The Cheat Sheet took the week off to spend some time with friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully I can help offer you some post-Black Friday fantasy deals to save you a few bucks. Speaking of getting players on a discount, not all sales are worth it. But I'll get to that later...
In the mean time, we're riding the wave of trying to predict unexpected performances like Mike White's 315-yard, three-TD game against the Bears last week or Josh Jacobs's monster 303 total yard performance that also included two scores, six receptions and a whopping 11 first downs (shout-out to SFB scoring).
I tend to have a “stick with the one who brought you” approach in the second half of the season. Am I really going to take a chance on Jelani Woods after his eight receptions and 98 yards in Week 13 after getting the goose-egg from Juwan Johnson? Not that Johnson has been incredible, but he's been pretty good the past month.
Sure, there are exceptions— the performance that first comes to mind is former Chiefs RB Larry Johnson coming on strong to close out the 2004 season after starter Priest Holmes went down with an injury. Through eight games, Holmes had over 1,000 total yards and 15 TDs. Johnson picked up right where he left off with 781 total yards and 11 TDs over the final six weeks of the season. How do you identify when a player like that is coming? I suppose it helps if the starter is producing at a near-Hall of Fame level. One could assume the offense is just that good. Maybe those years felt more exciting because there wasn't an army of internet fantasy nerds dissecting every backup. Because it certainly felt more random and specific to that version of the NFL. Two weeks ago, I did recommend you pounce on Isiah Pacheco and that's borne out since then. He's been really good.
Hopefully we can identify any hot closers and separate them from the "just another guy" classification.
1. What the George Pickens?
Through 12 weeks, Steelers receivers have three receiving touchdowns. Four total if you include George Pickens's Week 10 rushing TD against the Saints. Three for Pickens, one for Chase Claypool and zero for Diontae Johnson. Yikes.
Taking it a step further, the Steelers have six passing TDs overall and 10 interceptions, let's call it a minus-4 TD/INT differential. Only one other team is in the red (Texans, 12-13). Three passing touchdowns for Mitchell Trubisky and three for Kenny Pickett. Yikes, yinz.
You're forgiven if you've largely ignored this offense all year, as we could write a whole other article about the shortcomings of Najee Harris this season. For now, I'll focus on Pickett -- and more specifically, Pickens.
Stop me if you've heard this one but I had Pickens ranked as my No. 1 incoming rookie WR this offseason. We've seen most of the top rookie receivers have their moment in the sun. Chris Olave was on fire to start the year. Jahan Dotson had an incredible Week 1. Drake London and Garrett Wilson also had a couple big weeks. But with all that talent, the jury's still out. The leading rookie receiver, in PPR is Olave at WR15 with 156.2 points. Wilson is at WR22 at 136.2, followed by Pickens (WR41, 109.4) and London (WR42, 108.8). And even though he's up there with his peers, Pickens hasn't enjoyed a big splash game because there's never been enough passing production for any of their receivers to have a big game. I do believe this final stretch is where Pickens will take off and we may finally get that splash game.
The Steelers have two big plus matchups left against Baltimore, which allows the fifth-most PPR points to WRs and just got taken to the woodshed by Trevor Lawrence (321/3), Zay Jones (11/145), Jamal Agnew (5/37/1) and Marvin Jones (3/22/1).
Plus, the Steelers’ four other matchups (@ATL, @CAR, vs. LV and vs. CLE) aren't exactly world beaters even if the WR points allowed don't jump off the page. I don't think Pickens will be a WR1 in any given week, but considering the context of Pittsburgh's atrocious offense, I'm aggressively optimistic for some Pickett-Pickens connections.
2. Week 13 Stick a Fork in 'Em
The "safe to drop Player X” advice bores me, and it's usually too obvious. I'm going after players and teams here, and I'm targeting a player among the top 20 QBs, top 50 RBs, top 60 WRs or top 20 TEs.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
I know he's on bye but this gives you an extra week to prepare. And , I don't mess around! I'm swinging big here. Like the Pickens plug, I'm leaning hard into remaining strength of schedule. Arizona has five games left. So from Weeks 14-18, they face NE, @DEN, TB, @ATL and @SF. I suppose the fantasy season is over by that tough matchup against the 49ers, but those are all above-average defenses, except for middle-of-the-pack Atlanta. I think it's safe to say this hasn't been the season Murray expected for himself or what we expected for him. The Cardinals are 4-8 and if it weren't for the Rams' freefall, we'd be talking about Murray and Arizona a lot more. Can you realistically shut down what is likely your QB1? A dual-threat beast who still has 415 rushing yards and three TDs to go along with 2,359 passing yards, 14 TDs and 7 INTs? Probably not. He's still a top-10 fantasy QB. But I feel he'll be closer to 10th, if not a bit lower, for the rest of the year.
3. Week 13 Friggin' Bums
Every week, I'll highlight eight players (two at each position) that I like who are rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. You can think of them as desperation plays or salary punts in DFS contests.
- QB Kyle Allen, HOU (vs. CLE)
- QB Kenny Pickett, PIT (at ATL)
- RB Jaylen Warren, PIT (at ATL)
- RB Kyren Williams, LAR (vs. SEA)
- WR Parris Campbell, IND (at DAL)
- WR Nico Collins, HOU (vs. CLE)
- TE Tyler Conklin, NYJ (at MIN)
- TE Greg Dulcich, DEN (at BAL)
4. Weekly SI Fantasy Must-Reads
Before setting your lineups, make sure you check out some of the world-class fantasy lowdown from our SI Fantasy analysts:
• Week 13 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: QB | RB | WR | TE | K / DST
• Week 13 Rankings
• Week 13 Projections
• Week 13 Defense vs. Position
• DFS Lineup Optimizer
• Player Props
• NFL Futures
• Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 13: Zay Jones, Treylon Burks
• NFL DFS Week 13 Picks
• Week 13 Dynasty Stock Watch
• IDP Waiver Wire Report Week 13
• Top 10 Week 12 Fantasy Takeaways
• Early Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups
• Fantasy Fallout: The Return of Deshaun Watson
5. FanNation Updates
Welcome to a new addition to the Cheat Sheet... Our friends at FanNation, who are closely tied with teams around the league, will be joining us with some late fantasy-related updates:
Quarterback Lamar Jackson missed practice this week with a quad injury but he will play Week 13 against the Denver Broncos. Baltimore’s offense has struggled in recent games, especially inside the red zone. The Ravens could also be challenged to move the ball against the Broncos, who are ranked third in total defense and points allowed. Running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) returned to practice this week but he will not be ready to play… Fantasy Tip: DeSean Jackson had a 62-yard reception last week and could get more targets against Denver. He’s the Ravens only viable downfield threat. … Tight end Mark Andrews is poised for a bounce-back game. — Todd Karpovich, | Raven Country
While the Browns are eagerly anticipating the debut of quarterback Deshaun Watson, the team ruled out tight end David Njoku with a knee injury suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.— Pete Smith | Browns Digest
The Detroit Lions are the healthiest they have been all season, as they only ruled out two players this week against the Jaguars. After scoring a touchdown against the Bills last week, wideout D.J. Chark could be a sleeper fantasy play this week. If your fantasy team is fighting to make the playoffs, take a chance on Chark, as he is facing his old team at Ford Field. -- John Maakaron | All Lions
Green Bay Packers
The game might not mean anything in the grand scheme of things with the Packers all but out of the NFC playoff race, but Aaron Rodgers will be in the starting lineup Sunday at Chicago despite the injured ribs sustained last week at the Eagles. Rodgers, who rightly has claimed ownership of the Bears, was limited participation at practice on Thursday and Friday and said he expected to wear some sort of padding to protect the injury. Rodgers won’t have his former All-Pro left tackle, David Bakhtiari (appendectomy), but he could have his two rookie receivers, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Because of injuries, they’ve played only 52 snaps together. Watson has burst onto the scene with six touchdowns the last three weeks. — Bill Huber | Packer Central
The Colts have already ruled out right tackle Braden Smith and cornerback Kenny Moore II ahead of Sunday's matchup with the Cowboys while rookie tight end Jelani Woods and cornerback/kick returner Isaiah Rodgers will be questionable. On a positive note, starting defensive end Kwity Paye will make his return to the field after an ankle injury cost him five of the last seven games. Smith might be a big loss depending on how the Colts replace him, with either Dennis Kelly or Matt Pryor. Woods was a star for the Colts last week, notching career-highs in receptions (8) and yards (98). If he cannot play, the Colts are getting Kylen Granson back, who missed last week's game with an illness.. – Jake Arthur
The big name to watch is Travis Etienne. The second-year running back injured the same foot he had surgically repaired last season during a win over the Ravens on Sunday, but all indications since have been that Etienne could have gone back in the game. He has been limited this week, but I think he plays and takes on his normal workload. JaMycal Hasty makes a lot of sense as a fantasy handcuff, but Etienne looks safe to play. — John Shipley | Jaguar Report
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will be without new wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) again this week, joining Mecole Hardman (abdomen, on IR) as K.C. speedsters who will be inactive against the Bengals. Rookie Skyy Moore could see sustained work in their absence. Running back Jerick McKinnon (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but returned Friday and has no injury designation for Sunday. Regardless of McKinnon’s health, the Chiefs will likely lean heavily on rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, who has secured the starting job over the last few weeks. Expect plenty of work for Pacheco on Sunday, even if McKinnon takes the majority of the passing-situation reps. — Joshua Brisco | Arrowhead Report
New York Giants
The Giants are getting several players back from the injury list, but perhaps none more important than rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, who has been sidelined since suffering an eye injury in Week 7. Besides being a plus inside the red zone where both of his receiving touchdowns have come (he also has a red-zone rushing touchdown), Bellinger’s absence has been felt in the running game. Since Week 8, his first full week out of the lineup, the Giants saw their average rushing yards per game drop from 173.4 yards per game with him in the lineup to 112 yards per game without him. If Bellinger can pick up where he left off, that could mean a big day for Saquon Barkley and the rest of the Giants running game. — Patricia Traina | Giants Country
The Eagles ruled out DE Robert Quinn with a knee injury and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson with a lacerated kidney. Quinn popped up on Friday’s injury report. The team also has until Saturday at 4 p.m. to activate rooke DT Jordan Davis off the IR if they plan to use him on Sunday vs. the Titans. It’s a move that might require putting safety Gardner-Johnson, the league’s leader in interceptions with six, on IR. WRs DeVonta Smith (groin) and Zach Pascal (groin) along with OLB Patrick Johnson (ankle) were limited all week but were full participants in Friday’s practice. | Eagles Today
The Pittsburgh Steelers avoided missing their star running back in Week 13 as Najee Harris returned to practice on Friday and is cleared to play against the Falcons. However, backup running back Jaylen Warren is now listed as questionable despite practicing all week on a hamstring injury. If Warren misses a second game, Harris is in for a huge workload, with Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland getting more reps as well. On defense, T.J. Watt is questionable with a rib injury which would be a major downfall for the defense. His status makes this matchup much more interesting.. — Noah Strackbein | AllSteelers.com
The Titans will have center Ben Jones back in the middle of their offensive line, which should be good news for running back Derrick Henry. Jones missed the last two games with a concussion, and Henry managed 125 yards on 45 carries (2.78 yards per carry). His longest run in each contest was nine yards. The Titans play at Philadelphia, which is 23rd in average yards per carry allowed, and Tennessee will want to keep the ball away from the Eagles’ high-powered offense. So, expect a heavy dose of Henry. — David Boclair | All Titans