Kyren Williams has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises this season. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Fantasy football sit-start advice is presented by Ram Trucks. Built to Serve. Sit-Start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 3 lineups!
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore RavensStart: Michael Pittman, Zay FlowersI have doubts Pittman can maintain his top-20 WR fantasy status moving forward, but he caught 7-of-9 targets for 84 yards after Gardner Minshew took over last week. Anthony Richardson is unfortunately out in Week 3, so it’s more Minshew Magic (the better passer at this stage of their careers) for Pittman. The Colts will likely struggle to run Sunday, and the Ravens have yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs.
Flowers saw his first-read target% drop drastically with Mark Andrews’ return last week, but the rookie saw more air yards downfield. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Justice Hill ruled out and Rashod Bateman still working his way back, Flowers should be busy Sunday. The Colts have a vulnerable secondary that was just shredded by the Texans WRs and is ceding the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland BrownsSit: Treylon BurksStart: Deshaun WatsonBurks failed to step up with a hobbled DeAndre Hopkins last week, running just 18 routes. His snap share dipped 30% from Week 1, so it’s possible he’s not fully recovered from his preseason LCL injury. Moreover, the new Jim Schwartz-led Browns defense is allowing the second-lowest EPA/play and the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Cleveland’s defense has allowed half as many touchdowns as the Browns’ offense has scored to opposing defenses this season.
Watson has continued to struggle mightily in 2023, including major accuracy issues in clean pockets. But he’s been running and gets a pass-funnel Titans defense this week without Nick Chubb. Jerome Ford will go down as one of this season’s best fantasy pickups, but Tennessee has allowed 49.0 rushing yards (18.5 carries, zero touchdowns) per game to running backs this season. Meanwhile, Titans opponents have pass rates of 67% and 68% over the first two games.
Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit LionsStart: Drake London, Sam LaPortaLondon rebounded with seven targets and a score last week, and he’s in a good setup Sunday. The Falcons have by far the league’s lowest pass rate over expectation (-14.4%), but it appears Kyle Pitts is going to suffer more than London. This game admittedly may not produce a bunch of plays, but the Lions have a beatable secondary and have recorded just one sack on the year.
With no David Montgomery and Amon-Ra St. Brown banged up, LaPorta should be busy Sunday. Josh Reynolds is another option if healthy, but he’s also dealing with a groin injury. Jared Goff has averaged 2.6 passing touchdowns at home since last season, and LaPorta saw increased usage as a receiver (and less blocking) last week. The Falcons have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers but are bottom-10 against tight ends this season.
New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay PackersStart: Kendre Miller, Jayden ReedMiller has returned to a full practice this week and is reportedly set to start during his NFL debut Sunday. Jamaal Williams is out, and Alvin Kamara has one game remaining on his suspension. Miller had numerous highlight-worthy plays in the preseason and will immediately provide more juice than Williams. The Packers have shut down WRs to open the year but have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Reed has been the Packers’ WR1 to open the season, accounting for 42% of Green Bay’s receiving yards. The impressive rookie somehow ranks top five in targets per routes run despite mostly playing in three-WR sets. With Christian Watson and Aaron Jones still not practicing fully, expect Reed to be fed Sunday. New Orleans has allowed the fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers but the ninth-most to the slot, where Reed has run 60% of his routes this season.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville JaguarsSit: Dameon PierceStart in DFS: Travis Etienne ($24)Pierce is a really good back who leads the NFL in avoided-tackle percentage but has seen a sub-50% snap share in each of the first two games. He’s also getting no help from a Houston offensive line ruined by injuries that’s averaging 0.0 YPC before contact. Pierce isn’t running many routes either, so he’s extra game-script dependent on a team with the second-lowest implied team total (17.0 points) this week. The Jaguars have also allowed the lowest EPA/rush this season.
Etienne had an 80% snap share through three quarters last week before missing time with cramps thanks to the Florida heat that hospitalized 35+ people in the stadium. Tank Bigsby didn’t see a single touch. Etienne is fourth among backs in routes run this season, when he’s already recorded a career high in catches in a game. Etienne is someone to target in fantasy trades given his usage (including 100% of the red-zone snaps last week) on an offense sure to improve. He gets a matchup this week with Jacksonville 9.5-point home favorites against a Texans defense that’s the most favorable to fantasy backs when schedule adjusted.
Denver Broncos @ Miami DolphinsStart Russell Wilson, Raheem MostertWilson benefitted from a completed Hail Mary at the end of last week’s game, and there’s little doubt Sean Payton has been frustrated with his new QB. But Wilson has looked better running this season, and a fully healthy Jerry Jeudy will help. Marvin Mims also looks like a budding star who needs to be running more routes. Miami’s defense hasn’t been a funnel like last season, but it’s fair to expect Denver to be passing heavily Sunday as near-TD underdogs against a potent Dolphins offense that easily leads the league in EPA/play.
Mostert dominated Miami’s backfield work and looked terrific last week. Jeff Wilson remains on IR, rookie De’Von Achane is barely playing and Jaylen Waddle is highly questionable this week. Tyreek Hill is also battling an ankle injury, so Mostert could be extra busy against a Broncos defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Minnesota VikingsStart: Mike Williams, Kirk CousinsWilliams hasn’t scored yet this season but saw 13 targets last week, including the second-most unrealized air yards (113). The Chargers skewed far more to the pass without Austin Ekeler, who remains without a timeline to return (Joshua Kelley is a candidate for a big bounce back after disappointing last week).
Big Mike had the third-most expected fantasy points among receivers last week, and while the pass-funnel Tennessee defense helped, Williams racked up a 33% target share. LA gets a fast-paced matchup indoors this week with by far the highest over/under on the slate, so expect plenty of scoring in Minnesota.
The Vikings’ inability to run without Dalvin Cook has made Minnesota even more pass-happy in 2023. Only the Chiefs and Dolphins have a higher PROE this season. Cousins has also increased his efficiency (8.0 YPA) and gets a great matchup this week against a Chargers defense allowing an NFL-high 9.6 YPA and the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. LA is last in defense DVOA by a wide margin as well. Both teams are fast-paced with the aforementioned total, start Cousins with confidence.
New England Patriots @ New York JetsSit: All Patriots receiversStart: Breece HallDeVante Parker immediately led New England in routes run after returning last week, and the group should continue to rotate. Hunter Henry is the team’s main option in the red zone, and the Patriots have a tough matchup in New York. The Jets ceded the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers last season.
Hall is a flex play at best, and we are simply hoping for more touches at this point. But in a matchup that should feature a much better game script than last week, expect New York to go ground-heavy and hide Zach Wilson as much as possible.
Buffalo Bills @ Washington CommandersStart: Gabe DavisStart in DFS: Cole Turner ($10)Davis saw seven targets, scored and led Buffalo in receiving yards last week. He’s being used less downfield, which should help his consistency moving forward. The Commanders have yielded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the slot but have allowed the sixth-most to Davis’ primary side of the field.
If you’re looking for a minimum tight end play in DFS this week, Turner should get the majority of passing work with Logan Thomas sidelined. The Commanders should be in plenty of passing situations as near-touchdown underdogs against the Bills.
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle SeahawksStart: Hayden HurstStart in DFS: Kenneth Walker ($25)Hurst has the third-most targets on the Panthers and a higher air yards share than T.J. Hockenson this season. He gets a Seattle defense that’s been a pass funnel through two weeks and allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends last season. Hurst shouldn’t be too affected with Bryce Young sitting and Andy Dalton starting at QB (in fact, Dalton is likely a short-term upgrade).
Walker has gotten just 3.7 YPC but has scored twice and is among the leaders in missed tackles forced per touch. His role could be large Sunday with DK Metcalf nursing sore ribs (and Seattle refusing to target JSN beyond the line of scrimmage). The Seahawks are six-point home favorites facing a Panthers defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs, so K9 is a good DFS option this week.
Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona CardinalsStart in DFS: Tony Pollard ($32)Sit: All CardinalsPollard’s 71.0 rushing yards per game hide how he’s also on pace to record a whopping 425 touches this season. He’s gotten by far the most carries inside the five in the league this season with Ezekiel Elliott gone, and Dallas is lapping the field in RB fantasy usage. Game script should once again be favorable with Dallas big favorites Sunday.
The Cardinals have played surprisingly competitive football so far, but fantasy managers should stay away this week. James Conner’s usage makes him a flex play if needed, but Arizona has easily the lowest implied team point total at just 15.5. The Cowboys rank first in both run and pass defense in DVOA. Dallas has surrendered the lowest EPA/play and the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. And they’ve ceded the fewest fantasy points to both running backs and wide receivers.
Chicago Bears @ Kansas City ChiefsSit: Khalil HerbertStart: Isiah Pacheco (if healthy)Herbert should have productive fantasy games at some point, but he loses too much passing down work to be trusted in a matchup where the Bears are huge underdogs. The Chiefs have a strong defense when Chris Jones is on the field, and Justin Fields has Chicago’s offense off to an alarmingly slow start.
Pacheco’s box scores haven’t jumped out, but his underlying usage as the Chiefs’ lead back suggests bigger fantasy days are coming. He was given 86% of KC’s running back carries last week and is one of only a handful of backs to have played 100% of his team’s red-zone snaps this year. Pacheco has also caught five passes while running more routes than Jerick McKinnon in each of the first two weeks of the season.
The Chiefs are averaging 10 fewer ppg than last year, which figures to change dramatically this week against a struggling Bears defense that’s allowed 25+ points in 12 straight games and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. With the Chiefs 13-point home favorites, Pacheco could have a monster fantasy game if health cooperates (he did return to practice on Thursday).
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Las Vegas RaidersStart: George Pickens, Josh JacobsMatt Canada finally used Pickens differently with no Diontae Johnson last week, including more than half as many targets over the middle than he saw all of last season. The expanded route tree resulted in a huge performance, so expect more in Week 3. Kenny Pickett has nowhere to go but up, and the Raiders rank 31st in pass defense DVOA and sport the lowest pressure rate in the league.
Jacobs is coming off a game where he ran for fewer yards than you and I, but he remains Las Vegas’ true workhorse. The Raiders get to play at home for the first time this season Sunday night and face a Steelers defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. Pittsburgh badly misses Cam Heyward, as it is giving up an NFL-high 5.6 YPC this season.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay BuccaneersStart: D’Andre Swift, Chris GodwinKenneth Gainwell’s status matters Monday night (he returned to practice on Thursday), but it’s clear Swift needs to be the leader of Philadelphia’s backfield moving forward. Tampa Bay has played solid defense, but the Eagles’ offense should provide plenty of scoring opportunities. Swift was fantasy’s RB2 last week despite getting tackled inside the one-yard line twice. Health remains a big question mark, but Swift has the ability and upside to be a top-10 fantasy back in this system.
Despite going from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield (who missed Godwin on two possible TDs last week), the Bucs have a positive PROE this season. Mayfield has otherwise played well, and Tampa Bay gets a terrific matchup in Week 3. The Eagles are dealing with injuries to their secondary and have allowed the most touchdown passes in the league. They’ve also ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Eagles opponents have attempted a whopping 49 passes per game, so there should be plenty of targets Monday night.
Los Angeles Rams @ Cincinnati BengalsStart: Kyren Williams, Joe MixonWilliams has shockingly been the No. 2 fantasy back to open the season despite losing 22 carries to Cam Akers in Week 1. Akers is gone now, and Williams saw 96% of the snaps in Week 2 when he also racked up 10 targets in a big game against the toughest defense for fantasy backs.
Sean McVay is an offensive genius, and Matthew Stafford looks much healthier this year. Williams gets a Bengals team Monday night allowing 5.0 YPC — and they might be without Joe Burrow. Williams’ usage makes him a borderline top-12 fantasy back moving forward.
Joe Burrow’s calf injury and an incredibly tough schedule has held back Mixon’s production. But he’s behind only Christian McCaffrey in YPC after contact and is acting as one of the league’s true bellcows. Mixon has seen 100% of the goal-line work and should be featured Monday night whether it’s a compromised Burrow or Jake Browning making his first NFL start at quarterback. The Rams have the 30th-ranked run defense in DVOA.