Week 3 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Advice on Top Fantasy Football Stars

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2017

September 17, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the infancy stages of the latest fantasy football season stirred up nothing short of chaos. 

Going into Week 3, names like Kareem Hunt, Ty Montgomery, Todd Gurley, Alex Smith and Trevor Siemian rank among the top scorers. 

Put another way: a breakout player whose first real action was a fumble, a former wideout playing running back, a bounce-back candidate and two quarterbacks not even flirting with being relevant in the minds of most fantasy owners before the season. 

Like we all predicted, right? To help with the chaos, let's compare some of the top matchups in tabular format and analyze tough start/sit scenarios based on Yahoo 12-team standard formats. 

         

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Matthew Stafford (ATL) vs. Aaron Rodgers (CIN)Aaron Rodgers
Cam Newton (NO) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (@CHI)Cam Newton
Jay Cutler (@NYJ) vs. Derek Carr (@WAS)Jay Cutler
Kirk Cousins (OAK) vs.Tom Brady (HOU)Tom Brady
Matt Ryan (@DET) vs. Jared Goff (@SF)Matt Ryan
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Cam Newton (vs. NO)

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 17: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts against the Buffalo Bills during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The knee-jerk reaction to seeing Cam Newton's name here is probably something along the lines of "no kidding," which is completely understandable. 

But keep in mind the Carolina Panthers quarterback hasn't even hit the 15-point mark in a game despite opening the season with a cupcake against the San Francisco 49ers; plus he took six sacks in Week 2. 

Newton is a little riskier than face value might suggest—until we throw his opponent into the concoction. 

These New Orleans Saints coughed up 30.78 points to Tom Brady in Week 2. Newton isn't Brady, but the unit also let Sam Bradford tally 25.54 in Week 1. Thanks to the Saints, Newton could go from getting sacked six times to being a top scorer in a matter of days. 

           

Star to Sit: Carson Wentz (vs. NYG)

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17:  Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half on September 17, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

At such an easy position to stream on a weekly basis, owners might like the idea of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz against a New York Giants team that has simply been bullied to start the year. 

Don't. 

Wentz posted 25.82 points in Week 2 (on 46 pass attempts), one big lucky gain to tight end Zach Ertz and wound up leading the team in rushing with 55 yards. 

By comparison, the mediocre Giants are still strong against quarterbacks, having yet letting an opposing signal-caller hit the 20-point mark. In Week 2, Matthew Stafford only tallied 13.18 points against the unit. 

Against a defense that now knows him well, Wentz is in for a ho-hum day. 

        

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Le'Veon Bell (@CHI) vs. Todd Gurley (@SF)Todd Gurley
Kareem Hunt (@LAC) vs. Jay Ajayi (@NYJ)Kareem Hunt
Christian McCaffery (NO) vs. Lamar Miller (@NE)Lamar Miller
Melvin Gordon (KC) vs. Ty Montgomery (CIN)Melvin Gordon
Dalvin Cook (TB) vs. Leonard Fournette (BAL)Dalvin Cook
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Todd Gurley (at SF)

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams runs the ball during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Ima
Harry How/Getty Images

Let's dive deeper on Gurley. 

A year ago, he mustered all of six touchdowns on a 3.2 yard-per-carry average while the offense around him remained grounded. Through two games this season, the Georgia product already has two touchdowns and outputs of 15.6 and 23.6 points. 

In a game against the 49ers in Week 3, Gurley might keep the escalating weekly point total going. The 49ers let Carolina's backs combine for more than 20 points in Week 1, then let Seattle Seahawks unknown Chris Carson gain 93 yards on the way to 10 points the week after. 

With a respectable passing game backing him, Gurley should have the top total at his position in Week 3. 

          

Star to Sit: C.J. Anderson (at BUF)

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos runs for a touchdown after a catch against the Dallas Cowboys at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Gett
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Don't get overzealous with Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson.

Yes, Anderson made owners forget about his 8.8-point day in Week 1 with a 27.4-point outburst in Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys. 

But the outburst could easily turn into an anomaly due to a road encounter against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. Buffalo has looked iffy overall yet has allowed the third-fewest points to backs. 

Granted, the matchup didn't initially look like the greatest one even when the Bills looked like a favorable one, but the Siemian bubble will pop soon. When it does, Anderson isn't going to be able to carry the offense on his own away from home. 

             

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Antonio Brown (@CHI) vs. Jarvis Landry (@NYJ)Antonio Brown
Keenan Allen (KC) vs. Kelvin Benjamin (NO)Kelvin Benjamin
A.J. Green (@GB) vs. Golden Tate (ATL)A.J. Green
DeAndre Hopkins (@NE) vs. Terrelle Pryor (OAK)DeAndre Hopkins
Doug Baldwin (@TEN) vs. Odell Beckham (@PHI)Odell Beckham
Author's opinion

Star to Know: A.J. Green (at GB)

Gary Landers/Associated Press

It takes an incredible player to shrug off silly usage, with his offense scoring no touchdowns for two weeks straight and his team firing the offensive coordinator to still instill confidence in fantasy owners. 

A.J. Green is that incredible. 

It is hard to dislike the top threat for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, even on the road against the Green Bay Packers. New coordinator Bill Lazor figures to feed Green the ball more, and the Packers just coughed up 63 yards on four catches to Doug Baldwin in Week 1 and 108 yards on five grabs to Julio Jones in Week 2. 

Green is comparable, if not better than both, when he's on and getting fed targets. An 0-2 team desperate for a touchdown will spam the ball his way on Sunday. 

         

Star to Sit: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. DAL)

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals runs after a catch while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Owners may know the name, but Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald isn't what he used to be. 

Case in point: In Week 1, Fitzgerald got 13 targets from Carson Palmer, reeling in only six for 74 yards. His usage dropped to six targets in Week 2. 

Game flow will dictate how much usage Fitzgerald sees on a weekly basis, though said flow doesn't figure to offer him much in Week 3 when the Cowboys come to town. 

Dallas did cough up 18.2 points to Denver's Emmanuel Sanders in Week 2 thanks to a pair of scores, but Fitzgerald isn't exactly a deep threat anymore who will break out with a multi-touchdown game.

       

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Travis Kelce (@LAC) vs. Jordan Reed (OAK)Travis Kelce
Zach Ertz (NYG) vs. Kyle Rudolph (TB)Zach Ertz
Hunter Henry (KC) vs. Jason Witten (@ARI)Hunter Henry
Delanie Walker (SEA) vs Cameron Brate (@MIN)Delanie Walker
Charles Clay (DEN) vs. Martellus Bennett (CIN)Martellus Bennett
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Hunter Henry (vs. KC) 

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 13: Hunter Henry #86 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at StubHub Center on August 13, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Time to jump on the Hunter Henry train. 

The Los Angeles Chargers decided to feature the budding tight end in Week 2 and he responded by catching all seven of his targets, going for eight points on 80 yards. 

Given the production, Philip Rivers and the staff aren't going to turn away from Henry now. He'll be key in a battle against the Kansas City Chiefs, a team surrendering the 15th-most points to opposing tight ends.  

To close last season, Henry posted four catches for 43 yards and a score on the Chiefs, so he isn't a stranger to working a defense now missing Eric Berry.

          

Star to Sit: Charles Clay (vs. DEN) 

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 17:  Charles Clay #85 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Charles Clay is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league on a consistent basis, though owners shouldn't expect much from him in Week 3 against the Broncos. 

Clay enters the game after a 2.3-point dud against a game Carolina defense in Week 2. Denver allowed just 1.7 points to Chargers tight ends in Week 1 before 15.7 to Jason Witten in Week 2, but the difference between the Bills and Cowboys is the latter has a plethora of weapons for Denver to worry about. 

Buffalo, not so much. 

Clay might see good red-zone usage against the Broncos, but the offense actually has to get inside the 20 first. It isn't something owners should bank on at a position easily streamed.

               

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.