Fantasy Football Week 13: Start or Sit Austin Hooper, David Njoku, or Jimmy Graham?
Week 13 approaches like billowing grey clouds sweeping across the sky. Fantasy teams everywhere head into this week with caution, considering each tweak of the lineup a make-or-break decision. With no more bye weeks remaining, all the chess pieces are on the table for what promises to be a season altering week of football. Will you be calling checkmate? Or will you be knocking the game board off the table in a fit of rage? Avoid an embarrassing outburst and take a gander at some tight end advice.
Start or Sit Austin Hooper at Baltimore
Matt Ryan has more L’s this season than he’d like, yet his numbers would lead you to believe the Falcons are more of a 7-4 team than a 4-7 team. With steady passing numbers averaging above 330 yards a game, you’d think Hooper would get a piece of that yardage, even playing alongside a stacked receiving corps. His numbers for fantasy players have been anything but consistent over the last five games, averaging a decent 6.2 targets a game but turning those into an underwhelming average of 40.6 receiving yards. His last strong performance came against the Browns in week 10, where he was targeted 11 times and had a touchdown. But since then, he has only had 13 targets in two games. Where’s the consistency, Hoop?! The strong week 10 performance inflates his numbers and his appeal a wee bit, but if Ryan keeps neglecting him, there’s little fantasy owners can do. The Ravens defense has gotten the job done containing tight ends in the past few games, though Jared Cook was able to score a touchdown in week 12. Their defense has held tight ends to three catches or less in the last five games. Tight ends against the Ravens seem to only have luck in the red zone, which points in the direction of making the start or sit Hooper decision being a boom-or-bust dependency. The trend seems to be that tight ends simply aren’t targeted very much against the Ravens, and it’s likely the Falcons will scale back on Hooper’s targets. Have Hooper root your starters on from the bench this week. He’s a sit.
Start or Sit David Njoku at Houston
Njoku literally got carried and pushed into the end zone last week. It was poignant in regards to the play being a nod to fantasy owners who proverbially push Njoku each week to score more points. His season seemed to start catching fire in week 4, hauling in 22 passes in the next four games for a pair of touchdowns and 228 yards. Not too shabby, right? His targets soared through this stretched, but in the last four games, both his target share and his yardage has significantly dropped to either the mantle or the core (if I’m remembering my eighth grade science correctly). Seventeen targets through the last four games is bad enough, though he somehow salvaged these poor efforts with a pair of touchdowns. Except these scores were against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay’s defenses, and the scoring play in Cincinnati was essentially a miracle. Yes, he has two double digit games in the last four, and yes his floor is something to consider. Hue Jackson’s departure has turned the offense around, but Houston’s defense has a lot to do with how well Njoku might play. While their stats against tight ends might give you hope, consider this: Houston has won eight straight after dropping their first three games. Their momentum coming into week 13 is strong. While they might have a hard time containing tight ends, the coaching staff will be well prepared for the (I’ve never said these words before) strong Browns offense. This game should play out a bit differently than many might assume, especially with Houston playing at home. Njoku has been off and on the injury list recently as well, so consider all of these factors when deciding to start or sit Njoku. He will most likely be a dud in week 13. Ignore those misleading stats and sit him.
Start or Sit Jimmy Graham at Arizona
There was a time that Graham had solidified a weekly lineup spot in leagues across all platforms. But much like the last graham cracker sitting alone in the cupboard, ‘ol Jimmy boy is becoming stale. He’s the last resort snack this week. Yes, he’s had promising performances, even though he’s only got two touchdowns on the year. But his double digit games have been unpredictable, and seeing his target share go from 36 in the first five games to 16 in the last five induces sweat on the brow of Graham owners everywhere. There’s unfortunately no marshmallow that can save him at this point. Rodgers doesn’t seem to consider him much of a target, nor should he with the amount of yards he’s posted. Now consider Arizona’s defense as well when deciding to start or sit Graham. They’ve held tight ends to less than 50 yards in all but three games this season. Tight ends have only scored on them three times, only one of them coming in the last ten weeks. Their defensive efforts are starting to come alive, putting improved pressure on the quarterback and forcing tight ends to stick around to block. With 13 sacks in the last three games, Arizona’s defense is a considerable factor at this point in the season. The last time Graham played at home, he was only targeted once, so consider Graham a benchwarmer when Green Bay plays at home this week. Graham is a definite sit.
Every point matters this far into the season, and though tight ends are becoming a bit more predictable, the last few games of the regular season are much like the playoffs; a different game. The stakes are higher for teams, and upsets are very likely to happen. This week will definitely prove to be less predictable than Hue Jackson’s future in the NFL. Make your decisions wisely, and good luck!
If you must decide between two of these players, here’s a ranking to help
For more Will Button humor and advice, follow his Twitter