NFL Starts/Sits: Week 11
Week 10 was the roughest of the season for our start/sit picks, with only 10 of our 24 picks hitting. Misses included Jared Goff as a start, who couldn’t find a rhythm through the air and only mustered 10.46 points, and Ronald Jones as a sit, who won the Bruce Arians RB lotto last week and ran wild for 24.3 half-PPR points. On the season, this puts us at a 60% hit rate. Let’s get to work on bumping that back up this week.
Methodology: I look at fantasy finishes for all my previous week’s picks (including honorable mentions) to assess which players were start-worthy or not. In other words, if they finish within QB12, RB30, WR30, or TE12 (accounting for a RB/WR flex spot). On average for half-PPR scoring, that means the following:
START: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Rodgers will get his toughest test of the season this week against the Colts, who rank as the 2nd toughest matchup for fantasy QBs on the season. So why is he our start of the week?
Rodgers has been on a tear as of late, with four straight performances of 22.5 points or more. The offense has also been getting healthier, with Pro Bowl LT David Bakhtiari healthy again and WR Allan Lazard returning to the lineup this week for the first time since week 3. And while the Colts defense has been dominant, they haven’t faced much stiff QB competition this year. While they’ve only allowed more than 20 fantasy points to the position twice this year, they have yet to face a top-8 QB (Rodgers is the QB5). Start Rodgers with confidence in what should be an exciting back-and-forth matchup.
Honorable mentions: Aaron Rodgers (at Colts), Ben Roethlisberger (at Jags), Carson Wentz (at Browns)
SIT: Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
Tua has been impressive in his three starts this year, all Miami wins. And while he is looking like the real deal so far for Dolphins fans, he’s got a ways to go before becoming a reliable fantasy QB. Throwing totals have been down for Miami with Tua under center (averaging 25 passing attempts per game), and with Miami’s receivers not getting much separation, Tua has had to through into tight windows a league-high 23% of the time. That doesn’t leave much room for error for the rookie. We know he can be impressive with his legs from his college days, but outside of week 9 against the Cardinals when he totaled 35 rushing yards, he has yet to show that at the NFL level (-1 rushing yard in his other two starts). As he gets more comfortable with the offense and Miami loosens the reigns, fantasy points will come, but until then, Tua is a low-floor, risky QB2.
Honorable mentions: Matthew Stafford (at Panthers), Ryan Tannehill (at Ravens)
START: Kalen Ballage, Chargers
Don't look now, but the Chargers but finally be finding some stability in their Austin Ekeler-less backfield. Since being elevated from the team’s practice squad in week 10, Kalen Ballage has exceeded expectations for the Chargers – over the last two games, Ballage has amassed 33 rushes, 7 catches, 186 total yards, and a TD, ranking as the RB12 during that span. He is the man in the red zone as well, collecting 12 of the team’s 13 total RB red zone touches in the past two weeks. What’s even more promising is these totals have come in two Chargers losses.
The Bolts get the Jets this week, who rank as the 9th easiest matchup for fantasy RBs, allowing over 20 points to the position. While Kelley and Pope will continue to get worked in, it’s clear that Ballage is the lead back until Ekeler returns. I’d expect a floor of 15 rushes and 3 targets for Ballage on Sunday. Start him with confidence
Honorable mentions: Antonio Gibson (vs. Bengals), Adrian Peterson (at Panthers)
SIT: Darrell Henderson, Rams
The Rams backfield has gotten messier and messier as this season has worn on. Case in point, last week’s RB snap counts (29 for Malcolm Brown, 23 for Henderson, and 18 for Cam Akers) and touches (10 for Akers, 8 each for Brown and Henderson). It’s become a full timeshare, with Henderson’s share declining and Akers’ share rising as the team starts to see what the rookie can do in space.
The Rams get the Buccaneers this week who are tough against the run – the 3rd toughest in the league to be exact, allowing a league-low 3.01 yards per carry to RBs. RBs have been able to get involved against Buccs through the air (they’re allowing the third-most receiving totals to RBs in the league), so that’s where RB points will likely come from for the Rams on Sunday. When it comes to passing work Henderson is not the guy for the Rams, averaging 1.8 targets and 13.9 receiving yards per game this year. Henderson has only run 85 routes this year, compared to 170 for Malcolm Brown. Look for Brown and Akers to get the lion’s share of RB fantasy points for the Rams this week, although I wouldn’t trust any of the Rams backs.
Honorable mentions: Todd Gurley (at Saints), Salvon Ahmed (at Broncos)
START: Diontae Johnson, Steelers
When deciding whether to start Diontae Johnson this year, you’ve only needed to ask yourself one question: Will he stay healthy for 60 minutes? In the five full games he has played this year, Johnson has seen 10+ targets, 6+ catches, and at least 57 yards in each of them. The issue is his ability to stay on the field – he’s had three instances of leaving a game early due to injury, resulting in dud performances under 1.4 half-PPR points.
Provided he can finish this one, Johnson is a must-start against the Jags, who allow the 10th most fantasy points to WRs. The Jags have only faced three WRs who have seen 10+ targets this year, but each of them finished with 20+ PPR points. Fire him up this week.
Honorable mentions: Tyler Boyd (at Washington), Jamison Crowder (at Chargers)
SIT: Robby Anderson, Panthers
Anderson has overachieved for fantasy owners this year, ranking as the WR17 to date in half-PPR. He has cooled down a bit as of late, failing to top 77 yards in each of his last five games, including his lowest total of the season last week against the Buccs (4.1 points). With Teddy Bridgewater banged up and PJ Walker likely starting, Anderson comes with extra volatility this week. He also faces the Lions, who have been a sneaky tough matchup for opposing WRs (allowing only the 19th most points). While Anderson does come with a decent floor, he’s not likely to shine this week.
Honorable mentions: DeVante Parker (At Broncos), Michael Pittman Jr (vs. Green Bay)
START: Logan Thomas, Washington
Thomas has been impressive so far this year, garnering 4 targets or more in every game and coming into week 11 as the TE16. He should get more attention from Alex Smith this week against the Bengals, who are allowing 8.4 TE targets per game. Bengals linebackers have been burned in coverage this year, and I’d expect that to continue against the super-athletic TE. With TE this year, it’s all about targets and opportunity, so don’t overthink it. If you don't have an elite option, start Thomas this week.
Honorable mentions: Hayden Hurst (at Saints), Rob Gronkowski (vs. Rams)
SIT: Mike Gesicki, Miami
Since Tua Tagovailoa took the reigns in Miami, the passing volume has seen a steady decline for all Dolphin pass catchers. This includes Gesicki, who has totaled just 11 targets, 6 catches, and 90 yards over the three-week span. Miami matches up with the Broncos this week, who are the second-worst matchup for fantasy TEs and allow only 4.4 points to the position. Gesicki is too difficult to trust until we see some volume from the Miami passing game, and he’s a fade in difficult matchups like this one.
Honorable mentions: Robert Tonyan (at Colts), Jared Cook (vs. Falcons)