News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 3

By Daniel Kelley
Sep 22, 2019

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(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

This is true in all walks of life, not just fantasy football, but it’s worth noting nonetheless: There is no shame in asking for help. My job description literally includes offering fantasy advice (and I do! Hit me up on Twitter @danieltkelley!), but when it comes to my own roster, I can freeze.

My buddy Nate has lost A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, DeSean Jackson, and Cam Newton to various circumstances and was desperate. I wanted to capitalize on his desperation and get Christian McCaffrey, because I’m a vulture like that. Problem is, Nate was desperate, but not dumb. He knew he had an excellent trade chip. We went back and forth. He made decent offers, but I couldn’t pull the trigger.

If someone else had come to me with the same trade for their roster, I would have known the answer. But I got all deer-in-the-headlights-y about it. DM’d with our own Scott Barrett (he’s helpful too, at @ScottBarrettDFB). Negotiated further.

Eventually, Saturday afternoon, at a kid’s birthday party, I pulled the trigger. In a superflex league, I sent away Odell Beckham Jr., Josh Jacobs, D.J. Moore, and Jameis Winston, and receiver McCaffrey, Julian Edelman, Diontae Johnson, and Cam Newton.

Was it right? I don’t know. Was it wrong? Don’t know that either. That’s not the point of this story. The point is that it’s my job to know fantasy football answers as well as just about anyone, but I still needed to get consult. Help is not a bad thing. Help is crucial.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players worth dropping. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

18. Keenan Allen, LAC vs HOU (WR6) — Allen is currently leading the league in target share.
19. Mike Evans, TB vs NYG (WR7) — No, he hasn’t gotten off to the best start, but Evans is very much in play as a WR1 in this matchup.
20. Chris Godwin, TB vs NYG (WR8) — Godwin exploded last week and that continues in an extremely favorable matchup this week.
21. Michael Thomas, NO @ SEA (WR9) — Losing Drew Brees hurts Thomas’ value, but he should still see enough volume to be a WR1.

Two starts, two sits

START Marvin Jones in medium-sized leagues: Jones has disappointed while being overshadowed by Kenny Golladay through two weeks, but this week’s matchup couldn’t be any better. Philadelphia has given up the most fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers this season, just as they did in both 2018 and 2017.
START O.J. Howard in deep leagues: Through two weeks, Howard has run a route on just 59% of Jameis Winston‘s dropbacks, and while being targeted on just 8% of Winston’s throws. It’s officially time to worry, but I’d wait until after Week 3 before I started to panic.
SIT John Ross in shallow leagues: Ross really might be Zac Taylor’s iteration of Brandin Cooks, but I’m probably still leaving him on the bench this week. Nearly all (80%) of Ross’ production has come on deep and intermediate throws, and, over the past two seasons, Buffalo ranks best in fantasy points per game and fantasy points per target to wide receivers on deep and intermediate throws.
SIT James White in medium-sized leagues: As 18.0-point home favorites against a third-string quarterback, don’t expect New England to lean too heavy on their scatback.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Richie James Jr.: James only has six targets through two games, but five of them have come on his team-leading 25 slot routes. The Steelers have allowed a worst-in-the-league 31 receptions, 435 yards, and (tied for the worst) 4 touchdowns to the slot, with opponents producing a 154.1 passing rating on slot targets.
BUST: Saquon Barkley: Obviously, Barkley is still an RB1. But until the Buccaneers’ new-look defense allows a running back to put up big numbers (they’ve held Christian McCaffrey and the 49ers backfield to minimal production so far), you have to at least have your ears up.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: Greg Olsen: Granted, the Cardinals have faced a breakout T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews through two weeks, but it’s still notable that the team has allowed 273 yards to the tight end position (next-most: Miami, at 208) and 62.3 PPR points (next-most: Miami, 42.8).
WORST: Geronimo Allison: Allison pretty clearly has the slot role in Green Bay, running more than three-quarters (77.5%) of his routes from there so far. Through two weeks, Ben Braunecker’s 18 yards is the most anybody has gotten out of the slot against the Broncos.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Devin Singletary in shallow leagues: Frank Gore is still the lead back in Buffalo, but Singletary continues to flash upside. It’s only a matter of time before he takes over.
ADD James Washington in medium-sized leagues: He has a connection with Mason Rudolph and moved into the No. 2 spot in terms of routes run for the Steelers last week.
ADD Daniel Jones in deep leagues: With Eli Manning benched, Jones is now in the mix as a 2QB option. Jones played well in the preseason, but it’s tough to see him producing better than backend QB2 numbers.

Players to drop

Devonta Freeman: Obviously, Freeman’s theoretical upside means he isn’t a must­-drop, but he’s also on a six-game stretch in the regular season (dating back to Week 15 2017) without even 40 rushing yards. In a shallow league, I have no issue dumping Freeman.
Mitchell Trubisky: He’s averaging 4.8 yards per attempt through two weeks. Only Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Jeff Driskel, and Josh Rosen averaged under 6.0 last year. Combine Trubisky’s ridiculously inefficient passing with only 19 rushing yards, and he has no business in fantasy lineups.

DST streamers

San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco has just about everything you’re looking for from a streaming defense. They’re playing an inexperienced backup quarterback (Mason Rudolph) making his first career start (second career game). They’re heavy home favorites (favored by 7.0 points, fifth-most), while Pittsburgh has the sixth-lowest implied point total of the week (18.75).

QB streamers

Matthew Stafford: Stafford, who has thrown for 630 yards (fifth-most) and 5 passing touchdowns (tied for fourth), is facing an Eagles defense that has allowed 680 passing yards (second-most) and 6 passing touchdowns (tied for the second-most).

Expected Fantasy Points

Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald currently ranks third among all players in XFP per game (21.2). Through two weeks he ranks seventh in targets per game (10.5), ninth in air yards per game (131.0), and fourth in expected touchdowns per game (1.0).

Trade value chart

Keenan Allen: Allen now sits atop the values for wide receivers. The injury to Hunter Henry combined with Mike Williams being banged up has Allen getting a massive workload with no signs of that going away. He’s leading the league in target share (35.7%) and a strong candidate to receive the most targets in the league this year.

Player prop bets (from BetMGM)

Marquise Brown UNDER 80.5 receiving yards: There’s no denying the appeal of Brown after the rookie saw 12 targets and led the Ravens in routes run last week. That said, this is a big line. Our numbers like Brown this week, but not this much. We have him projected at 61.6 receiving yards.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

DFS facts to know

Saints vs. Seahawks: The Saints have been smashed by the run this season, allowing 222 rushing yards after contact (second-most) at a rate of 4.2 yards per attempt (second). Nobody loves to run the football quite like the Seahawks and the duo of Chris Carson/Rashaad Penny will look to take advantage.

Bargains

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Johnson had a tough go of it last week against the leading rush defense in football. The injury to his wrist, the same wrist that ended his season two years ago, is also cause for concern. Johnson had a big game opening week and faces a much more ideal matchup this weekend than last.
Randall Cobb, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Cobb has averaged 12.7 FPPG since finding a new home in Dallas. Given the recent injury to Michael Gallup, there will be more targets to go around starting this weekend. Miami hasn’t been able to stop anyone to this point which provides a golden opportunity for Cobb at an incredible price.

Locks

Kyle Allen, QB, Carolina Panthers: Do you know how rare it is to get a min-priced starting quarterback in DFS? Usually there’s at least enough warning that a guy who gets a starting job at least sees his price bumped up to $4,500 on DraftKings instead of the min $4K.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor is likely to be the Eagles target leader in wide receiver, but Arcega-Whiteside won’t be far behind him (if he’s behind him at all). And the DFS play of the two is the rookie second-rounder, if for no other reason than Agholor projects to have massive ownership (pushing 16%), while Arcega-Whiteside projects for a much more modest ownership at under 3%.

Fades

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Through two games, Rodgers has 412 passing and 8 rushing yards. He’s averaging a career-low 6.4 yards per attempt and his 96.6 passer rating is his lowest since 2015. In the long run, Rodgers is still going to be fine, but his ceiling has dropped, and this week he draws a tough Denver defense.
Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints: Cook has only caught 4 of his 10 targets through two weeks. The only players with a lower passer rating when targeted than Cook’s 21.7 are two Dolphins (DeVante Parker at 11.5 and Jakeem Grant at 8.3) and Donte Moncrief (1.7).

Stacks

Matthew Stafford, QB; Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, WRs, Detroit Lions: The Eagles secondary was a great matchup for receivers in 2018, and that has continued into 2019. Through two weeks, they have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. The run defense continues to be very stout, having allowed just 82 rushing yards to RBs.

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