I will start my Week 13 daily fantasy (DFS) football picks by thanking those of you for the feedback this week. With my Week 12 picks leading with the story of "Brett," it was heart-warming to hear back from many of you. And that included Brett's brother-in-law who expressed his gratitude and said that it would have really made Brett happy.
I'm not going to rehash it here and to be honest with you, I'd like to take a much more business-like approach this week.
So no chit-chat this week. Here are my picks for the Week 13 DFS slate.
Teams on bye: Carolina, Tampa Bay
Safe Quarterback Week 13 Pick
Justin Herbert, Chargers vs. Patriots (DraftKings $6900, FanDuel $7900)
Let's start with game flow. Opponents of Bill Belichick's boys have managed to run just 58.7 plays a game on average, the lowest in the league. Meanwhile, head coach Anthony Lynn's offense runs nearly 73 plays a game, the highest in the league. Something has to give, and given that the books have the Chargers as the favorite, let's assume this falls closer to the home team's pace.
This means that Herbert should get close to the 40-plus pass attempts he is averaging per game. If he does, it's easy to envision him making it now seven 300-yard passing games this season. While Herbert continues to sparkle, the New England defense could use a little polish. They have allowed a 69 percent completion rate and are being bombed for a league-high 8.29 yards per pass attempt.
Some talking head said that Belichick can throw all kinds of exotic blitzes and pressure packages at Herbert to take him off his game. Good thought, but no. Herbert is actually leading the league with a 98.1 QB rating when under pressure. The stats say that New England is giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Part of that is because the Patriots have the fourth-most interceptions in the league. But Herbert has just seven INTs in 10 games this year (against 23 TDs). Seventeen other starting quarterbacks have more INTs, including not just his counterpart in this game, Cam Newton, but other notables like Russell Wilson and Tom Brady.
The Patriots might be just good enough to limit Herbert from having one of his ceiling games. But I will gladly take an "average" Herbert game and I think he does far more than that this weekend.
High Risk/Reward Quarterback Week 13 Pick
Mike Glennon, Jaguars at Vikings (DK $4800, FD $6800)
This game has an over/under of 51 points with the Vikings favored by double digits, meaning we should see Glennon take to the air again. The Vikings interestingly have been either very good or very bad when you review their games individually. But the fact remains they have allowed more than half the quarterbacks they've faced to finish with more than 18.5 fantasy points. Glennon did even better than that last weekend, when he completed 20 of 35 passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Cleveland. Priced as low as he is on both sites, those who take a chance on Glennon should see some easy profit. Of course that might not be all we see:
Safe Running Back Week 12 Pick
Nick Chubb, Browns at Titans (DK $7700, FD $8700)
Missing out on Derrick Henry last week left me in a bad place. First off, I'm reluctant not to mention him here this time. Secondly, it's shaken my confidence in making a "Safe RB" pick. Not that Dalvin Cook was bad last week. Cook was "ok," yet Henry was a slate-breaker. But this spot is not about picking a "slate-breaker." It's about picking someone with a high floor. And you know what? Chubb is that guy.
Chubb returned for Cleveland's Week 10 game and has carried the rock 58 times since. He's turned that into 384 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Cleveland is running the ball more than half of the time (52 percent), just fractions behind the run-heaviest Ravens. And I don't see the Browns changing that game plan anytime soon, especially with Chubb churning out yards. And there's no reason why that should change this week.
The Titans are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to RBs. That includes seven runs of 20-plus yards, which is about average so far this season. Will Chubb have a long run? Im not sure. But I am sure he brings a high enough floor worth putting him in a few lineups.
High Risk/Reward Running Back Week 13 Pick
Jonathan Taylor atTexans (DK $5700, FD $6400)
We all know the risk in this pick. Taylor might be lucky to see six or seven carries in this one, similar to his Weeks 9 and 10 games. Or he could see the 22 carries he saw in Week 11 that he turned into 90 yards before going on the reserve/COVID-19 list. And there is no way that Taylor will be in any of my cash lineups. But GPP is often about chasing upside and Taylor absolutely has that.
He is still averaging nearly 13 PPR fantasy points a game. There are obviously some dud performances bringing that down, but that also means a number of very nice ceiling games to bring that average up. Given that he looked strong in his last game and that Nyheim Hines could not even manage to rush for 30 yards last week, I think Taylor will get the bulk of the carries this week.
Taylor has just one game over the century mark thus far, but I think he might have his best game of the season this week. If Taylor doesn't produce in this plush matchup against the Texans, he won't any other time this year. Houston has allowed a league-high 1,564 rushing yards. If we exclude receiving, Houston has been pounded for 240.4 fantasy points by opposing running backs. The next closest is 215.8 or not even within 10 percent. Furthermore, RBs are seeing a lift of 6.3 more half-PPR points per game versus Houston over the remainder of their games this season.
And I know, the concern about touches is still there, but last time the Colts played Houston Taylor managed a whopping 26 touches. I'm taking the risk.
Safe Wide Receiver Week 13 Pick
Keenan Allen, Chargers vs. Patriots (DK $8100, FD $8100)
I love Justin Herbert this week. The odds of Herbert having a great week and Allen not having at least a solid one is pretty slim. Allen is averaging more than 11 targets per game. He's scored a TD in five straight and seven of his last nine. New England has allowed 2.03 PPR points per target, the second most in the league. We could discuss how he's $8100 on both sites, but do you really care? Can we move on please?
High Risk/Reward Receiver Week 13 Pick
Denzel Mims, Jets vs. Raiders (DK $4100, FD $5500)
Given the state of the Jets' offense this year, this is a pretty gutsy call. But I will take a small victory lap after last week's Collin Johnson call:
I obviously did pretty well last week with a WR that was no higher than a WR3 on the depth chart, so let's try it once again.
Mims has yet to score this year so calling him a WR3 might be apt. However, he also has 23 targets over his last three games, so perhaps it's a misnomer? Misnomer or not, I'm willing to spend a little over 4K on DraftKings for a WR that has 200 receiving yards over his last three games and a decent matchup. He's less of a steal on FanDuel, but I think he still will outproduce that salary against the Raiders.
The Raiders are favored by more than a TD and given that the Methuselah-aged Frank Gore is New York's primary ground option, we should expect the Jets to look Mims ways often against this Raiders secondary. And that secondary leaves a lot to be desired. The Raiders have given up between 36 and 46 PPR fantasy points to wide receivers the last four weeks. Before that, they played the highly praised Browns passing game, and the week before they gave up more than 60 PPR fantasy points! I think you can see the trend.
I'll go out on a limb and say that Mims gets double-digit fantasy points this week AND scores his first touchdown. If so, it will make him an exceptional GPP value pick.
Safe Tight End Week 12 Pick
T.J. Hockenson, Lions at Bears (DK $5000, FD $6100)
Let me be clear here and say that I like Darren Waller better this week. But given the approximately $1,000 savings in salary, I'll take Hockenson. He will likely be highly owned, making him less desirable in GPPs than in cash games. "Hock"' has more than 150 receiving yards the last two weeks and has nicely filled the void left by the absence of Kenny Golladay.
The Bears meanwhile are giving up the third-most fantasy points per game to TEs. Half a dozen tight ends have exceeded 50 yards when facing the Bears and two that didn't were targeted fewer than four times. I'm not worried about Hock and his targets. He has one of the best floors of anyone at the position this week.
High Risk/Reward Tight End Week 13 Pick
Anthony Firkser Titans vs. Browns (DK $2500, FD $4600)
Firkser is not even one of the top 25 fantasy TEs right now. Had you asked me even two days ago I would not have gone near Firkser this week. However, with Jonnu Smith now out, Firkser's minimum salary (okay, fine, $100 above minimum on FD, close enough) is a steal and one we should grab.
Cleveland has seen opposing tight ends average more than eight targets per game against them, third highest in the league. That includes 22 times in the red zone, the highest in the league. It should therefore come as little surprise that Cleveland has been victimized by four TE scores over the last three weeks. Furthermore, nine TEs have scored double-digit PPR points versus Cleveland and the other two still managed to finish inside the top 20 TEs for the week.
Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 13 Pick
Dolphins vs. Bengals (DK $4400, FD $4900)
Another no-brainer pick this week. The Jets last week and now a Bengals team minus the "no ordinary Joes" — Mixon and Burrow. Maybe the Dolphins really are swimming with the sharks! Before I make any more stupid gambling jokes, grab the Dolphins as the easy pick and let's keep going, shall we?
High Risk/Reward Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 13 Pick
Seahawks vs. Giants (DK $3300, FD $3900)
This one took a little more thought. After all, I have been picking on Seattle all year. And the Seahawks STILL have given up the most fantasy points to both quarterbacks and wide receivers. But I liked what I saw from them on Monday night. They have seen steady improvement since Carlos Dunlap joined their front seven a little over a month ago.
Their secondary is still shaky, but the addition of Dunlap has led to increased pressure on quarterbacks and the Seahawks are now eighth in sacks. Meanwhile, the Giants are 26th in sacks allowed and that's with Daniel Jones at the helm. We still don't know who is starting for New York but there's a decent chance it will be Colt McCoy. Regardless, I see Seattle getting sacks by the bunches again. It took some deliberation, but now that I've got them locked in here, I really like this pick.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.