Week 9 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Nick Mensio
Rotoworld

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Russell Wilsons, Aaron Joneses, and Tyler Locketts of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups.

 

QUARTERBACK

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Start of the Week: Gardner Minshew vs. Texans: Fantasy’s QB15 in points per game, Minshew is coming off his first three-touchdown game in the big leagues in an easy win over the Jets. Prior to Week 8, Minshew was in a two-game rut, completing just 29-of-61 passes (47.5%) against the Saints and Bengals with only one touchdown and a pick. Minshew has his flaws, notably as a fumbler, but his playmaking ability and drive-extending escapability make him a treat to watch. This will be his first London test obviously, but the Texans are severely banged up and shorthanded on defense, especially after losing the heartbeat of the unit J.J. Watt to a season-ending torn pec last week. Slot CB Lonnie Johnson has a concussion, and fellow starting DBs Johnathan Joseph (neck), Gareon Conley (hamstring), Bradley Roby (hamstring), and Tashaun Gipson (back, wrist) are battling various ailments. Minshew made his first NFL start back in Week 2 against the Texans, posting just 213 yards and a touchdown as a passer but ran for a season-best 56 yards on the ground. He was tentative in the first half of that one but really came on later and nearly pulled off the road upset. The Jaguars have loosened Minshew’s leash considerably since then, and Houston is a measly 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Texans are an extreme pass-funnel defense, checking in at No. 23 in pass-defense DVOA compared to No. 5 against the run. Derek Carr just hung a flawless 285 yards and three touchdowns on Houston in Week 8 after Jacoby Brissett went for 326 yards and four touchdowns the previous week. Opposing QBs have tossed three-plus touchdowns against Houston in four consecutive games. This game’s 46.5-point total is the week’s fifth-highest.

 

Starts

 

Josh Allen vs. Redskins: Given his schedule, Allen has been a relative disappointment over the last two weeks against the Dolphins (QB9) and Eagles (QB14), but he’s still shown a safe enough floor thanks to his rushing output and three-straight two-touchdown passing games despite low yardage numbers. Allen is averaging 33.6 rushing yards per game on the year with at least 21 yards in all seven games. It’s been good enough to put Allen as the QB12 in fantasy points per contest. Weather played a role last week against the Eagles with strong, blustery winds and frigid temperatures. Allen was unable to push the ball downfield versus Philly’s vulnerable secondary. The cold is something Allen is used to after playing his college ball at Wyoming, but wind gusts make it difficult on any passer. As long as that’s not an issue this Sunday, Allen has top-five QB1 upside in a smash spot. Washington is 24th in pass-defense DVOA, 22nd in opponent yards per attempt, and 23rd in opposing QB rating. The Skins have also yielded the fifth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins didn’t throw any touchdowns against Washington last Thursday night but did complete 23-of-26 passes (88.5%) for 285 yards (11.0 YPA) in a flawless effort. The Redskins are 28th in opponent plays per game. Buffalo’s implied team total of 23 points is 10th-highest on the Week 9 slate.

Derek Carr vs. Lions: Carr is completing a career-best 72.1% of his passes at a career-high 7.7 yards per attempt clip. However, he’s 23rd among QBs, attempting just 11% of his passes 20-plus yards downfield. He’s obviously taking the easy route and dumping the ball off in the short areas of the field. Whatever works. He’s having a solid season, but it hasn’t translated to big fantasy numbers, as Carr is the QB22 in points per game. Carr has tossed multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games, with a season-high three last week in Houston, and has just four interceptions on the year. He gets a really nice draw here against a Detroit defense that is 26th in adjusted sack rate, 26th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and dead last in passing yards allowed while checking in at 22nd in pass-defense DVOA. No defense allows more plays per game either. And we know more plays means more opportunities for fantasy production. This might be the best individual matchup Carr will see all season. Previously struggling Daniel Jones busted his slump in Detroit last week with 322 yards and a 4:0 TD:INT mark. Kirk Cousins hung 338 yards and four touchdowns on the Lions the week before. And Aaron Rodgers went for a fine 283 yards and two scores in Week 6. This game’s 50.5-point total is second-highest on the board, and Oakland’s implied total of 26.25 points is fourth-best.

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Sam Darnold at Dolphins: It’s been a capital U-G-L-Y last two weeks for Darnold, from “seeing ghosts” in an 86-yard, four-INT performance in Week 7 against the all-world Patriots to three more picks last week in Jacksonville. Darnold played better -- not that he could have played worse -- against the Jaguars, but both were really tough matchups for the sophomore. The Jets just have to hope he’s not “broken” by the ghosts comment that was aired on national television. Darnold has had rough games before and bounced back. He needs to do the same here against Miami. The Dolphins are at or near the bottom of the league in most pass-defense categories, including 32nd in DVOA, 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 32nd in opponent passer rating, 32nd in opponent yards per attempt, 25th in adjusted sack rate, and 29th in touchdowns allowed despite already having their bye week. Darnold should work from clean pockets and have plenty of space to hit easy throws. Mason Rudolph had maybe the worst first quarter of Week 8 last Monday night against Miami but still managed to hang a season-high 251 yards and two touchdowns on the Dolphins. Josh Allen was the QB9 against Miami in Week 7. And Case Keenum threw multiple scores in Miami three weeks back. Worse quarterbacks with worse supporting casts have had fine fantasy days against this defense. Darnold is a hold-your-breath-and-pray play, but everything comes up roses on paper for him in this spot.

 

Sits

 

Carson Wentz vs. Bears: Wentz has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in four of his last five games and is the QB14 on the year in fantasy points per contest. The good news is that the Eagles are likely to get DeSean Jackson (abdomen) back in the lineup for the first time since Week 1, which should help open up the offense in a big way. The matchup, however, is not ideal. Chicago is No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 10 in passing yards allowed, No. 7 in opponent yards per attempt, and surrender on average of one passing touchdown per game. Case Keenum (2 TDs, 3 INTs) and Teddy Bridgewater (2 TDs) are the only passers to have thrown multiple touchdowns versus Chicago, and Keenum did his with garbage time on his side. I like Wentz’s chances of bettering one touchdown, but the ceiling just isn’t very high in a slowed-down environment against the Bears’ 27th-paced offense. The Eagles are also five-point home favorites and should be able to hammer the Bears on the ground with Jordan Howard in a revenge spot. Philly’s implied team total of 23.5 points is ninth-highest on the slate, but this game’s 42-point total is third-lowest. Wentz is best treated as a high-floor, low-ceiling top-15 play rather than an upside QB1 option.

Jacoby Brissett at Steelers: Just on the outside looking in as a QB1, Brissett is the overall QB13 in fantasy points per game after his 202 yards and no touchdowns last week against the Broncos. It was his second scoreless performance over the last three weeks. Brissett gets another tough draw against a Pittsburgh defense that has carried this team in recent weeks. The Steelers are No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 3 in adjusted sack rate, No. 2 in interceptions, No. 13 in passing yards allowed, and 10th in opponent passer rating. Pittsburgh shut out the Dolphins for the final 46-plus minutes last Monday night and picked off Philip Rivers and Lamar Jackson a combined five times the two previous weeks. Brissett just doesn’t have the ceiling in this tough road spot against an upper-echelon defense to warrant QB1 consideration. Colts-Steelers has a meager 42.5-point total, fifth-lowest of Week 9.

Ryan Tannehill at Panthers: Since taking over as the starter in Week 7, Tannehill has posted the QB13 and QB11 days with multiple touchdowns in home starts versus the Chargers and Bucs. Tennessee now heads out on the road, and Carolina’s pass defense has been one of the best in football, coming in at No. 2 in adjusted sack rate, No. 3 in DVOA, No. 5 in passing yards per game, No. 4 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 4 in opponent passer rating, and No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Tannehill was a no-upside floor play in cake spots against the Bolts and Bucs. This spot is much tougher, making Tannehill a low-floor, basement-level ceiling QB2 in a game with a 42-point total, third-lowest of the week. Stopping the run was the problem for the Panthers last week in their blowout loss to the Niners. In its previous game, Carolina picked off Jameis Winston five times. This defense suffocated Deshaun Watson for 160 scoreless passing yards two weeks before that. Gardner Minshew had a big game in between, but Tannehill doesn’t possess the upside of the rookie and has proven turnover-prone in the past. The Carolina D/ST is a far better play than Tannehill.

RUNNING BACK

 

Start of the Week: Le’Veon Bell at Dolphins: A late-first or early-second round pick in most fantasy drafts over the summer, Bell doesn’t have a 100-yard rushing game to his name through eight weeks and hasn’t even topped 70 yards on the ground. He has just one rushing touchdown but is still the overall RB20 in half-PPR fantasy points per game thanks to a safe floor in the passing game with 32 catches. Unfortunately, that safe floor has been far less stable in recent weeks with catch counts of 1 > 1 > 3 over the last three games. Bell was subject to trade rumors this week but ultimately stayed put and also made noise by showing frustration with his lack of touches last week in Jacksonville when he rushed just eight times for 23 scoreless yards and those three grabs. This is a major get-right spot for Bell, however. Miami is where Bell makes his offseason home. The Dolphins are 31st in run-defense DVOA, 32nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 31st in rushing yards allowed per game, and 25th in opponent yards per carry. Miami provided the slump-busting spot for James Conner last week when Conner went for 150 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win. Adrian Peterson hung a 23-118-0 rushing line on the Fins two weeks before that. The Dolphins have also surrendered the most receiving touchdowns to running backs. Bell should be fired up as a rock-solid RB1.

 

Starts

 

Jordan Howard vs. Bears: Howard played a season-high 72.6% of the snaps last week in Buffalo, well above his season average 42.9% playing time clip, and turned a season-best 23 carries into 96 yards and one touchdown. He also ran 21 pass routes, which marked a 2019-high for him. Miles Sanders left late with a shoulder injury but is expected to play this week, and Darren Sproles may also return after missing the last three weeks to injury. But this is a revenge spot for Howard against a Bears team that gave him away in the offseason. The Eagles are significant five-point home favorites, and Chicago has been getting smashed on the ground in recent weeks. Over the last three weeks, the Bears are 25th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, surrendering a touchdown to Melvin Gordon last week after yielding 27-119-2 on the ground to Latavius Murray the week before. Josh Jacobs hung a 26-123-2 day on them in London. The loss of DT Akiem Hicks (elbow, I.R.) has been a key loss inside for Chicago. Howard should be charged up for this game on a personal level while last week’s commitment to Howard is just the cherry on top. Howard is an easy set-and-forget RB2 with TD upside.

Mark Walton vs. Jets: Following the deactivation and subsequent trade of Kenyan Drake, Walton was in on a season-high 87.7% of the downs last Monday night against the Steelers. That’s a true workhorse playing-time clip. He ran a season-high 34 pass routes but still turned 14 touches into just 54 scoreless yards. Volume and snap share is what we’re chasing here though, especially in a much easier matchup at home against a Jets Defense that traded away DT Leonard Williams and again lost ILB C.J. Mosley to a multi-week groin injury. The Jets are No. 2 in opponent yards per carry and No. 3 in run-defense DVOA, but they are 21st in fantasy points allowed to running backs and will feel the losses of Williams and Mosley. This game also has a chance to be competitive, giving Walton a chance to flirt with 20 touches. The only concern for Walton’s outlook is Kalen Ballage’s cemented role as the goal-line back. He vultured short scores from Walton in both Weeks 6 and 7 with identical 3-7-1 rushing lines. Walton is still averaging over 13 touches per game in his three weeks as the starter. He’s a passable RB3/FLEX in a divisional game with a three-point spread at home.

Devin Singletary vs. Redskins: In his second game back from a hamstring injury, Singletary out-snapped Frank Gore 40-17 while playing 67.8% of the downs. He turned seven touches into 49 yards and one touchdown. However, the touchdown came on a 28-yard screen and 16 of Singletary’s 19 rushing yards came on the final meaningless play of the fourth quarter in a blowout loss. The Bills were rolled by the Eagles, which likely contributed to Singletary’s spiked playing time. Gore looked sluggish though, so perhaps OC Brian Daboll will start leaning more on the rookie to provide the offense a spark after back-to-back uninspiring weeks. Singletary is the preferred pass-game back, and the Redskins have allowed the second-most catches to the position. Washington is 18th in run-defense DVOA, 25th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game. The Skins also allow the fifth-most plays per contest, signaling a potential spike in Buffalo’s play volume. The only real question mark with Singletary is his playing time. His touch counts have been lower than we’d like for fantasy lineups, but Singletary has shown major playmaking ability. The Redskins are fresh off surrendering 171 yards and one touchdown to Dalvin Cook last Thursday night and over 100 combined yards to 49ers RBs the week before. There should be enough meat on the bone for Singletary to at least provide a top-30 week with obvious upside for much more.

 

Sits

 

David Montgomery at Eagles: Montgomery is coming off easily his best game of his rookie season, churning out 135 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries while also catching four passes against the Chargers. All marked season bests for Montgomery. Taking the ball out of Mitchell Trubisky’s hands was the easy call for coach Matt Nagy. Expect the same this week, but how long can he do that is the question. The Bears are five-point road underdogs, and the backbone of the Philly defense is its ability to eliminate running backs. The Eagles are No. 6 in run-defense DVOA, No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, No. 8 in rushing yards per game, and No. 8 in opponent yards per carry. They had no problems canceling Frank Gore (9-34-0) last week and even limited Dalvin Cook to 41 yards on 16 carries (2.6 YPC) two weeks before that despite surrendering a touchdown to him. Montgomery’s volume isn’t yet stable enough to run him out there as a bankable RB2. It’s possible he’ll again flirt with 20 carries, but Tarik Cohen could just as easily be forced the ball in space by Nagy. I want to see Montgomery do it again before trotting him out as anything more than a FLEX in a very tough spot. Chicago’s implied team total of 18.5 points is fourth-lowest on the board for Week 9.

Damien Williams vs. Vikings: Keeping up with this Kansas City backfield has been a chore, and it isn’t even one that has been all that giving in terms of fantasy points. Williams played a three-week high 42.4% of the snaps last week against the Packers but was again held to single-digit carries for the fifth straight game. Williams did find the end zone, however, and it was enough to propel him to the RB29 week. This backfield is a weekly nightmare, and even Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson got into the mix last Sunday night. There were plenty of red flags with Damien in the offseason, and they’ve all come back to hurt him through eight weeks. He now gets a tough on-paper draw against a Vikings unit that is No. 10 in run-defense DVOA, No. 10 in opponent yards per carry, No. 7 in rushing yards allowed per game, and No. 6 in fantasy points given up to running backs. Not only do running backs struggle on the ground against Minnesota, the Vikings also stamp them out in the passing game. Williams would absolutely have to find the end zone to pay off as a top-35 fantasy back this week.

Sony Michel at Ravens: Whichever one of my Rotoworld colleagues recapped the Patriots game last week put it perfectly regarding Michel: “Like Fourth of July fireworks, if you've seen one Michel game, you've seen them all. Michel, is by most measures, an extremely ordinary ball-carrier who has lucked into the role of a lifetime as the de facto lead back for the league's best team. A one-trick pony if there ever was one, Michel has made his fantasy bacon off touchdowns and positive game script.” Beautiful. And so true. Michel is getting by solely on goal-line touchdowns and pure volume with no pass-game role whatsoever. He’s playing just over 40% of the snaps in this three- sometimes-four man committee that also includes James White, Brandon Bolden, and an again-healthy Rex Burkhead. The Ravens present easily the Patriots’ toughest test to date with New England as three-point road favorites against a team coming off its bye. Baltimore is average in most run-defense stats, checking in at 21st in DVOA, 11th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, but third in rushing yards per game. Michel is a near-lock to fail at reaching 100 yards Sunday night with zero catches. He simply has to score, and even one touchdown might not be enough to make him anything more than a low-end RB2. This feels like a game Tom Brady is going to have to win on offense. It’s hard to flat-out sit Michel in season-long leagues, but expectations should be tempered, especially in PPR.

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Start of the Week: DK Metcalf vs. Bucs: Metcalf’s 13 yards last week against the Falcons were his second-fewest of the season, but he more than made up for it with a pair of goal-line touchdown grabs inside the 10-yard line. Metcalf leads the NFL in end-zone targets and paces the Seahawks in air yards. This is a week he could put everything together with his first 100-yard game and a trip to the end zone. The Bucs are an extreme pass-funnel defense, checking in at No. 26 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 against the run. The Seahawks are undoubtedly going to try and feed Chris Carson 20-plus carries, but there should be more than enough opportunities for Russell Wilson to hit Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in open space for big plays. Tampa Bay is 26th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. A.J. Brown caught another touchdown against the Bucs last week, D.J. Moore (7-73-0) and Curtis Samuel (4-70-1) had strong games the previous game versus Tampa, Michael Thomas went 11-182-2 the week before, and all three Rams WRs Robert Woods (13-164-0), Cooper Kupp (9-121-1), and Brandin Cooks (6-71-0) had big games in Week 6. There are going to be downfield shots to Metcalf in this one, and we want pieces of this game that features a 52-point total.

 

Starts

 

Chris Conley vs. Texans: Well on pace for a career year, Conley has settled in as an every-week WR4 with upside. He’s playing 76.5% of the snaps, is top-35 in air yards, and is averaging five targets per game. The Jaguars have pretty much settled on D.J. Chark and Conley as their outside receiver duo with Dede Westbrook in the slot. Marqise Lee was just sent to injured reserve this week, and Keelan Cole is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none No. 4 wideout. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Texans are dealing with significant injuries to their defense, losing J.J. Watt (torn pec, I.R.) for the season, while DBs Johnathan Joseph, Gareon Conley, Lonnie Johnson, Bradley Roby, and Tashaun Gipson are all on the injury report with varying degrees of ailments. The Texans are 23rd in pass-defense DVOA and 31st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Only the Vikings have surrendered more catches to the position, and no team has yielded more touchdowns to receivers. Tyrell Williams (3-91-1) and Hunter Renfrow (4-88-1) just feasted on Houston last week after Zach Pascal (6-106-2) and T.Y. Hilton (6-74-1) did the same the week before. Back in Week 2, Conley put up a respectable 4-73-0 line in Houston in Gardner Minshew’s first NFL start. London games tend to be fun shootouts, and this one has a chance to do the same. Conley is a big-play WR3 option.

Robby Anderson at Dolphins: Anderson torched the Cowboys for 5-125-1 in Sam Darnold’s first game back from mono in Week 6, but it hasn’t been pretty for anyone on the Jets the last two weeks. Anderson has just five catches for 53 scoreless yards on 14 targets against the Patriots and Jaguars the last two weeks. But he obviously catches a much easier matchup this Sunday. Miami is 32nd in pass-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. JuJu Smith-Schuster (5-103-1), Diontae Johnson (5-84-1), John Brown (5-83-1), Cole Beasley (3-16-1), and Terry McLaurin (4-100-2) have all exceeded expectations over the last three weeks against the Dolphins. Anderson was subject to trade rumors this week but ultimately stayed put and gets a nice smash spot Sunday. He’s likely even floating around on waiver wires in some leagues. Anderson should be fired up as a high-ceiling, big-play WR3 in Miami.

D.J. Moore at Titans: Moore hasn’t scored since a catch-and-run 52-yard touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 3. He’s coming off 38 scoreless yards on nine targets against the 49ers last week. Moore is averaging 8.3 targets per game on the year and has seen at least eight targets in 5-of-7 games. The due factor is in play here against a Titans Defense that was just annihilated by Mike Evans for 11-198-2 on 12 targets last week. At 6’/210, Moore has a distinct size and mass advantage on the Titans’ smallish outside corners Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson. Those two have no chance at tackling Moore in space, and that’s his bread and butter. There will be opportunities for Moore to break long gainers off short passes from Kyle Allen Sunday. Tennessee is a middling 20th in pass-defense DVOA, but their strength is slot CB Logan Ryan. Moore runs over 83% of his routes on the outside. Butler has surrendered the 13th-most yards in his coverage among 108 qualified corners at Pro Football Focus. Moore should see him most.

 

Sits

 

T.Y. Hilton at Steelers: Hilton doesn’t have a 100-yard game to his name this season and has gotten by on red-zone touchdowns, which is something he didn’t do a lot of with Andrew Luck. His 11.3 yards per catch would be a new season-low and well below is career average of 15.7 yards per grab. Pittsburgh’s pass defense has played much better of late, especially since the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end. The Steelers are No. 10 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in catches allowed to wideouts. Joe Haden has allowed just one touchdown in his coverage, and fellow outside CB Steven Nelson is Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 cover corner out of 108 qualifiers. Hilton is running three-quarters of his routes on the outside. Hilton’s numbers on grass and away from home are well documented; his yards per game and yards per catch numbers are much lower outdoors off the turf. Hilton should be treated as a WR3 in a game that could be dominated by both defenses with a 42.5-point total, the fifth-lowest of the week. The Steelers have yet to allow a single 100-yard receiver through eight weeks.

Marquise Brown vs. Patriots: Brown hasn’t played since Week 5 against the Steelers after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Coming out of the bye, Brown is fully expected to be back in the lineup for Sunday night’s AFC showdown. But Brown hasn’t topped 50 yards since Week 2 and now gets arguably the toughest matchup in the league against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense. New England is No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Expect Brown to see a lot of Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty on the outside. McCourty is Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 cover corner out of 108 qualifiers, and Gilmore’s 41.7 passer rating in his coverage is fourth-best among all corners. Brown is an easy fade in this spot coming off a multi-week absence running into the Patriots’ buzzsaw.

Terry McLaurin at Bills: After a blazing start to the season, McLaurin has posted back-to-back duds, one a rain-soaked 1-11-0 day against the Niners and the next a Dwayne Haskins-induced 4-39-0 night in Minnesota last Thursday. Case Keenum remains in the concussion protocol but has a chance to play Sunday. McLaurin hasn’t been able to do anything with Haskins under center, as Keenum has been the only one who has consistently fed him the rock. McLaurin now gets a rough date with a Bills unit that is No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. McLaurin figures to see a ton of CB Tre’Davious White in this one. Quarterbacks have a 44.9 passer rating when throwing at White this season. That’s fifth-best among 108 qualified cornerbacks. Washington’s implied total of 13.5 points is the week’s lowest.

TIGHT END

 

Start of the Week: Greg Olsen at Titans: In Kyle Allen’s first start of the season, Olsen hung a 6-75-2 line on the Cardinals back in Week 3. In the four games since, Olsen’s receiving lines are 2-5-0 > 0-0-0 > 4-52-0 > 2-13-0. Olsen has a pair of seven-target games with Allen, but the other three he’s averaged less than three targets per contest. The good news is Olsen is still playing 88.8% of the snaps and is fifth among tight ends in pass routes. The Titans are 23rd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Hunter Henry (6-97-0), Austin Hooper (9-130-0), James O’Shaughnessy (2-18-1), Eric Ebron (3-25-1), and David Njoku (4-37-1) have all exceeded expectations against the Titans. Olsen is on the field a ton and runs plenty of routes. That’s about all we want from our tight ends and fantasy’s weakest position.

 

Starts

 

Darren Fells vs. Jaguars: Fells played a season-high 89.9% of the snaps last week, parlaying that snap share into a 6-58-2 line, including the game-winning touchdown from a one-eyed Deshaun Watson, who was kicked in the face on the play. The Texans ran a ton of 12 personnel last week with Fells and Jordan Akins in place of benched slot WR Keke Coutee. Fells is tied for the lead in touchdown catches among tight ends and is a proficient blocker, giving him plenty of avenues to playing time. He now catches a Jacksonville defense that surrendered Ryan Griffin’s out-of-nowhere 4-66-2 line for the Jets last week. Fells has put himself on the TE1 map.

Vance McDonald vs. Colts: This is a pure matchup play, as McDonald hasn’t topped four targets or 35 yards with no touchdowns since Week 2. His four targets this past Monday night against the Dolphins were a four-game high for him, however, as Mason Rudolph seems to prefer McDonald in the short areas of the field. The Colts are getting trampled by tight ends, surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to the position. Noah Fant caught a season-high five passes in Indy last week. Travis Kelce had 4-70-0 a couple weeks back. Darren Waller went 7-53-0 the previous game against the Colts. And Austin Hooper had 6-66-2 in Week 3.

Cameron Brate at Seahawks: Brate played two-thirds of the offensive snaps last week in place of an injured O.J. Howard (hamstring) and ran 41 pass routes. Howard remains sidelined at practice while Brate returned to the field Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a ribs issue. He should be ready to roll against Seattle. A long-time favorite of Jameis Winston’s in the scoring area, Brate is automatically on the TE1 map any time Howard is out. Seattle has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Austin Hooper (6-65-1), Ricky Seals-Jones (3-47-1), and Gerald Everett (7-136-0) have all smashed against the Seahawks the last four weeks while Mark Andrews (2-39-0) dropped at least three passes against them two weeks ago. This game’s 52-point total is easily the highest of the week.

 

Sits

 

Due to the lack of quality talent at tight end, it’s impossible for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a total crapshoot, and all we’re looking for among streamers are ones who can maybe fall into the end zone. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is hard enough. And now that bye weeks have entered the picture, the pickings are even slimmer. Good luck.

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