Avoid Travis Etienne in Fantasy Playoffs

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 13 - There aren't many weeks left of the fantasy season, but now isn't the time to switch off. There are trends becoming more obvious with every week, and every week presents new bargains for us to acquire in our leagues to fortify our lineups ready for that big push.

Atlanta Falcons

In Week 2 of the season, Drake London saw 12 targets in what we thought might be his coming-out party, but then the Falcons reigned in the passing attempts and London saw just 50 targets in 10 games until this week. Thankfully the Falcons are on a bye for Week 14, so we don't have to wonder if this kind of production is likely to repeat any time soon. Over the last four weeks, the Falcons rushing offense ranks eighth in DVOA, whilst the passing offense ranks 26th and is clearly their last resort.

Baltimore Ravens

This season was supposed to be different for the Baltimore Ravens after an injury-cursed 2021. Instead, Rashod Bateman has barely played; J.K. Dobbins might finally be returning soon, but has so far not had an impact; and now Lamar Jackson looks set to miss at least one week. When Jackson missed time last year, we saw Tyler Huntley be a semi-capable replacement and pepper tight end Mark Andrews with targets. Andrews could do with that kind of boost as he is now in the midst of his longest touchdown drought since his rookie year, with no touchdowns in five games. The running game continues to be diabolical without Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, managing 33 yards on 14 carries. Huntley should be rostered in all formats, particularly superflex.

Buffalo Bills

James Cook out-carried and out-produced Devin Singletary for the first time this season as well as scoring more fantasy points, despite Singletary scoring a touchdown. It's unlikely the Bills completely swing this backfield in Cook's favor, but it is noteworthy that Singletary's role is likely going to be less useful for fantasy purposes for the rest of this season. After having had nine receptions in five games, Isaiah McKenzie has had 11 receptions in his last two games and seems to be consistently having plays schemed for him and is at least worth rostering in leagues should he be on waivers.

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields returned to the starting lineup and let loose another ridiculous long rushing touchdown on a day where he rushed just six times, which is a big dip from his season average of 11.1 per game. More importantly, perhaps, was Fields completing 80% of his 25 passes, a new career-high for the young quarterback. Chase Claypool cost the Bears a second-round pick and to date has totaled 111 receiving yards in five games. If the Bears really wanted to spend a second-round pick on a receiver for Fields, they would have been better placed waiting until the draft to do so.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals' production in 2021 never looked fluky and they have well and truly put behind them the early struggles they had this season. Ja'Marr Chase returned and looked as dominant as he did before his injury. Tyler Boyd's lone drop came on a wide-open end zone target, and he has struggled plenty in the last few weeks with just one double-digit game in his last four outings. In Week 14 the Bengals play the Browns and their terrible run defense, which ranks 28th over the last four weeks. Samaje Perine has looked excellent at times in the last two weeks whilst filling in for Joe Mixon, and while it's not worth benching Mixon, don't be surprised if Perine mixes in a little bit more going forward.

Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson hadn't played football in a competitive game for 700 days. The one glimpse we saw of him in the preseason wasn't great, so it wasn't a surprise to see him come out and put up a bad performance in Houston. Watson will no doubt have better days in his future, but now the Browns travel to Pittsburgh before welcoming Baltimore into their own stadium. Divisional games against good passing defenses aren't what Watson needs right now, never mind the cold weather he'll face, and it's worth remembering that the Browns probably have more focus on developing things for next year rather than this season.

Dallas Cowboys

Since Dak Prescott returned to the Cowboys lineup, they are averaging 31.8 points per game and only conceding 15.4 per game. In that period, all of Tony Pollard, Dalton Schultz, CeeDee Lamb, and Prescott rank inside the top 10 at their respective positions and for the rest of the season, none of their opponents currently rank inside the top 10 defenses in DVOA over the last four games. It's entirely possible that the Cowboys offense is going to have a big say in the fantasy playoffs, and we have seen that they're happy to stomp teams and not take their foot off the gas. Don't be afraid to buy high on this team.

Denver Broncos

Many teams spend their weeks installing plays for the opening drives to set a tone or dial-up something creative, but the Broncos chose to run the ball on eight of their 10 opening plays, including six touches for Latavius Murray, and that really emphasizes just how poor an offense this team is. Greg Dulcich got back on the right side of things for fantasy, picking up six catches for 85 yards and leading the team in targets whilst Courtland Sutton had a single target on the 43% of snaps he played, missing much of the game with a hamstring injury. For fantasy purposes, the Broncos look likely to have more relevant games coming with Kansas City and Arizona next up, but how much can you trust a team who has scored more than 16 points just once in the last eight games?

Detroit Lions

D'Andre Swift tied a season-high in touches with 18 against the Jaguars, and he saw his snaps increase for the second week in a row as he seems to have established his role within the offense. Swift's chances of removing Jamaal Williams from the committee are minimal whilst Williams continues to score goal-line touchdowns, but Swift has now out-scored Williams 31.4 to 20.5 in the last two weeks. In that period, 12 of Williams 20.5 points have come directly from touchdowns. Swift's production is as good as Williams' at this point and both are flex-worthy plays each week. Jameson Williams made his long-awaited season debut and unsurprisingly didn't see much action, with 11% of snaps and one uncaught target. The Lions' schedule isn't particularly threatening with a Week 17 matchup that could be huge for the fantasy finals with them traveling to face the woeful Bears defense, who rank 32nd over the last four weeks.

Green Bay Packers

Between Week 2 and Week 11, AJ Dillon averaged 6.1 PPR points per game and didn't manage a single double-digit performance. He now has two in back-to-back games and will finish as a top-15 option in both. Dillon has been largely ineffective when called upon this season, but with doubts about Aaron Rodgers' playing time over the rest of the season, as well as the cold weather in Green Bay favoring the running game, it's worth picking up Dillon from waivers if he should be there. Since Week 7, Robert Tonyan has averaged 4.8 PPR points, and his 11.3% target share in that time ranks 29th amongst tight ends. It seems unlikely his value recovers at this point.

Houston Texans

Kyle Allen isn't doing a whole of anything particularly well, putting up 15.9 total fantasy points in two appearances, with four interceptions to two passing touchdowns. Dameon Pierce last scored a rushing touchdown in Week 5 and since then is the RB26 in PPR formats. The Texans rank last in offensive DVOA over the last four weeks and aren't interested in being competitive. Outside of the salary-saving options for daily fantasy, they're not a team we should worry about.

Indianapolis Colts

A week after Jelani Woods looked to have a true breakout game, Kylen Granson led the Colts tight ends in targets, with six to Woods' four. Rookie Alec Pierce led the team in targets with eight for the second time in three weeks and his 16.8 PPR points were a career high. It's unlikely we can count on much in this Colts offense, which is winless since Jeff Saturday's first game in charge, but what we can count on is Jonathan Taylor's volume being high. Since Saturday took over, Taylor has touched the ball 96 times in four games, and whilst the fantasy finishes have been outside the top 12 for the last three weeks, Taylor has matchups against the Chargers in Week 16 and Giants in Week 17, who both rank bottom-eight in rush defense DVOA over the last four weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Few things are more "Jaguars" than beating a tough Baltimore Ravens defense one week and then failing to show up the next week against a Lions team that, whilst plucky, doesn't scare anyone. Despite claiming Darrell Henderson on waivers 10 days ago, he is yet to be active on a game day, and even with Travis Etienne coming off a foot injury, the only other running back to get a touch was Snoop Conner, who had one carry. Etienne faces a difficult fantasy schedule now with the next three games against Titans, Cowboys, and Jets, who are all ranking inside the top 12 rushing defenses over the last four games.

Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes threw a season-low 27 passing attempts, resulting in a season-low 223 passing yards, as the Chiefs lost to the Bengals for the third time this calendar year. Isiah Pacheco has averaged 81 rushing yards over the last four games, which is seventh best amongst running backs. Even with Jerick McKinnon eating into the workload slightly, Pacheco has shown he is the best running back on this roster and in this Chiefs offense, that counts fine for fantasy. Skyy Moore seemed to trending in the right direction with back-to-back games with six targets but saw zero targets on Sunday. He could be an interesting buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues with the Chiefs currently only having Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Moore signed beyond this year when it comes to wide receivers.

Las Vegas Raiders

Davante Adams is having an incredible year and it's being slightly overshadowed by the fact that the Raiders aren't doing as well as expected. Adams now has four games with over 100 receiving yards and multiple touchdowns, which is a Raiders record. In Adams' most efficient season in Green Bay he averaged 3.1 PPR points per touch; this season he is averaging 3.2, and his 11.3 targets per game has him on track to hit 191.5 targets, which would equal Cooper Kupp's 2021 total and rank ninth most all time.

Los Angeles Chargers

For the eighth time this year, Austin Ekeler failed to rush for more than 40 yards, despite having 10 attempts, and while his pass-catching floor prevents him from having truly awful weeks, when Ekeler has failed to get a touchdown he has finished higher than RB16 just once this year. Gerald Everett had his best performance since Week 4 and is firmly in the mix for Week 14 against a Miami defense that ranks 29th against tight ends in DVOA.

Los Angeles Rams

It has been quite the season for Cam Akers, and the latest chapter in a tumultuous 2022 season for him saw the Rams back have a season-high in touches with 18 and score two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his NFL career. The Rams aren't going to be pretty for the rest of this season, but Akers' role looks to be set for now, and with games against the Packers' and Chargers' weak run defenses on the horizon, he may have a few more days of relevance ahead.

Miami Dolphins

It was a bad day at the office for the Dolphins, who looked very much like they missed their first-choice right and left tackles as Tua Tagovailoa threw two interceptions, which was more than he had thrown in the previous seven games combined. It's noteworthy that Jeff Wilson saw a single carry compared to Raheem Mostert's seven. Before this game, things had been heavily in favor of Wilson, and whilst this isn't what we want to see, both backs should be fine for a straightforward Week 14 matchup against a Chargers run defense that ranks 25th in run defense DVOA over the last four weeks.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings continue to defy the odds and keep winning close games whilst not looking overly impressive. That, of course, is an important trait, but there are several areas of the Vikings offense that are struggling. Adam Thielen is averaging 48.3 yards per game and has just three touchdowns this year. Dalvin Cook has only two 100-yard rushing games in his last 15 and is averaging 13 receiving yards per game, which ranks 42nd amongst running backs. For the Vikings to make serious noise in the playoffs, they need to be firing on all cylinders, and Cook's schedule looks friendly enough with games against the Colts, Giants, and Packers, who are all bottom-third teams in run defense DVOA over the last four weeks.

New England Patriots

The Patriots continue to look mediocre against decent opponents. After a Week 12 QB7 performance, Mac Jones slid back into the 20s, where five of his last six performances have left him. Jones has passed for more than one touchdown in just one game this year and has only scored more than 13 fantasy points on two occasions, which is a significant drop-off from last year when he surpassed that amount in 47% of his games. Jones ranks 29th in QBR amongst 32 quarterbacks to throw 195 passes or more. Given the lack of changes apart from at coordinator, it's hard to blame anything but that, and if the Patriots make a change this offseason, there is no reason they can't improve.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints ground out a solid performance on Monday Night Football and were perhaps unlucky to not come away with the win. Taysom Hill was more active than he had been in recent weeks, and seeing him catch a touchdown pass was more enjoyable than the many times he takes the snap and runs straight into line. Hill's 14.3 fantasy points resulted in his first top-10 fantasy performance amongst tight ends since Week 5; his production is a rollercoaster at best. Alvin Kamara continues to struggle through this season, with his only touchdowns coming in Week 8. With Kamara ineffective Mark Ingram saw 12 touches, his most since Week 4, and outscored Kamara 9.9 to 5.7. Ingram isn't a difference-maker at this point in his career but he should be rostered in deep leagues.

New York Giants

The Giants had two wide receivers score over 15 PPR points in the same game for the first time this season and Daniel Jones looked good when targeting receivers this week, completing 82% of his passes. Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger returned to the team after missing the last four games. Bellinger has caught 91% of his targets this year and whilst it hasn't been flashy, he has been steady and is worth rostering in deep leagues.

New York Jets

James Robinson was unhappy to be made inactive in Week 12, returned to the active gameday roster this week, and managed the worst rushing output of any Jets running back with 2.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, undrafted free agent Zonovan Knight rushed at 6.0 yards per carry for 90 yards. Mike White did Mike White things, setting a season-high in Jets passing yardage with 366 and helping Garrett Wilson on his way to another 20-plus-point performance for the second week in a row. Elijah Moore played on 68% of snaps, which is the most he has done since Week 4, and he's continuing to trend in the right direction.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles can slice you and dice you in whatever way they choose in any given week, and they continue to be one of the most fun teams to watch from week to week. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have combined for over 1,600 receiving yards this season, and of the many trades during the offseason, Brown has been as good as any of them.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris rushed for over 5 yards per carry for the first time this season as the Steelers beat the Falcons. Despite his solid rushing output, it only resulted in a second straight week of less than 11 PPR points, because Harris isn't getting the high-value touches needed to pay off a fringe first-round ADP. Without touchdowns or receptions, it's an uphill struggle for any running back, and Harris has three touchdowns in his last six games and just one target in three of the last four games he has played. Harris lost seven touches and three targets to Benny Snell and Jaylen Warren, and the days of him being the lone back look to be over. Diontae Johnson continues to be the most inefficient receiver in the NFL, turning 11 targets into just five catches for 60 yards. There are 94 wide receivers to have over 30 targets this season; only four of those haven't scored a touchdown, and Johnson is the only receiver to have over 50 targets and no touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers

On a day when it was widely reported that Jimmy Garoppolo could be back with the 49ers next year, there was something sadly poetic about the quarterback whom they looked to replace because he couldn't stay healthy once more getting injured. Garoppolo has balled out this year, above nearly everyone's expectations, and it's a real shame for this team to see their Super Bowl aspirations go up in flames. With Brock Purdy stepping in, most the skill players stayed fairly afloat, and if either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk had caught a touchdown then their double-digit fantasy performances would look fine. It remains to be seen if the Niners continue to roll with Purdy or try and find a better option, but for now, with an easy schedule, take it week by week and start your studs.

Seattle Seahawks

Heading into Monday Night Football, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were the WR5 and WR6 this week and both rank top-15in effective yards. With rookie Kenneth Walker possibly set to miss some time, even more production could funnel their way as the Seahawks have a very realistic chance of winning their division for the first time since 2019. Will Dissly and Noah Fant are both top-three in tight end catch rate amongst those with 25 targets or more, and both have established themselves in a not-exactly-amazing role for fantasy, but they do enough to be considered streaming options each week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie Rachaad White again got the start ahead of Leonard Fournette, and apart from a costly fumble, played well, coming up clutch with a touchdown reception with three seconds left on the clock. White has been a top-10 running back in PPR formats in back-to-back weeks and is an every week starter now. Mike Evans had zero targets before the two-minute warning despite his nemesis, Marshon Lattimore, not playing, and his most valuable contribution came when he drew a pass interference call late in the game. Evans has now failed to score more than 11 PPR points in his last four games. Julio Jones saw three targets before finally catching his fourth. The first two were the deep high-value targets we love for fantasy, but he wasn't close to making a catch on them. Things won't get any easier for the Bucs when they travel to San Francisco to face a 49ers defense that ranks second in DVOA.

Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry is in the midst of his worst production since the opening of the 2018 season when he averaged 2.97 yards per carry over four games, which is 0.26 yards per carry more than he has averaged in his last four games. Amongst running backs with 50 or more carries, Henry ranks dead last in rushing yards before contact with 0.7. The Titans have scored more than 20 points in just one of their last seven games, and while there can be no denying how well coached they are, they're going to need to find ways to score points if they have any hope in the playoffs. Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo is worthy of picking up in dynasty leagues, particularly those with tight end premium scoring. The rookie has had back-to-back games with five targets and his 44.6 receiving yards per game over the last five weeks is the eighth-best amongst tight ends.

Washington Commanders

Brian Robinson continued to be the favored back over Antonio Gibson, and for the second straight game Robinson rushed for over 4.5 yards per carry against a Giants rush defense that is bottom-six over the past four weeks and will face the Commanders again in Week 15. Since Taylor Heinicke took over as quarterback, Terry McLaurin has scored the ninth most points amongst all wide receivers and now ranks seventh in DYAR.

Comments

6 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2022, 3:17pm

#1 by Raiderfan // Dec 06, 2022 - 6:40pm

“In that period, 14 of Williams 20.5 points have come directly from touchdowns.”

I don’t play fantasy, but I am under the impression rushing TDs are worth six points, not seven.

Points: 0

#2 by 2dogsbark // Dec 07, 2022 - 1:29am

Great write up Tom, some excellent analysis here. As for the guy above commenting - you really need to get a life, you sad, sad individual. Image reading that entire thread to pick out one tiny statistical error to focus on. 

Points: 1

#5 by johnnycuff // Dec 07, 2022 - 2:09pm

Carolina so bad they got deleted from the NFL?

Points: 1

#6 by Tom Strachan // Dec 07, 2022 - 3:17pm

With them being on a bye week there wasn't really anything worth saying this week. 

Points: 0

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