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 Lions
Tagovailoa currently ranks 3rd among all QBs in fantasy points per dropback (0.54). As a team, Miami ranks 4th in passing YPG (296.1). And this is despite the fact that they’ve had the overall toughest schedule at the position thus far, worth in real terms 9.9% off of their per-game average. And they have their softest matchup of the season this week, and possibly the softest matchup for any QB this week. Detroit ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+5.9) and 3rd-worst in opposing passer rating allowed (102.4). We like Tagovailoa as a top-6 option this week. [SB]
The Dolphins are throwing at +9.8% above expectation in Tua Tagovailoa’s three full starts (Weeks 1-2 + 7).— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) October 25, 2022
That would be the third-highest pass rate this season, trailing only the Bills (13.8%) and Chiefs (13.6%).
Start: Daniel Jones at Seahawks
Among all QBs, Jones ranks 1st in QB wins (6), 3rd in rushing YPG (49.0, 0.2 more than Jalen Hurts), and 9th in FPG (17.3, 0.5 behind Justin Herbert). And he gets a near-perfect matchup this week, up against a Seattle defense that’s given up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+9.9, over twice as much as the next-closest defense). And Kyler Murray more than doubled his season-high in rushing yards against them two weeks ago, with 100 yards on 10 carries. Add it all up and Jones clocks in as our QB10 on the week. [SB]
Start: Jared Goff vs. Dolphins
Goff has finished as the QB19 > QB7 > QB20 > QB1 in four starts with Amon-Ra St. Brown healthy this season. Before St. Brown missed Week 5 and 7, the Lions were 7-3 toward the over in their previous 10 games with those contests averaging 61 combined points scored. Those games beat the closing total by a whopping +14.8 point margin on average in this stretch. This offense – and this defense – is one of the most fun in fantasy, giving Goff low-end QB1 appeal for the rest of the season. This Dolphins-Lions game has massive shootout appeal and Goff’s good matchup is a part of that. Miami’s secondary is bottom-8 in completion rate, YPA, passer rating, and fantasy points per dropback allowed. [GB]
Sit: Matthew Stafford vs. 49ers
The Rams come out of their much-needed bye with a tough draw against the 49ers. Matthew Stafford has been an awful fantasy QB to-date with just one week where he has finished as a top-20 scorer (Week 2 vs. ATL for 18.9 FP). Van Jefferson is set to return off of I.R. which will finally give Stafford a field-stretcher, but this is not a matchup to get excited about overall. Stafford is averaging just 13.6 FPG in four career starts vs. the 49ers, which is actually above his baseline this year (11.0 FPG, gross). Stafford is a 2-QB league only option for Week 8. [GB]
Start: Tony Pollard vs. Bears
We’re proceeding as if Ezekiel Elliott is out or extremely limited in Week 8 after taking a big hit to the same knee he injured last season. Dallas obviously has a deep playoff run in mind and their bye is in Week 9, so it would make sense for Zeke to sit against Chicago. Who knows when it comes to Jerry Jones, though.
That being said, Pollard played on the second-highest single-game snap rate of his career (65%) last week and turned his 14 touches into an efficient 109 scrimmage yards. We’re projecting Pollard for 19 touches this week as the lead back for a Cowboys offense that are huge home-favorites. Don’t overthink it. Pollard is a RB1 for Week 8. [GB]
Start: Raheem Mostert at Lions
Mostert is fantasy’s least-hyped bell cow RB right now. He’s played on 68% of the snaps over the last four weeks – 12th-highest rate among RBs – and is averaging 17.8 touches per game in this span (also 12th-most). While Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will do most of the heavy-lifting this week, Mostert gets his easiest matchup to-date against this Lions defense that is surrendering 5.41 YPC (third-highest) and 156.6 scrimmage yards per game (second-most). I’m treating Mostert as a borderline RB1 for Week 8 decisions. [GB]
Sit: David Montgomery at Cowboys
HC Matt Eberflus said that he wanted to roll with the “hot hand” last week at RB and that was exactly what happened. I really do appreciate when coaches give merit-based promotions mid-season and this one was as clear as day. Last week, Montgomery played on 56% of the snaps and got 15 carries while Khalil Herbert was at a 41% snap rate and got 12 carries.
Now, to be fair, Montgomery isn’t playing poorly at all. Far from it, in fact. It’s just that Herbert gives them a home-run power whereas Montgomery simply does not have that burst or speed at this point.
Herbert is averaging 4.05 yards after contact and forcing 0.33 missed tackles per carry while Montgomery is at 2.95 YAC and 0.34 MTF. Herbert is just ripping off big gains far more often, as 18.7% of his carries have gone for 10 or more yards while Montgomery is at 10.4%.
With this duo splitting work, both are touchdown-dependent FLEX plays for the foreseeable future. [GB]
Start: Michael Carter vs. Patriots
Injuries suck, so pour one out for Breece Hall. He was running towards a likely OROY title as the main weapon for the Jets while simultaneously silencing all of the “RB don’t matter” zombies. At least we still have Ken Walker.
With Hall sidelined and James Robinson joining the team mid-week, Michael Carter will be the lead RB for the Jets this weekend. In seven career starts where he’s played at least 55% of the snaps, Carter averages a healthy 12.1 carries, 56.1 rushing yards, 4.9 receptions, and 45.2 receiving yards per game. While I think that receiving number is an ambitious bar for this week, there is no doubt Carter’s volume and matchup is strong. The Patriots have sunk to 28th in FootballOutsiders Run Defense metrics and just got cracked for 20/132/1 by Bears RBs last week. Carter is a RB2 play with RB1 upside. [GB]
Sit: A.J. Dillon at Bills
Now, you are by no means dropping Dillon at this point but it is impossible to trust him in lineups with this backfield tipping in Aaron Jones’ favor in recent weeks. Jones has out-snapped AJ Dillon by a 68% to 37% margin over the last three weeks.
In Weeks 1-4, that margin was much closer as Jones’ snap rate was 61% while Dillon was at 54%. Dillon is averaging 6.7 carries per game over the last three weeks averaging 14.3 in Weeks 1-4.
As massive double-digit road underdogs against a Bills run defense that has been stout (3.05 YPC allowed; lowest in NFL), Dillon shouldn’t come close to cracking lineups this week. [GB]
Sit: Damien Harris at Jets
To be fair, the Patriots got unexpectedly stomped last week and couldn’t get their ground game going. However, Damien Harris got in a few full practices in the lead up to their game vs. the Bears and still played way behind Rhamondre Stevenson. Last week, Stevenson remained the bell cow as he played on 77% of the snaps, handled 11-of-14 RB carries, and ran a route on 69% of the pass plays (and got eight targets). Harris could certainly get ramped up a bit more here in a closer game, but Stevenson has played well enough to earn the starter role. This isn’t the easy matchup it once was, too. The Jets run defense is quietly allowing the fourth-fewest YPC (4.0). [GB]
Start: Chris Olave vs. Raiders
If adjusting for the fact that Chris Olave played on only 40% of the team’s snaps in Week 5 due to injury (missing all of the second half minus one drive)… Since Week 2 and with two different QBs, Olave is averaging 211.8 air yards, 11.1 targets, 4.0 deep targets, 20.3 XFP, and 19.0 fantasy points per four quarters. Over this span, those numbers rank best (by 48%), 5th-best, best (by 60%), 2nd-best, and 5th-best.
Heading into last week, the Arizona Cardinals had held opposing WR1s to a league-low 10.4 FPG – JuJu Smith-Schuster (13.9), Davante Adams (9.2), Cooper Kupp (16.4), D.J. Moore (12.1), A.J. Brown (6.2), D.K. Metcalf (5.4) or Tyler Lockett (3.7). And so, within this context, I think that makes Olave’s 17.6 fantasy-point-outing appear far more impressive.
And good news! This week he gets a Detroit Lions defense that’s given up the 7th-most FPG to opposing WR1s (17.1). Start him this week as an easy top-15 option regardless of whichever QB earns the start. [SB]
Start: Gabriel Davis vs. Packers
Our guy Gabe Davis is set up so well to win us leagues down the stretch. This will be the last time I write up Davis in start/sit this season, y’all. As long as he is healthy and not on the injury report, Davis is in lineups as a set-and-forget WR2. Over his last nine games where he’s been a full-time player and not on the injury report, Gabe Davis has 62 targets, 36 receptions, 782 yards, and 12 TD. Davis has scored a TD in 7-of-9 games and has at least one TD in five-straight games. This isn’t a fluke – Davis is just the perfect running mate for Stefon Diggs and perfect complement for Josh Allen’s bazooka arm.
This matchup is much easier than most would think, too. The Packers have not been good against outside WRs, allowing the eighth-most yards per target. [GB]
Sit: Diontae Johnson at Eagles
Johnson has seen double-digit targets in 74% of his games over the past two seasons, more than any other receiver (minus Cooper Kupp) over this span. This season, he ranks 8th in targets per game (10.1) and 9th in XFP/G (17.3). That’s the good news. The bad news is, he ranks just 42nd in FPG (10.6), and he gets a brutal matchup this week, against Darius Slay’s shadow coverage. He’s just a low-end WR3 for us this week. [SB]
Start: Courtland Sutton vs. Jaguars
Is Sutton the only person on the Broncos actually excited to have Russell Wilson back under center? I’d imagine so. After it seemed like Sutton was going to be the one consistent piece in this offense, he’s tanked the last two weeks with just 2/14 and 3/23 receiving lines. Despite the bad taste it leaves in your mouth, Sutton is still on the WR2 radar against the Jaguars with Wilson likely back under center. Sutton had at least four receptions and was averaging 83.4 yards per game in Weeks 1-5 before Wilson injured his hammy. The Jaguars just lost their only good CB Shaq Griffin (back; IR), so I’m going right back to Sutton as an upside WR2. [GB]
Start: Michael Pittman vs. Commanders
I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know how Sam Ehlinger is going to play this weekend. He is the biggest wild card QB making his first start that I can remember in a long time. Ehlinger has tons of experience – he made over 40 starts at Texas – and he is far more mobile than Matt Ryan. We know those two things for sure… and that’s where it stops!
It takes a leap of faith, but Pittman’s matchup here is too good to ignore. Through seven weeks, the Commanders have really struggled to defend perimeter receivers and are permitting the second-most yards per target (10.0) and sixth-most FPG (26.9) to outside WRs. Pittman hasn’t scored a TD since Week 1, but I’m holding out hope that HC Frank Reich will continue to scheme up this passing game around him. We’ve got Pittman projected as a strong WR3. [GB]
Sit: Curtis Samuel at Colts
After a hot start, Samuel’s bounceback season has sputtered a bit. He’s only managed weekly PPR finishes of WR39 > WR50 > WR30 > WR77 > WR26 over his last five starts while averaging a measly 41.4 receiving yards per game in this span. This is not the week to get back on the Samuel train up against this Colts secondary that has been brutal on slot WRs this season (6.4 yards per target allowed; 30th). [GB]
Start: Pat Freiermuth at Eagles
Among all TEs, Friermuth ranks 6th in targets per game (6.8), 8th in XFP/G (11.1), and 10th in FPG (10.2). (Kyle Pitts-owners wish he was having the sort of season Freiermuth was having.) And he gets a terrific matchup this week. By schedule-adjusted FPG, the Eagles rank 2nd-best against RBs, 7th-best against slot WRs (-2.3), 9th-best against outside WRs (-5.9), and 12th-worst against opposing TEs (+1.4). Look for Pittsburgh to funnel significantly more work in Freiermuth’s direction, and for him to finish the week as a mid-range TE1. [SB]
Sit: Robert Tonyan at Bills
Tonyan ran a route on only 54% of the team’s dropbacks last week (22nd-most). Tonyan has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in 10 of his last 13 games. The Green Bay offense is looking immensely dysfunctional. And he gets a brutal matchup, up against a Buffalo defense that ranks best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (-6.7). If Mark Andrews only scored 3.5 fantasy points against Buffalo, I don't see Tonyan posting a starter-worthy score this week. [SB]
Start: Greg Dulcich at Jaguars
Through two career games, Duclich is averaging 6.0 targets per game, 10.4 XFP/G, 47.5 YPG, and 11.8 FPG. He’s run a route on 68% of the team's dropbacks, earning a 17.1% target share. Across the full season, these numbers would rank 9th-, 11th-, 9th-, and 6th-most. Unfortunately, he has a bottom-5 matchup this week against the Jaguars. So, maybe he’s not quite yet “start-worthy”, but we do have him tied with Kyle Pitts at TE15 overall (8.2 projected fantasy points). [SB]