Every week fantasy football owners have to make decisions on who to start, who to sit and who potentially to go pick up off the waiver wire to play. Sometimes those decisions can be tough. For help with that, check out my weekly rankings. In addition to that, I will be giving my weekly take on starts, sits and sleepers.
Each week I will be giving two players I like starting, two guys I would like to bench, and one sleeper per position (except for D/STs, there will only be one start and sit). Now of course every week you will start Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson, and Antonio Brown, among others, assuming they play. This weekly article is to help fantasy owners decide on their “non-elite” players. If you have more specific questions regarding fantasy football or your team, ask me on twitter and as always happy hunting fantasy friends!
Ben Roethlisberger vs Chiefs: Clearly the game against the Browns didn’t go as well as Ben Roethlisberger had wished. His five turnovers were a big reason why he scored only nine fantasy points last week. However, fantasy owners should know by now that playing Roethlisberger on the road is a risky move. Good news is this week he faces the Chiefs at home, where he has averaged 22.4 FPPG over the last two seasons. The Chiefs gave up 29 fantasy points to Philip Rivers, as that defense is one of the worst in the league.
Patrick Mahomes at Steelers: I had Patrick Mahomes as a sit last week and man was I wrong. (However, I wrote that when I thought Joey Bosa was going to play.) Mahomes finished with 28.3 fantasy points against a Chargers defense that looked awful. Now, Mahomes gets to face a Steelers defense that allowed Tyrod Taylor to score 23.6 points last week, despite the poor weather and Taylor completing just 37.5% of his passes. Expect this game to be a shoot out and for Tyreek Hill to have another big game, boosting Mahomes’ numbers.
Mitchell Trubisky vs Seahawks: If you are in a deep fantasy league and Mitchell Trubisky is your only quarterback, I wouldn’t panic this week — but he doesn’t have an ideal match up. The Seahawks defense played better than I expected last week, picking off Case Keenum three times. However, they gave up 142 rushing yards to the Broncos rookie running backs. The Bears should be the favorites to win this game, but in a low scoring game with plenty of work for Jordan Howard; limiting Trubisky’s upside.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Eagles: Do you believe in FitzMAGIC? I don’t; sorry Buccaneer fans. In three games as the starter last season, Fitzpatrick averaged 14.5 FPPG. The game against the Saints was the perfect storm for the Buccaneers. The Saints came out unprepared, and defensively they made several mistakes. Despite that, the Saints almost came back and won the game. The Eagles held Matt Ryan to just 8.8 points last week and sacked him four times. By comparison, Fitzpatrick was not sacked at all last week. Expect the Eagles to get to Fitzpatrick early and often on Sunday.
Tyrod Taylor at Saints: Despite completing just 37.5% of his passes, Tyrod Taylor scored 23.6 fantasy points versus the Steelers last week. The Saints just gave up 42.3 fantasy points to Ryan Fitzpatrick at home, including 9.6 fantasy points using his legs. Taylor scored 13.7 of his fantasy points last week by using his legs. If the Saints struggled to stop 35 year old Fitzpatrick from running all over them, how can you expect them to slow down Taylor? For fantasy owner who won’t have Carson Wentz again this week, Taylor is a good streaming option.
Kareem Hunt at Steelers: After averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and getting just one target, Kareem Hunt is the perfect “buy low” candidate from a panicking owner. However, Hunt owners should have high expectations this week versus the Steelers. Last week, the Steelers gave up 13.5 fantasy points to Carlos Hyde, despite splitting work with Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb. The Steelers should be focused on how to slow down Tyreek Hill, giving Hunt fewer stacked boxes to run against.
James White at Jaguars: When in doubt, the Patriots turn to James White. Last week, White played in 48% of the snaps, compared to 49% for Rex Burkhead. Yet, White was targeted three times as often Burkhead, had a higher yards per carry average, and scored a touchdown. The Jaguars’ great cornerback duo will have zero problem shutting down the Patriots’ weak wide receivers. At some point, the Jaguars may even move Jalen Ramsey onto Rob Gronkowski, further limiting Tom Brady’s options in the passing game. White has Brady’s full trust and should see a high number of targets this week.
LeSean McCoy vs Chargers: Just in case anyone forgot, I said not to draft LeSean McCoy in the preseason. Last week in the embarrassing loss to the Ravens, McCoy had just 3.1 fantasy points. Now he gets to face a Chargers defense that could get Joey Bosa back this week and gave up just 4.9 fantasy points to Kareem Hunt last week. On top of that, his quarterback this week is Josh Allen. If you have McCoy, bench him because if he scores more than 5.5 fantasy points this week I will be shocked.
Marshawn Lynch at Broncos: In the first quarter versus the Rams last week, Lynch looked very good. Then the team got behind and Jalen Richard took over. Lynch was on the field for 36% of the snaps, while Richards was on the field for 50% of the snaps. Richard also outscored Lynch in the game by four fantasy points. The Broncos gave up just 59 rushing yards last week to the Seahawks. Unless the Raiders can do better, this game will turn into a blow out early, putting Richard on the field as the Raiders play catch up.
Alfred Morris vs Lions: Fantasy owners shouldn’t worry about Alfred Morris’ performance from last week. The Vikings are one of the best — if not the best — run defense in the league. Also, fantasy owners shouldn’t worry about Matt Breida. Both running backs had 12 touches on Sunday, while Morris had a slightly higher snap count. The Lions got embarrassed on Monday Night Football against the Jets, where they allowed Isaiah Crowell to average 10.2 yards per carry, score two touchdowns, and finish with 22.2 fantasy points. This game should be close, giving Morris an opportunity for a solid game.
Nelson Agholor at Buccaneers: I’m not sure a wide receiver can average a lower yards per reception (4.1) than Nelson Agholor did against the Falcons. While that is awfully bad, he caught eight of 10 targets. The next most targeted wide receiver was Mike Wallace with three. The Buccaneers did a great job limiting the Saints wide receivers last week; Ted Ginn and Austin Carr had seven catches combined. However, they allowed Michael Thomas to catch 16 of his 17 targets and score 38 fantasy points. Agholor isn’t Thomas, but he should see enough targets to finish as a top 20 wide receiver against a banged up cornerback group.
Marquise Goodwin vs Lions: Marquise Goodwin twice left Sunday’s game versus the Vikings with a quad injury, but he is currently expected to play this week. Last season in the five games with Jimmy Garoppolo starting, Goodwin averaged 5.8 catches on 8.6 targets for 76.8 yards and 15.1 fantasy points per game. Last week the Lions gave up 42.6 fantasy points to the Jets’ wide receivers and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Assuming Goodwin plays, he has a good match up this week in a game the 49ers have to win to stay in hunt for the division title.
Amari Cooper at Broncos: One catch on three targets for nine yards and a poor 2.8 fantasy points; that’s what Amari Cooper did Monday night against the Rams. I said last week to start him because I’d figure they would force feed him targets, instead they all went to Jared Cook (more on him later). Marcus Peters was glued to Cooper all night long, and that will be the same this week against the Broncos with Chris Harris Jr. It might be hard for fantasy owners to bench Cooper, but he’s likely to finish under 10 fantasy points again this week.
Chris Hogan at Jaguars: Last week the Jaguars gave up 29.8 fantasy points to the Giants’ wide receivers. However, 22 of them went to Odell Beckham, Jr., and he isn’t suiting up for the Patriots this week. Chris Hogan had just one catch on five targets for 11 yards and 2.1 fantasy points against the Texans. Jalen Ramsey should have no problem shutting down Hogan. Even if Ramsey covers Rob Gronkowski, Hogan will see A.J. Bouye instead, so either way it’s not a good match up. Tom Brady won’t force passes to Hogan and will instead look elsewhere. Fantasy owners can’t start Hogan with any confidence this week.
Chris Godwin vs Eagles: Remember all the preseason hype for Chris Godwin? Well I do, and agreed with it. Godwin’s 46 snaps played was second on the team among wide receivers only behind Mike Evans’ 50. DeSean Jackson’s status for this game is in doubt because of a concussion and shoulder injury. If Jackson is out, Godwin will see an uptick in targets. Furthermore, Eagles’ cornerback Ronald Darby had some good moments covering Julio Jones last week and could limit Evans’ production this week; further increasing Godwin’s upside.
Evan Engram at Cowboys: Last week I told everyone to sit Evan Engram against the Jaguars, and hopefully you did. However, this week I like Engram’s match-up against the Cowboys. The Cowboys gave up 7.7 fantasy points to the Panthers tight ends, despite Greg Olsen only playing 24% of the snaps. The Cowboys will be focused on stopping Odell Beckham, Jr. and Saquon Barkley, giving Engram more favorable match-ups. The best way for the Giants to slow down the Cowboys pass rush is to make several quick passes to Engram in the middle of the field.
Jimmy Graham vs Vikings: Fantasy owners were so happy when Aaron Rodgers started the second half Sunday night against the Bears; however, Jimmy Graham fantasy owners were disappointed. Graham had just two catches for eight yards. However, last week the Vikings gave up five catches for 90 yards and 14 fantasy points to George Kittle. Even if Rodgers can’t play and DeShone Kizer gets the start, Graham should see an uptick in targets, as the Vikings have a very good cornerback group to match up with the Packers’ wide receiver group.
Jonnu Smith vs Texans: Even with the Delanie Walker injury, I’m not a huge fan of Jonnu Smith this week. Despite playing one more snap than Walker, Smith scored less than half as many fantasy points. Last season, Smith scored 4.5 or more fantasy points just three times. The Texans did give up 23.3 fantasy points to Rob Gronkowski last week, but every defense struggles against Gronk. With all the injuries on offense, the Titans could slow the game down and run the ball a lot this week.
Jared Cook at Broncos: While 27 fantasy points last week was nice if you played Cook in DFS or started him as a streamer, no one should expect him to produce like that this week — or ever again this season. The Rams all but forced the Raiders to throw to Cook, as Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson were smothered by the cornerbacks. In games last season where Cook scored 14.5 or more fantasy, the following game he scored an average of 6.3 fantasy points. Cook is a one week wonder, nothing more.
Ricky Seals-Jones at Rams: I had Ricky Seals-Jones as a sleeper last week, and I’m doubling down this week. Seals-Jones was on the field field for 49 out of 53 offensive snaps (93%) on Sunday, and his six targets ranked third on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Last week the Rams gave up 27 fantasy points to Jared Cook, in large part because the cornerbacks limited the Raiders’ wide receivers’ production. While Seals-Jones won’t score 27 fantasy points, he is in line for a good number of targets in a game that could be a blow out early.
Chargers at Bills: Last week I said to bench the Chargers D/ST and hopefully fantasy owners listened. However, this week they are my top D/ST against a Bills offense that looks similar to a high school team. Josh Allen will be making his first career start, and that’s a shame because Nathan Peterman surely would have thrown five interceptions in the first half again. No matter who is the quarterback, the Chargers defense should have no problem making their day hell.
Jaguars vs Patriots: Two words; Tom Brady. How many fantasy owners are going to bet against him? I know I’m not. While the Jaguars have the best defense in the league, they scored just five fantasy points against the Patriots in the AFC title game last season. While this game is in Jacksonville, in the early season heat, this is the one match-up all season long that I’m benching the Jaguars D/ST.
Dolphins at Jets: In that crazy weather delay game against the Titans, the Dolphins D/ST had three interceptions and a kick return touchdown. While the Jets offense looked very good aside from the early Sam Darnold pick-6, the Dolphins are a sneaky streaming option this week. Currently the Dolphins D/ST is owned in just 4.6% of ESPN leagues. The Dolphins now have game film to study Darnold and see where the Lions went wrong against him and the Jets offense. I expect the Dolphins to get pressure on and rattle Darnold this week while finishing the game with a few sacks and at least two turnovers.