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: Joe Burrow at Raiders
After having two weeks off to stew over getting stomped by the Browns their last time out, Joe Burrow finds himself in a nice spot against this sliding Raiders defense. Over the last five weeks, Vegas has given up the fourth-most FPG (21.0) and a league-high 2.8 passing TDs per game. Before his poor showing in Week 9, Burrow had one of the safest floors in fantasy going with weekly finishes of QB11, QB17, QB9, QB1, and QB9 in his previous five games. Fire up Burrow confidently this week. (GB)
Start: Cam Newton vs. Washington
I agree with Jake Tribbey that Cam is back and easily the top streamer of the week up against his old coach. Narrative aside, this is a dream matchup for Newton in his first start since 2020. Washington gave up 23 or more FP to six-straight QBs in Weeks 2-7 before facing Teddy Bridgewater in Week 8 and holding Tom Brady to 220 yards and 2 TDs in a bizarre game last week where The Team (39:08) basically doubled up the Buccaneers (20:52) in time of possession. Even if Cam is shaky as a passer, we know he can bail us out with his legs. We have Newton the QB1 borderline in our projections. (GB)
Start: Tua Tagovailoa at Jets
Starting Tua leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and trust the process and that’s what I’m doing here. This Jets defense can’t stop anyone and have now given up a whopping 40.4 total points per game including over 20 FP to every quarterback they’ve faced over the last five weeks. And those 20+ FP they’ve allowed in five-straight are to a wide range of QBs (Matt Ryan / Mac Jones / Joe Burrow / Carson Wentz / Josh Allen). Tua has always been a guy we want to target in easy matchups and this sure is one. For his career, Tua has made six starts against bottom-12 defenses (by YPA allowed) and he’s averaged 32% more FP in those contests vs. all of his other games. Plus, Tua definitely looked healthy last week coming in relief last week and now has a full week of practice to get right. If you need a streamer and the wire is thin, search for Tua. (GB)
Sit: Carson Wentz at Bills
Wentz had a nice little run of six-straight games with 17 or more FP broken last week by the Jaguars (22-of-34, 180 yards, 0 TDs) and has the worst possible matchup to try and bounce back here. The Bills have put the clamps down on every quarterback they’ve faced this season and are allowing a league-low 7.7 passing fantasy points per game. Whew. For perspective of how dominant that is: the Rams and Panthers are tied for 31st in passing points allowed per game… at 11.5! It doesn’t matter if the Bills play man or zone coverage, either. Buffalo is giving up just 0.18 fantasy points per pass in man (best) and 0.13 FP/pass in zone (also best). Wentz is only in play in SuperFlex / 2QB formats this week and even then you have to hold your nose. (GB)
Start: A.J. Dillon at Vikings
Week 10 RB Leaders by Fantasy Points— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 18, 2021
1. Darrel Williams (29.4)*
2. Rhamondre Stevenson (27.4)*
3. AJ Dillon (26.8)*
4. Christian McCaffrey (26.1)
5. Jonathan Taylor (24.6)
6. D'Ernest Johnson (22.7)*
7. Antonio Gibson (21.8)
8. Mark Ingram (20.8)*
*backup to injured RB1
Last week Aaron Jones played on 46% of the snaps, and Dillon (49% of the snaps) still walked away with 23 touches, 128 YFS, and 26.8 fantasy points. He’s now exceeded 75.0 YFS in 5 of his last 7 games, and averages 94.4 YFS over his last three games. Though, keep in mind, last week was the first time he’s exceeded a 40% snap share all year.
But now Aaron Jones (MCL) joins Kylin Hill on the sideline, and the only other active RB on the roster is Patrick Taylor Jr., who played on 3 snaps last week and has 2 total touches in his career. So, Dillon should now be looking at, what? 80% of the snaps at a minimum, with 95% firmly within the realm of possibilities?
Green Bay ranks 9th in team RB FPG (26.3). So, if we play it conservative and say Dillon can be roughly 80% of that, we’re looking at 21.0 fantasy points. (Only Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor are averaging more than 21.0 FPG.) And 80% feels about right. Dillon feels like a lock for 18-plus carries. But, granted, Dillon (1.8 targets per game) also probably isn’t the receiver Jones is (4.7 targets per game), but, then again, maybe not. John Hansen has been hyping up Dillon’s pass-catching chops all offseason. And Dillon currently leads all of 69-qualifying RBs in YPT average (10.9).
On-paper the matchup looks mostly neutral, though possibly top-12 based on the opposition’s weaknesses in contrast to Dillon’s strengths. Green Bay is favored, but only slightly so (-2.5), against a Vikings defense that ranks 10th-worst in YPC allowed (4.48), 8th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (14.8), but 11th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-2.5). We like him this week as a top-5 option. [SB]
Start: Myles Gaskin at Jets
Listen, I know what you’re thinking, but try to hear me out here…
Over the last two weeks, Gaskin has appeared to have gained a stranglehold over the backfield, handling 35 of 41 carries (85%), 9 of 11 targets (82%), and 5 of 5 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line (100%). That comes out to 17.5 carries per game, 4.5 targets per game, and 17.1 XFP/G (~RB9).
And this isn’t just a great matchup. It’s a historically great matchup. The Jets rank worst in YPC allowed (4.88), worst in rushing FPG allowed (22.5), 2nd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (15.3), and worst in total FPG allowed to opposing RBs (37.8). They’re giving up an astounding +13.6 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (1.7X more than the next-closest team) and +17.8 over the last five weeks (1.9X more than the next-closest team). For perspective, the league’s worst defense against RBs last year (Detroit), gave up just +7.8 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs.
Even if we take Gaskin’s lowly season-long average of 11.7 FPG, and we assume he gets the 87% share of the backfield (by XFP) he’s had over the last two weeks, we should be expecting somewhere between 23.5 and 27.2 fantasy points this week, just based on the matchup alone. Obviously, there’s more that goes into it than just that, and he’s rightfully become hard to trust. But you’re still starting him this week as a high-end RB2. [SB]
Sit: Antonio Gibson at Panthers
Last week in this space, we wrote up Gibson as a “sit”. His matchup seemed insurmountably bad, as 9.5-point underdogs against (arguably) the league’s best run defense (Tampa Bay). I was also concerned about the stress fracture in his shin; I was told 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. To make matters worse, in his last game prior to the bye, 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 what happened next? Washington surprised and won the game (29-19). And Gibson played on 62% of the team’s snaps (most since Week 2), handling 24 of 30 carries, 2 of 6 targets, and 4 of 4 opportunities inside the 5-yard-line. This was good for 22.9 XFP (6th-most), which he turned into 21.8 fantasy points (7th-most).
This was no doubt a highly encouraging performance, and hopefully a sign that he’s turned the corner in his recovery. But, I’m not yet convinced this wasn’t just an outlier performance. And, besides, Gibson’s matchup is arguably even worse this week. Washington again enters as underdogs (3.5-points), and Carolina ranks 2nd-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs, 11 spots better than the Buccaneers (-1.6). So, despite his big game last week, we have him ranked as just a low-end RB2 for Week 11. [SB]
Start: Darrel Williams vs. Dallas
Note: This only if Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) misses another game. On Wednesday, HC Andy Reid definitely left the door open for the Chiefs to hold out CEH this week since their bye is in Week 12.
Darrel with one L has been free money (and a free W) for anyone who wisely drafted him late or stashed him early in the year off of the waiver wire. Since taking over as the starter in Week 6 after CEH went down, Williams has cruised to 17.8 FPG and now has 226 receiving yards over his last five games. In 18 career starts, CEH has managed just 358 receiving yards… yikes. You guys know I was as big of a fan of CEH’s game as anyone, but I really can’t explain his lack of receiving production – especially considering how active Williams has been in Edwards-Helaire’s absence. In the highest total game of the week by far (56.5), you have to go back to Williams as a RB2 play with a RB1 ceiling if CEH sits again. (GB)
Start: Alex Collins vs. Cardinals
Russell Wilson was flat and the Seahawks flopped in his first game back, which I can easily excuse. Wilson missed what ended up being a little over five weeks with a badly broken finger and probably didn’t feel exactly great in below-freezing weather up in Green Bay in his first game back. Well, Wilson should be back closer to 100% after getting his return jitters out and that should lead to a much better performance for their offense as a whole. Sure, Collins hasn’t been setting the world on fire with Chris Carson out of the lineup – but this is also easily the best spot he’s had as the Seahawks starter. With Carson out again last week, Alex Collins handled 10 of the Seahawks 11 RB carries in their loss to the Packers and ran as nearly as many routes (19) as their hurry-up back Travis Homer (21). Collins’ role has been quietly solid for weeks now and this is a spot for him to finally cash in. Cardinals-Seahawks (49.5 total) has a real chance to shoot out if Kyler Murray is back and the matchup on the ground for Collins is solid. Arizona is giving up 4.68 YPC (sixth-most) and a 44.6% success rate (eighth-highest) to opposing backfields. Collins is a rock solid RB2 / FLEX. (GB)
Through two weeks, this Titans backfield has unsurprisingly turned into a nightmare with Derrick Henry sidelined. In Week 10, D’Onta Foreman (21), Peterson (20), and McNichols (16) split snaps basically evenly and Foreman (8) led the way on early-down, non-red-zone carries this past week ahead of Peterson (7) and McNichols (2). At this point, the Titans would be wise to just roll with Foreman as their main early-down back and let McNichols mix in for his usual passing down role because Peterson simply isn’t getting it done. On his 18 carries, Peterson has run into the backs of his offensive linemen far too often. He’s averaged 2.33 YPC on his 18 carries and his longest run has gained six yards. Peterson is a legend and was the best runner of his generation (for my money), but Foreman at least has some juice right now. The one thing AD does have in his bag is the goal-line role. Peterson (11) leads the team in snaps inside-the-10 (red-zone) ahead of Foreman and McNichols (4 apiece) over the last two weeks. Still, banking on a TD feels gross here. Peterson and McNichols are both thin FLEX plays even in this great matchup. (GB)
Start: Brandin Cooks at Titans
Cooks is the clear focal-point and near-entirety of the Texans’ offense, and is seeing terrific volume, but he’s only modestly productive, is woefully inefficient, and highly volatile. He’s hit 17.5 fantasy points in 5 (3rd-most) of his 9 games, but averages just 8.4 FPG the rest of the time. He ranks 8th in yardage share (27%), 5th in XFP% (24%), 9th in targets per game (10.0), 10th in XFP per game (17.0), and 23rd in FPG (14.8). So, low-end WR1 volume, low-end WR2 production, and bottom-15 levels of inefficiency. And I think that’s how he should be viewed most weeks, but not this week in a dream matchup.
The Titans rank worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs (+7.7), 6th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (17.8), 6th-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (24.9), and worst in FPG allowed to opposing WRs on deep passes (12.5). I think, with Cooks, you always have to worry about opposing defensive coordinators selling out to stop him with bracket coverage. But, even so, this week’s on-paper matchup is too attractive not to start him as a high-end WR2 at-worst. [SB]
Start: Marquise Brown at Bears
We’ve long been Hollywood fans here and we’ve been treated to a third-year breakout that we thought we were going to see in 2020. Through 10 weeks, Hollywood is the WR7 in FPG (17.8) thanks to a ton of week-winning spiked games. So far, Brown has finished as a top-12 scoring receiver in 5-of-9 games which, for reference, is two more than Davante Adams (3-of-9). Oh, and Brown would have made it six top-12 weeks if he didn’t drop at least 2 TDs against the Lions!
A huge part of the reason that Brown is having this type of season is because of the Ravens leaning more on the pass and Hollywood getting a huge slice of that volume. Lamar Jackson is averaging 34.3 passes per game, which is easily a career-high. Last year, Lamar threw it 25.1 times per game and in his 2019 MVP season he averaged 26.7 passes. With the Ravens throwing more, Brown has certainly made the most of his uptick in opportunities and has earned a massive 33% target share over the last three weeks even with Rashod Bateman coming along. This has the makings of another huge game for Brown against a Bears secondary that is giving up the fifth-most yards per game and a league-high 2.1 fantasy points per target to WRs. (GB)
Sit: Mike Williams vs. Steelers
After yet another down game (4/33 on six targets) against a banged up Vikings defense, it is clear that Williams probably isn’t 100% after hurting his knee back in Week 6. Since then, Williams’ production and usage has dropped off of a cliff as the wideout has gone from 23.2 FPG in Weeks 1-5 to just 5.8 FPG in Weeks 6-10. The big thing that is missing right now is deep targets and those vertical looks were a huge reason why Williams was going off every week to start the year. If he can’t get vertical and clash with cornerbacks like he wants to because of a sore knee, the Chargers are going to continue to not use him in that way. Williams will get another chance to re-find his previous form next week when L.A. faces an extremely beat up Pittsburgh defense that just played a five quarter game against Detroit, but I don’t think you can trust him as anything more than a boom/bust WR3 in shallow leagues. (GB)
Mike Williams deep targets (15+ air yards) per game:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) November 18, 2021
Weeks 1-5 – 3.2 (fourth-most)
Weeks 6-10 – 1 (67th)
Start: D.J. Moore vs. Washington
Moore got off to a hot start, averaging 22.4 FPG through his first four games. And then, both he and Sam Darnold seemingly fell off of a cliff, as he’s averaged just 9.7 FPG in the 6 games since (with a high of only 13.3 fantasy points).
Still, the volume has been there; he ranks 14th in XFP/G (16.8), and 18th over the last 5 weeks (16.4). Although, yes, Christian McCaffrey is back now, to eat a large chunk of the pie. (Though Washington has been tough against RBs, and specifically RBs through the air all year.) And yes, I’m not expecting much from Cam Newton. But by the same token, it’s also hard not to be an improvement on Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker, who collectively averaged just 160.7 passing YPG (2TD:9INT) since Week 5.
And, in any case, the matchup is just about perfect, and that’s the key reason why you’re starting him as a high-end WR3 this week. Washington is giving up a league-high 25.8 FPG to outside WRs, which is where Moore runs 81% of his routes. [SB]
Start: Jaylen Waddle at Jets
This season, Waddle has been the intended target on 24.1% of Tua Tagovailoa’s throws (the #AlabamaConnection). That ranks well ahead of the next-closest Miami receiver (Mike Gesicki, 15.9%), and would rank 16th among all receivers. In addition to better target volume with Tagovailoa (24.1% target share vs. 19.1% with Jacoby Brissett), Waddle is also seeing significantly better target quality (8.8 aDOT vs. 5.4).
In Tagovailoa’s four full games, Waddle is averaging 9.3 targets and 16.8 FPG. And, without DeVante Parker (who is out again this week), that jumps to 10.5 targets and 22.2 FPG in a small two-game sample.
Over the past 4 weeks, the Jets are giving up the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+6.6), the 3rd-most FPG to outside WRs, and the 12th-most FPG to slot WRs. So, no matter what, Waddle, who ran 41% of his routes from the slot last week, will have a very favorable matchup this week. Start him with confidence as a mid-range WR2. [SB]
Sit: Tyler Boyd @ Raiders
Since Tee Higgins’ return in Week 5, Boyd averages just 5.0 targets per game. Contrast that to Ja’Marr Chase’s 9.6 and Higgins’ 8.4. And Boyd averages just 7.6 FPG, compared to Chase’s 19.5 and Higgins’ 11.7.
So, you’ve probably already got the message by now, and have no intention of starting him. But in case you didn’t, you’re especially not starting him this week, against a Raiders defense that ranks 5th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs (10.1). Las Vegas’ rookie slot cornerback Nate Hobbs has drawn immense praise from Greg Cosell on all of our recent shows, and rightfully so, he currently ranks as PFF’s No. 6-highest graded CB. Boyd is an easy “sit” this week, and ranks as just a low-end WR4 in our projections. [SB]
Start: Dawson Knox vs. Colts
I still maintain that Knox should be viewed almost no differently from 2020 Robert Tonyan.
Knox ranks 7th among all TEs in FPG (11.8), but is averaging only 4.0 targets per game (24th). Last season, Tonyan finished as the overall TE3 despite ranking just 24th in total targets (3.7 targets per game). His 2.99 fantasy points per target average was the most by any 50-target TE in any season all-time. And Knox is just barely behind that mark this year, averaging 2.94 fantasy points per target.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is this: I don’t totally trust Knox, just like I never totally trusted Tonyan last year. And I’m expecting a heavy regression to the mean. But in spite of that, I still think we have to view Knox as an every-week TE1. In part due to the lack of depth at the TE position, and because he’s a key hyper-efficient cog in the juggernaut-like Bills passing attack-wheel.
And, in any case, I’m not expecting the regression to come this week. Buffalo has a massive 28.5-point implied total, and the Colts rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG (+4.9). So, fire up Knox as a mid- to low-end TE1 this week. [SB]
Sit: Jared Cook vs. Steelers
Cook had a season-worst performance last week, catching just 1 of 3 targets for 10 yards. He’s now fallen under 30 receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games. And Donald Parham continues to get more work and look like the more capable pass-catcher, having out-scored Cook in 3 of their last 5 games. So, Cook is just a low-end TE2 this week, in a bottom-10 matchup against the Steelers, who held TJ Hockenson to zero fantasy points on 1 target last week. [SB]
Start: Dan Arnold vs. 49ers
Arnold has hit at least 60 receiving yards and led the Jaguars in receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games. For perspective, Darren Waller has only 3 games with 60 or more yards all year. Since Week 5, Arnold ranks 3rd in targets per game (8.4), 4th in YPG (58.8), 5th in XFP/G (13.1), and 7th in FPG (10.9). His matchup looks tough on paper, as the 49ers rank 9th-best by FPG allowed to opposing TEs (9.7), but they rank perfectly neutral if schedule-adjusted (-0.3). And matchups don’t really matter too much to TEs unless at the polar extremes. So, I’ll still be starting Arnold this week as a low-end- to fringe-TE1. [SB]