Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2015
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Carson Palmer (ARI, QB)
If you drafted Carson Palmer, you did so as a backup, but look at this week's rankings and you'll find him inside the Top 10. Big Ben just took San Fran for more than 20 points, and with the way Palmer has played this year, he should put up similar numbers. With a resurgent Larry Fitzgerald playing in top form, now is the time to consider putting Palmer into your lineup.
Start 'em Cam Newton (CAR, QB)
Among the usual names in the Top 10 QB's this week, you'll find Cam Newton. Without Kelvin Benjamin, Newton has to change the way he plays and he did so last week rushing for 76 yards and a score. While his passing yards were less than exciting (195), he also threw for two touchdowns. This week, he'll face a Saints D that let Jameis Winston rack up 18.58 points and Carson Palmer 25.68 points. Let Superman fly in your lineup.
Start 'em Latavius Murray (OAK, RB)
Ask CJ Anderson how well the Ravens are against the run. Then watch Latavius Murray last week. Murray averaged 4.3 yard per carry and found the endzone. This week he'll face a Browns defense that was decimated by Chris Ivory in Week 1. Murray is still getting his stride and we expect him to find it in Week 3.
Start 'em LeSean McCoy (BUF, RB)
Shady McCoy is no longer the same guy that once led the league in rushing yards. He's still talented but in an offense that still has question marks. This week he'll face a Miami defense that was supposed to be Suh scary good but hasn't frightened anyone yet. The Dolphins are giving up the 5th-most rushing yards after two weeks so Shady has a good opportunity to post worthwhile numbers as a high-end RB2.
Start 'em Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, WR)
The Cardinals are on a roll and there's no reason to jump off the bandwagon yet. Fitz looks fantastic and he's facing a 49ers defense that gave up 25 points (34 PPR) to Antonio Brown last week. Fitzgerald torched the Niners with 12 receptions for 230 yards and a score the last time he and Carson Palmer faced them.
Start 'em Brandon Marshall (NYJ, WR)
FFN's Joe has said many times that Brandon Marshall is the kind of player that is always going to get his. That has certainly been the case in New York. Facing a Philly defense that has given up the 7th-most yards through the air this year, Marshall should see plenty of action.
Start 'em Martellus Bennett (CHI, TE)
With Kam Chancellor back, the Seahawks will likely play better this week than they have the past two. The Bears will be without Jay Cutler and potentially Eddie Royal and Alshon Jeffery, so who else are the Bears going to throw to? Bennett could be in line for a lot of attention from both sides, but he's big enough to be a safe target for Jimmy Clausen.
Start 'em Tyler Eifert (CIN, TE)
Tyler Eifert has been on a roll with 13 receptions for 153 yards and 3 scores this year. He'll face a Ravens team that statistically has been tough on TE's but hasn't really faced a decent one yet. They're giving up 250 yards through the air after two games and Dalton will look his way often.
Start 'em Seattle Seahawks (SEA, DEF)
Let's see. Jimmy Clausen + banged up Alshon Jeffery (maybe out) + banged up Eddie Royal = fantasy defense gold. Coming off a tough 0-2 start, it's just unrealistic to think that the Seahawks can't dominate this game on both sides of the ball.
Start 'em Brandon McManus (DEN, K)
Brandon McManus just can't seem to get any love in this week's rankings, but we're calling him a must-start at Detroit.
Sit 'em Sam Bradford (PHI, QB)
Sam Bradford sits at #28 this week in the FFN QB rankings putting him outside even QB2 territory. Playing against the Jets D is like walking into work and your boss tells you not to bother taking off your coat. You know you're going to have a bad day. New York shut down Andrew Luck which makes us question just how productive Bradford can be - particularly in an offense that has been sputtering at best. There will be better days ahead, but Bradford is just too risky of a play.
Sit 'em Drew Brees (NO, QB)
Will he play? Won't he play? It changes each day and depends on who you're asking. Brees seems confident that he'll be throwing and Sean Payton seems optimistic, but we're going to take a pessimistic view on this one. Brees is ranked 2nd this week among all QB's - perhaps too high given his questionable status and rotator cuff concerns. The Panthers are tough on defense, but they did cough up 18 points to Ryan Mallett last week. If Brees plays, you have to start him, but don't be surprised if he doesn't live up to draft expectations.
Sit 'em Frank Gore (IND, RB)
Frank Gore is like the lottery ticket that just won't pay off, but instead of jumping off the cliff, we're stepping back from the ledge and putting things into perspective. Gore has disappointed the first two weeks, but he's also faced two consecutive tough defenses in the Bills and Jets. Tennessee is slightly easier on RB's giving up the 16th most yards to them after two games, but Gore is awfully tough to trust right now. They barely involve him in the passing game and he doesn't get the touches like we were hoping. He could surprise us though...
Sit 'em Lamar Miller (MIA, RB)
A healthy Lamar Miller will put up solid fantasy numbers for your team. An ankle-injured Lamar Miller against a tough Bills front is going to struggle. The fact that Jonas Gray was promoted from the practice squad is not a good sign for Miller owners. Buffalo has allowed the 2nd-fewest yards on the ground after two games meaning that even if Miller plays, his production will likely be disappointing.
Sit 'em Golden Tate (DET, WR)
Golden Tate comes into this week's rankings at #35 which is likely due to the fact that Stafford is banged up and the Lions haven't been lighting the world on fire. He'll have a tough matchup against a Broncos defense that has allowed fewer yards through the air than any other team in the NFL.
Sit 'em Brandin Cooks (NO, WR)
This one burns a bit. Brandin Cooks was drafted high and has yet to really live up to those expectations. The Panthers defense has been tough on WR's this year and given up the 8th-fewest yards through the air. We expect Brees, assuming he plays, to be banged up with a rotator cuff injury making the passing game less productive.
Sit 'em Vernon Davis (SF, TE)
While the Cardinals have given up a lot of yards through the air, not much finds its way to the TE position. Martellus Bennett struggled against the Cards putting up just 4.8 points (8.8 PPR) last week, so we're not expecting Davis to be able to perform drastically better. Even though Davis has improved his production from last season, he's a risky play this week.
Sit 'em Zach Ertz (PHI, TE)
The Jets are tough and Zach Ertz has yet to display any sort of real production to make him worth starting. Averaging 3 receptions and 30 yards per game, we would consider it a solid day if he could repeat that line.
Sit 'em St. Louis Rams (STL, DEF)
The Rams were severely disappointing last week and that disappointment should extend into this week against a Pittsburgh offense that will have Le'Veon Bell back in the fold, a talented QB in Big Ben, and an uncoverable Antonio Brown. This is not the week to start the Rams.
Sit 'em Cody Parkey (PHI, K)
Cody Parkey is ranked 13th among all K's this week, but we think that's being awfully generous on an offense that seems to be in shambles against a defense that has been awfully dominating. There aren't any Eagles that we like this week...kicker included.