As we do each week, we recap the week’s winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: OK, maybe don’t count him out in fantasy just yet. Coming off a four-game stretch of fantasy scores beneath 20 points, in which his average was 13.3 (and keep in mind that his career per-game average as an NFL starter is 13.7), Smith roared back with a career-high 37.64 fantasy points on Sunday at the New York Jets. That gave him nine career games with at least 25 and three with at least 30 fantasy points, with five and two of each coming in 2017. Smith now gets three consecutive home games, with two of them presenting rather favorable matchups (OAK, Week 14, and MIA, Week 16).
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: Someone had to be on the other end of all those Alex Smith passes, and Hill benefited most; his 36.5 PPR fantasy points on nine targets giving him the second-highest score of any individual player from the 1 p.m. ET games. Active in 80 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th-highest among wide receivers, Hill set new career highs with both that score as well as his 30.5 non-PPR fantasy points.
Josh McCown, QB, Jets: For the fourth time this season, McCown scored 20-plus fantasy points with 31.14 — the fourth-best single-game score in any of his 72 career starts; that also marks his career high for 20-point games in a season, exceeding his three in 2013 as a member of the Chicago Bears. It also gave McCown back-to-back weeks with at least 25 points, marking the first time in his career that he has done that and, in fact, only the fifth time he has reached that threshold in a game. McCown has transformed himself into an extremely useful QB2 or bye week fill-in for standard leagues, and be aware that he remains available in roughly 60 percent of ESPN leagues. He faces a tricky schedule the rest of the season, however: at DEN, at NO, LAC, at NE.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: He got the Week 13 scoring off to a quick start by catching multiple touchdowns to give him 24.0 PPR fantasy points in the first 4:24 of the Chiefs’ game against the Jets. He became only the second player this century to score at least 20 PPR fantasy points in the first five minutes of a game, joining Lee Evans (24.2, 2005 Week 13). While Kelce was relatively quiet the rest of the day, he still finished with a tight end-leading (from the 1 p.m. ET games) 25.4. Kelce was started in 97.9 percent of ESPN leagues, second-highest behind only Rob Gronkowski (99.6 percent).
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots: The highest-scoring running back from the 1 p.m. ET games was Burkhead, whose 25.3 PPR and 22.3 non-PPR fantasy points were both the second-best numbers of his career, behind only 2016 Week 17’s 28.4 and 26.4. Many saw it coming, however, noticing how favorable the matchup was against the Buffalo Bills, who entered Week 13 having allowed the third-most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (27.0). Burkhead resided on rosters in 62.2 percent of ESPN leagues, and was started in 40.5 percent on Sunday, both of those career highs. He now has 15 touches in back-to-back weeks, and has been getting enough work as a rusher (while giving Dion Lewis breathers) as well as a receiver to warrant weekly flex-play status.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: For only the second time all season, Bortles reached the 25-fantasy-point threshold, his 25.06 standing as his highest single-game score since Week 3 (27.56). It was a game he controlled for almost its entirety, which is a rarity for him considering that since he entered the league in 2014, he’s the highest-scoring player when playing from behind on the scoreboard (625.26 career fantasy points on such plays, nearly 35 more than any other player during that time span). Bortles has an exceptional history against the Indianapolis Colts, too, as with this game, he has now averaged 18.5 fantasy points in his eight career games against them, second-highest against any of the 11 teams that he has faced at least twice in his career.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars: He set new personal bests on Sunday, scoring 21.6 PPR and 14.6 non-PPR fantasy points on 10 targets, with both of those scores exceeding his previous bests by one-tenth of a point (previously 21.5 PPR in 2017 Week 9, 14.5 non-PPR in 2016 Week 16). Lee has now scored 74.4 PPR fantasy points in his past five games combined, and his schedule sets him up nicely, with the potential for him to put up low-end WR2 numbers the rest of the way: He’ll battle the Richard Sherman-less Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, Houston Texans in Week 15, San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 and Tennessee Titans in Week 17.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: In what was only his third career NFL start, and first as the Dolphins’ “featured back,” Drake set a slew of new personal bests on Sunday. His 23 rushing attempts, 26 touches, 120 rushing yards, 141 scrimmage yards, 23.1 PPR fantasy points and 20.1 non-PPR fantasy points all set new standards for the NFL sophomore. He was started in 38.1 percent of ESPN leagues, the second-highest rate in his young career behind only Week 11’s 46.3 percent, but as he probably earned himself a similarly large workload in the season’s final four weeks, that number will surely rise in Week 14.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Speaking of sophomore running backs setting new career highs, Collins did so with both his 23.8 PPR and 21.8 non-PPR fantasy point totals on Sunday. Although he entered the day questionable with a calf injury, he managed to suit up and capitalize upon an extremely favorable matchup against the Haloti Ngata-less Detroit Lions defense. Since Week 6, the first that the Lions played without Ngata, the team has allowed an average of 28.5 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. That’s the second-most by any team behind only the Bills’ 34.2.
Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, WRs, Jets: With McCown excelling on Sunday, his two wide receivers naturally benefited as well as they faced a Chiefs defense that entered the week having allowed the third-most PPR fantasy points per game to the position (37.8). Kearse’s 24.7 PPR fantasy points were second-most among wide receivers during the 1 p.m. ET games, while Anderson’s 19.4 were fourth-most, making this only the second time all season that both receivers scored at least 15 (they’ve occurred in back-to-back weeks). They do face more challenging matchups the remainder of the year, but Anderson nevertheless has a chance at WR2 status, with Kearse a borderline WR3.
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: They did it again! For the third time in the past four weeks, both Ingram and Kamara reached the 20-point PPR fantasy plateau, with Kamara finishing with the greater number (29.6). That gave the rookie a fifth consecutive game with at least 20, making him only the sixth rookie since 1950 to have a streak of that length or greater (see chart below). Kamara now has 247 PPR fantasy points in 12 games played, which is already the 35th-best total by a rookie running back in history, but that puts him on pace for 329.3, which would be the fourth-best total behind only Eric Dickerson’s 392.2 in 1983, Edgerrin James’ 369.9 in 1999 and Billy Sims’ 339.4 in 1980. Ingram, meanwhile, now finds himself on pace for 276.9 PPR fantasy points. Barring an unseen injury, the duo stands an excellent chance at becoming only the second pair of teammate running backs in history both to score at least 240 in a season — an average of 15 per game — joining Chuck Muncie (262.2) and Tony Galbreath (244.0) of the 1979 Saints. No team, incidentally, has ever had a pair of running backs score at least 250.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: For the third consecutive week, Allen scored 25-plus PPR fantasy points, becoming the first wide receiver to do that since Ted Ginn Jr. in 2015 Weeks 13-15. Allen’s 26.5 PPR fantasy points gave him 211.1 for the season in 12 games, putting him within eight points of his career high of 219.6 — set in his 15-game rookie season of 2013. He was started in 95.6 percent of ESPN leagues, sixth-highest among wide receivers in Week 13.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: One of the — if not the — lone bright spots for the Giants in a lost year for them, Engram set new career highs with his 22.9 PPR and 15.9 non-PPR fantasy totals on Sunday. With them, he now has 143.9 PPR fantasy points for the season, which is already the 10th-best single-season effort by any rookie tight end in history. That puts Engram on pace for 191.9 points, which would be the third-best total behind only Mike Ditka’s 235.6 in 1961 and Keith Jackson’s 203.9 in 1988.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: On the day that he passed Isaac Bruce, into fourth place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list, Fitzgerald scored 25.8 PPR fantasy points — his fifth game with at least 20 this season. That puts him only two-tenths of a point away from a 10th season of 200-plus points in his 14 NFL seasons. Incidentally, if you’re wondering where Fitzgerald ranks on the all-time list for PPR fantasy points, he’s fourth, behind Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. It’ll take another 86.84 points to pass Moss for third place.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Though his Eagles lost in a disappointing performance at Seattle, Agholor shattered his previous career bests with 27.1 PPR and 20.1 non-PPR fantasy points on Sunday Night Football. He was started in 16.9 percent of ESPN leagues.
Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: For the second consecutive week, Howard was held beneath five PPR fantasy points, but his 4.3 on Sunday was considerably more disappointing than his 3.9 in Week 12 when comparing the strength of the matchups. This one came against the San Francisco 49ers, the defense that entered the week having allowed the most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (28.6), which explains why Howard was the eighth most-started running back of the week (96.0 percent of ESPN leagues). Last week, he faced the Philadelphia Eagles, who entered the week having allowed the second-fewest (18.0). Howard will be a difficult player to trust as an RB1 heading into the fantasy playoffs, although he’ll probably garner a top-15 ranking in Week 14 at Cincinnati.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: His matchup wasn’t the easiest, as he squared off against the Minnesota Vikings and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, but Jones’ 4.4 PPR fantasy points was a significant letdown — not to mention his season low — after he scored 50.8 in Week 12. Pending Antonio Brown’s status and final start percentage on Monday night, Jones’ 98.3 start percentage will be either the highest or second-highest among wide receivers in Week 13. Jones’ fantasy value in Week 14 versus the New Orleans Saints will depend greatly on whether cornerback Marshon Lattimore (ankle) is healthy enough to play.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: For the first time in 12 games, and only the 43rd time in his 247 career NFL starts, Brady was held to less than 10 fantasy points in scoring just 8.32 at the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots, surely noticing the Bills’ deficiency against the run, took a run-heavy approach in this game with 35 rushing plays, compared to 33 passing — only the third time all season the team called more rushing than passing plays in a game. Brady’s fantasy owners, who made him the most-started quarterback in ESPN leagues (97.0 percent) by a sizable margin, surely weren’t pleased with the result, but they can expect better from him against a poor Dolphins defense in Week 14.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: His disappointing year continued on Sunday, as his 7.02 fantasy points represented a season low and his worst single-game score since 2015 Week 14 (4.86), which was 31 games ago. Ryan was started in 50.5 percent of ESPN leagues, ninth-highest among quarterbacks in Week 13. Pending the aforementioned Lattimore’s status, Ryan’s schedule suggests he might only be useful one more time all year: Week 15 at Tampa Bay. He has matchups with the Saints in Weeks 14 (home) and 16 (road), followed by a rematch with the Carolina Panthers at home in Week 17.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts: Although his matchup was predictably challenging, Doyle managed to find his way into starting lineups in 43.8 percent of ESPN leagues, 10th-highest among tight ends, on Sunday. He delivered just 4.6 PPR fantasy points on his five targets, only the third time all season that he was held to less than five (1.6, Week 3; and 2.9, Week 10).
Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, WRs, Denver Broncos: Both Sanders and Thomas were held without a catch deep into the third quarter, with the former finishing Sunday’s game with a mere 3.1 PPR fantasy points on seven targets, and the latter finishing with 4.7 on his 10 targets. This was only the sixth time in the past five seasons that Sanders was held to less than five, and only the 16th time in Thomas’ 113 career games that he was held beneath that threshold. Though quarterback Trevor Siemian’s starter status limits his receivers’ fantasy potential, both of these players’ chances for success should improve somewhat in the next two weeks, as they face the Jets (Week 14) and Colts (Week 15).
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: For three quarters, he looked like he was going to put forth as inexplicable a stinker as he did in 2015 Week 2 (0 PPR fantasy points). What did those games have in common? It’s simple: He started both games, was a clear fantasy starter for both, yet he went three complete quarters without catching a single pass. Fortunately for the many who had Evans in their starting lineups — his 92.3 percent rate was ninth-highest among wide receivers — he caught two fourth-quarter passes to finish with 5.3 PPR fantasy points on six targets. It’s especially puzzling, considering the opposing Green Bay Packers entered the week having allowed the fourth-most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (37.7). Worse yet, Evans has a much tougher matchup against the Lions and cornerback Darius Slay coming in Week 14.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: For the second consecutive week, the starting tight end that faced the New York Giants defense had a quiet performance. After Vernon Davis was shut out on his one target in Week 12, Cook scored just 1.9 PPR fantasy points on his five targets on Sunday. What’s the significance? The Giants had a 10-game streak allowing an opposing tight end to score a touchdown that ended in Week 10, Travis Kelce scored a healthy 16.9 against them despite failing to score a touchdown in Week 11, and the Giants had allowed a league-leading 17.8 PPR fantasy points to tight ends entering the week. Thanks to the great matchup on paper, Cook earned a start in 57.2 percent of ESPN leagues, eighth-highest among tight ends. Now that he has had back-to-back poor performances facing outstanding matchups, he’s likely to be trusted in a noticeably lower percentage of leagues during the fantasy playoffs.
Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns: His 3.2 PPR fantasy points on Sunday represented a season low, and they came on seven rushing attempts and nine touches. Johnson was started in 32.1 percent of ESPN leagues, which placed him among the top 30 running backs for Week 13.
Facts & tidbits
For the second time in his past three starts, Tyrod Taylor was unable to finish the game for the Buffalo Bills, although on Sunday, it was because of a knee injury he suffered when hit in the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter. He struggled mightily before exiting, scoring just 3.80 fantasy points in the three-plus quarters he played, the second-lowest score in any of his 40 career NFL starts behind only his 2.94 in Week 10. Taylor’s injury means there’s a chance we’ll see Nathan Peterman’s second career start for the Bills in Week 14, but it also comes at a terrible time in fantasy when you consider how favorable the team’s schedule is for a quarterback in the final four weeks: IND, MIA, @NE, @MIA.