Before we dive into Week 13’s edition of start/sit fantasy advice for fantasy wide receivers and tight ends let’s see if my tips left you satisfied or hungry for more last week.
Sit Dez Bryant (2.6 fantasy points) – It’s a lost season for Bryant and the Cowboys.
Start Larry Fitzgerald (16.6 FP, PPR) – He was and will remain a target monster for Carson Palmer.
Sit A.J. Green (18.1 FP) – Broke out of his funk with two touchdowns.
START THESE WRs...
Alshon Jeffery, CHI (vs. SF)
If you read my start/sit column on quarterbacks, you know that I recommend Jay Cutler as a must-start this week, and that makes Jeffery a must-start as well. Jeffery is playing through groin and shoulder injuries, but looks like he is getting as close to 100 percent as he can at this time of year, which is great news considering he’s already missed six games. Last week he was questionable to play and managed to snag seven balls for 90 yards in a tough matchup against the Packers. This week is a much easier matchup as the San Francisco 49ers come to town. The 49ers’ defense struggles mightily on the road, and on the year they are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Don’t be surprised if Jeffery ends up with around 150 receiving yards and at least one touchdown.
Brandon Marshall, NYJ (at NYG)
The Jets sure got a steal in giving up a sixth-round draft choice for Marshall, who is easily playing like a top-10 WR right now. Marshall has scored in four straight games (he’s actually got five TDs in those four games), just collected his sixth 100-yard game of the season last week and now he faces a New York Giants defense that is allowing a league-worst 309 yards passing per game as well as the 12th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. There’s no reason that Marshall can’t get another 100 yards and a touchdown this week. He’s as consistent as they come.
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at PIT)
For most of the season Hilton has been a complete bust and has actually found himself a few times in the must-sit section. Things are finally changing in Hilton’s favor though and last week (21.5 fantasy points) was what should be the first week of many bountiful games to come. This week the Colts play the Pittsburgh Steelers and their defense that is currently giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and are coming off a game in which they yielded a total of five touchdowns to the Seahawks’ wideouts. Look for Hilton to once again go over 100 yards with one touchdown.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs. BAL)
Landry has by far the best game of his young NFL career last week against the New York Jets when he caught 13 of 16 targets for 165 yards and a touchdown. This week the Dolphins will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator, but they should definitely still take advantage of Landry’s talents. It also helps that the Dolphins play host to the Baltimore Ravens and their defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points to WRs on the season. Landry should finish the day with his third 100-yard receiving game of the year and his fifth TD catch as well.
SIT THESE WRs...
Sammy Watkins, BUF (vs. HOU)
On the year Watkins has had two really good games where he’s scored more than 20 fantasy points, but other than that, he’s more likely to score three fantasy points. This week is another one of those games where it looks like Watkins will disappear. The Bills do play at home this week, which is usually a great thing for Tyrod Taylor and Watkins, but the Houston Texans and their red-hot defense are coming to town. The Texans’ defense is giving up the 11th-fewest fantasy points to opposing WRs and has been especially stingy over the last four games (1 TD pass allowed). That streak is unlikely to be broken by an inconsistent Bills offense. Don’t expect Watkins to do much of anything this week as he will be kept under 10 fantasy points for the ninth time this season.
Brandin Cooks, NO (vs. CAR)
Cooks was on a lot of people’s breakout lists at the start of the season and while he hasn’t nearly produced the numbers that many had hoped for, he was starting to come along nicely as he scored 13 or more fantasy points from Weeks 9 to 12. Then last week he fell flat on his face and only scored 3.5 fantasy points thanks to just 35 receiving yards. This week he has a terrible matchup as he will be lined up against the league’s best cover corner in the Carolina Panthers’ Josh Norman. Stay away from Cooks this week.
Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. SEA)
We were all digging on Diggs (ha ha ha) a few weeks ago, but his stats have taken a major nose dive in recent weeks. The Maryland product is unlikely to make any statistical improvements against the Seahawks, who have surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Keep Diggs on the sidelines if you're deep at wide receiver.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Stevie Johnson, SD (vs. DEN)
Johnson has become the only real dependable passing option that the Chargers have, and he’s been a blessing to those who picked him up in PPR leagues. But fantasy fans should be wary of this week's matchup against the Broncos. Denver has been tough against wide receivers this season, allowing just one touchdown catch and the fewest fantasy points to the position in 2015. The Broncos also have surrendered the fewest catches to wideouts as well.
START THESE TEs...
Julius Thomas, JAC (at TEN)
Usually Thomas is listed under the must-sit section, but it appears that he and Blake Bortles might finally be on the same page. That and the fact that the Jaguars’ No. 2 target Allen Hurns suffered what appears to be a serious concussion really helped Thomas see more targets last week, as he caught nine balls for 116 yards and a touchdown. Hurns is likely out this week, which means Thomas should once again see plenty of action. That’s great news because this week the Jaguars travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans and their defense that is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to TEs on the year. If the Jaguars are going to win this game, they are going to need Thomas to step up. Look for his second straight 100-yard receiving game and throw in another visit to the end zone for good measure.
Travis Kelce, KC (at OAK)
Kelce was questionable to play last week and he fought through an ankle injury to catch his fourth TD of the season, which also was his second in his last four games after going scoreless from Weeks 2-7. And this week he gets his best matchup of the season, as he goes up against the Oakland Raiders and their inept pass defense which has allowed nine touchdowns in 12 games to tight ends. Kelce hasn’t exploded for a big game yet this season as he has only one game in which he’s gone over the century mark in yards. Look for him to have his second 100-yard game on Sunday and he’ll reel in his fifth TD too.
Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. DAL, Mon.)
Like most tight ends, Reed has seen his production go up and down all season. The good news if you’re a Reed owner is that he appears to be healthy and is easily Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. In fact, he's been targeted at least eight times in three of his last five games. Plus, Reed (and Cousins) has been much more productive at home and this week the Dallas Cowboys come stumbling into town. Even though the Cowboys have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends on the year, Reed is just seeing too many targets to not score in the double digits once again.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Scott Chandler, NE (vs. PHI)
The Patriots are terrible when it comes to injury updates and you never really know who is going to play until just before kickoff, but it’s pretty safe to assume that Rob Gronkowski will not be in uniform this week. The Patriots probably don’t need him to beat the Eagles and the rest can do Gronk some good. That means that Chandler steps right into Gronk’s role. The Patriots have been decimated by injuries to their wide receivers, so Chandler is going to see plenty of targets. The Eagles do defend tight ends extremely well; as they are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points on the year, but stats like that don’t matter when Tom Brady is the quarterback. Look for Chandler to catch five or more passes for over 50-plus yards and at least one touchdown.
SIT THESE TEs...
Antonio Gates, SD (vs. DEN)
There might not be a craftier veteran out there than Gates. He has so many miles on his body that it’s starting to fall apart. Sometimes it looks as if he can barely run and make the cuts needed to gain any separation on defenders. Then he goes out there and scores 17.3 fantasy points thanks to four catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is that touchdowns are fickle and this week the Chargers play host to the vaunted Denver defense. If there is a weakness with the Broncos’ defense it’s the unit’s ability to cover tight ends. And even then Denver’s D is middle of the pack (13th) in fantasy points allowed to TEs. The real issue for Gates is that he is basically the only red zone threat the Chargers have and the Broncos know that and will make him a priority in their game plan. Look for Gates to have a game similar to Week 11 where he only scored 0.6 fantasy points against the Chiefs.
Jason Witten, DAL (at WAS, Mon.)
Hopefully by now you’ve found a better option than Witten as your starting fantasy tight end. Even in leagues where you start two tight ends and really deep leagues, Witten is much better off on your bench (or waiver wire). Witten hasn’t come close to scoring 10 fantasy points since Week 1. A lot of the time with a shaky quarterback a tight end can be used as a security blanket, well with Matt Cassel his security blanket seems to be Darren McFadden out of the backfield, not Witten. This week the Cowboys will try to put forth some type of effort after their devastating loss on Thanksgiving, as they travel to Washington. The Redskins are ranked seventh in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing TEs this season. Do yourself a favor and start Scott Chandler over Witten this week.
Ben Watson, NO (vs. CAR)
Watson has had some big games this year, scoring 18.7 fantasy points in Week 6 and 20.7 in Week 8. Too bad no one started him those weeks and now that people are on him, Watson has posted six or fewer fantasy points in four of his last five games with just one TD over that span. If that weren't enough to keep him benched, the veteran also has a tough road matchup against the Panthers. Their defense has allowed an average of 6.73 fantasy points per game to tight ends, so Watson is a must-sit this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Tyler Eifert, CIN (at CLE)
Yes, Eifert is fantasy’s No. 2 tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and leads the league in touchdown catches with 12 and he has six scores in his last four games, but that’s all he’s doing and it’s safe to assume he won’t be able to maintain his torrid pace. Just look at Eifert’s yardage totals over the past five games – 36, 53, 26, 22, 40. If he doesn’t score a touchdown he’s not coming close to 10 fantasy points. This week the Bengals travel to Cleveland to face a Browns defense that is currently allowing the 13th-most fantasy points to TEs. The problem is that this is a game where A.J. Green and Marvin Jones could just as easily get into the end zone. And if Eifert doesn’t find pay dirt, he’s likely going to end up a fantasy dud this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.