Welcome to the Start/Sit Optimizer. Every week, fantasy football analysts, including those here at PFN, are inundated with start/sit questions. Here, we will highlight five of the most popular start/sit decisions and provide a little more in-depth analysis of who to start.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Start/Sit Optimizer to help you make the right decision!
Who Should You Start in Fantasy Football This Week?
Geno Smith or Anthony Richardson?
The Start/Sit Optimizer at Pro Football Network is comprised of our Consensus Rankings. It says to start Anthony Richardson, but it’s very close. I agree…and it’s very close.
There were some rookie hiccups for the unpolished Richardson, but overall, he looked the part in his NFL debut. The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t get the win over their division foe, but Richardson cracked 20 fantasy points and finished as the QB4 on the week. This week, Richardson gets a far softer opponent in the Texans.
Meanwhile, Geno Smith looked like the guy he was every year other than 2022 in Week 1. To put things in context, the man was outscored by Zach Wilson, who didn’t even start.
Smith was held to just 112 yards by a very unimposing Rams defense. Better days are undoubtedly ahead for Smith. His supporting cast is too talented for him to completely fail. But Richardson’s game-breaking rushing upside pushes him ahead for me.
Kyren Williams or Rachaad White?
Could you imagine debating between these two players just a week ago? Even as the biggest White hater in the fantasy community, never in a million years would I have guessed this would be a decision. Yet, here we are. The NFL never fails to surprise.
The start/sit optimizer is still firmly on the side of White. I remain steadfast in my position since the end of last season that White is not an NFL-caliber starting running back. However, I must agree here.
Williams was the better running back in Week 1, but he’s almost entirely reliant on touchdowns. Williams ran the ball 15 times for just 52 yards but punched in two short touchdowns. He didn’t catch either of his two targets.
White is one of the worst runners in the entire NFL, just as he was last season. However, he brings a higher floor due to his passing game involvement. Although he caught just two passes in Week 1, that’s still two more than Williams. His 17 carries for 40 yards weren’t much worse than Williams’ rushing efficiency.
These are two replacement-level talents, at best. Neither is an exciting option. If you have to start one, though, it’s still White, for at least one more week.
Zay Jones or Jahan Dotson?
The first two start/sits posed were close. This one, not so much. Our start/sit optimizer has this strongly in favor of Dotson. I agree.
Fantasy managers are a reactionary bunch. In Week 1, Jones was far more productive than Dotson. But was he?
Jones caught five of seven targets for 55 yards. Dotson caught five of seven targets for 40 yards. That’s a difference of 1.5 fantasy points. The only reason this is a debate is because Jones happened to score.
Touchdowns are largely random. Although, playing with Trevor Lawrence is just a little bit better than playing with Sam Howell. Nevertheless, Dotson is the more talented player. With both having similar roles on their respective teams, I will side with talent and fantasy draft capital in Dotson’s favor.
Terry McLaurin or Zay Flowers?
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming of really, really close calls. The start/sit optimizer has these two neck and neck, with McLaurin narrowly edging out Flowers. I am a huge fan of Flowers, but I agree. It is not yet time to jump him ahead of someone like McLaurin.
Last week, Flowers was a target monster for the Baltimore Ravens. He saw an incredible 47% target share. That bodes extremely well for his long-term outlook. However, it’s important to remember he did this without Mark Andrews in the lineup. There’s no denying Flowers is immediately the Ravens’ WR1. But I would not expect this elite of a target share ever again.
McLaurin only caught two of his four targets for 31 yards. It was a down game overall for the Commanders’ offense. While it is tempting to go with the rookie, McLaurin’s track record is too solid to throw away after just one game.
We may very well look back at this on Monday and say it should’ve been Flowers. If it is, I will adjust significantly going forward. But after one week, I am not making wholesale changes based on a down game.
James Cook or Jordan Addison?
The start/sit optimizer does not believe this to be close. It is firmly on the Cook side. While I agree with the answer being Cook, I do think it’s a bit unfair to classify this as not close.
Cook made his starting running back debut in the role we expected. He played 59% of the snaps, ran 25 routes, and was nowhere to be seen near the goal line. The usage was good enough, but without goal-line work, I struggle with the same thing I struggled with when being low on Cook ahead of 2023 fantasy drafts – where’s the upside?
The six targets were nice, but Cook still turned his 18 opportunities into just 63 scoreless yards. Of course, facing an elite Jets defense is certainly a huge part of the reason. He should fare much better against a less imposing Raiders defense in Week 2.
As for the rookie, his debut really couldn’t have gone better. Addison may have played firmly behind KJ Osborn, but they saw the same amount of targets, and Addison caught the long touchdown. For a guy pegged as an underneath/low aDOT option, 4-61-1 is very encouraging.
While Addison’s role should only increase, it’s not there yet. Cook has a more favorable Week 2 matchup and plays the position with a higher touch floor. Start Cook.
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.