Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 13
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 13
There are only two more weeks before the fantasy playoffs start in the majority of leagues. These next two weeks are important to those teams that find themselves on the playoff bubble. While there are those teams that have already clinched a playoff berth with anywhere from an 11-0 to an 8-4 record, there are many more sitting at 7-5 or 6-6 that are competing for those last few spots. Week 13 will hit some managers harder than others, but with the Ravens, Bills, Bears, Raiders, Vikings, and Giants all having byes, most teams will be without the services of at least one or two regular starters.
While it won’t be easy to fill the void left behind by Josh Allen, D.J. Moore, or Josh Jacobs some players could help just enough to keep you afloat. Below are a few of those players. Here are my starts and sits for week 13.
- Fantasy Rankings
- Player Projections
- Fantasy Football Stats
- Advanced Player Metrics
- Fantasy Football News
- NFL Optimizer
- DFS Stacking Tool
Week 13 Starts
Brock Purdy (QB)
San Francisco 49ers vs. PHI (46% Start)
So far, in 2023, Purdy has been a bit of a revelation. No one was certain what to expect from the second-year signal caller, but through 12 weeks, Purdy has proven himself to be much more than just a game manager. Purdy has six top-12 weeks on the season, and in his last three games has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception. San Francisco currently sits atop the NFC West with an 8-3 record, and Purdy is a major reason why. Nothing Purdy does is particularly flashy, but he is extremely efficient with a high NFL IQ and does a great job of protecting the ball and putting his team in position to win every single week. He has been without his full complement of offensive weapons throughout a good portion of the season, but no matter who is on the field he finds a way to produce. In week 13, Purdy will face the second most generous defense to quarterbacks in the league. The Eagles are allowing over 21 points a game to the position. In what has the potential to be a shootout, Purdy should find himself, once again, in a good spot to reward his managers.
C.J. Stroud (QB)
Houston Texans vs. DEN (66% Start)
Rookie C.J. Stroud is currently the QB6 on the season and it’s not just because of one or two big games. Through the last four weeks, Stroud has been one of the most consistent contributors at the position and even has his team within reach of a playoff spot. Stroud has six games this season inside the top-12 and two more just outside of it. He has thrown 19 touchdowns to go along with five interceptions (three of which came in a single rare poor performance), and in week 12 he showed that he is capable with his legs running six times for 47 yards and a touchdown. He has to be atop the leaderboard for Offensive Rookie of the Year and could arguably be in the MVP conversation. He has been playing that well. His play has also elevated the play of all those around him. He will now face a Denver defense that, while much improved in recent weeks, is still able to be thrown on. It’s possible that you have Stroud because you drafted him late as a backup, but it’s also likely he’s outperforming your starter. At this point, there are only three or four QBs I’d start ahead of him. Get him in your lineup.
Najee Harris (RB)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. ARI (59% Start)
I know that the common narrative surrounding Harris is that he is continuing to lose touches to and be outperformed by teammate Jaylen Warren, but is that really true? Over the last four weeks, Harris has outproduced Warren twice and received more touches in all but one game. In week 12, Harris was far more effective on the ground running for 6.6 yards per carry compared to just 3.77 for Warren. For better or worse, Harris is still the 1A in this backfield. Where Warren does have more value than Harris is in the passing game, but even that has been overblown. Over that same four-game span Warren only received three more targets than Harris (13 to 10), and while Harris has often found it hard to produce in tough matchups, week 13’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals is not tough. The Cardinals are the 2nd-most generous defense against opposing running backs, allowing 29 points per game. The Steelers tend to rely on their backfield because Kenny Pickett is their QB, making Harris a solid RB2 in week 13 as he sees his way to another 15-20 touches.
Kyren Williams (RB)
Los Angeles Rams vs. CLE (58% Start)
It may seem odd to suggest starting any running back against the stout Cleveland Browns run defense, but it’s impossible to overstate how impressive Kyren Williams was in week 12. Williams erupted for more than 200 total yards and two touchdowns on 22 touches, finishing as the RB1 in his first game action in six weeks. Granted, it was against the same Arizona Cardinals defense that he ran for 158 yards and one touchdown on in week 6, but that doesn’t make it any less encouraging. Even if you do take the production with a grain of salt, the workload is undeniable, both on the ground and through the air. To go along with his 16 carries, Williams had six receptions on as many targets. We may not be able to count on that type of involvement in the passing game every week, but it is clear that when healthy, Williams is a centerpiece of this offense. We likely will not see as much production in week 13 against the Browns, but we have seen Williams’ upside time and time again this season, and now that he looks healthy and is heavily involved he should be inserted right back into your lineup.
Christian Watson (WR)
Green Bay Packers vs. KC (24% Start)
It may be difficult to put Watson into your lineup after one good week of fantasy football but for those who are willing to take the risk it could pay off. In the last few weeks, we have begun to see Watson’s usage and production amp up. Watson has received 18 targets over the last three games and has had a touchdown in each of the last two. While fellow teammate Jayden Reed has also been making his presence known, Watson has begun to develop more and more chemistry with QB Jordan Love, after missing the first three weeks due to injury. On paper, the Kansas City Chiefs are not a great matchup, but Mahomes and Company should be able to put up points against the Packers which will mean more opportunities for Watson. In a week where managers are without Stefon Diggs, D.J. Moore, and Davante Adams, Watson could serve as a solid bye-week fill-in. The Packers offense looked as if they had figured some things out in week 12. It remains to be seen if that will lead to consistent production, but being a tough bye week, a player of Watson’s talent who should get 8-10 targets is worthy of being started as a WR2 or flex play.
Courtland Sutton (WR)
Denver Broncos vs. HOU (32% Start)
Don’t look now, but after a 1-5 start to the 2023 season, the Broncos have won five straight and are surprisingly in the playoff hunt. While the defense has been playing very well as of late, a large part of the team’s success can be attributed to solid play from QB Russell Wilson and, as his favorite target, Courtland Sutton has seen his production increase. Sutton hasn’t blown anyone away with what he has done on the field but is currently the WR22 and has been at least a top-15 wide receiver in three of his last five games, and over the last three has seen 22 targets. Sutton has also had a nose for the end zone, scoring in eight of 11 games, and five out of the last six. The Broncos are going to have to put up points to keep pace with a Houston Texans offense led by C.J. Stroud. The Texans are middle-of-the-pack against opposing wide receivers, but Sutton will see enough volume and has enough of that coveted touchdown upside to keep him in the WR2 conversation. There are some elite playmakers on bye this week so relying on someone who has a better shot than many at putting up 6+ points on one play is not a bad idea.
Pat Freiermuth (TE)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. ARI (59% Start)
The Matt Canada era in Pittsburgh is finally over and whether you agree with that decision or not, the impact on the Steelers’ offense was evident in week 12. Against a decent Cincinnati defense, the Steelers managed to gain over 400 total yards for the first time in three seasons. Tight end Pat Freiermuth was the biggest benefactor, catching nine of 11 targets for 120 yards. This was an encouraging performance after only catching one pass for 7 yards in week 11. It was to be expected that it might take some time for Freiermuth to get up to speed after being out since week 5, but it’s promising that it only took him two games to get back on track. The Arizona Cardinals are surprisingly good against tight ends, but that stat must always be taken with a grain of salt. The truth is most teams don’t make the tight end position a major part of their offense, so how a team does against tight ends often says more about the way those offenses are run than it does the defense itself. Through 12 weeks, the Cardinals have only faced three teams that have a tight end that plays a major role, and in two of the three that player scored a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points. The combination of Pittsburgh's offensive explosion, Freiermuth’s role, and a terrible Cardinals defense makes him worth taking a gamble on.
Week 13 Sits
Justin Herbert (QB)
Los Angeles Chargers vs. NE (81% Start)
I was going to suggest Matthew Stafford here against the Cleveland Browns but he is only being started in 19% of leagues so I’ll go with Herbert. Still, if you are part of that 19% I’d look elsewhere. As far as Herbert is concerned though this isn’t about a lack of belief in the player. Herbert is well-established as a talented signal caller who can get you 35-45 fantasy points in any given week. He also hasn’t been playing poorly from a fantasy perspective. Herbert is the QB5 this season and has seven top-10 performances at the position, and has even managed to reward his owners in tough matchups with only three finishes of 16 or fewer points. Yet, I would temper expectations for him in week 13 when he faces a New England Patriots team that is top-10 against quarterbacks. It could be difficult to get away from Herbert, but if you drafted C.J. Stroud as well or picked up Kyler Murray and held onto him through his injury then it might be worth it to pivot away from Herbert for just one week. Otherwise, sit back and hope that your wide receivers and running backs can carry the week for you, but another subpar performance could be in store.
Brian Robinson (RB)
Washington Commanders vs. MIA (53% Start)
Brian Robinson Jr. is currently the RB5 in half-PPR formats and has been producing a fantastic sophomore campaign, but while a matchup against the Miami Dolphins may seem favorable, it may not be as favorable as you think. Since CB Jalen Ramsey entered the starting lineup back in Week 8, the Dolphins have held their opponents to an average of just 16 points per game. Prior to his arrival Miami was giving up an average of 26 points per game, so Ramsey has this defense playing at a much higher level. One thing going for Robinson is that he is the clear leader in this backfield Robinson, but he tends to get game-scripted out of contests that aren’t close. This could be one such contest. The Dolphins can put up a lot of points quickly. If this turns into a blowout, the Commanders may be forced to air it out more than they would like. In recent weeks, Robinson has managed to maintain a steady role in the passing game, but with Antonio Gibson healthy that may not be the case moving forward. With Gibson back in the mix I would temper my expectations for Robinson this week.
Tyler Lockett (WR)
Seattle Seahawks vs. DAL (60% Start)
Coming into the season, Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett appeared destined, once again, to be overlooked and underrated. It never fails, every year managers pass on the speedy wide receiver who produces more often than not, and regret it. But in 2023, those who chose to look at other options seem to have been proven to be correct in doing so. Much of this isn’t the fault of Lockett or what he is doing on the field. Geno Smith’s struggles under center and the consistent and increasing involvement of rookie WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba have made this a very frustrating season for Tyler Lockett fantasy shareholders. Lockett is still on the field a ton and just saw a season-high 95% of the offensive snaps against the 49ers in Week 12. Still, he finished with just 4.5 half-PPR points. This was his fourth game out of the last six with 8 or fewer points. The Cowboys are a great overall defense and are top-3 against opposing wide receivers. Lockett is capable of going off on any given week due to his big-play ability, but relying on a boom-or-bust player is risky at this point in the season with the fantasy playoffs on the line.
Drake London (WR)
Atlanta Falcons vs. NYJ (45% Start)
London’s starting percentage has fluctuated throughout the 2023 season, which makes sense. He is a young, talented wide receiver who, if not for being linked to a bad quarterback, has the potential to be a premier option at the position. But with a 45% starting percentage it would appear a majority of managers have begun to cool on the 2nd-year pass catcher, and yet, with players like Diggs, Moore, and Adams unavailable owners may be thinking of turning back to London this week. Don’t. No matter who is under center for the Falcons on Sunday they have proven to be incapable of leading this team in any meaningful or consistent way, and against one of the top defenses in the league, this is not the week to bet on that changing, which means anyone not named Bijan Robinson should be on your bench. The Jets rank second against opposing wide receivers allowing just 24.8 points to the position. There may be weeks when London can provide his managers with value but this is not one of those weeks. A bad offense going up against an elite defense is a recipe for disaster.
Tyler Higbee (TE)
Los Angeles Rams vs. CLE (19% Start)
This one feels like a bit of a cheat since I just passed on suggesting Stafford for a low starting percentage, but while Higbee is currently only being started in about a fifth of leagues, with tight ends like Hockenson, Kincaid, Kmet, and even Likely out this week people may go chasing points. Admittedly, week 12 was a productive week for Higbee. Against the Cardinals, he managed five receptions for 29 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he likely also managed his best game of the season. Elite pass catchers Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua were underutilized in this one which is something I don’t expect to happen moving forward. Plus, while Higbee did finish as the TE1 on the week in half-PPR formats with 17.4 points, the fact that 12 of those points came off of two touchdowns is reason for concern. Those were his first two touchdown grabs of the season and while they might not be his only two when all is said and done it could be a few games before he gets his next one. Regardless, he’s not likely to find much success in week 13 against a Browns defense that is No. 1 against tight ends allowing just 6 points per game to the position. If you’re in a pinch and have to start him I understand, but if you have any other option, I would go with it.
A die hard Bears fan and fantasy sports fantastic, T.J. Besler earned his journalism (and theatre) degree from The University of Iowa. When he isn’t busy writing parodies for his YouTube channel Parodies for Charities he can be found either on stage performing or doing all things fantasy football related. Besler has traveled to nearly all 50 states either for work or leisure, and is grateful to everyone who has helped him along the way, especially his lovely wife Elsa, without whom much of this would not be possible. BEAR DOWN!