Fantasy Football Week 3 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em: Lacy to roar vs. Lions
Running backs are dropping due to injuries, but Jamey Eisenberg says Fantasy owners with Eddie Lacy will be happy in his Week 3 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em column.
Is the fun of playing Fantasy Football to draft an awesome roster and just dominate your league or to manage your team when it's decimated by injuries? Because we're definitely dealing with the latter heading into Week 3.
And it doesn't feel like fun.
The running back position was destroyed in Week 2. Danny Woodhead (torn ACL) was lost for the season, Adrian Peterson (torn meniscus) could miss at least three months and Ameer Abdullah (foot) was placed on injured reserve, which could keep him out for at least eight weeks. Doug Martin (hamstring), Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) and Arian Foster (groin) are also out for Week 3, and we're hopeful Thomas Rawls (leg) and Rashad Jennings (hand) will play after getting hurt last week.
We also don't know if Jamaal Charles (knee) and Chris Ivory (illness) will return this week after missing the first two games. Most leagues require you to start two running backs, and it's tough to have reliable options given what we're dealing with.
The hope is guys like Todd Gurley and Eddie Lacy show up this week in a big way, and we're confident in both, especially Lacy. And we'll find out if some of the replacement options in Minnesota (Jerick McKinnon), Detroit (Dwayne Washington) and Carolina (Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker) are ready for bigger roles and quality production.
It's also time to see if Fantasy owners can rely on guys like Charles Sims, Theo Riddick and Melvin Gordon, who has been great to start the season and could now be headed to stardom with Woodhead out. Gordon is a great starter in Week 3 at Indianapolis, and we're starting Sims and Riddick based on need.
We hope the running back massacre from Week 2 is the worst of our injuries this year, but the likelihood is more will come. And other positions have been hurt with Tony Romo (back), Keenan Allen (torn ACL), Donte Moncrief (shoulder) and Zach Ertz ribs) missing extended action, plus Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), who could return this week.
The nice thing is if you're prepared by making trades and playing the waiver wire then you can still win. And you can still have fun. All is not lost because of all these injuries.
Editor's Note: Projections are provided by CBSSports, not Jamey Eisenberg.
Start of the Week
We're taking a leap of faith with Lacy this week because the reality is he hasn't run that poorly despite minimal Fantasy production. And he should break out in Week 3 against the Lions at home.
He had 14 carries for 61 yards and one catch for 17 yards at Jacksonville in Week 1 and 12 carries for 50 yards in Week 2 at Minnesota. He's averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and the Packers should give him more work to help their offense.
Last year, when Lacy was a bust, he only had five games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, and he needed at least 17 carries in four of those games to be successful. There's no reason for the Packers to stay away from Lacy this week.
The Lions are beat up defensively with linebackers DeAndre Levy (quad), Kyle Van Noy (calf) and Antwione Williams (thigh) all hurt. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (high ankle sprain) is also banged up, and this should lead to a big outing for all the Packers.
After consecutive road games, including the stadium-opening game in Minnesota, the Packers should get on track in their first home game this year. Lacy also has at least 99 rushing yards in his past two games against the Lions in Green Bay.
Detroit allowed DeMarco Murray to gain 145 total yards in Week 2, but the Lions haven't allowed a running back to score yet this season. That will change this week when Lacy finally delivers for Fantasy owners and has his first of what could be many big games in 2016.
It hasn't been the ideal start for Rivers and the Chargers with Allen and Woodhead both lost for the season to ACL tears. Those were arguably the two best weapons for Rivers, and he also lost slot receiver Steve Johnson (knee) for the year in August. Rivers didn't need Allen or Woodhead in Week 2 against Jacksonville when he passed for 220 yards and four touchdowns, and we hope for a similar performance this week. He found other weapons in Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams against the Jaguars, and he also has old faithful Antonio Gates. All seemed lost for Rivers when Allen and Woodhead went down, but he should be fine this week against the Colts, who gave up a big game to Matthew Stafford in Week 1 (340 passing yards and three touchdowns) but weren't tested last week against Trevor Siemian. Rivers should have the chance for a Stafford-like outing and is worth starting in all leagues.
Carr has been exceptional through the first two games of the season with 23 Fantasy points in Week 1 at Oakland and 30 points last week against the Falcons. We expect another quality outing this week against the Titans, even though Tennessee has allowed just one passing touchdown on the season so far. But the Titans got lucky against Stafford in Week 2 due to untimely penalties, and they faced the Vikings with Shaun Hill in Week 1. Carr and the Raiders will hopefully shine where Stafford failed, and he was excellent at Tennessee in Week 12 last year when he passed for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Carr has done everything we expected with a favorable early schedule, and he should stay hot for another week on the road.
Ryan enters Week 3 as the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues after posting 28 Fantasy points against Tampa Bay in Week 1 and 33 points at Oakland in Week 2. He should have another outstanding game this week against the Saints, and then it's time to sell high because the schedule for Atlanta gets brutal with matchups against Carolina, at Denver and at Seattle in consecutive weeks. Maybe Ryan will stay hot against those tough defenses, but for now let's just hope he plays well in Week 3. The Saints overcame an injured secondary in Week 2 to keep Eli Manning from throwing a touchdown, and New Orleans shockingly has allowed just one passing touchdown this year despite being fourth in passing yards allowed (687). Ryan has at least 295 passing yards in each of his past five trips to New Orleans and three games with at least two touchdowns over that span, with averages of 341 passing yards and 1.8 touchdowns. I'll take the over on two touchdowns this week, and Ryan should finish as a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback again in Week 3.
Manning was among the biggest disappointments in Week 2 because he failed to score a touchdown against the Saints. He actually played well with 32-of-41 passing for 368 yards, and Odell Beckham dropped a touchdown catch he normally makes. Still, just 12 Fantasy points in a standard league was hard to take given the expectations against New Orleans. This week, Manning faces a team he's dominated of late with the Redskins, and he's passed for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in each of their past four meetings. Despite adding Josh Norman, who should renew his rivalry with Beckham, the Redskins have allowed at least 290 passing yards to Ben Roethlisberger and Dak Prescott in the past two games, and Manning should have similar success with his revamped receiving corps of Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. Manning is worth starting in all leagues this week.
It was garbage time for Tannehill and the Dolphins in Week 2 at New England, but Fantasy owners got a glimpse of what this passing attack could be when everyone is healthy. And it came at the right time with a matchup against Cleveland at home in Week 3. The Browns have allowed at least 275 passing yards and two touchdowns in both games so far against Carson Wentz and Joe Flacco, and Tannehill should have the chance for another game with 20-plus Fantasy points this week. Against the Patriots, Tannehill scored 26 Fantasy points with 389 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and six carries for 35 yards. He got DeVante Parker back on the field following a hamstring injury, and the entire receiving corps played well with Jarvis Landry, Parker, Kenny Stills and even Jordan Cameron contributing. And now with Foster expected to be out, more production should come from Tannehill. He's a great streaming option in all leagues in Week 3.
- Blake Bortles (vs. BAL): Garbage time continues to be his friend.
- Joe Flacco (at JAC): JAC has allowed 7 total TDs to QBs in 2 games.
- Marcus Mariota (vs. OAK): OAK has allowed the most FPTS to QBs this year.
Dalton is expected to play in Week 3 against the Broncos despite dealing with an injured ankle from Week 2 at Pittsburgh. He's actually played well through two games with exactly 366 passing yards in both games against the Jets and Steelers, but he has just two total touchdowns and one interception to go with it. This week he faces a Broncos defense that has been tough on Cam Newton and Andrew Luck in consecutive weeks, and that duo averaged just 16.5 Fantasy points against Denver in a standard league. Dalton last faced the Broncos in 2014 at home and scored 17 Fantasy points, and he should be in that range again in this matchup. It helps that Denver won't have standout pass rusher DeMarcus Ware (broken arm) for this game, but the Broncos still have their dominant secondary, which should make things tough for A.J. Green. You're not benching Green this week, but you should keep Dalton on the bench.
Taylor played better than expected in Week 2 against the Jets with 29 Fantasy points in a standard league, and he overcame playing on a short week and his best receiver being hobbled in Sammy Watkins (foot). After the game, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman and promoted running backs coach Anthony Lynn, and the mantra seems to be to get the passing game going. We'll see how that works in Week 3 against the Cardinals, but Taylor is still just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this week. Arizona has allowed two passing touchdowns and four interceptions in the first two games against Jimmy Garoppolo and Jameis Winston, and Watkins is still dealing with pain in his foot. We doubt Taylor gets two huge pass plays from Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas like he did against the Jets, but hopefully he'll play well to earn your trust moving forward. But keep that experiment on your bench until Taylor proves it again that he should be a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in the majority of leagues.
One of Osweiler's best moments during his brief tenure as the starter for the Broncos in 2015 came when he helped beat the Patriots in Week 12 at home. But he didn't have a big stat day in that outing with 23-of-42 passing for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception for 14 Fantasy points, and he could have another game with minimal production this week at New England. The game is Thursday night, and we don't expect Osweiler and Jacoby Brissett to put on the same show that Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick had last week. Osweiler went down with his production from Week 1 to Week 2 with just 12 Fantasy points against Kansas City thanks to two interceptions, and he shouldn't do much better than that in Week 3. He's nothing more than a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in the majority of leagues in this matchup.
Saying to start Winston at Arizona was my worst call in last week's column, and I thought his Fantasy production would be good for several reasons. I expected Arizona to win the game, but I thought Winston had reached the point, even in his second year, where he would keep it close and put up stats in garbage time. Maybe he's better this week at home against the Rams, and he had 22 Fantasy points against this defense in St. Louis last year. We'll see how Winston responds after he had five turnovers against the Cardinals, and the Rams have to go across the country after an emotional victory in their home opener at Los Angeles against the Seahawks. But the Rams have allowed just one passing touchdown to Blaine Gabbert and Russell Wilson so far, and Winston will likely be held in check, even with Martin banged up. He's just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback this week.
So far the Redskins look smart for not giving Cousins a big contract extension following last year's breakout season since he's struggled through two games against Pittsburgh and Dallas at home. And so far the Giants look great for their moves this offseason on defense since they have played well against Dallas and New Orleans, including keeping Drew Brees to 263 passing yards and one touchdown last week at home. Cousins had 20 Fantasy points last week against the Cowboys, but he has one touchdown and three interceptions so far. By comparison, he had 11 interceptions in total last year. Two of those in 2015 came at the Giants, and he averaged 309 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception against New York in two meetings. There's talk about Cousins potentially losing his job if he continues to struggle, so we'll see how he responds. Fantasy owners should stay away in this game, and he's just a No. 2 quarterback in Week 3.
Wilson can easily play his way out of his two-game funk to start the season, and the 49ers just gave up a monster performance to Newton on the road with 353 passing yards and four touchdowns. This is also the second of back-to-back road games for the 49ers, and Wilson beat them up at home last year with 260 passing yards and three touchdowns. But that's his only game against San Francisco with multiple touchdowns in his past five meetings and his only performance with more than 250 passing yards over that span. It's not so much the 49ers defense this week as Wilson looks off, and his ankle injury from Week 1 could be a problem. Factor in the offensive line struggling and Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett both dealing with knee issues, and it could be another tough game for him. He's not an out-right sit, and it wouldn't be a shock if this is a get-right game for him. But he also doesn't look like the dynamic quarterback we're used to seeing, especially with a banged-up receiving corps, and you might want to find another option in one-quarterback leagues this week.
It's funny how Gordon's Fantasy value has changed from the offseason to now. Most Fantasy owners were settling for Gordon on Draft Day instead of targeting him following his disappointing rookie campaign, but now he's become a must-start option in all leagues. He's played well in his first two games with 17 Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing against Kansas City and Jacksonville, and now Woodhead is out for the year. That should allow Gordon to showcase his skills as a receiver, and he had three catches for 18 yards in Week 2 against the Jaguars. He's facing a Colts defense this week that has already allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs against the Lions and Broncos, and three running backs have had at least three catches against this defense. This is likely the last time we will mention Gordon in this column as a starter if he continues to play like we've seen the past two games.
This isn't the best matchup for Blount compared to what he had last week against Miami, but running backs have a good track record of playing on Thursday night. And Blount has been great in the first two games of getting plenty of work and finding the end zone against the Cardinals and Dolphins. He had 22 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown at Arizona in Week 1 and 29 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown against Miami. The Texans allowed Jeremy Langford to score in Week 1, and Ware and Charcandrick West combined for 16 carries for 118 yards last week. Blount had 10 carries for 53 yards against Houston last year, but that was the game he hurt his hip and was lost for the season. We expect the Patriots to lean on Blount in this matchup, and he should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back this week.
One of our video producers, Scott Reilly, asked me if he should start both Falcons running backs this week against the Saints in a PPR league. He lost Woodhead, and his other choices are Jay Ajayi or Artis-Payne. With the way both Falcons played in Week 2 at Oakland, and given the matchup this week at New Orleans, it's worth the risk to trust Freeman and Coleman as starters. They combined for 164 total yards and a touchdown against the Raiders, and the Saints have already allowed three touchdowns to running backs this year. Last season, Freeman destroyed the Saints for over 90 total yards and a touchdown in each meeting, but now he's sharing touches with Coleman on a regular basis. Coleman has been the better receiver with seven catches to four, but both are viable options this week.
This should be an interesting week to see if Fantasy owners can trust Gore with all the injuries to the position. He struggled in Week 1 against Detroit with 14 carries for 59 yards and four catches for 19 yards, and he wasn't much better in Week 2 at Denver with 13 carries for 44 yards and three catches for 19 yards and a touchdown, which saved his Fantasy production. He has the chance to make an impact in the passing game this week since the Chargers have allowed the most receptions to running backs with Ware, West and T.J. Yeldon all catching at least six passes in the first two games. Gore has seven catches on nine targets, and Josh Ferguson could be a sleeper in deeper leagues since he had five catches on five targets from Luck against the Broncos. It's a tough matchup for the Colts receivers, so the running backs and tight ends should be reliable targets in the passing game. And if Gore scores again then he'll deliver as a solid No. 2 running back in the majority of leagues.
If the game script goes as I expect then the Lions should be throwing a lot in this matchup while playing from behind, which obviously benefits Riddick. His role should be expanded now with Abdullah out, and he's already had 18 carries this season after just 43 all of last year. Washington will also replace Abdullah and should be the one at the goal line, but Riddick is a must-start running back in all PPR leagues. He has nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets for the season, and he has 13 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in his past three meetings with the Packers.
- Charles Sims (vs. LAR): It's his time to shine with Martin out.
- Christine Michael (vs. SF): SEA should lean on him with Rawls out.
- Jerick McKinnon (at CAR): He should make plays in the passing game.
- Shane Vereen (vs. WAS): He should get more work with Jennings hurt.
- Kenyan Drake (vs. CLE): He's starting and is worth a flier vs. CLE.
- Derrick Henry (vs. OAK): He beat up OAK in the third preseason game.
Hyde played as expected in Week 2 at Carolina after his standout performance in Week 1 against the Rams. He went from 20 Fantasy points against the Panthers to two points against the Rams, and he should struggle again this week against the Seahawks. Hyde's last game in 2015 before being out with a foot injury was against Seattle, and he had 11 carries for 40 yards and no catches. Hyde is going to need a lot of volume to be successful this week, and the Seahawks haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the regular season since Charles in Week 11 of 2014. Only four running backs scored rushing touchdowns against the Seahawks in their past 20 games, and Seattle just held Gurley to 19 carries for 51 yards and one catch for 19 yards. I'd expect about six Fantasy points for Hyde this week, and he's not worth starting in most formats.
Hill faced the Broncos in Week 16 last year and had 19 carries for 63 yards and two catches for minus-2 yards. Dalton was out for that game with a thumb injury, so the Broncos were able to focus on Hill since AJ McCarron was the quarterback. We'll see what the game plan is this week, but the Broncos should be able to contain Hill even with Dalton back. He's now gone 18 games in a row without rushing for 100 yards, and he's become almost explicitly touchdown dependent. Denver hasn't allowed a running back to gain more than 85 rushing yards in the past 16 games in the regular season, and Giovani Bernard is the better Fantasy option this week based on his receiving prowess. Things lighten up for Hill after this week with Miami and Dallas over the next two games, and he also faces Cleveland and Washington before a bye in Week 9. He's a great buy-low candidate right now, but don't start him in Week 3 against the Broncos.
Jones had a nice performance in Week 2 against Dallas with 13 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown, and he deserves more work after just 20 carries for 85 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown and two catches for 13 yards through two games. Maybe if the Redskins leaned on him it would help Cousins, but this is a tough matchup against the Giants. They allowed a touchdown to Ezekiel Elliott, but he needed 20 carries to get 51 yards. And Ingram was held to 30 yards on nine carries. This defense is going to be tough against the run all season, and Jones isn't the type of running back to trust given the matchup. He's a No. 3 Fantasy option at best in Week 3.
Langford saw a decline in playing time from Week 1 to Week 2, going from 96 percent of the team's snaps at Houston to 60 percent against Philadelphia. The Chicago Tribune reports that Jordan Howard could start to see more playing time (he's someone to pick up now in all leagues), and Langford has been saved by two short-yardage touchdowns. Now, he could do well this week against the Cowboys, who just allowed 12 Fantasy points to Jones last week, but he'll need to score to be successful. He's averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and has only three catches for 12 yards, and now Brian Hoyer is starting for the injured Jay Cutler (thumb). Given all the injuries at running back, I'd still consider Langford a flex option in Week 3, but he's not a must-start option given his lack of production through two games.
The Panthers plan to use a running back by committee against the Vikings with Stewart out, but neither of these options is worth starting this week. Minnesota allowed two receiving touchdowns to DeMarco Murray in Week 1, but Murray and Lacy combined for 25 carries for 92 yards in two games. Last year, when Stewart was out for the final three games of the season against the Giants, Falcons and Buccaneers, Artis-Payne had a high of eight Fantasy points in a standard league and Whittaker's best was three points. It was a perfect scenario for Whittaker to gain 131 total yards in Week 2 against the 49ers when Stewart got hurt since Artis-Payne was inactive, but with both splitting carries this week it shapes up as a situation to avoid. If you're stuck this week then consider Artis-Payne as the better option in standard formats and Whittaker in PPR.
In Week 1 against Cleveland, Mathews got the workload you hoped for as the new starter for the Eagles with 22 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. He played 48 percent of the snaps, and it looked like the Eagles considered him their bell cow. But that changed in Week 2 at Chicago when his snap count dipped down to 29 percent, and he had nine carries for 32 yards and two touchdowns. You didn't draft Mathews to be touchdown dependent, and his stat line could severely suffer if he doesn't score. He's also been a non-factor in the passing game with one catch for 3 yards, and this should be a tough matchup against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has limited Jones and Hill to a combined 18 carries for 46 yards and no touchdowns, but it's been Bernard and Chris Thompson who have hurt the Steelers as secondary options, especially Bernard in the passing game. Going back to last year, Pittsburgh allowed just four rushing touchdowns to running backs, and only two running backs had more than 100 rushing yards. Like Langford, it's hard to completely get away from Mathews given the injuries this week, but he's not a slam-dunk starter in this matchup and his unexpected lack of work from Week 2.
Decker is dealing with a shoulder injury, but he's expected to play this week against the Chiefs and should continue to post quality stats in all leagues. He has either a touchdown or 80 receiving yards in 19 games in a row going back to Week 17 of the 2014 season, and he's scored in six games in a row since last year. Decker has routinely beat up on the Chiefs, mostly when he was with the Broncos, but he has 33 catches for 448 yards and seven touchdowns in his past five meetings against Kansas City. One of those was with the Jets in 2014 at Kansas City when he had nine catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Decker, Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa should all make plays in this matchup, and Decker should continue to be consistent with at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league.
The only thing missing for Jones so far through two games is a touchdown, but otherwise he's been sensational in his debut with Detroit. He had four catches for 85 yards on 10 targets in Week 1 at Indianapolis, and he followed that up with eight catches for 118 yards on 11 targets against Tennessee. The Packers just got beat up by Stefon Diggs for nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown with Sam Shields (concussion) out, and Jones would clearly benefit if Shields is out again. But with the way Stafford is targeting Jones he should continue to have quality production, and he's a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues.
What Diggs did in Week 2 against the Packers shouldn't be considered a fluke, and he had seven catches for 103 yards on nine targets in Week 1 at Tennessee. He should continue to see a hefty amount of targets, especially with Peterson out, and Diggs showed an instant rapport with new quarterback Sam Bradford. The Panthers haven't really been tested yet with their revamped secondary after facing Siemian and Gabbert in consecutive weeks, but Diggs should be able to make plays on this defense, even on the road. He's a breakout star on the rise, and Diggs should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in this matchup.
The Chargers lost Allen and Woodhead in consecutive weeks, but things looked OK for the San Diego passing game against Jacksonville in Week 2 thanks for Benjamin and Williams. Benjamin had a huge game with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns on six targets, and Williams had three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Both should continue to soak up targets from Rivers, and Benjamin should be considered a must-start option against this banged-up secondary for the Colts. Vontae Davis (ankle) could return this week, but the Colts have allowed at least 85 receiving yards to the opposing No. 1 option with Marvin Jones in Week 1 and Demaryius Thomas last week. Williams is a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and both of these receivers should continue to make plays in this matchup on the road.
Stills is also in play this week since the Dolphins should have success throwing the ball against the Browns secondary, which has allowed both opposing No. 1 receivers they have faced in Jordan Matthews and Mike Wallace to score at least 16 Fantasy points in a standard league. Landry is Miami's No. 1 Fantasy receiver based on targets, and he had a solid outing in Week 2 at New England with 10 catches for 137 yards on 13 targets. He's a dominant Fantasy option in PPR leagues, but Parker isn't far behind when healthy. He showed his upside against the Patriots with eight catches for 106 yards on 13 targets, and hopefully that's a sign of things to come from him this year. We consider Landry a must-start receiver in all leagues, and Parker is a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver. Stills is only worth starting in deeper leagues, but the Miami passing game should have a good day in Week 3.
- Sterling Shepard (vs. WAS): Four WRs have at least 7 FPTS vs. WAS.
- Tajae Sharpe (vs. OAK): OAK has allowed the most FPTS to WRs.
- Mike Wallace (at JAC): Four receivers have scored vs. JAC this season.
- Mohamed Sanu (at NO): Five receivers have at least 8 FPTS vs. NO.
- Philip Dorsett (vs. SD): He becomes a starter with Moncrief now out.
- Jamison Crowder (at NYG): Inside receivers have hurt the NYG this year.
Watkins didn't practice Wednesday after playing last Thursday, which means his injured foot is still an issue and will likely bother him all year. He struggled in Week 2 against the Jets with two catches for 20 yards on five targets, and he only has six catches for 63 yards for the season. We hope Watkins will get close to 100 percent soon, but this week he has to face arguably the best cornerback in the NFL in Patrick Peterson. Mike Evans scored a touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 2, but he's healthy and playing at a higher level than Watkins right now. Given the matchup and his health, we would sit Watkins in most leagues this week.
There's a caveat to sitting Edelman this week that he could get you Fantasy points as a quarterback if pressed into action. He's being considered an emergency quarterback behind Brissett with Garoppolo (shoulder) not expected to play. We'll see what the Patriots have planned for Edelman, but if he's strictly a receiver then he should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy option at best in standard leagues and a low-end starting option in PPR. Without Tom Brady (suspended), Edelman has still played well with 14 catches for 142 yards on 18 targets, but he hasn't found the end zone. And now with Brissett starting in a tough matchup, it's hard to call Edelman a must-start receiver. The Texans did allow a touchdown to Eddie Royal in Week 1, and Alshon Jeffery had over 100 receiving yards. But Jeremy Maclin was also held to six catches for 68 yards on 15 targets in Week 2, and that's a more realistic stat line to expect from Edelman on Thursday night -- unless he plays quarterback.
This is a tough matchup for Jackson, who is also dealing with knee and ankle injuries and did not practice Wednesday. He struggled in Week 2 against Dallas with three catches for 40 yards on five targets, and he has a bad history against the Giants since joining the Redskins with six catches for 90 yards and one touchdown in three meetings. The Giants have been fantastic in coverage this season with Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who typically covers Jackson, and they have limited Dez Bryant and Brandin Cooks to a combined eight catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns. Willie Snead is the only receiver who has scored against the Giants, and we're betting against Jackson this week. He's a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best in this matchup.
The Lions would be better suited using Tate in the slot more this season because that's where he's done the most damage in his career. He's played outside more this year, and the results have been less-than-stellar with nine catches for 54 yards and no touchdowns on 16 targets. Marvin Jones has been the go-to receiver for the Lions, and Stafford is also leaning on Anquan Boldin, Eric Ebron and Riddick. Tate has gotten plenty of targets, but he continues to let Fantasy owners down. He also has a bad track record against the Packers with 20 catches for 211 yards and no touchdowns in four meetings with the Lions. Tate is just a low-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver in PPR leagues this week.
Cobb is the lone Packers "star" to be nervous about this week because he's struggled through two games with a combined 10 Fantasy points against Jacksonville and Minnesota, and the Packers don't seem to be using him down the field like in previous years. He also has a bad history against the Lions with one game with a touchdown in his past five meetings, and he's been held to under 60 receiving yards in four of those outings. We hope this is the game he gets going, but he should be treated like a No. 3 Fantasy receiver instead of a must-start option.
I'm sitting Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders this week in most standard leagues if possible because this should be a tough matchup for them on the road. This is the Bengals first home game this season, and it's the first road start for Siemian in his career. Cincinnati's secondary has been fantastic this season and has shut down Marshall and Antonio Brown, holding them to a combined seven catches for 71 yards. Now, secondary receivers like Decker and Enunwa scored against the Bengals, but it will be tough for Thomas to make plays with Siemian. He has yet to score a touchdown this year, and thankfully he played well in Week 2 against the Colts with his hip injury with five catches for 90 yards on seven targets. He had seven catches for 59 yards last year against the Bengals, and we consider him just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in this matchup. Sanders is a low-end option in standard leagues as well since he has just eight catches for 88 yards and no touchdowns on the season.
Pitta and Cruz might battle for best comeback story since neither was expected to be a factor this year after their respective injuries, but here we are with Pitta as a starting-caliber tight end in Week 3. And he played well in Week 2 at Cleveland with nine catches for 102 yards on 12 targets, which was double the amount of targets for anyone else on the team. To put that in perspective, the last time Pitta scored double digits in Fantasy points was Week 14 of the 2013 season. He injured his hip in Week 3 of the 2014 campaign and just returned this year. This week, he's facing a Jaguars defense that just allowed a touchdown to Gates in Week 2. With how much Pitta is expected to be involved by Flacco, we recommend starting Pitta in the majority of leagues.
Ebron should have scored a touchdown last week against the Titans, which would have given him two weeks in a row with a score, but it was called back due to a penalty. But even without the touchdown it's good to see the Lions are leaning on Ebron with 12 targets for nine catches, 99 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Colts and Titans. The Packers have allowed a tight end to score in each game this season with Julius Thomas and Kyle Rudolph, and both tight ends have scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league. Ebron should continue to be a vital part of this Lions passing game, and he is a No. 1 Fantasy tight end this week.
Tamme has been a significant factor for the Falcons through two games with 16 targets, including eight in each outing against Tampa Bay and Oakland. He's come away with 11 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, and he should do well this week at the Saints. New Orleans has yet to allow a tight end to score in games against Oakland and the Giants, but Clive Walford and Larry Donnell each had red-zone targets against the Saints and just didn't connect. Both tight ends also had only five targets each, and it's clear the Falcons will lean more on Tamme as a weapon. He might not be a must-start option in standard leagues, but he's a solid starter in PPR leagues this week in what should be a high-scoring affair in New Orleans.
- Coby Fleener (vs. ATL): I know, I know! But the matchup is incredible.
- Jared Cook (vs. DET): DET is allowing the most FPTS to tight ends this year.
- Dwayne Allen (vs. SD): Allen and Jack Doyle have the chance to rule vs. SD.
We had moderate expectations for Barnidge when Robert Griffin III was the starter, but he had no catches on two targets in Week 1 before Griffin got hurt. Then we thought the return of Josh McCown would help Barnidge since that was his best quarterback in 2015, but Barnidge had four catches for 37 yards on five targets in Week 2 before McCown was hurt. And now we're down to Cody Kessler starting, and it's hard to expect good things from Barnidge, even in a matchup where the Dolphins just allowed Martellus Bennett to have five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Barnidge doesn't look like he will repeat his breakout campaign from 2015, and he's not worth trusting this week.
James has done a nice job through two weeks as the starting tight end for the Steelers. He had five catches for 31 yards on seven targets in Week 1 at Washington and three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown on five targets in Week 2 against Cincinnati. But this could be a tough game for him against the Eagles, who have limited Barnidge and Zach Miller to a combined four catches for 33 yards in two games. James should still have the chance to make plays in this game, as evidenced by his 12 targets this year, but you see what his stat line could be if he doesn't score. He's definitely worth keeping an eye on based on his early-season production and how much Roethlisberger is leaning on him, but he's a low-end No. 1 option at best this week.
The Ravens only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in 2015, including a matchup with Thomas in Week 10 when he was held to two catches for 23 yards on five targets. This year, Baltimore has been just as good against the position, especially with the addition of safety Eric Weddle. Charles Clay and Barnidge have been held to six catches for 77 yards on eight targets in two games, and Thomas should have a tough time making plays this week. He's been awesome to start the season with nine catches for 135 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, but this should be his worst game so far given the matchup against Baltimore.
Kelce has the potential to be one of the best Fantasy tight ends, but he continues to under deliver most weeks, which has become frustrating. He had seven Fantasy points in a standard league in Week 1 against San Diego and three points at Houston in Week 2, and he's now scored seven Fantasy points or less in 11 of his past 15 games going back to last year. And he's only scored touchdowns in three of those games. He's still worth starting in all PPR leagues because he's had at least five catches in 10 of those outings, including both games this season, but this is a tough matchup with the Jets. Going back to last year, only two tight ends have scored against the Jets in their past 18 games, which were Gronkowski and Jake Stoneburner, and every other tight end has been held to seven Fantasy points or less. Kelce can easily hit seven Fantasy points this week, but he isn't likely to have a big game given his track record and the matchup.
Dolphins (vs. CLE)
- Projected FPTS: 11.5
The Browns come into this game with their third quarterback in as many weeks with Kessler expected to make his first NFL start on the road. Rookie receiver Corey Coleman broke his hand in practice Wednesday, and the offensive line is banged up with Cameron Erving out at center. That should allow the Dolphins DST to play well after an embarrassing loss at New England in Week 2 where another backup quarterback in Garoppolo helped the Patriots score 31 points. The Dolphins defense was better in Week 1 at Seattle when they allowed just 12 points with three sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception. We expect a performance similar to that this week, and the Browns have allowed six sacks and three interceptions through two games. The Dolphins DST is a great streaming option in Week 3.
- Bengals (vs. DEN): Let's see how Siemian does in his first road start.
- Giants (vs. WAS): NYG are 2-0 in large part because of their rebuilt defense.
- Buccaneers (vs. LAR): The Rams have scored nine points in two games.
Eagles (vs. PIT)
- Projected FPTS: 9.5
The Eagles DST has been phenomenal to start the season with excellent performances against the Browns and Bears, but clearly those are two of the worst offenses in the NFL through two games. Still, the Eagles took advantage of the matchups with two interceptions, six sacks, two fumbles and just 24 points allowed in those games. The Steelers are easily the best offense the Eagles have faced this year, and this defense will be put to the test. While Roethlisberger has three interceptions so far, the Steelers have still scored 62 points against the Redskins and Bengals, and those opposing DST units have scored a combined 10 Fantasy points in a standard league. You should drop the Eagles DST this week because they have a bye in Week 4, but based on their start they will be relevant again, especially in Week 6 at Washington.
Brown came back from his one-game suspension in Week 2 against the Saints and made three field goals and one extra point. The Giants offense should move the ball this week against the Redskins, and Brown had three field goals and three extra points against the Redskins last year. The Redskins allowed one field goal and five extra points to Chris Boswell in Week 1 and two field goals and three extra points to Dan Bailey last week. Brown has a floor of about eight Fantasy points but should score double digits in points in a standard league this week.
- Matt Bryant (at NO): He has multiple FGs in three of his past four vs. NO.
- Josh Lambo (at IND): IND has allowed 73 points through two games.
- Nick Folk (at KC): He's made at least three field goals a game this year.
McManus was great last week against the Colts with 4-of-5 field goals and two extra points, but he's due for a regression this week on the road. And in a tough matchup in Week 1 against Carolina he was held to just three extra points and no field goal attempts. In his past four road games last year, McManus made just three field goals on four attempts, and the Bengals defense should be tough in this matchup in their first home game. Folk made three field goals in Week 1 against the Bengals, but Boswell was held to one field goal. McManus should be a low-end starting option at best.
Full Disclosure from Week 2
It's never a good feeling when the player you promote as the Start of the Week gets hurt in the first half. And then to add insult to injury, his backup goes off for a big game.
That's what happened in Week 2 with Jonathan Stewart, who was lost for the game before halftime against the 49ers with a hamstring injury. In his absence, Fozzy Whittaker went off for 131 total yards. I should have touted Whittaker instead.
Thankfully, it wasn't all bad. And our positive suggestions, including sleepers, were Derek Carr, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers, LeGarrette Blount, Ryan Mathews, Marvin Jones, Sterling Shepard, Stefon Diggs, Travis Benjamin, Kyle Rudolph and Jesse James.
Some of our missed calls were saying to start Eli Manning, Jameis Winston, T.J. Yeldon, Julian Edelman, DeSean Jackson and Coby Fleener, who all struggled. And we said to sit guys like Tyrod Taylor, Isaiah Crowell and Martellus Bennett, who thrived.
I hope this week's Start of the Week, Eddie Lacy, makes it through the entire game. If that happens then he's already better then Stewart, but I'm expecting Lacy to play well in Week 3.
Start of the Week: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
- Fantasy points: 0
- Position rank: 73
Recommended starts who made us look good
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
- Fantasy points: 30
- Position rank: 4
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots
- Fantasy points: 18
- Position rank: 3
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles
- Fantasy points: 15
- Position rank: 6
Recommended sits who made us look good
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
- Fantasy points: 11
- Position rank: 26
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
- Fantasy points: 11
- Position rank: 27
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
- Fantasy points: 4
- Position rank: 66
Recommended starts who made us look bad
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
- Fantasy points: 5
- Position rank: 30
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
- Fantasy points: 4
- Position rank: 43
DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
- Fantasy points: 4
- Position rank: 65
Recommended sits who made us look bad
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills
- Fantasy points: 29
- Position rank: 6
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns
- Fantasy points: 20
- Position rank: 2
Martellus Bennett, TE, Patriots
- Fantasy points: 17
- Position rank: 2
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