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: Dak Prescott vs. Lions
It doesn’t feel like too much of a risk to start Prescott in his first game back after fracturing his thumb in Week 1. Dallas intentionally took their time to get Prescott back to full-health, he’ll have his full arsenal of receivers available to him this week, and he gets a near-perfect matchup. Against QBs, Detroit ranks: 2nd-worst in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.54), 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+5.9), and 5th-worst in passer rating allowed (100.8). If you own him I’d start him this week as a fringe mid-range QB1. [SB]
Start: Tua Tagovailoa vs. Steelers
Tagovailoa currently ranks 2nd among all QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.58). As a team, Miami ranks 2nd in passing YPG (302.0). And this is despite the fact that they’ve had the 2nd-toughest schedule at the position thus far, worth in real terms 8.4% off of their per-game average. But Tagovailoa returns in time for his softest on-paper matchup yet, against a severely banged up Pittsburgh Steelers defense which ranks worst in pressure rate over expectation (-11.4%), 4th-worst in passing FPG allowed (17.6), and 8th-worst in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.46). [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Matt Ryan at Titans
The Colts will get Jonathan Taylor back, but this is a great spot for them to roll with a pass-heavy plan again like last week if they want it. The Titans were shredded by Josh Allen, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, and Carson Wentz to the tune of 333.8 passing yards per game over their last four games before their bye week. The Titans are shaky in the secondary and aren’t generating pressure (24.5% pressure rate forced; sixth-worst). Ryan finished as the QB9 in Week 4, followed by a QB29 week in a crapfest vs. the Broncos, then just had his best game of the season last week. Ryan is my favorite streamer for Allen and Hurts teams. [GB]
Underrated: Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Chiefs
My trust-o-meter is at an all-time low with Garoppolo, but this is undeniably another great spot after he’s had his two best games of the season in the last two weeks. Albeit in totally different ways – he played well against Carolina and just ended up throwing a ton last week – Garoppolo finished as QB8 vs. Carolina and QB11 vs. Atlanta after failing to finish better than QB16 in each of his first three starts. I’m buying JimmyG this week as a volume-based QB1 streamer for Allen and Hurts teams.
Because the Chiefs are playing so fast (8th in pace) and producing scores so often (48.4% of drives end in a FG/TD; second-best), they’re forcing their opponents to air it out a ton. Chiefs’ opponents are averaging 45.7 pass attempts per game against them, which is second-most. I expect another big volume spike for Jimmy Garoppolo and this 49ers pass game as a result. [GB]
Start: Ezekiel Elliott vs. Lions
The Cowboys are getting Dak back just in time for a perfect matchup at home against the Lions. I’ve been fading Zeke all season, but this is an undeniably great spot for him to potentially re-discover his former RB1 ceiling… even if it’s just for a week. I imagine OC Kellen Moore is dialing up a run-heavy plan from Zeke and Pollard to ease Dak back in and they find an easy spot against this Lions run defense that is getting cracked for 5.46 YPC (fourth-most) and the most gains of 10+ yards (16.3%). Zeke is a strong RB2 for Week 7 decisions. [GB]
Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire at 49ers
Edwards-Helaire currently ranks as the RB18 by FPG (14.2), but he’s also been held to 45 YFS or less in 3 of his last 4 games. And he’s played on less than 45% of the team’s snaps in 5 of his 6 games this season. So, hopefully you sold-high on him when you had the chance. Because I’d bet his stock drops a bit farther this week – San Francisco ranks 2nd-best in YPC allowed (3.10) and best by schedule-adjusted rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (-3.3). He’s just a fringe-RB2 this week. [SB]
Start: Travis Etienne vs. Giants
Even though we have not seen it culminate in a big breakout game yet, Travis Etienne looks absolutely phenomenal. He has got all of his pre-injury burst back and is a threat to take one the house on every single one of his touches. My comparison for Etienne when he came out of college was former-Titan RB Chris Johnson from a stylistic standpoint and Etienne has been absolutely erasing defenders' angles all season long to this point.
Among the 44 RBs with at least 40 carries this season, Etienne ranks sixth-best in YPC (5.6), fifth-best in gains of 5+ yards (44%), and ninth-best in missed tackles forced per carry (0.28).
This is as good of a spot as Etienne has gotten in his young career to this point. The Jaguars are favored (-3) over a Giants run defense that is allowing a mouth-watering 5.48 YPC (third-worst) and a gain of 5+ yards on 44% of opponents carries (third-worst). [GB]
Start: Brian Robinson vs. Packers
Brian Robinson officially took over this backfield last week, handling 17 of the 24 RB carries (71%) as Antonio Gibson’s’ snaps have gone down every week this season (64% > 54% > 44% 41% > 32% > 26%). The Commanders are sure to lean heavily on their ground game coming off of their mini-bye with Taylor Heinicke forced back under center. Green Bay’s run defense is getting trampled and ranks 32nd in FootballOutsiders Run Defense DVOA. I can’t imagine OC Scott Turner will want Heinicke throwing much. Robinson is a volume-based RB2 for Week 7. [GB]
Sit: Broncos RBs
After getting benched in Week 6 vs. the Chargers, HC Nathaniel Hackett came out and said that Melvin Gordon “will start” against the Jets. Ok…? I thought Gordon’s lack of touches last week stemmed from neck/ribs injuries he came into the game with, but both Hackett and Gordon both said post-game it wasn’t injury-related. I put zero stock in Hackett’s word that Gordon is the “starter.” This is an ugly three-way committee and they will likely ride whomever gets the hot-hand. I want no part of Gordon, Murray, or Boone this week. [GB]
Sit: J.K. Dobbins vs. Browns
We faded Dobbins last week and were right as the wheels fell off against the Giants. Dobbins’ snaps have now decreased in three-straight games (50% > 40% > 27%) and he hasn’t been targeted in back-to-back games. Dobbins ran just two routes in Week 6. This is all against the backdrop that Kenyan Drake ran well (10/119/1) against the Giants while Dobbins’ longest gain was six yards. Dobbins didn’t practice on Wednesday (knee) and I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole if he were active this weekend. Keep in mind, Gus Edwards (knee; IR) can join the 53-man roster this weekend. [GB]
Start: DeAndre Hopkins vs. Saints
Hopkins was a player I was fading all offseason. In addition to his six-game suspension, I anticipated Marquise Brown to supplant him as the team’s WR1. Further, I was worried he might be falling off the age cliff, now at 30 years old coming off of a season in which he ranked just 31st in receiving YPG (57.2 YPG, down 54% from 2020).
But Brown is now out for the next 4-6 weeks, and even if Hopkins is approaching the age cliff, this will be the best shape we see him in all season. And then, as a bonus, this is an easy top-5 matchup against the Saints. New Orleans will be without their star CB1 Marshon Lattimore, who will be replaced by Paulson Adebo, who is giving up a league-high 0.73 fantasy points per snap in coverage (which is over twice as much as the 7th-worst qualifying CB). Even with Lattimore playing through their first five games, the Saints are giving up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs (+7.5) and the 4th-most FPG to opposing WR1s (20.6). So, if you own Hopkins, start him with confidence this week as a mid-range WR2. [SB]
Sit: Drake London at Bengals
London currently ranks 4th among all players in targets per route run (0.32) and 35th in targets per game (7.3). Based on his targets per route run average, if he ran as many routes as Ja’Marr Chase, he’d be leading the NFL in targets per game with 13.7, and on pace for 233. For perspective, the all-time record is 208 (Rob Moore, 1997).
But London has not run as many routes as Chase’s league-high 42.8 per game. Instead, he ranks 79th among all WRs in routes run per game (22.3), in between Chris Moore (22.5) and Dennis Houston (22.0). And the Falcons are averaging only 22.8 pass attempts per game; the lowest number of any offense since the 2004 Steelers (22.4).
London is a high-level talent, but this offense is a mess. And this matchup is brutal – the Bengals rank best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to outside WRs (-9.1). For these reasons, London is fairly sittable in shallow leagues, as just a high-end WR4 this week. [SB]
Start: Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs at Commanders
Lazard just keeps on scoring as he’s rattled off WR30 > WR16 WR23 > WR13 finishes over the last four weeks since he’s been ramped up as a full-time player. And while Doubs hasn’t produced like his teammate, the good news is that he and Lazard are Aaron Rodgers’ first read most of the time. Over the last three weeks, Lazard leads the team in first read targets (27%) followed closely by Doubs (23%). This is an amazing spot for them to both be WR2/FLEX plays against this Commanders secondary that is giving up the most FPG to outside WRs (+11.0 above average). Lazard runs 67% of his routes lined up as an outside WR while Doubs is at 80%. [GB]
Start: Alec Pierce at Titans
Since Week 3, Pierce ranks 10th among all WRs in YPRR (2.46). He’s cleared 60 yards or scored a touchdown in four straight games, averaging 12.8 FPG (~WR30) over this sample. And that’s despite the liability of a 58% route share. Pierce still isn’t quite a full-time player, but he has brought his route share up to at least 69% in back-to-back games.
And he gets a flawless matchup this week. Over their last three games, Tennessee has done well against opposing WR1s, while perimeter WR2s have smashed – Mack Hollins for 29.8 fantasy points in Week 3, Pierce himself for 80 yards in Week 4 (on just 15 total routes, equating to an obscene 5.33 YPRR average), and then Dyami Brown for 24.5 fantasy points in Week 5 before their bye.
Digging deeper… Pierce will run 57% of his routes against Caleb Farley, who ranks 2nd-worst among 105-qualifying CBs in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage (0.54). The Titans are giving up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (+8.7), the most fantasy points over expectation to opposing outside WRs (+129%), and the most FPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (12.0, +29% more than the next-closest defense). That’s particularly notable because Pierce has seen 5 times as many deep targets as Michael Pittman this year (and a 50% share of the team’s deep targets among all players currently on the active roster).
He’s still a little risky, but there’s enough upside here to start him this week as a high-end WR3. [SB]
Sit: Hunter Renfrow vs. Texans
Renfrow should be fully healthy coming off of the team’s bye, but there’s a chance Darren Waller sits out with a hamstring injury (he missed practice on Wednesday). And last season, Renfrow averaged a whopping 17.7 FPG (~WR6) in the seven contests in which Waller sat out or played on fewer than 30% of the snaps. But across his 11 other games, Renfrow averaged just 13.7 FPG (~WR27).
That might make him seem somewhat tempting. Except, we have to remember that Davante Adams has since joined the team. And furthermore, Mack Hollins has run more routes than Renfrow in the three games they’ve played together. And worse yet, Renfrow draws a worst-possible matchup this week, against a Houston defense that ranks best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (-7.3). Add it all up, and Renfrow is just a low-end WR4 for me this week. [SB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Nico Collins at Raiders
I’m sure Brandin Cooks is still being viewed as Houston’s WR1 by every opposing defensive coordinator they face. But that hasn’t been true up to this point if measured by his production. Very quietly, Collins ranks 22nd among all WRs in yardage share (26%), well ahead of Cooks, who ranks 36th (22%). And Collins has now bested Cooks in receiving yards in four straight games, averaging 61.5 YPG (~WR26) over this stretch.
It may appear as though Collins has a favorable matchup – Las Vegas is giving up the 13th-most FPG to opposing WRs (35.1). But, digging deeper, they’re giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to slot WRs (+12.0) and the 4th-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to outside WRs (-3.9), which is where Collins runs 7% of his routes. So, given this (in actuality) tough matchup, I don’t trust Collins enough to start him this week. But I do like him as a deep sleeper and as a potential waiver add in case he can continue to build off of his strong start to the season in spite of his tough matchup this week. [SB]
Start: Dalton Schultz vs. Lions
Schultz re-injured his knee in pregame warmups and was declared inactive against the Eagles last week. But he practiced in full on Wednesday, and should be good to go against the Lions.
There’s still some concern that this PCL injury means he won’t be 100% healthy at any point this season, even if he’s active every week moving forward. And, so I might tentatively rank him as just a low-end TE1 this week. But if I knew he were fully healthy I’d be starting him with confidence as a top-5 option.
On paper the matchup is very favorable – the Lions have conceded the 5th-most FPG to opposing TEs (14.9) and the 5th-most fantasy points over expectation to TEs (125%). But, more importantly, he’ll also be getting Dak Prescott back this week. From the Week 7 XFP Report:
CeeDee Lamb averages 16.6 FPG in Cooper Rush’s 6 career starts. He averages just 9.3 FPG over his last 6 games with Dak Prescott. Schultz, meanwhile, averages 14.3 FPG over his last 6 games with Prescott, which would rank 3rd-most among all TEs this season (+1.5 FPG more than next-closest). And Schultz has bested Lamb by XFP in each of Prescott’s last four healthy games. [SB]
Start: Gerald Everett vs. Seahawks
Somewhat quietly Everett ranks 7th in XFP/G (10.6), 7th in targets per game (6.0), and 9th in FPG (9.7) among all TEs. Donald Parham (concussion) and Josh Palmer (concussion) could miss this week’s game, and Keenan Allen is still listed as questionable. Without Parham – through the first four weeks of the season – Everett exceeded 50 receiving yards in 3 of 4 games. (Only four TEs have more than three 50-yard games this season.)
And he gets a near-perfect matchup this week. Seattle is giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+9.2, +69% more than the next-closest defense). So, start him as a mid-range TE1 this week if Parham sits out, or as a low-end TE1 if Parham plays. [SB]
Start: Robert Tonyan at Commanders
Robert Tonyan finally got elevated to being a near full-time player last week as he set season-highs in routes (34) and targets (12) en route to scoring 19 FP. This was the breakout we were waiting for after Tonyan hadn’t eclipsed a 60% route participation rate in any game before Week 6. Aaron Rodgers is starved for pass catchers he trusts and Tonyan just got fed the most targets he’s ever seen in a game in his career. Washington hasn’t given up much production to tight ends, but I am willing to take the leap on Tonyan as the top streamer for Week 7. [GB]
Sit: Tyler Conklin at Broncos
The Jets offense has completely changed with Zach Wilson back and Breece Hall emerging as one of the game’s best lead backs. Wilson has attempted just 39 passes as their offense has morphed into a low-volume, useless-for-fantasy attack just like the Falcons and Bears’ offense. No Jets pass catcher can survive this. Conklin’s fantasy viability is over with C.J. Uzomah back and these two splitting snaps over the last two weeks. You can drop Conklin if you haven’t already. [GB]
Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start
Underrated: Greg Dulcich / Cade Otton
If you’re looking for a long-term option at the TE position…
Last week Albert Okwuegbunam was a healthy scratch, and Round 3 rookie Greg Dulcich earned inspiring usage in his NFL debut. He recorded a 74% route share (14th-most) alongside a more modest 12% target share (20th-most), and turned his 3 targets into 44 yards and 12.4 fantasy points. He was also extremely wide open on at least one more play. I don’t think I would start him this week in a bottom-10 matchup against the Jets, but I think he has enough upside to be worthy of a roster spot if you’re struggling to find consistent production from the TE spot.
If you’re just looking for a short-term option…
Cameron Brate is very likely to miss this week (neck), and when he sat out in Week 5, Cade Otton ran a route on 90% of the team’s dropbacks (most by any TE on the week), scoring 10.3 fantasy points on 7 targets. Over the last three weeks Otton and Brate combine to average 8.3 targets and 47.0 YPG – numbers which would rank 4th-most and 8th-most (respectively) at the position. Like Dulcich, Otton gets a bottom-10 matchup this week. And while I don’t think he has the season-long upside Dulcich does, I’d bet he outscores him this week. [SB]