NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Mailbag: Deshaun Watson’s Return, George Pickens vs JuJu Smith-Schuster, More
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images. Pictured: Deshaun Watson.
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Fantasy Stock Questions
Deshaun Watson A Top-10 Play In His First Game Back?
@eurosooner77 asks via Twitter: “[Deshaun] Watson conversation. Who do you start him over? Is he a top 10 [quarterback] this week? Starting over the [Taylor Heinicke] level I assume.”
Samantha: Right out of the gate, Watson should be a top-10 play against the Texans, whose defense ranks 24th in pass DVOA (cue the revenge matchup!).
We have not seen Watson since Week 17 in 2020 as a member of the Texans. He missed the entire 2021 season amid legal troubles. Prior to that, he was the QB6 in 2020, QB2 in 2019 and QB5 in 2018 and was named to the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons.
In his most recent campaign, Watson finished as a top-10 quarterback in eight of 16 starts. Even taking into consideration the “rust” factor, he should be a locked-in starter.
I would start him over guys like Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Daniel Jones, Jared Goff, Mike White, and, yes, Taylor Heinicke.
Hope For Dameon Pierce And Alvin Kamara?
@JWP303 asks via Twitter: “Do you think there is any hope for [Dameon] Pierce or [Alvin] Kamara to regain productivity down the stretch?”
Samantha: I do.
After the bye week, New Orleans’ schedule softens significantly: It faces Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Carolina in the final four weeks of the season — all bottom-11 run defenses, according to DVOA, and also bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Pierce has had two rough games, averaging an abysmal 1.07 yards per carry in that span. I will say the Miami game got out of hand so fast that Houston really did not have an opportunity to establish any semblance of a run game.
He rushed five times for eight yards and caught three passes for eight yards. I think he can turn things around as soon as this week against the Browns, whose defense ranks 31st in rush DVOA and fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Fantasy Start-Sit Questions
Start Najee Harris Or Jamaal Williams?
@58WKingPodcast asks via Twitter: “Najee Harris or Jamaal Williams? Gabe Davis or Zay Jones?”
Samantha: Williams and Davis.
Harris is dealing with an abdominal injury that forced him to leave the game on Monday night against the Colts before halftime. He may or may not be able to play in Week 13, and even if he does, I would probably still lean Williams. He is an absolute touchdown magnet with seven in the last five games and 13 this year. He also out-snapped D’Andre Swift for the fourth game in a row and was much more productive.
Harris has the more favorable matchup against the Falcons, who rank 25th in rush DVOA and have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs. The Jaguars are more middle-of-the-road against the run, but I would still prefer Williams based on his role in Detroit’s offense.
With the receivers, I give the slight lean to Davis, though Jones’ Week 12 performance was impressive.
Jones caught 11-of-14 targets for 145 yards and finished as the WR5 in half-PPR scoring. He gets another soft matchup against the Lions’ permeable pass defense, which has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Still, I am giving the edge to Davis, who, in spite of Isaiah McKenzie’s Thanksgiving breakout, should be the WR2 on a vastly more attractive offense. The Patriots defense is no joke, though they were exposed a bit against the Vikings.
Pick A Wide Receiver And Flex
@ACSnow22 asks via Twitter: “Pick 1 wide receiver, 1 flex for a [half] PPR 12-team dynasty league. Three WR, two flex spots…Courtland Sutton, Treylon Burks, Joshua Palmer, Gabe Davis, D’Andre Swift, Jerick McKinnon?”
Samantha: Sutton and Palmer.
Sutton has been remarkably consistent amid the Broncos’ unmitigated trash fire. He has double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three weeks and is the WR24 in half PPR since Denver’s Week 9 bye.
He will continue to see a nice target share with Jerry Jeudy sidelined and has a nice matchup against the Ravens, whose defense ranks sixth worst in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.
Palmer was a bit of a disappointment last week despite Mike Williams’ absence. He caught 5-of-7 targets for 56 yards and finished as the WR47 in half PPR. In Weeks 9 and 11, however, Palmer tallied a combined 20 targets for 16 catches, 212 yards and two touchdowns. He has the matchup of all matchups this week against the Raiders, who rank last in pass DVOA. I expect a nice bounce-back game in Week 13.
As for the others, Davis is riskier than Sutton and Palmer given his tepid performances of late and what is a difficult matchup on paper against the Patriots.
Burks is definitely interesting with his recent emergence — he was the WR13 and WR39 in back-to-back weeks. The matchup gives me pause, going up against the Eagles’ No. 2 pass defense, according to DVOA.
Swift has a decent matchup against the Jaguars, but since returning from injury, he has clearly taken a backseat to Jamaal Williams.
McKinnon is the least intriguing of this bunch, especially with Melvin Gordon signing with Kansas City this week.
George Pickens vs. JuJu Smith-Schuster
@EagleDanFF asks via Twitter: “Who do I start between George Pickens and JuJu [Smith-Schuster]? 12-team PPR.”
Samantha: That’s a tough call. I would probably lean Pickens based on his upside, but Smith-Schuster is probably the safer play.
Smith-Schuster is averaging 6.7 targets per game compared to Pickens’ 5.4. He is also catching passes from a much better quarterback, though there are more mouths to feed in K.C.’s offense.
Pickens, the WR12 in half PPR since the Steelers’ Week 9 bye, has the definitive matchup edge against the Falcons (as opposed to the Bengals for Smith-Schuster).
Atlanta ranks bottom four in pass defense DVOA and allows the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Cincinnati is top nine in pass DVOA and has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Pickens has more home run potential, but Smith-Schuster has the higher floor. As a “first or last” person myself, I would go with Pickens.