Week 3 Fantasy Football: To Play or Not to Play

It’s Week 3 already?! The fantasy football season moves by so quickly!

After a devastating week of injuries for more than a few of the league’s stars, a new week of NFL games begin. Hopefully, we don’t see another week of injuries like this for at least the rest of the season.

And now, onto the list:

QUARTERBACKS TO PLAY

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton throwing the ball Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Cam Newton: Don’t look now, but the New England Patriots starting quarterback is the fifth-highest-scoring player in fantasy football, and third among quarterbacks. Cam Newton, to this point, has been sensational for a Patriots offense devoid of quality skill players (excluding Julian Edelman). The Patriots take on a Las Vegas Raiders team who have done adequately against opposing defenses so far. However, I don’t think they’ve really been tested yet, and Cam Newton is a much more difficult player to contain, compared to Teddy Bridgewater and an aging Drew Brees. Start Newton with confidence this week.
  • Gardner Minshew: “Minshew Mania” ensues?! The second-year Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback has quietly been impressive so far, ranked just outside of the top-ten fantasy points scored among quarterbacks. His Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football this week; the Dolphins have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and two top-ten finishes. Gardner Minshew and his “Minshew Magic” should continue this week.
  • Daniel Jones: Saquon Barkley out for the year? How will that New York Giants offense perform without their best player? I believe they’ll be perfectly fine this week; as Daniel Jones and the Giants take on an injured San Francisco 49ers defense without a few of their best players on that side of the ball. I’m burying the Niners for the 2020 season, and for this week at least, I advocate starting Jones.
  • Ryan Tannehill: Ryan Tannehill’s Week 2 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars had me asking myself, “In Tannehill we trust?!?!” For at least another week, I would say so. Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans travel to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings, who currently rank in the bottom-third of the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing passers. Even if there is no A.J. Brown this week, start Tannehill.
  • Sleepers: Mitchell Trubisky, Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield

QUARTERBACKS NOT TO PLAY

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady heading onto the field for their Week Two bout versus the Carolina Panthers.
  • Tom Brady: Perhaps Tom Brady should have retired after his contract expired with the New England Patriots. The current Tampa Bay Buccaneers passer is QB21 in Fantasy Football through the first two weeks of the season. This week, the Bucs take on the Denver Broncos, who rank 15th-overall in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. While this isn’t a tough match-up on paper, I don’t trust Brady’s ability to take advantage of this match-up. If you’re starting Tom Brady in fantasy football every week, I’d recommend reconsidering that decision.
  • Deshaun Watson: Finding his way onto my “not-to-play” list for the second week in a row, Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans received a raw deal from the NFL schedule-makers this year. He scored a measly 14 fantasy points against the Ravens last week, and now has a less-than-ideal match-up at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a defense currently ranked in the top-ten fewest fantasy points given up to opposing fantasy quarterbacks, and have the second most sacks in the league to date. I would temper expectations again for Watson and the Texans this week.
  • Matt Ryan: Coming off of two consecutive top-ten finishes for fantasy points scored, it’s fair to think I’m crazy for putting Matt Ryan here. The greatest quarterback in Atlanta Falcons history has been one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks for years, finishing as a QB1 three of the last four years. So it begs the question, why am I listing him here? My reason behind this because they play the Chicago Bears; a team who may not be the Monsters of the Midway, but are currently ranked third in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. It’s hard to pick against Ryan and the Falcons at home, but I’ll do exactly that this week. Temper your expectations for Matt Ryan this week.
  • Carson Wentz: Welcome back to the Carson Wentz hate column, Philadelphia Eagles fans! I’m kidding. On a serious note, however, I’m almost at the point where I question anyone currently rostering him. For the season so far, he’s ranked QB25 behind the likes of Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, and the geriatric versions of Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He may not have a quality receiving corps to throw to; however, he has the tandem of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to hit over the middle, and Miles Sanders to hand the ball off to, at least. The Eagles play host to the Cincinnati Bengals this week, who have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far. I agree that the Bengals haven’t been tested by quality passing attacks yet, but I don’t respect the Eagles’ passing attack at all. Bench Wentz, and after this week, cut him if he stinks it up again.
  • Lowered Expectations: Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers

RUNNING BACKS TO PLAY

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler before the Week Two game versus the Kansas City Chiefs
  • Austin Ekeler: The Los Angeles Chargers running back is splitting carries with Joshua Kelley, and currently ranks 19th among fantasy running backs; however, Austin Ekeler and the Chargers have a prime match-up in store for Week 3. This week, they play host to the Carolina Panthers, a team who have given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs for the season so far, and gave up the most fantasy points to fantasy running backs last season. If you have a running back playing against the Panthers in a given week, you must start them. This week, start both Ekeler and Kelley.
  • Kenyan Drake: A first- or second-round pick in several fantasy football leagues this year, Kenyan Drake has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. The Arizona Cardinals running back ranks 22nd among fantasy running backs through the first two games of the season. However, Drake has an opportunity to change his fortunes this week, as the Cardinals host the Detroit Lions, a team who has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing runners. Last week, they just surrendered 45 points to Aaron Jones, and have given up an average of 6.4 yards-per-carry this season. I don’t expect Drake to have comparable production this week, but I think he bounces back and finishes as an RB1 this week. Start Drake.
  • James Conner: Coming off of a sprained ankle from the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Week 1 victory over the New York Giants, James Conner managed, not only to play last Sunday, but play well. Conner finished his day with 101 rushing yards, a touchdown, and had two catches for 15 yards en route to a top-ten finish in a win against the Denver Broncos. This week, he has a better match-up when the Steelers play host to the Houston Texans, who give up an average of 5.6 yards-per-carry on the ground — the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing runners, while ranking 31st against the run. As long as he’s healthy, Conner and the Steelers should run all over the Texans.
  • Jonathan Taylor: With Marlon Mack out for the season, rookie Jonathan Taylor received a full workload in the Indianapolis Colts victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He finished the day with 26 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and caught both of his targets for 9 yards. This week, Taylor and the Colts take on the moribund New York Jets, who give up an average of 4.6 yards-per-carry to opposing runners, as well as the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing runners. Last Sunday, the Jets gave up a 51-yard run on 3rd-and-31 to the banged-up San Francisco 49ers. Start Jonathan Taylor.
  • Sleepers: Jerick Mckinnon, David Montgomery

RUNNING BACKS NOT TO PLAY

Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley receiving a hand-off from quarterback Matt Ryan.
  • Todd Gurley: After having a nice game in his Atlanta Falcons debut, Todd Gurley struggled this past Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, managing just 61 yards rushing, and averaging a miniscule 2.9 yards-per-carry. This week, the Falcons play host to the Chicago Bears, a team that ranks 11th in both rushing yards surrendered and fantasy points allowed to opposing runners, but only gives up 3.8 yards-per-carry. I’d keep Gurley on the bench if possible this week.
  • Melvin Gordon: Much to my own surprise, Melvin Gordon had a nice day running the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Gordon’s performance resulted in 84 yards from scrimmage, and caught two of his three targets at Heinz Field. This week, the Denver Broncos face yet another stingy run defense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a defense that has given up just 2.9 yards-per-carry, and a 14-yard sprint as the longest run surrendered so far, this season. With QB Drew Lock out for the foreseeable future, and WR Courtland Sutton out for the year with a torn ACL, expect a stacked box for Gordon.
  • David Johnson: Listed as a running back not to play last week, David Johnson’s disappointing day against the Baltimore Ravens didn’t surprise me. It is encouraging to see he can take advantage of prime match-ups at least, evident in his resurgent day against the Kansas City Chiefs. This week is not a prime match-up, as the Houston Texans take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that has given up the fewest rushing yards in the league, the fewest yards-per-carry in the league, and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing runners. Keep David Johnson on your bench this week.
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The rookie running back for the Kansas City Chiefs had a spectacular debut against the Houston Texans, but came back down to earth a bit last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. If he’s going to have a day more like his professional debut, he’ll have his work cut out for him this week, as the Chiefs travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens, the team that has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. I would still start him this week, but certainly temper your expectations.
  • Lowered Expectations: Chris Carson, Ezekiel Elliott

PASS CATCHERS TO PLAY

Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McClaurin.
  • Terry McClaurin: Whether you call him “Scary Terry” or “F-1,” one thing is certain: Terry McClaurin is a stud wide receiver. Currently ranked WR14 in fantasy, and coming off an impressive performance against the Arizona Cardinals, McClaurin and the Washington Football Team play the Cleveland Browns, a team that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. I’ll regret this decision if McClaurin is matched up with Denzel Ward all day, but I would still start him this week.
  • Allen Robinson: Coming off of a disappointing performance last week against the New York Giants, Allen Robinson and the Chicago Bears are presented with an even better match-up this week, as they take on the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and has surrendered 78 total points in two weeks. Start Robinson with confidence.
  • Amari Cooper: Amari Cooper has had a very solid, yet unspectacular start to the 2020 season thus far, putting up 18 fantasy points in Week 1 and 16 points in Week 2. I suspect that this is the week where the Dallas Cowboys receiver explodes, as they take on a Seattle Seahawks team that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. Don’t be surprised to see a shootout in Seattle, because this will be the highest-scoring game of the week.
  • Mike Gesicki: I wasn’t sold on Mike Gesicki coming into the season. He had a huge game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season, and caught the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots in the regular season finale. After a quiet season debut, Gesicki had a spectacular showing in South Florida against the Buffalo Bills, catching eight of 11 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. This week, the Miami Dolphins take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Start Gesicki this week.
  • Sleepers: Logan Thomas, Robert Tonyan, Corey Davis, Laviska Shenault

PASS CATCHERS NOT TO PLAY

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs running away from the Miami Dolphins defender.
  • Stefon Diggs: The big-time off-season acquisition for the Buffalo Bills, Stefon Diggs showed-out against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, catching eight of 13 targets for 153 yards and a touchdown. This week, he will struggle to replicate those numbers, as he and the Bills take on the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are a team that has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and boasts one of the premier cover corners in Jalen Ramsey. Temper your expectations for Diggs this week.
  • Cooper Kupp: Drafted as a WR2 in most fantasy football leagues, Cooper Kupp has been a massive disappointment to start the season. Currently ranked as the 42nd receiver in fantasy football, owners need substantially more production out of the Los Angeles Rams receiver. Unfortunately, he and the Rams play the Buffalo Bills, a team that boasts one of the better secondaries in football, led by Tre’Davius White. If he gets matched up with the product of Tre White Goalie Academy, expect a long day for Cooper Kupp.
  • Hunter Henry: The Los Angeles Chargers starting tight end has had a solid start to the season thus far. He currently ranks just outside of the top-ten most productive fantasy football tight ends. However, this week, he is locked into a match-up with the Carolina Panthers, a team that has given up the sixth-fewest points to opposing tight ends, and gave up just ten fantasy points to Darren Waller in Week 1. I would seek out better options than Henry this week.
  • Evan Engram: Another fantasy disappointment early into the season, New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is currently ranked as the TE21 in fantasy football, and faces a San Francisco 49ers defense that has given up only two points to opposing tight ends in two games. Count me out on Engram.
  • Lowered Expectations: Kenny Golladay, Tyreek Hill, D.J. Moore

DEFENSES TO STREAM

Indianapolis Colts defense celebrating after cornerback Kenny Moore’s interception.
  • Indianapolis Colts: The Indianapolis Colts are the third-highest scoring defense in fantasy so far. They play a dumpster fire of a team in the New York Jets. Stream them if they’re available on waivers.
  • Los Angeles Chargers: An elite defense who held the Kansas City Chiefs offense mostly in check. They take on the Carolina Panthers without Christian McCaffrey this week. Stream the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • Tennessee Titans: Struggling last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans take on the Minnesota Vikings, who had a nightmare of an afternoon versus the Colts. Remember the Titans — the Tennessee Titans, that is.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against the Denver Broncos, who will be without their starting quarterback and their number one receiver. They are a must-start this week.

(Photo Credits: Patriots.com, AtlantaFalcons.com, Buccaneers.com, WashingtonFootball.com, Chargers.com, BuffaloBills.com, Colts.com)

Leave a Reply