Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Dak Prescott at Falcons: Over the last five weeks, Prescott is the overall QB9 in fantasy points per game. He has multiple touchdowns in all four games in that span and has had 240 or more passing yards in three-straight games after accomplishing that just once the first six weeks. Prescott has also attempted at least 31 passes in each of the last three after averaging just 28.5 attempts Weeks 1-6 with one game above 30. It hasn’t just been the passing numbers for Prescott that have experienced a spike; he’s also using his legs more, scoring all three of his rushing touchdowns since Week 6 while averaging over six “carries” per contest in that span. The Cowboys now get an Atlanta defense that is dead last at 32nd in defensive DVOA and is bottom four against both the pass and run. Only the Bengals and Saints are allowing more fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks. Baker Mayfield threw a season-high three touchdowns versus Atlanta last week. Alex Smith has been held to exactly 178 yards passing three of the last four games with his one outlier being a 306-yard day against the Falcons in Week 9. Eli Manning had 399 yards and a score in Week 7. And Jameis Winston had 395 yards and four scores in Atlanta in Week 6. There have been five games played inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season, and the average game total in those has been a whopping 62.8 points. The 48-point total for Cowboys-Falcons seems too low, especially with the Cowboys playing better offensively. Prescott is an elite streamer.
Marcus Mariota at Colts: Since the Week 8 bye, Mariota is the overall QB7 with back-to-back multi-touchdown games against the Cowboys and Patriots. Mariota has completed 37-of-53 passes (69.8%) for 468 yards (8.83 YPA) and four touchdowns with zero picks and a fifth score via the ground. Weeks 1-7, Mariota completed 66% of his passes at 6.87 YPA with four sub-200-yards passing games and just one multi-touchdown effort. Perhaps he’s turning a corner like Mariota seems to do in the second half of the season every year. He’s also healthy after battling a nerve issue in his throwing hand the first month and a half. The Colts are 16th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks the last five weeks and 27th in pass-defense DVOA on the season. Since the Indianapolis offense plays at such a high pace as the second-fastest behind the Patriots, their defense in turn is on the field a lot, facing the seventh-most plays per game. The Titans will be up in pace playing in a friendly dome environment. Blake Bortles was able to have the overall QB7 day in Indy last Sunday with 320 yards and a pair of scores. Derek Carr threw three touchdowns and ran for another as the QB3 the previous game against the Colts. And Sam Darnold had 280 yards and a pair of scores in Week 6. Derek Anderson’s train wreck for the Bills was sandwiched in between. This is a plus-plus spot for Mariota in a game with a healthy 49-point total being played in a controlled-weather environment.
Eli Manning vs. Bucs: Manning is the QB27 in fantasy points per game and totally washed at this point in his career, but he’s still juuust good enough to be able to exploit bad defenses. Just over the last three games, Manning has faced the Falcons and 49ers in Weeks 7 and 10. He hung 399 yards and a touchdown on Atlanta and tossed three touchdowns against San Fran this past Monday night, hitting Sterling Shepard for a game-winner after finding Odell Beckham twice. (Manning and OBJ should have had a third touchdown hookup, but Eli badly under-threw him on one deep ball and misfired on another at the goal line after Beckham was held.) The Bucs are 30th in pass-defense DVOA and 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve allowed multiple touchdowns to every quarterback except Alex Smith last week and Nick Foles in Week 2, though Foles had 334 yards passing. Tampa Bay allowed five-straight 300-yard passers to open the season. Nobody has done it since, but the Bucs have been getting blown out in recent games, allowing opposing offenses to hammer the run game. The Giants likely aren’t good enough to throttle the Bucs at MetLife. This game should stay somewhat competitive and has big shootout upside. The 52-point total is the third-highest of the week behind Eagles-Saints (56) and Chiefs-Rams (63.5).
Blake Bortles vs. Steelers: Bortles is the QB18 on the season, but is coming off a QB7 day against the Colts last week following the bye. Bortles is really an all-or-nothing entity in fantasy; he has five top-12 finishes while the rest are outside of the top-20 and barely usable in two-QB leagues. It takes a lot to turn to Bortles as a streamer, but this matchup against the Steelers looks decent enough to throw a dart. The Steelers are 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 19th in pass-defense DVOA. However, over the last five weeks, only three teams have surrendered fewer fantasy points to the quarterback spot. The Steelers have faced Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, and Cam Newton in that span. Not exactly a murderers’ row outside of Newton. But Bortles is by no means an upper-echelon passer in his own right. What I do like is the Jaguars are playing up in pace against the Steelers’ ninth-fastest-paced offense, and it’s in Jacksonville with the Jaguars as six-point ‘dogs. They may be chasing all afternoon, and Pittsburgh could be in a bit of a letdown spot after stomping the Panthers last Thursday night in a big primetime win. It’s do-or-die time for the Jags. Bortles was considerably up in pace last week as well against Indy and was able to have a top-seven week. Points-chasing, paced-up, and a mediocre pass defense are what we’re hanging our hat on with Bortles against the Steelers. He’s a fine two-quarterback league play with some upside, especially if Bortles uses his legs to raise his floor. Bortles has at least 25 rushing yards in 7-of-9 games.
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Philip Rivers vs. Broncos: Rivers has flung himself into the MVP discussion for the 7-2 Chargers and has multiple touchdown passes in every game this season while averaging over 273 passing yards. He’s the fantasy QB13 on the season. While Rivers has been ultra consistent, he hasn’t had a really huge game since going for 424 yards and three scores in Week 1 against the Chiefs. Rivers now gets a Denver unit that is 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. Rivers has had his struggles against this defense in the past, even when it’s been run by coach Vance Joseph. Rivers had two games last season where he failed to eclipse 200 yards passing, and both were against the Broncos. He averaged 6.36 YPA in those contests, well below his 7.9 YPA mark for the year. Denver held Deshaun Watson to 213 yards and two scores last time out. Three games before that, Jared Goff had his worst game of the season with just 201 yards, no scores, and a pick against the Broncos. The Chargers at least get the Broncos in California instead of Mile High, but it’s not enough to make Rivers more than a high-end QB2 on a day where Melvin Gordon should be able to have his way on the ground. Denver is 18th in run-defense DVOA. The 46-point total is one of the lower ones on the board.
Matthew Stafford vs. Panthers: We’re just going to keep fading Stafford, who has shown zero upside this season as the QB25 in fantasy points per game. Stafford is dripping with talent, but coach Matt Patricia has muzzled him by forcing the Lions to run the league’s second-slowest offense in order to try and hide his pathetic defense. Stafford has also lost Golden Tate to a trade with the Eagles, and then saw Marvin Jones go down with a knee injury last week. He’s left with sophomore Kenny Golladay and pedestrian pass-game RB-turned-slot WR Theo Riddick, who is allergic to touchdowns, as his two main weapons. Carolina just got flamed by Ben Roethlisberger for five touchdowns last Thursday night and is 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks since Week 6. No team has given up more touchdown passes in that span. But the volume just isn’t there for Stafford to have any sort of upside. He has just one three-touchdown game on the year. Detroit is 25th in red-zone success after being top-10 in that department last season. The Lions are one of the few teams that has seemed to take a turn for the worst as the season has inched along.
Kirk Cousins at Bears: Cousins has been a great real-life pickup for the Vikings, checking in among the top-three in completion percentage and No. 9 in passer rating. The fantasy numbers just haven’t been there of late. After rounding out September as the overall QB7 following a huge Week 4 performance against the Rams, Cousins has been the QB23 in the six weeks since. Part of it has been the Vikings getting big leads against the Cardinals, Jets, and Lions in that span. But Cousins has shown minimal upside with zero three-touchdown efforts since Week 4 and three games with fewer than 250 passing yards. Heading out on the road against the Bears’ elite defense doesn’t look like a spot to turn things around in the box score. Chicago is No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 in interceptions. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks are playing at All-Pro levels on the defensive line, and the Minnesota offensive line has been one of the worst in the league. The 45-point total for Vikings-Bears is the third-lowest of the week and could end up being dominated by defense.
Start of the Week: Alex Collins vs. Bengals: After a 4-1 start, the Bengals are 1-3 in their last three games, barely escaping with a 37-34 win against the Bucs in Week 8. Cincinnati’s defense has given up 40.25 points per game in this five-week stretch, totally giving up on defense and forcing coach Marvin Lewis to make DC Teryl Austin the fall guy this week. Lewis is taking over DC duties, but we doubt it makes much of a difference this soon. Collins is the overall RB32 in fantasy points per game and has yet to top 68 yards on the ground through 10 weeks. He’s getting by solely on touchdowns, scoring four times on the ground in the four games ahead of last week’s bye. Collins played a season-high 50.8% of the snaps last time out against Pittsburgh and seems to be pulling away from Javorius Allen a bit. Finally. Ty Montgomery’s addition is a bit of a concern, but he was inactive his first game with Baltimore. The Bengals have just been getting railroaded in all phases. Since Week 6, they’re dead last in fantasy points allowed to running backs, surrendering 5.48 YPC, while also giving up the most touchdowns to the position via the pass. Cincinnati is 30th in run-defense DVOA. Last week, Mark Ingram had 162 yards and one touchdown on 16 touches while teammate Alvin Kamara managed 102 yards and a pair of scores on 16 touches of his own. The game before that, Peyton Barber had his best rushing day of the season with a 19-85-1 line. In Week 7, Kareem Hunt turned 20 touches into 141 yards and three touchdowns. James Conner had 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 touches the previous week. Collins doesn’t get the kind of volume the aforementioned backs receive, but he should flirt with 15 carries with a decent shot at more, especially if the Ravens either try to protect Joe Flacco (hip) from further injury or simply start Robert Griffin III or Lamar Jackson instead. If RG3 or Jackson is under center, their dual-threat capabilities tend to expose defenses and open up bigger running lanes. Collins is a really strong RB2 with good odds for a touchdown. The Ravens and Bengals are both quietly top-six in offensive pace. When these teams met in Week 2, Collins played a season-high 42 snaps.
Theo Riddick vs. Panthers: In the two game since the Golden Tate trade, Riddick has played 55.7% and 59% of the snaps after being in on 36.4% of the snaps or fewer three of his previous four games. Riddick has seen target counts of 8 and 7 in those two contests, essentially taking Tate’s old role as the Lions’ slot man and chain-mover, even though he has minimal playmaking ability and doesn’t create anything after the catch unlike Tate. This is purely a target-based play for PPR league owners in need of some help at the running back spot. Riddick doesn’t carry the ball and is for all intents and purposes now a receiver. We just get to use him at running back. And with six teams on bye, there’s enough here for Riddick to crack double-digits and provide a usable score, especially with Tate gone and Marvin Jones now sidelined with a knee injury. Kenny Golladay, Riddick, and Kerryon Johnson is all Matthew Stafford has at his disposal. The Panthers have been victimized by slot receivers in recent week, allowing 8-82-2 to Adam Humphries in Week 9, 5-54 to Willie Snead in Week 8, and 4-75 to Sterling Shepard in Week 5. Nelson Agholor caught six balls in Week 7 but mustered just 20 yards. Riddick should again flirt with 7-10 targets as the second or third option in the pass game. This one has a 51-point total. The Lions could end up chasing by the second half.
Doug Martin at Cardinals: Martin has been the Raiders’ default No. 1 back since Marshawn Lynch went down with an injury in London in Week 6. In his three games atop the depth chart, Martin has averaged 13 carries per contest at a 4.67 yards-per-rush clip. He doesn’t have any touchdowns but has also managed to catch six of his seven targets in the pass game for an additional 68 yards. Dare we admit it, but Martin has actually looked good as the lead dog. It helps to run behind a talent guard-center-guard combo of Kelechi Osemele-Rodney Hudson-Gabe Jackson on the interior. Arizona fields one of the truly bad run defenses, checking in at 30th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. The Cardinals are surrendering 4.84 YPC to the position the last five weeks. Kareem Hunt flopped against the Cardinals last week, but his backup, Spencer Ware, scored a touchdown. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for a 27-127-2 rushing line two games before that. And Latavius Murray exploded for a 24-155-1 afternoon in Week 6. This is definitely a ripe matchup for Martin, especially if the Raiders can keep it somewhat close and give Martin some chances in the second half, unlike previous weeks when Oakland has been getting blown out and getting forced to abandon the run. The Cardinals are 5.5-point favorites, but that seems a little generous.
Peyton Barber at Giants: Barber is coming off one of his stronger efforts of the season last week against the Redskins, rushing for 61 yards on 13 carries at 4.7 YPC. Unfortunately for him, he has just one touchdown on the season as a runner, coming three weeks ago against the Bengals with a 19-85 rushing line. Barber has been playing incrementally better in recent weeks and now gets one of his better matchups of the season. The Giants are 19th in run-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs over the last five weeks. They just got railroaded by Matt Breida this past Monday night for 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The previous game, Adrian Peterson went nuts with a 26-149-1 afternoon. Barber offers nothing in the pass game and needs a touchdown to be useful at all in fantasy, but this is one of his better draws on the schedule. The Giants are only favored by 1.5 points at home, suggesting it should stay close, and the 52-point total for Bucs-Giants is the third-highest of Week 11. With six teams on bye, Barber has FLEX appeal.
Marlon Mack vs. Titans: From Weeks 6-8, Mack was fantasy’s overall RB6 in points per game, averaging 133.7 total yards with four touchdowns in those three games. The Colts had a bye in Week 9, and Mack stumbled against the Jaguars last Sunday, managing just 38 scoreless yards on 14 touches. Mack is playing a solid 60% of the snaps the last three games, obviously making him an every-week play at the position, especially in a week with six teams on bye, but he runs into another buzzsaw that is the Titans Defense. Tennessee is No. 8 in run-defense DVOA and No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to running backs over the last five weeks, yielding just 3.11 YPC to the position. Last Sunday, the Titans erased James White (1-(-5)-0 rushing, 5-31 receiving) and Sony Michel (11-31). Ezekiel Elliott was limited to 61 scoreless yards on 17 carries the previous week. Austin Ekeler went 12-42 in a spot start in place of Melvin Gordon in Week 7. Alex Collins averaged 2.8 YPC but scored twice in Week 6. He’s the only No. 1 running back who has scored against the Titans in that span. Tennessee’s defense faces the 10th-fewest plays per game. It’s impossible to say Mack is a flat-out “sit” in fantasy, but we saw his floor last week against Jacksonville as the RB36. Consider Mack a borderline RB2/3 for Week 11. He’s likely going to need a touchdown to beat that.
Lamar Miller at Redskins: Miller looked to be turning a corner with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against the Jaguars and Dolphins in Week 7 and 8, but he completely face-planted in Denver the following game with a 12-21-0 rushing line. Miller ceded 15 carries to Alfred Blue that afternoon, and the broadcast group mentioned coach Bill O’Brien telling them he wanted to scale back Miller’s workload to keep him fresh for the stretch run. That’s a huge concern for Miller owners. The Redskins play bend-but-don’t-break defense and have had a lot of success stamping out opposing running games this season. Over the last five weeks, Washington is No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and there’s been some stiff competition. Weeks 6-8, Christian McCaffrey (8-20-0), Ezekiel Elliott (15-33-0), and Saquon Barkley (13-38-0) combined for 91 yards on 36 carries. Tevin Coleman was able to get to the Redskins for 88 yards on 13 carries in Week 9, but the Redskins have allowed just one touchdown on the ground since Week 6. The Redskins also play at the third-slowest pace in the league, therefore limiting the opposing offense’s chances. Miller now splitting work with Blue against a defense-oriented team makes him a plug-your-nose RB3. The 42-point total for Texans-Redskins is the second-lowest on the board.
Royce Freeman at Chargers: Freeman suffered a high-ankle sprain late in the Broncos’ Week 7 demolition of the Cardinals and missed the following two games ahead of last week’s bye. Freeman was able to get in a limited practice before Week 9 and is fully expected back this Sunday against the Chargers after practicing on Wednesday. The problem is fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay continues to play well as the No. 1 back, and Devontae Booker looked good in change-of-pace duties. Booker has probably forced his way back into the rotation, making this a potential three-man committee again like we were seeing early in the year. Freeman is the most one-dimensional back of the group and figures to fall out of the picture quickest when/if the Broncos fall behind. Denver is significant seven-point underdogs on the road. The Chargers aren’t a daunting matchup at No. 15 in run-defense DVOA and 18th in fantasy points allowed to running backs over the last five weeks. This is simply a game flow decision. Lindsay and Booker are more involved in the pass game, and the Broncos seem to prefer Booker in the hurry-up and four-minute offense. Freeman may struggle to reach double-digit carries and is going to have to score a touchdown to pay off either way. Denver’s implied team total of 19.5 points is the second-lowest on the slate.
Start of the Week: Amari Cooper at Falcons: Acquired from the Raiders for a first-round pick, Cooper has been incredible his two games with Dallas, seeing target counts of 8 and 10 against the Titans and Eagles, while hanging receiving lines of 5-58-1 and 6-75-0. He whooped Malcolm Butler for a touchdown two weeks back and was getting open at will against the Eagles last Sunday night. Dak Prescott just overthrew him on one ball and didn’t see him open down the middle on another. Cooper seems rejuvenated and badly needed the change of scenery. The Cowboys are also getting Cooper some looks out of the slot. He now gets a Falcons Defense that is dead-last in DVOA and 26th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts over the last five weeks. Atlanta allowed a 10-124 day to Redskins slot man Maurice Harris two weeks backs while Josh Doctson scored a touchdown. The game before that, Sterling Shepard had a career-high 167 yards on five catches, and Odell Beckham went 8-143-1. Chris Godwin and Rashard Higgins have also scored touchdowns versus the Falcons since Week 6. Dallas’ offense isn’t all that exciting, but Dak Prescott has eclipsed 30 pass attempts in both games with Cooper after doing it twice in the first seven games. The Cowboys are also averaging 62 plays per game since the trade, bringing their season average up to 60.8. This game will be played in the friendly dome environment of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the average game total for points is 62.8 through five games. The entire Dallas offense gets a bump. This game is a better-than-even bet to hit the over on its current 48-point total.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Raiders: After scoring in back-to-back games before the bye, Fitzgerald came out of the open date last week against the Chiefs to lay a goose egg in the opening half. Luckily, he was able to pile up some stats after the break and finish with a 6-50 line on 10 targets. Fitzgerald’s 10 targets per game over the last four weeks is tied for sixth-most in the league in that span. The volume has been there, and new OC Byron Leftwich is making it a point to get the ball in the hands of his veterans, Fitzgerald and David Johnson. The Raiders present a ripe rebound spot for the 35-year-old wideout. Oakland is No. 32 in pass-defense DVOA and just gave up a 6-57-1 day to Chargers slot man Keenan Allen last week. Veteran Pierre Garcon scored his first touchdown since 2016 against the Raiders the previous week. Dontrelle Inman went 6-52 off the street for the Colts in Week 8. And Seahawks slot receiver Doug Baldwin had 6-91 in Week 6. The Raiders have completely giving up and are just playing out the string on their season. Fitz is a locked-in WR2/3, even in a game with the lowest total on the board at 41 points.
Sammy Watkins at Rams: Watkins missed Week 10 with a foot injury, which is an obvious concern considering his history of foot problems, but by all accounts, it was considered minor and he’s expected to return for Monday night’s showdown with the Rams. Watkins has been a consistent WR3 much of the season but does get lost in the shuffle a bit behind Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt. Still, there’s plenty to go around in this offense as evidenced by Watkins’ 8-107-2 outing against the Broncos in Week 8. The Rams’ defense has been taking big hits to the mouth in recent weeks, but the success of the offense has been able to mask it for the most part. Starting outside CBs Marcus Peters and Troy Hill have been getting flamed in coverage, with Peters checking in as Pro Football Focus’ No. 111 cover corner out of 112 qualifiers. Hill is No. 69, and the two have combined to surrender 10 touchdowns in their coverage. L.A. badly needs Aqib Talib (ankle, I.R.) to come back this season. The Rams are 21st in fantasy points allowed to receivers the last five weeks. Tyler Lockett went 5-67-1 last week. Michael Thomas erupted for 12-211-1 in Week 9, and Tre’Quan Smith also scored that day. Davante Adams had 5-133-0 in Week 8, while teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a 2-45-1 afternoon. Back in Week 6, Emmanuel Sanders (7-115-1), Courtland Sutton (3-58), and Demaryius Thomas (3-57-1) all had productive afternoons. With a 63.5-point total, easily the highest of the season thus far, all Rams and Chiefs are in play this week. Watkins also has the #NarrativeStreet card in his pocket facing his former teammates from last year.
Tre’Quan Smith vs. Eagles: Smith wasn’t targeted in last week’s road win over the Bengals, but he was out there for his normal allotment of snaps, playing two-thirds of the downs and running 23 routes, right in line with his averages the last five games. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were doing whatever they wanted with three combined touchdowns, and Michael Thomas scored a couple more times. That was enough for New Orleans. Since his big two-touchdown game against the Redskins in Week 5, Smith has just eight catches for 85 yards and a score. But that one score did come at home against the Rams, and Smith has seemed to pop up for productive days in the Superdome. This is a good spot to go back and roll the dice on the rookie. The Eagles are 23rd in pass yards allowed, 17th in fantasy points given up to receivers, and 14th in pass-defense DVOA. No. 1 CB Ronald Darby just tore his ACL last week while fellow starting outside CB Jalen Mills is week to week with a foot injury. Sidney Jones is expected back from a hamstring pull this week to team up with Rasul Douglas as the Eagles’ starting corners against Drew Brees. Good luck. This game’s 56-point total is the second-highest on the slate. Smith is a boom-bust WR3 with upside.
John Ross at Ravens: A.J. Green is expected to try and play through a foot injury this week with the Bengals clinging to their playoff lives, but he seems truly questionable bordering doubtful. Green missed last week’s game, and Ross led the Bengals with six targets on a day Andy Dalton attempted just 20 passes in the blowout defeat at the hands of the Saints. Ross was able to turn them into two grabs for 39 yards and a touchdown, but he’s impossible to trust as a deep threat who has just nine catches on the year on 22 targets. Baltimore has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to receivers over the last five weeks and can shift all the attention to Ross and Tyler Boyd if Green sits. Boyd would be the much better option out of the slot and in the short areas of the field. Overall, this game has some sneak fantasy appeal between two offenses that are top-six in pace and combined to run 161 plays in Week 2 while putting up 57 points, but Ross is deep down the list of trusty plays. He’s more of a dart throw in tournaments for daily fantasy purposes.
Demaryius Thomas at Redskins: Acquired at the trade deadline from the Broncos, Thomas played 79% of the snaps in his Texans debut Week 9 in Denver against his former ‘mates. But Thomas was targeted three times in the first quarter and was never heard from again that afternoon. DeAndre Hopkins is going to keep hogging targets no matter what. Better days are obviously ahead for Thomas in this offense as the clear No. 2, but Week 11 doesn’t present an all that appetizing draw. Washington plays incredibly slow at No. 30 in pace and really tries to control games with its rushing attack while playing bend-but-don’t-break defense. That slow play obviously caps the upside of the opposing offense, keeping them off the field longer. The Redskins have been hurt by receivers, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to the position over the last five weeks, but they’ve been really solid against No. 2 receivers, checking in at No. 2 in DVOA versus them. I more or less want to see Thomas do it with the Texans first before I go relying on him as an every-week contributor in an offense dominated by Hopkins when coach Bill O’Brien isn’t calling run plays. Thomas is more of a back-end WR3 in a game with an ugly 42-point total, the second-lowest of the week.
Tyrell Williams vs. Broncos: Williams saw a season-high six targets last week against the Raiders but turned them into just 46 scoreless yards on four grabs. He had scored a touchdown in three consecutive games entering Week 10 with four touchdowns total in that span and a pair of 100-yard games. Williams has leapfrogged Mike Williams as the Bolts’ No. 2 wideout, but relying on a guy who sees such little volume is risky business. He’s going to need to score a long touchdown to pay off. And the date with the Broncos doesn’t jump off the screen as one to pick on with Denver being No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA and 14th in fantasy points allowed to receivers. As mentioned previously, Philip Rivers had his only two sub-200-yards passing days against coach Vance Joseph’s Denver defense last season. In those games, Williams combined to catch six balls for 65 scoreless yards. Williams is best left on the bench this week for a more reliable option with a safer floor.
Editor’s Note: We’re going to go over some streaming options at the tight end position. It’s too thin of a position with the injuries to Hunter Henry (torn ACL), Tyler Eifert (broken ankle), Will Dissly (torn patella tendon), and Delanie Walker (broken ankle). Also, David Njoku, Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, and Chris Herndon are on bye weeks. In the “Sits” section, I’ll caution some tough matchups.
Start of the Week: Evan Engram vs. Bucs: Since returning from his sprained MCL three games ago, Engram has reeled in 11-of-18 targets for 87 yards and one touchdown. He’s seeing just 15.5% of the target share in that span, which is down from his 19% share as a rookie. That was to be expected with Saquon Barkley added to the roster and Odell Beckham back healthy. But those that used a premium mid-round pick on Engram surely wanted more. This is a good spot for a breakout. The Bucs are 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and dead last in yards surrendered to the position. Jordan Reed had 51 yards on four grabs versus Tampa Bay last week. Greg Olsen went 6-76-1 the previous outing. David Njoku had 4-52-1 in Week 7. And Austin Hooper reeled in six passes for 71 yards and a score in Week 6 against the Bucs. As the 25th-fastest-paced offense going up against the Bucs’ fifth-fastest-paced unit, the Giants will have a chance to run more plays than normal. Engram is locked into the TE1 category in a game with a 52-point total.
Jack Doyle vs. Titans: Eric Ebron made all of the noise on the highlight shows and in the box score last week, scoring three touchdowns. However, Doyle played 87.3% of the snaps to Ebron’s 38.2% of the downs and ran 22 routes to Ebron’s 13. Doyle was tackled at the one-yard line on one of his three catches, and third-string TE Mo Alie-Cox scored the next play. Ebron is a legitimate red-zone threat in this offense, but Doyle is always on the field and has Andrew Luck’s trust. Even in a tough matchup against a Titans Defense that swallows up tight ends, allowing the fewest fantasy points to the position, Doyle remains a must-start in a high-powered offense. The Titans have also only faced one even legitimate tight end, Zach Ertz back in Week 4, and he caught 10 balls for 112 yards. The next best tight end Tennessee has seen was either Charles Clay or Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so that tells us all we need to know about that No. 1 ranking against the position.
Jeff Heuerman at Chargers: In the Broncos’ first game minus Demaryius Thomas, Heuerman led the team in targets (11), catches (10), and yards (83) as a receiver and also scored a touchdown. Even prior to Thomas’ trade, the fourth-year tight end led the Broncos with seven targets inside the 10-yard line. He’s developed into Case Keenum’s safety blanket and is averaging over five targets per game the last six contests. Like Doyle above, Heuerman is in a perceived tough matchup against the Bolts, but he’s always on the field, playing over 76% of the downs and has averaged over 25 routes run the last six games. The Chargers are 14th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Jared Cook went 4-52 against them last week. Nick Vannett had 6-52-1 in Week 9. Luke Stocker of the Titans caught a touchdown in Week 7. And David Njoku went 7-55-1 the previous week. Heuerman is the Broncos’ preferred red-zone option in a game Denver figures to be chasing points.
Ricky Seals-Jones vs. Raiders: Seals-Jones has played at least 63% of the snaps in every game he’s been healthy this season and continues to out-snap Jermaine Gresham since the veteran returned from Achilles’ surgery. In two games with OC Byron Leftwich calling the shots, Seals-Jones has ran 40 and 37 routes after topping 30 just one time in the Cardinals’ first seven games. RSJ has seen 13 targets total on those 77 routes and is taking on a bigger piece of the pie with Chad Williams dealing with an ankle injury. The Raiders have been smeared by tight ends, giving up the third-most touchdowns and fifth-most fantasy points to the position. George Kittle had a 4-108-1 night against Oakland in Week 9. Jack Doyle (6-70-1) and Eric Ebron (3-37-1) both scored touchdowns against the Raiders the previous week. Virgil Green of the Chargers caught a score in Week 5. David Njoku had 5-52-0 in Week 4. Seals-Jones is in as good a position as anyone to make a big impact.
None. Ben Watson played fewer than 40% of the snaps last week and now gets an Eagles Defense that is No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. There are so many mouths to feed in New Orleans as is, and now Dan Arnold seems to be taking on a bit of a bigger role at tight end for the Saints. Watson will be involved in a likely shootout, however, so it’s hard not to like him as a streamer. Jared Cook is as unpredictable as any tight end in the league and will square off against a Cardinals Defense that is yielding the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Kyle Rudolph has been a total disaster much of the season, seeing precious-little volume and not scoring touchdowns. He’s really hard to plug into lineups coming out of the bye and heading into Chicago for a likely low-scoring game. Rudolph is the ultimate touchdown-or-bust option.