Welcome back to Start-Sit here at 5th Down Fantasy! Every fantasy manager wants to know the correct answer to “Who do I start and who do I sit?” We do our best each week to help you make the right choices, here and each Sunday morning on Twitter (follow @5thDownFantasy and tweet your questions to our start/sit thread which starts every Sunday at 12:15 PM EST)!
In addition, we are allowing Twitter users to ask us questions in order for us to answer them inside of this article so please be on the lookout for that in the future. This week’s question of the week came from @LCTeatpuller on Twitter (answer at the bottom).
As for the bulk of this article, each week you will get an outlook of which players have great opportunities and those who don’t, based on 1/2-point PPR. Of course, you need to start your fantasy studs every week, which is why this article will mostly avoid mentioning star players like Davante Adams, Travis Kelce, or Kyler Murray.
If any of your fantasy team’s players are mentioned, make sure to put your team into context before applying the advice; a player we deem worthy to “sit” may be your best shot at winning, so make sure to think through any decisions before they are executed.
In the end, you need to play the best lineup that you feel confident in, however you get there.
Start-Sit Week 10 — Quarterback
Start – Jared Goff (QB, LAR) vs SEA
We all wanted to puke last time we got to see Goff play, which was against the Dolphins in Week 8. Luckily his match up coming into Week 10 is the best of any quarterback on paper. Currently, the Seahawks are the worse defense against fantasy quarterbacks and have allowed a whopping 27.9-FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. This trend should continue because Seattle’s defense is best against the running game, and that could force Goff to throw it around the yard.
With Goff playing at home, which is in a controlled climate building, it only increases his ceiling. This game also comes in as one of the highest projected games for scoring. Currently, the over-under is sitting at 55.5, with the Rams being -2 favorites. Over the previous four matchups against the Seahawks, Goff has averaged 331 passing yards per game. That gives you a great floor, but the touchdown equity is where things get tough for fantasy purposes.
In those aforementioned four games, his touchdown numbers are certainly less than stellar. One reasoning for this is likely due to the fact that the Rams had Todd Gurley on their team. During these previous matchups, Gurley scored six touchdowns. With Gurley running behind Atlanta’s offensive line now, Goff is in position to handle more of the touchdown share against Seattle.
You can never have a guaranteed good game from Goff, but in Week 10 he is one of the best options if you are streaming this week. In two-QB leagues, consider him near must-start.
Start – Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU) @CLE
One thing that is always encouraging about starting Watson is that the Houston defense cannot stop anyone. When the defense gives up points, usually the quarterback scores a ton of fantasy points because he is either matching the opposing team or trying to wield a comeback. Going against the Browns this week, the game projections sit at 53u with the Browns -3.5 favorites. We love targeting high-scoring projected games with tight spreads, and it only gets better with a poor defense like Houston.
Looking at the Cleveland defense, they are best at generating pressure and stopping the run game. With Watson being as mobile as he is, you should not be too concerned about Cleveland’s ability to get to the quarterback. In addition, Houston’s running backs are some of the worst in the league. If Cleveland halts the run-game, it could easily lead to more Watson output. This all bodes well for Watson since Cleveland is allowing 21.1-FPPG to quarterbacks, ninth highest in the league.
Over Watson’s last five games, he has averaged 316 passing yards and 29.6 rushing yards. This certainly gives us a floor of vintage Watson, but it also creates a ceiling worthy of finishing as the QB1. The only concern you should have is the weather, which shows morning showers and light winds. If this intensifies, you may need to expect less from Watson.
Watson looks like he could finish Week 10 as the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback. He is a strong start for your fantasy team this week and there is currently no reason to shy away from him.
Sit – Joe Burrow (QB, CIN) @PIT – (COVID-19 WATCH)
Anytime you go against Pittsburgh at Heinz field, it should signal red flags for fantasy managers. The Steelers are suppressing opposing quarterbacks and are only allowing 16.9-FPPG against them. This is far from desirable for any rookie quarterback, even with a pedigree like Burrow. Add in the 46u and this game shows that Burrow has very little upside.
Diving deeper into the Pittsburgh defense, the Steelers have only allowed an average of 207.3 passing yards over their last three games. Furthermore, they allow an average of 214.6 passing yards per game over the course of the entire 2020 season. This shows that this defense could be playing better than before, but they certainly have played at a high-level throughout the entire season.
The biggest issue with expecting much from Burrow is the matchup for his offensive line. Utilizing PFF’s stats we can quickly see that this is the worst OL vs DL match up in Week 10, by nearly 40-percent. Continuing down the rabbit hole within PFF, we can also see that Pittsburgh’s defense leads the league in pressure rate at 37-percent, while Cincinnati’s offensive line allows the seventh-most pressures at 28-percent. Taking all of this into account, PFF also shows that Joe Burrows’ passer rating when pressured is 57.2 which is putrid. You need to expect the Steelers to get pressure, and that clearly is not something Burrow has handled well.
Being on the road and going up against one of the best defensive lines, Burrow is someone you should steer away from. In two-QB leagues, you should be wary of starting him as well.
Start-Sit Week 10 — Running Back
Start – Leonard Fournette (RB, TB) @CAR
Coming in as a -4.5 favorite, Leonard Fournette should return a solid fantasy output in Week 10. We always like to target favored running backs and when they are going against a Carolina defense who is allowing 21.6-FPPG to running backs, you know there is a chance for a big game.
Looking at Tampa Bay’s running back usage, last week against the Saints was a disaster and caused Fournette and teammate Ronald Jones to be game scripted out. Ironically, I would tell you that Fournette cannot be game scripted out, but when you lose 38-3 to a team like New Orleans it sometimes happens. Despite this, Fournette has led this backfield in touches in each of the last three weeks. The ex-Jaguar also is Tampa Bay’s passing and third-down back, which allows him to get receptions and gives him a relatively safer floor than Jones.
Looking at the Carolina offense, this divisional game is one that can go off in terms of game-points. With Christian McCaffrey back in the mix, the Panthers’ offense has immediately seen an improvement. Subsequently, the Tampa Bay defense has regressed in recent weeks which should open the door for Carolina to make this interesting. If Carolina keeps this game close, it could mean big things for Fournette’s usage.
Fournette is a great flex-play this week during the byes. If he finds the end zone, you will have a nice RB2 performance which could be enough to get you past your opponent this week.
Start – James Conner (RB, PIT) vs CIN – (COVID-19 WATCH)
While Conner was a bum for fantasy last week, the opportunity and match up in Week 10 is going to have me going right back to him. Going against the Bengals’ run defense has been favorable to opposing running backs, to the tune of 20.3-FPPG which is the seventh highest in the league. The Bengals are also allowing an average of 144.2 rushing yards against them as well.
At home and favored by -6.5, the Steelers are setting up to be strong favorites and that correlates well for running backs on most occasions. Conner is a back who gets rushing attempts, but he also is involved in the passing game which makes his PPR value a lot more equitable. The former third-round selection has also scored five touchdowns over the last eight games.
Conner should get back to his RB2 floor this week. Expect him to finish top-18 for running backs, with the upside to finish as a top-10 running back.
Sit – JaMycal Hasty (RB, SF) @NO
Anytime a team is playing the Saints, you automatically have to downgrade the running backs. New Orleans continues to stifle running backs and over their last three games have only allowed 47 rushing yards on average. In addition, New Orleans is top-three in the league at stopping opposing fantasy running backs, allowing 13.8-FPPG. Even squeezing out goal-line touchdowns can be nearly impossible since the Saints have the lowest touchdown percentage for rushing attempts within the five yard-line at 29%.
Frankly, Hasty looks like his work will be cut out for him. We know he gets the bulk of his work on the ground and that is because he is not a third-down back. The timeshare with McKinnon will be tough to predict, but looking at the game-script you can easily recognize it is shaping up to be more of a McKinnon game since he gets involved in the passing game.
When your fantasy running back is +9.5 underdogs, on the road, and traveling to play the toughest run defense in the NFL, putting them on the bench is the smartest decision you can make.
Start-Sit Week 10 — Wide Receiver
Start – Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT) vs CIN – (COVID-19 WATCH)
With 28 targets under his belt over the last three games, Diontae Johnson is a player to start in Week 10 (so long as Big Ben Plays). The Steelers will come up against the Bengals who are allowing 24.2-FPPG to opposing pass catchers. This bodes well for Johnson as he has seen seven red-zone targets over the last three weeks, three of which were end zone targets.
Looking at the game-environment, Pittsburgh is currently -6.5 favorites at home with an over-under of 46. While the under is something that can easily come to fruition, I would not discount this game from hitting the over if Joe Burrow does have success. Burrow is tied for the most 300-yard passing games in the league and if he can establish himself in this game then it should correlate to more usage in the Steelers’ wide receiver core. Despite this, Johnson is someone you can start with decent confidence given his target floor.
With Ben Roethlisberger still on the reserved/COVID list, he needs to continue to test negative for the virus and get past a knee ailment that he suffered against Dallas. If Roethlisberger does miss, Johnson is not a player I am forcing into lineups. If Roethlisberger does play, Johnson and his teammates, Chase Claypool and Juju Smith-Schuster, are all start worthy.
Start – Robert Woods (WR, LAR) vs SEA
By now you know that any game involving Seattle means lots of fantasy points. Robert Woods going up against the Seahawks in Week 10 is no different either. With a 55u and a -1.5 spread favoring Los Angeles, this game is projected to be high-scoring and close. Anytime you can get a close, high-scoring game, it is going to be fantasy gold.
While Woods’ matchup is great, so is the matchup for his quarterback Jared Goff. Goff playing at home and indoors helps his ceiling, which easily translates to his pass-catchers. Woods gets a lot of red zone targets as well. In the last three games he has amassed six red zone targets, two being end zone targets. In addition he was able to gobble up a rushing touchdown and his rushing opportunities are likely to continue. All of this should give you a lot of confidence since the Seahawks allow the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers at 37.5-FPPG.
Woods is a great play this week and he has the potential to finish as a top-5 wide receiver on the week. Teammate Cooper Kupp is also in a great spot and he too can be started with confidence.
Sit – D.J. Chark (WR, JAC) @GB
Chark finally blew up for his fantasy stakeholders, despite having a new rookie quarterback at the helm. In Week 10 he will face a strong pass-defense and Chark’s fantasy outlook seems bleak.
Facing off against Green Bay, Chark will have to overcome the seventh stingiest defense against fantasy wide receivers. Currently, the Packers allow 20.9-FPPG to wide receivers, but most of that production comes outside of the coverage of Jaire Alexander. Alexander is an elite, shadow cornerback who PFF has graded as the highest player at his position this season.
This lockdown corner will have one job: shutdown Chark, a task that he certainly can handle. One important note is that Jaire Alexander is currently in concussion protocol. The cornerback has been in the protocol since the Packers’ Week 9 Thursday game. If he were to miss, Chark is a lot more appealing to start.
Then you have to factor in his rookie quarterback, Jake Luton. The rookie found success against Houston at home in Week 9 but let’s be honest, Houston can’t really stop anyone. Traveling and playing at Lambeau is a far different experience for a rookie quarterback and that is because the Packers play well at home on a historical basis. With the spread favoring Green Bay at -13, this also projects to be a game where the Jaguars will have to become one-dimensional and throw the ball to keep up with their opponent. The more Luton drops back, the more mistakes that he is prone to make.
Chark is a player that you can start if the need is there. In leagues with 2-WR’s and a Flex, you should not consider him as a play unless you have a lot of players on BYE. Maybe Chark can get you there on garbage time, but that is the best hope you can have for him in Week 10.
Start-Sit Week 10 — Tight End
Start – Jordan Reed (TE, SF) vs @NO
With extended rest heading into Week 10, Jordan Reed is a great start in what has become a trialing tight end landscape. We know that the 49ers love to target tight ends because it is a big part of how their offense functions. Reed is a capable backup who can immediately handle the role that head coach Kyle Shanahan envisions. The problem is health and whether or not he can stay on the field.
Reed will travel to New Orleans where he and the 49ers will take on the Saints. The saints are pretty friendly to opposing tight ends, eighth friendliest in the league, and allow 9.7-FPPG to the position. With a 49u and a -9 spread favoring the Saints, this game projects as a passing game for the San Francisco offense. The Saints are an elite run-defense and they have been much more susceptible to passing attacks, which could greatly benefit Reed’s usage.
Last week if you played him, he gave you a dud; but to his credit, the 49ers needed warm bodies and he was not fully healed. This is the week to start Reed with confidence and you should go in with the belief he is 100-percent healthy. He is a great plug and play option from the waivers. His rest-of-season upside, should he stay healthy, could be finishing top-5 at the position over these final weeks.
Start – Evan Engram (TE, NYG) vs PHI
Engram is back to being a weekly must-start and you could even view him as a top-5 option at the position rest-of-season. The reason for this is due to the about-face that the Giants have made with his usage. Over the last three weeks, Engram has seen an incredible 29 targets and three rushing attempts. In the same aforementioned timeframe, Engram is tied for first on his team for the most targets and the most red-zone targets.
With his new and improved usage, Engram caught a touchdown in Week 9 for the first time this season and he could easily find his second touchdown in Week 10. Facing off against the Eagles, Engram will be tasked with beating the fourth friendliest defense against tight ends. Through 2020 the Eagles have allowed 10.3-FPPG which allows for Engram to have a decent floor this week. It also helps that Darius Slay will be shadowing Sterling Shepherd, or Darius Slayton because that could open up the middle of the field for Engram.
Engram is a strong start this week and you should be excited to play him. While he will never have the ceiling of Travis Kelce or George Kittle, Engram can easily turn into a reliable floor-play much like Darren Waller.
Sit – Hunter Henry (TE, LAC) @MIA
With how big of an arm that quarterback Justin Herbert has, it is odd that Hunter Henry’s production has been so low. Despite having 26 targets over his last four games, Henry has only finished with double-digit fantasy points once.
On paper, rushing the ball on Miami is where you can beat them. Their pass-defense and pass-rush have been the foundation for their success. Whether it is throwing to receivers or tight ends, Miami limits the passing game and against tight ends, they only allow an average of 5-FPPG to the position.
It is absolutely possible that this game turns into a back-and-forth affair but that does not historically correlate to more fantasy points for tight ends. Further, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have been soaking up the red zone usage and that will always hurt a tight end’s fantasy value.
Finally, you have to factor in the ‘ole “west-coast team traveling to play an east-coast team, with an early kickoff” narrative. These guys are not used to playing football this early and it has shown to limit teams in the past (Los Angeles Rams only two weeks ago). It will be interesting to see how the Chargers’ rookie quarterback will respond to this environment, which easily sets the table for his pass catchers.
Henry is a player that can get you a few points, but outside of that, there is not much of anything. His ceiling has been limited and this matchup seems to show more of the same. Sit him on your bench for Week 10.
@LCTeatpuller asks, “In a bind for WR Diontae Johnson or DJ Chark both look to have back up QB’s maybe?”
Despite naming Johnson as a “start” and Chark as a “sit” the path to playing Chark over Johnson certainly exists. First, we need to make sure we understand the QB situation. If Big Ben plays, I am starting Johnson over Chark. Where Chark becomes a more interesting play is if Jaire Alexander is out for Green Bay. Make sure to check up on that injury report because it will be an important development.
If Big Ben plays AND Jaire Alexander is out, I would slightly lean Johnson and that is due to being at home, favored, and because he has more consistent usage within his offense. However, the case could easily be made to start Chark over Johnson if Alexander is out. The issue becomes trusting a rookie quarterback on the road. Despite Luton’s success at home against a lethargic Houston defense, Green Bay is a different beast to tackle. For that reason, I would play Johnson.
If you need a ceiling-game, then Chark will be the play. His ceiling is much higher than Johnson’s if Alexander is ruled out.