Ranking the Fantasy Football defensive matchups for Week Three
Is it worth it to stream a DST? That’s a question I will have to answer for at least one of my teams this season. For example, the Chargers aren’t the defense we expected them to be. Perhaps It’s because of the absence of Joey Bosa, perhaps not, but I will have to decide what to do if I release them and pick up a better DST for this week. When releasing a DST because of a bad matchup, you should think about the future. What will you do next week? Will you be able to get that DST back? When is your DST on bye? You can win with a streaming DST, but it takes work, commitment and the realization that it’s not always going to work out.
As always, the top of this list is defenses you want to start your players against, while the bottom of the list is defenses you want to think about benching players against.
- Buffalo Bills (against Minnesota Vikings): As a Fantasy owner, you have to be starting your players against the Bills until further notice. Everyone goes for the Vikings, with the possible exception of Latavius Murray. If this was a bye week and you were down a RB or a flex, I wouldn’t mind starting Murray. Combine Dalvin Cook being banged up with a hamstring injury and the game likely being a blowout, and you could see more carries for Murray than expected.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Pittsburgh Steelers): This game may break the scoreboard Monday night. Jesse James could once again be a spot starter at TE for you here. James Washington could also be a sneaky flex play. Seriously, would a 70-point ballgame surprise anyone? I’m even starting Ben Roethlisberger on the road.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against San Francisco 49ers): The 49ers have some issues at wide receiver. Marquise Goodwin is still dealing with a quad injury, and even if plays Sunday, I’d like to see him play a game before starting him, but this matchup may be to tasty for me to do that. Yes, I would start Matt Breida over Alfred Morris, but don’t release Morris; he’s also getting his touches.
- Detroit Lions (against New England Patriots): I’m worried about Chris Hogan. Although I’m nowhere near as high on Josh Gordon as some others, there is little doubt that Gordon will have a negative impact on Hogan. Plus, Julian Edelman will return in two weeks from his suspension. What can you do with Hogan? Not much, and he’s still a likely starter for you this week, considering the Lions’ defense is horrible. As for the RBs, I still trust James White more than Rex Burkhead.
- Green Bay Packers (against Washington Redskins): Alex Smith was a bust last week against a porous Colts’ defense, so hopefully he picks it up facing an equally poor secondary in Green Bay. Chris Thompson is a flex starter for me here, and I have to start Jordan Reed, but that may be it for the offense. I’m getting tired of waiting for Jamison Crowder or Josh Doctson to show up.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Kansas City Chiefs): Patrick Mahomes has gone from a solid QB2 to a must-start QB1. If you have Mahomes on your Fantasy team and another solid QB, it’s time to try and move one and see what offers you can get. The big day from Sammy Watkins last Sunday should slow down Fantasy owners from looking to dump him. I would still try and sell him if you can, though.
- Washington Redskins (against Green Bay Packers): Aaron Jones will return from suspension this week, but coach Mike McCarthy has stated that he will be third on the depth chart behind Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. It seems unlikely he stays there for long, but I’m not starting any of this trio if I can help it. I am starting Geronimo Allison, however.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Philadelphia Eagles): Carson Wentz is back, hooray. Wentz may be back, but the only pass catchers I’m starting are Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz. No, I don’t care about Jordan Matthews being re-signed; that just shows how desperate they are. As for the running game, I’m claiming Corey Clement, and he could start for me depending on what we hear about the health of Jay Ajayi’s back.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Ryan Fitzpatrick is a must start this week and Jameis Winston is not getting his starting job back, not in Week Four anyway. Fitzpatrick is smoking hot, so he starts for your Fantasy team along with DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. I’m not starting Peyton Barber, however, as there is just nothing doing in the run game. If you’re still wondering which TE to start, it’s O.J. Howard.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Chicago Bears): The Bear’s offense hasn’t quite clicked yet. The only definite starters are Jordan Howard and Allen Robinson, and ARob will see a whole bunch of Patrick Peterson this week. Trey Burton is a low-end option as well.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Carolina Panthers): There isn’t much to like on Carolina outside of the obvious players. C.J. Anderson? No. The same with any receiver other than Devin Funchess.
- Miami Dolphins (against Oakland Raiders): Derek Carr still isn’t a QB1 here, but you can start Amari Cooper again with confidence. Coach Jon Gruden made a point of saying that Derek Carr had opportunities to get the ball to Cooper in Week One, and Carr found Cooper quite often in Week Two. Marshawn Lynch is a start, as he seems to have found a knack for falling into the end zone.
- Carolina Panthers (against Cincinnati Bengals): If Giovani Bernard was indeed available on your waiver wire this week, he should’ve been claimed, as he is a start for your Fantasy team, at least as a flex. Tyler Eifert is not, at least not until we see some semblance of life from him. How about Tyler Boyd? He was also an add this week, but perhaps more as a depth player than a starter.
- Atlanta Falcons (against New Orleans Saints): The Falcons are beat up on defense. Ted Ginn is a possible start here, but be well aware that he’s often a boom-or-bust play. Ginn is the only receiver other than Michael Thomas that I would consider starting in this game.
- Oakland Raiders (against Miami Dolphins): Kenny Stills is a better option than Ted Ginn, but still a boom-or-bust kind of player. Outside of Stills, though, the only other Dolphin I’m starting is Kenyan Drake. As theorized at draft time, Frank Gore has cut into his touches, something that apparently isn’t going to change in the short term.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Los Angeles Rams): The Chargers aren’t the defense we thought they were, which makes all of the Ram WRs attractive this week. Jared Goff doesn’t crack the QB1 tier this week, mainly because the Rams seem to be quite satisfied in letting Todd Gurley run in every score this season.
- New England Patriots (against Detroit Lions): Until further notice, I’m not starting anyone in the Lions’ run game. Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick can ride the bench. I’m starting all of the receivers, however, and that includes Kenny Golladay, who is eating into some of Marvin Jones’ targets.
- New York Jets (against Cleveland Browns): Coach Hue Jackson came out and stated Friday that Antonio Callaway is now a full-time WR. He will take the role of the recently traded Josh Gordon. Callaway is not a must-start this week, however. Duke Johnson should be firmly planted on your bench, along with Nick Chubb.
- Tennessee Titans (against Jacksonville Jaguars): The Jaguars are still going to try and win games with their run game and defense, but it’s nice to know that the passing game can be dangerous when it’s needed. Keelan Cole should be rostered, but whether or not you start him depends upon how deep you are at WR. Cole is not a must-play week in and week out. Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and T.J. Yeldon (ankle) are both banged up, but Fournette looks like he will be good to go Sunday.
- New Orleans Saints (against Atlanta Falcons): Tevin Coleman is likely to start for the Falcons once again, and he should start for your Fantasy team as well. Matter of fact, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone if he takes on a bigger role, even when Devonta Freeman returns. It’s going to be tough each week deciding which, if any, WR other than Julio Jones to start.
- New York Giants (against Houston Texans): Fantasy owners were actually releasing Deshaun Watson after a subpar first game, but they seem to be back on board now. Will Fuller is also someone who should be in your starting lineup. We all love DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s not going to catch every pass from Watson. Defenses will still worry much more about Hopkins than they will about Fuller.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Denver Broncos): Case Keenum missed practice due to a sore knee Wednesday but should still play Sunday for Denver, though probably not for your Fantasy team. Don’t drop Royce Freeman, but I do prefer Phillip Lindsay over him. Freeman will get his share of touches and be the goal line back.
- Cleveland Browns (against New York Jets): Fantasy-wise, Sam Darnold still had a big game last week, but you’re not starting him Thursday. You may want to start Quincy Enunwa, however, as he does seem to be the favorite target of Darnold. The Jets have a strong run game and it seems they are not intent on forgetting about Bilal Powell, something they have done in past seasons.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Los Angeles Chargers): Melvin Gordon had to leave the game Sunday with an upper-body injury, but will start Sunday. I’ll start Keenan Allen, of course, but I’ll pass on both Tyrell and Mike Williams. Antonio Gates also sits here as this matchup may be an ugly one for the passing game.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Dallas Cowboys): Nothing has changed as far as the Cowboys’ offense is concerned; it’s still just Ezekiel Elliott.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Seattle Seahawks): The Seahawks didn’t use Chris Carson much last week. Coach Pete Carroll stated it was because Carson was gassed from working on special teams, but then back tracked. They will use him this week, but he’s a flex play at best. Like the Cowboys, the Hawks only have one definite starter, and that’s Russell Wilson, assuming Doug Baldwin is out once again.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Indianapolis Colts): I have a feeling that Andrew Luck and company are walking into a buzz saw this week. I’m not touching the Colts’ run game. I will start T.Y. Hilton, of course, but that may be it, other than Jack Doyle.
- Houston Texans (against New York Giants): The Giants have so many weapons on offense but that OL may not give Eli Manning anytime to use them. Still, it’s going to be hard to find a TE that you can roster that’s better than Evan Engram. I am sitting Sterling Shepard, however, until the passing game stabilizes.
- Denver Broncos (against Baltimore Ravens): After a sizzling season-opening performance (granted, it was against Buffalo), things didn’t go quite so well for Joe Flacco last week. I don’t see life getting much better for the passing game this week. As for the run game, you will need to be patient with Alex Collins. I’m not starting him, or Javorius Allen, but not releasing him either.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Buffalo Bills): I’m not starting anyone on the Bills in this game, and that includes LeSean McCoy. Even if he plays, I’m not sure how effective he will be or if he will finish the game due to the injury to his ribs.
- Chicago Bears (against Arizona Cardinals): I probably wouldn’t sit David Johnson, but depending upon my RB depth, I would be tempted to do so. As for Larry Fitzgerald, there’s a good chance he sits for me this week, as he may not be able to do much damage, even if he does play with that hamstring injury.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Tennessee Titans): It doesn’t matter who starts at QB for Tennessee, you’re not even thinking about starting anyone here other than Dion Lewis or Derrick Henry. And with the Titans’ OL battling injuries, I’d be careful even with those two.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.