(note-fantasy scoring ranks are according to ESPN Fantasy metrics, with 1st being the BEST defense among 32 teams, and 32nd being WORST defense among 32 teams)
Welcome to the penultimate week of the 2020 fantasy season! It’s been a crazy slog to get here, full of injuries, cancellations, bumps in the road, and last-minute player unavailability (Same as it ever was, right?). It’s an interesting week in fantasy football with lots of intriguing matchups and compelling storylines.
The scheduling madness continues this week, with a MNF doubleheader, as well as a Tuesday night game, that will end up extending week 13 an extra day. Waivers will run on Weds. night instead of Tues. on most platforms. Let’s dig into all the goodies that week 13 has in store for us!
Note-The column format has changed this week to reflect points given up in terms of position, and not in terms of offensive stats (rush, receive, pass) as in previous weeks, in the interest of accuracy and specificity.
1. ARIZONA CARDINALS- (vs LAR 5th RB, 1st WR, 1st QB)
The Patriots surprisingly handled the Cardinals last week, holding star QB Kyler Murray to less than 200 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns. Kenyan Drake did get into the end zone and appears to be an every-week starter, but things aren’t getting ANY easier for ARI in week 13; they face a scary Rams defense that has seemed to get better as the season goes on.
The Rams are only giving up an average of 203.5 passing yards per game, and Deandre Hopkins will likely have a date with top corner Jalen Ramsey, who is known to follow star receivers around the field. That being said, you can’t sit Hopkins, or really even WR2 Christian Kirk who has been getting plenty of opportunities.
The saving grace for the Cardinals could be that the Rams offense isn’t exactly supercharged, and if they can play a good defensive game, there should be plenty of opportunity for all positions in a closely contested matchup.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS- (vs NO 1st RB, 14th WR, 4th QB)
After surprisingly rolling over the Raiders last week with no Julio Jones or Todd Gurley, the Falcons face a familiar foe at home this week in the Saints. The teams met just two weeks ago, in Taysom Hill’s starting debut. Julio was able to practice in full on Friday with no setbacks, but Gurley’s status is still murky for this week. If he’s unable to suit up, Brian Hill should see another heavy dose of work on Sunday.
That being said, this isn’t an inviting matchup by any means. The Saints rank in the top 10 against passing and rushing, the latter category being the stingiest mark in the league. Tight End Hayden Hurst has no injury designation heading into the week, and could be a safety valve for Matt Ryan if the Saints top corners decide to blanket Julio and Calvin Ridley. Whatever happens, ATL was embarrassed in the last meeting and will be chomping at the bit for some well-deserved revenge.
3. BALTIMORE RAVENS (vs DAL 28th RB, 31st WR, 25th QB)
The Ravens have survived their delayed beatdown in Pittsburgh, and will seem to try to get back on track this week against the hapless Cowboys, who rank in the bottom 10 of league defenses in all metrics. The Ravens need to win and win now, in order to have ANY chance at making the playoffs this year. A fall from a surefire playoff team with the league MVP, to missing the playoffs, would be a tough pill to swallow for Ravens fans in a season that showed a lot of promise back in August.
Running back JK Dobbins has been activated from COVID protocols and should be in your starting lineup this week. Veteran Mark Ingram II has yet to be activated, but we assume this is imminent. If for some reason Ingram is unable to go, Dobbins would lead the backfield against a Cowboys defense that has given up about 25 points per game to team backfields this year. Gus Edwards would be a factor, but I think Dobbins would get the lions’ share of the workload.
Unfortunately, the only pass-catcher who holds viability is TE Mark Andrews, who as a Type 1 Diabetic, is especially at risk from his Covid-19 diagnosis. The lack of news around Andrews is certainly concerning, but with extra time between now and the Tuesday kickoff, hopefully, some good news develops. If Andrews is held out yet again, Luke Willson would see the majority of the targets at TE.
4. BUFFALO BILLS (@ SF 8th RB, 9th WR, 10th QB)
The Bills will get an extra day of rest going into a MNF tilt with the 49ers, who surprisingly handled the Rams last week and bothered QB Jared Goff. WR3 Gabriel Davis caught a TD last week in the absence of John Brown, whose season is over. On only 4 targets, Davis put up a respectable 79 yards on 4 targets and appears to hold some value in the deep-threat role. This is not the week to use Buffalo RBs unless you’re desperate, though the game script may be in their favor if the Bills offense is able to pull away from the 49ers.
San Francisco’s defense is getting healthier, making this matchup a bit more unpredictable than many others. The WR will have their work cut out for them, and Beasley seems to be falling out of favor for Davis. However, all three main receivers will likely hold some value this week.
5. CAROLINA PANTHERS (BYE)
6. CHICAGO BEARS (vs DET 32nd RB, 24th WR, 24th QB)
Mitch Trubisky didn’t look much better under center last week against the Packers than Nick Foles did previously; the real problem with this offense, at least in a superficial sense, lies with the offensive line, so it would be tough for any signal-caller to have success. Still, Trubisky has more to offer with his legs than Foles, and his escapability provides slightly more upside.
The Lions defense is dismal and provides a great opportunity for RB David Montgomery, who despite being as unexciting as they come, is a volume king and has the potential to be a great start this week. However, to play devil’s advocate, Duke Johnson only managed 37 yards on the ground against them on Thanksgiving. The Texans run the ball at one of the lowest clips in the league though and have rarely gotten it going against anyone. With a longer period to rest coming off the Thanksgiving matchup, the Lions run D may be refreshed and ready to step up against the 2nd year Montgomery.
Trubisky has shown the propensity to feed Allen Robinson through the air, which Robinson owners love to see. However, until we get a bigger sample size with Trubisky throwing to this iteration of the bears, any of the ancillary pass weapons (Mooney/Miller/Graham/Patterson) are dart throws. Cole Kmet, the young TE, got some work last week and could be coming into his own with CHI.
7. CINCINNATI BENGALS (@ NYG 21st RB, 16th WR, 5th QB)
Woof. Brandon Allen at QB is not the answer for Cincinnati, surprising no one. He turned the ball over twice and only threw one TD on the afternoon, to the very solid Tee Higgins. Despite Higgins catching a TD in garbage time, I am still trying to get away from ALL options on this “team” until further notice. Granted, it’s not their fault that their star young RB just can’t seem to get healthy, and Joe Burrow is lost for the year with torn knee ligaments. But still, you have to look at the sum of the parts and just sigh to yourself.
Gio Bernard could be a volume option in very deep leagues but it’s almost guaranteed you have a better option. Higgins could always repeat his fantasy day-saving routine from last week, but you can’t count on it when the stakes are so high. MIA DST, on the other hand, should have themselves a day. More on that later…
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (@ TEN 26th RB, 22nd WR, 28th QB)
Browns QB Baker Mayfield had something of a “get right” game last week, throwing for 258 yards and no interceptions, finding the end zone twice. The ground game is firing on all cylinders and the need for Mayfield to take the game over hasn’t been there for the last couple of weeks.
The Titans defense has been pretty generous in all categories, which means Nick Chubb should feast again on Sunday. He has SIXTEEN 100 yard rushing games in his first three seasons, second to only legend Jim Brown, who had 19 in the early portion of his career. Kareem Hunt remains in play but as long as Chubb is running so dominantly, he isn’t guaranteed much at all, except a few passing looks which can always boon his day in PPR formats. TE Austin Hooper has a favorable matchup and caught a TD last week in Jacksonville.
9. DALLAS COWBOYS (@ BAL 7th RB, 4th WR, 12th QB)
Coming off of a Thanksgiving Day drubbing at the hands of WAS, the Cowboys’ travails continue, as they have to travel to face a desperate BAL team. The good news for the Cowboys is that the Ravens’ QB situation is still “a day-to-day thing” according to BAL OC Greg Roman.
The likelihood, however, is that Lamar Jackson will be cleared and good to go. Perhaps the only hope for the Cowboys to be competitive in this game would be for the Ravens to be shorthanded on offense.
It’s hard to trust many of the options on the DAL side of the ball this week, with the backs and pass-catchers up against some top 10 metrics. Dalton will be bothered by the Ravens’ pass rush and completions may be few and far between. It remains to be seen whether the Cowboys and OC Kellen Moore will continue to look to Tony Pollard, especially after Zeke put the ball on the ground last week yet again.
10. DENVER BRONCOS (@ KC 17th RB, 5th WR, 14th QB)
How wrong last week’s blurb ended up being in regards to the Denver Broncos debacle last week. Soon after publishing, it became clear that the Broncos wouldn’t have a startable QB, with the whole position group being put in Covid protocol due to some recklessness with mask usage. WR Kendall Hinton ended up starting and throwing more interceptions than COMPLETIONS (2/1) in a rancid loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Broncos supporters shouldn’t feel too relieved, however, as another stiff test awaits them this week in Kansas City. Their defense will NOT be able to stop Mahomes and co. and the Chiefs ascending pass rush will surely pester the mistake-prone Lock. Expect the Broncos to utilize the run game to attempt to keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands.
Philip Lindsay is on track to be cleared after suffering a minor knee injury last week; game script lines up for him to be heavily utilized as the Broncos attempt to keep pace with the scorching KC offense. Gordon will retain his goal-line usage and has been running well, aside from last week’s “Burn the Tape” situation.
11. DETROIT LIONS (@ CHI 10th RB, 2nd WR, 6th QB)
Strange vibes are definitely coming out of Detroit, as they fired their head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn following the embarrassing Thanksgiving Day loss. Star WR Kenny Golladay is once again ruled out, and the sceptic in me can’t help but wonder if there is more to his absence than an injury. With a team blowup likely on the horizon, perhaps Golladay is making a business decision and sitting out until his future becomes more defined. Regardless of speculation, Marvin Jones Jr. once again becomes a WR1/2 for fantasy and will get a lot of looks in the passing game.
Adrian Peterson is looking out for the rookie D’Andre Swift.
Let’s hope he gets healthy soon 🙌 pic.twitter.com/sKoIykOgTv
— Gridiron (@Gridiron) December 3, 2020
Sadly, RB Deandre Swift still seems to be feeling the effects of his recent concussion. Even Adrian Peterson strangely alluded to the fact that Swift didn’t seem the same and it was “hard to watch”. Whatever that means, it’s disappointing to have to bench one of the best young running talents in the game again. But even if he plays, you CAN’T start him, with the coaching staff already saying he will be limited.
Whether this is just coach-speak/gamesmanship is something that we are simply unable to know as mere mortal fantasy managers. Err on the side of caution and start Kerryon Johnson or AP if you have to.
12. GREEN BAY PACKERS (vs PHI 11th RB, 11th WR, 8th QB)
The Packers got back on track last week against the tough Bears defense. Aaron Rodgers romped as usual, throwing 4 TD’s to go along with a modest 211 yards and no turnovers. It seems as though the Packers are letting ARod carry the load this season, as opposed to the running game last year. While Aaron Jones remains one of the best RBs in the league, he isn’t getting the TD volume he was last season when he was the league leader in scores. You’re still starting Jones, obviously, but perhaps expecting him to carry your team is a bit naive at this point.
Robert Tonyan continues to show that he isn’t just a mirage, but a real weekly option at the TE position. He’s pulled in two touchdowns and 13 catches over the last three weeks, which in terms of TE, is some SERIOUS volume (eyeroll emoji). Allen Lazard seems to have avoided an injury scare after a hard hit on his first game back from IR, and doesn’t carry a designation heading into Sunday’s game.
While PHI doesn’t exactly slouch on defense, I’m not expecting them to have much for the surgical Rodgers, with the inept offense likely to provide at least a couple of horrible turnovers that will put the Packers in easy scoring position. GB DST is definitely on the table this week against the league’s interception leader, Carson Wentz.
13. HOUSTON TEXANS (vs IND, 15th RB, 8th WR, 3rd QB)
Someone at the league office watched Will Fuller torch the Lions for 171 and 2 on Thanksgiving Day and thought “Someone drug test this man”. All joking aside, Fuller has now taken a 6-game PED suspension that will take away from Deshaun Watson’s options in the passing game in a very real way.
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Fellow WR Brandin Cooks certainly figures to be the main beneficiary here, though Cooks has rarely been in a #1 role as a wideout, and has shown to be vulnerable to intense man coverage. Cooks is best when working in the flat, on crossing routes, and in gadget plays like jet sweeps and end-arounds. Keke Coutee may see a bump in targets, but has also not shown the ability to be reliable when he’s needed. TE’s Akins and Fells also may be employed to absorb some targets, though the former has shown a clear lead in snaps and targets in the second half of the season.
David Johnson should return from IR this week, sending Duke Johnson back to his usual passing downs/change of pace role. The coaching staff seems excited about how Johnson looks, so perhaps this will provide a shot in the arm to the Texans as they lose one of their most dynamic weekly threats.
14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (@ HOU 31st RB, 26th WR, 23rd QB)
The Colts will be motivated this week, remaining just one game back in the standings after last week’s loss to the TItans. The pressure was a problem for Rivers last week and contributed to their eventual loss, but they should be able to get more work this week against a Texans defense that ranks in the bottom third of the league in all metrics.
Jonathan Taylor being out last week due to Covid protocols also almost certainly contributed to the Colts falling short. They only totaled 56 yards on the ground, the least they had produced since week 15 of the 2019 season! Taylor is back this week and assuming no rust, should be a low-end RB1.
Veteran WR TY Hilton finally caught a TD last week, his first of the season to go along with 4 catches for 81 yards. Still, the more attractive WR options remain Michael Pittman, Jr. and Nyheim Hines, with Hilton being a dart throw or deep-league flex.
15. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (@ MIN 12th RB, 30th WR, 17th QB)
The QB change for Jacksonville to Mike Glennon didn’t work out ideally for the Jaguars last week, losing to the Browns by two points. However, Glennon seemed to at least prove himself a competent starter and will hold off Gardner Minshew for yet another week.
He also gets back one of his more dangerous weapons: second-year WR DJ Chark Jr., which may take targets away from Keelan Cole and Leviska Shenault. The former, however, poses an explosive threat in the return game and thus always has the chance to take on to the house on a punt return. Deep league WR option Chris Conley is once again questionable with a hip injury that held him out last week.
Not much else to say about Jacksonville, as Robinson is locked in as a weekly starter, and is the #4 ranked RB in fantasy points in standard-scoring formats. Look for the Jags to run a lot here to try to compensate for their lacklustre defense, which Kirk Cousins will likely exploit early and often.
16. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (vs Den 20th RB, 13th WR, 19th QB)
Rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire missed practice with an illness earlier in the week, but it doesn’t appear that he is in danger of missing the division tilt with the Broncos. Sammy Watkins returned with little fanfare last week but remains an option in deeper leagues at WR, as the Chiefs are throwing the ball at such a ridiculous rate (and Tyreek Hill can’t have 13 catches for 269 yards every week…RIGHT!?!?).
Yes, Hill was once again the TyFreek that fantasy owners love to see, singlehandedly blasting opponents out of the virtual arena. The three touchdowns were icing on the cake as he amassed a huge portion of his yardage in the first quarter on a ridiculous pace.
Chiefs DST is in huge play here as well, as the shaky Broncos offense has been generous with the turnovers, last week’s debacle aside. Expect the Chiefs to pound the Broncos and if you’re facing these players, be afraid. Be very afraid.
17. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (@NYJ 18th RB, 25th WR, 29th QB)
As predicted, the Raiders got spanked by Atlanta last week (wait, what? No one predicted that?) Indeed it was an embarrassing performance by the Raiders, who only managed 6 points against what we all THOUGHT was a very exploitable Falcons defense (At least in the passing game).
is ATL coming together that well, or were the Raiders and Derek Carr feeling extra hapless? Regardless, this should be a get-right game for all involved except star RB Josh Jacobs, who didn’t make the cross-country flight with the team due to an ankle sprain. Also staying home is S Johnathan Abram. Hopefully, Jacobs Managers were able to grab Devontae Booker from the wire, who should be an RB1 in lieu of Jacobs. Jalen Richard and Theo Riddick may get some burn, but Booker has looked good in a limited run, vulturing several TDs from Jacobs throughout the course of the season.
I wish I could say I was confident that Henry Ruggs III would finally break out, and this could very well be the week. There’s no reason to think that the Raiders won’t try to beat the Jets deep with Ruggs at least a couple of times. Not to mention that WR Nelson Agholor, who had seemed to take over as the top target at WR for Carr, was in and out of practice this week. He appears to be on track to play, but if he isn’t 100%, Ruggs could benefit.
18. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (vs NE 16th RB, 17th WR, 7th QB)
Well, it finally happened. Justin Herbert had a “bad” game. OK, so it was 316 yards and one INT. ONLY one touchdown. Did you say we were spoiled? Nonsense. We just know what this rookie is capable of and we hate to see him fall short, but the one bright spot on last week’s Chargers game was the return of Austin Ekeler.
The young RB had missed the last 7 weeks to a hamstring injury but was in top form again in week 12 when he rushed 14 times for 44 yards and caught a jaw-dropping 11 targets for 85 yards. Fantasy owners in PPR leagues are salivating at this usage and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue.
It seems the one thing the Chargers have missed in Herbert’s ascent is a true every-down threat at RB, which seems to have returned with Ekeler. The Patriots are most exploitable in the running game, so expect Ekeler to take the vast majority of RB points, with appearances by Josh Kelley and, if available, Kalen Ballage, who was able to practice in full on Friday.
19. LOS ANGELES RAMS (@ ARI 18th RB, 13th WR, 18th QB)
It’s another divisional outing on the docket for the Rams as they take on the Cardinals in the desert in week 13. Jared Goff was terrible last week, turning the ball over three times on two fumbles and a pick, and throwing for only 198 yards. The 49ers (last week’s opponent) are probably stouter up front than the Cardinals, however, and Goff should have a little more time to get it going.
There isn’t much to say about his weapons, you’re starting most of them. Rookie RB Cam Akers seemed to outplay his backfield mates last week, compiling 84 yards on 9 carries (most of that came from a single long run, so don’t be fooled by the stats). However, with Henderson and Brown so far failing to distinguish themselves at the RB position, things could be worse for Akers. However, I would think you could do better than him in most 12 Team and shallower leagues.
The Rams DST is in play here against a Cardinals team that seems to be struggling offensively. However, Kyler Murray is explosive and a high-scoring day is always on the table, as much as the Rams could accrue sacks and maybe a turnover or two.
20. MIAMI DOLPHINS (vs CIN 23rd RB, 21st WR, 15th QB)
Looks to be another Fitzmagic week in the offing as the Dolphins take on the Bengals at home. The Dolphins RB situation is one of the most asked about fantasy situations of the week and with good reason. With Matt Breida hitting the Covid list, and Salvon Ahmed out with a shoulder, Myles Gaskin’s activation off IR becomes clutch for a MIA team that is trying to make the playoffs this year.
As expected, Fitzpatrick’s return was probably the most beneficial to Davante Parker, who went over 100 yards for only the second time this season, although he was held out of the end zone. Cincinnati is pretty generous to Wide Receivers, and with the Dolphins playing at home in the gorgeous South Florida weather, there’s no reason to think that Parker won’t find the end zone in week 13. He’s a great DFS play, with Jakeem Grant being an even deeper dart throw play at WR.
MIA DST remains a fantastic option, forcing turnovers at a high rate. The unit has 4 INTs along with 2 Fumbles forced and a defensive TD in the last 4 weeks.
21. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs JAX 27th RB, 28th WR, 30th QB)
Kirk Cousins has shown this year that if you give him the right matchup, the Vikings can be an extremely scary unit. He went over 300 yards passing against the Panthers last week and threw 3 TDs, two of which went to rookie WR Justin Jefferson, who predictably went off in the absence of Adam Thielen, who was held out due to Covid protocols.
Thielen is good to go this week and should resume his WR1 role, receiving a bulk of the red zone targets that aren’t Dalvin Cook rush attempts. Irv Smith Jr. being out improved prospects for Kyle Rudolph to have a good game at TE, with JAX giving up the third-most fantasy points a week to the position.
In a deeper note, backup RB and high upside stash Alexander Mattison is being held out this week after having an appendectomy, a procedure that kept TE Austin Hooper out for 2 games earlier this season. Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah would step up if something were to happen to Dalvin Cook, or if the Vikings decide to take it easy on their prized RB.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (@ LAC 24th RB, 6th WR, 26th QB)
Pats QB Cam Newton missed some practice this week with an abdominal injury, after leading the team to a win against the Cardinals despite posting less than 100 yards passing, 2 INTs, no Touchdowns, and a paltry 3.96 fantasy points. The Chargers defense is a bit better than the numbers would indicate, with Joey Bosa rounding back into form.
James White proved to be a great asset with 2 TDs, and a lot of passing game work. However, it was like pulling teeth for this offense to get much done at all. If it weren’t for their improving defense, the Pats likely would have lost the game to the Cardinals last week. Traveling cross-country to Los Angeles, the odds are further stacked against this Patriots team keeping anything going.
Jakobi Myers and Damiere Byrd are pretty much the only places I’m going in the passing game, and I’m considering them mostly DFS Tournament plays, as most season-long squads have better options from which to pick.
23. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (@ ATL 2nd RB, 29th WR, 31st QB)
The Saints are already seeing those damned dirty birds again, this time on the road in ATL. Can Michael Thomas feast again? Will Alvin Kamara regain his RB1 status? Will Taysom Hill show and cracks in his armor and have a bad game against a rapidly improving Atlanta defense? Only time will tell.
It may be best to keep expectations low with the RBs, despite #2 Latavius Murray scoring 2 touchdowns last week; the Falcons are among the best in the league at stopping the run. The passing game lends itself to Kamara’s dynamic skillset, and hopefully, he will once again provide the great fantasy stats that we became accustomed to earlier in the season.
One player who seems to be suffering as a result of Hill’s starting is Emmanuel Sanders, who has only seen 6 targets in the last three weeks, with two of those being single target games. Perhaps Hill will look his way if the Falcons decide to cover Michael Thomas this time, who caught 9/104 against the Falcons two weeks ago.
24. NEW YORK GIANTS (@SEA 14th RB, 32nd WR, 32nd QB)
The big news for the Giants heading into week 13 is the loss of Daniel Jones, who injured his hamstring last week against the Bengals. Colt McCoy will step in, and although McCoy has never been stellar, he has at least been serviceable in the past, and to keep pace in the NFC East, sometimes serviceable is more than enough.
It should be another great week for Wayne Gallman, with Devonta Freeman finding himself on the Covid list. Gallman has been a great Waiver pickup for fantasy owners, scoring 6 TDs in the past five games. Despite his lack of passing game involvement, the scores keep Gallman in the low-end RB1 conversation.
You’d like to get away from the passing game if you can, as it is unpredictable how McCoy will fare against an improving Seattle defense. Still, it has been established that the secondary can have its share of mental lapses, which may lead to some scoring chances for McCoy.
25. NEW YORK JETS (vs LV 29th RB, 20th WR, 22nd QB)
Darnold was pretty bad in his return from a shoulder injury, throwing for only 197 yards and 2 picks against the Dolphins. His backup, veteran Joe Flacco, has played better, but it’s not exactly like the Jets are trying to win. They have their eyes likely set on Trevor Lawrence, and the #1 pick in next year’s draft.
I would stay far away from the Jets this week unless you’re going to try out Frank Gore as a volume play, or Breshad Perriman as a dart throw. Perriman has been somewhat underrated, despite the putrid offense. He’s got 11 catches and 3 TDs in the last 3 games played, although it’s worth noting that only one of those was with Darnold under center.
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (@ GB 30th RB, 12th WR, 11th QB)
Where to start with the Eagles? After being embarrassed on MNF with Wentz once again not looking like a starter in the NFL, they have to travel to Lambeau to face the always hot Packers. The Packers are eyeing a top seed in the NFC playoffs and will likely steamroll the Eagles in a forgettable game on the PHI side of the ball.
Many thought Jalen Reagor could be an option last week, with the promise of a generous Seattle secondary. They were wrong, and pretty much the only member of the passing game who ate was Dallas Goedert, who caught a TD along with 7 catches for 75 yards. Zach Ertz will finally return this week, but I’m still trusting Goedert, who was by far the more dynamic player when Ertz was healthy earlier in the season.
All that on the table, the return of Ertz may benefit the passing game in other, more indirect ways. The excellent blocking of Ertz may give Wentz the extra couple of seconds he needs to actually make a read, rather than getting pressured and trying to play hero ball. I don’t see many Lambeau leaps in the Eagles’ future this week.
27. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (vs WAS 6th RB, 3rd WR, 13th QB)
The Steelers, while winning against the Ravens in the postponed game on Tues., didn’t meet the expectations of their HC Mike Tomlin, who attributed some struggles to “US SUCKING” as he would say in the postgame interview. The soundbite made the rounds and got some giggles out of sports media, but the reality of the situation is this: regardless of the PITs unbeaten record, they still don’t look like they can beat the Chiefs. At least not how they played on Tuesday.
Chalk it up to the schedule disruption, rust, or lack of rhythm while missing their usual starting RB James Connor, who missed due to Covid protocols and has yet to be activated. Whatever you blame, the Steelers defense also took a hit with the loss of star Bud Dupree to a torn ACL, and the team is left with more questions than answers.
With this game being part of a MNF double-header, it isn’t exactly a short week for Pittsburgh. But the WAS team is hungry after rolling the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and want to keep it rolling against a PIT team that suddenly looks more vulnerable than we thought. On the bright side, WAS hasn’t faced the strongest passing attacks in the league on the season, so Ben and his star lineup of WRs may be able to get something going, after all.
28. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (vs BUF 22nd RB, 10th WR, 27th QB)
The 9ers are getting healthy again, with Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Jeff Wilson, Tevin Coleman, and Brandon Aiyuk all good to go. Nick Mullens will be excited with some weapons to work with again, and coming off an under-the-radar win against the Rams last week, SF has a bounce in their step.
They will aim to slow down the powerful passing attack of BUF and Josh Allen, who ranks fantasy QB 6 on the season. With the dynamism of the SF offense under Kyle Shanahan, it’s feasible that all of these starting options could do well if Mullens is able to put together a respectable game. However, I wouldn’t expect much from Tevin Coleman who has been in and out of the lineup this season and hasn’t had much chance to develop a rhythm.
Deebo Samuel looked fantastic in his week 12 return, catching a whopping 11 passes for 133 yards against the stingy Rams pass defense. His usage as a WR1 should continue going forward, as he has remained healthy with no setbacks through the week.
29. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (vs NYG 19th RB, 15th WR, 6th QB)
The Seahawks kept rolling last week, dispatching the Eagles easily on MNF. Wilson wasn’t eye-popping but he was solid in the effort, with encouraging, turnover-free play. Drops by his receivers have hurt him, just as they hurt any quarterback. As much as you love DK Metcalf and his amazing stats, he has definitely left a few on the field this season.
Chris Carson was encouraging in his return, finding the end zone despite not posting huge yardage totals. He has managed to remain free of setbacks and should step into his usual larger role this week, especially with game-script likely pointing to a SEA blowout as the Giants rely on their backup QB. The Seahawks DST will be a top play this week.
30. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (BYE)
31. TENNESSEE TITANS (vs CLE 9th Rush, 23rd Rcv, 21st Pass)
Derek Henry season is upon us. There is no other way to lead off the Titans portion of this article than with the following: 27 rushes, 178 yards, 3 Touchdowns. That’s the monster stat-line that Henry posted against the supposedly tough-against-the-run Colts defense last week.
Tannehill still managed to throw for 221 yards and a TD with no picks, and sophomore WR AJ Brown continues to be an absolute stud, having scored in all but 2 games that he’s suited up for this season. He also has 16 TDs in his first 25 games played, the 5th most since 1990. Corey Davis continues to be a solid option, making the most of limited targets with 70 yards on only three grabs.
With Jonnu Smith ruled out at TE, look for Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim to step up in the passing game against a Cleveland defense that is ranked 28th against defending the position this season.
32. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (@PIT 4th RB, 19th WR, 2nd QB)
Despite riding high off a drubbing of the Cowboys in week 12, Washington’s work is cut out for them this week on the road against the undefeated Steelers. The loss of Bud Dupree for the Steelers will make a difference, especially in the running game for WAS and their fantastic rookie, Antonio Gibson. However, the PIT defensive front is still stout and deserving of respect.
With the Football Team and the Giants tied for the division lead at 4-7, and all the other NFC East teams likely to lose this week, the lead is prime for the taking if WAS can somehow win at Heinz Field. The key will be using Terry McLaurin to repeatedly attack in the PIT secondary, the one place where they have shown they can be beaten by a solid QB performer. Alex Smith seems to be coming along fine in his return to being a regular NFL starter, but we wouldn’t blame him if he got a bit rattled on Monday night, in the first game of a double-header.
The Football Team hasn’t played since Thanksgiving Day, and with the Steelers having just played on Tuesday against the tough Ravens defense, the rest advantage should heavily favor Washington.
READ LAST WEEKS THIRTY-TWO NOTES HERE