Start’EM Sit’EM Week 3
Here we are in Week 3 and it is important to note, this is the last week for a long while in which you will not have to endure the dreaded bye weeks. Consider this a friendly reminder to start looking ahead at your depth and how that relates to conflicting bye weeks. Enough of that though because this is your weekly Start’em Sit’em suggestion article. This week presents several goldmines, as well as potholes, and this article will help navigate you through all of it as we cruise to a Week 3 win. Also important to note before going further, if you have any other Start and Sit questions that are not mentioned here, please feel free to follow me on Twitter as I will answer any and all questions.
Recapping Week Two
Several of my start suggestions proved to be useful. Both Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson would continue to play well as they both finished the week in the top four at their position. Austin Ekeler continued his hot start as he finished in the top five among the running back position and veterans like Larry Fitzgerald and the controversial Antonio Brown also proved to be helpful at wide receiver. As for my most notable blunders, Russell Wilson proved me wrong as a sit option and T.J. Hockenson failed to produce the fantasy encore that folks were looking for.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Bills vs. Bengals
ESPN Start Percentage: 12.2%
While MetLife stadium has served as a home away from home for Josh Allen, the Bills will now head back to Buffalo as they prepare to host their Week 3 matchup, the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Allen would finish as the eighteenth best fantasy quarterback in Week 1, he still managed just over 250 passing yards and had a rushing score. Week 2, his numbers weren’t that far off from Week 1 but he still proved to be fantasy friendly as he finished inside the top 10 at his position. The point of that is that at least through two weeks, Allen has been consistent. The rushing touchdowns is really something that stands out as since Week 12 of last season, Allen has had only two weeks in which he hasn’t rushed for a touchdown. Then there is the Bengals who in Week 2, gave up over 500 yards of total offense to the SanFrancisco 49ers. Dating back to last season, in three out of the Bengals last four games, the Bengals have allowed more than 275 passing yards. Sure, you can argue the point that last season the Bengals were under a different regime, but if Week 2 showed us anything, it was that the Bengals defense still has more than a few kinks to work out.
49ers vs. Steelers
ESPN Start Percentage: 4.0%
Finally, 49er fans and fantasy owners got a taste of what Jimmy Garoppolo could be like in this 49ers offense. In Week 2, against the Bengals, Garoppolo finished just three yards shy of 300 yards passing. While targeting eight different players, Garoppolo would also finish with three passing touchdowns, a mark he hadn’t reach since 2016, when he was a member of the Patriots. While the 49ers quarterback should not be relied on to produce these sorts of numbers on a week-to-week basis, I do like him in his next matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. So far in 2019, the Steelers are just outside the top five in most fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position. On top of this, with the news that Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season, it will be up to Mason Rudolph to sustain drives to keep this Steelers defense fresh. If Rudolph is unable to do that, it will be just a matter of time before Garoppolo is able to pick this secondary apart. Let’s also not forget the 49ers tendency to target their running backs in the passing game. After just two short weeks, the Steelers are top three in allowing the most receiving yards to opposing running backs.
Saints @ Seahawks
ESPN Start Percentage: 0.0%
I know, I’m supposed to stick within a certain percentage when selecting start and sit candidates. This is me breaking the rules, twice. This is one is for the folks who ask if Teddy Bridgewater is a plug and play in Drew Brees’ absence. All that being said, Teddy Bridgewater is now slated to take over for the injured Drew Brees, who was sitting with a start percentage of 60.3%. While playing for the Saints will be a much better audition tape for Bridgewater than if he had decided to sign with the Dolphins this past March, the first game for the Saints and Bridgewater is far from appealing. In Week 3, the Saints will head into Seattle to take on the Seahawks. In Week 2, the Seahawks had moderate success against Steelers backup, Mason Rudolph who threw for 112 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Unlike a matchup against the Rams, Bridgewater will enter a matchup with the Seahawks that is likely to be slowed down by the Seahawks running game. In my opinion, Bridgewater is definitely capable of being an NFL, just not a fantasy option in Week 3.
Eagles vs. Lions
ESPN Start Percentage: 79.4%
Take this nomination with a grain of salt since, as of this writing, the availability of some of Wentz’s offensive weapons are yet to be determined. With the rate in which we were all watching Eagles players leave the field on Sunday night, it was hard to tell if we were watching Sunday Night Football or the Walking Dead. Be that as it may, if Wentz doesn’t have players like DeSean Jackson and or Alshon Jeffery available, I think Wentz will have a hard time finishing Week 3 as a top fantasy quarterback. Even Wentz himself looked to be slowed down by a rib injury and these are all red flags as the Detroit Lions head into town for a Week 3 matchup.
As far as the Lions go, up until the fourth quarter in Week 1, the Lions had held Kyler Murray to just 70 yards passing. While I understand that they have still allowed 608 passing yards over the first two weeks of this season, in Week 2, for just the fourth time since 2016, Philip Rivers went without throwing a touchdown pass in a regular-season game. Translation, the Lions are not a liability against quarterbacks. Again, something to consider as the week goes along.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
49ers vs. Steelers
ESPN Start Percentage: 30.9%
For the second week in a row, I’m nominating Matt Breida as a running back that you should consider starting. This past Sunday, Brieda lived up to his reputation of being a big-play running back as he finished his game against the Bengals with 121 yards off of just 12 carries. While carries will continue to be split between 49ers running backs, that big-play ability that was discussed earlier will work into Breida’s favor. Here is the thing with the 49ers, as long as the offense can continue to flow, no matter the opponent, the backfield will always be a source of fantasy production. Like or not, that is what a Kyle Shanahan offense has historically. To reiterate though, that potential fantasy production with the 49ers is not limited to just one running back.
49ers vs. Steelers
ESPN Start Percentage: 1.1%
This article may seem 49ers heavy but trust me, it is with good reason. Like I mentioned when writing about Matt Breida, multiple 49ers running backs can hold value in a given week. This could not be more obvious when checking fantasy scoring after Sunday when three 49ers running backs finished Week 2 in the top 15 at their position. The third 49ers running back is Jeff Wilson Jr. and according to ESPN, he is owned in less than 1.0% of leagues, for now. Focusing on the 49ers’ Week 3 opponent, the Steelers have allowed just one rushing score to the running back position. That being said, their Week 2 foe, Rashaad Penny finished the week as a top twenty running back and they have also allowed the second-most receiving yards to running backs. I’m not trying to suggest that without Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers will be a dumpster fire. The Steelers will still be competitive but life without Roethlisberger will need some getting used to. I think given the circumstances, this matchup is a prime opportunity for the 49ers to continue playing well offensively.
Bears @ Redskins
ESPN Start Percentage: 33.3%
On the FFfaceoff podcast, I had said multiple times that Bears rookie running back, David Montgomery would have trouble in his first two games as a professional. While a late touchdown did salvage his Week 2 numbers, I’m putting my money where my mouth and reiterating what I have been saying. Week 3 will be the week to confidently start Montgomery. When looking at snap counts, Montgomery actually had one less snap in Week 2 than he did in his debut. Those numbers are deceiving however as Montgomery went from just six carries against the Packers, to 18 in their win against the Broncos. Dialing it back to Week 1, the Redskins kept all Eagles running backs outside of the top 20 in scoring. At the same time, however, only one Eagles back finished that game with more than ten carries. It was Miles Sanders, with 11. For me, as long as a running back is given ample carries against the Redskins, fantasy production should follow. That is exactly what I’m suggesting for Montgomery. The hope going forward is that Week 2 was not an anomaly and that Bears coach, Matt Nagy, saw the errors in his Week 1 play calling.
Chiefs vs. Ravens
ESPN Start Percentage: 66.0%
For as optimistic as Damien Williams truthers were this summer, things began to turn just before the season started when the Chiefs signed newly released running back, LeSean McCoy. Too late to turn back, those same Williams truthers took their fractured expectations into Week 1 and those same hopes went from fractured to decimated. Just two weeks into this season, Williams has carried the ball 22 times for 34 yards and has one touchdown. Granted, it should be noted that Williams left last Sunday’s game with a knee injury. So while we wait for what kind of limitations Williams will have, you should consider this nomination for any Chiefs running back getting carries this weekend when they take on the Ravens.
Last season, the Ravens allowed the second-fewest points to the position. Not much has changed this year as the Ravens have allowed a league-low, 16.1 points to running backs. While one of those games was against a Dolphins team that was clearly in a negative game script, the Ravens allowing just 1.5 yards per carry is a suggestion that even with limited opportunity, running backs will still have problems with the Ravens in 2019. Perhaps you still feel that as long as he is healthy, you need to start Damien Williams because of where you drafted him. In Week 3, healthy or not, you will be doing that at your fantasy football peril.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Lions @ Eagles
ESPN Start Percentage: 58.3%
This past Sunday, Kenny Golladay would haul in eight receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. That performance would have him finishing the week as the sixth-best wide receiver in fantasy. That was a far better performance than when Golladay finished just outside the top 30 in Week 1. Looking closer at those two matchups though, he was targeted nine or more times in each of the first two games. The difference between the two, in Week 2, the Lions wide receiver not only reached the end zone, but he also hauled in eight of those targets, as opposed to just four in the season opener. Now, Golladay will go up against an Eagles secondary that is allowing the second-most points in fantasy to the wide receiver position. Even while Golladay’s home and road splits favor Ford Field in Detroit, I still like the Lions pass-catcher to put up another solid fantasy performance in Philadelphia.
Cardinals vs. Panthers
ESPN Start Percentage: 26.7%
You will notice that in several of these articles, I will have a theme in which I will continuously nominate the same player for you to start. This week is no different as I’m suggesting that you ride the hot hand with the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald. If you are wondering what makes Fitzgerald that hot hand, look no further than him being tied for third among wide receivers in targets with 24. He has managed to haul 13 of those targets for 217 yards and a touchdown. So even while other Cardinals will have fantasy value this season, there is no mistaking that at least for the first two weeks of this season, Kyler Murray is relying heavily on his veteran wide receiver. Up next for Fitzgerald and the Cardinals is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers aren’t exactly a safe haven against wide receivers as they are only allowing the fifteenth-most points to the position. Even with this not being a slam dunk matchup, I like Murray and his league-leading 94 pass attempts to continue leaning on Fitzgerald.
Buccaneers vs. Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 53.5%
After Week 2 of Thursday night football, there were one of two players that were highly discussed. One of them was Cam Newton, for obvious reasons, and the other was Chris Godwin. In that game against the Panthers, Godwin would haul in eight of his nine targets for 121 receiving yards and a touchdown. Even backtracking to Week 1 when Godwin had just three receptions, he still managed to finish that game against the 49ers with a touchdown. Then there is the Buccaneers opponent, the Giants. So far this season, the Giants are allowing the third-most points to the wide receiver position and as long as the Giants offense continues to have issues staying on the field, it will only open up more time for Bruce Arians and James Winston to tire out this Giants secondary. The bounce back from Mike Evans is inevitable, but even when Evans does indeed bounce back, there will be plenty of targets left for Godwin to devour. The preseason hype was as real as it gets.
Seahawks vs. Saints
ESPN Start Percentage: 52.0%
This past Sunday, Tyler Lockett would lead all Seahawks with 10 receptions. Even with all of those receptions, Lockett still finished with less than 13 points in half-point formats. The main reason was that Lockett was unable to score a touchdown. Up next for Lockett and the Seahawks is the New Orleans Saints. After the first two weeks of the season, the Saints are allowing the sixth-most points to the wide receiver position. Looking closer at those first two games, however, the Saints were playing the Texans in a shootout and the high powered Rams. With Drew Brees is now out for the Saints, I don’t envision this being a game in which the Seahawks are put in a position to keep up with the Saints passing attack. To me, this is a game where Lockett goes back to his traditional four or five receptions, which will make him touchdown dependant.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Panthers @ Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 17.3%
While the Panthers seemed unwatchable in Week 2, one bright spot was the performance from their tight end, Greg Olsen who finished with 110 yards receiving. It would mark his first game with more than 100-yards since Week 15 of the 2017 season. Now the veteran tight end will set his sights on a Cardinals defense that is currently allowing the most points to tight ends. The other thing to note here, in the midst of all this turbulence in Carolina is the fact that the struggling Cam Newton has targeted his tight end nine times in each of the first two games. To me, the potential success of Newton will only further Olsen’s production. Since I’m buying back into Newton, and given the Cardinals recent play against the position, I view Olsen as a nice start option and value in daily fantasy circles.
Steelers @ 49ers
ESPN Start Percentage: 48.9%
If you have been keeping up with social media, and reading this column, you are well aware by now that Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger will not play the rest of the 2019 season. In the meantime, Mason Rudolph will now play quarterback for the Steelers and I think that initially will bode well for the Steelers tight end, Vance McDonald. For at least the first week or so, I see Rudolph relying on the short intermediate routes that McDonald is going to be running. Last week against the Seahawks, while McDonald wound up with just 38 yards receiving, he had seven receptions and two touchdowns. That would have McDonald finishing the week as a top-five tight end. To date, the 49ers have allowed 11 receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown to the position. While those numbers aren’t eye-popping, I think McDonald will be one of the better Steelers options for fantasy in Week 3.
Buccaneers vs. Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 73.9%
I think it is time to clear the air on a struggling NFC South player, not named Cam Newton. After two games this season, O.J. Howard is the forty-fifth tight end in fantasy. He has only been targeted five times and has just 32 yards to show for it. The realization among fantasy analysts is beginning to set in that perhaps not even Howard can change Bruce Arians ways of under-utilizing the tight end position. Couple the lack of production with Arian’s comments suggesting that Howard can ‘play a heck of a lot better’ and I’m fading Howard in all formats until further notice.
Start’em Sit’em Defense
Cowboys vs. Dolphins
ESPN Start Percentage: 30.3%
Back in Week 1, the Ravens defense went up against the Dolphins and finished as the sixth-best DST. In Week 2, the Patriots obliterated this same Dolphins team and finished as the number DST for the week. Now comes the Dallas Cowboys, and while you may be salivating over the offensive production, don’t forget about the defense. You do not need a load of analytics to tell you that this Dolphins team stinks. If the Cowboys are available in your league, pick them up once waivers clear. If you already own the Cowboys defense, enjoy the ride.
Ravens @ Chiefs
ESPN Start Percentage: 81.6%
As previously mentioned, the Ravens have done exceptionally well against running backs so far this season. On top of that, they are eighth in scoring among defense and special teams. That will only help this defense so much though with Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. We all understandably expected regression from Mahomes MVP season last year, but so far, the sky is still the limit for the Chiefs quarterback. I tried to be cute and suggestion using the Jaguars defense against the Chiefs in Week 1. I will not be making the same mistake twice.