Each week fantasy owners need to figure out who are the best players to start, and the best players to sit, in order to prove victorious. In this column each week, I provide two players whom I consider to be good starts at their position and one player who should be benched due to a potentially bad matchup.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucs
Winston has struggled in his first two games, but in Week 3 the Bucs play a home game against the hapless New York Giants. Winston normally plays better at home and this could be the “get healthy” game that the Bucs offense has been seeking. The Giants are the third-worst team in the league statistically against the opposing team’s QB. Look for Winston to get the offense rolling and put up the big week his owners have been seeking.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
This pick might seem like a stretch, but Garoppolo has improved each week since his injury and finally looks comfortable under center. The desperate Steelers come to town with a new quarterback in Mason Rudolph and a new CB/S in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is a sensational talent, but it might take him a week or two to get adjusted to the Steelers defensive scheme. The Steelers have been the fifth-worst team against opposing quarterbacks thus far, so I think that Kyle Shanahan’s great play calling might give them a good advantage. Before the season started, I predicted Garoppolo would have 4,000 passing yards and 30 passing TDs. He could easily get 275 passing yards and 2 TDs in this matchup.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
The Giants finally decided to turn the team over to Jones in Week 3 and although it is absolutely the correct long-term decision, I am still a bit concerned about putting him out there in your lineup this week with no Sterling Shepard or Golden Tate. To make matters worse, the Bucs defense has been incredibly stingy all season, so this looks to be a very tough matchup, at least on paper. Expect Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to dial up some blitzes and other packages that Jones has not seen before. Jones could one day be a good starter in the league, but I have huge reservations that it will translate to fantasy production in his first start.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman has started out slowly this season (only 22 yards on 11 carries in Week 2), but this week he draws the Indianapolis Colts, who are the third-worst team in the NFL against opposing running backs. The Falcons needs to take some pressure off QB Matt Ryan and their passing game, so look for them to try to get Freeman going in this contest. Freeman was a third-round pick in most fantasy leagues, so if he cannot get it done in Week 3 he might be considered a bust.
Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills
The Bengals’ run defense let up a tremendous number of rushing yards to the 49ers last weekend. And although Devin Singletary is very close to establishing himself as the starter for the Bills, Singletary is dealing with a hamstring injury and the Bills might be reticent to use him unless he is fully healthy. The Bengals have the worst rushing defense in the NFL thus far, so it is somewhat certain that the Bills will want to take advantage of this. Look for Gore to get about 20 carries this week for 80 yards and a TD.
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Conner suffered a knee injury in Week 2 against Seattle. His recent MRI said that his knee was fine, but the Steelers must fly to the West Coast to play the 49ers and I am not sure that he's going to get a full load of carries. This might be the week to consider benching him if you have better options. The 49ers defense has been one of the best this season against the run (they held the Bengals to 25 rushing yards on 19 carries last week), so look for the Steelers to throw the ball more than expected.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
The Eagles have a very good defensive line, but their secondary has let up a ton of big plays and is actually the second-worst team against opposing WRs. Golladay is very underrated and he is Matthew Stafford’s go-to target. He should easily be able to rack up 100-plus receiving yards and has a good chance for a touchdown against an Eagles secondary that is susceptible to giving up big plays.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Bucs
Fantasy owners have been waiting for Mike Evans to have his breakout game, and Week 3 might be the week that he finally gets it done. The Giants secondary is awful (the fourth-worst against opposing WRs) and Evans should be able to dominate either Giant cornerback in a one-on-one match up. Evans tends to play better at home, so start him this week and hope that he can get out of his funk.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Third string QB Luke Falk looked better than expected on Monday night, but the Jets play New England on the road in Week 3. Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore is one of the top cornerbacks in football and will suffocate Anderson and limit his production. In fact, the Patriots are the third-best team against opposing WRs thus far this season. This is a good week to bench Anderson if you have better options.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Two things make Olsen a terrific start this week. First, the Cardinals have been the worst team in the NFL against the tight end this year. Second, Olsen is coming off his best game of the season where he was the Panthers’ leading receiver against Tampa. Put those two things together and you have possibly the best tight end play of the week. Cam Newton is questionable with an injured foot and may not play. Even if Newton is out, I still believe that Olsen will be a safety valve for either Kyle Allen or Will Grier, and is worthy of being started in all league formats.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
With Michael Gallup out for the next two-to-four weeks, Dallas will be seeking another receiver to take some of the target share from Amari Cooper. Most of Gallup’s targets will most likely go to Randall Cobb, but I also think that some of those targets will go to Jason Witten. The Dolphins can't stop anyone on defense (they are the second-worst team against opposing tight ends) so Witten could find the end zone for the third week in a row.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Green Bay has been the stingiest defense in the league against opposing tight ends, so fantasy owners might want to avoid using Fant in Week 3. The Packers’ pass rush has been rather effective thus far, so even if Fant is in the game it might be as more of a blocker than as a receiver.
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