Start/Sit PLUS: Kareem Hunt, Josh Jacobs, Trey Lance (2021 Fantasy Football)
The injuries continue in fantasy football, with big players from every position falling by the wayside. You’ll be hearing a lot about Bears and Bengals running backs elsewhere so I’m going to get into some of the lesser topics of the week. Let’s get into some 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 36 hits and 23 misses, meaning a 69% 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
Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR)
But wait, you may say, didn’t we discuss Stafford last week! Well yes. But there are not many every-week starters at the QB position, so I’m in short on options. As a result, I’m reaffirming my faith in Stafford after a middling performance against Arizona. Remember, we knew the Cardinals were hard to throw on so that was always going to be an iffy game. But keep the faith in Stafford. If you have him, he’s your guy.
Darrell Henderson (RB – LAR)
There were concerns that when Henderson returned from injury he might be stuck in a committee with Sony Michel. Those fears were put to bed very quickly when Michel fumbled while playing only 7 snaps and Henderson was out there for 61 plays. With Cooper Kupp and good blocking creating big opportunities for the Rams run game and Henderson finally getting some receiving opportunities, he’s now an every-week starter in most leagues.
Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE)
The Browns seem committed to giving their backfield a near-even split, with Hunt winning most of the valuable receiving touches and two-minute work along with enough goal line touches to make his TD upside high on a weekly basis. With Jarvis Landry out for the foreseeable future and the Browns playing quite a few 12 personnel sets, Hunt is becoming a reliable weekly RB starter.
Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
Until Giovani Bernard returns from knee injury, Leonard Fournette will be an every-week starter in a Bucs’ offense giving him over 80% of the touches last week. His usage won’t remain that high but he certainly has enough upside to lock him in until Bernard returns to snipe those receptions.
Josh Jacobs (RB – LV)
As I predicted when I made Peyton Barber a sit last week, the Raiders’ run game was always going to struggle against the Chargers. But the bright spot was the workload for Josh Jacobs. In a game Las Vegas trailed throughout, Kenyan Drake received only one carry and no receptions. He’s meant to be the receiving back! It’s possible Jacobs emerges in a valuable every-down role. He’s a great buy-low and a start for me this week.
Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
The Steelers passing offense continued to filter through Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson in Week 4 and it looks like that pattern will continue moving forward. Johnson is a strong start in PPR and still a solid option in other formats, even when Chase Claypool returns.
Mike Evans (WR – TB)
The big Buccaneers receiver will always have down weeks, but his upside is obvious as he’s received 31 targets in the last three weeks. Keep putting Evans in your lineup and ride the waves.
Dawson Knox (TE – BUF)
For most of the last year, the Bills’ tight end has been nothing but a red zone threat, leading to a lot of touchdowns but little more. Things have changed the last few weeks though, with his route numbers rising and his targets increasing. Knox is now a viable, every-week starter.
- Damien Williams (RB – CHI)
- Adam Thielen (WR – MIN)
- Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA) – Yes, again, just a reminder.
- Justin Tucker (K – BAL)
Consider benching if you have a viable alternative
Trey Lance (QB – SF)
With the 49ers apparently handing the reins to the rookie after Jimmy G’s unfortunate injury, many will be flocking to waivers to pick up someone many expected to be a fantasy superstar. He may be amazing in the future, but I’d be very wary of starting him this week. The Cardinals aren’t the easiest team to throw on and Lance is making his first start (assuming Garoppolo sits, which is no guarantee). Ultimately, if you try to pick up Lance, you’re grabbing a guy who may not even start in Week 5, who’s got a Week 6 bye, and who could very easily be behind Garoppolo by Week 7. Eeeek.
Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
Until the Eagles commit to giving their starter a proper workload, he shouldn’t be relied on in fantasy. Kenneth Gainwell sniping goal line touches and receptions is the biggest issue at this stage, making Kenny an intriguing stash. Ultimately though, this offense runs through Jalen Hurts and everybody else is a bit part.
Samaje Perine (RB – CIN)
Yes, Joe Mixon is likely out this week. Yes, Samaje Perine is likely the primary back. Should you start him? Well, maybe. If you got caught up in the recent slew of RB injuries, you may be a little desperate at the position, but for most people, Perine is unlikely to be the best option. The Packers aren’t the easiest team to run on and the Bengals could very easily be trailing. While they’ve leaned on the run despite a lack of efficiency so far this season, with Mixon out and Higgins possibly back, now may be the time to trust Joe Burrow‘s arm (which is as awkward a proposition as it sounds). And let’s not forget Chris Evans is still a thing and could easily be involved for a lot of the passing downs. Fade Perine is you can.
Amari Cooper (WR – DAL)
Will the Cowboys suddenly start using their receivers against the Giants? Maybe, but probably not. With a much-improved defense, solid tight end options and an elite rushing attack, it’s just so difficult to trust Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, with those receivers running less routes than Jared Cook (yep, the Chargers tight end) each of the last three weeks. With a Giants team bottom five in WR points allowed, it’s a bad week to be starting Cowboys receivers, especially the boom/bust Cooper.
Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
This is a tip for shallow leagues or teams with a good bench. I don’t like this matchup for Cooks, but he’s good enough to beat it. The Patriots are one of the hardest teams for receivers to face but Cooks is the Houston offense and they’ll likely need to lean on him. But will they be able to? We shall see.
Robert Tonyan (TE – GB)
For some reason, people out there are still relying on Bobby Tonyan. With Gesicki, Knox, Henry, and Schultz emerging, I can’t possibly imagine why. This really isn’t the week for him against a Bengals defense that’s been shutting down the seam very effectively.
Jared Cook (TE – LAC)
He had a big week last week but I don’t like Cook’s chances of rolling it back again. He’s a TD or bust option for me.
- Derek Carr (QB – LV)
- Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
- Latavius Murray (RB – BAL)
- Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
- Michael Carter (RB – NYJ)
- Allen Robinson (WR – LV)
- Odell Beckham (WR – CLE)
- Rondale Moore (WR – ARI)
- Chicago Bears (DST – CHI)
Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week
Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
Jones has been quite the fantasy enigma this season, putting 400 yards on a Saints defense that dismantled the great Aaron Rodgers this season and showing impressive self-control, with his only turnovers totally excusable. Is Jones now a great QB you may ask? No! His team is 1-3 and Jones is mostly dinking and dunking. But his rushing floor and favorable matchup make him a viable option for Week 5.
Jacoby Brissett (QB – MIA)
This is a very deep pull, but if you’re desperate, Brissett is a viable option against a Buccs team that makes you throw on them. There are at least twenty better options available, but in some leagues, you may need to use the Dolphins’ signal-caller this week.
Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis (RB – ATL)
The Falcons face the Jets. Nuff said? OK, I’ll give you a little more. Davis remains the lead back, playing the majority of snaps and getting 13-16 touches most weeks, including goal-line and receiving work. Patterson is barely a running back, but will almost certainly be involved in some whacky capacity. It’s entirely possible he scores zero points, but it’s also possible he leads the league in scoring, so he’s worth the risk. The only issue here is the possibility Wayne Gallman bizarrely gets more involved. It doesn’t move the needle for me, but it’s the kind of thing that often pops up and ruins great matchups (see Marlon Mack last week).
Chuba Hubbard (RB – CAR)
This is entirely dependant on Christian McCaffrey remaining injured, but if he’s out, now is the time to start Chuba Hubbard. Rodney Smith stealing the receiving work lowers him from a start to a stream for me, but he’s still a worthwhile option. Also, be aware, someone might get carried away and drop him before CMC is officially in so keep a lookout.
Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ)
This won’t come as a shock to anyone who watched the Jets this season, but Corey Davis is a key cog in their offense and should be busy in a favorable matchup against the Falcons. Jamison Crowder is a good start in Week 5 too. The slot role gets a lot of targets when Zach Wilson is under center, as Braxton Berrios showed in weeks 1 & 2, so Crowder will get a lot of opportunities. He’s a great sneaky waiver add this week.
DeVante Parker (WR – MIA)
Will Fuller is out as the Dolphins take on a generous Buccaneers secondary which has been battling major injury issues. You know Miami won’t be running the ball against Tampa so they must send it somewhere and I expect Parker will continue to be a major target after a busy week 4. He and Jaylen Waddle are both good options.
Cameron Brate (TE – TB)
With Gronk out, Cameron Brate becomes the primary receiving tight end in Tampa. Last week he ran 31 routes (that’s a lot) for 6 targets and now takes on the attackable Dolphins linebackers.
- Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
- Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI)
- Damien Harris (RB – NE)
- Zack Moss (RB – BUF)
- Kenny Golladay (WR – NYG)
- Laviska Shenault (WR – JAC)
- Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG) – pending Shepard and Slayton being out. Otherwise he’s a stash.
- Zach Ertz (TE – PHI)
- Gerald Everett (TE – SEA)
- Younghoe Koo (K – ATL)
- Greg Joseph (K – MIN)
- Dallas Cowboys (DST – DAL)
- Minnesota Vikings (DST – MIN)
OK: Elijah Mitchell (INJ), Pittsburgh Steelers DST
Pick up and bench
Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS)
I don’t like stashing QBs, it’s nearly always unnecessary, but Taylor Heinicke has a poor matchup in Week 5 then a couple of great opportunities after that. With Dak Prescott, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert all with imminent bye weeks, you may wish to pick up Heinicke early and save yourself the hassle.
Alex Collins (RB – SEA)
Something weird is happening in Seattle. Rashaad Penny is on IR and Chris Carson is battling some little niggles, but Alex Collins should still not be getting this many touches. Pete Carroll is the coach who originally favoured Carson (the 7th round draft pick out of Oklahoma State) over his shiny new 1st rounder in Penny, so don’t put it past Carroll to let Collins totally take over. Collins’s snaps and touches have been growing by the week and he’s looked pretty good, so just pop him on your bench and see what happens for a game or two.
Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI)
The Eagles for some reason don’t seem to be loving Miles Sanders, despite his obvious talent and solid performances when given the chance. Kenny Gainwell is a very talented prospect and is starting to chip into the goal line and receiving work in Philly. He’s a great injury gamble or desperation bye week option, plus it’s possible he just takes over the role.
Backup running backs
I said this last week but many of you clearly didn’t listen given the rush for Damien Williams, James Conner and AJ Dillon so I’ll say it again. Roster backup running backs who’ll likely get a workhorse role if the starter is injured. I’m adding Darrel Williams and Devin Singletary to the list this week, but for more, check out last week’s article. Also consider Darrynton Evans and Khalil Herbert in very deep leagues.
Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
With teams covering Allen Robinson like their lives depend on it, Darnell Mooney is finally starting to live up to his pre-season hype. The matchup against Vegas isn’t the prettiest, so he’s more of a hold for me until the easier matchups come around and Justin Fields gets things going (and we hope Andy Dalton doesn’t get the role back).
Ricky Seals-Jones (TE – WAS)
With Logan Thomas out, Ricky Seals-Jones steps into the lead role. Week 5 sees the Saints on tap meaning he’s a fade for now, but he’s worth watching for when the matchups improve, assuming Thomas is out for multiple weeks.
- Ty’Son Williams (RB – BAL)
- Van Jefferson (WR – LAR)
- Curtis Samuel (WR – WAS)
- Josh Reynolds (WR – TEN)
- Josh Gordon (WR – KC)
- Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND)
- Dan Arnold (TE – JÁC) – Just a reminder to keep stashing him.
Misses: Tommy Tremble
Players who will likely lose value in the future to sell now
Sam Darnold (QB – CAR)
The Panthers quarterback had a couple of incredible fantasy performances in weeks 3 and 4, showing the qualities that led the Jets to draft him as a top 3 pick those years ago. But the Texans and Cowboys are pretty simple matchups for a QB, plus Christian McCaffrey‘s absence has led to a reliance on Darnold that Matt Rhule will hope to avoid moving forward. Now’s the time to tempt that box score watcher in your league into a trade that highly benefits you.
James Conner (RB – ARI)
I’ve been banging the James Conner drum for weeks and he’s paid off with four touchdowns in the last two weeks. Obviously, in most leagues, you’re not starting him, but he’s now got plenty of value if you want to sell him, plus he remains one of the most valuable backups in the NFL.
Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL)
Patterson is on an amazing hot streak, but as with Adam Thielen last week, it must end sometime, and that time will be soon. Sell now if you can get a solid RB2 before the bubble bursts!
Marquise Brown (WR – BAL)
There’s plenty of reasons to feel nervous about Brown moving forward. He’s getting a lot of yards per target (which could easily regress given Lamar Jackson‘s arm quality), he’s about to be joined by Rashod Bateman and teams will start to clue into what the Ravens are doing with Brown’s deep routes. If you can get a good price, sell now.
Robert Woods (WR – LAR)
Last week I implored you to continue using Woods in the hope that things will improve or he would have a lucky week. He had a lucky week, with the touchdown inflating another middling performance. With Van Jefferson emerging, he certainly looks more like a WR3 these days. If you can get WR2 value for him, take it and run.
C.J. Uzomah (TE – CIN)
You don’t want the Bengals’ tight end. Probably no one does. But if you can get someone to bite in a deeper league, do it.
Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)
The Cowboys’ tight ends are doing amazing work on remarkably low route totals, with Schultz receiving seven targets from just 18 routes. His outcomes won’t stay at this same amazing level, so sell now while he’s at his highest value.
All kickers and DSTs
If you can ever get a solid player for a kicker or DST, do it immediately. That is all.
- Trey Lance (QB – SF)
- Jeremy McNichols (RB – TEN)
- AJ Dillon (RB – GB)
- Randall Cobb (WR – GB)
- Kalif Raymond (WR – DET)
- Maxx Williams (TE – ARI)
Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available
Teddy Bridgewater (QB – DEN)
The Broncos quarterback was a popular streamer in Week 3 but a clunker against the Jets and an injury makes him entirely redundant. There’s no need to pick up Drew Lock at this stage, though he could be an interesting streamer if Bridgewater is out for an extended period of time (which appears unlikely).
Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
The whole point of holding Drake was the possibility that he would be the starter if Josh Jacobs went down. Not only did that fail to occur (hello Peyton Barber), but when Jacobs returned, he took over much of the receiving role! Crazy! Drake belongs on waivers.
Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
In small- to medium-sized leagues, Gaskin can be dropped. This backfield is running some sort of hybrid hot-hand approach where a random back gets the carries each week. Maybe they’re playing Rock, Paper, Scissors for it. Regardless, Gaskin is way too risky to start and lacks the upside to waste a bench spot on.
Bryan Edwards (WR – LV)
Edwards continues to do most of his work in the fourth quarter and overtime. That’s not a sustainable business model, with dozens of fruitless snaps garnering no targets each week. In small- to medium-sized leagues, he can be dropped.
Anthony Firkser (TE – TEN)
With Julio Jones and AJ Brown on the sidelines, many of you got tempted by the other Titans’ options, including Firkser. As you may have noticed, the tight ends were the wrong position to hit. Drop him now.
- Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
- Mac Jones (QB – NE)
- Giovani Bernard (RB – TB)
- J.J. Taylor (RB – NE)
- Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE)
- Freddie Swain (WR – SEA)
- Terrace Marshall (WR – CAR)
- Jack Doyle (TE – IND)
- Ian Thomas (TE – CAR)
- Jason Myers (K – SEA)
- Rodrigo Blankenship (K – IND)
- Buffalo Bills (DST – BUF)
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