Start/Sit Week 3
Football is in full swing as we now approach week three. That means another week for fantasy football and to look at the best (and worst matchups). With that, let’s dive in and look at the players to start and sit for this weekend.
Recapping last week
Teddy Bridgewater had a top-12 outing in week two while Matthew Stafford finished inside the top-20 and Aaron Rodgers finished as a top-five quarterback. Damien Harris had a top-20 performance while Elijah Mitchell finished outside an RB3 finish (due to injury) and James Robinson managed a top-30 outcome. I got wide receivers completed wrong as Antonio Brown and Corey Davis combined for three receptions and 57 scoreless yards while Julio Jones had a top-20 day. Unfortunately, the tight end position didn’t pan out as Jared Cook and Tyler Higbee combined for four receptions and 36 scoreless yards and Robert Tonyan had a top-five performance. Let’s dive into week three.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 3 QB’s
Giants vs. Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 1.6%
Through two weeks of the season, Daniel Jones has over 500 yards passing, two passing touchdowns, 122 rushing yards, and two rushing scores. More importantly, he only has one turnover (a fumble) in two games. Jones has been consistent with one passing and one rushing touchdown in both games thus far against two strong defenses in the Broncos and Washington Football Team. He now faces a Falcons defense that has given up eight passing touchdowns in two games this season. Jones has been doing everything he can to generate offense for the Giants thus far and he has two 21+ performances in fantasy football to show for it. With so many quarterback injuries, Jones should have top-12 upside this weekend.
Rams vs. Buccaneers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.2%
The Rams offense, or should we say the Stafford-to-Cooper Kupp show has taken over the league. Stafford has completed just under 70% of his passes, is averaging 300 passing yards a game, and has at least two passing touchdowns in both games this season. 271 of his 599 passing yards and three of his five touchdowns have gone to Kupp so far, showing a very strong rapport with his new team. Stafford is surrounded by a strong offensive line, one of the best wide receiver duos in Kupp and Robert Woods, and has the convenience of a strong defense as well. He now heads into a week three matchup against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in what has all the makings of a shootout. The Buccaneers pass defense is giving up 342 passing yards per game and five passing touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Stafford is a top-10 option.
Saints vs. Patriots
ESPN Starting Percentage: 12.5%
This is a little bit of cheating but truth be told, a lot of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football have solid or above-average match-ups this week. So I’ll focus on a guy who still has plenty of fans in his corner with Winston. After his five-touchdown performance to kick off 2021 in week one, he came back down to Earth with a 111-yard and two-interception game in week two. Winston’s day in fantasy was made a little better by a short rushing touchdown but other than that, there was hardly anything to like about his (and the entire Saints’ offense) performance. He now faces the Patriots, whose pass defense has a league-leading five interceptions while only giving up one touchdown. While they may have only faced Tua Tagavailoa and Zach Wilson so far, Winston’s lack of solid contributors outside of Alvin Kamara is concerning against such a strong defense. He shouldn’t be in lineups this week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 3 RB’s
Broncos vs. Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 23.6%
Through two games so far, Williams has seen a healthy workload with 29 total touches (27 carries, two receptions). The problem isn’t his performance but rather that his teammate Melvin Gordon has 29 total touches as well (24 carries, five receptions). Williams has been consistently the better ball carrier with 4.0 rushing yards per carries while Gordon is averaging only 2.7 yards per rushing attempt if you take away his 70-yard score in week one. This is a full-blown 50-50 backfield but Williams provides more upside in what could be a run-heavy game script against a paltry Jets team. New York gave up 129 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns to Damien Harris and James White in week two along with 187 yards from scrimmage to Christian McCaffrey in week one. Even if Williams and Gordon continue to split, this is a matchup where both of them have a lot of fantasy potential. Williams is a low-end RB2 in this game.
Falcons vs. Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 30.4%
Davis has been as advertised in PPR leagues with him being on pace for 85 receptions through two games. He is tied for second in the NFL amongst all running backs with 13 targets. The bigger issue is he has a teammate in Cordarrelle Patterson who has been very productive with 21 total touches to Davis’ 32 so far but more scrimmage yards (136 to 135) and total touchdowns (two to zero). Davis is still seeing a good workload despite a split backfield with Patterson. He faces a Giants defense that just gave up a receiving touchdown to Philip Lindsay in week two. Davis should see a 15+ touch workload and have a chance to end his touchdown drought. He’ll be a low-end RB2.
Eagles vs. Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage: 84.4%
Sanders has played well through the first two games of the season with 172 scrimmage yards on 33 touches so far. He remains without a touchdown but the Eagles’ offense has played moderately well overall to this point. His upside is capped by Jalen Hurts’ rushing ability with Hurts rushing for at least 60 yards in both games this season. Sanders now walks into a surprisingly tough matchup against the Cowboys as Dallas has yet to give up a touchdown (rushing or receiving) to a running back. Dallas is also giving up the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game (73.5). Sanders will be a high-end RB3/FLEX with lesser upside than most running backs with Hurts stealing carries.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 3 WR’s
Eagles vs. Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage: 37.9%
On the flip side though, Smith is in a prime bounce-back spot against a very suspect Cowboys’ secondary. While he only came down with two receptions for 16 yards in week two, he saw seven targets after seeing eight in week one. 15 targets is a healthy workload for Smith and we’ve seen his upside with his terrific NFL debut in week one (six receptions, 71 yards, and a touchdown on eight targets). He now faces a Cowboys defense that has given up the sixth-most points per game to opposing wide receivers so far. Between two teams more known for their offenses, this could be a back-and-forth passing showdown. Smith is a high-upside WR3 in this Monday Night Football matchup.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Jaguars vs. Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 16.0%
With so many things going wrong with the Jaguars’ offense so far, Jones is the only consistent bright spot. He is operating as the team’s number one wide receiver with 20 targets through two games. Jones also has at least five receptions, 55 yards, and a touchdown in both games. With the Jaguars’ defense being almost non-existent, we are seeing rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence throw the ball plenty with 84 attempts in his first two games. That should continue to benefit Jones’ with his high target share. The Jaguars also have a plus matchup against a Cardinals’ pass defense that just gave up three receiving touchdowns to the Vikings’ wide receivers in week two. Jones is a low-end WR2 in week three.
Steelers vs. Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 40.1%
We are continuing to see Smith-Schuster’s low-leverage passing role again in 2021. He has 15 targets, 10 receptions, and only 93 scoreless yards to show for it. He does have a lowly three-yard rushing touchdown but other than that, he has been the normal high-target share, low-upside wide receiver we’re used to seeing. Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson continue to be the real stars in the Steelers’ inconsistent passing offense. The Bengals aren’t exactly a tough matchup but Smith Schuster’s low fantasy output is concerning and he won’t be able to be trusted to provide consistent production barring an injury to Claypool and Johnson. He’s a low-ceiling WR3 this week and moving forward.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 3 TE’s
Eagles vs. Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage:
Much like the entire Eagles’ passing offense in week two, Goedert struggled to produce the same numbers as he did in week one. Goedert has been efficient with his surprisingly low volume so far with six receptions, 66 yards, and a touchdown on seven targets. Zach Ertz has been lurking in the background but he is nursing an injury and was just placed on the team’s COVID-19 list after testing positive on Tuesday. So Goedert may be running solo on Monday night if Ertz can’t get cleared in time. He has a plus matchup against a Cowboys’ defense that got roasted by Rob Gronkowski for eight receptions, 90 yards and two touchdowns in week one. On top of that, they gave up two touchdowns to Jared Cook and Donald Parham that were called back due to penalties. Goedert would be a top-eight option if Ertz doesn’t play and a top-12 play even if he does.
Rams vs. Buccaneers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 31.2%
Similar to Goedert, Higbee had a letdown week two performance after a strong one in week one. Higbee is also being extremely efficient with his targets, hauling in six receptions for 76 yards on seven targets. It’s clear Higbee is the top guy at the tight end position for the Rams and the number three/four option in the Rams’ high-powered passing offense. His lackluster week two performance can be chalked up to more of Stafford just being dialed in on Kupp all game. The Buccaneers are giving up over 11 points per game to opposing tight ends in fantasy so far and this game could see both teams hit 30+ points. Higbee should continue to be a top-12 option at tight end.
Jonnu Smith or Hunter Henry
Patriots vs. Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 28.2% and 5.7%
With tight end continuing to show its lack of depth in fantasy football, it’s hard to recommend sitting any potentially viable option at the position. But with both Smith and Henry struggling to put up solid numbers so far, it’s safer to stay away from both this week. Smith and Henry have combined for 14 receptions, 143 yards, and zero touchdowns on 17 targets. The Patriots continue to rely more on their solid run game and strong defense rather than their very solid tight end duo in the passing game. The team has also struggled in the red zone, which is exactly where Smith and Henry would excel. The Saints are also a tough matchup with them only giving up six points per game to opposing tight ends so far. Without an injury or one of them stepping up in front of the other, it’s going to be hard to trust either outside a very favorable matchup.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL