My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start and sit each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not. Welcome to week three:
1) Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, Kansas City vs Baltimore
This has the potential to be the highest scoring game of the week and I’m here for it. In last year’s contest both QBs had two passing TDs and the game came down to the wire. Both Mahomes and Jackson have seven passing TDs and no interceptions this season in convincing wins for both teams. Mahomes has one of the strongest and consistent receiving cores, despite the injury to Tyreek Hill, and will attack Baltimore through the air. Baltimore’s receiving core isn’t as strong but both Jackson and RB Mark Ingram will be able to do damage on the ground. TE’s Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews will also be used heavily in this game.
2) Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams @ Cleveland
The Rams come into this game as the better team, no question. Cleveland scares me after only being able to put up 23 points on a New York Jets team who are now battling the Miami Dolphins for the worst team in the NFL. Baker Mayfield struggled taking advantage of a team who had no offensive rhythm after backup Trevor Siemian left Monday’s game with a snapped leg, with starter Sam Darnold already out with mono. Mayfield even threw an interception to a depleted secondary. This will allow Goff and the offense to be on the field more and his offensive weapons in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee and Todd Gurley are light years better than the Jets’ offense. The Rams should have no problems with any part of the Cleveland team.
3) Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay vs New York Giants
I’m not generally high on Winston, but his matchup and news surrounding the Giants cannot be ignored. Winston hasn’t had great outings to begin the season, but in two matchups against the Giants in the last two seasons, Winston has averaged 25 fantasy points. The Giants defense has also given up at least 24 fantasy points to Josh Allen and Dak Prescott in each of the first two games. There are still questions about the Buccaneers’ running game, and WR Mike Evans and TE OJ Howard have been awfully quiet this year. As long as Winston doesn’t turn the ball over, the Giants should have enough problems with a rookie QB and injured WRs, even if Sterling Shepard plays. As long as the game isn’t low scoring, Winston has a high ceiling.
1) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland vs LA Rams
An interception against the Jets? Come on. All the hype surrounding the Browns prior to the season seems too celebrated so far. Cleveland only had 16 points against New York last week until Odell Beckham’s fourth quarter 89-yard score. While TE David Njoku left the game early, Mayfield didn’t use WR Jarvis Landry to his benefit and the offense didn’t use RB Nick Chubb enough. With it looking like Cleveland is going to use Chubb as a change of pace and rely on Mayfield to use his passing game more, 16 points into the fourth quarter against the Rams will be a joke. Mayfield also has double the interceptions to TDs so far this season.
2) Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago @ Washington
I think this is going to be an exciting Monday night matchup, not necessarily for high-scoring, but because of a close game. Washington’s defense has started off strong against tough matchups with Philadelphia and Dallas, but those teams have successful QBs. Trubisky is yet to be desired. I think Washington will struggle against Chicago’s defense, but I think Washington will be able to sustain a solid defense way longer into this game (more than one half) and have its best outing of the season. Washington QB Case Keenum has averaged 30 points per week this season so far, and while that might be lower, the emergence of the Redskins’ new wide receivers and multiple running backs could keep this game close. Trubisky couldn’t get anything going against Green Bay’s defense at home in the NFL opener and the Redskins defense reminds me of the Packers’.
3) Cam Newton, Carolina @ Arizona
Newton’s foot injury and walking boot help this choice, but a cross-country road trip with a less than 100-percent QB who can’t hit the broad side of a barn doesn’t scream “START”. The Cardinals’ defense showed the league last week how to start stopping mobile rushing QBs in Lamar Jackson, and if anyone tells you they’re comfortable with how close that game was on the Ravens side of the football they’re lying. A new QB might actually help the Panthers move the football, at least through the air, and RB Christian McCaffrey was forgotten with the play calling last week. If Ron Rivera likes his job, he won’t make that mistake again. I also don’t see Rivera making that bold of a call to rule out Newton on Sunday if he didn’t take him out when he was clearly injured last week. I don’t think Newton plays the entire game, but I don’t think he misses it either.
Sleeper: Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis vs Atlanta
Atlanta has a shorter week and although intercepted Carson Wentz multiple times last week, struggled covering even less receivers when both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean left the game and didn’t return. Brissett has surprised me through two weeks and has a 5:1 TD to INT ratio. Although he’s not attempting as many pass attempts as I’d hope for, he’s averaging 20 fantasy points per game. RB Nyheim Hines also was shuffled out of the game plan last week when the Colts ran more, but when he plays he’s the best pass-catching RB in the game that provides more options. The Falcons have also given up multiple TD passes to both Kirk Cousins and Wentz, and Cousins only attempted 10 passes.
Bust Alert: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati @ Buffalo
Buffalo may not have as viable of an offense as other 2-0 teams, but its defense is one of the best. With the Bengals having a hurt and struggling RB Joe Mixon, Dalton is going to be forced to throw. This game could also be low scoring because of both offenses, and if Dalton is forced to try and win through the air, the Bills will force turnovers. Dalton may also be without rookie RB Devin Singletary who isn’t practicing because of his hamstring.
1) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota vs Oakland
Cook is a must start because he’s the Minnesota offense and is healthy. It’s clear the Vikings are more comfortable relying on their run game and not QB Kirk Cousins. Cook has pile-drived his way through two defenses and is arguably the best RB in the NFL through two weeks. There’s nothing that suggests he won’t do it again at home in favorable matchup.
2) Sony Michel, New England vs New York Jets
The Jets are now a similar team to the Miami Dolphins and Michel showed last week that any thought of the Patriots spreading the ball around while being up easily wasn’t true. James White had such a quiet day, and his late fourth quarter TD is the only thing that saved him. Michel only gave up three carries to White on the day and the Patriots don’t have a RB committee at this time. The Patriots will be in an identical situation this week with a forgotten Jets secondary and a lifeless offense.
3) Devonta Freeman, Atlanta @ Indianapolis
Freeman has been anything less than exciting, but he’s due for one and this matchup excites me. Indy has struggled with RBs Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry, and I don’t see there being much of an improvement this week either. Freeman may not have as many points as these two did, but I think it is very likely he’s used as a goal-line and red zone option and will have many gains in the open field. Atlanta also could’ve tried to use him more, especially last week.
1) Damien Williams, Kansas City vs Baltimore
Although this is a game of the week, it’s also through the air for the Chiefs. Even if they’re looking for relief in the run game, Williams is still not practicing with a knee injury. The emergence of LeSean McCoy is also taking the ball from him and if he’s not 100-percent, I can’t trust him.
2) Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville vs Tennessee
Fournette was disappointing again last week with 47 yards on 15 carries. With just over three yards per carry, he’s jeopardizing his team’s games by not being able to be a factor on the ground. Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew has been impressive in his time with Nick Foles on IR, but with a less-than-stellar receiving core, not having Fournette play to his potential hurts the Jaguars. It was obvious last season when Fournette struggled gaining even a yard anywhere on the field against the Titans, including three goal-line stops in one of the team’s matchups last season.
3) Kerryon Johnson, Detroit @ Philadelphia
The Eagles have yet to allow a rushing TD this season and Johnson is in the same boat as Fournette. His YPC sits just over three, and it was evident last week that QB Matthew Stafford struggled getting the ball to WR Danny Amendola and TE T.J. Hockenson. Johnson did help out in the passing game, picking up a TD through the air, and I think his only hope this week is helping out again in the passing game. However, he only had three targets even when Stafford was struggling. He made the most of them, but it didn’t look like the Lions trusted him with the football.
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Sleeper: Aaron Jones, Green Bay vs Denver
Jones came alive last week against Minnesota’s defense, carrying the ball 23 times for 116 yards (5.0 YPC). The Broncos have allowed three rushing TDs in their first two games and I’m nervous for any receiver not named Davante Adams in this game. I think the key to winning is how well Jones runs the football and helps keep possession for the Packers.
Bust Alert: Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay vs New York Giants
After carrying the ball just eight times in week one, Barber rushed 23 times for 82 yards and scored a TD. The Giants defense is rocky, but I’m afraid Bruce Arians may still elect to go back and forth between Barber and Ronald Jones. His 3.6 YPC is promising for a team who is supposed to throw the football more, and his volume of carries last week excites me. But, Winston should have a much better game, and if Tampa Bay abandons the run or goes back and forth (or worse, does both), Barber will just be a name on the active player sheets for the game.
1) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs Carolina
Not only is he one of my three start em’s in a category very hard to narrow down, I’m throwing all my betting money on him this week. Fitzgerald is rookie QB Kyler Murray’s favorite target and the duo makes Fitzgerald look nowhere close to being the oldest wideout in the NFL. Fitzgerald has been targeted 24 times in two weeks and has surpassed the century mark in both weeks. Chris Godwin demolished the Panthers defense last week and I think Arizona is going to embarrass Carolina at home. David Johnson also has a favorable matchup, but Fitzgerald’s consistency is too much to ignore here.
2) Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia vs Detroit
I hope Detroit defends Philadelphia’s wideouts better than Atlanta did, but nonetheless, Agholor will be the Eagles’ No. 1 WR in this game. He had 107 yards and a TD last week when WRs Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson left early. His and TE Zach Ertz’s in-game adjustments spoke volumes as each had 11 and 16 targets respectively. However, six of Ertz’s eight catches came in the red zone, meaning Agholor took care of business for the majority of the field. I really like his opportunity to stand out and adjust this week against a back-of-the-pack Lions defense.
3) T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis vs Atlanta
I think Brissett is going to pass a little more than he has in the first two games and rely on Hilton for long plays, as well as short gains. I think this game will be a little more high scoring and the Colts won’t wait until the fourth quarter like they did in week one to get that going. I think Hilton also has big-play bus-out potential, especially with the Falcons struggling to contain the Eagles’ passing game even when it went down two receivers last week during the game.
1) Stefon Diggs, Minnesota vs Oakland
Minnesota is proving that it’d rather run the football and Diggs isn’t its No. 1 WR. He caught just one ball on seven targets last week, and has three catches all year on nine targets. Thankfully Diggs’ catch was for a TD last week, but I’d look to see if you could trade him for anything at this point. He’s not a reliable No. 2 WR for the team so if you’re in a two or three-WR league, he can’t be a good start each week. Minnesota going against the 30th ranked pass defense this week I don’t feel even matters at this point.
2) Robby Anderson, New York Jets at New England
Although it seems QB Luke Falk liked looking for Anderson last week, the Jets are too much fallen apart right now to trust them. Falk is also coming off a short week to practice with the first team. Anderson caught six of Falk’s 20 completions, but I expect the Jets to try and run as much as possible on New England. The game will most likely get away from them early, but even with the Patriots forcing the pass, I’d expect Jamison Crowder to do better in the slot and for Le’Veon Bell to take passes from Anderson. In reality though, it’s unlikely the Jets will have many points even though they seem to play the Patriots well as of late.
3) Jarvis Landry, Cleveland vs LA Rams
Landry wasn’t used last week even with TE David Njoku leaving after a nasty fall. While Cleveland was up in the game, it wasn’t far enough up that the Browns needed to turn to running the football. Although his targets are encouraging, his production isn’t. He also comes in this week with a tough matchup against the Rams, even with being at home. He hasn’t caught more than four passes this season yet when he should have, and it looks like Odell Beckham Jr. coming to town has only hurt him.
Sleeper: Amari Cooper, Dallas vs Miami
RB Ezekiel Elliott should have a field day, but I think QB Dak Prescott has a good day too even with the absence of Michael Gallup. Cooper is clearly the No. 1 WR, and while the Dolphins actually did a fairly decent job on pass defense last week, there’s going to be at least one time where Cooper is all around and makes them pay. I think Cooper gets more targets in this game and has a matchup that will help him convert them into grabs. Washington did a great job limiting him to just 44 yards, but Miami’s defense will break down easier than the Redskins’.
Bust Alert: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
I’m still starting him on all formats, but I’m worried. The Steelers are making a cross-country road trip to play the undefeated 49ers who are killing it on the ground. If the 49ers kill the clock and continue to put points on the board, rookie QB Mason Rudolph will have to throw more. Smith-Schuster showed that he couldn’t adjust against that scenario in week one against New England. He needs RB James Conner to remain in the game to take some ease off his coverage, and right now, that’s up in the air.
1) Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
QB Mason Rudolph needs help and he can find it in McDonald. The Steelers have to be concerned about their run game this week and why they haven’t sat WR Donte Moncrief in favor of using James Washington more is beyond me. McDonald found the end zone twice last week and didn’t drop a pass (take notes, Moncrief). Although Rudolph used him in short yardage gains, McDonald should be heavily used in the red zone.
2) Mark Andrews, Baltimore @ Kansas City
Andrews is by far the best receiver Baltimore has. Despite playing the worst two defenses in the NFL over the first two weeks, both games were incredibly different. The Ravens were in a close game with Arizona and he was used just as much as he was in the blowout against Miami. That tells me QB Lamar Jackson relies on Andrews in any game situation. Andrews has also caught eight balls in each game, had one TD in each game and surpassed the century mark in both games. He should be lights out in Kansas City.
3) Will Dissly, Seattle vs New Orleans
New Orleans is playing without injured QB Drew Brees, on the road, outside in humidity and between 50-60-percent chance of rain. The Seahawks will put on a better defensive showing at home than they did vs Cincinatti. Seattle won’t run away with the game, but it also doesn’t just have to run the ball either. I think the weather conditions limit Dissly and WRs Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, but Dissly’s emergence in the passing game and his two TDs last week make him a favorite to score.
1) Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati at Buffalo
It’s great to see Eifert’s numerous injuries aren’t keeping him from suiting up for the Bengals who are struggling without WR A.J. Green and a less than healthy RB Joe Mixon. But, he got a TD last week? That’s shocking to me. Eifert has been targeted five times in each of the past two games, but hasn’t reached 30 yards in either game. His score last week also only notched him 6.9 points in non-PPR and just 9.9 in PPR. His TD is an outlier and he faces a tough defense on the road.
2) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay vs Denver
Graham hasn’t caught a ball since week one and was targeted just once last week. This is the second time in as many weeks that I’m adamant about sitting him. That kind of production makes it worthless to roster someone of that caliber. Graham’s only TD of the season so far was also a fluke play by the Chicago defense.
3) Jared Cook, New Orleans @ Seattle
With Brees out and Cook already having a rough start to the year, playing in such a daunting place this weekend under these conditions makes him a must-sit in all formats. Cook has caught just four balls on 10 targets and can’t help you in fantasy.
Sleeper: Jason Witten, Dallas vs Miami
It’s obvious Witten has been used as a blocking TE this season so far, as he has just four targets in each game. However, he has a TD in both, which shows he’s a favorable red zone target for Prescott. Miami’s defense hasn’t put all the pieces together when it comes to successful coverage yet, although it’s getting better, someone will be open nearly every play. A fake block will lead to an open score for Witten. It’ll be too easy.
Bust Alert: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis vs Atlanta
I’m high on Brissett and Hilton this week, but not with Ebron. Although the Falcons allowed Philadelphia TE Zach Ertz to catch eight passes last week, he had 16 targets. Ebron should have a score in each of the first two games, but he dropped a TD in week one. Ebron’s production is a TD-or-bust episode so far this season, as Indy isn’t using TE’s like it did with Andrew Luck. His minimal targets and yardage in the open field create a fantasy doozy performance also.
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