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Mike Nowak/Los Angeles Chargers

Week 3 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”


For all your start/sit decisions, our weekly rankings are updated as needed through Sunday morning, or you can ask any question you have with Fantasy Consigliere.

 

Quarterback

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger (v HOU)

The Steelers still haven’t hit their full potential with Roethlisberger knocking off some rust, but he’s still thrown for five touchdowns through two games, and Houston is a great matchup despite modest production from both Patrick Mahomes (20.4 fantasy points) and Lamar Jackson (17.5 fantasy points) against them. Big Ben should be a top-seven play with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, and Eric Ebron all capable of doing serious damage on Sunday.

 

Thumbs Up: Mitchell Trubisky (@ ATL)

Fantasy owners might be hesitant to roll with Trubisky, but his confidence should be high following a 2-0 start, and the Falcons present a prime opportunity for a shootout—particularly since the game will be played in Atlanta. Also, while the season is obviously young, Dan Quinn’s defense has allowed a whopping 35.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The dual-threat skillset of Trubisky is just another bonus as a strong QB2 option.

 

Thumbs Up: Justin Herbert (v CAR)

Speaking of high confidence, Herbert stepped in as a last-minute starter last week for Los Angeles, and all he did was take the defending Super Bowl champions to overtime with 329 total yards and two total touchdowns. The Panthers are the perfect opponent to stay hot against, so Herbert will offer definite streaming appeal for another start in place of Tyrod Taylor (chest). Look for Mike Williams to get more involved alongside Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry in Week 3.

 

Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (@ DEN)

Bruce Arians said that Brady should’ve had a monster game last week, but the supporting cast didn’t make enough plays, so we’ll see if the offense can finally get hot in Week 3. Although the win-loss record for Brady hasn’t been great against Denver throughout his career (8-9 including playoffs), he’s thrown for 35 touchdowns in 17 games, and the Broncos are hurting on the backend with A.J. Bouye (shoulder) out. I still have TB12 as a QB1 option.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Deshaun Watson (@ PIT)

The “Thumbs Down of the Week” for the second time in a row, Watson gets another tough draw this weekend in Pittsburgh, and garbage time in the opener has saved him from a full-blown panic to start the year for fantasy owners that spent an early pick on him. Perhaps the Steelers allowing some production from Jeff Driskel last week will bode well for his Week 3 outlook, but I’m not optimistic. Watson again falls outside QB1 range for me.

 

Thumbs Down: Gardner Minshew (v MIA)

We could see Dolphins-Jaguars turn into a fun, high-scoring battle between Minshew and Ryan Fitzpatrick this week, but I’m still a little hesitant to completely buy into Jacksonville’s starter as a QB1 option. While Miami was just torched by Josh Allen, they have too many good players to be as bad as they’ve been in coverage, and a short week might actually help them turn things around with a simplified game plan. Even assuming Byron Jones (groin) doesn’t play, I have Minshew outside the top 15 at the position.

 

Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (@ NE)

The performance from Russell Wilson against the Patriots on Sunday night says more about him than it does the New England defense, and you can count on Bill Belichick having things fixed with Carr and the 2-0 Raiders coming to Foxborough this weekend. Unless this is the week Henry Ruggs III gets behind the defense and connects on a deep ball, Carr doesn’t have a ton of upside because of the matchup, and the floor is extremely low.

 

Thumbs Down: Jimmy Garoppolo (@ NYG)

The status of Garoppolo (ankle) is in question and might remain a mystery until inactives are announced on Sunday, but if he plays, I would expect Kyle Shanahan to implement a run-heavy game plan to keep his starter from taking too many hits. Plus, the Giants have played quality defense through two games, and the weapons in San Francisco are really hurting right now. I recommend waiting until Week 4 to start Jimmy G with the hopes he’ll get Deebo Samuel (foot) back in the lineup.

 

Running back

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Joshua Kelley (v CAR)

Kelley completely taking over the Melvin Gordon role happened quicker than I thought it would, but the Chargers aren’t going away from him anytime soon, and a case could be make for the rookie as a reliable RB2 with upside for more. This week, Los Angeles faces a league-worst Carolina run defense that has allowed 120+ rushing yards and three scores in both games to start the season. I have Kelley as my RB17 in 0.5 PPR leagues.

 

Thumbs Up: David Montgomery (@ ATL)

The Bears leaned on Montgomery last week against the Giants, and he was excellent, rushing 16 times for 82 yards while adding a 3/45/1 receiving line on three targets. Looking like a difference-maker at full health in Matt Nagy’s offense, Montgomery should get at least another 15-18 touches for what—as previously stated—should be a game in which points will be scored. Get him in lineups as a strong RB2.

 

Thumbs Up: Antonio Gibson (@ CLE)

Gibson is already showing week-to-week improvement to begin his young career, and he should only continue to get better with more experience. I would bet Washington’s coaching staff wants to get the rookie the ball more as a receiver after seeing the chunk yardage picked up by Joe Mixon catching passes out of the backfield last Thursday night against the Browns, so this could be Gibson’s full coming out party after 14 touches and a score in Week 2.

 

Thumbs Up: Joe Mixon (@ PHI)

Plenty of fantasy owners are ready to demote Mixon from RB1 status, but he’s had 20 touches in back-to-back games, and increased production should follow. The Eagles aren’t nearly as stout as they used to be against the run (135.5 yards per game allowed), and Mixon feels ready to break out with a multi-score game. Cincinnati would be wise to take some pressure off Joe Burrow coming off a loss in which he threw 61 times and was hit repeatedly.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Melvin Gordon (v TB)

The Buccaneers have a very aggressive defense, and I expect Todd Bowles will want to suffocate Gordon and the running game to make Jeff Driskel try to beat them with his arm. Being at home could help the Broncos, but Tampa Bay will eventually blow someone out, and it could come this week against a backup quarterback—which would likely force Denver to abandon the run. Despite having the backfield to himself for now, Gordon is more of a low-end RB2 for me.

 

Thumbs Down: Leonard Fournette (@ DEN)

There is reason to be excited about Fournette after he rushed 12 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns last week, but Bruce Arians has said that Ronald Jones II remains the starter, and the main thing we can project from less than a full workload is frustration for fantasy owners. The Broncos being without Dre’Mont Jones (knee) on the defensive line might not be a significant upgrade for Tampa Bay’s ground game, as Vic Fangio’s defense still has the stop-the-run mindset in general. Consider Fournette a volatile FLEX option.

 

Thumbs Down: Kareem Hunt (v WAS)

Hunt finished as the overall RB5 last week and has the makings of a high-upside RB2 option the rest of the way, but this week could be difficult against a Washington defense that has allowed 72.5 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs. With most viewing the 1B in Cleveland’s backfield as a comfortable RB2 play in Week 3, I have him as more of a low-end RB2/FLEX; a floor game is coming soon for Hunt after 6.9 yards per attempt over the first two weeks.

 

Thumbs Down: Malcolm Brown (@ BUF)

Brown didn’t suddenly fall out of favor for the Rams last week (he still led the backfield with 54% of the snaps played), but he’s not their clear lead back like fantasy owners were banking on following the opener, and Darrell Henderson looks like the preferred option at the moment. Especially if Cam Akers (ribs) is able to suit up, Brown—coming off finger surgery earlier in the week—will be a risky start in Buffalo.

 

Wide receiver 

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Cooper Kupp (@ BUF)

A lack of targets for Kupp dating back to the end of last season has fantasy owners concerned, but now would be the ideal buy-low spot when people are looking to jump ship. While the Bills have a stingy secondary overall, Robert Woods being occupied Tre’Davious White should open up more opportunities for Kupp, who has caught 82% of his targets and is coming off a 100-yard game. Sean McVay changing the game plan depending on the opponent will likely mean it’s time for Kupp to shine as the featured weapon out of the slot.

 

Thumbs Up: Tre’Quan Smith (v GB)

This is under the assumption that New Orleans won’t push things with Michael Thomas (ankle) following a primetime loss, but they really don’t have reason to with Smith being more than capable of operating as the No. 1 receiver for at least another week. Against the Raiders, Smith played 88% of the team’s offensive snaps and probably should have been given more opportunities with five receptions (on seven targets) for 86 yards. If Emmanuel Sanders is mostly defended by Jaire Alexander, it could lead to a huge performance from Smith on Sunday Night Football.

 

Thumbs Up: A.J. Green (@ PHI)

I’d say anyone writing off Green is making a huge mistake, as the box scores don’t tell the whole story through two games (several chunk gains have just missed, and Joe Burrow has overthrown him for two would-be touchdowns). The Eagles remain undersized in the secondary despite adding Darius Slay in the offseason, and I can’t help but think about the struggles they had containing DeVante Parker in 2019. Green is an upside WR2/FLEX that will soon capitalize on heavy targets.

 

Thumbs Up: Diontae Johnson (v HOU)

The only player in the league other than Calvin Ridley to see double-digit targets in both games this season, Johnson followed up six receptions for 57 yards in the opener with a 8/92/1 line last week, and he should be able to stay hot on Sunday against a vulnerable Houston secondary. Flashes from James Washington and Chase Claypool (along with the usual contributions from JuJu Smith-Schuster) will keep defenses from keying on Johnson as Ben Roethlisberger continues to gain trust in him.

 

Others: Julian Edelman (v LV), Darius Slayton (v SF)

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Michael Gallup (@ SEA)

I am not at all concerned about Gallup’s rest-of-season outlook despite five receptions in two games, but might a matchup against the worst team in the league in terms of fantasy points allowed to receivers (55.0 per game) be worse than it looks on paper? Aside from Dak Prescott struggling in three career matchups against Seattle, their cornerbacks have the length to contend with Gallup on the outside. The breakout game for the 24-year-old might need to wait.

 

Thumbs Down: D.J. Chark (v MIA)

Chark is another player that has received fewer targets than you’d like so far, but he’s caught all seven of them for 109 yards and a touchdown. That said, the Dolphins sound focused to improve in coverage after what happened last week against Buffalo, and Xavien Howard might shadow Chark on Thursday night with Byron Jones (groin) unlikely to play. The big-play and touchdown upside keeps him inside the top 30 at receiver, but Chark is trending down some ahead of Week 3.

 

Thumbs Down: Will Fuller (@ PIT)

The promise was high for Fuller after eight receptions for 112 yards in Week 1, but now he’s dealing with a hamstring issue and wasn’t even targeted in Houston’s loss to the Ravens—leaving fantasy owners more uncertain than ever about the former Notre Dame standout. On top of the health concerns, Fuller will get another brutal matchup in Pittsburgh, so there is probably too much risk to consider him as anything more than a boom-or-bust FLEX.

 

Thumbs Down: Stefon Diggs (v LAR)

Diggs was the beneficiary of the aforementioned Byron Jones injury last week, as rookie Noah Igbinoghene was no match for him in an 8/153/1 performance. However, lightning is unlikely to strike twice, and Jalen Ramsey shouldn’t leave the field for the Rams ahead of perhaps the best individual matchup of the weekend. Diggs has the talent and connection with his quarterback to have a solid game, but he’s downgraded from WR1/WR2 status to low-end WR2/FLEX territory.

 

Others: Robby Anderson (@ LAC), Brandon Aiyuk (@ NYG)

 

Tight end

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Noah Fant (v TB)

The Buccaneers allowed five receptions for 80 yards to Jared Cook in the opener, and Fant—who has scored in both games to start the year—brings the same kind of athleticism at tight end. It will be interesting to see how targets are distributed with Courtland Sutton (knee) out for the season, but Fant would seem to be the new offensive focal point, and that’s doubly true for this week with Jeff Driskel at quarterback. The 2019 first-round pick is at least a top-eight play.

 

Thumbs Up: Logan Thomas (@ CLE)

Thomas has a healthy 17 targets through two weeks, and he will now face a Cleveland defense that will apparently be just as forgiving against opposing tight ends (NFL-worst 20.9 fantasy points per game allowed to the position) as they were in 2019. I have Thomas as a top-15 play for Week 3, and even that might be too low based on the matchup.

 

Thumbs Up: Drew Sample (@ PHI)

Joe Burrow—partly due to the struggles on the offensive line—will continue targeting his tight ends, so Sample is firmly on the fantasy radar with C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) out. Maybe I’m being too positive overall about the Bengals heading into Philly, but the Eagles have already allowed four touchdowns to tight ends and severely underperforming all over the field. Sample is worth a flier.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: T.J. Hockenson (@ ARI)

T.J. Hockenson has caught all nine of his targets through two games and ripped the Cardinals last season in his career debut, but there are a couple of concerns for Week 3. First of all, Kenny Golladay (hamstring) likely returning will make him less of a priority, but perhaps more importantly, Arizona has been much better against opposing tight ends so far this year—and first-rounder Isaiah Simmons hasn’t even become close to a full-time player yet. Hockenson should be viewed as a midrange TE2 option.

 

Thumbs Down: Austin Hooper (v WAS)

I was worried about the role for Hooper entering the season, and he’s only seen six targets for 37 scoreless yards to date. Washington is a good matchup, but especially with the position mostly healthy around the league, fantasy owners should probably want to see Hooper produce on a run-first offense before confidently getting him in lineups.

 

Thumbs Down: Dalton Schultz (@ SEA)

Maybe seeing a 70% snap count every week will lead to consistent results from Schultz on an explosive offense, but last week was obviously not a normal one with the Cowboys playing catchup in Atlanta, and the Seahawks are an extremely difficult matchup. There are better options to consider for Week 3.

 

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