We all struggle with start/sit decisions in fantasy football every week. We all likely use rankings or tiers to set our lineups but those don’t give you the context that can be helpful. I’ll go through some players every week that I believe are excellent starts and some that are best suited to be on your bench. I’m not going to tell you to start Todd Gurley or Michael Thomas. Those are locked and loaded studs. I’ll be addressing players that you may have some hesitancy about or some questions about. Let’s get it going!
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette – He’s coming off of a hamstring injury but he’s an easy start if he plays this week. The Jags are 7.5 point home favorites and they’re playing against the Jets who have surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. They’ve also resulted in the RB12 and RB3 in the past two weeks. You can also bet on Fournette’s usage being even better against the Jets this year, compared to last.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd – Boyd ranks seventh among wide receivers in fantasy points over the past two weeks. He’s also run 82% of his routes from the slot this year, and Atlanta’s nickel cornerback has not been playing well as of late. The Atlanta defense is decimated by injuries and Andy Dalton should be able to dice them up. Boyd could easily be a WR3 this week and maybe even more if A.J. Green isn’t healthy.
Lions RB Kerryon Johnson – Let’s start by saying that Johnson is a great flex play this week. He only has one more carry, but Johnson totals 78 more rushing yards than fellow running back LeGarrette Blount. After his 101 yard game last week, this may be the week he actually takes control of this backfield, usage wise. The matchup has gotten better as well with Cowboys LB Sean Lee potentially out. Last year, Dallas allowed only 3.52 yards per carry when Sean Lee was playing, but when he wasn’t, they surrendered 4.88 yards per carry.
Bengals RB Giovani Bernard – There is absolutely no reason why Gio should be on your bench this week. Last week when Joe Mixon was sidelined, Bernard saw 12 carries, nine targets, and put up 19.6 fantasy points. He played 81 percent of the team’s snaps and saw literally all of the team’s running back touches. Bernard is a better receiving back than he is pure runner, but that should fare him well against a Falcons defense that has surrendered the most catches to running backs in all of the past four seasons.
49ers WR Marqise Goodwin – Goodwin played only 61 percent of the team’s snaps last week, which is not great. He’s also been limited in practice this week. To make matters worse, he averaged only 11.0 fantasy points per game with C.J. Beathard at QB last year. This one is pretty simple but until we see improvement from Beathard with Jimmy Garoppolo out for the season, I feel very wary about 49ers pass catchers.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald – Fitz has only had seven targets and 37 yards the past two weeks. You gotta think he’s at less than 100 percent. He plays on the worst offense in the NFL, so that leaves hardly any room for upside. The matchup is actually tough too. He’s playing against a Seahawks defense that surprisingly ranks top 12 in fantasy points allowed to slot wide outs. He’s likely only a low-end WR3 this week and possibly worse.
Patriots WR Chris Hogan – Hogan has only seen 12 targets and ranks third worst in targets per route run. New England’s offense has not looked good at all and Tom Brady hasn’t been playing well either. To pile on to that, Miami leads the league in opposing passer rating, and also leads in interceptions and touchdowns allowed.
Jaguars WR Keelan Cole – Cole is the Jags most targeted WR but only by three more than Donte Moncrief and five more than Dede Westbrook. This matchup is more appealing for Westbrook than Cole, as Westbrook runs primarily from the slot and Cole runs from outside. The Jets are currently allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers, which is pretty shocking to me. However, and this seems more normal, they’ve allowed the second most to wide receivers out of the slot. I don’t exactly want to start either WR, as Bortles is not someone I’m confident in this week but if you have to, but if you have to then Dede is where you should lean.
Fantasy Football: Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups
Bye weeks are starting to hit and we’re here to help you navigate them for your fantasy football team. There’s a few priority adds this week so we’ll cover them briefly.
Keke Coutee, WR (21%) – Will Fuller tore his ACL last week and is out the rest of the season. This automatically means that Coutee will see a bump in target share. Now, they probably won’t be the valuable downfield targets that Fuller was seeing but he will see more targets nonetheless. He needs to be added in almost all 12 team formats but especially PPR formats.
D.J. Moore, WR (17%) – Moore finally broke out last week. He jumped from a sub 50% snap share, all the way to a 71% snap share. He was also used creatively, seeing two carries in addition to his five catches. Moore was a freak athlete as well, posting a 97th percentile SPARQ score. He now gets the easiest matchup of the season, facing the tissue soft Tampa Bay defense. He will be a plug and play wide receiver next week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (9%) – Regardless of which Tampa Bay quarterback was starting, Fitzpatrick and Winston combined have averaged 26.2 fantasy points per game. That would be second to only Pat Mahomes. What that means, is that Tampa Bay quarterbacks will put up fantasy points. The matchup also isn’t too bad, with the Panthers giving up the 12th most fantasy points to quarterbacks. With this not being a good streaming week, Fitzmagic is likely the top streaming option.
Cleveland Browns Players – All of them. Just monitor all of them. Hue Jackson is finally gone so that means the arrow points up for all Browns players. Granted, now Gregg Williams is the head coach now but the offense should still perform better with Hue gone. I’m not advising to go rush and buy Browns players but monitor them.
Fantasy Fallout: Jaguars Trade for Carlos Hyde
The Jaguars have made another trade mid-season. This time, for former Browns and 49ers running back, Carlos Hyde. The Jaguars dealt a 2019 5th round pick to the Browns for the back. This marks the second time that the Jaguars have traded with the Browns this year, as they also traded for QB Cody Kessler earlier this offseason. Here, we’ll evaluate what this trade means from a fantasy football perspective and how it affects everyone involved.
Right off the bat, this torpedos T.J. Yeldon’s value. Carlos Hyde coming in will push Yeldon to a backup role again, although it’ll likely be more of a timeshare than it was with Fournette. In terms of touches, I’d expect Hyde to get around 60-70% of the backfield touches and that’ll leave Yeldon around 30-40%. I do think Yeldon becomes a “buy” in dynasty though. This guarantees that he’s playing for a different team next year and he’s likely the consolation prize for the team that misses out on Lev Bell. Yeldon could have a bell cow role next year and the trade for Hyde should knock his value down enough that he’s worth poking the Yeldon owner to see if he wants to get out from under him now. In redraft though, Yeldon is playable in Week 7 as Hyde will be inactive but I think he’s droppable after Week 7.
For Carlos Hyde, he becomes a weekly low end RB1 or high end RB2 in Jacksonville now. He was touchdown dependent in Cleveland and was not efficient with his touches but he should continue to see volume on a team that will likely run him more than the Browns were. Ever since Baker Mayfield took over the starting job, the Browns have ranked 5th in pass attempts which curbed Hyde’s touch count. This trade says to me that the Jaguars want to be a run heavy offense again and that will stand to benefit Hyde. Unfortunately for Hyde’s fantasy owners, we won’t know his true value until we know what is happening with Fournette. My gut tells me that Fournette will get thrown onto the IR and maybe return later in the season but we have no way to be sure. If Fournette does come back in Week 10, then Hyde’s value should plummet as he takes a backseat to Fournette. However, there are two or three other possibilities, in my eyes. Scenario one, Fournette is put on IR and sits out for the rest of the season and Hyde becomes the lead running back on an offense that wants to lean on the run. That would make him a RB1 ROS. Scenario two, Fournette is put on IR but comes back later in the season. This would make Hyde an RB1 while Fournette is out and he may be plug and play for a few weeks. Scenario three, which I think is interesting, is that Fournette comes back in Week 10 but Hyde and Fournette split the backfield touches. This would essentially make both players unstartable. The Jaguars are not a particularly strong offense and would not be able to sustain to startable fantasy RBs. There’s an argument to be made for this strategy from a real football perspective though. Both Fournette and Hyde are injury prone and limiting their touches could benefit both players.
I do think this affects the peripheral pieces in Jacksonville, a little bit. Like I said, this trade signifies to me that the Jaguars want to be run heavy again. They’ve been one of the most pass heavy teams this year, largely by necessity, but this team doesn’t want to play like that. So this move likely lowers Blake Bortles weekly ceiling but may help his efficiency, although I doubt anybody was starting Bortles. I don’t think this trickles to the receivers a ton though. They may see less volume but they weren’t doing much anyways, outside of Dede Westbrook.
FIRE UP YOUR NICK CHUBB FOLKS! The Browns have moved on from Carlos Hyde and now we will unleash Nick Chubb. This makes Nick Chubb an every week RB2 for me, and honestly a high end one for me. Chubb was a highly touted prospect coming out of college who showed he was an amazing runner and a capable receiver. He has been extremely impressive and efficient on limited touches this year and he’s shown how elusive but also powerful he can be. I still believe in Baker and this offense has some nice pieces in it. The Browns also have an extremely nice schedule coming up, with the Texans being the next good run defense they face. They don’t play the Texans till December 2nd. Nick Chubb could be a league winner this year and you need to go get him. Add him off waivers, trade for him, just go get him. Starting him this week is risky, as we don’t know his workload yet but the Tampa Bay defense is tissue soft and I’d still slot him in as an RB2.
This also benefits Duke Johnson. Hopefully. Johnson has seen hardly any usage this year but I think we can assume that will change with the departure of Carlos Hyde. Johnson is a talented receiving back that can be electric when given touches. If he starts getting a substantial amount of touches though, he could also hurt Nick Chubb’s ceiling. There’s a world though where Johnson and Chubb share touches enough to make Johnson more valuable than Chubb in PPR formats. Johnson is still a must add in PPR formats until we see how the backfield touches shake out. I wouldn’t feel too confident in starting him this but that could obviously change in the coming weeks.
Fantasy Football: Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups
I’m back after missing last week and it’s just in time. We’re getting to the heart of the fantasy football season and you’ve got to make your waiver wire count if you want to win your league. That being said, let’s get to it.
Baker Mayfield, QB (42% ownership) – He hasn’t been producing video game numbers or even great numbers, but if you watch him play, it’s very impressive. He’s making throws all over the field and getting absolutely no help from his wide receivers. Wide receivers Callaway and Ratley both dropped would-be touchdowns on Sunday and that would’ve drastically improved Mayfield’s fantasy day. The main reason to target Mayfield if you need a streaming quarterback, is because over the next three weeks he plays Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. All those games figure to be shootouts and all three pit Mayfield against some of the worst defenses in the league. Get him now.
Jermaine Kearse, WR (1%) – Kearse saw 10 targets on Sunday that he turned into nine catches for 94 yards. Now, with Quincy Enunwa out for three to four weeks with an ankle sprain, Kearse’s volume should not only continue to be stable, but it may actually increase. The Jets offense has been better than expected and Sam Darnold is doing a good job of propping up his weapons.
Ito Smith, RB (9%) – Smith has filled in well in Devonta Freeman’s absence, scoring a touchdown in three straight games. He has had flex appeal in all the games that Freeman has missed and I’d expect that to continue. Freeman was placed on injured reserve today and the Falcons offense is a high powered one. While Freeman continues to battle injuries, Ito Smith needs to be rostered.
Christian Kirk, WR (14%) – Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has found a favorite. In Rosen’s first three games as a starter, Kirk has led the Cardinal’s in receptions. Kirk was a dynamic rookie coming out and is finally seeing volume that may make him viable in fantasy leagues. He’s likely still just a flier flex play as he’s paired with an anemic offense but Rosen and Kirk could be the only bright spots that we see.
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