Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Nick Mensio
Rotoworld
Nick Mensio dives into the matchups and advises who to start and sit for Week 3

Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Nick Mensio dives into the matchups and advises who to start and sit for Week 3

It’s Week 3. 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: Matt Ryan vs. Saints: It’s been a tale of two weeks for Ryan, posting the QB24 finish in Philadelphia on opening night before following that up with a four-TD QB5 day against the Panthers at home in Week 2. Atlanta went 1-for-5 in the red zone against the Eagles and a perfect 4-for-4 versus Carolina, with Ryan throwing a pair of scores and running for two more. It’s been much of the same for the New Orleans defense, getting absolutely flamed by Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1 before Tyrod Taylor did a whole lot of nothing Week 2. Fitzpatrick was dropping bombs over the top of the Saints’ defensive backfield, but the numbskull Browns didn’t even attempt a single deep pass in the first half in their loss to New Orleans. Taylor’s only touchdown was a late-fourth quarter 47-yard dagger to Antonio Callaway. Would ya look at that; it was a deep shot over the top. This defense is very beatable and now heads out on the road for the first time to what is another fantasy-friendly environment in Atlanta. Julio Jones leads the league in air yards, and first-round rookie Calvin Ridley really came on in Week 2, appearing to leapfrog Mohamed Sanu for No. 2 duties. Austin Hooper also scored a touchdown. The Saints are 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks through two games. Ryan is a lock-and-load QB1 Sunday. Saints-Falcons has the third-highest total of the week at 53 points. Atlanta’s 28-point team total is the fourth-highest implied total of Week 2.

Starts

Deshaun Watson vs. Giants: Drafted as a top 3-5 fantasy passer over the summer, Watson has been an early-year disappointment as the current QB17. The sophomore played much better last week in the road loss to the Titans, throwing for 310 yards and a pair of scores while rushing for 44 yards. However, his game-ending gaffe was a total clueless moment from Watson, costing the Texans even a chance at a potential game-tying field goal. With Will Fuller making his season debut last week, Watson averaged a robust 9.7 yards per attempt, another sign of what this offense is capable of when everyone is healthy. The Giants have opened the year at home against Blake Bortles and on the road versus Dak Prescott. Not terribly tough matchups. This poses their biggest test yet, while it’s probably Watson’s easiest on paper after two road games to start the year. Top pass rusher Olivier Vernon (ankle) remained out of practice Wednesday and has yet to play this season. Journeyman Connor Barwin is also battling an ankle issue. This defense has very little edge presence. And starting CB Eli Apple has a groin injury that is expected to cost him Week 3. Watson has overall QB1 upside anytime he takes the field and should be locked into lineups without hesitation.

Matthew Stafford vs. Patriots: I simply cannot quit Stafford; I’m going to die on this hill if I have to. He was flat-out awful in the Monday night opener against the Jets as the offense was booed off the field, but Stafford answered back with a QB9 day on the road against the 49ers last Sunday, almost dragging the Lions back from a double-digit deficit. And that was with Stafford leaving some throws on the field. He missed a couple of deep balls to Marvin Jones that could have gone for a 60-plus-yard TD and then a 70-80-yarder in the fourth quarter. Kenny Golladay also squirted free behind the defense on a deep ball that Stafford overshot. He’s not yet in sync, but when he hits, it’s going to be huge. New England hasn’t been particularly good against the pass in the early going. Deshaun Watson struggled at Foxboro in Week 1, but Blake Bortles sliced and diced this coverage unit for 377 yards and four touchdowns en route to the QB4 finish in Jacksonville last week. I like that this one is in the friendly confines of Ford Field in a dome conducive to fantasy points. Patriots-Lions has a 52-point total, the fourth-highest of Week 2. With the Lions as 6.5-point ‘dogs, Stafford could be chasing much of the second half. This offense is loaded with pass-game talent.

Blake Bortles vs. Titans: Like the previous three quarterbacks mentioned here, Bortles has had one really good game and another tough one to open 2018. He was dreadful on the road against the Giants in the opener before torching the Patriots with arguably the best performance of his career last Sunday. Bortles was 29-of-45 for 377 yards (8.38 YPA) an four touchdowns with one pick. He totaled 402 yards thanks to an additional 25 on the ground. Even without Marqise Lee (knee), Bortles has the best supporting cast he’s ever had and appears to have a legitimate top-end wideout at his disposal in Keelan Cole. Playmakers are everywhere from Dede Westbrook to Corey Grant to D.J. Chark. And Donte Moncrief and Austin Seferian-Jenkins each made some noise in the red zone against New England. Coming off that high of thrashing the Patriots, a letdown is a concern. But the Jaguars are staying at home and welcome a Titans defense that has surrendered strong outings to Ryan Tannehill and Deshaun Watson thus far. Watson managed the QB10 day last week in Nashville. Tennessee is 25th in pass-defense DVOA and has allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to QBs. For what it’s worth, the last time Bortles faced a Mike Vrabel defense, last Week 15 at home against the Texans, he threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns. This game has the second-lowest total of the week at 39.5 points, raising some concern, but Bortles’ rushing ability gives him a decent floor.

Sits

Philip Rivers at Rams: Rivers has been lights out through two games, flaming the Chiefs for 424 yards and three scores in Week 1 and doing the same against the Bills in Week 2 with 256 yards and another three scores. Both of those defenses are a couple of the worst in football, and Rivers was expected to set them ablaze. Rivers is fantasy’s QB4 right now and is fourth in the NFL in completion rate (73.1%), fourth in yards (680), fourth in YPA (8.7), third in touchdowns (6), and fourth in passer rating (119.6). He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal and a strong offensive line. But the Rams will be a whole different animal. They’ve yet to allow a passing touchdown — to Derek Carr and Sam Bradford — and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks while ranking No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. Carr had one good half against the Rams, but it’s been lights out ever since. This isn’t a true “road” game for the Chargers, but it’s still an environment that isn’t comfortable. DC Wade Phillips spent years doing battle with Rivers in the AFC West and usually always won. Rivers is a tough sit for owners that have him after his Weeks 1 and 2, but this is a real bad spot.

Carson Wentz vs. Colts: Wentz was routinely one of the first quarterbacks off the board in drafts this summer. It was a bit unexpected that he missed the first two games following ACL rehab, but Wentz has been cleared for contact and will make his 2018 debut. The matchup on paper isn’t overly daunting, but Wentz is coming off a very long layoff with no game reps under his belt since getting hurt against the Rams late last year. The Eagles’ supporting cast has also been gutted by injuries. Top RBs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday. Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) hasn’t played since the Super Bowl and remains limited in practice. Mike Wallace just broke his leg last week. Future Hall of Fame LT Jason Peters injured his quad early last week but plans to play through it. The Colts have also been playing pretty sound defense from a fundamental aspect and suffocated Alex Smith and the Redskins in D.C. last week. Indy has allowed just two passing touchdowns and the 10th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. New coach Frank Reich has this team playing hard. It’s not the cakewalk it’s been in years past for opposing offenses. I’d prefer to take a wait-and-see approach with Wentz just to see how he responds to live game action.

Jimmy Garoppolo at Chiefs: Garoppolo has been one of the bigger disappointments to open the season. He set the world on fire down the stretch last year, but the reports coming out of 49ers camp over summer weren’t all that positive and the first two games have proved to be an adventure. On the road against the Vikings in Week 1 was an easy pass on behalf of Garoppolo, as nobody expected him to go in there and have a big game. But Garoppolo missed some open throws that day and again disappointed on tape last week at home against the lowly Lions, who were playing without All-Pro CB Darius Slay (concussion) and RE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder). Personally, I think he looked like he was playing scared. It appeared Garoppolo was seeing ghosts in the pocket for stretches of the game, his knees were buckling in mostly-clean pockets, and he was ducking from nonexistent pressure. Garoppolo threw off his back foot a number of times, held onto the ball too long, and was bailed out late in the game on a costly interception that ended up getting reversed on a weak illegal contact away from the play. He also continued to struggle to consistently hit open targets. On paper, this matchup is about as good as it gets for Garoppolo. The Chiefs have been slaughtered via the pass, giving up by far the most passing yards and fantasy points to quarterbacks while checking in at 29th in pass-defense DVOA. But this game will be played at Arrowhead, arguably the toughest place to play for a road team, and it’s the Chiefs’ home opener. This will be the loudest stadium in which Garoppolo has ever played. I’m not completely against Garoppolo as a fantasy start, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for better options where I own him. Garoppolo is 30th in completion rate (55.9%), 24th in pass yards (467), and 26th in rating (77.4). This game’s total is easily the highest of Week 3 at a colossal 56.5 points. Everyone is in play for fantasy, but Garoppolo needs to play better than he has been the first two weeks. If not, the Chiefs could boat-race the Niners out of town.



RUNNING BACK

Start of the Week: Kenyan Drake vs. Raiders: The presence of Frank Gore has definitely limited Drake’s potential output through two weeks. Drake is thoroughly out-touching Gore 32-19, but he’s not getting the desired volume to pull him out of the RB2 category. Drake had a sleepy Week 1 against the Titans in a game that was delayed multiple times for a total of close to four hours. That’ll mess up anyone’s rhythm unless you’re Kenny Stills, apparently. But Drake had a much better outing last week at MetLife against the Jets, averaging nearly five yards per attempt and scoring his first touchdown of the season from six yards out. That’s also very notable since Gore at least doesn’t appear to be stealing the goal-line work from Drake. Drake is out-carrying Gore 4-2 in the red zone and 2-1 inside the 10-yard line. Sunday presents a cozy date with a Raiders team coming off back-to-back losses where they held leads only to get shellacked in the second halves. They’ll now travel cross-country for an early 1 PM ET start with an 0-3 start staring them right in the face. Oakland is dead last in run-defense DVOA, 31st in rushing yards allowed, and 24th in fantasy points surrendered to running backs. Todd Gurley predictably shredded them in Week 1, and the Broncos’ trio of RBs posted a 25-152-1 line last Sunday, with Case Keenum adding a second rushing score of his own. Drake owners haven’t been totally satisfied to this point, but there’s big upside here.

Starts

Lamar Miller vs. Giants: Like Drake above, Miller has by no means been bad; he just hasn’t been great mostly due to the fact he’s yet to find the end zone. Miller is fantasy’s RB30 right now but is fourth in the league in rushing with 166 yards, trailing only Matt Breida (184), Joe Mixon (179), and Phillip Lindsay (178). Miller is averaging a robust 4.9 yards per carry and 18.5 touches per game. He was vultured by Alfred Blue in the opener for a one0yard touchdown late with Houston trailing by 18. Otherwise, Miller has dominated red-zone work, out-carrying Blue 6-1. He just has no attempts inside the five and just one inside the 10. Miller has one of the safest workloads of all the RB2 backs. He now gets a Giants defense that is 30th in run-defense DVOA. They allowed 78 yards and a score to Ezekiel Elliott last Sunday night after wiggling off the hook in Week 1 when Leonard Fournette was injured after rushing nine times for 41 yards. Houston is six-point home favorites, which could lead to plenty of clock-salting in the second half for Miller. He’s due to hit pay dirt.

Sony Michel at Lions: Michel made his pro debut last week against Jacksonville. The box-score numbers don’t jump off the page after Michel ran 10 times for 34 yards, adding a seven-yard catch, but Michel was running violently and dominated the early-down work for the vast majority of the game. Rex Burkhead got the start, played the first series, but was never heard from again until late in the fourth quarter. Burkhead has just shown zero ability to stay healthy in New England. Michel was fighting through arm tackles last Sunday but didn’t find a whole lot of space. This week’s matchup with the Lions is much more inviting with the Lions getting their doors blown off on run defense. Detroit is 29th in run-defense DVOA and have allowed by far the most rushing yards to running backs (363), nearly a full 100 more than the second-worst Raiders (265). Isaiah Crowell hung a 10-102-2 line on Detroit in Week 1, and last week Matt Breida, who rushed for just 46 yards in the opener, became the league’s rushing leader through two weeks after his 11-138-1 day on the ground. As always, the biggest concern with the New England backfield is figuring out who is going to get the rock on a weekly basis. Just from watching the tape, Michel showed far more last week in his debut and deserves an extended look atop the depth chart moving forward. The Patriots are going to be able to run the ball against Detroit; we just have to figure out who will be doing it. That uncertainty keeps Michel in the boom-or-bust RB2 range rather than a surefire RB2. But the upside is there for a big day. The Patriots’ implied total of 29.25 points is the second-highest of Week 3.

Matt Breida at Chiefs: Breida and Alfred Morris have split the touches mostly down the middle through two weeks, but it’s been Breida who has done the most with his. Morris failed on four-straight carries inside the 10-yard line against the Vikings in Week 1, losing a fumble on his fourth, but both backs received 12 touches that day. Breida didn’t do much in Minnesota but exploded onto the scene last Sunday against the Lions, galloping for 138 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Morris has out-carried Breida 26-22 and out-snapped him 66-55, but after Breida’s big day, more work could/should be coming his direction. This road date with the high-octane Chiefs also sets up as more of a Breida game than a Morris one. As touchdown underdogs, the Niners are likely going to find themselves chasing for at least part of the day. Early-down grinder Morris doesn’t play in catchup mode. Breida has out-targeted Morris 6-2 through two weeks and also happens to lead the league in rushing and yards per carry. The 49ers will need their best playmakers on the field Sunday. Breida is one of those. His Week 2 might have been fluky, but Breida is very much in the RB2 mix Sunday in a game with the highest total of the season to date at 56.5 points.

Sits

Royce Freeman at Ravens: Denver used a third-round pick on Freeman in April, but it’s been UDFA rookie Phillip Lindsay shining the brightest in the Broncos’ backfield. Lindsay is third in the NFL in rushing and has displayed far more athleticism and burst on the field. Freeman has looked like more of a straight-line snowplow who doesn’t possess much wiggle to his game. He opts to try to run through defenders than avoid them. Freeman is averaging a fine 4.3 YPC, but Lindsay is at 6.2 and has out-snapped both Freeman and Devontae Booker in this three-way timeshare. Lindsay has beein in on 54 plays to Freeman’s 45 and Booker’s 41. Last week against the Raiders, with the Broncos playing catchup, Lindsay (28 snaps) and Booker (22) both out-snapped Freeman (16). Both Lindsay and Booker have caught passes, while Freeman has zero grabs on one target. It’s been pretty evident through two games, that Freeman isn’t going to play much when the Broncos are trailing on the scoreboard. So, heading to Baltimore as five-point ‘dogs doesn’t look like a great spot for Freeman. The Ravens are sixth in run-defense DVOA and have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Freeman is a TD-or-bust RB3/FLEX play with higher bust odds.

Derrick Henry at Jaguars: Much like Freeman, Henry had become a fourth- or fifth-round fantasy pick in the lead-up to Week 1. Henry has been a far bigger bust as the current RB56. He’s managed 82 scoreless yards on 28 carries (2.93 YPC) and one catch on one target. The big blow to his numbers was Henry getting a 62-yard touchdown run wiped out by a weak holding penalty in Week 1. Things would be much different for Henry right now, who admitted he was “pissed” with his production after the season opener in Miami. The Titans have also been without LT Taylor Lewan (concussion) and RT Jack Conklin (knee) for all but one combined half of play. Lewan is expected back this week, but this is a real tough spot for Henry. Not only do the Jaguars suffocate opposing offenses, Henry has not been playing when the Titans are trailing. That’s been all Dion Lewis. And with Tennessee as sizable road underdogs in Jacksonville, Henry may not crack double-digit carries. He’s a good buy-low candidate, especially in standard and half-PPR formats.

Jamaal Williams at Redskins: The volume has been there for Williams, averaging 17 touches per game through two weeks, but he’s managed just 118 total yards without a touchdown. Williams’ 3.4 YPC isn’t getting the job done, especially when he gets to run against soft fronts with defenses paying so much attention to Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. An excuse for Williams could be his brutal Weeks 1-2 schedule against the Bears and Vikings. But with Aaron Jones now back from suspension for this week’s game in D.C., the leash is going to be a lot shorter. Coach Mike McCarthy said Williams and Ty Montgomery are first in line, but we doubt Jones will have to sit long. He’s easily the team’s most-talented runner. It’s a solid matchup for the Green Bay rushing attack, but the problem is there are too many mouths to trust an average one like Williams who is unlikely to keep seeing the volume he was getting with Jones out of commission. Williams is a bottom-barrel FLEX.



WIDE RECEIVER

Start of the Week: Sammy Watkins vs. 49ers: After a predictably sleepy Week 1 where he reeled in three balls for 21 yards, Watkins broke out against the Steelers last week on his way to six grabs for 100 yards on seven targets. Patrick Mahomes is the hottest passer west of Tampa Bay right now, but even he missed a wide-open Watkins on what should have been a 39-yard touchdown. Watkins blew past OLB T.J. Watt in coverage. (Not sure why Watt was on Watkins in the first place.) Nobody was within five yards of Watkins, but Mahomes simply overshot him. The Chiefs later scored on the drive, and it didn’t matter in the grand scheme, but there was an opportunity for Watkins to have a much bigger afternoon. Coach Andy Reid is working Watkins all over the formation to get him open. He now gets a 49ers defense that has been victimized by Stefon Diggs (3-43-1), Adam Thielen (6-102-0), Golden Tate (7-109-0), Kenny Golladay (6-89-1), and Marvin Jones (4-54-1) in the first two weeks. All have finished as WR33 or better in PPR leagues in their respective weeks. And Jones and Golladay could have had better stat lines if Matthew Stafford hadn’t missed both on multiple deep balls. The 49ers’ corners simply haven’t been able to keep up. Richard Sherman has lost a step at 30 years old coming off Achilles’ surgery, and Ahkello Witherspoon is a raw sophomore who makes too many mistakes. Slot CB K’Waun Williams has been gassed up by both Thielen and Tate. Both Watkins and Tyreek Hill should have no issue finding open space against these guys. With a 56.5-point total and the Chiefs’ team total of 31.5, Watkins is a set-and-forget upside WR2.

Starts

Keelan Cole vs. Titans: Cole had his coming out party of 2018 last week against the Patriots, producing an Odell Beckham-like one-handed grab down the left sideline before scoring a 24-yard touchdown three plays later on his way to a 7-116-1 afternoon on eight targets. His Week 1 against the Giants wasn’t bad, either, as Cole caught a 31-yard pass on the second play of the game, but he was held to just 3-54-0 in that narrow win. The overall WR22 in PPR right now, Cole has embarked on must-start status. While the Jaguars rotate through receivers, Cole has been the one constant. He’s played 106 snaps to Donte Moncrief’s 94 and Dede Westbrook’s 82. (Rookie D.J. Chark has been in on 42 plays.) Cole’s 12 targets are two fewer than Moncrief and one more than Westbrook. T.J. Yeldon has also seen a dozen targets out of the backfield. This offense spreads the ball around well, but Cole has been making the most of his opportunities. And the Tennessee defense coming to town has been scorched by opposing receivers, giving up the third-most fantasy points to the position and ranking 25th in pass-defense DVOA. Kenny Stills hung a 4-106-2 line on the Titans in Week 1, and both DeAndre Hopkins (6-110-1) and Will Fuller (8-113-1) went over 100 last week. Free-agent pickup CB Malcolm Butler has given up the most yards (257) and touchdowns (three) among 103 qualified corners at Pro Football Focus. Cole figures to see a lot of Butler on Sunday.

Marvin Jones vs. Patriots: Jones was listed in this space last week and delivered four catches for 54 yards and one touchdown against the 49ers. After watching the game, that was a disappointment. Jones was running free behind the defense all afternoon and could have easily had a 60-plus-yard score and 70-80-yarder on top of it. Matthew Stafford was misfiring on his deep balls all day. The timing just hasn’t been there, and the two had these same opportunities in Week 1 against the Jets. They’re going to figure it out soon, and another day in the Ford Field dome could be the answer. Jones is tied for fourth in the league with five red-zone targets, and the Patriots just got abused in the red area by the Jaguars last week. Donte Moncrief and Keelan Cole scored from four and 24 yards out, respectively, in the first quarter. New England has given up the 12th-most fantasy points to receivers, and CB Eric Rowe has been getting lit up. His 147.9 passer rating allowed in his coverage is ninth-worst among 103 qualified corners at Pro Football Focus. This game’s 52-point total is the third-highest of the week. As sizable underdogs, the Lions could be playing catchup.

Devin Funchess vs. Bengals: It’s been a quiet start to the season for Funchess, who has yet to score a touchdown or have a 100-yard game. But in the Panthers’ first game (again) without Greg Olsen to another broken foot, Funchess saw nine targets against the Falcons and turned in a respectable 7-77-0 line. He mixed in a terrible third-down drop but made a slick sideline catch on the final series to give the Panthers a chance at a Hail Mary. In five games without Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin last season, Funchess averaged 7.8 targets for 81 yards and four total touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey has been the go-to pass-game option so far with a team-high 24 targets, but Funchess is second with 14 targets. The Bengals have surrendered respectable games to T.Y. Hilton (5-46-1), Ryan Grant (8-59), John Brown (4-92-1), and Michael Crabtree (5-56) through two games. Funchess is a high-floor WR2/3 play at home this week.

Sits

Demaryius Thomas at Ravens: Thomas had one of the ugliest receiver games of Week 2 last Sunday against the Raiders. He was targeted 11 times, but turned those into just 18 yards receiving while dropping at least three passes. Emmanuel Sanders has been running circles around Thomas as the Broncos’ top wideout, and even rookie Courtland Sutton has been flirting with big plays. Thomas has clearly lost a step and can’t even be classified as a possession receiver because he struggles with the simple part of catching the ball. Case Keenum has played worse than his numbers would suggest, and the Broncos head out on the road for the first time after back-to-back home games. Baltimore is No. 7 in pass-defense DVOA and has allowed the fifth-fewest catches to opposing receivers. A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd had big days last week, but this defense is different at home. Denver’s implied team total of 19.5 points is the fifth-lowest of Week 3.

Corey Davis at Jaguars: Davis is currently tied for 19th in the NFL with his 20 targets. However, he’s turned them into stat lines of 6-62-0 and 5-55-0 against the Dolphins and Texans. Davis had the stiff-arm of the week last Sunday against CB Kareem Jackson on a third down, but that’s been about the highlight of his season thus far after being forced to play 1.5 games with Blaine Gabbert. Marcus Mariota is still battling his elbow injury and split reps with Gabbert in Wednesday’s practice. No matter who starts for the Titans, this matchup is brutal for Davis. As the clear No. 1 receiver, he figures to see a whole lot of All-Pro Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey showed some cracks last week, getting beat by Chris Hogan for a touchdown, but Gabbert/Mariota is no Tom Brady. In two games against the Jaguars last season, Davis went 1-4-0 on three targets and 0-0 on two targets. It’s best to leave Davis on the bench Sunday. If he gets dropped next week, he’s worth adding.

Randall Cobb at Redskins: Cobb set a career-high with 142 yards and the game-winning touchdown on nine catches Week 1 against the Bears but predictably crashed back to Earth last Sunday against the Vikings with a 4-30-0 day. Both Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham out-targeted Cobb last week, while Geronimo Allison matched his six targets, catching all six for 64 yards. There are plenty of options in Green Bay’s aerial attack where Cobb can get phased out quickly. He’ll no get to do battle with Redskins slot CB Fabian Moreau, who has allowed just three catches for 21 yards and a 58.3 passer rating in his coverage. Granted it was against Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck, but the Redskins’ pass defense really put the clamps down on Luck in D.C. last week. The Redskins are No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to receivers. If this was at Lambeau Field, it would be a bit of a different story.



TIGHT END

Start of the Week: George Kittle at Chiefs: After being all the talk at tight end following his 5-90-0 Week 1 against the Vikings, Kittle flopped with a 2-22-0 day against the Lions last Sunday. His ugly box score didn’t tell the whole story, though. Kittle drew a defensive holding in the end zone on his first target, setting up an eventual field goal. Jimmy Garoppolo then threw over his tight end’s head when there was nothing but green grass ahead. And Kittle later was the victim of a pass interference call in the second quarter. Much like Week 1, the chances were there for a much better afternoon. Kittle is tied for sixth among all tight ends with 13 targets and gets a Chiefs defense that was just throttled by Jesse James for 138 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Eric Berry (heel) still isn’t healthy, and the Chiefs have shown zero ability to cover the middle of the field. As mentioned numerous times previously, this game has the highest total of the week at 56.5 points.

Starts

Austin Hooper vs. Saints: It’s hard to believe, but Hooper is second on the Falcons with nine targets. Julio Jones has a monopoly on them with a robust 28. But Hooper answered the bell last week against the Panthers, securing all five of his targets for 59 yards and a score. He’s going to see his 4-6 targets every week. Scoring a touchdown or busting a long gain is the key to his success on that stat sheet. The Saints gave up 54 yards to O.J. Howard in Week 1, including a 35-yarder down the seam. Last week, David Njoku led the Browns with seven targets. He dropped one and turned in a meager 4-20-0 line, but it’s clear this defense is giving to tight ends. In a game with a massive 53-point total being played in the friendly environment of a dome, Hooper is worth a stream.

Kyle Rudolph vs. Bills: Rudolph is currently tied with Austin Hooper as the TE11 in fantasy, but it’s been an overall disappointment after Kirk Cousins relied on his tight ends so heavily in Washington. He just has better receivers in Minnesota than he did with the Redskins and has more confidence throwing the ball outside. It has made Rudolph a mere afterthought with just 10 targets, tied with Laquon Treadwell for fourth on the team behind Adam Thielen (25), Stefon Diggs (19), and Dalvin Cook (12). The good news is Rudolph remains a huge part of the red-zone offense, scoring from 11 yards away in Week 1 and being tied for the team lead with that one red-zone target. Against the lowly Bills on Sunday, the Vikings should live in the red area. Minnesota’s implied team total of 29.25 points is the second-highest on the board. Buffalo has allowed the seventh-most yards to tight ends.

O.J. Howard vs. Steelers: We’re really stretching ourselves thin for borderline plays at tight end. If you’re looking for a low-owned streamer, Howard may be one of the best bets along with Austin Hooper. Howard has seen six targets to Cameron Brate’s two and has a couple big plays to his name already with a 35-yard grab in Week 1 followed up by a 75-yard touchdown against the Eagles last Sunday. His 150 yards receiving are third-most at the position despite the minuscule target total. The Steelers were castrated by Travis Kelce last week for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. David Njoku should have had a bigger Week 1 but dropped a couple balls. Steelers-Bucs has a 54-point total for Monday night, good for the second-highest total on the board.

Sits

Trey Burton at Cardinals: It’s been a tough go for Burton through two games with his new team. The talk all summer was about how Burton could lead the Bears in receiving and was fitting in perfectly in new coach Matt Nagy’s offense. The problem so far is his quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, has been a dumpster fire. Trubisky’s 5.4 YPA is second-worst in the league, and he’s been more of a one-read-and-run passer, latching onto Allen Robinson and taking off as a runner if he isn’t open. Burton did secure a three-yard touchdown on a shovel pass last week, but that’s been the extent of his damage. He’s real hard to trust, even in a perceived cushy spot against the Cardinals. Chicago-Arizona has the lowest total on the board right now at 38 points.

Ricky Seals-Jones vs. Bears: Like Trey Burton above, Seals-Jones has been hurt mostly by his poor quarterback play. He’s tied for eighth among all tight ends with 12 targets, but they’ve amounted to seven grabs for 36 yards. Sam Bradford is dead last in yards per attempt (4.0), and Seals-Jones’ 5.1 yards per catch mark is third-worst among tight ends with at least four catches. The Bears locked up Jimmy Graham (2-8-0 on four targets) in Week 1 before allowing a last-minute, garbage-time touchdown to Will Dissly last week. Seals-Jones needs Josh Rosen under center.

Tyler Eifert at Panthers: Eifert isn’t playing enough right now or seeing enough red-zone usage to warrant starting him in fantasy. All three Bengals tight ends are getting consistent run, with Eifert having seven targets to C.J. Uzomah’s five and Tyler Kroft’s three. Eifert has drawn just one red-zone target, trailing both A.J. Green (four) and John Ross (three) in that department on the Bengals. Eifert has been in on just 54.5% of the offensive snaps through two weeks. When streaming tight ends, we need to be picking the guys who are on the field and running the most routes.

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