It seems like we avoided too many serious injuries in Week 13, which is a nice change of pace after we saw Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook headline a lengthy list of the injured last week. As of Sunday night, it looks like these are the key injuries we're going to be watching for this week:
- Adam Thielen (ankle) -- Thielen has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain, and while he's set to undergo testing Monday, that usually isn't just a one-week injury. And, seeing as how the Vikings drew the short week and play the Steelers Thursday night, it seems very unlikely we'll see Thielen out there in Week 14. K.J. Osborn scored in Thielen's absence Sunday, but he's no more than a low-end starter until he proves himself. And we're at the point in the season where if Thielen has a four-week timetable, you might just have to drop him, so hopefully we'll know more before Tuesday's waiver run.
- Logan Thomas (knee) -- Thomas appears to have suffered a torn ACL and MCL Sunday, which is just rotten luck for a guy who never really got going coming off his breakout 2020. His status for the start of the 2022 season is in doubt, too. Ricky Seals-Jones figures to step up and will be a streaming option if he can get past his hip injury; John Bates is much fringier if Seals-Jones is out.
- Miles Sanders (ankle) -- This was the second week in a row Sanders left with an ankle injury, and it's to the same ankle he hurt last week. The bye week is coming at the right time for Sanders, but the recurring nature of this injury does make me concerned about him moving forward. Hopefully it's nothing too serious.
We'll learn about more injuries Tuesday, of course, but here's what you need to know coming out of Sunday's games, including an early look at the top waiver-wire targets, the biggest winners and losers, plus my attempts to figure out what mattered and what may not have from Sunday's action. I'll have my full rankings for Week 13 and Jamey Eisenberg's full waiver-wire priority list for tomorrow's newsletter, and if you have any waiver-wire or trade questions, make sure you send them my way with the subject line #AskFFT to Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com.
- Dontrell Hilliard, RB, TEN 68%
- Kenneth Gainwell, RB, PHI 26%
- Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA 41%
- Russell Gage, WR, ATL 53%
- DeVante Parker, WR, MIA 66%
Week 13 Winners and Losers
Here are the biggest winners from Sunday's action -- the players that stood out as clear-cut winners in Week 13 and moving forward:
These players come out of Week 13 looking better than they did coming in.
- David Montgomery -- Montgomery's incredible run to close out last season was due in no small part to an incredibly advantageous schedule, but you can't ignore how valuable his passing game role was as well -- he averaged 8.8 Fantasy points per game in PPR over his final six games just as a pass catcher. And that role was finally there for him Sunday against the Cardinals, as he earned nine targets, turning them into eight catches for 51 yards. The Bears really hadn't been throwing to their running backs much before this game, so hopefully this is just the start of him getting more involved. Montgomery can be a top-12 RB if he's consistently getting four-plus targets.
- Javonte Williams -- We got a chance to see what Williams looked like in a featured role, and to nobody's surprise, he looked awesome. Williams rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries and added six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on nine targets as well. He basically just took on both his and Melvin Gordon's touches with Gordon out, and it was a tantalizing glimpse of what the rookie is capable of if he gets the chance. Williams could be situated for a Cam Akers or Jonathan Taylor-esque late-season breakout, and it'll be interesting to see if this performance convinces the Broncos to lean on him more even when Gordon is healthy. And, for what it's worth, his two previous season highs in snap share prior to Sunday's game in Weeks 11 and 12.
- Justin Jefferson -- Jefferson is just on a monster run right now. Sunday's 11-catch, 182-yard performance was his best of the season, but he was on fire before that, totaling 21 catches for 395 yards and two touchdowns in his previous two games as well. Jefferson has 45 targets over his past four games and now the Vikings seem likely to be without Thielen for at least Thursday's game against the Steelers in Week 14. Jefferson may spend the next five weeks making the case for why he needs to be the first WR drafted in 2022.
- Antonio Gibson -- One week after earning a career-high seven targets, Gibson followed it up with a team-high six Sunday, and he really did benefit from J.D. McKissic's (concussion) absence. Gibson ran 22 routes in this one, matching his season high, but the context is worth noting here -- Washington had just 33 pass plays Sunday, compared to 50 in Week 1. I don't know if he'll be able to hang on to that role when McKissic makes his return, but maybe he'll follow the Jonathan Taylor role and make himself so irreplaceable that he starts to earn that passing game role. That's the key for Gibson to tap into his RB1 upside.
It's hard to feel better about these players coming out of Week 13 than you did coming in.
- Terry McLaurin -- This was another disappointing showing from him, something that is happening too often lately. McLaurin caught three of five passes thrown his way for just 22 yards, his second game with fewer than 25 yards in his past five; he has more than 60 in just one game in that stretch, too. Sunday's game was especially frustrating because he was targeted just five times, though that part, at least, was an outlier; he has seven more targets in every other game since Week 1. McLaurin is saddled with a below-average quarterback, which is holding him back -- which is the story of his career. He's still seeing too many targets for me to really consider sitting him absent a really compelling alternative, so you've just got to ride with the lows to get the highs.
- Jamaal Williams -- With D'Andre Swift out, I thought the Lions might just treat him similarly to how they traded Swift when Williams was out, but that really wasn't what happened. Williams got 17 carries in the game, which was expected, but just one target, which wasn't. Williams played just 15 snaps on 45 total pass plays, running 11 routes; Godwin Igwebuike, who converted to running back from safety during training camp actually led the team's running backs with 25 pass snaps. It sounds like Swift may also be out in Week 14, but knowing Williams won't have that big of a passing game role makes him just a fringe RB2 at best against the Broncos.
- James Robinson -- I really thought, at worst, Jacksonville's offense wouldn't be worse than it was last season. Whoops. Still, Robinson had managed to be productive in spite of that, but Sunday he found himself in the dog house after a first-half fumble and ended up splitting playing time with Carlos Hyde as a result. Robinson actually had one fewer carry than Hyde and ran the same number of routes. Robinson is obviously a better player than Hyde, but he fumbled in consecutive games and had to be punished for it, I guess. I would bet the playing time split returns to Robinson's favor in Week 14 against the Titans -- who he torched for 149 yards earlier in the season -- but he shouldn't be at risk of losing playing time at this point. It's frustrating.
- Kyle Pitts -- It's worth keeping things in perspective: Pitts is having arguably the best season for a rookie tight end ever, and his per-game production compares very favorably to CeeDee Lamb's rookie season. My long-term view of Pitts hasn't dimmed even a little bit, and I still think you can make a case for him ahead of Ja'Marr Chase as the best Fantasy player in Dynasty formats from his draft class. But the reality is, he's just not helping your Fantasy team all that much right now. He caught four of seven targets for 48 yards Sunday, and he now has seven straight games without a touchdown and fewer than 50 yards in four of his past six. Like with McLaurin, I think his role is too valuable to sit unless you've got a really good alternative, but Pitts doesn't look like he'll be the 2021 league winner I thought he might be.
What mattered in Week 13?
Sometimes, random things just happen, and when there are a dozen games going on at the same time, figuring out what was random and what mattered in any given week is a tall task. That's what I'm trying to do here. Here are three things that happened Sunday that I think will matter moving forward and two things I think you don't need to spend too much time worrying about:
Three things that mattered:
- George Kittle's massive game -- Back in the preseason, I remember getting into plenty of arguments about the 49ers passing game, because I was still operating under the assumption that Kittle would remain the top option despite Brandon Aiyuk's emergence last season. As you are well aware, we all collectively underrated Deebo Samuel's chances of being that top dog here, but I think it's clear Kittle is the top guy with Samuel out after his nine-catch, 181-yard, two-touchdown performance Sunday. He had 12 targets to just six for Aiyuk, and it's not just one game; Kittle has 33 targets since coming back from IR in Week 9, compared to 31 for Aiyuk. I think both can be good starters for Fantasy as long as Samuel's groin injury keeps him out, but I think Kittle is the No. 1 guy here, and one of the elite tight ends in the game again.
- Kyler Murray's running -- I admit, I was pretty worried about what Kyler's Fantasy value might look like coming back from his ankle injury. He entered play Sunday averaging just 18.4 yards on 3.0 carries per game, well short of the 51.2 yards on 6.2 attempts he averaged last season. Seeing Murray rush 10 times for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns was a really nice sight. Passing numbers have been down around the league over the past five weeks, and it's led to some really disappointing performances in Fantasy from the elite tier of quarterbacks, but if Murray is still this kind of threat to run, then he's still a no-doubt-about-it elite Fantasy QB. It's good to know.
- The Raiders offensive struggles -- It's not surprising that the Raiders struggled without Darren Waller, but it sure is concerning against a matchup like Washington. Hunter Renfrow had another 100-yard game, his second in a row, but he was the only player on the team with more than 38 yards. For his part, Derek Carr was willing to push the ball down the field, but the Raiders just don't have the weapons to be a high-level offense at this point. Carr has just one multiple touchdown game since Henry Ruggs' release, and it's hard to view him as anything more than a fringe streamer at this point.
Two things that (maybe) didn't matter:
- Ja'Marr Chase's quiet game -- Chase finished with five catches for 52 yards Sunday, and while that was his highest yardage total since Week 7, it was also his fifth game in a row below 60 yards, something he did in all but one of his first seven games. But Chase should have had a much, much bigger game, and he had nobody to blame but himself, as Chase bobbled what likely would have been a long gain, if not a 71-yard touchdown, and somehow managed to turn it into an interception instead. Yikes. That's not what you want to see, and drops have been a bit of an issue for Chase during his recent slide. However, he's also averaged nearly eight targets per game in that slide, so I'm not too worried about trusting Chase moving forward. Tee Higgins does actually have more targets than Chase in the 10 games they've shared, 88 to 76, but that's more a reason to like Higgins than a reason to dislike Chase.
- Odell Beckham's touchdown -- Well, it mattered to me, because I had Beckham as a top-16 WR for the week and it made me look slightly less dumb. And it matters because it's a sign that the Rams do want to get him going and make sure he's involved in the offense. However, after playing all but one snap in Week 12 and despite reports indicating he was supposed to be a bigger part of the offense, Beckham was just fourth on the team with five targets and ran a route on just 22 of 39 pass plays. The hip injury that had Beckham in doubt for this week clearly played a role, as did the blowout nature of the Rams win over the Jaguars, but this was still a step forward for Beckham. Hopefully, he can get healthy, because I love his upside in this offense, but I'll view him as more of a fringe WR2/3 for Week 14 against the Cardinals.
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