Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 11
I've got an odd relationship with music. I didn't grow up learning an instrument. I didn't grow up listening to a wide array of tunes. My car rides were mostly short, especially when I started driving myself to school and work. I'm talking 10 minutes at most.
So by the time I was in control of my own destiny, I had the option of actually listening to the radio (which offered a poor range of options where I live) or living by the CD. I did the latter, and even then, I had a fairly limited selection, mostly burning my brother's stuff and weeding out what I didn't care for. It left me often listening to the same few artists -- blink-182, Incubus, Foo Fighters, eventually The Ramones -- and I soon learned that it was more fun for me to hear something that I liked than to try new things, not like what I sample, have the car ride end, and get to my destination a bit annoyed.
Making start-or-sit decisions in fantasy football leagues is kind of like that. Sure, secondary options are more than fine to dabble in: like a Marlon Mack or Emmanuel Sanders. But if you try to listen to something new on a short trip, you can get stuck with a wide receiver who runs a quarter of his team's pass routes. That's on you, friend. (Does any of this even make sense at this point? Is anyone even listening to me?)
Anyway, the point here is that Antonio Brown in Jacksonville is far from the ideal spot to play him, but if your alternatives are radio commercials, then it's a no-brainer.
For many reasons, I like to bucket players into groups when deciding who we should start or sit in a given week. To me, no player is ever a must-sit, but there are players you should want to sit if you have other, more viable options. That's the goal here, as well as to show why we should feel certain ways about players.
So, based on market shares, snap counts, betting lines, and defensive matchups, I'll be grouping players into three tiers to help with start-or-sit decisions: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider playing whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives.
These players are listed in order of confidence and preference (so higher on the list means more startable; these aren't rankings, but they're close), and the groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench, should I want to start this player this week? Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.
Start With Confidence
- Patrick Mahomes vs. LAR: Mahomes leads the league in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) and has finished as the QB13 or better in all but one game this season. As a 2.5-point underdog against the Rams in Los Angeles, he can't back off like he did in Week 10, when he still had 20.06 fantasy points.
- Jared Goff vs. KC: Goff faces the Chiefs at home on Monday Night Football after topping 21 fantasy points in three straight games. Goff ranks second in Passing NEP, trailing only Mahomes. KC ranks 12th in adjusted pass defense, based on numberFire's metrics, and the close game should keep Goff erring toward his ceiling, even without Cooper Kupp.
- Matt Ryan vs. DAL: The Cowboys had done well to limit quarterback production for much of the year but let up two straight top-10 passers (Marcus Mariota and Carson Wentz) and now face Ryan at home, where he's averaged 0.53 Passing NEP per drop back (more than four times the league average of 0.12).
- Cam Newton at DET: Newton finally fell shy of 18 fantasy points, the first time he's done that all season but now heads to a domed stadium to face the Lions' 31st-ranked adjusted pass defense. Detroit has allowed 0.63 passing fantasy points per pass attempt (32nd) and 9.86 adjusted yards per attempt (31st).
- Drew Brees vs. PHI: Brees has averaged 0.46 Passing NEP per drop back and a 65.3% Success Rate (up from the league average of 51.3%) at home to help with any concerns about the matchup with the Eagles' ninth-ranked adjusted pass defense.
- Ben Roethlisberger at JAC: The Jaguars have let up three top-six quarterback performances in the past four weeks and two top-six outings the past two weeks. Since facing Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 5, the Jaguars are 23rd in adjusted yards per attempt (8.15) and 28th in Passing NEP per drop back allowed (0.27). Ben has been fine on the road this season, generating a stellar 0.27 Passing NEP per drop back and an above-average 7.72 yards per attempt.
- Carson Wentz at NO: Wentz has cleared 20 fantasy points from his passing alone in every game since Week 4, his second game back. He now faces the Saints' pass defense, which has let up 8.83 yards per attempt (30th) on the full season. They've limited touchdowns of late (eight touchdowns to five picks since Week 5) but still allow 8.23 yards per attempt in that span.
- Deshaun Watson at WSH: Watson hits the road in his return from a bye to face Washington, who has been trending down and have let up 8.62 yards per attempt (29th) since their Week 4 bye. Watson does deal with the loss of Will Fuller but can overcome it, as he's averaged just under 30 rushing yards per game.
- Russell Wilson vs. GB: Wilson faces the Packers on a short week. Green Bay has hosted a pretty weak schedule but has still allowed Jared Goff and Tom Brady to post 8.4 yards per attempt on them since the Week 7 bye. Wilson enters with five straight QB13-or-better outings and has averaged 42.0 rushing yards in his past four games.
- Andrew Luck vs. TEN: Luck, having finished as the QB8 or better in six straight games, is back in auto-lock territory, especially against a Titans pass defense that is 20th in adjusted pass defense, per our metrics.
Consider If Needed
- Aaron Rodgers at SEA: Rodgers has averaged 16.9 passing fantasy points in his past three games, falling shy of 20 total in all three. The Seattle Seahawks haven't allowed a top-10 quarterback since Case Keenum in Week 1 (weird, right?), and adjusted for schedule, they rank eighth in per-play pass defense. Rodgers is probably someone you're plugging in, but with the success on the ground, the Packers could limit him again.
- Marcus Mariota at IND: Mariota has averaged at least 7.41 yards per attempt in four straight games, a span in which he has averaged 29.0 yards on the ground, as well. He still has cleared 300 yards just once, but things are trending up, and the Colts are 10th in adjusted pass defense.
- Dak Prescott vs. ATL: Prescott hasn't clung to his rushing yardage (83, 33, 11, 9) but has run often in those games (11, 6, 2, 6). The Falcons' bottom-rung pass defense (29th by numberFire's metrics) make Dak a low-end streamer in a 12-team format given the heavy byes.
- Philip Rivers vs. DEN: Rivers is sixth in Passing NEP this season but hasn't been better than the QB10 since Week 1. He's averaged 16.5 fantasy points in two post-bye games and now faces a Broncos defense that ranks sixth in Passing NEP per drop back allowed since Week 5. He's a floor option without a ceiling high enough to consider a must-play.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at NYG: Fitz fell victim to Dirk Koetter's playcalling last week but still pushed for 400 yards and now faces the 24th-ranked pass defense. The Giants have held Alex Smith and Nick Mullens to 24.5 combined fantasy points the past two weeks, but Fitzpatrick is a cut above from a fantasy standpoint and still just averaged 9.90 yards per attempt last week.
- Kirk Cousins at CHI: The Bears are seventh in Passing NEP per drop back allowed since Week 5, and Cousins has averaged just 15.9 fantasy points over his past five. Khalil Mack's return keeps Cousins' upside lower than we'd like.
- Matthew Stafford vs. CAR: Stafford has been better than the QB14 just once this season and has averaged 15.0 fantasy points in his past five games. The Carolina Panthers aren't a matchup to avoid, yet Stafford has averaged just 7.03 yards per attempt at home (seven touchdowns and six picks). He's a floor play in a good spot, at least.
Bench If Possible
- Mitchell Trubisky vs. MIN: I can't blame you for rolling with Trubisky, who has averaged 0.37 Passing NEP per drop back and 8.65 yards per attempt at home, but the Vikings' defense is trending back up in a hurry. With Everson Griffen back in Week 8, the Vikes have a 14.3% sack rate (second-highest) and have limited passers to 6.05 yards per attempt (fifth-best).
- Blake Bortles vs. PIT: Bortles has come through in two straight games, averaging 20.7 fantasy points in those. The Pittsburgh Steelers are fourth in adjusted pass defense, but Bortles is better at home than on the road (0.22 Passing NEP per drop back versus -0.14 on the road).
- Eli Manning vs. TB: Manning has thrown for 6.72 yards per attempt or lower in three of his past four games, making him a risky streamer even though the Buccaneers have the 30th-ranked pass defense, per our numbers.
- Joe Flacco vs. CIN: Flacco has been better at home than on the road, and he's netted six touchdowns to zero picks in home games, with 0.19 Passing NEP per drop back but just 6.65 yards per attempt. What matters most is that the Bengals' pass defense has let up 9.02 yards per attempt since Week 6 (29th) and are 30th in per-drop-back Passing NEP in that span, too. He's not a 12-team streamer but more of a DFS tournament play or deep-league option, as he has averaged 12.1 passing fantasy points in his past five games.
- Andy Dalton at BAL: Dalton is unplayable in standard-sized leagues without A.J. Green. He's now on the road against the Ravens, who are a beatable 22nd in per-play Passing NEP since Week 5, but Dalton isn't a good bet to beat them, based on his historical splits without Green and league-average efficiency this season.
- Alex Smith vs. HOU: Smith has just one 300-yard game (306 yards) and another with 292, keeping his ceiling low (under 20 fantasy points in every game). On the full season, Texans are 25th in adjusted pass defense but rank 3rd in yards per attempt allowed since Week 5.
- Case Keenum at LAC: Keenum's been rough this season, generating -1.24 expected points on his drop backs (0.00 per drop back; league-average is 0.12). The Chargers are an above-average pass defense (11th) when adjusted for opponent on the season and have limited passers to just 6.53 yards per attempt (fifth-best) and -0.10 Passing NEP per drop back (third-best) since Week 5.
- Josh Rosen vs. OAK: Rosen is a DFS tournament option against such a terrible pass defense (32nd by numberFire's adjusted metrics). Still, Rosen has maxed out at 252 yards and just once got multiple touchdowns while throwing for 6.80 yards per attempt or fewer in five of six starts.
- Derek Carr at ARI: Carr faces a sixth-ranked Arizona Cardinals defense and has averaged 10.7 fantasy points outside of two ceiling games.
Start With Confidence
- Todd Gurley vs. KC: Gurley's finished with his two worst performances the past two games: RB10 and RB11. He's averaged 25.1 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game, tops among all backs. The Chiefs are 32nd in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. Just hope you aren't playing against him this week.
- Melvin Gordon vs. DEN: The Broncos are a funnel defense, ranking 25th in Rushing Success Rate allowed and 7th in adjusted per-play pass defense. Gordon has been the RB14 or better in every game this season and has averaged 22.1 opportunities per game, fifth-most among all backs.
- Kareem Hunt vs. LAR: Hunt has played three of his four highest snap rates the past three games and gets a Rams defense that's 24th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. Hunt has handled 9 of 13 carries from inside the 10 over the past five games to help out with his dip in targets (four over the past two games).
- Christian McCaffrey at DET: McCaffrey has been the RB9 or better in three straight games while playing at least 95.0% of snaps in all of them. Detroit is 30th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs, and CMC has handled 53.0% of the red zone carries for the Panthers this season. He's a locked-in RB1.
- Ezekiel Elliott at ATL: Zeke has averaged 6.0 targets over his past three games, elevating his floor, and his 24.0 opportunities per game rank second among all backs. The Falcons have allowed five top-six running backs and eight top-12 running backs this season.
- Saquon Barkley vs. TB: Barkley's offense has gotten the better of him, and he's returned his two worst weekly finishes the past two games (RB16 and RB21). But he is in a smash spot against the Bucs' rush defense, which is 26th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs this season.
- Alvin Kamara vs. PHI: The Eagles are seventh in fantasy points per target allowed to backs and second in Rushing Success Rate, so the matchup isn't great on paper. Kamara has seen 2, 8, 5, and 5 targets in four post-bye games (19, 21, 24, and 17 total opportunities), finishing as the RB15, RB6, RB, and RB9. It's possible he falls short of that in this spot, as he's played 54.9%, 71.7%, 57.7%, and 45.0% of snaps, but the efficiency and 54.5-point total keeps him in solid RB1 status.
- David Johnson vs. OAK: Johnson is rejuvenated under Byron Leftwich, and he saw 9 targets (most since Week 1) and 21 carries last week. Oakland is 28th in adjusted rushing defense and 30th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs.
- Joe Mixon at BAL: Mixon's workload keeps him a firm start, as he still played 67.4% of snaps in a blowout loss last week and turned 13 chances into 9.5 fantasy points. The Ravens are top-five in adjusted rush defense, but Mixon's 20.9 opportunities per game rank him seventh among all backs.
- Aaron Jones at SEA: Jones, despite being a road underdog, is moving toward weekly RB1 territory, as his post-bye snaps are 61.5%, 58.1%, and 73.7%, with corresponding opportunity counts of 14, 18, and 20. Seattle, while eighth in adjusted rush defense, is 20th in Rushing Success Rate allowed and 27th in Target Success Rate allowed to backs.
- Leonard Fournette vs. PIT: Fournette played 52.0% of snaps in his return and handled 24 carries and 5 targets. The snap rate will likely be held in check to keep him healthy. Helping out with that is a carry or target on 63.1% of his snaps, the second-best utilization rate among backs, via FantasyData.
- Dalvin Cook at CHI: Cook has played just one game since Week 5. In that game (Week 9), he played 57.1% of snaps and had 10 carries and 4 targets to finish as the RB16. The Bears are second in adjusted rush defense and first in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs, so the matchup is rough, but Cook should be back to a must-start after all this time to heal.
- Kerryon Johnson vs. CAR: Johnson has played 59.4%, 81.4%, 55.7%, and 70.5% of snaps since a Week 6 bye while averaging 18.8 opportunities and 5.5 targets in that split, a 16.2% target share. As a home underdog, he's a strong start because he's been proving game script agnostic.
Consider If Needed
- James Conner at JAC: If Conner plays, you're almost certainly playing him, even if he's limited and in a bad matchup. On a 41.4% snap rate last week, he still saw 14 opportunities (13 carries, 1 target) for 13.8 fantasy points. Jacksonville is third in Rushing Success Rate allowed and 11th in Target Success Rate allowed to backs.
- Marlon Mack vs. TEN: Mack is a slight home favorite against a mid-level rush defense (17th). He's played 56.1%, 62.8%, and 60.0% of snaps the past three games, keeping him in the mix as a high-end RB2 in this type of matchup with that workload. Indy is fifth in rush rate in neutral scripts since Mack has taken over in Week 7.
- Tevin Coleman vs. DAL: Coleman has played at least 51.4% of snaps in all but one game this season and finished as the RB32 or better in all but one game (the same game with just 37.5% of snaps). So he's an RB2 or RB3 at worst in a home spot against the Cowboys as a 3.5-point favorite.
- Dion Lewis at IND: Lewis has played 84.3% and 75.4% of snaps in two post-bye games, totaling 23 and 22 opportunities in those. As a road underdog, the script sets up to favor him yet again over Derrick Henry, who has stolen 10 of 23 red zone attempts in the past three games. However, that still leaves a league-high 13 red zone carries to Lewis over his past three games.
- Adrian Peterson vs. HOU: As a home underdog, Peterson runs the risk of getting scripted out, but he's averaged 20.8 opportunities per game over his past five. With a 42.5-point total against the league's top-ranked adjusted rush defense, though, Peterson is more of an RB3 or flex than an RB2, even in a thin week.
- Chris Carson vs. GB: Carson is a home favorite on a short week -- but he sat out in Week 10. The Packers are 26th in adjusted rushing defense and 24th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. Carson has averaged 23.8 opportunities per game in his past four healthy games.
- Alex Collins vs. CIN: Collins is a four-point home favorite against a bottom-three rush defense by both Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry and Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs. He's been the RB37 or better in every game since Week 2 and has handled 62.5% of the red zone work since Week 5, his past five games.
- Mark Ingram vs. PHI: Ingram is a low-end flex option based on his snap rate (47.3% on average) but opened as a 7.5-point home favorite. It's a tough matchup, as the Eagles are second in Rushing Success Rate allowed, but the script keeps him as a viable flex play.
- Lamar Miller at WSH: Last time we saw Miller, he played 64.5% of snaps (he's had at least a 53.5% snap rate in every game) but started getting phased out by Alfred Blue. Washington is just 29th in Rushing Success Rate allowed, but Miller could be placed into a timeshare.
- Phillip Lindsay at LAC: Lindsay has to deal with the return of Royce Freeman and pass-catching from Devontae Booker as a 7.5-point road underdog, but the Chargers are 23rd in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs, and Lindsay has been the RB27 or better in every game he's finished.
- Tarik Cohen vs. MIN: Cohen is a home favorite against a Vikings defense trending back up in a hurry. He overcame a dip in targets (9, 12, 3, 2, and 7 in five games since a bye, a 21.3% share) and has been a top-18 back in five of his past six games due to that receiving volume.
- Jordan Howard vs. MIN: Howard has played at least 51.4% of snaps in every game but has seen five targets over his past six games, keeping him a one-dimensional back. Minnesota is third in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry and -- since Week 5 -- are ninth in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs.
- Theo Riddick vs. CAR: Riddick has seen 8 and 7 targets since his return two weeks ago and has played 55.7% and 57.7% of snaps. With Marvin Jones not 100%, Riddick sets up to see extra receiving work again in Week 11.
- Doug Martin at ARI: Martin has handled 15.3 opportunities per game after the Week 7 bye while playing at least 45.6% of snaps in all three. That's a low-end fantasy role, but the Cardinals are 18th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs and have let up 14 top-36 backs, fourth-most in the league. Martin has been the RB32, RB27, and RB23 in his featured games.
- Jalen Richard at ARI: The Cardinals are 32nd in Target Success Rate allowed to backs, setting up well for Richard, who has averaged 6.0 targets per game (a 17.4% target share) this season for Oakland. Richard has been the RB37 or better in all but one game and has played 44.0%, 38.6%, and 42.9% of snaps in three post-bye games.
- T.J. Yeldon vs. PIT: As a home underdog, Yeldon could see an elevated target number (he's averaged 6.6 per game this season). With Fournette back, he played 36.0% of snaps but figures to retain his receiving workload.
Bench If Possible
- Latavius Murray at CHI: Murray played 44.9% of the snaps in Week 9 with Cook back and dropped to 10 carries and 1 target after averaging 20.7 looks and 83.1% of snaps in three games entering it. As a road dog and with Cook healthier, Murray's snaps could slip even further.
- Ito Smith vs. DAL: Ito played just 29.3% of snaps last week after three games with at least 41.2%. He still had nine opportunities (five targets) and owns a 45.5% red zone rushing share and 41.6% of the rushing attempts over the past four games. He's a fine deep-league flex but not an active start after that low snap rate.
- Derrick Henry at IND: Henry has turned 10 red zone carries over the past three games into three straight RB20-or-better outings despite playing 33.8%, 20.0%, and 24.6% of snaps. The goal-line work keeps him less than useless, but the low snaps and looks (11.0 per game) keep the floor near zero.
- Alfred Blue at WSH: Since a 98.8% snap rate game without Lamar Miller in Week 5, Blue has averaged 41.6% of snaps and 12.0 opportunities (including 15 in each of the past two games). He's been targetless in three straight but is a road favorite against the 29th-ranked rush defense by Rushing Success Rate allowed. He's not the worst desperation flex but can't be trusted yet.
- Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, and Corey Clement at NO: I don't always like to group teammates together, but Smallwood (33.9% of snaps and 5 opportunities), Adams (30.6% and 7), and Clement (29.0% and 7) lack the floor and ceiling to consider them anything other than priority-bench options. Adams is slated to get more touches moving forward, but we're simply buying into coachspeak there.
- Peyton Barber at NYG: Barber has just twice topped 7.1 fantasy points this year despite an average snap rate of 54.6%. With Dirk Koetter now calling plays, all bets are off that the Bucs offense can even get him into scoring range.
- Javorius Allen vs. CIN: Allen has averaged a 43.1% snap rate in his past five games, as well as 4.8 targets per game. The matchup is generous against the Bengals, but he has maxed out at 9.3 fantasy points in six straight games as he's lost red zone work. He also now has to deal with Ty Montgomery.
- Royce Freeman at LAC: Freeman is a road underdog and has averaged a 34.3% snap rate in his healthy games. He has six total targets in seven games and four games with no targets.
- Giovani Bernard at BAL: Bernard played just 27.9% of snaps in his return last week. As a four-point underdog, he could see extra run, but it was a negative script last week, and he had just three targets.
- Austin Ekeler vs. DEN: Ekeler has played 17.6% and 36.0% of snaps in two post-bye games, seeing two total targets and six total carries in that sample.
- Nyheim Hines vs. TEN: Hines' snap rate has been 36.4% or lower in three straight games since Mack's return, and he's averaged just 9.0 opportunities in those games. Even on a thin week, he's not a viable 12-team flex.
Start With Confidence
- Odell Beckham vs. TB: Beckham gets a dream matchup against the Bucs, who are 30th or worse in adjusted pass defense, Target Success Rate, and fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Tampa has let up eight top-12 receiver weeks, second-most among all teams. OBJ has been the WR1, WR48, WR2, WR12, and WR6 in his past four games.
- DeAndre Hopkins at WSH: Hopkins has finished as the WR21 or better in six straight and the WR37 or better in every game. Washington is 25th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers and have let up 11 top-24 weeks, second-most among all teams.
- Julio Jones vs. DAL: Julio saw three red zone targets last week, his first red zone looks since he had three in Week 1. So we can't guarantee they'll stick around, but it's good to add to his 23.9% target share and 47.2% air yards share in two post-bye games.
- Adam Thielen at CHI: Thielen has played at least 91.8% of snaps in every game and run a route on at least 93.0% of drop backs in every game, too. He's been the WR25 or better in every contest and has been matchup proof, helping us trust him as possibly the true WR1 again even in a road matchup against the league's 14th-ranked adjusted pass defense.
- Davante Adams at SEA: Adams carries a 26.6% target share into a matchup with a Seahawks' defense that is 29th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers and has let up three top-six receiver games (fourth-most in the NFL). Adams has finished as the WR33 or better in every game and has half of the red zone targets in three post-bye games.
- Michael Thomas vs. PHI: Thomas has had 33.6% of the Saints' targets in four post-bye games, plus 36.4% of the red zone targets in that span. Philly is 21st in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers but 11th in fantasy points per target. Thomas is locked in with one of the best workloads in football.
- Antonio Brown at JAC: Brown has a 23.4% target share in three post-bye games, but those have been high-leverage looks: 37.5% of the team's combined red zone and deep targets (Corey Davis leads the league with a 44.7% on the season, for context, and nobody else is above 40.0%). The Jags are second in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers. Brown caught 4 of 7 targets for 91 yards against Jalen Ramsey in Week 5 and 2 of 3 targets for 38 yards in the playoffs last year, via PFF.
- Tyreek Hill at LAR: Hill hits the road to face the Rams' 29th-ranked per-target receiver defense, one that also ranks 30th in Passing NEP per attempt on deep passes. Hill has a 35.1% air yards share and a 14.1-yard average depth of target.
- Brandin Cooks vs. KC: Cooks has had his efficiency dip without Cooper Kupp and faces the league's top pass defense by Target Success Rate allowed to receivers, but the total is 63.5 points, and you're not going to bench him in this spot. Since an injury-shortened Week 4, he's had 24.8% of the target and 42.3% of the air yards on a top-three pass offense.
- Robert Woods vs. KC: Woods has slid into the slot often without Kupp this season and has been a floor play this year, finishing as a WR2 or WR3 in seven straight games. The Chiefs are the toughest pass defense on a per-target basis for receivers, but the total elevates the floor for Woods.
- Stefon Diggs at CHI: Diggs has said that he'll play in Week 11 against a Bears defense that ranks 14th in Target Success Rate and 12th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Diggs has a 26.3% target share over his past five games, equating to 11.2 targets per game.
- Corey Davis at IND: Davis has a 40.8% target share in two post-bye games and owns 44.7% of his team's combined red zone and deep targets, by far the highest share in the league. Against the Colts' 27th-ranked adjusted pass defense and with the Titans' offense trending up, we can finally bump him into the confident tier.
Consider If Needed
- JuJu Smith-Schuster at JAC: JuJu has been game script dependent, getting phased out in positive script. He has an 18.7% target share since the bye, keeping him a clear secondary option for the Steelers' offense. Combined with the matchup (the Jags are second in fantasy points per target to receivers), he's out of the start-with-confidence range.
- Mike Evans at NYG: Evans has averaged 9.0 targets per game on the full season and in five games since the bye, most recently seeing 6 (14.6%) in Week 10 with Dirk Koetter calling plays. Against the bottom-eight pass defense of the Giants, Evans is just a tick below a confident start, given the bungled mess of an offense we saw from Tampa last week.
- Alshon Jeffery at NO: Jeffery gets a plus matchup with the Saints' 26th-ranked adjusted pass defense but does have to contend with other receivers for his targets. He has a 23.1% target share since his Week 4 debut, more of a high-end WR2 rate than a WR1 rate. Jeffery also saw Golden Tate take 4 targets on just 18 snaps.
- Keenan Allen vs. DEN: Allen caught 8 of 17 targets for 76 yards (4.47 yards per target) and a touchdown against Denver last year. In Chris Harris' coverage, he caught 1 of 4 passes for 5 yards in Week 1 and 2 of 3 targets for 22 yards in Week 7, via PFF. Still, Allen has a 37.3% target share in two post-bye games, as well a 28.6% of the red zone targets.
- T.Y. Hilton vs. TEN: Indy is the sixth-most run-heavy team in the league since Marlon Mack's surge in Week 6, limiting Hilton to four, five, and seven targets in his healthy games since then. The Titans are a mid-level matchup for him (16th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers) and he's at home, keeping him a WR2-level play.
- Amari Cooper at ATL: Cooper has a 28.6% target share and 47.0% of the air yards in two games (plus six red zone targets) with Dallas and now gets a dome matchup with the 29th-ranked adjusted pass defense in football. Atlanta has let up 14 top-36 receiver weeks, fourth-most in football.
- Kenny Golladay vs. CAR: Golladay has had a 91.5% snap rate or better in three straight games and has run a route on all but 2 of 143 drop backs the past three weeks. With Marvin Jones banged up, Golladay was fed 13 targets last week. The snaps, routes, and volume keep him a top-end WR2, but Golladay had just five targets through three quarters last week, and Jones isn't out for sure.
- Emmanuel Sanders at LAC: Sanders' matchup isn't great (the Chargers are 11th in adjusted pass defense but 20th in fantasy points per target and 24th in Target Success Rate). They've allowed just eight top-36 receivers this year, keeping Sanders, who had nine targets without Demaryius Thomas last game, just a mid-range option.
- Tyler Boyd at BAL: Boyd has played at least 92.3% of snaps four straight weeks with alternating up-and-down weeks. The Ravens are sixth in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers, but he'll have a five-inch, 15-pound advantage on Tavon Young in the slot.
- Sammy Watkins at LAR: Watkins has averaged a modest 6.0 targets per game but brings that into a shootout against a team that is 29th in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts. He's finished as the WR34 or better in four of his past five games.
- Larry Fitzgerald vs. OAK: Fitzgerald has a 30.6% target share with 44.4% of the red zone targets in two games under Byron Leftwich. The Raiders will rely on the undersized Leon Hall to contend with Fitz in the slot.
- Allen Robinson vs. MIN: He hit his ceiling last week but now faces a top-five adjusted pass defense, one that has let up just one top-24 receiver -- if we exclude Week 4, when the Rams' trio all got there -- this season (and none since Week 2). Even if we scale that back to top-36 outings, the total is just seven including the Rams, tying them for the fewest WR3 games allowed.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling at SEA: MVS has finished as the WR35 or better in five straight games, a span during which he has a 17.9% target share and 22.1% air yards share. Seattle's eighth in adjusted pass defense but has been vulnerable to receivers, allowing the 17th-most fantasy points per target.
- Sterling Shepard vs. TB: Shepard's best outings are behind him now that the team has more options to throw to, and he saw a season-low three targets in Week 10. However, he still played 94.9% of snaps and ran a route on 96.9% of drop backs in that game and owns a 17.2% target share over his past five games (6.6 per contest). In this good of a spot, he's certainly in play.
- Tyler Lockett vs. GB: Lockett faces the league's 31st-ranked deep ball defense and has 31.8% of the team's deep balls this season. Lockett has averaged just 4.0 targets per game in three post-bye weeks but is the team's best bet to come through in this generous spot.
- Doug Baldwin vs. GB: Baldwin has 3, 4, and 5 targets in three post-bye games, and the Packers are 21st in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. They're also generous in the slot, having allowed top-36 weeks to slot receivers in three straight games (Robert Woods (filling in for Kupp), Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola).
- Calvin Ridley vs. DAL: As a home favorite, we can expect Ridley to be involved in a high-scoring attack. He has had 9 and 5 targets in two games since the bye, a 15.9% share, but Ridley hasn't actually had a red zone target since Week 4.
Bench If Possible
- John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead vs. CIN: The matchup is stellar for this trio, but the quarterback situation is an unknown this week. Over the past three games, Snead (22.0%), Brown (17.1%), and Crabtree (17.1%) have all been sharing targets. With an unknown passing floor and ceiling, it's best to bench these three if you can. If not, they're all in the hunt for low-end flex consideration against the Bengals' defense, which has let up 14 top-36 weeks, fourth-most in the NFL.
- Courtland Sutton at LAC: Sutton got his snap spike (84.8%, a season-high) but had just five targets (a 14.3% share) to show for it in Week 9, albeit on a 13.4-yard aDOT. Sutton is always a touchdown threat, given the red zone and deep involvement, yet the Chargers have limited receiver production all year.
- Devin Funchess at DET: The matchup is elite, as the Lions are 32nd in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers and 31st in adjusted pass defense, but Funchess has a 15.4% target share over his past three games in a low-volume pass offense, generating him 3, 5, and 5 targets and WR69, WR46, and WR57 finishes.
- Anthony Miller vs. MIN: Miller has been a top-33 receiver in three straight games while owning a 24.7% target share, a team-high mark in that span (but still just 6.3 targets per game). Against a Vikings team that has limited even WR3-level receivers, we should consider Miller a priority bench but not the worst flex play in a 12- or 14-team league by any means.
- Nelson Agholor at NO: Agholor clung to an 88.7% snap rate, in line with his usual rate, last week and had seven targets, which keeps him as a potential option against the Saints, who have let up 16 top-36 receivers in nine games.
- DeSean Jackson at NYG: Jackson had averaged a 49.2% snap rate in four games before jumping to 63.8% last week, when he saw 8 targets (19.5%). The Giants are second in deep-ball pass defense, keeping Jackson a bench-first, flex-if-needed option given the still-low snap rate.
- Chris Godwin at NYG: Godwin has seen his snaps dip in three straight games (71.6%, 55.2%, 49.3%) but has seen 7, 3, and 7 targets and just went over 100 yards last week. The matchup is fine -- New York is 24th in adjusted pass defense -- but the snaps keep him an if-needed option rather than an optimistic start.
- Golden Tate at NO: Tate saw four targets on 18 snaps last week but totaled two deep targets and two red zone targets, high-leverage looks. Against the Saints' 31st-ranked defense by fantasy points per target, Tate could post a nice outing with extra snaps, but until we see it, it's hard to plug in a player on a new team with a 29.0% snap rate. No team has let up more top-six, top-12, top-24, or top-36 games than the Saints.
- D.J. Moore at DET: Moore isn't really on the 12-team radar after 6, 2, and 5 targets for WR18, WR52, and WR59 finishes, but he has played 70.8%, 85.5%, and 86.0% of snaps in those and is up against the Lions, who are 32nd in fantasy points per target.
- Tyrell Williams vs. DEN: Williams totaled 65 yards on 8 targets against Denver last year while playing at least 74.0% of snaps in both games. He owns a 17.6% post-bye target share (3 and 6 targets) and remains a touchdown-or-bust option. In his favor, Denver is 28th in Passing NEP per attempt on deep passes, and 50.0% of Williams' 36 targets have been deep, the highest rate of any player with at least 20 targets.
- Mohamed Sanu vs. DAL: Sanu might be finally healthy, as he played 93.3% of snaps last week, after playing below 70.0% in three straight. He has seen 5 and 8 targets in his past two games (after the bye) but has just a 4.4-yard average depth of target on those, keeping him a touchdown-or-bust play.
- Tre'Quan Smith vs. PHI: Smith had no targets despite a 68.0% snap rate last week, giving him just six, four, three, and zero targets since a Week 6 bye despite averaging a 71.6% snap rate.
- Josh Reynolds vs. KC: With a tough per-target matchup against the Chiefs (first in Target Success Rate and fantasy points per target), Reynolds is a bench-first option in shallow leagues. He played 83.6% and 88.5% of snaps without Kupp this year, meaning he'll play in a shootout, at least.
- Keke Coutee at WSH: Coutee is trending toward a comeback this week, and we've seen him play 70% of snaps or more and run heavy routes. Now, he should do that against the team that ranks 26th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers but does boast a tough slot corner in Fabian Moreau.
- Demaryius Thomas at WSH: Thomas saw three early targets in his debut as a Texan before getting phased out. He still played 79.0% of snaps in that contests and ran 85.3% of the routes. Washington has let up 14 top-36 receivers, fourth-most in the NFL, keeping Thomas a flex option if needed, but he can't be considered a priority start until we see his role expand in the new offense.
- John Ross vs. BAL: Ross played 83.7% of snaps and had 27.3% of the targets last week (6) with an aDOT of 16.3 yards, but we're just chasing big plays. Baltimore is 15th in deep ball defense, so he could cash in, but it's not a good bet in a shallow league.
- Christian Kirk vs. OAK: Kirk has averaged 2.5 catches, 6.5 targets and 25.0 yards in two starts under Leftwich. The volume should be low enough to push him out of 12-team consideration.
Start With Confidence
- Travis Kelce at LAR: Kelce has been the TE14 or better in every game and owns a 25.8% target share in the league's best passing offense.
- Zach Ertz at NO: Ertz has a tough-on-paper matchup with the Saints, who are second in fantasy points per target and ninth in Target Success Rate against tight ends, but he's been a top-11 tight end in every game and leads the Eagles with a 29.2% target share.
Consider If Needed
- Greg Olsen at DET: Olsen's snap rate fell to 78.9% in a blowout last week, but he had played at least 96.9% of snaps in four straight since returning from injury before that. He's had an 18.4% target share since returning, and the Lions are 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends.
- Jack Doyle vs. TEN: Doyle had just three targets last week but played on 87.3% of snaps and ran a route on 72.4% of drop backs. He was a yard away from scoring, which would have vaulted him from TE21 to TE7. He's consistently one of the top tight ends in snap and route rate, which is more than we can say for most tight end options.
- Austin Hooper vs. DAL: Hooper is a home favorite with a high total, so he's got the checklist taken care of. He's played at least 76.4% of snaps in every game and has an average route rate of 75.0%. That's great usage for a tight end, keeping him in the firm TE1 tier.
- Jimmy Graham at SEA: Graham has a revenge game opportunity against a Seahawks squad that has been middle-of-the-road versus tight ends. Still, Graham has had four, six, and one target the past three games and has seen his snap rate dip in each (88.5%, 79.7%, and 68.4%).
- O.J. Howard at NYG: Howard's low snap rate got the best of him last week, and he saw only two targets on a 65.2% snap rate. He ran his highest rate of routes all season, though, so he's still in the low-end TE1 mix.
- Evan Engram vs. TB: Engram has a lowly 11.6% target share since his Week 7 return, but the Bucs are 29th in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends and have let up six top-six tight end games, two more than any other team in the league.
- Trey Burton vs. MIN: Burton has had four or fewer targets in four of his past five games but has still been the TE11 or better in four of his past five. The Vikings have let up four top-12 weeks to the position and are 21st in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends, keeping Burton a low-end TE1 option.
- Jared Cook at ARI: Cook has had 5, 2, and 9 targets in three post-bye games, an 18.1% target share. The results are up-and-down as usual (TE4, TE27, TE15), but the Cardinals rank just 28th in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends.
- Jordan Reed vs. HOU: Reed has averaged 5.6 fantasy points in six post-bye games. Houston is 27th in fantasy points per target allowed to the position, and he's had 7.4 targets per game in his past five. He's just barely clinging to the edge of bench territory.
Bench If Possible
- Eric Ebron vs. TEN: Ebron has run a route on 32.3% and 41.4% of drop backs the past two weeks and played just 21.8% and 38.2% of snap. He's involved near the goal line but not outside the 20, leaving a bust game very possible.
- Vance McDonald at JAC: Vance has played 38.0%, 63.0%, and 43.1% of snaps in three post-bye games, but with a blowout last week, it's hard to know if his snap spike from before the bye is legit or not. With 4.3 targets per game in those three post-bye outings, it's hard to enlist him unless you must.
- Kyle Rudolph at CHI: Rudolph has been the TE14 or worse in six straight games (TE14, TE16, TE20, TE27, TE20, TE24) on an average of 4.7 targets in those. If he doesn't score, he's hurting our squads.
- Ricky Seals-Jones vs. OAK: RSJ is in a three-way tie with an 18.1% target share in two games under Leftwich, and Oakland is dead last in adjusted pass defense and per-target fantasy points to tight ends. Still, Seals-Jones has just thrice been better than the TE24 and has maxed out at 10.0 fantasy points.