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Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Rob Gronkowski, Theo Riddick, DeAndre Washington & More

Sunday, October 9, 2016 2:46
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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 5 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:

Rob Gronkowski – Tight End – New England Patriots
He’s listed as questionable, though he’s expected to play in Tom Brady’s 2016 debut.  That offers hope that he can finally start to produce, even if his opportunities remained limited (the Patriots have not deployed him in too many passing routes thus far).  However according to Jason La Canfora (via Twitter):

“Get ready for Gronk on Sun. Strong week of practice. His time as a decoy and run blocker waning. Expect to see much more downfield”

Maybe there’s still a little bit of risk, but it’s impossible not to fire him up as a must use TE1.

Ryan Mathews – Running Back – Philadelphia Eagles
According to Zach Berman (via Twitter):

“Ryan Mathews will maintain his role as starting RB. He’s healthy, Pederson said.”

Of course, after his Week 3 “performance” it’s going to be tough to buy into until we actually see it on the field.  Both Darren Srpoles and Wendall Smallwood should see touches, and that alone is going to help limit Mathews upside.  Throw in the ankle injuries, which could further hamper him, and Mathews owners need to be cautious in deploying him.  If you are desperate than sure, but otherwise you may be wise to be conservative and see how this plays out.

Paxton Lynch – Quarterback – Denver Broncos
Trevor Siemian has been ruled out, leaving Lynch to make his first NFL start.  The Falcons are allowing the most points per week to opposing quarterbacks, including 13 TD vs. 4 INT.  With Lynch performing well after stepping in this past week (14-24, 170 yards, 1 TD), he should be viewed as a viable plug-and-play for those in two-quarterback formats.  In shallower leagues there’s potential, though there should be more trustworthy options available.

Theo Riddick – Running Back – Detroit Lions
Dwayne Washington is listed as doubtful, which should leave Riddick relatively alone in Detroit’s backfield.  Zach Zenner should rise into a complimentary role, especially with Riddick struggling to produce each of the past three weeks on the ground:

  • Week 2 – 11 carries for 37 yards
  • Week 3 – 10 carries for 9 yards
  • Week 4 – 11 carries for 31 yards

That’s 32 carries for 77 yards, or 2.4 yards per carry.  The Eagles have been a stout run defense allowing opposing running backs to pick up 159 yards on 40 carries.  While Riddick does hold value in PPR formats, he remains more of a RB2/FLEX option at best despite the potential bump in carries.

DeAndre Washington – Running Back – Oakland Raiders
Latavius Murray has already been ruled out, giving Washington and Jalen Richard an opportunity to step up and seize a bigger role moving forward.  Both players have looked good in limited opportunities over the first four games:

  • Washington – 23 carries for 147 yards (6.4 YPC)
  • Richard – 17 carries for 144 yards (8.5 YPC) and 1 TD

Neither player has been given more than 7 carries in a game, Washington did lose a fumble in Week 4 and both players are listed at just 5’8”.  The matchup also isn’t as easy as it would seem, as the Chargers’ issue has been TD (6), not rushing yards (281), and this could easily break down into a shootout.  While Washington is being viewed as the more favorable option, he should be considered more of FLEX than anything.

Antonio Gates – Tight End – San Diego Chargers
Adam Schefter (via Twitter) reported this morning:

“Chargers expect TE Antonio Gates, listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, to be able to play vs. Raiders, per source.”

As we’ve said, the Chargers-Raiders contest could easily breakdown into a shootout, and that would make Gates seem like a viable option.  However there are a few questions hanging over him:

  1. How healthy is he?
  2. How many snaps will he lose to Hunter Henry?
  3. How limited will he be overall?

As a TE2 the risk is worth it, but he’s still tough to trust in most situations.

Dez Bryant – Wide Receiver – Dallas Cowboys
He’s listed as questionable, but isn’t expected to play in Week 5.  It would be his second straight missed game, as here’s the wide receiver target split from Week 4:

  • Brice Butler – 9
  • Terrance Williams – 6
  • Cole Beasley – 4

Instead the offense revolved around Ezekiel Elliot and Jason Witten (9 targets).  Interestingly last week was Beasley’s lowest target number of the season, so we don’t want to read too much into it.  He figures to be the safest choice as a WR3, but none of them are particularly trustworthy.

Kenneth Dixon – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
He’s expected to make his NFL debut this week, in what would be a favorable matchup with the Redskins.  However how many opportunities will he really get?  Expected to be eased into action, Dixon remains more of a long-term stash than a viable option.  On the flipside, Terrance West should see the bulk of the carries against a defense that’s allowed 532 yards and 7 TD on the ground to opposing running backs.  Fire him up as a good play in all formats.

Kyle Rudolph – Tight End – Minnesota Vikings
As it is he is tied for the team lead in targets (33) and with Stefon Diggs listed as doubtful, his opportunities could grow even more.  He’s scored a TD in three straight games and hasn’t been targeted fewer than 7 times in any game, so it’s easy to fire him up as a TE1 in all formats.

As for the wide receivers, does Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson or Charles Johnson really represent any potential?  Johnson could enjoy a breakout performance, but none of them can be trusted.


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