The Best of Week 13 - Footballguys

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles.

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week.

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.

1. Cutting The Cord

Chad Parsons is Footballguys' resident Turk who delivers the message to fantasy players that one of their players has been cut — or should be. This week, Parsons' Cutting the Cord delivers notice to rosters with small, medium and larger depths. Here are some of the notable players on Week 13's list.

SHALLOW FORMATS

*15-18 roster spots*

Matthew Stafford

Why: The talent is sound, but the weapons are crumbling around Stafford down the stretch. Marvin Jones Jr Jr is headed to IR and Kenny Golladay is the lone wide receiver or tight end remaining with much upside to aid Stafford's production. Stafford is a tough start and being rostered in 92% of leagues is much too high considering his fragile status to log a big game for GMs in the playoffs. Without Golden Tate, Stafford has three touchdowns in four games and now loses another key piece.

Isaiah Crowell

Why: Crowell's weekly floor and ceiling combination has been siphoned by Elijah McGuire's snaps over the past three weeks. McGuire has out-snapped Crowell with ease each of the games and Crowell has fewer than 10 touches each of the past two contests. Yet Crowell is nearly 100% rostered in MFL leagues. Crowell is the exact type to churn for a higher upside primary backup at this stage of the season in shallow redraft leagues.

Michael Crabtree

Why: Crabtree has not surpassed 32 receiving yards in the past four games and has one game of more than 13 PPR points on the entire season. Lamar Jackson under center softens the upside of Michael Crabtree and John Brown, but at least Brown has more big-play potential downfield. Crabtree, like Stafford and Crowell in this section, lacks the upside to warrant a roster spot in shallow formats, especially with his WR40 roster rate.

Medium Depth

*18-22 roster spots*

Nelson Agholor

Why: Agholor has been woefully left out of the Eagles passing game with Golden Tate added in recent weeks. This despite snap rates in the 70-90% range the past three games. Agholor is still in the top-50 receivers in roster rate despite one impactful game (Week 2) this season and just three targets over the past two games.

Matt's Thoughts: It's a shame to cut Crowell, who is second in the NFL in Yards Gained After Close to Nick Chubb, but diminished opportunities trump efficiency. The potential counterargument for the Turk is that Buffalo and New England are pretty good run defenses and Tennessee gave up a huge day to Lamar Miller on Monday night. Yet, it's a flimsy counter because after facing Tennessee, Buffalo, Houston, and Green Bay are next on the schedule and none of them are great run-script opponents.

Stafford hasn't been anything more than a high-end committee play. Parsons' points are excellent and you should dump him if you have a better starter and have serious needs elsewhere as you head into the fantasy playoffs.

I'd give Crabtree another week. I understand the rationale about Lamar Jackson and Crabtree's two weeks of sub-par work prior to Jackson making his first start. However, the passing offense deserves a mulligan for the Cincinnati game because the coaches effectively shut down the passing game. Last week, Jackson threw the ball more and targeted Crabtree on a couple of deeper routes — his two least accurate passes of the day in an otherwise better performance than it appears on paper.

The really compelling argument to hang onto Crabtree is that Cincinnati and Oakland can't mount an offense, which reinforced run-heavy game scripts. Atlanta, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and the Los Angeles Chargers are much better units that should force the Ravens to throw more to keep up — and against equally bad passing defenses as Cincinnati and Oakland.

Agholor's usage looks like its dead. If he couldn't do much against the Giants, it's difficult to recommend having him — especially with the Eagles trying to assimilate Golden Tate into the scheme. I've recently added receivers like David Moore and Dante Pettis in medium-depth leagues to replace Agholor.

2. Normalized Strength of Schedule

Austin Lee's weekly analysis is an excellent tool for DFS and re-draft lineup decisions. Here's a video on how it works.

Lee's chart examines per-game stats for each team, productive percentages compared to other teams with common opponents, and then examines each organization's strength of schedule before normalizing the current strength of schedule with past and future incarnations.

Here are teams with the best raw strength of schedule by position for Weeks 14-16 (in order):

  • Quarterbacks: Baltimore, New Orleans, Carolina, Arizona, Dallas, and Philadelphia.
  • Running Backs: Carolina, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Arizona.
  • Wide Receivers: New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona, Carolina, Oakland, and Miami.
  • Tight Ends: Dallas, Houston, New York Giants, Chicago, and Baltimore.
Here are the teams with the best, normalized strength of schedule for Weeks 14-16 (in order):
  • Quarterbacks: Carolina, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Dallas, and New England.
  • Running Backs: Cincinnati, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Washington.
  • Wide Receivers: New Orleans, Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Philadephia, Miami, and Green Bay.
  • Tight Ends: Houston, Dallas, Denver, Baltimore, New York Giants, Oakland.
Matt's Verdict: So let's recommend some players! We're going to use the normalized version of the schedule but consider the raw version as a factor in breaking ties.
  • Quarterbacks
    • Drew Brees: After losing to the Cowboys, the Saints have opened the door for the Rams to earn home-field advantage. The Saints will not rest Brees unless the Rams clinch it within in the next 2-3 weeks. Every game will be big for New Orleans, who are dominant at home.
    • Cam Newton: D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are emerging, Greg Olsen is healthy enough, and Newton has become a better quarterback this year because he's learning to check the ball down to Christian McCaffrey, which has kept drives alive and earned bigger plays that Newton probably expected considering how reticent he's been to do this in recent years.
    • Tom Brady: Although he's dropped to 14th among fantasy starters, Rob Gronkowski is back and Josh Gordon is healthier. Expect a strong playoff stretch.
    • Dak Prescott: Since Week 8, Prescott has been the No.12 fantasy starter — and 6th overall since Week 10. He's playing better and has an upgraded receiving corps. Don't be shy with him.
    • Lamar Jackson: He'll have to throw more but it could also lead to more big-play scrambles. Expect some big weeks ahead that could put him second or third on this list but his floor is where I have him.
    • Carson Wentz: The Eagles' weapons and tattered defense give him a slight edge over Baker Mayfield.
    • Baker Mayfield: I don't trust him against tough pass rushers and good man-to-man corners. Houston, Carolina, and Denver present this dynamic but with a little more boom-bust play in the secondary. Mayfield could easily be the third- or fourth-best option on this list, but his outlook riskier than his recent stats appear.
  • Running Backs (Saquon Barkly is a no-brainer, let's skip him...)
    • Nick Chubb: The Browns' runner has been more productive than Barkley in recent weeks and his increased usage in the receiving game elevates his standing.
    • Adrian Peterson/Chris Thompson: Trent Williams should be back and this helps whoever is healthiest among Peterson and Thompson — don't rule out both thriving.
    • Peyton Barber: A potential flex play who could remain viable because of the passing game keeping things close.
    • Joe Mixon: Until we see more Jeff Driskel, it's probably best to approach Mixon with caution, despite the favorable schedule.
  • Wide Receivers (Let's skip Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay, and Davante Adams — they're no-brainers....)
    • D.J. Moore: He's becoming the primary receiver in this offense and the opponents he's facing are weak over the middle where Moore thrives.
    • Curtis Samuel: Yes, he's earning slightly more production than Moore in Carolina, but Moore isn't as dependent on touchdowns and rushing yardage.
    • Larry Fitzgerald: He's the best option in a struggling passing game and should earn enough targets to justify WR2 status like he's delivered for the past two weeks.
    • Alshon Jeffery: I'm reticent to recommend an Eagles' receiver right now but Jeffery marks the point on this list that separates flex-plays with WR1 upside (Jeffery) from hopeful flex-producers.
    • Christian Kirk: An flex-play but if you're desperate, he could help you as the only other viable fantasy receiver in the Cardinals' attack.
    • Tre'Quan Smith: I'm not loving this pick. He's a straight-line route runner and the emergence of Dan Arnold and Keith Kirkwood could interfere with Smith's game. It did against Dallas last night.
    • Bruce Ellington: The totals will likely remain modest but he's earning consistent targets.
    • Keith Kirkwood: His touchdown appeared to be on a poorly-run route but he's earning more time and making plays, so if you're desperate, go with the available option with a good schedule. You can add Brandon Cooks and Austin Carr to the list if necessary.
    • Marquez Vales-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown: The schedule is favorable enough but the Packers have also figured out that a steady dose of Aaron Jones relieves the need to lean as hard on Aaron Rodgers and these rookie options.
  • Tight Ends: This is not a fun group because the teams with the best schedules lack top players who are healthy or earn consistent use other than Jared Cook in recent weeks (who is a must-start). The rest of these options are desperation plays with the possible exception of Evan Engram if he returns healthy enough to play to his athletic potential.

Good luck...

3. The Top 10 on Justin Jackson

It's possible that Austin Ekeler handles most of the Chargers' workload and shuts out Justin Jackson of any shot at significant playing time. However, I'm not buying it. This week, I profile Justin Jackson's game in the Top 10 and explain why I believe Jackson is worth a cheap add as an end-of-roster throwaway with upside:

Austin Ekeler is the Charger to have while Melvin Gordon III is week-to-week with an MCL tear. He's the proven commodity and has the trust of Philip Rivers in the passing game.

It doesn't mean you should sleep on rookie Justin Jackson, who the Chargers were excited about landing as a draft-day value. There was quiet conversation during the summer that Jackson could challenge Ekeler for playing time if he had a strong training camp.

Jackson injured his hamstring after a few good plays into training camp and missed all but the final preseason game — which is usually the game where guys will play with difficult injuries so they can make the team or at least earn an IR designation with the hope of landing on the practice squad when healthy. Jackson earned a practice squad spot, worked his way to the active roster by the London game, and became a regular contributor on special teams.

Jackson overtook fellow rookie Detrez Newsome on the running back depth chart and on Sunday, he earned playing time in the backfield during Los Angeles' blowout of Arizona. That statement sounds like Jackson came into the game in the fourth quarter and faced a bunch of scrubs after the game was well in hand. The reality of the situation is that Jackson played with and against starters in the second and third quarter before the Chargers extended the lead beyond any realistic attempt at a comeback.

Jackson showcased a lot of the skills he displayed at Northwestern: burst, agility, vision, and indirect contact balance.

I thought Jackson was one of the most underrated rookie runners in this rich class. If you have Ekeler on your roster — or lost Gordon and have room for a high-upside addition to the end of your roster — Jackson has the skills to be a league-winner if called upon to play a key role in this excellent offense.

It's most likely that Jackson earns change-of-pace opportunities. Consider 5-7 touches per game as his floor if Ekeler proves sturdy and productive. If the Chargers want to preserve Ekeler and Jackson continues performing well enough with those 5-7 touches to earn a larger share, Jackson could earn 8-12 touches and become a flex factor sooner than later.

If Ekeler gets hurt or Jackson outperforms Ekeler, Jackson has experience handling the prolific volume at Northwestern as a four-year starter and should be capable of 15-17 touches without a problem.

4. Rent-A-Kicker

Adam Harstad is the perfect floor manager for this quirky Rent-A-Center location. Every week, he gives you the results of the previous week, results to date, and recommended streamers at the position. Here's Harstad's store policy:

No position is more unpredictable in fantasy football than kickers. Year after year after year, no position has a lower correlation between where they're drafted before the season and where they finish after the season. No position has a lower correlation between how they score in one week and how they score in the next. No position has a lower correlation between projected points and actual points.

In addition, placekicker is the position that has the smallest spread between the best players and the middle-of-the-pack players for fantasy. Finally, most fantasy GMs will only carry one kicker at a time, which means there are a dozen or more starting kickers sitting around on waivers at any given time. Given all of this, it rarely makes sense to devote resources to the position. Instead, GMs are best served by rotating through whichever available kicker has the best weekly matchup.

Every week, I'll rank the situations each kicker finds himself in (ignoring the talent of the kicker himself) to help you find perfectly startable production off the waiver wire.

Harstad even cross-checks his accuracy:

To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 63 weekly recommendations, (eight in Week 1 before settling on the current five-per-week format). Those 63 kickers have averaged 7.46 fantasy points per game, which would rank 13th at the position among regular starters.

A 13th-place finish is misleading, however, because many of the kickers ahead of our amalgam were likely not actually used in fantasy for much of the year.

The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Stephen Gostkowski, Greg Zuerlein, Justin Tucker, Harrison Butker, Wil Lutz, Jake Elliott, Matt Bryant, Chris Boswell, Robbie Gould, Dan Bailey, Matt Prater, and Mason Crosby. Of those 12, just six, (Gostkowski, Tucker, Butker, Lutz, Crosby, and Gould), have outperformed our Frankenkicker. Meaning someone who streamed kickers has probably gotten league-average results without investing a single resource at the position.

Here's who Harstad recommends this week:

**Since streaming kickers is so popular and rostered players can vary across leagues, here is a list of how favorable every kicker's situation is based on Vegas projected totals and stadium. Quality plays who are especially likely to be on waivers based on NFL.com roster percentages are italicized and will be highlighted in next week's column. Also, note that these rankings are kicker-agnostic; teams will occasionally change kickers mid-week, but any endorsements apply equally to whatever kicker winds up eventually getting the start.**

Great Plays
Harrison Butker, KC
Greg Zuerlein, LAR
Wil Lutz, NO
**Sebastian Janikowski, Sea
Ka'imi Fairbairn, Hou
Mason Crosby, GB
**Graham Gano, Car

Good Plays
**Cairo Santos, TB
**Ryan Succop, Ten
Stephen Gostkowski, NE
Justin Tucker, Bal
Adam Vinatieri, Ind
Jake Elliott, Phi
**Chris Boswell, Pit
Matt Bryant, Atl
Cody Parkey, Chi
Brandon McManus, Den

5. Fantasy Overview: 'How to Win in the playoffs"

Jeff Hasley's weekly piece provides 10 factors. Let's examine a few of these. You can read them in order here.

4. Game Script - There is a degree of luck involved with game script because it's difficult to accurately predict how a game will go from quarter to quarter. Will there be garbage yards in the second half of a blowout? Will the game be a back and forth battle involving two strong offenses or perhaps two teams who are known for having defenses that give up a lot of yards and points, like the Buccaneers and Bengals? There have been several high scoring games this year where both team's quarterback finished in the Top 8. The Rams, Chiefs, Steelers, Saints, and Colts come to mind as teams that fit into this category. As the league continues to evolve and offense becomes king, favorable game scripts are becoming more and more common. The highlight game of course being the Chiefs vs Rams Monday Night point-fest That's a perfect example of a favorable game script. It's difficult to have multiple players on your roster who have pristine matchups, so those that do, better come through when you need them.

7. Target players at home, especially running backs - Running backs at home tend to score more fantasy points than on the road, especially backs on winning teams. Winning teams often have a point cushion later in games where they will tend to lean on their back to control the clock. Winning teams at home also have a tendency to have an advantage on the snap count and therefore the offensive line is quicker to control the line of scrimmage. This all benefits the running back as well as the quarterback. The matchup I like best for a quarterback is a home game against a team with a similarly effective quarterback. You want that back and forth battle of offenses where the majority of each team's possessions result in a score.

8. Follow Vegas lines, especially over/under point totals - Many sportsbook sites like VegasInsider.com have NFL lines and over/under totals. The games with higher point totals tend to lead to higher fantasy production games. Usually games forecasted to exceed 48 points or more are the ones you want to target for making lineup decisions. Most weeks there's at least one matchup with 50+ expected points. Exploit those games. Our John Lee writes an article every week in our DFS section showing which matchups will yield the most expected points.

Matt's Verdict: Let me tell you about Haseley the fantasy manager. He is by far the luckiest competitor I have faced during the past 3-4 years. He wins the closest matchups in the most improbable ways. As you can tell, I'm among those who have been victimized.

What this also means is that Hasley's teams have talent and balance, he makes good lineup decisions based on game scripts and good matchups and he looks at Vegas lines. This usually generates consistent production and luck is on his side.

Hasley is lucky as a rabbit's foot, sitting atop a horseshoe with a four-leaf clover draped over top. He's also a fine fantasy player. While I only listed three factors above, this explanation of Hasley's game involves most of the other factors he lists in the article.

Good luck this week — and if you need a little more, click Hasley's article and hopefully it will rub off on you.