Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (Week 7): Giovani Bernard, Jamaal Williams, Christian Kirk & More

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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:

Giovani Bernard (RB) – Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon has been ruled out, leaving Bernard to take over lead back duties for Cincinnati. The Browns haven’t given up significant yardage to opposing running backs this season (442 rushing yards), though they have allowed 7 TD (one behind the most in the league). In fact Cleveland has allowed at least 1 rushing TD in all put one of their six games this season.

That should play into Bernard’s upside, as he faces little competition for touches. Samaje Perine is the only other running back with a carry in 2020, and he has 1 run for 0 yards. Bernard himself has just 12 carries this season, and the last time he had double digit carries was all the way back on September 30, 2018. However in that game, and in the one before it, he showed what was possible:

  • September 23, 2018 – 12 carries for 61 yards and 1 TD
  • September 30, 2018 – 15 carries for 69 yards and 2 TD

Those are fair expectations for today, and with his ability to catch the football he’s worth using as a RB2.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

Jamaal Williams (RB) – Green Bay Packers

The Houston Texans have allowed the third most points per week to opposing running backs, so Jones owners have to be discouraged by this news. On the flipside, those desperate for a running back should hurry to their waiver wire to see if Williams is available. He should operate as the new leader, and in this matchup he has the potential for a big day.

In 140 carries over his past 19 games, Jones has 602 yards or a 4.3 YPC. With 12-15 carries it’s fair to expect 60+ yards with the potential to find the end zone. He should be locked in as a RB2, and could be seen as a better play than Giovanni Bernard with a better matchup.

Verdict – Must Start RB2

Justin Jackson (RB) – Los Angeles Chargers

With Austin Ekeler out Jackson will continue to share the running back touches with Joshua Kelley. While most assumed Kelley would lead the way, that clearly wasn’t the case in their matchup against the Saints:

  • Justin Jackson – 15 carries for 71 yards (4.7 YPC)
  • Joshua Kelley – 11 carries for 29 yards (2.6 YPC)

Jackson also added 5 catches for 23 yards, out-touching Kelley 20 to 12. While Kelley is a possible FLEX option, it’s Jackson who is the better play despite it seemingly likely that there’s a more even division of touches this week.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (risky RB2/FLEX)

DeAndre Hopkins (WR) – Arizona Cardinals
Christian Kirk (WR) – Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy owners have to be relieved to wake up to this news, given the extremely favorable matchup against the Seahawks (1,472 yards and 7 TD allowed against opposing WR, leading to the most points per week allowed). Even at less than 100% Hopkins is a must play in a matchup that should lead to ample opportunities to make plays.

Obviously without Hopkins Christian Kirk’s value would have risen to WR1/WR2 status. That said he remains on the WR2/WR3 spectrum, depending on your alternatives, and is also a must play for fantasy owners. There’s a good chance that he sees additional opportunities, as the team may not want to push Hopkins as hard as they normally would.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (Both DeAndre Hopkins & Christian Kirk)

Julio Jones (WR) – Atlanta Falcons

The expectation had been that Jones would play, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fire him up as a WR1 in all formats.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

Jamison Crowder (WR) – New York Jets

Yesterday the news broke that Crowder had been downgraded to doubtful, so it appears highly unlikely that he’s able to play. Even if he does play, battling a groin injury it’s clear that he wouldn’t be 100%. Regardless of if he dresses or not, the risk outweighs the reward meaning it’s nearly impossible to slot him into your lineup.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Sam Darnold (QB) – New York Jets

Let’s put this one in the “Who Cares?” category, especially with Crowder expected to miss the game. The Jets offense has virtually no trustworthy weapons, so how can we expect Darnold to make any plays?

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Noah Fant (TE) – Denver Broncos

Fant has been targeted at least 5 times in all four games he’s played this season, with as many as 10 targets in a game. While the Chiefs have been a relatively strong defense against opposing TE this season, opportunity is key. Consider Fant a must play.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

Robert Tonyan (TE) – Green Bay Packers

While Tonyan has 5 TD passes in four games, he’s also averaging just 4.5 targets per game. That mean, even when healthy, the only way he’s going to be productive is if he is making the most of every opportunity he gets. That’s unlikely to continue happening, even against a Houston defense that is in the bottom half of the league against opposing tight ends. Given the risk of reduced playing time, given the injury, and he’s far too risky to trust.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Sources – NFL.com, ESPN

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

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

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