This was one of the toughest weeks to analyze in fantasy football. COVID-19 has run through the league again, so by the time you read this, there may be a bunch of fantasy-relevant players impacted. I normally write this article on Wednesday, so I’ll try to add updates if necessary. It’s just another reason to be active with news and be proactive with roster additions.
If you have a free spot in your lineup, go snag a valuable backup who could see playing time if the starter goes down. For all the weeks I’ve spent talking about handcuffs and stashing players, now is the time to really take those lessons to heart. As we creep closer to game time on Sunday (and Saturday!), pay extra close attention to the news.
If you have any more fantasy questions, hit me up on Twitter @ZachCohenFB. I’ll try to get to them before my plane takes off Sunday morning. (Not the greatest time to be in the air, but my hands were tied.) Don’t forget to follow @TDNFantasy for more fantasy advice all week long, too!
Start: Kirk Cousins at CHI
I’m pretty confident in all three of these quarterbacks to have big games this weekend. I chose Cousins because I think he has more upside than Tua Tagovailoa and Jimmy Garoppolo, though I’ll have a few words on them at the end of the article in case Cousins is impacted by COVID-19. The Bears have surrendered the third-most points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. One look at their track record reveals heavy struggles against top quarterbacks and solid performances against, well, bad quarterbacks. Whether you think Cousins is a good quarterback is pointless because he’s currently QB10 on the season. He’s also in this weird pattern where he scores 20+ points every odd week. No, I’m not basing my stance on Cousins because of that trend. Instead, he’s my start of the week due to a relatively modest floor and higher upside than Tagovailoa or Garoppolo. I do think the latter two passers have high floors against atrocious passing defenses. They have both proven to be efficient fantasy options in recent weeks, too. I just prefer Cousins due to his upside and weaponry, especially if Adam Thielen returns.
Other Players to Consider: Tua Tagovailoa vs. NYJ, Jimmy Garoppolo vs. ATL
Sit: Russell Wilson at LAR
I think this is the third time I’ve had Wilson as my Sit of the Week. In his defense, there aren’t many high-profile quarterbacks I’m willing to sit this week. Wilson’s averaged just under 18 points in the last three weeks, which includes fantastic matchups against Washington and Houston. The Rams haven’t been the worst defense to face for fantasy quarterbacks—they’re 19th in FPA (Fantasy Points Allowed)—but they’re definitely no walk in the park. I also find it interesting that Wilson hasn’t passed for more than 250 yards and multiple touchdowns in any of his last four games against the Rams. In fact, Wilson threw for 260 yards against Houston last week, which was his highest total since coming back from his injury. I feel like we keep saying, ”Oh, it’s Russell Wilson. He’ll get back on track!” That may not happen this season. I’d rather start any of the three quarterbacks I mentioned above than Wilson this week.
Other Players to Consider: Ryan Tannehill at PIT, Cam Newton at BUF
Start: Javonte Williams vs. CIN
Writing the section was so, so hard with all the COVID-19 news coming out. Still, the show must go on! That’s why I’m thankful for a player like Javonte Williams. There hasn’t been a hotter running back than Williams in the last three weeks. He’s the second-highest scoring running back in that span. Oh, what’s that? Melvin Gordon is still there? Boo-hoo. Even with Gordon in the fold, Williams has still been the better back. There is room for both of them to make an impact. I’d place my money on the more productive player being the more talented player. That’s Williams. Now, Cincinnati has been relatively stingy to running backs in recent weeks. However, the running back landscape in fantasy is so bad that I’m willing to overlook the matchup in favor of another RB1 performance from Williams. Keep him in your lineups. I’d even consider Gordon in them, too. Rashaad Penny is another player who’s been hot lately, and he may be one of the better options left on your teams. I also like Myles Gaskin if he clears COVID-19 protocols ahead of a great matchup versus New York.
Other Players to Consider: Melvin Gordon vs. CIN, Rashaad Penny at LAR, Myles Gaskin vs. NYJ (if cleared from protocols)
Sit: James Robinson vs. HOU
A friend sent me a really good question earlier in the week: “Running backs are bare. Do I roll the dice with James Robinson any longer?" The answer, my friend, is a resounding no. There’s a reason I had Robinson as last week’s Sit of the Week. What I said then sadly still applies now: “I’m not a fan of Robinson’s risk this week, especially in such a dysfunctional Jacksonville offense.” My fears came true as Robinson rushed for four yards on six carries to the horrifying tune of 0.4 fantasy points. Is there a chance Robinson bounces back against the Texans’ putrid run defense? Sure, but there’s still a chance he gets outplayed by Carlos Hyde again, for some reason. You shouldn’t trust anyone in Jacksonville right now. The same can be said about anyone in Houston, too. Just stay away from this game entirely. I’d also stay away from all running backs in the Panthers-Bills game, too.
Other Players to Consider: Texans RBs vs. JAX, Panthers RBs at BUF
Start: Van Jefferson vs. SEA
Jefferson was a startable player before Odell Beckham was placed on the COVID-19 list. Now, Jefferson’s a must-start. He’s averaging roughly 16 points in the last three games (gotta love the post-bye bumps) while being the overall WR11. You read that right. Only 10 other receivers have scored more points than Jefferson since Week 11. The addition of Beckham has eaten into his target share, but not his playing time. Even though he saw only three targets against Arizona last week, Jefferson still played about 80% of the team’s snaps. Likely without Beckham this week, Jefferson becomes the WR2 in one of the pass-heaviest offenses in football. And Seattle’s spot as No. 2 in FPA to wide receivers seems misleading. They just haven’t faced many good secondary wide receivers. Meanwhile, No. 1 wideouts like Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams carved Seattle up as expected. My point: Don’t shy away from a badly perceived matchup. Jefferson’s been too good to keep on your bench, as have Brandon Aiyuk and Michael Gallup. Both continue to produce despite being a secondary receiving option in their respective offenses. DeVante Parker has also been trustworthy when healthy, too.
Other Players to Consider: Brandon Aiyuk vs. ATL, DeVante Parker vs. NYJ, Michael Gallup at NYG
Sit: D.K. Metcalf at LAR
One receiver I’m not touching in the Seahawks-Rams game is Metcalf. Since Seattle’s bye in Week 9, Metcalf has averaged 3.4 targets and 34.6 receiving yards per game. It’s nice that he’s seen eight targets in four of those five games, yet it hasn’t translated to points. In fact, he’s exceeded 8.3 points just once in that five-game span. With how good Tyler Lockett’s been playing, Metcalf doesn’t really need to be more involved. On the other hand, the Seahawks would be better off letting Wilson cook, but that’s a whole other issue. Even if Jalen Ramsey is activated off the COVID-19 list in time, there’s no guarantee Metcalf will return to his pre-bye dominance. It’s time to leave him on your bench. Michael Pittman Jr. is in a similar situation, especially with how great Jonathan Taylor’s been. Don’t get your hopes up with any Bills receivers either, unless it’s Stefon Diggs.
Other Players to Consider: Michael Pittman Jr. vs. NE, Bills WRs not named Stefon Diggs vs. CAR
Start: Mike Gesicki vs. NYJ
Gesicki is the TE7 on the season, though he’s only TE17 across his last five games. The truth is you may not have a better option at tight end. Luckily, if you do have Gesicki, the cards are in your favor for Week 15. The Jets have allowed the third-most points to tight ends all season, which includes a 10-point performance to Gesicki in Week 11. But the real reason I like Gesicki this week may come down to—you guessed it—COVID-19. As of this writing, multiple Miami running backs are in the league’s health and safety protocols. This could cause Brian Flores to ramp up the passing in the team’s RPO-based offense. That bodes well for Gesicki, who’s really just a big slot receiver. Even if Myles Gaskin and Co. return in time for the Dolphins’ home game, I expect Gesicki to regain his mantle as one of Tagovailoa’s top targets. Pat Freiermuth also deserves to be started from now on if you haven’t been doing so already. I can make a risky case for Gerald Everett, too. Yuck.
Other Players to Consider: Pat Freiermuth vs. TEN, Gerald Everett at LAR
Sit: Kyle Pitts at SF
It pains me to say it, but you can’t confidently start Pitts. Despite averaging six-to-seven targets since Week 6, Pitts has only produced three games above 10 points in that time. His last four games aren’t any prettier; his best performance was a whopping 11.1 points. You just can’t trust Pitts in the Falcons’ passing game. This week, Atlanta faces San Francisco. They’ve allowed the ninth-fewest points to tight ends this season. Then again, the best tight ends they faced this season were T.J. Hockenson and Zach Ertz, so perhaps Pitts does have a monster game. It’s just too much to bank on at this point in the season. Jaime Eisner has him as TE15 in his rankings and I feel that’s appropriate.
Other Players to Consider: Zach Ertz at DET, Noah Fant vs. CIN