By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
As we turn the page to Week 3, here is our list of players to be confident in and be skeptical of. 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’ rankings. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Josh Allen (BUF) vs. Cincinnati
While the Bills are enjoying an undefeated start to the 2019 season, the Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a thrashing from Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense, who handed them their second loss in as many weeks. Josh Allen, as he proved last week, is deadly with his legs, which alone warrants fantasy value. However, Allen has begun to put up solid passing numbers, averaging 254 yards a game thus far in the young season, and with a vulnerable Bengals D coming to town, it’s shaping up for an offensive outpouring for the young Buffalo QB.
Chris: Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. New Orleans
Personally, I love Wilson every week as an NFL quarterback, but weeks like these are when I love him as a fantasy quarterback. The Seahawks play at home against a shell-shocked Saints team in week three, and so far the secondary has remained on par with last years unit. New Orleans allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs in 2018, and are allowing the fifth-most to them after two weeks this year (against Watson and Goff). The receiving core for Seattle has been better than expected as D.K. Metcalf has looked like a reliable wide receiver and the Wilson-Lockett connection remians strong, not to mention Will Dissly catching two touchdown passes last week. Expect Wilson to continue to produce this Sunday in the Emerald City.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Baker Mayfield (CLE) vs. LA Rams
As a St. Louis native, I cannot root against Baker this week against the team that shall not be named, but even I see where he may struggle in Week 3. Mayfield is averaging 11 fantasy points a game this year, these games against Tennessee and the NY Jets. It’s tough to see him rebounding against a formidable Rams’ defense that completely shut down the New Orleans Saints last week, albeit without Drew Brees. Hang on to Baker, just don’t start him this week.
Chris: Cam Newton (CAR) @ Arizona
Assuming he plays, I do not have a lot of faith here in Newton, even against a poor Arizona Cardinals defense. Newton`s accuracy has been a major issue this season, and one has to think it is related to the shoulder surgery he received back in January. In addition to the surgery, Newton dealt with a left foot injury throughout the off-season that has spilled over into the regular season, making his rushing ability a non-factor in 2019. It became clear that Newton was no longer the most trusted part of the offense when the Panthers ran a direct snap to McCaffrey with the game on the line last week. Even with good weapons in Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore around him, Newton has been unable to show that he is a viable fantasy option so far this season.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: Marlon Mack (IND) vs. Atlants
After a monster Week 1 performance, Mack came back to earth last week against a tough Titans front seven. Mack leads the NFL in carries and is sure to see a nice workload against a porous Falcons run defense that has handed out 100+ rushing yards in both of its games thus far. With an inconsistent Jacoby Brisset at QB, the Colts are surely to continue to lean on Mack as their every-down back, and if he can start to tap into the Colts’ passing game, he will instantly become a weekly top-10 back. His volume and favorable matchup make him a great Week 3 play.
Chris: Aaron Jones (GB) vs. Denver
Jones enjoyed a nice day at the office last week against a tough Minnesota defense, gaining 116 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, with and additional 34 yards through the air on four receptions. Another home effort this week against a mediocre Denver rush defense should spell another big day for the third year back. While Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has suggested more work for Jamaal Williams, Jones should still handle the lion`s share of the carries in week three. If Jones can continue to be a factor in the passing game like he was last week, his PPR floor should remain high.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Joe Mixon (CIN) @ Buffalo
It has been a disappointing beginning to a promising 2019 for Mixon, and it doesn’t get any easier going against the stout Bills’ defense that finished 2nd in yards allowed in 2018. Mixon has a total of 17 carries for 27 yards so far… that’s bad. Really bad. It’s hard to blame him for his lack of production, as his lingering ankle injury and sieve-like offensive line have forced him to disappoint us fantasy owners. It’s a far from ideal Week 3 scenario for the 3rd year back.
Chris: Kerryon Johnson (DET) @ Philadelphia
Johnson and the rest of the Lions backfield face a tough test in week three against last season`s stingiest fantasy defense to opposing running backs. The Philadelphia defensive line remains a force in 2019, allowing just 85 rushing yards in two games thus far. A probable high scoring affair likely means viewers will see Matthew Stafford and the receiving core get most of the action on Sunday against a suspect Eagles secondary. Johnson`s lack of presence in the passing game also limits his production in PPR formats.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: Marquise Brown (BAL) @ Kansas City
This Ravens-Chiefs matchup may provide us with the best game of the young season so far, and it will be all about the two young QBs and their high-powered offenses. Hollywood Brown exploded in his first career NFL game against Miami and was impressive last week at home against Arizona, so it’s clear he and Lamar Jackson have quickly developed some serious chemistry. The Achilles heel of the Chiefs has been their defense, especially their secondary, and that sets up Brown for a huge opportunity in KC this Sunday. This is going to be a shoot-out, and Brown is going to be a big part of it.
Chris: Amari Cooper (DAL) vs. Miami
The Dolphins visit AT&T Stadium in week three facing a 20.5 point spread against them. Yes, they have really been that bad. With an already weak defense, Miami shipped out Minkah Fitzpatrick, their 2018 first round pick, to Pittsburgh, paving the way for Amari Cooper to have a huge day. Since coming to the Cowboys via trade last season, Cooper has been a much different player than he was in his last years with the Raiders. Cooper and Prescott have maintained a strong on-field relationship, connecting for scores in each of the Cowboys` first two games of the young season. The Dolphins have allowed 633 passing yards in two games this year, ranking 28th in the league, and 51.0 points per game. Look for the red hot Cowboys offense to shred through Miami.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Tyler Boyd (CIN) @ Buffalo
Boyd has made the most of AJ Green’s absence in his first two games as Cincy’s #1 WR, pulling in 18 balls for 182 yards. Don’t expect similar production this week, however, as the winless Bengals head north to Buffalo for a date with the best secondary in football. The Bills ranked first in passing defense in 2018 and are coming off lockdown performances against both New York teams. Don’t expect anything different in Buffalo in Week 3.
Chris: Robby Anderson (NYJ) @ New England
New England`s deep secondary and improved front seven presents a tough challenge for any opposing offense this year, let alone one that is down to their third-string quarterback. Robby Anderson will likely drawn the attention of lockdown corner Stephon Gilmore, thwarting any hopes fantasy owners had of him having a big day in Foxborough this Sunday. In two games against New England last season, Anderson combined for just 46 yards and no touchdowns on 5 receptions. Do not expect much improvement here in 2019 against the familiar divisional foe.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: O.J. Howard (TB) vs. NY Giants
If you’re an OJ Howard owner, you’re probably surprised to see his name on the love list after his goose-egg in primetime last Thursday night. His talent as a TE makes him worthy of another shot against one of the worst defenses in the league that has already given up two touchdowns to tight ends this year. I think this could be a big day for the Bucs offense, and if Jameis Winston can build off of his solid performance against Carolina, O.J. can get back to the involvement we’re used to.
Chris: Vance McDonald (PIT) @ San Francisco
I simply do not know what to do with this guy. I put him on the love list in week one, and he underperforms. After that, I put him on the hate list for week two, and he catches two touchdowns. While that may not put a lot of confidence in you regarding my thoughts on Vance McDonald, I believe I have cracked the case this week. I actually think Mason Rudolph can help the tight end`s fantasy value, especially in PPR formats. Being in just his second year in the league, the quarterback out of Oklahoma State will likely be operating a simplified gameplan, meaning lots of checkdowns to the trusty veteran tight end. The tight end position was not the perfect match for a Big Ben offense that valued the deep ball, but Rudolph, who threw two touchdowns to McDonald in his 2019 debut, could provide new hope for Vance McDonald fantasy owners.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Jared Cook (NO)
Like all Saints pass-catchers, Cook will take a big hit from Drew Brees’ injury that crippled New Orleans’ offense a week ago. We’re not quite sure what to expect exactly from Sean Payton in his attempt to replace Brees, but we know it will likely involve a combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. It’s tough to trust a borderline TE starter amidst this kind of QB uncertainty, even against a Seahawks defense that has been lenient to tight ends in the first two weeks of the season.
Chris: Delanie Walker (TEN) @ Jacksonville
On the road against a tough defense on a short week; not the best combination for the 35-year-old tight end. Tennessee`s consistently limited air attack has to face one of the most respected secondaries (who will likely still be aided by Pro-Bowler Jalen Ramsey) in the league this week, limiting expectations for any part of that receiving core. Offenses tend to struggle on shortened weeks, and the Titans and Delanie Walker will likely be no exception.
Defenses to stream
Cole: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami
Chris: New England Patriots vs. NY Jets
Defenses to avoid
Cole: Denver Broncos @ Green Bay
Chris: Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org