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Week 13 Matchups - Fantasy Football Game Breakdowns (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our Week 13 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. We'll also be updating this as injury reports come in, so check back often for the latest advice.

This article will cover the late slate of games, beginning after 4:00 pm EST on Sunday as well as the Sunday night game. Don't forget to see our early game matchups analysis here and look for our MNF matchups analysis as well.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. For start/sit advice or anything fantasy football-related, find me on Twitter @Pfunk00 and I'll be glad to offer help.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


4:05 PM ET Games

We are finally back up to four late-afternoon games now that the byes are over (about time!). The night game features two top AFC contenders as the Chargers travel to Pittsburgh. Make sure to set your lineups in time for all the action.


Chiefs at Raiders

Matchups We Love:

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)
We love Mahomes this week? You don't say??? (insert Nic Cage meme) Mahomes had a week off to prepare for the 2-9 Raiders, who rank 30th in points allowed and 27th in passing TD allowed. Let that sink in for a second before you build your DFS lineup... His arm may still be tired after throwing for 478 yards and six touchdowns in his previous game, but he should be an acceptable fantasy starter this week.

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)
The Chiefs haven't had the pleasure of facing Oakland yet this year. Last year, Hill combined for 10 catches, 200 yards and a touchdown in two games against the silver and black. He has gobs of upside in this matchup, as Oakland's defense is clearly worse than it was a year ago.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)
The All-Pro tight end really hasn't had a ton of success facing the Raiders in his career, averaging under four receptions and 52.3 yards per game, with one score in eight games. He also never had Pat Mahomes as his QB before. Kelce should be just fine as the top-ranked tight end of the week, as usual.

UPDATE: Kareem Hunt has been released by the Chiefs, and Spencer Ware will be the lead running back moving forward.

Kareem Hunt (RB, KC)
Hunt actually hasn't been putting up huge numbers lately, running for 70 and 71 yards the last two games with no scores. His involvement in the passing game and high probability of scoring through the air keeps him in RB1 territory each week, however. Hunt has only failed to reach the end zone twice all season and now goes up against a team allowing the eighth-most fantasy PPG to running backs. He's got the highest floor outside of any RB this week other than Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey.

Matchups We Hate:

Doug Martin / Jalen Richard / Deandre Washington (RB, OAK)
In an extremely favorable matchup with the Arizona defense in Week 11, Martin ran for 52 yards, Richard 61 and Washington 39. In Week 12, with the unfavorable Ravens defense opposing them, the three-headed monster combined for 60 total rushing yards. It's not as if any of them did much in the passing game either. As long as this remains a timeshare, none are worth flexing on such a bad offense.

Oakland WRs
There are truly none worth mentioning on their own merit, as Jordy Nelson returned last week to produce zero receptions on one target for the second straight game in which he's played while rookie Marcell Ateman secured three of his 10 targets for a whopping 16 yards. Seth Roberts was the high man with 54 yards on two catches. You can move on now.

Other Matchups:

Derek Carr (QB, OAK)
Remember a year ago when Carr threw for 417 yards and three TD against this Chiefs defense? That seems like two lifetimes ago... If you're OK with the lowest of ceilings and relying on potential garbage time stats to give you a QB2 in superflex leagues, you could consider Carr over other inferior options like Ryan Tannehill, Nick Mullens and the rest of that lot. The Chiefs have given up the fourth-most passing yards in the league, but those numbers are inflated by some extremely tough opponents like the Rams, Steelers, and Chargers. Plus, whatever happened to them in Week 5 when they let Blake Bortles throw for 400 yards. Can it be that it was all so simple then?

Chris Conley / Sammy Watkins (WR, KC)
Watkins is still questionable as of this writing and remains a risky start each week regardless of circumstances. Conley stepped in nicely to fill his spot in Week 11 with seven receptions, 74 yards, and two touchdowns. This won't be an epic shootout of those proportions, needless to say, but Conley could be flexed if Watkins doesn't suit up given the ease of the matchup.

UPDATE: Sammy Watkins is out again for Week 13.

Jared Cook (TE, OAK)
Pretty much the only Raider you could justifiably insert to your starting lineup, Cook at least managed to score last week in an otherwise quiet performance. He's found the end zone in three of the last five games and could do it again while the Raiders are in catch-up mode (again).


Jets at Titans

Matchups We Love:

Dion Lewis (RB, TEN)
As the lead back, Lewis has largely disappointed. This is especially true the last three weeks after Lewis has a mini-breakout of sorts in Week 7 and Week 9. The ridiculously bad defense has kept Tennessee from establishing a running game, but that shouldn't be a problem this week. If Lewis can see upwards of 18 touches as he had been doing before the last two weeks, he can deliver solid flex value at the very least.

Corey Davis (WR, TEN)
The fact that so many fantasy owners are constantly ready to bench or even drop Davis at this stage of the season speaks to how high expectations were for the second-year wideout. He's had his share of slumps this year, along with the entire Titans offense, but put up another nice game with 96 yards and a touchdown in Week 12. Davis shouldn't have a problem getting open against the Jets secondary and is a mid-range WR2.

Matchups We Hate:

Josh McCown (QB, NYJ)
The Titans' excellent defensive ranking took a huge hit the last two weeks, as they gave up 38 points to the Colts and 34 to the Texans. Here come the Jets, who have scored a total of 23 points in the last two games with McCown at QB. Sam Darnold looks unlikely to play again, as he has been limited in practice, so McCown will do his best to keep it close. That won't be enough to help fantasy owners anywhere, as he's thrown one TD and three INT this year and now gets a road test against a solid unit.

Isaiah Crowell / Elijah McGuire (RB, NYJ)
Although the Titans were run all over by Lamar Miller to the tune of 162 yards, with another 70 by Deshaun Watson and 49 by Alfred Blue, the matchup does not matter here. The Jets have failed to register even 90 total rushing yards in a game since Week 6. McGuire hasn't shown the pass-catching upside we hoped for either, catching seven balls over the last three games. You can do far better than either of these backs.

Chris Herndon IV (TE, NYJ)
Rookie tight ends rarely produce much on offense. Jets skill players haven't done much all year. Herndon seems to be a slight exception to both rules, as he came away with seven catches last week and isn't too far removed from a three-game touchdown streak in the middle of the season. He gets the worst possible scenario here, as the Titans haven't allowed a score to a tight end all year with an average of 35 yards per game to the position. He's got plenty of promise for the future but not this particular week.

Other Matchups:

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)
One of the most frustratingly unpredictable players in fantasy, Mariota put up one of his occasional big games with 303 yards and two TD in Week 12, following his 85-yard dud the week before. In both instances, the Titans were down big, forcing the team to abandon the run. There truly seems to be no rhyme, reason, or discernible pattern as to Mariota's effectiveness, since he's been both really good and downright horrible in wins and losses equally this season. While the Jets are by no means a formidable foe, they aren't one of the league-worst passing defenses either. Mariota shouldn't be trusted as more than a low-end QB2 in superflex or TwoQB leagues.

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)
Henry thrives on positive game script and should have it in this game that the Titans are favored by 7.5 points. Then again, the definition of a good game for Henry is finding the end zone and accumulating 50-something yards with one or two receptions for minimal yardage. In such as important week for many fantasy teams, you'd have to be in dire straits (missing Melvin Gordon or Leonard Fournette with no viable backup) to depend on Henry.

Robby Anderson / Quincy Enunwa / Jermaine Kearse (WR, NYJ)
Despite having McCown at QB and a seemingly tough road matchup, there could be an opportunity here for one of these receivers to pop. The question is which one? The Titans have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs, and both Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler are questionable heading into Week 13. Kearse had the best game of the bunch last week with six catches on 12 targets for 66 yards and a touchdown. He gets the hardest individual matchup this time, though. Enunwa is questionable himself with an ankle injury, and Anderson has had exactly one good game all year. You're living on a prayer if you roll with any of these receivers in a must-win situation, but Kearse seems like the best bet.

Jonnu Smith (TE, TEN)
If there's one thing the Jets are good at (the jury is still out on that), it's holding tight ends in check. They are fifth-best against the TE this season. That said, they've hardly faced a murderer's row of skilled players at the position so much of that could be attributed to scheduling. Smith has jumped onto the scene as a fantasy option with a TD in three of the last four games, including a 61-yarder on Monday Night Football in Week 12. He's got just one game over three targets all year and last week was his first time surpassing 50 yards in a game. He's as touchdown-dependent as the rest of the TE2 group and is far from a sure thing at this point with just four red zone targets all season.


Vikings at Patriots

Matchups We Love:

Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)
Breathe easy - the Thielen we know and love is back. He chipped in his ninth 100+ yard game of the season with nine receptions in Week 12 and should be targeted heavily as usual in this showdown. Diggs continued his streak of four straight games with double-digit targets and now has a three-game scoring streak. Although New England's cornerbacks grade out highly, they have given up some big individual performances to players like Corey Davis, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Keelan Cole this year, among others. Thielen and Diggs remain must-starts.

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)
He's been a high-end WR2 the last few weeks and gets the best individual matchup among all Pats receivers, facing slot corner Mackensie Alexander. He should be slotted into a starting spot in all fantasy lineups.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
As long as Gronk is healthy, you're starting him. He went for 56 yards and a touchdown in his first action since Week 8 and is probable for this weekend. On paper, the matchup is average, but Gronk is far above average, as far as tight ends go.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
Rudolph was a forgotten man until Week 12 when he matched his season-high with seven receptions. The Pats have given up huge games to tight ends Eric Ebron and Trey Burton, while Jimmy Graham and Jonnu Smith have reached the end zone in recent weeks. Rudolph has promise as a TE streamer this week if you aren't set at the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Tom Brady (QB, NE)
While the yardage has been fine, Brady has thrown a total of three TD in his last four games, taking a backseat to the running game in the red zone. The return of Gronk helped last week, but the tremendous upside we assume with Brady hasn't been present even when all skill players are healthy. The Vikings are a top-five pass defense and haven't yielded 200 passing yards to a team since Week 6. There's little question you should bench Brady this week.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)
Cousins had a much-needed victory over the Packers last week, posting some of his best numbers of the season at 342 yards, three TD and no INT. The specter of Pats-Vikes might evoke images of a shootout, but that's unlikely to be the case. Much like last year, the Patriots defense gave up some big games early on and has slowly tightened things up as the playoffs approach. New England is allowing 259 passing yards per game over the last four and finally has enough pieces back on offense to be able to control the ball, as evidenced by the fact they haven't turned it over once in that same span. Cousins won't put up numbers like last week but can be started as a low-end QB1 on teams without a higher-ceiling option.

Dalvin Cook / Latavius Murray (RB, MIN)
Cook certainly has the talent to be an elite fantasy player but hasn't seen a proper workload befitting an RB1 all year. Cook has been held to 10 carries or less in every game he's appeared since Week 1. Plus, with the exception of the Week 11 loss to Chicago where no semblance of run game was generated, the snaps have been around a 60/40 split barely in favor of Cook. If you choose to flex Cook,  you are hoping for a big run to save the day, especially since he hasn't scored on the ground all year. Murray no longer has fantasy appeal outside of deep of standard leagues, as he's touchdown-dependent in anything but the easiest matchups with Cook around.

Sony Michel (RB, NE)
It's hard to imagine Michel as anything but an automatic start after last week's career-best 133-yard rushing performance. The Vikings are tough on running backs, however, and the activation of Rex Burkhead could take a few snaps away. Michel has feasted on weaker defensive opponents this year (Jets, Dolphins, Chiefs) but thrown up some duds against tougher teams (Jags, Bears, Titans). He'll likely be the most overrated player of the weekend, but his potential red zone usage and big-play ability should keep him in most fantasy lineups.

James White (RB, NE)
White was the main man for a short time, as the Pats were razor-thin in RB depth. Now, with a full complement of backs, he resumes his role as the primary pass-catcher but with the likelihood of fewer touches. He is always worth a flex in PPR leagues, as he is third among all running backs in receptions, ahead of even Alvin Kamara, and has scored in seven of 11 games. The team leans on him in tough matchups, so don't be scared away completely.

Josh Gordon (WR, NE)
Flash has secured at least four catches for the past six games in a row. He'll get shadow treatment by Xavier Rhodes, who somewhat limited Davante Adams to 69 yards and a TD last week. If Gordon can put up similar numbers, that's a win for Gordon owners, but the scoring hasn't been there this year so it may simply be a 10-12 point PPR effort.


49ers at Seahawks

Matchups We Love:

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)
We know Wilson isn't throwing it 40+ times - that's just not part of the gameplan these days for the Hawks. He's shown he doesn't need big volume in order to stay in the QB1 conversation though. Wilson has tossed at least two TDs in seven straight games and has managed to hover within the top-12 quarterbacks for fantasy scoring despite not throwing 40 times in a game all season. He also hadn't gone over 300 yards until last week, but this is a great chance to repeat. The 49ers allow 262 passing yards per game, and that jumps to 286 on the road. They've intercepted opponents just twice all year, worst in the NFL, so Wilson is as safe as you can get.

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)
Bottom line: when Carson stays in the game for four quarters, he produces. Carson has scored in three of the last four games and has three 100-yard efforts in nine starts, despite leaving one early. The Seahawks should be able to establish the run game once again, making Carson a fairly safe RB2. His ceiling is lower in PPR leagues given his lack of involvement in the passing game.

Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)
Lockett is a top-20 fantasy WR this year and is always a threat to score. He has the top WR/CB matchup here, as Akhello Witherspoon is one of PFF's lowest-rated corners.

George Kittle (TE, SF)
The state of the tight end position demands that Kittle remain a must-start. He's being held back by his quarterback, who could only generate one touchdown for the offense against Tampa Bay. Kittle will still be targeted a ton due to the plethora of injuries to the receiving corps, as shown by his 12 targets last week. He could be relied on just as much, if not more, this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Nick Mullens (QB, SF)
We can officially stop overreacting to that Week 9 blowout over the Raiders now. In the two games since that shocking Monday Night game, Mullens has looked exactly like a third-string quarterback on a losing team, posting a 1/2 TD/INT rate in each with no more than 250 yards. He goes from the easiest possible matchup to one of the worst, in a hostile road environment against a defense that is one of the toughest on quarterbacks. This could very well be his last NFL start and it shouldn't be a part of your fantasy team.

49ers WRs
Whoever lines up for the Niners, they simply can't be trusted. Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon can't stay healthy and haven't produced much all season regardless. Some rolled the dice on Kendrick Bourne (or even Richie James) last week versus the Bucs and were let down. Dante Pettis is the one to watch, as he operated well out of the slot and caught a team-high 77 yards with the lone touchdown last week. It would have to be a relatively deep league, however, considering that byes are over.

UPDATE: Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon will not play in Week 13.

Other Matchups:

Mike Davis / Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)
Neither back has enough flex appeal to consider as long as Carson is playing. Davis has a total of 10 touches the last two games and Penny saw just 10 offensive snaps last game.

Matt Breida (RB, SF)
Breida has gone over 100 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards each of the last two games. That was against lesser competition like the Giants and Bucs however. He's a talented back in a tough situation, making him a fringe RB2 this week.

Doug Baldwin / David Moore (WR, SEA)
You could rightfully find a starting spot for all three of Seattle's top receivers this week, but not all three will rightfully deliver value. Lockett is the best bet of the bunch, as Baldwin hasn't been lighting it up lately but he's been a decent floor play in PPR leagues. He claims to feel as good as he has all season and has a good matchup against K'Waun Williams. Moore had the best day of his rookie career in Week 12, posting 103 yards and a touchdown. Richard Sherman could pose a challenge, especially if he finds extra motivation against his former team.

Nick Vannett (TE, SEA)
There is no need to grab such a low-end, touchdown-dependent tight end in a matchup that is simply average. Vannett has seen exactly two targets each of the last three weeks, making for a total of four receptions and 47 yards. His six red zone targets show that he is one of several options in that crucial part of the field but that's all you can hope for.


Sunday Night Football - Chargers at Steelers

Matchups We Love:

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Maybe the Steelers are concerned about Conner's fumbling issues; maybe Big Ben put a bug in OC Randy Fichtner's ear about passing the ball more like they did to start the season or maybe it's just been game flow. Whatever the reason, Roethlisberger has chucked it 103 times the last two games despite facing mediocre offenses in Denver and Jacksonville. This game should be more high-scoring, which works in his favor even more. There's no reason to consider Roethlisberger anything less than a top-10 fantasy QB this week and beyond.

James Conner (RB, PIT)
Is Conner wearing down after logging 235 touches in his second NFL season? Probably not. His consecutive disastrous outings are more likely a result of facing the Jaguars and Broncos on the road while missing starting RT Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers should continue to give him the ball with confidence, and fantasy owners have no choice but to trust him at this point. The Chargers are a middle-of-the-road run defense that shouldn't stand in his way from an RB1 finish.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)
The most surprising area where Mel Gordon will be missed is red zone targets. Not carries mind you, targets. Gordon leads the team with 13 red zone targets, catching nine for three scores. Allen is just behind him with 11 targets and nine catches (four TD). He could take on more work in the most important area of the field, provided the Chargers can reach it. He's scored in three straight and should see heavy volume, giving him a safe WR2 floor in PPR leagues even if he doesn't score again.

Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC)
Remember the Week 7 victory over the Titans in London, the last time Melvin Gordon missed an entire game? Tyrell Williams saw his third-highest air yard and target share totals of the season then, coming away with a season-high 118 yards. It's not a given that history will repeat itself but he also has the best WR/CB matchup of all Chargers receivers, likely facing Coty Sensabaugh much of the day. He had a week off to get healthy and could produce some big plays, given the chance. He's still a boom-bust WR4, just one whose chances I like better than most.

Antonio Brown / JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)
The only reason not to love Antonio Brown is if you don't own him anywhere but your opponent this week does. Brown failed to score for just the second time all season, but he still caught nine of 13 targets. He will be shadowed by Casey Hayward Jr. this week, but that's not as dangerous a matchup as it would have been previously. Meanwhile, JuJu is coming off two straight 100-yard games and has been targeted one more time than Brown in the last two games with nine more total yards. Both are rock solid WR1s even in the face of a good secondary.

Matchups We Hate:

Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)
It's hard to put Rivers here after a record-setting performance in Week 12, but the tagline says "Matchups We Hate" not "Players We Hate." Pittsburgh may have suffered a disappointing loss in Denver last week, but the defense wasn't to blame. They made it three straight games holding an opponent under 200 passing yards and six straight games under 220. Despite his magnificent season, there is a glaring home/road split for Rivers; he averages a full 100 fewer yards in away games (228) than at home (330). These two factors combined could make for another game in the low 200s yardage-wise with two TD, something that's happened to him four times this year already. Losing his top running back can't help either.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)
Last week's love designation was fully requited, as Williams scored twice with teammate Tyrell Williams on the sideline. Now that Tyrell is back and the matchup is far harder, I can't recommend the younger Williams as anything other than a desperation play in standard leagues. He netted just 25 yards in Week 12 and is averaging 1.5 receptions and 28.3 yards per game over the last six games. He's a TD or bust play to the max.

Other Matchups:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)
There are way more of us with Austin Ekeler in our starting lineups right before the playoffs than anybody ever imagined possible. Melvin Gordon's ill-timed injury leaves Ekeler as the lead back. Or does it? He saw a grand total of five carries last week against Arizona, whereas rookie Justin Jackson saw seven carries in his first extended action of the season. Listed generously at 5'10", Ekeler is a pass-catching back who isn't built for inside running and won't be used much on early downs. His pass-catching upside is obvious, as he nabbed 10 receptions in Week 12, giving him 32 on the season. The Steelers have given up the second-fewest receiving yards to running backs all year, so this isn't an obvious plug-and-play replacement for Gordon. Owners in full PPR owners, especially those without Gordon, have to keep him in their lineups but don't expect anything near the kind of production you'll be missing from your usual RB1.

Justin Jackson (RB, LAC)
We may not have to guess who is going to get the early-down work in the backfield with Gordon out, as the Chargers showed their hand last week. In less than two quarters of play, Jackson took seven rush attempts on either first or second down while Ekeler took two first down carries and one on a fourth down. Jackson, a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern, should get the chance to see a dozen or more touches. The question is whether game flow may prevent him from doing much, as a road matchup with the Steelers' 10th-ranked run defense is not ideal. He can be flexed in deep-enough leagues with the hope that he reaches the end zone or breaks off some big runs.

Antonio Gates (TE, LAC)
We tried to warn you last week that Week 11 was an aberration. After a season-high five catches and 80 yards against Denver, he went right back to a one-catch, 18-yard outing against Arizona. Ironically that's the exact same stat line he produced the week before his "breakout" game and the fifth time he's caught one or zero passes this season. Pittsburgh's generosity to the tight end and Melvin Gordon's absence are the only things keeping him in the streaming conversation, but it's a dice roll to be sure.

Vance McDonald / Jesse James (TE, PIT)
McDonald has served as a fringe TE1 for many weeks, but a recent hip injury flared up again in Week 12 and has limited him in practice this week. If McDonald isn't able to play, James could be used in his stead. There are likely better options out there in 12-team leagues, however.

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