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Fantasy Football: Week 3 sit-start advice

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Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 3 lineups.

Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Start: Cardinals D/ST, Marvin Jones

While Kyler Murray looks like an MVP candidate, the Cardinals’ defense quietly ranks No. 6 in DVOA and has recorded seven sacks. Both teams run at a fast pace that will result in a bunch of plays, and Trevor Lawrence will likely be forced to play from behind. The rookie QB has gotten an ugly 5.4 YPA, thrown five picks, and ranks last in CPOE by a mile. His coach has somehow been even worse, and the Jags have lost 17 straight games.

They are like the Bucs, only the opposite.

Jones has 20 targets and scored twice over the first two weeks of the season, as he continues to act as Jacksonville’s clear WR1 like he did throughout the preseason. The Jaguars aren’t likely to have much success running, so Jones figures to remain busy Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

Start: Titans D/ST

Sit: Michael Pittman

The Titans don’t have a very good defense, but they are a streaming option in Week 3 against a Colts team that looks forced to start a Jacob Eason/Brent Hundley combo or a badly hobbled Carson Wentz playing through two sprained ankles without practicing. With Tennessee five-point home favorites, its D/ST is a viable fantasy option.

Pittman is coming off an impressive performance and can still be a flex option for those in need, but he’s safer benched this week given the team’s dire QB situation. Only Jonathan Taylor (who leads the NFL in carries inside the 10 yet hasn’t scored) among Colts can be safely used in fantasy lineups this week.

Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions

Start: Marquise Brown, Quintez Cephus

Brown has eight touchdowns over his last eight regular-season games and has become a weekly fantasy must-start. Be sure to check his status while he deals with an ankle issue, but assuming he’s good to go, Brown has a highly favorable matchup on turf against a Lions defense that ranks last in pass defense DVOA while allowing a league-high 10.8 YPA.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (5)
Marquise Brown has been living up to his "Hollywood" nickname of late. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Cephus has emerged as Detroit’s No. 1 wideout and has quietly scored in three straight games. He’s been targeted inside the five-yard line each of the first two weeks this year, and Tyrell Williams was recently placed on IR. The Ravens are dealing with injuries and have allowed the second-most yards per play this season, while the Lions have ramped up the pace when trailing and have proven more than capable of compiling garbage time stats (at worst).

Washington Football Team @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: Football Team D/ST

Start: Bills D/ST

Washington’s defense ranks just 18th in DVOA after two weeks and may have been slightly overdrafted in fantasy leagues thanks to beating up bad and backup quarterbacks over a long stretch last season. WFT’s defense will play better, but they likely won’t score many fantasy points this week in Buffalo facing a due Josh Allen.

The Bills spent each of their first two draft picks on defensive ends and have allowed the fewest YPA (4.9) in the league by a full half yard to open the season. Buffalo has also recorded the second-most sacks (eight) and is near double-digit home favorites. Taylor Heinicke has played well, but this will be his first road game this season, and it’s against a defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Bills have an argument to be the No. 1 fantasy defense this week and are a steal at $11 in Yahoo DFS.

New Orleans Saints @ New England Patriots

Sit: All Saints but Alvin Kamara

Start: James White

No one is sitting Kamara, but he’s a candidate for the Bill Belichick stopping-opponents’-best-player treatment (see Corey Davis last week). Jameis Winston and all New Orleans pass catchers are tough to trust outdoors in this matchup.

White has been a top-12 PPR fantasy back to open the season, and he should be extra busy this week against a Saints defense that’s allowing just 2.8 YPC and with Mac Jones constantly working underneath. Ironically, New Orleans being tough on running backs might help White’s fantasy value this week, as Damien Harris (who’s also dealing with a finger injury) may struggle.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Start in DFS: Mike Williams ($18), Mecole Hardman ($11)

Williams simply looks like a top-15 fantasy wide receiver in Joe Lombardi’s “X” role that includes a much lower aDOT than he’s been given throughout his career. He’s seeing identical usage as Keenan Allen from a star quarterback. In a game with the slate’s highest total (55.5 points) and on an LA offense that’s had to punt just once all season, Williams’ salary is way too low as barely a top-30 WR.

Hardman is off to a slow start this season but tied for the team-high in targets with eight last week. He continues to act as Kansas City’s clear WR2 with Sammy Watkins out of town and ranked top-10 in air yards last week. Kansas City has the highest implied team total in Week 3, and Hardman is near the minimum salary.

Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants

Sit: Mike Davis

Start: Daniel Jones

Davis has started with a couple of tough matchups and is still seeing a good number of targets, but he’s splitting more work than expected with Cordarrelle Patterson, and Arthur Smith has been a huge disappointment (Matt Ryan is suddenly averaging the fewest intended air yards after the team drafted Kyle Pitts).

Jones had four games with 25+ fantasy points as a rookie, and it’s possible some of last season’s struggles were due to playing through an injury. He looks way better this season for the Giants (7.5 YPA) and like a top-15 QB for fantasy (at minimum) with his rushing ability (he even ranks first in Aggressive%).

Facing a Falcons defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, Jones should be considered a QB1 this week and a strong DFS option at just $25. I’d like to personally extend an apology to Jones for repeatedly referring to him as “Daniel Dogecoin” over the summer, as Dimes deserves better.

Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns

Start: Justin Fields

Start in DFS: Baker Mayfield ($22)

This doesn’t look like the easiest setup for a debut, but the Browns have yielded the third-most fantasy points to QBs this year (and are one of only two teams to allow multiple rushing scores from a quarterback). Hopefully, Fields’ passing chart expands with a full week of practice, but it’s his rushing that makes him so appealing right away; the over/under for his rushing yards are anywhere from 40-45 this game, highlighting his floor. Good luck to Andy Dalton ever getting the job back from this guy

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1)
Justin Fields could have a successful fantasy day against the Browns. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Mayfield doesn’t have a huge ceiling in this game and will be missing Jarvis Landry, but he should get Odell Beckham Jr. back and his salary is simply too cheap. Despite dealing with his (non-throwing) shoulder popping in and out last week, Mayfield has opened the year getting a whopping 10.9 YPA (only Russell Wilson is better), and regression is coming after seven of the team’s eight touchdowns have come on the ground.

Chicago’s defense played better last week but had major issues in its secondary when on the road to open the year. The Browns have the second-highest implied team total of the week, so Mayfield (who leads the NFL in completion percentage over expectation) is going to be a major profit at the near minimum.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Start in DFS: Bengals D/ST ($11), Najee Harris ($19)

The Steelers have a shaky offensive line and a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger (who’s got a hurt pec and is also complaining about his new OC already). Moreover, Diontae Johnson is dealing with an injured knee, and Cincinnati’s defense quietly ranks No. 7 in DVOA, so they are appealing as a streamer or the near DFS minimum.

Harris continues to benefit from seeing all of Pittsburgh’s backfield touches but also must deal with a struggling offensive line that’s seen him contacted behind the line of scrimmage more than any other RB to open the year. With Roethlisberger and Johnson hurting, Harris is looking at 20+ touches Sunday.

Miami Dolphins @ Las Vegas Raiders

Sit: Jaylen Waddle

Start: Derek Carr

Waddle can clearly play and has a bright future, but he’s tough to start Sunday with Jacoby Brissett taking over at QB and Will Fuller returning at WR. The Dolphins’ struggling offensive line up against a Raiders pass rush producing a bunch of pressure is also seeming bad news for downfield threat Fuller during his return to action.

Carr shockingly leads the league in air yards after two weeks, resulting in 8.8 YPA and 408.5 passing yards per game. Not too bad considering his opponents have been the Steelers and Ravens, and Las Vegas’ offensive line has been a problem. He’s second behind only Patrick Mahomes in total EPA. Josh Jacobs will either be inactive or limited, and Peyton Barber is unlikely to run with much success. There’s some volume concern with Miami forced to start Jacoby Brissett at QB, but Carr sure looks like a weekly fantasy start until proven otherwise.

New York Jets @ Denver Broncos

Sit: All Jets but Corey Davis

Start: Melvin Gordon

Expect a conservative Jets game plan after last week’s Zach Wilson experience, and it won’t be easy traveling to Denver to face the Broncos playing their first home game of the season. Davis can be started depending on format, but his upside is limited given his QB and facing a tough Broncos defense.

Gordon ranks No. 2 in rush yards over expectation (Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranks last) and ran more routes than Christian McCaffrey last week. Gordon also saw a 20% increase in snaps over Javonte Williams last week, and the Broncos are the slate’s biggest favorites, so game script should be favorable.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams

Start in DFS: Chris Godwin ($22), Tyler Higbee ($16)

The total for this game is 55.5 points, and the Bucs don’t trust their running backs at all. There’s going to be a ton of passing stats in this game, and Antonio Brown is a big question mark after recently testing positive for COVID. Last week was Mike Evans’ turn, and Godwin produced Tom Brady’s highest yards per target mark of any WR during his career last season. Fire Godwin (and Evans) up in DFS lineups this week.

Higbee was a bust last week while seeing just one target, but the trends remained otherwise highly encouraging with Gerald Everett gone. Higbee played 100% of the snaps and ran routes from the slot or out wide on nearly half of Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks. He now gets the No. 1 pass-funnel defense in football, and LA’s feature back Darrell Henderson will likely be playing at less than full strength with bruised ribs. Higbee should see far more action this week.

Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings

Start in DFS: DK Metcalf ($29)

Start: Kirk Cousins

Metcalf has taken a backseat to Tyler Lockett over the first two weeks, but Sunday looks like a good time to blow up after turning 11 targets into just 53 scoreless yards last week. Russell Wilson leads the NFL with 11.1 YPA, while Metcalf leads the league in end-zone targets since being drafted. The touchdowns are going to come in bunches.

Cousins’ ECR (“expert consensus ranking”) this week is QB15, which seems low given the Vikings are at home and have one of this slate’s highest implied team totals (27.0 points). His 8.3 YPA last season was second-best in football, and he’s posted a 5:0 TD:INT this season without playing at home yet. Especially with a banged-up Dalvin Cook (and an emerging K.J. Osborn as a dangerous WR3), I rank Captain Kirk as a top-10 QB this week.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Sit: AJ Dillon

Start: Trey Sermon (gulp)

Dillon hasn’t taken over the Jamaal Williams role as hoped, making him more of an upside stash rather than a flex option. The 49ers have a stout front seven, and both teams rank bottom-10 in pace this season.

This is risky (and especially so with the Sunday night game time) and a low floor play, as Sermon was concussed during his first and only career carry last week. It was also quite possibly San Francisco’s best carry of the day, and presumed starter Elijah Mitchell missed practice this week with a shoulder injury that turned out to be worse than a stinger (he’s also left a lot of yards on the field).

Again, this could turn into Jacques Patrick getting the bulk of the work, as Kyle Shanahan seemingly relishes trolling, but the team traded up for Sermon supposedly because of his fit in SF’s outside zone scheme (albeit a much slower fit). Given the matchup, San Francisco’s backfield is the wild card of Week 3.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: DeVonta Smith

Sit: Tony Pollard

The rookie was close to a much bigger game last week, and Smith’s speed will play well on Dallas’ turf against a Cowboys defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Jalen Reagor also looks improved and could easily have much better numbers; he’s a worthy start in deeper formats.

Pollard is coming off a big game against LAC’s run-funnel defense, and he’s put himself into flex consideration, but realize it came while playing 33.9% of the snaps. He’ll get a tougher matchup this week, although Philadelphia’s loss of Brandon Graham helps out.

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