Welcome to the weekly Start/Sit column! Each week I’ll aim to analyze upcoming games, research team injury reports, and check-in on any depth chart movement – all to offer you weekly start/sit recommendations.
The starts will feature players that may be on your bench or even on the waiver wire that need to be in your starting lineup. The sits feature more popular players that I think will underperform this week. I’ll list a must start/sit for each position, then briefly touch on some other options that I like/dislike. While this is useful when setting your weekly lineups in your season long leagues, it can also be a valuable tool if you’re playing daily fantasy sports (DFS).
First, in the name of accountability, here’s a look back at my Must Start/Sit column from last week. Derek Carr was a big swing and a miss, and D.J. Moore disappointed, but the rest was solid advice. My best must-start calls were O.J. Howard (TE2) and the Miami Dolphins defense (DST2). All of my must-sits finished outside the top tiers at their positions last week.
Onto week ten.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Mariota has some momentum coming off the Monday night victory over Dallas where he logged the seventh best fantasy quarterback performance of the week. This week he takes on New England, who is giving up the eight most fantasy points to quarterbacks on average this season. When they met in the playoffs less than a year ago, Mariota threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns and added another 37 yards on the ground. The first half of the year was disappointing for Mariota, but he looks healthy and is primed to have a better second half of the season, including this week.
Matt Breida, RB, San Fransisco 49ers
Matt Breida has been banged up all season, but is still the ninth leading rusher in the NFL and is averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. This week he should be as healthy as he’s been all year, as he gets extended rest since the 49ers last played Thursday night and won’t play until Monday night. He gets the Giants in Monday night’s matchup, who are giving up the tenth most fantasy points to running backs. Furthering the case for Breida is the fact that Raheem Mostert, who had been flashing lately, is done for the season after breaking his arm last week.
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
Maurice Harris is a hot name among available wide receivers this week, but I’d instead start Josh Doctson, especially if Jamison Crowder can return. Last week Doctson played on 99% of Washington’s offensive snaps, only coming off the field one time. This week Washington will take on Tampa Bay, whose atrocious pass defense has allowed the second most fantasy points to wide receivers. Doctson is the type of athletic monster that can win a jump ball in the end zone, as he showed last week with his first touchdown of the season. There should be plenty of opportunities for Doctson to take advantage of the matchup this week and it wouldn’t be shocking if he came down with one or more touchdowns.
Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Everything is set up for McDonald to be a top tight end this week. He gets to take on the Panthers, who are allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends and are fresh off of giving up two touchdowns to O.J. Howard last week. McDonald is a more explosive option than his teammate Jesse James and out-snapped him 51-35 last week.
Defense/Special Teams: Green Bay Packers
The Packers have not been an elite defense this season, but they have performed better at home. This week they return to Lambeau to take on the Miami Dolphins, who have the 24th ranked scoring offense led by Brock Osweiler. Green Bay should be able to force some turnovers and keep the Miami offense in check, making them a very startable DST in week ten.
Other Good Starts
Phillip Rivers should be an obvious start against a Raiders team that just got roasted by Nick Mullens last week.
The stretch of good matchups continues for Baker Mayfield as he gets to take on the Falcons, who are giving up the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks
Alex Smith put up a decent game in a good matchup last week against Atlanta, and gets an even better matchup this week against Tampa Bay.
I’m very interested to see how the Cardinals new offensive staff utilizes David Johnson coming off the bye week against the Chiefs, who are giving up the most fantasy points to running backs.
The Falcons backfield combo of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith should put up good fantasy numbers against the Browns.
Aaron Jones has taken over the lead back role in Green Bay and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He should be in line for a big fantasy day at home against Miami
Dion Lewis had three times as many carries as Derrick Henry last week and may have some extra juice when he takes on his former team this week.
The Bengals take on the Saints, who are giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers. John Ross will see an immediate opportunity to contribute in the absence of AJ Green and Alex Erickson, who has played over 75% of the offensive snaps in two of the past three games, could be a sneaky play in deeper leagues.
Amari Cooper showed up in Dallas and immediately led all Cowboys in every receiving stat. Expect that to continue moving forward.
Corey Davis will try to repeat his two touchdown performance from last year’s divisional playoffs this week against the Patriots.
The Bengals are the second worst team at defending against tight ends, so Ben Watson has the chance for a nice fantasy performance this week.
Jonu Smith is seeing the majority of the tight end snaps for the Titans and finally caught a touchdown last week. If Marcus Mariota continues to play well, Smith will be worth a desperation play at tight end.
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills should prove to be a terrible game offensively, making both defenses startable in fantasy.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford is coming off of a rough outing at Minnesota last week, and it doesn’t look to get any better when he and the Lions travel to Chicago this week. The Bears have one of the top defenses in the NFL and are giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Stafford missed the presence of his former top receiving option Golden Tate last week after he was traded to the Eagles, and neither Kenny Golladay nor Marvin Jones was able to step up in his absence. There are plenty of better fantasy options at quarterback than Stafford this week.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets
Crowell hasn’t topped 100 yards or scored a touchdown since week five. Even when Bilal Powell went down for the season with an injury, he wasn’t able to lock down the Jets backfield. Last week Elijah McGuire out-snapped him 36-23 in his first week back from injured reserve. The Jets offense is struggling and isn’t likely to break out this week no matter who plays quarterback, even against the lowly Bills. Stay away from Crowell this week if you can.
Golden Tate, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
You never know what to expect from a player when he’s traded mid-season, so it’s hard to count on Golden Tate when he makes his Eagles debut Sunday. It’s unclear exactly where he’ll fit in the offense with current pass-catching options Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Nelson Agholor already in the mix. Making the situation worse for Tate is the matchup with the Cowboys, who are allowing the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season. It’s best to keep Tate on your bench and take a wait and see approach this week if you have other options.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Ebron has been on a downward trajectory for the past few weeks. When Jack Doyle returned in week eight, he out snapped Ebron 57-17 and out targeted him 7-3. Another touchdown saved Ebron, but it’s tough to rely on touchdowns every week when he doesn’t see full-time snaps. Unless something changes, he is just a touchdown-dependent flyer playing second fiddle to Doyle.
Defense/Special Teams: Miami Dolphins
Miami came through as my must-start team last week, but that was at home against the Jets. This week they go on the road to Green Bay to take on the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are up against the wall and are in desperate need of a win at home, so don’t be surprised if they jump up on Miami early and often. The Dolphins shouldn’t be considered a startable defense this week.
Others to Avoid
Dak Prescott has been playing better lately but faces a tough challenge on the road in Philly this week.
The Fitzmagic may be running out as Ryan Fitzpatrick takes on a tough Washington defense. He’s always just a few interceptions away from being benched again.
Kerryon Johson is losing targets now that Theo Riddick is back and the Bears are giving up the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
Just because Peyton Barber is a starting running back for an NFL team doesn’t mean he deserves to start in your fantasy lineup. He’s averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and has only one touchdown on the season.
T.Y. Hilton has a tough matchup with the Jaguars, who are still allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season.
Pierre Garcon probably won’t find as much success against the Giants as he did the Raiders. New York is allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers, and Garcon has only found the end zone one time this season.
Despite catching a questionable touchdown last week, it’s hard to trust Mike Williams after he only saw the field for 15 snaps against the Seahawks.
Gerald Everett is coming off of his best game of the season, but the Seahawks are the second-best defense against tight ends, and there are just too many other options on the Rams for him to compete with for targets.
The Carolina Panthers have been a middle of the road fantasy defense this year, but I wouldn’t risk playing them when they take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh Thursday night.
I hope you find this useful and I’m always happy to interact on Twitter @aalarson if you have any start/sit questions. Be sure to check out the rest of our weekly in-season content right here as we give you the tools and content to win every week of the season. Good luck this weekend!