Week 3 Start Sit: Who doesn’t like a good fantasy football start’em or sit’em column? This week, we welcome one of our new writers, Paul Patterson, who will be bringing you his expert picks each Friday during the season.
Start ‘em: Quarterbacks
Kirk Cousins, Vikings
There’s no need to overthink this one; we know who Kirk Cousins is. He’s been a top 10 fantasy quarterback each of the past three years, and with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook he has significantly better weapons than he has at any time in his career. Captain Kirk just threw 4 TD passes in a divisional road game, and now he gets to play a home game against the Buffalo Bills–a team that seems destined to make the first selection in next year’s draft. After allowing Joe Flacco and Philip Rivers to score 21.7 and 22.7 fantasy points in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, Cousins is a no-brainer top-5 play this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t exactly light it up in Week 2 against the Lions, but his performance should still be encouraging to those that drafted him with hopes of a top-10 fantasy season. Jimmy G tossed 2 TDs and 0 INTs. He did that without his top target, Marquise Goodwin, who will likely return next week when the 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Speaking of the Chiefs, did you know that their defense is bad? Like, let-up-33-points-a-game bad? This game has a good chance to turn into a shootout, which is great news for Garoppolo owners.
Carson Wentz, Eagles
Finally! Roughly 280 days after he tore his ACL against the LA Rams, Carson Wentz is ready to make his triumphant return. If you drafted Wentz and dutifully held onto him through the first two weeks of the season, it’s finally time to reap the rewards. Wentz, who was on pace to win the MVP award with 33 TDs in 13 games last season, will make his season debut in a home game against a weak Colts defense that allowed Andy Dalton to post 2 TDs and a 110 QB Rating in Week 1. Start Wentz with confidence this week.
Sit ‘em: Quarterbacks
Philip Rivers, Chargers
It might be tempting to start Philip Rivers this week after two strong performances to start the season. However, I beg you to consider that Rivers has faced the Chiefs and the Bills, two defenses that have been steamrolled by opposing quarterbacks. On the other hand, the Rams, who Rivers plays this week, have allowed Derek Carr and Sam Bradford to throw for a combined 0 TDs and 4 INTs in two games played. Rivers is obviously better than Carr and Bradford, but there are a lot of better options this week.
Andrew Luck, Colts
I know, I know. The Eagles just let Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 400 yards and 4 TDs. However, the Eagles are a much different team at home and I think we can all agree that Fitzpatrick’s recent Fitz-magic is an inexplicable phenomenon. The fact is that Andrew Luck was shutdown by a middle-of-the-road Redskins defense in Week 2 and should be in for a bigger challenge in Week 3 as the Eagles look to bounce back. Depending on your league, you may be forced to start Luck this week, but manage your expectations.
Start ‘em: Running Backs
Latavius Murray, Vikings
Dalvin Cook is officially OUT for Sunday’s game against the Bills, which means that Latavius Murray is once again fantasy relevant, at least for Week 3. Murray proved that he could carry the load last season, averaging 17 carries and scoring 8 TDs in 12 games after Cook tore his ACL. He figures to see a similar workload this week in a game where the Vikings should have a sizable lead and be looking to burn clock in the 2nd half. Murray is still available in a lot of leagues, so, if he’s on your waiver wire, don’t be afraid to plug him into your flex spot.
Dion Lewis, Titans
After a great Week 1, Dion Lewis burned a ton of fantasy owners with a measly 5.3 fantasy points in Week 2. His poor performance can mostly be attributed to the fact that he caught only 1 pass for 1 yard. However, the game script against the Texans wasn’t favorable. The Titans jumped out to an early lead, which allowed them to pound the ball with Derrick Henry and made Lewis’s pass-catching abilities a non-factor. This week should be a different story when the Titans face the Jaguars. The Titans will likely be trailing for the majority of the game, which means that Dion Lewis should see an uptick in passing work as Tennessee tries to play catch-up. For what it’s worth, James White caught 7 passes for 73 yards against the Jags last week.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals
With Joe Mixon set to miss a few games, it’s the Giovani Bernard show in Cincy. Since 2016, Bernard is averaging 14.5 PPR points in games where he gets 10 or more carries. On an offense that has scored 30+ points in back to back games, I expect the volume to be there. Even in a tougher matchup with Carolina, Bernard is a solid play this week.
Sit ‘em: Running Backs
Royce Freeman, Broncos
“Who the hell is Phillip Lindsay?!” This has been the internal monologue of all Royce Freeman owners since Week 1 (trust me, I have him on my roster). I wish I could tell you that Lindsay is a flash in the pan, or that he’ll just go away, but I can’t. At the moment, he’s getting more work than Freeman and looks like the more dynamic playmaker. Freeman may break out at some point, but you’d be better off looking elsewhere this week as he faces a tough Baltimore defense.
Jamaal Williams, Packers
Jamaal Williams is off to a slow start this season, and that won’t change in Week 3. Williams has received the bulk of the carries, but is only averaging 3.4 YPA. To make matters worse, he’s only caught 3 passes through 2 games. Aaron Jones will be back in the lineup this week after serving a two game suspension, which means that Williams will likely lose a few touches. In this matchup with the Redskins, who have been solid against the run so far, Williams has bust written all over him.
Alex Collins, Ravens
It’s easy to panic about a couple of bad games early in the season, and, most of the time, I would advise patience. In the case of Alex Collins, though, I’m genuinely concerned. He’s not getting as many carries as people expected, he’s almost invisible in the passing game, and Buck Allen continues to steal TDs when the Ravens get in close. Look for other options this week when the Ravens take on a tough Broncos run D.
Start ‘em: Wide Receivers
Kenny Golladay, Lions
Maybe I’m falling for the hype. Or maybe Kenny Golladay is just that good. With 21 targets through two games, Golladay clearly has a rapport with Matt Stafford. He’s the big red zone target that Detroit has longed for since Megatron retired. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are still going to get their share of the work, but, with a terrible defense and no established tight end, there’s going to be enough passing volume to support all three wideouts.
Amari Cooper, Raiders
Week 1 was a fluke. I firmly believe that what you saw in Week 2 will be closer to the norm for Cooper this season. Jon Gruden has said time and again that Cooper is the focal point of the offense. The support of the coach and the dearth of talented pass-catchers in Oakland should allow for Cooper to get all the volume he needs. I especially like him this week in a good matchup against the Dolphins.
Nelson Agholor, Eagles
Eight catches in Week 1. Eight catches in Week 2. Now Mike Wallace is hurt and Alshon Jeffery is likely to miss yet another game. Agholor is a good player, but this is about volume more than anything. Carson Wentz is returning and he has to throw the ball to somebody other than Zach Ertz. The former first round pick should feast in this matchup against a terrible Colts D.
Sit ‘em: Wide Receivers
Mike Williams, Chargers
The first two games have been solid, and the future is bright for Mike Williams, but against the Rams this week I expect the entire Chargers offense to struggle. As I stated earlier, the Rams have allowed 0 passing TDs and 13 total points through two games. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are as good a cornerback duo as you’ll find in the league. Look for other options this week.
Josh Gordon, Patriots
According to the internet, Josh Gordon is going to join the Patriots and immediately become the reincarnation of Randy Moss circa 2007 (for those of you that don’t know, Moss caught 23 TDs that year). Gordon is a talented player, no doubt, but he’s coming off of a hamstring injury and he has five days to learn one of the most complex offenses in the NFL before New England’s game against the Lions. I expect that he’ll play a handful of snaps on Sunday as the team tries to ease him in. He might catch a couple of passes, but if you have other options you’re better off leaving him on the bench.
Michael Crabtree, Ravens
Coming into this season, there was some dissension about Michael Crabtree’s fantasy value. Some viewed him as a steal in the mid-rounds, while others pegged him as a over-the-hill, touchdown dependent bust. Through two games, I think he’s somewhere in between. His stats don’t jump off the page, but he’s scored double-digit PPR points in both games and he’s leading the team in targets. However, Crabtree will be hard-pressed to put up decent numbers this week against a tough Broncos defense. The Broncos ranked 2nd against wide receivers last season and locked up some of the best in the game, preventing Jarvis Landry, A.J. Green, and Keenan Allen (twice) to go over 70 yards. Leave Crabtree on the bench this week.
Start ‘em: Tight Ends
George Kittle, 49ers
Kittle was set up for a nice game in Week 2 and fell completely flat. The 49ers did get ahead early, which lead to a run-heavy approach, but it was still a disappointing game. The decision to start Kittle this week comes down to two things: talent and matchup. He’s a good player, with a creative offensive coach, going up against a putrid Kansas City defense. Don’t hesitate to put him in your lineup this week.
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
O.J. Howard ran 22 pass routes in Week 2; Cameron Brate ran only 10. There is a changing of the guard taking place in Tampa, and Howard has the talent and athleticism to capitalize. I don’t know if Howard is an every week starter yet, but with the tight end position as thin as it is, he’s at least a streaming option this week against a Steelers defense that was manhandled by Travis Kelce in Week 2.
Sit ‘em: Tight Ends
Eric Ebron, Colts
I have two words for you. Touchdown. Dependent. A couple of scores have helped to inflate Eric Ebron’s fantasy numbers, but if you look a little deeper you’ll find that he’s only got 77 yards on 9 targets through two games. That’s ugly. I realize that good tight ends are hard to find, but Ebron is not going to get into the end zone every game. Furthermore, the game plan this week will not be favorable. Against the Eagles, Andrew Luck is far more likely to have success attacking the corners on the outside, which should lead to another low target count for Ebron.