Week 13 Offensive Sleepers

A look at Week 13's under the radar starts

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs IND) - Fitzpatrick is coming off of his best game in months, good enough to almost knock off the Patriots and put up his best fantasy performance since a Week 2 thrashing of the Bills. It also allowed him to hold onto the starting job for one more week even though his Jets team isn’t going anywhere this postseason. In Week 13, he gets to pilot the Jets in a home prime time game against the Colts, who have given up at least 200 yards and two passing scores in eight straight games. Indy’s best defensive player, corner Vontae Davis, is battling a groin injury and will have trouble sticking with Brandon Marshall. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been trustworthy all year, but that should change this week.

Matt Barkley (vs SF) - Barkley won’t attempt 54 passes this week, but he won’t need to against San Francisco. Let’s also remember that his receivers dropped eight passes last week, including three in the end zone, or he would have had an even bigger game and forged a huge comeback win against Tennessee. This week he draws a 49ers pass defense that has allowed multiple passing scores in every game this year except their Week 1 thrashing of Case Keenum and Carson Palmer’s 376-yard game in Week 10. Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and even Drew Stanton managed the feat against them without throwing more than 30 passes, so a regression to reality in Barkley’s attempts this week shouldn’t scare you off of playing him in a desperation situation.

Ryan Tannehill (at BAL) - The Dolphins have been intent on running the ball since their offensive line got healthy. While Laremy Tunsil and Branden Albert do look on target to return from injuries this week, the same can’t be said of pivot and keystone Mike Pouncey, and the Dolphins happen to be facing the #1 run defense in the league this week. Since Week 5, the Ravens have allowed at least 260 passing yards to every team they have faced except the Jets and Browns, and four of those seven games saw at least 40 passing attempts against them. Tannehill should be forced to shoulder most of the offense this week, which makes him a viable streamer and Marcus Mariota bye coverage option.

Alex Smith (at ATL) - Smith isn’t exactly a gunslinger, but the Falcons tend to put up points and force their opponents to come out of their shell offensively, especially at home. They have given up multiple passing scores in every home game this year except Philip Rivers’ 371-yard game in Week 7, and opposing quarterbacks have averaged over 40 attempts in those games. The Chiefs could get Jeremy Maclin back this week, and both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce match up very well against the Falcons defensive personnel assigned to them in the passing game. Smith and Andy Reid should have to stress the limits of their conservative approach to the passing game in this one.

Running Back

Dion Lewis (vs LA) - Lewis’s snaps, carries, targets, and receptions all ticked up in Week 12, and he should have all of the rust knocked off for a Week 13 game against the Rams. That Rams defense just allowed 49 points to New Orleans, and they are facing a New England offense that has absolutely owned Jeff Fisher teams the last two times they played him, outscoring the Rams and Titans by a combined score of 104-7. Last week, the Rams gave up two receiving scores to running backs, and they gave up another in Week 10. New England’s pair of big red zone targets at tight end are both ailing in this one, so Lewis is the favorite to get any scores LeGarette Blount doesn’t hoard to himself after already getting five red zone touches in his first two games back.

Kenneth Dixon (vs MIA) - Everything in the Ravens backfield is trending towards Dixon. He pulled even with Terrance West in carries for the first time, and he surpassed West in snaps in Week 13. Baltimore’s opponent this week, Miami, has given up a running back score in four of the last five weeks, including the rare Todd Gurley score. Dixon has added at least four catches and 31 receiving yards in two of the last three games, and the Dolphins have allowed three different backs to have at least five catches and 30 receiving yards in the same span. Dixon’s ceiling is modest in a timeshare, but he should still be a sufficient flex or RB2 in a pinch.

Wendell Smallwood (at CIN) - Smallwood came up, well, small, in Week 12 against Green Bay, but the Eagles fell behind early and seemed to abandon the running game. That shouldn’t happen this week against a crippled Bengals offense. Smallwood has at least 70 rushing yards in two of the three games that he got at least 13 carries this year, and he’s also fresh after being used sparingly for most of the season. The Bengals run defense has allowed at least 100 rushing yards to running backs in three of the last four weeks, with only the Ravens coming up short last week at 97, but they also piled up 65 running back receiving yards on 10 receptions.

James Starks (vs HOU) - Starks has been far from stellar since taking over as the Packers lead back, but he has scored in two of his three games since returning from injury, and his touches and his touches have trended up every week (10-14-22). This week, the Texans are coming to Lambeau and facing a Packers offense that seems to be clicking after moving the ball well against an Eagles defense that has been tough for the likes of Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger to crack in Philly this season. Starks could get multiple scoring opportunities against a defense that has given up three running back receiving scores in the last four weeks, which just happens to be how Starks has scored both of his touchdowns this year.

Tevin Coleman (vs KC) - Coleman showed that he was over his hamstring injury last week against the Cardinals and should be ready to display his speed on the fast track at home against the Chiefs. The Falcons should use Coleman as a receiver out of the backfield to slow down the Chiefs pass rush, and Kansas City has given up four scores to running backs as receivers already this year. Kansas City’s stalwart inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is banged up and it only takes one play for Coleman to make your week as a flex or desperation RB2.

Wide Receiver

Marquess Wilson (vs SF) - Wilson shouldn’t be under the radar after his 8-125-1 line against the Titans in only his second game back last week, but he was on the waiver wire in most leagues, so some might be reluctant to start him. Consider that Wilson also dropped a second touchdown and played 47 snaps in the game and his ceiling looks even higher against a 49ers defense that has allowed 20 wide receiver touchdowns this year and ten in the last five weeks. Wilson has proven to be the Bears best deep threat with Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White out, and Matt Barkley seemed to have the best chemistry with Wilson in Week 12 of any of the team’s ragtag receiver corps.

Quincy Enunwa (vs IND) - Enunwa had his biggest game of the year with the re-installation of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter in Week 12, and he has scored in each of the last three games that Fitzpatrick has started and finished. This week, he faces a Colts pass defense that has surrendered nine touchdowns to receivers in the last four games, and seven wide receiver games of at least 50 receiving yards over the same span. Enunwa was red hot last week, catching all five of his target, and four for receptions of at least 20 yards.

Tyler Boyd (vs PHI) - The weakness of the Eagles defense has been their corners, and their play been going downhill lately. In the last three weeks, five receiver have at least 75 receiving yards against them, and they have allowed seven wide receiver scores in the last four weeks. Boyd is the likely #1 wide receiver target for Andy Dalton this week with AJ Green out. Boyd has led the Bengals receivers in receptions and yards each of the last two weeks, and he also has the team’s only wide receiver score in that span.

Kenny Stills (at BAL) - DeVante Parker missed practice already this week with a back injury, which should push Stills into a larger role this week unless Parker rallies later this week to show the Dolphins that he can recover from the injury that prematurely ended his Week 12. In Week 13, Miami gets a Ravens defense that encourages opponents to go pass heavy. Stills has been a master of the deep score this year, and Baltimore has allowed a multi-score game to five different wide receivers this year, so his ceiling should be considered very high. Still has scored in three of the last five games, only failing to hit paydirt when he left after 15 snaps against the Jets and participated in the 14-10 very tightly played win over the Rams.

Dorial Green-Beckham (at CIN) - Green-Beckham came out of the gate hot against the Packers with 53 yards and four catches on four targets in one first-quarter drive, but for some the Eagles didn’t feature him for the rest of the game. That should change this week with Jordan Matthews nursing an ankle injury. Green-Beckham has at least five catches and 54 yards in every game that he has had at least six targets this year. Nelson Agholor’s fade in obscurity should insure that Green-Beckham passes that threshold this week.

Dontrelle Inman (vs TB) - Tyrell Williams has been on fire for the Chargers, but he exited Week 12’s win over the Texans with a shoulder injury. He hurt the same shoulder and played through a torn labrum in college in 2014, so the possibility of him playing against the Bucs this weekend isn’t necessarily an assurance that he will be productive or effective. Travis Benjamin hasn’t been the same since hurting his knee, so Inman might be the only effective, healthy receiver for Philip Rivers this week. The Bucs defense has come alive in recent weeks, but Rivers is a savvy quarterback who should be able to withstand the surge better than Russell Wilson behind a piecemeal offensive line. Inman has been surprisingly consistent lately, with at least five catches in the last three games, and at least 56 receiving yards in four of the last five games. He was also a deep threat last week with a 52-yard score, his second from 50+ this season.

Tight End

Vance McDonald (at CHI) - McDonald has become Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target, with at least six targets in each of the last five games, trending up to a season-high eight last week. He has at least three catches and 46 receiving yards in each of the last four games, and he has scored twice during that span. He should have had a third score last week, but he dropped a ball in the end zone. Against the Bears defense without both of their starting inside linebackers, McDonald should have an advantage. Tight ends have scored in each of the last three weeks against Chicago and McDonald has a good chance to extend that streak to four.

Ladarius Green (vs NYG) - Green finally showed why the Steelers invested in him this offseason with two effortless long catches against the Colts on Thanksgiving. Green has nine targets on only 34 snaps this year, and he could easily get in on 34 snaps against the Giants this week with an extra-long preparation week. He has five catches for 97 yards on those targets, and Mike Tomlin has said that his role with continue to grow, so the high value opportunities should increase this week against a Giants defense that has allowed seven different tight ends to go over 55 receiving yards this year.

Jason Witten (at MIN) **Thursday** - Witten hasn’t been a big factor in the Cowboys passing game since his massive Week 9 game against Cleveland, but that should change in Week 13 against Minnesota. Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn match up well against the Cowboys top two targets Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley, leaving Jason Witten as the best matchup for Dak Prescott to target on passing downs. The Vikings have actually been vulnerable to tight ends lately, with the exception of Eric Ebron’s goose egg last week. Before that, they had given up tight end scores in back-to-back weeks, and then games of at least 88 receiving yards to tight ends in the two previous weeks.

Vernon Davis (at ARI) - Jordan Reed is banged up and might not face the Cardinals this week. Davis is poised to take over a full-time role for the first time since Week 7, when he had 6-79 against Detroit. Even with Reed back in the lineup, Davis has been a good play three of the last four weeks, and the return of DeSean Jackson should keep safeties occupied and open up the middle of the field for the resurgent tight end. Davis has caught 19 of his last 22 targets for over 16 yards a catch. He has at least four targets in each of the games Reed has missed, so if Reed is out, we can pencil Davis in for TE1 numbers again this week.