Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Martavis Bryant, Duke Johnson, J.D. McKissic & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 12 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit?  Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:


Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers – Wide Receiver
The Steelers have ruled JuJu Smith-Schuster out for Week 12, which should give Bryant an opportunity.  Of course he’s been a bitter disappointment thus far and even with Smith-Schuster sidelined there is no guarantee that the targets flow his way (Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are going to remain the main focus of the offense).  On the other hand there are a few key things working in Bryant’s favor:

  • The matchup with the Packers is a favorable one (they’ve allowed the sixth most yards per week to opposing wide receivers)
  • Ben Roethlisberger is averaging nearly 36 passing attempts per week over the past three weeks
  • Over the past three weeks Smith-Schuster has averaged over 8 targets per week

Given the lack of production there’s risk, but Bryant has enough upside to keep him on radars.

Verdict – Viable WR3 with a much higher ceiling


Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – Running Back
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweeted on Friday:

“run game coordinator Kirby Wilson said we would like Duke Johnson on the field as much as possible because we believe so strongly in him as a playmaker”

That obviously would make Johnson appear to be a favorable, and the matchup further helps the cause as the Bengals have struggled against the run of late.  They are coming off a game where they allowed Devonte Booker to post 98 total yards on 19 touches (on top of C.J. Anderson’s 56 yards and 1 TD).  If Johnson is going to be on the field he’s going to be well worth using, though seeing him get touches is no given (he is coming off a 6 touch performance).  That keeps him more on the FLEX spectrum, but he’s potentially usable just the same.

Verdict – High upside FLEX option


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Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – Running Back
Devonta Freeman is out, which leaves Coleman to carry the load once again.  He’s been given 20 carries (21 touches) in each of the past two weeks, presenting enough results in each game:

  • Week 10 – 88 total yards and 1 TD
  • Week 11 – 58 total yards and 1 TD

The Week 11 matchup was against the Seahawks, and things should get easier this week against Tampa Bay.  Fire him up as a borderline RB1 in all formats.

Verdict – Must play


Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens – Running Back
Woodhead returned in Week 11, though he was clearly being eased back into action.  That said he racked up 5 receptions for 21 yards while being targeted 6 times.  You would think that makes him a good play, but even a banged up Houston defense has been strong against opposing running backs (including the third fewest points per week over the past four weeks, second fewest overall).  The backfield is also crowded, and there’s no guarantee for touches (Week 11 opportunities):

  • Alex Collins – 20 carries + 7 targets
  • Javorius Allen – 3 carries + 1 target
  • Terrance West – Could return Monday night

With that many mouths to feed, plus a matchup that is relatively difficult, is anyone ready to go all in on Woodhead?  In PPR formats there’s enough to consider, but in most cases the risk outweighs the potential reward.

Verdict – Borderline PPR FLEX, at best


Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – Running Back
It’ll be another week of Williams being the last man standing for Green Bay, and while that means opportunity he hasn’t taken advantage thus far:

  • Week 10 – 20 carries for 67 yards and 0 TD
  • Week 11 – 18 carries for 57 yards and 0 TD

That’s an average of 3.3 yards per carry and he draws a matchup against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed the sixth fewest points per week to opposing running backs.  The usage dictates that he’s a borderline RB2/FLEX play, but he’s hard to fully get behind.

Verdict – FLEX play, but far too risky if you can avoid him


Emmanuel Sanders – Wide Receiver – Denver Broncos
Adam Schefter (via Twitter) is reporting:

“Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders, listed as questionable for Sunday due to an ankle injury, is expected to play, per source.”

The question is how much production can we expect?  With Paxton Lynch taking over at quarterback you have to wonder if the rapport will be there, having missed some practice time this week (though he was practicing later in the week).  As it is he’s been hit or miss, though the matchup is favorable.  He’s a risky WR2, but worth the gamble as a WR3.

Verdict – Worthy gamble as a WR3


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Zay Jones – Buffalo Bills – Wide Receiver
Kelvin Benjamin has been ruled out, and that’s going to leave opportunity for someone to step up.  Obviously it’s no guarantee that Jones is the one who steps up and fills the void, with Jordan Matthews, Charles Clay and Deonte Thompson all potentially in the mix (they are all listed as questionable, but Adam Schefter has tweeted that all are expected to play).  That said Jones has had 7 targets in each of his past two games, averaging 6 catches and 60.5 yards per game (and he also found the end zone).  He also draws a Kansas City defense that’s allowing the most points per week to opposing wide receivers.  There’s risk, but as a WR3 the potential reward is worth it.

Verdict – Viable WR3


DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins – Wide Receiver
With Jay Cutler ruled out, the value of Parker takes a significant hit.  It’s been talked about quite often, but it’s clear that Matt Moore’s go to option is Kenny Stills.  While Jarvis Landry shouldn’t be impacted too much, with Stills being elevated someone needs to be downgraded.  Parker was never a must play, but he’s hard to trust even in deeper formats based off the news.

Verdict – Dart throw WR3, at best


J.D. McKissic – Seattle Seahawks – Running Back
People may want to believe that the Seahawks are going to hand McKissic lead back duties, and maybe they will, but is it a given?  While Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy have disappointed, it’s impossible to imagine that they won’t be in the mix.  That will limit McKissic’s touches, and as it is he hasn’t topped 7 carries in a game this season.  Where he could be a viable option is in PPR formats, as he has 9 receptions over the past two weeks, and the matchup is a favorable one.  Outside of that, though, this is likely going to be a convoluted committee that it’s impossible to put much trust in.

Verdict – Possible FLEX in PPR formats, but extremely low floor


Matt Forte – New York Jets – Running Back
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):

“RB Matt Forte, who has battled a knee injury most of the season, is considered a game-time call, source said. Only practicing on Friday wasn’t a great sign.”

Forte has shown flashes, but even if he plays a best case scenario is sharing time along with Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.  It’s also an extremely difficult matchup, with the Panthers allowing the fourth fewest points per week to opposing running backs.  In PPR formats he could be a FLEX option, if he plays, but there’s far too much risk if you can avoid him.

Verdict – The risk outweighs the reward


Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – Tight End
He’s set to return for the first time since Week 2, and while he has the potential to be one of the best options at his position does anyone believe the Panthers are going to unleash him full force initially?  He’ll likely be eased into the mix, and that makes him more of a TE2 for this week (but a must play starting Week 13).

Verdict – More TE2 due to “pitch count” risk


Sources –, ESPN

** PRE-SALE **
Pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $6.25!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 13: Dak Prescott, Josh Doctson, Alfred Morris & More
Start 'Em or Sit 'Em (2017): Week 12: Marcus Mariota, Michael Crabtree, Greg Olsen & More


  1. C says:

    Hey professor,

    Who would you play at flex today out of Rishard Mathews, D. Henry and D. Martin? My opponent is starting Mariota.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. K says:

    PPR RB2, Coleman over Los Hyde?
    Also, Lee vs AZ or Cooper vs DEN?

  3. Beans says:

    Morning Professor. I have no room for error this week in this league. Powell or D. Booker? Martavis Brynt or Corey Davis? PPR. Thank you

  4. Collins or Booker or Woodhead at flex in a standard? Thx!

  5. Chris says:

    Matty Ice or Big Ben? Cant decide!!

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