The trend of underwhelming offenses and injuries continued in Week 13. Unfortunately, those struggles were amplified thanks to six teams on bye, including players from big fantasy offenses like Buffalo and Baltimore.

 

Still, there were some great performances, specifically from the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The fantasy playoffs are just around the corner, and thankfully we will only be missing two teams to bye weeks in Week 14. Now is the time to make the final push for the playoffs or to fortify lineups to try to secure a fantasy championship. Check out Week 13’s fantasy risers and fallers below.

Risers

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry was having a stellar game before getting a head injury early in the fourth quarter. That led to a career-high snap share for the rookie running back. Spears capitalized on the opportunity, generating 75 yards on 16 carries and 13 yards on four receptions.

Henry may not miss extended time, but the stars are aligning for Tyjae Spears to become a bigger part of the Titans offense. Tennessee’s next four games will come against teams with winning records, which means more opportunities for negative game scripts. Beyond that, the Titans are getting further and further from playoff contention, which means the team may give more touches to their young running back with Henry’s free agency on the horizon.

Spears could be poised for some big weeks down the stretch, especially if the Titans elect to start evaluating their roster for the 2024 season.

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Carolina Panthers

After one week, it seems like the biggest beneficiary of the new coaching staff in Carolina will be rookie wide receiver Jonathan Mingo. The 2023 second-round pick led Carolina in snaps (69), routes run (32) and targets (10) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The new offense led to career-high production for the rookie, as he notched six receptions for 69 yards. The Panthers are in full-blown evaluation mode for their 2024 roster and trying to figure out the players who will be used to elevate Bryce Young’s game to justify his selection over C.J. Stroud.

Expect Mingo to continue to get fed targets for the remainder of the season. He could provide excellent value, especially in PPR leagues, down the stretch.

Noah Brown, WR, Houston Texans

Noah Brown returned to action in Week 13, but he will likely see a much more prominent role in Houston’s offense now that rookie Tank Dell has been lost for the season with a broken leg.

Brown finished tied with Nico Collins in offensive snaps (55) and routes run (30) against the Broncos but had just two targets and zero receptions. However, he was likely knocking the rust off coming back from an injury. We have seen Brown be highly productive in an expanded role in the offense, and the team doesn’t have much to challenge him for snaps in Dell’s absence.

It isn’t fair to assume that Brown will pick up where he left off earlier in the season when he put together back-to-back games with at least six receptions and 150 yards, but he can still be very valuable in fantasy for the rest of the season.

Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Trey McBride TE Arizona Cardinals

Trey McBride season has officially arrived. The Cardinals released Zach Ertz before Week 13’s game against the Steelers, giving McBride sole possession of the top spot on the team’s depth chart at tight end.

McBride wound up running 25 routes for the Cardinals (who were also missing Marquise Brown for a significant part of the game), catching 8-of-9 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown.

The second-year tight end is now up to 2.2 yards per route run as well and is one of three tight ends (Travis Kelce and George Kittle) to exceed 2.0 yards per route run this season. Everything is trending well for McBride, and he could emerge as a league-winning tight end to close out the fantasy season.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Tennessee Titans

Chigoziem Okonkwo’s fantasy outlook seemed dead after the Titans signed DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason given the team’s run-first offense. However, things might be turning the corner for the second-year tight end in the final weeks of the season.

Okonkwo followed up Week 12’s solid performance (four receptions for 45 yards) with three receptions for a season-high 62 yards. The Titans had been using their rookie tight end (Josh Wylie) in passing situations more, but he was lost in the fourth quarter because of a knee injury. At the very least, the team could be without Wylie in Week 14’s game against the Texans, which could mean a big week for Okonkwo against a team that has been terrible at stopping tight ends this season.

Fantasy managers looking for a jolt in their tight end position would be wise to add Okonkwo on waivers this week to try to capture upside going forward.

Fallers

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh Steelers

Hope was abundant for Kenny Pickett after a solid Week 13 performance with a new offensive coordinator. That hope is dashed now that Pickett is likely to miss significant time down the stretch with an ankle injury he suffered against the Arizona Cardinals.

Pickett was looking good against Arizona, completing 70% of his passes for 70 yards in the first quarter. However, there is a good chance his season has ended with the Steelers. It’s up in the air whether his consistency can carry over to 2024.

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Austin Ekeler’s struggles continued in Week 13 against the Patriots. Ekeler mustered just 18 yards on 14 carries (1.3 yards per carry) and nine yards on two receptions. The veteran running back has struggled to get going behind a poor Chargers offensive line and hasn’t eclipsed the 100 all-purpose yards mark since Week 10 against the Detroit Lions.

Unfortunately, the volume hasn’t been there for Ekeler recently as well. The running back is averaging just 14.3 touches per game in the last three weeks and hasn’t scored a touchdown in three games. Fantasy managers know that Ekeler can erupt at any time and score touchdowns in bunches, but this season feels different.

Jaylen Warren, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Initial reports indicated that a change in the offensive coordinator would result in a larger role for Jaylen Warren after he looked like the more explosive runner in Pittsburgh’s offense to begin the season. Through two weeks, that has not come to fruition.

Warren was an afterthought in the Steelers offense in Week 13 despite the team playing in a negative game script. Najee Harris led the backfield in snaps (36 vs. 26), routes run (15 vs. 7) and carries (16 vs. 8). On the positive side, Warren did finish the game with one more target than Harris.

The team may look to Warren to provide more explosive plays with Kenny Pickett out of commission for the foreseeable future, but it is extremely concerning for fantasy managers that Warren took a backseat to Harris in a game where the Steelers were behind for a majority of the game.

Marvin Mims, WR, Denver Broncos

There was plenty of talk that Marvin Mims would start to see a more significant role in the Broncos offense after providing chunk plays early in the season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like an expanded role is on the horizon unless there is an injury to Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy.

The rookie finished fourth among wide receivers (yes, behind Lil'Jordan Humphrey) in snaps (18) against the Houston Texans in Week 13. Mims did run one more route than Humphrey but earned just two targets in a game where Denver needed to throw the ball. The rookie has back-to-back games with three targets but has just four receptions for 36 yards during that stretch.

He also saw his snap share dip below 50% for the first time since Week 8. Fantasy managers hoping for a rookie bump down the stretch of the 2023 season might want to start looking elsewhere.  

Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints

The stars seemed to align for Juwan Johnson in Week 13. New Orleans was missing Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed at wide receiver, and Chris Olave was coming into the game questionable after a Week 12 concussion. That made Juwan Johnson a popular waiver add given the likelihood that he could see an elevated role in the passing attack.

Then the game happened.

Johnson didn’t catch any of his three targets in the game despite finishing second on the team (behind Olave) in routes run (19). The tight end got to watch Jimmy Graham convert his lone target into a touchdown and also had a front-row seat to 13 carries and two targets for Taysom Hill.

It was a massive disappointment for one of the most touted players coming into Week 13. It will be impossible to trust Johnson in fantasy going forward.