Living in the daily game world for any sport requires a lot of work with little reward for the casual player, unless the stars align for one magical day. Most daily owners need to decide whether to be a grinder or a swing-for -the-fences player. One path keeps you alive for more days of action with the idea of building your bankroll slowly. The other has a donation feel while offering a pot of gold at the end of a distant rainbow.
Since the daily sites started offering the million-dollar overall prize, I’ve been trying to find my get-out-of-jail-free card. The goal is to handicap the main football slate on Sunday and invest in the best possible combination of foundation players. If my key players have success, I will be in the hunt with many teams. Each football season, I expect to be in the mix in four or five weeks.
All players listed are for the main slate of games on Sunday.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
The fade of the Steelers’ run defense over the past month (CHI – 26/136/1, DET – 39/229/2, LAC – 26/159/2, and CIN – 38/198/3) points to Jackson shining in the run game in Week 13. Over this span, runners gained 5.6 yards per carry, with quarterbacks succeeding (19/142/1). Pittsburgh has 26 sacks (11 over their past four matchups), leading to a shorter passing window for the Ravens. The Steelers are about league average defending quarterbacks (20.88 FPPG), with one disastrous showing (39.10 fantasy points).
Jackson hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 2 despite remaining active as a runner (95/514). Over his past three starts, he has averaged 38.7 passes with more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5). His only two games (442/4 and 266/3) with more than one passing score came at home. He has a high floor due to his value with his legs. At a minimum, Jackson needs a rushing score and his first road week with multiple passing touchdowns to post an impact day. He projects to gain 348 combined yards with 2.5 touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
I highlighted Stafford in my DFS report on Wednesday. SI Sportsbook has the Rams favored by 13 points, suggesting a one-sided game with a slant to the run game in the second half. Los Angeles needs to get back on the winning track, and their offense should attack early and often in the first half via the passing game.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over his last three starts, Brady has completed 68.4 percent of his passes, but he gained only 6.6 yards per pass attempt with a poor touchdown-to-interception ratio (5:4). Brady has 20 scores in his five starts at home compared to 11 touchdowns away from Tampa in six matchups. In Week 2, he beat the Falcons for 282 yards and five touchdowns.
Atlanta allowed over 30.00 fantasy points to quarterbacks in four of its first six matchups, with one other poor showing in Week 10 (317/2). However, the Falcons have held Carolina (129/0), New England (207/1), and Jacksonville (228/1) to short passing yards over their last five contests.
Tampa featured their running backs in Week 12 (186 combined yards with five touchdowns and seven catches) against the Colts, but they struggled to run the ball in their previous three matchups (14/71, 13/53, 27/94/1). Brady should regain the bounce in his passing step vs. the Falcons, leading to more than 300 yards passing with a floor of three touchdowns.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The loss of Murray crushed fantasy teams over the last month. He came up short in Week 8 (274/0), followed by three missed games and a bye week. In addition, his role in the run game (26/38 – 1.5 yards per carry) has been missing since Week 4. Over his first seven starts, he averaged 28.41 fantasy points in four-point passing leagues. The Cardinals expect him to be active on Sunday.
The Bears sit ninth in quarterback defense (20.57 FPPG) after allowing fewer than 19.00 fantasy points in their previous three matchups. Chicago gives up 7.7 yards per pass attempt with quarterbacks tossing 18 touchdowns. Some of their success is helped by a low number of passing attempts per game (31). The Bears have 31 sacks despite losing pass rusher Khalil Mack in Week 7.
At this point of the season, any rushing production would be a bonus while lowering his floor until he proves his ankle is healthy. Murray has been a better player on the road (28.9 FPPG – 12 touchdowns in four games).
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert has passed for over 300 yards in three of his past four starts (356/2, 382/3, 303/2) while also upping his value as a runner (20/182/1 – 8.1 yards per rush). As a result, he sits third in quarterback scoring (288.90 fantasy points), only 12.95 fantasy points behind Josh Allen.
Cincinnati climbed to seventh vs. the quarterback position (20.00 FPPG) after holding quarterbacks to fewer than 19.00 fantasy points over their last three contests (18.90, 12.75, 14.15 fantasy points). Their only poor showing came in Week 10 (NYJ – 422/3). In six matchups, quarterbacks attempted more than 40 passes.
Herbert has an against-the-grain feel, but he has the tools to shine in any matchup. He’ll test the Bengals in the deep passing game, highlighted by their failure in three matchups (MIN – 22/250/2, GB – 15/242/1, NYJ – 22/229/1).
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
After starting the season with 2,215 passing yards and 20 touchdowns over the first nine games, Burrow has crushed fantasy managers over the last three weeks (283/0, 159/1, 198/2). In six of his matchups, he attempted 30 passes or less. Burrow continues to have strength in his completion rate (69.3) and yards per attempt (8.4). His only impact game (416/3) came in Week 7 in Baltimore.
The Chargers have the sixth-best pass defense (18.92 FPPG) in the league, with seven opponents scoring fewer than 19.00 fantasy points against quarterbacks. They allow 7.0 yards per pass attempt. In addition, offenses continue to pound the run game (341/1,572/15), leading to fewer passing attempts (343 – 31.2 per game).
Joe Mixon should draw a lot of attention in the daily games and from the Chargers’ defense. Burrow has plenty of receiving talent to beat Los Angeles, and he will be low-percentage owned.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Over the past nine weeks, Taylor has become the best running back in the game with a floor of 19.70 fantasy points. He averaged 21.7 touches with three impact games (31.90, 34.00, 53.40 fantasy points). Indy boosted his playing time to 79.2% over his last three starts, highlighted by one high-volume game (204 yards with five touchdowns and three catches on 35 touches in Week 11). In his first matchup against the Texans, he gained 158 yards with two touchdowns and one catch.
In three games, Houston struggled with running backs (42.20, 33.20, 31.00 fantasy points). They allow 4.5 yards per rush, with backs scoring 10 rushing touchdowns. Eight opponents gained over 150 combined yards by running backs against the Texans.
Taylor needs to score more than 30.00 fantasy points to be an edge for his high price point. He needs a pair of touchdowns with 150 yards and at least two catches to fill his salary bucket.
RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Over the past four weeks, Mixon gained 487 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 13 catches, leaping him to third in running back scoring (218.80 fantasy points) in PPR leagues. In addition, he has a touchdown in eight straight games (two scores in his past four starts). Mixon averages 21.3 touches and 101 yards per game.
The Chargers sit 26th in running back defense (26.88 FPPG) with failure in five contests (40.70, 49.90, 32.70, 30.10, 29.90 fantasy points). Los Angeles allows 4.6 yards per rush, with backs scoring 15 touchdowns.
A touchdown looks to be a given by Mixon, but his rising salary requires more than 30.00 fantasy points. Over his past four starts, he averaged 27.43 fantasy points, with 43.7% of his scoring coming from touchdowns.
RB Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
Mitchell comes in as a potential value at running back after his breakout game in Week 12. I highlighted his matchup in my daily game report on Wednesday, along with Cooper Kupp and Chris Godwin.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
The injury to Deebo Samuel opens up a better opportunity for Aiyuk. His stock has risen over his last four games (6/89/1, 3/26, 7/85/1, 3/91) on 23 combined targets. However, he’s yet to receive over eight targets compared to four matchups in 2020 with double-digit chances (10, 14, 16, 13).
Seattle inched up to 14th in wide receiver defense (152/1,784/7). They’ve held offenses to 77 points over the previous five matchups despite losing the time of possession in every game. Three wideouts (Justin Jackson – 9/118/1, Deebo Samuel – 8/156/2, Robert Woods – 12/150) have had impact games.
Aiyuk falls into the value column, and the 49ers’ offense is on the rise (95 points over the past three weeks).
WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
In Week 12, Waddle finally hit on a couple of long plays, leading to his best day in receiving yards (137). He has eight or more catches in five starts while having five double-digit target games. In PPR leagues, Waddle jumped in 16th in wide receiver scoring (15.18 FPPG). He has back-to-back 20.00 fantasy point games.
The Giants are league average against wide receivers (149/1,676/12 – 17th), with the Bucs (16/168/2), Cowboys (11/215/2) and Rams (15/186/3) having the most success. Terry McLaurin (11/107/1) and Cooper Kupp (9/130/2) are the only two wideouts to gain over 100 yards.
Waddle’s salary is on the rise, but so is his game. Waddle brings a possession-type skill set while also offering big-play and scoring ability.
TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers need a receiver option to step up after losing Deebo Samuel last week. Kittle has a higher career resume than Brandon Aiyuk, but he is trending below his results from 2018-20 (88/1,377/5, 85/1,053/5, 48/634/2) over 38 games. Last week, he only had one catch for 13 yards on two targets after playing better over his previous three games (6/101/1, 5/50/1, 4/34/1).
Tight ends have 61 catches for 569 yards and five touchdowns against the Seahawks. Seattle held Kittle to four catches for 40 yards in Week 4. Tyler Conklin (7/70/1) and Zach Ertz (8/88/2) posted the best two games.
I wouldn’t want to start two 49ers’ receivers, but there is a good chance Kittle or Aiyuk score over 20.00 fantasy points this week.
RB Sony Michel, Los Angeles Rams
Last week, Darrell Henderson suffered a thigh injury. After missing multiple practices, Michel looks positioned to earn the start on Sunday. Rams’ running backs gained 1,245 yards with 11 touchdowns and 38 catches.
Jacksonville regressed against the run over its last three games (27/127/1, 42/171/1, 29/149/2) while allowing 12 touchdowns to running backs.
Before rostering Michel in the daily games, fantasy managers need to make sure Henderson is inactive. He would need only 12 other fantasy points to pay off with a touchdown.
Here’s my Week 13 Perfect Lineup:
More fantasy coverage:
- Week 13 Rankings and Stat Projections
- Fantasy Impact: Antonio Brown Suspended
- Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 13: Running Backs
- Week 13 Wide Receiver Rankings
- Where Have the Elite Quarterbacks Gone?
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical breakdowns for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. An inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!