Week 3 Start Em Sit Em: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2013

Week 3 Start Em Sit Em: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More

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    Week 2 is in the books, so now it's time to take an early look at this week's fantasy football "Start 'em and Sit 'em" picks.

    Before we do that, though, let's take a look back at how things went last week.


    Carson Palmer: 248 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT

    Mike Vick: 428 yards passing, 2 TD, 23 yards rushing, 1 TD

    LeSean McCoy: 53 yards rushing, 5 catches, 114 yards receiving

    DeSean Jackson: 9 catches, 193 yards receiving, 1 TD

    Jerome Simpson: 2 catches, 49 yards receiving


    C.J. Spiller: 103 yards rushing, 4 catches, 26 yards receiving

    James Jones: 11 catches, 178 yards receiving


    Wes Welker: 3 catches, 39 yards receiving, 1 TD

    Alex Smith: 223 yards passing, 2 TD

    Andy Dalton: 280 yards passing, 1 TD

    You can count the "50/50" category however you want. They ended up being middling starts—not great, not bad (depending on scoring). 

    I was close on the Spiller call—one 46-yard run away from being right. Then again, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so that's a miss. On the other hand, LeSean McCoy's unexpected receiving performance helped round out a perfect trifecta on last week's Eagles predictions.

    So, it evens out.

    This week, we've got another full slate of selections. Let me know whom you are definitely starting and certainly avoiding in the comments.

    *All gamebook statistics are via NFL.com and ESPN.com.

START: Greg Olsen, Tight End, Carolina Panthers

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    Like the rest of the Carolina Panthers, tight end Greg Olsen struggled in Week 1, though he was targeted nine times.

    It's tough to make headway against the very tough Seattle Seahawks defense (as the San Francisco 49ers discovered Sunday night), but it was somewhat easier against the Buffalo Bills, when Olsen totaled 84 yards and a touchdown.

    He'll be facing a New York Giants team which has been lit up by tight ends in the first two weeks of the season.

    In Week 1, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten blew up the defense with eight catches for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This past Sunday, Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos walked away with six catches for 47 yards and a touchdown.

    That's a pair of good tight-end performances. Expect Olsen to end up somewhere in between those two totals, and he's a surefire start in the coming week.

SIT: Roddy White, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons

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    According to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora, Roddy White continues to fight off a high-ankle sprain and it could take weeks for him to get right.

    So just write this down and put it somewhere visible to remind you over the next few weeks: Until further notice, White is not to be in your lineup!

    This sucks, because you probably grabbed White pretty high in your draft. But he's not healthy and he's not getting targets, with Matt Ryan throwing to him just six times in two weeks.

    Wait for him to practice regularly, and then you'll begin to see him targeted in games rather than used merely as a decoy.

    Until he starts showing signs of life, you can't risk him in your lineup.

START: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins

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    Your biggest concern with Ryan Tannehill is the one thing out of his—and your—control.

    His offensive line may just get him killed.

    Tannehill has been sacked nine times (tied for second in the league) and hit a dozen times.

    Disregard that, though, because so far Tannehill has been fairly impressive.

    Tannehill has thrown for 591 yards and two touchdowns, with just one interception. Considering the amount of pressure he's under, that's exceptional.

    He's also shown that if you cover one of his guys, he'll kill you with someone else.

    Week 1 saw Mike Wallace covered and Brian Hartline lighting it up to the tune of 114 yards and a touchdown, while Week 2 saw Hartline covered and Wallace total 115 yards and a touchdown.

    Tannehill is moving the ball and getting some solid fantasy points. The Dolphins need to improve his protection, but he should find plenty of room to throw the ball against Atlanta's 29th-ranked pass defense.

    If you have any issues at quarterback and Tannehill can still be found on the waiver wire, pick him up and start him this week.

SIT: Chris Ivory, Running Back, New York Jets

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    Normally, the problem with a Jets fantasy player is the team on which he plays.

    The other typical reason for avoiding Chris Ivory is that he's injury-prone.

    However, the Jets have a rookie quarterback and problems at wide receiver. You'd think they want to run, right?

    Well, as far as last Thursday is concerned, wrong.

    Despite the pouring rain and the issues Geno Smith was having, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg wasn't all that interested in running the ball.

    Furthermore, he didn't insert Ivory during most of the fourth quarter because New York was in passing mode, and Mornhinweg prefers Bilal Powell on passing downs.

    So, you have a team likely to be trailing late in the game that will be forced to abandon the run and an offensive coordinator who opts to go with a different look in the backfield on passing downs.

    Ivory has shown flashes of ability—he just may never get a chance to use it.

START: Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings

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    In Week 1, it looked like Greg Jennings and Christian Ponder weren't on the same page, but that was not the case against the Chicago Bears.

    Jennings did a very nice job of making catches against one of the best corner tandems in the NFL today, catching five balls for 84 yards on six targets.

    While he will face a tough matchup at times against the Cleveland Browns' Joe Haden, he'll also see Chris Owens, a guy he definitely can overcome.

    Jennings is looking like his old self as well, healthy and able to make some tough catches.

    Feel confident with him in your lineup this week.

SIT: Daryl Richardson, Running Back, St. Louis Rams

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    While not inspiring, Daryl Richardson has done a fairly good job running the ball, but he's going to have a tougher time this week against a Dallas Cowboys run defense that has held the primary backs it's faced to minimal yards.

    The one saving grace could be receiving yards, as Richardson has compiled 78 yards through the air thus far. But he's yet to sniff the end zone and that's unlikely to change against the Cowboys.

START: Steve Johnson, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

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    Steve Johnson has scored touchdowns in two straight games and totaled 150 yards on 11 catches, most of which came last week against the Carolina Panthers.

    The Jets have a good pass defense, but their secondary has issues. Antonio Cromartie has struggled to get back to the level of play he showed when Darrelle Revis went down last season, while rookie Dee Milliner was burned so frequently against the New England Patriots that he was benched.

    The last time these two teams met, Johnson ran circles around the Jets to the tune of 111 yards.

    Johnson is a handful to stop, and quarterback EJ Manuel will go to him early and often to jump out to a quick lead, enabling the Bills defense to press Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith in an attempt to force some turnovers.

    While the Jets will surely pressure Manuel, he'll unload plenty of passes to Johnson, and there is precious little in the secondary to stop him from hauling them all in.

SIT: Eli Manning, Quarterback, New York Giants

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    It's not all on Eli Manning. Sure, he could make better choices—when you throw seven interceptions in two games, you've made some bad choices—but it's because he's trying to do too much.

    His backfield is a wasteland and his defense is shaky.

    So Manning is pressing and it's causing as many problems as it solves—maybe more.

    The upside is the Carolina Panthers haven't generated a ton of interceptions. The downside is they have only allowed a pair of passing touchdowns.

    This is a bad matchup. In general, Manning is a marginal fantasy quarterback who can be a bit inconsistent and is turning the ball over too often right now.

    It's best to pass on him until things settle down, which they will.

    Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.