Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em Week 3
By Isuf Gega
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is our weekly look into NFL matchups and how they will affect your starting lineup. Starting guys like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Ezekiel Elliot are easy decisions and that is not the reason you are reading this article. For the most part these are borderline starting players you are considering placing in your lineups due to injury, poor play, bye week, etc.
Quarterbacks Start ‘Em
Ryan Tannehill finished week two with 26.76 fantasy points, good enough for the QB8. Even though A.J. Brown was missing time, Tannehill still cooked the Jaguars last week. This week Tannehill is up against a Minnesota Vikings defense who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game. The already decimated Vikings defense took another hit last week when they lost linebacker Anthony Barr to a torn pectoral muscle. Besides Barr, the Vikings are without stud pass rusher Danielle Hunter for at least one more week. Even without A.J. Brown, I foresee Tannehill finishing as a high-end QB2 this week.
Matthew Stafford is someone who has underperformed his ADP so far this season. This week Stafford plays the Arizona Cardinals who, on paper, have allowed the third fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. That Cardinals defense is not as good as it may seem though. The two quarterbacks they have faced so far are Jimmy Garoppolo and Dwayne Haskins. Not exactly two quarterbacks that strike fear in the heart of defenses. Stafford has also been without star wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. With Golladay expected to be back, Stafford has low-end QB1 potential this week. If Golladay were to miss time again, Stafford should be considered as a mid-end QB2.
Ben Roethlisberger is the QB13 so far this season and is averaging over 20 points per game. He has thrown at least two touchdowns in each game so far and that should not change this week against the Houston Texans defense. The Texans have allowed 14 of their last 18 quarterbacks to finish inside the top 15. This week, I expect Roethlisberger to have north of 250 passing yards along with 2 touchdowns. He should be considered a high-end QB2.
Quarterbacks Sit ‘Em
Teddy Bridgewater should not be considered a streaming option by any means this week. Sure, the injury to Christian McCaffery means the Panthers will have to throw more, but this is not the week to test that theory. Bridgewater will play against a Chargers defense that features one of the best secondaries in the league with Casey Hayward, Chris Harris Jr., and Desmond King. Also, do not forget about pro bowlers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa rushing the passer. While it is true that the Panthers will have to throw the ball more, I would not be looking to stream Bridgewater against this Chargers defense. Expect a low-end QB2 from Bridgewater.
Derek Carr is a high risk-low reward type of player this week against the Patriots. Although Carr had a good performance last week finishing with 21.66 points, it is not something he will repeat against the Patriots. The Patriots have four interceptions through the first two weeks and I would not be surprised at all to see Carr have multiple turnovers. The Raiders are also playing without offensive guard Richie Incognito, and both Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs are battling injuries. Speaking of Waller, out of Carr’s 28 completions last week, 12 of them came from Waller. That is nearly half of Carr’s completions! I can foresee star cornerback Stephon Gilmore covering Waller at times and causing Carr to look elsewhere. Carr is a low-end QB2 this week.
Carson Wentz is having a very rough start to the 2020 season. Wentz has more turnovers (5) than he does touchdowns (2) through the first two weeks. The offensive line in Philadelphia has had many issues although I do expect them to improve this week against the Bengals. The Bengals are a below average defense and have allowed the highest rushing yards (358) in the league though two week. This may mean the Eagles will be utilizing Miles Sanders more than actually throwing the ball. Also, rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor is set to miss an extended period of time so this may make matters more difficult for Wentz. I can see Wentz having mid-end QB2 numbers.
Running Backs Start ‘Em
David Montgomery exceeded expectations last week against the Giants and finished as the RB7. This week he plays against a defense that has allowed 4 total touchdowns to running backs through the first two weeks. The Falcons allowed 3 touchdowns to the Seattle backfield, and a combined 4 rushing touchdowns to the Cowboys last week. Backup Tarik Cohen combined for just 6 touches last week compared to Montgomery’s 19 touches. Montgomery is the clear goal line back and seems healthy coming back from his groin injury. I expect big things from him this weekend resulting in a high-end RB2.
Joshua Kelly ranks sixth in the NFL with 35 carries through the first two weeks. Not only is the rookie seeing a ton of carries, he has also seen 8 red zone carries compared to Austin Ekelers 4. This week he faces one of the worst run defenses in the league. In their last 18 games the Panthers have allowed 33 rushing touchdowns. In comparison, no other team in the league has allowed for more than 19 in that same span! This is a defense you want to run against and that is exactly what Joshua Kelley will do. Assuming Justin Jackson does not suit up, expect Kelley to finish as a low-end RB2.
Antonio Gibson played well last week and finished as the RB23. Gibson’s snap count rose significantly between weeks one and two. Gibson saw only 18 snaps in the season opener while fellow running back Peyton Barber saw 29. In week two however, everything changed. Gibson rose to 43 snaps and Barber only saw 1 snap all game. This is a clear sign that Washington has chosen Gibson as their lead back and I expect him to perform well this week. I view Gibson as a solid flex against the Browns.
Running Backs Sit ‘Em
Mike Davis is set to be the new starter for the Panthers while Chrstian McCaffrey recovers from an injury. Most fantasy owners spent a top waiver pick or a good amount of their FAAB budget to acquire Davis, but he should be played with caution this week. The Chargers defense is legit. They allowed just 71 total yards to Joe Mixon (RB44) week one and only 70 total yards to Clyde Edwaeds-Helaire (RB38) week two. These two running backs are much more talented than Mike Davis and could not get it done. Davis is only a low-end RB3 this week.
J.K. Dobbins has only had 10 total touches through the first two weeks. While he scored twice week one and finished as the RB13, that came off of only 7 carries for 22 yards. Fellow running backs Mark Ingram (21 touches) and Gus Edwards (14 touches) have been utilized more than him. Furthermore, Lamar Jackson will vulture away touchdowns in the red zone. Dobbins is a nice stash, but not worth a start this week. I consider him to be a RB4 at best.
New York Giants Backfield have signed Devonte Freeman due to losing Saquon Barkley to a season ending ACL tear. This backfield is a mess and no one will be able to decipher the true starting running back until we see them all on the field. Even then it might be difficult to determine who it might be. Wayne Gallman was inactive last week and due to this many people consider Dion Lewis to be ahead in the depth chart. That simply is not the case. Lewis is a pass catching running back and complemented Barkley much better, while Gallman is more of a true backup. Bringing Freeman in has just further complicated things and therefore I do not think any of these running back are worth a start this week. If you are in a pinch and HAVE to start one of these guys, I would recommend Gallman.
Wide Receivers Start ‘Em
Darius Slayton is set to see his target share grow exponentially this week. This is due to both Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard (23.5% of targets) being out. While playing against the 49ers this week may seem scary, it really is not. The 49ers have had their share of injuries including cornerback Richard Shermon. Shermon is expected to miss at least two more weeks which will make Slayton’s matchup a little easier. Slayton finished as the WR4 in week 1 so he certainly has a lot of potential. Expect him to finish as a mid-end WR3 with great upside.
Corey Davis is having a solid season so far with fellow wide receiver A.J. Brown dealing with a knee injury. Davis is averaging 12.4 fantasy points per game, which makes him the WR22. Playing against a horrid Vikings defense this week I expect Tannehill to heavily utilize Davis. The Vikings lead the league in touchdowns given up to receiver (5) so this week projects to be a solid week for Davis. Expect him as a WR3 with upside.
CeeDee Lamb is looking super comfortable in his role in Dallas. Lamb finished last week with 9 targets resulting in 106 receiving yards. That should continue this week against the Seahawks who lead the league in 731 allowed yards to wide receivers. No other team has allowed more than 525 yard. Expect Lamb to have a big week resulting in a WR2 finish.
Wide Receivers Sit ‘Em
Robby Anderson has looked amazing so far as he sits with 223 yards and a touchdown this season. That is good enough for WR5 on the season. However, do not expect WR1 numbers from Anderson this week against the Chargers. He should expect to see Casey Hayward on him this week who is a top 5 cornerback in the league. For the most part the Chargers shut down Tyreek Hill last week holding him to just 4 receptions and 45 yards off 10 targets until that late fourth quarter bomb that went for 45 yards and a touchdown. Expect the very same thing from Anderson this week. Boom or bust. My expectation is a WR4 finish.
Will Fuller had a great week one with 8 receptions and 112 yards from 10 targets. Fuller followed that up in week two by doing what he always does, disappearing. Although this may have had something to do with an injury, he played 37 snaps but did not see a single target. Fuller can very easily win you your week, and he can very easily lose it for you. Fuller plays against the Steelers this week and going back to last year, the Steelers have only allowed two wide receivers to have over 100 yards. As always, Fuller is a very boom or bust player, but I can see him ending up as a WR3.
Emmanual Sanders was not super productive week one with only 3 receptions for 15 yards. However, he did score a touchdown, leading fantasy players to believe Sanders would be the number one option with Michael Thomas out. That simply is not the case. Sanders only had 3 targets resulting in 1 reception for 18 yards last week. Drew Brees also did not look good or efficient without Michael Thomas. I do not expect much to change this week against the Packers so I am anticipating Sanders to finish as a WR4.
Tight Ends Start ‘Em
Logan Thomas is the fourth most targeted tight end in the league. At the tight end position, you must follow the targets. Thomas is very comparable to Darren Waller of last year. A big bodied tight end that has been around the league, dominant combine numbers, and a plethora of targets. I am not saying he will finish as TE3 on the season like Waller, but the similarities are there. This week he takes on the Browns who have allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends. Treat Thomas as a solid TE1 streamer this week.
Drew Sample is a fantastic week 3 streamer. Joe Burrow clearly loves throwing to his tight ends as they have a 21.6 target share. Sample received 9 targets in week 2 against the Browns after C.J. Uzomah left the game and is now out for the season. This week Sample plays against the Eagles who just allowed Tyler Higbee to hang 3 touchdowns on them. You should trust Sample as a streamer this week. I can see him having solid TE2 numbers.
Hunter Henry has seen 8 targets per game so far this year. It has not mattered who his quarterback is as they have targeted him regardless. Henry ranked second amongst tight ends with 156 receiving yards. Expect Henry to be a nice safety net for rookie Justin Herbert this week. I believe Henry's first touchdown of the season will come this week leading to a nice floor and a reliable TE1 finish.
Tight Ends Sit ‘Em
Rob Gronkowski has done absolutely nothing as the starting tight end for the Buccaneers. Last week I said to sit him, and rightfully so because Gronk scored exactly zero points that game. His only target that game actually resulted in an interception for Tom Brady. Furthermore, Chris Godwin was out last week with a concussion and Gronk still did nothing. O.J. Howard is also out targeting him. Gronk playing against the Broncos this week will not end well as they have allowed 5.18 yards per target to tight ends, which is seventh lowest in the league. Not only should Gronk be benched, but he should be cut from your rosters.
Chris Herndon had a lot of appeal last week after finding out both Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder were out. After all, the targets had to go somewhere, right? Well, Herndon saw just 5 targets resulting in just one catch for 5 yards. This week he plays the Colts who have quietly been very good against opposing tight ends. Dating back to last year, the Colts allowed just one tight end to score more than 14 fantasy points against them. This year they have allowed the fewest points to the tight end position, just 2.05 points through two weeks. They have also allowed just 11 total yards. Herndon may see a handful of targets this week, but I do not expect him to turn them into anything more than a TE2.
T.J. Hockenson has caught all 9 of his targets this year for 118 yards and a touchdown. This puts Hockenson as the TE10 so far in the season. While he has been playing well, Kenny Golladay has been out of the lineup for the last two weeks. When Golladay returns he will undoubtedly eat into the little targets Hockenson has. Golladay is also a red zone monster so he will demand those targets leaving little behind for Hockenson. He is also playing against the Cardinals this week who have allowed just 4.94 yards per target to tight ends, which is sixth lowest in the league. I still expect Hockenson to finish as a low end TE1, but temper your expectations if Golladay plays.