The Lineup Cheat Sheet combines Fantasy analysis and game-flow predictions with a confidence scale to give you a definitive answer on who to start in your leagues.
The higher the number next to a player’s name, the more confident you should be to start him.
If a player isn’t listed, don’t start him.
Numbers are based on non-PPR scoring but are typically applicable to PPR formats.
To find a specific player, use your search function — CTRL-F on PCs and Command-F on Macs. If neither of those are options, or if you’re on a mobile device, you can search by game.
If you’re still unsure, just send a note on Twitter (@daverichard) using #CBSFLCS and I’ll give it a look, time permitting.
Falcons at Buccaneers
Ryan has traditionally played poorly at Tampa, but this Buccaneers defense isn’t very good. It gave up 334 yards and two scores to Ryan back in Week 1, allowed multiple passing scores in all but two games and can’t possibly be in good enough shape to hang with the Falcons after playing into OT four days earlier. Expect the Falcons offense to dictate the pace of this game, leaning on Ryan a little more than Devonta Freeman in the early going.
Don’t be alarmed if Peyton Barber starts for the Buccaneers — he’s best suited for running downs. But if this game goes down like most Bucs games, he won’t play quite as much because Tampa Bay will pass a bunch. Smith is the Bucs’ best back suited to run routes on passing downs, and he’s got fresh legs to boot (both Bucs running backs do). Against a tired Falcons defense that has struggled against running backs catching passes, there’s some potential for both to come up with decent numbers, but Smith has just a little more big-play potential and a better chance to have more touches.
Lions at Vikings
Changing coordinators mid-week will turn the Vikings offense conservative. That’s to be expected given the poor O-line play. The Lions surely are aiming to attack the big guys up front, so a buttoned-up, quick-trigger passing attack, perhaps with some no-huddle, should be something the Vikings consider. That would cut down on the deep passes, though there should still be a handful. A short-area passing game should ultimately help the running backs and Kyle Rudolph.
Every single starter to play Minnesota this season has fallen short of 20 Fantasy points, but the unit hasn’t seen many quality passers. In his past two games Stafford’s been playing fine (64.3 completion percentage, no interceptions), he’s just not finding the end zone. The Vikings cornerbacks are stout, but their linebackers and backup free safety are exploitable. Tack on the likelihood that Stafford will throw a bunch against a scheme he completed multiple touchdowns against last year, and he’s not someone you should be quick to give up on.
Eagles at Giants
It’s the third week in a row the Eagles are playing a team coming off a bye, which hasn’t quite worked out well for their offense. Philly has just three offensive touchdowns over its last two games, evidence that Carson Wentz’s crew is starting to slow down. Wentz himself has averaged under 5.0 yards per attempt in those games and hasn’t thrown multiple scores since Week 5. The Giants’ pass defense isn’t great, but the home advantage after a week off should be a good thing while the Eagles sputter into their second straight road game.
The last time Mathews got a vote of confidence from Doug Pederson, he recorded 11 carries and scored a receiving touchdown in the ensuing game. Since then he’s had seven Fantasy points or less per week. There’s no denying how the Eagles truly feel about Sproles — he has tied or led Philly’s backs in playing time every week, even in Mathews’ best games.
This doesn’t seem like the kind of matchup Pederson will roll with the no-huddle spread offense. He might opt to utilize his running backs and attack the Giants’ front seven. In the past that has meant an automatic uptick of work for Ryan Mathews, but Sproles’ hot hand, receiving prowess and lack of fumbles should make Fantasy owners a little more comfortable than Mathews.
Jets at Dolphins
If the Dolphins can’t succeed against the Jets secondary, they’ll have no chance. New York’s allowing just over 300 pass yards per game with multiple passing scores in half of them. Ryan Tannehill had multiple scores in each game against this Jets defense last year (when they were better). No doubt, the Dolphins will use their healthy and rested offensive line to their advantage as much as possible. That includes protecting Tannehill when he throws downfield. He should have some moderate success, as should Ajayi, though the matchup is clearly more difficult for him.
Enunwa hasn’t quite turned into Eric Decker, but he’s close. Really, he’s taking advantage of single coverage while Brandon Marshall has been double teamed. Ryan Fitzpatrick has clearly noticed, as evidenced by the 11 targets last week. The matchup has also played a big role in Enunwa’s recent success, and the Dolphins secondary shouldn’t be considered a tough nut to crack just because it held up against Tyrod Taylor and a beat-up Ben Roethlisberger in its past two games. Enunwa’s targets shouldn’t slow down — he should be useful as a starter with No. 2 Fantasy receiver expectations.
Jaguars at Chiefs
Turning to Nick Foles might suggest a more aggressive passing approach, but by and large the Chiefs shouldn’t change their identity on offense much. Charcandrick West fits into Kansas City’s scheme and should get a big dose of work. Jacksonville should also be ready to respect Foles’ arm after throwing downfield as much as he did last week. Losing left guard Parker Ehinger to a torn ACL will hurt a little bit, but West should still contend for over 100 total yards with a good shot at scoring against the Jags, who have allowed six rushing touchdowns to running backs in their last four games.
Change is standard when teams switch playcallers, and the Jaguars’ decision to replace Greg Olson with Nate Hackett should help Yeldon. Chris Ivory’s a goal-line hammer but isn’t otherwise the fit the Jags hoped. Yeldon offers much more in the way of versatility and would be the much better choice at running back if the Jaguars opt for the no huddle, which helped Hackett become an NFL coach in the first place. Yeldon has averaged 4.7 yards per rush and 9.1 yards per catch over his last four games. He’s just low on opportunities. Maybe that changes this week since he seems like a better fit for where the Jaguars offense could go. The Chiefs haven’t exactly been a brick wall against backs, either.
Cowboys at Browns
Injuries to cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Barry Church make this game more interesting than it would otherwise be. Replacements Orlando Scandrick and J.J. Wilcox aren’t awful, but they’ll get targeted. Scandrick specifically could be in trouble playing against the right side of the offense, a spot he’s not used to. Wouldn’t you know it? Two of Terrelle Pryor’s three touchdowns have come on that side of the field, and it should be the side of the field he sees the most since rookie Corey Coleman has been a little more accustomed to the left side.
It’s a no-brainer that when he’s on the field, Pro Football Focus says the Browns have passed on 81.3 percent of the snaps Johnson has played. And while we’re expecting Cleveland to play from behind as usual, it doesn’t mean Johnson is suddenly a great start just because he had a season high in total yards last week against the Jets. Dallas has covered running backs well out of the backfield, holding them to 7.6 yards per catch with no scores. At best, Johnson is a flex.
Steelers at Ravens
In the past, this rivalry has been a defensive battle without a ton of points. This year, neither defense is particularly good. You might expect a high-scoring game. If there’s an edge it’s that the Steelers’ front seven is getting healthy — Cameron Heyward and Ryan Shazier should be close to full health. They should shore up the Pittsburgh run defense and should make an impact, even against a Ravens run offense that’s getting two good linemen back.
The Steelers have allowed only eight passing touchdowns, three to receivers. They’re known for giving up yardage, not scores, and really Pittsburgh does a great job keeping pass catchers in front of them and bending-but-not-breaking. Only three pass plays have gone for 40-plus yards and 20 for 20-plus yards, both low by NFL standards.
Wallace’s matchup doesn’t check the box but his volume keeps him in play as a pretty good Fantasy option. In his past three games he’s caught 21 of 33 targets for 280 yards and no scores. The average of that — roughly 90 yards — should be in play, particularly since Joe Flacco should get time to throw, a luxury he hasn’t had in previous matchups.
Saints at 49ers
A week after benching Mark Ingram for fumbling, don’t be shocked to see the Saints go right back to him — and Tim Hightower. The no-brainer matchup here is for the Saints run game to attack the 49ers run defense, which is the worst in the league. And there’s not much the Niners can do about it because the New Orleans pass game is an obvious huge threat, too. It’s rare to see two Saints running backs tabbed as top 24 Fantasy options, but given the matchup, both are worth starting. Perhaps they’ll both get 15-plus touches and both put up nice numbers.
A week ago, I was a big fan of Snead’s slot matchup — and Drew Brees was too. Despite a team-high eight targets, Snead just couldn’t get it done. Now he’ll see a lot of the 49ers’ best cornerback in Jimmie Ward, who usually mans the slot. He allowed two touchdowns in Week 2 to Kelvin Benjamin and was not in his usual slot position either time, plus Benjamin had a major size advantage. Tack on the Saints’ likelihood to run the ball a bunch and it further cuts into Snead’s targets. He’s fairly easy to sit this week.
Panthers at Rams
It’s so strange to read, but Cam Newton, the Fantasy MVP of 2015, has more than 17 Fantasy points in just one of his past four games. He’s still running but not as much as we’re used to, and his passing hasn’t been as consistent. The Rams provide an interesting matchup. Not only should their front seven make it a challenge for the Panthers to run the ball, but it looks like cornerback Trumaine Johnson will return and he’ll likely get assigned Kelvin Benjamin. The Rams have also traditionally done well against tight ends and have contained rushing quarterbacks. How will Newton deliver huge Fantasy points if he’s not willing to run as much? This is a tricky game for him.
This one’s all about the matchup. Carolina has allowed eight touchdowns to receivers over its past four games, including three last week when their secondary was somehow healthier. There’s no doubt that the Rams will try and attack this pass defense, even with its unheralded pass catchers. Britt has seen a mostly steady diet of targets (at least six in all but one game) and should be in the mix for over 70 yards. Not exactly the kind of projection you might look for but given the Panthers pass deficiencies, Britt is a pretty decent gamble in seasonal and daily leagues.
Colts at Packers
The Colts defense can’t stop anyone and the Packers defense can’t quite stop the pass. It’s safe to say there will be plenty of points, and much of them should come through the air. The Packers have an edge in terms of pass rush — they should bring enough pressure to challenge Luck — and their run defense typically plays better at home. Expect the defense to come up with a stop or two in the fourth quarter to bring home a win for the Packers.
Wide receivers have caught nine touchdowns against the Packers over their last five games. That’s nearly two per game. Of the nine, six were by wideouts who play along the outside. Obviously, T.Y. Hilton can be one of those kinds of receivers, but most of Moncrief’s snaps come there too. The nice thing about Moncrief is that he’s not covered as tightly as Hilton, and against a Packers pass defense that doesn’t field many good cover corners as it is, Moncrief should see plenty of red-zone targets. He scored last week and had another one called back by a penalty, so he’s definitely on Andrew Luck’s mind near the goal line.
Titans at Chargers
This is a bad week for the Chargers to play without both starting inside linebackers. Forget about Manti Te’o, who’s out for the year, but rookie Jatavis Brown and second-year run stopper Denzel Perryman are expected to sit with injuries. For a team like the Titans, who relish running the ball with their power backs, this makes for a nightmarish scenario. Look for Tennessee to not only run well but also take advantage with the play-action pass.
Hunter Henry has been battling through injuries but has still been getting his usual workload of snaps and pass routes to run. But as recently as last week, Gates started to play more and run more than twice as many routes, according to Pro Football Focus. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen Henry’s targets (seven) and Gates’ targets (19) over the past two weeks. Injuries to San Diego’s receivers paired with a pretty good matchup against the Titans linebackers in pass coverage should keep Gates’ numbers flowing. He might have one of his best games of the season.
Broncos at Raiders
No doubt, this is a big test for the Raiders offense against that tough Broncos defense. But it’s an even greater challenge for a Raiders defense that simply hasn’t played well all season. Oakland’s allowing 4.8 yards per rush to running backs, which is great for Devontae Booker. And the Raiders’ pass defense has allowed multiple scores to a quarterback in five games and is tied for the most 20-yard pass plays allowed (33) and leads the league in 40-yard pass plays allowed (10). It’s tough not to expect good games from the Broncos’ stars on Sunday night.
On a week with six teams on bye, sitting Cooper isn’t an easy option. But you have to expect the Broncos to focus on slowing him down before any other part of the Raiders offense. Shutdown cornerback Chris Harris could easily take Cooper out of the mix, just as he’s helped erase a bunch of other stud receivers already this season. Since Week 1, the most Fantasy points any wideout has scored on the Broncos is 10, and that was by Travis Benjamin last week when he caught a tipped pass in the end zone. Michael Crabtree should have a better shot at getting close to 10 points.
Bills at Seahawks
You probably have an idea of how this one’s going to go — the Bills will have a hard time finding points against a stingy Seattle defense coming off a loss and playing at home in prime time. But Buffalo’s defense should come to play as well. The only quarterback to throw multiple scores against the Bills was Tom Brady last week, and running backs have either feasted (David Johnson, Matt Forte, Todd Gurley and Jay Ajayi) or gone hungry (everyone else) against Buffalo. With the offense recording just six rushing and six passing scores in seven games, this isn’t the best matchup to expect a breakout performance. The Seahawks just might have to slug their way to victory.
It sure seems like he’s playing hurt and staying in the pocket because of it. He has as many rush yards as Tom Brady and less than half as many as Andy Dalton! So if Wilson’s going to go off for a big game, it has to come almost exclusively from his arm. The hunch is that he’ll lean on Jimmy Graham in what appears to be a winning matchup — the Bills struggled badly with the Patriots tight ends and have faced next to nothing from that position in their other six games. But can he connect with him or anyone else twice in the end zone? Maybe, but his inability to do so in all but one of his seven games this season makes him such a dicey play.