As we near the late stage of the season, let’s shift away
from a waiver wire focus toward a focus on who to start. Most teams
are either out of FAAB money or simply don’t have good options
to pick up, or both. There may be some impactful players on the
wire for your playoff push, but it becomes even more crucial to
make the right decisions about who to start.
As we look at the usage data below, including both snap counts
and opportunities, I will focus on which players I will start
with confidence and which I will be avoiding.
The Coltsí running back situation is a complete mess.
I am avoiding all of them the rest of the way, as Frank Reich
insists on a three-way committee. Jonathan Taylor played on
only 24% of the snaps in Week 10, Jordan Wilkins on 20%, and
Nyheim Hines on 56%. While some will say Hines broke out and
is a good play moving forward, just look at his game logs. Next
week he may get 1 carry and 2 targets. Avoid this entire backfield
if at all possible.
Talk about a rollercoaster season for the Bucsí running
backs. It looks like Ronald Jones has a stranglehold on the
job, then Fournette does, then back to Jones, and on we go.
For this week, Jones appeared to be the superior back and finished
with a ridiculous 192 rushing yards after his 98-yard TD run.
He also out-snapped Fournette 47 to 29, though Fournette out-snapped
Jones last week 33 to 16. I would say Jones is a superior start
in any easy matchup, as heís a better rusher. Fournette
is their pass-down back, so heís a superior start in any
matchup where the Bucs are likely to trail.
Nick Chubb returned after his knee injury and looked good.
He and Kareem Hunt both received 19 carries, though Hunt received
4 targets to Chubbís 1. Hunt played on 38 snaps and Chubb
played on only 28. It is difficult to know if the coaching staff
was just easing Chubb in after the time off Ė I think
that is likely. I would say both are good starts going forward,
but I think Chubb will end up getting just over half of the
Antonio Gibson played on only 38% of the snaps on Sunday,
while J.D. McKissic played on 70%. Gibson received 17 opportunities
and ended up with a big day, since he scored twice on the ground.
But McKissic got 23 opportunities, catching 7 of his ridiculous
15 targets Ė and he also scored on the ground. This is
a frustrating development for Gibson owners, particularly since
Gibson is very skilled in the receiving game. I think they like
the change of pace option and McKissic has more experience in
pass protection. I will continue to start Gibson and hope his
snap share increases as we move forward.
It seems like the Lionsí coaching staff has finally
turned the corner. They played DíAndre Swift on 43 snaps,
while Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson played on only 9 and
7 snaps, respectively. Swift got 16 carries (81 yards) and caught
all 5 of his targets for 68 yards and a score. Swift is looking
like a great start the rest of the way.
Aaron Jones played on 63% of snaps. He did not produce much
(13-46, 5-49), but at least he was involved and played more
snaps than Jamaal Williams. He is always a must-start since
he can go off in any game, but these results against the Jaguars
Miles Sanders returned and looked quick and healthy. He finished
with 15-85, and 2-10 on 5 targets. He also watched his backups,
Boston Scott and Corey Clement, both score. It was a frustrating
game for Sanders and for the Eagles in general, but he looked
good and should be started weekly down the stretch.
Wayne Gallman played on 59% of the snaps and went 18-53-2.
We donít know yet whether he will continue starting once
Devonta Freeman returns, but he has likely earned more playing
time either way. Keep an eye on this one, as Gallman is a flex
option down the stretch if he continues to be the starter.
Aside from utter desperation, there is no reason to start
a Bills running back moving forward. Zack Moss went 7-20 and
Devin Singletary went 4-15, and they both had negative receiving
yardage. They are also splitting snaps almost equally. Avoid
if at all possible.
Though healthy, Phillip Lindsay was a non-factor on Sunday.
He received 4 touches, while Melvin Gordon got 11. The game
was a blowout, so they abandoned the running game completely,
but still it is very concerning. Neither Lindsay nor Gordon
should be started unless you are utterly desperate.
Although Josh Jacobs owners were very happy with his 21-112-2
line, they were very irked by his back up, Devonte Booker, taking
away 16 carries and two more touchdowns! It seems like Gruden
wants to keep Jacobs fresh so he is giving him rest in-game,
which is so maddening for those who banked on Jacobs being a
true workhorse. I think that will be Bookerís biggest
game of the season, but I still might pick him up if desperate
for RB production. If Jacobs goes down he will be very useful.
Iím not sure what the Dolphins will do once Myles Gaskin
and Matt Breida return, but for now Salvon Ahmed looks pretty
good. He went 21-85-1 on 76% of the snaps. I would pick him
up, in case Gaskin ends up being out for a few more weeks.
The Rams running backs should all be avoided because this
is another Colts-like three-man backfield. Malcolm Brown played
on 41% of the snaps, Darrell Henderson on 33%, and Cam Akers
on 26%. Akers received the most carries, but the other two scored.
This is a situation to avoid completely.
Boy, have the 49ers missed Raheem Mostert. Jerick McKinnon
went 18-33, and the 49ers have to be looking forward to Week
12 when they get Mostert back on the field. If Mostert ended
up your wire, pick him up.
In an excellent matchup for James Conner, he failed to produce
(13-36, 2-12). If he cannot produce in a good game script against
the Bengals, he really cannot be trusted. That doesnít
mean he wonít have any more good games, but it means starting
him is a riskier proposition than you should likely take in
your playoff push.
The Ravensí running game should be avoided completely.
All four of their backs got playing time on Sunday, and none
of them could get going behind this offensive line.
Damien Harris looked great on Sunday night and continues
to gain snap share in this offense. He played on 55% of the
snaps and went 22-121. Rex Burkhead played on 34% and James White played on 17%. This was a run-heavy game in the rain,
and it is always difficult to trust Belichick to give touches
to a certain back, but it certainly looks like Harris has earned
the extra snaps. He is a nice flex play down the stretch.
Michael Pittman Jr. appears to have taken over as the Coltsí
No.1 receiving option. It didnít take him long. He is
more dynamic than T.Y. Hilton and seems to now be totally up
to speed in the offense. If you have held him, it was likely
worth it. He played on 81% of the snaps and led the team with
8 targets, going 7-101. I will start him down the stretch in
While A.J. Brown played on 75% of the snaps, leading all
skill players, he received only 4 targets and went 1-21. This
is going to happen in this low-volume passing offense from time
to time. He did drop what would have been a 70-yard touchdown
reception, but keep in mind he is never going to be a consistent
8-target-per-week player. He is a must-start most weeks because
he is such a dynamic player.
Chris Godwin played on 90% of the snaps, Mike Evans on 80%,
and Antonio Brown on 49%. However, Godwin received 6 targets,
Evans received 11, and Brown received 8. It appears all will
be involved, and it will be very difficult to know who to start.
I would say to start all of them in a good matchup Ė but
just be aware that with so many options, your guy might be the
left out in the cold.
For the first time in a while, D.J. Moore received more targets
(7) than Robby Anderson (6). Moore went 4-96-1 on those targets.
This has been a frustrating situation all season, and it is
likely to continue, as both are playing 75%+ of the snaps each
week but the targets have fluctuated. I still think Anderson
is likely to receive more targets on a weekly basis, even though
Moore is the better overall player. Both can be started, though
always with a bit of concern.
Marvin Jones finally looked like his old self on Sunday,
going 8-96-1 on 10 targets. Golladay was out again, so Jones
will likely return to a flex option once he returns.
Chris Conley received a team-high 8 targets on Sunday (4-43),
and played on 86% of the snaps. He hasnít done much with
his opportunities, but if he keeps getting that many chances,
he could be a sneaky pick up, and a flex option in good matchups.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling played on 92% of the snaps and received
6 targets, going 4-149-1. Itís his second consecutive
nice game. I am still not planning to start him, as his weekly
output will be very inconsistent. In addition, Allen Lazard
should return for next weekís game, muddying the waters.
Jalen Reagor played on 88% of the snaps and had 7 targets
(4-47). I thought he would be more productive than Travis Fulgham
since I thought Fulgham would be shadowed by James Bradberry.
Fulgham caught only 1 pass for 8 yards, on 5 targets. Until
Wentz starts playing better, Iíd avoid playing all Eagles.
Cole Beasley is a must-start in any matchup against a good
offense. Weeks 12 (Chargers) and 14 (Steelers) look like good
opportunities for him. When the Bills have to push to score,
Beasley gets tons of looks underneath, which is what happened
on Sunday (11-109-1 on 13 targets).
John Brown also had a nice game in Week 10 (6-72 on 8 targets),
but suffered an ankle injury late. Although the Bills have a
bye in Week 11, if itís a high-ankle sprain he could be
out a while. You may want to add Gabriel Davis.
Both Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler played the vast majority of
snaps, and both received plenty of targets (8 and 10). But both
were victims of awful quarterback play. Drew Lock just doesnít
have it, and I would avoid all Broncos moving forward as a result.
DeVante Parker received 7 targets, but only went 2-31. The
passing offense has definitely taken a step back with Tua under
center, but the Dolphins are winning with defense and special
teams, so I donít anticipate them going back to Fitzgpatrick.
Parker should stay on your bench until things start clicking
The Josh Reynolds surge continues. He played on 80% of the
snaps and led the team in targets with 10. He went 8-94 and
was very effective. He makes a decent flex start in good matchups
down the stretch.
Brandon Aiyuk received 14 targets on Sunday, going 7-75-1.
The target numbers will decrease once Deebo Samuel returns,
and with Nick Mullens under center the whole offense is limited.
But, Aiyuk should be at least a flex option the rest of the
way, even when Samuel returns.
Michael Thomas played on 78% of the snaps and got 7 targets,
but only went 2-27. The Saints dominated this game and did not
need to pass much, and Drew Brees got injured. It could simply
be a lost year for Thomas, but in competitive games down the
stretch, we could also see him start to resemble the 2019 Michael Thomas. He remains a must-start due to his talent and potential
Ė but keep in mind that if Jameis Winston is starting,
Thomas could struggle due to a lack of chemistry.
Tee Higgins continues to gain target share, and he continues
to produce as a No.1 receiver in this offense. He received 9
targets on Sunday and produced 7-115-1. He should be started
in all formats moving forward.
Meanwhile, A.J. Green continues his downward slide. He received
5 targets on Sunday but caught none of them. I will drop him
where I need to and will not start him unless Iím desperate.
Another game, another instance of each of the Steelersí
three receivers getting double-digit targets. As Iíve
said, itís hard to know which is going to have a big game,
but in this one they all did. All three are good weekly options
down the stretch.
Marquise Brown is a huge fantasy disappointment this season.
Again he did almost nothing, albeit in a terrible weather game.
He received 6 targets, only catching 2 for 14 yards. He should
be benched until he shows some signs of life. Meanwhile, Willie Snead went 5-64-2 on 7 targets, but his production is very up
and down. I would avoid all Ravens skill players aside from
Jakobi Meyers continues to ascent, posting 5-59 on 7 targets
in the rain, and also threw a beautiful 24-yard touchdown pass.
He played on almost every snap and looks to be a great option
for owners down the stretch.
Justin Jefferson appears to have inched past Adam Thielen
as the No. 1 option in the Vikings offense. He received 10 targets
on Monday night, going 8-135. While Thielen scored two touchdowns
to make it a productive fantasy day, he had several drops and
did not look nearly as dynamic as Jefferson. Both can be depended
on down the stretch, since they are both very involved, but
Jefferson has become the top dog.
Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox split the snaps and the targets
almost evenly in Week 10, and this appears to be the plan moving
forward. This means neither of them is a good play down the
stretch, as the opportunities in this undynamic offense are
just too limited.
Logan Thomas continues to play every snap for Washington,
and he continues to improve. On Sunday he caught 4 of 6 targets
for 66 yards. In our current tight end landscape, there are
only a few tight ends Iíd play in front of him, because
heís on the field for the whole game. He needs to be in
your lineups weekly.
Dallas Goedert played on 93% of the snaps against the Giants,
and received 6 targets. Unfortunately the offense was inept
for the whole day, and he finished with only 4-33. Meanwhile,
Richard Rodgers, the second tight end, played on only 31% of
snaps and finished with 4-60 on 5 targets. It is tough to trust
anyone on this team while Carson Wentz is struggling.
Are there any good plays left at tight end, aside from Travis Kelce? Evan Engram also disappointed on Sunday, despite playing
on 69% of the snaps, going 2-15 on 3 targets. You likely have
to start him, but if you can get Logan Thomas, Iíd actually
prefer playing him at this point.
Noah Fant received 7 targets in what should have been a nice
spot, but he only went 3-18. He also was a victim of poor QB
play and should be avoided if possible.
Hunter Henry played on 94% of the snaps and scored his second
TD of the season (4-30-1 on 6 targets). Since heís playing
on almost every snap, in an offense increasingly slanted toward
the pass, he is a solid weekly play Ė even though his
numbers thus far have been disappointing.
Mike Gesicki should remain on your bench or be cut. He has
not produced consistently all season, and the Dolphins continue
to target the other tight ends in the red zone (Adam Shaheen
and Durham Smythe). In this low-volume pass offense, he is just
not a good option.
Tyler Higbee was healthy on Sunday, and played on 84% of
the snaps (Everett also played on 61%). Higbee received 6 targets,
though he only went 3-60. If they make an effort to get him
more involved as they did late last season, he could again have
a huge impact on the fantasy playoffs. Add him if heís
on your wire, and if you have him, itís likely heís
your best option at tight end.
Jordan Reed did seem to jump Ross Dwelley for the George Kittle role in Week 10. He received 6 targets, going 5-62 (while
Dwelley only got two targets). Reed is worth a pick-up in this
desolate tight end landscape.
Mark Andrews showed some positive signs on Sunday night,
going 7-61 on 9 targets. Nick Boyle was also injured during
the game, which could mean increased snap counts for Andrews.
You likely donít have a comparable option anyway, but
this encouraging game should give owners a boost of confidence
to play him down the stretch.
Kevin Scott is a fantasy pro who is the co-host for The Lowdown
Fantasy Football Podcast. He plays in over 40 leagues annually and
has made over $100,000 playing fantasy football. You can follow