Fantasy Football Start Em, Sit Em Week 3: Tough Choices That Will Sway Matchups

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after an incomplete pass in the second quarter while taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Life is hard, and setting your fantasy football lineup only makes it harder.

Our fun, silly distraction instead turns into a source of stress for gamers contemplating which players to insert into a starting role. There's nothing worse than watching Knowshon Moreno explode on your bench while David Wilson delivers another disappointing outing. (Unless you're a New York Giants fan, in which case that's a triple whammy.)

This week presents managers with a new assortment of decisions to pile through before the weekend. Every weekend counts, so toss your work aside and focus on assembling the optimal fantasy lineup.

Here are some recommendations for players who could leave many owners dumbfounded.

Start - QB Tom Brady (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Your team might feature a circumstance that warrants benching Tom Brady.

That's the flaw of branding every tidbit of fantasy advice with start or sit: It's blind to your specific situation.

His 52.7 completion percentage and 5.2 yards per attempt should concern his owners, and he likely has another week ahead with Julian Edelman serving as his top target.

But it's hard to picture many owners having a better alternative to Tom Brady.

If Michael Vick is waiting for the hot tag off your bench, sit Brady. Just don't get cute and start Sam Bradford or Philip Rivers instead.

Sit - QB Andrew Luck (at San Francisco 49ers)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 15:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes the ball during the NFL game against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The same sentiments for Brady could apply here, but let's hope you paired Andrew Luck with another high-end quarterback.

After getting stomped by the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers will be hungry for revenge at home. Don't test your luck against Jim Harbaugh if it's at all avoidable.

Even in defeat, San Francisco limited Russell Wilson to eight completions for 145 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The fellow sophomore will have to pass more without the luxury of a huge lead, but the results won't be great.

Eli Manning or Carson Palmer would make a better play this weekend than Luck.

Start - RB Joique Bell (at Washington Redskins)

Joique Bell is poised to cash in with a monster week if Reggie Bush can't play.

Bush suffered a knee injury last Sunday, but's Michael Rothstein reported that the running back is "optimistic about playing" against Washington

Even if Bush is present to block Bell's path, the No. 2 rusher is still worth a shot against the league's worst defense through two games.

Washington made James Starks look like a star last week, allowing 132 rushing yards to allow Green Bay its first 100-yard rusher since 2010. 

Bell has wreaked havoc in the receiving game with 10 catches for 108 yards, and he added two short touchdowns in Week 1 with a healthy Bush present. Play Bell with confidence regardless of Bush's injury status.

Sit - RB James Starks (at Cincinnati Bengals)

The aforementioned Starks stepped up for an injured Eddie Lacy and will start this Sunday against the Bengals.

After encouraging everyone to grab him off the waiver wire, now is a bad time to mention that he won't accomplish much in his first start of the season.

One game can't offset his 3.6 yards per carry last season or his three career touchdowns through 24 games. His performance against Washington established him as a matchup play, but Cincinnati is not that matchup.

The Bengals have allowed 2.8 yards per carry this season, limiting Matt Forte to 50 rushing yards during Week 1. Expect Starks to fall back to earth.

Start - WR Antonio Brown (vs. Chicago Bears)

Will the solid Antonio Brown ever deliver some big plays?

Brown has netted at least five receptions in nine of his past 14 games despite not registering a 100-yard performance during that stretch. He's getting looks at Ben Roethlisberger's new No. 1 target in Pittsburgh, but he is hardly replacing Mike Wallace as a major fantasy performer.

With seven career scores, the touchdowns need to come to make Brown a sturdy No. 2 wideout. His lack of breakout upside may limit him to flex-play status, but his dependability to come home with some points still makes him a nice option.

If Brown sustains his current pace he'd finish with the quietest 88-catch, 1,024-yard season in a long time. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, so the Steelers will eventually convert some touchdowns.

Sit - WR Roddy White (at Miami Dolphins)

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 08:  at Georgia Dome on August 8, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

How long can managers get burned by an injured Roddy White?

Hardly himself battling an injured ankle, White has mustered five catches for 40 yards through two games. This is not the Roddy White we've fallen for over the years. This is not the Roddy White we want to grow old with as our teams tumble down the standings.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, the banged-up veteran returned to practice on Thursday, which is encouraging for his availability this Sunday at Miami. But at this point owners should not celebrate until he actually does something on the field.

Make White prove his health before keeping him active, even if it risks missing a good week.

Start - TE Jared Cook (at Dallas Cowboys)

Don't let one poor week scare you away.

Jared Cook followed a masterful seven-catch, 141-yard, two-touchdown outing by grabbing one ball for 10 yards last week against the Atlanta Falcons. That inconsistency will drive his owners crazy, but he showed what can accomplish on a good day.

Bradford has already thrown 93 passes through two games, so the Rams are making a commitment to the aerial assault—that bodes well for Cook.

Anyone turning away from Cook so soon better have a great alternative lined up for duty.

Sit - TE Kyle Rudolph (vs. Cleveland Browns)

You were warned.

Practically everyone offering fantasy football analysis preached caution against drafting Kyle Rudolph, who tallied 53 receptions and nine touchdowns last season. Turning 17 percent of his catches into scores is not a sustainable habit.

Rudolph found the end zone last week, but the third-year tight end has just five catches to his name this season.

When starting Rudolph, you're going all in on him scoring a touchdown, otherwise the week is a waste. The Minnesota Vikings don't have to score many points to beat a Cleveland Browns squad with a strong defense but futile offense, so it's a poor bet to make this Sunday.


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