Owners better recover quickly from an odd weekend of fantasy football before the New York Giants host Washington on the Week 3 edition of Thursday Night Football.
In a way, the NFC East showdown figures to be a slight continuation of the odd Week 2. Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. only has 24 points through two games, and Washington looks like a ground-and-pound team in which Alfred Morris continues to lose playing time to a rookie by the name of Matt Jones.
Below, let’s swing the odds back in an owner’s favor by comparing some similarly ranked players to determine who has the best matchups and then break down some notable start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
Start: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. NO)
After an ugly 12-point outing against the Jaguars in Jacksonville to start the season, it looks like Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is back to his usual self thanks to a 26-point outburst against the Houston Texans in Week 2.
Newton threw two scores there and rushed for another, finishing third among quarterbacks in scoring. As NFL Network’s Rand Getlin pointed out, it wasn’t a rare performance:
Now Newton gets to go against the New Orleans Saints, a team that has already allowed four touchdown passes and a minimum of 18 points to quarterbacks.
Last year, the Saints surrendered 47 points to Carolina quarterbacks over two contests, and things look even worse this time around in New Orleans. Look for Newton to have a big day and hang around the top five.
Sit: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick finished right next to Newton in scoring last week, but the note requires context.
The 26 points were a nice showing, but it’s important to understand it required 46 attempts against a struggling Pittsburgh defense in a shootout that ended in a 43-18 loss.
So many attempts won’t help Kaepernick this weekend in the desert. The Arizona Cardinals defense hasn’t given up more than 16 points to a quarterback this year, and the 16 came against Drew Brees, who needed a gaudy 48 attempts to make it happen.
Kaepernick looks like an intriguing play on a matchup basis moving forward, but this is one matchup to avoid.
Start: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CHI)
It’s rebound time, folks.
One has to scroll quite a long time to find Marshawn Lynch on fantasy leaderboards right now—at least quite a while for a guy with the nickname Beast Mode.
Lynch only has 18 points through two games and no rushing touchdowns, but road trips to St. Louis and Green Bay weren’t the best matchups. A Week 3 date with the Chicago Bears?
The Bears feature one of the worst defenses in football, allowing Green Bay Packers backs to score 15 points in the opener and Arizona 23 points the week after. Each team didn’t have more than 26 carries in the process, a nice usage rate Lynch alone might see in what should be a grind-it-out affair against a bad team.
Sit: Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (vs. ATL)
On the surface this looks like an incredible matchup.
After all, it seems Joseph Randle is the starter in Dallas, and through two weeks the Atlanta Falcons have surrendered the most points to backs.
Problems abound, though.
Randle only has 16 points through two games. Darren McFadden stole six carries from him in the opener, then 10 in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a committee approach for the Cowboys, and the outlook isn’t great with Dez Bryant out of the picture and Tony Romo on injured reserve with a designation to return.
Defenses will throw everything they have at the Dallas backfield now, and if Randle couldn’t prove a viable option with Bryant and Romo on the field, he certainly isn’t one with them watching in sweatpants from the sideline.
Start: Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. KC)
See, this is a matchup that looks obvious and just is.
Everyone knows what Randall Cobb can do on a week-to-week basis in tandem with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Even working his way back from injury in Week 1, Cobb took to Chicago and scored nine points with a score to his name. Healthier in Week 2, he scored 11 through eight grabs against the Seattle secondary.
Now Cobb gets the Kansas City Chiefs, the defense allowing the most points to wideouts through the first two weeks. The unit struggles to defend on the edges, having surrendered four scores to wideouts already and point totals of 40 (Houston) and 32 (Denver).
There’s an association with Kansas City as a stingy defense, but it’s just not true through two weeks. At Lambeau Field, Cobb’s more likely to help continue to change the perception than revert it.
Sit: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (vs. TB)
DeAndre Hopkins is one of the names who did major damage against the Kansas City defense, but it wouldn’t be wise to expect a similar performance against Tampa Bay in Week 3.
Hopkins posted 23 points on the Chiefs in Week 1, but then turned around and caught five passes for as many points in Carolina the week after. The lack of Arian Foster and a question mark under center stands as the reason for his spotty production.
Things don’t figure to get better against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has surrendered 25 and 23 points to wideouts so far in two games, but those performances came by way of a strong rookie debut by Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and Brees. Keep in mind those are an entire cast of wideouts’ totals, not one player.
The Buccaneers looked like a new team in Week 2, flustering Brees with pressure. One of Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett won’t find as much success given the circumstances, hurting Hopkins’ value.
Also, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that Hopkins missed practice because of a concussion, so the wide receiver will need to go through the league’s concussion protocol before being cleared to play on Sunday.
Start: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at GB)
There’s no reason to distrust Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce.
He scored five points in a tough Week 2 matchup with Denver, but try not to forget the 22-point output in Week 1 against Houston.
When the Chiefs and Packers collide, Kansas City figures to be throwing the ball often in an effort to keep up. This plays into Kelce’s favor, especially considering the Packers have allowed the 10th-most yards to tight ends since last year’s kickoff.
Something in the neighborhood of the 11 points and a score allowed by Green Bay in Week 1 makes sense for Kelce given the circumstances.
Sit: Jordan Reed, Washington (at NYG)
Jordan Reed looks like a valuable commodity through two weeks, scoring one touchdown and totaling 20 points.
The problem with Reed is health, considering he’s never played in more than 11 games in a season. He’s already been on the injury report this year and now plays Thursday on a quick turnaround, which is something that should worry owners.
Also of note is the matchup, as the New York Giants aren’t terrible against tight ends. The unit allowed 24 points in Week 1, but Dallas tight end Jason Witten caught two scores to skew the numbers. Atlanta tight ends managed seven total points the following week.
Reed isn’t Witten, nor does he have a great track record against the Giants, catching three passes for 13 yards against them last year. At least this week, owners will want to avoid Reed.
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