Fitzgerald And Friends | Start or Sit Wide Receivers For Week 8
Have you ever seen a game like that? I’m talking about the Sunday Night Football 6-6 tie between the Cardinals and the Seahawks. We tuned in to see Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson duel Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin in an NFC West showdown. Instead, we watched 75 minutes of football just to see two kickers completely shank chip-shot would-be game winners.
Every week I provide you with my recommended start or sit wide receivers. I do not discuss obvious must-starts like Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, etc. Instead I will assist with the tough lineup decisions such as Larry Fitzgerald or Marvin Jones? Or Jordan Matthews or Randall Cobb? You get the idea. It is important to note that these are just recommendations and I always believe following your gut is the way to go when making a final start or sit call.
My suggestions are based on numerous factors such as matchups, opportunities within the offense, and past performances, to name a few. All statistics provided are based on standard scoring (non PPR).
For more start or sit advice and any other fantasy football questions you may have, visit our forums where myself and all of our wonderful writers will be more than happy to help you out. You can also follow FTA on Twitter @FanTeamAdvice or myself @ajohnsonFTA. Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s matchups so be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Start of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald (at CAR)
The last time we saw Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals face off against the Carolina Panthers they were getting embarrassed 49-15 in the 2015 NFC championship game. In that game, the Carolina defense held Fitzgerald to just four catches for 30 yards while quarterback Carson Palmer tossed four interceptions. A lot has changed since then for the Panthers. Carolina shockingly enters this game 1-5 off the bye week. Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman is now in Washington and his absence in the secondary is obvious. Without Norman they rank 26th against the pass and 29th in points allowed. Opponents have averaged 381 passing yards against the Panthers over the last three games. Wide receivers have scored the ninth most fantasy points per game against the defending NFC champions. Fitzgerald enters week eight sixth in the NFL in targets (70) and accounts for over 25% of the targets in the Arizona offense. The high volume should lead to big numbers in a great matchup for Fitzgerald this week.
Bottom Line: Start Fitzgerald as a top 15 WR2 vs the Panthers’ atrocious secondary.
Brandon Marshall (at CLE)
After being benched for less than two quarters, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has reclaimed the starting job following Geno Smith’s ACL tear. Fitzpatrick’s willingness to throw the down field jump balls to his big receivers makes this positive news for Brandon Marshall’s fantasy owners. Marshall is currently seventh in the NFL with 68 targets heading into a juicy matchup with the 0-7 Cleveland Browns. The Browns rank 29th against the pass and have allowed a league high (tied with DET) 18 passing touchdowns. They have given up the fourth most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Cleveland could very likely be without cornerback Joe Haden (groin) again on Sunday.
Bottom Line: Start Marshall as a WR1 vs the lowly Browns.
Doug Baldwin (at NO)
Doug Baldwin has a great matchup this week as the Seahawks head to New Orleans to take on a pretty bad Saints defense. The Saints rank 30th against the pass and have given up more than 25 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Three wideouts have topped 100 yards receiving against the Saints in six games. Baldwin leads the Seahawks in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He has also been Russell Wilson’s favorite option in the red zone, leading the team in targets and receptions inside the 20.
Bottom Line: Baldwin can be started as a WR2 in a very favorable matchup with the Saints.
Others with favorable matchups: Jeremy Maclin (at IND), Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders (vs SD), T.Y. Hilton (vs KC)
Sit of the Week: Alshon Jeffery (vs MIN)
The good news for Alshon Jeffery is quarterback Jay Cutler has been cleared to return from his thumb injury. The bad news? Jeffery and Cutler will have to navigate through one of the league’s best defenses. The Vikings rank fourth against the pass, second in defensive interceptions, and first in points allowed. They are also second in fewest fantasy points per game (14.0) and touchdowns (3) allowed to wide receivers. Opposing quarterbacks are sporting a dreadful 63.7 passer rating against the Vikings. Only one time all season has a team completed a pass of 40+ yards on Mike Zimmer’s unit. Alshon Jeffery, who has been disappointing in 2016 to begin with, will have a difficult time producing for fantasy owners this weekend.
Bottom Line: Even with Cutler back it is hard to trust Jeffery against a defense that has played this well. Jeffery is a low-floor WR2 vs MIN.
Allen Robinson (*TNF* at TEN)
Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson has so far failed to match his breakout 2015 season. After tallying 80 receptions, 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, A-Rob is on pace for a 69-789-8 line. That is a major regression. In six games, Robinson has just two outings with more than five receptions and has a yardage high of 72. Last week I had hope for Robinson to turn his season around with a great matchup against the league’s worst pass defense. Instead, he produced a season worst two catches for 9 yards against the Raiders. This week the Jaguars play on Thursday against the division rival Tennessee Titans. The Titans rank 11th in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to wideouts. In the last five Thursday Night Football games, only one road team quarterback has thrown for more than 200 yards (Trevor Siemian, 230) and no visiting wide receiver has more than 81 yards. The matchup is not exactly a difficult one but it’s hard to trust a receiver who is averaging just 7.9 fantasy points and is on the road on Thursday night.
Bottom Line: It may not be time to bench Robinson if you don’t have other options but it’s definitely time to panic. Robinson can’t be trusted as any more than a borderline WR2/3. Note: This game will be played on Thursday night so set your lineups accordingly.
Travis Benjamin/Tyrell Williams (at DEN)
The Chargers head to Denver this week to face a Broncos team they just beat 21-13 in week six. In that game, Denver’s defense held wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams to a combined six receptions for 45 yards. Wideouts are averaging just 12 fantasy points per game and have scored only twice in seven games against the defending champions. Opponents are averaging just 175 passing yards per game, the fewest allowed by any defense through week seven. It is hard to trust any receivers going against this Denver defense right now.
Bottom Line: Benjamin and Williams are no better than low-floor WR3s for their date with the champs.
Others with difficult matchups: Brandin Cooks (vs SEA), Kelvin Benjamin (vs ARI), Dez Bryant (vs PHI)