Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 13
The fantasy playoffs are just a couple of weeks away and whether you’ve clinched a spot, have no chance of making it, or are somewhere in between, I expect you’d still like to finish the regular season on a high note. With six teams on bye this week (Ravens, Bills, Bears, Raiders, Vikings, Giants) managers will be without some heavy hitters. Teams will not be able to rely on Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, D.J. Moore, Justin Fields, Josh Jacobs, T.J. Hockenson, or Saquon Barkley. This makes finding those players that could step up and surprise us all even more important, especially for those teams on the playoff bubble. The players below may not win you the week (except for Zack Moss who could legitimately do just that) but they could all provide support for teams that are without any of their major stars. Here are my sleepers for week 13.
Jordan Love (QB)
Green Bay Packers vs. KC (31% Start)
It may surprise you to learn that through 12 weeks Jordan Love is the QB9 on the season. While Love has had games that frustrate from a real-world perspective he has been consistent when it comes to fantasy scoring at least 19 points in all but three games. Coach Matt LaFleur has done a great job tailoring the offense to Love’s strengths. He may not have as much upside or be as exciting to buy into as some other top-12 QBs, but his mobility and his obvious growth throughout the season make him someone who could surprise in the coming weeks. Although his week 13 matchup is not a favorable one. The Chiefs have been fairly stingy to quarterbacks this season, allowing just 14.1 points to the position, but Love may have to throw a lot just to keep up or risk this game being over before it even gets started. That volume alone could lead to 20+ points, making him worth a start. Yes, Love is capable of disappointing every week, and against a top defense I could certainly see it going that way, but he also has top-12 potential. If you’re without Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, or Justin Fields in week 13, Love could be a good bye week fill-in.
Russell Wilson (QB)
Denver Broncos vs. HOU (31% Start)
It may be difficult to trust Russell Wilson this week after what he has done the last two weeks. Wilson is coming off of two consecutive games under 19 fantasy points with only two passing touchdowns to show for it (although he did add another TD on the ground in week 12.) But it’s important to remember that those games were tough matchups against the Vikings and the Browns. Still, it’s hard to get too excited about a player who only has one game with more than 200 passing yards in his past seven outings, but what he is doing seems to be working. Denver has won their last five games, and Wilson has (at times) looked like the Wilson of old, throwing multiple touchdowns in the majority of his games. His week 13 opponent is not an intimidating one. The Texans have allowed the eighth most fantasy points to opposing signal callers and have also allowed four quarterbacks in a row to score at least 23 Fantasy points. It’s not every week that I can endorse Wilson as a sleeper or a start, but with several elite options off the table this week, Wilson has the skill set and matchup to return QB1 value this week.
Zack Moss (RB)
Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN (49% Start)
Well, no one saw this coming. In a very surprising turn of events, Jonathan Taylor is undergoing surgery on his thumb and will be out for what is expected to be multiple weeks, although he is not expected to land on IR. This is bad news for those who invested in Taylor. Taylor had been playing at a very high level the last several weeks and to lose him just as the fantasy playoffs are approaching is not ideal. The Colts will now turn back to Zack Moss, and if you were smart enough to handcuff Taylor with Moss you could be fine. Moss served as the No. 1 running back for the Colts in five games before Jonathan Taylor started getting the bulk of the work and did very well with four top-10 finishes. Moss scored at least 18.7 half-PPR points in three of his first four games this year, including 32.5 points against this same Titans team in Week 5. While he has received 10 or more touches just once over the last three weeks, before Taylor got up to speed Moss received at least 19 touches in five of six games. Tennessee has been more vulnerable to the ground game in recent weeks, allowing five running backs in the past five games to score at least 12 half-PPR points, and Moss should become the sixth. Moss has top-10 upside this week.
Devin Singletary (RB)
Houston Texans vs. DEN (50% Start)
With Dameon Pierce returning from his three-game absence due to an ankle injury everyone was wondering how his presence would impact Devin Singletary who has been playing very well and has injected some life into the Texans’ run game. A one-week sample size may not be enough to know for sure, but every sign points to Singletary holding onto lead duties. In week 12, Singletary played 82% of the snaps compared to just 18% for Pierce and had his third straight double-digit game against a very good Jaguars run defense. Prior to this week, Singletary had done most of his damage on the ground but in week 12 it was nice to see him receive seven targets as well. I’m not sure if that’s sustainable, but if he does become more involved in this better-than-expected passing game then Singletary could reward his managers handsomely. It’s clear he has earned the trust of the coaching staff and as such should continue to produce as a low-end RB2 with some upside. For Week 13, Singletary takes on a Broncos defense that allows the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs making him a solid RB2 with top-12 potential this week.
Samaje Perine (RB)
Denver Broncos vs. HOU (13% Start)
I may be crazy, but I expect this matchup to be a high-scoring affair with both teams airing it out to keep pace with one another. The Texans offense led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has been playing extremely well as of late and the Broncos have managed five straight wins. On paper, these teams seem evenly matched and both defenses could have trouble slowing each other down. If this is the case then I would anticipate Denver to use Perine in the passing game. With teammate Javonte Williams seeing 70% of snaps, getting 15+ touches a game, and also having a role in the passing game, Perine’s upside could be limited, but in a week where you could be without Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, or James Cook, Perine may be worth a look. Houston is middle-of-the-pack against opposing running backs but they have allowed six running backs to catch at least four passes in a game this season, and Perine has 16 receptions on 17 targets in his past five games. He's also scored at least 10.2 half-PPR points in consecutive games. Javonte Williams remains in the RB2 discussion in all leagues this week, but Perine could also return value as a flex.
Brandin Cooks (WR)
Dallas Cowboys vs. SEA (38% Start)
Throughout the season, Brandin Cooks has been a hard player to figure out. Through the first five weeks of the season, he failed to score more than five half-PPR points even once. But since then he’s been far more consistent and now seems to be getting hot at the right time with at least 13 half-PPR points in four of his past six games. This is partly due to the play of Dak Prescott who is on fire right now, but Cooks has also helped Prescott reach those heights. Having another reliable weapon in the passing game has opened things up for this offense and I would expect the Cowboys to continue to get Cooks more involved. That would be a welcomed development for any Cooks owner because the schedule lines up nicely for him to find success. Over the next five weeks, Cooks will face four teams that are bottom-12 against wide receivers. While we can’t rely on him having double-digit targets like in week 10 when he caught nine of 10 targets for 173 yards and a touchdown, I would expect him to get more than five targets moving forward. Seattle is allowing 36.4 points to wide receivers this season and with four touchdowns in his last six games, Cooks could once again be a good WR2 and a great flex play.
Josh Downs (WR)
Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN (37% Start)
Rookie Josh Downs has not set the fantasy world on fire in 2023. Besides a four-game stretch where he scored at least 10 half-PPR fantasy points, Downs has been largely underwhelming. But while I consider Michael Pittman a must-start this week I will choose Downs as a sleeper who could surprise us and impress in week 13. If you just look at the final stat line Downs was not impressive in week 12. In that contest against Tampa Bay, Downs only managed five catches for 35 yards. While the production was not there, the involvement was encouraging. Downs saw 68% of the snaps and got 13 targets (the same number of targets as presumed WR1 Pittman.) Both should continue to be go-to options for Gardner Minshew in Week 13 against the Titans and as good as Zack Moss has been when leading the backfield, with Jonathan Taylor out, the passing game for the Colts might be leaned on a little more. Plus, this is a defense that Downs has already had success against, catching six passes for 97 yards back in week five. The Titans are No. 6 in most Fantasy points allowed to receivers, so there should be enough opportunity to go around making Downs a sneaky good play in week 13.
Greg Dortch (WR)
Arizona Cardinals vs. PIT (7% Start)
Over the last couple of weeks, with rookie Michael Wilson out due to a shoulder injury, Greg Dortch has found himself with a much larger role in the Cardinals offense and has done a decent job with it. Dortch has scored over 10 half-PPR points in the last two games, receiving 17 targets over that span and playing over 75% of the snaps. Going back to last year, this is now nine games where Dortch had at least four targets, and he scored double-digit fantasy points in seven of those contests. Wilson missed practice Wednesday, and if he's out in Week 13 at Pittsburgh then Dortch could once again find himself in a spot to produce. With the opponent being the Steelers you might feel as if you should shy away from the matchup, but Pittsburgh has actually been a decent matchup for opposing wide receivers, allowing the 13th most points (36.2) to the position. There is risk in playing a player like Dortch. Players who have been in the league for five years and haven’t broken out aren’t the easiest thing to trust, but we see it all the time in fantasy football where opportunity breeds success. Dortch won’t provide the ceiling of some players but with his involvement in the passing game if Wilson is out he could provide a safe floor and be a solid flex play or third wide receiver in three wide-receiver leagues.
Juwan Johnson (TE)/Taysom Hill (TE)
New Orleans Saints vs. DET (7%/28% Start)
Juwan Johnson and Taysom Hill are both worth starting as No. 1 Fantasy tight ends this week if Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (quadriceps) are out against the Lions. If both receivers play then Hill is probably the better upside play. He’s not your typical tight end and uses his rushing upside to create points for his managers. He can disappoint on weeks he doesn’t score a touchdown, but can win you the weeks that he does. If both receivers are out and Hill’s role in the passing game increases, or if they choose to rely more heavily on the run game due to a lack of receiving options, he could be a great play. Still, as exciting as Hill can be at times, don’t forget Johnson. If Olave and Shaheed were both to miss, it is Johnson that I would predict to see the biggest uptick in targets, and who could provide the safer floor of the two. Johnson’s ceiling will never be as high as Hill’s because he has no rushing upside, but he could become the number one target on this team if they are down two key components. Johnson was already playing over 70% of snaps (Hill has not reached 50% in any of his last four games), but that snap percentage could reach 80-90% if Olave and Shaheed miss time. To be fair, Hill’s snap share would likely increase as well, but against a Detroit team that is allowing over 12 points a game to opposing tight ends both Hill and Johnson have top-10 upside.
Cade Otton (TE)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. CAR (28% Start)
Since scoring 20 half-PPR fantasy points in week nine, Otton has seen his usage and production drop drastically. In weeks 7-9, Otton saw 21 targets, but in the last three games, he has only seen 12 total targets. That type of trend is not typically something that would create sleeper potential but Otton has scored at least 6.5 half-PPR points in five of his last six games. That type of consistency in a position where consistency is hard to come by is valuable. In every single one of those games if Otton had found his way into the end zone he likely would’ve been a top-12 tight end on the week. Granted, with only three touchdowns on the season, the touchdown upside has not been there for Otton, and in week 13, he will face a Carolina squad that is top-5 against tight ends, so there is some risk. But Carolina has also allowed six tight ends to score at least 6 half-PPR points this season, with three of those coming over the last three weeks. That bodes well for Otton, who has hit that mark in all but four games this season, and five of his last six. In a week with Dalton Kincaid, Isaiah Likely, Cole Kmet, and T.J. Hockenson all on bye, 6-8 points should be enough to flirt with a top-10 finish.
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