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Nick Mensio

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 7 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Jameis Winston vs. Browns: Listed in this exact same spot last week, Winston answered the bell with 395 yards and four touchdowns against the Falcons en route to the overall QB1 performance for Week 6, edging out Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers. Winston is going to make mistakes, as evidenced by his two interceptions, but you can live with them when he’s attempting so many passes and throwing for gobs of yards with scores. On paper, this matchup isn’t amazing, with the Browns checking in at No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA, 9th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and t-4th in interceptions. But Tampa Bay throws the ball at the seventh-highest clip and has no means of running the ball with Peyton Barber really struggling back there. The Browns have allowed only one top-12 QB performance this season — Derek Carr’s OT-aided day in Week 4 — but I’ll bank on the volume and supporting cast with Winston to keep him afloat as a QB1. This game’s 50-point total is tied for the fourth-highest on the slate. With the sad state of the Tampa Bay defense, Winston and the offense may be thrust into shootouts on a weekly basis.

Starts

Andy Dalton at Chiefs: Another carryover from last week, Dalton’s previous performance left a lot to be desired in the Bengals’ Week 6 loss to the Steelers. He uncorked 42 pass attempts, but Dalton managed just 229 yards on them, averaging a pitiful 5.5 YPA. That’s well below his 7.3 season average, but Dalton did manage to throw multiple touchdowns (two) for the fifth time in six games. His 14 touchdowns on the year are good for fourth in the league. Outside of the touchdowns, Dalton’s other counting stats have been the definition of average. A date with the Chiefs could be just what he needs to break back into the top 12 for the week. Kansas City is 28th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and dead last in passing yards allowed (2,142) as the only team that has yielded more than 2,000 yards through the air. Case Keenum is the only passer out of six not to have a QB1 week against the Chiefs. Jimmy Garoppolo accomplished the feat despite missing a large chunk of the day with a torn ACL. Arrowhead is one of the toughest places to play, and the Bengals have some troubles in primetime affairs. However, this game’s 59-point total is far and away the largest of Week 7. Fantasy owners would be smart to hammer the heck out of this one and play all relevant Bengals and Chiefs. Dalton is a strong streamer for Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger owners.

Baker Mayfield at Bucs: Mayfield was a dud as the QB21 at home last week against the Chargers, but his supporting cast is doing him little favors with Antonio Callaway failing to take advantage of opportunities and several other wideouts hurt. The good news for fantasy is Mayfield has attempted at least 40 passes in all three of his starts, averaging 43.3 in them. The bad is he’s tossed just four touchdowns to five interceptions. This is a total smash spot for Mayfield and the Cleveland offense, though. The Bucs are getting embarrassed on a weekly basis on defense, surrendering the most passing touchdowns and most fantasy points to quarterbacks while also checking in at 32nd in pass-defense DVOA. Matt Ryan (354 yards, 3 TDs, QB4), Mitchell Trubisky (354 yards, 6 TDs, QB1), Ben Roethlisberger (353 yards, 3 TDs, QB10), and Drew Brees (439 yards, 3 TDs, QB2) have all registered top-10 weeks against the Bucs through five games. Only Nick Foles in Week 2 failed to put together a usable fantasy week as the QB19, and he still through for 334 yards and a touchdown on 48 attempts. The Bucs fired DC Mike Smith after last week’s loss to the Falcons, but it’s hard to believe these guys are all of the sudden going to turn things around in seven days. Even if Mayfield isn’t going to post elite numbers, he has a good chance at having his best game to date with multiple touchdowns and 300-plus yards. His ankle is said to be a non-issue after slipping on the sidelines last Sunday. This game has the fourth-highest total of the week at 50 points.

Carson Wentz vs. Panthers: Since debuting in Week 3 against the Colts, Wentz has steadily gotten better, knocking the rust off from his ACL rehab and returning to his old form as a bit of a gunslinger who plays with some reckless abandon in order to create plays. Over the last three weeks, Wentz has averaged 312.3 yards through the air with seven touchdowns and multiple scores in all three starts. Wentz has registered back-to-back overall QB8 performances, so it’s safe to say he’s back in the every-week QB1 conversation. The Panthers have notoriously been strong against the pass, but they’ve been wholly unimpressive much of the season. Carolina is below average in both pass-defense DVOA (21st) and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (18th). Eli Manning had his best game of the season against the Panthers in Week 5, throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Andy Dalton had 352 yards and two scores in Week 3. And Matt Ryan totaled 290 yards with four touchdowns as the QB5 in Week 2. Wentz has just as much upside, if not more, than Ryan. Wentz faced this defense in Carolina last season and tossed three touchdowns. The 45.5-point total doesn’t leap off the page as a fantasy goldmine, but there’s enough here for Wentz.

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Sits

Deshaun Watson at Jaguars: Fantasy’s QB13 in points per game, Watson has tumbled down the quarterback ranks with back-to-back rough games against the Cowboys and Bills. He has just two touchdowns and three interceptions in that span and has been getting lit up with big hits, suffering a broken rib and collapsed lung against Dallas two weeks back. He’s playing through it, but Watson’s game is suffering. He attempted a season-low 25 passes last week in a narrow win over Buffalo in what was easily his worst game of the year. Watson has absorbed a league-high 24 sacks. His dual-threat ability keeps him viable as a fantasy starter, but traveling to Jacksonville isn’t a recipe for a bounce-back, even if the Jaguars just got shellshocked by Dak Prescott the previous week. Even with that bad performance by the defense, Jacksonville is still No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA. This is a chance for them to get right in the sack column against the league-worst Texans offensive line. Pretty much all Texans are off limits in this game outside of alpha dog WR1 DeAndre Hopkins. The 42-point total is the second-lowest on the board. Both offenses are in a funk. We could get a field-goal fest and defensive slobber-knocker.

Sam Darnold vs. Vikings: Darnold is coming off arguably his best game of the season, a 280-yards, two-touchdowns win over the Colts at home as the QB15 in fantasy. He’s been pretty good in recent weeks, with five touchdowns in his last two starts, even if K Jason Myers had to kick seven field goals in Week 6. The yards haven’t really been there for Darnold with four sub-200-yards days out of six. On paper, the Vikings look like a beatable bunch on the defensive side; they’re 25th in pass-defense DVOA and 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. But this Minnesota defense swallowed up rookie signal-caller Josh Rosen in Week 6 and has otherwise been pretty decent outside of matchups with Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff, who guide two of the league’s top offenses. Darnold lighting this unit up doesn’t look like it’s in the cards, especially with how banged up the Jets’ receiving corps is considering all three of Quincy Enunwa (ankle), Terrelle Pryor (groin), and Robby Anderson (hamstring) all missing practice Wednesday. Enunwa has already been ruled out. Minnesota did lose top slot CB Mike Hughes to a torn ACL last Sunday, but Mackensie Alexander is a capable replacement. The pass-rush is also top-five in sacks, even without Everson Griffen (personal) in the lineup and ruled out for Week 7. I’d be hammering the under on the Jets’ implied total of 22. Think they’re getting too much love after beating up on an injury-ravaged Colts squad.

Dak Prescott at Redskins: Last week’s overall QB2, Prescott did his damage on the ground with 82 yards rushing and a score. It was a glimpse of rookie-year Prescott that we hadn’t seen in a while. The problem is he’s still not throwing for many yards, as he’s been held under 200 four times and only has one day of more than 250 with 255 against the Lions. Washington isn’t a stiff test by any means, checking in at 13th in pass-defense DVOA, 17th in fantasy points to quarterbacks, and t-26th in sacks, but this figures to be one of the slowest games imaginable with both teams bottom-eight in pace. The Redskins’ real weakness is their run defense, bring up the rear at 30th in DVOA. Ezekiel Elliott should feast, but Prescott remains without a formidable supporting cast of wideouts and tight ends. He would have to have another big game as a runner to bring back fantasy value. Prior to last week, Prescott had been averaging 24.2 rush yards with no scores. The 41.5-point total for Cowboys-Redskins is the lowest of Week 7. Elliott looks like the only option on Dallas’ side of the ball.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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