It’s time for this weeks starts and sits! If you listen to the pod, you know by now that I love me some Taysom Hill, so it should come as no surprise that we’ll start there. And he gets to face the Jets? Even better! The only question is whether I’ll have the courage to start him over Patrick Mahomes with a fantasy playoff spot on the line (spoiler alert: probably not).
As always, if you’re looking for more fantasy advice, check out the most recent episode of the pod, where Lauren and I preview every single one of this week’s games from a fantasy perspective. Or just hit me up on Twitter, @andrew_seifter.
Start: Taysom Hill (@NYJ)
Taysom Hill went up against Dallas last week with no offensive playmakers and neither of his starting tackles, busted his finger, and threw four interceptions — and yet he finished as the QB6 for the week. That speaks to the kind of fantasy potential Hill possesses. This week, he’ll get Alvin Kamara and left tackle Terron Armstead back, have had a full 10 days to get comfortable throwing with a finger splint, and will go up against a Jets defense that is as good a matchup as you could possibly hope for. Hill’s rushing prowess puts him in the QB1 conversation every week, but this particular week, he’s a legitimate top-8 fantasy play.
Sit: Derek Carr (@KC)
For a long time, Carr was underrated in fantasy circles. Much like Kirk Cousins, he put up mid-to-high end QB2 numbers year after year but never got credit because he didn’t look the part of a QB you could trust. Then Carr came out firing to begin the 2021 season, so much so that he became a little overrated. Carr threw for 380+ yards in each of his first three games, 320+ yards in five of his first seven, and multiple touchdowns in six of his first seven. Since the Raiders’ Week 8 bye, though, Carr has surpassed the 300-yard mark just once, and thrown multiple TDs just once. His best pass catcher, Darren Waller, is set to miss another week, and he’s going on the road to face a Kansas City defense that’s been one of the best units in the league over the last month. This does not shape up as a get-right game for Carr.
Start: Devonta Freeman (@CLE)
You could be forgiven for having written off the Ravens running game following season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. As the Ravens cycled through declining veterans like Latavius Murray and Le’Veon Bell, it sure looked like touchdown-dependent RB3/flex value was the best we could hope for from a Baltimore back. Freeman got lumped in that “aging vet” category, too, but he’s shown a surprising amount of juice and taken hold of the lead role. Since the Ravens’ Week 8 bye, Freeman is the RB20, thanks to steady run game work and an active passing game role. Freeman hasn’t had any blow-up performances, but he’s a good bet to get around 50 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards each week, with a decent chance to find the end zone. The Browns are middle-of-the-pack in terms of allowing fantasy points to opposing RBs, so look for Freeman’s steady production to continue.
Sit: Rashaad Penny (@HOU)
I’m inclined to say sit all Seahawks, Jets, Lions, and Texans running backs, but I’ll hone in on the one who may be most likely to find his way into the most fantasy lineups this week. Pete Carroll has been talking up Penny for several weeks now, and with Adrian Peterson out this week, it’s tempting to think a Penny breakout game could be on the horizon against the Texans. The game script should certainly be favorable.
The reality, though, is that the Seahawks are likely to administer a three-man committee of Penny, Alex Collins, and DeeJay Dallas. After all, no Seahawks running back has played more than 60 percent of the snaps since Week 4. There’s also little reason to believe that Penny — or any other Seattle back — can run the ball effectively for a team that currently ranks 24th in rushing yards this season. The Seahawks haven’t had a good running game since Chris Carson got hurt, and there is little in Penny’s mediocre career track record to suggest he is going to suddenly fix it, regardless of the opponent.
Start: Mike Williams (vs NYG)
After an incredibly hot start, Williams has been frustrating for fantasy managers over the last couple months. Over his Chargers career, he has primarily been deployed as a situational deep threat, which can lead to some massive games and some total duds. Williams had 9+ targets and 7+ catches in four of his first five games this year, but that was never likely to continue, and it hasn’t.
That’s because Keenan Allen is the clear target hog in this offense. Allen is out this week, though, after testing positive for Covid, while Williams is expected to play despite being a close contact. That means Williams could see the kind of early season usage that made him a fantasy stud. He’s already been playing pretty well lately — he’s got 97+ yards in two of his last three games — so you can feel very good about him as a WR2 with Allen out.
Sit: Jerry Jeudy (vs DET)
Jeudy is coming off a decent game (4-77), is nominally the Broncos’ number one receiver, and is facing the Lions. That’s the cast for him. The problem is he plays in an offense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in passing yards and evenly spreads the ball around between three wide receivers and a tight end. Jeudy also happens to be the least likely of that group to see red zone targets, severely curtailing his touchdown upside. And as tempting as it always is to play guys against the Lions, Detroit has given up a lot more fantasy production to running backs than wide receivers this year.
Start: Ricky Seals-Jones (vs DAL)
We often talk about plug-and-play running backs, aka backs who can step in and produce 90 percent of what the starter does. Well, Seals-Jones has proven to be a plug-and-play tight end. When Logan Thomas missed time earlier in the season, RSJ stepped right in, playing all-but-one snap from Weeks 5-8. The production translated, too, as RSJ averaged five catches for 50 yards from Weeks 5-7. Injuries eventually caught up with Seals-Jones and Thomas eventually returned, but now Seals-Jones is back again — and Thomas is back on injured reserve. That makes RSJ a volume-based, low-end TE1.
Sit: Zach Ertz (vs LAR)
The Cardinals era of Ertz’s career got off to a fabulous start, as the former Eagle piled up 269 yards and three touchdowns over the five games from his Arizona debut in Week 7 through the team’s Week 12 bye. Nearly all of that production occurred with DeAndre Hopkins out the lineup, though. There are a lot of mouths to feed in the Arizona passing game, and with Hopkins back, everyone else moves down a peg, including Ertz. Hopkins is also the Cardinals’ obvious top option in the red zone, which saps some of Ertz’s touchdown potential. As one of four or five options in the passing game, Ertz is not unlike Dalton Schultz or Dawson Knox, but he’s a poor man’s version of them in an offense that doesn’t produce quite as much passing yardage.