Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: T.Y. Hilton, Justin Jackson, Sterling Shepard & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 14’s Sunday action 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:

 

T.Y. Hilton – Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):

#Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) is officially a game-time decision after barely practicing this week, I’m told. But based on his history and the importance of the game, it would be a major surprise if he didn’t play.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 9, 2018

Hilton always has a bit of boom or bust to his game, but a matchup against a Houston defense that’s allowed the eighth fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers make him that much riskier.  That doesn’t eliminate the potential, and there’s no further proof than looking at his performance against the Texans in his past five games:

  • 10/16/16 – 3 receptions for 49 yards
  • 12/11/16 – 9 receptions for 115 yards and 1 TD
  • 11/05/17 – 5 receptions for 175 yards and 2 TD
  • 12/31/17 – 3 receptions for 14 yards
  • 09/30/18 – 4 receptions for 115 yards

With a 1:00 PM EST start time, we will have clarity to his status early in the day.  The injury plus the risk knocks him down to a WR2, but there’s too much upside to sit him unless you are stacked at the position.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (as a risky WR2)

 

Austin Ekeler – Running Back – San Diego Chargers
Justin Jackson – Running Back – San Diego Chargers

Ekeler was outperformed by Justin Jackson last week in the team’s first game with Melvin Gordon sidelined:

  • Austin Ekeler – 43 total yards
  • Justin Jackson – 82 total yards, 1 TD

Both should be viewed as viable options considering the matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed the most points per week to opposing running backs.  That said would it be surprising to see Ekeler moved more into a complimentary role, similar to the one he proved he can thrive in behind Melvin Gordon?  While he’s a viable FLEX option, don’t push him too far up your rankings given the risk of a loss of touches.  As for Jackson there’s clearly a lot of risk, but the upside is there for those who are gambling for points.

Verdict:

  • Austin Ekeler – Start ‘Em (risky RB2/FLEX)
  • Justin Jackson – Start ‘Em (viable low-end RB2)

 

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Gus Edwards – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
While Joe Flacco has returned to practice this week and could dress on Sunday, it’s going to continue to be the Lamar Jackson/Gus Edwards show against the Kansas City Chiefs.  The two have proven to be a dynamic one-two punch and should continue to thrive against a defense that’s struggled to stop opposing running backs (third most points per week) and have allowed 4 rushing TD to opposing quarterbacks.

While Jackson has struggled at times throwing the football, there should be little question that Edwards is going to continue to be used early and often.  Just look at the performance over the past three weeks:

  • vs. Cincinnati – 115 yards and 1 TD
  • vs. Oakland – 118 yards
  • at Atlanta – 82 yards

He’s averaged just over 20 carries per game and with that type of usage and a favorable matchup, there’s little reason to think his thunder won’t continue to thrive along with Jackson’s lightning (even though he could again be kept out of the end zone).

Verdict – Start ‘Em

 

LeGarrette Blount – Running Back – Detroit Lions
The Lions have ruled Kerryon Johnson out once again, leaving Blount to operate as the lead back against the Arizona Cardinals.  Against tougher defenses the past two weeks (Rams and Bears) Blount has rushed for 149 yards and 2 TD, but has a much more favorable matchup this time around.  Arizona has allowed the second most points per week to opposing running backs, including the third most rushing yards (1,503) and a league high 15 rushing TD.  Considering Blount should be the short yardage/goal line back and get the bulk of the opportunities, consider him a must use RB2 in all formats.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

 

Sterling Shepard – Wide Receiver – New York Giants
After it looked like Odell Beckham was going to play, word broke on Saturday that he was out for today’s game against the Redskins.  That leaves the Giants in an interesting situation, as Shepard could operate as the top receiver but there’s an even better chance that the targets are spread out across an uninspiring group including Benny Fowler, Corey Coleman and Russell Shepard.

Obviously Saquan Barkley is going to be the key to the offense, as always, and then you also have the returning Evan Engram at tight end who could step up and explode.  Shepard isn’t a bad option, but don’t push him up into the WR2 range.  He’s a WR3, even in a favorable matchup, as there’s no guarantee that the targets slant in his direction.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (but he remains a WR3)

 

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Evan Engram – Tight End – New York Giants
Let’s piggyback off of Shepard into the returning Engram.  He’s been highly disappointing this season and in his absence Rhett Ellison has stepped up and made some plays.  That said with Odell Beckham out there’s a big opportunity for Engram, who has flashed some explosiveness.  In the last game he played (11/18/18) he had a 54-yard reception and the week before he had a 31-yarder.  Given the state of the position, while he’s not a must use option he can be viewed as a low-end TE1 gamble depending on your alternatives.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (high risk, high reward low-end TE1)

 

Isaiah Crowell – Running Back – New York Jets
Crowell is coming off a big week, but he’s battling a toe injury and has a seemingly difficult matchup.  Ian Rapoport (via Twitter) is reporting:

#Jets RB Isaiah Crowell, dealing with a toe injury and listed a questionable, is expected to play today, source said.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 9, 2018

Then you have the matchup against a Buffalo defense that held Crowell to 19 yards and 1 TD on 7 carries a few weeks ago.  Of course overall the Bills have been middle of the pack at stopping running backs.  Crowell’s performance this season has been skewed by a few big games, more often than not falling under 50 yards and rarely getting more than 13 carries.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

 

Adam Humphries – Wide Receiver – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeSean Jackson has been ruled out for this week and may not return this season, leaving Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries to assume the role behind Mike Evans.  Both had solid performances against the Panthers in Week 13:

  • Chris Godwin – 5 receptions (6 targets), 101 yards, 1 TD
  • Adam Humphries – 7 receptions (9 targets), 61 yards, 1 TD

While Godwin posted the bigger day in terms of yards, Humphries was more targeted and has been the better performer of late.  He’s now scored in three straight games and has 5 TD over his past five games.  In a game that could be a shootout with the Saints, especially against the defense that’s allowed the most points per week to opposing wide receivers, and both will be solid plays.  If we had to pick we’d go Humphries, but consider both viable WR3 with WR2 upside.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (viable WR3)

 

Demaryius Thomas – Wide Receiver – Houston Texans
Ian Rapoport (via Twitter) is reporting:

#Texans WR Keke Coutee, still battling that hamstring injury, planned to wait one more week before playing to allow it to heal, source said. Only a great workout pregame would change that. Meanwhile, Johnathan Joseph (neck, shoulder) is expected to play, per @JamesPalmerTV

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 9, 2018

While Thomas did have 2 TD in Week 12, over the past two games with Coutee sidelined he’s totaled 7 catches for 70 yards.  You would think that there would be ample opportunities, but given his performance there’s no way to trust him.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

** PRE-ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2019 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.75!!  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 14 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 15 (2018): Spencer Ware, Justin Jackson & More
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2018): Wide Receiver Edition: Week 14: Courtland Sutton, Tre'Quan Smith & More

33 comments

  1. Pwyll says:

    Prof, I can’t make up my mind whether to play Adam Humphries or Dalvin Cook in my flex position (PPR). I’m leaning toward Humphries because he’s been very consistent recently and I’m a significant favorite this week. What do you think?

  2. Greg says:

    Start josh gordon,golladay or blount at flex .5 ppr

  3. Terry D says:

    Hi Professor,

    Standard scoring. Need to pick one.

    Humphries, Godwin, or DJ Moore ?

    Thanks !

  4. Too Tall says:

    Hi Professor,

    Standard. Golliday, Lockett, Humphries, Godwin. pick 2. LeGarrett Blount or Mixon. Thanks.

  5. Sonny says:

    PPR mack or drake??
    Need the safer play not Boom or Bust

  6. reggie says:

    Hi Professor

    standard scoring

    per the above you like Humphries over Godwin – do you like either over Josh Gordon?

    thanks – need a miracle today to make playoffs 🙂

  7. mike says:

    Hey professor,
    Matt Ryan @ GB or Kirk Cousins @ Seattle. Thanks.

  8. Alan says:

    Good morning, any insight would help. ppr pick 2 please McCoy, miller, jeff Wilson, justin Jackson, ware. I am starting Hopkins and kittle. Thanks and have a great day.

  9. Ryan says:

    Pick two non-ppr : Sutton, Landry and Tate

  10. MojoJojo says:

    Hey Prof,

    Thanks for all the help all season long.

    .5ppr league, I was hoping to have Watkins back for first round of playoffs, instead I’m stuck choosing between Shepard, Sutton or Jeffrey. Who is my best bet of that trio? Thanks.

  11. Jeff says:

    Looking for flex in ppr….Justin Jackson or Sutto??n

  12. Mary says:

    Morning Prof!

    I’m struggling to fill my flex in a non-ppr. don’t have much to go, with Pick one:

    Stevan Ridley, Tate, J. Richard, or C. Conley

    Thank you!

  13. William McGregor says:

    Gronkowski or j. Cook

  14. OtisP says:

    PPR-Ware or Gus Edwards?

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