My "Starts" had mixed results but I hit on all three of my "Sits" in last week's fantasy advice for quarterbacks, tight ends, and defense/special teams (DSTs). I'm obviously hoping for improvements this week. And I will say that I am much more confident in my starting choices at QB and DST this week compared to last. However, given our weekly criteria, I feel pretty good about my picks.
A quick review of that criteria. This column focuses on the options in the "QB2/TE2/DST2" range, i.e. those ranked that week from around 13 to 24. That's the tier I will be evaluating. And more often than not, I'll try to give you a lower-ranked option for whom to start and a higher-ranked option for whom to sit when possible. With the rules out of the way, here are this week's picks.
START This QB
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
I definitely did not want to go this week without mentioning Fields, especially since the news he would be starting came after my QB rankings were submitted.
If nothing else, Fields gets himself a pretty good matchup as the Browns have allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs this year. Recall that they did play have to play Patrick Mahomes, but the Cleveland defense didn't look great last week against the now-0-3 Houston Texans either. The Browns have allowed nearly a 70 percent completion rate and 8.7 yards per attempt, which is in the bottom 10 of the league. Fields is an obvious start in 2-QB leagues, and I would start him over half his peers in standard leagues as well.
SIT This QB
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
We stay in the NFC North with my sit for the week. Cousins won't be horrible, but he is often matchup-dependent. And this is a matchup to avoid. Seattle is giving up the 12th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Furthermore, they are giving up the ... (checks notes again) ...Yikes! They are giving up the MOST fantasy points to the RB position. Do you think Minnesota might lean on Dalvin Cook and try to maybe pass less this weekend? Yeah, me too.
START This TE
Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This is a pretty deep pick. So don't be stupid and sit guys ranked in the top 10 for Freiermuth. But those of you in deep leagues who have him rostered might want to insert him into your lineup this week. I do like him over others typically ranked ahead of him like Jack Doyle or, surprisingly, Eric Ebron. Here are the facts:
- Freiermuth has out-snapped Ebron each of the past two weeks. If volume determines who is the TE1, Freiermuth seems to be the guy.
- While he might not be anymore, Ebron was definitely the TE1 in Pittsburgh last year. As the TE1 in Pittsburgh last year, Ebron was targeted at least five times in 12 of 15 games.
- Last year, Cincinnati gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to the TE position.
SIT This TE
Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Can someone please explain to me why Conklin continues to get so much fantasy love? He's often ranked right around the top 20 and I can't for the life of me figure out why. He was in this exact spot last week and made me look smart with a whopping two catches for 15 yards. And as we have already discussed, Minnesota will likely lean on its running game and Seattle is pretty good against the pass. They have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to TEs this season. I could probably write more reasons why not to start Conklin, but I don't think I need to, do I?
START This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Time for a little blind resume quiz! Look at the two team stats below:
Team A: 10th in points allowed per game; 6th in total yards allowed; T-5th in sacks
Team B: 3rd in points allowed per game; 5th in total yards allowed; T-5th in sacks
Obviously one is Cincinnati. But before you guess which teams both A and B are, I will remind you that the Bengals are playing the Steelers. Only five other teams in the league have scored fewer touchdowns. Meanwhile, the non-Bengals team is playing a team that has been outscored by only 10 other teams so far this year. Yes, Cincinnati is Team A.
But given the choice between Cincinnati and "Team B," it's kind of a tough call, right? I find that particularly interesting. That's because Team B is a top-5 DST for this week in nearly every ranking I've seen, while Cincinnati rarely cracks the top 20.
Furthermore, Team B has had the benefit of playing the Jets and Zach Wilson who has some rookie struggles. Yes, Team B is the Patriots. But given how non-obvious this decision is when you cover up the names, you see why I like the Bengals DST as a potential start?
SIT This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers
I was at the Baltimore/Kansas City game in person and I just KNEW that the Ravens were going to score that last touchdown. I didn't know if the KC offense was going to bail them out, but you could just tell that the Chiefs' defense was absolutely exhaaaaaausted.
And after a late Sunday night, they have to play Justin Herbert and Chargers, who also just lost a game in the last minute? And with this being a divisional game, the stakes are even higher for both of these teams, as neither wants to be 1-2. And while Herbert might not be as electric as Lamar Jackson, Herbert's receiving weapons are unquestionably a step above Jackson's. The KC defense will have some better matchups later this year, but I wouldn't start the Chiefs this week either.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.