Three starts and three sits for fantasy football championship weekend

by Conor O'Brien ·

While there are some solid starts in fantasy football this week, there are also some players you must sit at all costs. Jared Goff is a great start as he marches along in his great sophomore season based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics profiles. On the other hand, don’t start Jordan Howard just because he’s playing an 0-14 team.


Jared Goff, QB, LA Rams

Around this time last year, Rams fans and the NFL community at large were lamenting at Jared Goff’s status as a potential bust. One year later, Goff is arguably the most improved player in the league, at the Rams offense is among the NFL’s hottest. This week, Goff should continue his impressive sophomore campaign against the Titans.

What puts Goff in line for such a good day is the nature of Tennessee’s defense. They are good against the run, allowing -3.74 (No. 27) fantasy points below the mean to running backs. This will prevent the Rams from feeding Todd Gurley all game long, forcing them to go to the air. In the air, Tennessee is much less impressive, ranking as the No. 11 fantasy defense against receivers and the No. 15 fantasy defense against quarterbacks. With the Rams skill players rocking a +5.01 (No. 9) Supporting Cast Efficiency, LA is in a great position to take advantage of this discrepancy in the Titans defense.

Kapri Bibbs, RB, Washington

If you needed a narrative to compel you to watch the Denver-Washington game, look no further than the Kapri Bibbs revenge game. After spending the first three years of his career in Denver, Bibbs was traded to the 49ers this offseason. Bibbs failed to make the 53 man roster out of training camp, and has spent most of this season as a free agent. Washington signed him to their practice squad in early November, and Bibbs saw his first game action since 2016 against the Cardinals this past Sunday.

Bibbs was extremely effective in his first game in over a year, managing 53 yards and a touchdown on only 6 touches. This earned Bibbs a ridiculous +174.8 Production Premium albeit on a tiny sample. Given that Samaje Perine has yet to flash any skills as a receiver, expect Bibbs to see most of his work as Kirk Cousins security blanket. Bibbs is a great starter in tournaments or needy PPR teams and becomes an instant cash play and streamer du jour if Perine is inactive this week.

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Juju Smith-Schuster is practically guaranteed to dominate this week. Before he went down with a calf injury, Antonio Brown was attracting a ridiculous 11.6 (No. 2) targets per game. The Steelers now need to gameplan how they’ll distribute those 11-12 opportunities amongst the rest of the offense. With Le’Veon Bell already averaging nearly 30 touches a game, Pittsburgh will likely lean on their receiving corp to provide more work. This makes Smith-Schuster a prime candidate to break out.

This week, Smith-Schuster gets a match up against Kareem Jackson, who barely ranks as a top 100 cornerback on Jackson currently posts a -0.01 (No. 51) Coverage Rating and a 96.2 (No. 53) Passer Rating Allowed. Smith-Schuster is currently to most efficient receiver in the league with a +35.8 (No. 1) Production Premium. When you hand him a larger role and a great match up, starting him makes too much sense.


Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

While Jimmy Garoppolo has certainly exceeded expectations in his first three starts for the 49ers, he should come crashing back to earth this week against Jacksonville. No team has been harder on quarterbacks this year than the Jaguars, who are allowing -7.79 (No. 32) fantasy points below the mean to signal callers.

While San Francisco does have an incredibly underrated group of skill players, noted by their +10.52 (No. 4) Supporting Cast Efficiency, its not likely enough to get Garoppolo and a productive day against Jacksonville. The biggest disadvantage comes at receiver, where the duo of Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor will have trouble finding room to breath against the Jaguars duo of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Keep Jimmy G on the bench this week.

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

If the Cleveland Browns are to avoid going 0-16, they need to do everything in their power to shut down Jordan Howard this week. Chicago is 3-2 this season when Howard has over 100 total yards, and a measly 1-8 when he is held under that mark. The one bright spot for Cleveland this year has been how consistent they have played running backs. The Browns are currently allowing -1.54 (No. 22) fantasy points below the mean to opposing backs.

Game flow is great assuming you have a lead. Unfortunately, the Browns are coming off two competitive games against better teams than Chicago. The Bears also boast the most anemic passing attack in the league. Chicago only attempts 32 pass plays per game (No. 32). Given that Cleveland has minimal worries about the Bears passing game, they can concentrate all their defensive efforts on bottling up Howard. Keep Howard on the bench this week and consider streaming free square RB du jour, Kapri Bipps in his stead.

Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington

While Jamison Crowder turned in one of his better games of the season last week. It is incredibly unlikely that he will repeat the effort this Sunday. While the Denver Broncos are in the midst of their worst season since before the Peyton Manning era, their defense is still a no fly zone. The Broncos are currently allowing -9.92 (No. 31) fantasy points below the mean, and that’s almost entirely due to their great cornerback group.

Crowder will receive most of his coverage this week from Chris Harris Jr., who currently ranks among playerprofiler.coms top 10 cornerbacks. Harris currently has a +0.36 (No. 12) Coverage Rating and a 64.5 (No. 9) Passer Rating Allowed. Look for other options at receiver this week.