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NFL Week 3 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

•Sit Aaron Rodgers: The future Hall-of-Famer hasn’t played up to par this season and is facing his most formidable defense yet.

•Start James Robinson: The Jaguars’ star running back has seen enough playing time and is playing a weak-enough run defense that he could see good volume despite the potential game script.

Sit Hunter Henry: The Patriots are facing a Ravens defense that has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL, but almost all have gone to wide receivers and running backs instead of tight ends.


Deciding who to start or sit can be as easy as looking at the PFF rankings and starting the player ranked higher. This start’em, sit’em column digs a step deeper, looking into why someone you might typically start might not have a good week, or why someone overlooked might have a good week. In many cases, it’s the usual starters who should star, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

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QUARTERBACKS

START

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
  • His 66.0 PFF passing grade ranks 12th-highest among quarterbacks so far this season.
  • The Vikings have the third-best matchup, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • The Lions’ 59.6 team coverage grade is a step in the right direction compared to previous years but still ranks below average.
  • The Lions-Vikings game is expected to be the second-highest scoring contest of the week, which should mean multiple passing touchdowns for Cousins.
  • Cousins has a 90.5 PFF passing grade against man defenses compared to 85.2 against zone since the start of 2019.
  • The Lions have run the fifth-highest rate of man defense over the first two weeks of the season.
Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Carr is currently QB13 on the season in fantasy points.
  • He ranks top 10 in both passing yards (558) and passing touchdowns (4).
  • He’s facing the Titans, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far.
  • Tennessee’s 56.1 team coverage grade is the eighth-lowest among teams this season.

SIT

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  • Rodgers is currently QB23 on the season.
  • His average depth of target of 5.7 yards is the lowest among quarterbacks, as is his 65% rate of throwing passes short of the first-down marker.
  • Rodgers’ 74.0 overall grade is his lowest in a season since 2007.
  • He’s facing a Buccaneers defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
  • Rodgers has a 91.0 PFF pass grade against man defenses over the past two seasons, compared to 78.9 against zone.
  • The Buccaneers have stayed in zone defense on 86% of their coverage plays so far in 2022.
Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
  • Wentz has been a top-five fantasy quarterback so far this season, in part thanks to two favorable matchups.
  • The Commanders have the seventh-worst matchup, according to PFF’s strength of schedule tool.
  • Wentz has earned a 72.3 PFF passing grade this season when he’s not under pressure, and a 45.1 mark when he is. This includes his yards per attempt dropping from 8.6 to 3.9.
  • The Commanders have faced the Lions and Jaguars so far, two teams that were in the bottom quarter in pass-rush grade last season and that rank average to below average so far this season.
  • This week, Washington faces the Eagles, a top-five pass-rush team last season and an above-average unit so far this season.
  • He can be a fantasy starter this season in some matchups, but this isn’t one of them.

RUNNING BACKS

START

A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
  • Dillon is RB15 so far on the season in PPR points.
  • His 90.4 PFF rushing grade since the start of 2021 is the highest for a running back with over 150 carries.
  • The Buccaneers’ defense has been elite in coverage and good at pass rushing in recent seasons, but only average against the run.
  • Their statistics against the run have looked great in 2022, but they’ve played the Cowboys with a decimated offensive line and the Saints without Alvin Kamara.
  • The Buccaneers are only slight favorites, largely due to injuries on offense. This should allow the Packers to stick with the run game for most of the contest.
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Robinson is RB6 so far this season.
  • His 116 yards after contact also rank sixth-most among running backs.
  • Jacksonville has used him in nearly all short-yardage situations, on most early-down snaps and even on some third-down snaps despite the presence of Travis Etienne.
  • The Chargers‘ defensive tackles have the highest rate of plays with a negative grade against the run (54.8%).
  • The entire defense has made only 17 run stops this season, which is the fewest in the NFL. Their 5.45-yard average depth of tackle against the run ranks fifth-worst.

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