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: Tua Tagovailoa at Chargers
Tua missed a couple of throws badly last week in the Dolphins loss to the 49ers, but ultimately was fine for fantasy with 295 yards, 2 TD (2 INT) en route to a QB16 finish.
This week’s spot is much easier, though. The 49ers still couldn't slow Tyreek Hill and the Chargers surely won’t be able to. Over the last eight weeks, the Chargers have allowed 0.51 fantasy points per dropback (second-most) while their defense has steadily given up points (44% of opponents’ possessions have ended in a score; fifth-highest rate).
I’m going right back to Tua as a borderline front-end QB1 in what should be a shootout in L.A. (52.5 over/under). [GB]
Sit: Deshaun Watson at Bengals
Deshaun Watson looked like a quarterback who hadn’t played in two years against his former team last week. He was the worst QB in the league last week by EPA per dropback as 35% of his throws were off-target. Watson’s completion rate was -13.7% below expectation (also worst). There is no way to have any confidence in Watson as a QB1 with the fantasy playoffs on the line, making him a SuperFlex-only play for Week 14. [GB]
Start: Jared Goff vs. Vikings
This season Goff is averaging 20.9 FPG at home (would rank 7th-best), and 9.3 FPG on the road (would rank 42nd-best). Well, good news! Goff is at home this week, playing behind the 3rd-highest implied point total of the week (27.5), and up against a Vikings defense that’s given up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted passing FPG to opposing QBs over the last 6 weeks (+4.0). If you’re looking for a QB to stream, you could do a lot worse than Goff, who ranks 11th in our projections this week (17.4). [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Ryan Tannehill vs. Jaguars
This is the first time I’ve recommended Tannehill in start/sit in probably two years, but it’s for good reason! Tannehill hasn’t been on the fantasy radar for most of the season outside of SuperFlex leagues – he has just one QB1 scoring week in 10 starts – but this matchup is too good not to mention.
Since Week 7, the Jaguars are 31st in YPA (8.0) 31st in EPA/dropback (0.32), 30th in fantasy points per dropback (0.53), and they’re allowing their opponents to score on a league-high 51% of their possessions.
If Treylon Burks (concussion) clears protocol and suits up, Tannehill legitimately has a ceiling this week. And on a week with six teams on bye, he may be your best option. [GB]
Start: James Conner vs. Patriots
By all appearances, it seems as though Conner is fully back to being a highest-end bell cow, reprising the role he had at the end of last season when he averaged 23.6 FPG over his final 7 games to close out the year.
Over his last three games, Conner has played on 89.5% of the team’s snaps (most by any RB over this span) while handling 90.6% of the backfield XFP (also most), and averaging 20.7 carries, 3.7 targets, 18.0 XFP/G (6th-most), and 19.7 FPG (5th-most).
Even in this week’s bottom-3 matchup against the Patriots, Conner’s usage is good enough to consider starting him as a low-end RB1. [SB]
You’re obviously not moving off Pollard as a RB1 play every single week, but I think both Dallas RBs are top-15 plays on the week. Ezekiel Elliott is fully over his mid-season knee injury and looks the best he has in years, going for 33/169/2 (5.12 YPC) over the last two weeks. Pollard and Zeke can both eat here with the Cowboys favored by 17 (!!) points. Houston’s opponents are averaging a league-high 28.3 carries per game against them and are giving up a whopping 5.1 YPC (fourth-most). Pollard is a must-start while Zeke is a strong RB2. [GB]
Start: D’Andre Swift vs. Vikings
Swift is back? Swift is back!
Last week – in his first game off the injury report since Week 1 – Swift played on 51% of the team’s snaps, handling 14 of 27 carries (62%) and 6 of 11 targets out of the backfield (55%). And that was good enough for the 3rd-most expected fantasy points (XFP) of any RB on the week (22.4). Over the last two weeks, Swift ranks 5th in targets (14) and 4th in XFP.
Swift also has a cushy matchup – the Lions have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the week (27.5), up against a Vikings defense that ranks 10th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing RBs (24.5). Or, more importantly, the Vikings rank 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted receiving FPG allowed to RBs (+2.9) as well as the 4th-worst versus expectation (+112%).
So, sure he still feels a little risky. But even with that risk factored in, we like him this week as a high-end RB2. [SB]
Start: D’Onta Foreman at Seahawks
Foreman has exceeded 110 rushing yards in 4 of his last 6 games. But in those other two games he failed to eclipse 4.5 fantasy points, and, as such, ranks just 18th in FPG over this span (14.2).
Over his last two games (one blowout win, one blowout loss), Foreman has handled just 41% and 55% of the team’s backfield XFP. So, to me, he looks like a low-upside committee back. And, given that he has just 25 receiving yards through 12 games, he appears massively gamescript-sensitive. And that’s definitely a concern this week, given the 4.0-point spread in Seattle’s favor.
But I’m willing to overlook it, given the flawless on-paper matchup – Seattle ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+4.2) and 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs. So, although there’s some risk here (e.g. Seattle could run away with a big lead) we like Foreman’s upside enough to recommend him as a mid-range RB2. [SB]
Start: Isiah Pacheco at Broncos
Pacheco hasn’t been crushing for fantasy largely because he’s not super involved in the passing game, but he has clearly taken over as the lead RB. Over the last month, Pacheco has handled 75% of the RB carries for the Chiefs and he gets a strong spot here against a Broncos run defense that can be gashed. Denver is allowing 4.6 YPC (10th-most), 2.9 yards of which are coming before contact (fourth-worst). Pacheco has scored a TD in back-to-back games and is one of the better low-end RB2 plays in a tough week at the position. [GB]
SIt: Bills RBs vs. Jets
Trying to predict this Bills backfield moving forward looks tricky.
The Bills went with a full-blown three-man committee last week with Devin Singletary (44%) and James Cook (43%) splitting primary snaps while Nyheim Hines (34%) also worked in. Singletary and Cook combined for 27 carries as the Bills called their most run-heavy gameplan of the season (-2.4% pass rate over expected).
Cook is the best play overall – he led the group in routes (15) in Week 13 by a hair over Singletary (13) but Hines (10 routes) could also see an expanded role. Fun! This is a mess. [GB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Zonovan Knight at Bills
Even with Michael Carter (ankle) likely back this week, we still like Knight as the Jets lead RB in our projections. Knight’s role has been strong over the last two weeks as he’s turned his 37 touches into 221 scrimmage yards. That earned Knight 16.5 XFP, which is borderline RB1 numbers. So, even if Carter eats into his touches a bit, Knight is looking like a sneaky RB2 up against a Bills run defense that has struggled since their bye. Over the last eight weeks, Buffalo is allowing 4.84 YPC (sixth-worst) and a 47% success rate (third-worst). [GB]
Start: DeVonta Smith at Giants
Prior to Dallas Goedert’s injury, Philadelphia TEs combined for a 24.1% target share. Since then, that’s dropped to just 6.9%. So, where did all of those missing targets go? Mostly to Smith, who has seen his target share rise from 24.1% to 30.2%.
Of course, A.J. Brown is still clearly the team’s WR1. But, then again, it might be a lot closer than you realize. Smith has led the Eagles in first-read target share in 3 of his last 5 games, but Brown has led the team only 3 times all year. And Smith has seen at least 8 targets in 5 of his last 6 games, but Brown has seen at least 8 targets only once over his last 5 games.
Regardless, both get excellent matchups this week. The Giants’ secondary has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks, down CB1 Adoree Jackson, CB2 Aaron Robinson, slot CB Darnay Holmes, and S Xavier McKinney. As a result, the Giants have given up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs over the last 6 weeks (+7.4).
Based on this newfound increase in usage and the A+ matchup, start Smith as a mid-range WR2 this week. [SB]
Start: D.J. Moore at Seahawks
Moore earned a 62.8% yardage market share in Week 12, immediately prior to their bye, which ranks as the 5th-highest mark by any WR in any week this season. Over the last two seasons, Moore averages 14.9 FPG (~WR16) on a 27.1% target share (~WR10) with Sam Darnold, as opposed to only 8.1 FPG (~WR68) on a 20.4% target share (~WR33) with Baker Mayfield under center. With Darnold now entrenched as the starter, we like Moore as a low-end WR2 this week, in spite of his tough matchup against the Seahawks. [SB]
Start: Jerry Jeudy vs. Chiefs
Although fantasy owners have been rightfully viewing Jeudy (and, really, every player on the Broncos) as a bust, his numbers are actually pretty impressive if you adjust for injury. Jeudy has played in only 6 healthy games, or 6 games with a snap share of at least 60%, but in those games he's averaging 7.5 targets (~WR25), 70.2 yards (~WR16), and 14.5 FPG (~WR17). And he’s exceeded 50 receiving yards in all 6 of these games.
Jeudy is still making his way back from an ankle injury, as evident by the fact that he ran only 10 routes in Week 13 (of a potential 26). But he did look good on those 10 routes, catching all 4 of his targets for 65 yards (6.5 YPRR). With Courtland Sutton unlikely to suit up this week, we like Jeudy’s upside enough in this matchup – the Chiefs are giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (22.0) – to recommend him as a fringe-WR2. [SB]
Start: Zay Jones at Titans
Over the last four weeks, Jones is averaging 9.7 targets per game (10th-most), 14.8 XFP/G (17th-most), 76.3 receiving YPG (18th-most), and 14.6 FPG (20th-most). And this week he gets his best matchup yet, and one fits his skillset a lot better than Christian Kirk’s’; the Titans are giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs (+7.4), but just the 16th-most to slot WRs (+0.1). And now they’re also likely to be without their top perimeter CB Kristian Fulton. Ultimately, Jones is far from a sure thing, but like him as a high-end WR3 this week. [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: DJ Chark vs. Vikings
After ripping the Jags for 5/98 in a Revenge Game, Chark has a layup matchup this week. The Vikings are allowing a league-high 154.3 yards per game to outside WRs, which is nearly 20 yards more than the second-worst secondary (Titans, 135.3 YPG). Chark is strictly a boundary WR, running 82% of his routes lined up outside. Chark is coming off a season-high in snaps (84%) while this matchup puts him on the WR3 radar. [GB]
Start: T.J. Hockenson at Lions
Since joining the Vikings in Week 9, Hockenson ranks: 2nd in targets per game (8.4), 2nd in XFP/G (15.0), and 4th in FPG (11.7). And he gets a juicy Week 14 matchup: 1) This is a revenge-game. 2) This game offers the highest over/under of the week (52.5). 3) The Lions rank 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+4.3). Further, the last time these two teams faced off, Lions CB Jeff Okudah shadowed Justin Jefferson on 78% of his routes, and held him to just 4.4 fantasy points on the day. Okuduh has struggled since then, so the results might not be the same, but this could (theoretically) force even more volume in Hockenson’s direction.
Start Hockenson as a top-3 option this week. [SB]
Start: Evan Engram at Titans
Ideally, you have better options! But, if you’re desperate, I like Engram as the top streamer play on the week. That’s not saying much, but Engram at least has decent usage – he’s running a route on 75% of the pass plays (eight-highest rate among TEs) – and this is a solid matchup. The Titans are allowing the sixth-most yards per target to TEs (7.9). [GB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Chigoziem Okonkwo vs. Jaguars
Okonkwo probably shouldn’t be started, but he could be worth a speculative add in deeper leagues. After all, since Week 9, he leads all players at all positions in YPRR (3.84), just ahead of Davante Adams (3.69). And although he’s not yet a full-time player (hence, why we aren’t recommending you to start him), he did hit a season-high in route share last week (57%). [SB]