For many, the final week of the fantasy football regular season has arrived. This is the last chance to push for a playoff spot or a first-round bye. Most trade deadlines have come and gone, but so have bye weeks. With a full roster at your disposal, it can be hard to know which players you can and can’t trust at this crucial time of year.
Which players are trending in the right and wrong directions? Let’s take a closer look at 10 of them in our Week 13 stock watch.
RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
When one running back fumbles away an opportunity, another picks up the ball and runs with it. Penny took full advantage of another fumble-filled game from Chris Carson, rushing for 129 yards on 14 carries, including a 58-yard score. Spoiler alert! You can now probably guess one of the “Stock Down” names. Head coach Pete Carroll hinted that this may be more of a timeshare moving forward, an inevitable outcome after Carson’s seventh charged fumble of the season (he has a couple more that he could be blamed for that were charged to Russell Wilson, including one in Week 12). Penny, now healthy, took full advantage of his opportunity. He ran hard, he was effective and now will be one of the most popular pickups off the waiver wire heading into the final week of the season. He won’t be a league-winner unless Carson gets hurt, but fantasy managers likely found a new flex option out of nowhere at such a crucial time.
WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
Moore is starting to move into superstar status. He finally had the fantasy day to prove it in Week 12. His 6/126/2 performance on the road against the Saints surely won some fantasy matchups, but this ascent has been in the works for some time. After things looked a little rocky in back-to-back road games in Weeks 3 and 4, where he had all of four combined catches on seven combined targets, things started to get back on track a couple weeks before Carolina’s bye. Since Week 5, Moore is averaging 10.3 targets per game, with an average line of seven catches for 92 yards. The end zone eluded him in that stretch until this past week. With matchups against Washington, Atlanta and Seattle on tap over the next three weeks, Moore figures to be a WR1.
WR Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Welcome back! Fuller’s return to the field resulted in a monster game for fantasy managers who rolled the dice and started him on Thursday Night Football. He saw a whopping 11 targets and caught seven of them for 140 yards. With DeSean Jackson on IR, Fuller takes over as the biggest boom-or-bust receiver in the NFL. He scored 21 points in Week 12 and had an all-time 53.7-point performance in Week 5 against the Falcons. Other than those two games he has reached double figures just one other time, a 10.1-point game against the Chargers in Week 3. The hope is that he continues to get the increased amount of looks he was getting prior to getting injured during Week 7. He had 16 targets in Week 5, nine in Week 6 and now 11 in his return. If he continues to flirt with 10 targets per game, he has the ability to be a league-winner for those in a playoff spot. He doesn’t have an easy matchup outside of the Buccaneers in Week 16, but that may not matter if the volume is there.
RB Jonathan Williams, Indianapolis Colts
Another Thursday Night Football star makes this list. How can you not be impressed with Williams? He’s not incredibly flashy, but neither is Marlon Mack and he’s gotten the job done for fantasy managers for the most part over the last two years. The Colts are absolutely committed to the run and let Williams work through his early-game struggles until he wore down Houston’s defense enough to become a major weapon. He finished with 104 yards on 26 carries, his second 100-yard game in as many weeks, and 21.1 fantasy points. Mack has already been ruled out for Week 13 and could miss multiple weeks after that. The schedule gets tougher, especially with games in Tampa Bay and in New Orleans to open the fantasy playoffs, but any starting running back getting 20-plus touches per game is worth a flex spot at minimum.
WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Boyd willed himself to a 5/101/1 game in a fairly tough matchup against the Steelers, but that’s not the biggest reason why his stock is up. The Bengals will turn back to veteran quarterback Andy Dalton this week and presumably the rest of the season. That’s great news for all Bengals skill position players. Even with his big game on Sunday, Boyd is averaging 2.5 more fantasy points per game with Dalton at quarterback compared to rookie Ryan Finley. Boyd ranked as the No. 33 WR in fantasy points per game (minimum four games played) through Week 8. He’s ranked as the No. 40 WR since then. That may not be a huge boost, but before this past week many were considering benching him in the fantasy playoffs. Now he’s a reliable WR3 with some upside, especially against the Jets this week and the Dolphins in Week 16.
QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
There is plenty of blame to go around in Philadelphia for the way the Eagles’ offense has played lately, and Wentz certainly deserves some of it. But the biggest culprit may be the overall lack of healthy talent on the roster. The Eagles went into Week 12 with backups at WR1, WR2, WR3, RB1 and at multiple positions on their offensive line. No wonder they couldn’t muster more than nine points in meh weather conditions. There are some reasons for optimism, though. They can’t get more hurt, can they? They also play only one good team the rest of the way, feasting on the Dolphins, the Giants twice and the Redskins in four of the last five games. Still, there’s no way you can trust Wentz again until the Eagles get healthy and you see two consecutive strong performances. If you’re in a single-QB league, he can be dropped.
RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
As mentioned above, Carson’s fumbling issues finally cost him significant playing time. Was it just one game? Maybe. But Penny was injured right around the time Carson had fumblitis earlier in the season. Now Penny is healthy, the Seahawks are fighting for an NFC West title and a bye, and Pete Carroll is teasing that a timeshare is a distinct possibility. Carson shouldn’t be benched yet, but he’s now just a flex play play moving forward. That’s incredibly disappointing for fantasy managers since Carson looks like a legit low-end RB1 when he holds onto the ball. Carson may still be able to take advantage of the great Week 15 and 16 matchups against the Panthers and Cardinals, but it won’t be to the same extent he would have if he could just secure the football.
TE Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders
Waller’s emergence this season is an awesome story not only for the Raiders, but for those who root for people to overcome their personal demons and find success on the other side. Through the first seven weeks of the season, only two tight ends were better on a per-game basis than Waller and his average point total of 17.5: Hunter Henry (18.6) and Austin Hooper (17.8). Waller was averaging 8.3 targets per game and scored at least 12.3 fantasy points in all but one game in that stretch. It just hasn’t been the same since. He got his usual eight targets in Week 8 and did have a touchdown to save his fantasy day, but only caught two passes for 11 yards. He hasn’t seen an eight-target game since then and is averaging just five targets per game over the last four weeks. He’s the No. 17 TE in fantasy points per game since Week 9 with 8.5 and just the TE13 in total points even though he’s played every game in that stretch. The weather looks like it could be terrible in Kansas City this week, and if so you may want to look elsewhere for production and hope he’s used more when the Raiders return to California for Weeks 14-16.
RB Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were just waiting for somebody to get healthy to push Samuels into a lesser role. Benny Snell got there first and saw the lion’s share of the touches in the Steelers’ backfield in Week 12 and will again in Week 13 if James Conner doesn’t play. Samuels isn’t quite Kalen Ballage, but he isn’t too much better in terms of efficiency. Over the last three weeks, Samuels’s 32 touches have resulted in 117 total yards. If you just isolate his carries over the last four weeks, he’s averaging fewer than 2.5 yards per carry. He’ll still have a role in the passing game, but with Devlin Hodges at the helm, Snell getting pretty much all the carries and Conner due to return eventually, Samuels is no longer fantasy relevant.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, San Francisco 49ers
Injury has a lot to do with Sanders’ lackluster performances lately, but he’s simply not producing right now. After scoring touchdowns in back-to-back games to open his 49ers career, Sanders has a grand total of six catches for 72 yards and no touchdowns on 10 targets over the last three weeks combined. Tough matchups on the road in Baltimore and New Orleans lie ahead. Sanders is obviously worth keeping around for when he’s close to fully healthy (and the Week 15 matchup at home against Atlanta), but you might want to look elsewhere over the next couple weeks. Jimmy Garoppolo seems perfectly content relying on George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and the running game right now.
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
—Frankie Taddeo’s droppables, with some big-name players you shouldn’t feel bad about cutting
—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