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Sit-start advice for title games

Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

As the news cycle continues to churn, be sure to monitor players you’re considering starting for updates. Good luck with your Week 17 lineups.

Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens

Start in DFS: Cooper Kupp ($40)

Start: Tyler Huntley

Kupp is coming off his first week without a touchdown in a while, but he extended his NFL record with his 11th straight game getting 90+ receiving yards. Sunday he gets a dream matchup against a pass-funnel Ravens defense that’s stingy against the run but has a secondary that’s been so ravaged by injuries they just allowed Joe Burrow to throw for the fourth-most passing yards (525) in a game in NFL history. Baltimore has given up the most yards per play (6.5) at home this season but has a top-five run defense in DVOA. It’s an almost too-good-to-be-true setup for Kupp to smash again this week.

Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham and Tyler Higbee also deserve upgrades in this matchup.

There’s some added risk starting Huntley coming off the COVID list (it’s affected everyone differently but some dramatically the week after returning), but he’s a top-12 fantasy QB if good to go even in a tougher matchup versus the Rams. Huntley has averaged 56.5 rushing yards and a TD run over his two starts, and Sunday’s game script could easily call for another 40+ pass attempts too.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts

Start in DFS: Zay Jones ($11), Jonathan Taylor ($42)

Jones quietly ranks top-10 in WOPR over the last two weeks, and Darren Waller remains out (Foster Moreau can also be started in a highly favorable matchup). Indoors facing a pass-funnel Colts defense that’s tough to run against, Jones is an intriguing DFS flier at the near minimum. Offenses have exploded over the past two months immediately after playing the Broncos, so expect a nice bounce back from the Raiders this week.

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Taylor is coming off a rare scoreless game but has averaged 5.9 YPC at home and is facing a Las Vegas defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Sunday’s game script projects as favorable with the Colts touchdown favorites (and Carson Wentz expected to start), and Indy’s offensive line is back to full strength. Taylor stands out among the RB field.

New York Giants @ Chicago Bears

Sit: All Giants

Start: Bears D/ST

Jake Fromm (-32.1 CPOE) was somehow a downgrade from Mike Glennon, who’s averaged 159.0 passing yards (4.6 YPA) with a 2:5 TD:INT ratio over three starts this season. Kadarius Toney has been ruled out (again) with a shoulder injury, his latest in an impressive list he’s accumulated. If your fantasy team made the championship round, you likely have better options than a banged-up Saquon Barkley this week. I’d rather watch “Little Giants” than start a Giant during my fantasy finals.

The Bears welcome back Akiem Hicks and enter with a big DL>OL advantage; so much so that an Andy Dalton team is favored by nearly a touchdown. The over/under is 37 points! David Montgomery leads all running backs in target% over the last month and is a must fantasy start this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets

Start in DFS: Ronald Jones ($24), Michael Carter ($17)

Jones dropped a touchdown and watched Ke’Shawn Vaughn run for a long score during a breather last week, but he finished as a top-12 RB anyway. Jones dominated Tampa Bay’s backfield over the first three quarters before ceding work in a blowout, and he gets the most favorable matchup possible this week against a New York defense allowing by far the most fantasy points to running backs this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones

RoJo is set up for success on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Rob Gronkowski ($23) would become highly intriguing in DFS if both Mike Evans (hamstring) and Antonio Brown (ankle) are out Sunday.

Carter should get the Jets backfield to himself with Tevin Coleman out, and the rookie has impressed while averaging the third-most forced missed tackles per carry this season. Tampa Bay isn’t an easy run defense, but they’ve allowed the third-most targets and receptions to running backs, so Carter should see a ton of work Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons @ Buffalo Bills

Start: Cordarrelle Patterson, Devin Singletary

Patterson is coming off an oddly quiet game against the Lions, and his fantasy value has taken a hit while seeing fewer targets these days, but he can be started in your finals if needed. The Bills rank second against the pass but 14th versus the run in DVOA, so a return to 15+ carries should be expected.

Singletary continues to emerge as Buffalo’s clear lead back, and he’s been a top-15 PPR back three straight weeks. He had the second-most red-zone snaps among all backs last week, and after an extremely tough stretch of schedule, the Bills finish the season with two home games against the Falcons and Jets. Buffalo is more than two-touchdown home favorites Sunday, and Singletary’s salary ($18) is the No. 25 RB this week, so he’s also a bargain in DFS as the feature back on an offense with a QB who looks unstoppable.

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints

Start: DJ Moore & Robby Anderson, Saints D/ST

Sam Darnold has a lot of faults, but Carolina has a condensed target tree with no running game right now, which really benefits Moore and Anderson, who have averaged 10.5 targets each over the last three games. New Orleans enters with the No. 1 run defense in DVOA but allows the ninth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season, so both wideouts can be started this week.

The Saints have a huge advantage in the trenches and are at home against a Carolina offense that’s getting the second-fewest yards per play on the road and allowing the second-most fantasy points to defenses this year, so New Orleans’ D/ST has an argument to be ranked No. 1 this week. Taysom Hill returns and is a top-12 QB, while Marquez Callaway is a deep sleeper. Callaway has reportedly “turned a corner” over the last two weeks when he’s absolutely dominated his team’s air yards share. With Tre’Quan Smith questionable and Stephon Gilmore out, Callaway has a favorable-looking setup.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team

Start: Boston Scott

Sit: All Football Team

With Miles Sanders out and Jordan Howard questionable (and unlikely to be 100% if he plays), Scott becomes a viable flex option during championship week. Kenneth Gainwell could become involved as well, but he’s also been limited in practice with an ankle injury. Jalen Hurts isn’t running as much while playing through a high-ankle sprain, and Scott is the favorite to lead the team in touches against a Washington run defense that ranks 28th in DVOA.

There have been suggestions Washington plays both Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen at quarterback, and Antonio Gibson has been ruled out Sunday. The Eagles are vulnerable to tight ends, but John Bates and Ricky Seals-Jones are splitting work. Terry McLaurin can be started if needed, but he’s failed to reach 10 PPR points in any of the past five games and will be shadowed by Darius Slay.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start: Darrel Williams, Tyler Boyd

Williams alone has more fantasy value in a given week than Clyde Edwards-Helaire would while ceding passing down and goal-line work to the former. In five games without CEH this season, Williams has averaged 19+ opportunities and has been a top-15 fantasy back. Derrick Gore will get work, but Williams is a strong start this week.

Boyd has seen increased targets lately and led Cincinnati pass catchers in snap percentage last week. Kansas City’s run defense has been much tougher since Chris Jones moved to defensive end, and the Chiefs have been more vulnerable to the slot than outside receivers, so Boyd should be busy Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots

Sit: All Jaguars

Start: Rhamondre Stevenson

Jacksonville enters with the league’s shakiest QB play, missing James Robinson, an offensive line dealing with a COVID outbreak and as 16.5-point underdogs on the road against a Patriots team coming off back-to-back losses. The Patriots’ defense ranks third in DVOA, while Trevor Lawrence has somehow produced one touchdown since October (eight games).

At least Bill Belichick is well-known for taking it easy on rookie quarterbacks

Damien Harris is questionable with a hamstring injury, but Stevenson should get plenty of work regardless. The Patriots are huge favorites at home, where Stevenson has gotten 4.9 YPC this season. The impressive rookie is a fine flex option with upside for much more should Harris sit or leave mid-game.

Miami Dolphins @ Tennessee Titans

Start: Jaylen Waddle

Sit: All running backs (in this game)

It might be Captain Obvious, but Jaylen Waddle is a must fantasy start while continuing to impress and facing a Tennessee defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to receivers.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17)

Jaylen Waddle has been on a tear of late. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Duke Johnson, Myles Gaskin and Phillip Lindsay have formed a three-way committee in Miami’s backfield, and the Titans have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Meanwhile, D’Onta Foreman, Jeremy McNichols and Dontrell Hilliard have formed Tennessee’s RB by committee and are facing a Dolphins defense that’s been the stingiest against fantasy backs over the last eight games when schedule/opponent-adjusted.

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers

Start: Noah Fant

Sit: Mike Williams

With Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick all set to miss Sunday’s game (with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams both nursing injuries as well), expect increased targets for Fant (and Albert O). Denver happens to face a Chargers defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, and Drew Lock played perfectly fine (2 CPOE) last week when he led the league in aDOT (11.2). He gets another start Sunday and appears to be a big upgrade for Broncos pass catchers. Fant gets a huge boost with Denver’s entire receiving group out with COVID.

Williams was activated off the COVID list late in the week, and he gets a Broncos defense allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to outside receivers over the last eight games.

Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers

Start: Brandin Cooks, Trey Lance

Cooks was averaging 10.5 targets, 7.5 catches, 101.5 yards and 1.0 touchdown over his previous two games before going on the COVID list. He should be fully recovered after returning to fully practice this week. Davis Mills has been playing well, getting 7.5 YPA with a 5:1 TD:INT ratio over the last three games that have all come against top-15 pass defenses. Facing an SF pass-funnel defense that shuts down the run yet has allowed the second-most fantasy points to his primary side over the last month, expect Cooks to finish as a top-10 WR this week.

With Jimmy Garoppolo suffering torn thumb ligaments, Lance is getting the second start of his career Sunday. Now fully recovered from finger and knee injuries, Lance has reportedly been developing really well behind the scenes while dicing up the 49ers’ defense in practice. Even if the raw rookie remains shaky passing, his rushing ability makes him an immediate top-10 fantasy QB, with upside for more. With Elijah Mitchell questionable but San Francisco’s receivers all healthy (George Kittle was out during Lance’s previous start) against a Texans defense allowing 7.8 YPA, Lance is set up for success and is going to be extremely popular in DFS while available at the minimum.

Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: Chase Edmonds

Start in DFS: Dalton Schultz ($14)

With James Conner highly questionable to play with his heel issue, Edmonds looks like a top-12 RB this week. The Cardinals provide a ton of high-value touches for their backs, and Dallas’ defense ranks first against the pass but 19th versus the run in DVOA. This game indoors projects to be high-paced and high-scoring as well.

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Schultz’s DFS salary ($14) is at his lowest since Week 4 despite averaging eight catches, 74.5 yards and 1.0 touchdown over the last two games. He’s scored five touchdowns over seven home games, where Dak Prescott has posted a 20:2 TD:INT ratio this season. Prescott recently said Schultz has moved up his progression read ladder, so his salary looks flat-out mispriced outside the top-15 tight ends. The Cardinals’ defense has been below average (EPA/play) since J.J. Watt went on IR, will be missing their top two corners Sunday and have allowed the second-most fantasy points per pass attempt over the last six weeks.

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

Start: D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny

after returning to full practices this week (and being close to returning last week). He’s been a fantasy monster when on the field and gets a Seahawks defense allowing the most targets, catches and receiving yards (and the second-most fantasy points) to running backs this season. Even with Tim Boyle starting for the underdog Lions and coming off a five-week absence, Swift looks like a strong fantasy start this week.

Penny is also a must-start this week as Seattle’s new feature back (he’s led the team in carries three straight games) and as against a Detroit defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Penny has the third-most rushing yards this month, behind only Sony Michel and Jonathan Taylor.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: K.J. Osborn

Start: Packers D/ST

With Sean Mannion starting instead of Kirk Cousins, all Vikings other than Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson (now more of a WR2) need to be benched Sunday night during . Cousins missing this game is bad all around for fantasy, .

Green Bay’s defense gets an obvious boost now facing Mannion, who’s yet to throw a touchdown during his career and is under tough circumstances without practicing with the first team all week. It’s a bit of a downgrade for the Packers’ passing attack with less projected volume, but it’s an upgrade for Aaron Jonesand AJ Dillon, who are both worth starting in fantasy championship week.

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sit: All Browns but Nick Chubb

Start: Pat Freiermuth

Nick Chubb should have a monster game against a bad Steelers run defense but aim higher than anyone else on Cleveland in your fantasy championship. Hopefully Baker Mayfield returns a different quarterback healthier next season.

Freiermuth is listed as questionable but is expected to play after practicing fully Friday. The rookie leads all tight ends in targets inside the five-yard line this season, and Cleveland has been a favorable matchup for the position. Ben Roethlisberger will also likely be playing his final Pittsburgh home game Monday night, and a narrative never hurts.

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