Week 3 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Play Your Chargers Against the Chiefs

The Chargers were a letdown in Week 2 in a shootout, but don't let that lead to benching several stars with great roles.

The start-or-sit dilemma is virtually synonymous with managing a fantasy football team.

Having the foresight to start the wide receiver who erupts for 100 yards and a touchdown in a cakewalk matchup while sitting a receiver against a shutdown cornerback feels so good.

And that's why hundreds of fantasy articles each week are dedicated to start-or-sit scenarios. But answering the question of, "Should I start Player X?" is hard. Context matters.

Mostly, when it comes to answering the question of, "Who do I start?," the real answer is, "Well, who else is available?"

That's why for this version of a start-or-sit column, I'm going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

No player is ever a must-sit. I mean, sure, your tight end might have a terrible matchup and be playing in a game with a low over/under, but what if the only option left is second-stringers who see no run?

However, we also know that, yes, there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's my overall goal with this start-or-sit column.

And to take some of the guesswork out of it, I'll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire's player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances and higher on the list means more startable).

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.


Start With Confidence: These players are at least 50% likely to finish the week as a top-12 quarterback, according to the slate simulations.

- Patrick Mahomes vs. LAC (72%)
- Kyler Murray at JAC (71%)
- Josh Allen vs. WSH (63%)
- Dak Prescott vs. PHI (63%)
- Lamar Jackson at DET (62%)
- Russell Wilson at MIN (62%)
- Tom Brady at LA (52%)

Consider If Needed: This tier has odds between 35% and 49% to post a top-12 week.

- Jalen Hurts at DAL (49%)
- Justin Herbert at KC (46%)
- Matthew Stafford vs. TB (46%)
- Aaron Rodgers at SF (44%)
- Kirk Cousins vs. SEA (42%)
- Daniel Jones vs. ATL (41%)
- Derek Carr vs. MIA (41%)
- Justin Fields at CLE (37%)
- Ryan Tannehill vs. IND (36%)

Sure, Justin Herbert has yet to put up a big fantasy outing, but the eruption is on the way. Herbert has averaged 337 passing yards but has only 2 total passing scores. Adjusting his expected points added per drop back data for opponents faced, he's above average. Touchdown regression is inevitable -- and that means big fantasy production.

Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams should be extremely pass-heavy against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which leads to volume for the already-efficient Stafford. He's averaged just shy of 300 passing yards and has been sacked on just 3.4% of his drop backs, well below the NFL average of 6.4%.

Derek Carr's newfound passing depth has the Las Vegas Raiders operating as a more fantasy-friendly offense. Carr himself has an average depth of target of 8.6 yards, slightly above the NFL average (8.3), and the Miami Dolphins rank as a middling pass defense through two games.

Regarding Justin Fields, I know the temptation is there, and you could do much worse with a streamer than someone who ran 10 times last week. Just don't be benching the best of the best for him this week.

Bench If Possible: These quarterbacks are under 35% likely (17th or worse) to net a top-12 result and likely aren't in the one-quarterback-league conversation.

- Trevor Lawrence vs. ARI (33%)
- Jared Goff vs. BAL (31%)
- Baker Mayfield vs. CHI (31%)
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. NYJ (30%)
- Matt Ryan at NYG (29%)
- Sam Darnold at HOU (26%)
- Jameis Winston at NE (25%)
- Mac Jones vs. NO (25%)
- Joe Burrow at PIT (24%)
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. GB (23%)
- Ben Roethlisberger vs. CIN (22%)
- Zach Wilson at DEN (19%)
- Taylor Heinicke at BUF (19%)
- Jacoby Brissett at LV (19%)
- Davis Mills vs. CAR (12%)

Running Back

Start With Confidence: These running backs are at least 65% likely to finish the week inside the top 24, according to the slate simulations. You're starting them.

- Christian McCaffrey at HOU (87%)
- Derrick Henry vs. IND (84%)
- Dalvin Cook vs. SEA (84%)
- Alvin Kamara at NE (79%)
- Aaron Jones at SF (76%)
- Saquon Barkley vs. ATL (73%)
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. PHI (71%)
- Austin Ekeler at KC (67%)
- Nick Chubb vs. CHI (66%)
- Najee Harris vs. CIN (66%)
- Joe Mixon at PIT (65%)
- Jonathan Taylor at TEN (65%)

Austin Ekeler bounced back with a strong receiving role in Week 2 (9 targets) after getting zero on the same number of routes (24) in Week 1. He's a lock.

Consider If Needed - This tier is sitting between 40% and 64% for an RB2 week, and you're probably starting some of them even if they're shy of that top tier.

- Chris Carson at MIN (63%)
- D'Andre Swift vs. BAL (63%)
- Darrell Henderson vs. TB (61%)
- Antonio Gibson at BUF (58%)
- Damien Harris vs. NO (56%)
- David Montgomery at CLE (55%)
- Miles Sanders at DAL (55%)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. LAC (53%)
- Elijah Mitchell vs. GB (49%)
- Melvin Gordon vs. NYJ (47%)
- James Robinson vs. ARI (46%)
- Leonard Fournette at LA (45%)
- Myles Gaskin at LV (42%)
- Chase Edmonds at JAC (41%)
- Mike Davis at NYG (40%)
- Javonte Williams vs. NYJ (40%)

D'Andre Swift has earned the fifth-best adjusted workload in football among all running backs. Doubling his targets (because they're twice as valuable as carries for fantasy backs in half-PPR setups), he is getting 25.5 adjusted opportunities per game, trailing only the elite talents of Christian McCaffrey (37.5), Derrick Henry (36.0), Dalvin Cook (31.0), and Joe Mixon (30.5).

Two backs who rate out well by the simulations but who have tough individual rushing matchups are Darrell Henderson and Antonio Gibson. The Bucs are third in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry allowed to backs, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are second. While they may be proverbial "sits" in a more traditional start/sit column, it's important not to overreact to their actual expectations. Personally, I'd be okay dropping them down a tinge, but don't pretend like a dart on someone such as Nyheim Hines is a better process.

Mike Davis sure feels like an uninspired start option, but the reality is that he has played on 68.4% of the Atlanta Falcons' snaps and has also run a route on 63.2% of their drop backs. Only 10 running backs meet those thresholds.

Bench If Possible: These backs are under 40% likely to net a top-24 result.

- Kareem Hunt vs. CHI (37%)
- Kenyan Drake vs. MIA (33%)
- Ty'Son Williams at DET (32%)
- James White vs. NO (31%)
- Devin Singletary vs. WSH (31%)
- Mark Ingram vs. CAR (31%)
- Tony Pollard vs. PHI (30%)
- James Conner at JAC (29%)
- Jamaal Williams vs. BAL (28%)
- Cordarrelle Patterson at NYG (27%)
- J.D. McKissic at BUF (24%)
- David Johnson vs. CAR (21%)
- Michael Carter at DEN (20%)
- Nyheim Hines at TEN (20%)

Wide Receiver

Start With Confidence: You're starting these guys in a 12-team league.

- Tyreek Hill vs. LAC (75%)
- Davante Adams at SF (71%)
- DeAndre Hopkins at JAC (68%)
- Tyler Lockett at MIN (66%)
- Justin Jefferson vs. SEA (66%)
- Stefon Diggs vs. WSH (65%)
- Cooper Kupp vs. TB (63%)
- Deebo Samuel vs. GB (62%)
- D.K. Metcalf at MIN (62%)
- Calvin Ridley at NYG (61%)
- A.J. Brown vs. IND (56%)
- Amari Cooper vs. PHI (55%)
- CeeDee Lamb vs. PHI (54%)
- Adam Thielen vs. SEA (53%)
- Chris Godwin at LA (51%)
- Keenan Allen at KC (51%)

Consider If Needed: These players are more matchup dependent for Week 1 than the tier above but are likely where we are looking for a lot of our WR2, WR3, and FLEX plays this week.

- Robert Woods vs. TB (48%)
- D.J. Moore at HOU (46%)
- Terry McLaurin at BUF (46%)
- Brandin Cooks vs. CAR (46%)
- DeVonta Smith at DAL (45%)
- Marvin Jones vs. ARI (44%)
- Courtland Sutton vs. NYJ (41%)
- Allen Robinson at CLE (41%)
- Mike Evans at LA (40%)
- Tee Higgins at PIT (39%)
- Odell Beckham vs. CHI (39%)
- Mike Williams at KC (38%)
- Julio Jones vs. IND (36%)
- Chase Claypool vs. CIN (35%)
- Ja'Marr Chase at PIT (32%)
- Corey Davis at DEN (31%)
- Kenny Golladay vs. ATL (30%)

Robert Woods is part of a very fantasy-friendly matchup this week, and he played in 98.0% of the Rams' snaps a week ago. Overall, he has an 82.8% route rate for the year. Based on his underlying data, Woods should have 12.0 receiving FanDuel points per game, 2.5 more than he has actually accrued. Everything could break his way in a pass-heavy script.

DeVonta Smith finds himself in a great spot after a dud game in Week 2 (2 catches for 16 yards on 7 targets), but that doesn't do his role justice. He ran 88.5% of the team's routes and generated a massive 164 air yards (47.0% of his team's air yards), thanks to 3.0 downfield targets in that game. He should've scored 12.2 half-PPR points instead of the 2.6 he pulled in. The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the second-most yards per target on downfield passes this season.

Keenan Allen made lock territory for sure, but Mike Williams lagged behind in the simulations. Allen should still be considered the 1A at worst in the offense, but Williams is really making his mark. Big Mike has averaged 106 air yards per game on a team-high 11.0 targets (a 25.6% share) along with a team-best 33.0% air yards market share, too. That includes 2.0 downfield targets, 2.5 red zone targets, and 2.0 end zone targets per contest.

Bench If Possible: These players finished as a WR2 or better under 30% of the time.

- JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. CIN (28%)
- Jakobi Meyers vs. NO (27%)
- Marquise Brown at DET (26%)
- Rondale Moore at JAC (25%)
- Sterling Shepard vs. ATL (25%)
- D.J. Chark vs. ARI (25%)
- Will Fuller at LV (24%)
- Jalen Reagor at DAL (23%)
- Quintez Cephus vs. BAL (23%)
- Henry Ruggs vs. MIA (21%)
- Michael Pittman Jr. at TEN (21%)
- Tyler Boyd at PIT (20%)
- Darnell Mooney at CLE (19%)
- Darius Slayton vs. ATL (18%)
- Cole Beasley vs. WSH (18%)
- Freddie Swain at MIN (18%)
- Zach Pascal at TEN (17%)
- Nelson Agholor vs. NO (17%)
- Elijah Moore at DEN (17%)
- Tim Patrick vs. NYJ (17%)
- DeVante Parker at LV (17%)
- Christian Kirk at JAC (17%)
- Emmanuel Sanders vs. WSH (16%)
- Jaylen Waddle at LV (15%)
- Robby Anderson at HOU (15%)

Tight End

Start With Confidence: These guys are the Big Five plus two newcomers.

- Travis Kelce vs. LAC (91%)
- Darren Waller vs. MIA (81%)
- George Kittle vs. GB (74%)
- Mark Andrews at DET (59%)
- T.J. Hockenson vs. BAL (58%) - A new addition to the Big Five
- Rob Gronkowski at LA (56%) - A new addition to the Big Five
- Kyle Pitts at NYG (56%)

Consider If Needed: You'll likely be starting these options if you don't have a top-tier tight end.

- Noah Fant vs. NYJ (49%)
- Dallas Goedert at DAL (45%)
- Tyler Higbee vs. TB (45%)
- Logan Thomas at BUF (41%)
- Jared Cook at KC (35%)
- Robert Tonyan at SF (30%)
- Jonnu Smith vs. NO (29%)
- Austin Hooper vs. CHI (27%)

Tyler Higbee had a dud game in Week 2 with a single target for 8 yards, but that won't tell you the whole story: he played 100.0% of the snaps and ran a route on 83.9% of the team's drop backs. Sure, the volume still needs to come his way on those opportunities; just don't forget that we saw that very thing in Week 1 when Higbee had a 6-target, 68-yard outing.

Logan Thomas leads all tight ends in route rate (88.4%) through two games and ran 89.4% of the Washington Football Team's routes on Thursday Night Football in Week 2 with new quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke targeted Thomas 7 times for 65 yards in Week 2, and that included 2 downfield targets. That makes for an elite role at tight end.

Jared Cook is averaging 6.2 half-PPR points per game on the season, yet the mark should actually be 9.0 based on his underlying peripherals. Cook has a solid red zone role with 1.5 targets per game (16.7%) and has already drawn an end zone target. The Chiefs start the season ranked 25th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends.

Bench If Possible: These tight ends aren't in the starting conversation in 12-team leagues unless you're desparate.

- Mike Gesicki at LV (25%)
- Hunter Henry vs. NO (24%)
- Cole Kmet at CLE (23%)
- Dalton Schultz vs. PHI (23%)
- Dawson Knox vs. WSH (23%)
- Jack Doyle at TEN (20%)
- Adam Trautman at NE (20%)
- Gerald Everett at MIN (19%)
- Juwan Johnson at NE (19%)
- Hayden Hurst at NYG (19%)
- Blake Jarwin vs. PHI (19%)
- Eric Ebron vs. CIN (18%)
- Dan Arnold at HOU (18%)
- Jordan Akins vs. CAR (18%)
- Anthony Firkser vs. IND (15%)