Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Latest Fantasy Football Lineup Advice for Sunday

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 09:  Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers against the Dallas Cowboys during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 16-8.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Fantasy football owners were right to likely fade Thursday Night Football between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. 

As fun as it was to watch Cleveland get its first win since 2016 while Baker Mayfield forced a conservative coaching staff's hand and started carving out a legacy for himself, it didn't do much for the fantasy landscape outside of making the No. 1 overall pick a waiver priority. 

For owners, this has always been about the weekend slate and a number of games sure to feature plenty of scoring. With two weeks and change in the books to help make quality projections, here's a look at matchup comparisons and some start-sit notes. 

        

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Ben Roethlisberger (at TB) vs. Jimmy Garoppolo (at KC)Ben Roethlisberger
Patrick Mahomes (vs. SF) vs. Matthew Stafford (vs. NE)Patrick Mahomes
Kirk Cousins (vs. BUF) vs. Cam Newton (vs. CIN)Cam Newton
Tom Brady (at DET) vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. PIT)Tom Brady
Andrew Luck (at PHI) vs. Philip Rivers (at LAR)Andrew Luck
Author's opinion

Start: Patrick Mahomes, KC (vs. SF) 

Well, don't shy away from Patrick Mahomes now.  

If the typical Andy Reid quarterback outburst is anything to go by, owners won't have to jump ship on Mahomes until about halfway through the season. Defenses will eventually adapt via film and find ways to slow him down, though weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, among others, probably extend this window a bit. 

Mahomes has now dropped 28.34 and 38.84 points over his last two outings, both Kansas City Chiefs wins. There isn't much of a reason to think this slows against the San Francisco 49ers, owners of a defense that allowed north of 20 points to Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford to start the season. 

Not only is Mahomes playing better than both, he's surrounded by better weapons, giving him a chance at being a top scorer. 

        

Sit: Dak Prescott, DAL (at SEA) 

Going to Seattle isn't the death sentence it used to be for quarterbacks. 

But it still could be for Dak Prescott.  

Prescott is a big name on a big team because that's just how the NFL works, but the dirty secret is he's tallied 8.7 and 14.9 points over his first two games. Conventional wisdom says he can only go up from here, but going on the road against the Seahawks isn't the easiest task. 

Those Seahawks have allowed five passing touchdowns but also picked off as many passes. From a game flow perspective, this could be a grind-it-out affair on the ground, which hints at the Ezekiel Elliott show, not a big day for a viable streaming quarterback who has yet to break out. 

     

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Alvin Kamara (at ATL) vs. Christian McCaffrey (vs. CIN)Alvin Kamara
Saquon Barkley (at HOU) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (at SEA)Ezekiel Elliott
Giovani Bernard (at CAR) vs. Melvin Gordon (at LAR)Giovani Bernard
Todd Gurley (vs. LAC) vs. Chris Thompson (vs. GB)Chris Thompson
Adrian Peterson (vs. GB) vs. David Johnson (vs. CHI)Adrian Peterson
Author's opinion

Start: Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. CIN)

The pass-catching back can carry a workload for an entire fantasy lineup, to say the least. 

Case in point, Christian McCaffrey in Week 2, where he only carried eight times for 37 yards but put up 14 catches for 102 yards on 15 targets, producing 20.9 points in the process. 

With Greg Olsen out and the offensive line hurting with Daryl Williams down, the Carolina offense will keep needing to work much of the passing game through the former first-round pick. 

Normally the Cincinnati Bengals are a no-fly zone for fantasy running backs, but they've actually been hurt through the air by backs this year, allowing 18 receptions to notables over the first four games.

An elite pass rush at times funnels more chances than usual to running backs, and McCaffrey is the type of weapon who can make them regret the approach. 

        

Sit: James Conner, PIT (at TB)

James Conner has been an incredible story in many ways over the years, though most notably he's shouldered the load for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Le'Veon Bell's absence and done well for owners in the process. 

Even after coming back down to earth from a Week 1, 31.7 outburst, Conner still put up 17 points in Week 2. That's not bad, though even that number might not be obtainable against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Those Buccaneers rank among the top five in terms of points allowed to running backs on average so far. Alvin Kamara had an anomaly of a line against the unit with two rushing scores on eight carries and another score as a receiver (38.6), but otherwise, the Buccaneers have held backs in check. 

And with the way Tampa Bay's offense has played and the way Pittsburgh's defense has struggled again, the Steelers could fall behind early, limiting Conner's chances. 

     

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Mike Evans (vs. PIT) vs. Michael Thomas (at ATL)Mike Evans
Odell Beckham Jr. (at HOU) vs. Antonio Brown (at TB)Odell Beckham Jr.
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. NYG) vs. Tyreek Hill (vs. SF)Tyreek Hill
Julio Jones (vs. NO) vs. Sammy Watkins (vs. SF)Julio Jones
Stefon Diggs (vs. BUF) vs. A.J. Green (at CAR)Stefon Diggs
Author's opinion

Start: Julio Jones, ATL (vs. NO)

There was a time when it was silly to list Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones as a start because, well obviously. 

Not so anymore. Owners are drafting him highly still and will feel pressure to put him in weekly lineups no matter what, but we're talking about a guy who scored three touchdowns last year over 16 games.

Owners are probably already gunshy on him after an 8.9-point showing in Week 2—and his 23 points in Week 1 only came via a silly 19 targets. 

The New Orleans Saints are here to save the day. The putrid secondary has the Saints allowing the most points to wideouts on average, having coughed up 24 or more to Tampa Bay's star duo before another hefty seven or more for Cleveland's top three targets. 

It means Jones is in for a big day, especially if the offense feels like forcing double-digit targets his way again. It's a now-or-never situation for a guy who hasn't returned value on his draft position for a long time. 

        

Sit: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs. CHI) 

It has been tough to watch what seems like Larry Fitzgerald's final season, as his Arizona Cardinals have been waxed 24-6 and 34-0 so far. 

That doesn't figure to get any better, and in the process, Fitzgerald has scored all of 11.1 and 4.3 points behind poor coaching decisions and offensive execution. 

On paper, it might seem like Fitzgerald has a good matchup against the Chicago Bears because they've allowed four wideouts to hit double digits and one north of 20 points over the first two weeks of the season, but the allowances came while facing quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson

Fitzgerald, unfortunately, has a statue-esque Sam Bradford starting against a terrifying Khalil Mack-led pass rush, so owners can finish this thought. Fitzgerald is also listed as questionable for what it's worth, but he's missed two games dating back to 2008. 

        

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Zach Ertz (vs. IND) vs. Travis Kelce (vs. SF)Travis Kelce
Rob Gronkowski (at DET) vs. O.J. Howard (vs. PIT)Rob Gronkowski
Evan Engram (at HOU) vs. Jimmy Graham (at WAS)Jimmy Graham
Jesse James (at TB) vs. George Kittle (at KC)George Kittle
Jared Cook (at MIA) vs. Kyle Rudolph (vs. BUF)Jared Cook
Author's opinion

Start: Evan Engram, NYG (at HOU) 

It seems ill-advised to start anyone from the New York Giants not named Saquon Barkley. 

Still, Evan Engram is worth a look as he benefits from playing within range of Eli Manning's severely regressed game. Case in point Week 2, where Engram forgot about his season-opening 2.8 points by scoring 16.2 via seven catches on as many targets for 67 yards and a score. 

The Houston Texans haven't looked like a unit led by J.J. Watt, letting up two losses, 225 yards and 23.5 points per game with Rob Gronkowski notably dropping 19.8 points on them. 

Engram isn't Gronkowski, but he's a big-time matchup play against a poor defense needing to worry about Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley. 

       

Sit: Jared Cook, OAK (at MIA)

This year has been business as usual for veteran tight end Jared Cook. 

Seasoned owners know this means he has been all over the place. 

Cook had a superb start to the year, popping off for nine catches and 180 yards, drumming up 22.5 points. He followed with four catches on a 6.9-point showing. 

At this point, the latter seems more realistic for Cook especially going into a Week 3 game against a Miami Dolphins defense that hasn't allowed 10 points or a receiving touchdown to a tight end. Cook should see usage again, but he'll likely be the focal point of Miami's game plan. 

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