Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 3


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 3

The fantasy football season is underway, and if you've started the year 0-2 just remember teams like the Seahawks, Colts and Ravens - playoff contenders - are, too.

Then again, so are the Bears.

OK, so 0-2 isn't the best place to be. But an 0-3 start? That'll have you looking at your roster like DeMarco Murray at Sam Bradford:

But that's why we're here to help. If you've been punished by injuries - Dez Bryant and Tony Romo have been the season's earliest casualties - or are still waiting for your early-round picks to show up - C.J. Anderson and Demaryius Thomas can get going whenever they'd like - your starting lineup becomes more important ever. That's why we've picked out 12 players for you to consider getting into your lineup and 12 others who should ride the pine in Week 3.

[RELATED: Fantasy Football Podcast - Week 2 upsets and other disappointments]

If you've got specific questions, drop us a question on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Without further adieu, let's get into it:


John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. SF) - Boy, that Cardinals offense is hummin. Fantasy owners are thrilled to see Carson Palmer healthy because he's making the top options in that offense look good on your team. Larry Fitzgerald is coming off a career game and I don't think he can replicate it the next week. Brown should get a lot more looks at home against a 49ers defense and his game-changing speed should attract Palmer's eyes on some big plays. This should be Brown's breakout week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Charles Clay, TE, BUF (@ MIA) - Call this the revenge game. Every player wants to do well against his former team and Clay will be no different this Sunday. In a week that has a lot of not-so-great tight end matchups or injury situations, Clay is a nice play (yes, I know that rhymes). Give him a spot start against this shaky secondary. (Professor)

Jared Cook, TE, STL (vs. PIT) - Look. He is no Gronk or Travis Kelce, but if you're looking for a plug and play tight end in Week 3, look no further than Cook. Why? The Steelers literally can't cover a tight end. They allowed four combined touchdowns to the Patriots in Week 1 and followed up that weak performance by letting Vernon Davis haul in five passes for 62 yards. If you're chasing a tight end touchdown, Cook is your guy this weekend. (Scott Krinch)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, CLE (vs. OAK) - Fantasy relevance in Cleveland? Fantasy relevance in Cleveland. Crowell, who was slept on in most fantasy drafts a few weeks ago, looked good against the Titans in Week 2, racking up 72 yards on just 15 carries and a score. The number of carries weren't great, but they were three more than Duke Johnson, who only rushed for 43 yards on his 12 attempts. Now Josh McCown is back, and against a subpar Raiders rush defense it looks like a good time to roll with Crowell. Johnson is going to hang around for the time being, but this is still Crowell's job to lose. He's a fine flex play this week. (Mark Strotman)

Justin Forsett, RB, BAL (vs. CIN) - The Bengals are susceptible to plenty of fantasy production coming through the air out of the backfield if the first two weeks are any indication. Forsett is a solid receiver and he and the Ravens need to get back on track offensively. I'm betting it comes this week. (Tony Andracki)

Andre Johnson, WR, IND (@ TEN) - This passing offense has to break out at some point, right? Johnson has looked downright awful through two weeks, catching seven of 17 targets for just 51 yards and no scores. The perfect remedy for that? An 0-2 start and a date with the miserable Titans secondary. You'll find it to be a trend in this week's start/sit, but we're really high on the Colts passing attack busting out in a big way. Johnson has 10 touchdowns in 22 career games against the Titans, the most against any opponent he's faced. That trend continues, as the 34-year-old veteran is this week's version of Larry Fitzgerald and has himself a big day. Get him in your lineup as a fine flex play. (Strotman)

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David Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. SF) - In the preseason, Johnson was a nice stash. Week 1 he proved to be a true home-run hitter, scampering 55 yards for a score on his first touch in the NFL. In Week 2 we saw even more flashes of brilliance, as he took the opening kick 108 yards for a score and picked up a second touchdown as part of a 42-yard rushing afternoon. With Andre Ellington on the bench for one more week, now's the time to cash in on Johnson's ability to find the end zone. Squaring off against a Niners team that was absolutely gashed in Week 2 against the Steelers, Johnson may not earn the volume numbers, but he has the upside to explode on one or two touches. He's an excellent flex play with RB2 upside this week. This could be his most valuable week the rest of the season. (Strotman)

Dion Lewis, RB, NE (vs. JAX) - Oh you thought Lewis was going into Bill Belichick's doghouse after fumbling in Week 2? It's cool, I thought the same thing. Luckily for Lewis and his owners, the Patriots coaching staff ignored the turnover and kept feeding him the rock. Through two games, Lewis is the NFL's No. 5 fantasy running back in terms of points scored. He's playing in 85 percent of snaps (even with LeGarrette Blount back) and appears to have enough talent to return, at worst, RB2-type numbers his season. Oh and he's playing the Jaguars on Sunday. Need I say more? (Krinch)

Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI (@ NYJ) - The Eagles have been horrendously disappointing this season in both real life and fantasy. The only thing saving Matthews from being disappointing himself has been garbage time production. But he has been productive and that's all that matters. He should have another good game again this week going up against a Jets team that is only in the middle of the pack at limiting WR fantasy points. Matthews is ranked as the No. 22 WR for Week 3 by ESPN, but he should be higher. (Andracki)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (@ TEN) - Moncrief showed the nation how talented he is against the Jets in a game that was pretty ugly all-around for the Colts. Andrew Luck can't afford another bad game and he shouldn't have one against this Titans defense. With T.Y. Hilton not 100 percent after a short week, Moncrief could be the beneficiary of a desperate Colts offense. He's absolutely worth the start. (Professor)

Carson Palmer, QB, ARI (vs. SF) - Yes, we love the Cardinals offense this week. As John and I discussed in studio, Palmer has been underrated, but that needs to change. He's a Top 10 QB this season, he has plenty of weapons and he has another solid matchup this week against a Niners defense that clearly can't find any consistency right now. (Andracki)

Terrance Williams, WR, DAL (vs. ATL) - Would you look at that. In his first game as the Cowboys' No. 1 wideout since Dez Bryant broke a bone in his foot, Williams had five receptions on seven targets for 84 yards and a touchdown. I understand that Brandon Weeden is now his quarterback and that is never good for anybody, but Dallas literally has nobody else at wide receiver right now. In Week 3 Williams draws the Falcons secondary, who are ranked in the middle of the pack against opposing receivers. I'm expecting them to drop down the ranks as the season goes on, especially after Williams torches them. (Krinch)



Keenan Allen, WR, SD (@ MIN) - After a monster Week 1 (15 rec, 166 yds), Allen had just two catches for 16 yards and lost a fumble in Week 2. That kind of inconsistency just kills in fantasy and now Allen goes up against an underrated Vikings defense that is sixth in the league at limiting opposing WRs through the first two weeks (Andracki)

Brandin Cooks, WR, NO (@ CAR) - Have the Saints come marching in yet? I was extremely high on him coming into this year, thinking he could be a low-end WR1 but that hasn't panned out yet. Part of it is Drew Brees being hurt but the other part is teams likely trying to take Cooks out of the equation because he's the best talent the Saints have on offense. The Panthers are really good at taking away your best receiving target and with Brees possibly being out (and certainly nowhere near 100 percent) I'm staying away from Cooks this week. (Professor)

Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (@DAL) - Hey look! Tevin Coleman is hurt and Freeman has the backfield all to himself. While I'm sure Freeman owners are excited about that, they can't be excited about his matchup against an underrated Cowboys defense. They just don't give up a lot of yards on the ground (ask DeMarco Murray that). The Falcons offensive line also isn't elite enough to open up holes all day for Freeman so unfortunately, he should remain on your bench even though he will get the majority of the touches. (Professor)

Frank Gore, RB, IND (@ TEN) - Yes, there are more reasons to have Gore on your bench other than that hilarious goal-line fumble in the third quarter last Monday night. Although that sort of capped off a second straight average performance for Gore, I still like his outlook this season. I'm just not sure it's the right play this week against the Titans. If you read up on Andre Johnson's or Donte Moncrief's "start" write-up, we're predicting Andrew Luck to break out in a big way in Week 3. Simply put, one of the league's best quarterbacks is due for a gigantic performance. It should come against a defense that allowed Johnny Manziel a 133.9 passer rating. That'll mean fewer touches for Gore, who has just three receptions in two games. If you don't have a better option, start Gore. Just be aware Sunday will belong to Luck and the receivers. (Strotman)

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (@ MIN) - As you can tell, I'm not a big fan of the Chargers this week. The Vikings defense is better than its shown the first two weeks of the season and Gordon has been disappointing thus far. Danny Woodhead is vulturing all kinds of fantasy production from Gordon and as a result, the rookie hasn't been a must-start. You should avoid him this week, too. (Andracki) 

Mark Ingram, RB, NO (@ CAR) - I've been looking for the right time to sit Ingram and Week 3 seems perfect for it. Before the season started I didn't hold back my disdain for the Saints running back. Outside of a three-game stretch in 2014, his numbers have been mediocre at best. Through two games he's averaging just over 10 points per game, which isn't bad for a flex player, but it isn't good for owners who drafted him in the second round. Expect that number to dip after Sunday's game against the Panthers goes final. Carolina hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown in 2015. I'm guessing that trend continues. (Krinch)

Charles Johnson, WR, MIN (vs. SD) - Raise your hand if you reached on Cordarrelle Patterson in 2014. Now raise your hand if you did the same with Johnson in 2015. Maybe you should stay away from any Vikings player not named Adrian Peterson. I know I will. It's not time to drop Johnson yet, but there's definitely a major cause for concern. So far, Johnson has caught just five passes for 37 yards. Teddy Bridgewater isn't looking his way, nor throwing the ball down field, and his outlook doesn't appear any brighter with a dangerous Chargers secondary looming on Sunday. (Krinch)

Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC (@ GB) - I wouldn't say it's been a bad start for Maclin, but it certainly hasn't been Philadelphia-like. Nine receptions for 109 yards and - shocking! - no touchdowns for the Chiefs wide receiver hasn't told the whole story (ahem, Alex Smith), but it's enough to keep him on the bench against a Packers defense that is A) putrid against the run and B) coming off a nice performance against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Wilson threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and I'll take the under on those numbers for Alex Smith this week. Jamaal Charles should run free Monday night, but it'll be yet another week until Maclin finally starts hitting homers that win his owners a matchup. (Strotman)

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Doug Martin, RB, TB (@ HOU) - I haven't lost faith on Martin as putting together a successful RB2 season with Jameis Winston under center and two viable wide receivers flanking him. If the offensive line can hold up, Martin should return solid value. But against a stout Texans defense looking to make a statement at home at 0-2, this isn't the week for the Running Back Formerly Known as the Muscle Hamster to get going. Feel good about having him, and maybe buy low on him, but his 130 yards and one lost fumble aren't any kind of reason to start him this week either. It's coming, just not this week. (Strotman)

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (vs. BUF) - Man, this Dolphins offense is scaring me. It's not moving the ball well at all and is a nightmare for fantasy owners. Miller is having a rough start and I don't see it getting better this week at all. He's not only banged up but he's also going up against a very stout defense. Don't give up on him yet but don't put him in your lineup this week. (Professor)

Rams D/ST (vs. PIT) - The Rams are definitely a unit you want to own. Why? They get to the quarterback and most leagues reward at least one point for every sack. However, with a dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers offense looming, the Arizona Cardinals offensive arsenal on deck and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the hole, it's time to park their unit on the bench for the next three weeks if you have an open roster spot. If not, they need to be dropped until a Week 7 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. (Krinch)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (vs. DEN) - The Broncos are the best team in the league against the pass. Stafford may be the most frustrating fantasy QB to own given his potential, how often he throws the ball, his weapons and subpar production. Add it all up and this is a classic sit option this week, even if you just had one of the QBs that just went down to injury. (Andracki)

Tight ends and all things “timing” will change in Matt Nagy Bears West Coast offense


Tight ends and all things “timing” will change in Matt Nagy Bears West Coast offense

Second of two parts

Looking ahead to training camp and what everyone will be looking at – it will help to have even a cursory idea of the offensive elements that coach Matt Nagy is incorporating, particularly in the passing game -- because the when, where and how the Bears will be throwing the football is changing. NBC Sports Chicago focuses on a selection of specifics and their origins within that part of the offense that fans will notice, first in Bourbonnais and then in the 2018 season.

Bill Walsh wrote and always insisted that the tight end was the least understood central pillar in his offense. He viewed and used the tight end as a receiver rather than simply an extra offensive lineman, and used the position to exploit matchup problems and open areas of the field created by design.

In a bit of fortuitous timing, the Bears signed and drafted tight ends (Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims) a year in advance of Matt Nagy’s arrival. But how those tight ends project to be used will be substantially changed from their functions last year. The best indication came this offseason when yet another tight end was brought in, one that signaled a critical direction change coming to the Chicago offense.

The Bears invested heavily to land smallish ex-Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton this offseason. He fits a Nagy template.

“He understands this offense and what to do, so there’s not a lot of mistakes,” Nagy said. “When guys see that you’re a player that has experience in this offense and does things the right way, they really gravitate towards that style of leadership. It’s been everything and more with what we thought with Trey.”

In eight of the last nine years Nagy was with Reid, the tight end (Brent Celek in Philadelphia, Travis Kelce in Kansas City) was either the leading or second-leading receiver on the roster.

In the last 37 years, since Emery Moorehead (No. 2, 1985), the Bears have been led in receptions by a tight end just once (Greg Olsen, 2009) or had a tight end No. 2 in catches just three other times (Olsen, 2008, Martellus Bennett 2014-15).

Receiver additions Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson notwithstanding, the role of the tight end in a Bears offense is about to change. Dramatically. And it started literally before Nagy even arrived in Chicago.

“Our first conversation when [Nagy and Pace] were on the plane heading to Chicago the day that I was hired, we discussed that ‘U’ position, the position that we know in Kansas City and we use in Kansas City as kind of the wide receiver/tight end,” Nagy said. “And you play the slot position you can move around, do different things — it’s what we did with Kelce.”

New meaning for “timing” in pass game

Trubisky’s mobility creates a greater threat in action passes and within run-pass options, if only because Trubisky can and will take off with purpose, even as Nagy, Helfrich and QB coach Dave Ragone drill one phrase into the quarterback’s brain: “Get down!”

“We don’t do that all the time but that’s kind of your ‘ball control,’” Nagy said. “There is a mentality that might be a little different in how we’re trying to be aggressive, too. In the classic West Coast there were still times where they were looking to be aggressive and we want that mindset.”

More than that, however, is the threat that play-calling versatility posed by Nagy’s offense. What jumps out is the play-calling balance on first downs:


2017 first downs


Run/pass ratio (%)

Bears        Chiefs

59/41        51.1/48.9 


Yards per carry

Bears        Chiefs

4.1             4.6


Completion %

Bears        Chiefs

59.3          68.2


The Chiefs had the advantage of a more accurate quarterback (Alex Smith) than the Bears (Trubisky). Coaches are stressing accuracy along with ball security, and improving Trubisky’s accuracy is axiomatic for success in Nagy’s scheme, which is based on the West Coast foundation of high completion percentage and minimizing risk of negative plays in the passing game.

Notably, in true West Coast tradition, with the Reid/Nagy offenses forcing defenses to spread horizontally the Chiefs rushed for a half-yard more than the Bears on first downs.

More notably perhaps, the Chiefs exploited those higher-percentage positive first-down plays, which meant shorter yardage needs on second downs, with more passing, not less. And when the Chiefs did run, they were just as successful per carry.


2017 second downs


Run/pass ratio (%)

Bears        Chiefs

48/52        40.8/59.2 


Yards per carry

Bears        Chiefs

4.0             4.6


Completion %

Bears        Chiefs

62.6          72.7


West Coast systems typically operate with more drag routes, quick slants and square-in’s, requiring receivers to run precise routes and have the ability to create separation quickly as Trubisky sets up quickly and looks to throw on time.

The “on time” component is critical, because it the timing of breaks and routes are connected to footwork – Trubisky’s – in that the ball is expected to be coming out when he hits the third or fifth step of his drop. The quarterback is not going to sit waiting for a receiver to come open, as in some other programs.

“It's a wide open attack and it's a great offense because there are so many options within it,” Trubisky said. “We know our job and it all comes down to execution for us. There are so many options I can't even begin to say where it starts but Coach Nagy has brought in a great plan.

“I think the system fits the players we have. In particular I feel like it really fits my skill set with the RPO's, the quick game, stretching the ball down the field and then with the running backs we have just pounding it inside and continuously trying to establish the run game each and every game. I just feel like we've got a lot of options, can be really dynamic and on top of that how we understand it and how the coaches have taught it to us since day one is just going to allow us to play faster and execute the plays at a higher rate.”

Bears among 50 most valuable sports teams in the world

USA Today

Bears among 50 most valuable sports teams in the world

The Chicago Bears haven't enjoyed many wins over the last several years, but that hasn't done anything to hurt the franchise's bottom line.

According to a recent report by Forbes, the Bears rank 17th among the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world for 2018. The franchise is valued at $2.85 billion.

17. Chicago Bears

Value: $2.85 billion

1-year change: 6%

Operating income: $114 million

Owner: McCaskey family

Chicago is seventh among NFL teams in the top-17, with Dallas, New England, New York (Giants), Washingon, San Francisco and Los Angeles (Rams) all having higher valuations.

It's no surprise the Bears are this valuable, even without a winning product. They play in one of the greatest sports cities on the planet. And just imagine what will happen to the club's price tag if Mitch Trubisky and the new-look roster actually start winning games.