IDP Start em, Sit em – Week 3 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Week 3 is upon us. Thursday Night Football had its moments but was a major drain for many fantasy managers. The Christian McCaffrey injury is enough to put a damper on the evening for most. D.J. Moore and Brandin Cooks got their work in, and Tommy Tremble getting some love could push the Panthers offense to the next level. Chuba Hubbard looks like the back to roster if CMC is sidelined for multiple weeks. On the IDP side of the ball, Shaq Thompson and Christian Kirksey continued to produce like LB1 options while Jeremy Chinn continued to disappoint. Finally, Zack Cunningham may be turning a corner and ready to start producing like the LB1 he was drafted as. The rest of Week 3 is sure to provide some IDP excitement. We will take a look at five names that should be started in Week 3 and five names who should remain on benches.
Jalen Ramsey (CB – LAR)
Playing the STAR role in the Rams defensive scheme, Jalen Ramsey is the only corner worth using over some S2 options. He will still need picks to match the tackle consistency of the elite safeties, but his new role allows him to line up in the box, in the slot, out wide, on the defensive line, and at safety, confusing offenses and allowing for much more tackle production. This will be the only time we suggest Ramsey in this column because he is a brand name elite talent that anyone looking up fantasy points per game could identify as a start. He is here this week to remind those in DB leagues, as opposed to S and CB leagues, that Ramsey is as good of an option this week and going forward as just about any DB2/S2. Start Ramsey this week against the Buccaneers. Due to his unique deployment, they are all plus matchups from here on out.
Nick Vigil (LB – MIN)
Nick Vigil has been on fire for the Minnesota Vikings. Through two weeks of play, he is the LB3 overall behind Chandler Jones and Bobby Wagner and has worked his way into must-start territory. Perhaps he takes a step back when Anthony Barr returns, but until then, Vigil is someone to start, regardless of opponent. The pick-six and his Week 1 sack obviously skew his numbers with such a short sample, but Vigil is averaging six solos and three assists per contest. He has played every snap this season and has a plus matchup on tap against the Seattle Seahawks on tap for Week 3. The Seahawks have relinquished the 15th most fantasy points to the linebacker position and give Vigil an excellent chance at an LB2 or better performance.
Nick Bolton (LB – KC)
The LB21 overall through two games of play, Nick Bolton’s rapid ascent to LB2 status has been a joy to see. He came into the league with very few holes in his game and has ridden Willie Gay‘s absence to put a stranglehold on a starting job in Kansas City. Bolton has averaged six solos, two assists, and one tackle for loss so far on the young season, and looks like he will be in the LB2 discussion for at least the next half-decade. He gets a plus matchup in Week 3 against a Chargers offense that has surrendered the 14th most fantasy points to the linebacker position and should be started wherever possible.
Payton Turner (DE – NO)
Turner has been thrust into an IDP-relevant role due to the injury to Marcus Davenport. He was excellent on just 41 percent of the snaps in Week 2, racking up four solos, one assist, one sack, and three tackles for loss. He has undoubtedly earned a larger role for Week 3 and beyond. He has a tough on-paper matchup against a New England offense that has held opposing defensive ends to the 13th fewest fantasy points per game this season. New England is prioritizing getting the ball out of Mac Jones‘s hands quickly, something that gives Turner a lower floor. However, the Pats will be busy scheming to stop Cam Jordan, something that should allow Turner to create at least a few pressure situations and stops in the run game. Roll with Turner as a sneaky DE2 option for Week 3.
Josh Uche (DE/LB – NE)
Josh Uche is up to three sacks on the season and needs to be taken seriously. He was one of the top pass-rushing prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft and has started to make an impact in IDP. He was excellent in Week 2, tallying three solos, two sacks, and two tackles for loss against the Miami Dolphins. He was still playing a rotational role in Week 2, but when you are among the league’s sack leaders, you usually see an uptick in snaps. The Patriots get the Saints in Week 3, an offense that has relinquished the 15th most fantasy points to the defensive end position. New Orleans allowed Jameis to be sacked four times in Week 2 and could be in trouble once again if they let Uche loose. He is a must-start until he cools down and can be counted as a sneaky DE2/LB3 option for Week 3.
Jaylon Smith (LB – DAL)
Jaylon Smith had a strong bounce-back performance in Week 2, thanks largely to Micah Parsons being moved to the defensive end due to a rash of injuries. Smith saw his snaps jump from 25 to 76 percent and responded with six solos and three assists. However, trusting Smith going forward is going to be tough. Randy Gregory is back with the team, and Keanu Neal is on the reserve/COVID list. This may necessitate moving Parsons back to middle linebacker. Parsons is more athletic than Smith and has superior sideline-to-sideline skills, making him the favorite to soak up the tackles if they are on the field together. The Cowboys website is musing on this very topic, and while they note that the Cowboys (outside of Jerry Jones) will not be divulging their defensive gameplan, there is enough risk here to look elsewhere for an LB2. Sit Smith for Week 3, and reevaluate when Keanu Neal returns to the team.
Jordan Hicks (LB – ARI)
Jordan Hicks has been playing enough snaps to keep Zaven Collins from fantasy relevance but has averaged just three solos and two assists on the season. Isaiah Simmons is soaking up most of the tackles at linebacker, leaving Hicks with what has been scraps. Hicks is an LB2 name with an LB4 game at this point and should be left on benches until the bye weeks or until he proves he can produce alongside a superior talent. Sit Hicks for Week 3.
J.J. Watt (DE – ARI)
The future Hall of Famer is making an impact in Arizona but is not showing up on the stat sheet like he did in his prime. He has averaged just two solos per game, has zero sacks, and has totaled one tackle for loss and just two pressures. He is still a heck of a player, but J.J. Watt is more of a space-eating, pressure-inducing defensive end than the gamechanger that deserves to be started week in and week out in IDP. He is more bye week filler than someone to even think about starting at this point, even with what looks like an incredible matchup on tap for Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Watt has a waiver wire floor when he is not getting defensive stops as he has yet to put up consistent tackle production in his new defense. Keep Watt benched until the byes or until he levels up.
Mike Edwards (S/CB – TB)
We will not be touching on cornerbacks much in this column, but after Edwards’ double pick-six performance against the hapless Atlanta Falcons, even those outside of INT heavy leagues may be looking at the young corner as a starting option. Currently, the DB1 overall on the season due to his explosive performance. If you play in a CB league and your provider allows you to slot him in there, by all means, start him. But for those in leagues where he is still listed as a safety only, Edwards may be fools gold.
His double pick-six came against a rapidly declining Matt Ryan and in a contest where he played more snaps at corner than at safety. Chasing INT’s is never a recommended strategy, and that’s what some fantasy managers are no doubt on their way to doing this week. Matthew Stafford is on tap for the Buccaneers in Week 3. While he has been known to be a favorite of the INT gods from his time in Detroit, the new situation and the accompanying positive gamescript all but assure that he will have a career-low INT rate this season. Edwards has six total solos and two assists this season, for an average of three solos and one assist; hardly what you want from your DB1/S1. Edwards is worth an S3/DB3 flier but should be left on benches altogether in shallower leagues.
Quandre Diggs (S – SEA)
The former corner has been lighting up the box score for the Seattle Seahawks through two weeks of action. He has averaged six solos and 3.5 assists per game and is a DB2 thus far on the season. He has always had talent on the field, but it has never really translated into consistent IDP production. Sure, he has had two or even three-game stretches where he has put up good numbers, but he has never quite put it all together. Based on his past performances, trusting him as a DB2 at this point of the season could prove to be a mistake. He is still a strong DB3 option, but there are countless DB2 options, who have averaged fewer fantasy points to this point, that are much more reliable options for your DB2 or S2 slot. You did not add Diggs to your roster to start as a DB2, so keep rolling with players like Taylor Rapp, Jordan Poyer, Tracy Walker, Nasir Adderley, Jessie Bates, and even Grant Delpit. Diggs may yet prove that he is someone that can be trusted, but until that time, search for higher floor, higher upside options.
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