By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
Week 3 is here, and we’re back to give our takes on who to start and who to sit as the NFL season starts to ramp up. To clarify, when we say we “love” a player, we mean that we expect him to outperform his projections for that week, and the opposite for players we “hate.” We are using PPR scoring when we refer to players’ fantasy points and rankings. With that in mind, let’s get to it. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Dak Prescott (DAL) @ Seattle
Prescott may have played the best half of football of his young NFL career in the second frame of Week 2’s dramatic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, a game in which he finished with just shy of 40 fantasy points. The Dallas defense has struggled mightily thus far, forcing the offense to play from behind for most of the game. CeeDee Lamb, who also makes my love list this week, has been a welcome addition to the Cowboys’ air attack and has given the offense a spark early on in the 2020 season. Expect a similar outing from Dak this Sunday against the depleted Seahawks defense in a game where points will be easy to find.
Chris: Cam Newton (NE) vs. Las Vegas
Early into the season, Newton has been one of the most electrifying players in the league. He is carrying the Patriots offense; in addition to leading the team in all passing statistics, he paces New England in rushing yards, attempts, and touchdowns. Even in difficult matchups, Newton’s opportunities, both through the air and on the ground, should keep his floor high, but luckily for him – and for fantasy football managers – Las Vegas doesn’t pose much of a threat defensively. Allowing 27 points per game and 406 total yards per game in this young season, Las Vegas will have problems trying to contain Newton and this remodeled Patriots offense.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: DeShaun Watson (HOU) @ Pittsburgh
Watson is back on my hate list for the second straight week, and with good reason. The Ravens defense held him to just 14 points in Week 2, with much of that total coming in garbage time. Watson remains one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but it’s a dumpster fire around him. An underwhelming WR core and a sieve of an offensive line too often leave the former Clemson Tiger out to dry, and he often faces unfavorable game scripts as a result. He’ll have his work cut out for him once again against a Steelers’ defense that has already totaled three interceptions and 10 sacks in their first two games of 2020.
Chris: Jared Goff (LAR) @ Buffalo
The Rams have been dealt a tough hand from the schedule makers. After their week one win at home, they flew out to Philadelphia, beat the Eagles, flew home to Los Angeles, and now have to fly back to the east coast to play Buffalo. Sure, Goff was sensational last week after switching time zones, but the Bills defense he will face this Sunday is much more confining than Philadelphia’s. He could very well end up having a good game as a result of another masterful Sean McVay game plan, but the cross-country travel and the matchup scare me away. I’m looking for other options at quarterback this week.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Joshua Kelley (LAC) vs. Carolina
If you drafted Austin Ekeler this year, you’re probably wondering how all of the fantasy experts failed to tell you how Joshua Kelley would be out-carrying him by a vast margin two weeks into the season. Out of nowhere, Joshua Kelley has emerged as the workhorse back for the Los Angeles Chargers, as the rookie totaled 23 carries in the team’s Week 2 loss to Kansas City. This is a telling stat, suggesting that in a close game, even one in which Kelley was not particularly efficient, Kelley has Anthony Lynn’s full confidence. Even if his role in the passing game isn’t as substantial as one might hope, he is a strong start until we see a reduction in his workload. A matchup against the league’s worst run defense has Kelley poised for a big week.
Chris: Kenyan Drake (ARI) vs. Detroit
Through the first two weeks of this season, Drake faced two of the best defensive fronts in the NFL in San Francisco and Washington, and yet he still handled an average of 18 carries per game in those contests. Now, in week three, Drake should receive a similar workload, but this time against a much more forgiving defense. Detroit has allowed a whopping 408 rushing yards through two games this season. Yes, it is a small sample size, but Detroit allowed the 12th-most rushing yards per game last season, so it is not unfathomable that they finish in the bottom half of the league again in 2020. Drake should take advantage of his first advantageous matchup of the year.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) @ Baltimore
After undertaking a massive workload in his first game on opening night, CEH – along with the rest of the Chiefs offense – took a step back in Week 2. The former LSU Tiger had just 10 carries against the Chargers as compared to the 25 he saw against the Texans in Week 1, and we saw some more of Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson in that Chargers game as well. I am in no way pushing the panic button on Clyde, but I would lower your expectations for him a bit, as it is clear Andy Reid does not want to run him into the ground this early in the season. He’ll face the toughest defense he’s seen thus far in his young career on Monday night in Baltimore, as the Ravens have held opposing tailbacks to a league-low 9.1 fantasy points per game. He’s a clear start, but don’t expect Edwards-Helaire to win you your matchup this week.
Chris: Joe Mixon (CIN) @ Philadelphia
Mixon finds himself in a running back’s nightmare scenario this week: he will face a stout defense front, while running behind a porous offensive line. As I wrote in last week’s article, Philadelphia has become a hallmark for game-wrecking defensive lines over the past several seasons, and has sabotaged the majority rushing attacks that have gone against them. Meanwhile, Mixon has managed a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry this year. The 24-year-old went early in most drafts, so you likely have no other choice but to start him, however, his ceiling remains low this week.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: CeeDee Lamb (DAL) @ Seattle
Lamb has quickly solidified his role as the #2 WR in the Dallas offense, outperforming Michael Gallup by a wide margin in their first two games of the 2020 season. The rookie has benefitted from the Cowboys’ reliance on the passing game as a result of the team trailing for essentially the entirety of their first two games, and it’s clear he and Dak Prescott have developed a strong connection early on. The Seahawks have been savaged by opposing WRs thus far, giving more than 45 fantasy points per game to opposing pass catchers, a league-worst. Start CeeDee with confidence this week.
Chris: Corey Davis (TEN) @ Minnesota
Davis is perhaps finally having the impact the Titans imagined when they selected him fifth overall in the 2017 draft. Through two weeks of this season, Davis finds himself tied for the team lead in targets and already with about one fourth of the touches he had last year. A.J. Brown has already been ruled out for Sunday’s contest, so Davis will continue to play an integral role in an above-average Tennessee offense. The cherry on top is the matchup; the Vikings’ defense has looked awful in 2020, and the secondary has allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game thus far. You can count on another solid week from Davis.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Robert Woods (LAR) @ Buffalo
Bobby Trees was more of a threat on the ground than he was in the air in the Rams’ Week 2 victory in Philadelphia, as he totaled just 2 receptions for 14 yards. Most of his fantasy output last week came from a six-yard touchdown scamper, and while it is encouraging to see the Rams’ dedication to getting him the ball, his complete pivot from an impressive Week 1 performance to being left out in the passing game is a little concerning. It’s unlikely we see Woods rebound against the Bills; he will likely receive extra attention from Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White in the secondary. Buffalo’s secondary is among the best in football, so temper your expectations from Woods in Week 3.
Chris: Stefon Diggs (BUF) vs. Los Angeles Rams
Diggs has been one of the best receivers in the NFL this season, and his connection with quarterback Josh Allen has been nothing short of fantastic. So, why does he make the hate list? One reason: Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, is expected to shadow Diggs this weekend. Through two games this year, Ramsey has allowed 84 yards and zero touchdowns to receivers lined up opposite of him. While the matchup is highly anticipated among football fans, Diggs will likely have limited fantasy production this week as a result of it.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Hunter Henry (LAC) vs. Carolina
In his first game with rookie QB Justin Herbert, Hunter Henry posted a solid outing of six receptions for 83 yards. This is an encouraging sign to see that he and Herbert have some chemistry out of the gate, and only Keenan Allen saw more targets in Week 2. Hopefully, Henry and Herbert can build on this rapport, and this weekend’s matchup against the Panthers provides a solid opportunity to do so. While Carolina’s defense has been tough on tight ends so far, Keenan Allen will likely draw most of the extra attention from the Panthers’ secondary, which could see Hunter Henry post a similar result to last week’s strong performance.
Chris: Jonnu Smith (TEN) @ Minnesota
Yes, I am doubling down on Tennessee pass catchers this week. Smith has been more than impressive this season, hauling in three scores and being tied for the team lead in targets, along with Corey Davis and Adam Humphries, through two games. Additionally, the 25-year-old has caught all three of his red zone targets for touchdowns this year. In both this season and the last, Minnesota has been league-average in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, but their defense has been unable to stifle any offensive attack this year. Smith stands to benefit from what should be an impressive showing from Tennessee’s offense this Sunday.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Evan Engram (NYG) vs. San Francisco
It’s been a struggle for Engram out of the gate, as the 4th-year tight end has amassed just 8 receptions for 72 yards in New York’s first two games. The loss of Saquon Barkley will undoubtedly make the Giants more reliant on Daniel Jones and the passing game, but they’ll have their work cut out for them in Week 3 against the 49ers. Even with all the injuries, the 49ers’ defense has been as potent as ever, giving up the 2nd-fewest passing yards in the NFL through the first two weeks. Even more concerning for Engram is the fact that the Niners have allowed opposing tight ends a total of 1.5 fantasy points in their first two games…. 1.5 points. Sit Engram this week.
Chris: T.J. Hockenson (DET) @ Arizona
Hockenson returns to the hate list this week as he draws another tough matchup. Arizona, after allowing the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season, has defended the position very well so far in 2020. Further, I once again have questions about how much attention Hockenson will garner from quarterback Mathew Stafford this week. Hockenson already ranks fifth on the team in targets, and star wide receiver Kenny Golladay is expected to make his season debut on Sunday. Believe me, I have no personal agenda against Hockenson, I’m simply not bullish on his fantasy football outlook this week.
Defenses we love this week
Cole: Tennessee Titans (@ Minnesota)
Chris: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Denver)
Defenses we hate this week
Cole: Chicago Bears (@ Atlanta)
Chris: Baltimore Ravens (vs. Kansas City)
Spreads we love this week
Cole: Packers +3, Chiefs +3.5, Panthers +6.5
Chris: Eagles -4.5, Titans -3, Cardinals -6
Edited by Tyler Kading