Exploiting the Matchups: Week 13 Start/Sit and Streamers

Exploiting the Matchups: Week 13 Start/Sit and Streamers

This article is part of our Exploiting the Matchups series.

Unless otherwise noted, references to 'fantasy points' are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start % comes from Yahoo, as of Wednesday night / Thursday morning.

Start/Upgrade 

Quarterbacks 👍

  

Trevor Lawrence (at DET) — 34% started

Start Over — Kirk Cousins (vs. NYG), Tom Brady (vs. NO), Aaron Rodgers (at CHI)

From a real-life standpoint, the Lions have played better defense since Tua Tagovailoa shred them for 382 yards and three TDs in Week 8, picking off seven passes the past four games even as opposing QBs continued the barrage of fantasy points (Aaron Rodgers - 16.6, Justin Fields - 40.4, Daniel Jones - 26.6, Josh Allen - 30.9). No team has allowed more points to QBs this year, and while Lawrence doesn't quite offer the rushing ability of Fields, Allen or even Jones, the 2021 first overall pick isn't worthless on the ground (16.3 ypg) and is currently enjoying the best stretch of his career as a passer with three straight games completing at least 72.5 percent of his throws. Lawrence is already 11th among QBs in fantasy points per game, ahead of Jones, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, among others. 

      

Other Good Matchups: Justin Herbert (at LV), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. MIA), Jared Goff (vs. JAX)

  

Running Backs 👍

   

Brian Robinson (at NYG) — 36% started

Start Over — Antonio Gibson (at NYG), Jeff Wilson (at SF)

This isn't a great

Unless otherwise noted, references to 'fantasy points' are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start % comes from Yahoo, as of Wednesday night / Thursday morning.

Start/Upgrade 

Quarterbacks 👍

  

Trevor Lawrence (at DET) — 34% started

Start Over — Kirk Cousins (vs. NYG), Tom Brady (vs. NO), Aaron Rodgers (at CHI)

From a real-life standpoint, the Lions have played better defense since Tua Tagovailoa shred them for 382 yards and three TDs in Week 8, picking off seven passes the past four games even as opposing QBs continued the barrage of fantasy points (Aaron Rodgers - 16.6, Justin Fields - 40.4, Daniel Jones - 26.6, Josh Allen - 30.9). No team has allowed more points to QBs this year, and while Lawrence doesn't quite offer the rushing ability of Fields, Allen or even Jones, the 2021 first overall pick isn't worthless on the ground (16.3 ypg) and is currently enjoying the best stretch of his career as a passer with three straight games completing at least 72.5 percent of his throws. Lawrence is already 11th among QBs in fantasy points per game, ahead of Jones, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, among others. 

      

Other Good Matchups: Justin Herbert (at LV), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. MIA), Jared Goff (vs. JAX)

  

Running Backs 👍

   

Brian Robinson (at NYG) — 36% started

Start Over — Antonio Gibson (at NYG), Jeff Wilson (at SF)

This isn't a great game for overall volume, featuring run-first offenses ranked 21st and 29th in pace, but it does look good from an efficiency standpoint for Robinson, who is coming off his best game yet (105 rushing yards and a receiving TD) last week against Atlanta. The Giants have given up 5.2 yards per carry, second worst in the league, ranking 27th in DVOA against the run and 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. There is some chance things shift back toward Antonio Gibson this Sunday with the Commanders seemingly using the "hot hand" method (which might just be recency bias) to determine who gets more work as the game progresses, but with J.D. McKissic out for the year even the lesser used of the two remaining backs has seen at least 12 touches the past four games.

Friday note: Gibson is listed as questionable with a foot injury. I think he'll play after returning to practice Friday, but it could mean more work for Robinson if his backfield partner is less than 100 percent.

        

AJ Dillon (at CHI) — 34% started

Start Over — Latavius Murray (at BAL), Kyren Williams (vs. SEA)

Dillon just had his best game since Week 1, against a solid Eagles defense no less, and now faces a Bears defense that was bad even before it lost Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. While they haven't surrendered a huge stat line to any one running back since Tony Pollard in Week 8, the Bears allowed a touchdown and/or 50-plus rushing yards to eight different RBs the past four games. 

They've given up the sixth most fantasy points to the position this year, ranking 22nd in YPC allowed (4.7) and 28th in DVOA, with lowlights including a Week 2 loss in which Aaron Jones had 170 total yards and two TDs. The Bears held Dillon to 3.4 YPC in that one, but his 18 carries were a season high. Don't be shocked if he approaches that number this weekend with Aaron Rodgers (rib/thumb) banged up and the Packers facing one of the worst teams in the league. Just note that "Quadzilla" is on the injury report this week... with a quad injury, though limited participation Wednesday suggests he should play (and Jones was also limited due to shin and glute injuries).

    

Other Good Matchups: David Montgomery (vs. GB), Kareem Hunt (at HOU), Gus Edwards (vs. DEN), Jaylen Warren (at ATL)

    

Wide Receivers 👍

   

Christian Kirk (at DET) — 70% started

Start Over — Chris Olave (at TB), Gabe Davis (at NE)

Kirk had the tough matchup among Jacksonville's receivers last week, often squaring off in the slot with Baltimore's Marlon Humphrey while Zay Jones took aim at Brandon Stephens and Marcus Peters (among others) en route to 11 catches for 145 yards. This weekend everyone has favorable matchups, especially if Lions CB Jeff Okudah (concussion) misses another game. Okudah, while not dominant, has at least been the team's top corner this year (as one might expect from a No. 3 overall pick) and almost never travels to the slot, where Kirk has taken more than two-thirds of his snaps this year. He's a strong play in DFS as part of a game stack or alone, and this is the week to start him over some other big names if he's sometimes on the bench for a stacked redraft/dynasty team.

      

Drake London (vs. PIT) — 16% started

Start Over — Michael Gallup (vs. IND), Curtis Samuel (at NYG), Isaiah McKenzie (at NE)

Atlanta's first game after the season-ending injury to Kyle Pitts (27.8 percent target share) saw Olamide Zaccheaus draw more than four targets for the first time all season, with Big Z getting eight looks while London saw only four — go figure. It was the latest in a long series of disappointments since the eight overall pick's big September, but he did run a route on 25 of 26 dropbacks and still has a sturdy 26.7 percent target share for the year. Look for London to head into his Week 14 bye on a high note, facing a Pittsburgh defense that's given up the most points and fifth most yards per target (8.8) to wide receivers. 

  

Other Good Matchups: Amon-Ra St. Brown & DJ Chark (vs. JAX), DK Metcalf (at LAR), Terry McLaurin (vs. NYG), Deebo Samuel & Brandon Aiyuk (vs. MIA), Keenan Allen & Joshua Palmer (at LV), Zay Jones & Marvin Jones (at DET),  Diontae Johnson & George Pickens (at ATL), Elijah Moore (at MIN)

  

Tight Ends 👍

   

Gerald Everett (at LV) — 47% started

Start Over — Dawson Knox (at NE), Cole Kmet (vs. GB), Foster Moreau (vs. LAC)

Everett played a few snaps less than usual and had only 18 yards in his first game back from a groin injury, but after catching the game-winning two-point conversion against Arizona he's off the injury report for Week 13 as the Chargers head to Vegas, home of arguably the worst defense in the league. The Raiders are dead last in DVOA against the pass, 30th in NY/A (7.1) and 26th in fantasy points allowed to WRs, with opposing QBs thus far picking them apart to the tune of a 19:3 TD:INT and 264.7 yards per game. This is a good matchup for Justin Herbert and all his pass catchers, with room for both Everett and Joshua Palmer to get a handful or more of looks with Mike Williams (ankle) likely out another week).

   

Other Good Matchups: Pat Freiermuth (at ATL), Foster Moreau (vs. LAC), Evan Engram (at DET)

         

Sit/Downgrade 

Quarterbacks 👎

    

Kirk Cousins (vs. NYJ) — 39% started

Start Instead — Tua Tagovailoa (at SF), Geno Smith (at LAR), Deshaun Watson (at HOU)

Cousins put up his third-best fantasy score (22.9) of the season last week against Bill Belichick, rebounding strong four days after the Cowboys held him to 2.2 points in a 40-3 loss. The Vikings won't get blown out like that this week, but we're likely looking at a mediocre stat line from Cousins against a team that's much stronger on defense than offense. While they have their issues on the other side of the ball, the Jets' defense has proven to be more than a flash in the pan, ranking third in yards per play, fourth in DVOA, fifth in NY/A and eighth in fantasy points allowed to QBs. Good health goes a long way, of course, and the Jets don't have a single defensive starter on injured reserve or even listed on the Week 13 injury report as the calendar turns to December. 

Better to start Geno Smith, who faces a Rams defense without Aaron Donald (ankle), or perhaps Tua Tagovailoa, who has been much better than Cousins this year for both his real-life team and fantasy managers. Other options superior to Cousins include Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, both of whose teams rank in the top five for implied totals this week (CLE - 27, JAX - 26.25). 

   

Other Tough Matchups: Russell Wilson (at BAL), Matt Ryan (at DAL), Andy Dalton (at TB)

       

Running Backs 👎

    

Jeff Wilson (at SF) — 55% started

Start Instead — Rachaad White (vs. NO), Cordarrelle Patterson (vs. PIT)

Wilson can still be started with reasonable confidence as an RB2 if Raheem Mostert (knee) is out, considering he took 78 percent of snaps in the first half of Sunday's win over Houston. The problem arises if Mostert returns, which coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday is what he expects to happen, as Wilson then would fall back to a projection of something like 60 percent of snaps. That's enough in most cases, but perhaps not against an elite defense ranked second in DOVA against the run and first in fantasy points allowed to RBs. If Wilson, Mostert and McDaniel are to emerge victorious from their reunion/#RevengeGame, it'll need to be on the back of Tua Tagovailoa and his all-world receivers.

   

Latavius Murray (at BAL) — 37% started

Start Instead — Isiah Pacheco (at CIN), Antonio Gibson (at NYG)

Murray's Week 12 stat line offered hope for fantasy production moving forward, as he took 13 carries for 92 yards while playing 82 percent of snaps in a 23-10 loss to Carolina. Not bad, but he runs into three problems this week, starting with the possibility the Broncos (+8.5) get their butts kicked again, which can make it hard to score fantasy points even if you're getting all the RB snaps. The other two problems are a matchup with a tough defense — Baltimore is top 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, DVOA against the run, and YPC allowed (3.9) — and the possibility Mike Boone (ankle) comes back to steal most of the passing downs after he was designated to return from injured reserve Wednesday. View Murray as a shaky RB2 if Boone is out and more of an RB3 if Boone returns.

    

Other Tough Matchups: Alvin Kamara (at TB), Devin Singletary (at NE) 

   

Wide Receivers 👎

   

Michael Pittman (at DAL) — 75% started

Start Instead — Chris Olave (at TB), Tyler Lockett (at LAR), Brandon Aiyuk (vs. MIA)

Pittman may be shadowed by CB Trevon Diggs and will have to deal with the fallout of Matt Ryan facing an elite pass rush on the road even if he isn't stuck with the Cowboys' top cornerback all day. While still a must-start in deeper leagues on account of his steady volume, Pittman should be avoided in DFS this week and perhaps benched in shallower formats. 

     

Michael Gallup (vs. IND) — 22% started

Start Instead — Zay Jones (at DET), Treylon Burks (at PHI)

Colts slot man Kenny Moore (shin) appears in danger of missing SNF, but perimeter corners Stephon Gilmore and Isaiah Rodgers — both Top 20 at the position in PFF grade — aren't on the injury report and figure to cover Gallup on most of his routes anyway. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers, and while CeeDee Lamb at least stands to benefit from the Moore injury, Gallup has taken 94 percent of his snaps outside where he'll likely see a lot of Gilmore on Sunday. The good news is that Gallup has some better matchups ahead and should only improve as he's further removed from last year's surgery, so he's worth keeping on the bench for the stretch run (consider the volume upside if Lamb, the NFC leader in target share, were to miss any time).

      

Other Tough Matchups: Michael Pittman (at DAL), Gabe Davis & Isaiah McKenzie (at NE), Chris Olave (at TB), Adam Thielen (vs. NYJ)

      

Tight Ends 👎

  

Tyler Higbee (vs. SEA) — 40% started

Start Instead — Foster Moreau (vs. LAC), Hayden Hurst (vs. KC), Gerald Everett (at LV)

Seattle has given up the second most fantasy points to tight ends, but that's mostly due to TJ Hockenson's 8-179-2 receiving line Week 4 followed by Taysom Hill's 9-112-3 rushing line Week 5. That's not to say the Seahawks are a bad matchup for tight ends; in fact, they're usually a good one under normal-ish circumstances. The Rams right now are anything but normal, set to start a backup QB again behind an injury-riddled offensive line and with their top two receivers on IR. Theoretically, it could mean a lot of short passes to RBs and TEs, but last week Higbee finished without a target while playing through a knee injury and sharing snaps with Brycen Hopkins

While he'll perhaps get more work now that he's off the injury report, Higbee is unlikely to score his first TD of the year or do much of anything beyond a 5-35-0 type line. I'm surprised so many fantasy teams are still starting him; I've been drafting/rostering him for years and gave up on his 2022 a month ago.

     

Other Tough Matchups: Greg Dulcich (at BAL), Taysom Hill (at TB)

         

Streaming Picks

For Shallow Leagues (40-66 percent rostered)

QB Daniel Jones (vs. WAS)

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. MIA)

RB Gus Edwards (vs. DEN)

RB Zonovan Knight (at MIN)

WR Treylon Burks (at PHI)

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (at HOU)

WR Zay Jones (at DET)

TE Foster Moreau (vs. LAC)

TE Evan Engram (at DET)

K Jason Myers (at LAR)

D/ST Seahawks (at LAR)

D/ST Browns (at HOU)

     

For Medium-depth Leagues (16-39 percent rostered)

QB Ryan Tannehill (at PHI)

RB Jaylen Warren (at ATL)

RB JaMycal Hasty (at DET) - if Travis Etienne (foot) is out

RB Jerick McKinnon (hamstring, at CIN)

WR Mack Hollins (vs. LAC)

WR Nico Collins (vs. CLE)

WR Julio Jones (vs. NO)

TE Tyler Conklin (at MIN)

TE Hunter Henry (vs. BUF)

K Ryan Succop (vs. NO)

D/ST Giants (vs. WAS)

   

For Deep Leagues (0-15 percent rostered)

QB Kenny Pickett (at ATL)

QB Jordan Love (at CHI) - if Aaron Rodgers (ribs/thumb) doesn't play

RB Zamir White (vs LAC) - if Josh Jacobs (calf) doesn't play

RB Dontrell Hilliard (at PHI)

RB Jordan Mason (vs. MIA) - if Christian McCaffrey (knee) doesn't play

RB Ty Johnson (at MIN)

WR DJ Chark (vs. JAX)

WR Corey Davis (at MIN)

WR Kalif Raymond (vs. JAX)

WR Quez Watkins (vs. TEN)

WR Marquise Goodwin (at LAR)

TE Austin Hooper (at PHI)

TE Jelani Woods (at DAL)

TE Noah Fant (at LAR)

K Riley Patterson (at DET)

K Cade York (at HOU)

D/ST Falcons (vs. PIT)

     

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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