You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.
I included Pittman here just to point out that he has reached must-start status for each and every week. He is one of four players with seven-plus games of double-digit targets this year -- Tyreek Hill (eight), Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen are the others. Pittman has 12 or more in three of his last four. He’s topped 14 fantasy points in six straight. Yeah, that’s a must-start WR. Meanwhile, Downs didn’t come through with a huge fantasy game last week, but 13 targets is far too enticing to ignore. The rookie has proven to be a great source of volume when healthy and offers a reliable floor around nine fantasy points. Both receivers are strong starts this week against the Titans, who have allowed the ninth-most yards to receivers.
I will admit that, while I had Ridley as a start last week, I was a little skeptical on the Zay Jones narrative. And while I still partially am, it’s hard to argue with results. In five games with Jones in the lineup this season, Ridley has scored 24.1, 5.2, 20.6, 30.1 and 21.9 fantasy points. That equates to 20.4 fantasy PPG. Meanwhile, he has not reached 15 in a game without Jones. Ridley has been winning downfield and scoring TDs as of late -- exactly the reasons I was so bullish on him before the season. He will look to build off his hot streak against the Bengals, who have allowed the sixth-most yards to receivers since Week 8. Ridley might have started off slow, but he has a favorable schedule and can make it up to fantasy managers the rest of the way.
The Broncos are one of the hottest teams in football, and while the defense deserves a ton of the credit, so does Courtland Sutton. He snapped his five-game touchdown streak last week and scored his fewest fantasy points since Week 5 ... but he still topped nine points. That’s a very safe floor -- and we know the ceiling is impressive, as he had topped 15 in four of five games before last week. Now he faces the Texans, who have allowed the fourth-most yards to receivers since Week 8. The Broncos could have to throw to keep up with C.J. Stroud and the Texans' offense. Sutton is a strong start this week, and his teammate, Jerry Jeudy, is a deeper streaming option due to the byes.
I have written about Rice in this column a bunch. He has been routinely featured in "Flex or Fuhhget" on Fantasy Live (even though I personally prefer pasta to rice ... ayyy!) and it looks like everything's finally starting to come together for the Chiefs' second-round pick. In Week 12, Rice paced Kansas City wideouts in snaps and routes, while leading the entire team in targets/catches/yards and scoring a TD. He was the first Chiefs rookie receiver to top 100 yards in a game since Dwyane Bowe. Patrick Mahomes has a 138.0 passer rating when targeting Rice this season, which is the second-highest mark in the league among QB-WR duos (min. 50 targets, per Next Gen Stats). Rice has established a safe floor, topping eight fantasy points in every game since Week 5, and we’re starting to see the upside, which could get much higher if he continues to take over as K.C.’s WR1. Especially in a favorable matchup against the Packers.
IF YOU NEED A STREAMER ...
Patriots WR Demario Douglas is a top streaming option at the receiver position. He had nine targets last week for a second straight game and now has four straight outings with seven targets or more. That sort of volume alone is enough to have him in play in a week with six teams on bye. He's also topped 10 fantasy points in three straight and has a fantastic matchup against the Chargers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to receivers. (EDITOR'S UPDATE: Douglas has been ruled out Sunday with a concussion.) Jayden Reed has been the cheddary version of Deebo Samuel for Green Bay recently. He is getting the job done as a runner and a receiver and has scored 15 or more fantasy points in three straight games. He has only one game with fewer than 11 since Week 7. Plus, the Packers will have to put up points against the Chiefs.
Many managers need deeper options this week, so here are a few of those, as well. Chargers WR Joshua Palmer is an option if he returns from injury in New England. The Bolts' offense has been searching for a second WR to step up, and Palmer had been a consistent source of volume before getting hurt. Cardinals WR Greg Dortch has topped eight targets in two straight games. If Michael Wilson is out again, Dortch is in play. (Wilson is the preferred option if he suits up.) Saints WR A.T. Perry is another streaming option if Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed are out this week.
Let me apologize to my editors in advance, as this blurb will be a little longer than usual, but a call like this needs detailed justification. The matchup is terrible for Seattle. The Cowboys have given up the third-fewest yards and fifth-fewest fantasy PPG to receivers. They’ve allowed the fifth-fewest yards to wide receivers lined up outside and sixth-fewest to those in the slot. So whether it’s Metcalf out wide, Lockett roaming or Smith-Njigba primarily out of the slot, they all have a poor matchup in Week 13. Dallas also runs man coverage at the third-highest rate in the NFL, and Metcalf has especially struggled in man-to-man. On the season, he has 10 catches for 157 yards with a 30 percent catch rate and a 57.3 passer rating when targeted while going against man. Lockett and Smith-Njigba fare better in rating when targeted, but have even fewer yards against man on the season. Plus, you can read the Geno Smith blurb in the quarterbacks file for my thoughts on his outlook this week. (SPOILER ALERT: It's dire.) It might be hard to get away from Metcalf and Lockett with six teams on bye, but if you have options, take them.
Styles make fights. If you’re the Falcons, you look at this defense and determine your best bet to win is to run the ball as much as you possibly can. The Jets will struggle to put up points with Tim Boyle starting, and you don’t want to give their talented secondary a chance to make a play. The run game also happens to be Atlanta's strength. All told, volume is a big question for London this week. And of course, he runs 78 percent of his routes out wide, with the majority coming on the left side, which is Sauce Gardner territory. I would sit London in the toughest matchup for WRs.
Volume is a near-necessity in fantasy football and it just isn’t coming for Hopkins in Tennessee. He ran 22 routes with five targets in Week 12, after running 15 routes with five targets in Week 11. He consistently leads the team in routes run, but that doesn’t mean much, as the Titans focus on running the ball and limiting the attempts for their rookie QB. Hopkins has become a boom-or-bust proposition with Will Levis under center for Tennessee. Starting him at this point is hoping for a long touchdown. In what could be a slow, low-scoring game with a ton of ground-and-pound, I would recommend getting away from Hopkins.
Cooper has scored just 11 fantasy points combined in two games since Deshaun Watson went down for the season. Last week, he put up just 3.6 points before exiting with a rib injury. In six total games without Watson this season, Cooper’s averaging just 7.9 fantasy points and has a grand total of zero touchdowns. The Rams are not normally a matchup to avoid, but given the QB play and how it has impacted Cooper in fantasy, I would get away.