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.
For the context of this article, any Start / Sit recommendation for “Shallow” leagues refers to 10-team leagues while “Deep” is 12- or 14-teamers.
Note: Graham will be in our Discord channel every Thursday at Noon ET and on Sunday mornings answering all of your start/sit questions. Make sure you come hang out!
Start: Derek Carr vs. Chiefs
Carr is easily the top streamer for Week 10 in shallow leagues. He is still available in over 25% of Yahoo leagues and 35% of ESPN leagues ahead of a cake matchup with the Chiefs. This year, Kansas City has given up the sixth-most passing fantasy points per attempt (0.52) and this is a spot where Derek Carr was at his best last year where he ripped the Chiefs for 347 yards / 3 TDs and 275 yards / 3 TDs in his two meetings against them. Carr has finished as the QB12, QB12, and QB13 in his last three times out – which is a nice, consistent floor of points – and this should be a spot where he can find a ceiling. (GB)
Sit: Kirk Cousins @ Chargers
Cousins has been phenomenal this season, ranking 3rd-best among all QBs in PFF Grade, and a lot better for fantasy than I thought possible; ranking 10th-best in FPG (20.2), sandwiched in between Patrick Mahomes (21.8) and Russell Wilson (19.9). But he’s just a high-end QB2 for us this week, in a brutal matchup against the Chargers.
That’s because the Chargers are far-and-away the league’s top run-funnel defense. Opposing offenses have elected to run on Los Angeles 8.1% more often than their expectation dictates (based on down and distance plus gamescript). That leads the league and is over twice as much as the next-closest defense. And it’s not hard to see why — the Chargers rank worst in YPC allowed to opposing RBs (4.86) but top-10 in passer rating allowed (90.0). They rank 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (21.3) but 2nd-best in both passing FPG allowed (12.6) and schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (-4.4).
Obviously, this matchup is far more advantageous to Dalvin Cook, who we like as a top-4 option this week. [SB]
Start: Taylor Heinicke vs. Buccaneers
I know, I know. Trusting Heinicke is impossible, but this could not possibly be a better spot for his volume. The Bucs’ are very rarely run on because of their stout front-seven and it’s resulted in their secondary facing the third-most pass attempts per game (40.3). Heinicke has failed us in similarly easy spots (182 yards / 1 TD vs. Chiefs) and came through in others (290 yards / 3 TDs vs. Falcons), so he certainly isn’t without risk. But the reward outweighs the floor here. Heinicke scored 24.8 FP while throwing it 44 times in his spot start against Tampa in the Wild Card round last season and this is a very similar setup here as Washington is 10-point underdogs. (GB)
Start: Najee Harris vs. Lions
Earlier this week I discussed how Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor, and Christian McCaffrey should be the betting favorites to finish out the season as fantasy football’s Most Valuable Player. But I worry Harris may make me look foolish for not including him in that top tier.
Harris has been everything he’d been advertised to be. Which is to say, he’s seeing near-identical usage to peak-Le’Veon Bell, and for fantasy purposes can be viewed almost identically to peak-Le’Veon Bell. Or, rather, peak-Le’Veon Bell now saddled with an older and less-efficient quarterback, and stuck behind a bottom-5 offensive line.
Seasons w/ 300+ carries and 100+ targets— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 11, 2021
- Marshall Faulk (1998)
- LaDanian Tomlinson (2002)
- LaDanian Tomlinson (2003)
- Steven Jackson (2006)
- Le'Veon Bell (2017)
- Najee Harris (2021*)
* on pace for 319 carries and 111 targets
Harris has finished as an RB1 in all 7 of his last 7 games, averaging 22.0 FPG (2nd-most). His worst outing of the stretch came last week (16.8 fantasy points), finally ending his 6-game streak of 20.0-plus fantasy points in every contest. He’s also finished top-5 in XFP in 5 of his last 6 games, averaging 24.5 XFP per game (most by +3.3). Over this span, he leads all RBs in snaps per game (55.2), carries per game (21.5), and targets per game (7.7).
Pittsburgh’s offense runs through two players: Harris who ranks 3rd in XFP% (27.3%) and Diontae Johnson who ranks 5th (27.2%). It’s by far the most concentrated offense in football. And thus, if we should expect Pittsburgh to do well this week, we should expect these two players to do exceedingly well. And, well, Vegas is expecting Pittsburgh to score 25.5-points this week, 27% more than their per game average (20.1 points per game, 10th-fewest).
We’ll get to Johnson a little later — his matchup is strong — but Harris could be in line for a career-best performance. Pittsburgh is favored by 8.5-points, and Detroit ranks 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+9.0), 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (18.5), and worst in fantasy points per target allowed to opposing RBs (2.54). [SB]
Start: James Conner vs. Panthers
No Kyler Murray, no DeAndre Hopkins… no problem. The Cardinals absolutely dusted the 49ers last week with their B-team and James Conner was a huge part of it. After Chase Edmonds left with a high-ankle sprain on the Cardinals first play from scrimmage, Conner was forced into a massive role and ended with a massive day (21/96/2 rushing | 5/77/1 receiving). He played on 77% of the snaps on Sunday, which was the third-highest rate among RBs for Week 9. Conner’s explosiveness and usefulness as a receiver was a real revelation in this game considering that he previously had just five receptions total on the year coming into Week 9. Eno Benjamin mixed in for nine carries, too, but almost all of his work came in mop-up duty. Eight of Benjamin’s 9 carries came in the second-half when Arizona already established a multiple score lead. With Edmonds on the shelf, Conner is going to be a high-end RB2 with a RB1 ceiling moving forward. This is a great matchup for Conner, too. The Panthers front-seven has given up 22.3 FP to Dalvin Cook, 14.6 FP to Devontae Booker, 29.8 FP to Falcons RBs, and 33 FP to Patriots RBs over the last four weeks. (GB)
Start: Cordarrelle Patterson at Dallas
Even on a day where Patterson and the Falcons run game went nowhere against the Saints elite front-seven last week, he still got there for fantasy. Patterson just has so many ways to produce with this true RB/WR hybrid role. So, even though C-Patt was stonewalled on the ground, he came through for 6/126 receiving – including the huge 60-yarder that set up a Falcons win. In the three games that Patterson has played without Calvin Ridley, he’s now tallied 7/60, 5/37/1, and 6/126 through the air. You’re basically getting a solid WR2 paired with the “1A” back in a timeshare. It’s incredible. C-Patt has now finished as the RB20 or better in seven-straight games and has four top-12 scores in this span. There is no way you’re taking him out of a lineup right now. (GB)
Sit: Antonio Gibson vs. Buccaneers
Gibson is dealing with a stress fracture in his shin. This is something that is only going to get worse (not better) and he’s going to have to fight through this injury for the remainder of the season. Granted, maybe he’s a little healthier after the team’s Week 9 bye, but he still feels too tough to trust after what we saw in his last game. In Week 8, Gibson’s already declining snap share fell to just 33% (from 42%), and he was out-carried by the team’s other RBs 14 to 8, and out-targeted 9 to 3.
And this feels like a J.D. McKissic game anyway. Tampa Bay is favored by 9.5-points, and they rank best in rushing FPG allowed (6.2), but 5th-worst in receiving FPG allowed to opposing RBs (13.2). McKissic has seen 24 targets over Washington’s last three games (to Gibson’s 8), and his snap-share jumps to 61% when trailing by multiple scores. [SB]
Start: Michael Carter vs. Bills
Mike White is set to start this week, which should be good news for Carter. With White under center, Carter is averaging 12.0 carries, 11.0 targets, 141.0 YFS, and 25.6 fantasy points per four quarters. He’s also been the intended receiver on 26% of White’s 88 passes, which would rank 8th-best among all WRs, and well above the next-closest RB (D’Andre Swift, 18%).
Since New York’s Week 6 bye, Carter has played on 66% of the team’s snaps, earning a 62% share of the backfield XFP. So, he’s not quite a bell cow, but his raw volume and production has been elite in spite of that handicap, averaging 19.5 FPG (5th-most) and 21.0 XFP per game (2nd-most).
He draws an absolutely brutal on-paper matchup this week, against a Buffalo defense that ranks bottom-5 in YPC allowed (3.75), rushing FPG allowed (8.7), and receiving FPG allowed to opposing RBs (7.0). But, I think, in lieu of his pass-game usage and recent success you have little choice but to start him this week as a mid-range RB2 at worst. [SB]
Start: Devin Singletary at Jets
Note: This is only if Zack Moss (concussion) can’t play…
The Bills backfield has been like playing roulette all season long. One week, you think it’s going to come up 26 (Singletary) and it’s a 20 (Moss) day. Well, if Zack Moss were to miss, this would become an amazing spot for Devin Singletary. The Jets have been the most giving front-seven in terms of rushing fantasy points allowed per game (21.9) and we have a decent sample that tells us Singletary’s workload will be strong. In the four games that Moss has missed over the last two years, Singletary has been on the field for a bellcow-like 79% of the snaps and has seen 16.5 touches per game. He’ll be a strong RB2 start without Moss. (GB)
Sit: Titans RBs
Unsurprisingly, the Titans went with a full-blown rotation in their backfield in their first game without Derrick Henry. You don’t simply replace a King. Last week vs. the Rams, Jeremy McNichols (45%) led the way in snap rate followed by Adrian Peterson (33%) and D’Onta Foreman (21%). McNichols, unsurprisingly, led the backfield in routes (12) while Peterson and Foreman handled the early down work. I thought Adrian Peterson ran extremely poorly and there were multiple plays where he ran into the backs of his linemen. And the stats back that up as 15 of Peterson’s 21 yards came after contact. Well, this matchup couldn’t get any worse this week. You know to avoid this Saints front-seven at this point. On the year, New Orleans is giving up a league-low 2.93 YPC and 57.9 yards per game to opposing ground games. McNichols is the main guy I’d trust in PPR leagues, and even then, it’s very thin. (GB)
Start: Mike Evans @ Washington
Evans averages 8.1 targets and 19.4 FPG over his last 7 games. If we exclude Week 6 (shadowed by Darius Slay) and Week 8 (shadowed by Marshon Lattimore), he averages 9.8 targets and 23.7 FPG.
So, minus those two bottom-3 matchups, he’s been putting up more FPG than any player in fantasy minus Cooper Kupp. And now he gets a top-3 matchup against a Washington defense which ranks: worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs (+8.8), 4th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (25.6), and 3rd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WRs on deep passes (10.9).
Oh, and none of Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski were able to practice on Wednesday. So, he should be in line for a lot more volume (especially near the end zone) as well. Yeah, he’s going to go nuclear this week. [SB]
Start: Diontae Johnson vs. Lions
(If we exclude a few games where Johnson suffered an injury in the first-half, and that one game he was inexplicably benched for drops, then…)
Johnson came into last week’s game having seen double-digit targets in an astounding 16 of his last 17 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Over this span, he averaged 12.2 targets (most), 80.8 receiving yards (9th-most), and 19.4 FPG (4th-most).
But last week Johnson inexplicably flopped. He stayed healthy, but finished the game with only 6 targets, 67 YFS, and 11.7 fantasy points. This was his worst healthy performance since Week 1 of last year, though he’s now hit double-digit fantasy points in every healthy game over the past two seasons.
Anyway, Johnson ranks 3rd among all WRs in XFP per game (20.6), 2nd in XFP% (27%), and 11th in FPG (17.1). And so, if he’s a mortal lock for double-digit targets every week, should we be expecting 20-plus targets this week, with WR Chase Claypool likely to sit out? I’m not sure, but he must be the heavy betting favorite to lead all receivers in targets this week.
And Johnson’s production is especially impressive in spite of the fact that he’s had the position’s 3rd-toughest strength of schedule thus far, worth in real terms a handicap of about 3.1 FPG off of his average. But this week’s matchup is much softer. The Lions rank 3rd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (19.5) and 2nd-worst in fantasy points per target allowed to opposing outside WRs (2.08).
In spite of his anomalistic down-game last week, start Johnson with confidence as a WR1 this week. [SB]
Sit: Courtland Sutton vs. Eagles
Sutton and Jerry Jeudy have played just four games together over the past two seasons. Over this span, Sutton averages 17.0 FPG without Jeudy, but just 5.5 FPG in games Jeudy has played. (H/T: Ryan McDowell)
To make matters worse, Sutton draws a bottom-5 matchup this week, in shadow coverage against Darius Slay. Slay ranks top-15 of 100-qualifying CBs in yards allowed per snap in coverage. And he’s shadowed four times thus far, holding D.J. Moore, Mike Evans, Henry Ruggs, and Mike Williams to an average of 7.1 FPG, allowing just 8.8 fantasy points in his worst game (to Moore).
Meanwhile, Jeudy, who runs 76% of his routes from the slot, should be seriously upgraded at Sutton’s expense. Last week, against the Eagles, Keenan Allen (who ran 54% of his routes from the slot) posted a season-best performance, catching 12 of 13 targets for 104 yards. The Eagles are at least a slot funnel by efficiency, ranking worst in passer rating allowed to opposing slot WRs (135.1), but top-10 against outside WRs (87.2). [SB]
Start: Jerry Jeudy vs. Eagles
As Scott alluded to above… it’s Jeudy time. After missing seven weeks with a bad ankle injury, Jeudy is back! He hasn’t put up a big box score yet, but all of the ancillary factors are in place. First and foremost, he hasn’t had a setback and the Broncos have immediately trusted him with a normal, full-time workload as he’s run a route on 87% of the team’s pass plays over the last two weeks. Just as important, he looks incredible. Last week, Jeudy lined up all over the field – in the slot, out wide, in motion – and would have lost his mind (in a good way!) if Dallas was remotely competitive in that game. Last week, he easily led the team in targets (8 total | 29% share) and he would’ve had a monster day if the Broncos had to keep their foot on the gas. I’m expecting Jeudy to put up his best game of the year here in a close game against an Eagles secondary that was just shredded for 12/104 last week by Chargers slot-man Keenan Allen. (GB)
Start: Jaylen Waddle vs. Ravens
With Jacoby Brissett under center once again last week, Waddle was rock solid with 8/83 receiving on 10 targets. In the four games that DeVante Parker (IR, hamstring) has missed, Waddle has seen 9.3 targets per game and turned those looks into 6.8 receptions and 66.8 yards per outing with two scores. So, even though the Dolphins QB play has been less than consistent, Waddle’s role hasn’t. He’s going to get fed targets because Miami has no other options outside of him and Mike Gesicki. This week the volume for Waddle should be fantastic. Whether or not we see Tua or Brissett under center, one thing is for sure: Miami is going to throw the rock. They are passing at the third-highest rate above expectation (+7.5%) due in large part to bottom-5 offensive line and bottom-3 backfield talent. As 7.5-point underdogs, we should see another extremely pass-heavy plan from Miami as they try to keep pace with Lamar. I’m trusting Waddle as a solid WR2 in PPR leagues. (GB)
Sit: Elijah Moore vs. Bills
Moore, the humble farmer’s son, one of my most-hyped players this offseason, led all WRs in fantasy points in Week 9, scoring 27.4. Was this the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for?
Unfortunately, I’d seriously temper expectations. Moore averages 20.3 FPG over the last two weeks, but he’s run a route on only 51% of the team’s dropbacks over this span. And, keep in mind, that’s with Corey Davis out, who will be returning this week.
Add to that an absolutely brutal matchup this week. The Jets are (frustratingly) playing Moore out of position, lining him up out-wide on 73% of his routes. And the Bills are giving up the 2nd-fewest FPG to opposing outside WRs (15.2).
And although Moore’s best games have come without Zach Wilson, Mike White has targeted RBs on 38% of his throws, which is over twice the league average rate (17%). And Moore ranks just 49th in XFP per game over the last two weeks (10.4).
While I’m secretly hoping this is a good old fashioned reverse-jinx, I do think Moore is easily sittable this week. [SB]
Start: Kyle Pitts @ Cowboys
Since Week 4, and among all TEs, Pitts ranks 1st in air yards per game (107.2), 1st in deep targets per game (1.8), 2nd in XFP per game (16.0), and 3rd in FPG (14.3). Granted, he’s been highly volatile over this span — exceeding 23.0 fantasy points in two games, but falling short of 10.0 fantasy points in his other three games — but that’s elite volume, and this feels like a great spot for another spike performance.
Matt Ryan is quietly playing out of his mind, ranking as PFF’s highest-graded QB since Week 4. And Dallas is giving up the 5th-most passing YPG to opposing QBs. And Pitts, as the team’s No. 1 receiver, should be the primary beneficiary.
Pitts also leads all TEs and ranks top-10 among all receivers in gains of 15-plus and 35-plus yards. Meanwhile, Dallas has allowed the 2nd-most plays gaining 35 or more yards.
Kyle Pitts has run 69 routes lined up against CBs graded 69.0+ in coverage by PFF— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 11, 2021
That's exactly as many as Deebo Samuel and Marquise Brown. And more than Chris Godwin, OBJ, Tyler Lockett, Travis Kelce, and Darren Waller.
Brutal CB-schedule for any rookie, let alone a rookie TE
Atlanta is deploying Pitts as a true WR1, having him run 83% of his routes lined up as a WR in the slot or out-wide. That’s great for volume and fantasy production, but it’s hampered him in terms of efficiency, as opposing defenses give him the Calvin Ridley treatment. The good news is, even if Pitts spends the near-entirety of his day against Dallas’ CBs, I think that’s a fairly advantageous matchup. Dallas’ two starting outside CBs both rank bottom-12 of 109-qualifiers in yards allowed per snap in coverage. (And slot-man Jourdan Lewis will have his hands full with Russell Gage.) [SB]
Start: Mike Gesicki vs. Ravens
Even though he didn’t turn in a huge box score (4/54 receiving), Gesicki’s role was still great last week. With DeVante Parker (hamstring, IR) on the shelf, Gesicki got 8 targets from backup Jacoby Brissett against the Texans – which was second-most on the team behind Jaylen Waddle (10). Gesicki is now averaging 8 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 74.3 yards per game in the four games that Parker has missed this season. For reference, Gesicki has seen a huge dip in targets and production with 4.2 receptions and 46.4 yards on 6.2 targets per game in the five contests Parker has played. For as long as Parker is out, we can safely trust Gesicki as a TE1 – especially this week against a Ravens secondary that is giving up a league-high 69.1 YPG and 17.3 FPG to enemy tight ends. (GB)
Sit: Dallas Goedert @ Broncos
After back-to-back games with a team-high 70-plus receiving yards, Goedert flopped last week, catching just 3 of 6 targets for 43 yards. We wrote him up as a must-start, against the league’s No. 1 TE funnel matchup — the Chargers have surrendered a league-high 33.5% of their receiving production to TEs — but Los Angeles ruled out both starting CBs later in the week, which fully negated the premise behind out call.
Anyway, Goedert’s matchup is much tougher this week, and tough enough to push him down to the fringe-TE1-range alongside players like Tyler Conklin and Hunter Henry. Denver ranks best in schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (-6.1). They haven’t surrendered a single touchdown to a TE all year, and no TE has reached even 12.0 fantasy points, despite facing names like Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Dalton Schultz over their last six games. [SB]
Start: Dan Arnold @ Colts
Arnold has reached 60 receiving yards and led the team in receiving yards 3 of his last 4 games. Over this span, he ranks 5th in targets per game (8.3), 6th in XFP per game (13.0), 8th in YPG (54.8), and 9th in FPG (10.5). So, he was already a mid-TE1 by volume and a low-end-TE1 by production (despite not yet finding the end zone). And now he gets a best-possible matchup against a Colts defense which ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG, worth in real terms a +5.5-point boost to Arnold’s per game average. [SB]