Lineup Prep: Week 13

Wed Dec 1 9:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

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Mitchell can continue great play


We are in crunch time in fantasy land. It is do or die for a lot of teams. Just remember, go with the guys that got you to this point. Don’t get too cute with those lineup decisions. This can burn you in the end. Just keep this in mind when making your lineups this week and going forward.

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

I don’t know who will be the starting quarterback for the Steelers next season, but I’m sure looking forward to it because the Steelers have so many top weapons offensively. You would have to think anyone will be an upgrade over Ben Roethlisberger at this points. And that upgrade will be a positive for all those players offensively, improving their fantasy values. I think guys like Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool can be big-time fantasy stars. They just need a better guy throwing them passes. Hopefully, that comes next year. This Steelers offense could be really scary.

Saquon Barkley still doesn’t look quite like himself. He has struggled since his return from an ankle injury, rushing 19 times for 65 yards in two games. Barkley is a huge talent capable of great things, but don’t get enamored with that talent right now. He isn’t that player. Plus, the Giants are a mess offensively, which doesn’t help matters for Barkley. I know it is hard to bench him, but I would consider it if you have some decent options on your bench.

It took a little time but Antonio Gibson is finally living up to his preseason hype. He has been off the charts in recent weeks, getting a huge workload. Washington is almost making Gibson the focal point of the offense. He has a chance for a huge finish to his season. And remember, this guy played mostly receiver in college, so he is still learning the position. Gibson can get better.

Jaylen Waddle is going to be a huge star in the NFL. He is having a big rookie season and just scratching the surface. He is making most of his plays on shorter routes. He is going to start getting more chances down the field, an area he can excel. I love his ceiling going forward. He is currently ranked 15th overall in fantasy receiver scoring and is going to get better.

Mike Williams has to be one of the most frustrating fantasy players this season. He is 14th overall in fantasy receiver scoring despite having six games with fewer than eight fantasy points. He has been the ultimate boom or bust player. You can’t bench him because of his huge weekly ceiling, so you are going to have to live with the stinker games along the way. Not fun.

So Kyle Pitts is not having the season most expected, but even with that said, he is still sixth overall in fantasy tight end scoring. He is on the field every week and gets his targets. The big games just haven’t been there as frequently. I still have high hopes for Pitts. He will be better once his team gets better around him. Things could be worse for Pitts.

Well, I guess the Cam Newton story was good for a week. He sure came back down to earth last week, crashing on the way down. He was a mess, having issues with accuracy and decision making. I know his fantasy floor is usually pretty high because of his rushing ability, but he is going to be a tough player to use going forward. This probably was his last chance to be a starter in the NFL. I would steer clear of him on my fantasy team.

Adam Thielen deserves a lot more fantasy love. This guy is seventh overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He has touchdowns all but three games. But he just isn’t a touchdown dependent player. He has at least five receptions eight of 11 games. His yards might not be off the charts, but he gets his catches and touchdowns. The numbers don’t lie. This guy is a top-10 fantasy receiver.

News and Notes: Washington signed kicker Brian Johnson on Tuesday. He is expected to take over the kicking duties for Washington with Joey Slye injured. . . . .The Saints still haven't officially named a starter at quarterback for this week, but expectations are Taysom Hill will be the starter. Hill has taken the first-team reps at practice most of the week and Trevor Siemian has struggled in recent weeks.

HOT PLAYS

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Raiders. Renfrow is 14th overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He had his first 100-yard game of the season last week ands touchdowns two of four games. Renfrow also has at least seven receptions four of five games. He has been very consistent and the top target in this offense on a weekly basis. Expect him to get plenty of chances once again this week against Washington, a team that allows the fourth most fantasy points to receivers.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Prescott got back to his big ways last week, throwing for 375 yards and two touchdowns. He has 28-plus fantasy points five games this season, posting some big numbers throughout the year. Prescott is capable of posting some big numbers down the stretch, especially considering his favorable schedule. And it starts this week against the Saints, a team showing struggles against the pass this year. New Orleans allows the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 23rd overall against the pass.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington. Gibson is getting quite the workout in recent weeks for Washington as the team makes it a point to get him touches. He has at least 19 carries three straight and 26-plus touches two of three games. He had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season last week. If Gibson gets that much work again this week, he can have another huge game. He gets a Raiders team that allows the fourth most fantasy points to running backs and are 25th overall against the run. 

Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers. It is clear that Mitchell is the go-to back for the 49ers. He has 27 carries each of his last two games. He has 100-yard games three of five games. And what is very encouraging for fantasy owners is an increase in work in the passing game, having five receptions two of three games. Mitchell has become a must-start for fantasy teams, especially this week against the Seahawks. Seattle allows the second most fantasy points to running backs.

Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears. Mooney is sixth overall in fantasy receiver scoring his last three games. He has become a force for fantasy teams, having two straight 100-yard games and scores two of three. Mooney gets consistent work on a weekly basis and his ceiling is very high. He really is a must start right now no matter the matchup. He gets a tough Cardinals defense but his team could be playing from behind, so expect him to get plenty of volume. Keep him in your lineup and expect good things once again.

COLD PLAYS 

Damien Harris, RB, Patriots. Harris found the end zone once against last week, but his rushing totals were pretty ho hum once again. He has fewer than 60-rushing yards three straight games. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has emerged and is taking carries from Harris. He is no longer a surefire start for fantasy teams, especially in tough matchups. And a game this week against the Bills is not a good one for Harris. Buffalo is great against the run, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to running backs while ranking sixth overall against the run.

Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals. Burrow played a good game last week, helping blow out the Steelers. But he threw for just 190 yards on 24 pass attempts. He has fewer than 20 fantasy points three straight games. The Bengals might be playing well and Burrow is helping the offense, but he is not helping fantasy teams. You can’t ignore the production on the field. Things won’t get any easier for him this week against the Chargers, a team with one of the best secondaries in football. Los Angeles allows the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank fifth overall against the pass

Elijah Moore, WR, Jets. The return of Zach Wilson to the starting lineup was not a good thing for Moore. He did have eight targets in the game, but caught just four passes for 46 yards. HIs production was down from the last few weeks when Wilson was on the sideline. Moore is going to be a hard player to trust as long as the erratic Wilson is starting for the Jets. Plus, Moore gets the Eagles this week, a team that allows the third fewest fantasy points to receivers.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. We aren’t sure if it is the finger or something else, but Wilson clearly doesn’t look right at the moment. He has really struggled in recent weeks, having two touchdowns his last three games. His overall numbers for the year are down, too, though. He has multiple touchdowns just four games. He is a hard fantasy player to trust at this crucial point of the season. He plays the 49ers team this week, a team that has been playing some great football the last few weeks. San Francisco has allowed fewer than 19 fantasy points four straight games.

Najee Harris, RB, Steelers. You can’t bench Harris. He has too much potential on a weekly basis but his recent play is a little concerning. He has fewer than 40-rushing yards two straight and less than 65-rush yards three of four games. He is might be tiring a bit after getting so much work early in the year. Plus, opposing defenses are looking to shutdown Harris, making Ben Roethlisberger the player to beat them. Harris could have more trouble this week against the Ravens, a team that has allowed fewer than 10 fantasy points to running backs each of their last three games.

SLEEPERS

Russell Gage, WR, Falcons. Gage scored his second touchdown of the season last week. He has at least five receptions three of four games. He is a pretty dependable receiver in the Falcons offense, serving as their top target. Gage is a good streaming play, especially in a favorable matchup. And a game this week against the Bucs might be a good time to use him. The Falcons defense is not going to be able to stop the Bucs, so the offense is going to have to play catch up. Expect plenty of targets for Gage, giving him the potential for maybe his best game of the year.

Mac Jones, QB, Patriots. Jones is 11th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring his last three games and had his second 300-yard game of the season last week. Jones is playing great football as a rookie and seems to make strides every week. Jones hasn’t been asked to carry the offense many weeks, but might get that chance this week in a game against the Bills. This game could be one that Jones is asked to do more, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts. We would not bet against him based on his play this year. With some top quarterbacks on a bye, Jones could be worth a streaming play for fantasy teams.

Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs. Jones is finally showing a few signs of life. He has touchdowns two straight and 15 carries those last two games. He isn’t getting a ton of work with Leonard Fournette playing so well, but he is nearly double-digit touches per week. The Bucs play the Falcons this week and could get up big, leading to a little more work for Jones. With some top running backs on a bye, Jones might be worth a look for those teams. Plus, Atlanta allows the fifth most fantasy points to running backs on the season.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints. Smith is not flashy but consistent. He has at least four receptions three straight and double-digit fantasy points three of five games. He is another good streaming play for fantasy teams. The Saints get an explosive Cowboys offense this week, so New Orleans might need to throw more to keep up. This is good news for Smith, playing a Cowboys defense that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to receivers.

Boston Scott, RB, Eagles. Scott led the backfield in playing time last week, playing 51 percent of the snaps. He got more work with Miles Sanders dinged up in the game and Jordan Howard injured. It could be more of the same for Scott this week, leading the way in the backfield. Scott has double-digit carries four of five games and double-digit fantasy points three of those games, so he is more than capable of helping fantasy teams. He plays the Jets in Week 13, a team that allows the most fantasy points to running backs.

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Cowboys/Saints, Bucs/Falcons, Chargers/Bengals.

Low Scoring Games: Giants/Dolphins, Ravens/Steelers.

Bye Weeks: Panthers, Browns, Packers, Titans.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at [email protected] Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Divisional Round Playoff Preview

Player Notes
Elijah Mitchell Jan 20 9:00pm ET
Elijah Mitchell

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) has been removed from the injury report heading into the playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The knee issue appears to be behind him as Mitchell has fully practiced each of the last two days. That being said, Mitchell should have a full workload against Green Bay this weekend. He has seen 20-plus carries in each of the last six games. He'll be the offensive focal point and an excellent DFS option for this weekend's slate.

From RotoBaller

Randall Cobb Jan 20 9:00pm ET
Randall Cobb

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (abdominal) has been activated off the injured reserve. This is good news for the Packers who could use the reinforcements. Although, Cobb isn't expected to generated a ton of targets against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. The last time Cobb played was Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He finished with four receptions, 95 receiving yards, and one touchdown in that contest. Possibly, it's a sign that Cobb is better than he looks, but DFS players shouldn't trust him. He'll be a touchdown-dependent option for this playoff matchup with the 49ers.

From RotoBaller

Ronald Jones II Jan 20 8:50pm ET
Ronald Jones II

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) did not suit up for Thursday's practice. There was some confusion earlier because Jones was at practice without a walking boot. However, he didn't practice with the team and was likely limited to rehab duties. Despite that, it's nice to see Jones out of the walking boot finally. However, it's uncertain if Jones will be able to suit up for Sunday's playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. Fellow running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is questionable to play after missing last week's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. That means, the Bucs could once again use the combination of Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard. Neither of them carry high value in terms of streaming, but Bernard is the slightly better DFS option. However, the return of Fournette or Jones would likely end both of their values. Fantasy managers are going to need to stay tuned over the next few days.

From RotoBaller

Cyril Grayson Jan 20 8:30pm ET
Cyril Grayson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. (hamstring) remained sidelined during Thursday's practice. He was joined on the sideline by fellow wideout Breshad Perriman (abdominal, hip) on Thursday. That being said, Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller could be the starters for the playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Rams this weekend. The hope is that Grayson will be able to play since he was able to practice on Wednesday. He has a small sample size this season, but played well whenever given the chance. Grayson hauled in six receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 17. Possibly, Grayson could be a sneaky DFS option, assuming he's able to suit up against the Rams.

From RotoBaller

Tee Higgins Jan 20 5:40pm ET
Tee Higgins

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has gotten somewhat lost in the storm of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase putting up record-setting numbers. However, Higgins is a solid option, and it was fairly recently that the fantasy community was in a frenzy regarding taking Higgins over Chase in 2022. Things have changed, obviously, but Higgins is still a fantastic option for DFS and will be a draft target in 2022. A tall, possession wide receiver, paired with one of the best in the game in Chase and a gunslinger in Burrow, Higgins has the potential to go off in any given week while also holding a decent floor due to the offense's electricity and the lanky receiver's talent. With the LSU reunion in Cincinnati, the former Clemson Tiger is being overlooked to a fault.

From RotoBaller

Byron Pringle Jan 20 5:40pm ET
Byron Pringle

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle is nothing special, but if DFS players are scouring for a cheap wide receiver or Flex, Pringle is a good fit. In his last four games, Pringle has played 64 percent of snaps and been on pace for 81 receptions, 863 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Obviously, this is not sustainable, but behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Pringle has emerged as the Chiefs' next best option through the air. Although he has little value in Dynasty and probably won't even be drafted in 2022, fantasy managers can ride the 28-year-old's hot streak in what projects to be a shootout against the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Jerick McKinnon Jan 20 5:20pm ET
Jerick McKinnon

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon had a surprising performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 12 carries for 61 yards and six receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. However, this apparent breakout should be analyzed skeptically. The 29-year-old accompanied a variation of lead backs in his days with the Minnesota Vikings but managed to sign a substantial deal with the San Francisco 49ers, where he would fade to irrelevance. But the Chiefs took a flier on this speedster, and after a full season with the team, he finally played a role in this offense for one game. Throughout the season, the Chiefs have been searching for an answer at running back and cycling from one guy to another. Perhaps McKinnon is what they've been looking for all along, but based on his career's history and the abruptness of his surge, it's most likely that they'll continue rotating to the next guy and McKinnon will fade once again.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Jan 20 5:10pm ET
Devin Singletary

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary had a stellar end to the season and has continued his dominance into the playoffs. Last week, against the New England Patriots, Singletary had 16 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns as well three catches for 13 yards. Through the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15 to 17), the 24-year-old was the RB2, averaging 18.5 fantasy points per game. Singletary's divisional round performance against the Kansas City Chiefs may be extremely indicative of his future outlook. Against a good defense and in what's projected to be a contested game, the Bills may choose to lean on their lead-runner: a great sign for Singletary's future value. However, the Bills may also find themselves falling behind and revert to their pass-heavy ways, neglecting Singletary, which presents some downside for Dynasty managers and potential 2022 drafters. The Bills have recently reinvented themselves around this talented rusher, but only time will tell if they choose to sustain this strategy.

From RotoBaller

Cam Akers Jan 20 5:10pm ET
Cam Akers

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers has officially returned after recovering from his torn Achilles in record time, and he has returned with a bang. The sophomore amassed 18 touches for 95 total yards against the Arizona Cardinals on Wild Card Weekend. After such a great performance, it seems as though Akers has returned as the Rams' feature-back; however, this notion is not reflected in his DFS cost. A mere price of $5,700 places him in the neighborhood of questionable backups Giovanni Bernard and Jerick McKinnon. Even if Akers isn't ready to assume the full workload, this price is overcompensating for an injury that has been a minimal factor since his return. Akers should be a cornerstone of all DFS lineups this week and will be a staple of the early rounds in 2022 drafts.

From RotoBaller

Breshad Perriman Jan 20 3:40pm ET
Breshad Perriman

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (abdomen, hip) looked to be limited in practice on Thursday and is still a question mark to play on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Perriman sat out of Wednesday's walkthrough practice, but the good news is that he was able to get back on the field on Thursday. The 28-year-old caught only one of three targets for five yards in the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week with Cyril Grayson (hamstring) inactive. If he's able to play against the Rams, he'll be a boom/bust DFS option for fantasy gamers. If both Perriman and Grayson are unable to play, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller would have expanded roles alongside Mike Evans in three-wide sets.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Jan 20 3:30pm ET
Derrick Henry

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (foot) is progressing well, but the team won't make a decision on his status for the Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals until Friday, according to head coach Mike Vrabel. Henry has been taking contact in practice this week, but the Titans must first activate him from Injured Reserve if Henry is healthy enough to play on Saturday for the first time since Week 8. All signs are pointing to the 28-year-old being active against Cincinnati, and if he is, he should be the team's workhorse running back. Henry could be a bit risky in his first game back, especially as the most expensive RB at DraftKings, but he's also been the most dominant RB in the league when he's been healthy the last couple of seasons.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Jan 20 3:30pm ET
Leonard Fournette

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is practicing again on Thursday. Fournette remains on Injured Reserve and hasn't played since Week 15, but he could be trending towards a return for the Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. If Fournette is healthy enough to play, the Bucs will have to activate him no later than Saturday. With Fournette and Ronald Jones II (ankle) out in the wild-card round, Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard were in a timeshare in Tampa's backfield. Fournette should operate as the team's lead back if he's activated, although he might not be used as the workhorse in the running and passing game like he was before his injury, especially if Jones is able to return as well.

From RotoBaller

Ronald Jones II Jan 20 3:30pm ET
Ronald Jones II

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (ankle) was back at practice on Thursday and wasn't in his walking boot as he worked with a trainer. Jones appears to be making progress after sitting out of the wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he's fighting an uphill battle to be ready on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is making progress and could come off Injured Reserve to play this weekend, while Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard wait for their opportunity after splitting the backfield touches last weekend. Even if Jones somehow was able to play on Sunday and Fournette missed another game, Vaughn and Bernard would likely still be involved, which would make Jones tough to recommend in DFS contests.

From RotoBaller

Jay Gruden Jan 20 11:43am ET
Jay Gruden

Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is interviewing with the Carolina Panthers for their vacant offensive coordinator spot again Thursday, Jan. 20.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Jan 20 11:33am ET
Ronald Jones II

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (ankle) was working with a trainer at practice Thursday, Jan. 20, without a boot.

Fantasy Spin: RoJo could be a flex candidate even though Leonard Fournette is trending upwards.

From TheHuddle

Emmanuel Sanders Jan 20 11:30am ET
Emmanuel Sanders

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) made his return from injury for the Bills' playoff game against New England and caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. He come out of that game healthy and was able to practice in full all week, meaning he will remain active against a Chiefs team who he had great success against in October when he caught three passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Now, since that time, Gabriel Davis has emerged as a key members of the wide receiver corps; however, Sanders has not been phased out. In fact, Sanders played the third-most snaps among Bills wide receivers during the Wild Card win over New England, so if the Bills need to push the pace against the Chiefs, Sanders could be an intriguing DFS dart throw in GPP lineups.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jan 20 11:20am ET
Travis Kelce

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce draws a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Bills. In particular, Bills linebacker Matt Milano, who the team usually uses to cover opposing tight ends, has given up the fewest yards per target in the NFL (min. 150 targets) since 2017. Milano also leads the NFL in coverage success rate and catch rate allowed over expected. When the Bills played the Chiefs in October, Kelce had 6 catches for 57 yards, but he did find the end zone, and his clear red zone role on a good offense will always make him a fantasy option. However, with the Bills missing star cornerback Tre'Davious White, it's fair to wonder if this is a game where the Kansas City wide receivers may be more consistently impactful.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Jan 20 9:30am ET
Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) has yet to undergo surgery on his torn ACL, per head coach Mike McCarthy. He suffered a clean ACL tear in the Week 17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 25-year-old reportedly will undergo surgery later once the swelling subsides. Gallup will become an unrestricted free agent and may not be ready by Week 1 of the 2022 campaign since he tore his ACL towards the end of the 2021 season. He caught 35 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns over nine games in 2021. Gallup will look to recover fully, and barring any setbacks, should draw plenty of interest from teams during the offseason. Stay tuned.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Jan 20 9:00am ET
Leonard Fournette

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said the team is taking a "wait and see" approach for running back Leonard Fournette's (hamstring) status for the Divisional Round matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. He's been sidelined since Week 16 due to a hamstring injury. The 27-year-old did practice on Wednesday and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up this Sunday. Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn will lead Tampa Bay's backfield if Fournette is ruled out. The Buccaneers will have until Saturday to activate Fournette from injured reserve, and if active, the Buccaneers running back is a solid value at $7,000 price tag on FanDuel.

From RotoBaller

Darrel Williams Jan 20 8:50am ET
Darrel Williams

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) didn't practice on Wednesday. He played through the toe injury in Sunday's AFC Wild Card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but only logged one carry. The 26-year-old rushed for four yards on his only attempt and lost a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and is trending in the right direction towards suiting up for the Divisional Round game against the Buffalo Bills. If active, it's unclear what Williams' role will be with Edwards-Helaire most likely returning and Jerick McKinnon in the mix, who led the Chiefs backfield with 18 touches for 142 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday's win over the Steelers. Williams is a risky play at his $5,500 price tag on FanDuel.

From RotoBaller