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. My must-starts suffered a rough week, including a disappearing act from Demaryius Thomas and a horrendous showing by Dalvin Cook, despite his career-high 59 snaps. My must-sits were more reliable, highlighted by Devin Funchess and Nick Vanett struggling in their matchups.
Onto week Twelve.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
With Mayfield on a bye last week it might be easy to forget just how good he’s been lately. He’s had at least two touchdown passes in four straight games, culminating with his first career three-touchdown game in week ten. Over that same four-game span he’s only thrown two interceptions. This week he takes on the Bengals. The Bengals are giving up the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The Bengals have also given up at least three touchdowns through the air in three straight weeks before they faced the Lamar Jackson experiment last week. Mayfield could be set up for the best performance of his young career in Cincinnati this Sunday.
Josh Adams, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
There a lot of great running back matchups this week (I’ll touch on several of them below) so I want to dig a little deeper for this one. The Eagles backfield this season had been reminiscent of past Patriots backfields; you never really knew which running back to trust. In the last few weeks, however, the undrafted rookie from Notre Dame has been coming on strong. His snap counts for the past for games goes as follows: 8,18,19,28. Over that four-game span, he’s averaged a whopping 6.6 yards per carry. Now he gets to take a defense that has allowed three straight one hundred yard rushers and has surrendered a touchdown to running back in five consecutive games.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
It’s been a long season for Doug Baldwin and his fantasy owners, but the two-time Pro Bowler finally looked like himself last week, catching a season-high seven passes on ten targets, including three red zone targets and a touchdown. This week he matches up with the Carolina secondary that’s allowed over 35 fantasy points to wide receivers in three consecutive games. It also helps that Russell Wilson has been on fire lately, throwing at least two touchdowns in all but one game this year. Everything should be set up for Baldwin to be a top-tier receiver this week.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Let’s face it. It’s been rough trying to find a tight end to count on in fantasy football this year. If you’re the Kelce or Howard owner and need a tight end this week, why not take a shot with Schultz? The new starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys has drawn comparisons to Cowboys legend Jason Witten. Head coach Jason Garrett has said that Schultz needs to play more. He’ll get that chance on Thanksgiving. It might be a long shot, but if you’re desperate for a tight end start this week, he’s as good as any other dart throw. If he does have a breakout game, you get also get the added glory of celebrating the start in front of family and friends at your Thanksgiving gathering.
Defense/Special Teams: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts host the Dolphins this week, and Miami is scoring a woeful 19.9 points and 313.6 total yards per game. Indianapolis has put up some stout defensive performances in good matchups, and this is almost as good as they get. You can expect the Colts to be an excellent fantasy defense this week.
Other Good Starts
Carson Wentz was brutal last week, but he’s too good to pull from your fantasy lineup unless you have another elite option. He should bounce back against the Giants this week.
Eli Manning gets to take on the Eagles practice squad…I mean banged up secondary this week. If his line can protect him at all, he should have a good game.
I have no problem starting Lamar Jackson again this week. His rushing floor and big-play potential against the Raiders could pay off big time.
If you feel like taking a shot that could pay off, Nick Mullens is playing the Buccaneers this week, who give up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks on average this season.
Even though he couldn’t find any success on the ground last week, it was a great sign that Dalvin Cook played a career-high 59 snaps. He should have a much better game this week at home against a mediocre Packers defense.
It looks like Mitch Trubisky will sit out for the Lions on Thanksgiving, so the Bears should lean on Jordan Howard and the running game against the Lions.
You should already know to start him, but Mark Ingram has back to back 100-yard games, and the Falcons give up the most fantasy points to running backs.
Matt Breida has been great when he’s healthy, and now he’s fresh of the bye week and playing against a Tampa Bay defense that gives up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Over the last four weeks Nick Chubb is averaging 19.5 carries and 101.5 yards per game with 3 rushing touchdowns and one receiving score. He plays the Bengals, who’ve allowed multiple touchdowns to running backs in back to back games.
Mohamed Sanu has seen over 90% of the offensive snaps for Atlanta over the last two weeks and should see plenty of chances in what looks to be a Thanksgiving shootout in New Orleans.
With Marvin Jones out, Kenny Golladay was able to thrive last week. Expect a similar output from Golladay this week.
Jarvis Landry will look to get back on track this week against Bengals defense that has been torched by receivers for most of the season.
With the number of snaps and routes Jack Doyle is seeing it’s only a matter of time before he starts finding the end zone.
The New England Patriots come off the bye against the Jets, so start their defense if you can.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
I’m a bit hesitant here because the one other time I made Watson my must-sit quarterback of the year, he went ahead and threw five touchdown passes. Even with that massive performance in week eight, Waston is the just QB14 for the season when it comes to fantasy points per game. Last week against Washington he only threw one touchdown while being picked off twice. You can’t even count on his rushing ability this season, as he has just one rushing score on the season and has been under 15 rushing yards in four games this season, including last week. Meanwhile, the Titans have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The only quarterback to throw three touchdowns against them was Andrew Luck, who seems to throw three touchdowns every week. It may come back to burn me again, but I’m not starting Deshaun Watson this week.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos
This one might seem a little crazy, after all, Lindsay is coming off of a two-touchdown performance last week. The problem is that the Steelers have been tough on opposing running backs. Pittsburgh has given up just six rushing touchdowns to running backs this season. The average length of those touchdown runs is 1.83 yards, with the longest being a four-yard run by Joe Mixon. Lindsay easily sees the majority of the snaps in Denver, but he’s still splitting time with a healthy Royce Freeman again, who’s more likely to get the goalline carries. I’m not saying I’d start Freeman over Lindsay (I wouldn’t), but I am saying you might be able to find better options elsewhere this week.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennesse Titans
It seems like every time Corey Davis appears to break out, something comes along and ruins the coming out party. After seeing back to back weeks with ten targets, he saw a measly four last week against the Colts. Marcus Mariotta is banged up again. And the Titans travel to Houston to take on the Texans on Monday night this week. The Texans have been stellar defending wide receivers lately. They haven’t allowed a wideout to catch a touchdown pass since week six. I don’t expect Corey Davis to break that streak this week.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
A glance at Engram’s stat line last week and it’s easy to think he had a great week, after all, he did have 66 yards receiving last week. The problem is that those yards came on just two targets. More concerning is the fact that he was out-snapped by fellow tight end, Rhett Ellison, a whopping 40-17 last week. Add in the fact that Engram is behind Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, and Sterling Shepard for targets and his outlook isn’t good. I can’t blame anybody for playing Engram with the current state of tight ends. But if you do have another viable option, I would leave Engram on the bench.
Defense/Special Teams: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles were my must-sit defense of the week last week as well, and while the matchup isn’t as brutal this week, that doesn’t mean they’re now good to put back into a fantasy lineup. The Eagles secondary is decimated. Their starting corners are projected to be Chandon Sullivan and De’Vante Bausby, neither of which started the season on the Eagles active roster. Eli Manning and the Giants offense have been showing signs of life lately. Find a better matchup for your fantasy defense this week.
Others to Avoid
Josh Allen gets to play the Jaguars in his first game back from injury, so I wouldn’t suggest putting him in your fantasy lineup.
At this point, we don’t know if it will be Marcus Mariota or Blaine Gabbert starting against the Texans Monday night, but you shouldn’t plan on playing either in fantasy.
It’s only a matter of time before this Adrian Peterson is too banged up to be productive behind Washington’s makeshift offensive line…right?
The Saints have been surprisingly stingy to running backs this season, so steer clear of Tevin Coleman if you can.
After the Gus Edwards breakout game last week there’s no way you can trust Alex Collins this week, even against the Raiders.
This is kind of cheating, but avoid any wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars this week against the Bills, who give up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
While I’m at it, the same role applies for Washington Redskins wide receivers. None can be trusted with Colt McCoy under center at Dallas on Thanksgiving.
The Saints have only allowed one touchdown to tight ends this season, so don’t expect big things from Austin Hooper.
The Packers haven’t been winning lately, but they’ve been scoring plenty of points. I don’t want to play the Minnesota Vikings defense against them this week.
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!