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Fantasy Football Start or Sit for Week 13: Adam Humphries is the Bucs’ New No. 2

Nov 30, 2018 1:12 PM EST
  • Ryan Collinsworth is here to answer those tough fantasy football start or sit questions for the Week 13 NFL slate.
  • He highlights picks at each skill position, including Adam Humphries over DeSean Jackson for the Panthers-Bucs offensive showdown.

In this article, I compare players with similar ESPN fantasy projections based on our Action Network Consensus Rankings and projections. In doing so, I advocate starting players with higher upside and fading comparable players with downside risk.

All rankings and projections are based on PPR scoring. Reported player projections are based on median expected outcome and are current as of writing. For a complete breakdown of all players, check out our FantasyLabs Models powered by “The Oddsmaker,” Sean Koerner.

Quarterback: Start Lamar Jackson over Philip Rivers

This recommendation assumes, of course, that Joe Flacco (hip) does not miraculously play this week.

Jackson and Rivers earn similar median projections this week, but Jackson’s ceiling is significantly higher. Over the past two weeks starting for the injured Flacco, Jackson has averaged 95 rushing yards and 19.6 PPR fantasy points per game.

He has essentially put up running back-like statistics with the bonus of passing upside.

Jackson draws a Week 13 matchup against the Falcons, who rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA, 29th in pass defense DVOA and are conceding the second-most fantasy points per game (25.82) to quarterbacks.

Rivers, by contrast, draws a matchup against the Steelers that might not be so fantasy-friendly. Both teams have excellent records this season and control their own destiny to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for Rivers and the Chargers, historically when two teams with a win percentage higher than 66.7% have faced off this late in the season, it’s gone poorly for the underdog.

That -4.38 Plus/Minus is scary. But even that’s not as scary as traveling across the country into a hostile environment without your star running back in tow. The Chargers’ Melvin Gordon is doubtful to play due to an MCL injury, which could limit the Chargers in this contest. The Steelers also rank sixth in the league in passing yards allowed (223.3).

The result of these three factors is added downside risk for Rivers this week. It could make sense to bench the perennial Pro-Bowler in favor of someone like Jackson or Carson Wentz.


Running Back: Start James White over Sony Michel

Inexplicably, ESPN has White ranked as their 25th-best running back this week. White is the ninth-ranked running back in PPR formats this season and averages 19.5 fantasy points per game. So why the sudden demotion to RB2 status against the Vikings?

It seems recency bias might be at play here.

Over White’s past two games against the Titans and Jets, he’s averaged 34 rushing yards, three receptions, 18 receiving yards and has been held without a touchdown. But don’t allow his recent shortcomings cloud your judgment: White is still an elite fantasy running back due to his insane receiving volume.

He averages 8.6 targets per game, which ranks 15th among all players and first among running backs. That volume grants him an extremely high floor each and every week. Moreover, he faces a Vikings defense that ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA against running backs.

I believe recency bias could also be to blame for Michel’s ascension up the ESPN projections. He’s coming off an excellent 21-133-1 rushing performance against the Jets, which admittedly was pretty impressive. However, he was forced to leave the game with a back injury, which could hamper him against the Vikings.

Minnesota ranks fourth in rush defense DVOA and is tied for the lowest touchdown rate (0.27 per game) allowed to running backs this season. Michel has failed to log meaningful receiving statistics all season, which makes him fairly touchdown-dependent as a fantasy RB2.

White is the safer, healthier, higher-volume option this week and draws a more favorable overall matchup. If you’re stuck deciding between the two Patriots running backs, fire up White and fade Michel.


Wide Receiver: Start Adam Humphries over DeSean Jackson

The Buccaneers and Panthers meet for the second time this season in a game that could feature offensive fireworks. These teams combined for 80 total points and more than 700 total yards in their Week 9 matchup, so if you’re looking to capture some of that potential offensive output, who should you start: Humphries or Jackson?

My money is on Humphries.

Humphries posted a monster 8-82-2 receiving line in their first meeting; Jackson managed just 32 yards on two receptions. Humphries has caught four touchdowns over his past four games; Jackson has zero. And when you compare these two receivers over the last seven weeks, the statistical disparity between them becomes even more significant:

Humphries draws a similar target share to Jackson but is converting those targets into receptions and yards at a greater clip. Plus, Humphries offers touchdown upside that Jackson hasn’t delivered since the Buccaneers’ first three games.

Over the past seven weeks, Humphries has been the 18th-ranked wide receiver in PPR formats. Jackson ranks as PPR WR45.

Ride the hot hand and start Humphries this week.

Tight End: Start David Njoku over Evan Engram

Njoku (hamstring) is questionable, but would project favorably against the Texans if he suits up. Houston ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA against tight ends and has conceded top-six fantasy performances to tight ends over their past three games.

Note that those tight ends are far from elite. Nobody knew who Jonnu Smith was a few weeks ago, Jeff Heuerman had gone under the radar all season before being placed on Injured Reserve and Jordan Reed is famously inconsistent and underwhelming.

Njoku is more physically gifted, has a better quarterback and a more dynamic offense than all three of those tight ends. He’s also coming off a 5-63-1 receiving performance.

If he’s healthy enough to play, this could be a smash spot for Njoku.

Engram (hamstring) is doubtful to suit up against the Bears, but he would be hard to trust if he does play. He earned a season-low 17 offensive snaps in Week 11, which ranked last among Giants tight ends. He’s only managed three top 12 fantasy weeks this season while battling injuries and poor quarterback play all season.

His matchup is also particularly difficult. Chicago ranks first in defense DVOA, second in pass defense DVOA and sixth in pass defense DVOA against tight ends. They’ve allowed on average just 5.55 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season.

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