By Chris Mangano (@ChrisMangano)
Welcome to our Week 3 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We’ll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups.
I’ll be on Reddit Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to answer all your start/sit questions as well. You can also reach me directly on twitter @ChrisMangano if you can’t wait. Let’s get to the matchups for Week 3.
Note: The NFL plays its first London game of the season, so take note of the early start time when setting your lineups this week!
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Week 3 NFL Matchups – 9:30 AM ET Games
Important note and credits about data used in this article:
- All snap counts taken from Football Outsiders. Adjusted line yards also taken from Football outsiders. You can read more here.
- Success rate is taken from Sharp Football Stats (Warren Sharp). You can read more about it here.
- Wide receiver snap percentages and corner grades/stats are taken from Pro Football Focus.
Ravens at Jaguars
Matchups We Love:
Javorius Allen (RB, BAL)
The Jaguars are giving up 107 yards and one touchdown per game on the ground. They rank 31st in adjusted line yards. They also struggle at stopping pass catching backs as they rank 19th in success rate and give up 5.8 YPA (20th). With Terrance West (RB, BAL) nursing a soft-tissue injury in Week 2, Allen saw 63% of the snaps getting 14 carries and six targets. Whether West plays or not Allen should be in line for another good game.
Matchups We Hate:
Joe Flacco (QB, BAL)
The Jaguars possess one of the league’s top defenses versus the pass. They are holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 58% completion percentage and teams have a success rate of just 47% when throwing against them. They also possess one of the best pass rushes in the NFL as they lead the league with 11 sacks. With the Ravens 3.5 point favorites in this one, Flacco may not be asked to throw much.
Mike Wallace (WR, BAL)
Wallace spoke out after Week 2 and said he needed to get the ball more. While that may help if you believe in the squeaky wheel thing, what won’t help is the tough matchup he draws this week. Wallace has lined up on the right 56% of the time this season which would match him up with Jalen Ramsey. So far Ramsey has only given up three catches for 23 yards on eight targets. When Wallace lines up to the left, which is 31% of the time, he’ll get stud A.J. Bouye who has given up 116 yards on the season but only seven catches in 16 targets. Wallace likely won’t have the volume to overcome such a bad matchup.
Blake Bortles (QB, JAC)
Bortles draws the toughest matchup on the slate. The Ravens are holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 51% completion percentage and have given up only one touchdown through the air while tallying eight interceptions. They rank first in the NFL in only allowing a 35% successful play rate when teams throw against them. Bortles is best left out of starting lineups this week.
Marqise Lee (WR, JAC)
Lee led the Jaguars with 12 targets in Week 2 and should continue to operate as the teams number one receiver. He’ll need volume to pay off in a tough matchup against outside corners Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. On the season so far Smith and Carr have combined to give up just nine catches and 91 yards on 22 targets. Lee is a play on volume alone this week.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (WR, BAL) draws the “best” matchup for the Ravens as he will line up against slot corner Aaron Colvin on the majority of his routes. Colvin is no slouch, however, as he has only given up six catches for 57 yards on nine targets. When not in the slot Maclin primarily lines up to the right and will have to deal with Ramsey. He can’t be considered more than a WR3 this week. Tight end Ben Watson (TE, BAL) was a popular waiver pickup this week after turning eight targets into eight catches for 91 yards in Week 2. It’s tough to say how this matchup is, as teams have only thrown to their tight end’s 7% of the time versus the Bengals. Still, if Watson is going to get peppered with targets he makes for a good fill-in play this week.
Leonard Fournette (RB, JAC) once again saw 60% of his teams snaps and got 14 carries in negative game script. The Ravens are a tough team to run on as they are allowing just 66.5 yards per game and rank eighth in adjusted line yards. One area the Ravens do struggle is with pass catching backs as they rank 21st in success rate and give up 8.9 YPA (29th). Fournette got more involved in the passing game in Week 2, and he will likely need that to save his fantasy day this week. Chris Ivory (RB, JAC) is the clear number two as he played 40% of the snaps last week and got six carries and four targets. He is worth a stash in deep leagues and may be playable in really deep leagues. Allen Hurns (WR, JAC) piled up stats in garbage time in Week 2 and gets the best matchup this week, though it is by no means soft. Hurns has played 74% of his snaps from the slot and will matchup against slot corner Ladarius Webb. Webb has allowed just six catches on 11 targets but has given up 131 yards. Hurns should see his share of targets which makes him an OK start in a tough matchup.
Week 3 NFL Matchups – 1:00 PM ET Games
Browns at Colts
Matchups We Love:
Rashard Higgins (WR, CLE)
Higgins burst out in Week 2 after Corey Coleman‘s hand injury, turning 11 targets into seven receptions and 95 yards. He played 89% of his snaps from the slot and will face Nate Hairston who grades out at just 49.4 this year. Higgins should be in line for another good day and makes for a solid start.
Jack Doyle (TE, IND)
The Browns are giving up 81 yards per game and 9.5 catches per game to tight ends. Teams are also targeting tight ends 32% of the time against the Browns with a 68% success rate. With Jacoby Brissett getting the start in Week 2, Doyle tied for the team lead with eight targets. He is a must-start this week and has top 10 upside.
Matchups We Hate:
T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND), Donte Moncrief (WR, IND)
It’s not so much that the matchup is bad, it really isn’t. It’s that no pass catcher other than Doyle can be trusted on this team without Andrew Luck. Until Jacoby Brisett shows something, you have to leave these two on your bench sadly.
Rookie DeShone Kizer (QB, CLE) will be a popular streaming option this week but the matchup isn’t as great as it appears. First, corner Vontae Davis is practicing this week and looks set to make his season debut. Second, even without Davis the Colts have only allowed two passing touchdowns and a 50% success rate. Kizer is a fine stream in deeper leagues but you should have better options in shallower formats, though he makes for a solid play in two quarterback leagues. While the Colts have historically been a weak team against the run, they have improved this year and present another tough matchup for Isaiah Crowell (RB, CLE). Giving up just 2.73 YPA and just 67 yards per game, they rank 13th in adjusted line yards. Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) flashed some brilliance in Week 2 but a lot of that was with backup Kevin Hogan in the game. He did out-snap Crowell 52% to 45% and also played some snaps from the slot. The Colts are good against pass catching backs as well as they rank 6th in success rate. Johnson is a PPR flex in deep formats. Kenny Britt (WR, CLE) looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the football field and is someone you cannot start even in a good matchup. Tight ends Seth Devalve (TE, CLE) and David Njoku (TE, CLE) played 44% and 48% of the snaps respectively. While the matchup is great, the Colts are giving up 65 yards and a 67% success rate versus tight ends, it would be hard to start either when both are splitting snaps.
After making only his second NFL start against a tough Cardinals defense, Jacoby Brisett (QB, IND) gets a much better matchup this week against the Browns. The Browns are allowing quarterbacks to complete 71% of their passes and have given up four touchdowns through the air. While the matchup is good, Brisett has not been as he has yet to throw a touchdown and has just a 41% success rate on his passes. He should be avoided in all formats. Frank Gore (RB, IND) led all backs in snaps with just 45%, followed by Robert Turbin (RB, IND) with 39% and Marlon Mack (RB, IND) played just 15% of snaps. The Browns have been solid against the run giving up 4 YPC and ranking 10th in adjusted line yards. With this being a full blown RBBC you should avoid starting anyone from this backfield.
Giants at Eagles
Matchups We Love:
Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)
Ertz is trending towards a breakout season and this week should not slow that down. The Giants are allowing six catches, 52 yards and a touchdown per game to tight ends thus far. Ertz is second behind only Alshon Jeffrey on the Eagles in targets and should be in line for a big day in Week 3. He is a must start.
Matchups We Hate:
Eli Manning (QB, NYG)
While the Eagles have not been dominant against the pass, they have one of the best pass rushes in the game. They rank 4th in adjusted sack rate and have eight sacks through two games (tied 4th). Manning has looked just as bad as he did last year and even worse when under pressure. Expect Manning to be under pressure most of this game and continue to struggle. He should be benched this week.
Alshon Jeffrey (WR, PHI)
Jeffrey draws another tough shadow cover from stud Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins grades at 85.8 and held Dez Bryant to two catches on nine targets in Week 1. Much like the first week, Jeffrey is a tough start and owners should look for better options if possible. One thing to watch for – Jenkins has been bothered by an ankle issue. If he doesn’t play or is less than 100%, Jeffery could be a better bet.
Torrey Smith (WR, PHI)
With Jenkins shadowing Jeffrey, Smith will be left to deal with Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. On the season Rodgers-Cromartie grades at 89.1 and has allowed just five catches for 34 yards. Smith is already a tough start and is better left on benches this week.
Paul Perkins (RB, NYG) led the backfield with 50% of the snaps but has looked terrible so far. Now reports are Orleans Darkwa (RB, NYG) who played just 20% of the snaps and looked only slightly better, may get the start in Week 3. The Eagles rank 10th in adjusted line yards so regardless of who starts you do not want to have to play them. Pass catching back Shane Vereen (RB, NYG) played 30% of the snaps and actually had the most success. The Eagles struggle against pass catching backs as they rank 26th in success rate and allow 8.9 YPA (30th). Vereen leads the Giants in targets with 15 and makes for a solid start in PPR formats. Odell Beckham, Jr (WR, NYG) made his first start in Week 2 but was only in on selected plays and didn’t look 100%. He draws a soft matchup this week against Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas. Mills has given up 15 catches on 21 targets for 171 yards, and Douglas grades at just 64.1. In any other week this would be a matchup we love but we have to see how healthy Beckham is first. With the Giants pass game struggling so much, and the Eagles likely to be pressuring Manning, both Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG) and Brandon Marshall (WR, NYG) are best left on the bench until things improve. Rookie tight end Evan Engram (TE, NYG) is coming off a big game against the Lions catching four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles present another good opportunity for the young tight end as they are allowing six catches for 69 yards per game thus far. While the success rate for tight ends is low at 45%, Engram is now the second or third option on this receiving team and makes for a solid start this week.
Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz (QB, PHI) has been terrific to start the season throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in each of the first two games. The Giants present a real test as they only allow a successful play on 46% of the throws against them. They have given up three touchdowns, however, and are allowing 66% of the passes against them to be completed. Wentz put up 333 yards and two touchdowns against an even stronger pass defense in Kansas City so expect more of the same this week. He is a solid start in all formats. Darren Sproles (RB, PHI) was a work horse in Week 2, seeing 69% of the teams snaps and receiving 10 of his teams 13 carries. With LeGarrette Blount (RB, PHI) and Wendall Smallwood (RB, PHI) struggling, Sproles should continue to lead this backfield. The Giants rank 15th in adjusted line yards but are giving up over 100 yards on the ground. A potential problem for Sproles this week is the Giants rank 1st in success rate against pass catching backs and allow just 6.6 YPA. Sproles is the back to own on this team but may be in for a tough outing this week. Nelson Agholor (WR, PHI) may see a high number of targets similar to what he saw in Week 1. With the Giants stud outside corners taking away Jeffrey and Smith, Wentz will be forced to lean on Agholor. With Jenkins likely back in Week 3, Eli Apple should move back to the slot. Apple has not been good this year grading at 60.5 and giving up 12 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Agholor looks like a sneaky start.
Dolphins at Jets
Matchups We Love:
Jay Cutler (QB, MIA)
Anytime you have a quarterback against the Jets you have to love the matchup. The Jets are allowing opposing passers to complete 71% of their passes, and 56% of all pass plays against them are successful. On top of that they have allowed five touchdowns to just one interception. Cutler makes for a great streaming option this week and a solid start in all formats.
Jay Ajayi (RB, MIA)
There’s really nothing going against Ajayi this week. He played 94% of the snaps in Week 1. The Jets are allowing 137 yards per game and 4.75 YPC. The Dolphins are 6.5 point favorites which means Ajayi should be getting the ball early and often. He is a must-start and could finish as the overall RB1.
Jarvis Landry (WR, MIA)
Landry played 67% of his snaps from the slot in Week 2 and will face off against corner Buster Skrine. On the season, Skrine has given up just three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, but that is against just four targets. Landry was peppered with targets in Week 2 and will likely test Skrine all game long. Look for Landry to have another good game.
DeVantae Parker (WR, MIA)
Parker is likely to be shadowed by Morris Clairborne, but that shouldn’t stop him from having a successful day. Claiborne has given up four catches for 50 yards on just six targets. Parker was close to some big plays in Week 2 and those are likely to be easier converted against a poor Jets secondary. Unfortunately, Parker was held out of Thursday’s practice with an ankle injury so you will have to monitor the situation. If he plays you have to start him.
Josh McCown (QB, NYJ)
It’s only been one game, but the Dolphins pass defense looked bad against the Chargers. They allowed Phillip Rivers to complete 79% of his passes and 64% of the Chargers pass plays were successful against them, second only to the Saints at 65%. McCown is pretty much unowned in all formats and makes for a great streaming option in two quarterback formats.
Matchups We Hate:
Kenny Stills (WR, MIA) saw just five targets in Week 2 but caught two passes including a touchdown. If Parker is out he will get a nice bump in production. He makes for a flyer in deep leagues in a plus matchup this week even if Parker is in the lineup. Julius Thomas (TE, MIA) debut with Adam Gase was solid as he hauled in all three targets for 26 yards. The matchup this week is good as the Jets are allowing five catches and 58 yards to tight ends, though they are holding teams to just a 42% success rate. Thomas makes for a low end TE2 this week.
Matt Forte (RB, NYJ) led the backfield in snaps with 48% while Bilal Powell (RB, NYJ) saw just 32% of snaps. The matchup isn’t great as the Dolphins held Melvin Gordon and the Chargers to just 44 yards and 3.3 YPC in Week 1 while ranking fourth in adjusted line yards. Forte may have some value in very deep leagues but neither of these guys are players you want to rely on if you can help it.
Broncos at Bills
Matchups We Love:
DeMaryius Thomas (WR, DEN)
Thomas will matchup most of the time against outside corners E.J. Gaines and Tre’Davious White. Gaines and White have combined to allow 11 catches for 119 yards on 20 targets. Denver’s passing game has looked great under Siemian and Thomas should have no problem finding success against these corners.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN)
Sanders will also get his share of Gaines and White, but does spend a little more time in the slot were he will face Leonard Johnson. Johnson has given up 10 catches for 93 yards on 13 targets. Like Thomas, wherever Sanders lines up he will have a distinct advantage.
Virgil Green (TE, DEN)
Green caught his first touchdown of 2017 last week and now gets a plus matchup against a Bills team that struggles against tight ends. While they are only giving up 4 catches and 47 yards to the position, that is because teams have only targeted tight ends 14% of the time against them. When teams do target tight ends they have a 70% success rate. While Green isn’t a target hog in this offense he could be in for another good day and is playable in two tight end formats.
Matchups We Hate:
C.J. Anderson (RB, DEN)
Anderson has been great this year, but draws a tough matchup with a Bills team giving up just 44 yards and 2.4 YPC. Through two games they rank 5th in adjusted line yards. Anderson dominated the snaps 73% to Jamaal Charles (RB, DEN) 26%. You have to start Anderson just based on volume but temper expectations. Charles is nothing more than a desperation play in deep leagues.
Tyrod Taylor (QB, BUF)
On the season the Broncos are allowing just 5.2 YPA and only 46% of passing plays against them have been successful. They have given up five touchdowns through the air, however, and Taylor owners will need to bank on that this week. On a low-volume passing attack, against one of the leagues best pass defenses, Taylor is nothing more than a low end QB2.
LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF)
Shady owners may be in for another dissapointment this week. The Broncos are holding teams to just 40 yards and 2.4 YPC while ranking 2nd in adjusted line yards. They just held Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries last week. Even through the air this is a tough defense for running backs to attack as they are giving up just 4.1 YPA (3rd best). Owners are likely forced to start McCoy, and the volume should be there, but he could likely struggle again.
Jordan Matthews (WR, BUF), Zay Jones (WR, BUF)
While Denver’s passing unit is not quite as strong as it has been in years pass, they are still elite. Buffalo is a low-volume passing attack and neither Matthews or Jones should be started in any format.
After two great performances at home, Trevor Siemian (QB, DEN) has to show what he can do on the road in Buffalo. Last week against the Panthers the Bills allowed Cam Newton to complete 68% of his throws and 59% of pass plays against them were successful. Siemian makes for a solid start again this week.
After a quiet Week 2, Charles Clay (TE, BUF) should once again be productive against a Broncos defense that is giving up six catches and 67 yards to tight ends while allowing a 56% success rate. Clay is second behind only LeSean McCoy in targets on the Bills and should see his share of work in Week 3.
Saints at Panthers
Matchups We Love:
Cam Newton (QB, CAR)
Yes, Newton has not looked like himself through the first two weeks, but it’s the Saints. The Saints have without a doubt the worst pass defense in the league. They are allowing 82% of passes to be complete, an astonishing 11.2 YPA, and a league-high 65% of passing plays against them are successful. If Newton can’t deliver this week you can officially panic. He is a must start.
Jonathan Stewart (RB, CAR)
Stewart was only on the field for 25 snaps in Week 2 (37%) but got a carry on 15 of them. He continues to handle the bulk of the carries for this team and should have value against a Saints defense that is allowing 117 yards and 4.5 YPC while ranking 20th in adjusted line yards. Stewart continues to be used heavily near the goal line as he got his teams only two carries inside the five. Against a poor Saints run defense look for Stewart to have a solid game with touchdown upside.
Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)
McCaffrey has little to no value in standard leagues, but he is turning into quite the pick in PPR formats. He now ranks second on the team in targets just one behind Kelvin Benjamin. He gets a Saints defense in Week 3 that gets shredded by pass catching backs. They rank 31st in success rate against pass catching backs and are allowing 8.4 YPA (28th worst). McCaffrey played 63% of snaps in Week 2 and is a must start in PPR formats.
Kelvin Bejamin (WR, CAR)
There is talk Benjamin will be shadowed by rookie Marshon Lattimore, but it doesn’t matter. Through two games Lattimore has given up five catches for 58 yards on seven targets. He is also giving up five inches and 50 pounds to Benjamin. Benjamin should be able to win the battles with Lattimore and pay off big for his owners.
Matchups We Hate:
Drew Brees (QB, NO)
You’re not benching Brees, even in a tough matchup, just temper expectations a bit. The Panthers are allowing just 5.3 YPA and only 47% of pass plays against them are successful. To make matters worse they have yet to give up a passing touchdown on the season. While Brees is certainly capable of ending that drought, his owners should not expect his usual studly stat line.
Mark Ingram (RB, NO)
Ingram out-snapped Alvin Kamara (RB, NO) 55% to 26% but continues to cede work to the rookie. Things likely won’t get better for Ingram this week as he faces a Panthers defense giving up just 35 yards and 2.4 YPC while ranking 3rd in adjusted line yards. The Panthers are also good against pass catching backs as they rank 12th in success rate and give up just 4.5 YPA (9th best). Both Ingram and Kamara should be avoided this week if possible.
Third year receiver Devin Funchess (WR, CAR) should finally get a chance to show what he’s got with Greg Olsen out with a broken foot. Funchess lines up all over and will see a plus matchup wherever he plays. There is risk, however, as Funchess has not been a focal point of this offense and it remains to be seen how much his role will grow. We’d take a wait and see approach if possible. Greg Olsen owners really got shafted as the Panthers draw a great tight end matchup. Ed Dickson (TE, CAR) will now get his opportunity against a defense that is allowing five catches, 73 yards and one touchdown per game to tight ends. Teams throwing to tight ends also have a 60% success rate against the Saints. The real question mark with Dickson is how involved will he be. He makes for a risky start in a good matchup.
Michael Thomas (WR, NO) has gotten off to a slow start but could finally produce a good day against outside corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley. Both grade in the middle of the pack and have given up a combined 16 catches for 136 yards on 29 targets. Thomas is a solid start in this matchup. Ted Ginn (WR, NO) will line up against Bradberry most of the time, and while the matchup isn’t the worst, Ginn has looked ineffective with his opportunities. He is a tough start outside of deep leagues. Brandon Coleman (WR, NO) was a hot waiver pickup after a Week 2 breakout and draws an OK matchup against slot corner Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn has only faced two targets but has allowed both to be caught for 21 yards. While the numbers seem as though Coby Fleener (TE, NO) has a tough matchup this week, the Panthers defense just really hasn’t faced many tight end targets. They are only allowing 25 yards on four receptions, but teams have only targeted tight ends 15% of the time against them. However, when they do target the tight end they have a 67% success rate. Fleener is never going to be a high-volume guy but should have a solid game.
Steelers at Bears
Matchups We Love:
Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Ignore the home/road splits, the matchup is too good to bench Big Ben. The Bears are allowing a 64% completion percentage, 8.2 YPA and 52% of passing plays against them are successful. Roethlisberger should have no trouble picking this secondary apart.
Kendall Wright (WR, CHI)
Wright led all Bears with 10 targets in Week 2 and draws the best matchup against slot corner Mike Hilton. Hilton has given up seven catches for 50 yards out of the slot on eight targets. Wright makes for a solid start, especially in PPR formats.
Matchups We Hate:
Mike Glennon (QB, CHI)
The Steelers are one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses as just 44% of plays against them are successful and they are allowing just 5.9 YPA. They also pressure the quarterback well as they rank second in adjusted sack level and have nine sacks on the season. Glennon should be under pressure all day and is best left on benches in all formats.
Jordan Howard (RB, CHI)
Howard is dealing with a shoulder injury but is trending towards playing this week. That may be a bad thing for his owners as he will be facing a Steelers defense that is giving up just 63 yards on the ground and just 3.3 YPC, while ranking 7th in adjusted line yards. With the Bears continually in negative game script, and Howard not being used in the passing game, owners may want to sit him this week if possible.
Running back Le’Veon Bell (RB, PIT) has gotten off to a slow start and draws just an OK matchup against the Bears. The Bears are allowing just 84 yards on the ground and just 3.3 YPC but do rank just 22nd in adjusted line yards. They are also good at stopping pass catching backs ranking 3rd in success rate and allowing just 4.6 YPA (6th best). Bell is a must start but owners should temper expectations once again. The Bears will likely send multiple defenders at Antonio Brown (WR, PIT), as they often do against top receivers. That worked in Week 1 against Julio Jones, but Mike Evans torched them for 93 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. Brown is a must start regardless of matchup. Martavis Bryant (WR, PIT) could be the beneficiary of the Bears attention to Brown, as WR2’s tend to produce against this defense. DeSean Jackson disappointed in Week 2 but was a toe drag away from catching a 29 yard touchdown. Bryant should get his chances this week. Steelers tight end Jesse James (TE, PIT) is dealing with an ankle injury and has yet to practice. If he can’t play Xavier Grimble (TE, PIT) is likely the next man up. The matchup is great as the Bears are allowing 87 yards to tight ends and a 60% success rate. You’ll have to monitor this situation as the week progresses.
Rookie Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI) out-snapped Howard 62% to 48% in Week 2 and we should expect similar numbers this week. The Steelers could give Cohen problems, however, as they rank 7th in success rate against pass catching backs and are giving up just 4.2 YPA (4th best). Josh Bellamy (WR, CHI) saw seven targets in Week 2 and draws the best matchup for Bears receivers as he will line up against Joe Haden on most of his snaps. Haden has looked terrible giving up 8 catches and 133 yards on just 13 targets. On the other side, Deonte Thompson (WR, CHI) will primarily see Artie Burns who has also struggled a bit, giving up six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Neither should be started outside of desperation plays in deep formats. After playing just 60% of the snaps in Week 1, Zach Miller (TE, CHI) played 75% of the snaps in Week 2 and looked like the main tight end weapon in this offense. The matchup with the Steelers is just OK as they are giving up just five catches and 53 yards with a 50% success rate. Still, Miller ranks second on the team with 15 targets and is a solid option this week.
Falcons at Lions
Matchups We Love:
Ameer Abdullah (RB, DET)
Abdullah played just 28 snaps compared to Theo Riddick‘s 27. Abdullah did see 17 carries, however, and looked good against a tough Giants run defense. The Falcons struggle against the run giving up 5.3 YPC to opposing running backs and ranking 30th in adjusted line yards. Abdullah is better for standard scoring leagues as he is not used in the passing game, surprisingly.
Theo Riddick (RB, DET)
The Falcons were bad against pass catching backs last year and that has continued this year. So far on the season they are allowing backs to catch 9.5 passes for 71 yards against them. Riddick has tons of upside especially in PPR formats.
Golden Tate (WR, DET)
Tate plays 84% of his snaps from the slot and will face corner Brian Poole. Poole grades at just 78.5 and has given up 10 catches for 73 yards on 13 targets from the slot. Tate should bounce back this week.
Matchups We Hate: none
People are going to look at the matchup and think Matt Ryan (QB, ATL) is a no-brainer start in a shootout against the Lions. The reality is this Lions pass defense has been very good to start the year. Just 44% of passing plays against them have been successful and they are allowing just 6.4 YPA. They also have four interceptions versus just two touchdowns. While Ryan is still a solid start, don’t expect the huge game this week. Devonta Freeman (RB, ATL) out-snapped Tevin Coleman (RB, ATL) 66% to 40% in Week 2. He also out-touched Coleman 21-10. Freeman may find it tough this week against a Lions team giving up just 44 yards and 2.75 YPC while ranking 11th in adjusted line yards. They do struggle against pass catching backs, however, ranking 23rd in success rate and giving up 7.7 YPA (26th worst). Freeman is a solid start while Coleman has flex appeal. Julio Jones (WR, ATL) is always a must start, but will likely be shadowed by Darius Slay this week. Slay has given up seven catches and 64 yards on 12 targets. Jones owners should temper expectations. Mohammed Sanu (WR, ATL) draws a tough matchup against slot corner Quandre Diggs, who has vastly improved thus far in 2017. Diggs has given up just four catches for 29 yards out of the slot on nine targets. Austin Hooper (TE, ATL) once again saw just two targets and this time could not turn one into an 86 yard touchdown, finishing with just seven yards. The Lions do present a good matchup, and Hooper is playing 70% of the snaps, but until he is more involved in the passing game he is a tough start.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford (QB, DET) has delivered against two great pass defenses in the Cardinals and the Giants. The Falcons present another tough test as they are allowing just 6.2 YPA and just 46% of passing plays against them are successful. Still, Stafford is playing at an elite level and is a solid start this week. Marvin Jones, Jr (WR, DET) lines up 58% of the time on the right which means he will get left corner Desmond Trufant. Trufant has given up just five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. He should be a solid start this week. Rookie Kenny Golladay (WR, DET) came back down to earth in Week 3 as he saw just three targets and mustered just eight yards. He will see a mix of Trufant and Robert Alford who has given up 12 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown on 19 targets. He seems locked in as the number three as he played 62% of snaps last week, and could rebound in a plus matchup. Eric Ebron (TE, DET) took advantage of a weak Giants defense against tight ends in Week 2 with 42 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons have given up yards to tight ends, 70 per game, but teams have just a 42% success rate against them. Ebron owners should temper expectations this week.
Buccaneers at Vikings
Matchups We Love:
DeSean Jackson (WR, TAM)
Jackson was close to some big plays in Week 1 including a 29 yard touchdown were he just couldn’t quite drag his toe. He draws a great matchup this week as he plays 52% of his snaps from the left and will get right corner Trae Waynes. Waynes has allowed every ball thrown his way to be caught (10) and has given up 153 yards and a touchdown. Jackson is a great start this week.
Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)
Diggs struggled in Week 2, as did the entire Vikings offense, with Case Keenum under center. Bradford has practiced for two straight days and looks set to be back in the starting lineup this Sunday. If he is, Diggs has a great matchup lining up on the right 60% of the time and drawing left corner Brent Grimes. Grimes has given up seven catches for 92 yards and grades at 64.5. If Bradford plays, Diggs is a must start.
Adam Thielen (WR, MIN)
Thielen should also bounce back this week if Bradford plays as he gets slot corner Robert McClain. McClain also graded at 64.5 in Week 1 and gave up six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown out of the slot. Start Thielen with confidence.
Matchups We Hate: none
While many will think Jameis Winston‘s (QB, TAM) matchup against the Vikings is tough, the reality is this pass defense has regressed. Through two games they are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 69% of their passes for 7.4 YPA. Also 53% of passing plays against them have been successful. While the matchup isn’t great, this is no longer a matchup you need to fear. Owners of Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, TAM) are in a tough spot this week. On the one hand, since last year in games Doug Martin hasn’t played, Rodgers has averaged 17 carries and two targets. On the other hand, the Vikings are only allowing 3.1 YPC and are ranked 16th in adjusted line yards. Owners likely need to play him just based on volume but should temper expectations. Mike Evans (WR, TAM) had a huge Week 1 but draws a tough matchup in this contest as he is likely to be shadowed by Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has given up seven catches for 86 yards on 12 targets. Evans is a must start regardless. Rookie O.J. Howard (TE, TAM) out-snapped Cameron Brate (TE, TAM) 65% to 54% but Brate out-targeted Howard four to three in Week 2. While the matchup against the Vikings is OK, neither of these guys can be trusted in your lineups while they are splitting the work.
Sam Bradford (QB, MIN) was back at practice this week and all signs point to him playing. If he does, he draws a good matchup against a Buccaneers defense that allowed a 58% success rate against the Bears. Bradford looked great in Week 1 and this offense was rolling. If he’s healthy he makes for a solid start. It’s only a one game sample, but the Buccaneers front line looked great against the Bears. This could spell trouble for Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN) as they ranked 1st in adjusted line yards and also did a fairly good job against Cohen in the passing game, holding him to just 5.5 YPA and ranking 13th in success rate. Still, Cook is a play on volume alone. Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN) struggled in Week 2, as did the entire Vikings offense, with Case Keenum making the start. With Bradford likely back, Rudolph makes for a solid start against a Buccaneers defense that gave up six receptions and 42 yards to the Bears with a 60% success rate. Start Rudolph with confidence.
Texans at Patriots
Matchups We Love:
Brandin Cooks (WR, NE)
Cooks has been a disappointment for his owners but could breakout in a big way against Houston. With corner Kevin Johnson out, Cooks will matchup with either Jonathan Joseph or Marcus Burley. Joseph grades at 73.7 and Burley grades at 58.4. Cooks should be able to exploit either one and could finally have the game his owners have been waiting for.
Matchups We Hate: none
Rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson (QB, HOU) broke off a 49 yard touchdown run but otherwise struggled against a strong Cincinnati pass defense in Week 2. The Patriots provide a bit softer matchup as they are allowing 9.3 YPA and a 59% success rate against the pass. They have also given up six touchdowns versus zero interceptions. Watson is a rookie and will struggle at times, but makes for a solid QB2 option this week against an exploitable pass defense. Despite ceding work to D’Onta Foreman (RB, HOU) in Week 2, Lamar Miller (RB, HOU) still out-snapped him 74% to 26%. He only out-touched him 21 to 12, however, and Foreman looked more elusive. The matchup is great, and in any other week we’d love the starter, but it remains to be seen how much of a role Foreman will have. Both are risky starts, although Miller seems safer. DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU) has been a target monster this season and leads the league with 37 targets. Typically Hopkins would primarily line up against Malcom Butler, but Butler did not start last game and is unsure if he will start Week 3. Regardless, Hopkins will likely see a mix of Butler and Stephon Gilmore. Butler has given up nine catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on just nine targets. Gilmore has been much better giving up just three catches for 44 yards on six targets. Hopkins is a weekly must start even in a not ideal matchup.
You obviously can’t bench him, but the matchup for Tom Brady (QB, NE) is not ideal. The Texans are allowing just 6.5 YPA and only 44% of plays against them have been successful. Plus they have only given up one touchdown through the air in the first two games. On the plus side, their pass rush is not what it once was as they rank 23rd in adjusted sack rate. Brady is a must start but owners should temper expectations. The Patriots backfield is becoming more clear as James White (RB, NE) and Mike Gillislee (RB, NE) both played 39% of the snaps in Week 2. Surprisingly, the Texans are struggling against the run this year giving up over 100 yards on the ground and 3.6 YPA, and rank 24th in adjusted line yards. This should benefit Gillislee who now has 13 red zone carries and five inside the five yard line and is a threat to score a touchdown every week. White only got two carries in Week 2, but caught all eight of his targets. He now has 13 targets on the season and is second on the team. The Texans are only allowing 4.3 YPA to pass catching backs (6th best) so White could struggle a bit this week. He has flex appeal in PPR formats. Danny Amendola (WR, NE) looks likely to play after missing Week 2 with a concussion. He only played 40% of snaps in Week 1, but he played almost exclusively from the slot which is always valuable in this offense. Not to mention slot corner Kareem Jackson has given up six catches for 136 yards this year. Amendola makes for a solid play in PPR formats if he starts. With Amendola’s return, Chris Hogan (WR, NE) will likely take a hit. He will primarily draw Jonathan Joseph and is a tough start in all but the deepest formats. Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE) should have a fine game against a Texans defense that while only allowing two catches and 30 yards per game to tight ends, has given up 57% of successful plays. Teams just haven’t thrown to their tight ends yet against the Texans, but that will change this week. Fire Gronk up with confidence.
Week 3 NFL Matchups – 4:00 PM ET Games
Seahawks at Titans
Matchups We Love:
Doug Baldwin (WR, SEA)
Yes, the Seattle passing game has struggled, but the matchup this week is fantastic. Baldwin will line up against slot corner Logan Ryan who has given up four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns in just five targets. Owners who have been disappointed by Baldwin’s start could finally have something to celebrate this week.
Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)
Lockett looked healthy in Week 2 and seems like the teams clear number two receiver. Lockett played 74% of snaps second only to Baldwin. Lockett has played 44% of snaps from the right, and 44% from the slot this season, which means he will line up against Ryan and left corner Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson has given up eight catches for 89 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. Lockett makes for a solid play this week.
Matchups We Hate:
Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)
Mariota has gotten off to a slow start and that could continue this week against a tough Seahawks pass defense. The Seahawks are allowing just 6 YPA and only 43% of passing plays against them are successful. They have also only given up one touchdown through the air. Mariota is a tough sit but you should look to see if there are better options.
While the matchup against the Titans is just OK, Russell Wilson (QB, SEA) has struggled behind an offensive line that can’t protect him. The Titans rank just 22nd in adjusted sack rate, so perhaps he will get more time to throw this week. He’s tough to bench unless you have a much better option. Rookie Chris Carson (RB, SEA) took over this backfield in Week 2 seeing a team high 61% of the snaps. The Titans are allowing 86 yards on the ground but just 3.6 YPC. They do rank a low 28th in adjusted line rankings, however. Carson should continue to be the player to own in this backfield and is a solid start in Week 3. Thomas Rawls (RB, SEA) played just 20% of snaps as he was returning from injury. It remains to be seen if he will be used more heavily as his health improves but for now you have to take a wait and see approach. Pre-season PPR darling, C.J. Prosise (RB, SEA) continues to see little playing time with just 21% of snaps in Week 2. While he did see six targets, he just isn’t on the field enough to be trusted in lineups. Jimmy Graham (TE, SEA) has struggled with the rest of this passing game, and is now questionable to play with an ankle injury. The Titans are only allowing 28 yards per game to tight ends but teams do have a 63% success rate against them when targeting tight ends. Still, at less than 100% and with the passing game struggling Graham will be a tough start.
With DeMarco Murray (RB, TEN) dealing with a hamstring injury, Derrick Henry (RB, TEN) exploded in the second half with 14 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. Murray did out-snap Henry 54% to 44%, but with Henry looking good and Murray dealing with an injury the Titans may take a cautious approach with him. The Seahawks have not looked as strong against the run this year, giving up 110 yards and 5.5 YPC while ranking 27th in adjusted line yards. If Murray is out Henry is a must-start. Eric Decker (WR, TEN) will likely move outside to fill the void left by injured rookie Corey Davis. Davis played half of his snaps from the left, so it makes sense Decker will as well. Since Richard Sherman only stays to the right, Decker should get plenty of chances against rookie Shaquill Griffin who has given up seven catches and 57 yards on 10 targets. Rishard Matthews (WR, TEN) draws the unfavorable Sherman matchup, but should see more volume with Davis out. Rookie Taywan Taylor (WR, TEN) will get a plus matchup in the slot against Jeremy Lane, but makes for a tough start as the teams likely number three wide receiver.
Bengals at Packers
Matchups We Love:
A.J. Green (WR, CIN)
This was already a great spot for Green, but with Tyler Eifert looking doubtful to play it looks even better. Matchup wise, Green will line up against outside corners Damarious Randall and Davon House. Combined they have given up nine catches for 165 yards. In the six games Eifert missed in 2016, Green averaged 10.3 targets, seven receptions, and 101 yards. He is a must start in all formats.
Ty Montgomery (RB, GB)
Montgomery continues to be a work horse for this backfield as he saw 86% of the snaps in Week 2. The Bengals are giving up 135 yards on the ground, but they are only giving up 3.6 YPC. They rank 17th in adjusted line yards. Even if the Bengals do an adequate job with Montgomery on the ground, they will have trouble containing him in the passing game. The Bengals rank 25th in success rate against pass catching backs and are allowing 5.8 YPA (18th). Montgomery is a must start as well.
Matchups We Hate:
Andy Dalton (QB, CIN)
While the Packers do not present a tough pass defense, allowing 7.6 YPA and a 52% success rate, they posses an elite pass rush. The Bengals terrible offensive line has been unable to protect Dalton who now faces a Packers defense that ranks 6th in adjusted sack rate. Expect Dalton to be under pressure all game long again.
Tyler Eifert (TE, CIN)
Eifert is dealing with a knee and back injury and has yet to practice this week, but even if he does he is best left on your bench. The Packers defense is one of the best against tight ends as they have allowed just 12.5 yards per game and a 27% success rate, second best. If Eifert does not suit up, then C.J. Uzomah (TE, CIN) will likely replace him and should be left on waivers.
Martellus Bennett (TE, GB)
The Bengals have struggled so far, but one area they have had success is against opposing tight ends. They have held tight ends to just 9 yards per game and a 33% success rate. With Jordy Nelson back at practice and looking likely to play, Bennett is a tough start and owners may want to stream this week.
While you can never bench Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB), the matchup is not ideal. The Bengals pass defense is allowing 6 YPA and a 39% success rate. Rodgers is always a must start but owners should temper expectations this week. After missing most of the last game with a quad bruise, Jordy Nelson (WR, GB) looks set to play this week. The matchup against outside corners Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick is not overly difficult and Nelson is pretty much corner proof. He is a must start. Randall Cobb (WR, GB) has yet to practice this week with a chest injury. If Cobb is out Davante Adams (WR, GB) should see a boost in production. In the three games Cobb missed last year, Adams averaged 10 targets, seven receptions and one touchdown.
Gio Bernard (RB, CIN) led the backfield with 52% of the snaps but received just five carries and four targets in Week 2. He could be targeted more heavily against the Packers who rank dead last in success rate against pass catching backs and are allowing 5.8 YPA (20th). Still he is nothing more than a flex in PPR leagues. Jeremy Hill (RB, CIN) and Joe Mixon (RB, CIN) split early down work with 23% and 25% of the snaps respectively. While the matchup against the Packers is good, neither can be trusted until one begins to get more playing time. Brandon LaFell (WR, CIN) could be a sneaky start this week as he has seen seven targets and 13.5 PPR points in games Eifert missed last year. The matchup is certainly a plus as well.
Chiefs at Chargers
Matchups We Love:
Alex Smith (QB, KC)
Smith has gotten off to a red hot start and now draws a Chargers pass defense that has struggled through the first two weeks. They are allowing 7.2 YPA and a 52% success rate while giving up three touchdowns versus just one interception. Smith makes for a great stream this week and is closing in on being a weekly start.
Kareem Hunt (RB, KC)
Hunt saw his snap rate jump way up to 74% in Week 2. This week, he gets a Chargers defense that has struggled against the run, giving up 120 yards and four YPC and ranking 26th in adjusted line yards. They do rank 2nd in success rate against pass catching backs and give up just 1.8 YPA (1st). Still, Hunt should do enough damage on the ground and is a must start.
Travis Kelce (TE, KC)
While the Chargers only rank 14th in points against the position, it’s because teams just haven’t used their tight ends against them. When teams do throw to tight ends they have a 78% success rate (2nd worst) and average 13.8 YPA (4th worst). The Chiefs will target Kelce early and often and he should have a monster game this week.
Matchups We Hate:
Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)
Hill is likely going to be shadowed by Casey Hayward. Hayward was a stud last year but has struggled a bit this year giving up eight catches for 124 yards on 13 targets. Smith will likely lean heavily on Kelce in this one as wel. Hill is still a guy you want to start but owners should temper expectations.
Hunter Henry (TE, LAC)
Henry out-snapped and out-targeted Antonio Gates (TE, LAC) in Week 2 though Gates did catch his record breaking 112th touchdown for tight ends. Big congrats to Gates who has had an amazing career and is surely headed to the HOF! That said, Gates time may now be over and Henry is the tight end to own in this offense. The Chiefs do present a tough matchup, however, as they are holding opposing tight ends to just a 39% success rate and just 7.2 YPA and have yet to give up a touchdown to the position.
The Chiefs really missed Eric Berry in Week 2 as they allowed a 55% completition percentage, 7.2 YPA and a 50% success rate against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. The week prior against Tom Brady and the Patriots those numbers were a 44% completition percentage, 7.4 YPA and just a 36% success rate. Still, this is a tough pass defense and Phillip Rivers (QB, LAC) owners should temper expectations a bit. Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC) struggled in Week 2 but did find the end zone to salvage his day. The Chiefs are just OK against running backs, as they allow just 3.7 YPA and rank 21st in adjusted line yards. They are very good against pass catching backs, however, ranking 5th in success rate and giving up just 4.3 YPA (8th). Gordon owners should temper expectations this week. Keenan Allen (WR, LAC) looks 100% healthy and has 10 targets in each of the first two games. He draws slot corner Phillip Gaines who has given up five catches, 97 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Allen is a solid start this week. Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC) plays 42% of his snaps from the left which will give him chances against right corner Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell has given up nine catches for 166 yards on 19 targets. 34% of the time he will be on the right against Marcus Peters who is an absolute stud. Williams should do enough against Mitchell to have a solid outing.
Week 3 NFL Matchups – Sunday Night Football
Raiders at Redskins
Matchups We Love:
Marshawn Lynch (RB, OAK)
Lynch continues to be the starter, but saw just 40% of the snaps in Week 2 after seeing just 48% in Week 1. Still, he’s seen 18 carries and 12 carries and gets a Redskins defense giving up 3.9 YPC that ranks 29th in adjusted line yards. Lynch should be in line for another solid day.
Amari Cooper (WR, OAK)
Cooper owners watched in horror last week as Michael Crabtree scored three touchdowns to Cooper’s zero. Cooper should get his chances this week against right corner Bashaud Breeland. While Breeland has given up just three catches for 33 yards on five targets, he grades at just 52. Cooper should win this matchup and is a must start.
Jared Cook (TE, OAK)
The Redskins struggle against tight ends to say the least. They are giving up 104 yards per game to the position, teams have a 80% success rate against them (league worst) and tight ends are averaging 13.9 YPA (3rd worst). Cook makes a great streamer this week and is a great play for those dealing with tight end injuries.
Chris Thompson (RB, WAS)
Thompson has gotten off to a hot start and that could continue against the Raiders. The Raiders rank 24th in success rate against pass catching backs and are allowing 6.1 YPA (21st). Thompson ranks third on the Redskins with 12 targets and makes for a solid play in PPR formats.
Matchups We Hate:
Michael Crabtree (WR, OAK)
Crabtree draws the dreaded Josh Norman matchup this week. Norman has given up just four catches on 11 targets. Crabtree can’t be benched but owners should temper expectations.
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr (QB, OAK) should have another solid outing against a pass defense giving up 8.7 YPA and a 50% success rate. Picking up were he left off in 2016, Carr is a weekly must start. DeAndre Washington (RB, OAK) and Jalen Richard (RB, OAK) continue to backup Lynch, seeing 28% and 24% of snaps respectively. Last week, Richard had a big game, but neither of these backs can be trusted on a week-to-week basis.
While the Oakland defense doesn’t present a tough test, Kirk Cousins (QB, WAS) has struggled without offensive coordinator Sean McVay. The Raiders are holding opposing quarterbacks to just 6.4 YPA, but have given up two touchdowns versus zero interceptions and a 52% success rate. Cousins is an OK start but you may want to look for better options this week. Running back Rob Kelley (RB, WAS) was running well before a rib injury forced him out of the Week 2 game. It appears to be just a bruise and he should play in week three. The Raiders are a good matchup as they are allowing 4.2 YPC and rank 25th in adjusted line yards. Samaje Perine (RB, WAS) filled in for Kelley and got 22 ineffective touches. We expect Kelley to be back in the starting role come Sunday. Terrelle Pryor (WR, WAS) draws an OK matchup against outside corners Gareon Conley and David Amerson. Amerson has given up six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown while Conley has given up just one catch for eight yards. Pryor should remain Cousins’ number one target and is a solid start. Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS) saw just 54% of snaps in Week 2 but draws an OK matchup against slot corner T.J. Carrie who has given up six catches on eight targets. He is a risky start until his usage increases. Jordan Reed (TE, WAS) is dealing with a chest injury but should be good to go for Sunday. The Raiders are tough against tight ends allowing just 44 yards per game and just 6.4 YPA. Reed ranks second on the Redskins in targets, however, and needs to be in your lineups.
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