I don’t need to list the names. If you have one of the fantasy starters who suffered an injury in Week 13, you already know, and you’ve likely already run out of tears (as I have). The shifting seas of the fantasy world have left many of us in the lurch — but you can either sink with the ship or start patching up the holes via the waiver column. We can do this. Never let go.
As always, these are the most intriguing players who are rostered in less than 60 percent of NFL.com leagues. If you have questions, my DMs are open: @MattOkada on Twitter … or X … or whatever it is.
- The First Read: Case for/against top 10 NFL MVP candidates; biggest risers and sliders from Week 13
- 2023 NFL season, Week 13: What We Learned from Sunday's games
- Eagles no longer NFC's most dominant team after defense dismantled by 49ers
No, this is not a joke. I started Flacco myself in a desperate situation this past week, and he actually came through against the Rams with 254 yards and a pair of touchdown passes (for 16 fantasy points). More importantly, he looked … good. Like, actually good. Maybe the best we’ve seen from a Browns quarterback this year. It will definitely help if Amari Cooper can clear concussion protocol for this coming Sunday’s meeting with the Jaguars, but either way, the matchup is solid. Jacksonville has given up the fifth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to QBs over the last five weeks. In fact, the Jags’ D has allowed several massive days and some surprisingly fruitful streams this season (SEE: Derek Carr’s 17 fantasy points in Week 7). Obviously, you have to be in a bad spot to resort to Flacco, but if you are, don’t be afraid to make the hero play with the wily veteran.
Listen. The Jaguars’ defense has been pretty questionable against QBs, but you don’t put together the game Browning did on Monday Night Football (26.66 fantasy points) without talent and a solid command of the offense. With a nice overtime boost, the former practice squad mainstay tagged Jacksonville for 354 yards and a touchdown, completing 32 of 37 passes on the road in prime time. He also added 22 yards and another score on the ground. With Ja’Marr Chase, a now-healthy Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and a bevy of tight ends, Browning has the arsenal to be valuable for fantasy in the right matchups — like against Indianapolis in Week 14. The Colts have faced an incredibly soft schedule, but are actually a top-10 matchup for the position when adjusting for those opponents. They’ve also played in a ton of shootouts over the last couple months. This could become another wild one, and Browning should benefit if it does.
Dobbs is rostered in the majority of NFL.com leagues, so he’ll be one of the tougher names to acquire, but take a glance at the wire just in case. He’s coming off a stinker against Chicago and a bye week, so there’s a good chance he was dropped. And yes, I’m aware Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings are considering benching Dobbs (obviously, you should not add him if that turns out to be the case). If he starts, I think he will bounce back. He had 16-plus fantasy points in five straight games prior to the Bears loss and gets the Raiders in Week 14. While Las Vegas has faced an incredible run of incompetent QBs, we’ve seen several guys tag the team’s defense for start-worthy days (and Zach Wilson put up 54 rushing yards at Allegiant Stadium in Week 10). I think Dobbs is a fringe QB1 and a viable streamer … assuming he’s on the field.
Don’t look now, but Stafford has put together back-to-back games with right around 23 fantasy points. The return of Kyren Williams to the backfield has unlocked Stafford and the offense. The veteran QB has thrown seven touchdown passes (against just one pick) over the last two weeks. Stafford faces the monstrous Ravens defense in Week 14, so I’d much rather look elsewhere for that Sunday, but then he gets the Commanders in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. I think the Michigan Wolverines might have a better defense than the Washington Commanders this year (slight sarcasm). You can weather the Baltimore storm, or simply ‘stache Stafford through the week, because he will be a legitimate (and potentially high-end) QB1 candidate in Week 15.
After a great stretch of games in the middle of the season, Mayfield has strung together three straight duds, scoring 14 or fewer fantasy points in all three. Two of those rough outings were expected in ugly fantasy matchups (against the 49ers and Panthers), while the potential stream against the Colts was definitely a disappointment. Good news: Mayfield gets the Falcons in Week 14. Like Las Vegas, Atlanta has faced simply atrocious fantasy QBs for the majority of the year, but the Falcons did allow 16.2 points to Baker back in Week 7 and have also given up stream-worthy performances to guys like Will Levis and Sam Howell recently. You’re not getting a 25-point upside with Mayfield, but he’s a solid fill-in with a great shot at 15-plus points.
Speaking of bad spots. Imagine recommending a quarterback who hasn’t topped 17 fantasy points since Week 5 … Couldn’t be me, right? Well, actually, it is. Here’s the thing: Ridder had nearly 14 fantasy points on the road in Tampa Bay back in Week 7. Now he’ll be at home, and the Bucs have only gotten worse on defense since that meeting in late October. This will likely take some rushing production or Ridder’s second multi-TD passing performance of the year, but both are in play against this defense. Like several of the guys in this section, this second-year pro is a risky stream worth a look in desperate situations.
Let’s be clear up front: Minshew’s Week 13 stats were heavily inflated by overtime, and even if you give him credit for the full 19-point game on Sunday, it was only his second good fantasy performance of the season. This Sunday’s opponent, Cincinnati, has been a mixed bag for fantasy QBs, more or less giving up exactly what you’d expect from each signal-caller based on his merit entering the matchup. That’s tough to call with Minshew — and very likely looks like a middling QB2 performance — but if you’re in a pinch (mainly in a two-QB league), you could likely do worse.
Hubbard headlined this section of the column last week and saw a nine percent bump in rostership heading into Sunday. Not only that, roughly 40 percent of you started Hubbard against the Buccaneers. Congratulations to both the adders and the starters. Hubbard racked up 22.4 fantasy points, marking his second straight game with 20-plus points and his best effort on the ground by far (in the first week of the post-Frank-Reich era). Yet again, Miles Sanders was ineffective and should honestly not be seeing more than a few touches a game moving forward. Curiously, the once-impenetrable Saints run defense has been softer in recent weeks, allowing double-digit fantasy points to the opponent’s lead back in each of their last three games. I think Hubbard is a rest-of-season starter in your RB2 or flex spot, especially with the mounting injuries at the position.
Apparently, Baltimore’s bye week was just too much for impatient Keaton Mitchell managers, five percent of whom dropped the electric rookie back last week. Time to capitalize. He’s had double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four and has a vastly unrealized ceiling should his workload increase out of the bye. Given how explosive Mitchell has been, I’m putting some tentative trust in John Harbaugh and Todd Monken to do just that. Mitchell absolutely must be rostered for the potential — if he consistently gets 10 to 15 opportunities a game, he can be a high-upside flex or maybe even a low-end RB2 moving forward.
I think Spears might hold the record for most appearances in this column, so we’ll keep it brief. Derrick Henry got banged up in Week 13 and could be questionable for next Monday’s game against the Dolphins. Spears was unsurprisingly excellent in relief, taking 22 opportunities for 88 yards. He’s been the top ‘stache in the league all year, and this is why. Do whatever you need to get him on your roster and start him in any contests Henry misses. He’s also a potential flex consideration if Henry does play after a week of limited or missed practices.
The time to ‘stache Ezekiel Elliott has passed and now it’s going to be a rat race to get him off waivers following an injury to Rhamondre Stevenson. It appears the Pats’ lead back could miss time with an ankle sprain and Elliott figures to get nearly the entire workload for this offense in the interim. Obviously, that would be a more exciting prospect if the Patriots weren’t the worst offense in living memory, but we’ll take what we can get. Even on this hapless squad, Stevenson had been posting relevant fantasy production for several weeks. Elliott could be an RB3 or low-end flex play for the foreseeable future.
Yet another back filling in for an injured starter, Gibson posted his third game in the last month with double-digit fantasy points, topping 35 yards both on the ground and through the air on Sunday. Brian Robinson Jr.’s hamstring injury could come with a wide variety of timelines for a full-strength return, but I’d bet on increased opportunity for Gibson in the near term. It is unfortunate that the nearest term is a Week 14 bye, so we can’t immediately throw Gibson into lineups, but I think he’s still worth tucking away in a bench slot if you can. The versatile back has 22 receptions over the past five weeks playing behind Robinson, so he could become a PPR stud with a larger workload.
GUYS TO ‘STACHE: It would be the last straw on the camel’s back of fantasy sanity, but if anything happens to Christian McCaffrey, 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell would be an absolute league-winner. If you have a roster spot currently occupied by a backup tight end or a low-upside wideout, drop that player in order to ‘stache Mitchell. Another intriguing ‘stache (out of nowhere) is Michael Carter … now on the Cardinals, in case you missed it. He has looked decent in limited opportunities since joining Arizona, and James Conner has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries over the years (and the 2023 season). Carter would have a massive opportunity should Conner suffer anything new in the final weeks of the fantasy season. One back with a chance at startability without an injury to any of his teammates: Chicago RB Roschon Johnson. He was both the lead back and the best back for the Bears the last time we saw them (in Week 12 at the Vikings), and I think it’s possible Chicago starts feeding its rookie selection over Khalil Herbert and/or D’Onta Foreman coming out of the bye. Bengals RB Chase Brown is purely a handcuff to Joe Mixon, but given how much volume Mixon has seen throughout the year and how explosive Brown looked on Monday Night Football, the rookie could be a lucrative play in the right circumstances. Very deep ‘stache.
Amari Cooper exited Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion. With the increased opportunity (12 targets) and Joe Flacco in at quarterback, Moore logged a season-high 83 yards and hit 12-plus fantasy points for the third time in the last four weeks. Moore has flashed talent all year (all career, to be honest), but has gone oddly unused for long stretches. Whether or not Cooper plays in Week 14 against the Jaguars, I think the presence of Flacco boosts Moore into starter consideration in PPR leagues. If Cooper doesn’t suit up, Moore becomes a fringe must-start with another shot at double-digit targets. It’s worth noting that he hit 12.3 fantasy points on just four catches Sunday. With another week for Flacco and Moore to get on the same page, his catch percentage — and accordingly his fantasy output — could skyrocket.
Samuel has played 50-plus percent of snaps in 10 games this season. Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson also played in all 10 of those games. In those contests, Samuel leads the trio with an average of 11.4 fantasy points per game, 46 total catches and three scrimmage touchdowns. In other words, Samuel is the best fantasy receiver on Washington. Not sure what else to tell you. He’s had double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back games and has 17 targets over those two games combined. Washington is on bye in Week 14, but I’d be willing to add Samuel, hold him for a week and play him in a PPR-league pinch Week 15 against the Rams.
Honestly, I don’t love anything about this. I don’t think Mingo has been that great, I know Bryce Young hasn’t been that great and everyone knows the Panthers haven’t been that great. But we can’t ignore 10 targets, six catches and 69 yards (Mingo’s stat line in Week 13 vs. Tampa Bay). Adam Thielen has fallen off significantly since his wild start — and it has seemed like part of the reason for that is Carolina’s interest in auditioning Mingo as one of its wideouts of the future. Mingo had six-plus targets in each of the prior three games before Sunday’s productive day, and the second-round rookie figures to see similar volume down the stretch. I don’t mind tucking Mingo onto the bench somewhere just in case he and Young start clicking in the fantasy playoffs.
GUYS TO ‘STACHE: Greg Dortch didn’t do much in the box score (one catch on three targets), but he’s generally been more involved in Arizona’s attack ever since Kyler Murray’s return. He ran the second-most routes on the team (22) and the most among the wide receivers (only TE Trey McBride had more at 23). Dortch also saw 17 targets over the prior two weeks. Feel free to ‘stache him through the Arizona bye (and the game vs. San Francisco in Week 15) for big matchups with Chicago and Philadelphia in the fantasy playoffs. Keep an eye on the Texans’ wide receiver room. With the devastating injury to Tank Dell, at least one of Noah Brown, John Metchie III or even Xavier Hutchinson feels likely to step up in this high-flying air attack. That’s the order I’d consider ‘stacheing them in (and I’d keep my ear to the beat reporters in Houston for more insight). Feel free to squirrel Jalin Hyatt away on your bench coming out of the bye (and a career game the week prior). If the third-round rookie turns out to be the No. 1 wideout for Big Blue down the stretch, I could see starting him in a great Week 16 matchup against the Eagles in the fantasy semifinals. If Christian Kirk (groin) misses any time, it appears that sixth-round rookie Parker Washington might have arrived in Jacksonville after catching all six of his targets on Monday Night Football for 61 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. Plus, he’s Joshua Dobbs’ cousin, which is just fun. Seriously, though, give him a look in deep leagues.
Yet again, impatient fantasy managers have opened a door we’re now walking through in Week 14. Likely was heavily dropped during Baltimore’s Week 13 bye, and I think it was a major mistake. He saw six targets and scored eight fantasy points (a solid tight end floor) while filling in for Mark Andrews in Week 12 — and now he draws a Rams defense that’s been soft to tight ends. If you don’t have one of the few auto-starts at the position, Likely should be in the upper tier of streamers to consider for the rest of the season.
In an atrocious game full of rain and lacking in offense, Everett was one of the few brightish spots for the Chargers. He caught four of five targets for 44 yards after snagging four for 43 yards (and a score) the week prior. This Sunday’s opponent, Denver, has been a suspect matchup for tight ends this season, and Justin Herbert has little else in the way of reliable targets outside of Keenan Allen. You’re likely not getting more than 8-10 points without a touchdown, but that’s the case with almost every streaming tight end. (And Everett has a decent shot at that tuddie this week.)
Otton was easily one of the biggest streamer disappointments of last week thanks to a baffling donut in the target department. The youngster had averaged 5.5 targets per game over the previous six contests, and I expect more of that (and less ring-shaped pastries) moving forward. Most importantly, Otton gets the Falcons defense in Week 14. He’s a strong bet for eight or nine fantasy points (which he hit in five of his six games prior to Sunday) with double-digit upside if he finds the end zone.
If you have the Cowboys, Ravens or maybe the Steelers, you can move on from this section. If not, drop whichever D/ST you have and add the Colts. Seriously. Since Week 9 — over a four-game stretch featuring the Panthers, Patriots, Buccaneers and Titans — Indianapolis’ D has scored 69 fantasy points, with double digits in all four outings. The Colts logged four-plus sacks in each of those games, forced nine takeaways in total and scored three touchdowns over that span. But the schedule can’t stay this soft, right? Wrong. Bengals with Jake Browning, Steelers potentially with Mitchell Trubisky, Falcons with Desmond Ridder and Raiders with Aidan O’Connell. That’s who Indy has through the rest of the fantasy season. I’ll be completely nonplussed if they’re not the No. 1 fantasy D/ST over the rest of the season.
The Texans’ defense has toughened up under DeMeco Ryans as 2023 has progressed, putting together three games with eight-plus fantasy points in the last month. In Week 14, Houston gets the Jets and whichever perennial backup QB they choose to start — Tim Boyle was pulled for Trevor Siemian on Sunday, so who knows?! Whoever it is, I’d put Houston down for at least a couple takeaways, and I’d be shocked to see the Jets score anywhere close to 20 points.
Thursday Night Football pits Mitchell Trubisky and the Steelers against [INSERT QB HERE] and the Patriots. Clearly, this game projects for an incredibly low-scoring, defensive affair with a bevy of turnovers. Don’t be surprised if these teams combine to break the single-game punts record. New England’s D/ST hasn’t been exciting in 2023, but it’s a great streaming option in a contest that might not reach double-digit points … in total.
The Saints rank among the league’s best in takeaways this season, and their upcoming opponent, the Panthers, average more points per game than only the Jets, Giants and Patriots — not the kind of company you want to keep as an NFL offense. Even after what was arguably Carolina’s most decent-looking game of the year against Tampa Bay on Sunday (the team’s first outing after the firing of Frank Reich), I simply don’t trust the Panthers to protect their quarterback or the ball … or score points. All together, a great recipe for the Saints’ defense in fantasy.
The Packers’ defense has been much better lately, translating into decent fantasy showings (including a 15-point surprise against the Lions on Thanksgiving). In Week 14, Green Bay gets the Giants and Tommy DeVito. As fun as the Jersey kid is to watch and root for, I’ll happily take any defense facing him in fantasy.
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