I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving! You’re probably still recovering from the food coma you just came out of, or maybe you just got back from fighting through all the Black Friday crowds. Either way, we here at FullTime Fantasy hope you got a few big performances from your players on the holiday to start off Week 13 on the right foot. Even with three games already in the books, there are plenty of lineup decisions that still need to be made. Here are a handful of players available in the vast majority of leagues that can help you win this week.
QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
The Ryan Finley experiment certainly fizzled out with a whimper. The Bengals are turning back to Dalton for this week (and presumably the rest of the season), which is great news for Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate and even Joe Mixon owners. While we boost those guys up our weekly rankings, how about Dalton? Although he wasn’t playing all that great in real football, he was serviceable in fantasy. Through the first eight weeks of the season, he ranked as the No. 17 QB in average fantasy points per game with 16.9. At the time, he had better fantasy numbers than Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield and a host of other starters. It’s fair to say Dalton was at worst an average fantasy quarterback, right? Well, he faces the Jets this week. While the Jets rank right in the middle of the league against fantasy QBs this season as a whole, they’ve been exposed a bit on the road lately. In their last three road games, they’ve allowed a combined 781 passing yards and 8 passing touchdowns (and an average of 21.6 fantasy points) to Gardner Minshew, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Dwayne Haskins. Dalton is a better quarterback with arguably better weapons.
RB Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a ribs injury and is in danger of missing Sunday’s game against the Raiders. LeSean McCoy would see an increased workload if that’s the case, but Andy Reid has been hesitant to put too much on the veteran running back’s plate. While the fantasy community has been waiting all season for Darwin Thompson to be unleashed, there is a trust factor Reid has with Darrel Williams. He’s been an effective fill-in over the past two seasons because of injury and had 13 touches and a score against the Chargers before Kansas City’s bye. When Damien Williams missed time in Weeks 3 and 4, Darrel Williams received a combined 25 touches, found the end zone twice and scored a combined 34.5 fantasy points. He could have the opportunity to do that yet again in Week 13.
RB Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles
Let’s steer right into the Ajayi revenge game narrative, shall we? The Eagles, despite their recent offensive woes, have to be able to put up points against the Dolphins on what’s expected to be a sunny, 80 degree day in Miami, right? Right!? Jordan Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact and Philadelphia should feature Miles Sanders early on. But once they take the lead, they could (and should) turn to Ajayi to salt the game away. The Dolphins allow the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs this season and both Browns RBs had plenty of success against them last week. Ajayi doesn’t have huge upside, but has a path to double-digit carries and maybe a touchdown this week.
WR Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a really intriguing play. Conley led all Jaguars with 168 air yards last week, which is a great sign that he could be the deep threat of choice for Nick Foles going forward. Plus, he’s getting plenty of targets. After getting three straight weeks of seven targets from Gardner Minshew heading into Jacksonville’s bye, he’s received eight and nine targets in the two games with Foles since. Oh, and lookie here… the Buccaneers are on tap. Only Arizona has given up more fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Conley just needs to find the end zone in order to have a monster fantasy day and Tampa Bay has allowed 11 touchdowns to wide receivers in its last five games.
WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
If Brown didn’t have one bad week leading into his bye he wouldn’t be anywhere near this list. If the rest of your league is off the hype train, it’s time to get right back on and enjoy the extra space. Sure, Brown had a huge game against the Jaguars last week with four catches for 135 yards and a score. But that’s not the only reason why he should be in your lineup this week. He’s been pretty darn consistent since Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting QB in Tennessee. Here are Brown’s fantasy point totals in PPR leagues since Week 7: 12.2, 9.1, 12.1, 2.7, 23.5. That makes him the No. 37 overall WR in that time frame. A quick glance at the matchup with Indianapolis doesn’t look like anything more than average at best, but keep in mind the Colts’ defensive numbers are all over the place this season. They shut down WRs catching passes from Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, Mason Rudolph and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but every other group of receivers has finished well above league average against them this season, including Jacksonville and Houston over the last two weeks. This is a much different Titans offense than what was on the field in Week 2. Brown is a solid WR3/WR4 with some upside.
WR Auden Tate, Cincinnati Bengals
I expect Tate’s target volume to return to what it was earlier in the season with Dalton back behind center. In Dalton’s last seven starts Tate averaged 8.7 targets per game, including 30 in the final three games before Cincinnati’s bye. Tate had a grand total of 15 targets in three games with Ryan Finley. As mentioned in the Dalton section, the matchup with the Jets at home is more favorable than the surface stats reveal. A.J. Green should continue to sit out, meaning Tate should pick up where he left off as a reliable No. 2 option for Dalton. From Weeks 3-8, the worst performance Tate had was 9.0 PPR points in Week 4. The best performance he had with Finley was 9.6 PPR points. We need to grade Tate on the old scale, in which he was the WR40 in average fantasy points per game for Weeks 3-8. He’s once again a high-floor option if you need help filling the WR3 or WR4 spot in your lineup.
TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
You may have heard this before, but the Cardinals are absolute trash against tight ends. So what? We’ll start Gerald Everett and be done with it. Well, not so fast. Everett is a little banged up right now and is day-to-day with a knee injury he suffered on Monday night against the Ravens. Quietly, Higbee got six targets and caught five of them in that game. He also out-snapped Everett 38-17. The latter is becoming more of a trend. Higbee out-snapped Everett 42-14 in Week 11 and has out-snapped him in four of the last six weeks. While Higbee wasn’t targeted against the Bears in Week 11, he did have 10 combined targets in the other two games since the Rams returned from bye. He caught a touchdown against the Cardinals last year and may be able to do it again on Sunday. Everett being limited in any way could mean big things for the other Rams TE in this matchup, especially if he gets six targets again.