Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Nick Mensio
·20 min read



Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Cam Newton vs. Raiders -- The overall QB3 through two weeks, trailing only Russell Wilson and Josh Allen, Newton is tied with Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead in carries inside the 10-yard line with nine. Newton has four rushing scores and a fifth through the air, averaging 276 passing yards and 13 rushing attempts per contest. Newton’s arrival has rendered Sony Michel mostly useless with Cam taking over as the Patriots’ goal-line back. The Raiders are No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks after holding Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees to the QB15 and QB22 weeks. But Newton is a completely different breed and playing at his previous MVP level. He’s elevating those around him and playing with big-time confidence. The Raiders are coming off an emotional win over the Saints Monday night and traveling cross country on a short week for a 1 PM start. Newton has long thrived in situations when he has a lead. The Patriots are 5.5-point favorites, and their implied total of 26.75 points is the sixth-highest on the board. Continue to confidently fire up Newton as an elite QB1.

Starts

Justin Herbert vs. Panthers -- Informed he was starting Week 2 against the Chiefs literally minutes before kickoff, Herbert went out there and took Kansas City down to the wire and posted the QB13 finish. Herbert completed two-thirds of his passes at 9.42 yards per attempt, playing with confidence and downfield aggressiveness en route to 311 yards and one touchdown through the air and 4-18-1 as a rusher. Herbert is an underrated athlete. He now draws a Panthers Defense that is No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but 25th in pass-defense DVOA and 31st in adjusted sack rate with no sacks through two games. This is by no means a scary matchup for the rookie against a Carolina team coming all the way across the country. Herbert is a very intriguing streaming option and dirt-cheap DFS play. The Chargers have a promising implied team total of 25.25 points, tied for 12th-best on the Week 3 slate.

Matthew Stafford at Cardinals -- Fantasy’s QB20 after two games against difficult opponents in the Bears and Packers without his No. 1 receiver in Kenny Golladay (hamstring), this sets up as a major rebound spot for Stafford. Golladay is expected to make his debut Sunday in the desert, giving Stafford his top downfield threat back after Marvin Jones was unable to make much noise as the focal point of opposing secondaries. This game’s 54.5-point total is the second-highest on the board for Week 3 and features a pair of offenses that are both top-10 in offensive pace. The Cardinals are No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but they’ve faced Jimmy Garoppolo and Dwayne Haskins. The Lions have more offensive talent than both those teams, considering San Francisco’s injury issues. Stafford lit up DC Vance Joseph’s group last Week 1 for 385 yards and three touchdowns in addition to a season-best 22 rushing yards. Golladay’s return opens up this offense so much more and puts Stafford very much back in the QB1 streaming mix. The Saints and Jaguars are up next for him, so Stafford’s schedule lightens up quite a bit. He’s someone to add in leagues he was dropped.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Texans -- Off offseason elbow surgery, Big Ben is the current QB14 after multi-score games against the Giants and Broncos to open the year. He’s completing 68.5% of his throws and now gets a Texans Defense that is 23rd in pass-defense DVOA. Houston was flamed by Patrick Mahomes in Week 1 before the Chiefs took their foot off the gas in the second half. Lamar Jackson averaged 8.5 yards per attempt on 24 throws in Houston last Sunday. The Texans’ cornerback trio of Bradley Roby, Vernon Hargreaves, and Lonnie Johnson all have mediocre-to-poor coverage marks at Pro Football Focus. Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Chase Claypool all present significant mismatches for this secondary. This game’s 45-point total is middle of the pack, but I very much like the Steelers to beat their implied team total of 24.25 points. Houston has been one of the more disappointing teams through two weeks. Big Ben is unlikely to blow the doors off, but he’s definitely a quality back-end QB1.

Sits

Jared Goff at Bills -- Goff is the overall QB18 after two weeks, and no other team is running the ball as much as the Rams. Coach Sean McVay has called a pass-play a league-low 43.17% of the time through two games. Goff is 27th in the league in pass attempts despite the Rams being No. 8 in total plays. Goff’s numbers are still spectacular with a 5.2% touchdown rate and 9.3 yards per attempt, but the volume just isn’t there for him to be viable outside of two-QB leagues. Buffalo checks in at No. 9 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and 13th in adjusted sack rate. The two quarterbacks the Bills have faced are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Darnold, so perhaps a better offense like the Rams will find more success, but I’m not particularly big on trying to attack a Sean McDermott-coached defense. This game’s total is set at 47.5 points, but there are reasons to believe the under is a good bet. Los Angeles’ implied team total of 22.5 points is 10th-lowest of 32 teams in action.

Deshaun Watson at Steelers -- Last season’s QB2, Watson is off to a horrid start as the QB17 after two losses to the Chiefs and Ravens. His 2.9% touchdown rate and 7.8 yards per attempt would both be career worsts. Watson definitely misses DeAndre Hopkins’ reliability. Will Fuller had a huge Week 1 aided by garbage time but too often disappears as he did in Week 2 with a zero ball. And the Texans’ offensive line remains the worst in the league, checking in at No. 32 in adjusted sack rate. Watson looks like a defeated man already, and it’s only Week 3. Things don’t get any easier whatsoever. The Steelers are No. 4 in adjusted sack rate on defense and No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA. T.J. Watt and Friends should have a field day with this Houston offensive line. Houston’s implied team total of 20.75 points is the week’s seventh-lowest. The Texans are playing at the seventh-slowest offensive pace and running the third-fewest plays per game. Watson’s managers would be wise to look for alternatives again this Sunday.

Drew Brees vs. Packers -- Father Time is starting to close the gap on Brees at a rapid pace. Fantasy’s overall QB25 through two weeks, Brees can’t seriously be considered as a top-12 fantasy option moving forward. He’s a middling 16th in pass attempts, 21st in yards per attempt, and 25th in yards per game. Losing Michael Thomas (ankle) for multiple weeks doesn’t help, but Brees was trending downward before that injury. The Saints are 25th in offensive plays per game and have become more of a ball-control offense focused on feeding Alvin Kamara and playing defense. Green Bay is 13th in pass-defense DVOA and 15th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins’ QB9 finish in Week 1 was heavily aided by garbage time. This game sports a 52.5-point total Sunday night, but the running back matchup between Aaron Jones and Kamara should be the night’s best action. Brees is waivers material in 12-teamers.

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RUNNING BACK

Start of the Week: Joshua Kelley vs. Panthers -- Kelley has out-carried Austin Ekeler 6-1 inside the 10-yard line and saw his snap rate climb all the way to 52% last week against the Chiefs after being at 27% in Week 1. Kelley handled 23 carries against Kansas City and caught 2-of-3 targets. With L.A. favored by 6.5 points over Carolina, a top-12 week is in Kelley’s range of outcomes. The Panthers are dead last in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 29th in run-defense DVOA after surrendering 139 yards and three touchdowns to Josh Jacobs in Week 1 followed up by a combined 19-126-3 line to Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette last Sunday. According to Rotoworld’s Hayden Winks, Kelley’s usage has been the equivalent of the RB15. He has plenty of room for improvement and looks to be barreling toward the old Melvin Gordon role for the Chargers. The Bolts are implied to score 25.25 points Sunday.

Starts

Jeff Wilson at Giants -- Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are now out after they both injured their knees in Week 2 against the Jets. Coleman was sent to I.R., and Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks with a sprained MCL. It leaves Wilson and Jerick McKinnon as the Niners’ new one-two combo. Wilson should be picked up in all formats. He scored five touchdowns on 30 touches last season and gets a mouthwatering date with the Giants in Week 3, followed by the Eagles and Dolphins. McKinnon may see more rushing chances than he’s gotten Weeks 1-2, but he’s mostly been a pass-game back so far. The Giants coughed up the overall RB7 week to David Montgomery last Sunday after he led the Bears in rushing and receiving. Despite being incredibly shorthanded, the Niners remain Week 3 favorites against the Saquon Barkley-less G-Men. Wilson should be teed up as an RB3/FLEX for desperate players. His floor likely isn’t as safe as others, but I expect the Niners to continue to hammer the ball on the ground with Nick Mullens getting the start under center.

Mike Davis at Chargers -- Christian McCaffrey is going to be sidelined for a minimum of three weeks on I.R. after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Week 2 loss to the Bucs. Davis stepped in and handled every backfield snap and touch in his absence following the injury. Davis isn’t nearly the playmaker McCaffrey is, and it’s not even close, but this coaching staff seems to believe in him as its starter now. Davis was targeted eight times last week against the Bucs and caught all eight for 74 yards. There’s a very real chance Davis messes around and gets 20 touches against the Chargers. Reggie Bonnafon will likely be promoted from the practice squad as depth, but Davis is the back to have in fantasy for the time being. The Chargers have stuffed Joe Mixon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire in back-to-back weeks, but volume should be there for Davis to at least put him on the RB2/3 map at a position decimated by injuries.

Devin Singletary vs. Rams -- Singletary has a pretty nice lead over Zack Moss on the snap share through two weeks, playing at least 56% of the downs each of the first two contests, but he’s not getting many looks close to the end zone. Moss popped up on the injury report Wednesday, missing practice with a toe issue both Wednesday and Thursday. If Moss were to miss Week 3 against the Rams, Singletary would be a candidate for 18-plus touches and 70%-plus of the snaps. Moss is getting more chances near the end zone, but the Bills’ true goal-line runner is Josh Allen. Singletary is the preferred between-the-20s back in Buffalo as a solid RB2/3 who would get a boost sans Moss. The Rams are 25th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 27th in run-defense DVOA after facing Ezekiel Elliott and Miles Sanders. Singletary isn’t that caliber, but there’s enough here to start him as a top-24 option.

Sits

David Johnson at Steelers -- With Duke Johnson (ankle) out last week against the Ravens, David played 95% of the snaps and handled every running back touch and target. Unfortunately, that was only 15 opportunities because Houston got shellacked on the scoreboard. David’s snap share is elite, but the Texans have been blown out in back-to-back weeks to open the season. I wouldn’t expect much different this Sunday against the Steelers. But the schedule softens Weeks 4 and 5 against the Vikings and Jaguars. Duke should be back, but David has a good grip on the work. The Steelers are No. 1 in run-defense DVOA and No. 4 in fantasy points allowed to running backs through two weeks. The Texans are playing at the seventh-slowest offensive pace and running the third-fewest plays. All Johnson has is his high-end snap rate.

Ronald Jones at Broncos -- Jones scored a touchdown last week against the Panthers but lost a fumble later in the game and may have kissed his job away with it. Leonard Fournette’s snap rate jumped from 13% in Week 1 to 43% in Week 2, and he was the “closer” for the Bucs in the win. Fournette should lead this backfield moving forward after dusting Carolina for 12-103-2 on the ground with four catches on five targets. The Broncos are No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 11th in run-defense DVOA. The Bucs are running the seventh-fewest plays per game and playing at the ninth-slowest offensive pace.

Nyheim Hines vs. Jets -- In the Colts’ first game after Marlon Mack’s season-ending Achilles’ tear, Jonathan Taylor played 67% of the snaps and handled 28-of-38 backfield touches as Indy cruised to an easy win over the Vikings. With this offensive line blocking for him, Taylor is arguably a top-five back the rest of the way. After being fed 15 touches and scoring two touchdowns Week 1, Hines saw his snap rate plummet from 53% to 12% and recorded just one target and no rushing attempts. Hines’ Week 1 proved to be pretty fluky, but OC Nick Sirriani suggested Hines’ role will be different each week based on the opponent. He’s a highly-volatile RB3. Week 3 against the Jets favors Taylor big. The Colts won’t need to throw the ball.

WIDE RECEIVER

Start of the Week: DK Metcalf vs. Cowboys -- Tied for 26th among all wideouts with just 14 targets, Metcalf has made the most of his looks by hanging 4-92-1 and 4-95-1 lines on the Falcons and Patriots in back-to-back weeks. He beasted Stephon Gilmore for a long touchdown last Sunday night, and Metcalf looks poised for a major second-year breakout with the Seahawks loosening the reins on Russell Wilson and throwing the ball more. Dallas is fresh off getting creamed by outside receivers Robert Woods and Calvin Ridley in back-to-back games, giving up 100 yards to each and two scores to Ridley. Only five teams have surrendered more fantasy points to wideouts thus far. Cowboys-Seahawks sports the highest total of the week at 55.5 points. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are commanding 79% of Seattle’s wideout targets. Cowboys No. 1 CB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Starts

Mike Williams vs. Panthers -- Williams has commanded 20% of the Chargers’ targets and 34% of the team’s air yards, but he has just 6-83-0 to show for it on 13 targets. Healthier after injuring his shoulder before the season, Williams was in on 89% of the snaps last week, up from 78% in Week 1. Going from a risk-averse Tyrod Taylor to Justin Herbert under center should help Williams. Carolina is 25th in pass-defense DVOA and gave up some big plays to Henry Ruggs in Week 1 before allowing 7-104-1 to Mike Evans last Sunday. A similar player to Evans, Williams has all the upside in the world, but his scary-low floor keeps him on the WR3/4 border. This is one of the better individual spots Williams will see all season.

T.Y. Hilton vs. Jets -- Hilton has experienced a disastrous start to his contract season, dropping a pair of final-drive passes in the upset loss to the Jaguars in Week 1 before dropping what should have been a long touchdown in Week 2 against the Vikings. He has just 7-81-0 to show for 14 targets. A home date with the Jets’ barely-there roster could be the right medicine to get Hilton out of his funk. And with Parris Campbell (knee) now out, Hilton could see an even bigger boost to his target share. He already leads the team with 39% of the air yards. The Jets are 22nd in pass-defense DVOA and have allowed the sixth-most catches to wideouts. The Colts are massive home favorites and implied to score 27.5 points, fifth-best on the Week 3 slate.

CeeDee Lamb at Seahawks -- The Cowboys’ slot man, Lamb has played 83% of the offensive snaps and drawn 15 targets. He posted his first 100-yard game with a 6-106-0 effort against the Falcons last week and now gets a similarly-easy matchup with a Seahawks Defense that is dead last in fantasy points allowed to receivers and 29th in pass-defense DVOA. Slot wideouts have crushed the Seahawks, with Julian Edelman (8-179-0) and Russell Gage (9-114-0) both going over 100 yards from the inside. Lamb has looked great through two weeks, and this game’s 55.5-point total is the highest on the board featuring a pair of top-tier offenses. Seattle is allowing a league-high 73.5 plays per game while Dallas is playing at the fastest offensive pace and running the third-most plays. Lamb is a high-upside WR3 play Sunday afternoon.

Sits

Henry Ruggs at Patriots -- Ruggs hasn’t looked the same since injuring his knee in the first half of Week 1 against the Panthers. The Raiders were dialing up shot plays to him and getting the ball in his hands early in Carolina, but he ended up playing just 61% of the snaps last Monday night against the Saints, catching one pass for four yards on three targets. This isn’t an offense that wants to throw the ball at a high clip anyway, and now Ruggs is likely to see a whole lot of reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots haven’t been as dominant against the pass through two weeks as they were last year, but we need to see Ruggs start making plays again before we can trust him in fantasy lineups.

Jerry Jeudy vs. Bucs -- Jeudy figures to take over as the Broncos’ No. 1 wideout the rest of the way after Courtland Sutton tore his ACL in Week 2. Jeudy, however, has dropped a number of passes already and now gets a quarterback downgrade in Jeff Driskel while Drew Lock is out with a shoulder injury. The matchup for Week 3 isn’t any good, either. The Bucs are No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA and 13th in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts. Driskel is the bigger obstacle. Denver’s implied team total of 18.5 points is the second-lowest on the slate.

TIGHT END

Start of the Week: Dallas Goedert vs. Bengals -- Goedert has been in on 84% of the offensive snaps and is tied for third among all tight ends with 17 targets, trailing only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. Goedert flopped with just 4-30-0 last week against the Rams, but the Bengals present a rebound opportunity after surrendering 5-73-0 to Hunter Henry in Week 1. The Eagles lost Jalen Reagor to a multi-week thumb injury this week, leaving Zach Ertz, Goedert, DeSean Jackson, and Miles Sanders as the four main focal points of the offense. Philly’s implied total of 26.25 points is the seventh-highest on the board for Week 3.

Starts

Logan Thomas at Browns -- Like Dallas Goedert above, only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce have seen more targets among tight ends than Thomas. The converted college quarterback has been in on 82% of Washington’s snaps, and only six tight ends have run more routes than Thomas. He disappointed with 4-26-0 last week in Arizona, but Thomas was seeing end-zone looks and already appears to be right up there with Terry McLaurin as Dwayne Haskins’ favorite targets. The Browns have been crushed by tight ends through two weeks, giving up the second-most catches and second-most fantasy points to the position. Mark Andrews went berserk against them in Week 1, and C.J. Uzomah scored last week before tearing his Achilles’. Thomas’ efficiency is lacking, but he makes up for it in target share and volume.

Jonnu Smith at Vikings -- With A.J. Brown (knee) out last week, Smith played 87% of the snaps and shredded the Jaguars for 4-84-2 on five targets. Smith has seen 12 targets total through two weeks and has three touchdowns. He’s an absolute monster with the ball in his hands after the catch. The Vikings stamped out Packers TEs in Week 1 but gave up Mo Alie-Cox’s first career 100-yard game in a loss to the Colts last week. Smith is a legit playmaker and Ryan Tannehill’s No. 2 option behind Corey Davis with Brown out again this Sunday.

Jordan Reed at Giants -- George Kittle (knee) is expected to miss his second straight game due to concerns over the MetLife Stadium turf. In Kittle’s absence last week, Reed played 46% of the snaps and reeled in 7-of-8 targets for 50 yards and two scores against the Jets. Coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to be scheming the ball to his tight end as one of the offense’s lone playmakers. The Giants are just as bad defensively, and Nick Mullens should fall in love with dumping the ball off to Jerick McKinnon and Reed in the short areas of the field.

Sits

While tight end is deeper than it’s been in recent years, it’s hard for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.