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Week 2’s Toughest Start/Sit Decisions: Ronald Jones, Miles Sanders, Michael Gallup

Sep 18, 2020

Every week fantasy football owners are confronted with difficult lineup questions. Who should you start, and who should you sit? That’s what many are left asking, often with little help. It’s good you landed here, as we can help each week using our Who Should I Start tool. Simply type in several players that you are deciding between per position or for your flex and we will let you know who the experts would start and who they would sit.

Here’s a look at the toughest start and sit decisions of the week along with our expert’s advice.

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Start Carson Wentz (QB – PHI) or Matthew Stafford (QB – DET)?
56% of Experts Would Start Wentz

We knew the Eagles were down three offensive lineman, but what we didn’t know was that Wentz was going to hold onto the ball for far too long. He was continually uncertain and it led to him getting sacked eight times for 62 yards. He also fumbled twice (lost one). It was a bad game all around for him, and the matchup doesn’t get any better this week. Washington has one of the most talented front sevens in football, but Aaron Donald should count as two players, making life unfair on offensive lines. The Cowboys were a team that many had ranked as the No. 1 unit in the league, and the Rams defensive line continually brought pressure to Dak Prescott, limiting him to just 6.8 yards per attempt. There were just two games in 2019 where he averaged fewer yards per attempt. The Rams aren’t untouchable, though. There were three games in 2019 where they allowed 29-plus fantasy points to quarterbacks, though every other quarterback was held to fewer than 18 fantasy points. It’s also worth noting that only one of those 29-point games came with Jalen Ramsey on the team. Knowing I don’t expect Jared Goff to play particularly well, I can’t see a whole lot of pass attempts for Wentz in this game. He should be considered a mid-to-high-end QB2 who might not have a very high ceiling.

We knew it was going to be a tough matchup for Stafford last week, right? Then you added the Kenny Golladay injury and it was a spot to fade him. All things considered, for him to walk away with nearly 300 yards and one touchdown (should have been two) isn’t the worst thing. Remember the hot start to Stafford’s 2019 season? Well, the only team that held him touchdown-less was the Packers. He completed 18-of-32 passes for 265 yards and no touchdowns. It wasn’t like the run game had anything going, either, as they totaled just 38 yards on 16 carries. If Golladay is out again, that’s worrisome for Stafford’s projection. To be fair, the Packers held Kirk Cousins in check last year, but allowed him to complete 19-of-25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns last week, though a lot of that did come in garbage time. The biggest issue for the Vikings last week was the time of possession battle that may be a similar issue for the Lions, because if you can’t slow down the Packers offense, they’ll take their time. The Lions defense couldn’t contain Mitch Trubisky last week. The hope is that it turns into a shootout and Stafford racks up 40-plus attempts. I don’t know how high his floor would be without Golladay, so he can’t be considered anything more than a middling QB2 if that were the case. Even with Golladay, he would be in the high-end QB2 conversation rather than a must-start. You may want to take some shots on him in tournaments if Golladay plays, though.

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Start Ronald Jones (RB – TB) or Mark Ingram (RB – BAL)?
69% of Experts Would Start Jones

Go ahead and admit it to yourself: Ronald Jones looked extremely good in Week 1. His 3.88 yards per carry may not seem like a ton, but he continually fought for every yard he got against a tough Saints defense. He led the backfield with 19 touches and 33 snaps, while Fournette ended with six touches and nine snaps. LeSean McCoy was in on 21 passing plays, but given the expected gamescript, this should be a run-heavy game for the Bucs. The Panthers defense has now allowed a preposterous 30 rushing touchdowns in their last 17 games. Over their last six games, there hasn’t been a single backfield that’s totaled fewer than 29 touches. They’ve averaged a massive 32.3 touches per game in that time. In the matchups last year, Jones and Peyton Barber combined to rush for 132 yards and three touchdowns on just 40 carries against them, and that was before they lost seven starters on defense. There are still nightmares in the back of our minds with Barber last year when Jones seemed like the clear-cut starter, so we shouldn’t be automatically saying Jones is a top-12 start or anything, but given what we saw in Week 1, he should be started as an RB2 with top-five upside in this plus-matchup.

There will be some major reactions to this backfield after we saw the touches go Ingram 10, Dobbins 7, and Edwards 4 in Week 1, but how much can we really take from it when the Ravens stomped the Browns 38-6? Well, more than you’d think. The Ravens were continually running away with games last year, and through 15 games, there was just one game where Ingram totaled less than 10 touches. Not surprisingly, that one week was a game the Ravens won 49-13. The following week, they played against the Texans where Ingram totaled 16 touches in a 41-7 win. We knew Dobbins would cut the legs off his potential ceiling, but his floor is in jeopardy, especially when he doesn’t score. The Texans are a team to attack with running backs, though. They’ve allowed 18 running back touchdowns over their last 17 games (10 rushing, 8 receiving). Losing D.J. Reader up the middle of the field is a crushing blow and we saw rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire crush them for 138 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut last week. Here are the touches by running backs in each of their eight games since their Week 10 bye last year (most recent first): 34, 33, 25, 25, 28, 35, 40, 30. That’s a lot of touches to go around. My guess would be that Ingram gets back into the 12-14 touch range, which allows him to be played as a high-end RB3.

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Start David Montgomery (RB – CHI) or Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)?
78% of Experts Would Start Sanders

Everyone wants to laugh about it, but Montgomery looked extremely good in Week 1, doing whatever he had to do to gain extra yards. Coming off a groin injury that had him limited early in the week, it was a massive step in the right direction. As expected, Cohen was limited in the number of times they handed him the ball (7), but it was surprising to see him wind up with just two receptions. The Giants looked to be strong when holding James Conner to just 17 yards on his first eight touches, but he was apparently trying to push through an ankle injury. Once Benny Snell took over, he rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries. I thought Blake Martinez played a good game last week in his new defense, which is important as the centerpiece and their big free agent acquisition. This Giants defense seemed to have taken a step in the right direction under Joe Judge, so we can’t assume it’s the same unit as last year, which was actually better than expected, allowing 3.96 yards per carry on the year. Still, the Bears are five-point home favorites against a team coming off a short week. Montgomery should be considered a mid-to-low-end RB2 who will get the goal-line opportunities.

Apparently, the Eagles may have been a bit too confident heading into Week 1, as Sanders was reportedly held back for precautionary reasons. He should be a go this week and may not even be on a snap count. Scott touched the ball 11 times last week while Corey Clement chipped in with eight touches, though neither did much for fantasy teams. Scott did have to leave the game for a bit with an ankle injury but ultimately returned. The Rams are a team you can run the ball against, as they allowed five 110-plus yard rushers last year, and their struggles against the run continued to Week 1 where they allowed Ezekiel Elliott 127 total yards and two touchdowns. He was the fourth running back to score multiple touchdowns against them over their last 17 games, so there’s clearly a ceiling. Part of the reasons there is success against them is due to plays per game, as opponents averaged 66.0 plays per game against them last year, which led to 27.6 running back touches per game. On opportunity alone, they ranked as the 11th-toughest matchup for running backs. If Sanders is back to full health and on no snap count, he should be in lineups as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. If Scott were forced to miss any time, Sanders would be a lock for 18-plus touches, which would obviously give him cash-game viability. The fact that the Eagles still haven’t signed another running back says a lot about their confidence with Sanders.

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Start Keenan Allen (WR – LAC) or Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)?
59% of Experts Would Start Gallup

I had my concerns about Allen coming into the season with Taylor under center but moved him up based on the fact that Mike Williams was not supposed to play the first few weeks. Not only did Williams play, but he got more opportunity than Allen. Yeah, it was only one target, but Williams had a 43.3 percent share of the Chargers air yards while Allen was at just 27.8 percent. The Chiefs moved on from Kendall Fuller this offseason and went to Antonio Hamilton to cover the slot. In his first start, he allowed 3-of-4 passing for 45 yards in his coverage. He’s a former undrafted free agent who’s on his third NFL team in three years, so it’s not a matchup to be scared of. The Chiefs allowed the fewest yards to wide receivers last year, but they suddenly have three new cornerbacks starting (Fuller replaced, Bashaud Breeland suspended, Charvarius Ward hurt). Allen obviously isn’t a lock but getting eight targets in this matchup should produce results. I’m good trusting him as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3.

We talked about Gallup last week, saying that he had the toughest matchup on the Cowboys, as he only goes into the slot about 10 percent of the time, which was the spot to do damage. The Falcons, however, are prime for the taking. They allowed 56 passing plays of 20-plus yards last year, which ranked as the 10th most in football. Gallup will see Isaiah Oliver in coverage most of the time, a third-year cornerback who’s been a disappointment as a former second-round pick. Throughout his two-plus years of play, he’s allowed 84 receptions for 1,090 yards and seven touchdowns on 127 targets. That all adds up to a 108.1 QB Rating in his coverage. Dating back to last year, Gallup has seen at least six targets in 12-of-15 games. If he gets that here, he’s performing. While Gallup was someone I was lower on last week, he should be able to return WR3 value in this game with top-20 potential if he were to hit on a big play.

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Start Emmanuel Sanders (WR – NO) or Marvin Jones (WR – DET)?
62% of Experts Would Start Jones

With Michael Thomas sidelined, Sanders will be asked to step up and play a bigger role in the offense. “But Mike, wasn’t he a full-time player already?” Well, no. He played just 33 snaps in Week 1 while Thomas played 55 and Tre’Quan Smith played 44. Despite that, Sanders tied for the league-lead in red zone targets (4) in Week 1. He was playing in the slot 48 percent of the time, which might go down considering Thomas’ absence on the perimeter. The Raiders have a young cornerback duo in Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette, and it wasn’t the best of debuts for Arnette, who allowed 110 yards and a touchdown on just five targets in his coverage. Mullen seems to be a competent NFL cornerback, but he’s not going to be shadowing anyone. I’m expecting the Saints to move the veteran Sanders around and get him matched up with the rookie to take advantage of his inexperience. Sanders can be played as a WR3 this week who should have a solid floor, though we don’t know how high his ceiling is in his age-33 season.

We figured that with Golladay out of the lineup last week that Jones would’ve led the team in targets (8), but he shared the workload with both Quintez Cephus (10) and Danny Amendola (7). He walked away with four catches for 55 yards in a game where he had plenty of chances against rookie Jaylon Johnson. If you want to play Jones here, you should be rooting for Golladay to play as it’ll likely keep the Packers best cornerback Jaire Alexander away from him. No matter which cornerback he faces, Jones should be able to do some work down the field, as Alexander has allowed 14.4 yards per receptions since the start of last year, while Kevin King has allowed a robust 17.1 yards per reception in his coverage. It’s disheartening to see Jones total just two catches for 17 yards in their meeting last year with Stafford under center, though. Still, the Packers allowed 23 wide receivers to finish as top-30 options last year, and the Lions figure to be doing quite a bit of passing in this game. If you have a receiver who’s seeing eight targets, it’s difficult to sit him, especially a touchdown-threat like Jones. While his target floor/ceiling would go down if Golladay were in the lineup, I think his efficiency may go up. I’d consider him as a low-end WR3 this week.

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Start Jonnu Smith (TE – TEN) or T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET)?
64% of Experts Would Start Hockenson

It was refreshing to see Smith tally seven targets in Week 1. Do you know how many times he hit that number in 2019? Once. While Tannehill won’t be dropping to pass 40-plus times very often, it was good to know it’s physically possible. The Titans are going to run the ball a lot in this matchup, similar to the way a lot of teams did in 2019. Because of that, tight ends totaled just 95 targets against them, which was the fifth-lowest number in the league. They did allow production when they were targeted, though. The 8.31 yards per target they allowed to the position ranked as the fifth-highest mark in the league. They also allowed a touchdown every 13.6 targets, which ranked as the seventh most often. Unfortunately, he saw just three targets combined in the two games against them last year, so it’s probably best to find another streamer this week. If the Titans pass more than I’m expecting, it could pay off, but I wouldn’t bet on it with a 10.5-point spread.

We knew the opportunity could be there for Hockenson this year, and without Golladay, we got what we wanted. Hockenson caught all five of his targets for 56 yards and a touchdown in a tough matchup against the Bears. To give you an idea of how impressive that was, the only tight ends who topped 50 yards against the Bears last year were Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. Now onto the Packers, a team that allowed half the tight ends they played last year to finish as top-12 options with 10-plus PPR points. They only allowed three catches for 39 yards to the Vikings tight ends, but that’s because they only saw three targets. The 13.0 yards per target they allowed was actually the second-most in the league. Going back to last year, they allowed the eighth-most yards per target to tight ends. We’re chasing targets with tight ends, and Hockenson should be in line for five-plus targets here. Start him as a low-end TE1 until he gives us a reason not to. If Golladay is held out again, I’d bump him up into cash-game consideration this week.

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