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Week 3 NFL Matchups Analysis: Start/Sit for Fantasy Football (Part 1)

Zach Wilkens breaks down the first half of the Week 3 matchups for the 2015 NFL football season. Each week of the NFL season, we will be breaking down each of the NFL matchups and providing you with some fantasy football advice and lineup recommendations based on matchups that we love, matchups that we hate, and some high-risk/high-reward players, as well.

Below, you will find part one of our Week 3 NFL matchups & fantasy football start/sit analysis, which should help you prepare your lineups to win this week. It’s essential to analyze the weekly NFL matchups to find lineup sleepers and gems, while also avoiding those players who may turn out to be busts.

Be sure to also check out part two of this week's matchups analysis, diving into the later slate of games.


Falcons @ Cowboys - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons - No one in the Cowboys secondary is talented enough to stop Jones. Expect a huge day.

Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys - Hear me out on this one. The Falcons are pretty darn good against the run, but have shown a clear weakness against the RB screen. Shane Vereen caught 8 passes for 76 yards last week and the Eagles RBs caught a combined 14 passes in week one. Dunbar has 11 catches through two weeks and makes a nice PPR flex play if you don’t have an obvious starter at the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys - The Falcons have held opposing RBs to just 3.7 YPC, which would be much lower if not for a single 35 yard run by Andre Williams last week. DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Rashad Jennings have all been held below 1.5 YPC, so it’s hard to expect too much from Randle here.

Notable Players:

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons - The Cowboys are allowing the second fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs, but I remain optimistic here. Julio will be unstoppable and both the Giants and Eagles seem to have hurt themselves just as much as the Cowboys did. I expect Ryan to play very well here.

Roddy White & Leonard Hankerson, WRs, Falcons - These two will seemingly compete for looks this season. Week 1 saw Roddy thrive, while Week 2 was in favor of Hankerson. Hankerson has had a number of drops and mistakes thus far, but he seems to be the far more athletic player at this point. Roddy received just one target last week. I think both are questionable flex plays and nothing more until we see this situation resolve itself.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys - Williams was able to score with Brandon Weeden at the helm last week, but can it happen again? I think so, but I am nervous about just how much Weeden can do. I consider Williams a solid flex play.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons - Freeman will be asked to step up this week with Tevin Coleman’s injury. I do think Freeman is a solid receiving back and makes for a nice PPR RB2 but I’m certainly skeptical of his ability as a runner. He carries a poor 2.0 YPC into this game, but he is sure to see a lot of touches with only Terron Ward behind him.


Colts @ Titans - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts - Fear not, Luck owners. He will reward your patience this week with a big game. The Titans are just okay defensively and they will be a huge step down from the defenses Luck has faced so far (Bills, Jets). Start him with confidence.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts - Hilton wasn’t 100% last week and had to deal with some Darrelle Revis. The matchup this week is much more favorable and Hilton should be healthier. Expect a big day.

Delanie Walker, TE, Titans - Marcus Mariota has targeted his tight ends on 32% of his pass attempts which is among the highest in the league. Walker had a good fantasy day in Week 1 despite leaving early with an injury. Expect him to pick up where he left off.

Matchups We Hate:

Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans - Sankey had a big first week, giving us just enough to rethink what we know - that Sankey isn’t very good. Against the Browns we saw the old Sankey we’ve grown accustomed to and that is what I continue to expect going forward. I don’t see how he can be trusted.

Notable Players:

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans - Slightly worried that Wright might face some Vontae Davis but the fact that Wright spends a lot of time in the slot is a good thing. I especially like him in PPR leagues and you should expect numbers closer to Week 1.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans - So far so good for Mariota. I still have a hard time having a ton of confidence in a rookie making just his third start, but I do think Mariota is a high-end QB2 this week. He should have an easier time against this secondary compared to the Browns last week.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts - Moncrief continued to impress in Week 2 and I don’t think it’s going to stop. He definitely has talent and I think he’s the second option in the passing game right now. That makes him a good start once again this week.

Andre Johnson, WR, Colts - Johnson has been very quiet so far and with Moncrief looking much better I don’t know for sure that we will see a change. This is the best matchup yet but you’d need to have a lot of faith in the veteran to slot him into the lineup this week.

Frank Gore, RB, Colts - Gore looked much better against the Jets even though he didn’t have huge yardage totals (He did have a couple nice runs called back due to penalties). I do have him as an RB2 this week but I’ll be hoping he shows us more. Now that he’s got two of his toughest matchups out of the way he needs to prove he can still be a reliable fantasy back.


Raiders @ Browns - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders - Murray has recorded 18 touches in both of the Raiders games so you can feel pretty safe that he will be involved regardless of game flow. Even though the Browns were able to contain Bishop Sankey last week, I expect Murray to have a very strong game here.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns - The Raiders have given up the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs and allowed a 4.66 YPC. The Browns have been pretty much an RBBC with Crowell and Duke Johnson but Crowell leads comfortably in touches 29-19. I expect Crowell to continue getting more touches which means he should be a solid RB2 here.

Matchups We Hate:

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders - The Browns have a very good secondary and while Marcus Mariota did have a 2:0 TD:INT last week he was totally shutout until late in the third quarter. I wouldn’t bank on that sort of scoring from Carr.

Notable Players:

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns - Benjamin went huge last week but there is no way I am counting on 50+ yard touchdowns or punt return touchdowns on a weekly basis. In standard sized leagues there is no way I am starting him here. Not to mention that his big game came with Manziel throwing and the Browns have switched back to Josh McCown. He’ll need to start seeing 5+ targets a game and something other than deep routes before I think he is anything more than a hail mary play.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders - Cooper had a great game last week but will have a much tougher test here. I imagine he will see a lot of Joe Haden this week. I think he is a low-end WR2 play this week but I’ll be looking for Cooper to prove himself here.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders - It’s actually Crabtree that has the most targets for the Raiders so far. I think he was forgotten with all the excitement around Cooper, but Crabtree is not a bad player. This is a tough matchup and I’m not expecting too much out of Carr but I think Crabtree is an alright PPR flex play.


Bengals @ Ravens - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals - The Ravens are a good defense but they lack a shutdown corner. In Green’s last three games against the Ravens (he missed the second matchup last year) he has averaged 114 yards with a touchdown in all three of those games. Expect that to continue.

Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens - The Bengals have allowed a 4.6 YPC to opposing running backs while also being the only team to allow multiple rec TDs to running backs so far. That should make this a very favorable matchup for Forsett as we know OC Marc Trestman loves his RB screens. Forsett has 8 receptions on the season and should once again see 4+.

Matchups We Hate:

Tyler Eifert, TE, Ravens - If you own Eifert you are probably still starting him but I think you should lower expectations this week. The Ravens have only given up 30 yards to opposing tight ends so far through two games. Granted, neither opponent has had a lot of talent at TE but I still see reason to think Eifert may struggle. He is definitely startable, just not a great start like he has been.

Notable Players:

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals - After dominating Peyton Manning in Week 1, the Ravens really struggled against Derek Carr in Week 2. That makes it hard to know what to expect here. I don’t think Dalton is startable in standard leagues but I am definitely okay with him as a QB2

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals - Hill got benched last week after two fumbles but I still think he will lead the team in touches this week. He definitely has a short leash now but I do think he is a great player and he should be in your lineup.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals - With or without Hill on the bench, Bernard is proving himself as a capable flex player even in non-PPR leagues. In PPR he is pretty much a must start.

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens - Flacco’s two games so far have been day and night. I think Week 3 should be somewhere in the middle. He just doesn’t have enough talent to throw to. Smith Sr. is a good player but shouldn’t be the top target at 36 years old. I have him at QB20 this week so hopefully you aren’t starting him in standard leagues.

Steve Smith Sr., WR, Ravens - Smith was able to take advantage of a bad matchup with a great game. I still have a hard time trusting him outside of a great matchup given that he managed just 13 yards in Week 1. Despite his age he is clearly the best receiver on the team and his 16 targets last week make that clear. He should see plenty of targets again but I’m not super confident here.


Jaguars @ Patriots - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots - This is obvious. If Brady managed to plow through the Bills last week then there is no worry here.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots - Again, obvious. No one on the Jags defense can matchup with Gronk. Expect at least one touchdown with a decent chance for more.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots - Julian Edelman has 11 receptions in both games so far and is a must start in all formats.

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars - I definitely expect the Jags to be playing from behind in the second half but Yeldon saw 28 touches last week. Yeldon should be heavily featured early on in the Jags offense and with Denard Robinson unlikely to play, I think Yeldon will stay involved when they fall behind. He did receiver 4 targets last week, he could exceed that total here. With that much usage against a defense that isn’t elite, I think Yeldon has a good chance to find the end zone.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars - After a letdown in Week 1, Robinson delivered the game we were all expecting against the Dolphins. Pats CB Malcolm Butler has been burned in back-to-back weeks. Even though Allen Robinson is no Antonio Brown, I do think he can do a lot of damage here and makes a good WR2.

Matchups We Hate:

I don’t hate any matchups here. Neither team has a top defense.

Notable Players:

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars - I don’t hate the matchup but I still lack confidence in Bortles to deliver good games on a weekly basis. He’ll definitely have to throw a lot here. The question is can he do it without making mistakes? Probably not.

Dion Lewis & LeGarrette Blount, RBs, Patriots - Blount barely played last week but I do have a feeling that was the result of facing one of the best defensive lines in the game. This week *could* be a very different story. I still prefer Lewis slightly but I’m not convinced the snaps are so heavy in Lewis’ favor this week. I think Lewis is a solid PPR play but in standard I’m probably avoiding both. After this week I will start to feel better about the usage of the two.


Saints @ Panthers - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers - The Saints have given up 18+ points to both opposing quarterbacks so far and have not recorded a single interception. Cam was able to run effectively last week and I do expect that to continue. That makes Newton a good play despite the continued lack of targets.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers - Through two games Jstew is averaging a respectable 70 yards a game. I was a little disappointed not to see him more involved in the passing game last week and I expect that to change. Jstew is a solid RB2 this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Drew Brees (or Luke McCown), QB, Saints - Even if Drew Brees plays (and it seems 50/50 right now) it is a tough matchup. I really like the Panthers secondary and pass rush. The one positive for Brees is that it looks like Luke Kuechly will miss another game and that is a huge loss.

Saints WRs - This includes Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Brandon Coleman. The Panthers secondary is strong. I like Cooks but I’m not sure this will be the game he breaks out. Emerging CB Josh Norman will likely line up against Cooks while very good nickel corner Bene Benwikere should lineup against Colston. Those are both extremely tough matchups and I just don’t trust Brandon Coleman who has been inefficient through two games.

Notable Players:

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints - Ingram has played well through two games but has a pretty poor 3.1 YPC. Especially if Brees is out, the Panthers will be able to put their focus on Ingram and stop him. I don’t hate him here because I think he is the most likely player to score on the Saints but the yardage may not be there.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Saints - Spiller played just 7 snaps last week. On the positive side he caught his lone target for 19 yards. I think he is an explosive talent but he needs to actually be on the field regularly to make an impact. I do think they try to get him more involved here. A ton of upside but a ton of risk as well.

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers - Olsen was very involved last week and that is what to expect regularly going forward. He saw 10 targets and caught 6 for 70 yards. He’s not a major touchdown threat like some of the other top tight ends (he’s had 5 or 6 in each of his four seasons with the Panthers) but he is very safe bet for good reception and yardage totals.


Eagles @ Jets - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets - Marshall truly looks like a man on a mission this season, looking to prove his many doubters. He has used his size and physicality to score touchdowns in each of his games so far. Byron Maxwell is a bigger corner which makes him more of a threat to Marshall, but Maxwell has struggled a lot so far. According to Pro Football Focus he has given up the most yards of any corner through two games. Expect big things from Marshall.

Matchups We Hate:

Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles - I just can’t imagine this being the game that Bradford and the Eagles turn things around. The Jets are a strong defense all around and Bradford has looked mostly lost out there.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Eagles - The Jets have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to running backs through two games and DeMarco Murray has done almost nothing with 11 yards on 21 attempts. Murray is also dealing with a hamstring injury. He will play but he is a low-end RB2 here.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles - Matthews has relied on garbage time to give two strong performances so far. Unfortunately the Jets are the toughest matchup yet and may prevent even some garbage time points for Matthews. Matthews plays most of his snaps in the slot so he will probably avoid Revis, but it’s still a very tough matchup.

Notable Players:

Chris Ivory & Eric Decker, RB/WR, Jets - These two are big injury question marks. Decker probably doesn’t play and I’d avoid him if he does. Ivory has been a big part of the Jets offense so far and looks to be a game time decision. If he plays you start him but lower expectations.


Buccaneers @ Texans - Sunday 9/27 @ 1:00 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans - Hopkins has been dealing with a concussion but it looks like he will play. That’s good because he should be able to have a very nice game against this defense. Expect big numbers.

Matchups We Hate:

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers - Surprise, surprise, J.J. Watt and the Texans are pretty stingy against the run. Martin hasn’t done a whole lot yet this season and I don’t see that changing here.

Notable Players:
Mike Evans & Vincent Jackson, WRs, Buccaneers - Evans was totally shut out last week while playing on a ‘pitch count’. Apparently he has no limits this week and I’m expecting him to deliver. It’s not an easy matchup but I remain convinced Evans is the far better of the two receivers here. Vincent Jackson has caught just 50% of his targets so far and that’s pretty much in line with what he has been doing the past few seasons. Evans is more efficient and once he sees a lot of targets I think he’ll produce.


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