Start/sit questions are never as black and white as start/sit articles make them out to be, but below I have some players I am eagerly hoping to start and some I'd rather not. Be sure to check out my Matchup Machine post, which will help you visualize how well defenses defend each position for fantasy when delving into your lineup decisions.
Quarterbacks Start Andy Dalton at Kansas City
Dalton gets a great matchup and likely a good game flow for fantasy, as Patrick Mahomes will be able to put up points on this middling Bengals defense. Kansas City has given up 424-plus passing yards on three occasions so far, and even when the defense is able to stop an opposing quarterback, the need for that quarterback to throw in comeback mode will help him put up fantasy stats in a losing effort.
Baker Mayfield at Tampa Bay
This will be a test to see just how bad the Buccaneers' defense is, but so far, they have proven over and over that they are awful. Just check out Tampa Bay's passing yardage allowed for each week - 439, 334, 353, 354 and 354 yards. Nick Foles was the only quarterback to not throw for three or more touchdowns, yet he still hit 334 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions despite being awful himself. Mayfield has been a mixed bag so far, but he has taken on both the Chargers' and the Ravens' strong pass defenses, while his best game was on the road against Oakland. There's plenty of risk in playing Mayfield, but there will be scoring in this game, and his upside is high as is his downside low.
Sit Marcus Mariota at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were smoked by Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff early in the season, but have shut down the other four quarterbacks they've faced for five touchdowns to seven interceptions. Mariota looked like he had gotten back on track against the Eagles, but that was a fleeting reprieve, as he's totaled 246 yards, no touchdowns and one interception over his last two games.
Alex Smith vs Dallas
I had hope that Smith could keep some of his 2017 season going into 2018, but that was a pipe dream. He's reverted right back to his check-downing ways, and while the rest of the league is putting up huge yardage numbers, Smith is averaging 241 passing yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game while he tries to keep from making mistakes. The Cowboys slow the game down on offense and have a strong defense. They can be beaten through the air, but have yet to give up a game with over two passing touchdowns and have allowed an average of 1.16 on the season.
Running Backs Start Kareem Hunt vs Cincinnati
The Bengals allow opposing running backs 102 rushing yards per game at a 4.84-yards-per-carry clip and 6.3 receptions for 50.8 yards per game. Hunt also has at least one touchdown in each if his last five games, with six overall, and was finally used well in the passing game last week against the Patriots. I expect Kansas City to have a lead or be close enough throughout this game to not abandon the run but for this game to be high-scoring enough to push up his time near the goal line.
Kerryon Johnson at Miami
The last time the Lions played, LeGarrette Blount stole two goal-line touchdowns and a 50/50 carry split from Johnson despite Blount doing absolutely nothing to earn such touches, but I digress. The Lions are coming off their bye and expect Johnson to be pushed into a bigger role, which doesn't mean he will take over goal-line work, but there's no doubt that he has played much better than Blount and deserves to, at the very least, see more total work than him. The Lions also could be without Theo Riddick, who hadn't practiced as of Thursday of this week. If Riddick can't go, Johnson would likely see an uptick in reps and targets, as Blount is not a competent receiver. The Lions also get a good matchup, as the Dolphins have given up a total of 551 yards and five touchdowns to running backs over the last three games.
Sit Adrian Peterson vs Dallas
I don't doubt Adrian Peterson's ability, even at his ripe old age of 10 years younger than me, but his lack of receiving work, the return of Sean Lee and the Cowboys' overall strong run defense has me doubting his upside this week. In a week with four teams out for their bye, you're probably playing Peterson, but the Cowboys have allowed on average just 65.3 rushing yards at 3.3 yard per carry.
Alex Collins vs New Orleans
So far, the Saints have allowed 49 rushing yards a game at just 2.78 yards per carry, both being the best in the league. Football Outsiders also ranks them No. 1 in DVOA against the run. So far, they've shut down Carlos Hyde, Tevin Coleman and Adrian Peterson, not the studs of the league, but capable backs, much like Collins.
Wide Receivers Start Robert Woods vs San Francisco
Cooper Kupp will be out this week, which will help focus targets more toward Woods, while also pushing him to the slot more than usual. The 49ers have been awful against the slot, giving up big games to Adam Thielen, Golden Tate, Christian Kirk and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This is a terrific matchup that will be tough not to produce in the Rams' offense.
Willie Snead at New Orleans
Snead is another slot receiver with a great matchup, as the Saints lost Patrick Robinson, their slot corner, and have been poor against the position all season, while Marcus Lattimore has played well on the outside and will work on John Brown and/or Michael Crabtree. Snead should get targets funneled his way in the middle, and he also has a little extra juice for this one, as he was with New Orleans last season.
Sit Corey Davis vs Los Angeles Chargers
Davis has had trouble with tough matchups so far this season, with Jalen Ramsey, Tre'Davious White and the Ravens' elite group all making him unstartable. This week, Davis will likely see Casey Heyward more often than not, which isn't great news, as Heyward has played well this year as usual.
T.Y. Hilton vs Buffalo
Hilton looks like he's trending toward playing this week, which is great news for Andrew Luck and the Colts, but Hilton gets a tough matchup against Tre'Davious White, who has played great so far this season.
Tight Ends Start David Njoku at Tampa Bay
With Baker Mayfield throwing him the ball and the Browns' receivers being carted away to the medical tent on a regular basis, Njoku has seen his reception and target numbers steadily increase, with five, six and seven receptions over his last three games and his first touchdown coming last week. He now gets a Tampa Bay defense that has been the worst against tight ends, allowing the most receptions, receiving yards, fantasy points and touchdowns per game.
C.J. Uzomah at Kansas City
Kansas City hasn't faced many strong tight ends other than Rob Gronkowski last week, but the defense has still allowed the second-most receiving yards and fantasy points to the position this season. Uzomah isn't a weapon like Gronkowski or Kelce, but he caught 6-of-7 targets from Andy Dalton last week and there's a good chance the Bengals will again throw the ball to try to keep up with a high-powered offense.
Sit Ben Watson at Baltimore
The Ravens have yet to allow a touchdown or 70 yards receiving to a tight end. Watson has also taken a back seat to Cameron Meredith. It will be interesting to see how well Drew Brees can do against this defense in Baltimore, but I'm sure not taking any risks with the Saints' lesser targets this week.
When deciding on what tight end to start, don't look too deeply into the matchup stats, as there just aren't enough good tight ends out there to be able to rely on the stats. The outliers like Tampa Bay and Baltimore are worth looking into of course but don't sit your starting tight end because of a tough matchup unless you just happen to have another starting tight end on your team.