Stars of Week 13

QB: Tom Brady, TB: 38-51, 368 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

RB: Jonathan Taylor, IND: 32 carries, 143 yards, 2 TDs

WR: Justin Jefferson, MIN: 11 catches, 182 yards, 1 TD

TE: George Kittle, SF: 9 catches, 181 yards, 2 TDs

We had chalk this week with the honor roll, starting with the GOAT. Whether it’s the meticulous workouts or the avocado ice cream, Tom Brady continues to defy time as a 44 year old QB going on 30. The Falcons took the brunt of his greatness this past Sunday, as Brady threw for 4 TDs and well over 300 yards. Going on more than 20 seasons, Brady remains a weekly must-start at QB.

We transition from the best of all time to next year’s presumptive number one overall pick in fantasy. Colts’ RB Jonathan Taylor glided through the Texans’ run D, finding the end zone twice while falling just seven yards short of 150 rushing yards for the game. Enjoy watching greatness.

Vikings’ WR Justin Jefferson has made a strong case to bump up 2022 fantasy draft boards over the last few weeks. He’s just not coverable by NFL defensive backs, so a stat line of 11 catches for 182 yards and a TD means that the Vikings are using their best player correctly. Jefferson will be in the conversation for top 3 WRs next season.

Only injuries have been able to stop 49ers’ George Kittle from dominating opponents over the years. The performance Kittle had versus the Seahawks demonstrates why he was my TE2 during the draft, as opposed to Darren Waller. The Seahawks had no answer for Kittle, as his 181 receiving yards and 2 TDs evidence. Here’s hoping Kittle remains healthy the rest of the season.

Week 13 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Javonte Williams, RB – DENL 23 carries, 102 yards, 0 TDs (6 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD)

Analysis: Melvin Gordon’s presence on the Broncos has been an irritant to managers with star rookie RB Javonte Williams on their roster. But for at least one game, we got a look at how the Broncos would look with Williams as their lead back…and my was it glorious! Williams displayed all the traits in his start against the Chiefs desired by the #FreeJavonteWilliams movement – he repeatedly broke tackles, caught several passes and found his way to just under 180 total yards and a TD. Williams showed he’s an RB1 for any future games that Gordon misses. Will Williams’ performance elevate him ahead of Gordon going forward? Likely not, as Coach Fangio has stated several times that he likes the current two-back timeshare approach. So expect Williams to return to a high end RB3/flex play upon Gordon’s return, with Gordon falling into the same territory. Now looking ahead to the future, it’s very possible that Williams takes over the lead chair as early as next. Year. If Gordon indeed moves on next season, you will likely need to spend a late first or early second round pick to snag Williams, which will be well worth it.

- Sony Michel, RB – LAR: 24 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: With Darrell Henderson banged up, Sony Michel stepped in for the Rams and provided the team its best rushing performance of the season. Michel dragged the Jaguars for 121 yards over 24 carries, with 1 TD. Per PFF, Michel had 80 yards rushing after contact, providing a much different rushing style than that of Henderson. Michel brought such a physical presence for the Rams, compared to Henderson’s fit as an outside-the-tackles rusher. While the opponent matters here, the Rams can really use the toughness that Michel provides. So what does this performance mean for the Rams’ backfield moving forward? Unfortunately for Henderson, Michel figures to cut into his carries. A healthy Henderson will likely settle in as a low end RB2 in PPR leagues, and a RB3/flex option in standard leagues. Michel gains fantasy relevancy, but he is unlikely to eclipse Henderson in the pole position of the timeshare. This makes Michel a flex option in standard leagues, while he’s more of a RB4 in PPR leagues upon Henderson’s return. But for any additional games which Henderson misses, consider Michel a bona fide RB2.

- K.J. Osborn, WR – MIN: 4 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Minnesota Vikings found themselves on the losing end of the Lions’ first win of the season, which does not protrude well for job security for the team’s coaching staff or front office. But that’s not the subject of this writing. The Vikings have a top WR in the fold with Justin Jefferson, along with another stud in Adam Thielen. Unfortunately adding injury to defeat, Thielen suffered a sprained high ankle in the loss. With the Vikings set for a quick turnaround on Thursday night, Thielen’s odds of playing in week 14 look dim. Enter K.J. Osborn, who has flashed for the team in limited chances. Osborn hauled in 4 passes for 47 yards, with a TD to boot against the Lions. QB Kirk Cousins targeted Osborn 7 times, with only Jefferson (14) and TE Tyler Conklin (9) with more passes coming their way. Note that no other Vikings’ player had more than 3 targets. Osborn is a physical player with good hands, and he has just needed an opportunity to show his ability to produce. With Thielen likely out and the Vikings having a dearth of options in the passing game, Osborn should get enough targets to become a flex worthy play in deeper leagues. So if you’re in a pinch at WR, give Osborn a look.

- Russell Gage, WR – ATL: 11 catches, 130 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: The Atlanta Falcons have had a season ripe with unexpected developments. If I told you prior to the 2021 campaign that a WR would be the team’s most notable fantasy player, you likely would have nodded your head in agreement. But Calvin Ridley would’ve been the referred to player, as opposed to WR-RB convert Cordarrelle Patterson. With Ridley on indefinite leave, prized rookie TE Kyle Pitts has stepped up to become the team’s primary target in the passing game…at least in name. Another player who has helped fill the void is fourth year WR Russell Gage, who caught 11 balls from QB Matt Ryan this past Sunday, resulting in 130 yards. Ryan targeted Gage 12 times, which eclipsed Pitts by 5 targets. Over the past three games, Gage has been targeted 27 times, thus averaging a healthy 9 per game. Gage has good speed and isn’t afraid to take hits, but his yards per reception through his career (~ 10 YPR) is middling. This brings us to what Gage is, at least for the 2021 season – a high volume target without much explosiveness. So Gage has fantasy relevancy in deeper leagues as a WR3/flex due to volume, with a somewhat limited upside. If you have a need at WR and your waiver wire sits bare, give Gage a look.

Rapid Fire Pickups

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues.

QB:                  Taylor Heinicke, WAS (vs DAL)

RB:                  Dontrell Hilliard, TEN (vs JAC)

RB:                  Rex Burkhead, HOU (vs SEA)

WR:                 Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB (vs CHI)

WR:                 Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, TEN (vs JAC)

TE:                  Ricky Seals-Jones, WAS (vs DAL)

Personal Note

Thank you for reading my articles on RealGM! I have a request of you – if you enjoy my work, I kindly ask that you consider following me on Twitter if you aren’t already. My Twitter handle is @NeemaHodjatNFL. Your support is very much appreciated.