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. My must-starts were highlighted be Kenny Golladay, who went off for 98 yards and a touchdown (and had another 46-yard touchdown called back due to penalty). Bortles did enough to finish as the QB11 for the week. Aaron Jones looked like an elite running back when he got the ball, but the Packers seem unwilling to give him the touches needed to be a fantasy stud. All of the must-sits were better off on your bench, except for Case Keenum, who chucked a season-high 51 passes while trying to come from behind all day.
Onto week six.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
In case you haven’t noticed, Andy Dalton had been a pretty good quarterback so far this year. Through five games he has more fantasy points than Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Russell Wilson, guys that are usually considered auto-starts. This week Dalton takes on Pittsburgh and their terrible defense that is giving up the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks on average. A healthy Joe Mixon and AJ Green, along with breakout receiver Tyler Boyd, give him plenty of weapons to spread the ball around. Look for the Red Rifle to finish as a top-tier quarterback for week six.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Howard owners might be a bit hesitant after his surprisingly poor week four performance, but you should confidently slot him back into your starting lineup this week. Head coach Matt Nagy stressed all offseason that game plan and flow would dictate the backfield timeshare between Howard and Tarik Cohen, which is precisely what you saw in week four. Coming off the bye in week five you can expect a heavy dosage of Howard when the Bears travel to Miami. The Dolphins have given up the fourth most points to running backs this season, and Howard has still out-snapped Cohen 177-108 on the season. What’s more likely this week, Mitch Trubisky throwing for 350+ yards and six touchdowns, or Howard getting 20+ carries and a touchdown? I’m on the Howard side.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin was understandably upset after Seattle’s loss to the Rams last week when he saw just one target for one yard. As disappointing as last week was for his fantasy owners, it’s important not to be short-sighted. Baldwin has had at least 900 yards and seven touchdowns in the past three seasons. His knee doesn’t seem to be holding him back, as he still saw 53 snaps in week six, the highest of any Seattle receiver or running back. We’ve seen numerous examples over the years of the squeaky wheel getting the grease; look for Baldwin to get plenty of looks against a subpar Raiders defense this week.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brate was left for dead after he saw just two targets and zero catches in the first two weeks of the season when Ryan Fitzpatrick was lighting up fantasy scoreboards, but all signs now point to Brate being a truly must-start tight end. He’s already been trending upwards, scoring a touchdown in each of the past two games he’s played. O.J. Howard, his tight end competition in Tampa, has been sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury. On top of that, Brate has always had a strong rapport with Jameis Winston, who returns as the starting quarterback this week. Brate is one of the top options in a fantasy world where reliable tight ends are tough to come by.
Defense/Special Teams: Dallas Cowboys
The Jaguars are fresh off of a five-turnover game against a susceptible Chiefs defense on the road in Arrowhead, and now they travel to Jerry World to take on the Cowboys. Dallas has been a middle of the road defense that has been good at pressuring quarterbacks, averaging three sacks per game this season. They aren’t the sexiest defense to start, but you aren’t likely to get burned if you’re streaming the Cowboys in week six.
Other Good Starts
Jameis Winston reclaims his starting role this week against the porous Falcons defense. If you’ve held on to him this long or won him off waivers, get him in your lineup.
Russell Wilson tossed three touchdowns last weeks and now takes on a Raiders team that has been giving up lots of points through the air in recent weeks.
The Packers secondary continues to get beat, so CJ Beathard is a fine start if you need him.
Joe Mixon looked better than ever after recovering from minor knee surgery and needs to be started.
Marshawn Lych could be in line for a revenge game against his former team as Beast Mode looks to make a name for himself in London.
Did anybody notice that LeSean McCoy had 26 touches in week 5? I think he’s safe to start.
With Matt Breida looking doubtful for Monday night’s game in Green Bay Kyle Juszczyk has value in PPR scoring.
It looks like Sammy Watkins didn’t suffer any setbacks from his hamstring tweak and could have a great week in what is expected to be a high scoring affair against the Patriots.
Tyler Boyd didn’t put up huge numbers last week, but he’s still seeing plenty of opportunities and should be able to take advantage of a bad Steelers secondary.
Even with Will Fuller healthy, Keke Coutee still played 71% of snaps and saw eight targets; he’s very startable against the Bills.
The Jaguars placed tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on injured reserve this week, opening the door for Niles Paul to enter the fantasy tight end conversation.
Tyler Kroft is in serious of missing this week’s game, leaving CJ Uzomah as the last tight end standing in Cincinnati.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Mitch Trubisky is coming off what will probably be the best fantasy (or real) football performance of his life. Even before we consider the matchup, I think most rational people would agree that we shouldn’t expect Trubisky to perform at a high level week in and week out. Sorry Bears fans. Now when we DO consider the matchup, the Miami Dolphins defense is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks while also allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. It’s always tempting to ride the hot hand, but don’t expect Trubisky to finish in the top half of fantasy quarterbacks this week.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets
Here are Crowell’s fantasy outputs in full PPR scoring for the first five weeks of the season: 22.2, 5.9, 19.1, 1.3, 30.1. He’s a running back that’s reliant on big runs, something that is incredibly difficult to predict. Crowell has been out-snapped by Bilal Powell in every game this season and trails him 129-161 through five games. Crowell is also prone to being scripted out of the offense if a shootout breaks out. He may always be one play away from a big fantasy payoff, but there’s just as good of a chance that finishes with less than six PPR points, and that’s not a running back I want in my lineup.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It’s amazing how quickly things can change in fantasy football. Jackson was a huge part of the Fitzmagic that was the first two weeks of the season, scoring three touchdowns and averaging nearly 138 yards per game in the first two weeks. In the two games since he hasn’t found the end zone and has seen his average drop to just over 74 yards per game. The return of Jameis Winston doesn’t automatically mean increased numbers for Jackson either, as the two were noticeably out of synch last season when Winston missed him open down the field numerous times. Jackson is another example of a player that isn’t consistent enough to trust in a fantasy lineup.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Arizona Cardinals
It’s hard to bench any starting tight end in the NFL right now, but I’m beginning to think that the Ricky Seals-Jones breakout just isn’t coming. He hasn’t seen more than six targets in any game this season, hasn’t caught more than four of them, has only scored one touchdown, and put up a goose egg last week. Since Jermaine Gresham’s return in week three RSJ’s snap count has steadily decreased, going from a hefty 98% in week two to 67% in week five. Even with the limited options at the position, there are plenty of tight ends I’d start over Seals-Jones in week six.
Defense/Special Teams: Denver Broncos
The Broncos defense hasn’t lived up to the high expectations they had headed into the season. They are currently the 21st ranked fantasy defense, and while they might be worth starting at home in a good matchup, the high powered Rams come to town this week. You can find a better option.
Others to Avoid
Even though they lost, the Jaguars held Pat Mahomes without a passing touchdown and picked him off twice, so Dak Prescott probably doesn’t stand much of a chance this week.
Eli Manning simply isn’t worth starting unless he finally finds a way to start clicking with his offensive teammates.
This seems like about the time of year the wheels fall off of Adrian Peterson, especially considering he dislocated his shoulder Monday night.
Dalvin Cook has only one 100 yard rushing performance and two touchdowns in his short career; he can’t be trusted until he shows what he flashed when healthy last season.
Even if Matt Breida doesn’t suit up Monday night, Alfred Morris isn’t a great play against a Green Bay team giving up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.
The Giants are giving up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and Alshon Jeffery is coming off a two catch, 39-yard performance in week five.
Don’t let that three-yard touchdown catch last week fool you, Allen Hurns still can’t be in your fantasy lineup. Especially against Jacksonville.
DeDe Westbrook has only seen more than six targets in one game so far this season and has only seen three more than TJ Yeldon, so temper your expectations for him.
You probably can’t afford to sit Jared Cook, but he’s only had two really good games this season and takes on a Seahawks team that’s sixth-best against fantasy tight ends this season.
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!