With redraft leagues over and champions crowned, the growing game of NFL playoff fantasy football gives us a few more weeks to enjoy filling out starting lineups. As the level of competition rises, fantasy start ’em or sit ’em decisions become a bit more difficult as the margins begin to shrink. Let’s dive into the fantasy football start ’em or sit ’em decisions for the 2022 NFL playoffs.
NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for the 2022 NFL Playoffs: 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 the NFL playoffs?
Start ‘Em | Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (@ TEN)
There are no easy games. It’s the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, and we are down to the best eight teams. We are looking for upside in difficult matchups. When it comes to QB, Joe Burrow has all of the upside in the world. Add in the full complement of receiving options, and he is an intriguing DFS pick every week.
Against the Raiders, Burrow completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns as he came back down to Earth after throwing for 971 and 8 TDs in his previous two. Burrow and the Bengals get the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round, who are coming off a bye. In terms of matchups, this is arguably the most QB-friendly one of the slate, with the Titans coming in 23rd vs. the position (17.58 points per game). If the Bengals want to keep their season alive, Burrow has to have one of his better games of the season. Trust him to do it and start him in DFS and fantasy.
Sit ‘Em | Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (@ GB)
Of the quarterbacks still playing, Jimmy Garoppolo is the “game manager” of the bunch. He did just that last week. Against the Cowboys, Garoppolo completed 16 of 26 passes for 172 yards with an interception. The ironic thing is, no matter what he does, Garoppolo won’t be on this team next season. What he does right now is an audition for 31 other teams.
The Packers earned a well-deserved bye and are getting healthier at the right time. Za’Darius Smith has been designated to return, plus Jaire Alexander could come back as well. He has scored 20 points only once since Week 9, and he’s a QB to avoid in DFS for the Divisional Round of the 2022 NFL Playoffs.
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 the 2022 NFL playoffs. Let’s look at the top fantasy start and sit options from RB committees around the league for this week.
Start ‘Em | Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (vs. CIN)
Oh, Henry! The King is back. Derrick Henry is set to make his return after missing half the season with a foot injury. In just eight games, Henry rushed for 937 yards with 10 touchdowns. Yes, you read that right. He is still No. 9 on the season in yards, 10th in attempts (219), and tied for No. 6 in TDs. It’s laughable how good he was.
This is also why I can see the sideways looks as I list Henry as a DFS start ’em when he should be a no-brainer. There will be trepidation for some when it comes to Henry. The Bengals are hot right now, and he has not played since Halloween.
Is he at full strength? Will Henry be on a snap count? Honestly, we won’t know until the game kicks off. All I know is if Henry is back, he is in my starting lineup. Plain and simple. Henry is ready to reclaim his throne against a Bengals defense that ranked 27th vs. RBs (25.4) over their last four games.
Sit ‘Em | Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs (@ BUF)
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire out (shoulder), Darrel Williams has become Kansas City’s RB1. In Weeks 16 and 17, Williams averaged 15.5 touches, 96 yards, and a TD per game as the lead back. There was every reason to expect a similar game on Sunday against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses. However, after being limited all week, Williams did nothing. He played 8 snaps, recording 1 rush for 4 yards. Jerick McKinnon was the lead back, playing on 51 of the 65 snaps (18 touches).
It’s likely the Chiefs roll with this committee/hot-hand approach and could see Edwards-Helaire return. For the Chiefs to win, it’s going to be on the arm of Patrick Mahomes. I can see the RBs taking a noticeable hit in volume against the Bills’ No. 6-ranked defense (21.2 PPR). I would plan on sitting any Chiefs RB as of now.
NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em for Divisional Round: 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 fantasy start ’em or sit ’em recommendations for the NFL playoffs.
Start ‘Em | Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills (vs. KC)
Since the start of December, Gabriel Davis has been as hot as anyone. He is averaging 6.5 targets per game and has scored 5 TDs. Against the Patriots, Davis led all Bills WRs in snaps (40) and was No. 2 in routes behind Stefon Diggs (18). He was in a constant rotation with Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders on the perimeter. Since his emergence last season as a rookie, he seems to have found a connection with Josh Allen.
Cole Beasley appears to have been passed by Isaiah McKenzie for the No. 4 spot, but the upside play of Davis could complement Diggs in DFS. We know this will be a high-scoring affair. And while the Chiefs have been better at times, they are still 30th over their last four games vs. WRs at 43.99. Odds are this is the de facto AFC Championship Game. Give me Davis to make a sizeable impact and get the Bills one step closer to the Super Bowl.
Sit ‘Em | Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (@ TEN)
While the Bengals got the win, it was not how we expected. This was supposed to be the Tee Higgins smash game. He had the best matchup of any WR of the entire weekend and had the momentum, too. Everything pointed at him. What happened? He caught 1 pass for 10 yards. It’s a case of the process being right, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. That’s the NFL and fantasy/DFS.
The No. 2 WR was Tyler Boyd, but that is not without controversy. Boyd caught 4 of 5 targets from Burrow for 26 yards, including a touchdown that never should have counted due to a ref blowing his whistle inadvertently mid-play. With Ja’Marr Chase coming off another 100-yard game, I see this as a “get right” game for Higgins, relegating Boyd back to boom-or-bust territory. In DFS, I would rather pay up on either Chase or Higgins than start Boyd in the Divisional Round against Tennessee.
It’s notoriously hard for fantasy managers to find consistent production from the tight end position. In the NFL playoffs, start ’em or sit ’em decisions could mean the difference between a fantasy win or loss as the margins are razor-thin.
Start ‘Em | Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (vs. KC)
Dawson Knox has as high of a ceiling as any tight end in fantasy when he hits. We saw that again on Saturday against the Patriots, who ran into a buzzsaw. Knox hauled in all 5 of his targets for 89 yards and 2 TDs. He has blown away his preseason expectations, recording 49 receptions on 71 targets for 587 yards and 9 touchdowns.
He has scored in nine games this season with three multi-scoring outings. Knox now has seven games with double-digit fantasy points with five games of 18+ points. When he hits, Knox has TE1 overall upside. He will have another great shot at duplicating this performance against the Chiefs, who are 16th against the position in fantasy scoring.
Sit ‘Em | C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals (@ TEN)
I’ll be honest, this was almost George Kittle, and I am not convinced he won’t end up here before the week ends. Kittle is being used as a sixth lineman and has fewer than 30 yards in each of his last four games. Fading his talent this early on in the week might be hasty, but just know my faith is wavering on “The People’s Tight End.”
Instead, I’ll go with C.J. Uzomah, who had himself a fine game last week. He played on 52 of the 62 offensive snaps, tied for the second-most routes at 32, and caught all 6 targets for 64 yards and a score. But whereas Las Vegas was 28th vs. opposing TEs, the Titans are No. 5, allowing 8.65 ppg.
It was Uzomah’s first game since Week 7 with 60+ yards or a touchdown, and he was coming into the game with three straight with 40 or less. In a game where I expect Higgins to bounce back, Uzomah will take a hit. I would keep an eye on him as a low-volume play in DFS, but he is someone to sit.