If you drafted wisely and were crafty on the waiver wire, you likely have a strong bench that will help carry you through the fantasy playoffs. The pivotal decisions you make from this week forward will make or break your journey to a fantasy championship.
For example, owners who started Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield over Dak Prescott may have won in Week 12 due to a risky or bold call. However, if you decided to play Tyrell Williams or Amari Cooper over Jarvis Landry or DJ Moore, the decision may have cost you a victory.
It’s small lineup decisions like those that can leave fantasy owners saying the dreaded words: “My bench outscored my starters.” Well in order for that not to happen, it’s vital to be aware of players drawing tough matchups who pose a significant risk to your fantasy success. Let’s take a look at several players who check that box in Week 13.
As always, I’m not telling you to sit all of these players. I am telling you to examine your bench to consider whether or not you have a better option.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (vs NE)
Watson, owned in 100% of leagues, has a brutal matchup with the NFL’s best defense this Sunday. Fantasy football’s overall QB4 bounced back from one of the worst games of his career (Week 11 against the Ravens) with a strong outing against the Colts on Thursday Night Football. Watson gets a stingy Patriots defense that has allowed a league-low four touchdown passes through 11 games this season. My model identifies Watson as a complete fade against a New England defense that completely shut down the high-powered Cowboys offense in Week 12. As tough as it may be, fantasy owners need to find better options than Watson in the last week of the fantasy regular season. Watson falls out of my model’s top-20 quarterback rankings in a pivotal Week 13.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati (vs NYJ)
Mixon, who is among the biggest busts in fantasy football this season, has stepped his game up recently, posting double-digit PPR fantasy points in three of his last four games. The third-year back, who now has a home game against the league’s best run defense, is outside flex status in my model for Week 13 against the Jets. Started in 89% of leagues, many owners really need to look at their bench for better options. New York has not allowed an opposing running back to top 34 rushing yards in each of the last four games. Furthermore, the Jets have not surrendered a rushing touchdown in five straight straight contests.
Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons (vs NO)
Many fantasy owners used the majority of their FAAB budget a few weeks back on acquiring the running back everyone envisioned would take over lead duties after the injury to Devonta Freeman. Hill (owned in 93% of leagues) has not been able to produce since taking over the starting role over the last two games, despite 12-plus touches in both contests. Hill has burned his fantasy owners with just 41 rushing yards on 24 carries and no touchdowns. In Week 13 against the Saints, he will face the league’s fourth-best run defense, a New Orleans unit that is allowing only 88.5 yards per game on the ground. New Orleans has not permitted an opposing running back to top 64 rushing yards over the last five games, while only allowing the sensational Christian McCaffrey to score on the ground in their last six games.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (vs TEN)
We are now receiving reports saying that Hilton’s calf tightened up during last week’s loss to the Texans. Hilton, owned in 98% of leagues, was only on the field for 37% of the snaps against Houston. The star wide receiver produced only three receptions for 18 yards, and has become a huge risk going forward in the fantasy playoffs. When everything is on the line, trusting the veteran wideout who can come out of the game at any moment, is just too risky until he proves he can produce at a high enough level to warrant a starting nod.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (vs SF)
I know this one may be tough after what we just witnessed on Monday night, but the matchup against the 49ers is one to avoid. Brown, owned in 83% of leagues, ran superb routes against the Rams’ secondary and found the end zone twice on five receptions. However, in Week 13, Brown will draw a San Francisco defense that is allowing the least passing yards to opposing offenses at a paltry 136.9 yards per game. Brown will likely draw top CB Richard Sherman, who just held Packers WR Davante Adams to 43 yards in Week 12. This is a tough call but one that should be avoided if at all possible.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at JAX)
Howard is easily one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football, recording a measly 18 receptions and one touchdown this season. The third-year tight end has regressed at an alarming rate in 2019, while playing in one of the league’s pass heaviest offensive attacks. Howard has topped 35 receiving yards twice all year long. In Week 13, Howard will face a Jacksonville defense that is allowing just 40 yards per game to opposing tight ends. Fantasy owners should not trust the struggling Howard, who has offered very little indication that his role will offer any upside over the last several weeks of meaningful fantasy action.
More Advice From SI Fantasy
—Our early rankings give the Top 10 at every position for Week 13
—Jaime Eisner’s waiver wire pickups: Ryan Tannehill, Rashaad Penny and more
—Bill Enright’s injury report takes a look at who is out how long
—Frankie Taddeo’s Week 12 Superlatives dish out awards for last week
—Frankie Taddeo’s players to drop ahead of Week 13