December is here, and while we still have “Thanksgiving Day Football” to play technically the Fantasy Football playoffs are starting for many. Injuries are ever more dramatic, and lineup tinkering when it comes to those all-important start ’em and sit ’em fantasy football decision is becoming an art, as uncertainty swirls around more and more games heading into Week 13. But you have a secret weapon. Everyone here at PFN lives for these upcoming weeks of football and is devoted to helping you win that fantasy championship. So let’s take a look at the week ahead using our Fantasy Football Consistency Score (CS) and Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (D-PAC) to highlight the best and worst Week 13 matchups to let you know whether you should consider the likes of David Montgomery and Kyler Murray start ’em or sit ’em options.
If you would like more detailed information on how the CS and D-PAC works, please refer to the Introduction to the Fantasy Football Consistency Score, but the basic premise is, the higher the CS, the more consistent a player is scoring high-level fantasy points. In the case of D-PAC, the higher the number, the more consistently that team allows high-level fantasy points to the position.
PSA: I don’t feel the need to tell you, the savvy fantasy G.M., to start a player like Patrick Mahomes every week. I abide by the golden rule: start your studs. However, if there is glaring evidence to sit a bona fide starter, we will discuss that as needed.
Start ’em – Kirk Cousins
Over the past two weeks, Kirk Cousins has been a top-five fantasy quarterback and has an average points per game, since their bye week, of 19.58. That’s a nice 4.16 increase over his 15.42 average from before their by week. Cousins is the QB3 in Fantasy Point Differential (FPD), but only 22nd in CS with 5.83. The discrepancy is due to his being highly efficient but not leaned on to carry this team, as evidenced in the fact that he is 27th in Expected Fantasy Points (xFP).
This also demonstrates why he has been a QB2 just as often, 45% of games played, as a QB1 at this point in the season. He is the poster-child for being able to stream the position.
With a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13, Cousins is my favorite streaming matchup this week. The Jaguars have the highest D-PAC score of 11.24 while boasting the third-highest average points allowed to the quarterback position, 21.89. They are one of the most consistent teams in terms of surrendering fantasy points to quarterbacks on a week by week basis. In a game with a juicy 52 point over/under line, Cousins should have plenty of opportunities this week.
Sit ’em – Kyler Murray
There is a high likelihood I regret this, but yes, I am recommending sitting Kyler Murry in my Week 13 fantasy football start ‘em / sit ‘em column. I watched the majority of the Arizona Cardinals game against the New England Patriots this past Sunday, and Murry clearly didn’t look like himself. He was nowhere near 100% against a good defense and had his worst fantasy outing of the season, 7.9 fantasy points. Week 13 doesn’t provide any relief in the matchup department as they host the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams are 31st in average points allowed to the QB position while being 26th in D-PAC. They haven’t allowed a QB to score 20+ points for five straight games, going all the way back to Week 6. With the fifth-lowest over/under line in the Week 13 slate, the experts in the desert believe this is going to be a low scoring divisional slugfest. And with a dinged up Kyler Murray, that’s a safe bet.
Start ’em – David Montgomery
The Chicago Bears offense needs some serious help. There are a lot of directions to go in, but one clear cut need for this team is a franchise quarterback. So until the 2021 NFL Draft, David Montgomery is their best chance at putting points on the board, and he demonstrated that perfectly in Week 12 against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers.
Luckily Montgomery and the Bears host the Detroit Lions in Week 13, who have also been extra generous in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs. Their D-PAC score of 11.66 ranks ninth, while their average points allowed to the position of 33.20 is the highest among all 32 NFL teams. They’ve allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and are tied for the most rushing touchdowns at this point on the season.
While Duke Johnson didn’t do a lot of damage on the ground this past week, nine attempts for 37 yards, his receiving work still made him a top-12 option on his way to three receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown, totaling 14 points in half-point PPR scoring. David Montgomery is in line for another strong week against another weak defense.
Sit ’em – James Conner
Conner’s availability for Week 13 is uncertain after he was placed on the reserve list following a positive test during the week leading up to the Steelers’ re-arranged game against the Baltimore Ravens. Even if Conner is on the field, he will be behind an offensive line coming off just five days’ rest.
Conner has been averaging only 15 total touches per week over the past four weeks, 12.5 rush attempts per game, and only 2.5 targets per game. The Steelers have the seventh-fewest rushing attempts in the league and Conner is barely holding onto 55% of that market. Moreso, Conner hasn’t been very good with what opportunities he’s had. With a CS of 4.16, Conner is 22nd among running backs while ranking 48th in FPD (-4%).
On top of all of that, the Steelers take on the Washington Football team, who has been shutting down fantasy running backs all season. They rank 30th in both D-PAC and average points allowed to the RB position. For the entire season, they have only allowed nine rushing touchdowns.
This past week, they shut out Ezekiel Elliott and company, allowing only 60 rushing yards on 18 attempts, for a whopping 3.3 yards per carry to the entire team and a total of 7.1 PPR fantasy points to the running back group of Dallas.
Start ’em – Michael Pittman Jr.
Over the past four weeks, since he returned from injury to a starter role, Michael Pittman Jr. has averaged 6.75 targets and 62.75 yards per game while averaging 12.3 PPR points per game in fantasy. His CS for that time frame would be 2.90, or nearly a full point above his current 1.96, which is getting weighed down by his minimal usage to start the season. Now he has turned into a trusted target for Philip Rivers, leading all Indianapolis Colts receivers in targets and fantasy points over that time span.
Now the Colts visit the Houston Texans, who are seventh in D-PAC, 18.20, and 10th in average points allowed to the receiver position. This past week, they gave up double-digit PPR points to both Mohamed Sanu Sr. and Marvin Jones Jr. even though the Texans won in a lopsided blowout.
The Colts and Texans Week 13 matchup has a tantalizing 53.5 over/under line, second-highest for the week, and a mere 2.5 point spread, meaning both teams should have plenty of fantasy points to go around. It’s odd that this needs saying in a start ‘em sit ‘em column in Week 13, but go ahead and start the favorite receiver of Rivers, going against a soft secondary, in a high-scoring affair.
Sit ’em – DeAndre Hopkins
Apparently, the theme for the Week 13 start ‘em sit ‘em is to live dangerously. Or hindsight could prove that it was to “overthink things”. But if I had an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position, DeAndre Hopkins would find his way onto the fantasy bench this week.
Hopkins hasn’t been the same foolproof receiver in 2020 as we’re used to. He’s 38th in FPD, 20th in CS, and only been a top-24 fantasy receiver in 55% of games played compared to 67% last season. On top of that, his quarterback is clearly dinged up and struggling to make plays. In Week 12, Hopkins ranked 34th among receivers in fantasy points. That means three out of four weeks, since the Cardinals Week 8 bye, Hopkins has been outside the top 30 WRs in fantasy.
As stated earlier, the Cardinals welcome the Los Angels Rams to town for Week 13. Not only have the Rams defense locked down quarterbacks for fantasy, but that translates to the receiver position as well. They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest receiving yards, average the lowest yards per reception allowed, and have given up the fewest receiving touchdowns on the year. That’s given them the lowest D-PAC and average points allowed to receivers in all of fantasy as well. This week doesn’t bode well for the Cardinals.
Which tight ends should you trust or be cautious of in Week 13?
Start ’em – Jonnu Smith
The Tennessee Titans offensive engine is clearly Derrick Henry. But a big part of what that does is opening up the play-action pass attack led by Ryan Tannehill, who has been targeting Jonnu Smith with regularity as of late. Even being completely absent in the Week 12 manhandling of the Indianapolis Colts, Smith has seen 6 targets each in the two games before that. And despite ghosting fantasy rosters in Week 12, Smith is still a top-10 tight end in terms of points per game, tied for ninth-best at 10.2.
What makes Smith a nice tight end start in Week 13 is the matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have the fourth highest D-PAC score against tight ends, 5.48, and the second-highest average points allowed to the position. In Week 12, the Browns resurrected the ghost of Tyler Eifert, who caught three of four targets, including a touchdown, on his way to 10.6 fantasy points. In 2020, 10.6 is good enough for the 11th best tight end of the week. Jonnu is a much better athlete than Eifert at this point in their respective careers and has a great chance at finding the end zone this week.
Sit ’em – Dallas Goedert/Zach Ertz
The Philadelphia Eagles are a hot mess this year, and their offense has been completely inept. Is Jalen Hurts going to get more offensive packages? Will he replace Wentz? Will it matter considering how many times their quarterback gets sacked per game? So many questions are swirling around the quarterback position and the fact that they are third in the NFC East, a division where no one has more than four wins, just goes to show you how much of a mess the Eagles have been.
One thing that used to be a constant was that the tight end position for the Eagles offered good fantasy value, making whoever it was too obvious for inclusion in a start ‘em sit ‘em column. Not so much in 2020. Zach Ertz’s 1.96 CS ranks 23rd and his negative 37% FPD also ranks 23rd among tight ends. Goedert isn’t much better with a 2.11 CS, ranking 19th, and if Ertz does return off the IR, Goedert’s opportunities are going to be that much more volatile with Ertz eating into his workload.
With a Week 13 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles’ tight ends should be avoided. On the season, the Packers have the fifth-lowest D-PAC and the third lowest fantasy points allowed to the tight end position. Five out of the last seven weeks, the Packers haven’t allowed double-digit PPR points to the tight end position group of their opponents. The tight end on a bad offense of a team with no identity against a strong defense? No, thank you.
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