Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2017): Week 8: Deshaun Watson, Joe Mixon, Demaryius Thomas & 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:


Start – Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina

Had Winston not missed the bulk of Week 6 against the Cardinals, his viability probably wouldn’t be a question.  He’s thrown for at least 325 yards in four of out five games, with that Arizona game (10 passing attempts) being the lone exception.  In Week 7 against the Bills he torched them for 384 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT and while the Panthers remain a good defense, they aren’t one of the elite at this point.  On the season they’ve allowed 10 TD vs. 1 INT and opposing quarterbacks have completed 67% of their passes.  Considering the production, matchup, and questionable running game (Tampa Bay running backs are averaging 3.7 yards/carry) and exactly why would we be skeptical?  Fire Winston up as a must play QB in all formats.

Sit – Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans – at Seattle
Let’s be clear, Watson is ranked #13 on our quarterback rankings for the week so he isn’t a must sit by any stretch.  That said I wouldn’t be opposed to not utilizing him, depending on your alternatives and given the matchup.  While he has been spectacular of late, he’s going to have to travel to Seattle and face a defense that’s allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing quarterbacks.

Then again, how good has Watson been?  He’s thrown for multiple TD in each of his past four games (14 TH vs. 4 INT), but the yardage has actually been trending in the wrong direction (301 yards against the Patriots down to 225 against the Browns in his most recent outing).  With the Seahawks allowing 5 TD to opposing QB, it’s easy to envision Watson disappointing.


Running Backs
Start – Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Indianapolis

Mixon continues to underwhelm, getting just 7 carries against the Steelers in Week 7.  Of course he was productive when he got the football (6.9 yards per carry) and also caught 3 passes for 20 yards, so it was more game flow that reduced his opportunities.  He had seen 15+ carries in the three games prior to the bye week and in an extremely favorable matchup you have to think he will return to that workload.  However, the one fear is some fallout from this quote, courtesy of ESPN’s Katherine Terrell:

“It’s frustrating. I feel like I’m seeing [Le’Veon Bell] got the ball 35 times, and I got it seven in the first half and then don’t touch the ball again,” Mixon said. “[Jeremy] Hill only got one touch in the second half. It’s frustrating to us running backs. We feel like we’re in the room and we feel like we’re part of the offense. If it worked in the first half, why not do it in the second?”

That will be something to monitor, just in case, but as the leader of the backfield and taking on the team that has allowed the must rushing TD to opposing RB (8) Mixon is going to be one to use.

Start – Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. San Francisco
It’s very possible that LeGarrette Blount leads the Eagles in carries, though Smallwood returned to a key role immediately on Monday night.  The 49ers have been the worst defense against opposing running backs this season, allowing massive gains both running (799 yards, 5 TD) and catching (526 yards, 4 TD) the football.  It’s the latter that’s key to Smallwood’s value, as Blount is a non-factor in the passing game.  Considering Smallwood should also get carries, as a low-end RB2 and a must use FLEX he’s worth the gamble given the bye weeks.

Sit – Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Minnesota
Crowell has been among the biggest disappointments, averaging 3.2 yards per carry and failing to find the end zone.  Sure the workload has been there, but he’s yet to top 60 yards in a game and now draws a Minnesota defense that’s allowed the second fewest points per week to opposing RB (3.25 yards/carry and 1 rushing TD).  Struggles + Less Than Favorable Matchup?  That’s an equation to avoid.

Sit – Thomas Rawls/Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Houston
The Seahawks’ backfield continues to look bad, with both Lacy (3.0 YPC) and Rawls (2.5 YPC) struggling to find their footing.  They split the carries equally against the Giants, both failing to produce, and while the Texans are banged up they still don’t represent an easy matchup.  With an unknown workload and a tough matchup, move on.


Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
It’s been a disappointing stretch for Thomas, who has posted busts in two of his past three games:

  • vs. Oakland – 1 reception for 11 yards
  • vs. New York Giants – 10 receptions for 133 yards
  • at Los Angeles Chargers – 2 receptions for 9 yards

There’s a risk of another disaster, but the Chiefs have allowed the most points per week against opposing wide receivers including a league high 13 TD.  While he hasn’t found the end zone yet, this could be the week and you don’t want it to come while sitting on your bench.

Sit – Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions – vs. Pittsburgh
With Golden Tate expected to sit you would think Jones would be an easy play in shallower formats.  However we have to keep in mind that it took him 15 targets to get to 6 receptions, 96 yards and 1 TD in Week 7 and he draws a Steelers defense that is allowing the fewest points per week to opposing WR.  With Matthew Stafford putting up a meager 6.35 yards/attempt overall, failing to top 6.75 yards/attempt in a game since Week 1, it’s impossible to expect big things.


Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Josh Doctson – Washington Redskins – vs. Dallas

Doctson leapfrogged Terrelle Pryor on the depth chart in Week 7, and while the results weren’t spectacular (3 receptions for 39 yards on 5 targets) the opportunity is going to be there.  That’s especially true against a Cowboys defense that is allowing the sixth most points per week to opposing wide receivers.  Kirk Cousins has also put up some gaudy numbers against Dallas in the past, including throwing for 813 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT in two games against them in ’16.

Sit – Robbie Anderson – New York Jets – vs. Atlanta
Sure he’s had some bigger days, but for the most part he’s getting about 5 targets per game and is behind Jermaine Kearse and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the pecking order.  Taking on a Falcons defense that’s among the better groups stopping opposing wide receivers, there’s far too much bust potential and reliance on the TD to make him justifiable.


Tight Ends
Start – Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – at Washington
Washington has allowed the second most points per week to opposing tight ends, trailing only the New York Giants.  Witten, for his part, has racked up 12 catches for 115 yards and 1 TD over his past two games and should be seen as a viable weapon to exploit in a favorable matchup.

Sit – Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
He’s a borderline TE1 (he actually was our #12 on the rankings), but that’s only because of the bye weeks.  He’s a desperation play, at best, despite the solid numbers across the board.  After seeing O.J. Howard pop in Week 7 there’s a chance his opportunities decline in what is not an easy matchup.  The risk of more of a times share drags Brate down, so think twice before simply plugging him in.

Sources – ESPN,

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Melvin Gordon & More
Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 8: Alex Collins, Kenny Stills, Mike Wallace & More


  1. Mike says:

    PPR League 2-RB/2-WR/1-Flex Start or Sit?

    WRs – Hogan, Kelvin Benjamin, Nelson Agholor, Amari Cooper
    RBs – Howard, McCaffrey, Kamara, Cohen

  2. MoneyMike733 says:

    My 2 QBs who do u start ?

    Big Ben on the road vs the Lions or

    Watson at Seattle…i know i know neither is ideal lol

  3. Rajwadu says:

    Hi professor,
    Got offered jordy,mixon for ajayi
    Should I do the trade? Standard

    Thank you

  4. trevor says:

    ppr smallwood, forte or powell
    ppr fuchess or garcon
    ppr demaryius thomas or crabtree
    ppr demaryius thomas or diggs
    ppr kamara or chris thompson

    • ppr smallwood, forte or powell — Smallwood
      ppr fuchess or garcon — Garcon
      ppr demaryius thomas or crabtree — Crabtree
      ppr demaryius thomas or diggs = Thomas
      ppr kamara or chris thompson — Thompson

  5. BigD says:

    ppr who should I start?

    latavious murray/ Wendell smallwood/ Tarik cohen


  6. Ben says:

    yo Prof! half point ppr. Pick one. Doctson, R Kelly, Jonathan Stewart or Latavius Murray? thnx

  7. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Need 1 from among Funchess @TB and DeSean Jackson vs. CAR. Who would you start? Thanks.

  8. House of Pain says:

    Hello Professor;

    What are your thoughts on Bengals’ WR John Ross and in his value moving forward?


  9. Vince says:

    PPR wold you start doug martin or amari cooper at flex?

  10. Jay says:

    Std scoring need 1 RB & 1 Flex from Mixon, Martin, C.J. Anderson, Agholor & Fuller V. Also, a IDP question start Clowney or Cameron Jordan at DE? Thanks

      • Jay says:

        Still won my games , but no one and I mean no one saw Houston putting up the fantasy points they did. Wow! Have Watson on 3 of 4 & Fuller on all 4 with Wentz & Watson on my 2 QB team with the crappy RB’s. That’s saving my team. does anyone know why Cincy doesn’t just run the damm ball with Mixon more? Thanks. Thanks

  11. Gail says:

    Would you start Wendall Smallwood over Chris Thompson this week?

  12. reggie says:

    hello Professor

    I was planning to play Matt Ryna but now see that heavy rains and wind are forecast @ Jets

    my option is Andy Dalton

    what would professor do?


  13. reggie says:

    *** Ryan ***

  14. reggie says:

    thanks Professor 🙂

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