Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have exposure to on Sunday. As always, the Thursday night game is ignored in this piece due to its short shelf life.
Start of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cowboys: Roethlisberger tore his meniscus in Week 6 against the Dolphins. He underwent surgery to have it trimmed just a couple days later and was back under center last week against the Ravens. This week, coach Mike Tomlin admitted Big Ben wasn’t 100 percent. And it probably wasn’t close. He had less than 100 yards passing before racking up a bunch of counting stats in garbage time after it was already 21-0 in favor of Baltimore. Big Ben threw for one score and ran for another. Another week of rest should put Roethlisberger closer to full health, though it’s unlikely he’ll truly be 100 percent again this season. The Steelers are coming back home, and it’s been hammered into our heads just how much better this Pittsburgh offense is at home compared to on the road. This tweet via Chris Raybon lays it all out perfectly. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Steelers average 30.8 points per game at home and 21.35 away from Heinz Field. Roethlisberger averages 327.35 passing yards and 2.75 touchdowns at home compared to 276.4 and 1.05, respectively, on the road. The Dallas pass defense is middle-of-the-pack in most metrics — 17th in DVOA, 15th in passing yards allowed, 12th in sacks, and 12th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. But the Cowboys lost top CB Morris Claiborne to a multi-week groin injury in Week 8 and SS Barry Church to a broken arm in the same game. Big Ben should have a much better day. Cowboys-Steelers has the highest over-under of the week at 50.5 points.
Trevor Siemian at Saints: Siemian has been pretty dreadful over the past month. Over his last four games, the first-year starter has completed just 82-of-150 passes (54.7 percent) for 945 yards (236.25 per game) and a 4:2 TD:INT ratio. There’s been some chatter about the Broncos benching Siemian. Coach Gary Kubiak has squashed it, and Siemian has already been confirmed the starter for Sunday at the Superdome. The Coors Field of the NFL (h/t Rich Hribar), we want players on this fast turf under the dome. Siemian’s numbers certainly don’t scream “start me in fantasy,” but if there’s a spot to use him the rest of the way, this is it. The Saints are 28th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA and allow the most yards per game through the air at 300. Colin Kaepernick just shredded this Saints defense for 398 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday, finishing as QB8. Alex Smith managed the QB10 finish vs. New Orleans in Week 7. The Saints don’t rush the passer and bleed yards and touchdowns to opposing offenses. The Broncos are one of the more run-heavy offenses in football, but even if Siemian only attempts around 35 passes, he’ll have a chance at a top-12 finish. Look for him to take downfield shots to Emmanuel Sanders, though most of Siemian’s work will come in the short game to his running backs and Demaryius Thomas. We’ve seen Denver’s backs turn screens into long gains before. We’ll take Siemian’s yards anyway we can get them. Only two quarterbacks have finished outside the top-10 among fantasy quarterbacks against the Saints this season — Russell Wilson in Week 8 and Eli Manning in Week 2.
Marcus Mariota vs. Packers: Mariota has legitimately been a high-end QB1 the past five weeks. From Weeks 5-9, Mariota has weekly finishes of QB1, QB4, QB11, QB11, and QB5. He’s overall QB7 on the season. Mariota reportedly suffered an ankle “injury” last week at San Diego, but he wasn’t even on the injury report Wednesday and practiced in full. It’s a non-issue. Much has been made about the Packers’ “No. 1” run defense. While they’re sixth in run-defense DVOA, Green Bay is much weaker against the pass, checking in at 16th in DVOA, 17th in passing yards allowed, and 17th in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks. Top CBs Sam Shields (concussion, I.R.) and Damarious Randall (groin) remain sidelined. The Packers field a true pass-funnel defense, though Frank Gore ripped them up for two touchdowns last week. I wouldn’t be opposed to using any of my Titans players in this matchup at home. DeMarco Murray is an elite RB1, while Mariota, Delanie Walker, and Rishard Matthews are all quality starts at their respective positions. Green Bay-Tennessee has one of the higher totals of the week at 49.5 points.
Philip Rivers vs. Dolphins: Rivers is coming off his best fantasy performance of the past month. He picked apart the Titans for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns, doing it without Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Hunter Henry, and (for the most part) Travis Benjamin. No matter who the Chargers trot out there at receiver, Rivers finds a way. He now gets an overrated Dolphins defense at home. Miami checks in at ninth in pass-defense DVOA and 16th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. But taking a deeper look at their schedule, the Dolphins haven’t faced much in terms of competition. In chronological order starting with Week 1, Miami has faced Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Cody Kessler in his first career start, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Ben Roethlisberger in the game he tore his meniscus, Tyrod Taylor, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Garoppolo, Mariota, and Taylor all managed to score 20-plus fantasy points. Miami has won three-straight games, all at home. Now traveling cross-country to face a similarly-streaking San Diego team that has won 3-of-4, this is a prime letdown spot for the Fins. The Chargers’ 26.5-point implied team total is one of the highest of the week. Antonio gates is as healthy as he’s been all year, and Tyrell Williams is a legit No. 1.
Editor's Note: On FanDuel, "stacking" is a way to raise your potential upside by rostering multiple players from the same game. After you read our analysis here, be sure to check out "Raybon's Rollout: Week 10". over on RotoGrinders to see which players might make the best DFS pairings this week.
Blake Bortles vs. Texans: Bortles pulled out the QB11 and QB4 finishes in Weeks 9 and 8 against the Chiefs and Titans, respectively, but he was heavily aided by garbage time in both. He’s the king of padding his stats late in games when defenses are playing in prevent shells. This Sunday, at home, in a game with a low total (42.5) and 1.5-point spread, it’s doubtful the Texans will be able to jump out to a monstrous enough lead to give Bortles and the Jacksonville passing game a load of late-game minutes to rack up the stats. Both Houston and Jacksonville are in the top half of the league in offensive plays per game, but both teams also have two of the worst quarterbacks in football. Expect this to be a game dominated by running backs and defense. The Texans have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and are seventh in pass-defense DVOA. And in four career games against Houston, Bortles has thrown a total of four touchdowns to six interceptions. A top-12 finish is extremely unlikely for Bortles this week.
Andy Dalton at Giants: Dalton has had two weeks to prepare for Monday night’s showdown with the G-Men following the Bengals’ Week 8 tie with the Redskins in London. But this doesn’t look like a great spot for Dalton, fantasy’s QB14 in points per game. The Giants are 10th in pass-defense DVOA and fifth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’re one of just three teams to intercept more passes than it has allowed touchdowns, joining the Broncos and Cardinals. The Giants’ defensive backfield is as healthy as it’s been all year, and CBs Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are Pro Football Focus’ Nos. 2 and 3 cover corners out of 112 qualifiers since Week 5. New York has already shut down Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, and Aaron Rodgers this season. And we know Dalton’s history in primetime night games. It’s not pretty.
Kirk Cousins vs. Vikings: Last time out, Cousins threw for a career-high 458 yards with two touchdowns in the Redskins’ Week 8 tie with the Bengals in London. He was fantasy’s QB7 that week. Cousins has had two weeks to prepare for the Vikings. Even though Minnesota’s defense has shown cracks in recent weeks against Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford, it’s still not a spot I’m actively looking to start Cousins. The Vikings are still No. 4 in pass yards allowed, No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA, and No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Only five teams have surrendered fewer passing touchdowns. Cousins will also be without arguably the best left tackle in the game in Trent Williams after he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Roster-filler type Ty Nsekhe will make the start in place of Williams and will have RE Everson Griffen to contend with on Sunday. Williams’ loss is a huge one. The Minnesota-Washington 42.5-point over-under is tied with Houston-Jacksonville for the second-lowest total of Week 9.
Start of the Week: Darren Sproles vs. Falcons: Over the past two games, Sproles has out-snapped Ryan Mathews 122-16 and out-touched him 36-11. Last week at this time, coach Doug Pederson was still blowing smoke up our you-know-whats, trying to tell us Mathews was still the “lead guy” in the Eagles’ backfield. Nobody was buying it, and Pederson finally changed his tune this week, admitting Sproles is the No. 1 back. Sproles is averaging a healthy 4.8 YPC on the season to go along with 25 catches through eight games. Philadelphia’s outside receivers are contributing nothing. And the offense is working through the middle of the field with Sproles, slot WR Jordan Matthews, and Zach Ertz. Now the Eagles look like they could get involved in a potential shootout this Sunday. Atlanta is first in points per game and second in total yards. Pederson said he wants Carson Wentz to throw the ball less over the second half of the season, but he may not have much of a choice this week. Look for Pederson to try and slow things down and run it with/dump it off to Sproles as much as possible early on in the first half to try and control the clock and keep the Falcons’ offense off the field. Atlanta is playing stout run defense, allowing just 3.83 YPC to opposing backs. But the Falcons have yielded the second-most catches (71) out of the backfield. Only the Chargers have allowed more at 73, and the third-worst team in that area is the Patriots, who have given up just 53. Clearly San Diego and Atlanta have real problems covering running backs. That plays right into Sproles’ strengths. He’s a strong RB1/2 play and gets a boost in PPR and return-yardage leagues as the Eagles’ primary punt returner. He’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Mark Ingram & Tim Hightower vs. Broncos: Both Saints running backs were listed in this same space last week despite all the talk of Ingram possibly getting phased out of the offense in favor of Hightower. The two ended up splitting the load in San Francisco. Hightower out-touched Ingram 24-17 and out-snapped him by a slim margin of 36-33. Ingram ended the week as fantasy’s RB3, and Hightower was RB8. Expect a similar split. Obviously, the 49ers field the league’s worst run defense by a fairly-wide margin. But this Denver defense isn’t all that much better. There’s a perception around the Broncos’ defense that we can’t play anyone against them, but that’s simply not the case. Only the 49ers, Browns, and Dolphins allow more rushing yards per game than Denver, and only seven teams give up more fantasy points to running backs. Latavius Murray just shredded this unit for 114 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last Sunday night. Now Denver travels to New Orleans to play in the Superdome, where scores are always inflated due to the fast turf and high-flying nature of the Saints’ offense at home. Both Ingram and Hightower are solid RB2 options with upside. Again, if you own both Saints running backs, do not hesitate to start both in fantasy lineups. The easiest way to beat Denver is on the ground, as it checks in at 20th in run-defense DVOA, compared to No. 2 against the pass. Opposing running backs are averaging 4.35 YPC.
Chris Ivory vs. Texans: In their offensive-coordinator shakeup after Week 8, the Jaguars promoted QBs coach Nathaniel Hackett to play-calling duties, sending OC Greg Olson out the door. Jacksonville said it wanted to be more balanced under Hackett, and that’s exactly what happened last week against the Chiefs. Ivory played a five-week-high 44.1 percent of the offensive snaps and set new season-bests with 18 carries for 107 yards. He should have had a touchdown on top of it but fumbled heading into the end zone in the fourth quarter. The turnover was a bit worrisome, but the Jaguars aren’t in position to start benching players who perform, since they have very few of them. Ivory looked like the Jets version of himself last week, running over defenders with power and explosion. He now gets a Texans run defense that is 28th in DVOA and gives up 4.33 YPC to running backs. Over the past five weeks, only six teams have hemorrhaged more fantasy points to the position. Houston is bottom-five in run defense and top-two against the pass. If the Jaguars are smart, which we’re not sure they are, they’ll attack the Texans on the ground.
C.J. Prosise at Patriots: Prosise hasn’t been all that impressive in limited snaps as a rookie. He missed Weeks 2-6 with a broken hand but seems to be getting into the mix more. Prosise played a season-high 55.3 percent of the snaps this past Monday night against the Bills. He was in on 26 offensive plays compared to 18 for Christine Michael. While Michael’s role seems to be shrinking, Prosise’s is growing. And speaking Wednesday, coach Pete Carroll said the rookie is going to “play a lot” Sunday night in New England. As 7.5-point road underdogs, Seattle projects for a pass-heavy game script. The Patriots are No. 5 in run-defense DVOA, as opposed to 26th against the pass. Only two teams have allowed more receptions to running backs. And catching the ball out of the backfield is viewed as Prosise’s strength. He’s worth firing up as an RB2/flex play in PPR formats.
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Ryan Mathews vs. Falcons: Mathews is going to keep being listed here until he stops with the fluky fantasy outputs. Despite playing just eight snaps each in the Eagles’ previous two games, Mathews managed to find the end zone both against the Cowboys and Giants. He’s totaled just nine carries for 25 yards across 16 snaps in that span. It’s simply impossible to keep banking on Mathews getting a goal-line plunge on such limited playing time. This is Darren Sproles’ backfield, and even Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood have combined to play as many snaps as Mathews the past two games. Mathews is closer to being drop-worthy than worth consideration as a fantasy starter.
Christine Michael at Patriots: As mentioned above, Michael played only 18 offensive snaps in last Monday night’s win over the Bills. He was in on eight fewer plays than rookie C.J. Prosise, and C-Mike managed to turn five carries into one rushing yard. However, Michael pulled a “Ryan Mathews” and was the beneficiary of a goal-line bunny for a three-yard touchdown after Doug Baldwin drew a long defensive pass interference penalty on the previous play. Michael has been trending in the wrong direction for weeks, as he’s averaging a pitiful 3.2 YPC over the last five games. Coming out of their Week 8 road loss to the Saints, the Seahawks’ coaches allegedly agreed to put more on the plate of Russell Wilson and the passing game as they flew back home to Seattle. That’s exactly what happened last week, with Wilson throwing his first two touchdowns since Week 4. As 7.5-point underdogs at New England, Seattle projects to feature another pass-heavy game script. That would leave Michael on the sidelines more than in the huddle. The Patriots are allowing just 3.4 YPC to opposing running backs over their past four games. They field Football Outsiders’ fifth-ranked run defense in DVOA. With only four teams on bye this week, Michael is more of an RB3.
Rob Kelley vs. Vikings: Matt Jones missed Week 8 in London with a knee injury, and Kelley took over lead-back duties, running for 87 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against the Bengals. Jones is back practicing in full coming out of the bye week and should be active versus Minnesota. But speaking Monday, coach Jay Gruden said Kelley will remain the Redskins’ lead dog, and Jones will have to “earn his way back” into the backfield equation after injuries and ball-security issues. While Kelley seems to have a somewhat-firm grip on the No. 1 job this week, the matchup couldn’t be much more difficult. The Vikings are allowing the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game and the 11th-fewest fantasy points to running backs. The aforementioned loss of All-Pro LT Trent Williams to a four-game suspension last week not only hurts the passing game, but also cripples the rushing attack. Williams is currently Pro Football Focus’ top-rated offensive tackle out of 76 qualifiers. He’s No. 3 in run blocking and No. 5 in pass protection. Williams’ fill-in, Ty Nsekhe, is a replacement-level talent who has bounced around the league the past few seasons. Kelley offers nothing as a receiver out of the backfield, either. Kelley owners would simply be wishing for a touchdown.
Start of the Week: Tyrell Williams vs. Dolphins: It’s not often that I feature the same “start of the week” in back-to-back weeks. But after Williams answered with a 6-65-1 receiving line last week against the Titans, it’s time to go back to the well. Excluding his two games against the Broncos’ elite pass defense, Williams has averaged 7.8 targets per game since entering the starting lineup in Week 3. He’s turned those 7.8 targets into weekly averages of 5.8 catches for 86.2 yards. Williams has scored two touchdowns in that span and posted a pair of 100-yard games. He’s put up 65 yards or more in 4-of-5 contests. Williams has proven to be a legitimate WR2 with WR1 upside, but he’s still being treated as a WR3/4 in the fantasy community. As mentioned earlier, this Dolphins pass defense looks a lot stronger on paper than it actually is in real life. They’ve faced some of the weakest competition of any team through nine weeks. Williams figures to bounce between the coverage of “No. 1” CB Byron Maxwell and fellow outside CB Tony Lippett on Sunday. Maxwell is Pro Football Focus’ No. 54 cover corner on the season, and Lippett is No. 56 out of 117 qualifiers. Maxwell is as burnable as any corner in the league, while Lippett is in his first season as a defensive back after playing wide receiver at Michigan State. With Travis Benjamin battling a sprained PCL and playing just seven snaps last week, Williams is easily the Chargers’ best and healthiest receiver. He’s Philip Rivers’ playmaker on the outside, while Antonio Gates and Dontrelle Inman work the middle of the field. This is a great spot for the entire Chargers offense after they put up 43 points last week.
Jordan Matthews vs. Falcons: Carson Wentz seems to be back to realizing his outside receivers, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, are worthless, and the only targets he can trust are Matthews, Darren Sproles, and Zach Ertz. After seeing a total of 17 targets Weeks 3-7, Matthews has been targeted 25 times over the past two games. Wentz’s spike in passing attempts obviously plays a significant role in Matthews seeing more looks, but it’s still notable. Matthews was super consistent throughout the first half of the season as well, totaling at least 65 receiving yards and/or scoring a touchdown in 7-of-8 games. Yet his price seems to be dropping or remaining stagnant in daily fantasy. On FanDuel, Matthews is just $5,900 as WR34. He’s a great value at that rate in a game the Eagles may have to play catch-up or keep-up with the Falcons’ No. 1 scoring offense. Matthews (6’3/212) figures to do battle for most of the day with Atlanta slot CB Brian Poole, who is just 5-foot-10 and is an undrafted rookie out of Florida. Poole has played well for the most part, but Matthews has a distinct size advantage and is his team’s No. 1 pass-game option. Atlanta-Philadelphia has the week’s highest over-under at 50.5 points and is currently a pick’em. This one has massive shootout potential. It’s a rare time that multiple Eagles are in play for fantasy.
Eddie Royal at Bucs: Royal hasn’t played since injuring his toe in Week 6. Coming out of the bye, he was practicing on a limited basis on Wednesday. That’s a marked improvement from earlier in the season when Royal was routinely missing Wednesday and Thursday practices before getting in a limited session on Friday and playing at less than 100 percent on Sunday. He’s probably as healthy as he’s been since early September. Royal has played two games with Jay Cutler this season, and he saw six targets in both games, posting receiving lines of 4-57-1 and 4-52-0. The numbers don’t jump off the screen, but they were difficult matchups against the Texans and Eagles. Royal has caught at least four passes for 40 yards in 5-of-6 games this year. Now he gets a Bucs defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to receivers this season. Only the 49ers, Falcons, and Ravens have surrendered more touchdowns to the position. On an individual matchup basis, Royal figures to run the bulk of his routes at Bucs slot CB Jude Adjei-Barimah. He’s Pro Football Focus’ No. 85 cover corner out of 117 qualifiers and has allowed a 129.3 passer rating in his coverage. On a personal note, I picked up Royal in a 12-team PPR league where we can start four receivers as a bye-week fill-in for T.Y. Hilton. Royal and Cutler have a relationship dating back to Denver.
Kenny Britt at Jets: One of either Britt or Brian Quick figures to get loose for a touchdown over the top of this Jets defense. Quick’s snaps have been on the rise every week for the past month, and he was in on a season-high 73.5 percent of the plays last week against the Panthers. But Britt has the safer floor and has seen at least five targets in every game this season. Only the Raiders, Falcons, and Bills have allowed more yards to opposing receivers than the Jets. Darrelle Revis seems to have given up in a lost season and no longer has the deep speed to keep up on the outside. Gang Green has surrendered the second-most pass plays of 40-plus yards. Britt has four catches of 34-plus yards and is 14th among receivers, averaging 15.8 YPR. Quick has three catches of 44-plus yards and is averaging a robust 16.5 YPR on 25 grabs. The Jets are 30th in pass-defense DVOA. The only problem for Britt and Quick is that Case Keenum is their quarterback. Both receivers should see single-coverage all afternoon with the Jets game-planning to stop Todd Gurley.
Quincy Enunwa vs. Rams: Not that it matters much since the Jets run a three- and four-wide offense, but Enunwa has been out-snapped by Robby Anderson each of the past five weeks. Enunwa figured to take on a much bigger role after Eric Decker’s season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3, but his role has remained unchanged while Anderson has been the biggest beneficiary. And just last week against the Dolphins, Enunwa was out-targeted by all three of Brandon Marshall, Anderson, and Jalin Marshall. On Wednesday, the Jets activated deep-threat WR Devin Smith (knee) from the PUP list, adding another capable body to the mix. Outside of Brandon Marshall, this receiver group is one to avoid in a tough spot against the Rams. Enunwa is the main slot receiver and figures to run most of his routes against CB Lamarcus Joyner, who is the Rams’ top-graded corner at Pro Football Focus, checking at No. 17 among 117 qualified corners. I’m out on Enunwa.
Brandon LaFell at Giants: LaFell is playing over 90 percent of the snaps for the Bengals, but with Tyler Eifert officially back to 100 percent, LaFell’s targets will take a big hit. Eifert saw his first meaningful action of the season in Week 8 against the Redskins, and LaFell had just two passes thrown his way on a whopping 83 snaps. A reduced offensive role on top of a tough matchup on the road against the Giants, this puts LaFell off the fantasy map in 12- and 14-team leagues. LaFell might get the easiest matchup of the Bengals’ receivers against rookie CB Eli Apple, but it’s not enough to get excited about. Andy Dalton figures to struggle to find throwing windows Monday night.
Will Fuller at Jaguars: Fuller started his rookie season off scorching hot, but he’s mostly been a non-factor since Week 4. Fuller was held to a 1-4-0 line by the Vikings in Week 5, didn’t play a snap in Week 6 against the Colts, posted a 4-22-0 line at Denver in Week 7, and managed just a 23-yard catch in a plus spot against the Lions in Week 8 before leaving with a leg injury. Fuller was practicing on Wednesday, putting him on track to play coming out of the bye week. Brock Osweiler seems to be getting worse by the game, and Fuller gets a tough draw against veteran CB Prince Amukamara. Amukamara battled some early-season injuries, but he’s been Pro Football Focus’ No. 13 cover corner out of 110 qualifiers since Week 4. Impressive rookie Jalen Ramsey is expected to be latched onto DeAndre Hopkins much of the afternoon. Neither the Texans’ nor Jaguars’ passing offense is in a favorable spot come Sunday. I’m back in wait-and-see mode with Fuller.
Start of the Week: Kyle Rudolph at Redskins: Rudolph was in an absolute dream spot last week at home against the Lions. He ended up seeing just one target. But Rudolph made it count, turning that one target into a one-yard touchdown catch. Prior to Week 9, Rudolph had seen at least six targets in 6-of-7 games. He’s still seventh among all tight ends with 51 passes thrown his way on the year. On the road against the Redskins looks like another plus draw for the big tight end. Only the Browns, Colts, Titans, and Lions have allowed more catches to opposing tight ends. And the Washington defense gives up a touchdown on 62.96 percent of red-zone possessions, which is 26th in the league. Continue firing Rudolph up as an every-week TE1 in this conservative offense.
Lance Kendricks at Jets: Among all tight ends over the past four weeks, Kendricks is No. 1 in targets per game at 9.75. He’s seen target totals of 6, 7, and 10 over the past three games and leads the Rams in red-zone targets in that span. Kendricks should have had an easy touchdown last week against the Panthers, but he dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands in the end zone. Kendricks blamed the sun getting in his eyes after the game. Coach Jeff Fisher said he wants to run the ball more, but this isn’t the week to get Todd Gurley going on the ground. The Jets are No. 2 in run-defense DVOA and 30th against the pass. They’ve allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to tight ends and are 23rd in red-zone defense. Kendricks’ ceiling is relatively low, but at such a shallow position like tight end, it’s hard to pass up on the volume he’s been seeing lately. Even a 4-50 or 5-60 receiving line could put Kendricks in the mix for a TE1 finish.
Zach Ertz vs. Falcons: Ertz was the butt of some jokes from beat writer Jimmy Kempski last month, but Ertz started off November on a high note last week against the Giants. Ertz saw a season-high eight targets and caught all eight for 97 scoreless yards. He’s never been much of a touchdown-scorer, but fantasy owners would take those 17.7 PPR points every time. Ertz even saw a red-zone target after receiving just two all season before last Sunday. Ertz now gets a Falcons defense that has allowed the third-most touchdowns and fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. As mentioned earlier, all four of Ertz, Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews, and Darren Sproles are in play.
Will Tye vs. Bengals: Coming out of the Week 8 bye, the Giants treated Tye as their clear-cut No. 1 tight end last week against the Eagles. He played 72 percent of the snaps, while Larry Donnell didn’t play a single down after putting a ton of poor play on film the first seven weeks of the year. Tye is easily the Giants’ best tight end, and they appear ready to use him like it. Tye saw a season-high six targets against Philadelphia, securing four for 33 yards. The Eagles have annually defended the tight end spot well the past few years. This week’s spot against the Bengals sets up much easier. Cincinnati has yielded the ninth-most catches for the third-most yards, fifth-most touchdowns, and fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Tye is a viable streamer Monday night.
Julius Thomas vs. Texans: Thomas has battled an ankle injury for the past several weeks. He isn’t on the injury report for Week 10, which suggests he’s as healthy as he’s been since September. Unfortunately, Thomas has seen five or fewer targets in 5-of-7 games this season and hasn’t topped 28 yards since Week 2. On top of a diminished role in the Jaguars’ passing game, the Texans have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points and just one touchdown to tight ends. Thomas is an unappealing TE2 playing in one of the league’s most dysfunctional offenses.
Vance McDonald at Cardinals: Colin Kaepernick has made three starts under center for the 49ers. In those three games, McDonald has seen two, six, and six targets. The first two games, McDonald was held to 25 and 24 yards before breaking out for a 3-84-1 line against the Saints last Sunday. However, 65 of those yards came on a long touchdown. McDonald has 75- and 65-yard touchdown receptions this season. On his other nine catches, he’s totaled 86 yards. Predicting McDonald’s big plays is impossible, and the Cardinals have allowed the fewest catches and fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season. McDonald isn’t on the TE1 map this week.
Martellus Bennett vs. Seahawks: Ever since his three-touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Bennett has posted receiving lines of 5-48-0, 1-5-0, and 4-35-0. The more Rob Gronkowski’s role grows, the more Bennett’s shrinks. That coupled with a daunting matchup against the Seahawks leaves better options of the board than Bennett this week. Seattle is also expected to get SS Kam Chancellor back from a multi-week groin injury Sunday night. Only the Cardinals and Ravens have surrendered fewer fantasy points to tight ends than the Seahawks.