Fantasy Football Start/Sit – Week #3
Start – Matt Ryan vs. Cowboys
Matty Ice has taken to new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense as he is averaging 318 passing yards a game through the first two weeks of the 2015 season. You can throw balance out the window as the Falcons have struggled to get a consistent push in the running game and lead back Tevin Coleman is out with broken ribs. Expect the Falcons to play to their strength and put the ball in the hands of their signal caller. The Cowboys have only managed 2 sacks in the young season and will be without three defensive ends including: Randy Gregory (injury), Jeremy Mincey (injury) and Greg Hardy (suspension) so Ryan should be comfortable in the pocket as he looks for his favorite target Julio Jones and the rest of the Falcon receivers.
Notables – Carson Palmer vs. 49ers, Russell Wilson vs. Bears
Sit – Colin Kaepernick vs Cardinals
There is no question that Colin Kaepernick has improved in terms of being a pocket passer during the offseason. Despite Carlos Hyde’s coming out party on Monday night of Week 1 grabbing the headlines there was a noticeable difference in terms of Kaepernick’s pocket awareness. He actually has some now. In Week 2 Kaepernick attempted to keep pace with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ high powered offense and performed very well (over 70% of his passes were completed; 335 yards; 2 TDs and zero INTs) despite the lopsided outcome. But, the Steelers field perhaps the worst secondary in the NFL. At the Arizona Cardinals Kaepernick will be tested with blitz after blitz by a divisional foe, familiar with his play. Additionally, the Cardinals have a talent laden secondary that allows them to play incredibly fast and aggressive on defense. We don’t have a lot of confidence that Kaepernick’s weapons will consistently win their 1-on-1 matchups nor are we convinced that Kaepernick won’t revert to his former self when waves off defenders are coming at him. Avoid Kaepernick in Week 3.
Notables – Sam Bradford vs. Jets, Matthew Stafford vs. Broncos
Start – Jonathan Stewart vs. Saints
Stewart has gotten off to a slow start and Cam Newton’s penchant to vulture rushing touchdowns hasn’t helped matters. However, a tantalizing matchup with a poor Saints defense is just what the doctor ordered. Despite Stewart’s 3.4 yards per carry average thus far the Panthers’ passing game is virtually non-existent and DeAngelo Williams is in Pittsburgh so his workload should remain plentiful. The last time Carolina played New Orleans, Stewart rushed for 155 yards on 20 attempts and added a TD. The Saints take poor angles, they don’t tackle well and simply are a mess from a personnel and fundamentals perspective. Stewart rips off a couple 20+ rushes in this one and finally begins to pay dividends for his fantasy owners.
Notables – LeSean McCoy vs. Dolphins, Latavius Murray vs Browns
Sit – Lamar Miller vs Bills
After a break-out season in 2014 Lamar Miller was set to build on his numbers (216/1,099/8) entering a contract year and adding 10-15 lbs. of muscle in order to take on a larger workload. Well, that workload has been virtually non-existent through two contests (23 carries). The offensive line hasn’t created many rushing lanes and that extra weight (2.9 ypc) may have limited some of his explosiveness. The Dolphins extended quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the offseason and surrounded ‘their’ franchise quarterback with new weapons in the form of first round selection DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron. Perhaps too enthralled with all the new receiving talent the Dolphins have attempted nearly 3 times as many passes as rushes. The NFL is a copy cat league and the New England Patriots neutralized the Bills’ talented down 4 by spreading them out in winging it all over the field. We expect the Phins to try to replicate that formula which means Miller’s total attempts will continue to be meager. If he doesn’t get the volume, he can’t help your fantasy team.
Notables – Devonta Freeman vs. Cowboys, Bishop Sankey vs Colts
Start – Brandon Marshall vs Eagles
After catching touchdowns in back-to-backs weeks it’s clear that Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have chemistry. More importantly Marshall looks healthy and effective as he has fared very well playing against the likes of Joe Haden and Vontae Davis, two of the NFL’s upper echelon defensive backs. So no more benching of B Marsh (Headley). With Eric Decker sidelined by injury, a lack of experience and production behind Marshall and Decker on the depth chart, and a favorable matchup against the much maligned Byron Maxwell, B Marsh is a MUST start. He’s currently averaging 9.5 targets per game but considering the matchup and the Jets’ lack of additional receiving options that target total could likely exceed 15 in Week 3. Did we mention that Chris Ivory may not play? That 15 number may be too conservative. This one may be reminiscent of his 21 reception performance as a member of the Denver Broncos back in 2009. Start him.
Notables – Donte Moncrief vs. Titans, DeAndre Hopkins vs Bucs, Allen Robinson vs Patriots
Sit – Brandin Cooks vs Panthers
After an injury shortened rookie campaign we at CPGM believed that Brandin Cooks was set to take off in 2015. No Jimmy Graham, no Kenny stills and an aging Marques Colston. We were certain that Cooks would garner targets at an alarming rate and become Drew Brees’ un-questioned top target. Well, while he leads the team with 15 targets, that average of 7.5 targets a game is far less than expected. In Week 1, Cooks had the unenviable Patrick Peterson experience. In Week 2, Drew Brees suffered a shoulder injury. And now Luke McCown is the starter as the Saints travel to Carolina to face a stingy Panthers defense. We don’t recommend selling Cooks just yet but the likelihood that he gets on track in this contest is extremely remote. Cooks was drafted to be a WR2 with WR1 upside. He’s a shaky flex play in Week 3 at best. Avoid if possible.
Notables – Torrey Smith vs. Cardinals, Steve Smith vs Bengals
Start – Greg Olsen vs Saints
After inexplicably receiving only 3 targets in Week 1, the Panthers saw the error in their ways and targeted Olsen 14 times in Week 2. Olsen’s (6/70) line didn’t set the world on fire but it was a step in the right direction. With a lack of weapons on the outside, Greg Olsen must be the focus on the Panthers’ passing attack and with a favorable matchup against the Saints Olsen is slated for his most productive game of the season. The Saints have injuries throughout the secondary particularly at safety and their linebackers are either inexperienced or liabilities in the passing game. Advantage Greg Olsen and the Panthers. We mentioned Jonathan Stewart before and the amount of success he had against New Orleans the last time these two teams matched up. Well Olsen shined as well with 10 catches, 72 yards and a touchdown. It hasn’t been pretty for Carolina’s offense thus far but against the Saints the Panthers and Greg Olsen are looking like a “10.”
Notables – Kyle Rudolph vs. Chargers, Coby Fleener vs Titans
Sit – Zach Ertz vs Jets
Zach Ertz is the quintessential “move” tight end in today’s NFL. Size, speed, route running and hands. The problem is he can’t stay on the field because veteran TE Brent Celek is the superior run and pass blocker. With the Eagles desperately trying to get their run game on track and Sam Bradford and his receiving corps completely out of sync Ertz cannot be relied upon on a weekly basis. Additionally, there are ton of mouths to feed in Philly. Furthermore, the Jets defense is one of the most talented groups in the NFL. The blitz is coming and it will likely force the tight end to stay in and block. Not to mention the Jets have the defensive personnel to matchup man-to-man against Ertz and the rest of the Eagles’ pass catchers. Not sure if Ertz will ever become a consistent fantasy option at tight end. But, we’re pretty confident he isn’t a viable option in this matchup.
Notables – Vernon Davis vs. Cardinals
Start – Broncos D vs Lions
Broncos D. The Lions are a one dimensional football team with an ailing quarterback. The Broncos have a formidable defense led by superior pass rushers. Do the math.
Sit – Rams D vs Steelers
Rams D. Love the Rams’ defensive line and they are playing at home, where they play their best. But there isn’t an offense quite like Pittsburgh’s in the NFC West. That offense gets better with the return of Le’Veon Bell and the Rams have struggled to stop the run. Call an audible on the Rams D.