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 Sit/Starts from last week. It was a roller coaster for my week eight recommendations, so I’ll just list them, along with their week eight finishes in PPR scoring.
Andy Dalton (QB11)
Raheem Mostert (RB47)
Tyler Boyd (WR4)
Jared Cook (TE4)
Indianapolis Colts (DST23)
Deshaun Watson (QB1)
Latavius Murray (RB9)
Cameron Meredith (NA)
Kyle Rudolph (TE17)
Los Angeles Rams (DST10)
Dalton, Boyd, and Cook were clearly my best calls, but I had plenty of misses this week. Ah, the joy of fantasy football. Time to dive back into the research and bring you better advice this week.
Onto week nine.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have been one of the worst teams in the league through the first half of the season, but Derek Carr has been quietly coming on strong in recent weeks. He’s coming off a week where he threw for three scores and ran one in himself. He has the second highest completion percentage in the league at 72% and has only thrown one interception in the past three weeks. To top it off, he plays the 49ers, who have been a middle of the road pass defense that shouldn’t scare anybody away. He may not have any big name receivers to pass to, but he proved last week that he has no problem spreading the ball around, and that may actually bode well for Carr. With six teams on bye this week Derek Carr becomes a must-start quarterback.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
It remains to be seen how the coaching shakeup will affect the Browns offense, but if new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has any sense he’ll lean on Nick Chubb to take advantage of the Chiefs poor run defense, which is allowing the highest average points per game to running backs. Chubb has averaged just over four yards per carry since taking over as the starter two weeks ago. He’s shown big-play ability, and this Sunday presents the ideal opportunity for Chubb to have a top fantasy performance.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Last week DJ Moore had the best game of his rookie season. He posted season bests in targets, catches, and yards. Even more encouraging is the fact that he was on the field for 46 offensive snaps, just two snaps behind defacto number one receiver Devin Funchess. Moore also got two carries last week that he was able to turn into 39 yards, signaling that the Panthers are trying to find ways to get him involved in the offense. To make Moore even more appealing, he takes on the Buccaneers this week, the team that allows the most fantasy points to receivers on average. We saw Moore breakout last week; the matchup makes him a must-start this week.
OJ Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OJ Howard has been extremely consistent when playing this season, but he’s had his best games when catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick. When Fitzpatrick started on fire for the first three games of the season Howard was one of the many beneficiaries, averaging 74 yards per game over that span. There’s been a lot of buzz about how much Fitzpatrick loves to utilize wide receivers, and while that’s true, the Panthers are actually in the top half of the league when it comes to limiting fantasy points to wideouts but are giving up the most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. All of this adds up to Howard having the potential to be the top fantasy tight end this week.
Defense/Special Teams: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins take on the Jets at home this week in a game that isn’t expected to have much offensive firepower. Either of these defenses is a decent start if you’re in a pinch, but I’d prefer to play the home team going up against a rookie quarterback. The Dolphins are tied for eighth in the NFL with eight picks, and Sam Darnold has thrown ten interceptions through eight games, so there’s a good chance Miami turns over the rookie quarterback this week.
Other Good Starts
Baker Mayfield should have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball while likely playing catch up this week against the Chiefs.
Alex Smith hasn’t been playing at the elite level that he was last season, but he has a great matchup this week with the porous Atlanta pass defense.
He hasn’t lived up to expectations, but Marcus Mariota could surprise people against Dallas Monday night and is worth starting if you need a bye week fill in.
Isaiah Crowell hasn’t had a good fantasy game since his week five explosion, but he’ll get be the Jets main ball carrier against a poor Dolphins run defense this week.
Jordan Howard has quietly scored touchdowns in back to back weeks and should enjoy a positive game script against Buffalo this week.
Aaron Jones saw a season-high 32 snaps last week, and that should be even higher this week with Ty Montgomery getting shipped to the Ravens after last week’s kick return fiasco,
Courtland Sutton suddenly has enormous fantasy value after Demaryius Thomas was traded to the Texans.
Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are in line for more targets now that Golden Tate and his team-leading 70 targets are headed to the Eagles.
Look for John Brown to bounce back against the Steelers this week; he torched Pittsburgh for 116 yards and a touchdown when they matched up in week four.
I’m intrigued by Amari Cooper, who worked with Dak Prescott over the bye week to try and get up to speed with the Cowboys. I wouldn’t be afraid to start him this week.
Don’t bench David Njoku just because he completely disappeared last week. The Browns shouldn’t be stupid enough to ignore him again in another good matchup.
We finally got to see Ed Dickson suit up with the Seahawks last week, and he came through with a touchdown grab. He could quickly become a red zone favorite for Russell Wilson.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
The Bears quarterback has been on a tear over the past month, but it’s time to jump off the Trubisky train, at least for this week. Chicago travels to Buffalo this week to take on a Bills team that just played the Patriots closer the final score of 25-6 indicates. The Bills are giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and were able to hold Tom Brady in check, preventing him from throwing a touchdown pass for the first time this year. The Bears are heavy favorites, but their path to victory is likely through their two-headed running attack of Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard this week.
Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As the Bucs hope to recapture some Fitzmagic this week, it’s best to keep Peyton Barber on your bench. Barber finally scored his first touchdown on the ground last week, but in the first three games of the season, when Fitzpatrick was consistently chucking the ball, Barber averaged just over 41 yards per game on the ground. He was even worse through the air catching just one pass on four targets over that three-week span. It also isn’t a great matchup, as the Panthers give up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers
Any wide receiver that gets to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers always has some fantasy relevance, but Geronimo Allison appears to be falling off of Rodgers’ radar. He was a big waiver wire add last week after not playing since week four due to injuries and the bye week, but in his return he only caught one pass on one target for 14 yards. More discouraging is that he was out-snapped and out-targeted by rookie wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling. For now, it seems like Allison is the fourth or fifth receiving option for Green Bay, and not worth a spot in your fantasy lineup.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper had back to back big games in weeks five and six but came back down to earth in week seven. The Falcons have so many weapons that Hooper is just too far down on the pecking order to be counted on. The Redskins have been better than average against fantasy tight ends this season. Given the available tight ends you may have to put him in your lineup, but if you have options Hooper shouldn’t be considered an automatic start this week.
Defense/Special Teams: Cleveland Browns
The Browns have been a top ten fantasy defense this season, but they have the tough task of taking on the high powered Kansas City Chiefs this week. In case you somehow haven’t noticed, the Chiefs have scored more points than any other team in the NFL this season. The Browns have an above average defense, but they shouldn’t be expected to shut down the high flying Chiefs.
Others to Avoid
*With so many bye weeks, it’s tough to find borderline players that should be benched. With that in mind, there fewer players than usual in this section.
I’m not sold that Ryan Fitzpatrick comes right in and lights it up again like he did for the first three games this season.
I was already low on the Ravens backfield, but it’s even harder to play Alex Collins or Javorius Allen now that Ty Montgomery is in town.
LeSean McCoy looked healthy enough Monday night and will continue to get volume, but he draws a tough matchup this week when the Bills travel to Chicago.
The frustrating season likely continues for Corey Davis Mondy night when he’ll be covered primarily by Dallas shutdown corner Byron Jones.
Doug Baldwin hasn’t been getting force fed the targets he’s used to seeing, and Seattle seems committed to running the ball, limiting his upside.
The Rams and Saints could put up one of the better offensive shows of the season this week, which means you should probably avoid starting those defenses.
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!