Your guide to Week Three Start ’ems and Sit ’ems
RotoExperts.com Special for the Associated Press
Patrick Mahomes is good. David Johnson, version 2018, looks nothing like David Johnson, version 2016. The Rams’ defense has not only replaced the Seahawks as the NFC’s most dominant unit, but may be the best the NFL has to offer.
Week Three will go a long way toward helping Fantasy Football owners decide if those three truths can be etched in stone or proven to be partial reality. Mahomes, Johnson and perhaps the best defense Los Angeles has seen since the days of Jack Youngblood, Nolan Cromwell and Fred Dryer are certain starts, but the same can’t be said for some others whose fate will hinge on the faith of their owners.
START: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers: FitzMagic’s next act won’t be too hard, as the Steelers’ defense looks ready made to disappear. Pittsburgh is 31st in Fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and will have to contend with the withering assault that will come from Fitzpatrick firing the ball to the likes of Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson. Mahomes’ historic start is the only reason that Fitzpatrick’s 699 yards and eight touchdowns aren’t the story in Fantasy football. Playing Fitzpatrick on Monday night will give his owners plenty of confidence in pulling out a Week Three victory.
SIT: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Seriously. The threat of his injured knee giving way blends in with a road game against a Redskins defense that has allowed 161 passing yards per game and a mere 5.1 yards per attempt. Rodgers saw his Week One Fantasy output nearly cut in half by the Vikings last week and the Redskins will be focused on forcing him to make plays on his bad leg. Under normal circumstances, Rodgers is a must-start on a weekly basis, yet there’s too much risk in play with his injury. Those who have a QB2 who is healthy and has a favorable matchup may want to go in that direction.
START: Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: He’s not going to repeat his 12.5 yards per carry from last week against the Lions, but Breida is in line for another big afternoon against a Chiefs defense that is giving up yardage by the loaf. While Kansas City is seventh overall versus the run, their inability to stop pass-catching backs is why they’re 30th in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing runners. Alfred Morris will still get his touches but in a game with two bad defenses, Brieda is the clear choice, especially in PPR formats.
SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: A hamstring issue led Cook to miss practice on Wednesday and with a battered Bills defense on the Sunday docket, this could lead Minnesota to either put him on a tight “pitch count” in favor of Latavius Murray or have him sit out. Buffalo is 29th in Fantasy points allowed per game against opposing backs, making Cook a tempting play, but don’t be surprised if the Vikings play the long-term game and make Murray an intriguing Flex option.
START: Corey Clement, RB, Eagles: It’s unlikely that Jay Ajayi and/or Darren Sproles will be available against the Colts, making Clement a sneaky good start in PPR leagues. Clement caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss against the Buccaneers and gets a meaty matchup against an Indianapolis defense that is allowing 11 catches and 93 yards per game to opposing running backs. With only Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz as the only reliable options in the Philadelphia passing game, look for the returning Carson Wentz to help get Clement 12-15 touches as a dual threat.
SIT: Corey Davis, WR, Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota’s status remains in question, which means Blaine Gabbert will again be cast into the role of game manager for a run-heavy attack. It doesn’t help Davis’ cause that he’ll see plenty of All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey much of the afternoon. The Jaguars are ninth in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers and if Gabbert is indeed the starter, don’t count on Davis putting up big numbers.
START: Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Leonard Fournette should return to the lineup, but it shouldn’t keep Cole from having a solid encore performance after last week’s seven-catch, 116-yard outing against the Patriots that included his first touchdown of the season. Cole has caught 10 of his 12 targets in the early going and has shown his big-play skills, having pulled in four passes of 20-plus yards. Tennessee has allowed a staggering 70 percent completion rate to opposing passers and if they put too much focus on slowing down Fournette, then Cole and Blake Bortles will be able to put up solid numbers.
SIT: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: C.J. Uzomah is beginning to steal targets from Eifert, and it doesn’t help his cause that the Panthers have been solid when it comes to containing opposing tight ends. Eifert could have red zone potential, but the Bengals will look to exploit a Carolina defense that is 28th in completion percentage (73.7) by using running back Gio Bernard to help take attention off A.J. Green.
START: Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Detroit is 30th in rushing, which is more reason for Stafford to fire away at will against a New England defense that was scorched by Blake Bortles last week. The Pats have allowed 276 passing yards per game and Stafford comes off a 347-yard, three-TD performance in the loss at the 49ers. This should also be a good game to play Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, who has seemingly passed by Marvin Jones and could have a huge Sunday night.
SIT: Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots: Tom Brady will get to deploy his latest weapon on Sunday night, but Gordon won’t be on the field enough to justify starting him. Gordon will probably get 15-20 plays, which means he will get three to four targets with at least one a downfield shot. It will be best to wait a game or two before going all-in with Gordon, whose upside has never looked better now that he is with a franchise who can help him mature on and off the field.