Punch Drunk Wonderland

Week 7 Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

Each week I will be taking a look at some players with favorable matchups that are start-worthy and others with not-so-favorable matchups that you should keep on the bench. Due to time constraints, this week’s stars and sits are courtesy of our friends at numberFire. If you are a daily fantasy player, some of these starts could be great values. Be sure to check back often for updated player rankings and weekly waiver wire targets.

If you have Sit/Start questions, try out the Sit/Start Tool and/or My Playbook, contact me, or hit up @PDWonderland on Twitter.


Start Kirk Cousins (at Detroit): The Lions have the softest secondary in the NFL, according to schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, and that’s certainly been exploited in fantasy football. We saw it just last week with Case Keenum, as the league’s worst starting quarterback entering the week (again, per NEP) posted nearly 30 standard fantasy points in Detroit, the second-highest total of the week.

This has been the norm for the Lions. On the season, every quarterback they’ve faced has thrown at least two touchdown passes, while four of the six signal callers that’ve gone up against the Lions’ pathetic secondary have finished as a top-seven fantasy quarterback. Cousins is truly a top-five option at the position this week, and our projections agree.

Sit Carson Wentz (vs. Minnesota): Unlike Detroit, Minnesota has been brilliant against the pass this season, ranking third according to our schedule-adjusted numbers. Among their five quarterback opponents, two have thrown for zero touchdowns (Cam Newton and Eli Manning), while Marcus Mariota is the only passer to throw for multiple scores on them. Wentz is coming off a Week 6 game that saw him look like a rookie for the first time all year, completing just 11 of 22 passes against Washington. He’s at home this week, which is a plus, but the Vikings’ defense is just too good, and Wentz’s fantasy production has been too volatile (QB23 in Week 2, QB29 last week) to really trust.

Start Colin Kaepernick (vs. Tampa Bay): Tampa Bay’s defense has been beatable through the air for a couple of years now, and they rank in the bottom half of the league against the pass, says NEP, already this year. So how have they been fairly good against fantasy quarterbacks this season, ranking 17th in fantasy points against? Because, outside of Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer, the Buccaneers have gone up against Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch, and Derek Anderson.

Even if Kaepernick can’t post crazy passing yardage totals, we all know his upside surrounds rushing. Prior to being benched, Blaine Gabbert was averaging over 34 rushing yards per game, which essentially takes away a turnover and a half in standard-scoring leagues. Kaepernick ran 8 times for 66 yards last week against Buffalo, already showing that he’s got more potential — obviously — than Gabbert in that facet of the game.

Carlos Hyde is also unlikely to play, which could put more emphasis on the passing game. More importantly, it could make Kap a crucial red zone weapon for the 49ers.

Sit Carson Palmer (vs. Seattle): As usual, Seattle has a top-five pass defense this season. And, as usual, they’ve been really good against fantasy quarterbacks, failing to allow a top-10 performance so far this year. Palmer has been struggling — he’s outside the top-15 in Passing NEP — and he hasn’t scored more than 12.4 fantasy points since Week 2. There’s no chance you should trust him this week, especially after he flopped in a plus-matchup in Week 6.

Other quarterbacks to start: Marcus Mariota (vs. Indianapolis), Andy Dalton (vs. Cleveland)
Other quarterbacks to sit: Sam Bradford (at Philadelphia), Brock Osweiler (at Denver)

Running Back

Start Tevin Coleman (vs. San Diego): Coleman owners may be looking to sell him right now, and I can understand why. Teammate Devonta Freeman has outperformed him, and Freeman is seeing double the workload over the last couple of weeks.

Coleman’s a pretty interesting play this week, though. He should still see 5 to 8 touches on the ground — which he’s seen over the last few weeks — but his volume through the air is what you’re banking on here. Averaging nearly four targets per game, he gets a Chargers’ defense that has surrendered the most receptions and the second-highest yardage total to running backs this season. In fact, the Chargers have given up just 25 more rushing yards to backs than receiving yards to the position. Despite his usage of late, don’t completely write off Coleman.

Sit Matt Forte (vs. Baltimore): Forte could do no wrong during the first two weeks of the season, scoring 20.5 points in points per reception (PPR) formats in Week 1 and then a league-high 30.9 points in Week 2. Since, he’s been outscored by teammate Bilal Powell in each of their last four games. Forte also saw just 39% of the team’s snaps this past week.

Against Baltimore, he could struggle. The Ravens have allowed just 11.6 standard fantasy points per game to opposing backs, which is the second-fewest in the league. Only two running backs have ended a week as an RB2 (top 24) or better in PPR formats. In shallower leagues where it’s possible to shy away from a starting running back, Forte can find the bench.

Start Jacquizz Rodgers (at San Francisco): With the news that Doug Martin will be out at least in Week 7, Rodgers makes for an awesome play. The 49ers have given up at least 100 yards rushing to each of the last five running backs they’ve faced. The competition has been tough — aside from Fozzy Whittaker in Week 2 — but it’s still something to note. Our schedule-adjusted numbers say they have the seventh-worst rush defense, so it’s not like this horrible feat is to based solely on the fact that they’ve seen guys like LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott.

If you recall, the Bucs used Rodgers in Week 5 like he was the Terminator, as he ran the ball 30 times. For reference, only one running back — DeAngelo Williams in Week 2 — has seen more than 30 carries in a game this season. Given the depth at the position (not a lot) for Tampa Bay, Rodgers could be in store for a nice outing.

Sit Ryan Mathews (vs. Minnesota): Let this sink in for a second: Ryan Mathews played 21% of Philadelphia’s snaps this past weekend, despite seeing nine carries on the ground. Sure, it was a negative game script. I get that. But he’s also yet to hit the 50% mark all season long, despite the fact that he’s seeing some volume in the Eagles’ offense.

That volume is sporadic, and it’s not something I want to back when he’s facing a Vikings’ defense that’s allowed just one top-20 PPR performance to backs this year, and it was to DeMarco Murray. Leave Mathews on your bench.

Start Chris Ivory (deeper play, vs. Oakland): There’s really no reason to list obvious plays at running back anymore. Because if a running back is breathing and getting any sort of touches in today’s game, he’s a worthwhile look in fantasy. So let’s dig a tad deeper than surface-level guys and analyze Chris Ivory.

In Week 6, Ivory saw a decent amount of work, out-touching teammate T.J. Yeldon 11 to 6 on the ground. They also had the same number of targets with two. Yeldon did play a higher number of snaps (62% versus 40%), but Ivory saw the all-important goal line touches, scoring a touchdown.

This week, Ivory gets an Oakland Raiders squad that ranks dead last against the run, according to our numbers. They’ve also got some regression coming in terms of giving up touchdowns to opposing backs: they’ve allowed 751 rushing yards, which is the second-most in the NFL, but just 5 touchdowns, which is tied for ninth-most. Perhaps Ivory finds the end zone this weekend?

Other running backs to start: Chris Thompson (deeper play, vs. Detroit):, James White (at Pittsburgh)
Other running backs to sit: Rashad Jennings (vs. Los Angeles), Arian Foster (vs. Buffalo)

Wide Receiver

Start Ty Montgomery (vs. Chicago): Montgomery played 22 of his 33 snaps from the backfield in the Green Bay Packers’ Week 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, catching 6 of his 10 receptions from that spot. That was with Eddie Lacy playing for a chunk of the game. On a short week and with Knile Davis — a guy they just traded for earlier this week — slated as the team’s top back, Montgomery should see plenty of opportunity as the Packers’ “running back” once again. Consider him a very, very strong flex play in Week 7 against a below-average Bears’ defense.

Sit Tyrell Williams (at Atlanta): Williams has been solid in Keenan Allen‘s absence, but given his new status in the Chargers’ offense, he’s bound to see tougher matchups. That’s going to happen this week, as Falcons’ cornerback Desmond Trufant could end up shadowing him. At the very least, Trufant should see a good bit of Williams on the outside. That’s enough to make me stay away.

Start Julian Edelman (at Pittsburgh): Edelman would be a stronger play if Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t sidelined, just because the Patriots-Steelers contest would project to be a massive shootout. Instead, we have to look strictly at the matchup and realize that the Steelers can be beat in the slot, which is a good thing for New England’s slot wideout.

For reference, Jamison Crowder saw 10 targets against the Steelers in Week 1. Tyler Boyd saw eight against them in Week 2. Jarvis Landry, in a positive game script, had nine last week. All three are primarily slot receivers.

With Pittsburgh’s outside corners playing relatively well — they have average ratings, according to Pro Football Focus — expect Edelman to right the ship this weekend after a miserable start to the season.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...