Week 13 is in the books. There were some ugly performances on Sunday from a few teams. Don’t forget the shootout we were treated to on Thursday between the Seahawks and Cowboys. Some big name players sustained injuries on Sunday, so the fantasy marketplace experienced strong fluctuations.
Let’s start by observing the Risers from this week, including Nico Collins, who has established himself as a fantasy Alpha, and a breakout for the Seahawks’ first-round rookie receiver.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR – Seattle Seahawks
The JSN discourse all summer was a fun time, as people all believed in his talent. The issue was trying to understand how he could emerge in an offense that also contained DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. It hasn’t been pretty, but on Thursday, Smith-Njigba racked up 62 yards on 11 targets. The 11 targets were the most JSN has had in a game all year. His seven receptions were also a career high. JSN has had a slow start to his career compared to Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison, but he’s shown that he is a talented receiver with the potential for greatness in the future. His career path may resemble that of Amon-Ra St. Brown’s, with high potential to emerge as a premier slot receiver. Lockett will be 32 years old next season, and JSN will be next man up when Lockett loses a step.
Nico Collins, WR — Houston Texans
After two years in the league, many gave up on Nico Collins. Little did we know, Collins was gearing up for a third-year breakout. On Sunday, tragedy struck when Nathaniel “Tank” Dell suffered a broken leg. Someone had to step up, and it was Collins who finished with nine receptions for 191 yards and a touchdown.
Nico Collins has now run 130 routes with Tank Dell off the field this season.
On those routes…
30.8% team target share
28.5% target/route rate
40.8% share of air yards
Tough draw vs the Jets this week, but still has two games against TEN remaining.
Sadly, Colts are WK18.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) December 4, 2023
Collins has been incredible this season, finishing as a top-24 fantasy option seven times. He had only accomplished this feat once in two seasons as a Texan. It helps when you have C.J. Stroud as your quarterback (instead of Davis Mills). With the loss of Dell, look for Stroud to lock in on his No. 1 target, Collins, who is setting up to finish as a top-15 fantasy receiver.
Matthew Stafford, QB — Los Angeles Rams
The fantasy spotlight has shone brightly on Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua, and rightfully so. But it’s time Matthew Stafford got some of the spotlight. Against the Browns, the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL, Stafford shredded for 279 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns had allowed an average of 153 passing yards coming into the weekend, and Stafford easily surpassed that number.
There was concern Stafford may have lost some zip with the major injuries he has incurred, but he’s played well this season. With so many quarterback injuries, he’s headed to finish the season as a high-end QB2. This offseason, his ADP fell to the 15th round. Now he’s proving to everyone that he’s got a little bit left in the tank.
Mike Evans, WR — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans had a great performance Sunday, finishing with 162 yards and a touchdown. Evans produces at a steady clip, no matter who is throwing to him. After another great performance Sunday, he is enjoying his 10th straight season with over 1,000 yards receiving. Evans has finished as a WR3 or worse only three times this season. Not too shabby for a player drafted in the 6th round of fantasy drafts.
Mike Evans DIVES for the pylon on this 75-yard TD! 🤯
(via NFL, CBS)
— Rotoworld Football (@rotoworld_fb) December 3, 2023
Evans is now tied with Randy Moss with 10 1,000-yard seasons. Jerry Rice is the leader with 14 seasons of 1,000 yards or more. Evans is in a special company; it is time that he be seen as such. This offseason, he was being faded for his quarterback, but we’ve seen him thrive with all kinds of quarterbacks, from Josh McCown to Tom Brady. Mike Evans is that dude.
Austin Ekeler, RB — Los Angeles Chargers
Let me preface this by saying that what happened in Foxborough on Sunday set the game of football back a few years. While we expected that from the Patriots, we did not expect such a lackluster performance from Austin Ekeler. Ekeler finished with 18 yards rushing on 14 carries. He didn’t provide much relief in PPR formats, as he added just two receptions for nine yards.
Austin Ekeler sustained a high-ankle sprain Week 1. Since then, he's at 2.99 YPC.
Prior to this season, Ekeler's career YPC was 4.59.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) December 4, 2023
It’s been an up and down year for Ekeler, who suffered an ankle injury early this season. He’s had under 10 PPR points in three straight games. Ekeler and the Chargers do have some favorable matchups ahead, but the team appears to be in disarray. Better days are ahead for Ekeler, but you can’t feel confident about him as your RB1 in the fantasy playoffs after this performance.
Derek Carr, QB — New Orleans Saints
I am aware Derek Carr had to leave his Week 13 game due to injury. Naming him as a Faller is more about his performance in the first half of the game. Carr ended the first quarter with one completion and one interception. Even when the offense did look competent, it was when Taysom Hill was running the ball and Carr was on the sidelines.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 3, 2023
Consider this more of a dynasty warning. I understand Carr received a big contract, but the Saints are masters at cap manipulation. With a strong QB class incoming, this team is destined to take a QB early. Carr will be on the sidelines or with a new team in 2024.
Will Levis, QB — Tennessee Titans
When Will Levis got his first start and threw for four passing touchdowns, hopes were sky high. But in the five games since that breakout performance, he’s thrown a combined three touchdowns. Levis appears to be a fine QB2, and nothing more. But he’s a Faller because he has yet to come close to the performance that started his career.
Levis will face off against plenty of average secondaries rest of season, including Houston and Seattle. The offensive issues in Tennessee have been documented the past few years. The last time the Titans finished outside of the bottom ten in passing yards per game was 2019. It may take a coaching change and a major influx of receiver talent to get this passing offense where it needs to go.
Amari Cooper, WR — Cleveland Browns
Similar to Levis and the Titans, Amari Cooper is now in a dire situation with the Cleveland passing game. Since Deshaun Watson left, we’ve seen P.J. Walker, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and now Joe Flacco leading the charge.
Including his most recent performance against the Rams, Cooper has now finished with less than 40 yards receiving each of the last three games. To make matters worse, he’s dealing with a number of injury issues as well: bruised ribs, knee, and ankle soreness. But the worst injuries at this point are the ones hampering his quarterbacks. Cooper could be potentially good for one more WR2 game, but it could be a bleak rest of season for the superstar receiver.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Nico Collins, Matthew Stafford, and Mike Evans are the rankings Risers this week. Austin Ekeler, Derek Carr, Will Levis, and Amari Cooper are the Fallers. After watching the Saints play Sunday, Derek Carr‘s days as a starter appear numbered. With the influx of talented QBs in the draft, he looks destined to be traded or benched. And if you held onto JSN, congratulations! You played the game correctly. Now get those waiver claims ready for the last week of the fantasy regular season!