There's been a lot of talk lately about how this is a weird fantasy football year. To quote Bono however, "Maybe, maybe too much talk." Because before we get into the Week 13 start/sit suggestions for running backs and wide receivers, I need to ask: When was the last "normal" fantasy season?
I've been playing fantasy football for a long, long time. Patrick Mahomes wasn't even alive when I started playing fantasy football. Heck, even the ageless Tom Brady wasn't old enough to play Pop Warner football when I started playing fantasy football. However, I will agree that it used to be much more predictable.
But that was ages ago. Do you want to argue it was much more predictable when LaDanian Tomlinson was dominating? Fine. That was 15 years ago! And don't tell me we've had a "normal" season since then. The point is that if things have been "strange" for 15 straight years, they are normal. What would be abnormal is if things were completely predictable!
And that brings us back to the start/sit for this week. If your trade deadline hasn't passed, it is fast approaching. But some teams are trying to decide which of three top-10 RBs to play this week. With four teams on bye, others are trying to decide, with not a single top-30 WR on their team, which ones might actually get points this week.
Keep that in mind as I bring you my weekly reminder that I will not be suggesting any RB or WR to "start" here that is typically in the top dozen for this week, nor will I be recommending you to "sit" any player outside of the top two dozen for this week. I'm not sure how much longer that will last. For now, we'll maintain the status quo.
So let's see what I can do for this not-so-strange strange week that awaits us.
Teams on bye: Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Tennessee
START These RBs
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets
Any RB playing the Jets feels kind of obvious, but I've seen Sanders outside the top 20 this week. And if I had him, I'd start him. I know he picked up an injury last week, but he practiced in full on Thursday. Meanwhile, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard did not. Throw in the Jalen Hurts is nursing an ankle injury, Sanders should easily see 20-plus carries on Sunday.
Much has been made about the Eagles running the ball lately, but the fact is they are doing so about half of the time, and in their last three games that rate is closer to 60 percent. Both of these numbers are higher than every other team besides San Francisco.
I'd be starting Sanders either way. But with the Jets giving up the most fantasy points to RBs this season, this is about as close to a no-brainer as you'll get this week.
Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
I'm a little scared of Jermar Jefferson, but we know D'Andre Swift will be sitting this one out. And as bad as the Jets have been at stopping RBs, Minnesota has not been much better. The Vikings have actually allowed six more rushing yards per game than the Jets, which places them 30th in the NFL, ahead of only the Texans and Chargers.
My guess is that Lions head coach Dan Campbell will try to keep this game close by slowing it down. And the best way to do that is to run the ball and hand it off to your 224-pound bruiser. Don't be surprised when Williams runs for more than a hundred yards this week.
SIT These RBs
Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
If you have Harris and are not loaded at RB, you have to play him in any standard league. But I hope he's not your RB1 because if so, you are in trouble. If he finishes as a top-20 RB this week, you should be pleased. However, that is not why you drafted or traded for him.
I don't like Harris this week at all. Baltimore is back to their run-stuffing ways. The Ravens are allowing just 84 rushing yards per game, second only to Tampa Bay. Harris has now seen his attempts, yards, and yards per carry all drop in consecutive weeks and seems to be hitting the "rookie wall." He does have almost 200 carries already this year. But he's also averaging just 3.6 yards per carry.
If you've got two other top-20 options, I'd start both of them over Harris and not think twice about it.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City vs. Denver Broncos (SNF)
You are glad to welcome CEH back, but you might feel more like a welcome mat if you play him this week. For starters, Denver has been pretty good at stopping RBs dead in their tracks.
The Broncos have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. And they are even better at keeping them out of the end zone. They are tied with the Patriots atop the league with just half a dozen rushing TDs allowed.
And CEH through six games played has one touchdown and not even 370 yards? This is an easy fade for me.
START These WRs
Josh Reynolds, Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
This is a pretty deep recommendation. However if you are a DJ Moore or Davante Adams owner looking for a potential WR3 swimming around in free agency, Reynolds could be a perfect bye-week fill-in.
Reynolds caught his first touchdown of the season on Thanksgiving and has been targeted eight times in two games with Detroit. Even more promising is the fact that he has played 86 of 97 snaps. No team playing this weekend has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers per game than the Vikings (42). Reynolds makes for a very sneaky start.
Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams vs. Jacksvonille Jaguars
I originally had Odell Beckham Jr. in this spot, but after reports of a hip injury surfaced, I had to pivot. And unlike Lin Manuel Miranda's portrayal of Alexander Hamilton, I am quite a fan of Jefferson.
Jefferson is fifth in the league in yards per catch and has a juicy matchup against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is allowing more than 36 PPR points per game to WRs this season. Yes, Cooper Kupp is likely to see more of that than Jefferson. But with only Washington and Tennessee allowing more catches than Jacksonville, I think Jefferson is in for a big game this weekend.
SIT These WRs
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals vs Los Angeles Chargers
Higgins had himself a nice little game last week, but I wouldn't expect an encore. The Chargers are the second-stingiest team against opposing WRs. We can argue whether that is because they are so weak against the run or not. But I'm expecting the Bengals to put this game in the hands of Joe Mixon.
Even if it is not Mixon doing all the damage, the Chargers are the fifth-most generous fantasy defense when it comes to TEs. And even if C.J. Uzomah is not a major weapon, do you really expect Higgins to outproduce likely Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase again this week?
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals
Mooney is coming on strong with 244 receiving yards the past two weeks. But Detroit's and Baltimore's pass defenses are far more susceptible than Arizona's. The Cardinals have allowed the fourth-fewest receiving yards and only Buffalo has allowed fewer receiving TDs.
This is a sit based completely on matchup, but there are likely better options out there this week than Mooney.
— 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.