Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 13
Tracking my predictions: 5-7-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected or leaves with an injury
It apparently required 12 weeks before I began to find my groove in this series, but here we are … Denver Broncos RB Javonte Williams performed almost exactly as expected last week, actually gaining a full point over forecasted value. My projected line was 70 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 31 receiving yards, and one offensive TD (19.1 PPR fantasy points). He went 54-1, 3-57-0 for a career-high 20.1 points.
Can I continue to ride the wave for a third straight successful week? If so, it all comes down to trusting in …
TE Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders
Last week, Thomas returned from a hamstring injury that had him sidelined since Week 4, and he managed to play 79 percent of the offensive snaps (66 plays). In his first three starts of 2021, the former quarterback played 100 percent of the snaps in each of those contests. He was still getting his legs back underneath him in Week 12 and should be much closer to feeling like himself vs. the Raiders.
Washington is on a three-game winning streak and has built some confidence around quarterback Taylor Heinicke as a result, even if he has thrown multiple touchdown passes just once in the last seven games. During the three-game winning stretch, he has completed more than 72.7 percent of his throws in every outing — not too shabby for a self-described gunslinger.
The Football Team could be without RB J.D. McKissic’s valuable receiving skills in Week 13 after he suffered a concussion vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The offense really has lacked a No. 2 target away from the line of scrimmage when Terry McLaurin is being doubled almost every play, and while DeAndre Carter has stepped up to a respectable degree in relation to expectations, he still has no more than four grabs in any contest on the year.
Thomas’ return to the field saw him land three of six targets for 31 yards and narrowly missed scoring his third TD in four ’21 games. In his three healthy games prior the injury, the 2020 breakthrough posted 12, 9.5 and 14.2 PPR points, respectively.
The Raiders have struggled to contain tight ends in 2021 somewhat due to their inability to bottle up running backs. When defenses choke up to the line of scrimmage in anticipation of slowing a backfield, it frees up play-action passing to make quick-hitting throws over the middle and down the seam, which tends to disproportionately benefit tight ends.
In the last five weeks, the position has averaged 18 PPR points against Vegas, which is 50.1 percent greater than the league average allowed. The amount of fantasy points yielded as remained quite consistent throughout the season, too, and four players have gone over that figure. Seven have at least made it into double-digit PPR territory, and half of the eight total scores have come in the last four games alone, spread among as many players.
The Raiders have struggled vs. wide receivers a great deal of late, and Thomas’ athleticism effectively makes him a big-bodied wideout when lined up in the slot. He has spent 50.4 percent of his season-long snaps in that role. Size itself hasn’t played much of a factor vs. Las Vegas, but it certainly cannot hurt around the stripe.
As the Raiders are forced to remain laser focused on running back Antonio Gibson, Thomas has one of the finest matchups of the week. He is poised to get back into the end zone against a defense that has permitted a TE touchdown every 5.8 grabs since Week 7 and every 8.4 catches on the year — all when the league average is once per 12.1 snares.
My projection: 5 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD (16.3 PPR points)