Fantasy Football Week 3: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 23, 2021

Fantasy Football Week 3: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    It's only Week 3 of the fantasy football season, and already the world has turned upside down.

    More than a few fantasy stars have come up short. Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills sits outside the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks. Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs ranks outside the top 45 running backs. A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans barely makes the top-50 wide receivers.

    If you were counting on those players to carry your fantasy team this year, then your squad is probably 0-2, and you are not a happy camper at all.

    Still, a slow start in fantasy doesn't mean a team is doomed. String a couple of wins together, and you can get back in the mix quickly.

    In an effort to help fantasy managers get that rebound rolling, I have taken a look through questions on the Bleacher Report App and answered some that I think will help folks get winning lineups on the proverbial field in Week 3.

    If the 1993 Cowboys can start 0-2 and win it all, you can too.

Beware the Buccaneers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Full PPR. Need a RB2 and a flex from Mike Davis, Darrell Henderson, Devin Singletary, Tyler Boyd? -- @rweber18


    That the easiest "yes" of this decent (if unspectacular) group of options is Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary tells you quite a bit about how weird the 2021 fantasy football season has already gotten.

    Singletary hasn't gotten a massive workload this year—just 24 carries over the first two games. The return of Zack Moss (and his potential for vulturing a short-yardage score) also isn't ideal, but Singletary is averaging a gaudy 6.4 yards per carry and found the end zone in Week 2.

    Darrell Henderson Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams, on the other hand, is out. The reason why boils down to three words—Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa has led the NFL in run defense each of the past two seasons and currently ranks second, surrendering just 57.5 yards per game on the ground. Henderson is also nursing a rib injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday.

    That leaves one spot and two players—Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd and Atlanta Falcons running back Mike Davis. Boyd has been relatively quiet to open the year, although he did catch seven passes for 73 yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 2.

    After Cordarrelle Patterson got a dozen touches last week, many fantasy managers are souring on Davis. But the fourth-year veteran hasn't seen less than 16 touches in a game this season and currently has more PPR points than Washington's Antonio Gibson and Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.

    Add a favorable fantasy matchup for running backs with the Giants, and Davis gets spot No. 2.


    The Call: Devin Singletary, Mike Davis

An Embarrassment of Riches

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    Need 1 QB, 2 WR and a flex standard league from (Justin) Herbert or Danny Dimes and (Stefon) Diggs, DK (Metcalf) and (Justin) Jefferson. James Robinson or (David) Montgomery? -- @LockedDown


    Sometimes I read these questions, look at my team and feel very inadequate. This trio of wide receivers certainly did the case.

    We'll do the wide receivers first. Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills isn't off to the greatest of starts (13 catches, 129 yards, one touchdown), but only CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys has more targets so far this season than Diggs' 22. He gets one spot.

    The second spot is a toss-up between DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings. That the two teams play one another portends a shootout. Both were also highly favorable matchups for wide receivers in 2020. But after watching Minnesota get shredded by Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, the slightest of edges goes to Metcalf.

    The other two calls are much easier. Daniel Jones of the New York Giants had a solid outing against the Washington Football Team in Week 2, throwing for 249 yards and a score and rushing for 95 yards and another TD. But you can't start Jones over Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, who plays the rival Kansas City Chiefs in a game with a ton of shootout potential.

    At flex, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has apparently forgotten James Robinson is on the team—he has just 16 carries through two games. David Montgomery of the Chicago Bears should see a heavy workload playing with a rookie quarterback (Justin Fields) making his first career start against Cleveland.

    With Jefferson not getting the benefit of PPR. Montgomery and his 20 touches a game so far this season wins out.


    The Call: Stefon Diggs, DK Metcalf, Justin Herbert, David Montgomery

Here Comes the Son

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Ty'Son Williams, Jaylen Waddle or Javonte Williams. Full PPR. Choose one. -- @lions_suck


    Good to see that Detroit fans are in a healthy mental space two weeks into the season.

    One of this trio can be ruled out easily. Wide receivers are already at something of a disadvantage in flex situations, even with the benefit of PPR—they just don't touch the ball as much as running backs. Add in that Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out of Week 3 with fractured ribs, and Jaylen Waddle is a big fat "no thanks."

    That leaves two running backs in committees heading into a game against a tomato can—Javonte Williams of the Denver Broncos against the New York Jets and Ty'Son Williams of the Baltimore Ravens against the aforementioned Lions.

    Through two games this season, Williams has carried the ball 27 times for 109 yards. The rookie has shown some promise, but he is mired in a true 50/50 split with veteran Melvin Gordon III. So far this season, it has been Gordon who has been the more fantasy-relevant player.

    Meanwhile, Williams is sharing touches with Latavius Murray, and it's Murray who has emerged as the short-yardage and goal-line back for the Ravens. However, Williams had 15 touches for 93 total yards in last week's win over the Chiefs.

    In a game where the Ravens will probably have a hefty lead in the second half, Williams is a good bet both to find the end zone and notch his first 100-yard game of the season.


    The Call: Ty'Son Williams

The Time Has Come

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    (Saquon) Barkley vs. ATL, (Antonio) Gibson at BUF or Ty'Son Williams at DET? -- @BROCK_Soto


    This question boils down to tolerance for risk vs. desire for upside.

    The safest play of this bunch is probably Ty'Son Williams of the Ravens, which is the second example in this column of how weird things have gotten three weeks into the season. The Lions just gave up 115 total yards and four scores to Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers, and the chances that the Ravens will be playing from ahead are approximately 319 percent.

    In the middle, we have Antonio Gibson of the Washington Football Team. Gibson has yet to really get going this season, and the usage of pass-catching back J.D. McKissic is a tad concerning ahead of this week's showdown with the Buffalo Bills. However, Gibson remains an electric talent who is averaging a robust 4.8 yards per carry. A big game is coming. The only question is when.

    Then there's Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants. When he's 100 percent, Barkley has the potential to be more than just a fantasy RB1. He can be the fantasy RB1. But Barkley is off to a sluggish start as he works back from an ACL tear—just 23 carries for 83 yards for the season.

    Barkley's snap count did go up to 67 percent last week against Washington, and he's had an extra few days to rest after the Giants played on Thursday in Week 2. And this week, the G-Men face an Atlanta Falcons team that has struggled in a big way on defense dating back to last season.

    Is it a gamble? Yes.

    But I have a hunch this is the week that Barkley blows up.


    The Call: Saquon Barkley

Kissing Cousins

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Do I keep riding this Darnold train or go with my gut and play (Kirk) Cousins? I'm not playing Winston for a while. -- @JerrinMack


    And we have example No. 3 of how bizarre 2021 has already been—people are actually starting Sam Darnold in fantasy football on purpose.

    For starters, gluing Jameis Winston to the bench is wise. In fact, a compelling argument can be made for dropping him outright. His five-touchdown performance in Week 1 was a fluke. Winston is what he is—an error-prone passer at the helm of an offense that has next to no receiving talent right now.

    What isn't wise is considering starting Darnold over Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, Darnold's first two games with the Carolina Panthers have been good, accruing 584 passing yards and three scores in two wins for Carolina.

    But Cousins is (as he seemingly always is) one of the more underrated signal-callers in fantasy football. He has more passing yards and touchdown passes than Darnold, and most importantly, more fantasy points than Darnold. Two weeks into the season, Cousins is quietly 10th in fantasy points at the position.

    Also, while the Panthers should easily dispatch a Houston Texans team Thursday led by third-round rookie Davis Mills, Cousins and the Vikes play host to Russell Wilson and the high-octane Seattle offense.

    That game has an implied point total of 55, higher than all but two games.

    That means plenty of passing and fantasy points.


    The Call: Kirk Cousins

Hanging with Mr. Hooper

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    I have (Tyler) Higbee, (Austin) Hooper and (Dawson) Knox at TE. I'm 0-2. My team is solid besides TE. I need a win. Who do I start? -- @DreRob22


    First things first. Chillax.

    Starting the season 0-2 isn't ideal. Nonetheless, it's not the end of the world, especially if your team's point totals have been decent. I have started a season 0-4 and won the championship more than once.

    Second, drop Dawson Knox of the Buffalo Bills. Knox may give you one or two decent starts in that all things are possible, but unless it's a very deep league, that roster spot is better spent on a player with some modicum of upside.

    There were plenty of fantasy pundits who had high hopes for Tyler Higbee of the Rams in 2021. Gerald Everett was gone, and Los Angeles upgraded at quarterback with the addition of Matthew Stafford. But through two games, Stafford has targeted Higbee just seven times, including once last week against the Colts.

    It's not especially easy to get excited about Cleveland's Austin Hooper either after a wholly unexciting first season with the Browns. Cleveland will be without wide receiver Jarvis Landry this week against the Chicago Bears, though, and there's no guarantee that Odell Beckham Jr. will play.

    Last week against Houston, Hooper caught all five of his targets for 40 yards. That's not a stat line that inspires cartwheels and confetti, but it's a reasonable expectation for Week 3 and more than what you're likely to get from Higbee.


    The Call: Austin Hooper

Struttin' with Sutton

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    No PPR. 10-team league. Can't decide between D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton or Darrell Henderson as my flex play. Thoughts? – TeeHeeHee423


    Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. has already been mentioned in this column. Even if the rib injury he suffered last week against the Indianapolis Colts doesn't sideline him against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's a terrible, awful, horrible, yucky matchup.

    Have I mentioned the matchup is bad?

    That leaves us with two wide receivers. DJ Moore of the Carolina Panthers reeled in eight catches for 79 yards and a touchdown last week against the Saints, and through two weeks, the 24-year-old is a top-15 wide receiver in some scoring systems. He also gets a Houston Texans defense on Thursday that is…not good.

    However, Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos went completely ballistic last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars—nine catches on 12 targets for 159 yards. With Jerry Jeudy on the shelf, Sutton is far and away the top target in a Denver passing attack that is significantly better than anyone expected.

    The Jets aren't any better than the Texans defensively, and while there is at least some concern that Denver will race to a big lead and go into "ground and pound" mode, hopefully, if that does happen, Sutton will already have had himself a day.


    The Call: Courtland Sutton

DraftKings DFS Question of the Week

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    In DraftKings DFS Fantasy Football Millionaire contest, which hot receiver are you riding with between Tyler Lockett and Cooper Kupp? Would you consider them both? Any other flyers at wide receiver you like? -- @AlbeenoPacino


    Calling Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams [DK DFS VALUE: $6,800and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks [DK DFS VALUE: $7,400] "hot" is an understatement. Through two weeks, the pair ranks first and second among wide receivers in PPR points, respectively.

    From a matchup perspective, it's Lockett who would appear to have the upper hand against Minnesota, who has given up the fifth-most DK points to wideouts in 2021. But the Buccaneers have actually allowed even more—only two teams have surrendered more points to the position.

    However, it's not the fact that Kupp has both a better matchup and a lower salary that puts him over the top. While the Seahawks also have DK Metcalf, Kupp has emerged as far and away the top target for Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles. The Rams will have to throw the ball to keep up with Tampa's buzzsaw offense, so Kupp should see double-digit targets for the third time in as many games.

    So far as rolling both out in a tournament, the short answer to that query is three words long—don't do it. It's just too much salary wrapped up in players whose hot streaks have to end at some point. Lockett is notorious for being a feast-or-famine fantasy option.

    Don't get caught with him on a "famine" week.

    If you're searching for a value play at wide receiver who won't break the bank, look to Duval County and Marvin Jones Jr. of the Jacksonville Jaguars [DK DFS VALUE: $4,900]. Jones has been Trevor Lawrence's favorite target, averaging 10 targets and a 5.5/66/1 stat line through two games. In Week 3, he gets an Arizona defense that was just torched by Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.


    The Call: Cooper Kupp

Rapid Fire

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    As we do every week, it's time to wrap up this week's column with a fast-paced two-minute drill of sage advice and insightful wisdom.

    Or I could answer some questions. Whatever.

    It's time for Rapid Fire.


    Marvin Jones or Tee Higgins PPR? -- @patrickgill

    This is actually a tough question—both Jacksonville's Marvin Jones Jr. and Cincinnati's Tee Higgins have started the season with touchdowns in each of their first two games. However, Higgins is dealing with a shoulder injury ahead of Sunday's trip to Pittsburgh, while Jones draws an Arizona Cardinals defense that just allowed big games to three separate receivers for the Minnesota Vikings. Jones is the play.


    Teddy Bridgewater or Jalen Hurts this week? -- @corbynfry

    Denver's Teddy Bridgewater has been a major surprise this season, averaging 290-ish passing yards and two scores a game. Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles is a top-five fantasy quarterback after two weeks, thanks to his rushing ability. He gets the nod on Monday night against the rival Cowboys.


    PPR. Sterling Shepard or do I give James Robinson one more shot? -- @OakRaider1

    Yes, the Jaguars have been playing from behind a lot, but Urban Meyer's usage (or lack thereof) of James Robinson has still been bizarre. Meanwhile, Shepard leads the Giants in targets, receptions and receiving yards ahead of a plus matchup with a bad Atlanta Falcons secondary. I usually favor running backs over receivers in flex spots, but not this time.


    PPR flex. Jamaal Williams or Mecole Hardman? -- @SuperMarioGotze

    Mecole Hardman of the Chiefs is coming off a solid stat line against the Ravens—five catches for 55 yards on eight targets. But Detroit's Jamaal Williams has double-digit opportunities in both games, topped 100 total yards in Week 1 and could see the field a lot if the Lions are in catch-up mode against the Baltimore Ravens. This time, the running back wins out.


    Miles Sanders or Tony Pollard this week for Monday Night Football? -- @mnlean

    Fantasy managers have Pollard Fever after the Dallas Cowboys running back out-gained Ezekiel Elliott last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. Some have gone so far as to say that Pollard should be the team's lead back. At best, Pollard will continue to split touches with Ezekiel Elliott and be on the wrong end of the timeshare. Miles Sanders of the Eagles is the unquestioned No. 1 back in Philly, and the Cowboys allowed the ninth-most PPR points to running backs in 2020. Go with Sanders here.


    Davante Adams for Darrell Henderson and Mike Williams. Should I do it? I have Adams. -- @rlitch09

    This isn't technically a start/sit question, but I felt compelled to include it. Mike Williams is off to a great start with the Los Angeles Chargers, but even if I was a million miles beyond desperate for running back, there is absolutely zero chance that I would trade arguably fantasy's No. 1 wide receiver for Williams and a banged-up low-end RB2.


    Start Tannehill against Indy or Fields against Cleveland? – @dmcguire96

    Given how poorly the Browns have played defensively and the slow statistical start Ryan Tannehill is off to with the Tennessee Titans, the temptation to start Chicago's Justin Fields is understandable. Tannehill also had just a single touchdown pass in each of the team's two games with the Colts last year. It's risky, but if you're shooting for upside, roll the dice on Fields in his starting debut.


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    Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.