Fantasy Start/Sit Week 13: Start Start Tua Tagovailoa & Kirk Cousins, Sit Taylor Heinicke & Latavius Murray

Fantasy Start/Sit Week 13: Start Start Tua Tagovailoa & Kirk Cousins, Sit Taylor Heinicke & Latavius Murray article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and WFT QB Taylor Heinicke (left to right)

Setting your fantasy football lineups each week can be hard, especially with four teams on bye.

Amid the chaos of the holiday season, make sure to swap out any Panthers, Browns, Packers or Titans players, replace players such as Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Alvin Kamara (knee), and monitor the statuses of questionable players such as Jalen Hurts (ankle), Kyler Murray (ankle), DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), Darren Waller (knee) and D’Andre Swift (shoulder).

Below are some players at each position you should start for Week 13 of the NFL season, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.

Week 13 Start ‘Em

Quarterbacks to Start

Kirk Cousins, Vikings at Lions

Through 12 weeks, Cousins is QB11 on a per-game basis and has been solid as a fringe QB1 and streaming option all season.  He did struggle in the first meeting between these two teams in which he was also without Dalvin Cook and completed 25 of 34 attempts for 275 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Cousins should bounce back in this positive matchup even though the Lions defense has been stingy of late.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins vs. Giants

Tagovailoa has been solid since returning from injury and is QB12 on a per-game basis since Week 6. His accuracy has gone up year-over-year from 64.1% to 70.5%, thanks in part to the welcome addition of receiver Jaylen Waddle. Last week’s dud against the Panthers can surely be overlooked given how good the Carolina defense has been against the pass. This week, the Dolphins face the Giants who have been above average against fantasy quarterbacks, but are not a matchup I’m necessarily avoiding. Tagovailoa is a decent streaming option for deeper leagues and absolutely playable in superflex/two-quarterback formats.

Wide Receivers to Start

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers at Seahawks

Aiyuk had a very shaky start to the year, but has come around of late. He has three double-digit fantasy performances in the last four games and scored twice in that span. His target share has been nice and will likely increase further with star wideout Deebo Samuel out for this game (and possibly more). The Seahawks have allowed 274.1 passing yards per game — the second-most in the NFL. Aiyuk should be a solid WR2 with upside this week.

Darnell Mooney, Bears vs. Cardinals

You can be forgiven if you overlooked Mooney’s electric Week 12 performance in light of how dull the Bears-Lions game was. The Year 2 wideout has been over the last three games, during which he scored three touchdowns and posted two 100-receiving yard games. He has been the primary beneficiary of Allen Robinson’s absence from the field, which could continue this week with Robinson missing practice on Wednesday. The Bears face the Cardinals, who have been tough against the pass, though this game script will likely favor the passing game. Mooney still offers mid- to low-end WR2 value in this difficult matchup.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders vs. Washington

Renfrow bounced back after a quiet Week 11 and caught eight of nine targets for 134 yards in the Raiders’ Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys. He has at least eight targets in seven of 11 games this year and at least six targets in all but two. His workload gives him high floor, especially with tight end Darren Waller likely to miss this game against Washington. The Football Team has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers this year, making Renfrow a safe WR2.

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Elijah Moore, Jets vs. Eagles

Moore struggled last week against the Texans in Zach Wilson’s return to action. He caught four of eight passes for 46 yards — his worst fantasy performance since before the Jets’ Week 6 bye. Wilson admittedly looked horrible, but should — in theory — be an upgrade from the Jets’ quarterback carousel of Mike White, Josh Johnson and Joe Flacco once he’s healthy. Moore is too talented to not make the best of this situation, even in a more difficult matchup against the Eagles. He remains the only member of Gang Green you can trust for week-to-week fantasy production with Michael Carter out.

Van Jefferson, Rams vs. Jaguars

Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. stole the show last week against Green Bay and each saw 10 targets. Jefferson wasn’t far behind and posted highs in targets and yards. He reeled in three of nine for 93 yards and a touchdown and will likely vie with Beckham each week for that No. 2 role with Robert Woods done for the year. Jefferson could even have the edge, given his familiarity with the Rams’ system. He has a nice matchup this week against the Jaguars, who have given up the 11th-most fantasy points per game this year. He is a WR3/flex play as the Rams try to stop their losing skid.

Running Backs to Start

Jamaal Williams, Lions vs. Vikings

Williams is in line to take over in the Lions’ backfield with star running back D’Andre Swift likely out for this game. Swift suffered a shoulder injury in Week 12 which could sideline him for multiple games. Williams saw a season-high 15 carries for 65 yards and caught five of five targets for 18 yards last week. He should be considered a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside so long as Swift sits.

Melvin Gordon III, Broncos at Chiefs

Javonte Williams has become a must-start, but let’s not forget about Gordon quite yet. He was out-snapped by Williams 36 to 26, but saw more carries out of the backfield and was the more efficient rusher of the two.  The Broncos have leaned heavily on this committee due in part to deficiencies in the passing game, which has made both fantasy-viable in multiple contests this year. Gordon is currently RB19 in half PPR and should be considered a low-end RB2 this week against the Chiefs, though I would monitor the injury reports as the veteran is currently dealing with a hip injury.

Myles Gaskin, Dolphins vs. Giants

Gaskin has been unpredictable this season, but he did turn heads in Week 12 against a tough Panthers run defense. He tallied 16 carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for three yards. Gaskin gets a matchup on the opposite end of the spectrum this week against the Giants, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this year. He should be considered an RB2 with this Dolphins offense actually showing signs of life.

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Boston Scott, Eagles at Jets

It was Scott — not Miles Sanders — who led the Eagles’ backfield with Jordan Howard out in Week 12 against the Giants. He saw 15 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown while Sanders saw nine carries for 64 yards. Scott also out-snapped Sanders 34 to 22 in the contest. Even if this ends up being a balanced split between the pair, the matchup is juicy enough to consider starting both. The Jets rank worst in the NFL against fantasy running backs, vaulting Scott into the RB3 conversation this week.

Matt Breida, Bills vs. Patriots

Breida’s second-half breakout has been a bit of a head-scratcher, but it seems to be working for the Bills. He found the end zone for the third time in three games last week against the stout Saints run defense and has apparently leapfrogged Zack Moss, who was inactive for this game, on the depth chart. Devin Singletary led the backfield with 15 carries for 44 yards while Breida saw nine carries for 26 yards and tacked on two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. He has finished as RB11, RB28 and RB17 in half PPR scoring since returning from injury is going to continue to play a role on this depth chart — at least until Moss gets out of the dog house. I think the Bills will continue to ride the hot hand against the Patriots this week.

Tight Ends to Start

Dawson Knox, Bills vs. Patriots

Knox didn’t see many targets in Week 12 against the Saints, but he was efficient with them. He caught all three passes for 32 yards and scored twice, finishing as the TE2 for the week in half PPR. The Patriots have been brutal against the position this year, but Knox offers too much upside in this high-volume Bills offense and I suspect Bill Belichick will have his hands full with Buffalo’s arsenal of weapons.

Foster Moreau, Raiders vs. Washington

It feels unlikely at this point in the week that we see Darren Waller in the Raiders’ Week 13 matchup against Washington. Waller is dealing with a knee injury and has not practiced. Moreau would be next up on Las Vegas’ depth chart. He saw a season-high six targets and reeled in all six for 60 yards and a touchdown in Week 7 with Waller sidelined. He is a nice streaming option with upside against Washington’s exploitable defense.

Defenses to Start

Miami Dolphins Defense vs. Giants

It would be generous to characterize the Giants offense as lackluster this season. The team is averaging just 18.4 points per game — the seventh-fewest in the NFL — sandwiched between the Jets and Seahawks, which isn’t the best company to keep in this category. The Dolphins D/ST scored 23 points last week against Cam Newton and the Panthers. I expect them to put up elite numbers this week against the flailing G-Men.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Broncos

The Chiefs defense was meme-worthy to start the season. Through the first five weeks, they allowed 32.6 points per game. They have since turned a corner and have allowed just 14.5 points per game over the last six weeks. Kansas City held Dallas to just nine points before the bye and should be a top-12 play against the Broncos’ anemic offense this week.

Week 13 Sit ‘Em

Quarterbacks to Sit

Taylor Heinicke, Washington at Raiders

Heinicke has certainly had his moments this season as a stream-worthy quarterback, but those have been a bit hard to predict. He put up 23 fantasy points against the Bills and Panthers, but struggled against the the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Seahawks. He completed 27 of 35 attempts for 223 yards, one touchdown, one interception and was barely utilized on the ground. You cannot trust him in one quarterback leagues in Week 13 — even against the Raiders.

Mac Jones, Patriots at Bills 

Jones may be a tempting start coming off of his best game of the year.  He completed 23 of 32 attempts for 310 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Titans, who have been horrific against the pass and rank second-to-last in fantasy points allowed per game to the position. He gets a polar opposite matchup this week against the Bills, who rank No. 1 against fantasy quarterbacks and have allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game this year. The rookie has been integral in the Patriots’ seven-game win streak but I expect Bill Belichick to lean more heavily on the run game in this contest. Jones falls well outside the QB1 tier this week.

Wide Receivers to Sit

Michael Gallup, Cowboys at Saints

Gallup turned heads in the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving matchup against the Raiders, catching five of eight targets for 106 yards. The stat line is a bit deceiving, however, as he saw fewer targets than Cedrick Wilson — who also had a 100-yard game — and Dallas was down Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for this game. Gallup is a risky play as the team’s No. 3 wideout when at full-strength, which could be as soon as Thursday if Cooper plays.

Kendrick Bourne, Patriots at Bills

Bourne has been solid four of the last eight games and is coming off of his best game of the year. He caught five of six targets for 61 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans, who are allowing the most fantasy points to receivers all year. I expect him to come crashing back down to earth this week, as the matchup won’t be so kind. The Patriots face the Bills, who have the No. 1 defense against fantasy wide receivers. Bourne is a risky flex play with a near-zero floor.

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Courtland Sutton, Broncos at Chiefs

Sutton has taken a sharp fall from grace ever since Jerry Jeudy returned from injured reserve. He was WR17 in half PPR through the first seven games of the year, but is WR87 since Week 8. The matchup against the Chiefs would have been a favorable one a few weeks ago when Kansas City’s defense was playing like trash, but they have seriously stepped up their game of late. He, Jeudy and Noah Fant will continue to be hampered by Teddy Bridgewater and this low-volume Broncos passing offense. He is a volatile WR3/flex moving forward.

Tyler Boyd, Bengals vs. Chargers

Boyd is clearly the odd man out on the Bengals’ wide receiver depth chart. Ja’Marr Chase has been solid all season and is WR7 on a per-game basis in half PPR. Tee Higgins is coming off of his best game of the season in which he caught six of eight targets for 114 yards and a touchdown, while Boyd caught his two targets for 13 yards. The Chargers have been brutal against fantasy wideouts and have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the position all year. Boyd falls well outside the WR3 conversation this week.

Marvin Jones Jr., Jaguars at Rams

Jones failed to capitalize on the Jaguars’ attrition of pass catchers and a juicy Week 12 matchup against the Falcons. He caught four of seven passes for 43 yards without Jamal Agnew and D.J. Chark and Dan Arnold banged up. The reality is he hasn’t posted more than seven fantasy points since before the Jaguars’ Week 7 bye and remains highly touchdown-dependent. He is outside the WR3/flex tier this week, even with four teams on bye. 

Running Backs to Sit

Rex Burkhead, Texans vs. Colts

Burkhead has seen an increased workload of late, but hasn’t done much with it. He rushed 18 times for 40 yards (2.22 yards per carry) against the Titans in Week 11 and rushed 12 times for 27 yards (2.25 yards per carry) against the Jets in Week 12. He has one game all season with double-digit fantasy points and is a low-end RB3 this week against the Colts. Indianapolis’ run defense was just carved up by Leonard Fournette last week, but they have been tough all season and have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Ty Johnson, Jets vs. Eagles

The Jets’ backfield has morphed into an ugly committee with Michael Carter on injured reserve. Johnson saw six carries for 42 yards and caught two of three passes for three yards while Tevin Coleman saw 16 carries for 67 yards last week against the Texans. Coleman also out-snapped Johnson 30 to 23 in the contest. I have limited faith in either running back from a Zach Wilson-led offense that ranks near the bottom of the NFL. Johnson and Coleman are RB3s this week against the Eagles with serious downside.

J.D. McKissic, Washington at Raiders

McKissic exploded in Week 12 and posted seven carries for 40 yards, five catches for 26 yards and a pair of touchdowns — one on the ground and another through the air. The versatile player has five finishes as a top-24 running back in half PPR, but has been inconsistent for fantasy production. He has also missed practice all week with a concussion, which could hold him out of this contest against the Raiders entirely. McKissic is a sit for me so long as Antonio Gibson remains healthy.

Alex Collins, Seahawks vs. 49ers

Many assumed Collins would take over this backfield as a viable RB2 when Chris Carson went down. His touches have dwindled, however, and he saw just seven carries for 14 yards last week — his lowest since Week 3. His struggles can be at least partially attributed to the overarching struggles of the Seahawks  offense. He certainly isn’t start-worthy right now and is droppable except in the deepest of leagues.

Latavius Murray, Ravens at Steelers

Murray has been out-snapped by both Patrick Ricard and Devonta Freeman since returning from injury in Week 11. He posted eight carries for 14 yards against the Browns and appears to have lost his job to Freeman, who saw 16 carries for 52 yards. He falls outside of the flex-worthy conversation moving forward barring an injury to Freeman.

Tight Ends to Sit

Hunter Henry, Patriots at Bills

All good things must come to an end, including Henry’s hot streak of touchdowns. He scored seven times over a seven-game stretch on a very low target volume. He came crashing back down to earth in Week 11 and caught two of three passes for 25 yards and caught two of five targets for 16 yards in Week 12. The Patriots face the Bills this week, whose defense ranks near the top in almost every category and has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year. There are likely better options on your waiver wire than Henry this week.

Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. Jaguars

Higbee was an afterthought in the Rams’ passing attack last week against the Packers. Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. combined for 15 catches on 29 targets for 270 yards and two touchdowns in in the game while Higbee caught just one of five targets for three yards. He has just two games all season with double-digit fantasy points in half PPR and isn’t an attractive start, even with the Jaguars on deck in Week 13.

Defenses to Sit

Denver Broncos Defense at Chiefs

The Broncos D/ST are top seven in fantasy this season and coming off of a strong showing against the Chargers. They recorded two interceptions, one touchdown, three sacks and allowed just 13 points for a whopping 17 fantasy points and their third top-three finish of the year. I expect they will have a more difficult time this week against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, who have averaged 402.4 yards of offense per game — second-most in the NFL. The matchup makes Denver a sit this week.

Chicago Bears Defense vs. Cardinals

The Bears D/ST has been nothing to write home about this season, but should have feasted against the Lions last week (in theory). Sadly, they tallied just four fantasy points and finished as DST22 for the week. If they can’t get it done against Jared Goff and the Lions, I seriously doubt they can against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. They are a firm sit this week in this negative matchup.

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