Start Making Your Start/Sit Decisions With These Fantasy Rankings & Tiers

Start Making Your Start/Sit Decisions With These Fantasy Rankings & Tiers article feature image
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Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Davante Adams

Fantasy football playoffs are almost here.

To help you start strategizing for Week 13 start/sit decisions, I’ve outlined the early version of my fantasy football rankings into tiers so you can better visualize the drop-off in expected production at each position.

As always, there will be a ton of volatility in how I adjust my rankings up until kickoff, so be sure to check my updated rankings before making final decisions. I’ll also publish an updated version of these tiers before Sunday’s kickoff, but for now, let’s dive into the initial version of my Week 13 tiers!

Fantasy Rankings & Tiers

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QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DEF

Quarterback Tiers

Tier 1

Patrick Mahomes (vs. DEN)

Before the season started, I said Mahomes had “record-breaking” upside in 2020. Well, he’s played the past four games at that level, averaging 399.5 passing yards over that span.

It’s a shame that the Chiefs opted for a run-heavy approach from Weeks 1-6 because it looks like he’ll fall just short of Peyton Manning’s single-season record of 5,477 passing yards. My simulations estimate that Mahomes’ chances of clearing that number is only about 2%.

Tier 2

Russell Wilson (vs. NYG)

After letting Russ Cook in Weeks 1-9, it appears that the Seahawks are backing off a bit. They ranked ninth in pass rate over the first nine weeks but are now 18th over the past three games. He’s still an elite QB1, but doesn’t have the ceiling to be in the same tier as Mahomes right now.

Tier 3

Kyler Murray (vs. LAR)
Deshaun Watson (vs. IND)
Josh Allen (@ SF)
Aaron Rodgers (vs. PHI)

Murray’s shoulder injury is likely to blame for his poor two-game stretch. We should lower our expectations, but his rushing ability alone makes him a must-start.

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Tier 4

Justin Herbert (vs. NE)
Lamar Jackson (vs. DAL)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. CLE)
Taysom Hill (@ ATL)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. CIN)

Herbert had a down week, finishing as the QB14. However, it was encouraging to see Austin Ekeler return with an 11-catch game. His presence will only elevate Herbert’s floor/ceiling.

Tier 5

Ben Roethlisberger (vs. WAS)
Kirk Cousins (vs. JAX)
Cam Newton (@ LAC)
Derek Carr (@ NYJ)
Jared Goff (@ ARI)
Mitch Trubisky (vs. DET)
Philip Rivers (@ HOU)
Matt Ryan (vs. NO)

Cousins is a tricky sit/start decision — he’ll be getting Adam Thielen back in what is an excellent matchup against the Jaguars. However, the Vikings could lean on Dalvin Cook and the run game if they jump out to an early lead. He’s a high floor, low ceiling option.

Trubisky is my top streaming play this week (if Nick Foles remains out). Trubisky should get the start either way, but it makes me less worried about an in-game benching when Foles is inactive. Trubisky should be able to put up QB1/2 numbers against a Lions team that just fired its head coach.

Tier 6

Baker Mayfield (@ TEN)
Matthew Stafford (@ CHI)

Stafford is a “sit” this week, but he could be a potential streaming option for fantasy playoffs. Interim head coach Darrell Bevell has hinted at the Lions running a more up-tempo offense. A faster pace and the potential of a Kenny Golladay return in Week 14 will be a significant boost to Stafford’s projections.

Tier 7

Andy Dalton (@ BAL)
Mike Glennon (@ MIN)
Sam Darnold (vs. LV)
Carson Wentz (@ GB)
Nick Mullens (vs. BUF)

Wentz is at serious risk of an in-game benching for Jalen Hurts. It makes Wentz’s floor dangerously low and makes it difficult to trust him in 2QB formats — it’s not a bad idea to stash Hurts in deeper/2QB leagues. His rushing ability will give him QB1 upside if the Eagles decide to name Hurts the every-down QB at any point down the stretch.

Tier 8

Drew Lock (@ KC)
Colt McCoy (@ SEA)

Tier 9

Alex Smith (@ PIT)
Brandon Allen (@ MIA)

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Running Back Tiers

Tier 1

Dalvin Cook (vs. JAX)

Tier 2

Derrick Henry (vs. CLE)
James Robinson (@ MIN)

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Brett Carlsen/Getty Images. Pictured: Derrick Henry

Tier 3

Austin Ekeler (vs. NE)
Aaron Jones (vs. PHI)
Nick Chubb (@ TEN)

Ekeler caught 11 passes for 85 yards in his return. He also chipped in 14 carries for 44 yards and should be considered a top-five option the rest of the way in any PPR format.

Tier 4

Ezekiel Elliott (@ BAL)
Alvin Kamara (@ ATL)
David Montgomery (vs. DET)
Josh Jacobs (@ NYJ)
Chris Carson (vs. NYG)

Kamara’s now has one catch for -2 yards in Taysom Hill’s two starts — his value has taken a massive hit with Hill under center, and we should treat Kamara as an RB1/2 until Drew Brees can return.

Montgomery is a solid RB1 against the Lions — the Bears are 3-point favorites (find real-time odds here), which should set him up for 15-20 carries. He ran a route on 74% of dropbacks in Week 12, and we could expect 3-4 receptions per game if he were to get that level of usage going forward.

Tier 5

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (vs. DEN)
Antonio Gibson (@ PIT)
D’Andre Swift (@ CHI)
Miles Sanders (@ GB)
Kenyan Drake (vs. LAR)

Gibson has been a league-winning running back in his rookie season. He now has eight touchdowns over the past five games, but more importantly, he ran a route on 61% of dropbacks last week — his season-high. Gibson seems to have passed up J.D. McKissic (32% rate) as the team’s primary pass-catching back. This is a massive development, considering how often Alex Smith targets his RBs.

We should lower our expectations for Gibson in a tough matchup against the Steelers this week, but he could be a top-five RB play for the fantasy playoffs.

Tier 6

Duke Johnson Jr. (vs. IND)
Frank Gore (vs. LV)
Jonathan Taylor (@ HOU)
Wayne Gallman (@ SEA)
Nyheim Hines (@ HOU)
Myles Gaskin (vs. CIN)
Kareem Hunt (@ TEN)
Raheem Mostert (vs. BUF)
Giovani Bernard (@ MIA)
Melvin Gordon (@ KC)
Benny Snell (vs. WAS)
Damien Harris (@ LAC)
J.K. Dobbins (vs. DAL)

Taylor should return for this mouth-watering matchup against the Texans. However, it appears that Jacoby Brissett has become the Colts’ primary goal-line back. It lowers Taylor’s and Nyheim Hines’ projected touchdowns in my model, which limits their upside.

It’s unclear if Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed will return to action this week. Gaskin has RB2 potential, but let’s wait for the final injury report before making any start/sit decisions. As always, check my Updated Tiers on Saturday once we have a clearer picture.

Tier 7

Todd Gurley (vs. NO)
Latavius Murray (@ ATL)
James White (@ LAC)
Zack Moss (@ SF)

White posted the RB15 score in Week 12, but his two rushing touchdowns mostly fueled his fantasy production. He managed only one catch for -1 yard, which should give us some pause before starting him again this week. White’s routes run per dropback remained at 33% despite Rex Burkhead being out of the lineup.

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Billie Weiss/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Newton, James White

Tier 8

Devin Singletary (@ SF)
Devontae Booker (@ NYJ)
Chase Edmonds (vs. LAR)
Jamaal Williams (vs. PHI)
Cam Akers (@ ARI)
J.D. McKissic (@ PIT)
Darrell Henderson (@ ARI)

Akers looks like the best RB on the Rams right now. However, it’s difficult to project how Sean McVay will handle RB snaps any given week. Keep Akers stashed on your bench as he will become a slam-dunk RB2 option if either Henderson or Malcolm Brown were ever to miss time.

Tier 9

Le’Veon Bell (vs. DEN)
DeAndre Washington (vs. CIN)
Carlos Hyde (vs. NYG)
Anthony McFarland Jr. (vs. WAS)
Matt Breida (vs. CIN)
Tony Pollard (@ BAL)
Malcolm Brown (@ ARI)
Brian Hill (vs. NO)
Joshua Kelley (vs. NE)
Adrian Peterson (@ CHI)

Tier 10

Jeffery Wilson (vs. BUF)
Gus Edwards (vs. DAL)
Alexander Mattison (vs. JAX)
Mark Ingram (vs. DAL)
Jerick McKinnon (vs. BUF)

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Wide Receiver Tiers

Tier 1

Tyreek Hill (vs. DEN)
Davante Adams (vs. PHI)

Tier 2

D.K. Metcalf (vs. NYG)
Stefon Diggs (@ SF)
Keenan Allen (vs. NE)

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Keenan Allen

Tier 3

Tyler Lockett (vs. NYG)
Allen Robinson (vs. DET)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. LAR)
Robert Woods (@ ARI)
A.J. Brown (vs. CLE)
Adam Thielen (vs. JAX)
Brandin Cooks (vs. IND)
Justin Jefferson (vs. JAX)
Terry McLaurin (@ PIT)
Calvin Ridley (vs. NO)
Diontae Johnson (vs. WAS)

Woods is sizzling right now and has seen 25 targets over the past two games. He torched the Cardinals for 13/172/0 and 7/67/1 lines last season and should be considered a low-end WR1 this week.

Tier 4

Cooper Kupp (@ ARI)
DeVante Parker (vs. CIN)
Chase Claypool (vs. WAS)
Michael Thomas (@ ATL)

Parker gets a massive boost whenever Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center. I’m projecting Tua Tagovailoa to sit out due to his thumb injury. However, if he’s able to suit up for Week 13, you’ll likely see Parker’s rank drop to Tier 5 in Saturday’s Updated Tiers.

Tier 5

Jarvis Landry (@ TEN)
Juju Smith-Schuster (vs. WAS)
Julio Jones (vs. NO)
Amari Cooper (@ BAL)
Marvin Jones (@ CHI)
CeeDee Lamb (@ BAL)
Deebo Samuel (vs. BUF)

Jones is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and remains a game-time decision for Week 13. Consider this rank more as a placeholder, and if he’s active, I will likely move him up into Tier 3.

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Scott Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Julio Jones

Tier 6

Sterling Shepard (@ SEA)
Corey Davis (vs. CLE)
Cole Beasley (@ SF)
Breshad Perriman (vs. LV)
Michael Pittman Jr. (@ HOU)
Denzel Mims (vs. LV)
Brandon Aiyuk (vs. BUF)
Tyler Boyd (@ MIA)
D.J. Chark (@ MIN)
Jakobi Meyers (@ LAC)

Mims is turning into an every-week WR3/4 option. He’s seen eight targets in three straight games and has posted 60 or more yards in each contest. Mims has a lowered ceiling as long as both Jamison Crowder and Perriman are healthy. However, if either were to miss time, Mims has the potential to become a WR2/3 value.

Tier 7

Christian Kirk (vs. LAR) (-)
Jamison Crowder (vs. LV) (-)
Nelson Agholor (@ NYJ)
Tee Higgins (@ MIA)
Josh Reynolds (@ ARI)
Jerry Jeudy (@ KC)
Mike Williams (vs. NE) (+)
Darius Slayton (@ SEA)
Marquise Brown (vs. DAL) (+)
Jalen Reagor (@ GB) (+)
Sammy Watkins (vs. DEN)
Allen Lazard (vs. PHI)
Travis Fulgham (@ GB)
Michael Gallup (@ BAL) (+)
Gabriel Davis (@ SF)
T.Y. Hilton (@ HOU)
Damiere Byrd (@ LAC)
Tim Patrick (@ KC)
K.J. Hamler (@ KC) (+)
Darnell Mooney (vs. DET)

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Darnell Mooney

Tier 8

Keke Coutee (vs. IND) (-)
Hunter Renfrow (@ NYJ) (-)
Keelan Cole (@ MIN)
Henry Ruggs (@ NYJ) (+)
Dez Bryant (vs. DAL)
Mecole Hardman (vs. DEN) (+)
Anthony Miller (vs. DET)
Russell Gage (vs. NO) (-)
Laviska Shenault (@ MIN)
Andy Isabella (vs. LAR) (+)
Rashard Higgins (@ TEN)
David Moore (vs. NYG)
Chris Conley (@ MIN)

(+) high ceiling
(-) high floor

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Tight End Tiers

Tier 1

Travis Kelce (vs. DEN)

Tier 2

Darren Waller (@ NYJ)

Tier 3

T.J. Hockenson (@ CHI)
Hunter Henry (vs. NE)
Hayden Hurst (vs. NO)

Hurst put up a deceiving 4/48/0 line in Week 12. His production came entirely in the first half but wasn’t needed in the second half as the Falcons blew out the Raiders 43-6. Still, he remains a top-five tight end.

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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Hooper

Tier 4

Robert Tonyan Jr. (vs. PHI)
Eric Ebron (vs. WAS)
Noah Fant (@ KC)
Evan Engram (@ SEA)
Mike Gesicki (vs. CIN)
Dallas Goedert (@ GB)

Goedert continues to post elite TE1 production with Zach Ertz out of the lineup. There’s a chance that Ertz will be able to return this week, but I wouldn’t let that scare you away from Goedert — he’s still a solid TE1 play until further notice.

Tier 5

Jonnu Smith (vs. CLE)
Dalton Schultz (@ BAL)
Austin Hooper (@ TEN)
Jordan Reed (vs. BUF)
Jimmy Graham (vs. DET)
Jordan Akins (vs. IND)
Kyle Rudolph (vs. JAX)
Trey Burton (@ HOU)
Logan Thomas (@ PIT)

Akins failed to catch both targets in the end zone on Thanksgiving. He was inches away from a 2/35/2 stat line but instead ended with 0/0/0. Deshaun Watson apologized to Akins in the post-game interview, saying Watson should have made better throws and that he will make it up to Akins this week. If you take Watson at his word, Akins makes a “what the heck” streaming option.

Tier 6

Gerald Everett (@ ARI)
Zach Ertz (@ GB)
Tyler Higbee (@ ARI)
Tyler Eifert (@ MIN)
Jacob Hollister (vs. NYG)
Anthony Firkser (vs. CLE)
Mo Alie-Cox (@ HOU)
Jared Cook (@ ATL)
Darren Fells (vs. IND)
Irv Smith Jr. (vs. JAX)

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Kicker Tiers

Tier 1

Harrison Butker (vs. DEN)

Tier 2

Rodrigo Blankenship (@ HOU)
Justin Tucker (vs. DAL)
Daniel Carlson (@ NYJ)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs. CLE)
Jason Sanders (vs. CIN)
Dan Bailey (vs. JAX)

fantasy-kicker-rankings-playoff-divisional-round-2020
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Tucker

Tier 3

Jason Myers (vs. NYG)
Wil Lutz (@ ATL)
Mason Crosby (vs. PHI)
Chris Boswell (vs. WAS)
Matt Gay (@ ARI)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (vs. IND)
Nick Folk (@ LAC)
Tyler Bass (@ SF)
Younghoe Koo (vs. NO)
Michael Badgley (vs. NE)

Tier 4

Cody Parkey (@ TEN)
Cairo Santos (vs. DET)
Zane Gonzalez (vs. LAR)
Robbie Gould (vs. BUF)
Matt Prater (@ CHI)
Aldrick Rosas (@ MIN)
Greg Zuerlein (@ BAL)
Sergio Castillo (vs. LV)
Graham Gano (@ SEA)
Brandon McManus (@ KC)

Tier 5

Randy Bullock (@ MIA)
Dustin Hopkins (@ PIT)
Jake Elliott (@ GB)

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Defense Tiers

Tier 1

Miami Dolphins (vs. CIN)
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. WAS)
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. DEN)
Green Bay Packers (vs. PHI)

Tier 2

Seattle Seahawks (vs. NYG)
Baltimore Ravens (vs. DAL)
Las Vegas Raiders (@ NYJ)
New Orleans Saints (@ ATL)
Chicago Bears (vs. DET)
Minnesota Vikings (vs. JAX)
Buffalo Bills (@ SF)

week 2-fantasy-defense-rankings
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Tre’Davious White celebrating

Tier 3

Los Angeles Rams (@ ARI)
Indianapolis Colts (@ HOU)
New England Patriots (@ LAC)
Detroit Lions (@ CHI)
Los Angeles Chargers (vs. NE)
San Francisco 49ers (vs. BUF)
Arizona Cardinals (vs. LAR)

Tier 4

Cincinnati Bengals (@ MIA)
Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)
Houston Texans (vs. IND)
Washington Football Team (@ PIT)
Tennessee Titans (vs. CLE)
New York Giants (@ SEA)
Dallas Cowboys (@ BAL)
Philadelphia Eagles (@ GB)
New York Jets (vs. LV)

Tier 5

Cleveland Browns (@ TEN)
Jacksonville Jaguars (@ MIN)
Denver Broncos (@ KC)

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