Fantasy Football: NFL 2021 Week 3 Who to Start and Who to Sit

Questions about who to start or sit this week? Here are names that you should have in your lineup or on your bench.
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After two exciting weeks of NFL football, we are starting to get a good feel for players’ roles and how that affects their fantasy outlook. Before we get into the starts and sits for week three, let’s recap how we did in week two. Our start of the week at quarterback, Justin Herbert, did not have the day we expected as his two interceptions put a damper on his fantasy performance. However, our starts of the week at running back, wide receiver, and tight end - Darrell Henderson, Mike Williams, and Noah Fant - all scored touchdowns in route to terrific fantasy stat-lines. Our other starts with great fantasy days included Jalen Hurts, Teddy Bridgewater, Rob Gronkowski, and Damien Harris. We did a much better job with the sits last week than we did in week one. We made some great calls to sit Jameis Winston, Joe Burrow, Robby Anderson, Corey Davis, James Robinson, and a few others. We also did not have any sits blow up for big performances like we did with a few players in week one. Let’s hope we can carry over our week two success into week three. Here is who you should lean towards starting this week in fantasy and who you should probably leave on the bench.

Quarterback

Auto Starts: Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers

Start of the Week: 

Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets 

Teddy Bridgewater has enjoyed an excellent start to the season with his new team. He has thrown for nearly 600 yards and four touchdowns through the season’s first two weeks. Bridgewater carved up the Jaguars’ defense last week for 328 yards, and a couple of touchdown passes, and he will have a similar matchup this week against the awful New York Jets. The New York defense is very thin and inexperienced at cornerback. Bridgewater posted back-to-back 20-plus point performances in weeks one and two, and you should expect him to do so again this week against another bad team.

Strong Starts

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The reigning Super Bowl champs have gotten off to a surprisingly slow start this season when it comes to defending the pass. The Tampa Bay secondary has allowed 684 yards passing, which is third-worst in the league, and five passing touchdowns through the first two games. Standout cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting going on injured reserve perhaps has something to do with that. Nevertheless, Stafford has looked superb in this Rams offense, having already thrown for 599 yards and five touchdowns. Expect this intriguing matchup to be a back and forth game with a lot of points scored. Stafford is a good bet to put up another starting-caliber fantasy performance in this game.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Coming as a surprise to many, Justin Herbert was unable to put a reliable fantasy performance together in either of his first two games this season. He had a tough matchup in Washington the first week and had a couple of interceptions hinder his performance last week against Dallas. However, Herbert still managed to throw for 337 yards in week one and 338 yards in week two, which is encouraging. Herbert has a favorable matchup this week in Kansas City. The Chiefs defense is allowing 24 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks through the first two weeks. Any time you are going up against Kansas City, you know you are likely going to have to throw the ball a ton to keep up with them as well. Expect Herbert to bounce back this week and finally put up a number that fantasy owners can be happy with.

Sleeper of the Week: 

Daniel Jones, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons 

Although the Giants have had a rough start to their year, Daniel Jones has scored the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks this season. He will have a terrific matchup this week at home against an Atlanta defense that is allowing 29.1 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, in addition to having allowed eight passing touchdowns already through two games. Both of those marks are the worst in the NFL. Jones should have no problem continuing to put up big fantasy numbers against this unit. He is our sleeper of the week, but he should be safely trusted as a start this week in most fantasy leagues.

Sit of the Week: 

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers 

Burrow had a nightmare of a day last weekend in Chicago as he winded up throwing three interceptions in a loss. If it were not for his game going on for an extra ten minutes in week one, he would not have had a good fantasy performance that week either. Burrow will travel to Pittsburgh this week to take on a tough Steelers defense. It would take a substantial bounce-back afternoon from Burrow to make him a good fantasy start this week, and that is not likely to happen against a tough defense on the road. Wait until we see some consistency with Burrow before you consider starting him in fantasy.

Strong Sits

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

Cousins has had a very promising start to his fantasy season, posting 20-plus point outings in each of the first two weeks. However, do not expect that to continue this week. Cousins will be facing a Seattle defense that has only allowed two passing touchdowns through the first two weeks. Cousins’ big week one and two performances perhaps had something to do with his first game going deep into overtime and his second game having been against the Cardinals and their atrocious cornerbacks. We also saw Derrick Henry eviscerate the Seattle defense last week after the Titans struggled to throw the ball. Expect Minnesota to do the same this week with Dalvin Cook and expect Cousins’ sharp fantasy numbers to fall off this week.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts

Tannehill fantasy owners have to be very frustrated with his lackluster performances in weeks one and two. Tannehill already has four turnovers and has only tossed for one touchdown. The fantasy upside is undoubtedly still there with him, but we cannot trust Tannehill until we see him put up at least one fantasy number around 20. Leave Tannehill on the bench until that happens. It could happen this week, but the last thing you want is to get burned at the quarterback position for a third straight week.

Running Back

Auto Starts: Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, Nick Chubb, Najee Harris, Ezekiel Elliott, Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson, David Montgomery, D’Andre Swift, Chris Carson

Start of the Week: 

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons 

Kudos to you if you sat Saquon Barkley last week, but you should not even think about it this week. The only reason Barkley is not on the auto start list for this week is because of how poor his fantasy start has been, but you can bank on that to end this week. The Atlanta defense is abysmal. They have allowed 80 points already in just two games, which is the worst mark in the league. They are also giving up nearly 130 yards per game on the ground, which bodes well for Barkley. While Saquon may not put up 35 points this week, he should be able to post excellent numbers against this awful Falcons defense. Expect his workload to continue to increase as well. The former number two overall pick must be in your lineup this week.

Strong Starts

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Although they looked solid last week in Los Angeles, the Cowboys’ defense is still a great matchup for almost any fantasy player going up against them. Nearly every Buccaneer had a terrific fantasy showing against them in week one, and all three of the Chargers’ main skill players had big days against them last week. The Eagles struggled to get much going against the stingy 49ers defense last Sunday, but Sanders enjoyed a big 19-touch performance in week one while being targeted five times in the passing game. Expect the Eagles to utilize Sanders in the passing game even more this week and for him to bounce back against the Cowboys. He can be trusted as a solid RB2 play in week three.

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

Mitchell is the last man standing in the San Francisco backfield as it has been decimated with season-ending injuries. Mitchell has seen a tremendous amount of volume so far this year because of this, as he recorded 19 touches in each of the first two games. He will have a very favorable matchup this week against a Green Bay defense that has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards so far this year. The stout Philadelphia defensive line bottled up Mitchell last week, but Mitchell could churn out 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in week one. You can expect a performance very similar to that one in this week three tilt against a lackluster defensive front. He projects as an RB2 and should be in your lineup.

Sleeper of the Week: 

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles 

Pollard has been a very popular waiver claim this week following his breakout performance this past Sunday. Pollard notched 140 scrimmage yards and a touchdown against the Chargers last week on 16 touches. It appears that Pollard may be cementing a key role for himself in this Cowboys offense. While the Eagles have been great against the run, we cannot ignore the volume we saw from Pollard last week. He has a role in one of the highest-powered offenses in football. The matchup might not be so favorable, but Pollard presents as an exciting streaming option this week, given what we saw from him against the Chargers.

Sit of the Week: 

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns vs. Chicago Bears 

Hunt had a very disappointing week two following an encouraging first week. Hunt had 13 carries this past Sunday but was not given any goal-line work and was only targeted once in the passing game. Hunt will have a difficult matchup against the Bears this week as the Chicago defense has allowed the fifth-fewest amount of rushing yards and only one rushing touchdown through the first two weeks. Hunt has not been given enough volume so far this year for fantasy owners to trust him when he goes up against a good defense such as Chicago’s. Leave Hunt on your bench this week if you have any other viable options.

Strong Sits

Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins

The Raiders have struggled to run the football so far this season as they are averaging only 2.9 yards per rush attempt, which is the worst mark in the league. Drake was targeted six times in the passing game last week, but the Raiders are not expected to be throwing the ball a ton this week, as they are favored in this game against a backup quarterback. Do not count on Drake to get you enough points in the receiving game this week to make up for Las Vegas’s inability to run the ball effectively. He is likely touchdown-dependent in week three and should be left on the bench in most fantasy leagues.

The former first-round pick, Josh Jacobs, returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis. He wore a non-contact jersey and did not participate for the whole practice, but he could see significant work this weekend, which could limit the potential for Drake to have a big game. Click here to read more on the latest injury status after the Raiders Thursday practice.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins @ Las Vegas Raiders

Gaskin has not done much through the first two weeks of fantasy football. Miami went with a running back by committee last week as Gaskin split carries almost exactly even with Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed. While Gaskin remained involved in the passing game, he only saw five carries this past Sunday. Gaskin does not appear to have as significant a role as last year in this offense. Given that he will be playing with a backup quarterback this week, you should not feel comfortable starting him.

Wide Receiver

Auto Starts: Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, D.K. Metcalf, Calvin Ridley, Tyler Lockett, Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, A.J. Brown, D.J. Moore, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, Adam Thielen, Deebo Samuel, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Dionte Johnson, Tee Higgins, Mike Williams, Robert Woods

Start of the Week: 

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets 

With the loss of Jerry Jeudy for the next several weeks, Sutton becomes the clear-cut number one target for Teddy Bridgewater in Denver. Last week, we saw that on display as Sutton reeled in nine balls on twelve targets for 159 yards. It would not be surprising if Sutton were to put up WR2 caliber numbers while Jeudy remains out. Sutton has a tremendous matchup this week against a Jets defense that has very below-average cornerbacks. He should be able to stuff the stat sheet again in week three against another lousy team with Jeudy out. This week, he is a back-end WR2 in some leagues and presents as an incredible flex option against New York.

Strong Starts

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons

Perhaps we are witnessing a breakout season from Sterling Shepard as he has secured 16 of 19 targets for 207 yards and a touchdown through his first two weeks. We already went over how bad the Atlanta defense is against both the run and the pass. Shepard is the ninth-ranked fantasy receiver as we enter week three, and there should be no reason to expect him to slow down this week against the atrocious Atlanta defense. Shepard should be in your lineup in week three unless you are loaded at wide receiver.

Devonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Smith was one of our few starts from last week that could not get much going for fantasy owners. However, Smith should be expected to bounce back this week. Smith has a very favorable matchup against a Cowboys defense that is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers and have allowed the second-most passing yards through this season’s first two games. Although Smith only caught two of them, he was targeted seven times last week and eight times the previous week. Smith is already Jalen Hurts’s favorite target, and he should have no problem putting up a solid fantasy performance against the awful Dallas secondary. He is an ideal WR3 or flex option in week three.

Sleeper of the Week: 

Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans 

After a quiet week one, Pittman was heavily involved in the Colts offense this past week. Pittman was targeted 12 times, and he reeled in eight of those for a 123-yard day. Pittman has a very exploitable matchup in week two against a Titans defense that has allowed 600 yards and six touchdowns through the air so far this year. Tennessee is also allowing a whopping 46.9 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. If Pittman can see even half of the volume he saw last week, he should have a solid fantasy day against the putrid Tennessee secondary. Pittman projects as an intriguing flex option for this week and is a terrific streaming option in any league.

Sit of the Week: 

Corey Davis, New York Jets @ Denver Broncos 

We nailed Davis as a sit against New England last week, and he has another very tough matchup this week in Denver. Denver’s defense has allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game this season and has only given up two receiving touchdowns. Davis only had two grabs last week for eight yards, and his quarterback looked horrendous. You certainly should not expect Davis to bounce back this week against such a formidable opponent and with the way his quarterback looked last week. Leave Davis on your bench in week three. There are plenty of better options out there unless you are in a really deep league.

Strong Sits

Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Claypool has been a disappointment through the first two fantasy weeks as he has not been able to notch more than 10 fantasy points in PPR formats. Claypool is looking like the third wheel in the Pittsburgh passing game as we have seen Dionte Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster be much more productive. Ben Roethlisberger is also dealing with a pectoral injury this week, and Steeler’s head coach Mike Tomlin said that they might have to seriously alter their game plan because of it. If Roethlisberger is banged up, that does not bode well for any Steelers pass catcher. Given that Claypool has not seen much volume either, you can safely leave him on your bench this week.

Tight End

Auto Starts: Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, Noah Fant

Start of the Week: 

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team @ Buffalo Bills 

Thomas has enjoyed a solid start to his fantasy season as he is currently sixth in fantasy points among tight ends. Thomas was targeted seven times last week with Taylor Heinicke, and he caught a touchdown pass from him in week one after Ryan Fitzpatrick went down. Thomas seems to have developed some chemistry with his backup quarterback, and he should be expected to see a bunch of targets again this Sunday in a game where Washington will likely be playing from behind and throwing the ball a ton. Thomas is a clear-cut TE1 this week and should be started in most, if not all leagues.

Strong Starts

Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Goedert was only targeted twice last week, but this matchup against the Cowboys is too good to pass up if you are without a top-8 tight end. We already went over how awful the Dallas secondary is, but it is also worth mentioning that Rob Gronkowski put up a monster game against the Cowboys in week one. The Dallas defense is prone to allowing big days to tight ends in addition to receivers and quarterbacks. Goedert found the endzone in week one, and he has a decent shot at doing so again with this week three matchup.

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams

Gronk does not have a great matchup this week, nor will he be able to keep up his two touchdowns per game pace, but he is simply too hot to leave on the bench right now if you are without a top six to eight tight end. With Antonio Brown going on the Covid list, Gronkowski should see enough volume in this game that should be back and forth with a lot of points scored. You should feel comfortable going into week three with Gronk as your tight end.

Sleeper of the Week: 

Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs 

Cook followed a promising week one with a quiet week two, but there is still reason to be excited about his potential. Cook was targeted eight times by Justin Herbert in week one and then five more times last week. He is a factor in this offense and could end up putting up starting-caliber fantasy numbers in a game against the Chiefs this week that is expected to be very high scoring.

Sit of the Week: 

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Tonyan had a strong fantasy performance this past Monday night, but that was only because he found the endzone. Tonyan was only targeted three times on 27 Aaron Rodgers pass attempts. The previous week he was only targeted four times and caught two of them. It appears that Tonyan may have to score to put up a reliable fantasy number, as he is not getting a significant amount of targets early on in the season. That is not something you can bank on, so you should feel comfortable about leaving Tonyan on the bench this week unless you have no other option.

Strong Sits

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a very promising week one, Higbee was only targeted once in week two for an eight-yard reception. While it is possible that Higbee could bounce back in week three, there might be some better options out there, especially with Higbee only being targeted once 30 Matthew Stafford passing attempts. If you have a viable alternative on your roster, it might be wise to sit Higbee out until we see him targeted like he was in week one.

Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints

After watching the Patriots' offense with Mac Jones for two weeks, it is clear that the unit is built around running the football and checking the ball down. Given that New England does not look to throw the ball much, and when they do, they look to keep it short most of the time, Smith and other Patriots pass-catchers likely become touchdown-dependent week in and week out for fantasy. You can comfortably sit or even drop Smith unless you are very thin at your tight end spot.

That’s all we’ve got for week three. Good luck to everyone in their fantasy matchups this week. Hopefully, we build on our week two success and leave our opponents in the dust this weekend. Things should look even more clear next after we are three weeks into the season. Enjoy the third week of football, everybody.

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