Fantasy Stars who will Struggle in Week 13: Jalen Hurts, Joe Mixon, Cooper Kupp, Trey McBride
Choosing one player at each position who may not live up to expectations in week 13 of the NFL season.
I sometimes must stretch the word “star” for the purpose of this column, but we went straight for the cream of the crop in choosing players who might struggle in Week 12:
- Justin Herbert was tied for 15th in fantasy points among quarterbacks, which qualifies as struggling for him. He added nearly five fantasy points through rushing yards, a needed boost, as he would have been in single-digit fantasy points otherwise. The Baltimore defense is tough on everyone.
- Alvin Kamara was productive, gaining 119 total yards on 19 touches. Part of the reason I saw a possible slow week was because Atlanta has been very good stopping backs from catching passes, but Kamara caught four balls for 50 yards.
- Why did I pick Tyreek Hill? We may never know, but he did Tyreek Hill things, turning nine receptions into 102 yards and a touchdown. The tough Jets defense couldn’t slow down Hill or Jaylen Waddle.
- There wasn’t a real option last week, so I gave a few streamers to avoid: Tyler Higbee responded by finishing as the top tight end of the week after I included him.
Week 13 brings a few more big names and a tight end who isn’t a star but could conceivably reach that status in the coming years. Let’s look at the players who may struggle this week, including a seemingly unstoppable quarterback, an aged running back in a new situation, and a receiver conspicuous by his lack of production.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles vs San Francisco 49ers
I don’t feel good about this at all, but there isn’t a better option here this week. His rushing ability and frequency with which Hurts visits the end zone make him one of the most reliable players in all of fantasy football. He does have a tough matchup this week against San Francisco, though.
The 49ers have allowed the least fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and, most importantly, have limited rushing production from the QB position. San Fran has given up the fifth-least rushing yards to quarterbacks without allowing a touchdown.
Hurts hasn’t been consistently great throwing the ball in 2023: he has less than 210 passing yards in five of 11 games and multiple touchdown passes in just five of 11. The passing game may struggle against the 49ers.
The fantasy production for Hurts will likely hinge on his rushing. San Francisco is great against quarterbacks and hasn’t allowed much running, but Hurts is a different animal, especially in short yardage with Philly’s patented push play.
I don’t like this pick, but “struggle” for Hurts means not finishing as a top 10 quarterback (maybe top five). He will still likely have a decent performance.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Mixon’s entire outlook changed when Joe Burrow went down for the season. While he is likely to see more work without the star quarterback, Mixon’s room to run will be squeezed as backup Jake Browning fails to stretch the field the same as Burrow.
Mixon gained 44 yards on two catches in Week 12, but his eight carries produced only 16 yards. That’s likely a sign of things to come.
Week 13 brings a furious Jacksonville run defense allowing the third least fantasy points per game and the least total rushing yards to running backs. The Jags have allowed the fourth-least rushing yards per game, regularly stopping all facets of the run game.
Mixon will touch the ball in both the run and pass game, but his efficiency is likely to be lacking. His fantasy performance may come down to getting into the end zone, something running backs have only done three times against Jacksonville.
A player with a backup quarterback against a tough defense sounds like a high possibility for a single-digit fantasy performance from Mixon.
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams vs Cleveland Browns
I just wrote about the entire Rams offense and what to expect moving forward, and I was somewhat surprised to find that I feel worse about Kupp than most other skill players on Los Angeles.
Kupp looked like himself upon his return: in Weeks 5 and 6, he had 15 receptions for 266 yards and a touchdown. In the five games beginning with Week 7, Kupp hasn’t topped four catches or 48 yards any week and hasn’t gotten into the end zone.
He has averaged 2.4 catches and 25.4 yards per game during that stretch. Kupp hasn’t produced anywhere close to fantasy relevancy in over a month.
The theory I’m choosing to believe is that Kupp is dealing with injury. He came into Week 12 on the injury report and exacerbated the issue during the game.
It’s possible a 30-year-old receiver is seeing his decline in real time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kupp battled injury for a few games before being shut down for the season when the Rams fall out of playoff contention before returning looking like himself in 2024.
The Rams play a stout Cleveland defense this week, the team allowing the third-least fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Cleveland has shut down receivers all season; a struggling, possibly hobbled Kupp isn’t likely to find his groove in Week 13.
(And since we’re transitioning from the Rams to tight ends: bench Higbee again this week against that tough Browns defense. Let’s see you do it two weeks in a row, Tyler.)
Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m not calling McBride a star, but there really isn’t a better option here this week: six teams are on bye, leaving T.J. Hockenson, Dalton Kincaid and Cole Kmet sitting out (Mark Andrews and Darren Waller would also be joining in on the bye if they weren’t injured.)
The Steelers keep winning despite a broken offense and a tough division. They have been particularly effective in shutting down tight ends, giving up the seventh-least fantasy points per game and ninth-least total receiving yards to tight ends.
McBride has four top-11 weekly finishes but struggled against good tight end defenses in Cleveland, San Francisco, and Seattle. Kyler Murray’s return raised the ceiling for McBride, and he has averaged an OK six catches and 51 yards in the two games Murray has played. McBride will have weeks he is worth starting, but this isn't one of them.
It's an unexciting pick but skip McBride in Week 13.#jalen-hurts #joe-mixon #cooper-kupp #trey-mcbride