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Welcome to Week 17 of the 2023 Footballguys Roundtable. Our intrepid panel of fantasy pundits discusses and debates four topics every week. We split the conversation into separate features.
This week's roundtable features these four topics:
- Gutsy Championship Lineup Decisions (see below)
- Difficult Championship Lineup Decisions
- Hanging on or Hang'Em Up?
- Potential RB Breakout Candidates for 2024
Gutsy Championship Lineup Calls
Matt Waldman: Yes, you generally want to stick with your best players. Blah, blah, blah. Still, there are scenarios where you need the guts to deviate from the game plan.
- Give us one top-25 starter at RB or WR you'd consider benching this week.
- Give us one RB or WR outside the top 35 you'd consider starting this week.
Important: You cannot use a player outside the top 35 who was considered a starter or co-starter to begin the year but is outside that ranking mostly due to injury.
Who Are You Benching?
Andy Hicks: Stefon Diggs. The Patriots have allowed only one hundred-yard receiver over the last seven weeks, Jalin Hyatt. Diggs has struggled over the same timeframe, with only 26 catches for 236 yards and 1 touchdown. Only once has he registered more than 5 catches and 50 yards. If another option is available, take it.
Adam Wilde: Tony Pollard. Over the last three weeks, Pollard has not totaled more than 60 yards rushing. His saving grace in an otherwise disappointing season has been his passing game involvement, which has been disappointing over the last two weeks. Dallas has struggled to score since Week 14 but could turn that around in a matchup against Detroit. Even still, Pollard is worth replacing with other fringe options.
Dan Hindery: Gus Edwards ranks as RB17 in 0.5 PPR scoring this season, but that ranking is almost entirely due to rushing touchdowns. His 12 rushing touchdowns trail only Raheem Mostert and Christian McCaffrey. However, Edwards' reliance on touchdowns for fantasy production makes him a risky bet.
He has not topped 70 total yards in any game since Week 8. Plus, he is averaging less than 1.0 targets per game. If Edwards does not score, he is probably putting up 8.0 fantasy points or fewer. His Week 17 matchup is also extremely difficult. Since Week 12, the Dolphins have given up the third-fewest fantasy points over expectation (-4.62) to opposing running backs.
Ben Cummins: Derrick Henry is no longer a must-start. The Titans are 3.5-point road underdogs, the Texans defense ranks fourth in Rush Expected Points Added (EPA) Allowed since Week 8, and Henry only earned 10 total yards on 20 touches against this same defense just two weeks ago.
Corey Spala: I would consider benching Sam LaPorta this week as he will go up against a tough matchup. Dallas has allowed the second-fewest receptions to tight ends and the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game. This is championship week and I want to ensure my starting players have an opportunity to bring me fantasy points while having a high-ceiling opportunity.
Waldman: Gutsy call Corey. I will note that while Dallas has statistically been a stingy defense to the position, for the sake of argument, let's zoom in on the performances of tight ends who were the first or second option in the opponent's scheme at the time of the contest and/or the course of the season thus far.
- Darren Waller: 5 targets, 3 catches, 36 yards.
- Tyler Conklin: 6 targets, 5 catches, 50 yards.
- Hunter Henry: 5 targets, 4 catches, 51 yards.
- George Kittle: 4 targets, 3 catches, 67 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
The average production for starting tight ends against Dallas is 4.2 targets, 3 catches, 33.5 yards, and 0.33 scores. Dallas is giving up 5.37 fantasy points per game to the starting tight end for the opposition. To your point, Cory, that's weak. That average weekly total is slightly better than TE30 Kylen Granson.
However, the average production for this quartet of starters, who were all one of the top-two options in their passing offenses is 5 targets, 3.75 catches, 51 yards, and .75 scores. That's 9.6 fantasy points per game--an average slightly better than TE12 Kyle Pitts.
Of the four players from this sample, the best two options after the catch are Conklin and Kittle, and like LaPorta, Kittle earns red-zone love, too. Kittle's 27 fantasy points qualify as a high-ceiling day. LaPorta is nowhere near Kittle as a blocker, but as a route runner, receiver, and YAC producer, he's in the same zip code.
If this subcategory of the data set is most appropriate, then you better have a great matchup with a good player to bench LaPorta.
Jordan McNamara: I'd consider benching Courtland Sutton. The move from Russell Wilson to Jarrett Stidham is a financial move for Denver, and I want to see a reveal of Stidham before trusting how he will affect Sutton's production.
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