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Week 12 Takes: Prepping For The Fantasy Playoffs (And Championship)

Melvin Gordon suffered a multiple-week injury week 12, Baker Mayfield paced all quarterbacks in fantasy points (33.8) with over 250 passing yards and four touchdowns and Demaryius Thomas had two touchdowns in the wake of Keke Coutee leaving the Texans’ game early.

With week 12 in the books, let’s see what all of this, and more, means for week 13, and into the fantasy playoffs.

Handcuff The Top RB1s (Whether You Roster The Starter Or Not)

Did you see what happened to Melvin Gordon (RB thru the first 12 weeks of the season)? Austin Ekeler, Gordon’s handcuff, is at about 80 percent ownership in ESPN leagues as a result of Gordon’s multi-week injury. In, fact Ekeler could end up a league winner. Ekleler’s second in elusive rating (min. 70 attempts), 11th in breakaway percentage (any run of 15 or more yards) and first in yards per route run (2.7, minimum 30 targets).

Ekeler has 16 red zone touches.

Prior to Gordon’s injury, Ekeler was RB22, with two RB1 weekly finishes and four RB2 finishes. In addition, Ekeler is 20th in targets among RBs (39), 19th in catches (32) and 13th in receiving yards (354). Ekeler will have the chance to improve on those numbers with more playing time. Third-string back Josh Jackson will mix in, too.

Gordon accounted for 36 percent of the Chargers’ scrimmage yards this season.

RB1s worth handcuffing: Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, Ekeziel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, David Johnson, and Joe Mixon.

Forgetting Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Unless Randall Cobb Returns To Un-slot [Get it?] Him)

In the last three games, in which Randall was inactive, Valdes-Scantling has played on at least 87 percent of Green Bay’s snaps. Valdes-Scantling ran 70 routes in that span, commanding 12 targets and produced eight catches for 55 yards. Ew.

What Happened?

Well, it could be the rookie wall. Valdes-Scantling could not be as good playing in the slot. Fellow rookie Equanimeous St. Brown could be overtaking Valdes-Scantling. The answer lies in a part of each answer.

With Cobb out, Valdes-Scantling moves to the slot, while St. Brown lines up outside, alongside Davante Adams. In the same three-game span, St. Brown has played on more than half of Green Bay’s snaps each game, in addition to running 55 routes and caught six-of-12 targets for 72 yards. More specifically, in the last two games, St. Brown’s played on at least 78 percent of snaps, run 44 routes to Valdes-Scantling’s 49 and commanded nine targets (one red zone) to Valdes-Scantling’s five. St. Brown’s receiving stat line is 4-69 during the last two games.

But, St. Brown goes away if Cobb returns to the slot week 13, though St. Brown should split time out wide with Valdes-Scantling. If Cobb is out again week 13, if you must start a second Green Bay receiver, St. Brown’s a better play than Valdes-Scantling against the Cardinals.

You Can Trust The Saints Defense

Much-improved last season, the Saints defense were the sixth-best fantasy DST. But, the Saints defense burned fantasy owners week 1 of this season with a negative-point performance against Fitzmagic. Since then, the unit and team have caught fire with a current 10-game winning streak. More specifically, in the last fives where it seems the Saints have found their stride, the DST, usually always playing with a lead, have registered at least nine fantasy points in four of their last five games. The only exception was a negative-point outing in a shootout with the Rams.

Excluding the Rams game, the Saints have allowed 20 or less to all of their opponents in their last five games. Those teams include the following: Vikings (on the road), Bengals (on the road), Eagles and the Falcons. In addition, the DST has seven interceptions in that span, a pick-six, and 17 sacks. The Cowboys will be chasing points Thursday night at home against the Saints, allowing for a slew of interception (and potential pick-six) opportunities.

Josh Doctson Is Flex Worthy Against The Eagles In Week 13

The sample size is literally one game. But, in one game with Colt Mccoy as the quarterback, Doctson had a 6-66 stat line on a team-high 10 targets (36 routes run). Jordan Reed was second in targets with eight, while fellow receiver Trey Quinn had six targets and a touchdown (29 routes run).

Doctson’s average separation is below the league-average 2.8 at 2.2. But, that’s okay for week 13. The Eagles are without their three top corners. The replacement Eagles corners were getting torched in the first half of their Week 12 bout against the Giants. De’Vante Bausby was targeted seven times and gave up 79 yards on five catches, while Chandon Sullivan allowed a catch-all four times he was targeted for 68 yards. If Doctson pans out, the Redskins receiver faces the Giants week 14.

Jordan Howard Will Score A Touchdown Against The Giants In Week 13

Pay close attention to the headline. Notice I’m not saying to start Howard, as I don’t know if scoring will be enough for Howard to warrant (at this point) flexing the back. Howard hasn’t scored in the last three games, and he’s topped 65 rushing yards once in his last five games (it was week 8 against the Jets).

In fact, Howard hasn’t had a red zone carry the last two games. But, fellow back Tarik Cohen has just two in the same span. The important thing is Howard has paced Cohen in carries in every game since week 4 (13 red zone carries to Cohen’s five). Throw in four targets, too.

The Bears play the Giants this week, a defensive unit that’s allowed three straight 80-plus yard rushers, including two 100-plus yard rushers. In addition, the unit has allowed a rushing touchdown in their last six consecutive games.

Sit Tyler Boyd If You Can In Week 13

The Bengals slot receiver will be lined up against slot corner Chris Harris this week at home when the Bengals face the surging Broncos. Playing with a backup QB in his first start, Boyd’s defender has been targeted 36 times this season in the slot, allowing 23 catches, 217 yards and zero touchdowns (while intercepting two passes). Boyd’s been a WR2 the first 12 weeks of the season. But, it would surprise me to see him fall outside the top 36 on the points-per-game basis the last four weeks of the fantasy season.

Carlos Hyde Not Worth A Start

Hyde had six carries for 11 yards in his lone start for the Jags week 8 in London against the Eagles. With a wildcard backup QB starting week 13 and Leonard Fournette suspended, it’s likely the Jags will be chasing points on the road against the Colts.

The Colts have won five straight, including a win against the Jags in their first bout, and signal-caller Andrew Luck has thrown at least three passing touchdowns in each of his last eight games (25 total). Pass-catching back T.J. Yeldon, who was already owned in over 65 percent of ESPN leagues, is likely to get the most touches. And, the following week Fournette will be back. Leave Hyde on waivers.

Check out for our weekly waiver wire column to see who you can add now that waivers have cleared.

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