With Thanksgiving behind us, the battles in fantasy football for the final spots in the playoffs officially hit the home stretch.
Three games took place Thursday and another will take place Friday afternoon in the NFL’s first Black Friday game. No teams are on a bye, though we will be hit with another six teams getting the week off in Week 13.
Doing start/sit articles can be a little challenging. The players featured on the list below should not be taken as “must starts” or “must sits.” Instead, these are more suggestions on what we believe managers should do with fringe players heading into the weekend. The choice is ultimately up to the manager.
Just because a player is listed as a “start” doesn’t mean he should be put in the lineup over the secure, bona fide studs. Vice versa for the “sits.” If there’s no better option on the waiver wire or the bench, a manager shouldn’t automatically sit the player. That’s why these can be tricky waters to navigate.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: It will be difficult to trust Lawrence fully even after his QB1 performance in Week 11. However, the Texans have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the last five weeks and five top-12 finishes since Week 5, so there’s a chance he starts to build some momentum.
Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: Carr is off the injury report, so there should be no worries there. He takes on a Falcons defense that has allowed four top-12 finishes in their last five games and the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the last five weeks.
Will Levis, Tennessee Titans vs. Carolina Panthers: The rookie gunslinger has averaged 9.1 fantasy points per game in the three games since his stellar debut. He’s not an option against a Panthers defense that has allowed just two top-12 finishes all season and just 11.7 fantasy points per game over their last four games.
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns: Though Wilson has been far better this season than what he put on the field in 2022, this isn’t lining up to be a good week to start him. He’s averaged an uninspiring, but not terrible, 15.0 fantasy points per game since Week 5, but he hasn’t reached 260 passing yards during that span. Meanwhile, the Browns have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position over the last five weeks.
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals: It will be interesting to see how the new offensive staff handles the backfield, but it could mean more work for Warren, who has been far better than Najee Harris in almost every aspect. The Bengals also have allowed the 11th-most PPR points per game to running backs over the last five weeks, making Warren an RB2 with some upside if his role expands.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. Carolina Panthers: This is it. This is the test to see whether Henry is still viable for fantasy. His struggles aren’t all his fault as the Titans haven’t given him the rock as much as he’s used to. But this is the perfect game to get back into form. The Panthers have allowed an RB1 finish in each of their last three games. I’m willing to roll with Henry this week in hopes he finds his groove.
Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos: Ford has been getting the majority of work in the Browns backfield even with Kareem Hunt there, and the Broncos have allowed the fifth-most PPR points per game to running backs over the last three weeks.
James Cook, Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles: It’s probably difficult to sit Cook right now because he’s playing pretty well. But this matchup is brutal on paper as the Eagles have allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game to running backs over the last five weeks. So maybe temper expectations.
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns: Denver seems to be going back to its three-man committee, which makes life even more difficult for Williams as he takes on a Browns defense that has allowed the 11th-fewest PPR points per game to running backs over the last five weeks.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City hasn’t allowed more than 85 rushing yards in a game to any running back this season. With Jacobs being a non-factor in the passing game, his role might be limited as the Raiders likely have to play catch-up. If anything, temper expectations for Jacobs if you can’t sit him.
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have allowed the most receiving yards and the fifth-most PPR points per game to wideouts over the last five weeks. We could be in for a monster game from MPJ this week.
Demario Douglas, New England Patriots at New York Giants: While tight ends have struggled against the Giants, wide receivers have not. The Giants have allowed the most receptions and second-most receiving yards and PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks. Over his last four games, Douglas has a 23% target share and at least five receptions in each of his last three.
Odell Beckham Jr., Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers: There’s a chance Zay Flowers (hip) misses the game, which would only boost Beckham’s chances to explode. Over his last three games, he’s averaging 13.7 PPR points during that span, and he leads the Ravens wide receiver room with a 20.5% target share. The Chargers have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards, along with the ninth-most PPR points per game and receptions to the position over the last five weeks.
DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans vs. Carolina Panthers: Hopkins still hasn’t recorded more than four receptions in a game with Will Levis under center. The Titans’ passing offense isn’t trustworthy enough, especially against a Panthers defense that’s allowed the third-fewest PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks.
Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns: Jeudy showed some life in Week 11, and yet he still finished with a 5-58-0 line on seven targets. The Browns defense has crushed wideouts, allowing the fewest receptions and second-fewest PPR points per game to the position this season.
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns vs Denver Broncos: In the same game, Cooper should be considered a flex play at best. Cleveland’s passing attack isn’t consistent enough with Dorian Thompson-Robinson under center, and the Broncos have been extremely stout against the position over the last five weeks, allowing the second-fewest PPR points per game during that span.
Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers: It’s a risky move, but Likely has enough upside to warrant consideration as a starter for those who need it. He dominated the routes run at tight end for Baltimore after Mark Andrews‘ injury, and the Chargers have allowed the most receptions, receiving yards and PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos: The Browns offense is one to avoid, but Njoku is a solid play this week. He’s coming off a 15-target game, and the Broncos have allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots at New York Giants: If there’s one area the Giants are strong on defense, it’s against tight ends. They’ve allowed the fifth-fewest PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks. Henry hasn’t done enough to ensure his spot in the starting lineup during poor matchups.
Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts: The numbers suggest this is a good matchup, but they’ve been skewed by Taysom Hill‘s 9-63-2 rushing line against the Colts. In terms of pure receiving over the last five weeks, Indy has allowed the fourth-fewest PPR points per game to tight ends.