Fantasy: Start, Sit, Stash, Quit - Week 3
SSSQ is a weekly look at under-the-radar fantasy players to consider starting and potential busts you should leave on your bench. We also identify breakout candidates to stash on your roster and players you can safely cut.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
As expected, Rodgers and the Packers rebounded after a dismal opener, crushing the Lions on Monday Night Football.
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the win, which is the same number of scores he accounted for during his last appearance against the 49ers, Green Bay's opponent this week.
With a projected point total of 50 for this game, Rodgers shouldn't struggle to post top-10 fantasy numbers.
Boone's projection: 319 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 6 rushing yards
Other QBs to start
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. Jets
- Justin Fields at Browns
- Daniel Jones vs. Falcons
Saquon Barkley, Giants
Normally we wouldn't need to recommend Barkley as a start, but he's posted a quiet couple of weeks while the Giants slowly ramp up his usage after a torn ACL last year.
Fantasy managers shouldn't panic though. Barkley went from a 48% snap share in Week 1 to playing 84% of the Giants' plays in Week 2.
His reduced production can also be attributed to New York facing a pair of stiff tests from Denver and Washington, two of the league's better run defenses.
Next up is a Falcons unit that's long struggled to contain pass-catching backs. That trend has continued over the opening weeks this season, with Miles Sanders and Leonard Fournette hauling in four receptions each.
Coming off 10 days of rest after playing in the Thursday nighter, Barkley will be ready for something resembling a full workload. His best fantasy days are yet to come in 2021, and a turnaround should start this week.
Boone's projection: 83 rushing yards, 28 receiving yards, TD
Other RBs to start
- Najee Harris vs. Bengals
- Chase Edmonds at Jaguars
- Ty'Son Williams at Lions
DeVonta Smith, Eagles
The Eagles' first-round wideout impressed with a six-catch, 71-yard, one-touchdown debut, but he fell back to earth with just two grabs for 16 yards against the 49ers.
Thankfully for him, the Cowboys' defense has already allowed four massive wide receiver performances over just two weeks.
- Antonio Brown: 5-121-1
- Chris Godwin: 9-105-1
- Mike Williams: 7-91-1
- Keenan Allen: 4-108-0
Smith is poised to be the next name on that list as Philly's top pass-catcher, and he should be viewed as a fringe fantasy WR2 in Week 3.
Boone's projection: 97 receiving yards, TD
Other WRs to start
- Courtland Sutton vs. Jets
- Rondale Moore at Jaguars
- Chase Claypool/JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Bengals
Kyle Pitts, Falcons
Everyone's favorite rookie tight end is eighth in fantasy points scored at his position, with nine receptions and 104 yards through two contests.
While that might be disappointing to some fantasy managers, it's worth remembering first-year tight ends rarely make a significant impact as pass-catchers.
He'll look to add to those totals against the Giants, who are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Pitts is already an automatic start and will only continue to improve, so this will be the last time he's featured in this column.
Boone's projection: 79 receiving yards, TD
Other TEs to start
- Dallas Goedert at Cowboys
- Evan Engram vs. Falcons
Joe Burrow, Bengals
Through two weeks, we've yet to see the version of Burrow that was emerging before last year's season-ending ACL injury. Things really began to unravel last week when he threw three interceptions on three consecutive drives.
However, a rocky start is hardly surprising as he knocks off the rust and finds his rhythm. It's also understandable that his rushing production has disappeared (37 carries, 142 yards, and three rushing touchdowns in 2020 compared to one carry for two yards in 2021).
Unfortunately, that's bad news as he gets ready to take on the Steelers, who kept him in check during their lone 2021 meeting.
The Bengals could be shorthanded too, with Tee Higgins' status in doubt due to a shoulder injury.
It all adds up to Burrow being a bench player on fantasy rosters, at least until Cincinnati's passing attack heats back up. And it will, just not versus the Steelers this week.
Boone's projection: 219 passing yards, TD, 2 INTs
Other QBs to sit
- Baker Mayfield vs. Bears
- Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals
- Jameis Winston at Patriots
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
You likely aren't in a position to sit Edwards-Helaire unless your roster is very deep. But we're highlighting him here because it's time to start lowering expectations for last year's first-round pick.
CEH failed to live up to the lofty goals set for him as a rookie (mostly by fantasy GMs), and now he's continuing to produce very average numbers early in Year 2.
The 22-year-old didn't top 46 rushing yards in either game so far, hasn't found the end zone this season, and lost a fumble last week. Veteran backups Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon stole the most valuable touches in that game, with Williams vulturing a touchdown and McKinnon taking the group's only target.
To make matters worse, CEH dealt with a non-COVID illness earlier this week.
The ceiling for a Chiefs lead back remains high, but Edwards-Helaire will be capped as a fantasy low-end RB2 if this usage continues.
Boone's projection: 41 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards
Other RBs to sit
- James Robinson vs. Cardinals
- Devin Singletary/Zack Moss vs. Washington
- Sony Michel/Darrell Henderson vs. Buccaneers
Corey Davis, Jets
Davis followed up his monster opening day line of 5-97-2 versus the Panthers with a laughable 2-8-0 performance against the Patriots.
Injuries along the Jets' offensive line - including the loss of second-year left tackle Mekhi Becton - are a concern for New York's passing attack and could derail the development of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.
Things won't get easier against a challenging Broncos defense that features one of the league's best secondaries.
This isn't the time to force Davis back into your starting lineup. But friendlier opponents are on the horizon with the Titans and Falcons lined up the next two weeks.
Boone's projection: 46 receiving yards
Other WRs to sit
- Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Bears
- Michael Pittman Jr. at Titans
- Marquez Callaway at Patriots
Robert Tonyan, Packers
We knew Tonyan's touchdown production would be difficult to sustain, but now his playing time could be in jeopardy too.
Though he did come away with a touchdown in the Packers' Monday night win, Tonyan played less than 50% of Green Bay's snaps for the second straight week. That didn't happen once last season.
He'll be even more touchdown-dependent and closer to a fantasy TE2 unless his usage changes moving forward, rather than the top-10 option Tonyan was in 2020.
Boone's projection: 31 receiving yards
Other TEs to sit
- Mike Gesicki at Raiders
- Gerald Everett at Vikings
Quintez Cephus, Lions
Cephus is hopefully already on your radar after scoring a touchdown in each of the Lions' first two games. Perhaps fantasy managers have been scared away due to the uncertainty on Detroit's wide receiver depth chart. But Cephus should be rostered, especially with veteran Tyrell Williams heading to the injured reserve.
The 23-year-old has been given 13 targets this season, and he's coming off a four-catch, 63-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Packers. Pick him up now before your leaguemates realize his value.
Jacques Patrick, 49ers
The 49ers' backfield has been an injury nightmare early in the season, and now they might be without Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) and Trey Sermon (concussion). That leaves special teamer Trenton Cannon, veterans Kerryon Johnson and Chris Thompson - who are currently on the practice squad - or the recently acquired Patrick.
Patrick started the week on the Bengals' practice squad before the Niners signed him. If Mitchell and Sermon aren't able to go, Patrick could end the week as Kyle Shanahan's lead back.
Either way, he's worth stashing until we see how the practice participation unfolds over the next couple of days.
Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
It's hard to recommend dropping any running back who receives touches, as an injury could clear a path to more work. But Jones (73% rostered) is being mentioned because he's serving as Leonard Fournette's backup.
Jones has logged touch totals of four and seven over the Bucs' first two outings, while Fournette has been given lead-back usage with 14 and 15 touches, including nine receptions to Jones' one.
It will likely take Fournette getting hurt before Jones logs enough work to warrant fantasy consideration. Even if that happens, his ceiling is limited due to how much Tom Brady is passing, especially around the goal line.