Through 2 games this season DeAngelo Williams is the best fantasy running back, and what is his reward? His owners are dumping him in droves before the start of Week 3. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it before, but when Le’Veon Bell is on the depth chart ahead of him it’s understandable. Through 2 games Sam Bradford has not been a viable fantasy choice at quarterback, but it’s not time to dump him in favor of Nick Foles (even though the Rams did just that this offseason).
Some fantasy owners come into this week feeling bad because they’re sitting at 0-2, and facing an uphill battle to regain fantasy relevance. Luckily for those owners it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. But who should you start and who should you leave on the bench in this pivotal week? It’s time for Setting Your Lineup…
QBs to PLAY
Andy Dalton @ Baltimore – Yes, I know all about Dalton’s history @ Baltimore, but this Cincinnati offense feels different so far this year, and the defense is playing as good as they’ve played. With Baltimore reeling at 0-2 I think they come out swinging, but the Bengals are the better team, and Dalton keeps it rolling, even on the road.
Marcus Mariota vs. Indianapolis – He’s been solid through 2 games, and with a week to analyze the turnovers he made in Week 2 I think he rights the ship against a Colts defense that has been a bit less than stellar.
Philip Rivers @ Minnesota – Rivers just set a record last week, and he’s been playing well despite not playing great. That Vikings defense isn’t as good as advertised, and I think this will be a back and forth game. He will get the chance to throw early and often.
QB to AVOID
Alex Smith @ Green Bay – This game has all the looks of a KC running plan. They’re in Green Bay where the Chiefs want to limit the chances Rodgers has to make big plays. The best way to keep him on the sidelines is to run, run, run. Good thing they have Jamaal Charles. Smith won’t have a big night on Monday, but Charles will.
RBs to PLAY
Latavius Murray @ Cleveland – If you want a model of consistency then this Murray is your guy, running solid and steady in Oakland. But he takes the show on the road to Cleveland, and how well does it travel? I think it travels well. You can pencil him in for 65 yards and a touchdown in this one, at the least.
C.J. Anderson @ Detroit – I shouldn’t have to say this, but maybe I do, at least after the debacle that was the Denver running game through the first two weeks, but it’s time to get back on track, and Detroit is the place to do it. The running game is important to keeping Peyton Manning healthy so they will feature it, and Anderson will get on track at last. Count on a huge game from him and backfield mate Ronnie Hillman (I would use him at the flex spot).
Giovani Bernard @ Baltimore – While I trust Andy Dalton in this matchup, he will still need a safety outlet, and Bernard has been very good at that lately. He will excel again in catching balls out of the backfield in this one. In PPR leagues he’s a great flex option, but even as an RB2 he should be fine this week.
RB to AVOID
Chris Johnson vs. San Francisco – Yes, he’s been the lead back since Ellington’s been out, but he hasn’t put forth RB1 numbers. Far from it, at least last week. I don’t see him getting much room to breathe from a 49ers unit that will be fighting to block up the holes. What I predict from this game is what’s been going on for the Cardinals through 2 games — Palmer throwing the ball with much success.
WRs to PLAY
Terrance Williams vs. Atlanta – Who else is going to step up with Dez Bryant still out? Williams caught a long pass from Brandon Weeden last week against Philadelphia, and he will keep it going here against a secondary from Atlanta that is not intimidating.
Doug Baldwin vs. Chicago – Baldwin was heavily involved in last week’s game against the Packers, so there is definitely still a chemistry there between him and Wilson, even with the addition of Graham to the offense. Look for the two of them to keep the connection going against a Chicago defense that isn’t too difficult to figure out for opposing signal callers.
Travis Benjamin vs. Oakland – I know. I know. It was Johnny Football tossing him those long passes in the last two games, and it’s Josh McCown starting this one. But I don’t care. I think Benjamin will get open for another one of those, and it will open the floodgates, even with the change of quarterback. I’m sold on him, at least this week, and if Manziel does get into this game in garbage time it will get even better for Benjamin.
WR to AVOID
Golden Tate vs. Denver – That Broncos defense is for real. I’ve been saying it for a while now, and I hope you finally realize what I’ve been saying, that you take it to heart. With Stafford hurting, and going up against that secondary, I don’t see Tate doing much in this one. Avoid him at all costs.
TEs to PLAY
Jared Cook vs. Pittsburgh – Don’t look now, but Nick Foles has a favorite target, and Cook is so huge he can get open even when he’s not open. Pittsburgh gave up a huge game to the prototypical TE, Gronkowski, in Week 1, and even let Scott Chandler score against them as well. If Chandler can do it, so can Cook. Count on him for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers.
Tyler Eifert @ Baltimore – If you couldn’t tell already, I’m all in on the Bengals against the rival Ravens, even on the road. That love extends to the tight end enjoying an excellent start to the season. It will continue against a battered secondary in Baltimore. Look for another huge game from Eifert.
Martellus Bennett @ Seattle – Someone’s got to catch passes from Jimmy Clausen, and with Alshon Jeffery out again that means Bennett becomes the man in the crosshairs. He won’t have a dynamic effort, but he will do enough to help you if your team doesn’t have Gronk or one of the other two TEs I mentioned above. He will have at least one touchdown in this one.
TE to AVOID
Crockett Gilmore vs. Cincinnati – Don’t go chasing points. Gilmore had his last week, and he may again have a similar game in the future, but the odds are against it, especially against a Cincinnati team that is playing some of the best defense in the league right now. Leave Gilmore on the waiver wire for now.
FLEX to PLAY
James Starks vs. Kansas City – Even if Eddie Lacy plays, he will be on a pitch count because he’s still hobbled, and he will still be hobbled come Monday night. Starks will get an equitable share of the carries (if not the whole load), and he’s worth the risk to get him active in the Flex spot.
Dion Lewis vs. Jacksonville – The Patriots have utilized Lewis in many ways through the first 2 games, and one of the best is as a pass catcher. He should do enough in this one against the Jaguars to warrant use again in the Flex spot, especially with Brandon LaFell again out, and with LeGarrette Blount not needed in the ground and pound game.
Leonard Hankerson @ Dallas – I really like Matt Ryan to expose that Cowboys defense, and they will have to put extra coverage on Julio Jones. Hankerson has increased in his targets steadily over the first 2 weeks, and he will get a steady diet here as well. Count on Hankerson for a great Flex play, particularly in PPR leagues.
FLEX to AVOID
Davante Adams vs. Kansas City – Adams is already questionable for the game, and to be truthful, I don’t think Aaron Rodgers needs him against the Chiefs. Even if he does play he won’t be as effective, and a limited Adams is not one you want in your lineup, especially if you have to wait for Monday night to see if he will play or not.
K to PLAY
Greg Zuerlein vs. Pittsburgh
Nick Folk vs. Philadelphia
Blair Walsh vs. San Diego
K to AVOID
Chandler Catanzaro vs. San Francisco
D/ST to PLAY
Texans vs. Tampa Bay
Panthers vs. New Orleans
Dolphins vs. Buffalo
D/ST to AVOID
Colts @ Tennessee