The byepocalypse week is here. With six teams on Bye, we’re struggling just to fill rosters. Toss in that fantasy-relevant players are furiously switching teams, and we have a near-impossible week to make start or sit decisions. After all, you can’t just keep relying on the set-and-forget players every week of the year, especially not when you’re going to be without all your Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Giants, Steelers, and 49ers. But, fear not, we’ve sifted through some of the tougher start or sit questions for this week to help you get your roster all faced in the right direction this weekend.
Trevor Lawrence versus Las Vegas
I get not wanting to play Trevor Lawrence this week, I really do. He cratered last week, finishing with 133 passing yards, a touchdown, and two picks. But, let’s pump the brakes here. How dare he get crushed by the Broncos, the team that gives up the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. How dare he score only 6.82 fantasy points against them, making him the fourth-straight quarterback to not pass 8.5 fantasy points against them, and the sixth quarterback this season to have that happen. He would need to have the best possible matchup in the NFL for me to feel good about starting him this week!
Well, guy I just made up that is weirdly indignant about Trevor Lawrence, do I have good news for you! Lawrence gets the biggest layup of the year one week after taking on a Broncos team that held Justin Herbert to under 9 fantasy points. This week, he gets the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders are the cure for what ails you, as every quarterback that has gone up against them had multiple touchdowns, and Andy Dalton last week scored the fewest points against them this year: 17.16. This is an incredible one-week call to start Trevor Lawrence for those of you in a bind thanks to everyone in the NFL being on a bye.
Aaron Rodgers at Detroit
One week after reaching the top twelve for the first time, Rodgers was back to his old ways. Rodgers went toe-to-toe with the Buffalo Bills last week and walked away as the QB20, marking the seventh time in eight games that Rodgers finished outside the top-12 at the position. But, despite everyone in the receiving corps being hurt, bad, or both, Rodgers will prevail this week. He will, once again, be a top-twelve quarterback. And a top-twelve quarterback means that you can start Aaron Rodgers. Why am I so confident about Rodgers stacking up points this week? First of all, he has 37 dropbacks per game, which is plenty for Rodgers to do damage. Second is the little matter of his opponent: the Detroit Lions.
The Lions are glad the Raiders exist, otherwise, they would rank first in the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Their two big “wins” on either side of their byes were Bailey Zappe doing his Zap Zap Zappe thing, and Dak Prescott in his first game back from his thumb injury. Last week, Tua went for over 400 total yards and 3 touchdowns. Geno Smith, Kirk Cousins, and Carson Wentz all also tore this passing game apart. If those guys can do it, I think a Hall of Famer can do it.
Jared Goff versus Green Bay
On the other side of the field, across from Aaron Rodgers, is Jared Goff. And, you should sit Jared Goff this week against the Packers. Once upon a time this season, Goff was a slam dunk must-start guy, averaging over 22 fantasy points per game in the first four weeks of the year. Then, injuries started to mount, and Goff had less than 7.5 points against New England and Dallas, before beating up on the woeful Miami secondary. Unfortunately, Goff won’t have T.J. Hockenson or a bad defense to kick around this week. The Packers allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks so far this season, with Josh Allen “only” getting 17.62 points last week, which, by the way, is ten points per game less than he averaged in the first seven weeks of the season. The Packers haven’t allowed a third touchdown to a quarterback yet this year, and they’ve allowed just one guy over 275 passing yards (Kirk Cousins had 277 way back in week one). There’s just no angle of attack here to stream Jared Goff to victory, despite looking competent in all his games but two.
JuJu Smith-Schuster versus Tennessee
I too, might be worried if I rostered JuJu Smith-Schuster. After all, he’s had eight targets in four of his last five games, and the Chiefs traded for Kadarius Toney… who will almost certainly be taking targets from Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. I’m not worried about what this might mean for JuJu, because JuJu is the Chiefs’ WR1, and will continue to be their WR1 coming off of back-to-back 20+ point PPR games against two of the toughest defenses in the NFL (the Bills and the 49ers). So, basically, I’m telling you to not worry about the Kadarius Toney addition and still start JuJu Smith-Schuster. If the fact that he’s been lights out recently isn’t enough to pique your interest, may I offer you the Tennessee Titans? They’ve allowed the sixth-most PPR points to wide receivers this season, and have given up at at least 10 PPR points to five receivers in their last three games (with Michael Pittman 0.2 points away from making that six in three games).
Rondale Moore versus Seattle
Rondale with DeAndre Hopkins has a two-game sample size. In the first game, he had 2 targets, 1 catch, and 31 yards. In the other, he had 8 targets, 7 catches, 92 yards and a score. So, will the real Rondale Moore please stand up? A big part of his increased usage last week came from Kyler Murray going from 29 targets to 44 targets, which would obviously scale everybody up. But, that doesn’t explain why Rondale went from a 7% target share to an 18% target share. I’m not sure I feel so great about something that I have no good answer to. And, his 18% target share is more in line with what he had before DeAndre Hopkins arrived. It’s a good sign that he bounced back to that volume, but I worry that this week will be more like week seven (two targets) than week nine (eight targets).
The Seahawks are a pass funnel offense… to tight ends. A funnel means that their skills dictate what the opposing team can do. The Seahawks rebuilt their defense on the fly, and they currently are one of the stingiest pass defenses in the league against wide receivers and one of the worst in the NFL at stopping opposing tight ends. The Seahawks also get chewed up by pass-catching running backs, as well, as every running back with over 5 targets against them went for at least 19 PPR points. This speaks to some serious issues in coverage along the front seven, which is why I have Zach Ertz as the TE1 in my “completely made-up hot take rankings” this week.
On the flip side, the Seahawks have a secondary that has given up one 100-yard game to a receiver this year, and that was when a guy fell down in week one against Jerry Jeudy and the Broncos. Other than that, Mike Williams is the high score, with 86 yards. No offense to Rondale Moore, but he’s not Mike Williams. Moore had 10 targets, 6 receptions, and 49 yards against this team in week six. But, I don’t see him getting ten targets again this week. All this uncertainty and a game plan that benefits minimizing Rondale Moore is why I want to sit Rondale Moore this week, just to be on the safe side.
Isaiah McKenzie at N.Y. Jets
I want to sit Isaiah McKenzie this week against the Jets. That’s probably all you wanted, but the 41% rostered receiver scored a touchdown last week and has four touchdowns in seven games this year, so I understand if you want a bit more. McKenzie has been a crucial part of the Bills’ offense, at times. Back in weeks three and four, he had fifteen combined targets. Unfortunately, the Bills also go all the way away from him, as he has six targets in the two games prior to that outburst and six targets in the three games after that outburst. Last week, his touchdown came on a goal-line carry, indicating that they want to get him involved. But, as you can see by his target volume, wanting to get him involved and actually getting him involved are two different things.
This week, the Bills take on the Jets, which means that I doubt that they pass the ball a ton, at least not after they go up 24-3 on the Jets at the half on the back of two Zach Wilson turnovers. McKenzie is a distant third in the wide receiver pecking order, and the Jets are one of the best defenses in the NFL not only at stopping receivers (they allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to the position), but specifically, slot receivers, where McKenzie gets two-thirds of his snaps. They’ve allowed only five wide receivers double-digit fantasy points out of the slot this year. No offense to Isaiah McKenzie, but he isn’t quite Tyler Boyd, Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, Devin Duvernay, or Allen Lazard. At least, not yet.
Ronnie Rivers/Malcolm Brown/Darrell Henderson/Cam Akers/Kyren Williams at Tampa Bay
Sit all Rams running backs this week. I have no earthly clue what is happening in L.A., and neither do you. And if we are being brutally honest, neither does Sean McVay. The Rams running back room is an absolute disaster and under no circumstances would I want anyone in that backfield this week. In the last couple of weeks, ever since Cam Akers decided that he would do the rare move of “being bad and trying to push his way out of the Rams’ backfield,” the Rams have gone full-on crazy with it. Malcolm Brown and Ronnie Rivers, who had zero touches in the first five weeks, combined to have 41.7% and 73.9% of the Rams’ running back touches last week. And Darrell Henderson, who had 85.7% of the RB touches in week one, had just 26.1% last week. Things have gone absolutely crazy in Los Angeles.
And, on top of all that, the Rams take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who give up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, despite giving up big games to D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard in week seven. They mostly stymie opposing running backs, and with every running back in this backfield having equal odds of getting 8 touches or 14 touches, I am not going to trust them this week.
Tyler Allgeier versus L.A. Chargers
Tyler Allgeier has exactly one career game inside the top-24 at running back, and it was last week when he turned 14 carries and 3 receptions into an RB13 finish on the week. But, it wasn’t his finish that intrigued me last week, it was his usage. He had 17 touches, which was a career-high (and I acknowledge that it took until overtime for him to make it there), and it marks the fifth-straight game where his touch volume increased (from 6 to 11, to 13, to 15, to 16, to 17). The Falcons, without Cordarrelle Patterson, are showing a growing faith in Allgeier toting the rock. And good thing, too, as they have a matchup good enough that I want to start Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier gets the Chargers this week, a team that has had five running backs get at over 13 carries against them… and four of those five had at least 100 yards rushing. It’s a boon of a situation for the rookie running back, and one that he needs to take advantage of before Patterson returns to take the backfield back over.
T.J. Hockenson at Washington
T.J. Hockenson went from the Lions to the Vikings this week, and that should be enough to make you want to sit T.J. Hockenson. But, if you need a bit more convincing, let’s start with the target situation for the existing tight ends. Incumbent-turned-IR-sitter Irv Smith, Jr. had four or five targets in each of his last four games and wasn’t super involved in the passing game, averaging just 23 routes per game over the last four. The Vikings didn’t have much of a plan for Irv Smith, and I don’t know how much their new plan will work this weekend. The Vikings get the Washington Commanders this weekend, who give up the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends on the year. They’ve given up more than 7 PPR points to TEs to just one tight end this year (Dallas Goedert), and suppressed other marginal, low-volume tight ends. While Hockenson remains a top-12 tight end for the balance of the year, I am not interested in playing him this week.
Evan Engram versus Las Vegas
Evan Engram hit six targets or more in four consecutive games, and he’s finished inside the top ten in three of these games, notching 9 PPR points in the fourth of them. He, Doug Pederson, and Trevor Lawrence are making sweet fantasy music, as the TE11 hits the easy part of his schedule. This part of the schedule starts with Las Vegas, who allow the third-most fantasy points to tight ends, including six guys passing the 8 PPR point minimum tight end threshold in their seven games, including Jordan Akins and Taysom Hill in their last two. There are hardly any better matchups to be had, so you should start Evan Engram this week.
Gerald Everett at Atlanta
I’ve been playing a fun game every week, and it’s a game where I see which random tight end pops off against the Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately, neither Tommy Tremble nor Ian Thomas felt like playing along last weekend. Thankfully, the fantasy football gods brought me Gerald Everett, without Mike Williams, coming off a bye, against this Atlanta Falcons defense, which allows the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
As of right now, Gerald Everett is TE12 in PPR fantasy points per game, after struggling in two of the last four games and dominating in the other two. This week, however, he should have plenty of opportunities to produce. He has 16 targets across the last two games, and he’s set to be a top-three option on every play. When you consider the tight end graveyard this week, I don’t know how you can do anything but start Gerald Everett.