Start/Sit PLUS: Russell Wilson, D.J. Moore, Antonio Gibson (2021 Fantasy Football)
We’ve officially reached the halfway mark of the NFL regular season, but for fantasy, we’re only a little over a month away from the playoffs. Trade deadlines are nearing, too, meaning it’s time to make sure your team is set up the way you like it. Let us help you! 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 51 hits and 23 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. 44 overall in the 2021 in-season accuracy competition.
Every-week starters, regardless of matchup
Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
It’s easy to be scared off starting a guy who’s been out for so long, especially when we’ve never seen Russ return from injury before. The matchup is far from ideal, but if you’ve been waiting him out to this point, it would be tough to leave him on your bench unless you’ve managed to track down another starter in the meantime.
Derek Carr (QB – LV)
The Raiders have a solid run home, with their Week 11 date with the Bengals the only tough on-paper competition for QB Derek Carr. The Chiefs, Carr’s opponent this week, have proven to be particularly beatable for QBs, but Carr is a solid start most weeks for the remainder of the season, assuming he can handle losing his top receiver.
James Conner (RB – ARI)
This is blatantly obvious, but start James Conner! I’ve been suggesting picking him up since Week 1, so hopefully you’ve got him and can reap the benefits with Chase Edmonds out for much of the remainder of the season.
Devin Singletary (RB – BUF)
Until Zack Moss returns, Singletary is a viable, low-end starter in fantasy. He’s not going to blow your socks off, but he should get plenty of volume with Matt Breida yet to touch the ball since Week 1 and special teams guys the only other options.
Devonta Freeman (RB – BAL)
Until Latavius Murray comes back, Freeman is a solid start, especially this week against the Dolphins. The Ravens seem to be re-establishing the run, with the former Falcon taking on the clear lead role ahead of Le’Veon Bell and Ty’Son Williams. This week he gets one of the league’s weakest defenses, so I’d expect a lot of rushing from Baltimore and plenty of volume for Devonta.
D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
He’s been poor for weeks, but he’s the only true receiving option in Carolina. I’m still starting DJ, even against the strong Cardinals and with a backup QB. He’ll look far better in the weeks afterward when he gets Washington and Miami, but I’d keep him as a starter for this week too.
Pat Freiermuth (TE – PIT)
Last week I said I expect we’ll see Freiermuth in the start section soon, and here he is! Pat was sensational and now has two top 2 fantasy finishes in the last fortnight. He’s surely a top 12 tight end moving forward.
Rob Gronkowski (TE – TB)
You need to keep your ear to the ground for this one. If Gronk is getting in FPs by the end of the week, you can lock him back in as an every-week starter. If he continues to miss sessions and has Friday LPs, I will take a cautious approach.
- Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
- Melvin Gordon (RB – DEN)
- Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF)
- DeAndre Hopkins (WR – ARI) – If healthy, of course
- Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)
Misses: Albert Okwuegbunam
Consider benching if you have a viable alternative
Mike White (QB – NYJ)
I can’t believe I need to say this, but stop trying to start Mike White! I know he had one good week, and Josh Johnson impressed last week, but he’s playing the Bills this week! While their offense struggled last week, the Buffalo defense is still a brutal matchup making White an avoid in every format.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB – DEN)
He’s had a good run of games, but this week’s matchup is way tougher. It’s time to sit Teddy Two Gloves. In fact, with a bye afterward, he’s droppable in most leagues.
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
I said last week that Cousins performs when his team scores a lot of points. That may seem obvious, but it’s more true for him than the average QB. Of course, with the Vikings scoring 31 points in a high-scoring matchup, Cousins was solid last week. They face a rubbish Chargers run defense this time around in what should still be a high-scoring game. Will Cousins buck the trend and struggle in a high-scoring game, or will the Vikings follow against common sense and go run-heavy against the Chargers? I expect the latter, meaning Cousins is a sit for me. I’d rather use Derek Carr.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
A pre-season fantasy darling, Gibson’s role has cratered in recent weeks on the back of mediocre play and a shin injury. There’s hope he’ll rediscover his 2020 form after their Week 9 bye, but I don’t have any confidence that will happen, with Jd Mckissic and Jaret Patterson establishing clear-cut roles and the strong Bucs’ run defense up this week.
Adrian Peterson (RB – TEN) and Jeremy McNichols (RB – TEN)
This has committee written all over it. It may be that one of the backs eventually grasps the lead role, but until that happens, I’d rather avoid using them, especially against the Saints run defense.
Damien Harris (RB – NE)
I’m pretty nervous about Harris this week. He’s coming off a head knock and is losing snaps to the impressive Rhamondre Stevenson (my pre-season fave, who’s also got a head issue) and Brandon Bolden. He’s surviving on a weekly TD diet, but that can dry up very quickly, so I’d suggest avoiding him against a solid Browns defense.
Chase Claypool (WR – PIT)
The Steelers have been trying to get the sophomore receiver involved, but it’s just not happening. At this stage, he’s essentially TD or bust, and of late, that’s meant a whole lot of busting with only 14 receptions and one touchdown since week 3. He plays the Lions, which means the Steelers can feasibly just run all day. Their WR2? No thank you!
Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)
The anticipated 49ers WR1 has finally surpassed 40 yards in the last two weeks and had his biggest week coincide with the return of George Kittle. But are San Fran going to be desperately chasing the game every week? Against the Rams, it’s possible, but there are so many options ahead of him, I’d rather have him prove he’s reliable before trotting him out there.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
The Broncos are making a conscious effort to spread the ball around and now have two running backs, four wide receivers, and three tight ends regularly involved. This is a situation to avoid. Fant is bordering on droppable if you have another moderately reliable option, but he has enough upside to make him a hold if you’re struggling at the position.
Zach Ertz (TE – ARI)
I can’t predict when tight ends will score touchdowns, but I’m quite confident that Ertz will struggle to help your team without one. Unless Kyler is back while Hopkins and Green remain out, Ertz is a solid avoid.
Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
The 49ers are strong against opposing tight ends, and Higbee is surprisingly TD-or-bust even in this powerful Rams’ offense. I’d sit him this week if you can.
- PJ Walker (QB – CAR)
- Alex Collins (RB – SEA)
- Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
- Eno Benjamin (RB – ARI)
- Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
- Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
- Tim Patrick (WR – DEN)
- Marvin Jones (WR – JAC)
- Hunter Henry (TE – NE)
Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week
D’Ernest Johnson (RB – CLE)
With Nick Chubb on the COVID list and Kareem Hunt on IR, D’Ernest Johnson is once again the Browns starter (unless Chubb somehow gets brought off the list early). Johnson is a great pick-up-and-play option if he’s on waivers.
Hunter Renfrow (WR – LV)
This is primarily a PPR play. With the Raiders down their starting receiver and the Chiefs up next, Renfrow is a solid streamer with surprisingly high TD upside.
Julio Jones (WR – TEN)
A.J. Brown seems to have started battling an injury right as Julio Jones got healthy. The former Falcon was mediocre in his first game back, but he takes on the most generous defense to receivers, so I’m starting him in a lot of leagues this week.
Logan Thomas (TE – WAS)
If Thomas is healthy, he becomes an immediate streaming option this week. I wouldn’t lock him in as a starter just yet, as we need to see how much Ricky Seals-Jones is involved, but Logan may be in the Start section by next week if things go well.
Adam Trautman (TE – NO)
Trevor Siemian seems to have an untreated tight-end addiction. In Week 8, he peppered all three tight ends after Jameis Winston went off, and in Week 9, he sent Trautman career-high targets. If Siemian keeps the starting role, Trautman becomes a viable starter.
- Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF) – In deeper leagues
- Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS) – In deeper leagues
- Javonte Williams (RB – DEN)
- Jordan Howard (RB – PHI) – In deeper leagues
- Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)
- Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE) – In deeper leagues
- Zach Pascal (WR – IND) – In deeper leagues
- Ryan Griffin (TE – NYJ) – In deeper leagues
- Geoff Swaim (TE – TEN) – In even deeper leagues
- Chris Boswell (K – PIT)
- Greg Joseph (K – MIN)
- Dallas Cowboys (DST – DAL)
- Las Vegas Raiders (DST – LV)
Pick up and bench
Backup Running Backs
Oh look, it’s back again! As starting running backs continue going down (because running back is a brutal position), it’s your weekly reminder to roster backups. I’ve been spouting James Conner love for much of the season (though he eventually became too heavily owned to list him last week) so hopefully one of these guys becomes a league winner for you. A reminder that my favorites are, in this order: Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, AJ Dillon, Jamaal Williams, Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, Chuba Hubbard, Khalil Herbert, Devontae Booker, Carlos Hyde, Nyheim Hines, Ronald Jones, Jeff Wilson, Samaje Perine, and Salvon Ahmed.
D’Onta Foreman (RB – TEN)
I remember when Foreman was an impressive youngster with the Texans. He’s since had a cup of tea with the Colts, Titans, and Falcons before returning to the Titans last week. He looked the best of the available runners against the Rams so it’s possible he emerges with the lead role. In deeper leagues, he’s worth stashing.
Corey Davis (WR – NYJ) and Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
Despite the emergence of Elijah Moore and the inclusion of Jamison Crowder, Corey Davis should still be the WR1 in an offense that seems to be functioning far better these days (the Mike White factor? LOL.) Even before that, Davis had two top 8 fantasy finishes and they weren’t against bad defenses, so it’s entirely possible he bosses the likes of Miami, Houston, and New Orleans down the stretch, after the Week 10 Bills game, of course. As for Elijah Moore? He’s talented enough to get the other starting role, and he gets the same matchups. Could we see two fantasy-relevant receivers in New York? Now that would be exciting!
Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
On the rare occasions when he can stay healthy, Shepard is a fantasy stud (by Giants standards). If you have IR in particular, he’s a great upside stash for the playoffs.
Dawson Knox (TE – BUF)
I’m not willing to start Knox this week, even if he plays, but he’s a guy to stash for later.
Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN)
The Vikings seemed to alternate between Conklin and slot receiver KJ Osborn for much of this season, but they seem to have settled on Conklin the last few weeks, sending him 14 targets for 100 yards in the fortnight since their bye. He’s worth holding to see if that continues.
- Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
- Chris Carson (RB – SEA)
- Russell Gage (WR – ATL)
- Odell Beckham Jr (WR – FA)
- Zay Jones (WR – LV) – In deeper leagues
- Cole Kmet (TE – CHI)
- Donald Parham (TE – LAC) – In deeper leagues
- Ryan Griffin (TE – NYJ) – In deeper leagues
Misses: Bryan Edwards
Players who will likely lose value in the future to sell now
Carson Wentz (QB – IND)
Wentz got very lucky last week, with the Jets staying in the game all four quarters meaning Wentz had to remain on the field for every snap of their matchup. They were also stifled on the goal line many times, meaning they were forced to throw when they really wanted to run. This run of high-scoring games is going to end, meaning if you can sell Wentz for anything useful at all, you should.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
Mark Ingram continues to threaten AK’s volume and the possible change in starter to Taysom Hill would also be bad news for the stud RB. There’s also a lot of chatter he may be battling an injury, as the Saints have just brought in Josh Adams. If someone is willing to value Kamara as a top 3 stud, I will take that trade.
DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI)
Is this really the start of something for the Eagles rookie? I don’t think so. We’ve seen him have big games before, but this one was less exciting, with the touchdown making it seem more impressive than it was. Smith turned just six targets into 116 yards and a score, but that’s not a sustainable model for fantasy points. Can he do it again? Definitely. Will it be next week? Will you get a heap of duds in between boom games? Can Jalen Hurts ever sustain a top receiver consistently? That’s a lot of unknowns I’d rather avoid.
Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
If you thought Smith’s efficiency was impressive, Darnell Mooney somehow turned three receptions and 41 receiving yards into a WR4 finish. That’s just not something you can rely on week to week. My major concern is the heavy involvement of David Montgomery, while Cole Kmet‘s eight targets, Allen Robinson‘s best game of the season, and Justin Fields using his legs all hurt Mooney’s hopes for future volume. This is the perfect sell-high opportunity.
Pat Freiermuth (TE – PIT)
I know I had Freiermuth as a start, but in many leagues, his value will be far higher than it should be. If you can trade him for a top 7 tight end or a solid RB or WR, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Jared Cook (TE – LAC)
The Chargers are using a full-blown three-TE rotation, meaning Cook is on the field for less than half of their snaps. He’ll run a solid number of routes in pass-heavy game scripts, but with how much Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson are getting involved, this seems headed for a Cleveland Browns situation. If you can sell him for anything better than a chicken nugget, I’d do it.
- Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)
- Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)
- Tim Patrick (WR – DEN)
- Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR – CLE)
- Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
- Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available
Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC)
The Jaguars seem to have decided they’re going to start grinding out games by keeping the ball safe(by their standards). That’s bad for the pass catchers and, most importantly, their rookie QB. His lack of running is also a major reason for concern. It’s time to leave him on waivers.
Derrick Gore (RB – KC)
Last week confirmed what we already expected. Gore is not going to have a fantasy-relevant role in this offense any time soon. He can be dropped in all leagues.
Malik Turner (WR – DAL)
The WR5 finish may have convinced some of you to pick him up. Even in 32-man leagues, Turner needn’t be rostered, his points were all in garbage time and when Michael Gallup returns this week, Turner could be inactive.
Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE)
If you’re not starting Meyers this week in arguably his best remaining matchup, you’re not starting him at all. In shallow leagues, he can be dropped.
C.J. Uzomah (TE – CIN)
The Bengals tight end is the definition of TD or bust. While he had a couple of boom games in a short period of time, most weeks, he’s going to give you disappointing results. He runs enough routes to have upside, but I don’t see many reasons to roster him with so many preferable options available.
Packers Tight Ends
Green Bay used a lot more 10 personnel sets with no particular tight end taking over the Robert Tonyan role. It’s possible one emerges but given Tonyan wasn’t startable when healthy, it’s hard to see how his replacement would be worth the roster spot at this point.
- Sam Darnold (QB – CAR)
- Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
- Marlon Mack (RB – IND) – Except in the deepest of leagues.
- Ty’Son Williams (RB – BAL)
- Quez Watkins (WR – PHI)
- Robby Anderson (WR – CAR) – This is just a reminder if you missed it a month ago.
- Albert Okwuegbunam (TE – DEN)
- Greg Zuerlein (K – DAL) – There’s no point in having a kicker on the COVID list
- Brandon McManus (K – DEN)
- Harrison Butker (K – KC)
- Cleveland Browns (DST – CLE)
- Tennessee Titans (DST – TEN)
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