Waitin' all day for … Wednesday afternoon.
The Ravens and Steelers finally played and it was a fitting conclusion to one of the weirdest, messiest weeks in NFL history. The Steelers got the win as expected, but this one was way closer than anyone reasonably expected. That's a credit to the Ravens for managing to keep it close despite long odds, but it's also a sign of the Steelers continuing problem with playing down to their opponent.
Also, I've got some of Dave Richard's favorite starts and players to avoid for Week 13 along with a preview of each position, including injury updates on all of the relevant players and the Fantasy Football Today crew's consensus rankings. But let's start with what happened in Wednesday's game. Because, folks, I've got some takes.
More Week 13 help: Start 'Em & Sit 'Em | Starts and Sits, Sleepers and Busts | Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: RB | Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: WR | Trade Values Chart | FFT Newsletter | RB Preview | QB Preview | WR Preview | TE Preview | Waiver Wire | Panic About Struggling Stars? | Winners and Losers | Believe It Or Not
Ravens 14, Steelers 19
The Steelers got away with one here, plain and simple. The Ravens needed a pretty fluke-y 70-yard touchdown by Marquise Brown from, who else, Trace McSorley, but the Steelers offense really struggled against the Ravens B-squad defense. And it didn't really feel like a fluke -- for the fourth time in their past six games, Ben Roethlisberger averaged less than 6.0 yards per pass attempt. Part of that is by design, of course -- the Steelers aren't pushing the ball down the field as much in an offense designed around getting the ball out of Roethlisberger's hands quickly to let his playmakers make plays. But it begs the question ...
- Is this Pittsburgh offense actually good? Weird question to ask about a team averaging 28.8 points per game, but the Steelers are averaging just 5.2 yards per play, just ahead of the Dolphins for 24th in the NFL. They often get great field position thanks to the defense, so it's worked out for them. And their typically high pass volume has mostly led to enough production from the key weapons, but it really does leave the entire offense dependent on the receivers breaking off big plays, which can be tough to rely on. Roethlisberger isn't doing as much of the heavy lifting these days, which leaves his production much more in the hands of his receivers. Which brings me to my biggest takeaway from this game ...
- Are we sure Diontae Johnson is good? I don't mean for Fantasy -- he's obviously good in Fantasy, though that is mostly because of his role. He was targeted 13 times Wednesday, his fourth straight game with double-digit targets, but he had just 46 yards on eight catches. Johnson is averaging just 6.2 yards per target so far this season, a ghastly figure for a high-volume wide receiver. Yards per target is, of course, as much of a QB stat as a WR stat, but it's worth noting that Chase Claypool (8.3 Y/T), JuJu Smith-Schuster (6.8) and James Washington (6.9) have all been better by that metric. And Washington and Smith-Schuster were better last season, too. As long as Johnson keeps getting double-digit targets, it's not going to matter; he can be the new version of Miami-era Jarvis Landry. And getting targets is a result of skill, too, so it's not like there's nothing there. But when a player's value is so dependent on huge volume, you always run the risk of their team realizing it can allocate touches more efficiently, costing that player value. I don't think it matters for 2020, but it'll be interesting to see if Johnson remains the No. 1 WR here moving forward as he is right now. I might be looking to sell him in Dynasty, because he might be the third-best young receiver on his own team right now. And, by the way: He's four months older than Smith-Schuster.
- What about the Ravens? Well, they played! Some of them. Gus Edwards was a significant disappointment, getting out-touched by Justice Hill 11-9, with a touchdown getting him to 7 Fantasy points. That bodes well for J.K. Dobbins' chances of returning in Week 14 to the No. 1 role. Beyond him, Marquise Brown was the only relevant player to even touch the ball, and nearly all of his production came on one 70-yard touchdown where he showed off nifty moves, but probably should have been stopped well short of the end zone. That's the kind of player he is; if the big play hits, he'll put up numbers. The big play just hasn't hit enough this season, and there's no real reason to think this is the sign of an impending breakout. He's a boom-or-bust WR4. And Robert Griffin III ran pretty well before leaving with a hamstring injury, though he really struggled throwing the ball.
One player Dave Richard likes: Derek Carr -- Start him. You have to have a short memory, especially when the game after your worst of the season is against the Jets.
One player Dave doesn't like: Taysom Hill -- Bust candidate. It's interesting to think what the reaction would have been if Hill had played in his first start the way he did against Denver. He really struggled as a passer, and can you really rely on him to score on the ground every week? Ask people who have Cam Newton how that's working out.
- Daniel Jones (hamstring) -- Did not practice. It sounds like Jones isn't going to play, so plan accordingly. It is possible he will improve enough to be cleared, but it seems like a long shot. Colt McCoy will start if Jones is out against the Seahawks, which would mean a downgrade for everyone in the offense.
- Cam Newton (abdomen) -- Limited at practice. This is a new injury, one we'll have to keep an eye on. Given how much Newton relies on his athleticism, any injury that limits his rushing ability would make it even riskier to rely on him.
- Philip Rivers (toe) -- Did not practice. Expect this to go like it did last week, when Rivers sat out a few days in practice but was able to play.
- Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) -- Limited at practice. It sounds like the Dolphins think there is a definite chance Tagovailoa will be able to play, and he would be a viable starter against the Bengals -- though we'd prefer to see Ryan Fitzpatrick get the start.
Consensus Top-12 Rankings
- Patrick Mahomes
- Russell Wilson
- Aaron Rodgers
- Josh Allen
- Justin Herbert
- Deshaun Watson
- Kyler Murray
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Kirk Cousins
- Ryan Tannehill
- Taysom Hill
One player Dave likes: David Montgomery -- Start him. Dave is in agreement with Jamey this week, and I'm in agreement with both. Montgomery should be in your lineup.
One player Dave doesn't like: Ezekiel Elliott -- Bust candidate. It's not that you have to sit Elliott, but he's still running behind three offensive linemen against a Ravens defense that should be closer to full strength this week.
- Dalvin Cook (ankle) -- Limited at practice. It sounds like Cook is going to be able to in Week 13, but the Vikings have admitted he is "beat up" right now. Expect him to play, but perhaps the Vikings will limit his work a little more than usual. So, maybe somewhere south of 30 touches this week -- oh no!
- Alvin Kamara (foot) -- Limited at practice. This injury has limited Kamara for the better part of a month now, and you have to wonder if it has played a role in his limited playing time over the last two games. Or it could have been the two blowouts. When the Saints need him, Kamara will be there, so the question is whether they will need him for the first time since Drew Brees' injury.
- Josh Jacobs (ankle) -- Did not practice. The expectation at this point is that Jacobs will play, but this isn't an ideal start to the week. Devontae Booker would get the start if Jacobs doesn't play, and it's worth adding him if he's out there, just in case. Jalen Richard (chest) did return to practice Wednesday, so he could be ready to back up Booker if Jacobs is out.
- David Johnson (concussion) -- Designated to return from IR. That's a good sign for his chances of returning. Johnson will need to get through this week in practice and be cleared from the concussion protocol -- if he hasn't been already, it is unclear -- but it looks like he could be back for the Texans in Week 13 against the Colts, and not a moment too soon given the wide receiver troubles Houston has.
- Jonathan Taylor was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and should be the starter for the Colts in Week 13. He's a viable starter, but you don't need me to tell you he's a risk at this point. .
- Chris Carson (foot) -- Limited at practice. This isn't unexpected, and Pete Carroll told reporters he's sore after his first game back. There isn't any expectation that Carson will miss Week 13, but he may not be back to his every-down role anytime soon.
- Todd Gurley (knee) -- Limited at practice. This is a good sign after Gurley sat out the entire week of practice before missing Week 12. He sure looks like he has a chance to be back starting for the Falcons, which would push Brian Hill back to his change of pace role.
- Myles Gaskin (knee) -- Gaskin is doing work at practice, though because he is still on IR, they don't have to give official updates on his status. Brian Flores would not commit to Gaskin returning this week, so we'll definitely have to keep an eye on the next few days to see if he'll be able to make his return. Gaskin would be a viable starter if he does return against the Bengals.
- Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) - Limited at practice. DeAndre Washington (hamstring) did not practice, so the Dolphins options could be somewhat limited. Of course, it's also entirely possible Ahmed and Gaskin will both be cleared to split work, or only one of them will be. Or none. It's a great matchup, but we may not have any clarity until Sunday morning.
- D'Andre Swift (concussion) -- Limited at practice. It sounded like Swift had a chance to play before ultimately being ruled out Thursday morning last week, so he should be able to play this week. Obviously, it's too early to say if he will or won't yet, so keep an eye out.
- Phillip Lindsay (knee) -- Did not practice, and seems unlikely to play against the Chiefs on Sunday night. Melvin Gordon figures to be a solid starting option if Lindsay is out. Gordon averaged 67.7 rushing yards and 2.7 receptions per game in three games Lindsay missed earlier in the season, putting up 16.7 PPR points per game.
- Kalen Ballage (ankle) -- Limited at practice. Ballage missed Week 12 and that allowed Joshua Kelley to get seven carries and a touchdown next to Austin Ekeler back. If Ballage plays, expect him to be primary partner for Ekeler, with around 10 touches possible against the Patriots.
Consensus Top-24 Rankings
- Dalvin Cook
- Derrick Henry
- Austin Ekeler
- James Robinson
- Nick Chubb
- Aaron Jones
- D'Andre Swift
- Josh Jacobs
- Nyheim Hines
- Alvin Kamara
- Antonio Gibson
- Chris Carson
- David Montgomery
- Kareem Hunt
- Miles Sanders
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- Raheem Mostert
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Kenyan Drake
- J.K. Dobbins
- Melvin Gordon
- J.D. McKissic
- Duke Johnson
- Damien Harris
One player Dave likes: Deebo Samuel -- Start him. You're not going to get many Randy Moss-esque deep players, but Samuel's role as an extension of the rushing game gives him a solid weekly role, and those little pop passes are a nice cheat code for PPR scoring.
One player Dave doesn't like: CeeDee Lamb -- Sit him. Lamb is still getting solid targets, but he hasn't been playing well with Andy Dalton at quarterback. And now he's got a tough matchup against the Ravens on the way.
- Julio Jones (hamstring)/Calvin Ridley (foot/ankle) -- Limited at practice. Ridley figures to remain active, but Jones' status is harder to pin down. He was limited in practice for much of last week before being ruled out, so there's no guarantee he's back. It's a tough matchup against the Saints, but both would be must-start options if they play.
- Adam Thielen is expected to play in Week 13 -- Thielen is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but it seems like that may have been due to a false positive test. Either way, he should be back out there for Week 13 against the Jaguars, and will be a must-start Fantasy option alongside Justin Jefferson.
- Kenny Golladay (hip) -- Did not practice. It doesn't seem like Golladay has made much progress at all, especially not since he briefly improved to a limited participant two weeks ago. He may still play in Week 13 against the Bears, but right now, I would continue to bet against it.
- D.J. Chark (ribs) -- Limited at practice. That's a good sign for Chark, who missed last week's game. Whether he'll be worth starting even if he does return is a tough question to answer, because we've never seen him play with Mike Glennon, and … well, Glennon isn't particularly good. Chark has played well with mediocre QB play before, but he's no sure thing if healthy.
- Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot) -- Slayton has seen his snap share dip below 70% in the past two games for the first time all season, and he had just two targets while being held catch-less in Week 12. He should be able to play, but he's simply a boom-or-bust option as flex, and probably more bust than boom with Colt McCoy starting.
- Nelson Agholor (ankle) -- Did not practice. Agholor was listed with a knee injury but practiced in full ahead of Week 12, so this is a new one. How big of a concern it is remains to be seen, but if he does miss time, Henry Ruggs could be an interesting sleeper coming off his biggest role since early in the season.
Consensus Top-24 Rankings
- Tyreek Hill
- Davante Adams
- Keenan Allen
- Stefon Diggs
- Justin Jefferson
- Allen Robinson
- DK Metcalf
- A.J. Brown
- Calvin Ridley
- DeVante Parker
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Terry McLaurin
- Brandin Cooks
- Cooper Kupp
- Robert Woods
- Tyler Lockett
- Diontae Johnson
- Amari Cooper
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Michael Thomas
- Deebo Samuel
- Chase Claypool
- Jarvis Landry
- Corey Davis
One player Dave likes: Dallas Goedert -- Start him. Even if Zach Ertz is back, he'll likely be worked in slowly, and Goedert figures to remain the top target for Carson Wentz against a good matchup.
One player Dave doesn't like: Jonnu Smith -- Sit him. Smith had zero targets last week, and he's turned into one of those touchdown-or-bust tight ends. This Browns-Titans game could be a low-scoring one between two teams that would love nothing more than to run the ball 35 times.
- Zach Ertz (ankle) -- Limited at practice. Ertz was activated off IR, so expect him to return in Week 13. Whether he'll play his usual role immediately remains to be seen, but if he's out there in your league as a free agent, pick him up for a potential playoff run once he's back to full speed.
- Jonnu Smith (knee) -- Did not practice. This is a new injury for Smith, and it's certainly another reason to be concerned in addition to his up and down play in recent weeks.
- Irv Smith (back) -- Did not practice. Smith won't have much appeal even if he does play, but his absence has meant good things for Kyle Rudolph in the two games he has missed. Rudolph would figure to be a viable starting tight end if Smith is out.
Consensus Top-12 Rankings
- Travis Kelce
- Darren Waller
- Dallas Goedert
- T.J. Hockenson
- Evan Engram
- Hunter Henry
- Hayden Hurst
- Kyle Rudolph
- Eric Ebron
- Robert Tonyan
- Mike Gesicki
- Austin Hooper
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 13 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.