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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Smartest Matchups to Exploit, Sleeper Plays and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2016

Melvin Gordon sits in one of fantasy's top Week 3 matchups.
Melvin Gordon sits in one of fantasy's top Week 3 matchups.Ryan Kang/Associated Press

As sure as the Cleveland Browns finding a way to blow a game, the top matchups in fantasy football once again led owners to victories in Week 2.

Cam Newton thrashed the San Francisco 49ers (29 points), Derek Carr lit up the Atlanta Falcons (24), Melvin Gordon ran wild on the Jacksonville Jaguars (17) and Kelvin Benjamin embarrassed San Francisco (22), to name a few.

It was the same story for sleepers, with Mike Wallace torching the Browns (16) and Sam Bradford holding his own against the Green Bay Packers.

Week 3 offers the same predicament: Owners who get early starts on the best matchups and sleepers of the week put themselves at major advantages.

        

Quarterback

MatchupVerdict
Cam Newton (vs. MIN) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (at PHI)Cam Newton
Matt Ryan (at NO) vs. Carson Palmer (at BUF)Carson Palmer
Derek Carr (at TEN) vs. Philip Rivers (at IND)Philip Rivers
Tyrod Taylor (vs. ARI) vs. Ryan Tannehill (vs. CLE)Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Fitzpatrick (at KC) vs. Sam Bradford (at CAR)Sam Bradford
Author's opinion

Top Matchup Play: Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. DET)

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Owners should not give up on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers yet.

It is no secret that Rodgers and the Packers are having some problems on the offensive side of the ball, even with Jordy Nelson back in the lineup. He has scored 22 and 16 points in two games this year, looking more than anything like he needs a good matchup to get going.

Thank goodness for the Detroit Lions.

Detroit coughed up four touchdowns and 35 points in Week 1 before another two scores and 16 points in Week 2. Last year sans Nelson, Rodgers totaled 606 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions over two games. 

Expect a major bounce-back. 

       

Sleeper: Joe Flacco, BAL (at JAC)

David Richard/Associated Press

It might seem weird to think of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as a sleeper, but so it goes for a guy owned in just 26.3 percent of leagues.

Flacco has had a timid start to the season, scoring just 12 and 16 points through two weeks. A game against the Jacksonville Jaguars figures to be his first major outing of the season, though, especially against a defense coming off a week in which it gave up four touchdowns and 23 points to San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Flanked by a strong wideout duo of Steve Smith Sr. and the explosive Mike Wallace, Flacco will post his best performance of the year, perhaps becoming a big waiver-wire add. Owners in the know can get ahead of the curve.

         

Running Back

MatchupVerdict
Matt Forte (at KC) vs. Isaiah Crowell (at MIA)Matt Forte
DeAngelo Williams (at PHI) vs. Melvin Gordon (at IND)Melvin Gordon
LeGarrette Blount (vs. HOU) vs. Giovani Bernard (vs. DEN)LeGarrette Blount
C.J. Anderson (at CIN) vs. David Johnson (at BUF)C.J. Anderson
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. CHI) vs. LeSean McCoy (vs. ARI)Ezekiel Elliott
Author's opinion

Top Matchup Play: Melvin Gordon, SD (at IND)

It seems little can stop San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.

After a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign, Gordon has started off hot this year, scoring 17 points in back-to-back contests.

San Diego head coach Mike McCoy hasn't been shy about boasting when it comes to Gordon's arrival, either, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Mike McCoy: "This is the Melvin Gordon — we know who he is. ...He's pounding the football. ...He's a physical runner." First 100-yard game.

The scary part? Gordon should only improve against the Indianapolis Colts.

Those Colts allowed 45 points to backs in Week 1 and then followed in Week 2 by allowing 14 to the Denver Broncos' C.J. Anderson and another four to Devontae Booker.

Gordon might be the best back the Colts have played to date, so owners have an easy decision here.

         

Sleeper: Tevin Coleman, ATL (at NO)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Tevin Coleman might cause angst for many an owner who drafted the Atlanta Falcons' lead back, Devonta Freeman, but he's a worthwhile sleeper in his own right.

Still available in more than 30 percent of leagues, Coleman has taken 20 carries to Freeman's 28 through two games. He has received eight targets in the passing game to Freeman's four.

It's clear Atlanta wants to run a committee, and there is no better time for owners to exploit this than in what looks like a shootout with the New Orleans Saints. That defense allowed three touchdowns and 36 points to backs in Week 1 before a soft matchup against the New York Giants.

Coleman isn't soft, not while operating out of a committee playing to his strengths.

             

Wide Receiver

MatchupVerdict
Stefon Diggs (at CAR) vs. Kelvin Benjamin (vs. MIN)Kelvin Benjamin
Corey Coleman (at MIA) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (at NE)DeAndre Hopkins
Marquise Goodwin (vs. ARI) vs. Mike Wallace (at JAC)Mike Wallace
Danny Amendola (vs. HOU) vs. Larry Fitzgerald (at BUF)Larry Fitzgerald
Jordy Nelson (vs. DET) vs. Demaryius Thomas (at CIN)Jordy Nelson
Author's opinion

Top Matchup Play: Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (vs. WAS)

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Cornerback Josh Norman landed in Washington this year, but it shouldn't scare owners of Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham torched Washington last year, going for 79 yards and a score in the first encounter, with another 142 yards and a score in the second. Against Norman's former team, the Carolina Panthers, he posted 76 yards and a score. 

With Norman only playing one side of the field, the Giants will move Beckham around, and he'll have a big day. Washington allowed 40 points to wideouts in Week 1 before facing a Dallas team without a starter under center.

Given the potency of the New York Giants' passing attack, Beckham will make owners forget he has yet to hit double digits in a hurry.

        

Sleeper: Tajae Sharpe, TEN (vs. OAK)

The Tajae Sharpe breakout game that some have anticipated hasn't happened yet, but the floodgates look ready to open.

A surprise starter after being selected in the fifth round this year, Sharpe has already received the most targets (18) on the roster through two games. He hasn't hit double-digit production yet, but it seems like only a matter of time.

Sharpe next gets the Oakland Raiders, a team that allowed three scores and 55 points to receivers in Week 1 before giving up 28 to notable Atlanta names this past weekend.

Taking game flow into account, Tennessee might find itself in a shootout. That's even better, as Sharpe looks like the top option for the Titans.

          

Tight End

MatchupVerdict
Greg Olsen (vs. MIN) vs. Martellus Bennett (vs. HOU)Greg Olsen
Delanie Walker (vs. OAK) vs. Jacob Tamme (at NO)Delanie Walker
Vance McDonald (at SEA) vs. Kyle Rudolph (at CAR)Vance McDonald
Antonio Gates (at IND) vs. Jordan Reed (at NYG)Antonio Gates
Jason Witten (vs. CHI) vs. Eric Ebron (at GB) Eric Ebron
Author's opinion

Top Matchup Play: Eric Ebron, DET (at GB)

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron has had an up-and-down season to start, though things should improve against the Packers.

Ebron managed 10 points in Week 1 before seeing the production cut in half because he failed to score last week.

That shouldn't be much of a problem against the Packers, a defense that has already allowed a score to a tight end in both games this year. Ebron caught 10 passes against the Packers last year and scored once over two games.

        

Sleeper: Jared Cook, GB (vs. DET)

Tight ends should do plenty of scoring in the Detroit-Green Bay meeting.

Jared Cook hasn't blown the door off the hinges just yet with Rodgers as his new quarterback, but he has received more targets than fellow tight end Richard Rodgers.

Though he owns just three points over two games, Cook should find himself in a great spot against a Detroit defense that has somehow allowed four touchdowns to tight ends already.

Last week alone, Tennessee's Delanie Walker posted six catches for 83 yards and a score, good for 14 points. A similar line for Cook isn't out of the question.

         

All scoring info and statistics courtesy of ESPN.com standard leagues, as are points-against info and ownership stats.

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