A word about my Must Start/Sit selections: I try to avoid listing Must Start players that are obvious plays and avoid deep depth chart players in my Must Sit selections. I primarily consider matchups that are exploitable on either side of the ball, and in essence, I offer Hot Takes with statistically backed confidence.
QB Must Start
Let’s be honest, there is not a lot of tape or statistics to turn to evaluate Winston this year. And that is OK. He is playing the Falcons, and they have yet to stop any quarterback this season with a modicum of talent. Rember that Winston threw for more than 5,000 yards last year. Yes, Interceptions were a problem, but he is in a different offensive system, and he had LASIK eye surgery in the off-season to correct his vision (for which he never wore contacts during games). I really think Winston finishes in the Top 10 at the position this week with a chance at Top 5.
QB Must Sit
The Colts signal-caller fails the eye test for me every time I see him play. His mechanics are horrendous (both arm and feet), and if he did not have the resume he has, I cannot help but think Rivers would not be able to get a starting job in the league if he was just starting out. I feel Rivers’ play is dependent on his weekly opponent and his offensive line’s ability to keep the back of his jersey clean. Packers are the 5th best team this year at limiting fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The Green Bay defense will hold Rivers to less than 250 yards, in my opinion.
RB Must Start
Fair to say the Lions rookie running back has helped put his team’s Running Back By Committee to rest. Swift has seen 72% of the offensive snaps in the last four games and has received 4 Red Zone pass targets along with 4 Red Zone rushing attempts. The Panthers are not very good versus the run, ranking 27th in the league in permitting fantasy points to their opponents. Double-digit fantasy points are almost a given, and Swift can break 20 without bonuses if the game flow goes his way.
Since returning from injury, the Patriots running back has rushed for more than 100 yards on three occasions. However, in those six games, Harris has only been targeted on two pass attempts. The utility of Harris to score fantasy points is hinged upon an effective ground-and-pound running game. Luckily, the Texans are 31st this season versus the run and give up a team average of 171 yards rushing per game to opponents. Just bear in mind that Bill Belichick does not care about your fantasy team.
RB Must Sit
My recommendation to sit Gordon is mostly due to game flow and his opponent. Firstly, the Broncos are 3.5 point underdogs, and that ought to limit the run game expressly (I expect Phillip Lindsey to see a lot of check downs no matter who is under center for Denver). Secondly, the Dolphins are playing inspired defense of late and are the 6th most challenging defense for a running back to score fantasy points against. In the last 4 games, Gordon has only averaged 39.5 yards per game rushing. Only start Gordon is you have no alternative.
Ravens RBBC, BAL
Yet again, I am listing an entire backfield in my Must Sit section. Believe it or not, the fact that Melvin Ingram has returned from injury has made this backfield a mess from a fantasy perspective. The offense has been struggling, and there are just not enough touches to go around to make J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, or Ingram fantasy relevant. The Titans have held opposing team defenses to about 86 total yards rushing over the last month (for a 3.7 yard per attempt). On paper, Baltimore running backs are going to be very frustrated.
WR Must Start
As far as WR/CB matchups go, Kupp has one of the most favorable ones this week on paper. Based on my research, the Rams slot receiver ought to see a heavy dose of the Buccaneers Sean Murphy-Bunting, who is ranked in the bottom tier for coverage in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Kupp has a 2-inch height difference in this matchup and has been heavily targeted by Jared Goff (at least 5 targets in each of the last 5 games), especially in the Red Zone (3 times in the previous 4 games). Kupp should flourish this week.
Think the Vikings have finally figured out that keeping their possession receiver on the field provides a distraction for their effective run game. In the last month, Thielen has been on the field for 98% of the team’s snaps (up 22%). The result has been a plethora of success on the ground for Minnesota and specifically for Thielen in the Red Zone (5 targets and 3 touchdown receptions). The Cowboys have been allowing opposing lead wide receivers to average 19.26 fantasy points (sans bonuses) against them over the last 5 games. Expect a big day.
The Cowboys speedster seems to perform well no matter who is under center (OK, maybe not DiNucci), and the Vikings are giving up almost 2 receiving touchdowns per game this season (worst in the league). This is a recipe for Cooper’s success who will see a healthy dose of a slower and shorter Vikings defender in Chris Jones (whom Minnesota recently claimed off waivers from the Lions).
WR Must Sit
The Patriots’ former first-round pick has been a mere afterthought to Cam Newton on passing downs and did not even get a target last week after returning from being out for two weeks. There has been a lot of talk out of New England this week about getting Harry more involved in the passing game. However, Harry ought to draw a lot of coverage from the Texans Eric Murray, who is easily a Top 25 cornerback in the league. This is arguably one of the toughest WR/CB matchups on paper this week league-wide.
The Broncos speedster has been on fire of late, garnering 10 targets in each of the last two games. Unfortunately for Hamler, the Dolphins defense has been surging and features two of the better cornerbacks in the league today in Xavien Howard and Nik Needham. This matchup is just too tough to overcome, and Hamler will have a difficult time getting more than 9 fantasy points even in PPR.
The Eagles rookie wide receiver will get schooled this week by Denzel Ward – and I think it is going to be ugly. The Browns veteran corner will put Reagor on his island, and Wentz will likely forget he has the receiver at his disposal.
TE Must Start
The Chargers tight end is averaging 10.22 fantasy points (sans bonuses) per week over the last 11 games, and he is facing a Jets defense with problems containing players from this position. I project Henry to have 5 catches for 55 yards, and the addition of a touchdown is likely.
TE Must Sit
The combination of uncertainty from the quarterback position mixed with the excellent defensive coverage of the Vikings Eric Kendricks versus tight ends all season long means Schultz should sit on your bench this week.