Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, Sleepers: Week 13by Mike Fanelli December 4, 2021 1 comment
The best part about fantasy football is winning. The second best part is the draft. However, the draft has come and gone. Now fantasy owners struggle with the weekly decision about which players to start, which to sit, and which to use as a sleeper. To help with that, I will provide two starts, two sits, and two sleepers at each position every week. Be sure to reach out with any fantasy football questions you may have. Without further ado, let’s get started.
All stats are based on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.
START: Derek Carr vs Washington Football Team
When the Las Vegas Raiders released Henry Ruggs, it had a massive impact on Carr’s fantasy value. He averaged 257.3 passing yards and only 12.4 fantasy points per game in the first three games without Ruggs. However, Carr got back on track last week against the Dallas Cowboys, throwing for 373 yards and scoring 21 fantasy points, his highest outing since Week 6. This week Carr has his best matchup of the season. Washington has given up an average of 23.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, the most in the NFL. They have also given up at least two passing touchdowns in eight of their past nine games. Even without Darren Waller, Carr is a borderline must-start quarterback.
START: Russel Wilson vs San Francisco 49ers
Despite coming off back-to-back horrific games, Wilson made the start list in last week’s article. He had 247 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 19.5 fantasy points against Washington, completing 64.5 percent of his passes, the highest amount since getting injured. Wilson also had the most passing yards in any game since Week 3 last week. Meanwhile, the 49ers have given up an average of 18.4 fantasy points per game this season to quarterbacks. They have given up at least 19 fantasy points to quarterbacks in over half their games this season. When Wilson faced the 49ers in Week 4, he had three total touchdowns and 22.6 fantasy points. This week, he should put up similar numbers.
SIT: Joe Burrow vs Los Angeles Chargers
After averaging 19.6 fantasy points per game over the first eight weeks this season, Burrow has averaged only 10.9 fantasy points over the past three games. Furthermore, his pass attempts per game are down. Before the bye week, Burrow averaged 31.8 pass attempts per game. By comparison, he has averaged only 26.5 pass attempts per game since the bye week. Tomorrow, he faces a tough matchup against the Chargers. They have held quarterbacks to only 16 fantasy points per game this season, the sixth-fewest in the NFL. The Chargers have also held quarterbacks to one or fewer passing touchdowns in four of their past six games. With Joe Mixon playing as one of the best running backs in the NFL right now, Burrow has very little upside in this game.
SIT: Teddy Bridgewater at Kansas City Chiefs
Even with missing part of last week’s game with an injury, Bridgewater still scored two touchdowns and 16.2 fantasy points. However, the veteran quarterback has struggled over the past several weeks. Over the past five games, Bridgewater has scored under 14 fantasy points in three of them, averaging 14.7 fantasy points per game during that span. He has also thrown under two touchdowns in four straight contests. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have stepped up defensively lately. Over the past six games, they have held quarterbacks to only 12.9 fantasy points per game. They have also given up only 1.2 passing touchdowns per game during that span. With the Broncos focused on the running game lately, Bridgewater is only startable in two quarterback or super flex leagues.
SLEEPER: Tua Tagovailoa vs New York Giants
Last week Tua made the sit list against a tough Carolina Panthers defense. He finished with only 13.2 fantasy points but played well in the game, completing a season-high 87.1 percent of his passes. It was also only the third game this season that Tua didn’t throw an interception. More importantly, Tua has averaged 18.8 fantasy points per game over his past five starts, scoring 10 total touchdowns in those contests. This week he takes on a Giants defense that has allowed quarterbacks to average 17 fantasy points per game this season. They have given up 19.5 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in almost half the games this year. Given how well Tua has played lately, he has top-10 upside this week.
SLEEPER: Carson Wentz at Houston Texans
Aside from a two-week stretch where Jonathan Taylor ran wild, Wentz has been great for fantasy owners this season. In the other 10 games this season, Wentz has averaged 18.4 fantasy points per game, scoring 17 or more fantasy points in all but one game. Last week he had arguably his best game of the season, throwing for 306 yards, two touchdowns, and 20.3 fantasy points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the matchup this week is very fantasy-friendly. The Texans have given up an average of 17.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season. In Week 6, Wentz scored 17 points against the Texans on only 20 pass attempts. He should have at least 20 fantasy points this time against Houston.
START: Miles Sanders at New York Jets
Earlier this week, Sanders was questionable to play with an ankle injury. However, he was taken off the injury report yesterday. More importantly, Jordan Howard is out this week with a knee injury, while Boston Scott is questionable with an illness. Since returning from the ankle injury, Sanders has averaged 79 rushing yards per game and 6.3 yards per rushing attempt. This week, expect the team to lean on the running game, especially given the matchup. The Jets have allowed running backs to average 35.5 fantasy points per game this season, the most in the NFL. Over the past six games, running backs have averaged 113.5 rushing yards, 1.8 rushing touchdowns, and 37.7 fantasy points per game against the Jets. Even if Scott plays, Sanders is a borderline must-start running back.
START: Myles Gaskin vs New York Giants
Surprisingly Gaskin broke the start on odd weeks and sit on even weeks trend, scoring 19.2 fantasy points last week. He has scored three touchdowns over the past two weeks, averaging 18.9 fantasy points per game in those games. Gaskin has been the RB10 over the past month, averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game, scoring at least 15.5 in three of those contests. Fantasy owners should expect Gaskin to keep up his recent play this week. The Giants have given up an average of 27 fantasy points per game to running backs, the fourth-most in the NFL. They have given up at least one rushing touchdown in five of their past seven games. Even with the addition of Phillip Lindsay, expect Gaskin to have his way with the Giants tomorrow.
SIT: Damien Harris at Buffalo Bills
Harris has been a solid fantasy back this season, averaging 11.8 fantasy points per game. However, his minimal role in the passing limits his fantasy upside, making Harris a touchdown or bust fantasy back. In the games he has failed to find the end zone this season, Harris has averaged only 6.7 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately for him, the matchup Monday is far from ideal. The Bills have held running backs to only 19.9 fantasy points per game this season, the third-fewest in the NFL. Furthermore, they have held running backs not named Taylor or Derrick Henry to only 46.8 rushing yards and 11.8 fantasy points per game. Expect the Bills to shut down Harris and make Mac Jones beat them.
SIT: Rex Burkhead vs Indianapolis Colts
Regardless of which Houston running backs play, this backfield is one fantasy owners should avoid. Burkhead leads the team in rushing attempts the past two weeks, averaging 15 per game. However, he has scored only 12.4 total fantasy points over the past two weeks despite touching the ball on 58 percent of his snaps. Meanwhile, the Colts got run over by Leonard Fournette last week. However, they have held running backs to only 18.5 fantasy points per game the rest of the season. More importantly, the Colts have given up only three rushing touchdowns to running backs before last week’s game. As great as Fournette was last week, don’t expect Burkhead to score double-digit fantasy points in this contest.
SLEEPER: Devonta Freeman at Pittsburgh Steelers
While he scored only seven fantasy points last week, Freeman led the backfield in snaps played (40) and touches (19). He also had 16 rushing attempts for the second game in a row, while Latavius Murray has 20 total touches since returning from the knee injury. Tomorrow, Freeman takes on a Steelers defense that had no answer for Mixon last week. Not only did Mixon have a season-high 165 rushing yards last week, but he also scored two touchdowns. More importantly, the Steelers have gotten destroyed by running backs over the past three weeks, giving up 159 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and 39.7 fantasy points per game during that span. While he won’t have those kinds of numbers tomorrow, Freeman will be a top-15 running back this week.
SLEEPER: Matt Breida vs New England Patriots
The Buffalo backfield is one fantasy owners would like to avoid. After starting the year as the lead back, Zack Moss was a healthy inactive last week against the New Orleans Saints. Over the past three weeks, Breida has led the backfield in fantasy points (39.2), while Devin Singletary is second with 25 fantasy points. Meanwhile, the Patriots have allowed running backs to average 118.8 rushing yards and 24.5 fantasy points per game over the past five games. More importantly, the Patriots gave up over 100 rushing yards and double-digit fantasy points to both Dontrell Hilliard and D’Onta Foreman last week. If you must start a Bills running back, make it Breida.
START: Hunter Renfrow vs Washington Football Team
Early in his career, Renfrow was only a bye week filler in PPR leagues. However, he has averaged 14 fantasy points per game, good for the WR21 this season, ahead of wide receivers like Tyler Lockett and Amari Cooper. More importantly, Renfrow has stepped up since the team released Ruggs. Over the past four games, he has averaged 7.8 targets and 16.2 fantasy points per game, finishing as the WR10 in that span. Tomorrow, he takes on a Washington defense that has gotten ripped apart by wide receivers this season. They have allowed wide receivers to average 39.4 fantasy points per game this season, fourth-most in the NFL. With the Raiders missing critical offensive weapons, expect Carr to look Renfrow’s way early and often tomorrow.
START: Brandin Cooks vs Indianapolis Colts
After an impressive start to begin the season, Cooks has become inconsistent lately. However, he has 91 targets this season, 54 more than any other player on the team. Cooks has more games this season with 11 or more targets (four) than games with under six targets (three). Tomorrow, he has a great matchup against the Colts. They have allowed wide receivers to average 36.8 fantasy points per game this season. More importantly, they have given up the most receiving touchdowns this season with 17. Over their past five games, the Colts have given up six receiving touchdowns to wide receivers. When these two teams played in Week 6, Cooks caught nine of 13 targets and scored 17.9 fantasy points. Tomorrow he should expect a similar performance.
SIT: Elijah Moore vs Philadelphia Eagles
While many will want to start Moore with Corey Davis questionable and Keelan Cole out this week, the move will come back to haunt them. After averaging 20.9 fantasy points per game with Mike White and Joe Flacco starting, Moore scored only 9.3 fantasy points last week with Zach Wilson under center. More importantly, Moore will see plenty of Darius Slay, who has allowed only 62.9 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed this season. Furthermore, the Eagles have held wide receivers to only 28 fantasy points per game this season, the third-fewest in the NFL. They have also given up only two touchdowns to wide receiver over the past five weeks. As tempting as it is to start Moore this week, he belongs on the bench.
SIT: Kendrick Bourne at Buffalo Bills
Over the past three weeks, Bourne has been the WR7, averaging 18.7 fantasy points per game. However, he has averaged only 4.7 targets per game during that span. More importantly, Bourne has been a touchdown or bust type of wide receiver this season. In the games where he scores a touchdown this season, Bourne has averaged 19.8 fantasy points per game. By comparison, he has averaged only 6.6 fantasy points per game when he fails to find the end zone. Meanwhile, the Bills have held wide receivers to only 25.6 fantasy points per game and three total touchdowns this season, both the fewest in the NFL. Even with Tre’Davious White out for the rest of the season, leave Bourne on the bench this week.
SLEEPER: Christian Kirk at Chicago Bears
Since DeAndre Hopkins suffered a hamstring injury, Kirk has stepped up for the Arizona Cardinals. Kirk has averaged 6.3 targets and 11.2 fantasy points per game during that span despite catching passes from Colt McCoy. More importantly, Kirk is the WR28 on the year, averaging 12.6 fantasy points per game, scoring 10 or more fantasy points in 63.6 percent of the games. Tomorrow he takes on a Chicago defense that has given up an average of 36.9 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. Hopkins is questionable to play tomorrow with that hamstring injury. If he is out, Kirk has top-12 upside this week. Even if Hopkins plays, Kirk remains a trustworthy low-end WR2 with upside.
SLEEPER: Rashod Bateman at Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week Bateman had a disappointing fantasy performance, scoring only 7.1 fantasy points. He also saw a season-low four targets last week. However, Bateman had three games in a row with at least six targets and 10 fantasy points before Lamar Jackson missed the Week 11 matchup with an illness, averaging 11.7 fantasy points per game in that span. Meanwhile, the Steelers have gotten killed by wide receivers lately. Without Joe Haden in the lineup the past two weeks, the Steelers have given up an average of 205 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and 40.6 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. With Haden out again tomorrow, expect Bateman and Baltimore passing attack to have big performances.
START: Pat Freiermuth vs Baltimore Ravens
On Friday, Freiermuth cleared the concussion protocol and will play tomorrow. The rookie tight end has been excellent since the Steelers lost JuJu Smith-Schuster to a season-ending shoulder injury. Over the past five games, Freiermuth has averaged 6.7 targets and 13.3 fantasy points per game. More importantly, the rookie has at least four catches and double-digit fantasy points in all of those contests with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Tomorrow, Freiermuth has a great matchup against the Ravens. Baltimore has given up 16.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, the fourth-most in the NFL. Tight ends have scored over 20 fantasy points in more games this season (four) than they have scored under 11 fantasy points (three). Given the matchup, Freiermuth has top-five upside this week.
START: Logan Thomas at Las Vegas Raiders
Despite missing six games with a hamstring injury, Thomas finished third on Washington in targets in his first game back with six. If not robbed for a touchdown at the goal line, Thomas would have scored over 13 fantasy points. Regardless, he has averaged 10 fantasy points per game this season in the contests he has finished. More importantly, Thomas has a great schedule the rest of the season, starting tomorrow. The Raiders have allowed tight ends to average 17.4 fantasy points per game this season, the second-most in the NFL. They have also given up four touchdowns to tight ends over the past four weeks, including two last week. With J.D. McKissic out tomorrow, Thomas should see an uptick in targets against a struggle Raiders defense.
BONUS START: Zach Ertz at Chicago Bears
Let’s add in an extra start at tight end this week. The last time we saw him on the field, Ertz had his best game of the season. Ertz finished with eight catches on nine targets for 88 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 28.8 fantasy points against the Seattle Seahawks, all season-highs. More importantly, he has averaged 5.8 targets and 13.5 fantasy points per game since joining the Cardinals. Tomorrow he takes on a Chicago defense that has struggled to stop tight ends recently. Over their past three games, the Bears have allowed tight ends to average 5.7 catches for 50.7 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and 16.7 fantasy points per game, giving up at least 12.5 fantasy points in every game. If Hopkins misses this game, Ertz could end up with double-digit targets and a top-five weekly finish.
SIT: Dawson Knox vs New England Patriots
Knox has been a pleasant surprise this season, averaging 12.9 fantasy points per game. While he has played well this season, Knox is a touchdown or bust tight end. When he has scored a touchdown, Knox has averaged 16.8 fantasy points per game this season. By comparison, he has averaged only 8.6 fantasy points per game when failing to find the end zone. Meanwhile, the Patriots have held tight ends to only 7.5 fantasy points per game this season, the fewest in the NFL. More importantly, the Patriots have given up only three touchdowns to tight ends this season. Unless Knox scores a touchdown, he will end the week outside the top-15 tight ends.
SIT: Gerald Everett vs San Francisco 49ers
Everett has scored 14 or more fantasy points in two of the past three games, averaging 8.5 targets per game in those contests. However, he did that against two of the worst teams covering tight ends this season, in Washington and the Green Bay Packers. More importantly, all the talk this week out of Seattle has been about getting D.K. Metcalf the ball more, which will impact Everett’s target share. Furthermore, the matchup this week is far from ideal. The 49ers have held tight ends to only 9.4 fantasy points per game this season, the seventh-fewest in the NFL. They have also given up only three touchdowns to tight ends since Week 1. While Everett has been a solid streaming option lately, this week, he will bust.
SLEEPER: Cole Kmet vs Arizona Cardinals
During the preseason, many considered Kmet a sleeper tight end. Unfortunately, the Bears failed to use him early in the season. However, Kmet has seen an uptick in value lately. Over the past six games, Kmet has averaged 6.3 targets and 9.2 fantasy points per game. More importantly, he has averaged five catches on seven targets and 10.5 fantasy points per game over the past three contests. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed tight ends to average 11.1 fantasy points per game over the past month. They have allowed tight ends to catch 17 of 24 targets for 232 receiving yards and a touchdown during that span. If Allen Robinson misses the game this week, Kmet has top-10 upside.
SLEEPER: Jack Doyle at Houston Texans
After averaging only 2.4 targets per game over the first nine games this season, Doyle has become a go-to target for Wentz. Over the past three weeks, Doyle has averaged 5.7 targets per game, seeing at least five in every contest. Last week Doyle had his best game of the season with six catches for 81 receiving yards, a touchdown, and 20.1 fantasy points against the Buccaneers. This week he faces the Texans, who have gotten destroyed by tight ends this season. They have allowed tight ends to average 15.3 fantasy points per game this season, giving up 13.5 or more fantasy points in all but three games. Fantasy owners who need a bye week filler should target Doyle off the waiver wire.
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