We should begin to see defenses start playing smarter, sounder football this week and next week. It typically takes them a couple of weeks to get a beat on any given offense anyway, and this year's weird training camp makes for no exception. It'll be the teams with shrewd coaches and well-stocked pass rushers who begin to make things tough on offenses first. You may want to lower expectations just a little bit for Raiders, Rams, Texans and — gasp — Chiefs players.
Here are my start, sit, sleeper, and bust calls for every game in Week 3 based on what we've learned through the first two games, and if you need more lineup help, check out Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, plus Heath Cummings' Week 1 previews for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. And, if you need to make a trade, the trade values chart can help make sure you're a winner.
All lines from William Hill Sportsbook.
The line wants us to believe: The game will be close but favor the more potent offense. However, the Bears defense has played well so far, and if the Falcons don't have Julio Jones at 100%, they'll scuffle to get by. David Montgomery is in line to have a nice game -- between him and the defense, the Bears have a shot at another win.
CHI Chicago • #32
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I can't say for sure that the Falcons run defense stinks, but I can say it struggles near the goal line. This season the Falcons have allowed six touchdowns inside of the 3-yard line, five of them on carries. That's what we're looking for from Montgomery here: a short-yardage touchdown on top of 15 touches, which should be doable. The Bears would be wise to try leaning on Montgomery in an effort to control the game clock. It's also worth noting Montgomery would have caught a touchdown in consecutive weeks had Mitchell Trubisky put a little more air under a throw to him in short yardage back in Week 1.
Russell Gage WR
ATL Atlanta • #83
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
You've got to be encouraged by how the Falcons are leaning on Gage as a big-bodied target in single coverage. It especially helps that the Falcons' run game can't get going, offering him more opportunities as an extension of the run game. His specific matchup against Chicago slot corner Buster Skrine (66.7% catch rate allowed) should be a win, though it would be nice if Gage could go a game without dropping a ball.
Todd Gurley RB
ATL Atlanta • #21
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
In two games, Gurley has handled 35 carries and has exactly two rushes of 10-plus yards to his name. He also has two catches on five targets for 1 yard. This isn't the case of the Bears run defense being dominant -- Adrian Peterson and Saquon Barkley had success against the Bears, and D'Andre Swift and Dion Lewis each scored short-yardage touchdowns. This is all about Gurley needing touchdowns to keep his already dwindling Fantasy value afloat. He's 1 for 3 in converting carries inside the 5 for touchdowns in 2020 after being 7 for 15 on such plays in 2019.
The line wants us to believe: The Bills are just a little bit better on both sides of the ball. The public probably views both teams as dominant offensively but the implied points are low for both (Buffalo at 24.75, Los Angeles at 22.25). The edge is with the Bills defense, which has registered twice as many sacks as the Rams and has the pass rush to make life hard on Jared Goff.
Robert Woods WR
LAR L.A. Rams • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 8 yrs.
I would imagine that Woods will see the most of Bills top cornerback Tre'Davious White since he lines up wide more often than not in the slot. It doesn't mean he'll be completely shut down, and last week proved he's still part of the Rams' game plan even if he doesn't get a lot of receptions, but this appears to be another matchup where the Rams can attack the middle of the field with slot receivers and tight ends rather than push toward the sidelines and downfield. If Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox could limit Woods last week, then White can this week.
John Brown WR
BUF Buffalo • #15
Age: 30 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Two things are working greatly in Brown's favor. One, teams playing the Bills have a tough time accounting for both him and Stefon Diggs on every play. It's like a lite version of what the Falcons have with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Jalen Ramsey figures to draw Diggs in coverage far more often than Brown. Two, Brown is benefiting from a Buffalo offense that's seemingly decided to not run the ball much (36 rush attempts for their running backs is fifth fewest). Brown already has six receptions of 15-plus yards, but four came on shorter throws that he extended into longer plays. Expect more of the same in a matchup where the Bills may find themselves playing from behind.
The line wants us to believe: Washington just stinks. However, it was the Browns who struggled to slam the door on the Bengals last week, and two weeks ago Washington overcame a rough start to clip the Eagles. Cleveland has the run game and pass rush to win, but by eight or more? I also don't see the Browns getting to their implied total of 26 points. Terry McLaurin helps keep Washington in this low-scoring game.
CLE Cleveland • #80
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Washington's run defense isn't weak and should give the Browns a decent challenge for the better part of the first three quarters. Cleveland should know this, so it's pretty easy to see Baker Mayfield fake a handoff in the red zone before tossing a dart into Landry's chest. He's due for a score, but that's about all the upside he has other than the 50 or 60 yards we might otherwise expect.
The line wants us to believe: The Vikings aren't as bad as they've looked through two weeks. Who's buying that?! Their defense is already in shambles. So why is Tennessee only giving 2.5 points? Because they're on the road? It feels too good to be true. Perhaps the oddsmakers are assuming Tennessee's pass rush won't rattle Kirk Cousins. That would mean big things for Adam Thielen.
Jonnu Smith TE
TEN Tennessee • #81
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Vikings pass defense has played horribly, giving up over 100 yards to backup tight end Mo Alie-Cox in Week 2 and four touchdowns to the Packers' wideouts in Week 1. The biggest issue is that Minnesota can't generate much of a pass rush (just two sacks; sixth-lowest grade per Pro Football Focus). If there's one thing we've learned, it's that if you give Tannehill time, he'll hit his targets with ease. They're all in play against the hapless Vikings.
The line wants us to believe: Honestly, I think the line is set up for people to bet the Raiders. Don't fall for it -- Las Vegas' O-line took a hit with Richie Incognito getting shelved, plus Josh Jacobs is banged up. The Patriots defense didn't hold up at Seattle but bouncing back at home is typically what they do. Expect them to take Darren Waller away from Derek Carr, and Cam Newton should continue to play great.
LV Las Vegas • #83
Age: 28 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Sitting Waller is tough to do, but the Patriots should come up with a good way to keep him contained. It's been 25 regular-season games since a tight end had 10 non-PPR Fantasy points against New England. Why would Bill Belichick waste cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Bryan Edwards or Hunter Renfrow when he can use his size to contend with Waller? That's just one idea -- they could also stick one of their safeties on him or bracket him with a linebacker. Regardless, it'll take a lot of targets for Waller to be good.
The line wants us to believe: The Giants are a hot mess. The truth is, both teams are hot messes. Four big-time playmakers from the 49ers defense won't play, leaving good matchups all over the place for the Giants. Losing Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard stinks, but the Giants should still be able to overcome those losses to contend at home. Darius Slayton and Golden Tate might be the difference-makers for the Giants in an upset win.
Jeff Wilson RB
SF San Francisco • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Maybe the Giants will sense the beaten-up 49ers as a team they can beat, but it takes more than hope to overwhelm one of the league's top offensive lines. And that front five happens to be one area the 49ers haven't incurred major losses so far. True, the G-Men have yet to allow a rushing score to a running back this season, but they have given up well over 100 total yards to a rusher each week. The hunch is that Wilson will work most rushing downs and short-yardage work while McKinnon will pick up all the pass-downs stuff and some carries, too. Full PPR formats will favor McKinnon, non- and half-PPR will favor Wilson.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #86
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Go right back to Slayton after swinging and missing on him in Week 2. He'll face a 49ers secondary without top coverage guy Richard Sherman, and his quarterback won't see three of the Niners' top rushers including Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Jones should have more time to set his feet and throw long, and Slayton should slip past the likes of Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon. It especially helps that Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley won't siphon targets.
The line wants us to believe: That everything's fine with the Eagles and the Bengals stink. But Philadelphia is 0-2 and the Bengals have played two close games so far. Assuming the Eagles win is the easy part -- it's them winning by six-plus that's tough to envision. There should be a bunch of points scored thanks in large part to both starting running backs having strong games.
A.J. Green WR
CIN Cincinnati • #18
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
The Eagles haven't fully committed to letting Darius Slay play as a shadowing shut-down cornerback. Last week, for example, he stayed to one side (the quarterback's right). Given that Green is the Bengals' best outside threat, it would make more sense to have Slay trail him. Not only would that open up the defense to confuse and blitz rookie Joe Burrow, but it might even deter him from passing to Green. Not that the connection has been going so great: on 22 targets, Green has eight catches for 80 yards with two drops.
PHI Philadelphia • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Goedert's riding a 10-game streak where he's had at least six targets. In those 10 games, he's finished with at least 10 PPR points eight times (but seven-plus in non-PPR just four times). The Bengals play a lot of zone defense and figure to have linebackers working against Goedert most of the time. That's a matchup the Eagles can attack, particularly with Jalen Reagor on the shelf for a little while. His presence in the short area should help Carson Wentz negate the Bengals' blitz.
The line wants us to believe: The Texans are competitive. This one's interesting -- I think the oddsmakers could have gotten away with a six- or seven-point line for the Steelers. So why place it at just four? There's nothing impressive with the Texans through two weeks. Naturally, I see this and think it's a trap to take the Steelers. I can't fight the urge, I believe Pittsburgh is the superior team with superior coaching.
PIT Pittsburgh • #18
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
While it's true that the Texans allowed minimal stats to Ravens receivers in Week 2, they still didn't play very well. Outside cornerback Bradley Roby allowed a 100% completion rate, as did safety Justin Reid and defensive back Lonnie Johnson. Passing the ball is clearly part of the Steelers' game plan each week and Johnson is not only the team's target leader but currently tied for third in the NFL with 23 targets. Be warned: the overwhelming majority of those targets aren't just short-range, they're inside of 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. If a game comes along where he sees fewer looks from Ben Roethlisberger, the results could be deflating. That's why it's best to just keep expectations in the flex range.
The line wants us to believe: That the Colts can win in a blowout. Well, they did last week at home against a better Vikings squad, so why not again? The Jets look awful on offense and figure to break again on defense. Jonathan Taylor and TY Hilton are in line for good games.
T.Y. Hilton WR
IND Indianapolis • #13
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
If Hilton can't connect with Philip Rivers here, then when can he?! The Jets secondary has been graded fourth-worst by Pro Football Focus through two weeks thanks in part to four receiving scores allowed (just one to a receiver but two to tight end Jordan Reed last week, who is more like a receiver than a tight end). Hilton literally had a 44-yard touchdown bounce off his wide-open chest last week -- if he catches that like normal, no one's freaking out about him. He's still running with very good speed and quick feet in and out of his cuts. Five deep targets from Rivers over 14 total targets suggests more deep shots are on the horizon.
The line wants us to believe: The Panthers can keep it relatively close with the Chargers. Without Christian McCaffrey, and without a competent defense, that's tougher to believe. I like D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Mike Davis to pick up a lot of completions, but the Panthers shouldn't get to 20 points against the Chargers defense. Meanwhile, L.A. faces their easiest defensive matchup yet -- Carolina's allowed 34 points to Las Vegas and 31 to Tampa Bay. Expect Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley to both gave strong games as the Chargers blast their implied point total of 25.
CAR Carolina • #11
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Perhaps Anderson is the next great player to get better once he's not coached by Adam Gase. Through two weeks, he's been fantastic at collecting targets both short and long in the Panthers quick-throwing scheme. And boy, there are plenty of targets up for grabs with Christian McCaffrey off the field. Bridgewater seems to favor Anderson, too -- there were plays last week where other Panthers were open (and may have been better options for Bridgewater) but instead he completed passes to Anderson. It's true the Chargers secondary is very good, but I feel pretty good about Anderson remaining close to the 9.0 targets per week we've seen so far. Any receiver with that volume and very good speed practically demands usage in Fantasy regardless of opponent.
Mike Davis RB
CAR Carolina • #28
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Panthers don't figure to change their offense and run more with McCaffrey out, and the Chargers figure to keep yielding receptions to running backs. Both are good news for Davis, who impressed as a physical receptor out of the backfield last week. He had as many catches playing in the fourth quarter (seven) as McCaffrey had in seven quarters. It's a good omen for what should be a play-from-behind game script for the Panthers. Helping Davis' cause is a likelihood of not splitting too many touches with teammates along with the goal-line role. Davis is far from a burner, but he fights through tackles and plays with good power. Hopefully that helps him compile good enough numbers in leagues where catches count.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #27
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Kelley has begun his career with at least 10 Fantasy points in back-to-back games. He also might have changed how the Chargers use their running backs after he had 23 carries in Week 2, most for any Bolts rusher since Melvin Gordon had 25 in October 2017. While it's worth noting he struggled with those carries (just 64 yards), his tinkering in the pass game along with good pass protection could give him more appeal. The Panthers run defense stinks -- it has allowed multiple touchdowns to running backs not just the first two weeks of this season, but in seven straight games going back to 2019!
The line wants us to believe: The Lions will keep it close. Frankly, the oddsmakers could have gotten away with the Cardinals as a touchdown favorite. Detroit's defense is awful and Kyler Murray should find the end zone at least four times. So can Matthew Stafford and crew keep up? They actually might, which is why the Lions should lose by less than six thanks to good work in the passing game by Kenny Golladay and D'Andre Swift.
Marvin Jones WR
DET Detroit • #11
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Maybe what Jones needs is Kenny Golladay to come back so that he sees looser coverage. Of course, if Golladay's back then Jones' target share is certain to stay low. Jones only had five games with more than six targets alongside Golladay in 2019 (and was good in three of them). He's already scuffed by without big numbers in two games this season without Golladay. Arizona's secondary isn't dominant but should be considered good enough to keep Jones contained so long as he doesn't see a slew of looks. You should feel OK benching him.
The line wants us to believe: The Broncos can stay within one touchdown of the Buccaneers. Seems preposterous, right? The Broncos have lost so much talent on both sides of the ball, how can they hang with a healthy Tampa Bay squad? Melvin Gordon and Noah Fant have been playing well, and Tom Brady's pass catchers haven't all been as reliable, but when push comes to shove, there's such a talent gap between both teams. I can't resist laying only six points.
TB Tampa Bay • #28
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
It's hard to believe the Bucs will go back to Ronald Jones after Fournette's resurgence last week. In the second half alone, Fournette totaled 83 yards and a touchdown on just six carries with two more receptions. More importantly, he didn't botch any handoffs and wasn't a liability in pass protection. Bruce Arians said this week that he likes having Jones play first before Fournette (and mentioned LeSean McCoy on third downs), but it feels like Fournette is the better fit and the likely touch leader in the backfield. The Broncos run defense finally broke late last week against James Conner and could struggle again late against Fournette. He should be viewed as a No. 2 rusher.
Noah Fant TE
DEN Denver • #87
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
After scoring on the Steelers last week, it became obvious that Fant was the Broncos' best offensive pass catcher. It's probably right to assume he'll see the toughest coverage from the Buccaneers, but if it's too much on Fant then we'll see other receivers (namely the rookies) pick up chunks of yardage. Fant has caught 9 of 11 targets for 15.3 yards per catch and a touchdown per game. Are you really going to sit a player like that, especially against a team with a stingy run defense like the Bucs?
The line wants us to believe: The Seahawks will convincingly pull out another win in a high-scoring game. That statement is almost believable -- seeing them win by six or more, even against a Cowboys team that sports a beat-up O-line, feels unlikely. The public is taking the Seahawks, but they have their own issues that the Cowboys can attack. Look for CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper to be catalysts in keeping Dallas close.
CeeDee Lamb WR
DAL Dallas • #88
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Lamb is second on the Cowboys in targets, catches and yards, but he probably has the best matchup of Dallas' top three receivers. The Seahawks put nickel back Marquise Blair on injured reserve after Week 2, leaving Ugo Amadi with the slot corner job in their zone coverage defense. That should favor Lamb, who has played 116 of 127 snaps in the slot. Helping the cause is a Seahawks pass rush that went from bad to worse following Bruce Irvin's season ending early. A comfortable Dak Prescott should lead to big numbers for his feisty young receiver.
The line wants us to believe: The Saints won't be as bad at home in prime time as they were on the road last week in prime time. They're doing enough to get by without Michael Thomas, but the Packers defense is a better unit than the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones are playing too well for the Packers not to at least compete. Getting three points with the Packers seems like a dream ... which might mean it could end up like a nightmare.
GB Green Bay • #12
Age: 36 • Experience: 16 yrs.
I know it seems useless to start Rodgers without his best receiver, but had you done exactly that in three of four games last season without Adams, you would have missed out on some big games. Rodgers had 275-plus yards and multiple scores in three matchups without Adams in 2019, leaning on Jones and Jamaal Williams to help shoulder some of the receiving load. In an effort to see if he could replicate that in 2020, I checked how the Saints cover running backs out of the backfield. Most of the time they play zone defense, which both runners can exploit. I also don't think the Saints have someone who could line up with Jones in man coverage (Malcolm Jenkins usually draws faster running backs). Assuming Rodgers targets those backs again without Adams on the field, he should find at least good totals against the Saints.
Drew Brees QB
NO New Orleans • #9
Age: 41 • Experience: 20 yrs.
True, Brees completed 68.4% of his throws last Monday against the Raiders, but he just didn't seem quite right. The zip and power in his arm is seemingly fading, and it shows. Brees has attempted just eight deep passes with four completions, three of which went for under 20 yards. If the Packers know Brees' arm isn't as dangerous as it used to be, and they won't have to contend with Michael Thomas, then they can probably blitz a little bit more to create some takeaways. Brees' track record in home prime-time games is impeccable, but the Packers have done a good enough job keeping Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford under 24 Fantasy points. Brees doesn't have the ridiculous upside to keep him in lineups ahead of guys like Cam Newton, Gardner Minshew and Ryan Tannehill.
The line wants us to believe: The Super Bowl champs won't even stay within three points of the Ravens. I think the line was made to keep money even on both sides. Baltimore's played dominant football and the Chiefs struggled on the road last week and are on the road again. Honestly, it feels like a fair line but I suspect Lamar Jackson will love the matchups for his receivers.
Mark Ingram RB
BAL Baltimore • #21
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
There wasn't much doubt who the Ravens' top running back was in Week 2. Ingram played the most snaps (42%) and saw three red-zone carries and a red-zone target. Only Gus Edwards got a red-zone carry for the Ravens, and he played as many snaps as J.K. Dobbins. Of course we'd love Ingram to see more touches, but at least he's the one getting a majority be it overall or in the red zone. Hopefully it continues against a Chiefs run defense that gave up 7.0 yards per carry to David Johnson and 5.8 yards per tote to Austin Ekeler in consecutive games. The oddsmakers at William Hill have the point total at 54, the third-highest mark of the week. It should mean there will be lots of touchdowns available. Hopefully Ingram lands one.
The line wants us to believe: Miami's offense isn't good enough to compete with Jacksonville's. That feels pretty accurate, especially since the Dolphins defense has crumbled against Cam Newton and Josh Allen. Gardner Minshew has been playing great, James Robinson has been a legit find and the O-line has played better than expected.
Mike Gesicki TE
MIA Miami • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
It's just two games, but Gesicki leads all Dolphins in targets (16), catches (11) and yards (160) with one score. The fact he accomplished these numbers against the Patriots and Bills makes them all the more impressive. The Jaguars got torn to shreds by Jonnu Smith, who basically dominated safeties Josh Jones and Andrew Wingard. If we learned last week that Miami will gladly attack a favorable matchup with Gesicki, then we should apply it to this week.
MIA Miami • #11
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
C.J. Henderson has impressed as a starting outside cornerback for the Jaguars, but is he good enough to call a shut-down corner? Maybe one day, but not on a short week against Parker, who has looked good despite not having a blow-up game yet. Maybe lining up against the Patriots and Bills had something to do with it.
MIA Miami • #14
Age: 37 • Experience: 16 yrs.
Look, if I'm gonna like Gesicki and Parker, then maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves some consideration. Podcast host extraordinaire Adam Aizer noted that Fitzmagic has 24-plus Fantasy points in six of his past eight games going back to last season. The two games he didn't hit the mark? Against the Jets, when Parker got hurt, and against the Patriots in Week 1. Jacksonville allowed four scores to Ryan Tannehill last week and 363 yards to Philip Rivers in the season opener. I'd chance it with Fitzpatrick over Drew Brees, Joe Burrow and Baker Mayfield.
JAC Jacksonville • #15
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Through two games, Minshew is completing 75.4% of his throws for 7.88 yards per attempt with an unsustainable-yet-impressive 9.2% touchdown rate. When he faces a tough pass defense, these numbers will hit the skids, but that's not expected to be the case versus Miami. Top cornerback Byron Jones isn't expected to play and Xavien Howard has allowed a 75% completion rate and a score already. The surprising depth of the Jaguars receiving corps has helped Minshew, as has a better-than-expected offensive line.
JAC Jacksonville • #38
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
The Dolphins run defense ranks fourth-worst (164.0 rush yards per game) and has allowed the 13th-most rush yards to running backs (212). It has also seen teams that divvy up their rushing roles. The Jaguars haven't done that yet -- Robinson has taken all but two of the team's running back carries and all but 18 of the team's total carries (including Minshew and Laviska Shenault). He even offers a glimmer of PPR hope thanks to three receptions in Week 2. Robinson's matchup is good and his opportunity is even better.
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 3 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.