Start or Sit: Week 3

Can Frank Gore be trusted this week against the Colts?

As Eddie Lacy left the field in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, my single thought – aside from the obvious “I hope he’s OK” – was, “James Starks is going to do this, isn’t he?”

Throughout the pregame hours, NFL fans were continuously reminded that there hadn’t been a Green Bay 100-yard rusher since 2010. It was as if the entire world knew that the Pack were about to run a mile on the disappointing Redskins defense, and our televisions were taunting us, forcing us to slot Eddie Lacy into our regular and daily fantasy lineups.

So we did. Thousands of us did. Eddie Lacy was in our 25-dollar daily league tournaments, our player survival polls and our “big” fantasy league lineups. Eddie Lacy, according to the world, was going to be the first Packers running back to rush for 100 yards since 2010.

And then, on Lacy’s first attempt, Brandon Meriweather got all Brandon Merriweather and knocked the Packers rookie back out of the game. Instead of Eddie Lacy against the defense that looked like it was assembled in the back yard of someone’s house, it was going to be James Starks. And James Starks it was.

I can almost guarantee that 50 percent – maybe even 60 – of Eddie Lacy owners whined to other league owners after the game. Instead of accumulating the 22.8 standard points that Starks had, Lacy owners were left with a measly one. And probably a loss. And probably (hopefully) one of the worst Mondays they’ll have this NFL season.

Look, guys – these things happen. Hopefully you were fortunate to be an Eddie Lacy owner who happened to have both DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick, but if not, that’s fine. It’s time to move on past Week 2 and into Week 3. Let’s continue to use logic with our choices, and realize that these ridiculous, Meriweather-like happenings won’t occur to our teams each and every week.

Let’s get at it.

Start 'Em

Taco Day: Freaking Awesome (Solid Plays)

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

The Rams passer has had a nice start to the season, and he now finds himself as the fifth-best fantasy quarterback. Thanks to the Rams going down early against the Falcons last week, Bradford was able to secure 55 pass attempts and throw for 352 yards and three scores.

Now, don’t expect that type of volume again this week, but do expect Bradford to put up solid fantasy numbers against a Dallas team that’s surrendered six touchdown passes over the first two weeks of the season.

Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

It’s never fun starting a player who’s getting the nod on a Thursday night, but it’s hard to deny Alex Smith’s juicy matchup tonight against the Eagles. We saw Philip Rivers torch Philly’s secondary with over 400 yards passing, and although Smith isn’t a vertical passer, he’s going to need to play catch-up against that Chip Kelly offense. We have Smith as our 14th-best quarterback option this week.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Like Smith, Dalton’s going to struggle keeping up with the Packers ridiculously efficient offense this week in Cincinnati. But that’s a good thing in fantasy, as Dalton will have to throw the ball in order for the Bengals to have a fighting chance against Aaron Rodgers and the Pack. Dalton’s been alright against two good defenses so far this year, but expect him to post at least high-end QB2 numbers this week.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers

Lost in the Philip Rivers-to-Eddie Royal news is the fact that Ryan Mathews isn’t on the IR yet. So far this season, Mathews has toted the rock 29 times for just over 100 yards for a moderate 3.7 yards per carry average. In terms of rushing NEP, a metric that looks at each game situation for players and teams on the field in order to determine how many real points a player contributes for his team, Mathews has been one of the least-efficient runners in the league.

But there’s hope for Mathews’ apologists. He’ll face a revitalized Titans defense this week, sure, but the Titans just surrendered 172 yards on the ground to the Texans last week. Ryan Mathews certainly isn’t Arian Foster, but he should see some work against Tennessee. He’s a good flex play this week.

Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Gore couldn’t get a thing going against Seattle on Monday, but we’ll give him a pass because of their dominant all-around defensive performance. So far this season, Gore’s racked up just 60 yards rushing on 30 attempts. As I noted on Tuesday, he's been the worst 30-plus attempt runner in the NFL this year.

Against the Colts, however, Gore is a must start and should bounce back after a miserable beginning to his season. The Colts have given up a rushing touchdown to running backs in each of their first two games this season, so we’re expecting Gore to score as our 13th-best running back option for Week 3.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos

After Montee Ball’s goal line fumble against the Giants, Knowshon completely took over and was a top fantasy option at running back last week. He’ll more than likely see the most touches again this week against Oakland, a team that’s performed moderately well against backs this year. However, those backs haven’t seen clock-running time like the Denver ones probably will this week.

Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Boldin was held to just one catch for seven yards in the 49ers loss to the Seahawks, which was 12 receptions and 201 yards worse than his brilliant Week 1 performance. Expect him to get back to his potential season-long WR2 ways this week, as the 49ers meet a porous Indy defense.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

Garcon made the most of garbage time last week, hauling in eight balls for 143 yards and a score. Over two games, Garcon has a cool 15 receptions. The Redskins take on the Lions this week, which could end up being a 50-plus point game for either team. Seriously. Garcon is a great play for Week 3.

Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

Edelman saw 458 targets (something like that) last week in the Patriots ugly win, catching 430 (he actually caught 13) of them. As long as Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are sidelined, Edelman has to be in your lineup, especially in PPR leagues. We have him as our number 15 receiver this week.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

Though Olsen ranks as a low-end TE1 in most fantasy leagues, he’s seeing a higher percentage of team targets than any other tight end in the league. The Panthers get the Giants this week, who have given up 16 receptions and three touchdowns to Dallas and Denver tight ends over the first two weeks of the season. Olsen is a great play.

Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts

We saw what happens with an injured Dwayne Allen for Fleener: four catches, 69 yards and a score. Though San Francisco has a sound defense, Fleener isn’t a bad play this week due to volume.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears

I targeted Jermaine Gresham in this column last week because the Steelers middle linebacker position is hurting after a Larry Foote season-ending injury. We saw what happened in the middle of the field against them last week: Bengal tight ends caught nine passes for 132 yards, and Gio Bernard was wide open on his touchdown reception. Bennett has been killing it this year, and I expect it to continue at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

TV Production Crews: Underappreciated (Sneaky Plays)

E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills

Manuel has a wide range of outcomes according to our algorithms, so prepare yourself for a boom or bust day against the Jets. However, he still averages in as our 14th-best fantasy quarterback option for Week 3, so you could do a lot worse. Just be prepared for potential disappointment.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Do I love Jacquizz Rodgers as a running back? No, not at all. But the Dolphins, his Week 3 opponent, have actually been pretty bad against the run, ranking last in the league in our efficiency rankings against the rush. They just haven’t seen a high volume of attempts against them to exploit that. In deep leagues, Rodgers is a decent PPR option this week.

Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks

This is a complete garbage time play, as the Seahawks may jump out to an early lead against the miserable Jags and never look back. If you’re desperate, go ahead and put a guy like Turbin in your lineup and hope he sees some second half magic.

Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The Eagles have been destroyed by opposing wideouts over the first two weeks of the season, allowing five touchdowns and over 500 yards. Donnie Avery, who has just four catches in two games, may be able to benefit from this on Thursday night. He’s a sneaky play.

Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Both Gresham and Eifert had nice Week 2 performances, and this could continue against the Packers. If you need a boom or bust guy, Eifert is your man. If you just need some consistency at tight end, go with Gresham. The Packers have allowed a tight end touchdown in each of their first two games, including a 123-yard, two-score performance from Vernon Davis in Week 1.

Defense to Start: Minnesota Vikings (vs. Cleveland Browns)

Sit ‘Em

Derek Bell: Operation Shutdown (Risky Plays)

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger probably shouldn’t be rostered in standard leagues, but if he’s on your team, it’s not a time to start him. The Steelers offense has been miserable so far this season, and they get a Chicago defense that’s always good at forcing turnovers. If Ben performs, great, but don’t expect a 300-yard performance from Number 7.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders

There’s a chance Pryor has a nice fantasy day because of a potential blowout against Denver, but starting him isn’t worth the risk with so many valuable quarterbacks available throughout fantasy leagues. He’s becoming a more efficient passer, ranking 12th in our passing efficiency metric, but don’t expect him to be magical against Denver on Monday night.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

The Saints defense has been better than most expected, giving up just three passing touchdowns over the first two weeks of the season. If Larry Fitzgerald can’t get back to 100 percent by game time, Palmer’s a guy that should be on your bench this week.

Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts

The Richardson news ran wild last night, as Jim Irsay announced that the Colts had traded a first rounder for the Browns powerful back. You should be excited, but not this week. Not only do the Colts get the San Francisco defense, but Trent Richardson is completely new to the offense. Bench him until he gets some reps in practice.

David Wilson, RB, New York Giants

If you don’t have any other options, Wilson can be in your lineup – that’s fine. But if you do have other backs you can plug into your lineup for Wilson, do it. The Giants play calling and running back split is about as reliable as a Patriots injury report, so there’s a ton of risk in starting Wilson this week against Carolina. However, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if this is the week he goes off. After all, this is fantasy football.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

Jackson’s been one of the most underrated runners so far this season, but faces a tough matchup against the Jets rush defense in Week 3. So far this season, the Jets have allowed just 97 yards and one touchdown to running backs, and those backs included Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley. Jackson will be a flex play at times this year, but not this week in Buffalo.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

Do you want to play a wide receiver who’s seen zero regular season action and will be getting tosses from Brian Hoyer this week against Minnesota? Exactly. Gordon's a boom or bust play, but most likely not worth it.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Like I said, the Steelers offense has been about as good at moving the ball as the pile of magazines sitting in your bathroom. Though Brown is Ben’s top target (kind of), he’s not the best start this week against Chicago. We have him ranked as our 35th-best wideout.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers

Jumping on the Eddie Royal train? Not so fast. Royal’s been one of the worst wide receivers in the NFL according to our numbers since his rookie season. Don’t believe me? Read what Jeff Miller said about him. Regression alert: Eddie Royal may continue to see targets due to lack of options in San Diego, but he’s not going to continue to see the end zone.

Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

You and me caught as many passes as Brent Celek did last week, and he doesn’t have a better matchup tonight against the Chiefs. Last week, Kansas City held Jason Witten to a poor fantasy performance, and they’ve only given up 77 yards to opposing tight ends this season. Bench Celek.

A Nickelback Concert: Say No (Rarely Playable Guys)

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans

Of course you’re not relying on Jake Locker each week, but this is just to note that, even with a favorable matchup against San Diego, Locker can’t be trusted. The quarterback pool is plentiful, and Jake Locker is on the outside looking in. Probably every week, too.

Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams

Daryl Richardson dropped a pass that was deflected for a pick six last week, and Isaiah Pead ended up seeing some playing time in his first game back from suspension potentially as a result. We’re not high on Richardson at numberFire, but we’re also not feeling Pead this week against Dallas, either.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants

Sure, he could see the end zone again as Tom Coughlin buries the hopes and dreams of David Wilson owners, but his seven carries for four yards in his debut is nothing to get excited about. Jacobs shouldn’t be rostered in normal leagues, let alone started in them.

Pittsburgh Steeler Running Backs

Is it Felix Jones, or will it be Isaac Redman? How about Jonathan Dwyer? Better yet, how about nobody? The Steelers running game has done nothing this season, and that shouldn’t change against Chicago. Catching a theme here?

Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Sidney Rice has just three catches this season. Three. Against Jacksonville, a team the Seahawks should have no trouble with at home, Rice is a definite sit. Why throw the deep ball when you can simply walk into the end zone against Jacksonville?

Ed Dickson, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Process of elimination tells us that Ed Dickson should see targets. But after catching just one pass for 13 yards over two games, there’s not a chance Dickson should be in anyone’s lineup this week. Not only that, but he gets Houston who’s given up just three receptions to opposing tight ends this year. Sit him. Sit him hard.

Defense to Sit: Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Green Bay Packers)

For any other start or sit questions, visit numberFire’s Questions section and take a look at our weekly rankings.