Each week, above our full fantasy rankings, SI.com fantasy writer Michael Beller and 4for4 writer John Paulsen will have a brief debate about some players they view differently. Scroll down for our full rankings at every position.
Michael Beller: Week 3 gives us an interesting slate, John. Saints-Falcons, 49ers-Chiefs, Chargers-Rams, and the season debut of Carson Wentz highlight Sunday’s action, and the day wraps with another of the week’s best games, when the Lions host the Patriots on Sunday Night Football. That game gives us our biggest rankings debates for the week.
Let’s start at running back, where you’re much higher on James White than I am (RB18 vs. RB26). Believe me, I love the player, and am as tried and true a Badger as anyone who spent four years (or more) in Madison, Wisc., White’s just a hard guy for me to trust from a purely fantasy perspective. He’s a great real-life player and a key part of New England’s offense, but his production and opportunity can be dodgy from week to week. This doesn’t necessarily set up as a bad matchup for him, but given that he adds no value as a runner, he needs to make the absolute most of his seven or so targets to register as a fantasy starter. That’s not a bet I'm comfortable making.
Out at receiver, I’ve got Kenny Golladay ranked 19th, while you have him 27th. I’m enamored by Golladay this season. It has only been two games, but just pretend for a second that someone from the future—let’s call it New Year's Eve 2018—came back a few months and told us that Golladay was one of this year’s breakout stars. The strides he has made the first two weeks of the season would be exactly what we’d expect of him with that future knowledge. There are bound to be a few thin weeks with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones still doing their respective things, but I don't think this is one of those weeks. Blake Bortles carved up the Patriots last week, and Matthew Stafford is basically the luxury version of Bortles. This game has an over/under of 52, and while the Lions are nearly touchdown underdogs at home, they still have an implied team total of 22.75 points. I think Golladay gives us WR2 numbers and carries a WR1 ceiling this week.
What say you, John? Why am I wrong on White and Golladay?
John Paulsen: I hear what you’re saying about White, but the RB2 ranks are thinner than usual this week due to a combination of injury, matchups and committee usage, so I don’t have to go too far down the rankings before the players become untrustworthy. White is always a dicey play, but his role has been sizable so far this year, as he has garnered 17 targets through two games—nine in Week 1 and eight in Week 2—which he has parlayed into 11 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. He’s basically filling Julian Edelman’s role in the offense, so I think he’s safer than he typically would be if Edelman were active and healthy. Through two games, White is the No. 18 running back in half-PPR scoring, and the Patriots have an implied total of 29 points against the Lions. While he may have a lower floor than some of his RB2 counterparts, he also has a higher ceiling due to the nature of the New England offense and the different ways he can score fantasy points.
With Golladay, I don’t disagree with any of your points. Since I do full projections, it’s a matter of figuring out the size of the pie and splitting up the pie in a way that I feel comfortable with where everyone is ranked. I’m not ready to bail on Marvin Jones, so he has to get a bigger piece of the pie than he’s been getting, and I’ve always been a huge Golden Tate fan, fantasy-wise, so that leaves Golladay ranked at a level lower than where he’s been producing. Stafford can sling it and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Lions go over their implied total. Golladay is a good play this week. All three Detroit receivers are, I think.
Beller: OK, so we’re mostly in agreement on Golladay, I’m just a bit more sanguinary. Your thinking on White certainly makes sense, I just can’t get all the way there when he has to squeeze every possible ounce of value out of every possible opportunity to produce RB2 numbers.
One thing is for certain. Patriots-Lions should be a great way to end our Sunday this week.