It’s finally December, which means that it’s time to celebrate Hanukkah, the holiday season, and the incoming arrival of the 2021 fantasy football playoffs. If your team is red hot and ready to tackle the cold weather as well as the playoffs, congratulations! You’ve put yourself in a position that every fantasy manager dreams about at this time of year. If you’re not quite locked into a playoff spot just yet, Spin is here to help your team get over the edge by guiding you to make the best lineup decisions come gameday. Without further ado, here are my boom and bust predictions for Week 13 of the NFL season.
Boom – Chase Claypool, WR, PIT vs. BAL
In last week’s contest against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens’ defense did an exceptional job at limiting the production of Cleveland’s pass-catchers, as no Browns wide receiver eclipsed two catches except for Jarvis Landry. Over the course of 12 weeks, Baltimore’s pass defense is among the middling teams in the NFL, but they’ll be facing a much more talented group when they visit Pittsburgh this Sunday, even as the Steelers prepare to play without JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ray-Ray McCloud. You’d have to figure that one of Chase Claypool, Dionte Johnson or James Washington will find the weak spots in the Ravens secondary, and my guess is that Claypool will be that guy. In a game where the Steelers could be chasing points, I’ll take Claypool and his current average of seven targets per game.
Bust – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LAR vs. JAX
In his first game with his new team, Beckham recorded a measly two catches for 18 against the San Francisco 49ers. Following a bye week where he supposedly worked to familiarize himself with his new offensive playbook, Beckham exploded for 81 yards and a receiving touchdown last week against the Packers. However, a majority of those yards came on his touchdown route, when he managed to find room for a 54-yard gain. It’s also worth noting that his team was already trailing by 19 points in the fourth period when his score came. Sure, Beckham is a much better fantasy play as a Ram than he ever was as a Brown, but despite his resurgence last week, predicting when he’ll make big plays will be hard for fantasy managers. This week, his team likely won’t attempt as many passes against the lowly Jaguars.
Boom – Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN at DET
Despite conflicting reports that Vikings primary running back Dalvin Cook is only playing week-to-week after suffering an injury last Sunday. Most signs point to Cook missing multiple weeks, meaning that Mattison will step into the leading role. Every time Mattison’s name has been called, he’s delivered: in Week 5 he recorded 171 total yards and in Week 7 he recorded 153 total yards and a touchdown. In both games Cook was out with an injury, and in both games Mattison finished with at least 32 touches. When he’s given such a workload, Mattison has flourished, and he’ll have the opportunity to be an elite fantasy option for the running back position when his team faces the Lions and their bottom-five run defense this Sunday. It was the Lions who allowed Mattison’s sparkling Week 5 stats, and it’s an easy bet that he will be able to match that output again.
Bust – Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG at MIA
I really feel bad for Saquon Barkley, who was an elite fantasy option just a couple of seasons ago, but has been plagued with the injury-bug for what seems like forever. There was hope that Barkley could find a resurgence this season, but evidently he missed four straight contests from Weeks 6-9 and he hasn’t recorded a touchdown in two whole months. If he’s on your roster, you likely drafted him in either the first or second round this season and don’t have a better option to replace him, but I beg you to do your best to find someone with more upside in Week 13 when the Giants face the Dolphins. The Giants offense is already a mess, firing their offensive coordinator two weeks ago and constantly facing injury, but it doesn’t bode well that Miami boasts the league’s fifth best defense against fantasy running backs this year.
Boom – Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL vs. TB
Pitts, for all the talent that he has, hasn’t done much to solidify himself as an elite tight end in fantasy. Sure, he’s recorded a few noticeable outputs this season, but he always seems to follow up his great games with putrid ones. Oddly enough, it also seems that Atlanta doesn’t want the ball in Pitts’ hands, as evident by his lack of routes run in recent weeks compared to earlier this season. Nonetheless, he is my pick to boom at the tight end position this week because his Atlanta Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the ball could be in the air early and often as the Falcons try to chase points. Pitts’ play has been fairly inconsistent this season, but he’s due for a solid performance. Let’s hope that Atlanta’s broken offense does the right thing and gets the ball to their young playmaker.
Bust – T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET vs. MIN
Hockenson has proven himself to be a reliable fantasy option at an otherwise weak position, opening the season on fire with touchdowns in each of his team’s first two games. You wouldn’t believe it, but Hockenson’s Thanksgiving touchdown against the Chicago Bears was his first score since Week 2, but he is still the third overall tight end in terms of PPR fantasy points scored. However, with D’Andre Swift seemingly on the verge of missing time due to an injury sustained against Chicago, Hockenson will become the primary playmaker on the Lions’ weak offense. His Week 13 opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, already boast the third best defense against tight ends in terms of fantasy points allowed this season. The possibility that Hockenson will see added coverage as Detroit’s only real threat significantly lowers his ceiling and makes him a strong candidate to bust this week.