2020 Season: Week 13 Sunday Storylines

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Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

The panic meter is back! There were definitely some players that fantasy managers needed to show up to get into the playoffs that did not show up yesterday, so it felt appropriate to bring it back for another week. Unfortunately, if you have some of these players, your season may now be over, but if you survived hopefully this helps you going into round one of the fantasy playoffs.

Week 13 Sunday Storylines: Panic Meter Edition

QB Justin Herbert (LAC)

CH: A whopping 4.63 points is... uhhh... not great; like, worst QB of the week not great. The zero rushing attempts for zero yards from Herbert didn't help either. He's not a huge runner but a quick peek into his 2020 game logs will highlight that not often discussed dimension of his game. It would've been nice if he could've found a way to scamper into the end zone to help bail you out. Anyway, you'll also notice how yesterday's performance against New England was also his second-lowest output in the category of passing yards as well. But hey, let's give credit to that Patriots defense; it's not like they're the easiest matchup for opposing QBs. It was pretty ugly all around and I sincerely hope your fantasy team still found a way to come out on top.

Panic Meter: 0.5 out of 5. I mean, the kid's a rookie QB. He was bound to struggle at some point. The strength of the remaining schedule for Herbert and the Chargers isn't the best but it isn't the most difficult thing in the world according to FantasyPros and since they're far smarter than I am, I'm going with their word. I think you're fine to continue to trust Herbert with the understanding that youth and inexperience is what it is. He's been great to this point. He's still a fine weekly start.

MM: We all knew this could be a tough matchup, but scoring only 6.36 Yahoo points was beyond the lowest of expectations for Herbert against the Patriots. It was the worst score for any QB this week who played their entire game. Unfortunately you still probably started him, and hopefully, it did not wreck your playoff hopes. 

Some key stats make me think this is an aberration for than a trend. First, Belicheck is now 21-5 against rookie QBs and the Pats allow only 15.3 fantasy PPG to QBs, so a poor performance was more likely than not. Second, for as bad as the Chargers have been (2-9 with Herbert under center) Herbert has still excelled, partially because they play from behind plenty. Other than Week 3 and this week, Herbert has averaged over 24 PPG. The one tiny under the radar concern I have is that the reemergence of Austin Ekeler could take away from the opportunity for Herbert to use his arm and hurting his points ceiling, but I think that it is more a coincidence that Herbert has played two tough AFC East opponents in Ekeler's two games back rather than a case of causation.

Panic Meter: 1.5 out of 5. The fact that Anthony Lynn is still his head coach prevents this from being a 1 out of 5. Next week Herbert gets the Falcons, and then he finishes the fantasy football season against Las Vegas (23.4 points in Week 9) and Denver (23.2 points in Week 8).

QB Russell Westbrook (SEA)

CH: It's been pretty bad for Wilson over the last month or so. How bad? QB26 in that time. Russ has been doing a lot more microwaving than cooking lately. I mean, you'll take QB15 but ideally you'd want more of the QB3 you had through the first nine weeks of the 2020 season. However, much like I did for the Patriots, let's give the Giants defense some love as well. To their credit, they've been solid over the last month and they are the DST8 on the year. We have recommended the Giants DST at different times here at The Lateral so I guess maybe we shouldn't be super surprised but the Seahawks loss to the Giants is disappointing nonetheless.

Panic Meter: 2.5 out of 5. I think this number would've been higher a couple weeks ago but we've seen Wilson slipping for a little while now. Because of that fact I can't really be panicked per se but my rating on the Concern Meter is 5 out of 5. The rate at which the Seattle offense was clicking earlier in the season was certainly unsustainable but I didn't think it would end up regressing like this for them. Regardless, he's Russell Wilson and if QB15 is him shitting the bed, you'll take it.

MM: Since Week 10 Russell Wilson has been Mr. Limited, with 15.61 PPG. So in one sense, yesterday was not a shocking disappointment since the 16.02 points were on par with recent performance. The problem is most managers that are playing Russ were hoping for the 29.52 PPG he was scoring for the previous eight games. Strength of schedule may have been a factor; from Week 1 to Week 10 Russell Wilson played an average defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs. Since then he has played a top-10 DST on average. In the fantasy playoffs, he will face a top-12 defense on average, or a top-10 defense if you need him for Week 16.

Panic Meter: 3 out of 5. The schedule is not easy the rest of the season (Week 14 against the Jets excluded), and combined with the general downward trend that concerns me about his abilities to win you a game. However, his general talent leaves me convinced that it is unlikely he loses you a game. A low-end fantasy starter at QB scores around 18-19 points and the difference between that and a 15-16 PPG Russ unlikely to be disastrous.

RB Miles Sanders (PHI)

CH: I can't even. I CANNOT EVEN. Sanders was my 2020 breakout RB pick entering the year and boy, look at how that's turned out. There's not much you can do about (basically) the entire offensive line falling apart, but good god it's been ugly. No one drafted Miles Sanders to be the RB29. What makes matters even worse is that Sanders is the RB48 over the last month and there don't seem to be any signs of this Eagles offense getting any better no matter who the quarterback is.

Panic Meter: 5 out of 5. I am not going anywhere near Sanders anymore and I'm not even going to bother checking the schedule going forward. I don't care how easy or difficult it may be. I'm done.

MM: Sanders has finished as an RB1 twice, which is the same amount of times he has finished as an RB4. He nearly has the same amount of TDs as fumbles. It has been a bad year for those relying on Sanders to be an RB1/RB2, and Sunday was no different as Sanders put up 3.1 PPR points. To put that in perspective, you would have been better off starting any of Minnesota's three RBs instead of Sanders. It did not help that in the second half the Eagles benched QB Carson Wentz for rookie QB Jalen Hurts. Sanders may have scored 1.8 out of his 3.1 points with Hurts under center, but that fell short of the 2.4 points scored by Jalen Hurts with his legs alone in the same period. The one target in the game (from Wentz, not Hurts) was just poo-icing on the garbage cake.

Panic Meter: 5 out of 5. I am benching Sanders Week 14 against the Saints DST, who is currently the toughest matchup for RBs. The Eagles rebuilding their offense on the fly only complicates matters.

TE Hayden Hurst (ATL)

CH: It was pretty brutal for Hurst yesterday. Hell, it's been a bit rough for Hurst over the last month even to say the least, but this is also the tight end position. You take what you can get and he does get targeted pretty heavily, so you've kind of just got to accept that this will happen periodically.

Panic Meter: 0.5 out of 5. I can't really be panicked about a non-top 5 guy doing poorly. Unless you have someone like Chiefs TE Travis Kelce or Raiders TE Darren Waller, you've got to accept how awful it is to pick a tight end week-to-week. You can keep rolling with Hurst on target volume alone.

MM: If you read this week's Boom/Bust article, you would have seen Hurst's 1.9 PPR points coming a mile away. Which to be fair, was a significant improvement on the zero he scored against New Orleans just two weeks earlier. If they can play again in a couple of weeks, he may be able to even hit four points!

I kid of course, but two weeks against New Orleans definitely contributed to Hurst's nosedive in production since the Week 10 bye. Not having to play them again will be a huge boost to the Atlanta TE. Also despite not showing it this week, Hurst performs significantly better with WR Julio Jones alongside him, scoring over three PPR points more with Jones in than lineup than when Jones is out. He was missing Jones in Week 12. Finally, the volume of targets works in Hurst's favor as a "safe floor" play. Through 12 weeks he was the eighth-most targeted TE.

Panic Meter: 2 out of 5. This is TE we are talking about, otherwise, the volatility would be more concerning. 
With significantly easier matchups going forward, and a "healthy" Julio Jones to support him, Hurst seems likely to bounce back.

DST Chicago Bears (CHI)

CH: They're a talented group but they've been torched recently. You'd think a D'Andre Swift-less Lions offense wouldn't be able to do a whole heck of a lot and then what happened? The ageless RB Adrian Peterson runs for a pair of TDs en route to a solid fantasy week. I thought the Bears were supposed to be a tough run defense

Well hey, that's what you get for only relying on season-long information and ignoring trends. I'm guilty of this myself from time to time, don't get me wrong, but this is another reminder that proper research goes a long way. 

Panic Meter: 5 out of 5. The Bears defense simply has not been good. I'm fading this squad hard.

MM: What has happened to the Bears? I picked them up in a dynasty league and dropped Cleveland thinking I had made a steal, and currently, I look like a moron! Okay, that is a bit hyperbolic given the talent on the Bears helps their value for dynasty, but in redraft leagues, I would genuinely be feeling silly right now. The Bears are currently DST19 despite all that talent, five top-12 finishes this season, and getting to play the Lions twice. Speaking of which, they looked bad against the Lions this Sunday in a close loss, finishing DST18. The Bears have a favorable schedule through Week 16, with three opponents that have a combined 11-25 record. Week 15 feels like a trap against Minnesota though. Despite scoring 12 points going up against the Vikings in Week 10, the Bears DST will be facing one of the hotter teams in the NFC in their home stadium. The Vikings' only loss in their last six games was a baffling last-minute loss to Dallas in Week 11.

Panic Meter: 4 out of 5. I would stay away from relying on the Bears for the rest of the season. Their volatility is just as likely to lose you a game as it is to win you one, and you cannot afford that in the playoffs.

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