In a week heavy with byes, sometimes you have to dig deep to exploit matchups to find the winning formula. In this week’s edition of Start ‘Em/ Sit ‘Em, we give you our insight into which players you should insert into that starting lineup as well as which ones you should bench.
Ryan Tannehill vs. New York Jets
In case you haven’t been watching football at all this year, Oscar the Grouch would love to upgrade his home in the garbage can to the giant pile of garbage that is the Jets secondary. The Jets look more like paper airplanes this year, as five QBs have already thrown for 300 yards against them this year and Joe Flacco is the only QB not to throw a touchdown. Josh McCown just went for 26 fantasy points this week after sitting out since week 2 because of injury. All of this coupled with Jay Ajayi’s recent breakout, the Jets will look to load the box and stop the run, allowing all 3 of the Dolphins speedy WRs to run free.
Prediction: 300 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int
Michael Thomas @ San Francisco 49ers
The rookie WR from Ohio State is quietly putting up a solid year. He has quietly put together double-digit fantasy points in all but one game (9.6 FP in week 2) and is on pace for 96 receptions, 1143 yards, and 7 TDs. In the last 3 weeks, he has been targeted 24 times and caught 21 of those passes, which means he is getting open and Brees is finding him. Look for that trend to continue against a 49ers defense that can’t seem to find their identity.
Prediction: 8 receptions, 70 yards, 1 TD
Devontae Booker @ Oakland Raiders
Although Oakland’s rush defense is decent (11th most points to RBs this season), Booker finds himself as a workhorse back with the recent knee injury to CJ Anderson. The new backup in Denver is Kapri Bibbs who has a career total of 6 carries. While I do expect Bibbs to be involved to an extent, Booker will garner the majority of the snaps in the Bronco backfield and even in the event his YPC average isn’t eye-popping, Booker should receive 25+ touches.
Prediction: 85 rush yards, 1 TD, 3 rec, 45 receiving yards
Russell Wilson @ Buffalo Bills
It’s time we stop looking at Russell Wilson’s potential and look at what he has actually done this season. He is banged up and it shows. While I don’t question his leadership and ability to lead his team effectively, it doesn’t help his fantasy stock. He has only scored above 16 fantasy points once this season and that was against the aforementioned pile of garbage the Jets continue to roll out each week. Pair that with the Bills’ defense, who gives up the 8th least amount of points to opposing QBs, week 9 does not seem like the week that Wilson rights the ship.
Prediction: 210 pass yards, 1 TD
Michael Crabtree vs. Denver Broncos
This one may come as a shock to a few as Crabtree has been on a tear lately. However, over the last 3 weeks, Amari Cooper has re-established himself as Carr’s favorite target in the passing game. The decreased looks hurt Crabtree but not as much as his matchup with Denver this week does. The Broncos secondary has only allowed 2 TDs to opposing WRs this year and has yet to allow anyone to eclipse the 100-yard mark. Crabtree is a more than capable pass catcher, but with AJ Green, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins already on Denver’s resume as receivers they have shut down, he has a tough task ahead of him.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 45 receiving yards
Ryan Mathews @ New York Giants
Although coach Doug Pederson has said that Mathews is still the lead back in Philadelphia, it may be just part of his strategy to get opposing coaches to game plan for him. The numbers strongly point to Darren Sproles as the lead after he was on the field for 62 snaps to Mathews 8 in week 8 against Dallas. Sproles has seen 113 more snaps than Mathews on the year as well, so it wasn’t just a one-week ‘hot hand’ or matchup situation. In fact, since week 3, Mathews has only cracked double- digit fantasy points once, so in a divisional game on the road against a tough NYG team, Mathews cannot be trusted.
Prediction: 35 rush yards, 1 reception, 10 receiving yards
Dak Prescott @ Cleveland Browns
Bad passing defense plus Dak’s incredible run of 18+ fantasy points in every week since 2, sets up the rookie for another solid start.
Colin Kaepernick vs. New Orleans Saints
Anytime a QB is passing against the Saints defense, it’s a good thing. While Kaep is a ghost of his former self, he has actually put together 17 and 20 point efforts against the Bills and Bucs respectively, and with 6 teams on bye, he is not a bad streaming option.
DeVante Parker vs New York Jets
The recurring theme here is that if you have someone involved in a passing attack against the Jets, starting said person is a good idea. Parker has not been healthy all year so with a week of rest after the bye to get healthy, expect him to live up to expectations this week.
Terrance West vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
A lot of people are down on West after his 10-yard effort last week but before that he rushed for 87+ yards in each of the last 3 weeks and now finds himself running against the Steelers whose defense has been uncharacteristically bad this year.
Eli Manning vs. Philadelphia Eagles
In 3 of his last 4 starts, Manning has scored less than 13 fantasy points. To say he has struggled would be an understatement and now faces division rival Philly and their stout passing defense.
Tyrod Taylor @ Seattle Seahawks
Throwing on ‘Legion of Boom’ is never easy, especially when you face them at home. That is exactly the predicament Taylor finds himself in this week.
Randall Cobb vs. Indianapolis Colts
Jordy Nelson was due for a big game last week when Montgomery, Adams, and Cobb were all ruled out. Then he was shut out in the 2nd half and some guy named Geronimo caught a TD. There are too many options in GB to trust any receiver.
LeSean McCoy @ Seattle Seahawks
McCoy will be less than 100% after missing last week with a hamstring injury. Seattle’s defense has also been impressive so far this season. The stars don’t align for Shady this week.