Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 3
As if Week 1 wasn’t chaotic enough, Week 2 saw some big names flop in premier spots while players in poor spots defied the odds and performed like stars. The Bucs fan in me is loving this part of the Ryan Fitzpatrick cycle and, at least for now, he’s a top-12 QB for me in Week 3. But we’ve seen FitzMagic since he led the Rams back from a 21-point halftime deficit in 2005 and it’s been a roller coaster since, so I won’t get attached.
I realize catering to all formats is impossible, but I’ll do my best to provide context as I go. I’ll use players that I’m higher or lower on against the consensus within a reasonable range such as QB5-QB20, RB12-RB40, WR20-WR50 and TE5-TE25 and will use standard ranks since that’s what our accuracy scoring is based on, so it receives the most curating. Do note that the ECR is highly subject to change throughout the week!
Russell Wilson (SEA vs. DAL): Mariano Rank: 9, ECR: 13
Wilson relied on Monday-night garbage time to salvage his Week 2 line thanks to an offensive line that only looks good next to the New York Giants. Russ couldn’t even get it going on the ground, but a Khalil Mack-led Bears defense was swarming. The Cowboys are good, but Seattle should benefit from adjusting after that terrible MNF showing and realizing they can’t just leave Wilson on an island back there. I trust the legs to play up and the Seahawks to get it together at home.
Blake Bortles (JAC vs. TEN): MR: 14, ECR: 19
Bortles didn’t miss Leonard Fournette on Sunday, as he toasted the Patriots for 377 yards and four touchdowns alongside a 6-35 rushing line. The Titans have yielded a pair of TD passes to both Ryan Tannehill and Deshaun Watson in the first two weeks, though Jacksonville may be up by 30 at halftime. Still, follow the favorites and don’t be surprised if three-quarters of Bortles leads to fantasy dividends on the week.
Others I’m higher on: Tyrod Taylor (vs. NYJ): MR: 17, ECR: 20
Andrew Luck (IND at PHI): MR: 22, ECR of 15
Andrew Luck was likely drafted to be your starter with the hopes that he rekindled the fantasy highs of old. But this week he faces a Philadelphia defense in Philly and even though Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to torch them (in Tampa), that’s not a defense I’m out to bet against. They destroyed Matt Ryan in the season opener despite Julio Jones going off, so even T.Y. Hilton can’t really bail Luck out in my eyes. I can’t trust Eric Ebron or Ryan Grant enough and Indy’s rushing attack isn’t good enough to force defenders to respect it yet. Leave Luck on the bench to marinate for this one.
Latavius Murray (MIN vs. BUF): MR: 27, ECR: 39
The uber-talented Vikings shored up one of their few weaknesses by signing kicker Dan Bailey, which only improves their chances of steamrolling the Bills in Week 3. This game could be over by halftime, especially if more Bills retire before the second half. I suspect Murray will get much of that half to himself with the game largely in hand and will return flex value well beyond the current ECR. The corollary to this is that I’m lower on Dalvin Cook (MR: 15, ECR: 8) than the rest.
Alfred Morris (SF at KC): MR: 30, ECR: 37
While Matt Breida stole the Week 2 show and now leads the NFL in rushing yards, I still believe in Morris to be a strong part of this backfield. The 49ers should be able to roll a weak Chiefs defense in what could be yet another Patrick Mahomes-involved shootout, as the Vegas total has already gone to 57 at one sportsbook from a 54.5 open. To those unfamiliar with Vegas totals, anything over 50 makes for a good target, and 57 is ridiculous.
Dion Lewis (TEN at JAC): MR: 24, ECR: 20
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that any Titan is a “sit” this week against the Jaguars, but some may think that their trailing early and often in this contest will lead to opportunities for Lewis. While I think that’s true, he may catch 10 balls for 40 yards.
Isaiah Crowell (NYJ at CLE): MR: 35, ECR: 26
Crowell’s 62-yard touchdown stole the Week 1 show in Gang Green’s backfield and his combined 22-137-2 rushing line easily outshines Bilal Powell‘s 17-66-0 one. But Crowell has caught just two-of-four targets for three yards compared to Powell’s 6-79-1 receiving line on eight looks. Simply put, Powell can both run and catch in a contest against a Cleveland defense that plays better-than-you-think ball against the run. I’d rather have the well-rounded back.
Royce Freeman (DEN at BAL): MR: 38, ECR: 32
The consensus still has him in flex territory for you 12-teamers, but I can’t buy into that with Phillip Lindsay on the rise. I know these are typically standard ranks that we get judged on, but Freeman’s being a zero factor in the passing game (while Devontae Booker continues to linger) as Lindsay looks more electric is a poor look. Freeman is still mighty talented, but he’s currently on the “B” side of a thunder-and-lightning approach against the Ravens in Baltimore.
Robert Woods (LAR vs. LAC): MR: 22, ECR: 35
Woods currently has the lowest fantasy totals of the Rams WR trio at 9-118-0, but he leads them with 18 targets and 268 air yards. That air yard tally is tied for ninth-best in the NFL through two weeks. Brandin Cooks has 222 and Cooper Kupp has 89. That Kupp is low as the slot man isn’t surprising, but I bet no one would’ve pegged Woods for such a lofty total. The Chargers have a formidable secondary, but I think Woods is poised to strike in a big way given the routes he’s running.
Keelan Cole (JAC vs. TEN): MR: 23, ECR: 33
Cole’s Week 2 stat line was highlighted by an OBJ-esque one-handed grab over a defender that reminded us all just how talented he is. The Jags weren’t able to feature him with the Giants using Janoris Jenkins against him, but he shone through in a gameplan set to attack the Patriots through the air. Again, they might not have to pass throughout the whole 60 minutes, but I think enough damage gets done where you want to play your Jaguars.
Quincy Enunwa (NYJ at CLE): MR: 37, ECR: 27
Who dares talk ill of Enunwa? Oh, it’s me. Well, this isn’t personal to him — I still love the guy and hope you have him on your team. While Enunwa has been a target magnet these first two weeks (21! Terrelle Pryor is the only other one in double digits with 11), the Browns have played surprisingly good defense until being ground down in the fourth quarter. Perhaps Hue Jackson will outcoach his own team again, but I’d count on Enunwa as more of a flex than WR2/3 here.
Corey Davis (TEN vs. JAC): MR: 49, ECR: 39
Much like Enunwa, Davis is the main attraction on Tennessee, as evidenced by his 20 targets. Dion Lewis is next with nine and no other WR has more than five! With Delanie Walker out, Davis has to be the man. But the Titans are going into Jacksonville with a gimpy Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert at QB. Star DB Jalen Ramsey should be able to shut things down here, leaving Davis on the outside of any Week 3 lineup that I’m setting.
Jared Cook (OAK at MIA): MR: 6, ECR: 10
Raise your hand if you had Cook, Jesse James, O.J. Howard and Will Dissly standing as the top-4 yardage leaders at TE through two weeks. Yeah, it’s been an interesting couple of games! Cook finds himself eighth when you measure by air yards (126) and first in YAC (132), with a modest 7.9 aDOT (average depth of target) due in large part to the Raiders more traditional playcalling.
While most of Oakland’s offense is finding its footing, Cook’s 16 targets outpace Amari Cooper (13), Jalen Richard (11) and Jordy Nelson (8). Even in a tough Week 2 matchup against Denver, he hauled in all four looks for 49 yards. I know Cook lives for a couple of boom weeks to float his season, but Miami gave up a combined 89 yards to Titan TEs in Week 1 and gave up the second-most fantasy points to opposing TEs in 2017.
Austin Hooper (ATL vs. NO): MR: 14, ECR: 20
You know that you’re getting a TD-dependent TE with Hooper, but at least now you’ve seen that the 2018 Falcons know that as well. There’s zero doubt that Julio Jones is the focal point of this offense, but Hooper’s nine targets are actually second-most on the team. With Atlanta at home as three-point favorites in a game with a 53-point Vegas total already, I’m following the money toward the end zone and betting on Hooper’s chances of finding paydirt.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (JAC vs. TEN): MR: 18, ECR: 14
ASJ has yet to make his mark in 2018, putting up nearly identical 3-25-0 and 3-23-1 lines in the first two weeks on five targets apiece. The Week 2 TD is the only difference and his size in the red zone is what matters, but Jacksonville should roll the Titans and passing won’t be forced. Not to mention how the Titans have limited Miami and Houston to nearly zero TE output in the first two weeks, though MIA/HOU TE personnel isn’t inspiring. Which ties into…
Mike Gesicki (MIA vs. OAK): MR: 36, ECR: 22
Gesicki didn’t see a single target in Week 2, but a Miami TE did score. His teammate A.J. Derby caught the TD. While Gesecki is more talented than Derby, the Dolphins appear to be taking it slow with their rookie. I’m fine with holding Gesicki in long-term leagues, but the ECR paints him as a deep TE play for you 16-teamers and I’m not seeing it.