Fantasy Football Booms and Busts, Week 13: Lions continue to prove their worth

It’s been a year where so many fantasy quarterbacks busted on us. Russell Wilson has been awful, Tom Brady ordinary, Aaron Rodgers mediocre. Matthew Stafford got hurt. Lamar Jackson hit a rough patch after a fast start, and was injured in Week 13.

Jared Goff is nobody’s idea of a savior, but perfect is the enemy of good. And let’s accept it, Goff is pretty good. So are the Detroit Lions.

Detroit had its best day of the year in the Lions' 40-14 pasting of the Jaguars, rolling up 31 first downs and 437 yards of offense. Goff was the triggerman for most of that, completing 31-of-41 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. He was almost perfect when targeting go-to receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown — 12 passes went to the Sun God, and they were good for 11 receptions, 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Make it four wins in five starts for Detroit, with the only loss a respectable defeat to the Bills at the buzzer. Dan Campbell has a competitive football team.

Goff was the first pick in his draft class, and we like to imagine a superstar career when a quarterback is tabbed that early. He’s fallen short of that, obviously. But he did get the Rams to one Super Bowl, and this year Goff is above league average in most of the base metrics — YPA, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, sack rate, quarterback rate. Only his completion percentage falls below the mean, and it’s only trailing by 4 percent.

Jamaal Williams needed touchdown deodorant to save a 11-35-1 day; he wasn’t targeted as a receiver. But perhaps the Lions are finally ready to give D’Andre Swift a meaty role in the offense. Swift lugged the ball 14 times for 62 yards and a score, and he also had four catches for 49 yards. That’s an 18-touch afternoon, the first time since opening day the Lions have leaned into Swift.

D'Andre Swift has been tough to trust in fantasy lineups, but there were signs of hope in Week 13. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
D'Andre Swift has been tough to trust in fantasy lineups, but there were signs of hope in Week 13. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (Nic Antaya via Getty Images)

Maybe the signs were there during the practice week, with Swift finally free of the injury report. I’ll call myself out here — I ranked Swift carefully and said I wanted to see a prove-it game before he reentered my circle of trust. His touch counts for the five prior weeks were underwhelming: nine, eight, seven, five, 10.

I figured either Swift wasn’t ready to handle a heavy workload, or perhaps the team has soured on him a little bit. Guess it’s the former.

Back to Goff. He has some fantasy juice remaining on the schedule. The leaky Minnesota pass defense — a unit that's been ripped by Mike White and Mac Jones, of all people — comes to Detroit in Week 14. The Lions also have the Bears waiting in Week 17, another home game against a poor defense. Those two dream draws sandwich two tougher opponents, both on the road — Detroit visits the Jets in Week 15, and the Panthers in Week 16.

St. Brown is going to show up on a lot of league-winning rosters. D.J. Chark is at least worth a look in Week 14; he’s coming off a 5-98-0 line on six targets. Everyone else in this passing game can stay on the wire. Jameson Williams was targeted just once in his NFL debut, playing a limited number of snaps.

Speed Round

Kenny Pickett seems to play a little better every week. It’s not going to save Diontae Johnson, but I’ll probably be drafting Pat Freiermuth and/or George Pickens proactively next season.

• Of course the Falcons scored just 16 points and their lone touchdown went to MyCole Pruitt. How very Falcons of them. At least Drake London passed 55 yards for the first time since Week 2.

• The Raiders offense is basically a two-man tree — Josh Jacobs by land, Davante Adams by air. Simple, glorious. It wasn’t that long ago Adams was seen as a mild first-round disappointment; he wakes up Monday morning as the WR1 on the season. It’s going to be a dynamite race for the year-end receiver yellow jersey, with Adams, Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, and Tyreek Hill all in the mix.

• Twelve Broncos games thus far, and 11 have fallen under the total (Sunday was never close). This was your Christmas Club.

• Obviously the Christian Watson touchdown rate is unsustainable, but you’d like to assume the Packers will bump up the market share. Say this for Watson, he’s a walking splash play. And here’s another case of a rookie receiver struggling in the first half of the year — be it from injuries, lack of opportunity, or inexperience — and then smashing late in the season.

• The Jets outplayed the Vikings and deserved to win — note the disparity in total yards (486 to 287). Garrett Wilson only needs average quarterback play and he’s going to the moon. Adam Thielen is 32 going on 37.

• The Jets could have gone committee if they wanted but Zonovan Knight threw everyone out of the way. Bam, Bam, Bam. Even if Michael Carter returns, Knight needs to play a lot. He's in my circle of trust.

Saquon Barkley averaged a scant 3.56 yards per touch but was bailed out by PPR scoring (five short catches) and touchdown deodorant. The Giants offensive line has been riddled by injury and can’t open any holes, but some of this is on Barkley, too. He's entering the danger zone of his career.

Brian Robinson Jr. runs every carry like it’s his last, which can be a gift and a curse. The Commanders will continue to feed him so long as games are competitive. The Week 15 game against the Giants should be again, but you worry a little bit about the Niners running away in Week 16.

• The narrative is that Derrick Henry gets unstoppable in the second half of the year, but he’s been running in mud for four weeks (75 carries, 208 yards, 2.8 YPC). You’d like to think this story will flip against the Chargers (Week 15) and Texans (Week 16), but you have to make it that far. Henry turns 29 in January, and I’m petrified to draft him next year.

Samaje Perine doesn’t look any worse than Joe Mixon.

• Perhaps the biggest Patrick Mahomes trick is posting an MVP season without a single wideout we can trust every week.

Deshaun Watson looked like a guy who hasn’t played in two years. The Browns scored all of their touchdowns on special teams, scoring 30 points in Yahoo standard leagues, the highest DST score of the year. DST lookaheads are critical in the second half of the year, once we really know who the bad teams are.

Geno Smith’s had a rating over 100 in six straight starts; the pumpkin risk is officially zero. I wish I saw Smith coming preseason, even if I didn’t draft him — it would have given me tons of exposure to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who were priced as massive bargains.

• Give the Rams credit, they traded haymakers with the Seahawks and provided a competitive, entertaining game. Lots of lead changes. Cam Akers didn’t pop on the stat sheet (3.5 YPC) and probably won’t on the game review either, but 17 carries and goal-line equity leads to fantasy relevance.

• Maybe Christian McCaffrey will see an opportunity bump forward, but the Jimmy Garoppolo injury is bad news for the rest of the Niners offense. It's a shame, because a healthy San Francisco might be the best team in the NFC. Now, we'll never find out.