It’s a huge week in the fantasy football world. For many, this is the final opportunity to sneak into the playoffs. For others, it’s all about setting themselves up for better playoff seeding or maybe even a bye. With NFL bye weeks a thing of the past, everyone (including your opponent) has a full complement of weapons to choose from this week. Take advantage of fantasy managers who are just content to keep their current starting lineup by uncovering some under the radar gems. Here are some players who are sneaky starts in Week 13.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Quite frankly, Tannehill deserves more love. Do you want a QB who could boom? Tannehill had four total touchdowns and a 32.4-point fantasy performance last week. Do you want safety? Tannehill’s lowest output as a starter is 18.9 fantasy points. Do you want consistency? How do Tannehill’s totals of 19.2, 19.4, 23, 18.9 and 32.4 look? Since taking over for Marcus Mariota in Week 7, only Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford (in only three games) have averaged more points at the position than Tannehill’s 23.2. And we’re going to be scared off by a middle-of-the-road matchup with the Colts in a dome? No way. Don’t expect another 30-point game, but the Colts did allow Nick Foles to throw for 296 yards and two touchdowns and Deshaun Watson to throw for 298 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks. Tannehill can replicate those totals in Week 13.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
No, that’s not a misprint. The much-maligned Bears QB is a sneaky start in the first game of the day on Thanksgiving. Hear me out. The Lions defense has been extremely generous to fantasy QBs so far this season, including Trubisky. They’ve given up the eighth-most points to the position so far this season, but facing Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins last week really helped those numbers. Detroit has only held two QBs to fewer than 18 points in a game this season: Philip Rivers in Week 2 and Haskins last week. They’ve given up an average of 2.7 passing touchdowns per game over the last six weeks (3.2 per game if you throw out last week). Trubisky had three touchdowns against them three weeks ago in Chicago and has a good chance to replicate that total again in Week 13. The Bears should have more than enough opportunities to score in this game, especially if David Blough starts for the Lions.
Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
This shouldn’t be that sneaky of a start, but it looks like many fantasy managers are content to leave Williams on their bench now that bye weeks have ended. I wouldn’t suggest that unless you’re really loaded at the position or are in a shallow league. Aside from Davante Adams, Williams may be Aaron Rodgers’ most reliable pass-catcher. He’s been featured heavily in that area in five of the past six games. Williams has 24 catches and five receiving touchdowns in his last six games, plus is still getting significant work on the ground. The Giants rank right around league average against fantasy RBs, but just allowed nine catches to the Bears backfield last week. I expect the Packers to run frequently and check down in the passing game in what could be a rainy game in the Meadowlands.
Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like it or not, Barber is going to continue splitting carries with Ronald Jones. Even though Jones is more explosive and clearly has the higher upside, Barber can still be fairly useful in certain matchups. This week is a great example. You can run on the Jaguars. I can run on the Jaguars. Everyone can run on the Jaguars. Jacksonville has allowed the third-most points to fantasy RBs this season and a whopping 589 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks. As such, the Buccaneers should lean on their running game a little more than usual this week. Jones has 27 carries over the last three weeks. Barber has 22. They split almost exactly 50/50 in Weeks 10 and 12. Getting double-digit touches against this defense puts you into flex consideration, especially if they leave Barber in on the goal line.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Williams will make his way into plenty of lineups this week after his huge prime time performance last Thursday, but don’t forget about Hines. Despite being a pretty effective runner last week, he should return to his normal pass-catching role this week against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed at least six catches to RBs in eight of their 11 games this season and 16 in its last two games. Only the Texans have allowed more receptions to RBs this season. Because this game is played in a dome, it’ll be one of the few Sunday games without any weather concerns. If you play in a half- or full-PPR league, Hines might be able to flirt with double figures in the passing game alone this week. Anything he may get on the ground is just a bonus.
Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Snell is the non-James Conner Steelers back you want to roster going forward. He’ll be the lead back as long as Conner is sidelined, and is likely to split carries with him even when healthy (much like what happened in Week 6). Snell had 21 carries and 22 touches in total last week against the Bengals. That resulted in an 11.3-point performance. The other Ohio team Pittsburgh plays this week is a tougher matchup, especially given the way they’ve played running backs during their three-game homestand, but getting the lion’s share of the carries for any team is noteworthy. A rainy day in Pittsburgh could easily result in another 20-plus carry day for Snell.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
Those who were patient and held onto Shepard until he returned last week are probably already thinking about starting him this week. So what makes him sneaky? Golden Tate’s injury status. Tate is in concussion protocol and could miss Sunday’s game against the Packers. That’s significant not just because it’s one less option for Daniel Jones to throw to, but because Shepard would move back into the slot. Shepard has been a significantly better fantasy player in the slot in his career as opposed to playing outside. We only have a small sample size to work with this season, but Shepard was averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game in three games when Tate was suspended and 9.2 fantasy points per game in two games with both players on the field. Shepard pretty much gets the same amount of targets regardless of where he lines up, but his production is what differs. There’s a 50% chance of rain for this game, but the temperature and wind shouldn’t be too bad. Shepard is a must-start if Tate is ruled out.
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
It’s the Cole Beasley revenge game! If you’re looking for a safe 10-to-12 points, look no further than the Bills’ slot receiver. He doesn’t have massive upside, but he’s really consistent. Here are his PPR totals since Buffalo’s Week 6 bye: 10.6, 13.1, 9.3, 11.4, 7.8 and 19.6. He’s the WR36 over that period of time, just sneaking inside WR3 territory. The Cowboys aren’t the greatest matchup in the world, but I don’t think they should be feared. They allowed 6/42/0 to Golden Tate in Week 9, 4/47/0 to Danny Amendola in Week 11 and 8/93/0 in a rainstorm to Julian Edelman last week. All three of those players led their respective WR corps in yards. Those aren’t world-beating numbers, but sometimes you just need a safe option in your WR3 or second flex spot. If the Bills are extra motivated to give Beasley the ball in Dallas, even better.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
Gage has been the biggest beneficiary of the Mohamad Sanu trade and the Austin Hooper injury in Atlanta’s offense. He got 10 targets last week against the Buccaneers and caught eight of them for 76 yards. He may play an even bigger role this week. Julio Jones left Sunday’s game briefly with a shoulder injury. He returned but it’s still bothering him, as evidenced by his missed practice Tuesday. The Falcons have a quick turnaround, as they play the Saints in the Thanksgiving night game. Jones could miss all or part of that game, elevating Gage to the No. 2 role against a Saints secondary that’s struggling a bit without Marshon Lattimore. Gage has standalone value as a WR4 if Jones plays, but becomes a solid WR3 option if he doesn’t.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
The theme of opportunity because of injury continues here. Taylor Gabriel suffered a concussion on Sunday and did not practice Tuesday. Head coach Matt Nagy said "it'd be a stretch" if he plays on Thanksgiving. It would truly be a surprise if he suits up. Enter Miller, who’s seen a significant increase in his role over the past couple weeks. He’s been targeted 20 times over the last two games, catching 12 passes for 131 yards. With no tight end of significance involved in the passing offense, Miller has become Trubisky’s safety blanket in the middle of the field. The Lions have been vulnerable against slot receivers in recent weeks. Excluding last week’s game against the Redskins, Detroit has given up the third-most yards and third-most fantasy points to slot receivers since Week 8, getting torched by Golden Tate, Hunter Renfrow and Randall Cobb. Miller was the only slot receiver to not have a big game in that stretch, but he only played 33 snaps in that game. He’ll play a lot more on Thursday and should have plenty of success.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Goedert didn’t have a huge game last week, but don’t let that deter you from playing him this week if you need help. His depth of target was below average, but he still caught seven passes and was targeted eight times. The Eagles travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in what should be gorgeous weather. Who knows if Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor will be ready to play by then, and even if they are, Goedert is a valuable piece of the red zone offense regardless. Cleveland’s TEs were about the only thing that didn’t score against the Dolphins last week, but Miami gave up 2/32/1 to Dawson Knox in Week 11, 8/100/1 to Colts TEs in Week 10 and 6/50/0 to Ryan Griffin in Week 9 (Griffin had a touchdown that was taken off the board because he lost control of the ball when he hit the ground after his wide-open TD grab). Goedert is a borderline TE1 this week.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Doyle is a solid streaming option this week with Eric Ebron out of the picture. Doyle is on the field the vast majority of the time anyway, now he should get more pass-catching opportunities. The matchup this week isn’t bad, either. The Titans have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. If you’re looking for a cheap DFS option or scrambling to replace Ebron on your roster, Doyle is a capable one-week fill-in.
More Advice from SI Fantasy:
—Dr. Roto’s Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for some of your tougher lineup decisions
—Jaime Eisner’s waiver wire pickups: Ryan Tannehill, Rashaad Penny and more
—Frankie Taddeo’s streaming options for Week 13
—Frankie Taddeo’s droppables, with some big-name players you shouldn’t feel bad about cutting
—Jaime Eisner’s stock watch on players trending up or down
—Bill Enright’s injury report takes a look at who is out how long