Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2015): Week 7: Start Brandin Cooks, Sit LeGarrette Blount & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:

 

Quarterbacks
Start – Eli Manning – New York Giants – vs. Dallas

It would be easy to be on the fence whether you should start Manning or not as he struggled against the Cowboys in Week 1 (193 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) and is coming off another miserable performance (189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT).  However simply looking at his home/road split should tell you all you need to know:

  • Home – 72.2% completion, 1,012 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT
  • Road – 58.7% completion, 594 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT

With the game coming at the Meadowlands, there’s no way to leave Manning sitting on your bench.

Sit – Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins – vs. Houston
It would be easy to jump on the Tannehill/Dolphin bandwagon, after they dismantled the Titans in Week 6 in their first game post-Joe Philbin.  Taking on a Houston defense that has significantly underperformed, it would seem like a near certainty that Tannehill be in your lineup.  However we have to remember that he did throw 2 INT (now has 7 in his past three games) and the team appears committed to establishing their running game (Lamar Miller had 19 carries and Jonas Gray had 7).  Fewer opportunities to throw means less upside, and the INT tendencies just further hurt him.  He’s a borderline option, at best, and not one that should be locked into any lineup.

 

Running Backs
Start – Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Washington
Are we finally ready to believe that Martin has rediscovered the form he showed in his rookie season?  Maybe not, but he’s certainly appeared to turn back the clock over his past two games:

  • vs. Carolina – 143 total yards (106 rushing), 1 TD
  • vs. Jacksonville – 158 total yards (123 rushing), 3 TD

Even more important is his 44 carries and 8 receptions over those games, meaning there have been ample opportunities to produce.  Given that workload and a matchup against a Redskin defense that has allowed 582 rushing yards (seventh most in the league, but a league high 346 over the past two weeks) and an additional 203 receiving yards, there’s a good chance that the strong performances continue.

Start – Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – at San Diego
Murray is the lead back in Oakland, but he’s rushed for 65 yards or fewer in four out of five games.  In fact the only time he’s been above 65 was the one time he received more than 15 carries (26 for 139 yards against the Browns in Week 3).  While the numbers are concerning, the Chargers have been torched for 246 rushing yards over the past two weeks (eighth most in the league), including watching James Starks rumble for 112 yards on 10 carries in Week 6.

Sit – LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – vs. New York Jets
He’s a borderline option, but it’s tough to trust him (especially if Dion Lewis is healthy).  While he’s been getting opportunities of late, the Jets have allowed just 299 yards and 1 TD on the ground to opposing RB this season.  They haven’t even been susceptible to pass catchers (139 yards), but we’d be more apt to trust someone who can make plays.  If you are desperate there’s enough of a reason to roll Blount out there, but it’s a tough sell.

Sit – Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers – vs. Oakland
He fumbled twice in Week 6, has three in his past two games and four overall on the season.  That alone would give a team reason to bench a rookie, but Gordon also just hasn’t been very impressive averaging 3.8 yards per carry and eclipsing 51 yards once in six games.  With Danny Woodhead and Brandon Oliver also in the mix, Gordon simply carries too much risk at this point to have active.

 

Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints – at Indianapolis
Cooks has not posted the type of line that we envisioned, with 29 receptions for 363 yards and 1 TD.  However he has been getting ample opportunities (7+ targets in all but one game, which did just happen to be this past week when he was targeted 5 times) and the matchup screams for a player who can make big plays.  The Colts have allowed a league high 27 passes of 20+ yards and their 8 sacks show that they haven’t been getting much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  Throw in 9 TD to opposing wide receivers (tied for third most in the league) and this isn’t the time to lose faith in Cooks.

Sit – Travis Benjamin – Cleveland Browns – at St. Louis
Over the past few weeks Benjamin has proven that he can be more than a big play threat, with 10+ targets over the past four weeks.  Of course he hasn’t always been efficient with those opportunities (25 receptions on 44 targets over that span) meaning he’s going to need to continue to see volume in order to produce.  That becomes even truer this week, as the Rams have allowed just 15 passes of 20+ yards and 1 pass of 40+ yards this season.  Taking the big play out of the equation, as well as being volume dependent, Benjamin is a player to be left for those in deeper formats.

 

Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings – at Detroit
It has taken two games, but Diggs has quickly shown the talent that at one time had people thinking that he could be a first round pick.  He ultimately fell to the fifth round, which is looking like a bargain with 13 receptions (on 19 targets) for 216 yards over the past two weeks.  Over those same two games “top” receiver Mike Wallace has 10 receptions (on 19 targets) for 106 yards and 1 TD.  Throw in a favorable matchup against the Lions, who have allowed the fourth most receiving yards to WR, and this is a gamble worth taking in deeper formats regardless of whether Charles Johnson returns or not.

Sit – Kendall Wright – Tennessee Titans – vs. Atlanta
The Falcons have allowed just 2 TD to wide receivers this season.  Considering Wright has been targeted 4 times in the red zone alone, it’s hard to expect him to be able to score.  He’s been targeted more than 6 times once and with Zach Mettenberg likely starting and Dorial Green-Beckham on the rise, Wright’s time as the “lead” receiver is likely quickly coming to an end.

 

Tight Ends
Start – Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – at New York Giants
The Giants have been among the worst defenses against tight ends this season, allowing the third most receiving yards (453) as well as 4 TD.  Witten’s numbers have been unimpressive on the season, but his best game came against the Giants in Week 1 (8 receptions, 60 yards, 2 TD) and Dallas has had two weeks to fix the problems.  The switch to Matt Cassel should help as well, making Witten a player to stick with.

Sit – Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts – vs. New Orleans
The Saints have been the worst team at defending opposing tight ends this season, but who is going to see the bulk of the targets?  Will it be Fleener?  Will it be Allen?  Heck even Jack Doyle has been getting a few targets of late (2 in Week 6).  While both Fleener and Allen are viable desperation plays, there’s simply too much risk to trust either if you have another option.

 

Sources – NFL.com, ESPN, CBS Sports

Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings:

Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Christine Michael, Antonio Gates, John Brown & More
Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Lynch, McCoy, C. West & More

11 comments

  1. Sam says:

    Prof,

    would you please rank thesebacks (dynasty league): Hyde, Gordon, Yeldon, Michael

  2. Haggy says:

    Diggs, Landry, Hankerson, M. Bryant or J. Mathews. Need 2 WR and 1 Flex. Leanning Diggs,Landry and Bryant Flex. Mathews gets targets but no points it seems. Also wondering if Henkerson is worth keeping. Sammy Watkins is out there but seems to get hurt a lot and QB in Buffalo a little scary. Like Henkerson QB and if he is truly the #2 there maybe worth keeping. Thanks Prof these two questions have me scratching my head.

  3. Sam – I’d actially put them right where you have them

    Haggy – I’d put Landry/Bryant as the must use guys. The FLEX is close, b ut with the matchup I’d lean Diggs. As for Watkins, if healthy he’s a far better option than Hankerson. considering your alternatives I’d make the swap.

  4. Kermit says:

    Hey Prof – Need 2 – S. Diggs, A. Cooper, Steve Smith, Willie Snead, Jordan Matthews. 10 team PPR. Also, please, Need 2, Ingram, Ivory, D. Lewis, D. Martin. And finally, Cam Newton or Eli Manning. Thanks.

  5. Shawn S says:

    Would like some Flex and TE advice; pick two:
    Julius Thomas, Travis Kelce, Ahmad Bradshaw, Christine Michael, Duke Johnson, or Golden Tate.
    I have Luck, AP, L Murray, D Hopkins, and S Diggs as my starters, with Forte and A Jeffery on BYE.

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