If you haven't watched Netflix's excellent animated series "BoJack Horseman," yet, you need to. Season four recently came out, but that's not why I bring up the show in the lede of my Week 3 fantasy matchups column. It's an incredibly well-written show chock full of great quotes, but one of my favorites came in season two when BoJack was in the midst of a breakup. His soon-to-be-ex tells him, "You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags." This quote is particularly poignant in regards to relationships, but I feel it's also useful when examining early-season fantasy production.
Optimism runs at an all-time high for most teams and players entering the season's opening frames, but in the span of a few short weeks cold, harsh reality washes over us and we're left reassessing countless preconceived notions. For instance, many of us (myself included) believed the Seahawks passing offense could be set to reach new heights, ignoring the obvious red flags of an offensive line that currently can't stop a nosebleed. Or how many invested in Colts' skill position players like Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton on the hopes of Andrew Luck returning early in the season, despite the painfully obvious red flags surrounding his health and timetable for return. I bring all of this up, because, with the quarter mark of the season just around the corner, it's time for us to take off those rose-colored glasses, and look at the fantasy landscape with fresh perspective. I try to do a fair amount of that below.
As is the case every week, I go game-by-game and player-by-player for every Week 3 contest. Those looking for quick-hitting start/sit/flex/stream analysis will find that listed for the main players for every team. Below that, I do my best to preview the game with additional insight, stats, and analysis to contextualize my recommendations. This process is going to evolve as I get better at writing this thing solo, and we get more data the further we get into the season.
Now, enough blathering on. We've got lineups to set and matchups to explore. Time to dive in.
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday)
Dak Prescott is off to a solid, but unspectacular start to the season. However, against an Arizona defense currently allowing the ninth-most passing yards in the league despite facing Jacoby Brissett, he's a solid QB1. Especially if Carson Palmer and co. can put up some points on his defense, as he may have to take to the air to keep up. Ezekiel Elliott was, in a word, not good last week against the Broncos. It's encouraging that he's seen five targets in each game thus far, but the sky isn't falling on Zeke's fantasy outlook just yet. I'd expect the Cowboys to get back to what they do best in this contest and feed their bell-cow back. Dez Bryant should see a fair amount of Patrick Peterson here, but he's always a threat to score and is receiving more targets (25) than usual. In fact, Bryant has scored in both of his previous matchups against Peterson. Speaking of targets, it's hard to turn away from Jason Witten, the TE1 heading into week three who also leads his position with 22 targets. The Cardinals also just let Jack Doyle catch all eight of his looks for 79 yards. The Cowboys defense is missing key pieces and traveling to face the Cardinals. There are better units to stream.
Carson Palmer was dealt a rough hand to start the season between losing David Johnson and having to travel far east twice. Back on his home turf, he's a solid option as a low-end QB1 against a Dallas defense that was just shredded by Trevor Siemian. The Cardinals nightmare backfield committee came to life last week, and there were rumors Chris Johnson could usurp more work from Kerwynn Williams. Steer clear of this group for the time being. Larry Fitzgerald disappeared last week in a game many projected him to dominate. That's more likely a blip on the radar than a sign of things to come, and he's well worth a start again. With John Brown expected to be out again, J.J. Nelson slides in as a decent flex play, while Jaron Brown can be used in deeper formats. Nelson's the better upside play after catching five of seven targets for 120 yards and a touchdown last week, but Brown led the team in targets in that game as well. The Cardinals defense isn't in play this week against a strong Dallas offensive line and playmakers who rarely turn the ball over, despite what we saw last week.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 8:25 p.m. ET on NFL Network (Thursday)
The 49ers defense has some nice pieces, but are they really as good as advertised through two games? Right now, they've allowed the ninth-fewest passing yards in the league and largely kept both the Panthers and Seahawks offenses in check (35 points against is 11th best in the league). Jared Goff on the road on a short week doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but he's been OK in fantasy thus far (QB14 through two weeks). Desperate streamers could give Goff a call, especially given the recent injuries to the 49ers secondary with Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, and Jaquiski Tartt all banged up. Perhaps Todd Gurley is beginning to turn things around. On Sunday he averaged 2.24 yards before a defender came within 1 yard of him per Next Gen Stats, by far the best mark of his last two seasons. He also averaged 5.5 yards per carry and caught three of his four targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. Gurley has four-plus receptions in 12 of his last 15 games, helping to secure him a safe fantasy floor. He remains the focal point of this offense and should at least find flex value in this contest. The 49ers just gave up 93 yards on 20 carries to Chris Carson behind an offensive line in transition (to put it kindly). Sammy Waktins' volume is too inconsistent to trust right now in fantasy. To date, he owns just 9.14 percent of Goff's targeted air yards on seven targets. Both are paltry sums for a "No. 1" wide receiver. Those playing in PPR leagues can flex Cooper Kupp. His 12 targets lead the team while his seven receptions and 109 receiving yards both rank second (Gurley, Gerald Everrett). Just know his ceiling is limited in this low volume passing attack that has seen Goff distribute passes to 11 different players through two weeks. Speaking of Everett, while he made the splashy play last week, he's seen the field the least of the Los Angeles tight ends, who have split up their collective 10 targets 4-4-2. The Rams defense disappointed against the turnover-prone Kirk Cousins last week, but could bounce back against a 49ers passing attack that has scored zero touchdowns with two interceptions, allowed six sacks, and averaged under 150 yards per game.
While it was in the "hot takes" section of our predictions episode of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast, my incendiary take that Brian Hoyer would be a fantasy breakout star is off to a bit of a rocky start. Granted, he's faced two devastating defenses, but 292 passing yards through two games with no touchdowns and two interceptions is not what I'd call ... good. In fact, Tom Brady amassed more yards and threw more touchdowns in the first HALF of his Week 2 game against the Saints than Hoyer has all year. Until we see any sort of signs of a turnaround or Hoyer hits a streamable matchup (like Week 5 at the Colts), he's waiver-wire fodder. Respect to Carlos Hyde for balling out in a tough situation in Seattle last week. He accounted for 55.4 percent of the team's scrimmage yards, and amassed most of his yardage (113 yards) running up to the middle and to the left, which was where Rob Kelley gashed the Rams on Sunday (three runs of five-plus yards all went to the left). Hyde is strong RB2 on Thursday night. Pierre Garcon should be back on the flex radar in PPR formats after (predictably) struggling in Seattle. The Rams have only allowed 200 yards to opposing receivers thus far, but that did include a game where Scott Tolzein started for the Colts. Garcon averages 7.5 targets per game thus far and offers a safe floor. Despite owning a whopping 41.13 percent of Hoyer's targeted air yards, Marquise Goodwin has just six catches for 47 yards. George Kittle might be a thing down the road, but eight targets in two games is not enough to warrant a fantasy start. Even though they're at home on Thursday Night Football (a typically favorable fantasy defense spot), I'd avoid the 49ers once again.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 9:30 a.m. ET on Yahoo! (LONDON)
Joe Flacco tossed two touchdowns last week, but averages just 6.6 yards per attempt and has two interceptions to three touchdowns on the season. His receivers had to work for those yards in Week 2, too, Flacco led all QBs with percentage of throws into tight windows (less than 1 yard separation from the defender) despite 79.4 percent of his attempts traveling fewer than 10 air yards (sixth-highest total of the week). Typically those type of throws come farther downfield. He still appears a bit limited by his offseason back injury, too, and is best left on the bench considering he has to travel across the pond to face a tough defense. Terrance West is fighting through a soft tissue injury, which could explain why he was so massively out-played by Javorius Allen on Sunday (in play percentage and production). West's status will need to be monitored heading into Sunday, but with this game starting so early, it's probably best to leave West out of lineups in case he's a last-minute scratch. West's injury puts Allen into the high-end RB2 conversation. He took his 19 touches for 101 total yards and a score last week, and will be prominently featured again in this contest. Jeremy Maclin has scored a touchdown in back-to-back weeks, but nine targets and 87 yards through two games are hardly inspiring figures. The Jags defense boasts two elite cover corners in A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, too. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are non-factors with Flacco still limited as a deep passer. They've combined for three receptions for 20 yards on 12 targets. Benjamin Watson, back from an Achilles injury, looks like the answer at tight end. He was on the field for 74 percent of the Ravens' Week 2 plays, hauling in all eight of his targets for 91 yards. The Jaguars just gave up 91 yards and a touchdown on six catches to the combo of Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith. The Ravens defense has 10 takeaways, eight sacks and 10 points allowed through two games. Blake Bortles after a cross-oceanic trek will be ripe for the picking.
Blake Bortles leads the NFL in giveaways since 2014 with 66 and is facing a defense with 10 takeaways in two games. Yeah, hard pass here (though I'm sure none of you were considering playing Bortles anyway). The Ravens allow just 3.8 yards per carry thus far in 2017 and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Through two weeks, only C.J. Anderson has more touches among backs than Leonard Fournette, and only Mike Gillislee has more attempts and touchdowns inside an opponents' 5-yard line than him. The bruising rookie remains startable thanks to insane volume and scoring upside. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee showed well in their first game sans Allen Robinson (7-76 and 6-82-1, respectively). I'd sit them both this week, though, as the Ravens pass defense is elite, allowing a 42.6 percent catch rate to opposing wideouts, the lowest in the league, with zero touchdowns on 47 targets. Moreover, much of the Jags passing game production came in the second half, with 38 percent of Lee's yardage coming in the third quarter, while 80.5 percent of Hurns' yardage (and his touchdown) came in the fourth. With both teams leaning heavily on the run, that could take the air out of the passing game and keep the score closer, limiting Bortles' need to pass. The Ravens just lost Marshal Yanda, one of the best guards in football, for the season. Flacco has thrown two interceptions on just 51 attempts thus far, and been sacked three times. After pressuring Texans quarterbacks on 64.3 percent of dropbacks in Week 1, the Jags only pressured Marcus Mariota on 8.3 percent of his dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats. To be fair, though, Mariota was one of the least pressured passers in the league in 2016 behind a stout offensive line. Flacco on the other hand still isn't very mobile as he continues to recover from his back injury, making the Jaguars defense a solid streaming unit.
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
DeShone Kizer is hitting typical rookie speed bumps in the early portions of the season, but he has a nice fantasy matchup around the bend when he travels to face the Colts. The Colts deep pass defense (20-plus air yards) has struggled thus far, allowing nine completions on 13 attempts for 278 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Kizer has attempted 16 such passes thus far against two good defenses, but has yet to find the end zone on his four completions. If that volume keeps up he has the potential to finally hit on a big play and produce in fantasy. If not, his rushing ability (10 attempts, 43 yards, one score) helps elevate his floor, at least. After not playing a snap in the backfield in Week 1, Duke Johnson rotated back into the mix heavily in Week 2. Perhaps he's being used as Hue Jackson's Swiss Army Knife. I'd give him another week before trusting him in lineups, though his usage against the Ravens (four rushes, six targets) is trending in the right direction. Isaiah Crowell has 27 rushes for 70 yards and no touchdowns in 2017, with a putrid 2.6 yards per carry average. HOWEVER, he has run into the teeth of two top-notch run defenses thus far and saw eight-plus defenders in the box on 50 percent of his Week 2 carries. He's a great buy-low option in trades, and should have a solid matchup this week against the Colts, whose impressive 2.7 yards per carry allowed average is skewed by the Rams beating them so soundly in Week 1, and facing a David Johnson-less Cardinals team in Week 2. With Corey Coleman OUT with a broken hand, Rashard Higgins is now the team's new target hog and the only pass-catcher to trust in fantasy. Higgins amassed 95 yards and seven catches on 11 targets in Week 2. Kenny Britt could be losing playing time, and should be left to the fantasy bench. Seth DeValve and David Njoku both made big plays in Week 2, but the Browns are using a tight end committee (DeValve and Njoku have played 45 and 46 percent of the snaps, respectively), which muddies this fantasy outlook.
I'm breaking from my current stance of not starting any Colts until Andrew Luck gets back this week! But only for Jack Doyle, who saw nearly 22 percent of Jacoby Brissett's targets in Week 2, catching all eight of those for 79 yards. To date, the Browns have allowed the most catches (19), third-most yards (162), and most touchdowns (two, tied with three other teams) to opposing tight ends. Yes, Frank Gore found the end zone last week and sure, T.Y. Hilton is averaging a little over 50 yards per game, but I just cannot trust any other pieces of this offense until Luck is back under center. There are too many other matchups available across the league with no teams on byes to justify attaching your fantasy squad to this struggling scoring unit.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
The Giants offense is one of the more unexpected disappointments of the season. Protection problems, an aging Eli Manning and an injured Odell Beckham Jr. are conspiring to keep this unit out of the end zone. Dating back to last year, the Giants have scored 20 points or fewer in eight straight contests, with just 13 total points to their name in 2017. That's why Manning needs to be benched in fantasy until further notice. The Giants backfield remains an absolute fantasy disaster. Shane Vereen led the way with 10 touches, followed by Paul Perkins with nine and Orleans Darkwa with four. That type of workload split on an offense allergic to the end zone is one to avoid in fantasy. OBJ's return netted him four catches for 35 yards on five targets. He looked good, but clearly isn't 100 percent yet. However, if he starts for the Giants he starts for me in fantasy. I'd much rather go down with the ship than leave him on my bench. Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall are sinking with this moribund passing attack. Marshall made his second catch of the year against the Lions, in case you didn't notice. Evan Engram had a nice game against a Lions team that has struggled to cover tight ends recently, but he's a low-end streamer at best against the Eagles. Travis Kelce just carved them up, but they held Jordan Reed in check the week before. Engram isn't on that level yet, but he did see seven targets in Week 2, leading the team. The Giants defense remains a stalwart unit despite the offensive struggles. Carson Wentz has committed three turnovers and been sacked eight times in two games. Don't be afraid to trot out Big Blue on the road.
Casron Wentz currently sits as the QB3 in fantasy after two weeks, but a date with the Giants should slow him down. The Giants allow just 6.5 yards per attempt to opposing passers, with a grand total of 390 yards and three touchdowns through two games. Wentz is prone to bone-headed decisions despite his obvious talent, and a well-coached, opportunistic defense like the Giants could fluster him. In his two games against New York last year Wentz completed just 56.3 percent of his passes for 516 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. It's time to stear clear of the Eagles backfield, as well. LeGarrette Blount didn't receive a carry in Week 2 and was used on just five offensive plays. Desperate players in deeper leagues could give Darren Sproles a shot in the flex, but all he provides is a non-zero floor. Alshon Jeffery led the team with 13 targets and over 41 percent of the team's air yards last week, turning those opportunities into seven catches, 92 yards and a touchdown. If Janoris Jenkins (ankle) plays, there's a chance he'll shadow Jeffery much like he did Dez Bryant in Week 1. That'd cripple Jeffery's outlook, but he'll still be worth at least a chance in the flex. Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor flipped roles from Week 1 to Week 2, with the former getting eight targets against the Chiefs to Agholor's three. It'd be unwise to start either against the Giants fantastic secondary. Through two weeks Zach Ertz is among the league leaders for tight ends in yards (first), targets (second), and catches (second), though he's failed to find the end zone. That could change against a Giants defense that has allowed opposing tight ends to rip through them to the tune of 13 catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns (on 15 targets). Eli Manning has been sacked eight times in two games, while tossing one touchdown to two interceptions. The Eagles defense at home against this offense is a top-10 play this week.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
It's good to have Jay Cutler back in the NFL, and he has an excellent matchup this weekend against the Jets. The Jets have allowed 400-plus total yards in both games so far, and their 8.9 touchdown rate allowed to opposing quarterbacks is the highest in the league. Jay Ajayi saw 28 touches in his 2017 debut and amassed 126 total yards. Now he faces a Jets defense that has allowed 411 total yards to opposing backs (third-most in the league). DeVante Parker's 47.7 percent of the team air yards ranked fifth in Week 2, and signals he could be ready for a massive outing against the Jets. No team has allowed more touchdown passes to wide receivers (four) than Gang Green, and those have come on a meager 21 targets. This would also put Kenny Stills into deep flex consideration, though his five targets against the Chargers were the lowest among Miami wideouts. Rather surprisingly, Jarvis Landry absorbed 15 targets out of Cutler's 33 attempts (45.5 percent), but averaged just 3.2 air yards per target. This is encouraging for Landry's PPR outlook, but lowers his floor in standard formats. Julius Thomas looks like an afterthought in this offense right now and should be the same in fantasy until he finds himself in a bigger role. Miami managed just one sack against the Chargers, but this is the Jets who have allowed on average nine fantasy points per game to opposing stop units.
Josh McCown's two touchdown passes to Jermaine Kearse last week nearly netted him a top-12 finish among quarterbacks. I wouldn't chase the production with either player in this contest, though. Kearse scored twice on five targets, a ratio surely to come crashing back to Earth this week. Nine different players received at least one of McCown's 25 targets in Week 2, which is disastrous volume to chase in fantasy. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are now also battling Elijah McGuire for work, as the rookie was trotted out on 11 plays, getting six carries and two targets. This, like many backfields in the NFL, is one to avoid in fantasy. Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be on your waiver-wire radar and could be worth a stash in deeper leagues. Matt Harmon explains why in this week's deep waiver-wire dive.
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
No quarterback is hotter than Trevor Siemian right now, who leads all passers in total touchdowns with seven (six passing, one rushing). The Bills are one of two teams to not allow a passing touchdown thus far, but that's misleading. They played the Jets in Week 1, and then Cam Newton missed an easy touchdown toss in Week 2. Siemian and the Broncos offense is operating efficiently right now, so Siemian's still worth streaming until the magic ends. C.J. Anderson leads all running backs in touches through two weeks, and should remain a workhorse against the Bills. His ceiling figures to be lower, though, as the Bills allow just 2.4 yards per carry to opposing backs. In total, they've conceded 159 total yards and zero touchdowns to opposing rushers. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders own 26.7 and 23.3 percent of Siemian's targets, respectively, and remain weekly must-starts. Their volume alone should keep them in your lineup, even in tougher matchups. The Bills offense failed to score a touchdown last week against the Panthers, netting just three points. The Denver defense has slowed two good offenses in back-to-back weeks (Chargers, Cowboys) and should be able to handle the Bills.
The Bills offense is still a unit in transition. With Sammy Watkins getting traded and Anquan Boldin retiring during the preseason, Tyrod Taylor was left to pick up the pieces. Taylor will have his weeks as a fantasy starter, but this isn't one of them. Denver allows the lowest yards per attempt (5.2) in the league, with three interceptions in two games. This poor matchup for Taylor extends to Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones as well, who likely weren't in starting consideration to begin with. LeSean McCoy disappointed in Week 2 (12 rushes, nine yards), but will look to bounce back against the Broncos. I'd expect his volume to return, but the Broncos run defense is a force to be reckoned with under new coordinator Joe Woods. To date, opposing backs average just 2.4 yards per carry, with no rushing touchdowns and only one receiving score. If the Bills are going to move the ball in this one, it will likely be via Shady or Charles Clay. The Bills tight end saw just three targets in Week 2 after leading the team with nine in Week 1, and could get more looks this weekend. Jason Witten was a key chain-mover for the Cowboys last week, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 97 yards and a score in Denver. The Bills defense is off to a strong season, and offers a reasonable floor against a Broncos offense that could be without its starting left tackle, Garett Bolles.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
The Saints offense is off to a rocky start, failing to score more than 20 points in each of their first two games. A road trip to face the Panthers, who have yet to give up a touchdown, is the exact opposite of what the doctor ordered. In fact, through two weeks the Panthers defense ranks first in points allowed (three per game), yards allowed (196.5 per game), and yards per play allowed (3.74). If you drafted Drew Brees, you're still starting him, though. The team upped its passing play percentage from Week 1 to Week 2 by nearly 10 percent (64 to 73), which could have been because they were trailing the Patriots almost immediately, or because they realized their offense works best as a pass-first squad. Collectively, the trio of Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Adrian Peterson have amassed 134 yards on 35 attempts for a 3.7 yards per carry average. Peterson is unstartable in this offense, with 14 rushes and one target to his name through two weeks and he's played the fewest snaps (23). Ingram is the best start of the bunch as a floor play in the flex, as he's added in nine receptions on 10 targets to go along with his team-leading 69 rushing yards. Kamara could be a deeper league PPR play, as he's second on the team in targets behind Michael Thomas and the Panthers have given up the 10th most receiving yards to opposing backs. Speaking of Thomas, those who took him in Round 2 are likely a tad disappointed, but he is getting nearly 22 percent of Brees' targets. A big game is on the horizon, so keep the faith. Coby Fleener has now made it three-for-three in terms of scoring touchdowns in games Willie Snead doesn't play. Brandon Coleman is worth watching in this one. He was on the field for 80 percent of the Saints' plays in Week 1, and 89 percent in Week 2 when he posted a 4-82-1 line on six targets. Of course, Snead comes back in Week 4 and could steal all of this production right back, but deep league players could give Coleman a look. Ted Ginn is verging on dropable, especially with Tommylee Lewis looking like the preferred deep threat. Friends don't let friends start the Saints defense in fantasy.
Cam Newton appears to be knocking off rust still, but the Saints defense is the equivalent of a cure-all for quarterbacks so far. Sam Bradford and Tom Brady have eviscerated this squad, and Newton could be next in line. The Saints allow 388.5 passing yards per game currently and have yet to record a takeaway. No team has allowed more 500-plus total yard games than the Saints since 2012 (nine). After a disappointing Week 2, expect a bounce back from both Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. The Saints allow 4.4 yards per carry on the ground, while they've tied for the league lead in receptions (19) allowed to backs, and lead the league in receiving yards (185) allowed. Only the Patriots have conceded more total yards to backs through two weeks. With Greg Olsen (foot) sidelined indefinitely, Newton could turn to his other security blanket, Kelvin Benjamin, even more. Benjamin leads the team in targets and receiving yards thus far and could be ready to absolutely break out against the Saints. Could this finally be the year Devin Funchess becomes fantasy relevant? He's led the team in playing time at wide receiver in both games, with 65 and 82 percent usage. He finished just behind Benjamin in both targets (six to eight) and receiving yards (68 to 77) against the Bills in Week 2. He offers intriguing upside against the Saints. I'd avoid Ed Dickson as a 1-for-1 replacement for Olsen. He's a solid veteran, but my guess is the targets trickle down elsewhere (Benjamin and McCaffrey especially) rather than to Dickson. Start the Panthers defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
It's hard to advocate sitting Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers offense starting to come together, so I won't, but here's a word of caution for his owners. The Bears defense under Vic Fangio has played pretty well at home since last year, where they allowed a 60.3 completion percentage with six touchdowns and three interceptions. They also kept Matt Ryan largely in check, especially if you take away his 88-yard broken play touchdown to Austin Hooper (a form of analysis I'm typically not fond of). Roethlisberger also has been held under 300 passing yards in eight straight games dating back to last year. Still, with Martavis Bryant returning to form and a breakout for Le'Veon Bell coming any week now, Big Ben is still a fine start. The Bears allow just 3.3 yards per carry on the season, along with eight catches for 51 yards to opposing backs. That being said, Bell is getting the volume we expected (44 touches through two weeks), so there is no reason to panic (yet). Antonio Brown was locked down by Xavier Rhodes last week, but the Bears do not have a corner of Rhodes' caliber. Expect a return to dominance from A.B. After leading the team in red-zone targets in Week 1, Jesse James didn't get targeted at all near the end zone in Week 2 and appeared to suffer some sort of ankle/foot injury. He's going to be a boom-or-bust play all year. The Steelers defense may be on the road, but playing Mike Glennon is cause for celebration. He's committed three turnovers and been sacked five times in two games and is playing behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
The Bears offense must have stolen some sort of ancient idol this offseason because this unit has been cursed since training camp. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White are lost for the season, and now Jordan Howard is dealing with a shoulder injury and was seen in a sling after the Week 2 game. He has to be benched this week against a Steelers team that figures to control this game. They're also allowing a measly 3.3 yards per carry. Tarik Cohen leads all running backs and the Bears offense in targets through Week 2 and is at least a volume-based floor play. He could see even more work with Howard banged up. The wide receivers are a mess after suffering so many losses so early in the season, and the combo of Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, and Deonte Thompson should not be trusted in starting fantasy lineups. Zach Miller offers low-end PPR value at the tight end spot with point totals of 7.9 and 10.2 thus far. You'll notice I haven't mentioned Mike Glennon yet in this space. That was on purpose. Carry on.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Matt Ryan has thrown 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last nine games (including playoffs), averaging 302 yards per game in that span. The Lions pass defense looks solid in 2017, but they faced an average Carson Palmer and anemic Giants offense. While on the road, the Falcons offense on turf is still extremely dangerous. Devonta Freeman's nose for the end zone has returned in 2017, as he's taken all three of his rushes inside the opponent's 10-yard line into the end zone for scores. He's the clear lead back for Atlanta, out-touching Tevin Coleman 35-20 through two weeks. That being said, Coleman has been a factor on the road for the Falcons and could be utilized more in the passing game against a Detroit defense allowing the third-most receptions (15) and third-most receiving yards to opposing backs. Mohamed Sanu has been quite overlooked so far in fantasy, although his line through two weeks isn't too far off from Julio Jones (11-132-0 on 14 targets vs. 9-174-0 on 14 targets). Both are excellent starts in what should be a high-scoring affair. Austin Hooper's breakout performance in Week 1 was great to see, but he has four targets through two weeks. Tight ends are touchdown-dependent this year, so it's best to chase a player receiving more opportunity than Hooper. The Lions offense is humming along efficiently, and the Falcons will be without top pass rusher Vic Beasley on the road this Sunday. Keep this unit on the bench.
Matthew Stafford played really, really well against the Giants last week, even though it only netted him a QB17 finish for the week. Returning home against a Falcons team without its top pass rusher makes Stafford primed for a bounce back. The Falcons also just gave up 343 yards and two touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers at home, even though he was missing Jordy Nelson for most of the game (and Randall Cobb for parts). Don't chase Ameer Abdullah's "career" game from last week (17 carries, 86 yards). While he's a talented player, he's in the worst spot imaginable for fantasy in that he loses passing game work to Theo Riddick and goal-line opportunities to virtually everyone else on the roster. Riddick, on the other hand, could be in a great spot this week, as Atlanta once again cannot cover backs in space. They've allowed 19 catches, 143 yards and two touchdowns to opposing backs thus far. Golden Tate is in an excellent spot here against the Falcons. Randall Cobb cut through them for six catches and 60 yards last week, but don't forget he had a HUGE gain and a touchdown called back on separate penalties. Tate's a must-start in standard and PPR. Marvin Jones has just three catches in 2017, but two of them have been in the end zone. Jones received the Patrick Peterson treatment in Week 1 and then had to battle the Giants top-notch secondary. He's worth a start in this potential shootout. After sending the fantasy world into a fever dream in Week 1, Golladay crashed back to reality in Week 2. However, his big-play potential makes him worthy of a shot in the flex against the Falcons. Eric Ebron predictably posted a solid game against the Giants (five catches, 42 yards, one touchdown), who just cannot cover tight ends right now. Given the state of the tight end position, banking on Ebron carrying that momentum into this game isn't too far fetched. The Lions defense delivered against the Giants, but that's because so far in 2017, EVERY defense has delivered against Eli Manning's squad. The Falcons are an entirely different beast, so leave the Lions on the bench.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX
While I'm high on Jameis Winston's outlook for the rest of the season, I'd approach this Week 3 matchup with caution. Winston has to travel into Minnesota, who fielded the No. 3 defense a year ago, and still have a ferocious unit in 2017. In his young career, Winston has struggled against top 10 defenses, throwing nine touchdowns versus 15 interceptions in seven games with a 57.9 completion percentage. Winston could ball out (he has his best supporting cast ever), but I'd like to let him prove himself this week while not in my starting lineup. Jacquizz Rodgers is a solid volume-based flex play, as he carried the ball 19 times last week and got into the end zone. The Vikings have been stout against the run (3.1 ypc, zero touchdowns), though, so keep expectations in check. Mike Evans figures to see plenty of Xavier Rhodes this week, who held Antonio Brown to three catches for 28 yards on eight targets while covering him. Evans is still a monster in the red zone though, so his combination of volume (team-high nine targets) and scoring potential make him a viable start. DeSean Jackson's Buccaneers debut left a little to be desired (3-39 on seven targets), but he's still a solid flex play as it takes just one play for him to return value. To date, the Vikings have allowed four catches on 11 passes of 20-plus extended air yards for 154 yards. Jackson was targeted three times on such passes in Week 2, catching one for 21 yards. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate were on the field for 44 and 35 plays, respectively, and each received three targets. Gross. The Bucs are a solid defensive play regardless (allowed just 16 points per game in the last nine games, second-best in the league), but if Case Keenum starts again and Sam Bradford sits, they're a top-five play this week.
Even if Sam Bradford starts this week, he probably shouldn't start for your fantasy squad. The Buccaneers defense has allowed an average of 16 points per game in their last nine contests, and in Week 2 every single member of their defensive line was above average in terms of pressuring the quarterback. Per Next Gen Stats, the league average for separation from the passer is 4.48 yards, and Noah Spence was "worst" for the Bucs in this category, averaging 3.76 yards of separation from Mike Glennon. The Vikings o-line has stepped up this year, but they also haven't faced a unit as deep as the Buccaneers. They pressured the passer on 32.6 percent of his passes in Week 2, 10th best in the league. Bradford or Case Keenum could find the going rough in this contest. Dalvin Cook offers a decent floor as a flex play, but his ceiling is wildly lowered if Keenum starts. Granted, he did have a touchdown overturned last week (that then went to C.J. Ham, curse you fantasy gods!), which demonstrated big plays are always in his arsenal. Diggs and Thielen will be flex-worthy if Bradford starts, but Keenum under center kills their value. Prior to his start last week, Keenum ranked 34th in completion percentage, 31st in passing yards per game, and 33rd in TD-INT ratio among quarterbacks with 20 starts since 2013. Tight end is a fantasy wasteland, but Kyle Rudolph remains a red-zone threat and is tough to sit. The Vikings defense at home is formidable, and Jameis Winston is prone to mistakes. He also took two sacks last week against the Bears, so the Vikings could force him into a few takedowns and turnovers.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS
I'm sure you've heard this (or read this) elsewhere by now, but Bill Belichick has DOMINATED rookie quarterbacks in New England. Since 2000, they're a collective 0-8 vs. the hoodie, with a 51 completion percentage averaging 196.8 yards per game with five touchdowns and 16 interceptions. None of this bodes well for Watson, especially in fantasy, as most of his production last week came on his 49-yard rushing touchdown. Lamar Miller amassed a solid 93 total yards in Week 2, but D'Onta Foreman began to make an impact as well. He was used on just 14 offensive plays, but carried the ball on 12 of those, rumbling for 40 yards. In a game where the Texans figure to be trailing often, neither back makes for a particularly appetizing start. While it's likely that Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will look to take DeAndre Hopkins out of the Texans game plan, the former Clemson star should see plenty of volume from his quarterback. Through two games Watson has targeted Hopkins 24 times and all other players 23 times, with Hopkins gaining 121 yards to the rest of the team's 106 on Watson targets. The Texans' tight ends still aren't healthy, and while Bruce Ellington is practicing in full, it'd be best to leave him on the bench for this one. Same goes for a Houston defense facing the tall task of slowing down Tom Brady on his home turf.
Tom Brady got right (as expected) in Week 2 versus a porous Saints defense. He should be able to continue at least moderate production traveling back home to face the Texans. They've had extra time to prepare for Brady and co., but this is Brady. As for the backfield, Rex Burkhead is battling a rib injury and should be benched in fantasy. Mike Gillislee really is LeGarrette Blount 2.0 for the Patriots, but perhaps with even better scoring prowess. As Graham Barfield noted, since 2015 Gillislee has converted 73.3 percent of his carries inside the 5-yard line into touchdowns (league average is 42 percent). If the Patriots build a lead, they'll turn to Gillislee to salt away the lead as well (he had seven carries in the fourth quarter last week). With so many pass-catchers injured, Brady targeted James White eight times last week (he caught all eight for 85 yards). While Danny Amendola might return, White will get volume and offers a safe floor in the flex. Brandin Cooks is bound to break out eventually ... right? RIGHT!? The Texans secondary suffered some injuries this past week, and could present the opportunity Cooks has been waiting for. If not, whew, it's going to really be time to reassess his value in this offense. Chris Hogan is a solid upside play as well, though a healthy Danny Amendola would cut into Hogan's slot production, where he caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown last week. If Rob Gronkowski starts, you start him in fantasy. This is not hard to understand. All of the reasons I detailed in the Texans section about why not to start Deshaun Watson are why you want to start the Patriots defense.
Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans, 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX
The Seahawks passing attack has been one of the most depressing parts of this young NFL season. Russell Wilson looks scatter-shot and is playing behind a leaky offensive line. As a result, the Seahawks rank 28th in points per game, 26th in yards per game, and 29th in yards per play. Jimmy Graham's usage has also been puzzling (6.6 air yards per target), and he's now also battling an ankle injury. It's completely fair to sit both this weekend against a Tennessee defense allowing 242.5 passing yards per game and just 28 of those to to tight ends. Wilson should get right eventually, but on the road against a solid defense is a tough place to do it. Chris Carson came in last week and put an end to the Seattle backfield committee (for now), out-snapping Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise 48 to 16. He also racked up 93 yards on 20 carries, a far cry from the 14 carries for 18 yards the rest of the backfield has amassed all year. For more on Carson's potential, be sure to read James Koh's in-depth look at the seventh-round rookie. Even though Wilson is struggling. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett are still in play this week. While they've yet to find the end zone, Baldwin is averaging 6.5 targets and 53.5 receiving yards per game. He's at least a reliable floor play with week-winning upside. Same goes for Lockett, who looked good last week while receiving nine targets and catching six for 64. The Seahawks defense must travel on the road against one of the league's best offensive lines and least turnover-prone quarterbacks. This is a week to stream the position if you can.
This is really a dreadful matchup for a Titans offense searching for an identity. Dating back to last year, Mariota has thrown one touchdown or fewer in five straight games (including the one where he broke his fibula). The Seahawks held Aaron Rodgers to just one touchdown (on a free play) in Lambeau in Week 1, and are looking as strong as ever on defense. Mariota should ride the pine until this group gets right. DeMarco Murray is battling a hamstring injury and absolutely should not be started this week. Hopefully, the team sits him for a week or more so his hamstring can heal, as those injuries tend to linger. Derrick Henry reminded the world why he was drafted in the second round last week, punishing the Jaguars defense as he plowed his way to 92 yards on 14 carries (6.6 average). The Seahawks allow 5.6 yards per carry currently, the second-highest mark in the league. With decent projected volume and potential goal-line work, Henry is a solid RB2 this week. The passing game on the other hand, is one to largely avoid. Corey Davis is out with a hamstring injury, which could funnel more targets to Eric Decker, who hasn't played very well to date this year. Returning from multiple offseason surgeries, Decker doesn't appear to be operating at 100 percent. The one player (aside from Delanie Walker) to possibly consider is Rishard Matthews. Matthews currently leads the team in targets (14) and is second in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (114). He'll see plenty of Richard Sherman, but Mariota has shown trust in Matthews in tight coverage this year. Per Next Gen Stats Matthews has caught three of his four targets with a defender within one yard of him for 52 yards. Those account for 28.6 of all of Matthews' targets, the highest percentage among Titans wideouts. The Titans defense is an improving unit, and could be a decent streamer this week. Wilson has been sacked six times and lost one fumble and his offense has scored a single touchdown in two games.
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Andy Dalton is a better quarterback than his first two games (and 6.46 fantasy points) would indicate to the layman, and he could remind the world of that on Sunday against a suddenly banged-up Packers defense, as Nick Perry (hand) is out and Mike Daniels (hip) is in doubt to play. He's at least worth streaming. The promotion of Bill Lazor to offensive coordinator could mean good things for this backfield (i.e. hopefully less playing time for Jeremy Hill). Under Ken Zampese it was a disastrous committee, but before tying ourselves to this group in pivotal Week 3 fantasy contests, let's wait and see how it shakes out. This is the time to strike trades for the talented pieces of the Bengals offense, though, with A.J. Green and Joe Mixon standing out as the best names to target. Speaking of Green, he leads the team with 18 targets, 10 receptions and 141 yards, despite Dalton's atrocious play. He's a must-start against a Packers secondary currently allowing the sixth-most yards to receivers through two weeks. Tyler Eifert is battling knee and back injuries right now and has missed practice all week (prior to Friday). He's a sit this week. The Bengals defense has proven to be solid again this year, but better defenses have tried and failed to slow down Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers hasn't achieved "fantasy god" status yet this season, but the Packers have historically started slowly and he's faced one elite defense and another sneakily good unit. Back at home, with a healthy Jordy Nelson (practiced in full this week), expect big things from Rodgers. Ty Montgomery has produced in fantasy (RB3 overall in standard), despite some pedestrian efficiency numbers (3.1 yards per carry). Still, what matters in fantasy is opportunity, and Montgomery has 39 touches to date while leading all running backs in snaps played. Plus, his best ability may be as a receiver, and per Rich Hribar of Rotoworld, 31.7 percent of the targets against the Bengals have gone to running backs, highest in the league. He's an RB1 until further notice. With Nelson practicing in full, he's back on the starting radar for the Packers. Rodgers and Nelson connected on seven of eight targets for 79 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Randall Cobb is nursing a shoulder injury and feels like a risky bet to start despite the fact that he leads the team with 22 targets and 15 receptions. If he plays, his playing time could be limited. Davante Adams should be in starting lineups as well with Cobb banged up. Andy Dalton has fumbled once, thrown four interceptions, been sacked eight times and failed to score an offensive touchdown in eight quarters of play. The Packers defense still merits a start, but loses a little luster with the recent injuries to the defense..
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Alex Smith's reign as the fantasy QB1 is clearly untenable, but he's a reasonable streamer until his luck or the Chiefs' offensive wizardry comes up empty. The Chargers gave up a QB4 performance to Trevor Siemian in Week 1, and QB18 performance to Jay Cutler in Week 2. Kareem Hunt leads the league in scrimmage yards with 355. The next closest player has 244. The Chargers allow 4.1 yards per carry for what it's worth, but you didn't need me to tell you to start Hunt (I hope). Given his big-play nature, Tyreek Hill is going to have some down weeks, as he did last week. His 14 targets are six more than the next closest Chiefs receiver, though, so he remains a focal point of this offense and should stay in your starting lineup. Travis Kelce currently owns a near 27 percent share of the Chiefs passing targets, an astronomical number for a tight end. His 17 targets also are tied for the third-most at the position, while his 13 receptions are tied for second. The Chargers have allowed a near 90 percent catch rate and the ninth-most yards to the position despite facing the frightening combination of Virgil Green, A.J. Derby, Jeff Heuerman and the ghost of Julius Thomas. The Chiefs defense has return potential, turnover potential, and sack potential and remain a weekly starting unit.
Despite the Chargers' 0-2 record, Philip Rivers is playing quite well. He's averaging 261.5 yards per game to go along with four touchdowns and one pick. He's a low-end QB1, though has his recent history against the Chiefs isn't the greatest. In his last eight games he averages just 1.4 touchdowns per game and one interception per game. Melvin Gordon hasn't found much room to run (2.5 yards per carry), but he's second on the team in targets (14) and remains featured near the goal line. I'd imagine Anthony Lynn (a former running backs coach) will over-correct at some point and feed Gordon again, but for now, he's still startable thanks to passing game work and scoring upside. Keenan Allen should avoid Marcus Peters, as 55 percent of his snaps have come from the slot. He is Rivers' favorite target and should remain in starting lineups. Tyrell Williams has offered stable PPR production through two weeks, but it'd be great to see him more heavily involved in one of these contests. He's a low-end flex play. Travis Benjamin could be a decent dart throw for those chasing touchdowns, too. After going invisible in Week 1, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry returned to the fold in Week 2. They saw 11 targets combined, with Gates getting the score but Henry getting more work (seven targets, seven catches, 80 yards). This was encouraging, but I'd rather chase TE production elsewhere this week as they're facing a Chiefs defense that shut down Gronk in Week 1 and kept Zach Ertz relatively in check aside from his fluke reception where he accumulated 53 of his 97 yards.
Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Derek Carr has been playing lights-out football so far in 2017, and now travels to face a Redskins team allowing the seventh-most passing yards per game despite seeing the 13th fewest attempts. Marshawn Lynch has ceded work to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington last week as Oakland got up big, but in a more competitive game Lynch should be more featured. He also will get the call to salt away a lead in the fourth quarter if necessary, as we saw in Week 1. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree rotate freely to both sides of the field, meaning they won't draw shadow coverage from Josh Norman, as he predominantly plays on the defensive left side of the field. Both are great starts, as usual. Jared Cook remains a sneaky streaming play this week. He saw six yards last week, but only averaged 2.9 air yards per target, contributing to his disappointing yardage total of 25. Zach Ertz dominated the Redskins coverage linebackers and safeties in Week 1, while Gerald Everett nearly eclipsed 100 yards against this group in Week 2. The Raiders defense has been solid thus far in fantasy, but a cross-country road matchup isn't one to chase in Week 3.
Kirk Cousins has disappointed through two weeks, but this feels like a big spot for a bounce back. The Raiders defense will have to travel across the country for this showdown and just gave up a solid outing to Josh McCown (QB13). Game script also could work in Cousins' favor, as the Raiders figure to score plenty of points here, meaning he'll need to pass to keep up. It's encouraging that Rob Kelley is practicing late in the week, but I'd be cautious starting him this week. With this being the Sunday night game, if he's a last-minute inactive your roster could be crippled. Chris Thompson has scored three times on just 13 touches this season, but could be seeing more work with Kelley dinged up and rookie Samaje Perine managing mediocre production on 21 carries last week. With this game projected to feature a lot of points and pass attempts, Thompson is a solid flex, even in standard. Terrelle Pryor's massive target share from Week 1 evaporated in Week 1 (11 targets to four). With Jordan Reed (chest, toe) battling injuries, Pryor could bounce back this week against his former team. As for Reed, if he's healthy and in the lineup, you play him. Those worried about his status could add Jared Cook as a contingency plan, too. Jamison Crowder is losing opportunities to Ryan Grant, and until his target share jumps up he's too risky to start. The Raiders offense is one of the best in the league so far, and they do a phenomenal job of protecting Derek Carr. All of this renders their defense a sit for Week 3.