Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league’s settings).
As an example, Colin Kaepernick is listed below as a “start” for Week 13. And I’d feel comfortable going into Week 13 with him as my starting quarterback.
That said, he may be a sit for your team.
In other words, if you owned both Aaron Rodgers and Kaepernick, you should start Rodgers — and in turn, bench Kaepernick.
So while you won’t find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).
WEEK 13 FANTASY FOOTBALL START’EM
QB – Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at CHI)
If you need a Week 13 streamer, Kaepernick is available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues as of Saturday morning. But at this point, Kaepernick has become much more than just a weekly streamer in a favorable matchup.
Since San Francisco’s Week 8 bye, few quarterbacks have been more productive than Kaepernick. During that four-game span, Kaepernick has scored a minimum of 19.44 fantasy points every week, averaged just shy of 25 per game as he finished no worse than fantasy’s QB8 in any of those four weeks.
In a week where Drew Brees accounted for a total of five touchdowns, San Francisco’s dual-threat quarterback actually led all signal-callers in fantasy points as he just missed a 300/100 game by a mere four passing yards. Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 113 yards to score 33.14 fantasy points.
Taking over as the starter in Week 6, Kaepernick has 46 carries for 373 yards and a touchdown in six games. From his rushing stats alone, Kaepernick has averaged 7.22 fantasy points per game. Those rushing numbers both buoy his fantasy floor and maximize his fantasy ceiling.
QB – Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (at OAK)
With a minimum of five rush attempts in every game except Week 2, Taylor has averaged 7.0 carries for 44.78 yards since Week 3. In addition, he has rushed for a score in four of his past five games.
Taylor threw a season-low 18 times last week for 166 yards and a touchdown, but he still managed to score over 20 fantasy points due to his 7/38/1 rushing line. In fact, he has thrown for less than 200 yards in five of his past seven games yet he has finished outside the top-15 weekly fantasy quarterbacks only once during that span.
While Sammy Watkins is supposedly still dealing with a broken bone in his foot, he is expected to play on Sunday and he had three catches for 80 yards in his return last week. Because of the concerns about his foot, I wouldn’t start Watkins at wide receiver this week, but his presence gives Taylor a boost. In addition, the Raiders have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
RB – Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (vs. SF)
With the exception of Week 7 against the Packers, Howard has a minimum of 15 carries in his other seven games since Week 4. During that span, he has four 100-yard rushing games and the odds of him rushing for 100-plus yards this week is high.
Not only have the 49ers allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but no team has allowed more yards per carry to opposing running backs than the 49ers (5.18). The Raiders are a distant second at 4.61 YPC to RBs. In addition, the 49ers have allowed RBs a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns and a total of 17 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the 49ers have allowed eight 100-yard rushers this season.
Given the teams injuries and/or suspensions on offense, we should see Howard get north of 20 carries and possibly 25 touches in this game provided it remains close.
RB – Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (at ATL)
Ware hasn’t been great recently with 60-70 rushing yards and no touchdowns in his three games since returning from a concussion. That said, Ware has 16, 19 and 19 touches, respectively, and I would expect Kansas City to try to control the clock as much as possible against the high-powered Falcons offense on the road. Regardless of whether Jeremy Maclin suits up or not, the Chiefs aren’t built to win shootouts.
As far as the matchup goes, it’s favorable for Ware. Only the 49ers (see above) and the Browns (on bye) have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season. No team has allowed more receptions to opposing running backs than the Falcons and Ware has multiple receptions in six consecutive games and even had a 7/129 receiving line in Week 1.
RB – Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at CHI)
In many weeks, Hyde is a mid- or back-end RB2 in my rankings, but he’s solidly inside the top-10 this week. It’s not often that the 49ers are favorites and even though they are on the road this weekend, San Francisco is currently a two-point favorite against the Bears.
Even in losses, Chip Kelly has shown his commitment to the running game. Provided this game stays close or that 49ers play with a lead, Hyde could see 25-plus touches.
And while the matchup may not look great on paper as Chicago has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, the team has been decimated by injuries and/or suspensions. I currently have Hyde projected for 21 touches, 91 yards and a touchdown.
WR – Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (at ARI)
What a season it has been for Crowder! Crowder has finished as a top-33 fantasy wide receiver in seven consecutive games and in nine of his past 10. On the year, Crowder has actually been better in standard-scoring formats (11th-most fantasy points) than he has in PPR formats (14th-most).
Either way, he has vastly exceeded expectations.
During that 10-game span since Week 2, he has scored less than 8.8 fantasy points only once (Week 4) and he has averaged 10.85 per game over that stretch. And he’s been even better over his past five games with three 100-yard outings with a total of 31 catches for 442 yards and three touchdowns on 41 targets.
With Jordan Reed out and Tyrann Mathieu doubtful, it helps Crowder for different reasons. Reed’s absence could/should lead to more targets and Mathieu’s absence improves an otherwise difficult matchup.
WR – Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. DET)
Thomas is coming off a 9/108/2 game, but he has been consistent despite being a rookie playing in a spread-it-around type of offense. Thomas has a minimum of four catches and 40 yards in every game this season. There are only three players that have 11 games of 4/40 this season: Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald and Thomas.
Since Week 3, Thomas has an average of 6.1/75.0 on 8.1 targets per game with seven TDs in nine games so there is plenty of upside in addition to his established floor. With no team is projected to score more points this week and given how well Drew Brees and the Saints offense play at home, all of the Saints should be popular plays in daily fantasy this week.
WR – Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (vs. LA)
With Rob Gronkowski (back surgery) out for two months, Edelman should be peppered with targets by Tom Brady all game long. That’s what happened with Gronk sidelined two weeks ago when Edelman had a season-high 17 targets (44.74% target share).
In fact, Edelman now has double-digit targets in back-to-back games. Not only does Edelman have seven-plus catches in three consecutive games, but each of his three highest weekly yardage totals this season have come in those three games.
Expecting him to get double-digit targets (12 or so) in a plus matchup (vs. LA, 8th-most FPA to WRs) for a team with the second-highest implied total from Vegas odds, Edelman could finish as a top-10 receiver this week.
TE – C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (at GB)
As much as the Texans offense, particularly the pass offense, has struggled this season, Fiedorowicz has emerged as a steady and consistent option. The third-year tight end now has a streak of eight games with at least five targets and he’s averaged 6.88 per game over that stretch with a line of 4.63/52.75/0.38 and 7.53 fantasy points per game.
The matchup this week is favorable as the Packers have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points this season. On the year, only the Bills and Buccaneers have allowed more Y/R to opposing tight ends than the Packers (13.2 Y/R). Over their past four games, they have allowed four tight ends to exceed six fantasy points.
TE – Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers (at CHI)
With the exception of his first start, Colin Kaepernick has consistently targeted McDonald, who has six-plus targets in five consecutive games. In his past four games, McDonald has finished as a top-four weekly tight end twice. In his past four games, he has a minimum of 46 yards each week and a total of 240 yards and two touchdowns.
There are a number of top tight ends out this week. Not only will Rob Gronkowski miss the next two months following back surgery, but Jordan Reed has been ruled out as well and Delanie Walker is on bye. While it’s hard to trust any of San Francisco’s wide receivers on a weekly basis, McDonald is certainly a viable streamer this week and he’s owned in only 19 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of Saturday morning.
WEEK 13 FANTASY FOOTBALL SIT’EM
QB – Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. WAS)
Palmer has thrown for 300-plus yards and/or multiple scores in five consecutive games. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he has just one top-12 performance since Week 3 to show for it.
Not only does Palmer have six interceptions in his past four games combined, but the Cardinals offensive line has struggled to protect him. Only the Browns (104) and Colts (90) have allowed more QB hits than the Cardinals (88) this season. Until further notice, Palmer more of a QB2 than a QB1.
QB – Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. DEN)
The Jags have numerous injuries on offense with Chris Ivory and Allen Hurns already ruled out and Julius Thomas doubtful (likely out). Over their past five games, Bortles has thrown multiple touchdowns every week although much of his production continues to come in garbage time to salvage an otherwise poor performance.
One way that I could see Bortles having a productive day is on the ground like last week when he ran eight times for 81 yards, but no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Broncos.
RB – Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (vs. MIA)
The matchup against the Dolphins isn’t great, as they have limited opposing running backs to the 13th-fewest fantasy points this season. More concerning for West’s outlook, however, is the role (or specifically the rise of it) for Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens have said they would get their fourth-round rookie more involved — and they have.
Not only did Dixon have one more touch than West last week, but he played more snaps (31 to 23) than West as well. In addition, the Ravens have the fourth-lowest run-to-pass play percentage in the NFL this year. With the trend not favorable for West, it’s hard to trust him as anything more than a flex option at this point.
RB – James White, New England Patriots (vs. LA)
If I were to start a Patriots running back, it would be LeGarrette Blount. In fact, the Blount is flirting with RB1 territory in a game where the Patriots are expected to blow out the Rams. If I were to start two Patriots running backs, it would be Blount and Dion Lewis. Since returning to action, Lewis has had five and six carries in addition to roughly 14 percent of the team’s target share. On the other hand, White has maintained a role as a receiver (10/85/1 on 15 targets), but he has zero carries in his past two games.
RB – T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. DEN)
Even with Chris Ivory ruled out this week and Yeldon active last week, it’s unlikely that he sees a large enough workload to warrant RB2 consideration. With Ivory leaving early last week, Yeldon had just six carries for 17 yards and one three-yard reception on two targets. Meanwhile, Denard Robinson had 13 carries for 39 yards and he’s expected to get a sizable workload this week.
WR – Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)
Benjamin began the season with a bang — 13/199/3 in his first two games. Since then, his best weekly finish has been the WR23 (last week). During that nine-game span, Benjamin has averaged 3.89 catches and 59.67 yards per game and has scored just two touchdowns. Even though he doesn’t always shadow, I’d expect Richard Sherman to shadow Benjamin as he’s the team’s clear-cut WR1, which makes Benjamin more of a fantasy WR3 this week than a must-start.
WR – Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. HOU)
Over his past four games, Cobb has finished as fantasy’s WR34, WR59, WR28 and WR68, respectively. With the running back on the roster getting healthier, the Packers were more run-pass balanced last week than they have been in a long time. Against the low-powered Texans offense, Aaron Rodgers may not need to sling it all over Lambeau Field either.
When he has recently, however, Cobb has not been as big of a factor in the passing game as he was earlier in the season. In the first six games of the season, Cobb had 20-percent target share five times. Since then, however, he’s been at 4.76, 14.55, 11.63 and 18.42 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Texans have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.
WR – Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (at BAL)
It seems as though DeVante Parker (listed as “questionable”) will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens. “Right now, this moment, we got to make sure we have a plan in place if he doesn’t make it,” [OC Clyde] Christensen said (via ESPN’s James Walker).
Parker’s absence would give Landry a boost, but the previously target-dominant Landry has gone from double-digit targets in each of his first four games to an average of 6.29/G since then. Part of Landry’s diminished role in the passing game has been due to Parker’s increased role, but the team has transformed themselves into a run-first team lead by Jay Ajayi.
Right now, Landry is ranked in the 35-40 range of my wide receiver rankings. Assuming Parker sits, he’d get bumped up to the 25-30 range, but he’d still be outside of my top-24 wideouts for Week 13, making him a WR3.
TE – Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens (vs. MIA)
Even though Pitta ranks fifth among tight ends in targets (74) this season, he has finished as fantasy’s weekly TE14 (or worse) in nine consecutive games. During that span, he has scored an average of 3.31 fantasy points per game in standard-scoring formats.
In addition, Pitta’s volume of targets has decreased recently with just 19 (4.75/G) over his past four games compared to 8.14/G in the first seven games of the year. Pitta gets a favorable matchup as the Dolphins allow the 11th-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, but the likelihood that Pitta is able to exploit it is fairly low.
TE – Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers (vs. HOU)
In typical Cook fashion, he went from being fantasy’s top-scoring tight end one week to the TE50 the next. In Week 11 against the Redskins, Cook had six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. In Week 12, he had one catch for seven yards on two targets. With a matchup against the Texans, typically stingy against opposing tight ends, Cook is merely a roll of the dice in DFS tournaments than anything more than that.
Good luck in your Week 13 matchups!