It’s truly a must-win week for plenty of fantasy football owners, and regardless of whether you’re trying to avoid a last-place punishment, sneak into the playoffs, or secure a first-place regular season, how you fare in Week 13 will go a long way toward your goal. Of course, with injuries running roughshod over the running back position, four byes on the schedule, and plenty of favorable/unfavorable matchups, start ’em, sit ’em decisions are more difficult than ever. Fortunately, we’re here to help with Week 13 fantasy lineup advice and DFS tips. 

It isn’t the worst week for byes, as the Packers, Panthers, Browns, and Titans are off, but there are still several “must-starts” out of action. Combined with injuries to key backs like Dalvin Cook (shoulder), D’Andre Swift (shoulder), Darrell Henderson (quad), and more, fantasy owners will need to watch the practice reports all week and be active on the waiver wire. 

WEEK 13 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts

Fantasy Football Week 13 Start ‘Em: Quarterbacks

QB must-starts

  1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (at ATL)
  2. Justin Herbert, Chargers (at CIN)
  3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles (at NYJ)
  4. Matthew Stafford, Rams (vs. JAX)
  5. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (at DEN)
  6. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (at CHI)
  7. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (at PIT)
  8. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (at NO)
  9. Josh Allen, Bills (vs. NE)

Stronger starts

Kirk Cousins, Vikings (at DET). He will throw a little more here than expected with no Dalvin Cook (shoulder), and although the Lions passing defense has been decent, they will give up plenty to his top wideouts.

Derek Carr, Raiders (vs. WAS). Washington has been better with a change to a more conservative coverage, but that plays into Carr’s hands at home. He has a floor of around 250 yards and two TDs.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks (vs. SF). It didn’t look pretty on Monday night for a while, but he got to multiple scores in the end. He also did good damage on the 49ers’ defense in the first meeting.

Carson Wentz, Colts (at HOU). He faces a very similar coverage to the one he ripped last week, but he can do better with more help from the running game to set him for a cleaner game beyond big plays in the red zone.

Taylor Heinicke, Washington (at LV). The offense is look much better of late, and he has the key all-around weapons back to outduel Carr on the road.

Taysom Hill, Saints (vs. DAL). He’s starting, which means a high floor of rushing production and a guaranteed score on the ground — plus whatever he adds in the passing game trying to catch up with Dak Prescott.

Matt Ryan, Falcons (vs. TB). He did have success throwing on them in the first meeting and can put up Wentz-like digits trying to play catchup with Tom Brady.

DFS Bargains/Streamer Special

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (at SEA, $5,700 on DraftKings, $6,600 on FanDuel). Jimmy G didn’t get enough TDs to deliver last week, but that changes down Deebo Samuel (groin) this week as the Seahawks cannot contain George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in coverage. Seattle also will allow some big pass plays when San Francisco remains effective power running. With a lot of QBs being priced up, his value allows for good return on investment.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Fantasy Football Week 13 Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks

Weaker starts

Joe Burrow, Bengals (vs. LAC). Burrow has done more limited passing of late as the defense has played much better and the running game is rolling. The Chargers are way worse vs. the run than vs. the pass, though, and Burrow is fine being the “side Joe” to Mixon to win games.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (vs. NYG). He’s in a good spot to play well in reality again, but the path to multiple TDs seems to be difficult from week to week, especially with Miami having more punch in the traditional running game all of a sudden. He also won’t need to throw often opposite Daniel Jones.

Tyrod Taylor, Texans (vs. IND). The matchup by the numbers is pretty good, but it’s getting harder to trust just about anything in Houston’s offense.

Mac Jones, Patriots (at BUF). Everything is brutal about this environment for a rookie, as Monday night figures to be a defensive struggle.

Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos (at KC). You know you’re headed to troubled waters should you try to stream him in this tricky spot.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (vs. BAL). He could be decent given Baltimore gives up quite a bit on the back end and he has good receivers, but the potential of reliable rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth (concussion) not playing keeps his TD upside rather low.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Fantasy Football Week 13 Start ‘Em: Running backs

RB must-starts

  1. Jonathan Taylor, Colts (at HOU)
  2. Joe Mixon, Bengals (vs. LAC)
  3. Austin Ekeler, Chargers (at CIN)
  4. Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers (at ATL)
  5. Najee Harris, Steelers (vs. BAL)
  6. Darrell Henderson Jr., Rams (if he plays, vs. JAX)
  7. Alexander Mattison, Vikings (at DET)
  8. Elijah Mitchell, 49ers (at SEA)
  9. Antonio Gibson, Washington (at LV)
  10. Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons (vs. TB)
  11. James Conner, Cardinals (at CHI)
  12. Alvin Kamara, Saints (if he returns, vs. DAL)
  13. James Robinson, Jaguars (at LAR)
  14. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (at NO)
  15. Josh Jacobs, Raiders (vs. WAS)
  16. David Montgomery, Bears (vs. ARI)
  17. Saquon Barkley, Giants (at MIA)

Stronger starts

Damien Harris, Patriots (at BUF). The Bills have been mighty against the run, and there’s also some Rhamondre Stevenson about whom to worry, but New England will be smart to stay grounded to grind the game and Harris will get it done with volume and scoring.

Miles Sanders and/or Boston Scott, Eagles (at NYJ). This is the best possible matchup for running backs, so let’s hope Sanders (ankle) can go to support Scott. Otherwise, Scott, with no Jordan Howard (knee) and a positive game script along with Jalen Hurts, can crush it running.

Myles Gaskin, Dolphins (vs. NYG). Gaskin is actually becoming reliable again despite the Phillip Lindsay addition. He’ll make it three straight strong games against a shaky run defense.

Javonte Williams, Broncos (at KC). Denver has lost a ton of faith in their downfield passing game despite the receiving talent and will keep feeding the rookie in a solid matchup.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs (vs. DEN). The flip side of this matchup might not inspire, but Edwards-Helaire will be fully healthy following a key bye. The Chiefs will make sure to deploy him often and increase his receiving role to boot.

Matt Breida, Bills (vs. NE). The Patriots’ run defense needs to be exploited most by the Bills to keep the ball moving and take pressure off Josh Allen. Breida can get it done enough to merit a flex spot again.

DFS bargains

Devonta Freeman, Ravens (at PIT, $5,500 on DraftKings, $6,100 on FanDuel). The Steelers’ run defense is awful, and the Ravens shouldn’t want a slumping Lamar Jackson to force throws against Pittsburgh’s pass rush and secondary. Expect Freeman to help Jackson plenty on the ground, much more so than Latavius Murray again.

Jamaal Williams, Lions (vs. MIN, $5,100 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel). D’Andre Swift was pushed a little too much workload-wise with his shoulder injury but you can bet Dan Campbell and Anthony Lynn will ride this former strong Packers backup hard at home given how bad the Vikings’ run defense has become.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Sit ‘Em: Running backs

Weaker starts

Tony Pollard, Cowboys (at NO). It doesn’t look like they will load-manage Ezekiel Elliott (knee), and the matchup isn’t the best for running.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots (at BUF). Extending to play a rookie No. 2 back in this matchup is a stretch.

All Seahawks (vs. SF). If you’re desperate, DeeJay Dallas in PPR would be the one who sounds most appealing.

All Jets (vs. PHI). Tevin Coleman? Ty Johnson? Nope, it was Austin Walter getting the most important touches last week. The matchup is good, but the three-headed monster is lame.

All Texans (vs. IND). The Colts are pretty tight on running backs despite what Leonard Fournette did last week.

Ronald Jones, Buccaneers (at ATL). He’s had some trickle-down TD success supporting Fournette, but you can’t be dependent on that.

Darrel Williams, Chiefs (vs. DEN). He’s unplayable with CEH back.

Jeff Wilson Jr., 49ers (at SEA). He’s unplayable with Elijah Mitchell back.

Kenyan Drake, Raiders (vs. WAS). They have forgotten about him again.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Start ‘Em: Wide receivers

WR must-starts

  1. Cooper Kupp, Rams (vs. JAX)
  2. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (vs. DEN)
  3. Justin Jefferson, Vikings (at DET)
  4. Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals (vs. LAC)
  5. Stefon Diggs, Bills (vs. NE)
  6. Keenan Allen, Chargers (at CIN)
  7. Adam Thielen, Vikings (at DET)
  8. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (at NO)
  9. Terry McLaurin, Washington (at LV)
  10. Mike Williams, Chargers (at CIN)
  11. Mike Evans, Buccaneers (at ATL)
  12. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (at ATL)
  13. D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks (vs. SF)
  14. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (vs. SF)
  15. Marquise Brown, Ravens (at PIT)
  16. Diontae Johnson, Steelers (vs. BAL)
  17. Chase Claypool, Steelers (vs. BAL)
  18. Amari Cooper, Cowboys (if he returns, at NO)
  19. Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins (vs. NYG)
  20. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals (if he returns, at CHI)

Stronger starts

Brandin Cooks, Texans (vs. IND). He’ll be busy operating against another zone defense as their only real fantasy option.

DeVonta Smith, Eagles (at NYJ). After that Jalen Reagor debacle in the same stadium, let’s hope Jalen Hurts gets his old ‘Bama buddy going.

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (at SEA). He’s baaaaack. And you know what he does when Deebo Samuel (groin) is out.

Michael Gallup, Cowboys (at NO). He’ll stay involved as Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb might be rusty and one is likely to see Marshon Lattimore.

Elijah Moore, Jets (vs. PHI). He should do a lot more this week operating against a zone defense.

Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr., Rams (vs. JAX). They can continue the big-play damage this week on the Jaguars.

Rashod Bateman, Ravens (at PIT). He can rebound to relevance as the Steelers struggle with No. 2 outside receivers.

Kenny Golladay, Giants (at MIA). He’s starting to heat up a little as their default No.1. with the earlier injuries behind him.

Christian Kirk, Cardinals (at CHI). Their secondary has enough holes to help him with the focus on DeAndre Hopkins.

DFS bargains

Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (at HOU, $5,600 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel). Pittman was somehow quiet with other things working well in their passing game against the Buccaneers, but we’re going to give it another shot, as that clunker kept his price nice and low for this primo road spot in which he will score at least once.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders (vs. WAS, $5,800 on DraftKings, $6,400 on FanDuel). Renfrow is the driving force behind Derek Carr’s biggest numbers minus Henry Ruggs III and now likely Darren Waller (knee). He keeps it up in a terrific slot matchup at home.

Darnell Mooney, Bears (vs. ARI, $5,600 on DraftKings, $6,700 on FanDuel). What does Mooney need to do to make sure he costs a lot more money in DFS? We won’t complain at all about him being underpriced, as he’s only the reliable and most dynamic receiver in town, regardless of who’s QB.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Sit ‘Em: Wide receivers

Weaker starts

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, Bengals (vs. LAC). They draw some tough matchups along with Ja’Marr Chase, and the Bengals should stay run-heavy with Joe Mixon.

Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Broncos (at KC). Throw in Tim Patrick, too. Prepare to be disappointed again when you play a Broncos wideout.

Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars (at LAR). Stop trying to make fetch happen when former Jaguar Jalen Ramsey is looming.

Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers, Patriots (at BUF). Expect them to have a big dropoff from Week 12 vs. this secondary.

Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley, Bills (vs. NE). Um, no and no in the current state of the offense in a brutal matchup.

Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway, Saints (vs. DAL). When it’s Taysom time, it’s not a relaxing time for wide receivers.

MORE Week 13: Top waiver pickups | FAAB budget planner

Fantasy Football Week 13 Start ‘Em: Tight ends

TE must-starts

  1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (vs. DEN)
  2. George Kittle, 49ers (at SEA)
  3. Mark Andrews, Ravens (at PIT)
  4. Kyle Pitts, Falcons (vs. TB)
  5. Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (vs. NYG)
  6. Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers (at ATL)
  7. T.J. Hockenson, Lions (vs. MIN)
  8. Pat Freiermuth, Steelers (if cleared, vs. BAL)

Stronger starts

Noah Fant, Broncos (at KC). Fant has yet to score in four career games against the Chiefs, but he received seven targets in both of last year’s meetings and should come through with something like six catches for 60 yards and a decent shot at an intermediate TD.

Logan Thomas, Washington (at LV). He came back for a cup of coffee on Monday night, but he’ll be in a regular target role against an awful tight end defense.

Tyler Higbee, Rams (vs. JAX). The Rams will overcorrect and trust in more of their short-to-intermediate passing game with him, Darrell Henderson and Cooper Kupp to drag down the Jaguars and get Matthew Stafford out of his pick-six funk.

Foster Moreau, Raiders (vs. WAS). There’s a good chance Waller (knee) misses his second full game of the season and Moreau was a good supersub the first time. Washington struggles with tight end coverage right along with the slot.

Tyler Conklin, Vikings (at DET). Here’s thinking he will dent the end zone playing off Adam Thielen and Alexander Mattison in the red zone.

Evan Engram, Giants (at MIA). He’s still getting the key targets, so let’s hope he can turn that into much better yardage to help the sagging wide receiver corps.

DFS bargain

Jack Doyle, Colts (at HOU, $3,300 on DraftKings, $5,000 on FanDuel). It was a matter of time before Carson Wentz settled on Doyle as his new tight end of choice, and that continues in a zone defense matchup very similar to the one Doyle just crushed with busy volume.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Sit ‘Em: Tight ends

Weaker starts

Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (at NO). The Saints tend to contain tight ends, and Schultz will be needed less with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb back.

Dawson Knox, Bills (vs. NE). With Stefon Diggs probably seeing plenty of J.C. Jackson, Bill Belichick is smart enough to know he needs to focus on taking Knox, who has become Josh Allen’s second ultimate security blanket, out of the game. It’s bold to say sit the red-hot Knox, so you still should play him in non-shallow leagues.

Hunter Henry, Patriots (at BUF). The Bills also are extremely tough on tight ends with their similar linebacker and safety strengths.

Zach Ertz, Cardinals (vs. CHI). He’s been scoring plenty, but the Bears’ yielding a TD to T.J. Hockenson was an anomaly last week.

Cole Kmet, Bears (vs. ARI). The Cardinals have allowed the fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Gerald Everett, Seahawks (vs. SF). The matchup drops off from Washington badly in San Francisco.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Start ‘Em: Defenses

Defense must-starts

  1. Eagles (at NYJ)
  2. Colts (at HOU)
  3. Cardinals (at CHI)
  4. Rams (vs. JAX)
  5. Dolphins (vs. NYG)
  6. Buccaneers (at ATL)
  7. Cowboys (at NO)

Stronger starts

Bills (vs. NE). The Patriots have been careful with the ball, but it could get ugly here.

Patriots (at BUF). This might seem like a sit spot on the road, but they can add to the mess vs. Josh Allen.

Chiefs (vs. DEN). They are playing much better, and that will continue post bye with the emotional prime-time bump.

Giants (at MIA). They brought it vs. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles and there are points to be had vs. Tua Tagovailoa.

Washington (at LV). They are making a lot more plays with an adjusted scheme that plays more to their strengths, and they can get some sacks and force one big mistake from Derek Carr.

DFS bargain

Vikings (at DET, $3,200 on DraftKings, $4,600 on FanDuel). They have been awful of late, but the Lions are a get-well spot for anyone.

Fantasy Football Week 13 Sit ‘Em: Defenses

Weaker starts

Ravens (at PIT) and Steelers (vs. BAL). There are some reasons to play either, but in reality you’re just going off reputation.

Chargers (at CIN) and Bengals (vs. LAC). With Joe Burrow and Just Herbert leading two explosive offenses, just say no.

Raiders (vs. WAS). The secret is out that they’re not good.

Saints (vs. DAL). Not against a well-armed Dak.

Broncos (vs. KC). Not against a rested Pat.

49ers (at SEA). Not against a warmed-up Russ.

Bears (vs. ARI). Not against a healthy Kyler.

Get more of Vinnie Iyer’s in-depth fantasy football advice for Week 13 by subscribing to the Locked On Fantasy Football podcast.