Coach’s Office: Who to Start and Who to Sit – Week 13

SAINTS @ COWBOYS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Dak Prescott, Drew Brees

SUB – None

SIT – None

The Dak Attack is back!!! The Cowboys young signal-caller has thrown for 2+ TD in each of the last three home games and he’s at home yet again this week against a leaky Saints pass defense. While much improved, New Orleans still allowed 21 combined points to Jeff Driskel and Andy Dalton in Week 10 and they should provide Dak enough opportunity to reward his fantasy owners. This could be a bumpier week for Brees than normal on the road against an up and down Cowboys defense that held Matt Ryan in check but allowed a passable fantasy night to Colt McCoy. You’re not sitting Brees, so all systems go.

Running Backs

START – Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott

SUB – Mark Ingram

SIT – Rod Smith

The above mentioned Dallas D has been surprisingly stout against the run in 2018 when it comes to downhill runners but have been vulnerable to running backs who can make plays in the passing game. Only two players have managed to top 65 rushing yards against the Cowboys this year and they’ve allowed only two rushing TD since Week 4. Ingram is a risky bet this week but Kamara should still be OK. Zeke is a must-start every week, but the Saints are also stout on the ground so temper expectations.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas

SUB – Tre’Quan Smith, Ben Watson, Cole Beasley

SIT – All Other

The Cowboys are still fools for giving up a 1st round draft pick for Cooper but he’s paying dividends so far. He’s clearly Dak’s favorite target and he’s been a boon to fantasy owners since the trade. Thomas is the other start in a game that will see plenty of fantasy production through the air. There would be more in addition to these two but it’s just too hard to predict where it will come from. Four undrafted rookies caught TD’s from Brees in Week 12 showcasing the quarterback’s unpredictability and willingness to spread the love. You can sub Smith, Watson, and Beasley if you need a flier this week but the rest of this field is too unpredictable.

BEARS @ GIANTS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Mitchell Trubisky

SUB – None

SIT – Eli Manning, Chase Daniel

It’s still up in the air whether Trubisky will play this weekend which could thrust Daniel into another start. Last week Daniel threw the ball 37 times and converted two touchdowns against the Lions on Thanksgiving. The Giants have been a mixed bag of good an bad for opposing quarterbacks and we still don’t know what Daniel is yet. If Trubisky goes, you can roll the dice but I would avoid Daniel at this point. I’m also avoiding Manning who will be facing a tremendous Bears pass rush behind a weak offensive line. There are better QB options in other games this week.

Running Backs

START – Saquon Barkley

SUB – Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard

SIT – None

Rarely does a top-tier offensive draft pick live up to the hype but Barkley has done that and more. With 1400+ total yards and 12 TD’s, Barkley has been one of the best players in fantasy this year and should continue to deliver despite a poor matchup against a solid Chicago defense. The Giants ground defense has been beatable surrendering a rushing touchdown each of the past three weeks. While I’m not comfortable anchoring my RB corps with either Cohen or Howard, each is an acceptable sub if needed this week.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Odell Beckham Jr., Taylor Gabriel

SUB – Trey Burton, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson, Rhett Ellison

SIT – All Others

Beckham has posted 14+ fantasy points every week this season except for two in which he dropped 9.5 and 10.5. He’s safe to keep in your lineups. Surprisingly, the most consistent WR on the Bears this year has been Taylor Gabriel. Whether it’s been Trubisky or Daniel under center, Gabriel has been the go-to man to move the sticks and he should be primed for another solid fantasy day. Robinson is always a chance for a big day but he’s had more non-factor outings than useful starts making him a sub if you have more consistent offerings. Burton and Engram are really starts given the scarcity at TE but both have been less than trustworthy and failed to live up to their potential overall. Engram is banged up and may miss the week altogether if he does you can roll the dice on Ellison in a pinch. You should be starting Burton unless you have a better option like Cameron Brate. Shepard and Miller are a mixed back of results but worthy flyers if you’re dealing with injuries.

CARDINALS @ PACKERS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Aaron Rodgers

SUB – Josh Rosen

SIT – None

There’s no shocker here, Rodgers should be in your lineup. Arizona has been better than average against the pass and more vulnerable against the run so you may need to hope for more points elsewhere this week, be prepared. Rosen leapt off to a promising start against a lethal Chargers defense last week, marching down the field on his opening drive and hitting Fitzgerald on a 25 yard TD pass. That was all he would do. There are risks with the rookie, but he has skill and the Packers defense is not intimidating. He’s a reasonable sub this week as a possible 250/2 type line.

Running Backs

START – David Johnson, Aaron Jones

SUB – None

SIT – Jamaal Williams

Now we’re starting to cook. This game features two RB’s who didn’t light the world on fire in the first half of the season but have been revelations since then. Both backs are firmly entrenched as every down horses on these teams and both opposing defenses are at a minimum soft against running backs. Green lights here.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Davante Adams, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald

SUB – Jimmy Graham, Ricky Seals-Jones

SIT – All Others

Adams has had 100+ yards or a TD each week since Week 4 and has blossomed into one of the top fantasy WR’s this year with 1022 yards and 10 TD on the season. He’s joined in the starting lists by Kirk and Fitzgerald who may be ready for a solid run of production. Each week that goes by Rosen develops a little more chemistry with the duo. The Cardinals defense has the play-makers and upside to produce across the board and the Packers defense is weak enough for this to be one of those weeks. It’s truly mind-blowing that Rodgers and Jimmy Graham can’t get on the same page but here we are at the end of a three-week stretch where Graham hasn’t topped 6 points. He’s still talented enough to start and Rodgers has to throw to someone, but he’s no more than a sub at this point. RSJ is similar in his upside and just as frightful when he’s not getting the looks. At some point, the Arizona passing game is going to open up and that could be this week, despite likely less than ideal conditions. The rest of the Packers receiving corps is far too fickle to trust at this point until Randall Cobb returns to full health.

COLTS @ JAGUARS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Andrew Luck

SUB – None

SIT – Blake Bortles

The Lucky number is 8. As in, eight straight games with 3+ TD for Luck and the biggest question is whether the Jaguars maligned cast of defensive stars can step up. They didn’t in Week 10 when Luck had 285 yards and 3 TD and there’s really no argument to be made for sitting him any week. Bortles has simply been a disaster this year. He’s thrown for more than 1 TD only three times in 2018 which is the same number of times he’s had 0 completions. Stay away.

Running Backs

START – TJ Yeldon, Marlon Mack

SUB – Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins (if Mack misses), Carlos Hyde

SIT – Leonard Fournette (suspended)

After a bizarre brawl in Buffalo that culminated in Leonard Fournette throwing several punches at Shaq Lawson, the Jacksonville star will be suspended this week. This makes the Yeldon/Hyde combo our best hope for fantasy production here. The Colts defense just finished giving up 26 points to Kenyan Drake last weekend, so there’s some room for scoring opportunities and I give those to Yeldon through the passing game where he’s been effective all year. Mack is the guy in Indy but he’s currently in the concussion protocol and there’s a chance he can’t go. If he misses, Hines and Wilkins may have some low-end value but only trustworthy as subs if you don’t have anything better.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – TY Hilton, Eric Ebron

SUB – Dede Westbrook

SIT – All Others

Hilton and Ebron are both being rested this week for various dings so monitor both, but they are Lucks go-to-guys in a passing game that, once again, has had 3+ TD every week. I like Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant at times, but not against Jacksonville’s secondary and I have to fade the entire Jacksonville receiving corps except for Westbrook. Westbrook is the biggest threat to convert a pass into a score but Bortles keeps all options floored for the most part. There’s just too much inconsistency to trust there.

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BROWNS @ TEXANS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Baker Mayfield, Deshaun Watson

SUB – None

SIT – None

Watch out NFL, Baker Mayfield is starting to blossom. Over the past five weeks, Mayfield has 13 TD and 2 INT and is coming off his best performance with 4 TD passes at Cincinnati. Houston’s pass defense is better than anything he’s faced in that span, but the young gunslinger is a startable fantasy option on a weekly basis. Watson is also finding a groove and Cleveland’s pass defense is one of the leakiest in the league. Both QB’s are solid options this week.

Running Backs

START – Nick Chubb, Lamar Miller, Duke Johnson (PPR only)

SUB – None

SIT – Alfred Blue

Chubb is a rising star in the NFL and that’s now back-to-back weeks with receiving TD’s for a guy who was considered by many as a pure runner. The rookie is an all-around threat, despite the presence of Duke Johnson but this game could turn into a shootout making both backs viable starts in PPR formats. There’s enough love to go around the Browns backfield that both guys should produce in this one. Miller, on the other hand, has been up and down but is rolling right now with four strong fantasy outings over his past five weeks. He’s back into must-start territory as the primary workhorse on a rising offensive force in Houston.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Deandre Hopkins, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku

SUB – Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Callaway, Keke Coutee

SIT – All Others

Nuk has a 73/1024/8 line this year and remains one of the top WR’s in the land, all systems go. I’m a Landry enthusiast but that’s back to back weeks of lackluster production for the Cleveland slot man. That said, at some point, he and Mayfield are going to gel and it will be glorious, why not this week? Njoku is your other start in this one as a high upside TE play. He’s caught 10 of his last 11 targets for 134 yards and a TD and is a potential for big scoring plays on a weekly basis. Thomas, Callaway, and Coutee are a trio of guys who could pop for production but also carry a risk of underachieving. I’m comfortable starting them all this week as reasonable options in a game that could become a bit of a shootout.

PANTHERS @ BUCCANEERS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Cam Newton, Jameis Winston

SUB – None

SIT – None

He lives!!! Fresh off a return to the starting lineup, Winston led the Buccaneers to a rare win last week by piling 312 yards and 2 TD. He seems to be back in favor and the Panthers secondary is roastable so go ahead and trot him out there in what might be another shootout. Newton is a weekly must start and the Tampa Bay pass defense is non-existent. The dual-threat QB should be near the top of the fantasy charts this week.

Running Backs

START – Christian McCaffery

SUB – Peyton Barber

SIT – CJ Anderson, Ronald Jones

Run CMC just keeps on chugging with yet another monster performance last week. His 51 point showing in Week 12 was just the latest addition to a season in which he’s accumulated 1365 all-purpose yards and 10 total TD. On the flip side of this coin is Barber who has been a mixed bag of ups and downs. He has rushing TD in back-to-back weeks but the Bucs could fall behind early in this one and have to abandon the run. I’m only using Barber if I have to at this point.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – DJ Moore, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, Greg Olsen

SUB – DeSean Jackson, Devin Funchess, Chris Godwin

SIT – All Others

It took ten weeks but Moore has broken out and is quickly establishing himself as a top end fantasy WR. His ability to contribute as a runner only further boosts his fantasy value. With two consecutive weeks of 20+ fantasy points, he’s a must-start along with juggernaut Mike Evans. Brate is also a hot starting commodity with the absence of OJ Howard and he should deliver solid production out of the TE position the rest of the way, as should Olsen. It’s possible that Djax, Funchess, and Godwin will produce, as could Curtis Samuel, but there’s too much uncertainty with those players to fully trust. If you’re desperate you can dip into these names but avoid them if you can.

BILLS @ DOLPHINS – Ciriaco

Quarterback

START – None

SUB – Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill

SIT – None

I would only start one of these QB’s in Superflex or out of desperation. There are no byes left so I hope you can do better. Averaging 141.7 yards per game, Allen has only been successful when he succeeds on the ground. In other words, he has only been successful in two out of seven starts. With no 300 yard games to go with one three score game in 2018, Tannehill can be safely sat in one QB leagues.

Running Back

START – Kenyan Drake

SUB – LeSean McCoy

SIT – Frank Gore

With only one game of 15 or more PPR points, McCoy makes for a risky start. The only reason to even consider McCoy this week is because the Dolphins are the fourth worst defense against ground attacks. Drake has been a TD or bust option thus far in 2018. In the games, he scores he has usable yards from scrimmage. Otherwise, he is an RB3. Against the average defense of the Bills, I expect Drake to produce Sunday. Gore should retire.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

START – None

SUB – Zay Jones, Danny Amendola

SIT – All Others

Amendola was a usable option for his managers when Brock Osweiler was throwing him the ball but had only one catch in Tannehill’s return. He should start only in the deepest of formats. Jones had a breakout game with Matt Barkley at the helm in week 11  and looked to be on his way to becoming fantasy relevant. He followed that up with zeros across the board with Allen throwing the football. Say your prayers before starting him. Cut all the other options for these teams immediately.

BRONCOS @ BENGALS – Ciriaco

Quarterback

START – Case Keenum

SUB – None

SIT – Jeff Driskel

Against a defense that has fallen apart in the last several weeks, Keenum makes for an interesting option for QB steamers. I’m not a hundred percent confident Keenum will smash in this game against a team that has given up the second most yards and scores to QB’s. Keenum will not have a more smashable game this year. The Broncos defensive reputation is more impressive than the on-field production but the pass rushers will cause hell for Driskel on Sunday. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller have a combined 19.5 sacks in 2018 and will meet in the backfield to confront Driskel often Sunday.

Running back

START – Philip Lindsay, Joe Mixon

SUB – Royce Freeman

SIT – Gio Bernard

Lindsay is fast approaching 1000 yards and has caused Freeman to be glued to the bench. Freeman has double-digit touches in only three out of nine games this season.  Lindsay will have over 1000 yards from scrimmage after this contest. That is because the Bengals are equally horrid defending both air and ground attacks. The Broncos will be successful with whoever touches the ball. The Broncos are an above average defense versus the run but Mixon will get enough touches to make him a solid start.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

START – Emmanuel Sanders

SUB – Courtland Sutton, Tyler Boyd, CJ Uzomah

SIT – All Others

Sanders will be a solid start against the Bengals non-existent defense. Manny has three mediocre games before exploding for 21.6 points last week. Expect him to smash Sunday. Sutton has been a disappointment in his starts since Demaryius Thomas was shipped to Houston. Averaging less than 50 yards per game with seven catches and zero scores since becoming the WR2 make Sutton a scary start. The matchup is the only reason to consider playing Sutton this week. There is just too much mystery in Driskel to have too much confidence in his receiving options. Start at your own peril.

RAVENS @ FALCONS – Ciriaco

Quarterback

START- Lamar Jackson, Matt Ryan

SUB – None

SIT – None

With 190 yards and a score on the ground in his first two starts, Jackson is off to a phenomenal start. Those rushing numbers alone are almost worth the start with his passing production lagniappe to his core ground production. Against an injury-depleted Falcons team that has given up the seventh most rushing yards to QB’s, I would start Jackson with no regrets. Ryan is a scary start against a well-coached Ravens defense that is third in passing yards given up in 2018. The thing is the Falcons will have to pass to keep his game competitive making Ryan a volume based start this week.  

Running back

START – Gus Edwards,

SUB – Tevin Coleman

SIT – Alex Collins, Ish Smith

Edwards has averaged 20 carries per game since he took the starters role. Tied to a running QB he will continue to see wide open lanes for the rest of the season. Averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry he will be a solid RB2 for the rest of the season. Coleman’s fantasy production has been buoyed by his seven scores. He would have been a total dud on Thanksgiving if not for his last score. Against a stout Ravens defense giving up only 13.6 points per game to opposing backfields I would only start Coleman if my options were severely limited. Collins and Smith are droppable in seasonal formats.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

START – Julio Jones, Austin Hooper

SUB – Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley

SIT – All Baltimore receiving options

In a lost season Julio’s primary goal may still be to get 2000 yards. This Ravens defense may be his toughest to date but he is too hot to sit and you should always start your studs. Sanu and Ridley are low-end WR3 options who could get close to the WR2 conversation if they score. I would not bet on it. With Jackson not getting close to 200 yards passing in either start his receiving options may be droppable.

RAMS @ LIONS – Ciriaco

Quarterback

START- Jared Goff

SUB – None

SIT – Matthew Stafford

Goff has only had one unplayable start in 2018. Against a stumbling Lions defense and coming off a bye Goff is one of the best starts of week 13. Stafford hasn’t had less than 4257 yards in the last seven years but will be hard pressed to get close to that number this year. Stafford has five touchdowns and five interceptions in his last five games, making him un-rosterable if not for his name value. The Lions have done him no favors by trading away his security blanket Golden Tate. With Marvin Jones on IR and Kerryon Johnson injured, this situation looks to get worse before it gets better.

Running back

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START –  Todd Gurley, Kerryon Johnson (if he starts)

SUB – Theo Riddick

SIT – LeGarrette Blount

Gurley never sits. Kerryon Johnson was on way to becoming matchup proof when he went down. If he plays he starts no questions asked. Riddick does just enough in the passing game to be usable. This is the type of game I expect Blount to struggle in. The score will quickly get away from the Lions and Blount will cede work to Riddick.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

START –  Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds,

SUB – Gerald Everett, Bruce Ellington

SIT – Brandin Cooks, TJ Jones

In tough individual matchups Cooks, as a function of the offense, will oftentimes be a decoy opening up the other receiving talent on the Rams. This signals big days for Woods and Reynolds. Both can be viewed as WR2 options going forward. Everett is a golden TE2 option even against the tough Detroit TE defense. Ellington gets enough volume to be a flex with a usable floor. Cooks is tough to sit but Slay will make Goff look elsewhere on Sunday making his managers look for other WR2 options.

CHIEFS @ RAIDERS – Josh

Quarterbacks

START – Patrick Mahomes

SIT – None

SUB – Derek Carr

The Kansas City Chiefs are likely going to steamroll the Oakland Raiders in this matchup. Fantasy superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a must-start. While Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is normally someone to never consider in a lineup, the prospect of garbage time is intriguing. Still, he’s a very low-end option that likely should be ignored except in two-quarterback leagues.

Running Backs

START – Kareem Hunt

SIT – Spencer Ware

SUB – Jalen Richard, Doug Martin

This one is as simple as the quarterback position. Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs is outstanding and a must-start. While the Raiders are not good on offense, running backs Doug Martin and Jalen Richard are in the mix for flex consideration. The Chiefs are not good against the run, which benefits Martin, at least until the game script gets away from the Raiders. When that script flips to a throw-only scenario, Richard becomes a viable PPR flex option.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce

SIT – Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts

SUB – Sammy Watkins (if healthy), Chris Conley (if Watkins isn’t healthy), Jared Cook, Marcell Ateman

Broken record time: Tyreek Hill. Travis Kelce. Chiefs, good. Most Raiders, bad. Game-flow beneficiaries for the Raiders include Jared Cook as a low-end TE1 this week and Marcell Ateman. For those unaware, Ateman was a seventh-round draft choice out of Oklahoma State. He’s not a terrible receiver. He’s also seen five and 10 targets in the last two games, respectively. With the Chiefs out in front, Ateman could soak up double-digit targets again and fall into a solid fantasy performance. On the bubble this week is the Chiefs’ No. 2 receiver, whoever that ends up being. If Sammy Watkins appears to be close to a full-go (meaning full practice participation by Friday) then he’s worth a flex spot. If that criterion isn’t met by Watkins, then Chris Conley enters the flex conversation.

JETS @ TITANS – Josh

Quarterbacks

START – None

SIT – Josh McCown

SUB – Marcus Mariota

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is putting together a solid second half of the season. He has three 22-plus-fantasy-point outings since his team’s Week 8 bye. With a stout New York Jets defense in his way this week, Mariota is still worth considering as a fantasy starter given his hot hand. Josh McCown hasn’t been very good filling in for rookie Sam Darnold and can be left on the bench (preferably the waiver wire).

Running Backs

START – None

SIT – Elijah McGuire, Isaiah Crowell

SUB – Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry

Dion Lewis is the primary running back in the Titans’ offense, making him a flex-worthy option, especially in PPR leagues. His backfield mate, Derrick Henry remains on the boom-or-bust radar because of his red zone chances. If the Titans get in close, Henry could power one over the goal line and make his fantasy day. For the Jets, neither Elijah McGuire nor Isaiah Crowell has separated from the other in terms of opportunity. Couple that with the Titans’ solid run defense (ignore Lamar Miller’s 97-yard touchdown scamper last week as that’s not the kind of thing that happens very often), and you have the recipe for a pair of sits.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Chris Herndon, Corey Davis

SIT – Robby Anderson, Tajae Sharpe

SUB – Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Jonnu Smith

Corey Davis remains a solid target in the Titans’ offense and has done well over the course of Mariota’s hot streak. For the Jets, tight end Chris Herndon has at least three catches or a touchdown in each of his last six games. He offers a decent floor at a position that has been turned into a wasteland by injuries this season. Those are the only two “starts” among pass-catchers in this one. Although some others offer flex appeal. Leading the way is Quincy Enunwa, who is the top receiver for the Jets. There’s also Jermaine Kearse, who is perhaps McCown’s favorite target in the passing game. With McCown under center, Kearse becomes a player worth taking a good look at. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith also makes the list. Although he has double-digit PPR points in each of his last four games, he has been targeted more than three times just once during that span. Mark him down as a touchdown-dependent tight end this week.

VIKINGS @ PATRIOTS – Josh

Quarterbacks

START – None

SIT – None

SUB – Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady

I can feel the angry glares as I’m writing this one, so allow me to explain. When the Minnesota Vikings visit the New England Patriots, quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Tom Brady are solid starting options, but neither is a must-start. Despite his weapons, Brady hasn’t scored more than 19.22 fantasy points since Week 7. Cousins has only topped that mark twice in his last seven outings. There should be some solid numbers to go around in this game, but the number of better fantasy quarterback options this week is in the double-digits.

Running Backs

START – James White, Dalvin Cook

SIT – Rex Burkhead, Latavius Murray

SUB – Sony Michel

Let’s start with the Vikings. Dalvin Cook is the best back on the team and has dominated snaps since his return from his hamstring injury. Latavius Murray can find some work if the game script calls for some extra runs or if his style is a better fit like it was last week. But Cook is a solid RB2 who should be in the lineup. Now on to the Patriots. James White is still the best PPR option in the backfield. He’s struggled lately with single-digit PPR totals in each of the last two weeks, but his production wasn’t because of a lack of opportunity as he has 13 targets between the last two games. Sony Michel is the next-best Patriots running back, and he’s in the flex conversation against a Minnesota front line that plays the run well. Then there’s Rex Burkhead. He was activated from injured reserve this week, and some may have snagged him off the waiver wire. But here’s the thing: When Michel was out the first few weeks of the season, and Burkhead had solid playing time, he never scored more than 7.9 PPR points. With Michel leading the rushing attack, and White as a great pass-catcher out of the backfield, there isn’t room for Burkhead to produce unless Bill Belichick forces him in there and ruins the value of all three backs (which is a possibility).

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen

SIT – Phillip Dorsett, Laquon Treadwell

SUB – Kyle Rudolph, Cordarrelle Patterson

Julian Edelman remains a solid WR2 in PPR scoring with the volume of targets he receives from Brady. With Vikings shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes out of action, Josh Gordon should be able to find plenty of space to make plays as well. While Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been the solid fantasy tight end he was expected to be, the skill and opportunity are enough that he should be started as a mid-range TE1. The other Patriots pass-catcher worth a look this week is Cordarrelle Patterson. There’s no analysis with this one other than it’s a revenge game for him. On the Vikings side, receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are locked in lineups when healthy. Though Diggs did miss practice Wednesday with a knee issue, so his status is worth monitoring, as he tends to perform poorly when he plays through ailments. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is worth a look at tight end in deeper leagues.

49ERS @ SEAHAWKS – Josh

Quarterbacks

START – Russell Wilson

SIT – Nick Mullens

SUB – None

When the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers this week, things could get ugly. After looking great in his debut, 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens has come back to earth. He struggled against a very poor Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense last week, so he can’t be trusted against a better Seattle Seahawks unit this week. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson appears to have hit his groove, scoring at least 20 fantasy points in five of his last six outings.

Running Backs

START – Chris Carson

SIT – Rashaad Penny, Mike Davis, Alfred Morris, Kyle Juszczyk

SUB – Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson

Chris Carson dominates the touches for the Seahawks and remains a solid RB2 with his volume. Other lineup options in this game are 49ers running backs Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson. Who’s Jeff Wilson? Why is Breida not an automatic start? First, Wilson appears to be the new backup for the 49ers as Alfred Morris was inactive last week. He looked good in his limited role as well. Now on to Breida. He limped off twice last week and has an ankle injury on the practice report to start the week. Ankle issues have left Breida limited or forced him out of games early throughout the season, including last week when he remained on the sideline after limping off the second time. While Breida is likely to play through the injury this week, he’s a risk as a result. And this makes Wilson a big gamble, as he could have a solid role if Breida is limited, or perhaps take over if Breida is forced to exit early again.

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Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Tyler Lockett, George Kittle

SIT – Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Pierre Garcon

SUB – Nick Vannett, Doug Baldwin, David Moore, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis

There are only two must-starts among pass-catchers in this one: 49ers tight end George Kittle and Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, who has become the top passing option in Seattle. However, there are several good bubble options this week, including Seahawks receivers Doug Baldwin and David Moore. Moore is more of a boom-or-bust play while Baldwin offers a higher floor but lower ceiling. Also in the conversation is Seahawks tight end, Nick Vannett, though he saw only two targets last week and is an extremely risky option. Also in the conversation are 49ers receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis. Goodwin was out last week with a non-injury issue, so there are no concerns (other than his quarterback not playing well, anyway) if he returns this week. Pettis absorbed plenty of targets last week with Goodwin and Pierre Garcon out of action. Even if Garcon were to return, the 49ers should be giving Pettis more work moving forward as they sort out their future plans for the receiving corps.

CHARGERS @ STEELERS – Ben

Quarterbacks

START – Philip Rivers

SUB – Ben Roethlisberger

SIT – None

Having posted 20+ fantasy point every week this year, Rivers is a must-start option and will have a solid day against a mid-tier Steelers pass defense. Big Ben, on the other hand, could be in for a tough day. The Chargers defense is vastly improved and the return of Joey Bosa has sent positive shockwaves through every layer of it. This will be a tough matchup for Roethlisberger and if you have a better option this week might be the week.

Running Backs

START – James Conner, Austin Eckler

SUB – Justin Jackson

SIT – All Others

Melvin Gordon’s MCL injury is a massive blow to fantasy owners and hopefully, if you owned him, you were able to scoop up Eckler. Justin Jackson will get some run as an early-down back making him an emergency sub but Eckler should be the one to post a stout fantasy number with his ability both as a runner and a pass catcher. Conner has “struggled” of late with only 24 points combined over his past two weeks but he remains the primary weapon out of the backfield in Pittsburgh. He remains a must-start back the rest of the way.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

START – Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster

SUB – Vance McDonald

SIT – All Others

Three of these guys – Allen, Brown, JuJu – should be in your lineup every week regardless of matchups. They’re simply too good, even in a bad situation, to bench. Once again citing a much improved Chargers defense, Brown and JuJu carry some risk but you can’t bench them. The Steelers pass defense is not scary at all and it’s about time for Mike Williams truly step into his role as the #2 on the Chargers team. I’ve slotted him into lineups if I have him in a game that should provide plenty of scoring opportunities. McDonald is the only other option I’m tempted to trot out in a lineup this week. Big Ben likes his tight ends and VD could be used as an emergency check down this week along with Conner. He’s not an ideal start, but OK if you’re desperate.

REDSKINS @ EAGLES – Ciriaco

Quarterback

START- Carson Wentz

SUB – Colt McCoy

SIT – None

In a game that features two bottom ten pass defenses both of these QB’s will be useful Monday night. Wentz offers week winning upside as against a Washington pass defense that has crumbled in recent weeks. McCoy is a workable streaming option versus a secondary that has been abused all season. Oh, and most of those guys are hurt causing Philly to take long looks at practice squads WR’s to fill holes in the secondary.

Running back

START – Josh Adams

SUB – Adrian Peterson

SIT – Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood

Adams has completely taken over this backfield and going forward is an every week RB2. He had 23 carries after having only 23 runs in his previous three games. Even in a tough matchup, Adams managers can confidently start him Monday night. Peterson has been heavily game script dependent in 2018. He destroyed in wins and averaged less than ten PPR points in losses. I’m fairly certain the Redskins are losing this one. Clement and Smallwood can be safely benched because of Adams emergence.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

START – Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery

SUB – Josh Doctson, Trey Quinn, Golden Tate

SIT – Vernon Davis, Nelson Agholor

Reed has performed as a TE1 the last two weeks and is a great target in the middle of the field for weak armed QB’s. Even against the tough coverage of Malcolm Jenkins, he will get the volume to perform as a number one option for his managers. Doctson and Quinn make for a good gamble at WR3/Flex against the aforementioned depleted Eagle backfield. Ertz and Travis Kelce are the biggest difference makers at their position coming down the stretch. I like Alshon this week against the overrated Josh Norman. Tate has taken time to integrate into the Eagles offense. He is not a bad bet produce Monday night. Agholor is so far down on the target depth chart that he can safely be ignored Monday night.

KICKERS – Josh

START – Graham Gano, Harrison Butker, Brandon McManus

SIT – Matt Prater, Brett Maher, Jason Myers

There’s been a push on social media this week to remove kickers from fantasy football. I hate this idea. Projecting kickers is the same as projecting flex-type receivers and running backs. You seek opportunity, evaluate matchups, consider playing conditions and pick the option who has the best chance to put points on the fantasy scoreboard. Kickers are no different. With the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos in line to have plenty of scoring chances, their respective kickers – Graham Gano, Harrison Butker and Brandon McManus – are starts this week. Teams that should struggle to score, thus hurt their kicker’s chances to produce for fantasy, are the Detroit Lions (Matt Prater), Dallas Cowboys (Brett Maher) and New York Jets (Jason Myers).

DEFENSES – Josh

START – Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers

SIT – Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys

The same call to eliminate kickers from fantasy has also been made with respect to defensive units. Again, the same logic applies to picking a defense. Giving up a ton of yards and points can result in negative points, but where you make up ground on that is finding a defense that has a good shot at sacks and turnovers. Those are the true money-makers for a fantasy defense. Sacks and turnovers. Some defenses in good position for sacks and turnovers this week are the Carolina Panthers (taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who give up a lot of sacks and throw a lot of picks), the Los Angeles Rams (taking on the Detroit Lions who have had trouble protecting the quarterback and ball) and the Green Bay Packers (who host the Arizona Cardinals who struggle with just about everything related to offense). Defenses to avoid, or ones who could get shredded and produce negative points this week, are the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.

Series Navigation<< Coach’s Office: Who to Start and Who to Sit – Week 12Coach’s Office: Fantasy Football Start Sit – Week 14 >>
Ben Stecker

Ben Stecker

Author SportsTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine
Writer, sports connoisseur, Pacific Northwesterner. Rarely met a sport I couldn't be great friends with. Follow me on twitter @Softball_Guy
Ben Stecker
Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook

Writer Fantasy Football Desk at Sports Talk Line
Fantasy enthusiast armed with whit, sarcasm and some knowledge, too. The Fantasy Sports Chef is a fantasy writer for SportsTalkLine.com.
Joshua Cook
Ciriaco

Ciriaco

Writer Fantasy Football Desk at SportsTalkLine
I'm a budding writer who's passion is for fantasy football. I love every NFL team but especially the Browns and what that franchise is creating on offense. I'm have two kids who I absolutely adore.