NFL Week 3 Start 'em / Sit 'em
Accurately referred to as injury-pocalypse, week 2 saw major injuries to some of fantasy football’s most highly valued players. My thoughts are with those who were so excited to get the top 2 picks in the draft only to see Saquon and McCaffery get mowed down in what feels like the most fittingly 2020 week of the year.
But the fantasy train keeps rolling people. With a large handful of top-round picks inactive this week, managers are going to have to get creative with their starting lineups in order to win their matchups. In this post you’ll find start ‘em, sit ‘em recommendations for bubble players who you may think about starting week-to-week and underperforming players who I think will have breakout games. I’ll also throw in a few honorable mentions for each category.
Good luck with your matchups, and let’s all hope the worst of injury-pocalypse is behind us. Without further ado, my start em, sit em’s for Week 3!
Cam Newton may very well be the steal of 2020 Fantasy Football drafts. Newton was drafted as the QB14 per ECR, and the QB16 in consensus ADP. Since then he has posted weeks of 25.7 and 35.58 fantasy points, good for QB6 and QB2, respectively. This week, Cam gets the Raiders at home. The Raiders have allowed the sixth-most yards, and the third-most passing yards so far this season, so the matchup isn’t one to fear at all. Cam is also the clear focal point of the offense in both the passing game (obviously) and the run game as well. The main fears about Cam coming into the fantasy drafts were his health, and comfort in a new system with no pre-season. It would appear that the system has transformed into something that suits Newton better than what Brady’s system would have. Cam has looked every bit as good as he did in his MVP season, while also setting his third-best mark for passing yards in a single game across his career last week at Seattle. Newton also happens to be top 5 in red-zone carries inside the twenty, ten, five, and he is tied for the red-zone touchdown lead with McCaffrey. We have a soft matchup for a quarterback at home who is seeing insane usage in every aspect of the offense, Newton is a locked and loaded QB1 this week with upside to be the QB1 on the week.
Honorable mentions: Aaron Rodgers (at NO), Ben Roethlisberger (vs. HOU), Carson Wentz (vs. CIN)
This is not the start of the season that fantasy managers had in mind for Drew Brees. I won’t lie, I was expecting far more from Brees and the Saints passing game as a whole to start the season. That said, so was the general consensus. Brees was drafted to be a weekly QB1 on fantasy rosters in both ECR and ADP. Brees looked bad week 1, though he didn’t need to look good for the Saints to win the game, which is all they cared about. However, week 2 rolled around and Michael Thomas is no longer in the line-up for Brees. This will remain for week 3 as Brees will be without his favourite target for at least this week (potentially more). Not only has Brees not been a QB1 these first two weeks, but he’s also barely managed a QB2 score in both weeks 1 and 2, scoring 14.4 and 15.5 fantasy points, good for QB 24 and QB22 for weeks 1 and 2, respectively. Brees gets the Packers at home this week, which isn’t a terrible matchup, but it’s not a good one either. I’m staying away from Brees at the very least until Michael Thomas returns.
Honorable mentions: Jared Goff (at BUF), Daniel Jones (vs. SF), Kirk Cousins (vs. TEN)
Twenty-three carries for Kelley? Are you kidding? It’s become clear how the Chargers intend to split their backfield work between Ekeler and Kelley, with Ekeler and Kelley nearly splitting early-down carries, and Ekeler being the more dominant passing-down back. Kelley’s fantasy outlook has a lot to do with the game script, which can be positive and negative. The good news is that predicting when Kelley is going to be involved is fairly easy. If the game gets out of hand, you’ll likely see a lot of Ekeler, and virtually no Kelley. Are we expecting this week’s game at home against the Panthers to get out of hand? I’m certainly not, in fact, I think the Chargers have a decent shot at winning this game. Are the Panthers a stout rushing defense? Absolutely not, they couldn’t be farther from it. The Panthers are currently the easiest matchup for runningbacks, giving up a whopping 36.5 half-PPR fantasy points per game to the runningback position. Another positive for Kelley is that he is the team's goal-line back, and is top 12 league-wide in red-zone carries. I’m calling around 20 carries again, 90 yards, one or two receptions for a few, and a touchdown. Start Joshua Kelley this week as an RB2 with RB1 upside if he manages to find the end-zone more than once.
Honorable mentions: Leonard Fournette (at DEN), Jerick McKinnon (at NYG), Kareem Hunt (vs. WAS)
David Johnson has looked like a serviceable RB2 for your fantasy team thus-far. He is, however, a predictable RB2, one that will perform well in average or better matchups, and disappoint in poor matchups. This week would be one of those poor matchups. In two games, the Steelers have allowed 38 carries for just 97 yards and zero rushing touchdowns. The Steelers' defense ranks first league-wide in rushing yards allowed, rushing touchdowns allowed, and rushing yards per attempt. Johnson is in quite literally the worst matchup possible, on the road, and his team has an implied point total of just 21. David Johnson is a risky play this week who's fantasy performance will likely be touchdown or bust.
Honorable mentions: Melvin Gordon III (vs. TB), Sony Michel (vs. LV), Ronald Jones II (at DEN)
Robinson hasn't performed remotely close to his draft price thus far, finishing as the WR35 in week 1, followed by a WR81 finish in week 2. Fear not fantasy managers, for week 3 is here. Robinson draws the Falcons, who not only have been torched by opposing wide receivers but also just lost starting corner, AJ Terrell, to the COVID-19 list. Robinson still has 18 targets over his two games (good for T12) so it's not as if Robinson has been forgotten in the Bears offense. Expect Robinson to feast on a weak and hurting Falcons secondary that has been lit up by Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and even Dalton Schultz.
Honorable mentions: Diontae Johnson (vs. HOU), CeeDee Lamb (at SEA), Kenny Golladay (at ARI)
AJ Green seems to be needing more time than anticipated to get back into form. This should've been expected given he's been away from football for a year and a half, but here we are. Not only has Green not been himself so far, but his connection with Burrow also appears to be off as he's caught just 8 passes on 22 targets for a 36.4% catch rate. That's 22% lower than his career average. Green's yards per reception is also down to just 10 from a career average of 14.7. To make matters worse, Green will likely draw Darius Slay for at least a significant portion of the game. The Eagles defense is not performing as they usually do, being 5th best in passing yards allowed and 29th in rushing yards allowed. I'm expecting this to be more of a Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, and Drew Sample game where AJ Green is a desperation play hoping for a touchdown.
Honorable mentions: John Brown (vs. LAR), Emmanuel Sanders (vs. GB), Will Fuller V (at PIT)
It seems like deja vu with the Eagles at this point. Yes, we're back to virtually no one at wide receiver. What does that mean? Double tight end sets is what that means. The wide receiver injuries last year for the Eagles is ultimately what led Goedert to be a top 10 fantasy tight end on the year. You've even seen it so far this year, even though he was drafted as ECR and ADP TE17. Goedert is currently the fourth most targeted tight end in the league, also ahead of Ertz. With Reagor on IR, Alshon Jeffrey on IR, and DeSean Jackson being just a deep threat, you could argue that Goedert is actually the primary red-zone threat in the passing game for a team with an implied point total of nearly 26 points. If Goedert is at least the second option in the red-zone, this gives him a solid shot at a touchdown, which is pretty much all you need to finish as a TE1 on a given week.
Honorable mentions: Jared Cook (vs. GB), Jonnu Smith (at MIN), Noah Fant (vs. TB)
Hockenson has been extremely efficient this year having 9 receptions on 9 targets (100% catch rate), 118 yards, and a touchdown. The problem with this is the rather low usage with just 9 targets. Keep in mind these nine targets came when Kenny Golladay had been out of the lineup for two weeks. There will not be more targets to go around when Kenny Golladay is back in the lineup this week. Hockenson's matchup this week is the Cardinals, which if you remember that matchup from last year you might be thinking Hockenson is a must-start. However, the Cardinals have been the polar opposite against tight ends this year allowing just 4.7 fantasy points per game. That number is also having played against George Kittle and a popular streamer after week one in Logan Thomas. A bad matchup and fewer targets available are two negatives that will not produce a positive outcome (as always).
Honorable mentions: Rob Gronkowski (at DEN), Austin Hooper (vs. WAS), Dalton Schultz (at SEA)