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 Travis Kelce.

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:

– Jalen Hurts at CHI (80%)

– Patrick Mahomes at HOU (76%)

– Josh Allen vs. MIA (71%)

– Justin Herbert vs. TEN (56%)

– Joe Burrow at TB (53%)

– Dak Prescott at JAC (50%)

Consider if needed:

– Kirk Cousins vs. IND (49%)

– Geno Smith vs. SF (43%)

– Justin Fields vs. PHI (42%)

– Tua Tagovailoa at BUF (41%)

– Trevor Lawrence vs. DAL (40%)

– Daniel Jones at WSH (39%)

– Aaron Rodgers vs. LA (38%)

– Deshaun Watson vs. BAL (37%)

– Jared Goff at NYJ (35%)

– Tom Brady vs. CIN (35%)

Bench if possible:

Mike White vs. DET (34%); Mac Jones at LV (34%); Andy Dalton vs. ATL (34%); Ryan Tannehill at LAC (33%); Derek Carr vs. NE (30%); Brock Purdy at SEA (30%); Desmond Ridder at NO (30%); Matt Ryan at MIN (29%); Taylor Heinicke vs. NYG (29%); Colt McCoy at DEN (29%); Brett Rypien vs. ARI (27%); Tyler Huntley at CLE (26%); Sam Darnold vs. PIT (20%); Baker Mayfield at GB (19%); Mitch Trubisky at CAR (18% if starting; 6% at half); Kenny Pickett at CAR (18% if starting; 6% at half); Anthony Brown at CLE (15% if starting); Davis Mills vs. KC (5%); Jeff Driskel vs. KC (5%).

Initially, Tyler Huntley is projected for a half workload. Lamar Jackson is unlikely to play; Huntley was limited in an estimated practice on Tuesday for the Baltimore Ravens, who play Saturday. If both sit, Anthony Brown would start and be a low-end Tier 3 play.

Kenny Pickett is in concussion protocol. If he plays or if Mitch Trubisky starts, both are Tier 3 plays.

Russell Wilson could be out and Brett Rypien would likely replace him as the starter for the Denver Broncos.

Should you have cold feet about starting Tua Tagovailoa against the Buffalo Bills? Buffalo ranks 10th in adjusted pass defense, according to numberFire’s metrics. In their first meeting (in Week 3), Tua was the QB25, because of a disappointing line of 186 passing yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts. Overall against top-12 adjusted pass defenses, Tagovailoa – in four full games – has averaged only 14.2 fantasy points on a line of 224.0 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. He’s still a top-10, Tier 2 play, but he’s not firmly above some other names, so don’t force him if you feel as if you can do better.

Jared Goff remains a borderline starting option in fantasy leagues. He has taken advantage of his home games, finishing as the QB11, on average, at home, including three top-four finishes. This week, Goff and the Detroit Lions hit the road to face the New York Jets, who rank fourth in adjusted pass defense. Goff has played just two road games against teams better than 24th in adjusted pass defense. In both of those, star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was limited, so it’s a bit hard to trust the samples. In those matchups, though, the Lions scored a total of six points. Goff may have gotten you here, thanks to consecutive QB4 weeks, but you can probably do a bit better with less competition from fantasy managers now that playoffs are underway.

The simulations remain low on Tom Brady in a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, who rank ninth in adjusted pass defense. In seven matchups against top-half adjusted pass defenses, Brady has averaged just 13.9 fantasy points with 249.0 yards and 1.1 touchdowns per game. The dearth of rushing ability and the lack of elite efficiency through the air this season have capped Brady’s potential. You can do much worse, but there’s no reason to start Brady as a priority play if you can do better off the waiver wire – even with the fantasy playoffs on the line.

RUNNING BACKS

Start with confidence:

– Derrick Henry at LAC (81%)

– Jonathan Taylor at MIN (81%)

– Rhamondre Stevenson at LV (80% at full; 38% at half)

– Christian McCaffrey at SEA (80%)

– Josh Jacobs vs. NE (79%)

– Austin Ekeler vs. TEN (71%)

– Dalvin Cook vs. IND (70%)

– Alvin Kamara vs. ATL (67%)

– Saquon Barkley at WSH (65%)

– Nick Chubb vs. BAL (63%)

– Joe Mixon at TB (63%)

– David Montgomery vs. PHI (61%)

Consider if needed:

– Zonovan Knight vs. DET (59%)

– Travis Etienne vs. DAL (58%)

– James Conner at DEN (57%)

– Aaron Jones vs. LA (53%)

– Kenneth Walker III vs. SF (53%)

– Tony Pollard at JAC (53%)

– Latavius Murray vs. ARI (52%)

– Miles Sanders at CHI (50%)

– Ezekiel Elliott at JAC (49%)

– D’Onta Foreman vs. PIT (49%)

– Rachaad White vs. CIN (49%)

– Najee Harris at CAR (48%)

– Cordarrelle Patterson at NO (47%)

– Raheem Mostert at BUF (47% without Jeff Wilson; 32% with Wilson)

– Brian Robinson vs. NYG (46%)

– Isiah Pacheco at HOU (45%)

– Jamaal Williams at NYJ (43%)

– Antonio Gibson vs. NYG (39%)

– Jerick McKinnon at HOU (37%)

– Jeff Wilson at BUF (36% at full; 8% at half)

Bench if possible:

D’Andre Swift at NYJ (34%); Michael Carter vs. DET (34%); J.K. Dobbins at CLE (34%); Devin Singletary vs. MIA (34%); A.J. Dillon vs. LA (32%); Leonard Fournette vs. CIN (31%); Chuba Hubbard vs. PIT (29%); Dare Ogunbowale vs. KC (26%); Cam Akers at GB (26%); Kyren Williams at GB (25%); Jordan Mason at SEA (24%); Marlon Mack vs. ARI (22%); Kareem Hunt vs. BAL (21%); Rex Burkhead vs. KC (21%); Jaylen Warren at CAR (21%); James Cook vs. MIA (20%); Samaje Perine at TB (20%).

Kenneth Walker was listed as a full participant for Tuesday’s practice and is projected for a full workload.

Rhamondre Stevenson is initially projected for a full workload while Damien Harris is presumed out after not practicing at all in Week 14.

Jeff Wilson was limited in the Dolphins’ estimated practice on Tuesday.

Najee Harris has had a pretty solid role over the past two games. He has averaged 14.5 carries and 2.0 targets on a 61.9% snap rate. The issue is the production: 71.0 yards per game and just three total red zone chances for an offense that sometimes struggles to score. This week, the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Carolina Panthers, who are 26th in adjusted fantasy points per carry allowed to opposing backs. You can do a lot worse than Harris in hopes that the volume leads to production this week.

Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter split snaps in Week 14. Carter out-snapped Knight 50.7% to 46.6%, but their roles were very separated. Carter, who had six targets (on 27 routes) and five carries, was the receiving back; Knight handled 17 of the carries and had two targets (on 12 routes) in an early down role. The Lions rank 25th in adjusted fantasy points per carry allowed to opposing backs and 15th on a per-target basis. Knight and Carter should see enough work to retain relevancy in this matchup for teams who need a low-end RB2 or FLEX with Knight the preferred option.

Last week, Jerick McKinnon stole the headlines in the Kansas City Chiefs’ backfield, but Isiah Pacheco was still relevant. McKinnon had a 56.7% snap rate (38 snaps). Pacheco had a 43.3% snap rate (29 snaps). McKinnon’s nine targets generated 112 yards; his six carries led to 22 yards. Pacheco had 93 scrimmage yards on 13 carries and three targets. A matchup against the Houston Texans, who are 29th in rushing yards over expectation per carry allowed, should mean a healthy dose of Pacheco churning out first downs. Both are viable in Week 15.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Start with confidence:

– Ja’Marr Chase at TB (75%)

– Justin Jefferson vs. IND (75%)

– A.J. Brown at CHI (71%)

– Tyreek Hill at BUF (67%)

– Stefon Diggs vs. MIA (66%)

– CeeDee Lamb at JAC (66%)

– Davante Adams vs. NE (66%)

– Amon-Ra St. Brown at NYJ (64%)

– DeVonta Smith at CHI (59%)

– Tyler Lockett vs. SF (55%)

– D.K. Metcalf vs. SF (52%)

– DeAndre Hopkins at DEN (51%)

– Garrett Wilson vs. DET (50%)

Consider if needed:

– Keenan Allen vs. TEN (49%)

– Christian Kirk vs. DAL (48%)

– Mike Williams vs. TEN (47%)

– Chris Olave vs. ATL (46%)

– Jaylen Waddle at BUF (46%)

– Terry McLaurin vs. NYG (46%)

– Amari Cooper vs. BAL (46%)

– Jerry Jeudy vs. ARI (42%)

– Chris Godwin vs. CIN (40%)

– Tee Higgins at TB (40% at full; 8% at half)

– JuJu Smith-Schuster at HOU (39%)

– Michael Pittman Jr. at MIN (39%)

– Zay Jones vs. DAL (38%)

– Diontae Johnson at CAR (38%)

– Brandon Aiyuk at SEA (36%)

– Donovan Peoples-Jones vs. BAL (35%)

– Christian Watson vs. LA (35%)

– D.J. Moore vs. PIT (35% at full; 7% at half)

– Courtland Sutton vs. ARI (35% at full; 6% at half)

Bench if possible:

Gabe Davis vs. MIA (34%); Mike Evans vs. CIN (33%); Adam Thielen vs. IND (33%); Marquise Brown at DEN (33%); Elijah Moore vs. DET (33%); Allen Lazard vs. LA (32%); Jakobi Meyers at LV (30%); Tutu Atwell at GB (27%); Drake London at NO (27%); George Pickens at CAR (26%); Marquez Valdes-Scantling at HOU (25%); Michael Gallup at JAC (24%); Robert Woods at LAC (23%); Chris Moore vs. KC (22%); Curtis Samuel vs. NYG (22%); Darius Slayton at WSH (21%); D.J. Chark at NYJ (21%); Isaiah Hodgins at WSH (20%).

Both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd have half projections that are keeping them down in Tier 3 initially. Higgins is day to day with a hamstring injury; he’d be a Tier 2 play if active. Boyd is expected to miss a ”week or two” with a finger injury.

Courtland Sutton could be out this week after not practicing last week, but is projected for a half workload initially. If full, he’s a low-end Tier 2 play.

DJ Moore is day to day with a knee injury. Initially, he has a half projection.

In two games with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, we’ve seen a 27.1% target share for Amari Cooper, who has averaged 41.0 yards per game on his 8.0 targets. Donovan Peoples-Jones has a 23.7% target share (7.0 per game) with 79.0 yards per game with a nice 12.6-yard average depth of target. The lone touchdown from Watson has gone to tight end David Njoku. The Cleveland Browns face the Baltimore Ravens, who are 22nd in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Both Cooper and Peoples-Jones are Tier 2 plays.

How viable are the Jets receivers with Mike White (presumably) under center? Last week, we saw Elijah Moore’s role increase. Moore led the team in targets (10), but had just 60 yards. However, he had four downfield targets (10-plus air yards) and 98 total air yards. Garrett Wilson ran 98.0% of the team’s routes and churned out 78 yards on his seven targets. Of those seven targets, five were at least 10 yards downfield, and his average target depth was 11.1. Detroit is a great overall matchup for opposing offenses, and Wilson remains a high-end Tier 2 play; Moore is startable in desperation situations.

Is the absence of Deebo Samuel enough to make Brandon Aiyuk a must start? The simulations think not. Aiyuk is a Tier 2 play against the Seattle Seahawks, who rank 20th against receivers. Third-string quarterback Brock Purdy has targeted Aiyuk on 16.9% of his attempts (with Samuel receiving a team-high 23.1%, leaving room for a bump for Aiyuk). It’s a fine, start-able situation – but it’s not good enough to chase Aiyuk at the expense of better options higher on the list.

TIGHT END

Start with confidence:

– Travis Kelce at HOU (86%)

– Mark Andrews at CLE (64%)

– Dallas Goedert at CHI (63% at full; 23% at half)

– George Kittle at SEA (55%)

Consider if needed:

– Pat Freiermuth at CAR (47%)

– Dalton Schultz at JAC (44%)

– T.J. Hockenson vs. IND (42%)

– Greg Dulcich vs. ARI (42%)

– Chig Okonkwo at LAC (41%)

– Evan Engram vs. DAL (37%)

– David Njoku vs. BAL (37%)

– Darren Waller vs. NE (37% at full; 18% at half)

– Tyler Conklin vs. DET (36%)

– Cole Kmet vs. PHI (35%)

– Dawson Knox vs. MIA (35%)

– Gerald Everett vs. TEN (35%)

– Tyler Higbee at GB (35%)

– Taysom Hill vs. ATL (35%)

Bench if possible:

Hunter Henry at LV (27%); Austin Hooper at LAC (23%); Logan Thomas vs. NYG (23%); Jelani Woods at MIN (21%); Robert Tonyan vs. LA (21%); Noah Fant vs. SF (19%); Juwan Johnson vs. ATL (17%); Foster Moreau vs. NE (17%); Isaiah Likely at CLE (15%); Cade Otton vs. CIN (15%).

Dallas Goedert initially has a half projection after he was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday.

Darren Waller is trending toward a Week 15 return, but is initially set for a 50% workload.

Can we run it back with Chig Okonkwo this week? I think so. While Okonkwo had just a 50.0% route rate in Week 14, he managed a solid 15.8% target share and turned his six targets into 45 yards and a touchdown.

Two of his targets were red zone looks as well. The Tennessee Titans are up against a Los Angeles Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 10.6-yard average target depth to tight ends.

Tyler Conklin has had post-bye target shares of 15.0%, 10.7%, 12.7%, and 18.2% for a four-game target share of 14.3% (5.3 per game) for the Jets. The tight end has turned that opportunity into just 25.5 yards per game, but has an abysmal -17.5% catch rate over expectation. He’s still got a 67.9% route rate and should have some added catches on his volume soon. The Lions are 25th in catch rate over expectation allowed to tight ends (+2.1%).

Over his past five games, Cole Kmet has had single-game target shares of 22.2%, 38.9%, 21.1%, 25.0%, and 28.0% in a run-heavy offense. The previous time we saw Justin Fields, he ran a season-low six times after injury and threw for a season-high 254 yards. Kmet should be a safety blanket in a game during which the Chicago Bears could be playing from behind.

https://www.numberfire.com