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, Le’Veon Bell 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!
Philip Rivers vs Raiders: Despite a 2-2 record, Philip Rivers has played very well for the Chargers and fantasy owners. Currently, Rivers is the QB7; averaging 22.6 FPPG. Against the 49ers last week, Rivers had 21.7 fantasy points and has at least two passing touchdowns in every game this season. Meanwhile, the Raiders have been solid against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 17.7 FPPG. However; they have yet to face an elite quarterback, and gave up 26.2 fantasy points to Ryan Tannehill two weeks ago. Neither team’s defense is very good. I expect plenty of fantasy points for Rivers this week.
Drew Brees vs Redskins: Last week wasn’t pretty for Drew Brees owners. After averaging 29.9 FPPG over the first three games, Brees scored just 8.6 against the Giants. Fantasy owners may be concerned that Alvin Kamara had a big game on the ground and Mark Ingram returns from his suspension this week, but Brees is a must start. The game against the Giants was in an open stadium in New York while Brees’ first three games were all in a dome. The Saints defense can’t stop anybody and with the game in a dome, Brees should have another 29-plus fantasy point game.
Russell Wilson vs Rams: Nine points; that’s what Russell Wilson did against the Cardinals last week. Now this week he gets to face a Rams defense that gives up just 8.3 FPPG to quarterbacks not named Kirk Cousins. Wilson has struggled so far this season, as he has scored 16 or more fantasy points just once and is currently the QB20. The Seahawks’ offensive line is one of the worst in the league and the Rams have eight sacks this season. Fantasy owners should grab a second quarterback off the waiver wire this week, if possible, and bench Wilson.
Patrick Mahomes vs Jaguars: Patrick Mahomes came back down to earth last week against the Broncos. Well, sort of. His 22.9 fantasy points was easily the lowest of the season, yet he is still the QB1; averaging 28.8 FPPG. However, Mahomes will face the best defense in the league on Sunday. The Jaguars are the toughest team in the league against opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of just 11.1 FPPG. Fantasy owners who can afford to hold the extra roster spot should add a quarterback off the waiver wire and sit Mahomes.
Derek Carr at Chargers: After seriously struggling to start the year, averaging 11.8 FPPG, Derek Carr had an excellent game against a good Browns defense with 31.6 fantasy points. Now Carr gets to face an under performing Chargers defense that is the 10th friendliest to opposing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 21.2 FPPG. Furthermore, the Chargers have given up 17.5 or more fantasy points to every quarterbacks not named Josh Allen this season. Last week the Chargers gave up 17.8 fantasy points to C.J. Beathard. Carr should easily score 19 or more this week.
T.J. Yeldon at Chiefs: Leonard Fournette has already been ruled out for week five with a hamstring injury, opening the door for T.J. Yeldon to have a huge role this week. Over the three games Fournette was injured, Yeldon has averaged 15.7 FPPG. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are the friendliest team in the league to opposing running backs, giving up an average of 37.9 FPPG. Furthermore, the Chiefs have given up four rushing touchdowns this season and 31 catches to running backs. The only thing that could hold Yeldon back from a top 10 performance is if Corey Grant steals enough touches.
Aaron Jones at Lions: After missing the first two games of the season with a suspension, Aaron Jones has looked good in two games this season. Last week against the Bills, Jones lead all Packers’ running backs with 12 touches for 82 scrimmage yards, a touchdown and 15.2 fantasy points. Jones also led all Packers’ running backs with 29 snaps last week, and should get the start this week. Meanwhile, the Lions are the fifth-friendliest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of 33.6 FPPG, and gave up 34 fantasy points to Ezekiel Elliott last week.
Dalvin Cook at Eagles: This may be hard for fantasy owners to do, but Dalvin Cook should be on the bench this week. The Vikings offensive line has played horribly and the Eagles are the fourth-toughest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of just 16.2 FPPG. While on paper this game seems like a defensive fight, it will be a shootout. The Vikings’ defense gave up 38 points last week and scored 31 points on a good Rams defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense gave up 26 points last week and scored 23 points on a good Titans defense; expect a lot of points.
Tevin Coleman at Steelers: Currently the expectation is that Devonta Freeman will play this week, reverting Tevin Coleman back to his old role. However, even if Freeman misses another week with his knee injury, Coleman isn’t worth starting. In the three games without Freeman, Coleman’s fantasy points have decreased each week. Furthermore, Ito Smith had a career high 10 touches for 13.8 fantasy points on 43% of the snaps last week. Meanwhile, the Steelers are the third-toughest team against opposing running backs, giving up an average of just 15.4 FPPG. Freeman is the only Falcons’ running back I would start this week.
Austin Ekeler vs Raiders: Despite having Melvin Gordon ahead of him on the depth chart, Austin Ekeler is currently the RB14 this season; averaging 14.5 FPPG. Ekeler has scored 12.8 or more fantasy points, and has three or more catches, in three of four games this season. Philip Rivers loves to throw to his running backs, as Gordon and Ekeler are averaging a combined 12 targets per game. Meanwhile, the Raiders are the 11th friendliest team against opposing running backs, and gave up 50.3 fantasy points to the Browns’ running backs last week.
Emmanuel Sanders at Jets: Even with the poor quarterback play, Emmanuel Sanders is currently the WR19; averaging 18.2 FPPG. Sanders has at least four catches and 11.3 fantasy points in every game this season. Until something changes, Sanders seems to be the only receiver Case Keenum can consistently get the ball to. Meanwhile, the Jets are the 13th friendliest team in the league against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 40.1 FPPG. Furthermore, the Jets struggle against slot receivers and gave up 21.1 fantasy points to Dede Westbrook last week, while Sanders lines up in the slot the majority of the time.
Dede Westbrook at Chiefs: Speaking of Dede Westbrook, he has another great match up this week. The Chiefs give up around the league average in fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers; however, they have struggled against teams with solid quarterback play. In the two games against Case Keenum and an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, the Chiefs have given up an average of 24.4 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, compared to 52.9 FPPG in the other two games. The Jaguars’ wide receivers won’t score a combined 52.9 fantasy points this week, but Westbrook should easily score 16 or more against this terrible Chiefs’ secondary.
Doug Baldwin vs Rams: Baldwin returned Sunday after missing the last two and a half games with a knee injury. However, he only scored 9.1 fantasy points and now the unimpressive Seahawks’ offense get to take on the unstoppable Rams. So far this season, the Rams are the seventh toughest opponent against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 33.7 FPPG. Furthermore, prior to the shoot out last Thursday night against the Vikings, the Rams have held opposing wide receivers to an average of just seven catches and 19.3 fantasy points per game. All Seahawks players need to be benched this week.
Sammy Watkins vs Jaguars: It had to happen sooner or later; Sammy Watkins is injured. Watkins left Monday night’s game against the Broncos early in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Good news is he is on pace to play this week. However, he gets to face the Jaguars excellent cornerback duo. The Jaguars are the third-toughest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of just 24.9 FPPG. Watkins has struggled to produce fantasy points unless he is facing a terrible secondary, and now the injuries have started.
Mohamed Sanu at Steelers: Everyone expects the game between the Falcons and the Steelers to be a shoot-out. However, Mohamed Sanu is an under-appreciated player in this match-up. The Steelers are the third-friendliest team against opposing wide receivers, giving up an average of 46.1 FPPG. Furthermore, they have allowed opposing wide receivers to score 44 or more fantasy points in three straight games. Meanwhile, Sanu leads the team in snaps played and is coming off a season high 17.1 fantasy point game against the Bengals. Start Sanu with confidence this week, as there will be plenty of fantasy points to go around.
George Kittle vs Cardinals: In the wake of the Jimmy Garoppolo injury, George Kittle seems like C.J. Beathard’s favorite target. On Sunday against the Chargers, Kittle had six catches on eight targets for 82 yards, a touchdown, and 24.5 fantasy points; all team highs. The Cardinals have done a good job against opposing tight ends this season. However, half their games have been against bottom five tight ends. When the Cardinals faced Jordan Reed in week one, he had 14.8 fantasy points. Currently Kittle is the TE4. Given how banged up the tight end position is, he is a weekly starter.
Austin Hooper at Steelers: Last week I said to start Austin Hooper and he scored just 2.9 fantasy points — my bad. However, this week he gets to face the friendliest team in the league against opposing tight ends, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who give up an average of 20.5 FPPG. Furthermore, over the last three weeks, the Steelers have given up an average of 25.1 FPPG to opposing tight ends. This game should have plenty of fantasy points and given how thin the tight end position is, Hooper is also a good start (on paper) this week.
Kyle Rudolph at Eagles: Again, the tight end position is super thin right now so benching Kyle Rudolph will be almost impossible. However, fantasy owners should temper expectations with him this week. Rudolph is currently the TE6, averaging 12.2 FPPG this season. Meanwhile, the Eagles are the fifth-toughest team against opposing tight ends, giving up an average of just 8.5 FPPG. Furthermore, the Eagles gave up zero points to the Titans’ tight ends last week. Rudolph has scored double-digit fantasy points in three straight games, but he will struggle to make it a four in a row.
Antonio Gates vs Raiders: While it’s a nice, feel good story that Antonio Gates came back to play one more year for the Chargers, he just hasn’t been fantasy relevant. As bad as the tight end situation has been, Gates is currently the TE28 and has just seven catches this season. Last week, Gates scored his first touchdown of the season, but has failed to score over 7.5 fantasy points in the other three games. Meanwhile, the Raiders are the 13th toughest team against opposing tight ends and have held opposing tight ends under 12 fantasy points in three games this season.
Nick Vannett vs Rams: With the season ending injury to Will Dissly and Ed Dickson not eligible to play until week seven, Nick Vannett is the only tight end on the Seahawks roster at the moment. Vannett hasn’t done much this season, scoring just 15.7 fantasy points in four games. However, Vannett is tied for the team high among tight ends with 14 targets, and he should easily see an uptick going forward. Meanwhile, the Rams are 10th friendliest team against opposing tight ends, giving up average of 14.4 FPPG. For fantasy owners who need a long-shot tight end this week, Vannett is the best option.
Titans at Bills: Don’t let last week’s poor performance fool you, this Titans defense is pretty good. Prior to last week they scored 11 or more points in two of three games, and this week they get to face the worst offense in the league. The Bills are the friendliest offense to opposing defenses, giving up an average of 13.5 FPPG to opposing D/STs. Furthermore, opposing D/STs have scored 11 or more fantasy points in three of four games against the Bills offense. For fantasy owners who stream D/STs, the Titans should be your top priority this week.
Jaguars at Chiefs: While earlier I said to bench Patrick Mahomes because of the Jaguars defense, I would also bench the Jaguars’ D/ST. Mahomes has proven to do crazy things this season, and I would rather pick up a second D/ST to stream than play the Jaguars this week. The Chiefs are the second-best fantasy offense, as opposing D/STs score an average of negative two fantasy points per game. Furthermore, no opposing D/ST has scored positive points against the Chiefs this season. While the Jaguars’ D/ST will likely get positive points against the Chiefs, it may only be two or three.
Texans vs Cowboys: Despite the positive showing Sunday verses the Lions, the Cowboys offense is one of the worst in the league. Opposing D/STs are averaging 7.3 FPPG against the Cowboys and have scored 13 or more fantasy points twice. Meanwhile, the Texans have four sacks in back-to-back games and the Cowboys’ offensive line is banged up. I expect the Texans to take Ezekiel Elliot out of the game and force Dak Prescott to beat them. With a banged up offensive line and a lack of proven weapons, expect the Texans to limit the Cowboys’ offense and get at least four sacks.