Fantasy Football

Start ’em, Sit ’em Week 3: House Tyrell Is Growing Strong

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Start ’em, Sit ’em Week 3

Start 'em, Sit 'em Week 3

Credit: Lee Terry

Week 2 in the NFL was a mess for many owners. Running backs were going down faster than the great houses of Westeros, leaving Fantasy Owners fighting for their lives on the waiver wire.

Running back has been an even bigger minefield than expected, as David Johnson and C.J. Anderson are the only top 10 running backs to live up to their draft position thus far. It’s too early to panic, as some players met with tough early schedules. As we collect more data and garner an observe sample size, evaluations of future production can be made.

Moving into Week 3, owners should look for stability in snap counts, target distribution and red zone touches. Outside of watching the games, these numbers give a brief look at how coaches will use certain players moving forward. Finding usage trends is the first step in determining who to start with in any given week. Unless you’re trying to decide when to start Gio Bernard, which is nearly impossible.

Target distribution will settle itself further this week, making lineup decisions much easier going forward. Keep yourself informed and use the many tools available to play the best possible lineup. Keep in mind that even hours and hours of research can lead to failed decisions.

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Start ’em, Sit ’em Week 3

Start’em

Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers

Williams has proven himself to be a big play receiver in the absence of Keenan Allen. Operating as number two receiver, he followed up a 35.5 yards per catch average in Week 1, with a 44 yard catch and run TD in Week 2. His 6’4, 205 pound frame combined with 4.43 speed give him the incredible game breaking ability he showed against the Jaguars.

ESPN Chargers reporter Mike Triplett says Williams “is the prototypical big target that Philip Rivers likes to throw to, with the speed to beat defenses deep.” For those worried about his role in the offense, Rivers has stressed the need for the undrafted Williams to be a big part of the offense.

In Week 2, Williams shared the team lead for targets with Travis Benjamin with six apiece. That number only stands to increase with Danny Woodhead‘s 6.6 targets (in 2015) to be shared. With Benjamin routinely stretching defenses deep, the Chargers will use Williams on slant and crossing routes in order to take advantage of his excellent YAC abilities.

The Week 3 matchup against Indianapolis is the perfect opportunity for Williams to showcase his skills. Similar to Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah, Williams will receive plenty of short passes and use his speed to outrun the Colts banged up linebackers. Growing opportunity and a sky-high ceiling make Williams a WR3 with upside for much more.

Mike Wallace, WR Baltimore Ravens

Mike Wallace has provided owners with excellent value this season, posting 132 yards and three touchdowns. Skeptics will point to his low catch totals (seven) and claim that his hot start is unsustainable. Those accusations may be correct down the line, but Wallace will once again rack up the points in Week 3 against the Jaguars.

Wallace, Steve Smith Sr., and Dennis Pitta constitute the main weapons in the Baltimore passing attack. With Joe Flacco‘s cannon arm helping, Wallace is one again looking like a solid deep threat. That trend should continue Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville. The strength of the Jaguars D lies in their run defense, while the secondary has given up the fifth most Fantasy points to WR thus far. The Jags seem particularly vulnerable to deep threats, giving up 115 yards and two TD to Travis Benjamin last week.

With the Baltimore running game struggling to 3.3 YPC, Flacco should be airing it out once again. Looking like the main deep threat and preferred redzone option, Wallace will have significant upside against a Jacksonville team that has given up six TD passes in two games. Wallace does come with a low floor, but his upside against a poor secondary makes him an easy WR3 in Week 3.

Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns

I know it seems weird to suggest you start Browns players two weeks in a row, but here’s my rationale: SOMEONE has to get touches and move that offense. Knowing Hue Jackson, it won’t be the the third string rookie quarterback with a weak arm and accuracy issues while on the run. The Browns will run a simple offense this week, leaning on Crowell and Johnson to run the ball against an inconsistent Miami defense.

Crowell is coming off one of the best games of his career, rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown. The final line is misleading, as 85 of those yards came on a single carry. The Dolphins know that the Browns will run the ball in order to limit turnovers from Cody Kessler. This may lead to inefficient running from Crowell, but the opportunity will be there to carry it as much as he can.

Johnson has disappointed the owners who believed he would be the better back in Cleveland this year. Over two games, Johnson has only carried the ball five times, while catching seven passes. While Crowell will continue receiving most of the carries, Johnson should be in for a good week in PPR leagues. With the Dolphins keying in on the run, Johnson should receive plenty of attention on check-downs from Kessler. This is also the case if (when?) the Browns fall behind.

Crowell will be a mid-range RB2 this week against the defense that surrendered 123 yards to LaGarrette Blount last week. Johnson should only be started in PPR leagues, but has appeal as a FLEX option due to his pass catching abilities.

Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions

Tate has been a massive disappointment so far, totaling just 5.60 Fantasy points in two games. It’s also looking like Marvin Jones has overtaken Tate as the Lions go-to receiver. All a far cry from the numbers people were expecting after Calvin Johnson’s retirement. Looking at his performances, there is reason for optimism in Week 3.

Tate has not been starved for targets as he saw the ball nine times in Week 1 and seven more times in Week 2. We know that the Lions are a pass first team so Tate will continue to see a solid amount of targets. Under the hood, his poor statistical performance could have easily been much better. Tate drew two separate pass-interference penalties, one of which was in the end-zone and had a 20 yard gain negated by a penalty. Tate also dropped one catch-able ball while barely missing on two deep passes.

While a disappointment thus far, Tate has a chance to turn things around against the 19th ranked Packer pass-defense. With Ameer Abdullah on IR, the Lions will go to the air even more. While Tate has slipped into WR3 territory, high volume makes him more appealing than other borderline options.

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Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets

Enunwa has come out of nowhere this season and put up respectable numbers as the Jets’ third receiving option. Enunwa has caught 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, while averaging seven targets per game. The number may have been higher in Week 2 had he not suffered a rub injury. With Brandon Marshall nursing a knee injury, Enunwa could be in for a big day.

As Richard Savill outlined in Week 3 Waiver Wire Grabs, Enunwa looks the part of the receiving tight end the Jets passing offense has been lacking. His snap count decreased to 61% last week, but that can be attributed to the rib injury.

If Marshall is ruled out, Enunwa stands to inherit some of Marshall’s targets opposite Eric Decker. With Matt Forte running well, and the Jets offense looking good, Enunwa has a chance to put up FLEX numbers should he start to get looks in the redzone.

Sit’em

Jerick Mckinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings

McKinnon is one of, if not, the top waiver grabs this week. With news that Adrian Peterson will miss several weeks to repair a torn meniscus. His top notch athleticism and track record as the Vikings backup (5.2 YPC in 2015, 4.8 YPC in 2014) will have him in RB2 territory all season. However, owners expecting the world from their shiny new toy will be disappointed in Week 3.

A match-up with the fearsome Carolina defense puts a ceiling on McKinnon’s production. The Panthers‘ run defense has only yielded 3.9 YPC this season and most of those yards came at the hands of C.J Anderson. They showed much improvement in Week 2, yielding just 55 yards on 23 carries to the 49ers. On top of a tough defense, McKinnon is also dealing with a toe injury that will certainly effect his running. McKinnon is also expected to yield some goal-line touches to Matt Asiata, impacting his value for the rest of the season.

The Vikings offensive line will be the biggest obstacle for McKinnon to overcome. The Vikings backfield combined for 29 net rushing yards, but gained 30 yards after contact against the Packers. The Vikings biggest run was a five yard gain by Peterson, where he ran around the O-line entirely. They are even worse in pass protection, surrendering 17 pressures on 36 pass-blocking plays. Three of the Vikings linemen rank in the bottom five at their positions according to Pro Football Focus.

A porous offensive line going up against a tough defense means McKinnon will struggle to find running lanes. If you need to start him due to injuries I can’t blame you, but Owners with other options should consider sitting Mckinnon before starting him in Week 4.

Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears

After a 17 carry, 57 yard game in Week 1, Bears coach John Fox was critical of Langford’s performance. Week 2 didn’t get better, as Langford only rushed 11 times for 28 yards and split carries with Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard. After an early fourth quarter fumble, Langford only received one or two snaps as the Bears attempted a comeback. His snap percent decreased from 96.5 to 58.5 in Week 2.

Langford has failed to take advantage of his opportunity this season, averaging just 3.0 YPC. John Fox was on the money with his criticism of Langfords yards after contact as, according to Pro Football Focus, Langford has yet to break a tackle this season. His Fantasy performance was barely passable last week due to a second quarter touchdown.

The touchdown was a lucky one.  Alshon Jeffery single-handedly moved the Bears more than half the length of the field to the one yard line. Without that touchdown, we’re looking at a 1.4 point performance and extreme panic for Langford owners.

There has been no indication from the Bears on how long Langford will retain his lead-back status. With this much uncertainty, owners should find a more stable option to play as their RB2/Flex.

 Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

Preseason worries regarding Watkins’ foot injury were right on the money. Watkins, limited through two games, struggles through a recovery from off-season foot surgery. Watkins has only drawn 11 targets, catching six of them for 63 yards. The Bills passing attack relies on a healthy Watkins to produce, which he hasn’t been able to do. With a new offensive coordinator in the mix, we don’t know how involved Watkins will be.

Even if Watkins is heavily involved, he will need to deal with Patrick Peterson all day. Last season Peterson ranked as the fifth best corner in the league. With a tough Cardinals defense behind him, the entire Bills offense will have trouble moving the ball. After a destruction of the Buccaneers and Jameis Winston last week, the Cardinals are licking their chops at the new look Bills offense.

Watkins’ talent will always give him a high upside in Fantasy matchup. However, owners are better off sitting Watkins this week for an option with a higher floor and an easier matchup.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has been a model of consistency this season, throwing for 366 yards and a touchdown in both games this season. Dalton may struggle with a low ceiling until Tyler Eifert comes back, as teams can zero in on A.J. Green and force throws to less proven options. In a game against the Broncos, Dalton comes with a limited ceiling and a low floor.

The Broncos defense once again looks incredible, giving up the second fewest passing yards though two games. Even more impressive, the Broncos managed to shut down the passing of Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Newton managed to rush for a TD, saving an otherwise mediocre passing day. The Bengals offensive line has struggled this season, allowing seven sacks in Week 1 and 11 QB hits through two games. While the Broncos will be missing DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller will create havoc for Dalton.

Dalton should find just enough time to get the ball to Gio Bernard. However, he’ll struggle to find an open Green covered by Chris Harris or Aqib Talib. With the Broncos run defense expected to limit Jeremy Hill. The onus will fall on Dalton to produce against the leagues best defense. Dalton is a desperation QB1 this week, but will produce QB2 numbers. Better options include Marcus Mariota against the Raiders, or Matt Ryan against the Saints.

John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Many believed that 2016 would finally be the year John Brown establishes himself as the Cardinals successor to Larry Fitzgerald. Through two games, nothing could be further from the truth. Brown only has seven targets and caught just two for 22 yards. Brown is fourth on the Arizona totem pole for targets behind Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and David Johnson.

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Brown was a consistent WR3 option last year, scoring a TD or gaining 100 yards in nine games (with one 99 yard game) in 2015. This season, a preseason concussion may be affecting Brown’s ability, leaving Bruce Arians no choice but to decrease his snap count. Last year Brown was in on 74.95% of the Cardinals offensive snaps. This season, Brown has played in just under 50% of the offensive snaps. Such limited playing time has left Brown very few opportunities to use his playmaking skill.

A game against the poor Bills defense may seem like the perfect  time for Brown to wake up. However, a poor defense does not mean that Carson Palmer will target his main weapons any less. This game has the potential to get out of hand early, leading to more run plays with David and Chris Johnson. Until the Cardinals start to use Brown more often, he’s nothing more than a bench stash with WR4 potential.

About Jonathan Chan

Winning fantasy leagues since 2004. Losing them for much longer. Follow Jonathan on twitter @jchan_811 and he'll be ready for all your questions!