Fantasy Football Week 3 lineup decisions: Starts, Sits, Sleepers and Busts to know for every game

Fantasy Football Week 3 lineup decisions: Starts, Sits, Sleepers and Busts to know for every game

Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn’t be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you’ve got the right guys in — and the wrong guys out.

It’s too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don’t know. This should lead to better decisions being made.

We’ll go through every game and highlight the players who aren’t obvious starts and sits (because you don’t need to be told to start Jonathan Taylor). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.  

All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.

Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • Cooper has lined up wide almost exclusively through two weeks. He’s also run routes of 16-plus yards on just 4 of his 61 routes. It’s safe to say he’ll continue to need a lot of targets and a touchdown to be real good for Fantasy.

  • Thing is, those are realistic possibilities. The Steelers have allowed three touchdowns, a 68% catch rate and 4.79 YAC/rec (yards after catch per reception) to outside receivers through their first two games. But improving their pass defense will be a point of emphasis after some breakdowns last week.

  • I expect the Steelers to play plenty of man coverage with a safety hovering toward Cooper, and I don’t think they’ll blitz a ton (Jacoby Brissett has actually beaten the blitz a few times already this year). Cooper has seen a 35% target per route run share against man coverage this year, but with inefficient results (57% catch rate, 8.3 yards per catch).   

Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • The Dolphins have allowed a 78.3% completion rate and 200 yards allowed (second-most) to opposing tight ends through two weeks. But more than half of the yards went to hyper-targeted Mark Andrews last week; Knox just isn’t in the same class. 
  • The matchup has been favorable for Knox in the past against the Dolphins, but even when he’s scored on them he’s maxed out at 11 PPR points. 

Bust Candidate (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • This won’t be easy for Tagovailoa. Not that he’s a mess when he’s blitzed but he’s less effective then compared to not blitzed, and he’s specifically worse against zone coverage (64.4% completion rate, 87.3 QB rating) than man coverage (89.5% completion rate, 156.5 QB rating). The Bills have played zone coverage on just over 90% of their snaps through two weeks and have the second-best pass rush pressure rate (41.6%) so far in 2022. They’re going to try and get to Tagovailoa while keeping their defensive backs downfield so they don’t give up the big play. 
  • It means Tagovailoa’s going to have to get rid of the ball quickly a good amount of the time. Against zone coverage and with 2.4 seconds or less to throw, Tagovailoa has completed 69.6% of his throws (29th-best) over 23 drop backs (fifth-most!) for 5.87 yards per attempt (20th-best) and no touchdowns (not good). He’s considerably more efficient when he has more time than that, but his completion rate is still an ugly 60% (21st best). 
  • The Bills did a terrific job against Jaylen Waddle last year. Their results against Tyreek Hill when he was in Kansas City were great (under 75 yards per game) in the regular season; horrible in the playoffs (over 150 yards per game). Both figure to get a slew of targets. 

Start Him in PPR (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • Cover-3 Captain Gus Bradley will bring his zone-heavy Colts scheme to keep Patrick Mahomes from throwing deep. In these situations, I love short-area targets like Smith-Schuster to come through for a volume-driven stat line.  
  • Last week Smith-Schuster’s snaps were split evenly between the slot and out wide, a change from being more of an outside receiver in Week 1. My hunch is that Smith-Schuster will be even more in the slot this week to avoid coverage from Stephon Gilmore. Colts slot cornerback Kenny Moore has allowed an 81.8% catch rate on 11 targets through two games with a touchdown given up in each.
  • Mahomes has thrown 17 passes this season against Cover-3, completing 89.5% of his throws for 271 yards. Smith-Schuster is tied with Travis Kelce for most receptions against that coverage scheme (four). 

Sneaky Sleeper (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • We got Old Jameis Winston back, if only for one week. Winston went bonkers with the deep throws, averaging 13.22 Air Yards per pass attempt (tops among Week 2 starters by a mile, though not literally), but with two of his three interceptions coming on those long tosses.
  • Last year Winston was pressured on 58.6% of his pass attempts by the Panthers, third-most for any team in any week in 2021. He threw two interceptions and zero touchdowns in a Panthers blowout win. The Panthers rank 10th in pass rush pressure rate through two weeks.
  • So the bet is that Winston’s coaches reel him in with shorter, quicker throws, which are better suited for Landry even though Landry himself got some deep targets in Week 1. 
  • Statistically, the Panthers pass defense has been great against receivers, but they’ve faced the Browns and Giants. Not that Landry is any better than Amari Cooper or Sterling Shepard, but the Saints will be a steeper test for them. And, for what it’s worth, the Panthers’ only pass-defense flaw so far this season has been a high catch rate allowed to slot receivers (88.2% ranks sixth-worst). Landry predominantly lines up in the slot.

Start Him (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • Pierce took some positive steps forward last week, playing 63% of the snaps and two of three inside of 10 yards. While his vision and patience aren’t quite there yet, he flashed his power and burst on a number of runs last week. He was also helped by an improving Texans offensive line. 
  • Meanwhile, the Bears were blown apart by the Packers, allowing 5.85 yards per rush and winding up bottom-six in pretty much every rush defense metric imaginable. Notably, it’s the second week in a row they’ve ranked poorly in yards before contact per rush allowed (1.79 yards on the season ranks seventh worst). Chicago has been especially beaten on edge runs (6.3 yards per carry allowed; 39.3% of runs resulting in a first down). 

Flex Starter (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • This might be the game that makes or breaks Mooney. It’s Chicago’s first matchup of the year where Justin Fields shouldn’t be under serious pressure — his O-line has given up a pressure on nearly half of his drop backs. That’s why Fields isn’t throwing to anyone, not just Mooney. 
  • But make no mistake, Mooney is getting open and would have had nice numbers already if Fields had better protection. That should happen against the Texans, who are 25th in pass rush pressure rate despite being tied for 10th in blitzes called. 
  • The Texans are also bottom-10 in almost every single pass defense metric against wide receivers (including yards per catch, YAC/rec and tackles missed), save for two: Their 60.8% catch rate allowed is top-10 thanks to 11 passes defended (best in football).

Start Him (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

  • Cousins seemed very out-of-sync against Philadelphia. Many throws didn’t have his usual velocity and he seemed focused on getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible. He threw three deep passes, had one picked off and would have completed two if not for a bad drop by Irv Smith. 
  • A matchup against the Lions should work out better — Cousins will be at home versus a pass defense that let up three touchdowns and 337 yards last week to Carson Wentz and 12.08 yards per catch overall (sixth-worst) through two weeks. Cousins has also put up at least 23 Fantasy points in three of his past four against the Lions. 
  • Expect the Lions to dial up a lot of blitzes just as they have all season, but with zone coverage behind it. Cousins should be able to navigate past that with help from his offensive line. He should be good for at least 250 yards and a couple of scores, especially since he figures to get Adam Thielen more involved after barely connecting with him in Week 2 (or Week 1). 

Sit Him (Lineup Decision)

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What to know:

  • The continued barrage of targets going to Amon-Ra St. Brown is putting a lid on Hockenson’s upside. Hockenson still has a not-bad 19.4% target share through two weeks, but he’s caught half of those targets for 9.14 yards per grab.
  • Hockenson is also not running downfield much — of the 60 routes he’s run, only 10 have been 11-plus yards downfield and only one of those 10 routes resulted in a target. It means he’s much more of a short-area safety valve for Jared Goff and not a primary focal point. 
  • That goes double inside of 10 yards, where he’s played 11 snaps but run just three routes and had zero targets. 
  • The Vikings aren’t necessarily stalwarts against tight ends — they’ve allowed a 78.6% catch rate so far this season, which is bottom-five. But Dallas Goedert’s 5-82-0 stat line from last week seems awfully improbable for Hockenson given his limitations in the Lions offense. 

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Flex Starter in Non-PPR (Lineup Decisions)

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What to know:

Expect the Patriots to test the Ravens front seven. Through two weeks the Ravens have seen the seventh-fewest rush attempts by running backs and have allowed 5.09 yards per carry and a second-worst 2.09 yards before contact per carry. Mind you, this was against the Jets and Dolphins, two teams with suspect offensive lines. 

It’s specifically been those between-the-tackle runs that have been hardest on the Ravens — they’ve allowed 5.39 yards per rush to running backs on those plays with seven missed tackles. Both are bottom-seven in the league. 

Harris is averaging 4.68 yards per carry on runs between the tackles with 26.3% of his runs resulting in a first down or touchdown. Those rank top-20 among his qualifying peers across the league, which isn’t bad. He’s also besting Rhamondre Stevenson in carries, snaps and nearly every efficiency metric for running backs through two weeks. 

Flex Starter in PPR (Lineup Decisoins)

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Stats to know:

  • The Ravens have played a ton of zone coverage through the first two weeks, including early in both of their matchups when their opponents weren’t chasing points on the scoreboard. The Ravens have also league-average in pass-rush pressure rate and just below league-average at blitz rate, suggesting their pass rush isn’t as dangerous as it has been in the past. 
  • Those factors help set up Meyers for another outing with some good volume. Meyers has seen at least 20% of his team’s target share each week including a stunning 38% share in Week 2 against the Steelers. 
  • Obviously, the Ravens rank dead last in a bunch of pass defense categories after last week, but even on throws inside of 10 yards the Ravens rank dead-last in missed tackles on wideout catches with 10.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

Player selections to come.

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