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Expert fantasy football advice: Week Three starts & sits

Quarterback

Start

Jay Cutler, QB, MIA – Cutler's ceiling might be capped this week if the Dolphins are playing ahead for most of the second half against the lowly Jets. However, he's still a phenomenal streaming target. The Miami team total sits at a respectable 24.5 points, and Cutler should make up for some lost volume with efficiency in a positive game script. The Jets defense has yielded 2 TD passes to Tyrod Taylor and 3 to Derek Carr through two games.

What's most appealing about Cutler if you're streaming the QB position is that it's a two-week pickup. The Dolphins are in London next week against a horrific Saints defense that has bled fantasy points to opposing passing games for years, with no end in sight.

In DFS leagues, Cutler will be a better option next week than this week because of the increased ceiling. One appeal to using Cutler in tournament formats, though, are the condensed nature of his offenses, making it easier to stack him with the right pass catchers. WRs Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker combined for 71% of targeted passes in Week 1. Plus, if we didn't write about Cutler, we wouldn't be able to use the ultimate Smokin' Jay- Don't Care GIF:

Sit

Jameis Winston, QB, TB – Winston will throw his fair share of TDs this season thanks to skill players Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Cameron Brate/OJ Howard at TE. The issue is coaching philosophy and matchup.

In close games or if Tampa Bay is leading, the team is going to stay committed to the ground game. This was on display last week when Winston attempted just 30 passes in an easy victory. It wasn't an anomaly. After throwing the ball an average of 44.25 times per game the first four games of last season, Winston averaged just 32.75 pass attempts over his final four games. He topped 50 pass attempts in Weeks 2 and 3 but never even hit the 40 mark again rest of season.

As road underdogs, it's possible Tampa Bay is forced to throw more this week. The issue then becomes low-efficiency pass attempts against a good defense in obvious passing situations. The result could be empty volume. Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranks the Vikings 12th in pass coverage, and the Vikings finished eighth in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA last season. Tampa Bay's Vegas implied team total is on the wrong side of 20 this week.

Running Back

Start

Theo Riddick, DET, RB – This suggestion is more specific to full PPR leagues, but if you're light at RB or the FLEX spot in half-PPR leagues, Riddick is usable there as well.

From a micro perspective, this is a great matchup for Riddick. He's Detroit's pass catching RB, and the Atlanta defense funnels volume to the RB position in the passing game. According to Sharp Football Stats, Atlanta has allowed 26 targets to the RB position this season, most in the league. They allowed the most in the league last season as well, and the success rate on those attempts was very high. Ty Montgomery shredded the Falcons last week, but so did an exclusively pass-catching back in Week 1, Tarik Cohen:

In DFS leagues, you still want to focus on RBs with more well-rounded volume in cash games, but Riddick is a fine tournament play on DraftKings. One final note, with Ameer Abdullah ineffective in the run game, Riddick already saw an increase of snaps from Week 1 (29.6%) to Week 2 (43.6%).

Sit

Paul Perkins, RB, NYG – Last week in this space we talked about empty volume as it pertains to the RB position when analyzing Ameer Abdullah. Paul Perkins finds himself in the same fantasy purgatory, except with less talent and on a worse offense. Don't be sucked in by the allure of having a "starting RB" on your roster.

When Perkins does get volume, he's unsuccessful (1.9 YPC) and it's low leverage touches. He has just five total targets through two games, despite negative game scripts. The overall volume is reduced because of a bad Giants offensive line, that has necessitated Shane Vereen play more. The team has also found themselves in negative game scripts, forcing them to abandon the run (just 14 carries for Perkins combined) and limiting red zone opportunities (just 2 for Perkins). As 6-point road underdogs against a Philadelphia team playing well, expect more of the same this week.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Start

Jaron Brown, ARI – While Carson Palmer only threw 1 TD last week, the yardage was there for a big day (332). Of his 36 pass attempts,  11 were intended for Jaron Brown (31%). He'll fly under the radar after a big week by teammate JJ Nelson, as Brown has done most of his career (buried behind Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Martavis Bryant at Clemson).

In PPR leagues especially, he'll be a useful WR3 this week, though. He's unlikely to see 11 targets again, but Brown should have a safe role playing alongside an aging Larry Fitzgerald, a possibly limited JJ Nelson (limited with a hamstring injury in Thursday's practice), and in place of an injured John Brown. David Johnson is also not available to soak up targets in the passing game.

It's also possible Jaron Brown is actually good at football, despite a lackluster career. He's 6'2, 205 pounds, and his SPARQ-x score on PlayerProfiler puts him in the 88th percentile. Brown's combine metrics indicate plus speed for his size, plus agility, and a plus catch radius.

This is one of our bolder start calls in this space, but Brown should be owned in deeper leagues or leagues with big benches. He's usable as a late swap option on both DraftKings and FanDuel if you played the THUR-MON slates.

Sit

Marvin Jones, WR, DET – Jones is a prime example of a fluky TD rate over a small sample distorting fantasy value. After catching just 4 TDs in each of his past two seasons, Jones has a TD in each of his first two games this year. When the TDs inevitably go away, the floor here is nonexistent. That's particularly the case this week.

Jones possesses Detroit's toughest one-on-one matchup, likely to see plenty of Atlanta CB Desmond Trufant, who is consistently one of the better cover corners in the league. That should funnel targets to Detroit's interior pass catchers, like Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, and, as mentioned above, Theo Riddick. On top of this, rookie WR Kenny Golladay is the most talented Lions' outside WR.

The volume just isn't there for Jones, and the 3.5 targets he's averaged through two weeks are indicative of what we should expect the rest of the season.

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