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Week 13 Fantasy Busts? Players Who May Disappoint Include Kyler Murray, Breece Hall, D'Andre Swift, Drake London

Kyler Murray - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Dodging busts with a full 16-game slate can be easy. With six teams on bye, it's a little bit more difficult.

The Bills, Ravens, Vikings, Bears, Raiders, and Giants all get their week off this Sunday. It couldn't have come at a worse time with the fantasy playoffs for the majority of leagues just two weeks away. Managers may have no other option than to start players who are underperforming or against tough matchups.

Below are my 10 fantasy football busts for Week 13 of the NFL season.

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Kyler Murray at Pittsburgh

Kyler Murray was far from accurate in the Cardinals' matchup with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but his offensive line did him no favors. Murray was hurried 13 times and sacked another four. For reference, Patrick Mahomes leads the league in pressures with 49. That's just about 4.5 times per game.

That was against Aaron Donald and the Rams. Aaron Donald? He's still phenomenal against the pass. The rest of the team? Not as much. Pro Football Focus grades Los Angeles as the 24th-best pass-rushing roster. They only have three in their front seven that have received a grade higher than 70. Spoiler alert: Donald is among them and was responsible for five of the hurries against Murray.

Pittsburgh, contrary to Los Angeles, has seven pass rushers that grade above 70 (two, however, are cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Elijah Riley). As a team, PFF slots them in with the sixth-highest grade. T.J. Watt leads the way.

Pass rush aside (although it's definitely a factor in the following stat), Pittsburgh is in the top 10 for the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Since their bye (Week 6), they've only allowed one signal-caller (Jordan Love) to register two passing touchdowns.

 

Derek Carr vs. Detroit

Derek Carr isn't being started in single quarterback leagues, so this bust candidacy is more for Superflex or 2QB formats. The matchup isn't the concern. Detroit ranks in the top 10 for most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and they're particularly stingy against the run.

But are there any *healthy* receiving threats on the Saints that can get open, even against a shaky secondary? Chris Olave is in the NFL's concussion protocol. Michael Thomas is on injured reserve with a knee injury. Rashid Shaheed has a thigh issue and it doesn't appear like he'll be ready to play on Sunday. That leaves rookie sixth-round pick A.T. Perry, Keith Kirkwood, Lynn Bowden, and tight ends Taysom Hill and Juwan Johnson (who was also injured on Sunday) to catch passes. Expect a heavy dosage of two tight end sets.

Alvin Kamara will be involved in the passing game, as he always is. Checkdown after checkdown, however, will only benefit Kamara in PPR leagues. Five to six yards per completion won't move the needle for Carr. Granted, Carr will be removed from the field less for Hill packages, as the Swiss Army Knife will be needed for his receiving skills.

The Saints' red zone struggles have been well-documented this season and haven't improved. They're sporting a 42.5% red zone touchdown rate (29th in the league) and just suffered through a zero-touchdown, five-field goal performance against Atlanta. If Olave, Thomas, and Shaheed can't get open when the field shrinks, can we rely on Perry, Kirkwood, and Bowden to accomplish that feat?

 

D'Andre Swift vs. San Francisco

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best defenses against running backs in the fantasy football realm. They see the fewest rushing attempts and give up the second-fewest yards. They are susceptible to receptions out of the backfield, but that hasn't been the strong point of D'Andre Swift's game this season.

Outside of a two-week stretch in Weeks 5 and 6 when he caught a combined 14 passes, Swift has topped three catches just once. Against the Bills in Week 12, Swift was targeted one time. Backup Kenneth Gainwell garnered three and Boston Scott added one as well. Jalen Hurts doesn't typically find his checkdown. He'd rather use his legs or take shots downfield to his elite receiving corps.

The Eagles' coaching staff is also reverting to the early-season strategy of using Gainwell on third downs. The 24-year-old played 10 of the 11 third-down snaps that the Eagles took against the Bills. Being off the field on third downs takes a lot of reception opportunities away from Swift.

He can avoid being a bust if he's able to get some work in the receiving game on early downs. If not, and running room against San Francisco remains difficult to come by, it could be a forgetful evening for the top running back in the City of Brotherly Love.

 

Breece Hall vs. Atlanta

There's just one team that has yet to allow a running back to find the end zone on the ground. Surprisingly, it's the team that ranks exactly in the middle for rushing yards surrendered per game, the Atlanta Falcons.

While the Falcons aren't superior in the yards department, they take away the more valuable touches for fantasy football. Outside of the lack of touchdowns, Atlanta also doesn't let opposing running backs catch the ball at a respectable rate. Through 11 games, the position has caught 49 passes. Only Tennessee and Miami have been better in that department.

The offenses Atlanta has played haven't been stellar, but they have prevented Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and Travis Etienne Jr. from finding paydirt. The task will be even easier when they travel to East Rutherford. Breece Hall hasn't scored on the ground since Week 6 (although he does have two receiving touchdowns in the following weeks) and the offense is even more of a mess with Tim Boyle under center. Coach Robert Saleh is criticizing the play of his best offensive weapon instead of the walking disasters he's been rotating through at the quarterback position.

Hall did catch seven passes against Miami on Black Friday. As noted above, the Dolphins are slightly better than Atlanta when it comes to pass-catching running backs. When (not if) Boyle panics in the pocket, he will search for his safety valve in Hall. That gives him somewhat of a safe PPR floor, but even with seven catches last week, he still only scored 11.9 PPR points.

 

Chuba Hubbard / Miles Sanders at Tampa Bay

Head coach Frank Reich and running backs / assistant head coach Duce Staley are no longer employed by the Carolina Panthers. AKA, the two men that primarily decide which running backs see the most snaps and in what packages they'll play.

Will the interim coach alter the rotation? It's a definite possibility but that's not the primary reason why you're avoiding the pair. The Panthers already gain the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (41 for Hubbard, 30 for Sanders) but the former still offers some flex appeal. Tampa Bay is one of 10 teams that hold opponents to under 100 yards on the ground.

Even with six teams on bye this week, trusting a Carolina running back at this juncture of the fantasy season comes with a fair amount of risk. Avoid the backfield if you can.

 

Joe Mixon at Jacksonville

It's hard to say which offensive weapon on Cincinnati is being hurt the most by Joe Burrow's absence. Ja'Marr Chase delivered 12 PPR fantasy points for fantasy managers, but half of his four receptions came on tipped passes. It's fluky, to say the least.

Without Tee Higgins in the lineup, Joe Mixon was the only startable asset outside of Chase for fantasy football. He was only able to muster 16 rushing yards on eight attempts against a middle-of-the-pack Pittsburgh run defense, although he did grab two passes for 44 yards. With Jake Browning at the helm, the Bengals only played on offense for 22 of the 60 minutes. That's not a recipe for success for a running back.

With Travis Etienne Jr. (and D'Ernest Johnson spelling the starter with efficiency), the Jacksonville Jaguars could replicate the ball control tactics that helped Pittsburgh walk away victorious. Their run defense, after all, is fourth in the league in yards allowed.

 

Drake London at New York Jets

If you're a routine reader of this column, this pick comes as no surprise. Receiver after receiver (outside of the Miami duo) has matched up against the Jets' secondary and underperformed. Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill have each other to distract the defense. There's no other weapon on the outside to help draw attention from Drake London.

If Arthur Smith had his way, the Falcons would run the ball 40 times per game. Which, in actuality, they've accomplished four times this season. I obviously don't work for the Falcons' organization, but I'd have to imagine that establishing the run is written in bold letters at the top of their game plan against the Jets.

As I've stated in several busts articles prior, Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are the best coverage cornerback duo in the league. They were previously both graded in the top five by PFF, although they have slipped a bit. They're still both in the top 10 and will have all of their focus on preventing London from getting open down the field.

 

Christian Watson vs. Kansas City

As one of the bigger Christian Watson truthers in the industry coming into the 2023 season, it felt great to see the second-year wideout rack up 90 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving Day (even though he'd already been cut from all of my teams). He's now scored in two consecutive games.

As mentioned last week, Kansas City cornerback L'Jarius Sneed has been among the best cornerbacks in football this season. A.J. Brown was held to eight yards against him. Only Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams have gone over 60 yards in a six-game stretch.

Watson still only has 21 catches on the season for 351 yards and three touchdowns. The touchdown rate is strong, albeit a small sample size. Still, Jordan Love tends to turn toward Romeo Doubs in the red zone. Doubs and Jayden Reed are safer plays against this secondary.

 

Terry McLaurin vs. Miami

When your star player plays against the worst defense in the league and he scores 20+ fantasy points, you wish every week he'd get that juicy matchup. That matchup for Terry McLaurin would be the Philadelphia Eagles. Although, he hasn't even reached the 20-point PPR mark yet this season.

In two games against the Eagles, McLaurin has earned 22 targets, 13 catches, 149 yards, and one touchdown. Against everyone else, the numbers are of a mediocre WR3.

Vs. Philadelphia Vs. Rest of Schedule
Targets (Avg.) 11 7.5
Receptions (Avg.) 6.5 4.7
Yards (Avg.) 74.5 54.5
Touchdowns 1 1

McLaurin will draw Jalen Ramsey often in this Week 13 matchup. Since returning from offseason surgery, Ramsey has been terrific in coverage and grades among the best cornerbacks, according to PFF. Receivers are only catching 36% of the passes thrown in his direction for a grand total of 66 yards through four games.

Given his track record of production against every team other than Philadelphia (although there have been a few respectable stat lines mixed in) and the matchup, it's best to find another option if you can. That may prove difficult, however, with six teams on bye.

 

Tyler Higbee vs. Cleveland

First, there was the report that Tyler Higbee was inactive. Then, a correction, he was going to play against Arizona after all. Not only did he play, the veteran tight end scored twice on five catches. Pay attention to the back half of that sentence. Five catches for 27 yards is not the production you want from a starting tight end. If he doesn't score, it's not pretty.

Of course, the same can be said for the majority of tight ends across the league. The point is, don't chase the big performance from Higbee. Those were his only touchdowns of the 2023 campaign and he hasn't topped five receptions at all.

The Browns surrender the fewest receptions (25) and yards (227) to tight ends by a wide margin. The next lowest totals are 40 and 398. It's always a possibility that Higbee finds the end zone again. The Browns' defense is a little banged up. If he doesn't, fantasy managers are going to wish that they started any other waiver wire option at the position.



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