Jason Katz’s NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 18: Samaje Perine to shine, Brandin Cooks to cook, Marquise Brown to make you frown

For those of you involved in Week 18 fantasy football, let's see who makes the list of the top start 'em and sit 'em options this week.

The 2021 fantasy football playoffs are over, but there’s still one week left in the NFL season. If you’re playing fantasy football this week, for whatever the reason may be, you still want to make the correct lineup decisions. Let’s take a look at the top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 18.

NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 18: Quarterbacks

During the final week of the 2021 NFL regular season, which quarterbacks are starts and sits in Week 18?

Start ‘Em | Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (@ ATL)

This is a fantastic spot for Taysom Hill. While I don’t expect the Falcons to just let the Saints win, Atlanta isn’t playing for anything. Meanwhile, New Orleans has a really good shot at making the playoffs if they win this game.

The Falcons allow the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Other than his start against the Bucs, Hill has been the QB13 or better in every start of his career. He’s averaging 63 rushing yards per game in his four starts this season. Hill remains a very high-floor QB1.

Sit ‘Em | Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)

Kirk Cousins missed last week’s game due to a positive COVID-19 test. He’s back and will start this week, but I want no part of the Vikings’ offense. This team has quit on head coach Mike Zimmer, who is very likely coaching his final game with the team this week.

Despite Bears head coach Matt Nagy also likely coaching his final game, his team is playing hard. The Bears have been out of the playoff picture for a while, whereas the Vikings saw their hopes die last week, much like Vikings fans must’ve felt watching Sean Mannion attempt passes. With nothing to play for, I expect the Vikings to mostly go through the motions this week. Don’t trust Cousins.

Running Backs

The running back position can be quite matchup-dependent. Which running backs should fantasy managers start, and who is better left on the bench this week?

Start ‘Em | Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals (@ CLE)

The Bengals and Browns are playing a glorified exhibition game this Sunday. Both teams are without their starting quarterbacks, and the Bengals are likely resting multiple starters.

Joe Mixon is out due to COVID but likely wouldn’t play anyway. That gives Samaje Perine a chance to be the feature back. Although he’ll presumably lose some work in the passing game to Chris Evans, Perine should be a lock for 15+ touches.

In Week 16 of the 2020 season, Perine rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries and added 4 receptions for 41 yards.

The Browns allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to running backs, but we’re chasing the volume here. Perine has proven capable in the past and should be a solid RB2 this week.

Sit ‘Em | Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)

It’s truly incredible how the Falcons just abandoned Cordarrelle Patterson. His snap share has decreased in three straight games. Last week’s 47% share was his second-lowest since Week 5. His 10 routes run were his third-lowest number all season. The Falcons have just completely neutered Patterson.

This week, he gets a Saints defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to the position. With Patterson being used as a pure running back while facing a team heavily motivated to try and secure a Wild Card spot, he is a weak RB3 option (at best) this week. Sit him.

NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 18: Wide Receivers

Fantasy managers often struggle with which player to insert into that final WR3 or flex spot. Hopefully, these start ’em and sit ’em plays will help.

Start ‘Em | Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (vs. TEN)

Brandin Cooks will go down as one of the most underrated wide receivers of all time. He’s now recorded 1,000 yards receiving in six of his last seven seasons. And he’s been on fire recently, seeing double-digit targets and at least 100 yards or a touchdown in three straight games.

Houston’s season has long been over, but they are still playing hard. Don’t expect them to roll over and let the Titans waltz to the No. 1 seed. They’re probably not winning this game, but they can still put up a fight. Tennessee allows the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Cooks has meshed well with Davis Mills, so he should be a borderline WR1 this week.

Sit ‘Em | Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT)

Once again, Marquise Brown is ranked as a top-30 wide receiver. And once again, I ask, “why?” Everything I wrote last week about why to fade Brown applies this week.

Here are Brown’s weekly finishes since Week 10: WR40, WR27, WR34, WR52, WR17, WR50, WR82. His 14.3 PPR fantasy points in Week 15 represented his best performance during that span. Brown hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 7. The Steelers present an average matchup, but this should be a slow, low-scoring game. To be honest, I really don’t care about the opponent. Brown just isn’t a fantasy-viable wide receiver. Sit him.

Tight Ends

The tight end position is a disaster in fantasy football. With seldom few reliable options, can we find start ’em-worthy TEs?

Start ‘Em | Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ BAL)

It’s not the most realistic of scenarios, but the Steelers still have a path to the postseason. As such, they’ll be trying to win.

This is, in all likelihood, Ben Roethlisberger’s final game in the NFL. The Ravens allow the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year. Given Roethlisberger’s limitations at this point, Pat Freiermuth is mostly a touchdown-or-bust option, but I like his chances to find the end zone this week. Fire up the Muth one last time.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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