As we head into the final week of fantasy football and championships wrap up, every start ’em or sit ’em decision carries more weight than ever. It can become the difference between taking home the glory or coming up just short. With not all matchups being equal, here are our top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 18.
NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 18: Quarterbacks
While the focus in the majority of fantasy leagues falls on skill positions, quarterbacks — in most cases — consistently bring the highest weekly total. Which QBs are must-starts, and who should remain on the bench in Week 18?
Start ‘Em | Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)
The COVID Cowboy is back in the saddle and ready to knock the dust off his six-shooter against the Chicago Bears in a game that means absolutely diddly squat for two teams who are about to be clean when the final whistle blows. Head coach Mike Zimmer said that every healthy starter would play against Chicago so it should be status quo in Minnesota.
Cousins has a solid matchup against a Bears defense that has allowed three of its past five opposing quarterbacks to score at least 20 fantasy points. He struggled against them last time, but that was on Monday Night Football, and we know this is par for the course for Cousins in big games. Week 18 could not be further from a big game. He has low-end QB1 upside for Week 18 in fantasy.
Sit ‘Em | Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
After a seven-game win streak, Miami’s offense did basically nothing last week, scoring just 3 points in a 31-point loss to the Titans. Tua Tagovailoa did little to help either, completing 18-of-38 for 205 yards and an interception with fans calling for his benching. He also had 3 fumbles.
That’s seven of the last eight games with less than 250 yards passing. In fact, Tua has 300+ passing yards in just one game. The Dolphins would love nothing more than to end the Patriots’ season once again, but I don’t think that happens this week. They are No. 2 in points allowed to QBs (12.53). I would find other options than Tua in Week 18 with championships on the line.
While these RBs found themselves with adjusted roles following injuries to surrounding players and poor play from others, they are on opposite sides of start/sit debates for Week 18. Let’s look at the top start and sit options from RB committees around the league for this week.
Start ‘Em | Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)
In the last four games, Devin Singletary has scored 73.3 fantasy points. That places him as the RB3 since Week 14 (18.3 PPR). He has 61 rushes for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns while adding 12 receptions on 15 targets for 86 yards.
The kicker to me is that Singletary saw 5 carries inside the 10-yard line last week. We have seen these carries go to Josh Allen, so these high-leverage opportunities going to Singletary are significant. In his last four games, Singletary has outpaced the rest of the backfield in touches (73 to 13). No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to running backs this season than the Jets (32.63). Singletary is a low-end RB1 in Week 18.
Sit ‘Em | Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)
Do you remember when Cordarrelle Patterson was the fantasy darling in the middle of his breakout season? Good times, good times. Maybe the workload finally caught up as the 200 touches Patterson has seen this season are almost as many as his previous four years combined (220).
All I know is in the last four weeks, Patterson has combined for 17 PPR points and is in a near 50/50 split with Mike Davis (54% to 52.5% snap share).
Patterson is also no longer getting the receiving work he once did. In fact, over the last four games, Davis has just as many receptions (7) and more yards (64 to 29) than Patterson.
The last time the Falcons faced the Saints, Patterson had 126 yards on 6-of-6 receiving. That fantasy upside is no longer there in a difficult matchup. I would try to stay away from Patterson if I could in Week 18 and sit him.
NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 18: Wide Receivers
The WR position is the deepest in fantasy football, with a plethora of quality starting options to choose from every single week. As matchups can be the final deciding factor, here are some of our start ’em or sit ’em recommendations for Week 18.
Start ‘Em | Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (vs. TEN)
One day Brandin Cooks might get the respect he deserves. He now has over 1,000 receiving yards in five of the last six seasons while playing on four different teams. He has scored 18+ PPR points in his last three games while seeing double-digit targets in every one of them.
His 32 targets from rookie Davis Mills over that stretch represents 31% of the team targets (No. 1 in the NFL) and 45.3% of the air yards (No. 2 in the NFL). This season, the Titans have allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs (39.85), and the Texans are moving Cooks into the slot for better matchups. Lock him in as a high-end WR2 this week who could finish inside the top 10.
Sit ‘Em | Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT)
Last week against the Rams, Marquise Brown saw 25% of the team’s targets (8), which helps to push him to 27% over the previous four weeks. Volume is not the problem. Efficiency is. Over the last four games, Brown has averaged 9.1 PPR points as the WR42 and has been one of the worst players vs. expected fantasy production over this time.
The parallel between his drop in efficiency since Lamar Jackson’s injury is pretty distinct, and that doesn’t look to be changing this week. Jackson has yet to practice in Week 18, and Taylor Huntley looks in line to start again. I see Brown as more of a mid-to-low-end WR3 than a need-to-start WR2.
It’s notoriously hard for fantasy managers to find consistent production from the tight end position. In Week 18, start ’em or sit ’em decisions could mean the difference between a win or loss as the margins are razor-thin.
Start ‘Em | Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (@ PHI)
Dalton Schultz didn’t have a mega game against the Cardinals. But given Arizona’s season, Schultz had a heck of a game. Hauling in 6 of 10 targets for 54 yards, his 11.4 PPR points were just the second time all year the Cardinals had allowed a TE to score over 10 points.
With Michael Gallup’s season-ending ACL tear, Schultz is the No. 3 target in a Dallas offense that at any point can put up 40 points when things click. Week 18 should be similar, with Schultz as a mid-TE1 against an Eagles defense that ranks 31st in points allowed to the position (17.24) and is tied for last in TDs allowed (12).
Sit ‘Em | Noah Fant, Denver Broncos (vs. KC)
Last week, Noah Fant had one of those games we all know he could have. He scored 21.2 PPR points against the Chargers, catching 6 of 7 targets for 92 yards and a TD. The Broncos are starting to use him more vertically in the offense, and this has led to 50+ yards in three of the last four games and his first with 11+ points since Week 6. We also need to remember this game happened while Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick were on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
When these teams last met in Week 13, the Chiefs held Fant to 4 receptions for 33 yards. Moreover, they haven’t surrendered a touchdown to a tight end since Week 8 or a double-digit scorer since Week 6. I’ll put Fant as a high-end TE2, but he would need to find the end zone to be worth starting in fantasy with your championship on the line.