Another season of fantasy football, another group of start-or-sit scenarios to answer.

It’s not just enough to draft the right team and make the right moves off the waiver wire. We all know that. We also have to make sure that we are starting the correct players each week.

Of course, we have our studs, anchors, and the players we’re starting virtually no matter what. We don’t need anyone to tell us to start Josh Allen.

But, the further down the lineup we go, the more those questions trickle in.

Then again, no player is a ”must-sit” in every scenario, and perhaps the WR3 you’ve been plugging in each week may have a better alternative.

To answer the question, ”Should I sit Player X,” depends on the answer to the question, ”Who can you start instead?”

That’s why I like to switch up the typical start-or-sit column format. I’m going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

Take some of the guesswork out of setting our lineups weekly, I’ll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire’s player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don’t have better alternatives but who aren’t must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances), and higher on the list means more able to start.

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.

QUARTERBACKS

Start with confidence:

– Patrick Mahomes vs. JAC (81%)

– Jalen Hurts vs. WSH (78%)

– Josh Allen vs. MIN (75%)

– Tua Tagovailoa vs. CLE (61%)

– Justin Fields vs. DET (53%)

– Kyler Murray at LA (50%)

Consider if needed:

– Justin Herbert at SF (47%)

– Daniel Jones vs. HOU (46%)

– Jared Goff at CHI (46%)

– Geno Smith at TB (45%)

– Tom Brady vs. SEA (44%)

– Jimmy Garoppolo vs. LAC (44%)

– Matthew Stafford vs. ARI (42%)

– Dak Prescott at GB (42%)

– Aaron Rodgers vs. DAL (42%)

– Trevor Lawrence at KC (40%)

– Derek Carr vs. IND (40%)

– Marcus Mariota at CAR (38%)

– Kirk Cousins at BUF (38%)

– Russell Wilson at TEN (37%)

Bench if possible:

Sam Ehlinger at LV (34%); Jacoby Brissett at MIA (32%); Baker Mayfield vs. ATL (30%); Kenny Pickett vs. NO (29%); Davis Mills at NYG (29%); Andy Dalton at PIT (26%); Taylor Heinicke at PHI (24%); Ryan Tannehill vs. DEN (28% at full; 4% at half); Malik Willis vs. DEN (3%).

Ryan Tannehill was a game-time decision for Week 9, so his Week 10 return is possible. If he is deemed the starter, he is only 28% likely to be a QB1.

There aren’t many sure things at quarterback this week. Tier 2 is long, but that’s not the worst problem to have. First, a large Tier 2 means we still have options from which to pick.

Second, statistically speaking, we’re less likely to face a surefire quarterback from an opponent this week if only a handful of them exist.

Tom Brady, cumulatively, ranks as the QB13 this season. On a per-game basis, he is the QB22, ranking below Andy Dalton – believe it or not. Brady, though, is stepping into a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at a neutral location.

Seattle ranks 20th against the pass, according to our opponent-adjusted metrics. Brady has averaged 296.0 yards and 1.3 touchdowns against four below-average opponents this season.

Since his return, Dak Prescott has faced two bottom-five adjusted pass defenses and has dominated them for 0.40 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop-back (the NFL average is 0.06). He has still been 0.24 per play better than expected in this two-game sample once accounting for opponents. The only issue is volume; Prescott has averaged just 27.5 drop-backs, leading to 228.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Prescott, this week, faces a tougher test against the Green Bay Packers (12th in adjusted pass defense). What seems to matter more than the matchup is the game script and ensuring that the game stays close so that Prescott can throw more than he has needed to recently. Ultimately, the arrow is up on Prescott given a more likely back-and-forth game than he’s had recently.

The simulations aren’t believing in Russell Wilson too much this week. Wilson has just one top-12 quarterback finish (he was the QB3 back in Week 4). His opponent this week, the Tennessee Titans, made things tough for Patrick Mahomes in Week 9 and rank 13th in adjusted pass defense here at numberFire. Wilson has played 0.08 points per play worse than opponent expectation this season, via our expected points model, with a 38.6% passing success rate and a 9.2% sack rate. Those are terrible rates that don’t inspire much for a turnaround. Breakout potential exists coming out of a bye, but it is a very narrow path to success based on his struggles and this matchup. The Denver Broncos have some playable assets this week; Wilson isn’t one of the top priorities, however.

RUNNING BACKS

Start with confidence:

– Christian McCaffrey vs. LAC (93%)

– Derrick Henry vs. DEN (89%)

– Saquon Barkley vs. HOU (86%)

– Alvin Kamara at PIT (83%)

– Josh Jacobs vs. IND (81%)

– Travis Etienne at KC (79%)

– Jonathan Taylor at LV (75% at full; 36% at half)

– Cordarrelle Patterson at CAR (74%)

– Nick Chubb at MIA (73%)

– Dameon Pierce at NYG (72%)

– Leonard Fournette vs. SEA (72%)

– Dalvin Cook at BUF (66%)

– D’Andre Swift at CHI (65%)

– Austin Ekeler at SF (65%)

– Kenneth Walker III at TB (63%)

– Najee Harris vs. NO (62%)

Consider if needed:

– Aaron Jones vs. DAL (59% at full; 23% at half)

– A.J. Dillon vs. DAL (59% without Jones; 42% with Jones)

– Miles Sanders vs. WSH (55%)

– Jeff Wilson vs. CLE (55%)

– James Conner at LA (55%)

– Tony Pollard at GB (48%)

– David Montgomery vs. DET (48%)

– Deon Jackson at LV (46% if no Taylor)

– Ezekiel Elliott at GB (44%)

– Devin Singletary vs. MIN (44%)

– Darrell Henderson vs. ARI (43%)

– Kareem Hunt at MIA (43%)

– Jamaal Williams at CHI (39%)

– D’Onta Foreman vs. ATL (39%)

– Antonio Gibson at PHI (39%)

– Chuba Hubbard vs. ATL (36%)

– Raheem Mostert vs. CLE (35%)

Bench if possible:

Brian Robinson at PHI (31%); Melvin Gordon at TEN (31%); Latavius Murray at TEN (31%); Khalil Herbert vs. DET (30%); Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. JAC (27%); Jerick McKinnon vs. JAC (25%); Isiah Pacheco vs. JAC (25%); Dontrell Hilliard vs. DEN (24%); Ronnie Rivers vs. ARI (24%); Tyler Allgeier at CAR (23%); Rachaad White vs. SEA (23%); Eno Benjamin at LA (23%).

Jonathan Taylor didn’t practice at all last week. He’s initially projected for half of his usual workload. At full health, he’s in Tier 1. At half, he’s near the bottom of Tier 2. Without Taylor, Deon Jackson is rating out at 46%.

Aaron Jones left early in Week 9 with an ankle injury, but is expected to play.

Miles Sanders’ workload improved pretty notably in Week 9. Sanders played on 66.1% of the Philadelphia Eagles’ snaps, and he had 17 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. While he didn’t earn a target, he ran 20 routes (64.5%). Few backs run that many routes. The Washington Commanders are a tough rush defense (top four in three key rush defense metrics), but are actually the worst team at defending receivers out of the backfield.

James Conner didn’t have a massive workload in his Week 9 return, but he did return to an impressive role: a 72.1% snap rate and a 62.5% route rate. That led to seven carries and five targets. Conner also accounted for a quarter of the available red zone opportunities within the Arizona Cardinals’ offense. The Los Angeles Rams are a top-10 running back defense, yet it’s unlikely you have many reasons to bench a back getting a 70-plus-percent snap rate.

It looked as if the Commanders’ backfield was going to belong to Brian Robinson after his quick turnaround, but Antonio Gibson has reclaimed the best role on the team. With J.D. McKissic out last week (he didn’t practice at all), Gibson had a 55.7% snap rate, besting Robinson’s 45.9% rate. The first-half split was even more telling: 71.0% to 32.3% in favor of Gibson. The Eagles are 26th or worse in adjusted fantasy points per carry, Rushing NEP per carry, and rushing success rate allowed to backs.

The Broncos’ backfield was set to be a bit of a fantasy football headache entering the season. Entering Week 10, it sure is – but not for the same reason we expected entering the year. Since Javonte Williams’ season-ending injury, the team has brought in multiple running backs to help solve the issue. While Melvin Gordon has the label of ”starter,” Latavius Murray is mixing in on early downs, and now Chase Edmonds will see third down and two-minute drill work. There are startable Broncos this week – just not the running backs.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Start with confidence:

– Tyreek Hill vs. CLE (87%)

– Cooper Kupp vs. ARI (83%)

– Amon-Ra St. Brown at CHI (77%)

– Justin Jefferson at BUF (76%)

– Stefon Diggs vs. MIN (75%)

– A.J. Brown vs. WSH (69%)

– Davante Adams vs. IND (68%)

– DeAndre Hopkins at LA (60%)

– Chris Olave at PIT (59%)

– CeeDee Lamb at GB (59%)

– Deebo Samuel vs. LAC (57% at full; 12% at half)

– Tyler Lockett at TB (55%)

– Mike Evans vs. SEA (54%)

– Jaylen Waddle vs. CLE (54%)

– Allen Lazard vs. DAL (52%)

– JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. JAC (52%)

– Christian Kirk at KC (51%)

– D.J. Moore vs. ATL (51%)

– DeVonta Smith vs. WSH (50%)

Consider if needed:

– D.K. Metcalf at TB (49%)

– Amari Cooper at MIA (48%)

– Michael Pittman Jr. at LV (47%)

– Diontae Johnson vs. NO (45%)

– Brandon Aiyuk vs. LAC (43%)

– Chris Godwin vs. SEA (42%)

– Courtland Sutton at TEN (41%)

– George Pickens vs. NO (41%)

– Josh Palmer at SF (40%)

– Terry McLaurin at PHI (39%)

– Adam Thielen at BUF (39%)

– Jerry Jeudy at TEN (38%)

– Gabe Davis vs. MIN (36%)

– Zay Jones at KC (35%)

– Curtis Samuel at PHI (34%)

– Donovan Peoples-Jones at MIA (32%)

– Marvin Jones at KC (31%)

– Brandin Cooks at NYG (31%)

– Drake London at CAR (30%)

Bench if possible:

Darnell Mooney vs. DET (26%); Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. JAC (26%); DeAndre Carter at SF (25%); Michael Gallup at GB (22%); Kalif Raymond at CHI (21%); Robert Woods vs. DEN (21%); Wan’Dale Robinson vs. HOU (18%); Mecole Hardman vs. JAC (18%); Rondale Moore at LA (18%).

Deebo Samuel is projected for a half workload initially. At full health, he is 57% likely to be WR2 or better.

Keenan Allen isn’t projected to play. If he does, he’d land in the 46% range.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass-catching situation got better for fantasy football after the trade of Chase Claypool.

Claypool vacates a 17.5% target share within this offense, and that’s pushing Diontae Johnson (26.6% target share) and George Pickens (15.0%) up the startable list. Pickens has been a top-24 fantasy receiver (in half-PPR formats) in three of the past five games already. Johnson hasn’t been better than the WR29 yet. The New Orleans Saints are just 23rd in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to receivers.

Josh Palmer’s role in Week 9 was about as good as you could have hoped for. Palmer – without Mike Williams and Keenan Allen – had a 97.7% route rate and caught 8 of 10 targets for 106 yards. That didn’t include any red zone work, but did feature three downfield targets (10-plus air yards). Even if Allen is back, Palmer is a viable, high-end WR3 in fantasy formats. The San Francisco 49ers are 20th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to wide receivers and allow a catch rate over expectation of +3.9%, as well.

How tough is the situation for Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy? Let’s dig in. First, though, we should make some adjustments for this offense. Tight end Greg Dulcich has been an impactful player since his debut in Week 6. Brett Rypien also started a game for the Denver Broncos in that span. So, it’s tough to trust the full-season sample.

In two games with Russell Wilson and Dulcich, here’s how the target shares have looked. Jeudy leads with a 27.5% target share (7.0 per game). Sutton is actually third (13.7%; 3.5 per game) behind Dulcich (15.7%; 4.0 per game). Again, the Titans are a tough defense overall, and Wilson is only a start-if-you-have to option. However, the Titans actually rank 32nd in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to the position. Both Jeudy and Sutton could be fun fantasy starts for Week 10 if they’re needed.

TIGHT END

Start with confidence:

– Travis Kelce vs. JAC (85%)

– Dallas Goedert vs. WSH (71%)

– George Kittle vs. LAC (60%)

– Gerald Everett at SF (56%)

– T.J. Hockenson at BUF (50%)

Consider if needed:

– Kyle Pitts at CAR (49%)

– Zach Ertz at LA (47%)

– Tyler Higbee vs. ARI (46%)

– Darren Waller vs. IND (45%)

– Taysom Hill at PIT (44%)

– David Njoku at MIA (43%)

– Greg Dulcich at TEN (39%)

– Dalton Schultz at GB (33%)

– Pat Freiermuth vs. NO (33%)

Bench if possible:

Cole Kmet vs. DET (29%); Evan Engram at KC (28%); Robert Tonyan vs. DAL (27%); Dawson Knox vs. MIN (27%); Noah Fant at TB (27%); Mike Gesicki vs. CLE (24%); Josiah Deguara vs. DAL (21%); Logan Thomas at PHI (20%); Austin Hooper vs. DEN (19%); Juwan Johnson at PIT (18%).

David Njoku is expected to play in Week 10.

Greg Dulcich has stepped into a prominent role for the Broncos since his Week 6 debut. We already discussed his usage a bit when going over the receivers, but let’s put it in tight end-only terms: Dulcich, since Week 6, ranks 14th among tight ends in target share (17.9%) and in targets per game (5.7), but is third in air yards per game (70.9) and eighth in yards per game (60.7). The downfield volume is pretty elite for a tight end, and that gives him extra fantasy juice on a per-target basis. The Titans are below average (19th) against tight ends.

Before a bye, Dalton Schultz’s role was promising, and he now has had a week off to get healthier. In Week 8, Schultz had seven targets for a 26.9% target share and 74 yards. The Packers rank just 12th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends, so we should be able to lean on Schultz if needed.

Robert Tonyan’s role wasn’t quite what we would have hoped for in Week 9. He had four targets (a 10.3% share) for only 29 yards. He did get a red zone target and two downfield targets for an average target depth of 11.5. The Packers’ pass-catching situation is pretty thin, yet it’s worrisome that Josiah Deguara (31.8% route rate) and Marcedes Lewis (20.5%) are threats to keep Tonyan (40.9%) from being the clear top tight end for the Packers. He’s not a priority start even with the receiver injuries.

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