Setting your fantasy lineup can be challenging at times. The odds of you sitting any of the top dozen options at our three featured positions is pretty slim. And if so, it's because you have more than one of the obvious top options. On the other hand, the odds of you starting any in the third dozen are pretty remote as well.
Therefore, I will focus on the options in the "QB2/TE2/DST2" range, i.e. those ranked that week from around 13 to 24. That's the tier I will be evaluating. And more often than not, I'll try to give you a lower-ranked option for whom to start and a higher-ranked option for whom to sit.
With the rules out of the way, here are this week's picks.
START This QB
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
There is an angle I'm surprised we are hearing very little about this week when it comes to this game: red zone efficiency. The Eagles absolutely thumped the Falcons this past week, but some of that can be attributed to what is becoming a hallmark of this offense: red zone inefficiency. Atlanta was horrible in the red zone last year and once again came away with zero TDs despite multiple trips inside the opposition's 20.
Fast forward to this week, and the Eagles had better limit San Francisco's red zone trips. Because for all of his faults, Garoppolo is quite efficient in the red zone. Last year, among regularly starting QBs, only Aaron Rodgers, Taysom Hill, and Lamar Jackson were better in the red zone. The 49ers are at it again, having converted both of their red zone opportunities in Week 1. The "news" of the game was Trey Lance coming in momentarily for Garoppolo, but Jimmy G should continue to start. After all, you don't sit a QB with a 124.2 QB Rating who completed 17 of 25 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown, do you? If nothing else, I like the floor that Garoppolo brings to the table, far more than this next option.
SIT This QB
Mac Jones, New England Patriots vs New York Jets
Yes, I am putting my faith in the New York Jets defense. Scary, I know. But against former teammates Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson, the stage was set for them to get torched. However, the Jets doused that plan, keeping Darnold relatively in check. He was hit nine times by a team whose pass rush he had seen weekly in practice the year before. And Darnold has probably more talent at the WR position than he has ever had before.
Jones, meanwhile, lacks all familiarity with the Jets and, for that matter, has limited familiarity with an NFL defense. I think he'll get there, but expecting him to do it in only his second start is a bit optimistic. There are also a lot of questions about the New England WRs as well. If you can wait to see what Bill Belicheck does with the Patriots' offense before starting Jones, I would.
START This TE
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
I was high on Johnson last week, and all he did was go out and score two TDs. Carolina has struggled with defending tight ends lately, having given up the ninth-most points to the position last season, and was right around league average last week against the Jets. With Jameis Winston looking like an All-Pro, don't be surprised if Johnson scores again this week. He's not going to outpoint Travis Kelce, Darren Waller or George Kittle, but he is absolutely a TE2 this week. Johnson has been ranked outside of that range, and I suspect he won't be for much longer.
SIT This TE
Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Conklin has been a popular waiver wire pick the last couple of weeks, but I have yet to see any reason why my reaction should be anything more than "meh." Four catches for 41 yards, does that get you excited? Not me. If Minnesota is not running the ball, Kirk Cousins is looking for Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. If not them, he'll dump it off to Dalvin Cook. Conklin is at best the fourth option in the passing game, and I think K.J. Osborn's seven catches for 76 yards makes that statement highly questionable. And we know Osborn is a YAC monster:
Conklin is better than taking a zero, but there are probably 25 TEs I'd rather start right now than him.
START This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
I know the Raiders gave up 27 points and needed overtime to beat the Ravens. But it's noteworthy how often the Raiders defense held Lamar Jackson in check on Monday night. Three sacks and two turnovers later, they are a top-12 fantasy DST after one week. They could be a sneaky start in your deeper leagues!
To be honest, this is less of an endorsement of the Raiders' defense and more of a lack of faith in the Steelers' offense. In Pittsburgh's last eight regular-season games, they have failed to score more than two touchdowns seven times. You don't need to be a math wiz to know that's bad, especially in the modern NFL. The Raiders DST may not present a very high ceiling, but given where most of the industry is ranking this unit this week, Las Vegas has a fairly high floor.
SIT This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs
What's the best-case scenario here? Ravens get a few sacks, maybe a defensive or special teams TD, maybe a turnover, and keep KC under 30 points. So let's call it 10, maybe a dozen points. Not horrible, but that's not a great ceiling. Now let's discuss the floor. The Ravens get zero pressure against the revamped O-line, don't force a turnover, and give up a gazillion points. Their floor is easily negative. Just not worth the risk this week.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.