Welp, as good as I felt after week 1, week 2 brought crashing back down to Earth. Only 33% of my starts/sits from last week hit. Maybe this whole predicting fantasy football is not nearly as easy as I thought after all. I apologize to those that took my advice. I failed you.
The shame bell is well deserved for week 2.
So it goes in fantasy football. I will continue to try to provide you with good information to help you set your best lineups. This article will become better over time as I develop my method and analysis.
With that being said, on to week 3!
Jimmy Garoppolo @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have a BAD defense. Their defensive DVOA ranks 28th overall, 29th against the pass, and 24th against the run. The Chiefs have given up the most points to quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the season. This, in part, may be due to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ record-setting pace, forcing teams to throw more to keep up. Likely its a combination of the great offense and terrible defense.
Jimmy G has had a mediocre start to his season. A date against the Chiefs defense should help kickstart his season. The 49ers defense has not been good either, specifically against the pass. The opening over/under for this game is 56. Expect a shootout and for Jimmy G to throw a lot in week 3.
Matt Ryan vs. New Orleans Saints
Ryan had a precarious start to his season against the Eagles. He completed less than 50% of his passes for 251 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Ryan’s week 2 was a lot better with 272 yards and two passing touchdowns with another two touchdowns on the ground.
The Saints pass defense has disappointed thus far after a spectacular 2017. Finishing fifth overall in DVOA in 2017, the Saints pass defense is currently 31st. Though they had a better week 2 against the Cleveland Browns, the Saints defense surrendered 417 yards and four touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick in week 1.
Playing against the Drew Brees led Saints likely means you need to throw more often to keep up with the high powered Saints offense. The over/under for this game is the second highest in week 3 at 53. Start Matt Ryan as he will be throwing a lot against a bad Saints secondary.
Jared Goff vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Like the Saints, the Chargers pass defense has been disappointing in 2018 after a good 2017. The Chargers pass defense is ranked 20th in DVOA thus far in 2018. The Chargers faced the phenom Mahomes in week 1 and got torched for four touchdowns. Week 2 was better for the Chargers defense, but even Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen had an OK week with 245 yards and one touchdown. This likely has to do with the season-ending injury to cornerback Jason Verrett and the lingering foot injury of defensive end Joey Bosa.
The Rams are a lot more similar to the Chiefs in terms of having a myriad of offensive weapons. Goff has not been needed in the first two weeks. In a battle of two relatively high powered offenses, Goff may need to throw a lot more in week 3. The over/under for this game is 48, with an implied total for the Rams of 27.5. The Rams will likely be scoring a lot, but I would not be surprised if this one is a barn burner.
Blaine Gabbert/Marcus Mariota @ Jacksonville Jaguars
And so continues the ongoing theme of sitting your quarterbacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady struggled against the Jaguars in week 2. The Jaguars have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in the first two weeks.
The Titans somehow won against the Houston Texans last week despite Gabbert throwing for 117 yards in replacement of an injured Mariota. With Mariota’s status uncertain for week 3, Gabbert may be in line for another start. Even if Mariota plays, it would be safe to sit the Titans quarterbacks this week.
Tyrod Taylor vs. New York Jets
The Jets defense has looked good thus far in the 2018 season. In week 1, the Jets shut down the Detroit Lions, intercepting the quarterbacks five times while giving up 300 yards and only one touchdown. In their week 2 follow-up, they held Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to only 168 yards.
Tyrod Taylor’s fantasy stock is buoyed by his running ability. Thus far in 2018, Taylor has thrown for only 443 yards, ranking 26th. He has also only thrown for two touchdowns. Despite the upgrades on the offensive side of the ball, the Browns have been relatively bad on offense. The over/under for this game is the lowest in week 3 at 39. Best to avoid Taylor this week.
Sam Darnold @ Cleveland Browns
This is going to be an ugly Thursday night game. The Browns defense has actually done really well in 2018. Facing two very good quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, the Browns have held both the Steelers and Saints to 21 points. They held Roethlisberger to one touchdown and three interceptions and Brees to 243 yards. Now they face a rookie wide receiver in Darnold. This week should be much easier for the Browns pass defense.
Darnold has been up and down in his first couple of games. He was great in his debut against the Lions, completing 76% of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns. Against the Dolphins, Darnold did throw for 334 yards but also threw two interceptions. Darnold is going to have a great career, but you should not be relying on a rookie quarterback in fantasy football. Avoid Darnold in week 3.
Kenyan Drake vs. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders defense has not been good against the run. They have given up the sixth-most fantasy points running backs in 2018. In week 1, Rams running back Todd Gurley ran 108 yards on 20 carries. He also had five receptions for 39 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos running backs ran for 152 yards on 25 carries in week 2. The Raiders are clearly missing defensive end, Khalil Mack.
The Dolphins offense has not been spectacular. They have averaged less than 300 yards per game, good for 26th in the league. They have actually run the ball fairly well with 127.5 yards per game. Drake has looked pretty good with 101 yards on 25 carries. He also has 7 receptions for 35 yards. Unfortunately, Drake has split snaps with the immortal Frank Gore. Gore has also looked pretty good running the ball with 4.8 yards per carry. Regardless, I expect the Dolphins to lean on the run, and Drake to have the best game of his young season in week 3.
Matt Breida @ Kansas City Chiefs
Breida had the best game of his career in week 2 against the Detroit Lions. He carried the ball 11 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 3 targets for 21 yards. Much like the reasons for Jimmy G above, the 49ers may find themselves in a shootout with the Chiefs. This would call for more usage from the pass-catching running back, Breida.
The Chiefs have shown themselves to be susceptible to pass-catching running backs in the 2018 season. Likely due to a combination of game script and poor defense, the Chiefs have given up 261 yards receiving to running backs. They also are rank 32nd in DVOA covering running backs. This should be a high scoring affair. Expect Breida to get a lot of work in week 3.
Sony Michel @ Detroit Lions
Rookie running back Sony Michel made his NFL debut last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He led the Patriots backfield with 10 carries for 34 yards. Michel also received two targets, catching one for seven yards. It is a perennial question what Patriots running back will be fantasy relevant. Michel leading the backfield in carries in his first game is a good sign. Michel has also demonstrated the ability to catch passes in college. He has the ability to be a true three-down back.
The Lions have the worst defense against the run so far in 2018. They have given up 363 yards to opposing running backs, nearly 100 more than the Raiders who give up the second most. The Lions also rank 29th in the league in DVOA. With a relatively high over/under for the game of 51.5, Michel may have plenty of opportunities to touch the ball. He is a good start for week 3.
Royce Freeman @ Baltimore Ravens
Freeman may have been a recommended sit even if he was not playing the Ravens. Freeman’s undrafted rookie free agent teammate Phillip Lindsay has out-touched Freeman 32 to 23 in their first two games. The Broncos have run the ball very well to start the 2018 season. They are second in the league in rush yards per game. However, they are facing a Ravens defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. The Ravens defense also ranks sixth against the run in DVOA. Uncertainty in the backfield and facing a good run defense makes Freeman a sit in week 3.
David Johnson vs. Chicago Bears
The Arizona Cardinals coaching staff seemingly does not know how to use David Johnson. Johnson has 85 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards in two games in 2018. The entire Cardinals offense has been awful. They have the fewest points scored in the league and have 175 total yards per game average. Head coach Steve Wilks has stated he wants to be more creative with Johnson.
Mike McCoy’s designed route tree for David Johnson was really dissapointing today. Look at it compared to Week 12 of 2016.
— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) September 10, 2018
Many are upset with how David Johnson is being used in the passing game, but Arizona is also just running him mainly inside. Could mix in some more outside runs for someone with Johnson’s athleticism. pic.twitter.com/pWtBlrOp4o
— Joey (@NFLDraftJoey) September 17, 2018
Week 3 may not be the week to jump-start Johnson’s season, however. The Bears defense has been phenomenal with the addition of defensive end Khalil Mack. The Bears rank fourth in overall defensive DVOA, fifth in pass defense DVOA, and eighth in run defense DVOA. They also rank first in DVOA covering running backs. They have given up the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs as well. The Cardinals will likely fall behind early and have to throw. This is not the week Johnson gets his season back on track.
Indianapolis Colts Running Backs @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Colts backfield is a three-headed… something. The Colts are averaging only 83.5 rushing yards per game. With Marlon Mack making his season debut in week 2, the backfield became more muddled. Jordan Wilkins received 10 carries, Mack received 10, and Nyheim Hines received four. Wilkins and Mack were also targeted twice, Hines once.
The Colts face a top-tier run defense in week 3 in the Eagles. The Eagles rank second in DVOA against the run. They have given up the fewest rush yards in the league. The Eagles have also given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Best to avoid the Colts backfield in week 3 and the near future.
Keelan Cole vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans pass defense is surprisingly bad. When the Titans signed cornerback Malcolm Butler, there were many, including me, that thought the Titans could have one of the better secondaries in the league. PFF seemed to agree, ranking the Titans secondary ninth in the league. This has been far from true thus far in 2018. The Titans have given up the third most fantasy points to wide receivers in the league. They rank 25th in DVOA against the pass. The Titans also rank 29th against opponents WR1s and 26th against WR2s.
Cole established himself as the Jaguars WR1 against the New England Patriots in week 2. He caught seven of his eight targets for 116 yards and one touchdown, including an unbelievable catch. He continues his success from the end of last season when he was the WR5 overall from weeks 13-17. Watch Cole take advantage of the Titans secondary in week 3.
— Belly Up Sports (@BellyUpSports) September 17, 2018
Calvin Ridley vs. New Orleans Saints
Yet another disappointing pass defense in 2018. The Saints finished fifth in DVOA against the pass in 2017. They are currently 31st. They have been absolutely torched in 2018. First, by Ryan “Connor McGregor” FitzMagic for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Week 2 was better against the Browns, but they still gave up a long touchdown to Antonio Callaway. In both weeks, the Bucs and Browns top three wide receivers were all fantasy viable. The Saints rank 30th and 32nd against the top two wide receivers in DVOA.
Ridley is second on the Falcons in targets with nine. He caught four of five targets last week for 64 yards and the first touchdown of his career against the Panthers. He also tied with Julio Jones for receptions yards. The over/under for this game is 53, which likely means it will be high scoring. With the regression of the Saints defense, the likeliness of a high scoring game, and a little bit of confidence under his belt, Ridley has a chance to put up good numbers in week 3.
Sammy Watkins vs. San Francisco 49ers
Honestly, this could almost be called “Start All of Your Kansas City Chiefs” with how quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense has started 2018. The Chiefs are the highest scoring offense through week 2. Mahomes has spread the ball around, throwing touchdowns to eight different pass catchers. Though Watkins has not caught a touchdown this season, he did break the 100-yard mark against the Steelers. Watkins is getting his targets and his time will come to score a touchdown.
The 49ers pass defense has given up the ninth most fantasy points to wide receivers. They have given up double-digit PPR fantasy points to five receivers in two games. The 49ers also have the 22nd ranked DVOA against the pass. With the over/under set at 56, this is likely to be a high scoring game, especially with two poor defenses. Watkins will have his shot to break the 100-yard mark once again and has a decent chance to score a touchdown in week 3.
Tyrell Williams/Mike Williams @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams defense has been dominant in 2018. Granted, they have played the two of the bottom five scoring teams in the league in the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals. The Rams rank third in DVOA against the pass, first against WR2s and 10th against WR3s. They have also given up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in the league.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has not targeted either of the Williams much this season. They both have eight targets. Meanwhile, fellow wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Melvin Gordon have been targeted 19 and 20 times respectively. With a tough match-up and lack of targets, best to avoid both Williams in week 3.
Corey Davis @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Hey, look. Another week, another wide receiver to sit against the Jaguars. I recommend you sit New England Patriots wide receiver, Chris Hogan last week. Hogan was actually held pretty well in check except for two touchdowns. I forgot to take into account that Hogan takes a significant percentage of his snaps from the slot. This allows him to avoid the Jaguars top two cornerbacks, who play on the outside. The Jaguars currently only rank 11th in DVOA against the pass. This likely has to do with the fact that they have faced two relatively high powered offenses in the New York Giants and New England Patriots, both of whom they have held in check. They have much easier competition in week 3.
The Titans offense has not been good. They rank 25th in yards and 22nd in points. In week 2, Titans backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw for 117 yards against the Texans. Gabbert was playing for starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is dealing with a nerve issue in his elbow. Davis has been targeted 20 times but has only caught 11 for 117 yards. Regardless of who is throwing him the ball in week 3, you should avoid Davis.
Brandon Marshall vs. Dallas Cowboys
This is a combination of surprisingly good defense and bad offense. The Cowboys have been one of the better defenses in the league this year. They have given up the third fewest points per game despite playing against talented offenses in the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. The Cowboys defense has also given up the fourth-fewest total yards per game and the fifth-fewest passing yards per game. This has all lead to the second-fewest fantasy points given up to wide receivers. In week 2, the Cowboys held Odell Beckham Jr. to 51 yards. In week 1, they held Cam Newton to 161 yards passing.
On the flip-side, the Seahawks offense is in shambles. They rank 27th in total yards, 22nd in passing yards per game, and 21st in points per game. One of the major reasons the Seahawks offense is so bad is their offensive line. The Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league through the first two weeks. Marshall has seven receptions for only 90 yards and one touchdown. Best to avoid the Seahawks offense in general indefinitely.
Jesse James @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There seems to be an argument around who is the TE1 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let us set the record straight. Jesse James has 198 receiving yards on 10 targets. Vance McDonald has 26 yards on five targets. James is actually second on the Steelers in receiving overwide receiver Antonio Brown.
The Buccaneers defense has given up the second most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Against tight ends in coverage, they are 21st in DVOA. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz had 11 receptions for 94 yards against the Bucs. The over/under for this game is the second highest for week 3. The Steelers will likely have to throw to keep up with the Bucs high-flying offense. Start James.
George Kittle @ Kansas City Chiefs
The San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target. Kittle leads the 49ers in targets and yards. The
Chiefs defense has struggled to cover tight ends, giving up the third-most fantasy points and ranking 31st in DVOA. This is going to be a high scoring game and the 49ers will be throwing a lot to keep up with the Chiefs. Start Kittle with confidence.
OJ Howard vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bucs offense has been arguably the best in the league over the first two weeks of 2018. They rank second in points scored and first in yards. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Howard had 96 yards and one touchdown. On the season, Howard has 150 yards.
The Steelers rank 20th in DVOA covering tight ends. They have also given up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. This is largely due to allowing Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce to run rampant in week 2. Kelce was able to put up 109 yards and two touchdowns.
As was stated above for Jesse James, this game will be high scoring. Tampa Bay will likely be throwing a lot due to their lack of a run game. Howard will get his opportunities in week 3.
Benjamin Watson @ Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have only allowed tight ends to receiver 62 yards in two games. This has resulted in the sixth-fewest yards allowed to tight ends. They also rank fourth in DVOA against tight ends.
Watson ranks fourth on the Saints with on 9 targets. He only has 63 yards. Wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara will be quarterback Drew Brees’ first looks. Watson is not and will not be more than an afterthought in week 3.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are among the best in the league against tight ends. They have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. The Titans defense also ranks first in DVOA against tight ends.
The Jaguars pass-catching situation is a muddled mess. Four of the pass-catchers have double-digit targets. ASJ comes in fifth on the team with nine. ASJ only has 48 yards, though he does have a touchdown.
The over/under on this game is 39.5, the second lowest in week 3. If Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette plays, the Jaguars will revert to run first. I do not expect ASJ to do much in week 3.
David Njoku vs. New York Jets
The Jets have had a surprisingly good defense in 2018. They have given up the fifth-fewest yards, the sixth-fewest points, and the eighth-fewest passing yards per game. In terms of tight ends, the Jets have allowed the fifth-fewest points to tight ends. They also rank sixth in DVOA against tight ends.
Njoku has not a good start to 2018. His drop issues from 2017 continued into 2018 against the Steelers in week 1. Njoku has only caught seven of his 14 targets for 33 yards. The Browns pass offense also has not been good, ranking 27th in passing yards. With wide receiver Josh Gordon now gone, Njoku may get more targets. But his season will not get on track in week 3.
Thank you again for reading and letting me help you with your lineup decisions. I wish you all the best of luck and hope that my analysis is better than week 2.
And that’s the way it is.
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