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 – Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders – vs. New England
Carr has not lived up to expectations overall this season, but let’s not overlook that he was lighting up the box score prior to the Raiders’ bye week:
- vs. Kansas City – 417 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
- at Buffalo – 313 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
- at Miami – 300 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
New England has struggled against opposing quarterbacks overall this season, and while they’ve been better lately they also haven’t faced a passing attack with as much upside as Oakland’s (Brock Osweiler anyone?). With a running game that’s struggling and the likelihood that he’ll have to air the ball out to keep up with Tom Brady and company, it all comes together perfectly. Consider Carr a must use option in all formats.
Sit – Case Keenum – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Los Angeles Rams
He’s not a big name, but coming off back-to-back big weeks (592 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT) the knee jerk reaction likely is that he’s a potential QB1. However that would ignore the matchup (the Rams have allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing quarterbacks) and the fact that a slow start could lead to Teddy Bridgewater being summoned from the bench. There’s simply far too much risk to trust him as anything but a low-end QB2.
Start – Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – at Dallas
The Eagles have a crowded backfield at this point, but they didn’t go out and acquire Ajayi for him to share the ball. He showed the potential he has, behind a much stronger offensive line, taking 8 carries for 77 yards and 1 TD in his first action with Philadelphia. The Cowboys defense also is taking a hit with Sean Lee set to miss the game, which is going to hurt a defense that’s already more middle of the pack against the run. There’s risk given a potential timeshare, but in most cases the huge reward puts Ajayi as a must start.
Start – Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at New Orleans
Rob Kelley is now on the IR, and while the Redskins have limited Thompson’s carries to try to keep him healthy they may no longer be able to. As it is the Saints have allowed the sixth most receiving yards to opposing running backs (469), and we all know that Thompson is among the elite pass catching backs in the NFL. Given the matchup and the likelihood that he gets 8-12 carries, a 15+ touch effort should lead to great results. He’ll be a RB2 most weeks from here on out, and definitely fire him up for Week 11.
Sit – Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Eagles have allowed the fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs, and it’s not close (383, with the next fewest being the Minnesota Vikings at 649). That alone is going to give the red flag on Morris, who figures to dominate the early down work once again. Or does he? The Cowboys may opt to give someone else a shot, as a way to add life to the offense after a miserable Week 10. Throw in the protection issues, which there’s no guarantee that Dallas has fixed, and Morris is much better suited as a FLEX play (at best) as opposed to someone to trust.
Sit – Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Oakland
Sure he’s seen his role increase of late, but is anyone willing to say with certainty that the touches will be there in any given week? Even last week, if you take out his receiving TD he totaled just 63 yards and we all know that Dion Lewis and James White are going to continue to get looks. As we always say you never know where the chances will come in New England, and that makes most of their players tough sells on a weekly basis.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals – at Houston
You could argue that Fitzgerald has been boom or bust this season, mixing a few 100+ yard days with numerous disappointing options. That may give people cause for concern, especially in shallower formats, and the fact that Drew Stanton will again be under center doesn’t help (and that’s if he’s healthy, with Blaine Gaebbert looming if he’s not). However the matchup with Houston screams of another big day, as they’ve allowed 470 yards and 5 TD to opposing wide receivers over the past two weeks (second most points per week to opposing wide receivers overall this season). He’s a target monster and is coming off a 10 catch, 113 yard day. Fire him up in all formats.
Sit – Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos – vs. Cincinnati
We’ll list Sanders, since he just returned and is coming off a “bigger” day, but the same thing applies to Demaryius Thomas. This is a tough matchup, as the Bengals have allowed the fifth fewest points per week to opposing receivers, and there’s no guarantee who the targets will go to. At the same time will any target be a quality one, with Brock Osweiler under center, and while they are worth using as WR3 in shallower formats it’s a tough sell.
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Dontrelle Inman – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
We’ve been waiting for a wide receiver to step up and emerge as the go to guy, and it appears that Mitch Trubisky has finally found his man. No one has ever argued Inman’s ability, the problem was that he was buried on the depth chart for the Chargers. That’s no longer an issue, and in his first game with Chicago he turned 8 targets into 6 receptions and 88 yards. The Lions defense isn’t going to scare you, and while there’s risk of a run heavy approach he’s an easy play as a WR3.
Sit – Paul Richardson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Atlanta
He popped off a few big days, but over the past two weeks he’s totaled 84 yards and draws a tougher matchup. With the opportunities likely going more towards Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, even in deeper formats he’s going to be a tough player to trust. There’s simply too much risk to justify the potential “reward” as a TD dependent option.
Start – Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals – at Denver
No one has been as bad at stopping opposing tight ends as the New York Giants, but the Broncos aren’t that far behind. They’ve allowed far more receiving yards (746 vs. 632), the difference is that they’ve “only” allowed 6 TD. Of course three of those have come over the past four weeks, so while Kroft is coming off a dud there’s far too much upside at an unstable position to ignore.
Sit – Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – at Los Angeles Chargers
Clay returned in Week 10, though he struggled as he turned 3 targets into 2 receptions and 13 yards. As Kelvin Benjamin gets more acclimated to the offense Clay’s potential upside diminishes, and the matchup is one of the more difficult (the Chargers have allowed the second fewest points per week to opposing tight ends). In other words, there’s far too much risk to consider him.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings:
|1)||Jacob deGrom||New York Mets||After back-to-back Cy Young Awards what's left for deGrom to prove? It turns out he may have been tipping his pitches in April (4.85 ERA), once he corrected the issue he didn't have an ERA above 2.92 in any month after. Even if he's not your #1, he's clearly in the top tier.|
|2)||Max Scherzer||Washington Nationals||When healthy Scherzer continued posting elite numbers, the problem was that he was limited to 27 starts (and missed time in the playoffs). Current reports have him fully healthy for Spring Training, but it will be something that needs to be monitored.|
|3)||Justin Verlander||Houston Astros||We keep waiting for Verlander to start slowing down, but he is showing no signs (including racking up 300 K in '19). There is some slight concerns in his luck metrics (.218 BABIP, 88.4% strand rate), but that just makes his first half 2.98 ERA a better expectation.|
|4)||Gerrit Cole||New York Yankees||He signed a massive contract this winter (9 years, $324 million) and there will be questions as to whether or not he can live up to it in New York. While opponents need to make contact for it to become an issue, groundball rates of 36.0% and 40.3% the past two seasons, now pitching in Yankee Stadium, raises a small red flag.|
|5)||Walker Buehler||Los Angeles Dodgers||The Dodgers took it slow with their young ace in the spring, and that may have factored into his early season struggle (5.22 ERA). In 24 starts from May 1 through the end of the year he posted a 2.88 ERA, and he showed strikeouts (10.61 K/9) and control (1.83 BB/9) all season long.|
|6)||Chris Sale||Boston Red Sox||It's fair to be concerned about Sale, after he was limited to 147.1 IP in '19 due to elbow issues and posted a 4.40 ERA when healthy. However he continued to show strikeouts (13.32 K/9), control (2.26 BB/9) and should improve upon his luck (66.7% strand rate). Reports have him healthy heading into Spring Training, so don't ignore him.|
|7)||Shane Bieber||Cleveland Indians||Bieber put his name on the map in '19, with a 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP courtesy of a 10.88 K/9 and 1.68 BB/9. He's always displayed elite control, but now he's delivering swings and misses (14.0% SwStr%) while utilizing his secondary pitches more and more (he threw his fourseam fastball 45.73%) has solidified his place among the elite.|
|8)||Stephen Strasburg||Washington Nationals||Can Strasburg stay healthy? That's always been the biggest question, though Washington is betting on it after signing him to a 7 year contract. Last year he showed just how good he could be, utilizing his sinker and curveball more led to a 51.1% groundball rate (to go along with strikeouts and control).|
|9)||Mike Clevinger||Cleveland Indians||Clevinger's SwStr% rose to 15.2% in '19, and he's continued to throw strikes (2.39 BB/9 in the second half) and limit hard contact (33.0% Hard%). That's the makeup of a Top 10 starter, though he's often not considered so highly.|
|10)||Patrick Corbin||Washington Nationals||A year after receiving a big free agent contract, Corbin lived up to the expectations with a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 202.0 IP. He did it while showing all three skills we look for from a pitcher, and also improving his Hard% (34.5%).|
|11)||Luis Castillo||Cincinnati Reds||Had it not been for a late season swoon (ERA of 5.70 and 4.40 over the last two months), there would be a lot more chatter about Castillo being a potential Top 10 option. He showed strikeouts (10.67 K/9), control (3.73 BB/9) and groundballs (55.2%), and even as he struggled late in the year an improvement in his control (2.76 BB/9 in the second half) speaks to just how high his ceiling could be.|
|12)||Charlie Morton||Tampa Bay Rays||After breaking out in Houston it was fair to wonder if Morton could replicate the success while maneuvering through the AL East. He proved more than capable, with a 3.05 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 194.2 IP. With his skill set and believable luck metrics (.298 BABIP, 75.3% strand rate), the good times should continue.|
|13)||Blake Snell||Tampa Bay Rays||He missed time due to injury (107.0 IP) and struggled when on the mound (4.29 ERA), though it was poor luck (.343 BABIP, despite a 34.8% Hard%) and not a regression in skills that caused the issues. Maybe he's not as good as he was in '18, but he should continue to be in the mix for a Top 10 spot.|
|14)||Carlos Carrasco||Cleveland Indians||Regardless of the results, the fact that Carrasco returned late in the year is promising after he was limited by injuries. Over his career he owns a 9.37 K/9, 2.25 BB/9 and 48.5% groundball rate, as he's consistently been among the better starters. As long as he's healthy he should return to that status.|
|15)||Frankie Montas||Oakland A's||He was limited to 96.0 innings, but don't take that to mean that the breakout wasn't for real. He began using a split-finger fastball, which contributed to his 9.66 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 and 49.4% groundball rate. He should continue on the same path, which would allow him to maintain that success over a full season.|