Which fantasy football running backs and wide receivers are absolute locks in week 13?

by Conor O'Brien ·

There are a lot of hard decisions to make across the NFL this week, even when leveraging advanced stats, metrics, and analytics player profiles. Danny Woodhead is rounding into form after early season injuries, while the now infamous Josh Gordon makes his return to the football world after three long years. Read about them and more


Jerick McKinnon (RB) vs. Atlanta Falcons

Jerick McKinnon is in line for a big a bounce back week after rushing for less than 2 yards per carry in Detroit on Thanksgiving. A road dog against the Falcons, Minnesota may will likely be playing from behind in the second half. When the game script flips to the negative side of the ledger, Vikings turn to McKinnon, particularly on screen passes and check down throws.


The Falcons are an average defense against running backs, currently allowing +0.56 (No. 15) Fantasy Points above the Mean. That rating is slightly boosted from the Falcons two most recent games, where they faced two anemic run blocking offensive lines from Seattle and Tampa Bay, ranked No. 24 and No. 26 respectively in Run Blocking Efficiency. Start McKinnon and watch the super star satellite back go to work.

Danny Woodhead (RB) vs. Detroit Lions

After being setback by a hamstring injury in week one, Danny Woodhead is finally rounding into form and looks to be a huge factor in the fantasy world in the closing stretch of the season. Last week against the Texans, Woodhead managed a respectable 45 yards off of 8 touches. He also played super efficiently, managing to convert all four of his targets into receptions. With the post injury training wheels off, Woodhead could finally be inline to breakout against the Detroit Lions.

Woodhead will go up against a Lions defense that has struggled all year against opposing running backs. Last week against the Vikings, the aforementioned McKinnon was able to gain 31 receiving yards off of just one reception. Receiving backs have produced especially against them, with Christian McCaffrey and Tarik Cohen being prime examples. Joe Flacco has loved short passes all year as evident by his 6.9 p/a (No. 26) Pass Attempt Distance. Look for Flacco’s best safety valve to have a great day against Detroit.

Cooper Kupp (WR) vs. Arizona Cardinals

Cooper Kupp is the most prolific wide receiver in college football history. Dominant college production combined with a 10.83 (88th percentile) Agility Score, Kupp looks the part of the quintessential high volume slot receiver. Kupp has been a target magnet at the NFL level and his target dominance should continue against the Cardinals this week. Back in week 7, Kupp had one of his best games of the season against the Cardinals, hauling in 4 receptions for 51 yards and a score to finish as the No. 13 fantasy receiver on the week.


Kupp is set to increase his already high 20.0-percent (No. 36) Target Share share this week. While Patrick Peterson is busy shadowing Sammy Watkins, Kupp draws Tyrann Mathieu, who is allowing 11 yards per reception to opposing slot receivers, one of the highest rates among full time slot corners on PlayerProfiler.com. Expect Kupp improve on his impressive first outing against the Cardinals this week.

Bruce Ellington (WR) vs. Tennessee Titans

The Texans defacto No. 2 wide receiver option will get a chance to shine in Nashville this week. Bruce Ellington gets the gift of going up against a very generous Titans defense. Tennessee is currently allowing +3.98 (No. 7) fantasy points above the mean to wide receivers, which makes sense given the combined Coverage Rating of the Titans’ secondary.

Bruce Ellington Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Running a majority of routes out of the slot, Ellington will likely receive coverage from Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims, who is uninspiring to say the least. Sims is currently allowing a 103.4 Passer Rating When Targeted. He ranks as the No. 85 cornerback, and is liability even against a bad passing attack like the Tom Savage led Texans. Surprise your opponents by starting the under the radar Ellington this week.


Ameer Abdullah (RB) vs. Baltimore Ravens

Ameer Abdullah has slowed down significantly since the start of the season. After posting over 80 total yards in three of the Lions first four games, he hasn’t surpassed 60 total yards in a game since. That cold stretch is likely to continue this week against the Baltimore Ravens.

Ameer Abdullah Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Ravens have been very stingy against the run this season. They are currently allowing -3.74 (No. 27) fantasy points below the mean to opposing running backs. While prolific fantasy players such as Le’Veon Bell and Jordan Howard have been able to eclipse 100 rushing yards against them, they both required 30 plus carries to do so. Abdullah has received 20 or more carries in a single game just twice this year. Abdullah is not a workhorse back, and the Lions aren’t likely to deploy him as one against a stout defensive team such as the Ravens.

DeMarco Murray (RB) vs. Houston Texans

DeMarco Murray has been one of the more inconsistent players in fantasy football this season. He has a relatively high 7.5 (No. 21) Weekly Volatility, and struggles to carry momentum from week to week. This week, Murray faces the Houston Texans, who despite the loss of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, remain a very stingy defensive unit, at least in terms of fantasy production.

They are currently allowing -4.54 (No. 30) fantasy points below the mean to opposing backs. Back in week four, Murray produced one of his worst games of the season against Houston, managing just 35 yards off of 9 touches. Sit Murray at all costs.

Josh Gordon (WR) vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The excitement is palpable. After three years, the electrifying Josh Gordon is returning to the NFL. While is still young and has plenty of potential left, don’t expect him to walk in and be the guy who had back to back 200 yard games in 2013. Gordon will shake the rust off in a hard way against the Chargers.


The Chargers present one of the hottest defense in football, among them is a tough cornerback duo in Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward. Both player’s are among PlayerProfiler’s top 15 cornerbacks. Hayward has been especially stingy this year, allowing a 59.7 (No. 6) Passer Rating When Targeted. As a whole the Chargers are allowing -4.02 (No. 22) Fantasy points below the Mean to wideouts. Let Gordon take his beatings for a few weeks before starting him.

Sammy Watkins (WR) vs. Arizona Cardinals

Sammy Watkins efficient season will hit a roadblock this week against Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. Watkins has been quietly effective all year. He currently posts a +32.8 (No. 5) Production Premium and a +31.2-percent (No. 6) Target Premium. Peterson however, will likely be too much.

Peterson currently has a +0.53 (No. 4) Coverage Rating and sits comfortably as PlayerProfiler’s No. 7 cornerback on the year. In the first Rams-Cardinals clash back in week 7, Watkins managed only 3 receptions for 42 yards, finishing as the No. 46 receiver on the week. Don’t let Watkins status as the No. 1 receiver in a prolific offense fool you, he won’t produce this week.