Welcome to Week 13. In most leagues, this is the final week of the fantasy regular season, and many owners are finding themselves in a must-win situation to make the playoffs. Complicating matters, Melvin Gordon (knee) is out a couple of weeks, Leonard Fournette has been suspended for this week, and Marvin Jones has been placed on injured reserve. Moreover, Kenyan Drake has a sprained shoulder, and Marlon Mack is in the concussion protocol. Bye weeks may be over, but many owners still may need to find a quality spot start in a very important week.
A great way to identify a potential spot start is to leverage 4for4’s signature strength-of-schedule metric, adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Many sites publish raw fantasy points allowed by position, but 4for4 goes a step further and adjusts those numbers for a defense’s relative year-to-date schedule strength. So if a defense has seen a murderer’s row of running backs, it will be reflected in the defense’s aFPA. As a ranker, I use this metric weekly when putting together our award-winning projections.
Last week, I discussed Jameis Winston, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Gus Edwards, Peyton Barber, Josh Adams, Austin Ekeler, John Ross, Cameron Brate and Jonnu Smith in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 13.
Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. Jets, 23rd in QB aFPA)
In three non-injury games since his Week 8 bye, Mariota has posted 240 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys, 228 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots, and 303 yards and two more scores against the Texans, while adding 77 total rushing yards and a touchdown as a runner. This works out to a 22.3-point average, though he was putting up a stinker against the Colts in Week 11 before being knocked out of the game just after a half. In other words, he should produce, but he’s not without risk. That’s what makes him sneaky. That, and a good matchup with the Jets, who gave up 283 yards and two touchdowns to Tom Brady, and 232 yards and two scores at 9.3 yards per attempt to Matt Barkley in the last two weeks.
Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars (vs. Colts, 24th in RB aFPA)
Leonard Fournette is suspended for Week 13, so his workload will fall to Hyde and Yeldon. With Fournette out in Week 8, Hyde carried the ball six times for 11 yards while Yeldon pitched in with two carries for seven yards and seven receptions for 83 yards. With last week’s game tied towards the end of the third quarter, Hyde saw four touches in the final 18 minutes while Yeldon saw two, though he was targeted three more times as the Jaguars entered hurry-up mode. This is shaping up to be a committee with Hyde getting most of the carries and Yeldon seeing most of the targets.
Adam Humphries, Buccaneers (vs. Panthers, 23rd in WR aFPA)
This season, Humphries has been targeted on 18.1% of Winston’s 204 pass attempts and has accounted for 19.0% of his completions, 17.1% of his yards and 20.0% of his touchdowns. Assuming Winston continues to average 25.2 completions on 39.0 attempts for 315 yards and 1.73 touchdowns per game—his averages over his last 16 games that he has started and finished—Humphries would average 4.8 receptions for 53.9 yards and 0.35 touchdowns on 7.1 targets per game. This equates to 12.3 points per game in PPR leagues, which is about what Allen Robinson, Sterling Shepard and Jarvis Landry are averaging this season as low-end WR3s. He’ll definitely be startable in the next couple of games against the Panthers and Saints, especially with DeSean Jackson dealing with a thumb injury. (If Jackson sits, we can add Chris Godwin to this list of Sneaky Starts.)
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (at Buccaneers, 28th in WR aFPA)
D.J. Moore should remain in lineups given his production in recent weeks (7-157-1 versus the Lions and 8-91 against the Seahawks), but Samuel is worth a look, as well. He has scored four touchdowns in his last four games and played 92% of the snaps with Devin Funchess out in Week 12.
Gerald Everett, Rams (at Lions, 23rd in TE aFPA)
Everett caught two touchdowns in Week 11 against the Chiefs and has three touchdowns in his last two games. His usage is dicey—he has six targets in that span—but in this offense, Everett can produce on a limited workload. The matchup is good, too.
Matt LaCosse, Broncos (at Bengals, 19th in TE aFPA)
With Jeff Heuermann out, LaCosse is the most likely candidate to pick up his snaps and targets. He caught three passes on four targets for 34 yards and a touchdown while playing a season-high 47% of the snaps in Week 12 against the Steelers.