Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Last-Minute Decisions on Sunday's Fantasy Stars

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

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

Don't worry. There's still plenty of time before you have to answer those make-or-break fantasy questions going into Week 3.

This is an important week for quite a few fantasy owners. You don't want to start the season 1-2 or heaven forbid 0-3. The door isn't completely closed on the playoffs, but you're relying on a big run in the middle part of the season in order to vault into the top half of your league.

You'll want to make sure you've got the best possible matchups to give your team its optimal chance to win.

In an effort to help make those tough choices, here are players you should either put in your starting lineup, or give serious consideration to benching.



Start 'Em: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Sep 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) calls an audible in the second half against the St. Louis Rams at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The case could be made that Matt Ryan hasn't lived up to the fantasy hype yet. In some leagues, he probably hasn't even had more fantasy points than the likes of Alex Smith, Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub.

Ryan has passed for 674 yards but just four touchdowns and an interception. Those are solid numbers, but when it comes to fantasy, they're not elite.

Expect a return to form from the Atlanta Falcons quarterback this weekend.

Steven Jackson is out this week, as reported by SportsCenter's official Twitter account:

That will put more pressure on Ryan and give him more chances to throw.


Sit 'Em: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Nothing is really working in Andrew Luck's favor this week.

Firstly, he has to go on the road and play against a motivated San Francisco 49ers team, one that will be smarting from a 26-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have a good defense that has underperformed in the first two weeks and will be looking to set things right in Week 3.

In addition, Trent Richardson, while a great pickup, is still relatively new to the Indianapolis Colts. He doesn't have a great knowledge of Chuck Pagano's system. Until Richardson has time to learn the pass-blocking schemes, he's not going to help Luck all that much. Plus, if anything, his running ability will demand that he get the ball more, taking it out of Luck's hands.


Running Backs

Start 'Em: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) smiles prior to the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers have had a terrible defense so far in 2013, giving up 6.0 yards per play to the Houston Texans and then 8.8 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jake Locker should be able to have some success in Week 3, which could be a good thing for Chris Johnson. Defenses won't be able to load up as much to stop him.

Even against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, Johnson still had 70 yards. Gains should be much easier to come by against the Chargers. He'll also have plenty of red-zone opportunities to try to get his first touchdown of the season.


Sit 'Em: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

Sep 15, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) runs with the ball as Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) pursues during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Carolina 27-26. Mandatory Cr
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

You have to give the New York Jets credit in one category. Their offense might be a black hole, but their defense remains one of the best in the league.

Through the first two games, they've given up 119 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Football Outsiders has the Jets ranked No. 1 in rush defense.

Doug Martin might have gotten 65 yards in Week 1, but they came on 24 caries. He's more of a workhorse back than Spiller, who only had 24 carries once in 2012.

The problem for the Bills running back will be getting a high enough volume of carries to put up a strong fantasy performance.


Wide Receivers

Start 'Em: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

Officially, Larry Fitzgerald is listed as questionable for Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints, according to the Saints' official Twitter account):

However, it appears the wideout has no intention of missing today's game, per's Darren Urban:

The New Orleans Saints defense has improved a lot with the arrival of Rob Ryan and the return of Sean Payton. Still, this secondary is there for the taking.

Carson Palmer has put up surprisingly good numbers so far, and he should continue doing so with his No. 1 target available.

Fitzgerald will get plenty of chances to rack up fantasy points.


Sit 'Em: Victor Cruz, New York Giants

Sep 15, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) celebrates after making a catch during 1st quarter against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Sooner or later, you have to expect some regression to the mean for Victor Cruz. He's not going to record 118 receiving yards every game.

You can expect that regression in Week 3.

The New York Giants' rushing game can't possibly get any worse, so David Wilson or Brandon Jacobs should be more effective, taking the emphasis off Cruz a little bit.

In addition, he's going up against a motivated Carolina Panthers team that hasn't played up to its potential yet in 2013.

It should be a very close game as well, so the Giants won't be trying to throw themselves back into the contest, like they've had to do in their first two games. Cruz should have solid numbers in Week 3. Just don't expect anything like what he's put up so far.


Tight Ends

Start 'Em: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (56) during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to call what Tyler Eifert had in Week 2 a breakout game. Sure, he had 66 yards on three receptions, but 61 of those yards came on one play.

The rookie won't become an elite tight end this season because he's got Jermaine Gresham standing in his way. However, Eifert should get enough targets to become a reliable No. 1 option for owners who don't already have a top-five tight end.

Against a defense as spotty as the Green Bay Packers', Eifert should get seven to 10 targets in the passing game.


Sit 'Em: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns

Sep 8, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) celebrates his 7-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, just go ahead and unload any Browns players you have. Cleveland has already given up on this season, and it's going to hurt guys like Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.

As if it wasn't bad enough that Brandon Weeden was throwing the ball, just imagine how bad Brian Hoyer is going to be. Occasionally a backup quarterback can succeed when handed a starting opportunity. However, this is a guy who was so bad the Arizona Cardinals decided Ryan Lindley was a better option under center.

Cameron carved out a niche in the first two weeks as the best target in the Browns' passing game, but that's going to change with Gordon returning from his suspension. Plus, with Hoyer as the signal-caller, it's anybody's guess how much opportunity Cameron will have to put up strong fantasy numbers.


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