Graham Barfield and Scott Barrett are here to help you out with all of your Start / Sit needs with a deep rundown of their favorite- and least-favorite plays every single week. This article will be continually updated with news throughout the week, so make sure you keep it locked on our projections and on this column all the way through to kickoff on Sunday.
Start / Sit recommendations for “Shallow” leagues refer to 10-team leagues while “Deep” is 12- or 14-teamers.
Start: Justin Fields at Falcons
Over the last four weeks, Fields has finished as the QB5 (24.4), QB5 (26.0), QB1 (42.7), and QB1 (40.4), averaging an obscene 36.4 FPG over this span. And also becoming just the second QB in NFL history with back-to-back games of at least 40.0 fantasy points. Since Week 6, he has 565 rushing yards, which is more than any player at any position over this span, and also the most by any QB through any five-game stretch all-time.
So, yeah… You’re starting him this week. After all, he is Exodia.
But in case there was any doubt; not only is he a must-start this week, I believe he should be started over any other QB this week – yes, even Josh Allen. Because not only is Fields on an insane heater, but he also gets a near-perfect matchup this week; the Falcons are giving up the 5th-most passing FPG (16.8) to opposing QBs, and also the 5th-most schedule-adjusted rushing FPG to opposing QBs (+1.7). [SB]
Start: Justin Herbert vs. Chiefs
Herbert hasn’t come close to living up to the fourth/fifth round draft capital you selected him at, but he could make amends here in the back half of the season. The Chargers' schedule is filled with shootout games and that stretch all starts here. If Mike Williams and/or Keenan Allen is back this week, I’m pushing Herbert back up among the top-5 QB plays on the slate. In five career meetings vs. the Chiefs, Herbert has finished as the QB14, QB3, QB2, QB5, and QB9 while averaging 292.8 passing yards and 25.7 fantasy points per game. [GB]
Start: Joe Burrow at Steelers
Burrow has scored 32.5, 39.2, 15.5, and 19.1 fantasy points over his last 4 games. So, by all appearances, it seemed as if Burrow was on the verge of going nuclear – like he did at the tail-end of last season – prior to Ja’Marr Chase’s hip injury. And since then he’s struggled.
But then again, Cincinnati had as many touchdowns in their last game (6) as Burrow had incompletions (6). And because 5 of those touchdowns came on the ground, it makes his performance look a lot worse than it was.
And so, although Chase’s absence certainly isn’t good for Burrow’s fantasy stock, I still think we should be viewing him as a low-end QB1 at worst until he returns. And in this pillow-soft matchup, we should be viewing him as a mid-range QB1; Pittsburgh ranks 4th-worst in passing FPG allowed (17.6), 5th-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.490), and overall-worst in pressure rate over expectation (-11.0%). [SB]
Sit: Russell Wilson vs. Raiders
Even though Wilson had success (really his only success of the year) in this matchup a few weeks back finishing as the QB3 (27.5 FP), I am staying far away this week. This offense was downright atrocious last week against the Titans and things are about to get a lot worse with Jerry Jeudy (ankle) likely out. Not only will Wilson be down one of his weapons, but their offensive line is also in shambles with the loss of RT Billy Turner (I.R.) last week in addition to LT Garrett Bolles early in the year. Wilson was sacked a season-high six times last week. He’s a QB2-league-only play for Week 11 decisions. [GB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Daniel Jones vs. Lions
Despite having the 5th-toughest schedule of any QB thus far (worth in real terms 1.4 FPG off of his per-game average), Jones quietly ranks 14th in FPG (16.5), immediately behind Justin Herbert (16.8). And he ranks 4th among all QBs in rushing YPG (43.0), ahead of Kyler Murray (39.9) and Jalen Hurts (39.3). And he gets a perfect matchup this week; Detroit is giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+6.5), as well as the most schedule-adjusted rushing FPG (+4.2). Given the matchup, I feel comfortable enough to start Jones as a low-end QB1. [SB]
Start: James Conner vs. 49ers
Conner took over this backfield last week and now no longer has Eno Benjamin to contend with. Conner played on nearly all of the snaps (96%, to be exact) against the Rams in Week 10 and, unsurprisingly, had his best game of the season (23.6 FP). Regardless of who is under center this week – Murray or McCoy – Conner has the usage we crave at the position. He wasn’t just lucky last week. His volume was amazing. By XFP, Conner was RB5 (20.2 XFP). Even in this tougher matchup, I think he has to be dialed into lineups as a volume-based RB2. [GB]
Sit: Najee Harris vs. Bengals
Najee actually had his best game of the year coming out of the Steelers' bye (20/99 rushing), but was held catchless for the second time all season. He has at least 2 receptions in 7-of-9 games this season and he’ll need to be involved in the passing game to get there for fantasy this week. The Bengals should get stud DT DJ Reader back, which is a huge boost for their run defense. Over the last two years, the Bengals have allowed just 3.94 YPC (on 255 carries) with Reader on the field vs. 4.68 YPC (on 296 carries) when he is out. Najee had just 10/23 on the ground in Week 1 vs. the Bengals (with Reader healthy), making him a TD-dependent RB2 at best. [GB]
Start: Devin Singletary vs. Browns
Don’t sleep on Singletary, who has played on at least 72% of Buffalo’s snaps in 6 of his last 7 games. And over this span ranks 3rd in snap share (75%). That’s not an insignificant point – snap share is one of the most predictive metrics for fantasy RBs (behind only XFP and weighted opportunity points).
But then again, over the same span he ranks just 35th in carries per game (11.6), 13th in targets per game (4.1), 14th in XTD/G (0.6), 18th in XFP/G (13.8), and 22nd in FPG (13.1). Obviously, this sort of low-end RB2 volume and production isn’t all that valuable in fantasy leagues. And his upside is clearly capped, playing for the league’s 2nd-most pass-heavy offense in football (+14.1% pass rate over expectation). But there will be games Buffalo leans atypically run-heavy, where he can post a big score. And we do know he has RB1 upside if Buffalo were to ever fully recommit to the run game. Afterall, he did average 19.7 FPG over his final 7 games last season (postseason included) with only slightly better usage (84% snap share).
And this seems like a perfect week for Singletary to remind us of his RB1 upside. Teams lean especially run-heavy in snow games, with RBs being the only position actually benefiting from that sort of inclement weather. And the on paper matchup is otherwise excellent – Cleveland ranks 2nd-worst in total FPG allowed to opposing RBs (30.8) while also ranking 4th-worst in YPC allowed (5.23). [SB]
Start: Brian Robinson at Texans
Make no mistake, Robinson has not played well. And he has not looked good. But, I’m just not really sure how much it matters when you’re coming off of a game in which you saw 26 carries (gaining 86 yards, plus a touchdown) and your counterpart (Antonio Gibson) was less efficient than you were (and has been comparably inefficient all year). And then of course, when your team is favored by 3.5-points and you’re playing a Houston Texans defense which is giving up 24.3 rushing FPG (most by +21%) at 5.45 YPC (2nd-most). So, sure there’s some risk here, but in this matchup I’d be happy to start Robinson (or, really, almost anyone projected to get 15-plus carries) as a mid-range RB2. [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Isiah Pacheco at Chargers
Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s snap rate has now fallen in six-straight games: 56% > 43% > 42% > 27% > 17% > 6%. In other words, R.I.P. C.E.H. – it is now finally the Isiah Pacheco show.
Or at least, it’s the Pacheco-show only on early-downs, and never in the passing game. Because last week Pacheco played on 56% of the team’s snaps, which is good – and tied for the most by any Chiefs RB this season. And he handled 16 of 17 carries, which is also good. But he saw 0 of 10 targets out of the backfield.
So, to me, Pacheco is probably just an early-down workhorse, and not a bell cow. And because he’s on the most pass-heavy offense in football (league-high +15.3% pass rate over expectation), I don’t see too much upside for him in that role. Or at least, I don’t see too much upside in that role long-term. But I do see quite a bit of upside this week, against a Chargers defense that ranks worst in YPC allowed (5.71) and 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (20.0) to opposing RBs.
So, this week I might start him as a low-end RB2, but it’s possible this will be the highest I have him ranked all season. [SB]
Start: Chris Olave vs. Rams
The Saints offense melted down against the fired-up Steelers last week, dragging down Olave with it. New Orleans only managed 10 first downs, they ran just 45 plays, and were dominated in time of possession (21 minutes to Steelers’ 39 minutes). It’s impossible to have confidence in Andy Dalton at this point, but I am trusting in a bounceback performance here. The Rams are allowing 10.4 receptions (second-most) and 124.4 yards (sixth-most) yards per game to outside WRs. Olave ran 67% of his routes lined up outside last week with slot man Jarvis Landry back in the lineup. I’m going back to Olave as a upside WR2. [GB]
Start: Courtland Sutton vs. Raiders
Russell Wilson scares me this week, but it’s impossible to not bump up Sutton massively if Jerry Jeudy (ankle) misses time. In the three games that Jeudy has played fewer than 60% of the snaps (due to injury), Courtland Sutton has earned 11, 10, and 11 targets – going for 7/122 (vs. Houston), 8/97 (vs. 49ers), and 6/66 (vs. Titans). I’m not sure how often Wilson and Sutton will connect, but the volume should certainly be there. Go to Sutton as a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside if Jeudy sits. [GB]
Start: Tyler Boyd vs. Steelers
Boyd has 3/38/1 and 5/44 in two games with Ja’Marr Chase – which is hardly anything special – but this is looking like a spot for him to get loose. The Steelers have been crushed by opposing slot receivers this season and are giving up the fourth-most receiving yards per game to slot WRs (98.4) on the season. Boyd is a great WR2 in PPR and a strong WR3 in 0.5 PPR formats this week. [GB]
Start: Rondale Moore vs. 49ers
If combining Greg Dortch (in games Rondale sat out) with Rondal (in games he ran at least 40% of his routes from the slot), Arizona’s starting slot WR is averaging: 9.1 targets per game (~WR12) and 15.8 FPG (~WR14). This combination has hit double-digit fantasy points in 8 of 8 qualifying games, and at least 13.0 fantasy points in 7 of 8 games.
Over the last three weeks, Moore himself ranks 6th in targets per game (10.3) and 10th in FPG (18.9). And I expect this trend to continue for at least one more week, up against a 49ers defense that ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (+3.7). So, I’d be happy to start him as a mid-range WR2, regardless of whether or not Kyler Murray plays. [SB]
Start: Parris Campbell vs. Eagles
Over his last three games with Matt Ryan under center, Campbell averages 10.7 targets (~WR6), 17.4 XFP/G (~WR9), and 20.8 FPG (~WR6). To be fair, Campbell has had a flawless stretch of schedule boosting these figures – Las Vegas, Jacksonville, and Tennessee are worth a combined +3.1 FPG to any slot WR they face – but he has another very favorable matchup this week. Philadelphia was already a top slot funnel defense – 31.4% of the targets they’ve allowed have gone to slot WRs (4th-most) – and now their starting slot CB Avonte Maddox was placed on I.R. So, start Campbell with confidence as a mid-range WR3 this week. [SB]
Start: Christian Watson vs. Titans
It’s weird. I’m very bullish on Watson’s long-term upside for dynasty league. And I’m bullish on his upside this week. But I’m not sure he’s going to become a reliable every-week starter at any point this season.
To me Watson is somewhere on the Will Fuller spectrum, or perhaps he’s Gabriel Davis if Buffalo had a bottom-12 offense. Which is to say, I can see him having a number of spike weeks (like the one he had last week), but I don’t know that you’ll ever feel confident starting him. Or at least, he has to show us quite a bit more before then.
Because ultimately, Watson averaged just 14.7 receiving YPG prior to last week. And then last week 97 of his 107 receiving yards came on deep targets. So, although we know he’s a freak athlete and a competent deep threat, I’m not sure he’s ready (at this point in his career) to do much more than that. But the good news is, this week he doesn’t have to. Because the Titans are giving up a league-high 81.6 YPG on deep passes (+27% more than next-closest), as well as the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs (+5.2). With Romeo Doubs already ruled out, I like Watson this week as a low-end WR3 this week. [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Nico Collins vs. Commanders
Collins quietly ranked top-12 among all WRs in targets (10) and XFP (17.5) last week. Over his last three healthy games, he averages 12.5 FPG (~WR35) and 65.3 YPG (~WR21) on a 21.9% target share (~WR28). This week, the Texans play a Washington defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (+5.1). So, if you’re really desperate, I’d consider Collins as a high-end WR4 this week. [SB]
Start: David Njoku at Bills
Over his last five games, David Njoku averaged 7.2 targets and 75.8 YPG. And keep in mind, that’s despite leaving Week 7 in the third quarter due to injury (ankle). And well, basically that’s extremely rare usage (7.2 targets per game would rank 3rd-most among all TEs) alongside elite production (would rank 2nd-most among TEs, and 13th-most among WRs). If he returns this week, he’s a mid-range TE1 at worst, even in a tough matchup (with massive weather concerns) against the Bills. [SB]
Start: Hayden Hurst vs. Steelers
At this point, we are praying for 8-10 fantasy points every week at the position if you don’t have Kelce. It’s just where we’re at. Hayden Hurst is my “favorite” start out of the impossible-to-predict TE1/2 borderline that is TE8-15 in our projections. Hurst has gone for 4/42 and 5/35 in his last two starts without Chase, which is passable in PPR. And, this matchup is decent. The Steelers allowed Juwan Johnson to go for 5/44/1 on seven targets last week and gave up 6/64 to Dallas Goedert in Week 8. [GB]