Start/Sit PLUS: Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Dallas Goedert (2021 Fantasy Football)
From the studio that brought you ‘Backup Running Backs’, ‘Stash Hunter Henry‘ and of course the ‘Matthew Stafford‘ trilogy, it’s the new hit film for Week 7, Byenado! I’ve been talking about this for a couple of weeks, and it’s finally here. Let’s see how we can deal with a number of powerful fantasy offenses being on bye. It’s Start/Sit PLUS. We’ll be looking at six categories (which are described in detail here in our Week 1 article). And to ensure total transparency, I’ll also note at the bottom of each section how I went in last week’s article (I’ve logged it as 49 hits and 19 misses, meaning a 70% success rate so far this season, but you be the judge). If you disagree or have start/sit questions, hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.
Editor’s Note: Ben finished No. 24 overall in 2020 in-season fantasy football accuracy and No. 3 overall in Rest of Season accuracy for 2020. He’s currently No. 14 overall in the 2021 in-season accuracy competition.
Every-week starters, regardless of matchup
Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
With bye weeks hitting hard and a few early-season streamers regressing, Burrow is emerging as a viable weekly starter. You wouldn’t know it, but he’s acting a lot like Ryan Tannehill of the last couple of seasons. His passing volume is pretty low as the Bengals focus on the run, but he’s been rather efficient. He’s impressively managed at least two touchdowns every week this season. Patrick Mahomes is the only other QB playing this week who has achieved that feat. That gives Burrow a great floor. If he can maintain it, he’s worth starting for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
After starting the season with four tough QB matchups, Tannehill now gets a sweet run, with five straight games against defenses in the easy half of the NFL for QBs. Kansas City and Indianapolis are particularly generous matchups over the next two weeks, so if you’re in bye trouble or have been struggling streaming, Tannehill is a guy you can lock in until his Week 12 bye.
Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI)
After battling through two awful performances thanks to a shoulder injury, there should be a temptation to bench the Cardinals pass-catching back. That would be a mistake. The Texans are up next and should give Edmonds a chance to get right, plus there clearly aren’t 24 better running backs available even if Edmonds is struggling. He’s an ugly play these days, but you need to use him.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
The leg injury and the poor performances of late might be scaring off Gibson owners, but he remains a must-start. The rushing volume is there, as is the touchdown upside, and while his receptions have been disappointing, he remains a weekly RB2.
Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
After predictably busting in a couple of pretty tough matchups, the Texans’ WR1 has a pretty sweet run for the remainder of the year. He’s now a weekly starter and should only get better when Tyrod Taylor returns.
Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA)
With Geno Smith under center and Lockett struggling for the last few weeks, it would be easy to sit him. But I’m locking him in regardless. He still has that massive upside, and that starts with a generous matchup against the Saints. If he can’t get it done this week, we can reassess, but for now, he’s a guy I want to start each week.
Ricky Seals-Jones (TE – WAS)
Until Logan Thomas returns, RSJ is an every-week starter. He’s playing the exact role Thomas was and remarkably played every snap on offense last week, running a route of 37 of the 39 passing plays. That’s extraordinary!
Arizona Cardinals (DST – ARI)
I’m not a fan of starting the same DST every week, but the Cards are looking very good this season, especially with their offense pumping up the scoreboard pressure. If you’re gonna lock in one defense, this is the one.
- Darrel Williams (RB – KC)
- Chuba Hubbard (RB – CAR)
- Mike Davis (RB – ATL)
- Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
- AJ Brown (WR – TEN)
- T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET)
OK: Robert Woods, Tampa Bay Buccaneers DST
Consider benching if you have a viable alternative
Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS)
The fun is over for the Football Team quarterback (gosh, that still sounds like a generic, user-made team in Madden). His quality has really dropped over the last couple of weeks in generous matchups so this week against the Packers is an easy one to avoid. In one-QB he’s droppable but in superflex, you hopefully have better options to play ahead of him.
Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
I don’t feel strongly about this take. I understand Fields is improving, and the matchup against Tampa should be easy, but I just don’t want to be starting the rookie this week. It feels like the Bears could be totally blown out by Tom Brady, leading to their quarterback having another single-digit score. I’d fade him if you have other viable options.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
The Falcons are not a team opponents have found it easy to score on so far this season, as they’re a bottom 12 matchup for opposing quarterbacks. While I accurately suggested Tua as a streamer last week, I’m out on him this week. This isn’t a game I want a lot of pieces of and there’s plenty of better options.
Javonte Williams (RB – DEN) and Melvin Gordon (RB – DEN)
The Browns are a tough matchup already. It makes it even harder when you need to split carries with your teammate. While less irritating than a Kyle Yates tweet (according to Melvin Gordon himself this week), the timeshare is very annoying and is one I’d rather avoid if possible.
Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI) and Damien Williams (RB – CHI)
There are so many reasons to fade this backfield, but here are two. One, we don’t know who will be getting the work and how it will be split. Two, they face the brutal Buccaneers run defense. Sit them!
Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE)
I say this every week. Teams don’t pass against the Jets. They don’t need to! The Patriots have an excellent run game and should be able to crush New York without a lot of passing volume, and that makes Pats pass catchers a very risky proposition. If you’re in bye week trouble, you may need him, but massively lower expectations.
Tee Higgins (WR – CIN)
I don’t feel good about starting the Bengals WR2 with so many weapons in this offense and Ja’Marr Chase the clear top gun. The Ravens aren’t an easy matchup either, so I’d avoid Higgins if you somehow can.
Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND)
Confusingly, Mo Alie-Cox is the TE14 in ECR (and he has a questionable Gronk and Zach Ertz on a new team ahead of him). It’s insane! He ran nine routes last week and isn’t even the clear starter. He also plays against the toughest matchup in the NFL for tight ends, the 49ers (they’ve allowed less than eight fantasy points to tight ends this season, total!) Why is this a thing? I truly don’t know, but please don’t be a part of it.
- Mac Jones (QB – NE)
- Michael Carter (RB – NYJ)
- Le’Veon Bell (RB – BAL)
- Jamaal Williams (RB – DET)
- Demetric Felton (RB – CLE)
- Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN)
- Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)
- A.J. Green (WR – ARI)
- C.J. Uzomah (TE – CIN)
- Jonnu Smith (TE – NE)
Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week
Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
With only two touchdowns in the last four weeks, Danny Dimes seems like an obvious fade. But with his pass catchers getting healthier and a Panthers defense you want to attack through the air up next, he’s a viable option for the desperate. After three easy early season matchups, the Carolina secondary has been found out, conceding 10 touchdowns to quarterbacks over the last three weeks.
D’Ernest Johnson (RB – CLE)
I’m not in love with this due to the matchup, but Johnson is a reasonable streaming option for this week with Hunt and Chubb both out. Don’t use him over clear-cut starters, but he’s a low-end RB2 who should get enough volume to be mildly useful.
J.D. McKissic (RB – WAS)
With Antonio Gibson hobbled and the Packers likely to run up an early lead, I like the idea of playing both Washington backs, Gibson for his TD upside and McKissic for the likely receptions as the Football Team chase the game.
Allen Robinson (WR – CHI)
Who would have believed at the start of the season that 6 weeks in ARob would be a free agent in even moderately-shallow leagues? It’s an amazing fall from grace and shows just how badly the Bears have screwed this season’s offense up. (Yes, I realize they’re 3-3, but let’s not pretend things are looking promising.) Thankfully, they get Tampa Bay this week, and that means Justin Fields will need to throw, at least for a while. It wouldn’t surprise me if this whole offense crumbles in a heap, but Robinson could easily have enough volume to pop.
Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
Waddle is becoming very close to an every-week starter, but for now, he’s available in enough leagues that I’m putting him here. If you have him, start him. If you don’t, pick him up.
Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
Daniel Jones is feeding his pass-catching tight end 4-6 targets a game. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than every option outside the top 12 this week. If you’re in bye week trouble, Engram is the clear option.
Zach Ertz (TE – ARI)
Starting a player who only arrived at his team last week is not ideal, but there are so few good options around that Ertz becomes an immediate fantasy starter.
Matt Prater (K – ARI)
Kickers are all about matchups. Prater is the top option this week, more for his floor than his ceiling.
Nick Folk (K – NE)
I favor the upside of Folk. This should be a game that remains tight enough for the Patriots to kick field goals whenever in range. Hence their kicker has strong field goal upside.
- Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
- AJ Dillon (RB – GB)
- Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE) – In deep leagues
- Russell Gage (WR – ATL) – In deep leagues
- DeVante Parker (WR – MIA)
- Cole Kmet (TE – CHI) – In deep leagues
- Gerald Everett (TE – SEA) – In deep leagues
- Mason Crosby (K – GB)
- New Orleans Saints (DST – NO)
- Carolina Panthers (DST – CAR)
Pick up and bench
Teddy Bridgewater (QB – DEN)
I don’t like stashing quarterbacks, but with Washington on deck for Week 8 and Jerry Jeudy due back soon, Teddy Two Gloves is a great stash, especially if you have Lamar Jackson or a lot of bench space.
Backup Running Backs
Welcome to what is apparently my weekly section on backup running backs, as if people somehow haven’t learned! Have you noticed how 9 of the top 24 in this week’s running back ECR were backups to start the season? Yeah, it’s not hard to see where I’m going with this. Backups are very valuable. Here’s a sizeable list of runners that may be available on waivers, especially with people dropping them for bye week replacements: Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard, AJ Dillon, Kenneth Gainwell, Sony Michel, Jamaal Williams, Ronald Jones, Rhamondre Stevenson, Jeremy McNichols, Marlon Mack.
Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
Penny finally returns from IR and is apparently good to go! If Alex Collins is healthy, I wouldn’t be starting Penny, but he may get the lead role in the future plus, if Collins is out this week, he’s a clear RB2. Stash him and see.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
It’s possible your league missed the news that the Browns receiver is back. It would be risky (though not ridiculous) to start him this week, but he’s worth stashing to see what happens in that offense regardless.
Laviska Shenault (WR – JAC)
After a down start to the season, Shenault is getting dropped in a surprising amount of leagues due to his bye week. With DJ Chark out for the season, Shenault is a great upside stash.
- Jeff Wilson (RB – SF)
- Kenny Golladay (WR – NYG)
- Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG)
- Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ)
- Quez Watkins (WR – PHI)
- Dan Arnold (TE – JAC)
- Tommy Sweeney (TE – BUF) – In very deep leagues
Players who will likely lose value in the future to sell now
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
After a bye and a game against the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins goes into a run of really tough matchups. If you can get anything for him now after his explosive Week 6 overtime effort, do it.
Darrel Williams (RB – KC)
After a top-10 performance, the hype around the Chiefs backup is unlikely to be this high again. I don’t even know if people would be this excited about Clyde Edwards-Helaire if he were healthy! Williams is a temporary starter, so if you can get someone more permanent and don’t desperately need a win the next two weeks, now’s the time to sell.
Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
Lenny has had a great two weeks, and it may continue, but I doubt his value will be quite this high moving forward. He’s more of a mid-range RB2, so if you can get an RB1 for him, take it.
Latavius Murray (RB – BAL)
Murray is injured though it’s unclear how serious it is. He’s really not that valuable so if you can get something for him from someone not as tapped into the injury news, do it quickly!
Adam Thielen (WR – MIN)
I suggested selling Thielen earlier in the season, and people blew up at me. “How could you tell me to sell my Thielen? He scores every week. He’s a stud!” After two weeks with a total of five receptions, his value certainly dropped. After a rebound week, though, you may be able to recoup some of that value. The Vikings don’t play 89 snaps every week (it’s usually in the 60s), so Thielen won’t be topping 100 yards most games, heck he may not do it again this season. With his bye this week, now is the perfect time to cut ties and grab a guy with a more reliable floor.
Antonio Brown (WR – TB)
With Gronk out injured, the Buccs have turned to AB for a huge amount of the tight end’s output. That won’t continue indefinitely, though. He’ll still have big weeks, but he’s unlikely to see value like this again. I’d be trying to sell him within the next fortnight and immediately if Gronk is back.
Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
The return of DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and (eventually) Will Fuller will hurt Gesicki’s volume. Now is the perfect time to sell, with the argument: “Look how much Tua loves using his tight ends!”
- Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
- Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
- Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
- Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI)
- Alex Collins (RB – SEA)
- Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN) – Jerry Jeudy is back soon
- Tim Patrick (WR – DEN) – Ditto
- Cole Beasley (WR – BUF)
- Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
- O.J. Howard (TE – TB)
- Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN)
Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available
Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
There are so many reasons to drop Cleveland’s own Tiger King. His shoulder injury, his awful fantasy performances, his upcoming matchups, his receiver injuries, his awful photo shoots, the list goes on. I suggest that you wait until after TNF just to see if you can sell him after a big performance. With his starting running backs both out, he might need to throw, and that may give you a chance to flip him for something. Otherwise, drop him like he’s hot.
Giovani Bernard (RB – TB)
It’s hard to tell you to drop someone who’s scored two touchdowns in his last three games, but when can you ever start Gio with confidence? You could wait for another good week and sell him, but given bye weeks are coming up, you can likely use that roster spot for something better.
Robby Anderson (WR – CAR)
Have you ever seen a player turn 11 targets into 11 yards? It’s an amazing achievement, but Anderson managed it last week. The whole Panthers offense is a mess, and Robby hasn’t been a good fantasy option for nearly a year now. There is upside to keeping him, but in standard-sized leagues, I’m dropping him.
David Njoku (TE – CLE)
It should have been obvious after Week 5 it was a one-game Njoku party. Hopefully, it’s obvious now. If you can’t sell him, drop him. Though feel free to wait until after TNF just to be sure.
Any kicker or DST on a bye
There’s no good reason to hold a kicker or DST on their bye week. Drop them and stream like the pros.
- Geno Smith (QB – SEA)
- Trey Lance (QB – SF)
- Jerick McKinnon (RB – KC)
- Brandon Bolden (RB – NE)
- Bryan Edwards (WR – LV)
- Nelson Agholor (WR – NE)
- Zach Pascal (WR – IND)
- Randall Cobb (WR – GB)
- Robert Tonyan (TE – GB)
- Harrison Butker (K – KC)
- Brandon McManus (K – DEN)
- Washington Football Team (DST – WAS)
Misses: KJ Osborn
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