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2023 Fantasy Football: Targets, Fades for NFL Week 13

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to pass during the second half of an NFL game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Nov. 19, 2023.

Week 13 is the penultimate regular-season week for fantasy in many leagues, and the fate of many teams will be determined over the next two weeks. Some teams may be cruising to a No. 1 seed, while others could be playing for pride or to avoid a last-place punishment. 

A few will be on the cusp, jockeying for a coveted spot in the playoffs and a chance at glory (and/or cash), which means this will be a pivotal week for a plethora of leagues. 

Unfortunately, Week 13 is Byenado 2.0 with six teams idle. Managers will need to find replacements for any players on the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. 

Below, we will break down one player at each position to target (love) and one player at each position to avoid (hate) for your Week 12 fantasy football lineups based on matchups, injuries, strategies and more.

Players We Love This Week

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins (at Commanders)

Tua Tagovailoa had his worst fantasy performance of the season last week in a game the Miami Dolphins scored 34 points. He completed 21 of 30 attempts for 243 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions — his second multi-interception game this season. The matchup came against the New York Jets, who rank top four in fantasy defenses against quarterbacks. 

This continues a three-week streak of fewer than 20 fantasy points for Tagovailoa, who is the overall QB12. He will look to bounce back big time this week against the Washington Commanders. The Commanders have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and even made New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito look halfway decent two weeks ago. Tagovailoa should be a top play for Week 13 in light of this mouthwatering matchup. 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) has come on strong in the past few weeks after a slow start. Photo by: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

Calvin Ridley, WR, Jaguars (vs. Bengals)

Calvin Ridley has gotten things back on track after a tepid start to his Jacksonville Jaguars career. In the past two weeks, he has 12 catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns and is the fantasy WR1 in half-PPR scoring. 

Ridley’s hot streak has coincided with quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s resurgence, and the pair look dialed in with the fantasy playoffs on the horizon. He should be regarded as a solid WR2 with WR1 upside in this Monday night matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, whose defense is below-average against the pass and was torched for more than 100 receiving yards by Odell Beckham and Tank Dell in the past three weeks.

Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Commanders (vs. Dolphins)

Brian Robinson struggled – as expected – in last week’s 45-10 blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He tallied 15 carries for 53 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards. That was good enough to finish as the RB33 in half-PPR. The Dallas defense is elite, and the negative game script certainly did no favors for the Washington Commanders’ rushing attack. 

This game was an anomaly from the norm this season because Robinson is still the overall RB5 in half-PPR. He will look to bounce back against the Dolphins in a game with the highest point total of the week.

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Steelers (vs. Cardinals)

Pat Freiermuth had a career performance in Week 12 for the Pittsburgh Steelers after a quiet first game back in the week prior. In Week 11 returning from injury, Freiermuth caught his lone target for seven yards against the Cleveland Browns.

Without offensive coordinator Matt Canada, the Year 3 tight end caught nine of 11 targets for 120 yards, finishing as TE2 in half-PPR. 

Canada’s dismissal could end up igniting this offense, which has been anemic all year. If Week 12 was any indication, Freiermuth will play a significant role moving forward. He is a strong start this week, even in a tougher matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, who are above-average against the tight end position.

Players We Hate This Week

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) fumbles the ball while being hit by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) in the first quarter at Ford Field. Goff's fumble was recovered by Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens (34) and returned for a touchdown. Photo by: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Goff, QB, Lions (at Saints)

Jared Goff looked lost and confused in the Detroit Lions’ shocking loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving. He completed just 29 of 44 attempts for 332 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he fumbled a career-high three times. All three fumbles were recovered by the Packers and one was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter. 

Goff has had his ups and downs this season. He's tallied four games with more than 20 fantasy points and seven under that threshold. He could struggle again this week on the road against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints allow the seventh-fewest passing yards and have recorded the fourth-most takeaways this year.

Goff’s recent struggles and the matchup put him on the fringe of QB1 status for Week 13.

DK Metcalf, WR, Seahawks (at Cowboys)

DK Metcalf had his worst game of the season in the Seattle Seahawks’ Thanksgiving showdown against the San Francisco 49ers. He was targeted nine times but only reeled in three for a paltry 32 yards. Metcalf ended up the WR69 in half-PPR for the week. 

Metcalf sees frequent targets and accounts for 22.8 percent of the team’s total targets. His 53.8 percent catch rate, however, is less than ideal, and is a reflection of Geno Smith’s accuracy struggles. 

The Seahawks have a rough two-game road stretch ahead, starting with the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13 on Thursday night. The Cowboys allow the second-fewest receiving yards, the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and the fourth-fewest overall points per game this year.

Even with six teams on bye, Metcalf is a low-end, touchdown-dependent WR2 this week.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals (at Jaguars)

Joe Mixon had his worst fantasy game of the season in Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He rushed eight times for 16 yards and caught two passes for 44 yards, finishing as the RB35 in half-PPR. 

Mixon’s rest-of-season stock takes a massive hit with Joe Burrow out for the year, as does the entire Cincinnati Bengals offense. The Bengals scored just 10 points against the Steelers and had a nonexistent rushing attack. Mixon’s talent alone keeps him in the RB2 tier, but just barely. 

David Njoku, TE, Browns (at Rams) 

David Njoku extended his streak of top-12 finishes for a sixth week against the Denver Broncos. He caught six of nine targets for 59 yards and was the week’s TE8 in half-PPR. 

While it is possible Njoku could be “quarterback proof,” the Cleveland Browns’ signal-caller situation should warrant concern. Deshaun Watson is done for the season, and backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion in Week 12 and was replaced by P.J. Walker. 

The Browns’ QB room leaves much to be desired. If Thompson-Robinson does not clear the protocol in time, Walker would likely start with Joe Flacco backing him up.

Njoku is more of a risk with the Walker/Flacco duo and should be considered a fringe-TE1 in said situation. He is a solid start if Thompson-Robinson plays.