categories below. Still, there is plenty of action to choose from. Bye weeks are a thing of the past, so 26 teams are still in play between Sunday and Monday. So before you tweak those lineups and make that final playoff push, here are a few more players I am either higher or lower on than the consensus.
In the interest of full disclosure, here are some quick hits on the Thursday games. I was much higher on Matt Ryan than most, and garbage time saved me on that call. The opposite happened in Dallas. I looked smart early having Dak Prescott outside my top-12, but Prescott padded his stats with a meaningless fourth-quarter drive which will likely vault him into QB1 territory for the week. Devonta Freeman was ranked inside my top-30 in all formats, and he is likely to fall somewhere in RB3 territory by the time the week is finished. I was high on Cole Beasley and Russell Gage, though apparently not high enough, at least on Beasley. And I had Michael Gallup ranked lower than most. So it was a relatively good day on the prognosticating front.
Week 13 Sleepers and Busts
Nick Foles (My rank: QB10; Expert Consensus Rankings: QB13)
Nick Foles has struggled in two starts since returning from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 1. He has thrown just two touchdown passes and has averaged a paltry 6.0 yards per pass attempt. For as much as Jacksonville may want to hide Foles and ride Leonard Fournette to a victory, that is not a sound strategy against their Week 13 opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have been stout on the ground all season long. They have allowed the fewest rushing yards to opposing backs in the entire NFL. Tampa Bay is the only team to hold Christian McCaffrey under 100 scrimmage yards in a game, and they did it twice. Meanwhile, they have funneled lots of production towards the passing game. The Buccaneers allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. I think Foles has a lot of upside in this matchup.
Jared Goff (My rank: QB11; ECR: QB17)
I mentioned that Tampa has allowed the second-most fantasy points to enemy signal-callers. Do you want to take a guess who is first? That would be the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, Jared Goff has looked terrible this season, punctuated by an embarrassing performance on Monday night. But the Cardinals defense is the elixir to cure the ills of passing games gone awry. Just ask Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has eight touchdown passes in two games against the Cardinals. He has 12 touchdown throws in his other nine games combined. Arizona is on pace to allow over 5,000 passing yards this season. Only two opposing signal-callers facing the Cardinals have not finished inside QB1 territory in 12-team leagues. Goff should be started in most circumstances, as he and Sean McVay will look good again, at least for this week.
Deshaun Watson (My rank: QB15; ECR: QB10)
Deshaun Watson usually has one of the highest ceilings of any fantasy quarterback. However, I just do not see that being the case this week. It is common knowledge that the New England Patriots have clamped down on opposing pass offenses all season long. But the extent to which they are doing so is often overlooked. We know that defenses like San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo have been tough to throw against. And yet New England puts most of them to shame. New England has allowed just four touchdown passes all season. No other team has allowed fewer than nine. They have also intercepted 20 passes. No other team has more than 13. If you have Watson in a redraft league, you are probably starting him this week. However, I think expectations should be lowered given the difficulty of this matchup.
Sleeper Running Back
Carlos Hyde (My rank: RB23 in Standard; ECR: RB28)
Whereas New England has remained virtually impenetrable against opposing passing games, they have shown a bit of vulnerability against the run. They have allowed 4.31 yards per rush to opposing backs this season, which is right around the league average. They have also struggled of late to contain running back production. Three running backs have totaled 100 yards from scrimmage in the past four games against New England. Hyde is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards this year, proving that Houston is not afraid to go to the well with him. New England has still allowed just one rushing touchdown to enemy backs this season, so Hyde is no sure thing to blow up. However, I do think his floor is higher than most seem to, and I would be comfortable starting him in Week 13.
Bust Running Back
Benny Snell (My rank: RB35 in PPR; ECR: RB26)
Benny Snell was impressive last week, finishing as the RB20. Still, I am going to dock a few style points off his performance considering it was against the Cincinnati Bengals. Snell averaged 4.67 yards per carry in that game, which is right around what the Bengals usually allow (4.73) to opposing running backs. Cleveland is not much better, at 4.64. However, I think game-script will be more of an issue against an improving Browns team than it was against Cincinnati. Cleveland has also allowed just five rushing touchdowns to opposing backs this season. Snell will not be involved much in the passing game, as that will be Jaylen Samuel’s territory. I think Snell has major bust potential this week. He is a bit more palatable in standard formats, but I think he is outside of the top 24 there as well. I would look for other options if possible.
Sleeper Wide Receiver
Chris Conley (My rank: WR33 in PPR; ECR: WR43)
Chris Conley has been a solid contributor for Jacksonville in recent weeks. The former Kansas City Chief has averaged 65 receiving yards over his last five games. He has been targeted 17 times in two games since Nick Foles has returned under center. As I mentioned in the Foles blurb above, Tampa Bay has struggled to limit passing production. That has especially been the case as it relates to wide receivers. They have allowed the most fantasy points and receiving yards to opposing wideouts this season. Conley figures to line up against Jamel Dean on most occasions. While the rookie has improved in recent weeks, he has still given up 0.46 fantasy points per route covered this year, per Pro Football Focus. Conley should have plenty of opportunities to make plays, and I expect him to take advantage in this game.
Bust Wide Receivers
Will Fuller (My rank: WR41 in Standard; ECR: WR33)
Both of the wide receivers on my Week 13 bust list are players who had big weeks last week and have major weekly upside. Despite the blowup potential, I feel like chasing last week’s points is a losing proposition in both cases. The first wide receiver on my bust list is Will Fuller. Fuller returned last week after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Fuller looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, catching seven passes for 140 yards. However, he now must square off against New England and their elite secondary. Whether Fuller lines up against Jason McCourty or Jonathan Jones, he will have his hands full. Both are among the league leaders in fewest fantasy points per route and fewest yards per route allowed. Fuller is tough to sit when he suits up, but his upside is limited this week.
Marquise Brown (My rank: WR47 in PPR; ECR: WR35)
Marquise Brown finished as last week’s WR9 on the strength of a two-touchdown performance on Monday night. He dropped a third late, or his day could have been even greater. Brown has flashed a very high ceiling this year but has also exhibited an extremely low floor. I think that needs to be taken into account when considering him this week against the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, and only the Patriots have allowed fewer receiving yards. Brown has also failed to reach 50 yards in six of his last seven games. If Brown fails to find the end zone, it is highly likely he winds up with single-digit fantasy points, even in PPR leagues. Benching Brown is always a risk given his upside, but owners should be aware of his bust potential.
Sleeper Tight End
Gerald Everett (My rank: TE9 in Standard; ECR: TE19)
My rather bullish rank of Gerald Everett this week comes with the caveat that he has yet to practice and is questionable for Sunday with a knee injury. If he plays, he should be started with confidence in a cake matchup against Arizona. The Cardinals have allowed the most receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Everett is sixth among all tight ends in target percentage per route run. Safety Buddha Baker has allowed 2.24 yards per route covered, the highest number in the league. It all adds up to a dream scenario for Everett. Again, keep an eye on his status heading into game time, but I would have no issue simply swapping in Tyler Higbee if Everett is inactive. Higbee was targeted six times on Monday night and is capable of picking up where Everett leaves off.
Bust Tight End
Dallas Goedert (My rank: TE14 in PPR; ECR: TE11)
Dallas Goedert finished as the TE10 last week in PPR formats against the Seattle Seahawks but needed a season-high eight targets to do so. His high target share was due in part to Philadelphia having a depleted receiving corps and facing negative game script for much of their Week 12 loss. I believe both of those enhancers will be greatly reduced in Week 13. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are both practicing this week. Their presence would bump Goedert down the target food chain a notch or two. The Eagles also figure to see a much more positive game flow against the Miami Dolphins. Goedert is a threat in the red zone, and a touchdown would allow him to hit value. However, I do not think the volume will be there to consider him a surefire starter unless Zach Ertz misses Week 13 due to his hamstring injury.
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