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Starts

James White (PPR only) vs Miami

Miami has struggled against pass-catching RBs through these first few weeks of the season. They’ve given up 5 receptions to Dion Lewis, 5 to Bilal Powell, and 6 to Jalen Richard. The Patriots should recognize that, and with the defense focusing on Gronk and Josh Gordon, White can rack up 5-7 catches in this game. The Dolphins are also in the top-10 in allowing fantasy points to RBs through three weeks. White should continue his stretch of good games in PPR, especially with Rex Burkhead being placed on IR.

Lamar Miller (PPR preferred) @ Indy

The Colts have allowed the second most receptions to RBs through the first three weeks. Yes, Chris Thompson had 13 receptions against them, but Adrian Peterson caught 3 balls for 30, Smallwood and Clement had 3 catches each, and Mixon had 5 catches for 54 against them. That sounds like a defense that isn’t defending the RB in the pass game. The Texans lost Bruce Ellington to IR, which can open up some of those short targets to Miller, who caught 5 of 6 targets last week against the Giants. The Giants didn’t give Miller any room to run last week, but Miller was able to be effective on the ground in the first two weeks. With the Colts in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs, I would try to have Miller in my lineup this week, preferably in PPR leagues.

Tevin Coleman vs Cincy

Coleman couldn’t get it done last week against the Saints, but the Saints have been very stout against the run to open the year, allowing only 2.7 YPC so far. This week, he sees a Bengals team that has allowed 4.55 YPC after Christian McCaffrey tore them up last week. Coleman isn’t McCaffrey, but the Bengals weren’t tested in the prior weeks after going up against the Colts and Ravens. The Falcons should stay in this game, and should want to control the clock because of how bad their defense is after all the injuries. Without Freeman in the lineup once again, Coleman should see close to 20 touches once again. Following the volume, especially when an offense is moving the ball.

Giovani Bernard @ Atlanta

Assuming Joe Mixon sits this on out before returning in Week 5, Bernard needs to be in lineups. It’s rare for a back to get 100% of all RB touches, but Gio got just that last week. Bernard saw 9 targets last week, catching 5 of them for 25. That’s something that’s very encouraging for this week; the Falcons have allowed 36 receptions to RBs so far. The next highest is 28; that means that RBs are averaging 9 receptions per game against them. That’s just nuts… granted, they did play against Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, but Bernard should be able to salvage a 5-reception game at the very least. In three weeks where Bernard had close to the full load last year, he averaged 5 catches per game. If Mixon misses again, Gio’s a must-start in PPR leagues this week, and should be started in all formats.

Carlos Hyde @ Oakland

With Baker Mayfield in and Hyde’s volume locked up, he has to be in consideration as an every-week start. The offense will move better, and Hyde will have more goal line opportunities, just like he did last week twice after Mayfield took over. Hyde trails Todd Gurley by only 1 carry for the most carries in the league, so we can depend on his volume. 22 carries, 16, then 23 in the first three weeks – those are numbers we can get used to. With 4 TDs in 3 games, Hyde’s on a roll and his 23/98/2 game he had last week might be something we should get used to. If you have Hyde, Nick Chubb needs to be added as an upside handcuff to get all that early down work. This week, they get a favorable matchup against the Raiders, who have been giving up almost 5 YPC to opposing RBs. The Browns defense isn’t as bad as they were in the past, so game script should be less of an issue moving forward.

Sterling Shepard @ Atlanta

With Saints’ standout nickel corner Patrick Robinson done for the year, Sterling Shepard has a real shot to put up a big game against P.J. Williams in the slot, who just let Calvin Ridley have a ridiculous breakout game last week. To put Williams’ coverage into numbers, he’s allowed almost 1.5 fantasy points per route run against him, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted. I would assume Eli Manning looks Shepard’s way a ton because of it. Marshon Lattimore has had an up and down year, so I don’t necessarily think OBJ will have a problem having a good game, but why not target your next-favorite WR whose matchup is way too good? Let me be clear: I don’t trust Eli Manning, and he can definitely mess this up for us, but we know that these two have a rapport when the targets aren’t spread out as much. Even though I hesitate a bit because it seems too good to be true, I have to have Shepard in my lineup this week for the possibility of a huge game in what can be a shootout.

Phillip Lindsay vs KC

I don’t think Lindsay will see punishment in terms of usage because of his ejection last week. He wasn’t really throwing punches, it was more like jabs to get a guy off of him (I think). Either way, I don’t think it was malicious or dumb enough to cost him in this game. This is a great matchup for Lindsay this week, as he’s capable in both the run and pass game; he’ll still see the field in case the Chiefs go up big. The Chiefs are giving up more than 5 YPC, the third most receptions to RBs, and the second most fantasy points to the position. I’ll say he’s a good start this week. As far as Royce Freeman, he’s TD dependent, but this is a soft matchup, so take that for what it’s worth; he’ll be flex worthy.

Calvin Ridley vs Cincy

It’s really tough to sit a guy after a 3 TD performance, and his matchup isn’t bad at all this week. With William Jackson III focused on Julio Jones, that leaves Ridley matched up with Dre Kirkpatrick and Darquese Dennard for almost 75% of his routes. Don’t expect him to put up those gaudy numbers again, but he should have a respectable game in this matchup. With the Falcons’ defense banged up, these two should be able to keep scoring on each other, with the potential of a shootout.

Michael Crabtree @ Pittsburgh

Coty Sensabaugh and Artie Burns are both getting killed so far this season. They’re probably going to continue rotating these guys opposite Joe Haden, but either way, the Steelers have given up the most fantasy points to the WR lining up on that left side so far this year. Crabtree lines up on that side about 60% of the time, and he’ll have an advantage in the slot as well for the few snaps he’ll line up there. With 10 targets in each of the last two games and another shootout lined up in Pittsburgh, Crabtree should be able to take advantage in between the 20s, as well as in the red zone.

Tyler Boyd @ Atlanta

Brian Poole and the terribly banged-up Falcons have given up the 8th most fantasy points to WRs lining up in the slot, so it’s tough to bench the red-hot Boyd this week; 6 catches in each of the last two games, also averaging 111 yards and 1 TD sounds like someone you have to continue to play. This game has the potential of being one of the highest scoring of the week, and Boyd should continue to be a big part of the game plan for the Bengals.

Jarvis Landry @ Oakland

Baker Mayfield targeted Landry on 39% of his throws after he came into the game. That’s….. good. Not to mention he goes up against old man Leon Hall this week, who’s given up the 4th most fantasy points to slot WRs this year. Jarvis will get his, and you’re probably starting him anyway, but just wanted to point out that the matchup is great, and the QB change should only benefit him.

Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas vs KC

I’m not benching a guy who’s having as much success as Sanders as been having, and this week he’s going up against the Chiefs in the highest projected total of the week on Monday night. This defense have not been good defending the passing game, ranking 30th DVOA and giving up the second most receptions to WRs in the league. With Patrick Mahomes playing like he is, expect the Broncos to have to continue to throw the ball all game long. As far as Thomas goes, he saw 10 and 11 targets the first two games, so he’s a good start in PPR leagues in what can be a shootout in Denver.

Kenny Golladay @ Dallas

Golladay should be considered the #1 WR in Detroit right now until further notice. Averaging 9 targets, 6 receptions, and 85 yards over the last three games, and scoring in two of the last three games, he needs to be started. The Dallas corners have actually done a good job… except Chidobe Awuzie, who’s allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs lining up on his side of the field so far this year, and he wasn’t great last year either. Golladay lines up on that side about 50% of the time, so he would be expected to do most of his damage while he’s there. Marvin Jones has spent about 37% of his routes on that side as well, so he can take advantage as well if he’s given some opportunities while lined up there.

Randall Cobb vs Buffalo (PPR preferred)

Friday morning UPDATE: Cobb added to injury report with hamstring injury. Status unknown, but McCarthy not optimistic. 

Oh boy, start Cobb? Tough last couple of games, but Cobb is in another good spot against Buffalo’s Taron Johnson. Johnson had a good tackling game last week, but the Bills have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs so far this season, and with Davante Adams locked up with Tre’Davious White all game long, Rodgers should continue to look Cobb’s way like he did last week with the 11 targets he sent in his direction. Cobb had a game to forget last week, and has a good chance to bounce back. He’s just a tough bench in PPR leagues.

Mike Williams vs San Francisco

Mike Williams hasn’t played a full complement of snaps yet, but moves all around the formation and has produced. This week, he’ll go up against a 49ers defense who’ve been a liability on the left side and in the slot, giving up the 5th and 11th most fantasy points, respectively. Williams has lined up in those positions about 65% of his snaps, and should be able to continue his impressive season, especially if he gets targets while lined up against Jimmie Ward.

Stefon Diggs @ LA Rams

You’re starting your studs, but just wanted to point out that this isn’t as tough a matchup for him with  Aqib Talib out and Marcus Peters most likely out.

Tyler Lockett @ Arizona

Friday Morning UPDATE: Doug Baldwin said he’s good to go for Sunday.

No word on whether Doug Baldwin will suit up this week. If he does, I’ll downgrade Lockett for this particular week only because he’ll see more snaps on the right side of the field where Patrick Peterson lines up. If Baldwin doesn’t play, Lockett will see a majority of his snaps from the slot, where the Cardinals have been pretty bad, giving up the 5th most fantasy points in the first three games. Again, Budda Baker is playing that hybrid safety/nickel corner role, and it’s not really working out when it comes to guarding slot WRs. Lockett be looking to extend his TD streak to 4 games this week.

DeSean Jackson @ Chicago

Friday morning UPDATE: Amukamara has hamstring injury. Might not play. D-Jax and all TB WRs get upgrade if he sits.

I can see D-Jax getting behind Kyle Fuller, who has been making getting torched a bit of a habit. I just feel like whenever I watch a Bears game, QBs are targeting Kyle Fuller for TDs. Chicago’s defense is definitely better at home, and in DFS you might want to take a shot on D-Jax in GPPs after not scoring last week; the Bears have given up the 10th most fantasy points on each side of the perimeter. I do think Prince Amukamara is the better corner, but he can be burned too when he goes for those picks. One double move by D-Jax against him and it’s a wrap.

Corey Davis vs Philly

The hate against the Titans offense is real. A banged up Mariota going up against Jacksonville isn’t necessarily the point at which I would be judging him. I do think Mariota has been mediocre at best during his career, but he can make WRs relevant, especially a prototypical #1 WR in Davis. He’s getting a ton of the market share with Delanie Walker done and now that Rishard Matthews is done with the team, it’ll be him and Taywan Taylor most likely. This is a Philly defense that isn’t good on the perimeter, they move Davis around enough, and he’ll get his targets. Just to put it into numbers, Philly’s defense has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to WRs on Jalen Mills’ side, and the 7th most on Ronald Darby’s side. Not great against the slot either. Davis will be fine.

Desperate Starts

Allen Robinson vs Tampa Bay

Robinson couldn’t get it going last week, but it’ll be hard to believe that he can’t get it going against this banged up Bucs defense. The problem isn’t Robinson, it’s Mitch Trubisky. Robinson had a 10-catch, 14-target game two weeks ago, and that’s what we’re chasing when starting Robinson. He’s tough to bench this week in PPR formats, but I can understand sitting him in standard leagues for other options.

Kenyan Drake @ New England

What a buzzkill Drake was last week, seeing only 7 touches. The Dolphins ran only 39 plays last week, which is ridiculously low; the average of plays run this year is around 65. The Dolphins a a whole have run 55 plays per game on average, so Drake’s usage should bounce back. The Dolphins game plan on offense will likely involve trying to keep Tom Brady on the bench, which would involve running the damn ball. The Patriots have allowed the third most rushing yards and 4.8 yards per attempt through three weeks. We thought Drake would bounce back last week against a bad Raiders defense, but the game flow was very weird, and the big plays on the Dolphins side didn’t let them have long drives. Drake is tough to trust right now, but we should see him get back to the 15+ touch range in a good matchup. I wouldn’t worry about a negative game script, as Drake is the primary pass-catcher and won’t be taken off the field in that scenario.

Kerryon Johnson @ Dallas

Kerryon gave Detroit their first 100-yard rusher in five years against the Patriots last week. He’s still sharing work with LeGarrette Blount on early downs, but at least he’s cutting into Theo Riddick’s third-down work as well. The game script worked out perfectly for the Lions last week as they went up early, and I don’t think there’s a scenario where Dallas gets to a huge lead this week either. Johnson should be involved throughout; we can expect around 15 touches or so, with the hope that the number goes up while Blount is slowly phased out. They had the same amount of carries last week, except Johnson doubled Blount’s output. As far as the matchup is concerned, the Cowboys were doing well against the run; however, they will be without Sean Lee for a few weeks, and this defense is a completely different one without him.

Chris Carson @ Arizona

You gotta be pretty desperate to have Carson in your lineup, but this is an okay week to take a shot, because that’s what you’re doing if you start him. Can we predict game script? Maybe. And if we get it right, is Carson the guy for sure? Maybe. Carson had 32 carries last week after Penny fumbled a handoff and landed in Pete Carroll’s doghouse. The Cardinals have allowed the most fantasy points to RBs, but Jordan Howard didn’t seem to get much going against them last week. Arizona does play better at home, but their offense is so anemic that you have to expect the Seahawks to be in the game and continue to run the ball. I’m personally trying to stay as far away from this backfield as possible, but if you have no other options, you can hope that Carson gets at least half of the volume he received in Week 3.

Alfred Morris (PPR preferred) @ LA Chargers

What? Prefer Alfred Morris in PPR? In what world is that a thing? Well, with C.J. Beathard at QB for the 49ers, he forced Carlos Hyde into a pass-catching back, and he might do the same to Alfred Morris. Matt Breida is probably being started every week at this point because of his production, but Morris is still getting touches and will be on the field; he’s actually led the backfield in touches in each week. In the 6 full games Beathard played last year, he targeted Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida 68 times, and Hyde himself averaged 8.3 targets per game. In the subsequent 5 full games Jimmy G started, the two RBs saw a total of 19 targets. That’s a huge bump, and if you’re forced into desperation mode, Morris can actually provide a decent floor in PPR leagues going forward if Beathard continues to check it down a ton. Morris is still the goal line back, so you can even hope for a TD as well. Matt Breida did hyperextend his knee last week, so monitor his status as well. If he doesn’t go, fire Morris up.

Buck Allen (PPR preferred) @ Pittsburgh

This game has one of the highest projected score totals for the week, and there is a good chance Ben and the Steelers get up early in this game. I would expect more passing than usual even in a divisional game. If this was in Baltimore, I might think differently, but the Steelers tend to light it up at home. Buck Allen’s stat totals are really bad, except when it comes to TDs and receptions. He should have a floor of 3-4 receptions in this game, and with him being used around the goal line, he has a good chance of scoring in either the run of pass game to continue his TD streak to 4 games. If you’re not in a PPR league and you’re playing him, you’re praying for a TD as the preferred goal line back.

Willie Snead @ Pittsburgh (PPR preferred)

Snead has a good matchup this week against Mike Hilton in the slot, who’s continuing a trend from last season, giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to slot WRs so far this season. The only reason I like snead as a desperate play this week is because the Ravens will probably need to throw the ball a ton, and Snead should get his targets and end up with 5-6 catches and a chance to score. Sometimes it’s worth targeting high scoring potential shootouts if you’re in between a player or two for your flex.

Christian Kirk vs Seattle

Kirk is a serious desperation play this week, but his matchup isn’t so bad. Sometimes there’s a connection between guys when they practice together, and that was the case between Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk this offseason. The preseason numbers show a rapport between the two, and rookies in general work a ton together during the summer. Yes, Larry Fitzgerald needs to get the damn ball, but we can see another option open up in the passing game with the QB change. When Rosen came in to try and win the game against the Bears, 3 of Rosen’s 6 attempts went to Kirk. If you’re in a deep league, and the top waiver options are already owned, Kirk is a name worth adding this week, especially in full PPR leagues. This week, his matchup is pretty if he can line up against Tre Flowers on that left side more often than not. Flowers has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to WRs and almost half a fantasy point per route run against him. Kirk has run about 30% of his routes on that side, but I expect them to keep him away from Shaq Griffin and Justin Coleman as much as possible. Actually, expect is a bad word for this offense. I don’t expect shit, because they’ve been terrible, which is why he’s a serious desperation play. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kirk came down with 5-6 balls from his boy.

Dede Westbrook vs NY Jets (PPR preferred)

The perimeter is where the Jets have been pretty good on defense, but their liability is defending the slot so far this season. Westbrook hasn’t gotten a ton of volume, but if you’re desperate, he has a good matchup and has a shot to get more targets than usual with Keelan Cole having a tougher matchup on the outside. He had a couple of good games to start the season, and had a tough matchup last week. You can do worse if you’re desperate this week.

Amari Cooper vs Cleveland

Mr. Every Other Week. I mean, if that was his nickname, that would actually be a compliment. It would be better than what he’s been throughout his career. Denzel Ward, the Browns rookie corner, has shown some great flashes but also gave up some plays. Yes, he did see a lot of Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown, but with how much Cooper moves around, I don’t think he sees too much of him anyway.  And even if he does, I’m not necessarily staying away because of it. If this rookie shuts him down, I mean, I don’t know what to say.

Temper Expectations

Corey Clement/Wendell Smallwood @ Tennessee

Friday morning UPDATE: Jay Ajayi looks like he’s good to go for Sunday.

It’s possible that Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles misses again, and if they do, Clement and Smallwood will share the majority of the workload in Philly like they did last week. There was a ton of volume to go around, and Smallwood was the more effective back. If I had to start one in their absence, it would be Smallwood after seeing how he looked last week. Clement is more explosive, but Smallwood will do more with volume in the run and pass game. The Titans haven’t given up a ton of fantasy points, but that’s because they haven’t allowed any TDs on the ground to RBs. They have allowed 4.7 YPC to opposing RBs, so there isn’t too much worry that these two won’t be able to run the ball.

Marshawn Lynch vs Cleveland

Lynch scored in each game so far, but he’s pretty TD dependent right now. The Browns have been good against the run, and if you’re starting Lynch, you’re hoping for that TD. The Raiders have allowed 2 TDs to James Conner and to Isaiah Crowell, so Lynch does have a good shot. Temper your expectations for the scenario in which Lynch doesn’t score, and you’re left with 6-7 points in any format; you’re especially not happy in PPR.

Kareem Hunt @ Denver

Denver has one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, so they’re tough to run on, especially at home. I wouldn’t expect a gaudy rushing total for Hunt, but he’s always in line for a goal line attempt or two on this high-powered offense. I would try to have some high floor guys around him in your lineups in most weeks in case he doesn’t get that TD. Here’s a blurb from an IG post (@upperhandfantasy) about Hunt’s lack of usage in the pass game:

At least he’s on a great offense. In PPR leagues, he’s definitely hurting us more, because part of his inherent value was him catching a few passes at the very least in each game. 3 targets through 3 games isn’t going to get it done, but we should see goal line opportunities more often than not in this offense. In standard leagues, you’ll be fine. In PPR leagues, if I can upgrade this week for someone very involved in the passing game like a Melvin Gordon, for example, I might package Hunt now after a 2 TD game with another piece to get him just so I have a higher floor and not be dependent on TDs. In non-PPR leagues, having Hunt isn’t such a bad spot to be in.

Not only is Mahomes not checking it down, but another reason Hunt isn’t getting those targets is because he’s not playing as much on third down – he has only played on 25% of third down snaps so far.

Quincy Enunwa @ Jax

Aaron Colvin is gone, but Jags’ nickel corner D.J. Hayden has played pretty well so far. Enunwa will probably be the only place Sam Darnold wants to throw the ball against this defense, so Enunwa should still have a safe, although a bit lower, floor in PPR leagues. I’ll be tempering my expectations, though, because the Jags aren’t blind to the fact that Sam loves Quincy.

Sits

Jamaal Williams vs Buffalo

With the three-man backfield last week, neither him, Aaron Jones, or Ty Montgomery could get enough work to make them worthwhile starts. Jones and Williams are sharing early down work, so Williams’ ceiling has been shot and he has a floor of zero. Even in what should be a positive game script against the Bills, Williams is likely to not see enough work to have him in lineups. He’s droppable at this point.

Bilal Powell/Isaiah Crowell @ Jax

Powell had a huge day against the Jaguars last year, but that was before their midseason acquisition of Marcell Darius from the Bills. How are the Jets planning on moving the ball against this defense? It has to start with Quincy Enunwa in the slot, and they will definitely attempt to run the ball, but not sure how far they will get. You can use Powell or Crowell if you have no other options, simply because that’s the only way they can potentially move the ball against the Jags, but I’m looking for other options.

Peyton Barber @ Chicago

The Bucs have had an aggressive, pass-first approach to start the season. They might slow down against Chicago this week, but the Bears have been a top-2 defense against the run so far this season, and they’ve been even better at home over the last couple of years. They’re allowing 2.87 YPC to RBs and the second-least amount of fantasy points per game to RBs so far in three games. Granted, the Bears have seen the Packers, Seahawks, and Cardinals, but Peyton Barber doesn’t figure to come into Chicago and start tearing it up. I would leave him on my bench.

Derrick Henry/Dion Lewis vs Philadelphia

Outside of the first week, neither of these two gave you anything to be excited about. And that was only Dion Lewis the first week. If you have Henry, you must be pretty pissed about his output. Because of it, he’s hard to start. These guys take enough away from each other that they’re hard to use, but in PPR leagues, Dion Lewis is probably the better play on any given week. It’s tough to predict game flow, and that’s the only way we’ll know whether Henry will get volume. Even if he does get volume, he can end give you what he did in each of the last two weeks, and that was 18 carries for 56 and 57 yards, with no scores. That’s not going to get it done. And against this Philly run defense who’s the best in the league once again this year? No thanks.