Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS — Cousins currently ranks 11th in fantasy points per game, but he's a Top-5 option this week at home. San Francisco is a team we tend to pick on because they increase both quality and quantity for opposing offenses. They allow an above average amount of plays and currently rank 26th in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA.
Cousins' efficiency has been strong this season, recording 8.3 YPA and a 5.8 TD percentage. This would be his third straight season with above average marks in both categories. He, however, ranks only 22nd in attempts per game. That will change. Cousins ranked third in attempts per game just a year ago.
Cousins is an efficient QB who will naturally see his attempts rise and face a team that should bolster both his efficiency and volume. If you want to add some narrative street to this play, the Washington offense should improve out of the bye week as Cousins gets more time working with Terrelle Pryor, and Jordan Reed gets healthier.
Eli Manning, QB, NYG — Manning is much more likely to end up as a bottom 5 QB this week than a Top 10 QB, so you can ignore his current 10th place ranking in total fantasy points at the QB position. In fact, Manning is not even worth holding onto in season-long leagues where you start 1 QB. You're better off streaming the position week to week.
Astoundingly, in a single week, the Giants suffered injuries to their top four WRs: Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Dwayne Harris. Beckham, Marshall, and Harris are out for the season most likely, while Shepard is doubtful to play this week.
The timing could not be any worse for the Giants, as they march into Denver, one of the worst matchups for opposing offenses. As a result, the Giants have a paltry Vegas implied team total of 13 points. Manning may be forced to air it out often in this contest, but TDs make or break fantasy days at the QB position. Empty volume will leave you feeling empty. Manning is the lowest projected starting QB this week.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN — McKinnon is a Top 20 RB on the week with RB1 upside. With Dalvin Cook out, we watched McKinnon wrestle away the lead role from Latavius Murray on Monday Night Football. McKinnon was the featured back in the second half of that game, highlighted by this long TD run:
TD Jerick McKinnon pic.twitter.com/7utSJ7o6mO
— Vikings FA (@VikingsFA_) October 10, 2017
Overall, McKinnon ended the game with 16 carries and 6 targets. That work in the passing game gives McKinnon a high floor. His athleticism gives him a high ceiling. McKinnon's combine metrics practically break PlayerProfiler.com:
McKinnon was unable to take advantage of his opportunity last season as a lead back, but this Minnesota offense is in a much better place overall, particularly on the offensive line.
Adrian Peterson, RB, ARI — We move from a current Viking RB to a former one. If you were excited to grab Peterson off the waiver wire following his trade to the Cardinals, well, I am afraid I have bad news.
Bruce Arians has already stated that Peterson won't play third downs for the Cardinals; that role is nicely filled by pass-catching specialist Andre Ellington. If you've read this start/sit column before, you know how much we value RBs that are involved in all facets of the game.
That's one strike against Peterson. The second strike is that he's washed. It's not fun to admit given his illustrious career, but Chris Raybon of 4for4.com outlined some pretty daunting stats in regards to Peterson's recent production:
Adrian Peterson's yards per carry over last 9 career games:
Hans't cracked 4.0 since 12/27/15.
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) October 11, 2017
So we're looking at a back who is unlikely to be efficient and is not involved in the passing game. The last out for such a back to be valuable is high TD equity. While it is likely that the Cardinals utilize Peterson as their goal-line back, it's important to keep in mind they simply aren't very good. They rank 30th in Football Outsiders' overall team DVOA, which is going to mean reduced goal-line opportunities and negative game scripts that could keep Peterson off the field in a whole lot of second halves.
Peterson will have weeks where he claws to usability in seasonal formats because he finds the end zone, but those weeks will be tough to predict ahead of time. And, even when they come, the ceiling is limited due to the aforementioned reasons.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DeSean Jackson, TB, WR — DeSean Jackson currently ranks outside the Top 40 fantasy WRs in PPR leagues, but he's a WR 3 (Top 46) with WR2 (Top 24) upside this week. Jackson is generally a boom or bust player, as evidenced by his ridiculously high aDOT (average depth of target) of 20.2 yards. As a result, Jackson is fourth in the NFL in Air Yards, meaning he is receiving high leverage opportunities to produce fantasy points. Only Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and AJ Green have more air yards than Jackson (albeit with meaningfully more targets).
Jackson should continue to receive this opportunity against Arizona. Top CB Patrick Peterson will shadow Jackson's teammate, Mike Evans. Peterson is allowing just one reception for every 27.3 coverage snaps, easily the best mark in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. As a result, targets have funneled the way of CB Justin Bethel, who has been burned on deep passes this season, most recently by Torrey Smith last week:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 8, 2017
Jackson will mostly line up against Bethel, who has given up the fifth-most yards of any CB (78 ranked) according to Pro Football Focus.
Will Fuller, WR, HOU — In deeper leagues, Fuller is still a start (and if you're shallow at the WR position), but he makes sense as a sell-high candidate via trade and as a fade in DFS leagues. The matchup is actually quite good, so there's some risk in not playing Fuller. The Texans have a high 29 Vegas implied team total at home against a Cleveland pass defense that ranks 31st in DVOA.
So why sit Fuller? He's a boom or bust candidate with a very low floor. Of course Fuller has hit the boom side of that equation since returning from injury, scoring multiple TDs in back to back weeks. However, he has just 9 total targets in those two games. When the inevitable TD regression hits Fuller, he doesn't have the volume to sustain WR2 or high-end WR3 production. Fuller scored 2 TDs total in 14 games last season.