NFL Fantasy Week 3: Start ‘em, Sit ‘em- Quarterbacks
Mahomes, Bortles, Fitzpatrick in the top ten… Rodgers, Brady, and Brees not. How can anyone know who to start and sit anymore? You can start by reading this!
Savvy NFL Fantasy veterans know better than to over react to the first week’s games. There were certainly some eye-opening performances that warrant attention, but opening day is often little indicator of how things will go over a full season.
That said, there were questions that might have been answered, specifically regarding workload and schemes. Not all the answers were good for NFL Fantasy owners.
Injuries reared their ugly heads again with some starters out for Week 2 and others forcing us to look at handcuffs just in case. Here’s how we’re managing things in our NFL Fantasy league:
Aaron Rodgers (knee) and Marcus Mariota (elbow) both expect to play this week, but their respective coaches are not as sure. An immobile Rodgers against the Vikings’ defense might not be a risk worth taking for the Packers. Mariota looked uncomfortable even before his injury.
Putting a worthy backup plan on your roster is important, but you might consider starting Case Keenum against the Oakland Raiders even if your other starter is healthy. Keenum put up over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Seahawks. Only a trio of interceptions kept the Denver passer from being a top 5 NFL Fantasy quarterback.
We expect Keenum to revert to his 2017 norm of less than half an interception-per-game and a much, much better touchdown/interception ratio. He is worth picking up and playing against the Raiders defense.
Tyrod Taylor had a bad passing game against the Steelers, but he showed us why NFL Fantasy owners should look for running quarterbacks. Taylor’s 77 rushing yards and touchdown propelled him to a QB-6 finish. Taylor looks as likely to run in Cleveland as he did in Buffalo, giving him a solid floor even if the Saints defense takes out some of their Week 1 frustrations on the Browns’ passing game.
Joe Flacco threw for 3 touchdowns on a modest 236 yard-day. It was good for a QB-7 ranking in a week the Ravens did not need to pass. It shows Flacco can’t resist playing with his shiny new receiving corps even in a rout. Weird things happen on Thursday Night Football, so there’s my disclaimer.
Speaking of weird things, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your QB-1 heading into Week 2. I admit I was rooting for him, just because there were so many mentions of Tampa Bay’s inevitable 0-3 start in the preseason. But is Fitzpatrick so motivated to make fools of his critics that we can expect the same in Week 2? It’s more likely the Eagles’ defense brings the Buccaneers and Fitzpatrick back to earth. I’m passing on the Tampa quarterback.
When one wide receiver gets 17 of his quarterback targets in a game, it’s easy to forget there are other receivers on the field. Maybe that is why Ted Ginn Jr, a top-35 wide receiver the past three seasons, finds himself on my waiver wire recommendations every season.
In Week 1, Ginn caught 5 of 6 targets and scored a touchdown. He tacked on a 2-point conversion to grab the WR-11 spot in Week 1. He won’t score every week, but he is always a risk. He is the number two receiver in a prolific passing attack, which secures a solid floor.
Meanwhile, my favorite preseason sleeper was targeted on ten of his quarterback's 21 passes Monday night. The Jets’ Quincy Enunwa looks like the favorite target of rookie Sam Darnold. More importantly, Darnold looks like he has the short memory and confidence to maintain the Jets’ receivers NFL fantasy value.
Geronimo Allison is the clear number-3 wide receiver on a team with a good tight end. Fortunately, his quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. Going against the Minnesota Vikings defense, Rodgers might have to look for his third receiver more often than the six times he threw his way against Chicago. (If Rodgers sits, so does Allison)
Ryan Grant is the clear number-2 in Indianapolis, where Andrew Luck threw 53 passes in his return from injury. It bodes well the Colts have no concerns about Luck’s shoulder. Expect Grant to get enough targets to consider a start, especially with Josh Norman attached to TY Hilton’s hip.
You could do worse than picking up Phillip Dorsett, albeit in a tough match-up against Jacksonville. If Tyler Lockett is still available in your league, the presumed WR-1 in Seattle for the next few weeks is a must-add. Brandon Marshall’s red zone presence makes him another good pick-up. He had a touchdown in Week 1 and a second was called back. Baltimore’s John Brown is still available in too many leagues, too.
TJ Yeldon is an obvious must-add if you own Leonard Fournette. In fact, why wouldn't Fournette owners already have Yeldon rostered with the injury history being what it is? The Jaguars’ coaching staff is playing coy like last year when it comes to disclosing Fournette’s status. His owners need to pay attention right up until game time and have a back-up option ready.
Meanwhile, TJ Yeldon has some value even if Fournette plays. We don’t see Fournette being a bellcow with a bum hamstring. Yeldon could spell him more often than usual and catches passes out of the backfield as well as anyone.
New England faces a tough running defense in Jacksonville, making James White the best option among New England’s running backs.
Phillip Lindsay shared rushing duties evenly with Royce Freeman Sunday. Devontae Booker also had a fair share of touches making it difficult to bank on any of the Broncos rushers. Freeman is the better all-around back, but Lindsay’s weakness, pass blocking, makes it more likely he will run a route than Freeman. It’s worth holding the pair until we see if Booker’s role diminishes or if one of the rookies takes a clear lead role.
The loss of Kenny Dixon makes Javorius Allen the clear backup to Alex Collins. With coach John Harbaugh’s penchant for benching Collins after mistakes (like last week’s fumble), Allen might be worthy adding to your bench.
Indianapolis’ running attack is worth avoiding until we see what happens when Marlon Mack returns. What won’t change, however, is Nyheim Hines’ role as the third-down passing back. He saw nine targets Sunday, making him an interesting PPR roster consideration.
With Will Dissly and Jesse James among the top ten scoring NFL Fantasy tight ends and Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham wallowing near the bottom, it appears the position is ready to wreak havoc with rosters again in 2018.
Losing Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen opens two more slots for “mystery tight ends” to enjoy an occasional week of NFL Fantasy stardom. Like, who exactly is Will Dissly?
Dissly is a blocking tight end who snagged three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown for Seattle Sunday. Only Jared Cook’s Monday night party kept Dissly from being the week's TE-1.
So, you should pick up Dissly on waivers, right? Not necessarily. Remember Austin Hooper? He had an even bigger game in last season’s Falcons opener. He wasn’t much of factor otherwise.
In fact, if I had to bet on a Seahawk tight end helping my NFL Fantasy roster over the season, I’d go with Nick Vannett who was obtained for that role.
Speaking of Jared Cook, Oakland’s plan to avoid the Rams’ cornerbacks at all costs handed him a huge game. But he looked good enough in the role to think Jon Gruden might actually capitalize on his talent. He is a must-add.
Antonio Gates gave us a preview of his future tight end value when he casually snuck through the pile and caught a two-point conversion. Touchdowns will follow. Grab him.
This is not an easy week to stream defenses. There are a good percentage of leagues where the Bears are still available. They should be a rostered defense just for their turnover and sack potential. Grab them if they are out there.
Cleveland presents an interesting D/ST. They gave up 21 points to Pittsburgh and might very well give up 41 to an irate New Orleans team. But the Browns racked up 16 points worth of sacks and turnovers in Week 1 and could be worth a play against the mighty Saints offense.
Dallas faces the Giants in the Cowboys home opener. The potential of the Giants’ offense when not facing the Jacksonville Jaguars is obvious with Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley on the field. But the Giants still have a below-average offensive line and a quarterback with a high interception-ratio. The Cowboys are another team that might give up a lot of points but rack up enough sacks and turnovers to make them worth a shot in NFL Fantasy.
Tell us what you think in the comments below!