by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:
Start – Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ers – at Kansas City
Russell Wilson was also considered for this spot, though it should be obvious that he’s a must start (shouldn’t it…). Instead we’ll go with Garoppolo, who has disappointed over the first two weeks completing 55.9% of his passes for 467 yards, 3 TD and 3 INT. Obviously part of the problem could be attributed to the receiving corps, but he thrived last year with a similar group. All of his INT also came against the Vikings, who limited him to a 45.5% completion rate. Things were much better against the Lions (69.2%) and that should continue against the Chiefs.
While Kansas City’s offense is electric, their defense hasn’t matched it. They’ve allowed more than 100 yards to opposing quarterbacks than anyone else (876, compared to 773 by the Buccaneers) as opposing teams are forced to pass early and often in an effort to try and keep up. Nothing should be different for San Francisco, and Garoppolo will obviously benefit because of it.
Sit – Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Indianapolis
The instant reaction by many is going to be to thrust him immediately back into your lineup, and that’s not completely unreasonable. At the same time he hasn’t played since December 10, 2017 and you have to wonder if he will be limited in any way. Of course with Jay Ajayi potentially out and Darren Sproles out as well, a questionable ground game could force Philadelphia to lean on their passing game. That’s going to keep Wentz in the conversation, but there’s also risk and it makes sense to be conservative if you have a viable alternative.
Start – Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers – at Kansas City
While Breida and Alfred Morris have shared the rushing duties over the first two weeks, is there any question as to who the better back has been:
- Matt Breida – 22 carries, 184 yards, 1 TD
- Alfred Morris – 26 carries, 86 yards, 0 TD
That alone is going to give Breida the edge, but then you have to take the passing game into account. The Chiefs have consistently been burned by running backs who can catch the football (261 yards) and Breida should continue to get more opportunities there as well (6 targets vs. 2 for Morris). You put those things together and Breida is an easy play for this week.
Start – Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Carolina
With Joe Mixon sidelined it will be Bernard who should carry the load for the Bengals, with rookie Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls also mixed in. There is a little bit of risk, with Bernard being limited in Wednesday’s practice, but there doesn’t appear to be a concern at this point. Look no further than December ’17, when Bernard received 71 carries across five games averaging 4.7 yards/carry with 2 TD, as reason for optimism. Throw in the matchup, with the Panthers having allowed the fourth most yards to opposing running backs over the first two weeks, and he should be considered a must start RB2.
Sit – Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
As a FLEX option he’s viable, but as a RB2? That’s a much tougher sell. Collins draws a tough defense in Denver, but that’s not the only issue that comes into play:
- Collins has struggled, averaging 3.0 yards/carry
- The Ravens appear committed to sharing the backfield
- Javorius Allen, who has 13 targets over the first two weeks, will likely handle the pass catching role (Collins’ numbers are inflated by one big catch)
- Collins lost a fumble in Week 1
You put it all together and he’s a tough sell if you have an alternative.
Sit – Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
There’s already a usage issue, as Phillip Lindsay isn’t going anywhere, which alone makes Freeman a questionable option (at best). A matchup against Denver, who is allowing the second fewest points per week to opposing running backs, just makes things worse. Freeman has upside potential, but the situation proves otherwise and the risk outweighs the potential reward.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears – at Arizona
There is no question who the Bears’ top wide receiver is, as Robinson has been targeted 21 times over the first two weeks (he’s put up 14 receptions and 144 yards). He’s yet to find the end zone, but that should come in time. The Cardinals have allowed 368 receiving yards to opposing wide receivers and while the lack of TD is an issue, it shouldn’t be enough to deter you.
Sit – Will Fuller – Houston Texans – vs. New York Giants
Fuller is coming off a big week, turning 9 targets into 8 catches, 113 yards and 1 TD. We all know that DeAndre Hopkins is the team’s top receiver and will continue to dominate the opportunities so we’ll have to see if there are enough targets to go around. The Giants’ defense has also been solid against opposing wide receivers, giving up the sixth fewest points per week (270 yards, 1 TD). That’s enough of a reason to shy away from Fuller in shallower formats (though he’s a solid option in three wide receiver formats).
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
The Titans have allowed the second most points per week to opposing wide receivers, with 469 yards and 4 TD over the first two weeks. With the way Blake Bortles and company looked against the Patriots there obviously has to be a lot of optimism heading into this game. The only thing holding Cole back is the shared opportunities:
- Donte Moncrief – 14 targets
- Keelan Cole – 12 targets
- Dede Westbrook – 11 targets
Cole has been the most productive (10 receptions, 170 yards, 1 TD), but there are enough alternatives that Bortles could focus in elsewhere. That keeps him out of shallower formats, but in three-receiver formats he’s a no-brainer.
Sit – Josh Gordon – New England Patriots – at Detroit
Eventually Gordon should emerge as a locked in option in all formats, but limited in practice and in a new locker room it’s going to be tough to trust him this week. He could see limited snaps and while there is boom or bust potential, unless you are completely void of alternatives there’s too high of a likelihood of a bust since he may not yet have much of a rapport with Tom Brady.
Start – O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Pittsburgh
Howard has shown the ability to make big plays over the first two weeks and draws a Pittsburgh defense that is one of four to already allow 2 TD to opposing tight ends. That’s a good mix, and while we have to wonder if Ryan Fitzpatrick is an implosion in waiting the matchup doesn’t support it coming in Week 3. Howard should only see his role continue to grow, and while 6 targets in two games does bring concern there’s enough upside to consider him a TE1.
Sit – Benjamin Watson – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
The Saints’ offense has been putting up big numbers, but Watson hasn’t been a benefactor of that explosion (7 catches for 63 yards and 0 TD). Taking on an Atlanta defense that’s been strong against opposing tight ends (fifth fewest points per week), there are too many better opportunities to try and take advantage of.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: