Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Kirk Cousins vs. Saints: Cousins has failed to reach 300 yards in each of his past two games and is fantasy’s QB16 in points per game over that span. Owners might be getting a bit anxious, but this isn’t time to pull the plug and make a switch. The Vikings have blown out the Cardinals and Jets in back-to-back games, allowing Latavius Murray to pile up carries late while Cousins puts the ball in his belly rather than picking apart defenses. Cousins has been tremendous in year one with Minnesota and gets another gargantuan NFC matchup Sunday night. Last time we saw Cousins in prime time back in Week 4 against the Rams, he threw for 422 yards and three scores in one of the best games of the year. We doubt this one disappoints, either. The Saints are beatable via the pass. They’re 30th in pass-defense DVOA compared to No. 2 against the run. New Orleans has allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and is 27th in adjusted sack rate. Joe Flacco had a flawless Week 7 against this defense, throwing for 279 yards and a pair of scores. Matt Ryan had 374 yards and five scores in Week 3. And Ryan Fitzpatrick had his 417 yards and four scores Week 1. In between, the Saints faced Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith, and Eli Manning. Cousins and his supporting cast are much closer to the Bucs and Falcons offenses. And Cousins gets this defense in Minnesota. The Saints went out and added CB Eli Apple via trade to help out on the back end, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how much he’ll play after one week with his new team. Either way, Cousins is a lock-and-load elite QB1 in a game with a 52.5-point total and no favorite. This has shootout written all over it as long as Drew Brees and the Saints can overcome the road environment factor.
Andy Dalton vs. Bucs: Dalton has been a brutal fantasy and real-life quarterback the last three weeks. He seems to be reverting to pre-2018 form a bit, completely laying an egg last week in primetime against the Chiefs, throwing for just 148 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He hasn’t thrown for 300 yards since Week 4 and has just one multi-touchdown game over the last three. Dalton tossed multiple touchdowns each of the first four weeks. This has rebound all over it. Prior to Baker Mayfield (215 yards and 2 TDs) last week, the Bucs had allowed a 300-yard passer every game of the season. They’ve still allowed the most touchdown passes and fantasy points to quarterbacks while ranking 32nd in pass-defense DVOA and 24th in adjusted sack rate. Dalton has never been able to perform under the bright lights and gets Tampa Bay at home for a cozy 1 PM ET start. Just how he likes it. Every quarterback aside from Nick Foles in Week 2 has thrown multiple touchdowns against the Bucs. Take his game out of it and Tampa Bay is surrendering 3.4 passing scores per week. Dalton should be able to compile a top-12 week. The 54-point total for Bucs-Bengals is the second-highest of the week, and Cincinnati’s implied total of 29.25 is third-highest.
Derek Carr vs. Colts: This feels so dirty, as Carr has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league through seven weeks. His seven touchdowns are dead last, tied with Alex Smith and Eli Manning, among quarterbacks who have started every game for his team. And Carr’s eight interceptions are third-most in football. But Carr is attempting over 38 passes per game and is No. 2 in completion percentage behind only Drew Brees. There’s some progression to the mean due for Carr here soon. He’s not going to be this bad forever. A date with a Colts Defense coming off a home win and traveling cross-country might be just what the doctor ordered with the Raiders coming off their bye. The Colts are 21st in pass-defense DVOA and 19th in overall pass yards allowed. And that’s counting Derek Anderson’s 175-yards, three-interceptions bomb of a day against Indy last week. Sam Darnold (280 yards, 80%, 2 TDs) had his best game of the season against this defense in Week 6. Tom Brady was the overall QB2 in Week 5. Deshaun Watson was the QB6 in Week 4. The Colts are a try-hard defense that gets by with good coaching and hard work. I like Carr’s chances of at least being able to muster up a useful fantasy outing for Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers owners who need a streamer. As a Ryan owner myself, Carr was who I went with in a couple spots. This game has a tasty 50-point total and a three-point spread featuring offenses that like to throw the ball.
Andrew Luck at Raiders: Carr’s counterpart on Sunday, Luck has been far more useful for fantasy owners as the overall QB9 in points per game. And from Week 4 on, Luck is the overall QB2 behind none other than Mitchell Trubisky. Luck has thrown 15 touchdowns over his last four starts while topping 300 yards four times and 400 yards once. There’s no reason to take the foot off the gas. The Colts run the league’s fastest-paced offense and will take on a Raiders team 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 31st in pass-defense DVOA, and 32nd in adjusted sack rate. Luck has also not been sacked each of the last two games with LT Anthony Castonzo healthy and RT Braden Smith taking over the other side. Russell Wilson threw a season-high three touchdowns against Oakland in London last time out. Philip Rivers had 339 yards and a pair of scores in Week 5. Baker Mayfield had his first multi-touchdown game of his career in Oakland in Week 4 to go with 295 yards. And Ryan Tannehill had 289 yards and three scores in Week 3 with WR Albert Wilson also throwing a 52-yard touchdown that day. This Raiders secondary is atrocious, and coach Jon Gruden can’t seem to find a combo he likes on the back end. It also doesn’t help they get zero pressure on quarterbacks. With T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack back healthy and Jack Doyle potentially returning from his hip injury, Luck has his fullest supporting cast of the year. He’s a locked-in elite QB1 in a game with a 50-point total and three-point spread that has some big shootout upside.
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Carson Wentz vs. Jaguars: Wentz has been awesome the last four weeks, averaging 311.75 yards passing with a 9:0 TD:INT mark against the Titans, Vikings, Giants, and Panthers. He’s the overall QB8 in points per game in that span after knocking the rust off in his first start of the season versus the Colts in Week 3. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are playing the best football of their careers right now. It’s tough to not keep riding the wave with Wentz, but even with the Jaguars struggling as a team, their defense is still one of the best in the league. Jacksonville is No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and No. 1 in passing yards surrendered. For all their problems, the Jaguars have given up just six passing touchdowns in seven games. They just need to get their pass rush, which ranks 22nd in adjust sack rate, going, and a date with an Eagles offensive line that is 24th in adjusted sack rate allowed might do the trick. LT Jason Peters is playing through a torn biceps, and RT Lane Johnson is battling an ankle injury that has hampered him. Wentz has been sacked 17 times in five starts. This looks like a week to maybe take a break from the Eagles quarterback in a game with a 42.5-point total, the lowest of Week 8.
Matthew Stafford vs. Seahawks: Stafford has thrown multiple touchdowns in five-straight games, but after unloading 97 passing attempts the first two weeks, Stafford has averaged 28.5 attempts the last four and has seen his total number of attempts decline in each successive game from 36 > 30 > 26 > 22 with the Lions playing a more ball-control game and running at the slowest pace in the league to try and mask their horrid defense. Stafford has played great with what he’s been asked to do since his meltdown of a season opener, but unfortunately there hasn’t been enough volume for him to be a useful fantasy asset. Since Week 3, Stafford is the QB17 in fantasy points per game with zero top-12 finishes. He’s been ultra-consistent as the QB14 twice and the QB15 once in that span. He’s fine for that output, but there’s no upside here, and Stafford now gets a matchup with a Seahawks Defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to passers and checks in at No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. Jared Goff had one of his worst statistical days against Seattle in Week 5, throwing one touchdown and two picks. A peek into the schedule reveals the Seahawks overall have faced one of the easiest slates of quarterbacks, from Case Keenum to Mitchell Trubisky to Dak Prescott to Josh Rosen and Derek Carr. It’s tough to tell just how good this pass defense really is, but the Lions’ molasses-slow pace of play and newfound commitment to Kerryon Johnson has me betting against Stafford popping up as anything more than a two-QB league option. This game has a solid 49.5-point total, though it’s hard to tell how it gets there if Detroit can control the clock.
Russell Wilson at Lions: Among quarterbacks who have started and finished at least six games, Wilson’s 192 drop-backs and 165 pass attempts are dead last. Seattle passes the ball just 50.5% of the time, the lowest rate in the league. Wilson hasn’t attempted more than 26 passes in a game since Week 2. With such little volume and running the ball less than ever, Wilson has zero upside and is the overall QB20 in fantasy points per game. The matchup with the Lions doesn’t look all that daunting, with Detroit 28th in pass-defense DVOA, but coach Matt Patricia’s group is No. 1 in adjusted sack rate and No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Detroit has faced the second-fewest pass attempts in the league. After a rocky start to his tenure, Patricia may have found a way to mask his leaky defense, and that’s by having his offense run at the NFL’s slowest pace. That keeps opposing offenses off the field, leading to fewer chances for fantasy production. There’s no reason Wilson should be owned in most 12-team fantasy leagues that start just one quarterback. But I know there are owners out there who drafted him high and have refused to cut bait. The only thing worse is waiting too long and being stubborn. It’s just not going to happen for Wilson this year under OC Brian Schottenheimer and coach Pete Carroll, who want to run the ball as much as possible.
Start of the Week: Phillip Lindsay at Chiefs: Lindsay played a season-high 59.3% of the snaps last Thursday night against the Cardinals. Royce Freeman suffered a high-ankle sprain that night and didn’t practice Wednesday. High-ankle sprains are typically multi-week injuries unless you’re Matt Breida, who has been playing through his only to aggravate it again last week. Anyway, over the last four weeks, Lindsay has out-carried Freeman 42-35 overall and out-carried him in the red zone 9-4 in that same span. With Freeman doubtful, Lindsay should get the lion’s share of work Sunday, with Devontae Booker mixing in on some pass downs and in two-minute situations where Denver for some reason prefers him. When these two teams squared off in Week 4, Lindsay was in on 40% of the snaps, his second-highest mark of the season before last week. He turned 14 touches into 79 yards and converted a one-yard touchdown run. The Chiefs are dead last in run-defense DVOA and 30th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Only the Falcons have allowed more catches to the position. Sony Michel and James White combined for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 35 touches against K.C. in Week 6. T.J. Yeldon had 122 yards and a score on 18 touches in Week 5. And as mentioned previously, Lindsay and Freeman combined for 20 carries for 136 yards (6.8 YPC) and two touchdowns against this same Chiefs Defense in Week 4. Lindsay is a top-15 play at the position.
Doug Martin vs. Colts: Pee-yew! This one reeks of desperation, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Marshawn Lynch had core-muscle surgery last week during the bye and was placed on injured reserve. He can’t return until Week 16 at the earliest, which leaves Martin and Jalen Richard as the tanking Raiders’ top two backs. On Wednesday, coach Jon Gruden singled out Martin, saying the running back is “ready to go” as the Silver and Black’s “feature back.” Martin has done zero-to-little in the NFL since 2015. Over the last three seasons, spanning 25 games, Martin has carried the ball 306 times for 926 yards (2.99 YPC) and six touchdowns. His 3.7 YPC mark on limited work this year would be a three-year high. But there’s an opportunity here for Martin over the next two months. As long as the Raiders can stay close on the scoreboard, Martin should be able to flirt with 15-18 carries, and that volume is extremely valuable at the running back spot in fantasy. He needs to be added in all leagues, especially ahead of a home date with the Colts. This game has a 50-point total and a three-point spread, suggesting it should be close. Martin’s numbers are unlikely to be pretty, but if he can rush it 15 times for say 50-60 yards, add a couple catches, and maybe convert a goal-line chance, Martin will very much be in the RB2 mix. We’re going to have to pick our spots with Martin the rest of the way, but he gets a good one out of the gates as the new No. 1. Over the remainder of the season, Richard is the better bet to accrue fantasy points, especially in PPR. But owners in a pinch either because of byes or injuries or both can do worse than Martin.
Chris Carson at Lions: Since returning from a hip injury two games ago, Carson has out-carried Mike Davis 33-18 and out-snapped him 62-49. Carson has looked great in that span with 175 yards on the ground at a 5.3 YPC clip with one touchdown. Coming off the bye and a week to rest that previously-ailing hip, Carson should be fresh and ready to keep rolling as the 1A in this backfield. The Seahawks run the ball at the highest rate in the league despite employing one of the league’s most-gifted quarterbacks, but to each their own, right? The Lions have been getting railroaded on the ground defensively, surrendering a league-worst 5.3 YPC. They’re 30th in run-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. It was so bad that GM Bob Quinn had to go out and trade for NT Damon Harrison on Wednesday. His impact should be substantial the second half of the year, but it’s fair to wonder just how much he’ll play this week after two days of practice. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore combined for a 16-101-1 rushing line against Detroit last week. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams averaged 5.6 YPC on 13 totes in Week 5. Ezekiel Elliott hung a 25-152 day on the Lions in Week 4 with an additional 88 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. Matt Breida had 11-138-1 in Week 2. And Isaiah Crowell had 10-102-2 in the season opener. A virtual lock for 15-plus carries, Carson should have a chance at 100 yards and a touchdown as a shoo-in RB2.
Adrian Peterson at Giants: The Redskins were blown out by the Saints in Week 5, leading to Peterson getting just four carries that night. But each of the last two Washington games have been decided by one score, and Peterson has 41 carries for 196 yards in that span. When the Redskins are able to keep it close or even win, Peterson is the offensive workhorse. And with the Skins as 1.5-point road favorites taking on the tanking Giants, Peterson’s workload shouldn’t be a concern. The G-Men are 22nd in run-defense DVOA and 19th in fantasy points yielded to running backs. They also just traded stud NT Damon Harrison to the Lions, significantly weakening their run unit. Harrison is Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 interior defensive lineman in run defense out of 108 qualifiers. He’s an absolute lane-clogger at 6’3/341. Youngsters Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill are expected to take on more snaps. Chris Thompson (ribs, knee) may be back this week, but his return shouldn’t affect Peterson’s role as much as it will just push Kapri Bibbs back to the bench. It’s no secret the Redskins want the ball in Alex Smith’s hands as little as possible, so as long as this game doesn’t turn into a Giants blowout, which is extremely unlikely, Peterson should have no issue getting 18-plus carries.
Duke Johnson at Steelers: Announced as the starter last week in the first game sans Carlos Hyde following his trade to the Jaguars, Johnson didn’t actually start and saw no increase in playing time. Johnson played 51.5% of the snaps against the Bucs, mirroring his previous two weeks of 51.3 and 47.3 percent. Johnson handled five touches, turning them into 19 scoreless yards. That also falls right in line with his season average of 5.4 touches with no touchdowns. Coach Hue Jackson is going to continue to try and blow smoke up our rear ends and tell us Johnson is going to see more touches, but if we’ve learned anything from Hue, it’s that he’s a liar and terrible game-planner. Speaking Wednesday, Johnson said he’s “100%” still all in on the Browns, even if he’s frustrated by his lack of work. Fantasy owners have added Johnson over the last five days or so following the Hyde trade in hopes of Johnson getting schemed more touches, but it’s at the point where we have to see it to believe it, because nothing changed last week in Tampa Bay against the league’s worst defense. I’m certainly not looking to play a running back who averages 5-6 touches and doesn’t score touchdowns. The Steelers have also allowed the fewest catches and fewest receiving yards to running backs. Back in Week 1, Johnson turned six touches into 25 yards against Pittsburgh. The only silver lining is that he was targeted a season-high six times that day, but caught only one from Tyrod Taylor, who was under siege most of the afternoon. Taylor is a dump-off specialist as well, while new starter Baker Mayfield likes to push the ball down the field. Johnson is off limits for the time being.
Carlos Hyde vs. Eagles: Acquired from the Browns last Friday, Hyde was inactive last week against the Texans but is fully expected to make his Jaguars debut Sunday in London. With Leonard Fournette (hamstring) still out, Hyde and T.J. Yeldon should form the one-two punch. Coach Doug Marrone loves his “hammer” running backs and will certainly try to ride this duo to a win, taking as much off Blake Bortles’ plate as humanly possible. But the problem is the Eagles annually play exceptional run defense and are once again facing the fewest rushing attempts per game through seven weeks. Philly is allowing just 3.87 YPC and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Christian McCaffrey mustered just 29 yards on seven carries last week. Latavius Murray was limited to 42 yards on 11 carries two weeks prior. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis combined for 24 scoreless yards on 12 carries in Week 4. And Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman averaged 3.0 YPC on 15 totes in Week 1. The only running back to have any sort of success against this defense was generational talent Saquon Barkley (13-130-1) in Week 6. Hyde is your run-of-the-mill early-down grinder. He’s going to have to score a touchdown to be useful. Jacksonville’s implied team total of 19.5 points is the fourth-lowest of 28 teams this week. You’re playing Hyde at your own risk, and it’s not even clear how the Jaguars plan to split the workload between he and Yeldon. Both are highly-volatile options.
Alex Collins at Panthers: Collins is a player I can’t ever seem to get right. When I don’t like him, he scores multiple touchdowns, and when I am on him, he gets outplayed by Javorius Allen. This is a tough backfield to pin down. The two are essentially forming an even split in terms of snaps. But since Week 3, Collins has averaged 14.2 carries per game with four total touchdowns. There’s no question he’s the superior talent to Allen. And while I love Collins as a runner, this matchup against the Panthers is extremely tough. Carolina is No. 6 in run-defense DVOA and No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to running backs. This unit smothered the Eagles’ run game last week, limiting the trio to 55 yards on 21 carries. Even Saquon Barkley had trouble running against these guys in Week 5, totaling just 48 scoreless yards on 15 carries. Adrian Peterson (17-97) and Giovani Bernard (12-61-1) have had acceptable outings in recent weeks versus Carolina, but both of them were workhorse backs playing 53 and 88 percent of the snaps, respectively. Collins is a 40% of the downs player. He’s by no means off limits for Week 8, but expectations need to be tempered with a high bust potential. Collins is going to need a touchdown to secure a top-30 afternoon. The 44-point total for Ravens-Panthers is the fourth-lowest of the week.
Start of the Week: John Brown at Panthers: Brown has taken a bit of a back seat to Michael Crabtree in the target department the past two weeks, getting out-targeted 18-10 in that span, but Brown has made the most of his by catching nine of them, including all seven last Sunday against the Saints for 134 yards and one touchdown. Brown is No. 3 in the NFL in air yards (1,014) behind only Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins. Brown has enjoyed a fine bounce-back and healthy year for Baltimore to this point, topping 85 yards four times, including a pair of 100-yard days, with four touchdowns. He also leads the Ravens with seven red-zone targets, converting two for scores despite his small stature. It wasn’t long ago some were calling Brown the next T.Y. Hilton or Antonio Brown. It’s just nice to finally see him healthy again. On Sunday, Brown should avoid Panthers No. 1 corner James Bradberry, who figures to stick to Crabtree due to their similar size profile. Brown should see a lot of rookie CB Donte Jackson. While the Panthers are playing top-end run defense, their pass coverage has been suspect. Carolina is 26th in pass-defense DVOA and 17th in pass yards allowed while allowing the seventh-most pass plays of 20-plus yards. Joe Flacco has attempted the second-most 20-plus-yards passes behind Drew Brees. This game doesn’t figure to have a ton of fantasy goodness to it with a 44-point total, but Brown is a rock-solid upside WR2/3.
Nelson Agholor vs. Jaguars: Just because Carson Wentz is listed as a “sit” earlier in this piece, it doesn’t mean one of his wideouts can’t have a productive day. Agholor’s season has been rather disappointing. The Eagles are throwing him the ball too close to the line of scrimmage far too often, and he’s getting swallowed up for minimal gains. Among wideouts with at least 20 catches, Agholor’s 8.5 yards per catch is dead last. He’s also 68th in yards per route run among 82 qualifiers, just ahead of guys like Pierre Garcon and Zay Jones. But the good news is Agholor is at least getting targets, averaging nearly eight per game. And with Alshon Jeffery expected to do battle with Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Matthews also playing outside, Agholor is expected to see a heavy dose of third-string slot CB Tre Herndon since Nos. 1 and 2 nickel corners D.J. Hayden and Tyler Patmon are both hurt. A rookie UDFA, Herndon has played two snaps this season. Even with Patmon in the lineup, the Jaguars have had trouble with slot wideouts. Cole Beasley had 9-101-2 in Week 6. Quincy Enunwa had 66 yards and should have had way more in Week 4. The way to beat the Jacksonville defense is up the middle, so Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert should be busy in London.
Donte Moncrief vs. Eagles: Didn’t really think we’d get to this point, but here we are with Moncrief. Extremely long on talent coming out of Ole Miss, Moncrief had really solid stretches of his career in Indianapolis. Obviously, 2017 was a lost season with Jacoby Brissett under center. Everyone made fun of the Jaguars’ signing of Moncrief in March, but he’s very quietly been the team’s best wideout. Moncrief zero-balled on three targets two weeks back in Dallas. But over the last four weeks, he’s topped 75 yards three times with a 5-109-1 day mixed in there against the Jets in Week 4. In that span, Moncrief leads the Jaguars with 33 targets to Dede Westbrook’s 27, T.J. Yeldon’s 25, and Keelan Cole’s 21. Moncrief also leads the team in air yards. The Jaguars’ quarterback situation is in total disarray right now, but Moncrief has largely been able to be kept afloat. He now gets a matchup with an Eagles Defense that is 28th in fantasy points allowed to receivers, allowing the second-most catches for the second-most yards to the position. Devin Funchess went 6-62-1 against Philly last week. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined for 17-207-1 in Week 5. And Corey Davis went bananas with a 9-161-1 day in Week 4. Boundary corner Jalen Mills is Pro Football Focus’ No. 104 cover corner out of 112 qualifiers and has yielded the third-most catches for the second-most yards in his coverage. Moncrief is extremely boom-or-bust-ish, but this has the look of an exploitable matchup across the pond in London.
Doug Baldwin at Lions: Like Agholor above, Baldwin is attached to a quarterback listed in the “sits” section. But Russell Wilson, when he does throw the ball, has to throw it to someone. After openly voicing frustration due to a lack of targets following the Week 5 loss to the Rams, Baldwin came back in Week 6 to turn a team-high eight targets into six grabs for 91 yards. It was easily his best game of the season after seeing nine targets total his first 2.5 games. Now coming out of the bye, Baldwin will look to build on it in a juicy matchup against the Lions. Baldwin is running 65% of his routes out of the slot, meaning he should avoid boundary corner Darius Slay much of the afternoon. Baldwin is expected to see a lot of Nevin Lawson. He’s no slouch, but the Lions have really struggled against the pass, checking in at 28th in pass-defense DVOA. They’re also 31st at defending slot receivers. Baldwin is due for a touchdown. This might be one of his best chances of the season. This isn’t an overly attractive game for fantasy purposes, but Baldwin and Chris Carson stand out.
Demaryius Thomas at Chiefs: Thomas is currently the overall WR39 in fantasy points per game. He’s tied for third in the league in dropped passes and has just one 100-yard game with zero others above 70. He had one of his worst statistical games of the season against this same Chiefs Defense in Week 4, turning seven targets into four grabs and 24 scoreless yards. However, the night should have been bigger if Thomas would have been able to catch a 28-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He either slowed up on the route or Case Keenum missed him. Either way, the two haven’t been on the same page much through seven weeks, as Emmanuel Sanders has clearly established himself as the No. 1 wideout. Even rookie Courtland Sutton is putting pressure on Thomas for targets. The Chiefs were a defense to target early in the season, but they’ve righted the ship some in recent weeks. They shut down Andy Dalton at Arrowhead in Week 7 and are allowing just 12 points per game over their last two home games. Playing at Arrowhead is a different animal. And Keenum has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. The Broncos would be smart to run the ball and try and control the clock as long as possible before this gets out of hand. A potential blowout could help Thomas fantasy-wise, but even then Keenum doesn’t spark a whole lot of confidence. Treat Thomas as a WR4 just as he’s been to this point through seven games.
Marvin Jones vs. Seahawks: It’s been a trying season for Jones due to the emergence of Kenny Golladay as the big-play wideout. Jones very easily could have a few more touchdowns on his stat line, but there have been a few missed connections on deep balls. Jones still leads the team with nine red-zone targets, but he’s averaging just 45 yards per game and 31 over the last three. Blow-up games are going to happen for Jones. However, a date with Seattle’s defense doesn’t scream breakout. The Seahawks are No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 3 in pass yards allowed. They surrender the 13th-fewest fantasy points to receivers. And with the Lions playing at the slowest offensive pace, there just aren’t enough plays to get everyone involved. Jones (37) is a distant third on the team in targets behind both Golden Tate (57) and Golladay (43), and he’s averaging just five per over the last four games. Jones is a boom-or-bust WR4 who needs to come up with a big play.
Allen Robinson vs. Jets: Over the first three weeks, Robinson averaged 9.3 targets per game, heavily-aided by a 14-target day against the Seahawks. In the three games since, Robinson has averaged five targets with eight total catches. The good news is he scored twice in that span, but last week against New England was a bottoming-out point with one catch for four scoreless yards on five looks. Robinson dropped a pass and saw a couple errant passes sail by him. Mitchell Trubisky is putting up numbers in the box score and in fantasy, but he’s still wildly inaccurate, checking in at 26th in Pro Football Focus’ adjusted completion percentage. The Jets have not been good in pass defense, allowing the most catches and sixth-most fantasy points to receivers, but their peripheral numbers don’t look as bad, checking in at No. 8 in pass-defense DVOA and ninth in team defense DVOA. Top corner Trumaine Johnson has been sidelined with a quad issue and didn’t practice Wednesday. But fill-in Darryl Roberts actually played really well last week against the Vikings after getting beat for an opening-drive touchdown by Adam Thielen. The Jets’ real weakness is in the slot where Buster Skrine is out with a concussion. Anthony Miller is the Bears’ top slot man, though Robinson is playing there 41.1% of the time since the bye compared to 75% for Miller. Maybe the Bears will get Robinson more looks there, but there’s just no excitement with Robinson as anything more than a WR4. The Bears are touchdown favorites and could opt to take the air out of the ball in the second half. The volume hasn’t been there for Robinson even when Trubisky has lit it up.
Editor’s Note: Like the last few weeks, 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), Jack Doyle (hip), Will Dissly (torn patella tendon), and Delanie Walker (broken ankle). Greg Olsen and Evan Engram recently returned from injuries to help out. But Austin Hooper is out on bye. In the “Sits” section, I’ll caution some tough matchups.
Start of the Week: Jared Cook vs. Colts: It was a quiet last two games ahead of the bye for Cook. After nabbing 26 balls for 370 yards and two touchdowns Weeks 1-4, Cook cooled off big time with just six grabs for 30 scoreless yards on eight targets combined against the Chargers and Seahawks. Both of those were two tough matchups, but Cook will be primed for a rebound game against the Colts this Sunday. Indianapolis is 25th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, and with Amari Cooper now out of the picture, Cook should go back to soaking up targets. Chris Herndon scored a touchdown and had 56 yards against the Colts in Week 6. Rob Gronkowski went 6-75 in Week 5. Dallas Goedert (7-73-1) and Zach Ertz (5-73-0) both had big days against Indy in Week 3. And Jordan Reed had 6-55 in Week 2. If Cook was dropped anywhere, he needs to be added asap. This game has an attractive 50-point total with Oakland playing way up in pace.
C.J. Uzomah vs. Bucs: We’re just going to keep going back to Uzomah as long as he keeps producing. The Bengals were limited to 10 points in Kansas City last Sunday night, but Uzomah was the one to catch Andy Dalton’s lone touchdown. That’s all we can hope for when streaming a tight end. Uzomah has played at least 92% of the snaps in three-straight weeks since the Tyler Eifert injury. And with John Ross (groin) out again, Uzomah will be third or fourth in line for targets against a Bucs defense getting smeared by tight ends. No team has allowed more fantasy points to the position. David Njoku just lit them up for 4-52-1 last Sunday. Austin Hooper had a career-high nine catches for 71 yards and a score against the Bucs the previous week. Trey Burton went 2-86-1 in Week 4. Vance McDonald had 4-112-1 in Week 3. And Zach Ertz and Josh Perkins combined for 15-151-0 in Week 2. The 54-point total for Bucs-Bengals is the second-highest of Week 8.
Charles Clay at Patriots: Clay was a recommended deep stab last week. He matched a season-high with five targets, but Clay had no chance with Derek Anderson struggling mightily. Clay also lost a fumble on one of his three catches. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 3 of last season, so he’s far overdue. The Bills are massive two-touchdown underdogs at home to New England. They’re going to be throwing the ball all night. The Patriots have allowed the most touchdown and fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Clay is going to get a handful of targets. There won’t be a lot of yards, but touchdown odds are probably as high as they’ll ever be for Clay, even if they’re relatively low. If looking for five catches for 40-50 yards, Clay could provide that.
Ricky Seals-Jones vs. 49ers: Seals-Jones had played at least 65% of the snaps each of the three games before last Thursday night when he had to miss time with an arm injury. But RSJ is practicing in full this week and avoided anything serious. He’s drawn at least six targets in 4-of-7 games and has topped 50 yards and/or scored a touchdown thrice. The 49ers are 21st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and have surrendered the second-most touchdowns to the position. Jimmy Graham went 5-104 against them in Week 6. Antonio Gates caught a touchdown in Week 4. Travis Kelce had 8-114 in Week 3. Michael Roberts caught a touchdown in Week 2. And Kyle Rudolph scored in Week 1. When the Cardinals and Niners met in Week 5, Seals-Jones was targeted a team-high six times. Unfortunately, he didn’t catch a single one. Only one way to go from there.
None. Kyle Rudolph has really been scuffling; he hasn’t scored since Week 3 and has topped 50 yards just one over the last four games. He’s a distant third option in the pass attack and now gets a Saints Defense that is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. But with a 52.5-point total and big touchdown upside for this game, he’s tough to sit. Jack Doyle returned to practice Wednesday for the Colts. If he ends up playing, that could be a bit of a drag on Eric Ebron. Ebron leads all tight ends in red-zone targets, and the Colts will face a Raiders Defense that has surrendered the fewest catches and eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position.