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Week 13 Fantasy Football Stock Watch

Bryan Armetta breaks down players rising and falling in fantasy football value prior to Week 13.

Bryan Armetta breaks down players rising and falling in fantasy football value prior to Week 13.

Everything you’ve worked for in fantasy football has come to this; hours spent updating lineups, scouring the waiver wire and negotiating trades. The playoffs are almost upon us, and the time to make needed improvements to your roster is dwindling. Players with previously falling stocks have rebounded in recent weeks, such as Miles Sanders and Michael Pittman. However, others who struggled early in the season, including D’Andre Swift and Diontae Johnson, haven’t returned to form. The time to wait for a breakout is over; here are a few of the players you can (and can’t) trust with your season on the line.

Stock Down: RB Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

Perhaps it was foolish thinking to assume Pierce, a fourth-round running back on the worst team in football, wouldn’t hit some kind of rookie wall. Still, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Over his last two games, Pierce has a combined 8.3 fantasy points, with an average of 1.2 rushing yards per carry. Houston’s offense has always been inefficient, but they were still able to give Pierce some kind of workload. That’s gone away in Weeks 11 and 12, with the latter matchup coming against a porous Dolphins defense. It didn’t help that the team was down 30 before halftime, but it’s still surprising to see Lovie Smith’s staff completely forget about their most talented offensive weapon for a full sixty minutes. 

Pierce’s upcoming schedule does him no favors. A somewhat easy matchup against the Browns keeps him flex-worthy in Week 13, but games against the Cowboys and Titans, two formidable run defenses, could be a struggle. Ultimately, the biggest fear for Pierce is basically out of his control; if the Texans continue to get blown out, they have little incentive to use their RB1, gameplan-wise and to protect his health. Smith is an old-school coach who probably won’t throw in the towel, especially when his team has just one win. That might not matter; Houston will probably be out-classed by all of their opponents through Week 16. It’s hard to have much faith in Pierce as a set-and-forget option going forward. 

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Stock Up: WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers

It doesn’t matter which quarterback is throwing the ball in Green Bay; Christian Watson is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. The rookie wideout has earned his reputation as a big-play threat, this time taking a Jordan Love pass 63 yards for a score against the Eagles on Sunday night. With a total of six touchdowns over his last three games, it’s safe to say that Watson has cemented his place in Matt LaFleur’s offense. Given Green Bay’s lack of quality options at receiver, it’s hard to see Watson losing his role even in what appears to be a lost season for the Packers. 

It’s not crazy to worry that Watson is too touchdown-dependent to trust in the playoffs. However, he has 20 targets over Green Bay’s last three games, more than anyone else on the roster. The schedule is also enticing, even with a Week 14 bye. After a promising matchup against the Bears this weekend, Watson goes against three mediocre pass defenses (LAR, @MIA, MIN). Whether it’s Rodgers or Love suiting up, there’s no reason to think they won’t rely on Watson, especially with what should be plenty of red zone opportunities. While he’s certainly not a buy-low, paying a hefty fee for Watson’s services could be well worth it for managers.

Check out where Watson falls in our weekly rankings for PPR, Half-PPR and Standard leagues!

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Stock Down: WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans, despite his status as one of the game’s top wide receivers, is never the most relaxing player to roster. It always seems as if he’s just as much of a threat to get five fantasy points as he is to get 30. While never boom-bust enough to sit, the Tampa Bay star is almost always due for a midseason swoon at some point. That’s why last Sunday’s two-catch outing in Cleveland was troubling, but not devastating. Granted, Evans needs to be better, as a couple more catches mean the Bucs probably win the game. Still, the opportunities haven’t gone away; Tom Brady targeted Evans nine times during the game, often looking his way late into the fourth quarter.

That’s the optimistic takeaway from a disastrous performance. The pessimist would point to Chris Godwin’s 12-catch game against the same Browns defense as a sign that Brady, especially with less throwing power at age 45, has found a new number one. It’s hard to make such a definitive statement; while Godwin might be bringing in more catches, that’s always been the case. Since Brady joined Tampa Bay, Godwin has outpaced Evans in catches, while the latter has surpassed him in yardage and touchdowns. The more immediate concern for Evans is a headache-inducing matchup against the Saints. New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore has almost always held Evans in check, and you can expect Monday night’s contest to be more of the same. Things do open up for Evans in Week 14, so he’s still a must-start most weeks, but it’s hard to ignore his struggles of late.

Stock Up: WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

The Zach Wilson era has (likely) come to a merciful end in New York. The Jets, held back all season by poor quarterback play, have once again turned to Mike White to solve their passing woes. The early returns look promising; White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns against a feeble Bears secondary, two of which were caught by Garrett Wilson. The Jets have made Wilson their primary pass-catcher, and the results have been fantastic; he’s on pace for nearly 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie. However, life with Zach made Garrett an unreliable fantasy commodity; an eight-catch day could easily be followed up with a two-catch outing. Variability, never a great thing in fantasy, prevented Wilson from becoming a lineup lock. 

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White changes everything. While he isn’t an elite arm by any means, all Jets’ fans and fantasy managers have wanted behind center is competency, which White can deliver. It also allows offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to get more creative with his play-calling, as well as more aggressive when it comes to passing the ball down the field. Zach’s anemic career yards per pass attempt sits at 6.3. On Sunday, White averaged over 11 yards on his passes. That means more big plays, and more touchdowns for Garrett. Things will get much tougher next week against the Bills, but the Jets have an amazing playoff schedule, facing off against the Lions, Jaguars and Seahawks. The time is now to pry Wilson loose from a manager that doesn’t believe in New York’s offensive renaissance.