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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 13

You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

Tim Boyle is starting for the Jets. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to write just that sentence and nothing else. In his first start, Boyle allowed the Dolphins' D/ST to score 21 fantasy points via seven sacks, two interceptions and one pick-six. We have been streaming against the Jets for two years now, but the move to Boyle somehow makes them an even better matchup. 

The Panthers will no longer have Frank Reich calling plays, as he was relieved of his coaching duties this week. Carolina's offense has been worth streaming against all season, but the unit especially struggled during the three weeks in which Reich gave up play-calling duties earlier in the year. The Panthers scored 15 points or fewer in all three of those games. They’ve also allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to opposing defenses on the season, including some week-altering performances. Stream the Bucs this week. 

Cincinnati's offense struggled mightily without Joe Burrow, as one would expect. The Bengals allowed 10 fantasy points to the Steelers under Jake Browning’s leadership, with four sacks, one pick and just 10 points scored. The floor for any opposing defense is high for as long as Cincy struggles to put up points -- and the possibility for a huge D/ST outing is absolutely in the cards if the turnovers start to flow. The Jags have forced turnovers frequently this season. They are a strong streaming option this week. 

The Broncos came through as a streaming option last week with 16 fantasy points against the Browns. Cleveland has struggled mightily without Deshaun Watson this season, and now the Browns might be down to their third-string option (PJ Walker) after Dorian Thompson-Robinson exited early last week with a concussion.

(EDITOR'S UPDATE: Joe Flacco will start for Cleveland in place of Thompson-Robinson.

In a “how the turntables ...” moment for anyone over the age of 3, New England's offense is now one to target with streaming defenses after we avoided it for nearly two decades. The Patriots have seemingly no idea who to start at QB, have allowed 12 or more fantasy points to defenses in two straight and are surrendering the fifth-most fantasy PPG on the year. Take advantage and stream against them. 

Sit 'Em

The Cowboys are very good. Dak Prescott is the hottest QB walking the planet and deserves to be in the MVP discussion. Dallas has scored 33 or more real-life points in all but one game since Week 8. Three times in that span, they scored more than 40. No defense can put up reliable fantasy numbers while allowing that many touchdowns. Plus, Dak has the lowest turnover-worthy play rate in the NFL this season, according to PFF. Honestly, you should sit every D/ST against the Cowboys, not just this Seattle unit in Week 13.

Speaking of MVP candidates, C.J. Stroud is also one thousand percent in the mix. Evidence that you should also fade defenses against the Texans -- even those playing as well as Denver's unit has of late. Since Week 2, every opposing defense but one has been held to single-digit fantasy points against the Texans. The lone exception got to exactly 10. This is a matchup to avoid. 

The Eagles have a tough defense in real life, but it doesn’t always translate to fantasy success. For instance, they scored just two fantasy points last week against the Bills. In fact, their high mark since Week 4 is 10 points; in every other game, they have seven or fewer. Given the matchup against the high-powered 49ers offense, I would fade Philly’s defense this week. 

The Lions might have allowed a big fantasy day to the Packers' defense on Thanksgiving, but overall, they’ve fielded an offense to avoid in fantasy football. Add in that the Saints' D/ST has turned in single-digit fantasy performances in all but one game since Week 6, and you’re looking to stream elsewhere this week. 

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