As we start to settle into the fantasy football season owners of certain quarterbacks can breathe a little easier. After some rough starts, top-tier signal-callers like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are once again near the top of the leaderboard and offenses are back to scoring plenty of points.
Week 2 was more like we anticipated (and hoped), mixed in with some surprises (we're looking at you Trevor Siemian).
Week 3 is always an interesting week where teams start to show us who they really are. Here are some quarterbacks (and defense/special teams) that I think will do well this week and a few that I think may struggle. But first, let’s see how some of my Week 2 calls fared.
I warned you against starting Tyrod Taylor (180 total yards, 0 TDs), who struggled against a great Carolina defense. He just doesn’t seem to have the full confidence of the Bills’ coaching staff.
Start Philip Rivers (18.24 fantasy points) – Rivers spread the ball around and picked up the slack when the running game struggled. Another TD pass or two would have been nice though.
Sit Carson Wentz (27.82 FP) – The Eagles’ running game is non-existent, so they are using Wentz to air it out and he now has back-to-back 300-yard games to start the season
START THESE QBS...
Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. ATL)
It’s time to stop doubting Stafford (at least for now). He looked good against a Giants defense that we may have misjudged and an Arizona defense with plenty of speed and athleticism in the secondary. Stafford looks good, even without a true dominant receiver. In Week 3 he matches up with against a Falcons defense that usually rushes the passer well, but might struggle with Vic Beasley out and is giving up plenty of yards through the air (278 per game to be exact). Stafford is back in the top-10 fantasy QB range.
Kirk Cousins, WAS (vs. OAK)
It looks like Cousins might be matchup dependent this season, as he and the entire Redskins offense has struggled early on. This week is one of those good matchups against the Raiders. While it’s true that Oakland has given up just two touchdown passes so far, this defense is still giving up the eighth-most fantasy point to QBs. This is the game where Cousins and company get things rolling.
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. NO)
Newton has been a massive disappointment, finishing as the QB19 in Week 1 and QB23 in Week 2, but this is the perfect matchup to get right. A week after making Sam Bradford look like Tom Brady, the Saints made the actual Tom Brady look like, well, Tom Brady again. They’re allowing an absurd 388.5 passing yards per game and 11.2 yards per attempt through two weeks, and while those numbers won’t stay quite that bad, it’s still enough to make Newton a must-start option even after two bad games.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. NYG)
It’s early, but Wentz has lived up to the sleeper hype to this point. He has the third-most fantasy points among QBs, and he's done it on the road against a top defense in Kansas City and at home against the Redskins. The Giants, despite their 0-2 record, still have a strong defense. The Eagles are extremely pass-heavy, throwing nearly 70 percent of the time (fourth most in NFL), and Wentz is benefiting from it in a major way.
SIT THESE QBs...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. SEA)
The Titans are still a playoff-caliber team, but Mariota has been a little slow out of the gate. If you have some depth on your roster, consider giving Mariota a rest in Week 3. Mariota will be a top-tier fantasy quarterback, but his matchups in the early going haven't been favorable. Jacksonville is a legitimate pass defense, while the Raiders just had a better game plan in Week 1. Now, Mariota must play the Seahawks, who are their usual dominant selves, giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to QBs so far this season.
Jameis Winston, TB (at MIN)
Winston finished Week 2 as the QB22, and while things will eventually get better this season, this is a poor matchup, as he has to go on the road to face a Vikings defense that held Drew Brees to a QB17 finish in Week 1 and Ben Roethlisberger to QB10 –which can be considered a relative success considering he typically puts up monster numbers at home – last Sunday. Winston still needs to be started in two-QB leagues, but in standard formats, I’d much rather stream someone else.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. KC)
Life hasn't been very good for Rivers in recent years against the Chiefs. He's been prone to blowouts and low-scoring affairs against a Chiefs defense that knows him well. The offensive line still isn't among the above-average units, which should play into Rivers' struggles against Kansas City. So far the Chiefs are allowing opposing QBs a 77.3 QB rating and the seventh-fewest fantasy points.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. TEN)
Wilson has been one of the biggest fantasy busts so far this season. While a lot of it has to do with his terrible offensive line, the Seahawks haven’t been able to get anything going at all on offense. So far this season, 19 other QBs have scored more fantasy points than Wilson. This week Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks travel across the country to take on a tough Titans team.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
New England Patriots (vs. HOU)
The Patriots’ D has struggled in the first two weeks, but that shouldn’t be a problem at home this week against the Texans and rookie QB Deshaun Watson. So far, Houston's defensive opponents have scored an average of 17.5 fantasy points against the Texans.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
Statistically speaking, the Eagles’ D always plays well against the Giants. Over the last meetings New York is averaging just 10.2 points per game against Philadelphia. And with the way this offense is playing right now, 10 points might be hard to reach for these Giants.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Houston Texans (at NE)
Even though the Texans are an elite defense, this one is easy. The Patriots’ offense is rolling with Mike Gillislee running the ball and even with injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, look for Tom Brady to once again have a big game. Stay away from Houston this week.
Carolina Panthers (vs. NO)
Sure the Panthers’ defense has been one of the best in the league through the first two weeks. In fact, they’re allowing only three points per game so far. But their first two games were against the 49ers and the Bills. This week is a different story against a New Orleans Saints team that desperately needs a win to avoid going 0-3.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.