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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you. I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
Week 3 QB Starts
Matthew Stafford vs. Washington – Stafford found his groove with Calvin Johnson last week (though, their connection was weakened when the Questionable Reggie Bush wasn’t in the game) and he draws a Washington defense that has given up an average of 341.5 passing yards per contest to go with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Stafford has thrown for an average of 317.5 passing yards and should have plenty of room to operate against Washington’s secondary. Expect a high-mid range QB1 effort this week.
Sam Bradford vs. Dallas – At #12 in my QB ranks Bradford rounds out the start worthy players in twelve team leagues. His 325.5 YPG to date ranks 6th among Quarterbacks. Dallas did a reasonably good job against Kansas City’s pass attack last week but surrendered a big day (statistically speaking) to Eli Manning in the opener. Still adjusting to Monte Kiffin’s defese expect something in between from Bradford this week. 300 yards (a number that he’s hit, if you count 299 in Week 1, in both games so far) and two scores is easily within reach for Bradford and so are the roughly 20 fantasy points that come along with that type of production.
Week 3 QB Sits
Tom Brady vs. Tampa Bay – it didn’t get any prettier for the offense in the Week 2 victory over the Jets and while 10 days to prepare for the Bucs should lead to a positive outcome for Brady and co. they won’t necessarily get there by lighting up the scoreboard. If Gronkowski ends up playing I’d be inclined to roll with Brady as a back end QB1 option in 10-12 team leagues, but as it stands right now I don’t trust the rookie receivers enough to roll with Brady (and I can’t imagine he does, either).
Russell Wilson vs. Jacksonville – simply put, the Seahawks won’t need to pass. You’re going to see a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin (a sneaky desperation flex play this week) against the Jags. Jacksonville ranks 25th in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs to date. Not because of their coverage (9th worst in the league according to Pro Football Focus grades) but because a) they’ve seen the Raiders and Chiefs and most importantly b) you don’t have to chuck it late to beat them. Seattle will have this one in the books early and use their backs to close it out. We’ve mentioned here before that there is a significant disparity in Wilson’s pass attempts at home vs. on the road, too.
Week 3 RB Starts
Knowshon Moreno vs. Oakland – the box score tells you who Denver’s most productive fantasy back has been and the tape depicts who has been their most effective rusher. Ronnie Hillman was a whisper last week playing just two snaps while Montee Ball split the carries fairly evenly with Moreno (13-12 in favour of Moreno). Ball lost a fumble and compiled just 16 yards rushing while Moreno went for 93 and two scores. If that isn’t enough to earn him a few extra carries, I’m not sure what is. Look for 15-18 touches as a floor against the Raiders and expect Moreno to do plenty with them as Oakland is forced to be attentive to the pass game to the detriment of their run D.
Week 3 RB Sits
Willis McGahee/Chris Ogbonnaya vs. Minnesota – just don’t do it. We’re not expecting much from whomever takes the bulk of the snaps at tailback for the Browns this week. Sure, Minnesota has been extremely generous to opposing backs this season but Reggie Bush and Matt Forte these guys are not. They’re not even Joique Bell. McGahee is a player of interest moving forward but he just showed up on the scene without offseason conditioning, a playbook or any sort of preperation. I’m steering clear, particularly as the Browns offense deals with the emotion of having their centerpiece player traded away and starts Brian Hoyer at QB.
Maurice Jones-Drew/Jordan Todman vs. Seattle – the same story but shorter. If MJD plays, he’s more usable than Todman but let’s not get cute and add the depth chart play this week. If you’re expecting Jacksonville to move the ball on the ground against Seattle, you haven’t been watching.
Trent Richardson vs. San Francisco – If you drafted Richardson in August you may not have other options here, but, even with guarantees that he’ll carry the ball as much as he is able this week against San Francisco I’m not sold on Trent in his first week in the offense. Moving forward, the relocation is great for his value but if you’ve got another option (any of the four depth plays listed as a start) I think it’s best to shy away from Richardson this week.
Week 3 WR Starts
Julian Edelman vs. Tampa Bay – Edelman saw 18 targets and caught 13 balls last week. The results were underwhelming for such a heavy load (78 yards) but the volume should remain the same this week against the Bucs. Tampa’s pass defense has improved this season as expected but Edelman should find work over the middle as he is unlikely to see a lot of Darrelle Revis. Tampa has allowed just two passing TDs, both to Tight Ends, this season so I’m not heralding Edelman as a top option this week but he ranks well inside the WR top 36 making him a reasonable start in 12 tem leagues.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Baltimore – AJ is all systems go so this isn’t a reaction to the veteran’s departure from the game last week as much as the rookie’s emergence in it. Hopkins presently sits as PFF’s best graded WR in pass only situations and has made good on 12 of his 19 targets this season. Against the Ravens, with Johnson likely seeing a lot of Lardarius Webb there should be plenty of opportunity for Hopkins against Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham who are giving up completions on 55.6 and 71.4 percent of their coverage opportunities this season, along with all four touchdowns to receivers. Lets not forget that this is a defense that was carved up by Peyton Manning in Week 1. We’re not projecting a repeat, but, it is clear that the holes in coverage are there and Hopkins should be able to find them.
Week 3 WR Sits
Denarius Moore vs. Denver – through two games Moore just isn’t getting the looks that fellow WR Rod Streater is and while Oakland should have to pass the ball a fair bit against Denver the Broncos have allowed just one TD to Wide Receivers through the first two weeks and 215 receiving yards per game. Expect Streater to get a bigger percentage of as much of that amount as Pryor can muster with the balance being distributed to Moore.
Antonio Brown vs. Chicago – there has been a bit and back and forth as to whether or not Antonio Brown and Todd Haley had a sideline blowup last week but if it did happen the reason for Brown’s frustration is fairly clear. He’s been the third most targeted Steeler through two weeks behind Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cothcery. The early distribution of targets in the wake of Mike Wallace’s departure is troubling, as is Pittsburgh’s lackluster offense in general. This week against the Bears he’ll see a secondary that allowed the 11th fewest points to opposing WRs last season as part of the 27th ranked passing offense in the NFL through two games. If you have other WR2/3 options, stay away until the Steelers show some life.
Week 3 TE Starts
Julius Thomas vs. Oakland – Thomas showed up on our radar in the preseason and cemented himself as a start worthy TE after his Week 1 breakout. This week, with TE1 plays like Vernon Davis slowed by injury and Jordan Cameron competing with little support around Thomas is not only a must-start but is in the conversation for the weeks top non-Graham TE.
Coby Fleener vs. San Francisco – the loss of Dwayne Allen for the season is disappointing for the Colts and was apparently, in some strange way, the impetus for their pulling the trigger on the deal to land Richardson but it is great news for Fleener owners. In Week 1 with Allen on the field Fleener played 42 snaps and saw just one target. In Week 2, without him, he saw virtually all of the snaps (61) and was targeted 7 times. While the matchup against San Francisco is daunting look for Andrew Luck to make use of his collegiate teammate.
Week 3 TE Sits
Jordan Cameron vs. Minnesota – I’m just avoiding Browns this week, plain and simple. There are scenarios where it makes sense to start Cameron and based on the limited options in the receiving game he should see sufficient volume to be a worthwhile play, but, we do need to temper our expectations with Minnesota less inclined to respect the run game and Brian Hoyer starting at QB. The scheme, as we’ve said numerous times, loves the TE but there is no telling if Hoyer will look to Cameron as frequently as did Brandon Weeden. Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett are examples of players I’d rather have in the lineup this week.
Dallas Clark vs. Houston – The contrast between Week 1 and 2 for Clark was significant. In the opener, he played 60 snaps and saw a dozen targets. 10 days later he was on the field for just 27 snaps and had one pass thrown in his direction. In total, Ravens TEs saw 3 targets. This week they face a Texans defense that has given up just three catches combined to Antonio Gates and Delanie Walke on the season.
Week 3 Defenses to Stream
Minnesota Vikings vs. Cleveland (59% owned) – not going to go into a ton of detail here, but, if the Vikings defense happen to be available in your league they are the top streaming option, period. Aside from Seattle, there is no one I’m more confident in causing problems for opponents than the Vikings defense at home against the Browns.
Carolina Panthers vs. New York Giants (8% owned) – through two games the Panthers have just three sacks and one interception, but, they’ve allowed only 36 points. This week, you can expect New York to outscore that average but the defense may be able to force the turnover prone Giants into further mistakes.
Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota (9% owned) – if you can’t get the Vikes, perhaps you can get their opponent. Through two games Christian Ponder has been intercepted more than anyone not named Eli and has posted a Quarterback Rating of 67, completing just 58.6% of his passes. The Browns D has allowed just 226 passing yards per game and two touchdowns through the air so far.