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Starts

Latavius Murray

After a couple of clunkers to start the year, Murray has really come through in a big way over the last three games, even in a tough matchup last week. This week, he goes up against a Lions defense that has allowed 240 rushing yards over the last two weeks (2nd most) and 5.1 yards per carry for the season. We saw that he was used as a passing down back last week even while they were in comeback mode late. We can finally to start to trust the guy, so he should be in lineups this week while Dalvin Cook gets ready to come back after their Week 10 bye.

Kerryon Johnson

I’m starting Kerryon assuming Theo Riddick is out again. If Riddick is good to go, he’ll assume his passing down role, and I would consider Kerryon a start as a result of circumstance of not having anyone else because of the tough matchup he’ll face on early downs. If he has the passing down work, however, he has a safe floor in PPR leagues with upside. The Vikings are allowing 3.2 yards per carry over the last three games, so if we expect any production, it would probably be in the passing game where they’ve allowed the 4th most passing yards to RBs over the last four games.

Chris Carson

It’s tough to deny the volume that the Seahawks have given Carson; he’s been averaging 22.5 carries over his last four games. They are a run first team, and will continue to do until they can’t. The Chargers’ run defense has been a little leaky lately, allowing 4.6 yards per carry over the last three games. They’ve actually been more stout at home, while giving up 4.7 yards per carry in opposing teams’ venues. With this game in Seattle, I would expect the Seahawks to do everything they can to continue to feed Carson.

Mark Ingram

In a game that Vegas has projected for a total of 60 points, you’ll want anyone who is going to touch the ball as much as Ingram will in your lineup. He might not be the favorite for goal line looks anymore, but he will still have chances there, as Sean Payton continues to rotate his backs. Both are versatile, and both will be used in most situations. Kamara gets the edge in obvious passing situations. 15-17 touches on the Saints are more valuable than most teams in the NFL.

Aaron Jones

Woohoo! We can start him with some confidence… finally. With Ty Montgomery traded to the Ravens, this 3-man mess has become a manageable 2-man backfield. Jones’ time on the field and touches have and will increase, and on this offense, his explosiveness will reap benefits. He’ll be tough to sit most weeks, but in what can be a shootout, there will be plenty of opportunity for him. He might not be the favorite for goal line work, but like I mentioned with Ingram, he’ll get his opportunities to score.

DJ Moore

If Torrey Smith is out, we can expect Moore to be above 70% of snaps for the second straight week. Tampa Bay has struggled mightily against slot WRs this year, giving up the most fantasy points to those interior WRs. Moore has big play ability, caught 5 of 6 targets of 90 yards last week, and he’s in a good spot to have another good game.

Jarvis Landry

Landry caught 8 balls for 39 yards last week. That’s impressive even for him. We have no idea what to expect from this offense after the HC and OC change, but if there’s one thing we do know, it’s that Cleveland will go pass heavy to try and catch up with Kansas City. The Chiefs have given up the 8th most fantasy points to slot WRs over the last 4 weeks, so Landry has a shot to bounce back. He’s not too exciting in standard leagues, but he should be fine in PPR formats.

Josh Gordon

Gordon had a tough matchup last week, and while there was a scare of him being reprimanded for being late to some meetings, he wasn’t limited like the report said he was going to be; Bill Belichick denied the report as well. Who knows what is really going on. Either way, Gordon has a great matchup this week in a potential shootout, and he won’t have a shutdown corner following him around this week. This can be his breakout week against a secondary who hasn’t been great on the perimeter over the past 4 weeks.

Tre’Quan Smith

Vegas has this game at a projected total of 60 points. We love when these high scoring games are in the dome in New Orleans, because the Saints bring their A game on offense. The Saints haven’t had high volume passing games over the last two weeks, but I’m not sure how much should take out of that game. The Vikings gave the Saints a few short fields, so Brees didn’t have to throw much in that game either. This week, however, they’re going to need to pass the ball to keep up with the Rams, and Tre’Quan should be a real part of that; he played on 73% and 77% of snaps over the last two weeks. The Rams have allowed the 7th most fantasy points the right side of the field over the last 4 weeks where Smith lines up on most of his routes. If the Rams decide to shadow Michael Thomas with Marcus Peters like they did against Davante Adams, they’re in trouble. That’s besides the point; that will leave Troy Hill on Smith, who’s been giving up more than half a fantasy point per route run against him.

Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson

With James Bradberry focused on Mike Evans, Godwin will be able to take advantage of his matchups with WR-focused Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center. The Panthers are top-15 in allowing fantasy points to WRs on the perimeter, and it’s possible this game turns into a shootout with a projected point total of 55. Godwin has had 3 TD games with Fitzpatrick from Weeks 1 and 3, and even included a 10-target game against the Steelers. He’s a good start if you have some WRs on bye this week. As far as D-Jax, while he didn’t do as well in that third game with Fitzpatrick, he had 275 yards and 3 TDs in the first two games with him, and then almost all of his 112 yards came from Fitz in Week 4 before Fitz was benched. One fun note is that when Jameis took over in that Week 4 Chicago game, his first 4 of 5 passes were to Adam Humphries. If you have any of these Bucs WRs, you better hope Fitz is their QB for the rest of the year.

Desperate Starts

Doug Martin

The 49ers offense has struggled over the past two games, and they might even be without CJ Beathard on Thursday night due to a right wrist injury. As bad as the Raiders’ defense is, they will probably be able to handle an offense led by a second year undrafted free agent making his first start. Needless to say, Martin can get some serious volume in this game, and judging by how he looked last week, he might actually be able to do something with it. If you’re struggling with RBs on bye, you can do a lot worse than someone who can see close to 20 touches.

Jordan Howard

The Bills are a good defense, but they’re going to have a tough time scoring points against the Bears. Because of it, Howard can build volume just like he did last week and have a chance at a goal line score. It’s tough to sit the potential volume he can get. There can be some opportune short field positions with Nate Peterman potentially starting this week.

Lamar Miller

Can Lamar Miller have his third straight good game? He has a shot against a Denver defense allowing 5.1 yards per carry and the second most total rushing yards. If the game stays close, he has a shot to get some volume once again; he’s averaging 20 carries over the last two weeks. I was shocked that he had two straight good games, but three would be mind blowing. Hey, it’s a good matchup.

Peyton Barber

This isn’t the best matchup, but it’s not the worst either. Teams generally don’t run much against the Panthers, but it’s not like they’re leaving RBs below 4 yards per carry. Barber can get volume if Fitz can keep the Bucs in the game, but I am not necessarily counting on it. I mention him because we are in the midst of byes, so he would be a desperate start for hope of some volume while Ronald Jones is nursing a hamstring injury.

Calvin Ridley

Ridley hasn’t had a big game since Week 4, but he faces a Washington defense this week that has allowed a ton of fantasy points to WRs lining up on the perimeter. Ridley moves around a ton, but spends about 75% of the time on the outside. Washington upgraded their secondary by acquiring Haha Clinton-Dix, and we’ll see how that plays out, but it might take a game or two to get fully acclimated to the playbook. Another concern is that this game will likely not be a shootout, so there might not be a ton of volume in the pass game. If this matchup is halfway decent though, we know that Ridley has a ceiling that’s hard to ignore.

Sammy Watkins

While this game probably won’t be a shootout, it doesn’t mean they won’t score. Watkins has had a couple of duds this year, but he’s had more good games than bad. Tyreek Hill’s groin injury apparently isn’t keeping him from practicing, so Denzel Ward won’t be solely focused on Watkins. Either way, the Browns haven’t been great on the perimeter, where they’ve been in the top-10 in allowing fantasy points to WRs this year. Let’s see if he can build on that momentum from last week.

Willie Snead (PPR only)

Pittsburgh have been terrible against slot WRs this year, and while we don’t have to expect a bigger game for Snead, we can be confident that he’ll have his typical 2018 game, which is like 5 catches for 55 yards. He’s had less than 7 targets only twice this year, and has had 10+ targets in 2 of the last 3 games. I’m only interesting in Snead in PPR formats for a safe floor of 10 points.

Courtland Sutton

With DT out of the picture, Sutton can start getting some volume to go with his efficiency. He hasn’t had more than 3 catches in any game this year yet, but has held a 10 point floor in PPR since Week 5. DT’s almost 6 targets per game should be distributed to both Sutton and Sanders, so Sutton will have more opportunity to shine with his big play ability. Houston has had trouble covering WRs on that left side of the field, giving up the 5th most fantasy points to them, and Sutton lines up on that side on about 50% of his snaps. The reason why Sutton is more of a desperate start than a start is because it’s probably better to see how it plays out without DT on the field than to just assume he’ll kill it right away. I also wouldn’t bench guys who have been doing it for you to get Sutton in your lineup. The good thing is you’re probably starting him because of all the desperate times we’re in with all of the WRs on bye this week.

Randall Cobb

The Patriots vulnerability is the middle of the field, where they’ve given up the 2nd most fantasy points to slot WRs over the last 4 weeks, and the 5th most fantasy points to them over the course of the season. Hopefully Cobb plays more snaps than he did last week, but it seemed like he was limited because of his hamstring injury. He only played on 46% of snaps and ran only 16 routes, but still caught 4 of 5 targets for 40 yards. If he’s off the injury report going into the game, he should be able to take advantage of this matchup. He’s much preferred in PPR formats in a game that can turn into a shootout.

Danny Amendola

Amendola’s targets have dropped in each game since his 11 target game against Chicago in Week 6, but he’s been pretty involved since Brock Osweiler has been behind center. He’s had reception totals of 8, 6, and 5 the past three weeks and has a good shot of 5+ receptions this week against Buster Skrine and the Jets, who’ve allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to slot WRs.

Tyler Lockett

Dude has scored in every game except one. He might draw a shadow from Casey Hayward, but even if he does, he can still score on any given play. If he gets matched up on Trevor Williams at any point, he’ll have an advantage. Lockett has been money, so why not follow it if you need a WR this week?

Temper Expectations

Adrian Peterson

Peterson has been getting it done with volume, and while it’s possible he sees volume once again, teams haven’t been running much against the Falcons even though they aren’t great at stopping it. Teams have been attacking them through the air, but it’s not really what the Redskins do. They want to play defense and run the ball, and it’s evident with their trade deadline acquisition of Haha Clinton-Dix from the Packers. The corners on the outside need to play better, and there is a chance the Falcons get up while the Redskins have a hard time coming back. Peterson is tough to sit because of the volume he’s been getting, but because of the range of possibilities, temper your expectations a bit this week after his big Week 8.

Phillip Lindsay

It’s tough to sit Lindsay with how he’s been playing, especially with Royce Freeman most likely out again. Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake were able to find running room against the Texans last week, so that’s encouraging for Lindsay going into his matchup against them. However, the Texans have been pretty stout overall; 3.6 yards per carry for the season, and 3.9 over the last three games. The Texans do allow RBs to catch the ball more than the average, so Lindsay’s involvement in the passing game should keep his floor relatively safe.

Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay

We’ve been dealing with Golladay underperforming for a few weeks now, and then Marvin Jones exploded last week. This week, we’ll see who Xavier Rhodes chooses to shadow; it’s possible he just plays a side because of how good both of these WRs are. Either way, the Vikings have been great on the perimeter this year, allowing the 30th and 32nd most fantasy points to WRs on the left and right side over the last four weeks, respectively, and have held it down all year long as well. These guys are both capable of beating whoever matches up against them including Rhodes, so they’re tough to bench.

Stefon Diggs

Diggs should be shadowed by Darius Slay, and the Lions as a whole have done a pretty good job against WRs on the perimeter. Diggs will see a little bit of work in the slot, and he can still come off with a high catch count without having the yardage to go with it. He’s still tough to bench, especially in PPR.

Sits

Matt Breida

The matchup is juicy, but is Breida healthy? He didn’t have his explosiveness against a terrible Arizona rush defense this past Sunday and only put up 2.6 yards per carry on 16 carries. He got his largest workload of the entire season after re-aggravated his “high” ankle sprain. Strange. On a short week, would we be surprised if he was active and they limited him, while Raheem Mostert got 12 carries? I wouldn’t. I’m looking for another option, unless Breida gets a full practice in on Wednesday.

Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith

The Falcons simply haven’t been focusing on getting their backs the ball. Coleman and Smith have been averaging 12 and 11 touches over the last two games, respectively, so they don’t offer a high floor or a ton of upside either. Not to mention the matchup; the Redskins have allowed the third least amount of rushing yards this season, and 3.5 yards per carry over the last three. Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Christian McCaffrey combined for less than 100 yards against them. If you had to pick one to start out of desperation, it would be Coleman.

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry

How can we feel any sort of confidence with either of these guys? The Cowboys are allowing 3.5 yards per carry this season, so it’s not a great spot for them this week. Lewis is the preferred play if you need one out of desperation; at least he had a good week before the bye to give you an inkling of hope.

Allen Robinson

If he’s active, he’s coming off a groin injury, which can be re-aggravated. Usually that won’t be a deciding factor, but he’s going to draw a shadow from Tre’Davious White. He’ll be getting snaps in the slot where White doesn’t go, but I don’t have too much confidence against a defense that has done a great job against WRs. Also, this offense has so many weapons that they can easily not involve Robinson and still click. Looking for another option.

Keke Coutee

Chris Harris isn’t the matchup you want to see coming off a hamstring injury. A risk of re-aggravation early in the game on top of the terrible matchup, along with Demaryius Thomas potentially seeing targets doesn’t add up to a good start this week. If you can pivot off of Keke with another option this week, I would.

Tyrell Williams

This one makes me nervous. Williams can take the top off any defense, but the Seahawks have only allowed one 40+ yard passing play this year, and they’re 5th best in not allowing 20+ yard passing plays. He’s boom/bust with him only producing on long TDs, and this week’s matchup projects bust. It still makes me nervous.