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Fantasy Football Week 13 Fades & Busts

Just because a player is listed as a “fade” doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.” What a “bust” designation does mean, however, is that you’ll want to consider higher upside options in the flex.

We’re just weeks out from the fantasy football playoffs, making it as crucial as ever to be on the lookout for potential down weeks that could dismantle your hopes of a championship. Here are six fades and busts to be wary of in your fantasy football lineups for Week 13.

Bust: Matthew Stafford, QB, LA Rams

Matthew Stafford is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season, dropping 229 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and an interception in Week 12’s thumping of the Arizona Cardinals. While there was plenty to be excited about with that level of efficiency, it’s best to massively temper expectations ahead of him facing one of the best and most suffocating passing defenses in the NFL to date this season.

Prior to Week 12, Stafford had just a single game throwing more than one passing touchdown despite the immense talent around him at wide receiver, and even that outing yielded a finish as the overall QB15 on the week. Now, Stafford will face a Cleveland defense that is tied for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed to date this season. They’re allowing a league-low 163.5 passing yards per game and 55.6% completion rate, which should force Stafford back to QB2 territory once again in Week 13.

Fade: Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos have awarded running back Javonte Williams his workhorse badge over the past month, as he's averaging just over 22 touches per game over the past four weeks. Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily translated to efficiency, having averaged just 3.45 yards per carry in that span, sitting as the overall RB22 in that span — mostly thanks to the touchdowns he scored in Weeks 9 and 10.

This week, the Broncos will travel to face the Houston Texans, whose rushing defense has improved immensely this season, allowing opposing rushers just 3.6 yards per carry on the season — the third fewest among any rushing defense in the league. This unit has only improved throughout the season, too, ranking as a top-12 defense since Week 7 in terms of total rushing yards allowed (295, the second fewest in that span), explosive-run percentage (10.8%), yards after contact per attempt (2.7) and more.

Consider Week 13 another likely inefficient outing for Williams, who will likely need to secure a touchdown if he has any hopes of a solid fantasy day.

Fade: Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders

Unfortunately for the Washington Commanders, the Miami Dolphins have been one of the more underrated defensive units this season, particularly since the return of CB Jalen Ramsey from injury in Week 8. That’s been particularly true in considering their run defense. The Dolphins' 77.3 PFF run defense grade ranks fourth best among all defensive units, allowing opposing rushers just 3.7 yards per carry (tied fifth lowest), which has helped contribute to their standing as a top-10 defense against fantasy running backs to date this season. Just five running backs have scored more than 10 fantasy points against the Dolphins all season, as they've held D’Andre Swift, Breece Hall, Javonte Williams, Josh Jacobs, Isiah Pacheco and Rhamondre Stevenson all to 9.0 or fewer fantasy points (half-PPR).

Though Robinson's been a solid fantasy asset in the 2023 season, particularly considering his eighth-round ADP, his most productive outings have come in games where the Commanders kept the score close. Robinson has just one game with more than 10 fantasy points all season in a game the Commanders didn't either win outright or keep within three points. Considering the strengths of the Dolphins' run defense and Robinson's game-script volatility, don't be surprised if he has a down week in a game where the Dolphins are favored 9.5 points on the road.

Fade: Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans passing offense has been (surprisingly) red-hot this season with the trio of QB C.J. Stroud and WRs Nico Collins and Tank Dell taking the league by storm. Regardless of how well they’ve performed collectively, however, the Broncos could pose a surprising challenge in Week 13 that should have fantasy managers tempering expectations.

Since Week 6, the Broncos have averaged the third-highest defensive success rate on targets to the wide receiver position, with a league-low -0.21 expected points added (EPA per dropback) on such targets, per NFL Next Gen Stats. In that span, the Broncos are tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the fifth-lowest passing-touchdown rate allowed (2.8%), with the defense ranked top 10 in terms of scoring drive percentage allowed and No. 1 in total turnovers forced.

The Broncos have played in zone coverage on 70.7% of defensive snaps this season, against which Dell leads the team with 59 total targets on the year to Collins’ 48, which could give him a slight edge over Collins in this matchup in particular (keep in mind that Dell is nursing a calf injury).

Fade: Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders have had their ups and downs as a passing offense under second-year quarterback Sam Howell, and despite his immense talent, wide receiver Terry McLaurin has not been immune to that volatility. Through 12 weeks of the season, McLaurin has performed as the overall WR26 — still seeking his first finish as a top-12 receiver all season. He’s averaging a career-low 1.5 yards per route run, 7.2 yards per target and 11.6 yards per reception, and impacting his fantasy value further could very well be some of the targets he’s splitting with TE Logan Thomas and fellow WR Jahan Dotson in the end zone.

In Week 13, the Washington Commanders will host the Miami Dolphins, whose secondary has come on quite a bit since the aforementioned return of Ramsey. Since he's been back, just a single receiver has exceeded 50 receiving yards (Davante Adams in Week 11), and the defense has allowed the third-fewest yards per pass attempt (5.77) and fourth-lowest explosive pass rate (9.7%) to opposing quarterbacks collectively. Considering five of the seven instances that the Dolphins have allowed 6.0 or more fantasy points (half-PPR) since Ramsey’s return came on the back of a receiving touchdown, this won’t be the week to target McLaurin for a big day.

Bust: Tyler Higbee, TE, LA Rams

We already faded Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford earlier in the article. Now it’s time to fade the tight end whose touchdowns helped yield his top-six week: Tyler Higbee. Higbee posted a 5-29-2 line in Week 12 that led him to finish as the overall TE2, his first finish inside the top eight in all of the 2023 season. Those two touchdowns were the first he’d scored all season long, averaging just 2.91 receptions and 30.2 receiving yards per game — both marks of which rank as the lowest Higbee has achieved since his breakout back in the 2019 season.

For as much trouble as the Cleveland Browns have given opposing wide receivers, they’ve given opposing tight ends even more, having allowed just a single tight end more than 35 yards in a single game this season. That tight end was none other than All-Pro Mark Andrews, whose 22.5 fantasy points scored against this Browns defense in Week 4 has incredibly accounted for 42.3% of the total fantasy points they’ve allowed to the position all season long.

Don’t be tempted to go back to the well, chasing points from Higbee.