SSSQ is a weekly look at under-the-radar fantasy players to consider starting and potential busts you should leave on your bench. We also identify breakout candidates to stash on your roster and players you can safely cut.
Despite all the doubters, Cousins has multiple passing touchdowns in seven of his last eight games and has the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks during that stretch. He's owned the division-rival Lions lately, throwing for 590 yards and seven scores over their last two encounters. That includes a four-touchdown performance in a game where Adam Thielen barely played. Thielen suffered another setback during practice last week, and based on head coach Mike Zimmer's quotes, it seems like the star wideout will be be on the sidelines again Sunday. It doesn't matter, though - Cousins will roll as a top-10 fantasy option at home against the Lions.
Boone's projection: 296 passing yards, 3 passing TDs
Other QBs to start
We've targeted running backs against the Panthers a lot in the second half of the year and for good reason - their defense is giving up touchdowns like a broken arcade machine spitting out quarters. Carolina has coughed up 22 total touchdowns to backs in 2019, including 15 in the team's last six games. Freeman doesn't look like the player he once was, but he's still been able to capitalize on easier matchups; he put up 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Cardinals, plus 70 yards and a score versus the Texans. This will be by far his most favorable draw of the season, and his volume alone makes him a solid RB2 with RB1 upside this week.
Boone's projection: 85 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards, TD
Other RBs to start
Parker has at least 50 yards in 10 of his 12 appearances and was the top-scoring fantasy receiver over the last three weeks with stat lines of 7-135-0, 6-91-0, and 7-159-2. Who says you can't break out during your fifth NFL season? The 26-year-old should continue his hot streak against a Jets defense permitting the 10th-most fantasy points to wideouts - the same unit that Parker faced when he caught four passes for 57 yards and a score in Week 9. With matchups against the Jets, Giants, and Bengals on tap for the fantasy playoffs, Parker might be a WR1 the rest of the way.
Boone's projection: 88 receiving yards, TD
Other WRs to start
Thielen's injury saved Rudolph's fantasy season. Over the first six games, he failed to find the end zone and couldn't crack the top 45 tight ends in fantasy points scored, but since Week 7, Rudolph has posted top-four numbers with six touchdowns. That stretch was kicked off by a meeting with the Lions, where he put up a 5-58-1 line. As long as Thielen's out, Rudolph remains a strong fantasy option.
Boone's projection: 61 receiving yards, TD
Other TEs to start
Brees has taken advantage of a very soft schedule since returning from injury. The 40-year-old threw three touchdown passes in each outing versus the Cardinals, Bucs, and Panthers, but was contained in both contests against the Falcons. The degree of difficulty is about to get ratcheted way up in a visit from the 49ers, a team that's allowed just 134.2 passing yards per game this season. We need to be realistic about our expectations for Brees in this one, which means sitting him down in favor of a quality streamer.
Boone's projection: 217 passing yards, TD, INT
Other QBs to sit
The good news for Drake is that he appears to have become the lead back in Arizona, with at least 15 touches in all four games as a Cardinal. Unfortunately, he's only been productive in two of those contests and now squares off against a Steelers defense allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. The threat of David Johnson or Chase Edmonds getting more involved still exists, so you'd be wise to lean away from Drake this week.
Boone's projection: 45 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards
Other RBs to sit
In the first round of the fantasy playoffs, would you be confident starting a receiver who's been held to three receptions and 27 yards over the last two weeks? What if he had three catches or fewer in seven of his last eight games and hadn't scored a touchdown since Week 8? Williams has the potential to break any slate with a deep ball or two, but even against a banged-up Titans secondary, he's way too volatile to trust in your lineup at the most critical point of the fantasy season.
Boone's projection: 43 receiving yards
Other WRs to sit
As always, the barren tight-end landscape makes it difficult to suggest sitting anyone at the position. Fant gets his picture in this space because he's fallen off the fantasy map in the last two weeks. Since Jeff Heuerman returned to the lineup, Fant's playing time and targets have declined, leading to just four catches for 19 yards during those outings. Drew Lock's first start wasn't awful, but he didn't look Fant's way very often, resulting in the tight end's lowest target total since Week 6. It's back to the fantasy waiver wire for the promising rookie.
Boone's projection: 26 receiving yards
Other TEs to sit
Minshew (15% owned) is back under center for the Jags. Though you don't want to start him this Sunday, he will definitely be worth consideration in Weeks 15 and 16 against a pair of bottom-five pass defenses in the Raiders and Falcons.
Earlier this week, Raiders starter Josh Jacobs admitted he's been playing through a fractured shoulder since Week 7 and then proceeded to miss multiple practices. It's possible the training staff is managing the injury in order to have him ready for Sunday, but if he's forced to sit out at some point, Washington (1% owned) would be the back to roster in fantasy. Washington has out-touched and outgained teammate Jalen Richard over the last three weeks.
For someone with no involvement in the passing game, Scarbrough (42% owned) has been surprisingly productive with rushing lines of 14-55-1, 18-98-0, and 21-83-0. However, his schedule in the fantasy playoffs should keep him out of your lineup. His next three opponents - the Vikings, Buccaneers, and Broncos - all rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA. Without the receiving work to fall back on, Scarbrough will be a desperation play who would need a touchdown to return any value.
Gordon (46% owned) has seen the field on a little over a third of the Seahawks' snaps in the two games since their bye. With just three targets during that time, it's hard to envision Gordon making a fantasy impact down the stretch.