2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 13

by Cale Clinton
2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 13

Welcome to the Week 13 edition of our 2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches series.

It's that time of year. Odds are, you're either in the final week of your regular season or the first week of your playoff run. If you had enough success to make your league's playoff, congratulations. I can't say I'll be joining you this year, but I tip my hat regardless.

I've made a note the last few weeks saying that, at this point in the season, there are very few market inefficiencies left to find. The top-end fantasy performers are almost completely claimed up. If you want me to choose a small sample size and write a 700-word blurb about why it's worth picking up some New Orleans Saints wide receivers just in time for the playoffs, you clicked the wrong article.

We're going to be doing something a little different this week. Instead of finding the diamonds in the rough, I'll be pointing out which big-name players you can keep out of your starting lineup. I wouldn't call this an outright drop list, but this should serve as a bit of a deciding factor if it comes down to one of these players or someone on your bench.

As always, let's state our sources up top. All metrics on run/pass frequency, yards/game or attempt, or attempts per game come from Team Rankings. All snap counts and target shares come from Fantasy Data. Any Fantasy rankings, ownership percentages, or target numbers come from FantasyPros in a Half-PPR scoring format. All references to EPA/play can be found on Ben Baldwin's Box Score plug-in on RBSDM. Anything else in the article will be directly linked to.

2021 Fantasy Football Targets & Touches Week 13

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Running Backs

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills (47.0%)

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I've just about had my fill of Bills running backs for the remainder of the 2021 season. Buffalo currently ranks 20th in the league in rushing play percentage with 39.9% and 19th over the last three weeks in rushing yards per game. Matt Breida emerging onto the scene has certainly thrown a wrench into this equation as well, making the Buffalo ball carriers a tough bunch to read.

One thing feels pretty certain, though: Zack Moss is currently the odd man out. Moss is still getting snaps, often out-pacing the aforementioned Breida, but his production this season has cratered. The second-year player hasn't surpassed 40 yards rushing since Buffalo played the Houston Texans back in the first week of October. Most of Moss's production this season has come through the air, but over the last three weeks, he's fallen to seventh in team target share with a measly 4 targets.

Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos (87.6%)

Melvin Gordon is expected to play this weekend against the Detroit Lions, who average the 5th-most rushing yards allowed this season and rank 25th in ESPN's run stop win rate. This should prove a good potential tune-up game for Gordon considering his return from injury. There's just one thing standing in his way: Javonte Williams.

Williams had his first game of 20+ carries against the Kansas City Chiefs and looked dominant in the loss. The rookie running back posted 179 total yards on the afternoon and hauled in Denver's lone touchdown of the day. Since Week 1o, Williams has slowly but surely begun to outpace Gordon in snaps. Considering everything--how banged up Gordon is, the rise of Williams over the last few games, comments this week from Gordon about not feeling wanted in Denver--this may be one of the last times to capitalize on Gordon's fantasy upside before it fully becomes the Javonte Williams show.

Wide Receivers

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (91.7%)

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You're still holding onto Houston Texans players hoping they'll be good at football? You poor thing.

I'm a big Brandin Cooks guy, don't get me wrong. I'm a big Tyrod Taylor guy, too. I want nothing more than for both of them to succeed. That being said, this team can't get anything going through the air. Houston is second-to-last in the league in passing yards per game this season. Somehow, their offense has found a cellar door beneath the basement and is managing to go even lower. Over the last three games, Houston has just 90 passing yards per game. The next-lowest team on that list is New England with 160 yards.

Brandin Cooks has a commanding 21.2% target share in the Texans offense, down from 27.5% on the season. Those are clear WR1 numbers for a team. The only problem is that a 21.2% target share in the Texans offense? It's resulted in just 11 targets for Cooks in the last three games. He's only caught six of those passes, too. As the team's top receiver, Cooks ranks WR44 since Taylor returned from injury.

Starting roster slots are precious. Don't waste one on a Texans player.

Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills (59.2%)

I touched on Emmanuel Sanders' downward trend during last week's write-up of Gabriel Davis. At this point in the season, Sanders is really beginning to show his age. This just isn't the player we all envisioned when the Bills signed him in the offseason. Since Week 7, Sanders is WR72 in Half-PPR leagues, catching 15 passes on 28 targets for 168 yards and zero scores.

We're just at this holding period in Buffalo's season where I don't trust the Bills to figure this out. Even if their offense is able to rebound from where it's performed over the last several weeks, Sanders feels like the odd man out. Sanders and Cole Beasley share similar roles in Buffalo's offense. In a pinch, Beasley is more trustworthy. He's notched one more catch than Sanders on one fewer target over the last three games. Stefon Diggs and Dawson Knox are the fixtures in this offense, given that Diggs is their top deep threat and Knox is their go-to over-the-middle guy.

Like I mentioned last week, Gabriel Davis is getting more involved, too. In that mess of a game on Monday Night Football, Davis accounted for the majority of Buffalo's first-half passing production. I know Buffalo has the second-most snaps this year out of 10 personnel behind Arizona, but Sanders is starting to feel more and more like the fifth option.


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