Dave Richard here pinch-hitting for Chris on this first Friday of December. Week 13 is officially underway, and if there was some kind of mystical meter to measure the excitement level of the week, it would be at its highest possible point. Why? For one thing, the slate is chock-full of matchups involving plenty of familiarity. The Chiefs and Bengals rekindle their newfound rivalry after their duo of late-season meetings ultimately produced a Super Bowl berth for Cincy; Mike McDaniel leads his Dolphins into a high-stakes game against his mentor, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers; and Deshaun Watson makes his season debut for the Browns against the very club that drafted him and made him a superstar, the Texans.
I didn't even mention Aaron Rodgers visiting the team he "owns," A.J. Brown squaring off against his old squad in the Titans, a prove-it showdown between the Commanders and Giants, Tom Brady having to overcome a Saints defense that always seems to have his (and Mike Evans') number, or the D.J. Chark/Marvin Jones double-revenge game!
OK, maybe that last one isn't gonna be THAT exciting.
The good news is that there's at least one non-obvious player in each game who Fantasy managers need an answer on. We've got that covered in this newsletter. Along with previews of all of our well-researched content here:
- Week 13 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Week 13 Lineup Decisions: Starts, sits, sleepers, busts
- Week 13 Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
- Week 13 Rankings: Jamey | Dave | Heath
🔍Week 13 Game Previews
The results of Fantasy lineup decisions are pretty cut-and-dried, but the process in choosing who to start can be done wisely. Here's a look-ahead at the phenomenal Week 13 games that will help determine who's for real and who's not in your leagues.
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
Steelers at Falcons
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Steelers -1; O/U 42
- Implied totals: Steelers 21.5, Falcons 20.5
All but two Falcons losses this season have been by one score, a sign that this team is a few playmakers away from being good. The fact they're only getting one point against the popular Steelers probably means the oddsmakers want you to put your dough on the 'Burgh. It's enough to think the Falcons will find a way to pull this one out.
Toughest lineup decision: Cordarrelle Patterson -- Possible bust. "I don't love how Patterson isn't the Falcons' workhorse -- sharing with at least two other backs (and a running quarterback!) from week to week definitely has its drawbacks. But Atlanta remains committed to the run and the Steelers defense is in a tough spot playing on the road twice in the span of seven days. It's not a bad matchup. Patterson is bust-ish but has enough work near the goal line to have an edge in Fantasy lineups over Latavius Murray, D'Andre Swift and A.J. Dillon, but not quite over Ezekiel Elliott and Zonovan Knight."
Injuries: Najee Harris (oblique) is the only relevant one for Fantasy managers. If he's out, expect Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell to split the rushing workload. Snell has the better chance to score, Warren has the better chance to total 70 yards and catch four or more passes.
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Broncos at Ravens
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Ravens -8.5; O/U 38.5
- Implied totals: Ravens 23.5, Broncos 15
No one believes the Broncos can ride into Baltimore and earn a victory, right? So the oddsmakers had to decide how many points to give them to make things interesting. The 8.5-point line seems honest -- four of the Ravens' seven wins this year have been by 10 or more points while five of the Broncos' past six losses have been by one score.
Toughest lineup decision: Courtland Sutton -- Flex at best. "Sutton should remain a high-target getter until Jerry Jeudy is back in the Broncos' mix. That keeps him in the fold as a modest flex with potential for close to 15 PPR points. That includes this week against the Ravens, particularly since it figures to be a matchup where Denver will be forced to abandon the run. I wouldn't count on him scoring, though. I'd flex Sutton over Allen Lazard and Ezekiel Elliott, but not over DeVonta Smith or Pat Freiermuth."
Injuries: Jerry Jeudy (ankle) missed practice again on Thursday. Lamar Jackson (quad) is in line to play and could be very good as his teammates aim to bounce back from a case of the end-zone dropsies last week.
Packers at Bears
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Packers -3; O/U 44
- Implied totals: Packers 23.5, Bears 20.5
The Bears have been fun to watch but have dropped five straight games and nine total. Each of their past three losses with Justin Fields at quarterback have been by three or fewer points. The Packers aren't playing smoothly on either side of the ball to warrant a lot of confidence, so this could be a game where, if Fields plays, the Bears find a way to keep it close.
Toughest lineup decision: Allen Lazard -- Sit. "There are too many factors hurting Lazard: The matchup is great but it could lead to the Packers not having to throw 30-plus times. Lazard's history against Chicago is touchdown-dependent. He's not even the best receiver on his own roster over the past three games. His quarterback is playing through multiple injuries. If you start Lazard, you're hoping he scores and becomes much more efficient than he's been, and you're probably hoping for the Bears offense to put up some points so that the Packers don't just pummel the Chicago defense with the run game. It's a lot to count on for Lazard, which is why I'd rather start Zay Jones, Michael Pittman and Christian Watson."
Injuries: Aaron Rodgers (right thumb, rib) has said he will play. Justin Fields (shoulder) is a top 10 Fantasy QB if he plays, and he was a full participant in practice on Thursday. If he doesn't play, there isn't much to like from the Chicago offense beyond David Montgomery.
Jaguars at Lions
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Jaguars -1; O/U 51.5
- Implied totals: Jaguars 26.25, Lions 25.25
The Lions' front seven on defense? Playing better. The secondary? Beat up and slow. That's an open invitation for Trevor Lawrence to go ham. And he'll have to if the Jaguars are going to win because the Lions have won three of their past four and hung tough with the Bills on Thanksgiving. I think the line would have been in Detroit's favor if the oddsmakers believed the Jaguars didn't have a chance to win.
Toughest lineup decision: Zay Jones -- Flex at best. "With Lawrence trying to get the ball out of his hands quickly and Jones among his most reliable short- and mid-range targets, there's a pretty good expectation of 15 PPR points here. I wouldn't expect more, particularly since Jones has one touchdown all year, but he's definitely among the best PPR flexes you could start. I'd use him over George Pickens, Courtland Sutton and Adam Thielen."
Injuries: Travis Etienne (foot) is a must-start if he plays, but if he doesn't then expect JaMycal Hasty to lead a multi-man approach to the Jaguars run game. Like Etienne, Zay Jones (chest) has been limited in the first two practices to start the week. Also keep an eye on the Lions offensive line -- several starters are hurt and will either play that way or miss the game.
Jets at Vikings
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Vikings -3; O/U 44.5
- Implied totals: Vikings 23.75, Jets 20.75
The reality is that every Vikings win since Week 3 has been by one score, and both of their losses were blowouts. The Jets' win last week over the lowly Bears bought themselves some cred with the betting public, but they're still regarded as an under-the-radar team, especially compared to Minnesota. I sense the oddsmakers are expecting a very tight game.
Toughest lineup decision: Zonovan Knight -- Start him. "Expect Knight to be the Jets' main running back, losing third-down plays to Ty Johnson and, potentially, occasional work to James Robinson. He has 15-touch potential in a good role in a matchup that isn't like last week's, but isn't impossible. I'd anoint Knight in PPR formats over both Commanders RBs and Cordarrelle Patterson, and in non-PPR over Gus Edwards, Latavius Murray and D'Andre Swift."
Injuries: Michael Carter's (ankle) absence further emboldens Knight's outlook. Be aware of Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw's status -- protecting Kirk Cousins is kind of important, and the Jets pass rush is pretty good.
Titans at Eagles
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Eagles -4.5; O/U 44.5
- Implied totals: Eagles 24.5, Titans 20
Football fans have witnessed the Eagles' dominance in all but one game this year. Not nearly as many recognize just how savvy of a coach Mike Vrabel is for the Titans. Tennessee has one loss by more than four points, and that includes a three-point L against the Chiefs with Malik Willis at quarterback! The oddsmakers want your money on the Eagles.
Toughest lineup decision: DeVonta Smith -- Flex at best. "If you've been starting Smith, you deserve a hug. Then, get ready to consider starting him again. His target volume remains attractive, and a tough matchup ahead for the Eagles running game could put more numbers in Smith's future. It's juuust enough to keep him in as at least a high-upside flex. I'd start him over Courtland Sutton, Adam Thielen and Zay Jones."
Injuries: DeVonta Smith (groin) is the only real impact player for Fantasy of note, but no one's expecting him to miss the game.
Commanders at Giants
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Commanders -2.5; O/U 40.5
- Implied totals: Commanders 21.5, Giants 19
Losers of three of four, the Giants seem to be getting a little love from the oddsmakers, especially since each of their losses this season have been by seven-plus points. Washington's defense is good and its offense has found ways to stay competitive, so call me suspicious for thinking the line is a little bit off. Maybe the Giants will hang around and find a way to win again.
Toughest lineup decision: Brian Robinson -- Start him. "It's still a leap of faith to believe in Robinson, but he's seen more carries than Gibson and actually has produced a better rushing average in three of their past four games. The Giants run defense has been sloppy (a RB has had at least 11 PPR points against the G-Men in six straight) and if Gibson barely or does not play, Robinson has a shot at another strong stat line. I'd start Robinson over Gus Edwards, Latavius Murray and any Steelers RB."
Injuries: Antonio Gibson (foot) was downgraded to a DNP on Thursday, putting his availability for Sunday in doubt. There are a lot of linemen and defensive players whose statuses could sway some things in this game, but save for the top running back and receiver for each team and the Washington DST, there aren't any real decent Fantasy options in this game.
Browns at Texans
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Browns -7; O/U 46.5
- Implied totals: Browns 26.75, Texans 19.75
Who in their right mind would take Houston?! Only one of their last six losses are by seven points, and only one loss all year has been by less than that! Before you run to put your mortgage on the Browns, just know Cleveland has won just two games by more than seven points this season. There must be something in this game that's keeping the oddsmakers from making this line larger than it is.
Toughest lineup decision: Deshaun Watson -- Possible bust. "While it's a certainty that Watson would like to put up some numbers against his former team, the reality is that the Browns can win this game without Watson having to throw all over the place. I'd lower expectations to about 200 passing yards and a couple of touchdowns, enough for Watson to be good for your Fantasy team, but not great. I'd use him over Tom Brady, Jared Goff and Russell Wilson, but I like the upside better for Geno Smith, Mike White and Jimmy Garoppolo."
Injuries: There are some important defensive players like Derek Stingley (hamstring) and Denzel Ward (ankle) who could help or hurt matchups if they play, but obviously David Njoku (knee) is the biggie for Fantasy managers. If he practices by Friday, aim for him to be in lineups as a middling No. 1 Fantasy TE.
Dolphins at 49ers
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
- Line: 49ers -4; O/U 46.5
- Implied totals: 49ers 25.25, Dolphins 21.25
It's wild to think the Dolphins can be implied to score about three touchdowns -- they have potential to land so much more. But this is a really good 49ers defense, and the public knows it. What they might not know is that the Dolphins O-line could have some personnel issues that could keep the offense from reaching a big number. I wonder if the oddsmakers could have gotten away with giving the Niners a few more points.
Toughest lineup decision: Jeff Wilson -- Sit him. "There's a phenomenon in the NFL where a defensive playcaller returns to play against his former team -- they almost always beat them. That's not exactly the case here, but it's plenty obvious that former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel's run offense in Miami is very, very similar to what he ran in San Francisco. The 49ers should be more than ready to handle Wilson. I'd rather start Ezekiel Elliott, Jamaal Williams, Zonovan Knight and Gus Edwards."
Injuries: Terron Armstead (toe/pec) and Austin Jackson (ankle) are the Dolphins' starting tackles, and they're both not expected to play as of this writing. Of course, the Niners have an injury concern of their own: Christian McCaffrey (knee). He missed practice on Wednesday and could be at less than 100 percent for Sunday. If he's out, expect the 49ers backfield to work by committee with no one player a good Fantasy option (but Tyrion Davis-Price as a solid stash RB).
Seahawks at Rams
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
- Line: Seahawks -7; O/U 41
- Implied totals: Seahawks 24, Rams 17
Seattle should be good enough to blow out a depleted Rams offense. Seattle's run defense has been smashed the past two weeks and Pete Carroll has spoken about fixing it. This is a good opponent to do it against. I do worry a little that the line is a little light in favor of the Seahawks, but the Rams' offense is so bad that it might not matter.
Toughest lineup decision: Geno Smith -- Start him. "The Cinderella of the 2022 Fantasy season should still get an invite to your lineup in Week 13. His deep passing has been excellent and he'll have a little more time to get those rockets fired off with the Rams' pass rush muted. Pencil him in for another 22-point Fantasy game. Smith is a safe start over Kirk Cousins, Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady."
Injuries: Matthew Stafford (concussion, neck) and Aaron Donald (ankle) are both expected to miss the game. There's not much need for analysis here. Rams injuries bad, Seahawks matchup good.
Chiefs at Bengals
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Line: Chiefs -2; O/U 53
- Implied totals: Chiefs 27.5, Bengals 25.5
Figure the game as a pick em; Kansas City has won one game by exactly one point in the Patrick Mahomes era including the playoffs. Why not give three points? Maybe the oddsmakers think that's too many, which is why taking two might be the right way to look at it. Cincinnati's defense has played mostly outstanding all season.
Toughest lineup decision: JuJu Smith-Schuster -- Start him. "If you take the leap of faith that Smith-Schuster will play his normal allotment of snaps, he should be at least serviceable, even if he's in the slot more. He's capable of beating zone coverage and should command more targets because of the matchup (Cincy's run defense is pretty good, plus the Chiefs throw a lot anyway). I'll take the chance on him in PPR over DeVonta Smith, Michael Pittman and Adam Thielen."
Injuries: Joe Mixon (concussion) is expected to play and is a must-start. Same thing with Ja'Marr Chase (hip), though we'll get an idea of just how effective he'll be with his hip ailment. Kadarius Toney (hamstring) isn't expected to go, and Jerick McKinnon's hamstring injury might open the door for Melvin Gordon to see some playing time.
Chargers at Raiders
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Line: Raiders -1; O/U 50.5
- Implied totals: Raiders 25.75, Chargers 24.75
Did the Raiders' win over the Seahawks last week convince people that they can hang with the Chargers? Or are the Chargers so unpopular because of aggressive coaching decisions and bad injury luck that they're just not seen as good enough to beat Las Vegas? The latter might be the more realistic conclusion.
Toughest lineup decision: DeAndre Carter -- Sneaky sleeper. "Make no mistake, Keenan Allen is still the best bet in this offense. But if Herbert is keeping his throws short, Carter's the guy more likely to benefit than Josh Palmer. Where things could get dicey is near the end zone -- I wouldn't count on Carter scoring again and Palmer might since he's a bigger body. I'd rather start Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Diontae Johnson over Palmer, and I'd take the chance on Carter over those three and Palmer in full PPR."
Injuries: Josh Jacobs (calf) is expected to play without practicing much this week. He's earned the benefit of the doubt as a must-start RB. Mike Williams (ankle) shouldn't be counted on. Also keep tabs on the Chargers O-line (two starters might miss the game) along with safety Derwin James with a hip issue.
Colts at Cowboys
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
- Line: Cowboys -10.5; O/U 44.5
- Implied totals: Cowboys 27.5, Colts 17
Five of Dallas' eight wins are by 11 or more points, but only two of the Colts' seven losses are by 11 or more points. Sure feels like a spot where the oddsmakers want you to buy into the favorite.
Toughest lineup decision: Michael Pittman -- Start him. "Pittman is a borderline lock to keep up his string of games with 12-plus PPR points, but he's got a ceiling significantly higher because the Colts figure to throw a lot and the Cowboys are pretty willing to let offenses connect on shorter throws. I'd start him in PPR over DeVonta Smith and Allen Lazard, and in non-PPR over JuJu Smith-Schuster and Courtland Sutton."
Injuries: Jelani Woods (shoulder/quad) may not be able to have the chance to repeat his numbers from Week 12. No other injuries should impact lineup decisions.
Saints at Buccaneers
- Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Line: Buccaneers -3.5; O/U 40.5
- Implied totals: Buccaneers 22, Saints 18.5
Neither team has looked great lately, and while the Saints' past four losses have been by eight or more points, they always seem to play the Buccaneers hard. Tack on Tampa Bay's injuries and imperfect offense and we might have a spot where taking the Saints makes sense.
Toughest lineup decision: Alvin Kamara -- Possible bust. "Kamara has been saved by his work in the passing game, but even that's not as strong as it once was. It would make so much sense for the Saints to lean on Kamara as a check-down option against the Bucs' zone-heavy defense, but they've faced matchups like that before this season (including against the Bucs in Week 2!) and they haven't done it. Sitting Kamara takes some guts, but if you have capable backs with 15-touch potential like Rachaad White and Ezekiel Elliott, you can do it. There's more upside in using Christian Watson or Zay Jones in PPR as flexes than Kamara, too."
Injuries: Leonard Fournette (hip) practiced in full on Thursday, putting him on track to play. Juwan Johnson (ankle) hasn't been consistent, so any injury to him wouldn't hurt many in the Fantasy world. The larger injuries that could impact this game include Bucs right tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle/knee), Saints center Erik McCoy (leg), Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen), Bucs defensive lineman Vita Vea (foot) and Bucs safety Antoine Winfield (ankle).