Embed from Getty Images

 

Remember, start your studs!

Starts

Jordan Howard

You don’t me to tell you to start Jordan Howard, but these are the matchups we love for a guy who’s primarily role is to run between the tackles. At home where the Bears D plays better, against an offense that can’t get anything going so the game stays close, and against a defense that has a hard time stopping opposing offenses. We’ve seen what Howard has done with volume this year, so I’m expecting a big week out of him. We don’t need the Bears offense to light it up nor we do expect them to, but that’s okay for Jordan Howard owners, as long as the game stays close.

Jerick McKinnon

McKinnon has been getting some serious touches lately, averaging 20 over the past 4 games. Not only that, but he’s averaging a touchdown per game over that time span. This week, he faces a Redskins team that is 21st vs pass-catching RBs DVOA, and with the 5 catches he’s averaging over the past 4 games, he should be able to do some damage in this game. I don’t think you needed me to tell you to start McKinnon, but just wanted to point out that he’s in a good spot this week.

Aaron Jones

I’m okay playing Aaron Jones this week in a game that should be close against the Bears. Neither team has a good offense or a good passing attack, so I think each team will just try to run the ball as much as possible. Aaron Jones is their primary early down back, so he’s an okay start this week because of how we expect the game script to turn out. If it turns out the way we expect, he should see volume.

Orleans Darkwa

This team is a hot mess right now, but Orleans Darkwa should see some volume against the 49ers. Darkwa is averaging 5.1 YPC, and the 49ers are allowing the most attempts per game, the most rushing yards per game, and the second most TDs this season. If the Giants go out to a lead or stay close, Darkwa can see 20+ carries, and it’s hard to bench anyone seeing that kind of work. Not playing him over any studs, but you might be in a pinch, so I would roll him out and feel good about it this week.

DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry

Carolina is a good defense, but they try to keep everything in front of them. They will allow receptions to guys like Landry and Parker. Cutler will test corners downfield to Parker, so he should get his as he’s done in every game he’s been healthy for this year. Landry has been getting a ton of targets and is piling up catches this year, and in a PPR he’s a start almost every single week. I’m writing this section more on not being tempted to sit them because of a perceived tough matchup. Parker will see more of Kevon Seymour, who’s allowed 0.44 fantasy points per route (good for Parker). The Panthers are in the middle of the pack in allowing fantasy points to wide receivers lining up on the left side of the field and in the slot, so the upside might not be there for either this week, but I’m not benching them.

Adam Thielen

Washington has been great defending perimeter receivers, so there should be plenty of looks going towards Thielen’s way who will be primarily defended by Kendall Fuller, who’s giving up more fantasy points per route run than his Redskin counterparts. With Stefon Diggs having his hands full with Josh Norman most of the day, Thielen should take advantage of a defense who has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to slot receivers his year. Don’t leave him on your bench in what looks like a tough matchup on paper.

Doug Baldwin

Not worried about Patrick Peterson if you’re playing Doug Baldwin on Thursday night football. He has a great matchup against Tyrann Mathieu, who gives up more fantasy points per route run against him than the Cardinals’ perimeter corners do. Not only that, but the Seahawks have given up the 6th most fantasy points to slot WRs, and the 2nd most in the last 4 games. With Paul Richardson out, it’ll be an area to attack for Russell Wilson tonight on TNF. Don’t forget about Tyler Lockett, who runs 56% of his routes from the slot as well. Most of his time out of the slot will be matched up with Patrick Peterson.

Desperate Starts

Thomas Rawls

He does have some upside in this matchup with the possibility of Seattle getting out to a lead early, but it’s just a possibility. Arizona isn’t some great rush defense that we have to worry about; they’re in the middle of the pack in DVOA. With Eddie Lacy out, Rawls should see all of the early down work. With some volume. Rawls can put up a decent game. He was a bit banged up earlier in the year with a high ankle sprain, so he can surprise some people on Thursday night. The Seahawks offensive line has been a real question mark this year, and there’s always concern about them being the liability in any game this year.

Marlon Mack

Pittsburgh is 10 point favorites on the road in this game. The Steelers can put up points, and the Colts have a bad defense. This adds up to a good possibility of the Colts trying to catch up in the second half, and I would expect Marlon Mack to be the guy on the field while they try to do that. The Steelers are also 17th best against pass-catching backs DVOA, so he should provide a good floor this week with some upside potential.

Doug Martin

If he didn’t get benched last week and had an okay game, he might be in the start section instead. The Jets are 18th DVOA against the run, and I think this game stays competitive. With Jameis Winston out, the Bucs aren’t going to try to win the game with Ryan Fitzpatrick; they’re going to try and establish the run with Doug Martin. The Jets aren’t the best defense in the world, and I think Ryan Fitzpatrick can keep the Bucs in the game, and provide Martin with some opportunities to get some good gains and hopefully a goal line TD. I’m not overreacting to the benching last week because he can come out this week and prove that it was a mistake to bench him in my fantasy lineup this week.

Allen Hurns

Casey Hayward will shadow Marqise Lee, which leaves Allen Hurns as the likely target hog against the Chargers this week. Hurns will go up against Desmond King in the slot for most of the game, and that’s where the Chargers are vulnerable, as they’ve done a decent job on the perimeter with Hayward and Trevor Williams. They’ve allowed the 15th most fantasy points to wide receivers lining up in the slot this year, and the 10th most in the last 4 games. King has also allowed 0.28 fantasy points per route run, which is the most on that team. Hurns is a good flier this week if you’re hurting at WR.

Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods

Watkins can get behind this defense. We saw what TY Hilton was able to do last week against the Texans, and we saw that Watkins is capable of it as well when he caught a long bomb against the Giants last week. Watkins will mostly see Kevin Johnson on the left side of the field, who has given up 0.44 fantasy points (that’s a lot) per route run against him, and the Texans have given up the 5th most fantasy points to WR lining up on that side of the field. Watkins is purely a flier this week with the hope of a long play or two, hopefully one of them for a TD.

Jermaine Kearse

Robert McClain was limited with a hamstring injury in Thursday’s practice, so his availability for Sunday is unclear. If McClain plays, he should line up across Jermaine Kearse most of the game, but the Jets move their WRs all over the place. This defense is really banged up, and Robby Anderson will see the Bucs best corner in Brent Grimes on the right side of the field, who was back in practice as a full participant on Thursday. Grimes isn’t a game changing CB, but he presents a bit of a challenge for Anderson, who lines up on Grimes’ side of the field about 41% of the time. That leaves Kearse with the best matchup, as he’ll be avoiding that side about 70% of the time. The Bucs are giving up the 4th most and 2nd most fantasy points to WRs lining up on the left side and slot this year, respectively. He’s a good upside play this week.

Martavis Bryant

He’s obviously verrrrry risky, but he has some upside this week against a Colts defense who has allowed the most 20+ yard passing plays and the second most 40+ yard passing plays. You can probably say the same for Juju, but the Colts have actually done a decent job in the slot with Nate Hairston. The Colts just released Vontae Davis, and Rashaan Melvin has played well this year, but the Colts still have given up a ton of fantasy points to wide receivers, specifically on Melvin’s side. Start Bryant if you’re okay taken a zero, but praying for that long TD. It can happen this week.

Adam Humphries

With Mike Evans suspended for this game against the Jets, Humphries can see an uptick in targets. He goes up against struggling CB Buster Skrine, who has given up 0.35 fantasy points per route run, and the 5th most fantasy points to slot WRs in the past 4 games. He should provide a nice floor in PPR leagues this week.

Vernon Davis (if Jordan Reed is out)

Davis has been getting it done this year with or without Jordan Reed, but I’m more than happy to start him if Reed sits this one out.

Tyler Kroft

Kroft is Andy Dalton’s second weapon in the passing game only to AJ Green. He’s not so touchdown dependent, as Dalton has looked at him between the twenties as well as the end zone, so he has become somewhat dependable lately.

Eric Ebron

Start your tight ends against Cleveland, even if their name is Eric Ebron.

Charles Clay

New Orleans has been good against tight ends, but we have to remember that Clay was Tyrod’s favorite target before he got hurt. He should resume that role this week, as is he expected to play. Monitor his injury status.

Temper Expectations

Larry Fitzgerald

He might be on this every week from here on out. We always have to temper our expectations with Fitzgerald from here on out without Carson Palmer behind center. Seattle has actually done a good job against slot receivers, with new slot corner Justin Coleman only giving up 0.24 fantasy points per route run. From a one on one perspective, Fitzgerald wins this matchup, but the team as a whole does a good job against WRs lining up in that spot. He’s not a sit for me, but if you have a good alternative, they should be considered.

Devin Funchess

It seems like Funchess has made the move to Kelvin Benjamin’s former side primarily with Curtis Samuel taking his old spot on the right side of the field. Assuming that this is what we should expect going forward, Funchess can see a lot of Xavien Howard, who has done a pretty good job on the left side of the field, giving up only 0.24 fantasy points per route run, and the 5th least fantasy points to WRs lining up on his side. He should get volume regardless, so I wouldn’t overreact to the matchup.

DeAndre Hopkins

Hopkins should be shadowed by Trumaine Johnson, but Tom Savage will likely chuck it to Hopkins 15+ times anyway. Johnson has actually been a bit vulnerable this year, giving up more fantasy points per route run than his counterparts on that defense and being targeted more than them as well. Hopkins can win the matchup, but don’t expect a huge game with the Rams not giving up a ton of fantasy points as a team to wide receivers.

Stefon Diggs

Diggs has spent about 54% of his routes run on the right side of the field where Josh Norman spends all his time. The Redskins have given up the least amount of fantasy points to WRs lining up on Norman’s side of the field. It’s not so great on the other side either where the Redskins give up the 3rd least amount of fantasy points, where Diggs lines up about another 25% of the time. It’s not looking like a great day for Diggs, but if he’s healthy, I think we have to play him unless you have another really good option.

Josh Doctson

Doctson is on a verge of a breakout, but we might have to wait for it. This week he goes up against Xavier Rhodes, who has been great this season, only giving up 0.2 fantasy points per route run against him this season. Minnesota has allowed the 3rd least fantasy points to WRs lining up on the left side of the field in the past 4 games. Don’t love the matchup, but Doctson can make plays.

Sits

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson had a career high 37 carries against the 49ers 4 days ago, a workload that can be expected (maybe not 37!) against a team that wasn’t expected to get out to a big lead. As bad as the Seahawks offense played last week, there’s no doubt that they have the ability to put up points against a Cardinals defense that has allowed 25.1 PPG, which is 6th worst in the NFL. A Drew Stanton-led Cardinals offense isn’t going to have ease scoring points against Seattle, so this can turn into a negative game script for Peterson. I understand that he’s a freak, but we also can’t expect a 32 year old RB to produce on a short week after carrying the ball 37 times. This can turn into a game where we see a lot more of Andre Ellington with the Cards trying to catch up in the second half. I’m weighing my option this week if I’m thinking about starting Peterson.

Chris Thompson

This could be a tough game for Thompson because he’s going against a Vikings defense that is 7th vs pass-catching RBs DVOA and 4th in rush defense DVOA, allowing only 3.5 yards per carry. They might allow receptions, so in a PPR I’m okay starting him for a high floor, but the Vikings don’t really give up much after the catch.

Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb

There isn’t going to be much of a need for the Packers to air it out against the Browns. I expect both teams to run the ball, for the game to stay close, and hide their QBs as much as possible. This game starts 1PM, and could be over by 3PM with the clock running the entire time. If I expected the Packers to be fighting from behind, I might be okay starting one of these guys, but the Bears offense shouldn’t put up too many points for that scenario to come to fruition. Neither of these guys have upside, and I rather go to the waiver wire instead at this point.

TY Hilton

I’m not playing Hilton this week, even after last week. It’s Week 10, and he’s only had 3 good games this year. It’s easy to overreact to last week’s game, but keep in mind that he’s had those 3 good games against Cleveland, San Francisco, and Houston, three very beatable defenses through the air. I’m not playing him against a Steelers secondary who has shut down almost every passing offense they faced as the 2nd best passing defense only to Jacksonville. Matt Stafford had some success against them last week, but Jacoby Brissett ain’t no Stafford.

Keenan Allen

I hate sitting Allen, but I think it needs to be done this week. Jacksonville’s defense is nasty, and is one of the best passing defenses in recent history. Much is made about the duo of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye on the perimeter, but we can’t sleep on Aaron Colvin, who’s allowing only 0.17 fantasy points per route run, and the least amount of fantasy points allowed from the slot in the NFL. That’s not a good matchup for Allen, who has been a bit disappointing this year. He hasn’t been getting the volume that we expected, so I don’t see the high floor or upside this week.