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Start/Sit PLUS: Keenan Allen, Tyler Higbee, Aaron Rodgers (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Ben Wasley | @FantasyFirstDwn | Featured Writer
Oct 27, 2021

Congratulations, you survived Byenado! If you’re like me, you likely suffered some casualties, but there’s plenty of time life to rebound and get heading in the right direction in Week 8. There are only two teams on bye this week and very few great waiver wire options in most leagues, so it’s time to consolidate and make the right lineup choice. 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 46 hits and 21 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. 31 overall in the 2021 in-season accuracy competition.

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Every-week starters, regardless of matchup

The Usual Suspects at QB
It’s becoming pretty clear that there are 12 QBs you can start most weeks, so there’s nobody I can really add to the list to week. To review, your every-week quarterback starters are Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott, while Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Ryan Tannehill, and Aaron Rodgers are solid starters most weeks. While Herbert, Burrow, and Rodgers have awkward matchups this week, they’re still preferable starting options to the available streamers. It’s not worth wasting a bench spot by picking up a streamer when you have one of the top-12 available.

Damien Harris (RB – NE)
With the revolving door of Patriots backups spinning weekly, it’s all Damien Harris‘s job in New England. Even in PPR leagues, he’s a weekly starter, but this week is a particularly juicy matchup against the Chargers.

Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF)
There were question marks around how the 49ers backfield would function once they returned from their bye and JaMycal Hasty was back from injury. Trey Sermon had no touches, while Hasty looked mediocre at best. It’s Mitchell’s backfield, with the delayed return of Jeff Wilson locking the 49ers rookie into a workhorse rushing role.

Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)
After a tough four-week stretch, Allen owners should rightly be feeling frustrated. This isn’t an Allen Robinson situation, though. The Chargers’ offense is still very potent, and Allen has been getting plenty of targets. The results just haven’t been there of late. Don’t give up on him.

Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
He looked mediocre in a 26-yard performance against the Dolphins, but you can still roll Ridley out there with confidence. While Pitts had the yardage and Gage had the big touchdown, Ridley still had 10 targets, and that’s a good sign you can rely on him every week.

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
It’s hard to start a guy without a top 8 fantasy finish this season, but 13 targets in the last two weeks are far more than most options are getting. We know Higbee is more than capable of late-season blow-ups, and there’s a total dearth of viable options with Darren Waller and Mark Andrews on bye and Dawson Knox and possibly Rob Gronkowski injured. It’s ugly out there the week after National Tight End Day.


Last Week

Hits: Joe Burrow, Ryan Tannehill, Chase Edmonds, AJ Brown, Ricky Seals-Jones, Dallas Goedert, TJ Hockenson

OK: Antonio Gibson, Darrel Williams, Chuba Hubbard, Sterling Shepard (INJ)

Misses: Mike Davis, Brandin Cooks, Tyler Lockett


Consider benching if you have a viable alternative

Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
Despite a run of consistent fantasy finishes since his week 1 clanger against the Saints, Aaron Rodgers is a very questionable start this week. That being said, it’s hard to say he’s worth sitting for any of the available streamers. That’s despite Davante Adams and Allen Lazard finding themselves on the COVID list and the impressive Cardinals defense in opposition. He certainly doesn’t own them like he thinks he owns the Bears. But it’s a game the Packers will likely trail, so you need to think Rodgers will find a way to put together a solid performance. If you’re carrying two solid QBs for some reason, you can sit Rodgers, but ideally, don’t pick up another player just to start them over ARod.

Sam Darnold (QB – CAR)
Last week, the Falcons allowed Tua Tagovailoa to achieve a QB1 finish (in 4 point passing TD leagues), admittedly against my expectations. To be fair to Tua and the Falcons, it was a pretty solid game with OK performances by both. Unlike the Dolphins QB, Darnold has been headed in the wrong direction for weeks since his easy start to the season. It’s tempting to think this could be a rebound spot, but I wouldn’t want to bet on that.

Alex Collins (RB – SEA)
The Seahawks looked an absolute mess in Week 7. While Collins got solid rushing volume, he was dismally ineffective and roundly outplayed by the returning Rashaad Penny. The Jaguars should be a juicy matchup, but it’s one I’d rather avoid. There’s upside here but way too much downside for me.

Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
The Dolphins youngster finally got some rushing volume against the Falcons, but it’s hard to see Miami staying in touch against the Bills. Gaskin’s only avenue to points is receptions. While we’ve seen that happen for him in the past, the return of DeVante Parker and potentially Will Fuller surely limits his volume to the extent he’s a very risky start.

Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
While Davis Mills remains under center, the Texans’ receivers can’t be trusted. The matchup against Jalen Ramsey is just icing on the cake. Once Tyrod Taylor returns, you can bring him out of purgatory.

Corey Davis (WR – NYJ)
I refuse to start a perimeter receiver catching the ball from someone called Mike White. He’s a sit until Zach Wilson returns or Joe Flacco takes over. Either that or it turns out Mike White has stolen Patrick Mahomes‘s passing talent in some sort of Freaky Friday situation, and he’ll be a gun. OK, maybe not.

C.J. Uzomah (TE – CIN)
The Bengals tight end has had two TE1 finishes in the last four weeks, but they seem like total flukes to me. He’s averaging less than three targets a game, and the Bengals won’t put up 40 points every week with no rushing touchdowns. You just can’t rely on Uzomah’s production. There are better options available.

Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND)
Alie-Cox is running fewer routes than Jack Doyle, yet he somehow has 165 yards on 10 receptions with four touchdowns over the last four weeks. That just doesn’t feel sustainable at all. Either his routes finally rise, or he regresses, and I’m not starting him until I see one of those occurs.


Last Week

Hits: Justin Fields, Damien Williams, Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Williams, Demetric Felton, Jakobi Meyers, Tyler Boyd, AJ Green, Jonnu Smith

OK: Taylor Heinicke, Melvin Gordon, Tee Higgins, Rashod Bateman

Misses: Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Javonte Williams, Khalil Herbert, Michael Carter, Mo Alie-Cox, CJ Uzomah


Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week

Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
Cousins is the only viable streamer this week, and he’s very much a one-week play, with a horrible run of games to come after this potential smash spot. While the Dallas defense has improved this year, quarterbacks have still found them a productive matchup, and Cousins has finished in the top 6 in half of his games this season. He’s a little boom/bust, but there’s enough boom potential to slot him in if you have Lamar Jackson on bye or if you’re struggling for QB options.

Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
Unlike last week, which contained a glut of streaming options, there’s very little below Cousins and the weekly starters you’re unlikely to find on waivers. Daniel Jones has some mediocre games on his resume. Still, with his receiving corps getting healthier and no running game to speak of (outside his amazing ability to run 50 yards then fall over), you’d think he’ll need to air it out early and often against a Chiefs offense looking for a bounce-back. There will be points to chase, and the only question is whether Danny Dimes rises to the occasion for his fantasy owners (and Giants fans, I guess they’re people too) or crumbles in a big pile of why-didn’t-they-wait-til-2020 Gettleman regret.

Michael Carter (RB – NYJ)
With three straight finishes of double-digit fantasy points, Carter is a tempting option. Mike White at quarterback makes him particularly interesting in PPR. However, his upside is very low without those receptions, as he’ll have to get by on receiving volume alone in a tough matchup in an offense that is likely to be barely functional. He’s a bit of a risky swing but one that could easily pay off if White plays the Alex Smith-style check-down game that made Jd Mckissic a star last year.

Boston Scott (RB – PHI)
Most will be expecting Kenneth Gainwell to take over the Eagles backfield, but I expect more of a committee with Scott taking on a fair amount of early-down touches. Against the Lions, that could mean a lot of volume and a lot of points. In deep leagues, especially non-PPR ones, he’s a great high risk/high reward streamer for this week only.

Randall Cobb (WR – GB)
I can’t say I love this one, but Aaron Rodgers has to throw it to someone with Davante Adams and Allen Lazard on the COVID list. I don’t expect Cobb to have massive volume, but he should have enough to sustain a middling fantasy finish with the hope of a touchdown.

Chase Claypool (WR – PIT)
The Steelers receiver isn’t a good weekly option, but he’s a great start this week against a Browns defense that is very generous to receivers.

Robert Tonyan (TE – GB)
While Davante Adams and Allen Lazard are out, Tonyan is a viable streaming option. Aaron Rodgers needs to throw it to someone! You might as well buy a lottery ticket on Big Bobby.

Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
A lack of touchdowns this season has the Giants’ tight end flying under the radar, so far under he’s crashing into the ground. It certainly didn’t help when Kyle Rudolph found the end zone last week. But Engram has at least four targets each of the last five weeks (CJ Uzomah has received four targets once all season) which gives him a nice PPR floor until the other Giants receivers are healthy and firing and Saquon Barkley returns to steal the check-downs.


Last Week

Hits: D’Ernest Johnson, Jaylen Waddle, Russell Gage, Evan Engram, Zach Ertz, Cole Kmet, Nick Folk, Matt Prater, New Orleans Saints DST

OK: Daniel Jones, Matt Ryan, Jd Mckissic, Rhamondre Stevenson (I/A), Devonte Parker, Mason Crosby

Misses: AJ Dillon, Allen Robinson, Gerald Everett, Carolina Panthers DST


Pick up and bench

Tyrod Taylor (QB – HOU)
This is for Superflex leagues only because there are very few good reasons to stash players in 1QB weeks. Taylor is close to returning from injury and has the rushing floor to making him an option around bye weeks and maybe more often moving forward.

Backup Running Backs
I say this every week, and every week a new backup running back is the first waiver option. Get in there early! I’d suggest the following in this order (note: I’m not including the Top 30 guys rostered in most leagues like James Conner): Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, AJ Dillon, Jamaal Williams, Sony Michel, Ronald Jones, Samaje Perine.

DeVante Parker (WR – MIA) and Will Fuller (WR – MIA)
You can’t start either of these guys against the Bills, but the return of Tua Tagovailoa has shown this offense can be functional and sustain multiple receivers. Jaylen Waddle appears to be the clear number one, but the lack of a running game opens space for other options.

Jonnu Smith (TE – NE)
The Patriots seem to be making a shift to get Jonnu Smith more involved. The Patriots’ backup was a major target in the first half in Week 7 before an injury slowed down his role. He’s worth stashing just in case he can take over the lead role.

Foster Moreau (TE – LV)
It’s improbable Darren Waller is out after the Raiders bye week, but if he is, Moreau will be a clear-cut starter. If you have a deep bench, he’s worth a stash.


Last Week

Hits: Kenneth Gainwell, Rashaad Penny, Jarvis Landry

TBD: Teddy Bridgewater, Jeff Wilson, Laviska Shenault, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Jamison Crowder, Quez Watkins, Logan Thomas, George Kittle, Dan Arnold, Tommy Sweeney

Misses: NIL


Players who will likely lose value in the future to sell now

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
With Will Fuller returning soon, a non-functional run game, and a great performance under his belt, the Dolphins sophomore might appear a tempting proposition. It’s important to recognize that he was beating up on weaker opponents and has several tough matchups coming up, starting against the excellent Bills defense. If you can get any value at all for him, now is the time.

Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI)
I’ve been suggesting Gainwell as a stash for weeks, and it looks like he could finally pay off. I’m very nervous about starting him this week, though. He has the receiving role locked up and should get some rushing volume, but he won’t be the workhorse many expect. This week he has the possibility of some touchdowns and solid touch volume but, it may be lower than anticipated. Now is the time to strike and try to sell high on the new shiny toy in Philly.

Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
With Michael Thomas returning soon, now may be the perfect time to sell high on Kamara, getting another stud RB like Dalvin Cook or Ezekiel Elliott and getting a bonus pickup as well.

Michael Pittman (WR – IND)
Coming off a 105-yard WR7 finish, Pittman might seem like a lock going forward, especially with the Titans up next on the schedule. I’m very concerned about the volume, though, with only seven targets combined in the last two weeks. Carson Wentz effectively uses Jonathan Taylor and his tight ends, plus Ty Hilton should have a role when he returns. Is this passing game really powerful enough to sustain all of that and a WR2? I’m not so sure. I’d rather see what I can get for him.

Mike Evans (WR – TB) and Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
Hopefully, your league’s box score reader isn’t aware of the influence Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown‘s absences have had on the Buccs pass catchers. Sell high while you can.

Hunter Henry (TE – NE)
Four straight games with touchdowns gives the appearance that Henry is a consistent tight end worth starting. He’s not. Jonnu Smith is beginning to pull back routes and targets and could easily take over this role. Luckily, an injury to Smith in Week 7 covered over this fact, giving you one last chance to cash in on HH.


Last Week

Hits: Darrel Williams, Latavius Murray, Aaron Jones, Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins, Antonio Brown, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, OJ Howard

TBD: Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Leonard Fournette, Adam Thielen, Cole Beasley, Tyler Conklin

Misses: Khalil Herbert, Christian Kirk, Mike Gesicki


Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available

Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
It’s time to give up on the Bears rookie. His upcoming matchups are brutal, and the Chicago coaching staff seem to have no idea how to optimize his talents. In seasonal leagues, it’s over. Move on.

Nyheim Hines (RB – IND)
The Colts receiving back has two receptions in his last three games. He’s not even the clear backup to JT! There’s no upside here. Cut him.

Damien Williams (RB – CHI)
The emergence of Khalil Herbert shut down the hype around the former Chiefs RB very quickly. Now behind Montgomery and the new Bears rookie with Tarik Cohen a potential return later in the season, the upside is very low.

Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI)
Six receptions in four weeks aren’t enough volume to sustain a weekly receiver. Reagor belongs on waivers.

Dante Pettis (WR – NYG) and other Giants’ backups
With Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton closing in on full health, the many Giants backups can go back to being names we vaguely remember from other teams.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)
I give up. I have no idea what Kyle Shanahan is doing, but if Aiyuk can’t get targets with George Kittle and Jeff Wilson out, he’s not getting them when they return.

David Njoku (TE – CLE)
If you missed it last week, I’ll repeat it. Don’t roster Browns’ tight ends! They’re splitting snaps between the three of them and hardly getting any targets.


Last Week

Hits: Baker Mayfield, Geno Smith, Giovani Bernard, Jerick McKinnon, Robby Anderson, Zach Pascal, David Njoku, Harrison Butker, Brandon McManus

TBD: Trey Lance, Nelson Agholor, Washington Football Team DST

Misses: Brandon Bolden, Bryan Edwards, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan

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Ben Wasley is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Ben, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyFirstDwn.

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