Welcome to Week 13’s start/sit column. Each week throughout the regular season, I will go over a few players at each major position and tell you whether you should make room in your lineup for them or pull them out of a starting spot. Players labeled “starts” are non-obvious options that either have a good matchup or are trending in the right direction, ranking higher for me than consensus this week. Players labeled “sits” are ones I have concerns about leading into the week but are in a significant amount starting lineups. This article is most helpful for those in full- or half-point PPR leagues.
As always, you should make the final call on all of your lineup decisions. This column is intended to be a piece of your research puzzle and/or a resource to highlight some specific names that may have been overlooked in my weekly rankings. Remember, the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a bye this week.
Without further ado, here is Start/Sit for Week 13:
START: Ryan Tannehill (QB - TEN)
Tannehill isn’t putting up the same numbers he did last season, but he still ranks as the QB11 in average points per game this season. Things have been a little rough since the Pittsburgh game in Week 7—he ranks as the QB17 (minimum three games played) since then—but has back-to-back solid performances against two great defenses over the last two weeks. This week he matches up against Cleveland, a team allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season that will likely be without their top corner, Denzel Ward. Even with Myles Garrett back and putting pressure on Tannehill, I expect A.J. Brown and Corey Davis to feast on this suspect secondary. That makes Tannehill a must-start as a top-six quarterback.
START: Kirk Cousins (QB - MIN)
Cousins is always a sneaky fantasy play. His real-life issues beating winning teams and the occasional blowup disaster (see: Week 2) always suppresses his fantasy value. But when you’re in a pinch or when he has the right matchup, there’s plenty of points to be had. Over his last four weeks, Cousins ranks as the QB8 in average fantasy points per game (22.13) and now faces a Jaguars defense allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season (22.7). Even without Adam Thielen, Cousins had no issues taking care of business en route to a 26.18-point performance against Carolina. The only concern is that Dalvin Cook takes over and the Vikings aren’t asked to throw much, but even with that risk I still believe Cousins is a top-10 quarterback this week—and he might even have Thielen back.
SIT: Matthew Stafford (QB - DET)
Sure, another divisional rival just carved them up, but despite a 25.64-point day to Aaron Rodgers, the Bears are still a brutal matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. Their 17.0 fantasy points allowed per game to the position ranks in the top five for stoutness and Stafford had just 16.18 fantasy points against them, at home, back in Week 1. Stafford hasn’t thrown for 300 yards against the Bears since 2015 and is averaging 254.1 passing yards and 1.1 passing touchdowns per game in his last seven starts against Chicago. Stafford is somehow rostered in the majority of fantasy leagues, but he’s maybe the 20th-best quarterback this week. Even if Kenny Golladay returns for this game, Stafford shouldn’t be starting in single-QB leagues with 14 or fewer teams.
START: Nyheim Hines (RB - IND)
There are three defenses in the NFL allowing more than 30 fantasy points per game to the running back position: Detroit (33.0), Green Bay (30.6), and Houston (30.1). Side note: the Vikings also rank in the bottom half of the league at defending running backs—way to go, NFC North. Anyway… Hines’ name will be a popular one in start/sit questions throughout the week, so I wanted to weigh in here. Jonathan Taylor has been activated off the COVID-19 list and has some value this week, but Hines is still the Colts back that I want. Aside from a two-week stretch in Week 8-9, Jordan Wilkins isn’t much of a thing. No team in the NFL has allowed more rushing yards than the Texans (by 159 yards!) and they’re also allowing roughly five catches and 45 receiving yards per game to running backs. Hines should feast on his 15-20 touches.
START: David Montgomery (RB - CHI)
This is one of the few times each season (I guess it’s only been two seasons, but you know what I mean) where Montgomery spikes into RB2 territory. Remember the list of teams above that were utterly inept at containing fantasy running backs? Well, Detroit was at the top and will face Montgomery coming off of his best game of the season. While his workload is always going to be a mystery with Matt Nagy at the helm, I expect (hope for?) a heavy dosage of Mongtomery in both the ground and receiving game this week. I don’t expect the Bears to match the 33 fantasy points per game average that the Lions are giving up, but even if Montgomery gets two-thirds of that total, you’ll be thrilled. I mean, who else in the backfield is going to get the ball?
SIT: Todd Gurley/Ito Smith/Brian Hill (RBs - ATL)
You don’t run on the Saints. Period. At an average of 76.6 yards allowed, the Saints have the second-best rush defense in the NFL. They’re allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs this season (15.4), a full two points less than the second-best team and four points less than the third-best team in the NFL per game. Gurley didn’t even get you four fantasy points when these teams met two weeks ago and, if he plays, won’t be 100% here. Even if he’s ruled out, I want no part of either replacement option (Smith/Hill). Tether most Falcons to your bench this week.
START: DeVante Parker (WR - MIA)
The re-insertion of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback breathed new life into Parker’s fantasy value. Sure, the receiver did catch a touchdown from Tua Tagovailoa prior to the rookie quarterback’s benching in Week 11, but in Tagovailoa’s first three starts, Parker averaged just 8.27 fantasy points per game—that’s down from the 13.9 fantasy points per game he was averaging with Fitzpatrick as the starter in Weeks 1-6 and 12. The Bengals, Miami’s opponent at home this week, are a bottom-half team in the NFL when it comes to defending fantasy wide receivers. All of the above led me to ranking Parker as a solid WR2 this week. However, do keep an eye on Tagovailoa's status, as Parker is more of a WR3 if the rookie starts this game.
START: Corey Davis (WR - TEN)
Davis has been a top-30 fantasy wide receiver this season on a points per game basis and gets a glorious matchup against the Browns secondary this week without its best player. Just like with quarterbacks, as referenced in the Tannehill section above, Cleveland is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Brown ranks as a top-10 play this week, but Davis will be a very solid top-25 option as well. He’s not as explosive as Brown, but he is averaging 6.4 targets per game this season. The Browns are allowing 1.77 fantasy points per target this season with Ward, which works out to about 11.4 fantasy points over Davis’ normal workload. I expect Davis to surpass that projection this week.
SIT: Darius Slayton (WR - NYG)
Slayton is normally too boom-or-bust for my taste anyway, but I don’t want anything to do with him if Colt McCoy is the starting quarterback. Slayton caught zero passes on his two targets last week and only has 10 combined targets over his last three games. I just don’t see the upside here, despite him being a fantasy and draft community favorite. He’s ranked outside of my top 50 wide receivers this week.
START: Dallas Goedert (TE - PHI)
A potential Zach Ertz return could complicate things, but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen from Goedert since his return. In two games back he’s averaging eight targets, 19.6 fantasy points, and one touchdown per game. He seems to be the only player in the Philadelphia offense that isn’t struggling. Plus, while the Packers’ overall numbers against tight ends look stout (ranking as the seventh-best defense against fantasy tight ends), they haven’t played many top options. When they have, players like T.J. Hockenson, Hayden Hurst, and Rob Gronkowski have all had success. Everything is a mess in Philadelphia right now, but Goedert has been a bright spot and should continue his success in Week 13. He's Philadelphia's TE1, while Ertz is playing second fiddle as a fringe TE1 in fantasy right now.
SIT: Tyler Higbee (TE - LAR)
The days of facing the Cardinals defense and getting 15-20 points from your fantasy tight end are long gone. Believe it or not, Arizona ranks as the sixth-best defense in the NFL against fantasy tight ends this season, allowing a shade over 10 points per game to the position. Couple that with the face that Higbee just isn’t a huge part of the passing offense right now—two targets last week and averaging just 3.7 per game for the season—and there’s no reason to play him this week. In fact, he should be dropped. It’s odd to see him rostered in nearly half of fantasy leagues right now.