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.
It’s quite simple when it comes to DJ Moore. When Justin Fields plays, Moore is must-start in fantasy. He has averaged 22.2 fantasy PPG in Fields’ seven full games. He has topped 22 fantasy points in four straight with Fields and was held to fewer than 13 just once. The Lions are stingy against the run, but have struggled through the air. Since Week 9, they have allowed the second-most touchdowns and 10th-most yards to receivers. Moore should be started without question.
Deebo Samuel is out here snatching up chains and punishing anyone who gets in his way on the gridiron. But don’t overlook Aiyuk, who has caught a touchdown in four straight games and scored at least 13 fantasy points in each of his last five. He went for 50 yards and a TD on just two catches against Seattle on Thanksgiving. He also leads the Niners in yards and touchdowns against zone coverage, and the Seahawks uses zone at the fourth-highest rate in the league. While he’s taken a step back behind Deebo as of late, Aiyuk should still be started each and every week in fantasy football.
Death, taxes and Courtland Sutton making the most improbable touchdown catch of the week. At least that is how it feels like to me. Sutton has nine touchdowns in 2023 after scoring four in his last three seasons combined. He has caught one in every game but three this season. It’s been the main reason he’s posted double-digit fantasy points in all but two games. He has an excellent chance to score not just a touchdown but a whole heap of fantasy points this week, as the Chargers are in the top five in yards and touchdowns allowed to receivers. Keep starting Courtland.
Rice has fully taken over as the Chiefs’ lead receiver. He led their wideouts in snaps and routes once again this past week. He led the team in targets and catches for a second straight game. He has topped 14 fantasy points in two straight and scored eight or more in each of his last eight. The floor is safe and the ceiling is rising. Rice remains in play moving forward -- especially this week, as the Chiefs could be forced to throw in a high-scoring affair against the Bills.
“Wisconsin Deebo Samuel” took a back seat on Sunday Night Football last week, as his teammate Christian Watson went off. Unfortunately, Watson exited with a hamstring injury. That game snapped Reed’s three-game streak of 15-plus fantasy points. He has topped 11 in five of his last seven. He gets used on the ground and as a receiver and should see a boost in volume if Watson's sidelined, as he and Romeo Doubs will operate as the top two receivers. Since Week 9, the Giants have allowed the fourth-most yards to receivers. Reed is in play as a WR3 or flex option this week.
IF YOU NEED A STREAMER ...
It’s a two-for-one special here with the Boom-or-Bust Bros! Cooks has a fantastic matchup against the Eagles, who have allowed the second-most yards and most touchdowns to receivers. They have allowed the third-most TDs on deep passes. Cooks has topped 16 fantasy points in three of his last four, and given the way Dak Prescott and this offense are clicking (plus the matchup), Cooks is an excellent streaming option this week.
Davis does not have as favorable a matchup against the Chiefs, but he has a history of success against them. Last year, he caught three passes for 74 yards and a score in Kansas City, good for 16 fantasy points. The prior meeting was his transcendent playoff effort in Buffalo's narrow overtime loss, where Davis went off for 201 yards and four scores. Davis topped 22 points against the Eagles in his last game and four different times this season has scored 21-plus.
The floor is low with both these guys, but either could go for 20-plus in what should be high-scoring matchups this week.
Jake Browning and the Bengals looked better last week, but it still didn’t translate to a big game for Higgins. He was targeted just three times on Monday Night Football. Now he gets the Colts, who have allowed the fewest yards to receivers since Week 9. They also play zone coverage at the highest rate in the NFL, and Higgins has struggled against zone this season. While he is a big name, the production just has not been there. He’s always capable of surprising and putting up a strong performance, but given the recent production and matchup, I would try to get away this week.
Did you know that Lockett was statistically the top receiver in Seattle prior to last week? That’s not the case anymore (following DK Metcalf’s blowup), but it helps highlight how putrid things had been for the Seahawks, as Lockett has scored 10 or fewer fantasy points in three straight and seven of his last 10. At some point, it just becomes the expectation. This deep in the season, we can label Lockett as a boom-or-bust option on a team that ranks in the middle of the pack in passing yards and TDs. The Niners held him to three catches for 30 yards two weeks ago. They also run zone 77 percent of the time, and Lockett has not scored a TD against zone coverage this season. Also, on Metcalf, I took the L and won’t tell you to sit him again, but last week’s ceiling was clearly just that. Metcalf remains a WR2 with a lower floor than in past years, but at least he’s finally started showing some upside in the last month.
The Panthers have struggled to score regardless of who’s calling plays. But losing Frank Reich apparently ruins the one fantasy thing we had going in Carolina, which was Adam Thielen. In Thomas Brown’s four games calling plays, Thielen has now averaged just 7.8 fantasy PPG, compared to 17.9 with Reich. Last week, he was third in yards and fantasy points ... among Carolina receivers. Until we see Thielen prove he can be the same guy with Brown that he was with Reich, it’s time to sit the veteran in fantasy.
After going from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans somehow improved his fantasy stock. The same cannot be said for Godwin, who has been held to single-digit fantasy points in each of his last five games. He recorded just three targets and no catches last week, needing a rushing touchdown to salvage his day. He has only one receiving touchdown and just three games with more than 60 yards this season. Yeah, it’s been bad. Now he gets the Falcons, who are not a matchup to avoid but do play man-to-man at the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. Godwin has just 86 yards against man coverage in total this season. Until Godwin starts looking like his past self, it’s unfortunately time for him to just hit the bench in fantasy.
In this Steelers offense, Pickens is a boom-or-bust WR3 or flex option. He did manage to score 12.6 fantasy points last week, his first time topping double figures since Week 7. But he was targeted just once on 17 Mitchell Trubisky passes. We also had five games where Trubisky played at least 85 percent of the snaps last season. Pickens averaged four targets per game and topped 60 yards only once in those games. He did not catch a touchdown in any of them and 10.8 fantasy points was his high-water mark. He does play well against man coverage, which the Patriots use often, but starting him is hoping for a huge play or two. The odds of him giving you single digits are much higher. I would play it safe and sit Pickens until we see more chemistry with Trubisky.