Welcome to the last full week of football before we enter the bye season. Sucks, but hey, we still have all of 14 Sunday’s games and even a showdown on Monday to enjoy! What we also have is two weeks worth of data, tape, and silly head coach decisions. And we’re glad for it. Some early-season trends and player outcomes might be hard to believe, but that is why I’m here to help you address that information and make the most important decisions of your weekend while minimizing your potential losses: who to sit and who to start in fantasy football.
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Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about who to put in that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback or how could you address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider if you have the following players on your team or can get them via waivers before Sunday’s games start.
Matthew Stafford, DET (at PHI) - START
Welcome to the sleepery world of Matthew Stafford! Even if you don’t believe it, the Lions quarterback has the fifth-most PPR points through Week 2. He’s averaging 25.5 per contest, and although he’s thrown a couple of picks, he has also thrown for five touchdowns. The Eagles gave up 380 yards against Washington and 320 against Atlanta. They are being torched by QBs, and Stafford comes in hot after leading a comeback victory last weekend.
Jameis Winston, TB (vs. NYG) - START
After putting up a dud in Week 1 against San Francisco (20 of 36, three interceptions, two fumbles), Winston had a nice performance against Carolina last week. He completed 16 of 25 passes, racked up 208 yards, and threw for a touchdown. His Yards per Attempt went from 5.4 in Week 1 to 8.3 in Week 2, and he completed five passes of 20-plus yards. Against a ridiculously bad Giants team (not just defense, team), Winston is in a great position to have another great weekend. Mike Evans and OJ Howard should positively regress at some point, and if it happens against the Giants (highly probable) it will only boost Winston’s value even more.
Kirk Cousins, MIN (vs. OAK) - SIT
Look, I always try to keep things fresh. I want to do it with this column too, but in this case, I just can’t. I’m sorry, but I’m completely against rostering Cousins, much less starting him. After his ‘80s-like performance against the Falcons in Week 1, he went and had a 14-of-32 passing performance in which he threw two interceptions, including losing a fumble. He looked horrid. His total of 28.3 PPR only ranks ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. And that with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as his receivers. Oakland does not present the toughest of matchups, but Cousins hasn’t shown anything to prove he’s worth starting.
Andy Dalton, CIN (at BUF) - SIT
How sustainable are Dalton’s 729 yards in two games? And his ratio of 4-to-1 TDs/INTs? Dalton has been all about volume, throwing 93 passes in his two games but posting only the 12th-highest Averaged Net Yards per Attempt. He carries two losses and this week doesn’t look any brighter for him nor the Bengals. The Bills are allowing just 14.7 PPR points to quarterbacks so far, half of what Dalton is averaging to start the season. Consider also that John Ross could come back to earth (he’s got 270 yards on 11 receptions...), and you’re all in for a massive letdown if you start Dalton.
Frank Gore, BUF (vs. CIN) - START
Who would have said Frank Gore, 2019 highly-producing starter running back? But that’s the truth, as is the fact that the Bengals have allowed 40.8 PPR points on average to running backs through Week 2, seven more than the second-worst Colts. Gore is what Gore is: a pure old-school rusher. He’s carried the ball 30 times in 64 snaps and been targeted only two times. Even with that, his Week 2 performance against the Giants (68 yards in 19 attempts for a touchdown; 15 yards on two receptions) awarded him 16.3 PPR points. He’s already carrying a heavy workload and with Devin Singletary day-to-day he can only see more chances. Perfect matchup, perfect situation.
Marlon Mack, IND (vs. ATL) - START
Mack’s fantasy numbers don’t jump completely off the page. Yes, he’s currently the 10th-best RB in PPR points per game with 16.85, but that is not close to the true elite rushers of the early season. In the Luck-less Colts, Mack has featured as much as anyone. He has been on 97 (72 percent) of the team’s snaps. He has carried the ball 45 times for 225 yards and one score and has an above-average matchup against the Falcons in Week 3 (Atlanta has allowed the 11th-most rushing yards to date). In two games, Mack’s strongest competition has been a middling Nyheim Hines that has 21 yards in 6 attempts. Not many players are locked into a safer situation than Mack, so expect production no matter what.
Phillip Lindsay / Royce Freeman, DEN (at GB) - SIT
Same as happened with Cousins (read his blurb), or even in a more worrying situation, is Phillip Lindsay. He makes this list for the second week in a row and it should not surprise you. The timeshare is as real as it gets. Lindsay and Royce Freeman have played 73 snaps each. They have the same number of receiving yards. Freeman has more rushing yards than Lindsay (110 to 79 in three fewer carries). Should you start Freeman, then? No! If you combine Lindsay’s and Freeman’s production you’d get some kind of RB1. But with them splitting duties as they are, none of them is worth starting. Green Bay was burned by Dalvin Cook, but neither Lindsay nor Freeman come close to Minnesota’s running back ability.
David Johnson, ARI (vs. CAR) - SIT
I was hesitant with this pick mostly because Newton is probably going to be out of Sunday’s game, opening a door for Johnson to benefit for a good game script if Arizona gets ahead in the scoreboard and turns to the running game. But all things considered, the Cards have yet to win a game and they are passing more than any other team. In Week 1, Johnson was targeted seven times and put up 55 yards and a score. Against Baltimore, he was only targeted once and left the field momentarily with a wrist injury. Even if we assume he’s healthy and gets a fair share of targets again, Carolina’s defense leads the league in yards and receptions allowed to the RB position (20 yards on just three passes).
Deebo Samuel, SF (at PIT) - START
You are not going to believe this, but Deebo Samuel is the most-targeted receiver (if we don’t consider Kittle, with 13 targets) of the 49ers so far. Samuel has been targeted 10 times, hauled in eight receptions, scored a touchdown in Week 2 and even added seven yards through the ground on two rushing attempts. Not even three weeks ago, Dante Pettis was the most-coveted receiver of San Francisco’s offense. Fast-forward to now and Samuel looks as solid as he can. With Garoppolo and Rudolph at the QB positions in Week 3, the affair against the Steelers (who need a win as soon as they can get it) can turn into a scoring party and Samuel could be the one to benefit from it.
Randall Cobb, DAL (at MIA) - START
Dallas pleasant schedule to start the season keeps going this week with a matchup against the second-division Dolphins. Amari Cooper is too chalky to list here, but I wanted to remind you of Cobb’s presence in the Cowboys receiving corps. While it is possible that Dallas goes up in the scoreboard early and turns to the running game with Elliott, Zeke is a key part of this offense and he might see low-usage. Enter second-tier players such as Pollard and Cobb. With Michael Gallup out (knee), Cobb profiles as the go-to receiver other than Cooper. He already has nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown and has added 11 yards on two rushing attempts (don’t discard more of those against a silly team as Miami). I’d bet on a Cowboys offensive explosion with Cobb featuring heavily this weekend.
John Ross, CIN (at BUF) - SIT
Dalton came first (read above), Ross followed suit. Can I be wrong about this decision? Yes. Am I willing to die on the whole “sit John Ross in Week 3” hill? Absolutely. Ross has 270 yards on 11 receptions along with three touchdowns. Only Sammy Watkins (56.7) has more PPR points than Ross (56). Do you know what happened to Watkins in Week 2? He flopped as hell. Do you know what is on schedule for Ross? You guessed it right. Buffalo’s secondary is no joke, but more than that, you should be concerned about Ross’ true production. Just last week, 66 of his yards (for a touchdown) came on a garbage-time pass. 12.6 points out of nowhere. That won’t happen every week. We might be witnessing Ross’ breakout season, but I remain skeptical about it.
Robby Anderson, NYJ (at NE) - SIT
The start of the season has been quite disappointing for Anderson. He was supposed to be the leading offensive weapon of the Jets other than Le’Veon Bell, but his production so far has been mediocre at best. Anderson is averaging 8.7 PPR points per game, not even cracking the WR3 barrier (he ranks 42nd among WR). While he can go deep and score on any given pass, Luke Falk will be the one commanding the team against New England, which doesn’t sound too good for Anderson’s expectations. On top of that, the Patriots have allowed the fifth-fewest PPR points to WR. They also limited Ben Roethlisberger to 14.5 PPR points and picked the Dolphins quarterbacks four times. Bad times ahead for Falk and Anderson by extension.
Greg Olsen, CAR (at ARI) - START
The Cardinals defense isn’t good at all (31.2 PPR allowed to TE through Week 2). The Cardinals pace helps teams running a lot of plays. The Cardinals won’t (most probably) face Cam Newton this weekend, so they might take the lead and force Carolina to play catch up. All of this, combined with the presence of second-year, almost-rookie QB Kyle Allen at the helm, puts Olsen in a prime position to over-perform this weekend against Arizona. Olsen has been targeted 18 times in two games, catching 10 passes for 146 yards. Inexperienced rookies tend to rely on the best players and are eased into game-calls that favor using go-to receivers such as D.J. Moore and Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end should be a lock to line up this week.
Will Dissly, SEA (vs NO) - START
I know, I know, New Orleans has been excellent against tight ends so far, allowing only 6.0 PPR per game. But keep in mind they have faced the Texans and the Rams, which let’s say don’t have very scary players at the position. You won’t believe this, but Dissly ranks first in PPR/Target with 3.46 (for context, Mark Andrews is second at 2.94!). Dissly has six receptions on seven targets for 62 yards and two touchdowns already. He is one of the most efficient players on one of the most efficient attacks of the league. Don’t expect huge volume going Dissly’s way, but rest assured whatever he gets he will do in optimal situations giving him the best chances to put up points.
T.J. Hockenson, DET (at PHI) - SIT
As much as I don’t think Hockenson’s 25.1 PPR points in Week 1 are a realistic average for him, neither do I think he will repeat his 1.7 PPR performance from last week. But those two data points perfectly show the floor and the ceiling of the rookie tight end. This week against Philadelphia Hockenson won’t have such a tough matchup as he did against the Chargers in Week 2, but I would still keep him on the bench. Remember I told you to start Stafford (read above), so this might be a little contrarian to that thinking, but with Kerryon Johnson alone in the backfield (C.J. Anderson was released), and the Kenny Golladay-Marvin Jones pair looking good (and facing a bad Eagles’ secondary), I don’t think Hockenson will have many opportunities to shine.
Eric Ebron, IND (vs. ATL) - SIT
The combination of player and matchup here made it easy to go with this pick. We could consider Atlanta to have faced just one tight end in two games, as Minnesota straight skipped the passing game in Week 1. That tight end, though, was Zach Ertz, and although he finished with 72 yards, he was limited to a 50 percent catch rate on 12 targets with no touchdowns. Now, about Ebron himself, he’s in a clear timeshare with Jack Doyle (the latter has played 70 percent of Indianapolis’ snaps to Ebron’s 44 percent), and his only touchdown came from a 16-yard toss by Brissett this past weekend. Hadn’t it been for that easy score, Ebron would be sitting at 7.3 PPR points through Week 2. Do you know where he should be sitting too? That’s correct, on your team’s bench.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is chapulana) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.