Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 3

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Welcome to Week 3 Start/Sit for the 2023 NFL fantasy football season. I will be publishing this article every week throughout the season to help you make your start/sit decisions.

Scroll through my top starts and sits at each position. I do my best to avoid picking elite players for “Start ‘Em” to make it more fun and informative. (And don’t miss my Fire & Ice chart at the bottom of this page.)

Week 3 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks

QB Start ‘Em

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs LAC)

Ladies and Gentlemen, our top fantasy QB scorer so far this season is Kirk Cousins. Through two weeks, Cousins has averaged 354 passing yards per game and has thrown six touchdowns.

He now gets to play at home in the dome and face a Chargers defense that allowed Tua Tagovailoa to put up 466 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 1, and then allowed RYAN TANNEHILL to average an absurd 10.3 pass yards per attempt against them last Sunday.

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This game should be extremely high-scoring with both defenses struggling this year; both Cousins and Justin Herbert could end as the top two fantasy scorers this week.

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (vs ATL)

No quarterback has thrown more touchdowns than Goff (26) at home since the start of the last season. Goff has recorded more than 20 fantasy points in each of his last four home games, and that trend should continue this week against the Falcons, who just allowed Jordan Love to throw three touchdowns on them in Week 2.

I have said this 100 times, but to remind you one more time, when Goff is at home (especially in a plus matchup), you start him in fantasy. Period.

QB Sit ‘Em

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns (vs TEN)

The Titans have been a favorable matchup for quarterbacks, so I understand you might be tempted to start Watson this week, but you may not get the return you are seeking. Watson is completing just 55% of his passes and is averaging a pitiful 5.6 yards per pass attempt this season (that is fewer than even Kenny Pickett and Mac Jones are averaging).

Without Nick Chubb in the backfield to take off the pressure, I don’t expect Watson’s efficiency to get better anytime soon. Watson came through with a solid fantasy day in Week 1, due to a 13-yard rush TD, but the Titans have been one of the best rush defenses in the NFL since last season. I don’t want to risk Watson in my starting lineups until he starts to show improvement.

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (vs LAR)

It is to be determined if Burrow will play this week after he re-aggravated a calf strain that he suffered early in the summer. The injured calf clearly seems to be affecting his play as he has struggled to get into a rhythm through two weeks of the season.

Plus, the Rams’ young defense has surprisingly been playing well – they have allowed just one passing touchdown this season and held both Brock Purdy and Geno Smith to under 15 fantasy points. Burrow, of course, has the capability to go off in any game, but until he is looking healthier and the Bengals offense looks competent, I would like to keep him on my bench.

Week 3 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

RB Start ‘Em

Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs HOU)

After a brutal offensive performance from Etienne and the Jaguars offense in Week 2 against the Chiefs, they should bounce back nicely in Week 3 in a much easier matchup. No team has allowed more rushing yards, scrimmage yards, touchdowns, or fantasy points to running backs than the Texans over the last two seasons.

In Etienne’s last matchup against the Texans (Week 17, 2022), he put up 140 yards and scored a touchdown – and he didn’t even play in the second half of the game. I won’t be surprised if Etienne puts up a 200-yard performance this Sunday.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (vs LAC)

It hasn’t been pretty for Mattison to start this season. After a solid fantasy day in Week 1, he had an atrocious performance on Thursday Night Football in Week 2.

But don’t give up on him just yet. The Vikings have played two tough run defenses (Buccaneers and Eagles) and things should get much easier for Mattison this week against the Chargers’ weaker defense.

Mattison is one of just 12 RBs that has played 90+ offensive spans this season, but unfortunately, he has only seen 25 touches through two games. I believe more workload will come in better matchups.

This should be a higher-scoring game with a ton of fantasy points to go around, I want to start all the relevant guys in this matchup. (No, I am not worried about Cam Akers)

RB Sit ‘Em

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs PHI)

In a fantastic matchup against the Bears in Week 2, White had a great fantasy day. However, I don’t expect him to have consistent success moving forward, especially in tough matchups.

White has been one of the least efficient running backs since entering the NFL in 2022 – his 3.6 yards per carry ranks 47th among 49 RBs with 100+ carries and his 5.8 yards per reception ranks 18th among 20 RBs with 50+ receptions since 2022. The Eagles have been very stingy against the run this year, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry to running backs.

It is probably best to keep White on the bench this week, or better yet, trade him away now while you still can.

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (vs DAL)

Getting nearly all of the RB snaps and touches for the Cardinals this season, Conner is one of the few workhorse backs remaining in the league. Due to great volume, he has been a decent fantasy performer so far this season, putting up 12 and 16 points over the first two weeks.

Unfortunately, he has to face a Cowboys defense this Sunday, who has absolutely smothered their first two opponents of the year. They held Saquon Barkley to just 9.3 fantasy points in Week 1, while Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook were held to under two fantasy points against the Cowboys in Week 2. This is going to be an ugly game and I want no part of the Cardinals offense.

Week 3 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Wide Receivers

WR Start ‘Em

Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings (vs LAC)

While playing a limited amount of snaps to start his NFL season, Addison has still put up over 60 yards and a touchdown in both Week 1 and Week 2. It is going to be hard for this coaching staff not to increase Addison’s snap count with how well he is performing on the field.

As I have stated above, I expect this to be a high-scoring matchup and that Kirk Cousins will have a huge game. I won’t be shocked if Addison has his first 100-yard game in the NFL this week.

George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers (at LV)

Pickens is the literal only good part of the Steelers’ offense this year. Pickens had 127 receiving yards in Week 2, while the rest of the Steelers WRs combined for 27 pathetic yards!

Kenny Pickett needs to keep peppering Pickens with targets, especially until Diontae Johnson gets back from IR. The Raiders are allowing an NFL record 85.3 opponent completion percentage over the first two weeks of the season; this matchup should feel like a cakewalk to the Steelers’ offense after playing the 49ers and Browns in back-to-back weeks.

WR Sit ‘Em

Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs DAL)

It is not going to be easy to trust any player facing the Cowboys in your fantasy lineups, especially when that player is on a bad offense. Along with shutting down the run, the Cowboys have also not allowed a single wide receiver to catch more than three balls against them this season.

Garrett Wilson was only able to catch two of his eight targets against the Cowboys in Week 2, but was luckily able to break off a long touchdown to save his fantasy day. I am not willing to bet that Brown will score a long touchdown in this matchup, and without that, it will likely be a very low-scoring day for Hollywood.

DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans (at CLE)

Instead of hyper-targeting Hopkins like expected, Ryan Tannehill is spreading the ball around to all of his “play-makers”. Hopkins led the team with five targets and four receptions in Week 2, but there were four other Titans players that also saw 3+ targets in the game.

Hopkins is averaging just 9.5 yards per reception this season and will need to see a much higher target volume to be trusted in fantasy lineups. This is going to be a tough matchup for the Titans’ offense as the Browns’ defense has looked stout this season.

Hopkins isn’t a must-sit, but I am expecting another poor fantasy performance out of him this week.

Week 3 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Tight Ends

TE Start ‘Em

Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions (vs ATL)

LaPorta has scored the fourth most fantasy points among tight ends through the first two weeks of the season. He is one of five tight ends to already have 100+ receiving yards, with T.J. Hockenson, Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, and Darren Waller.

LaPorta’s usage should only increase as we get further into the season, and we could see an uptick in targets this week with Amon-Ra St. Brown dealing with an injury.

Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)

In the Panthers season-opener, Hurst led the team in targets (7), receptions (5), receiving yards (41) and receiving TD (1). Unfortunately, he had to face the Saints defense in Week 2, who regularly shut down opposing tight ends.

I am willing to bet that he has a bounce-back week against a Seahawks defense that has struggled to cover tight ends over the last couple of seasons. Hurst isn’t a high-ceiling play but he should offer a safe floor, especially in PPR leagues.

TE Sit ‘Em

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons (at DET)

How much longer can fantasy managers stay patient with Pitts? He has now had three or fewer receptions in 10 of 12 games played since the start of last year, never recording more than five receptions in a game during that span.

Pitts has scored seven or fewer points in PPR formats in nine of those 12 games. He is destroying your fantasy lineups on a weekly basis, all for the hope that he will have a 15-point day one of these weeks. It’s just not worth it. Stop it.

Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers (vs NO)

Although he looks like a promising young tight end, he has yet to get enough target volume to be a viable fantasy asset. Even with Christian Watson missing time with a hamstring injury, Musgrave has still seen just seven total targets over the first two games.

He also gets the worst matchup for fantasy tight ends, having to face the Saints in Week 3 – the Saints have allowed just one tight end to hit 10 PPR points in a game against them since the start of last season. This is not a matchup that will allow Musgrave to have a breakout week.

Fire & Ice Fantasy Football Plays

Here, I categorize every relevant fantasy player into five different buckets: (1) fire starts (best starts of the week); (2) thumbs up (good starts); (3) Risky players with upside (sleepers); (4) Ice starts (predicting bad performance from good player); (5) Stop (must sits).

Note: If a player/defense is not listed, I am not considering starting them in Week 3.

Fire 🔥

  • QB: Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Lamar Jackson
  • RB: Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry, Travis Etienne, Kenneth Walker
  • WR: Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, CeeDee Lamb, A.J Brown, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, Puka Nacua, DeVonta Smith, Mike Evans, Davante Adams
  • TE: Travis Kelce, TJ Hockenson, Mark Andrews
  • DEF: Cowboys, 49ers, Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers

Thumbs Up 👍

  • QB:Tua Tagovailoa, Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, Dak Prescott, Geno Smith
  • RB: Kyren Williams, Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs, Rhamondre Stevenson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Alexander Mattison, Breece Hall, Zack Moss, Raheem Mostert, Brian Robinson Jr., D’Andre Swift, Gus Edwards, Aaron Jones
  • WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Mike Williams, Amari Cooper, Jaylen Waddle, Davante Adams, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Chris Olave, DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel,Tee Higgins, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Tyler Lockett, Jordan Addison, Chris Godwin, George Pickens, Michael Pittman Jr.
  • TE: Dallas Goedert, Sam LaPorta, Evan Engram, Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, Hayden Hurst
  • DEF: Bills, Jets, Eagles, Commanders, Browns

Upside 📈

  • QB: Jordan Love, Baker Mayfield, Brock Purdy, CJ Stroud
  • RB: Miles Sanders, James Cook, Najee Harris, Tyler Algeier, Isaiah Pacheco, Joshua Kelley, Jaylen Warren (PPR)
  • WR: Garrett Wilson, Terry McLaurin, Zay Flowers, Nico Collins, Gabe Davis, Drake London, DJ Moore, Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds, Jakobi Meyers, Tutu Atwell, Tank Dell, Rashid Shaheed, Adam Thielen
  • TE: George Kittle, David Njoku, Cole Kmet, Jake Ferguson, Taysom Hill, Cade Otton, John Bates/Cole Turner (DFS)
  • DEF: Ravens, Packers, Saints, Titans, Rams (if Burrow is out)

Ice 🥶

  • QB: Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell, Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford
  • RB: Rachaad White, Dameon Pierce, Jerome Ford, James Conner, Javonte Williams, Khalil Herbert, Dalvin Cook, Tony Jones Jr., Matt Breida
  • WR: Marquise Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Thomas, Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson,
  • TE: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Ertz, Dalton Kincaid
  • DEF: Jaguars, Bengals

Stop 🚫

  • QB: Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew
  • RB: AJ Dillon, Antonio Gibson, Samaje Perine, Kenneth Gainwell
  • WR: Skyy Moore, Odell Beckham Jr., Treylon Burks, Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims
  • TE: Kyle Pitts, Luke Musgrave, Dalton Schultz
  • DEF: Broncos

How to Make Fantasy Start/Sit Lineup Decisions

Use Matchup Stats

Check the team defensive stats of a player’s opponent. For example, if deciding between quarterbacks, check how many passing yards and passing touchdowns each opponent allows per game.

Check Injury Reports

Is one opponent dealing with many injuries, particularly to a position group?

For example, in 2022, the Eagles led the NFL with 70 sacks. If the Eagles faced an offensive line with multiple injuries, that could be a bad recipe for the opposing quarterback.

It’s also possible that an offense is beset with injuries, which can lead to more opportunities presented to another player.

For example, San Francisco RB Elijah Mitchell was injured from Weeks 2 to 8 and again from Weeks 13 to 17. Jeff Wilson Jr. was the primary beneficiary over the first span, while Christian McCaffrey took over after Week 7.

Check the Snap Counts

After every week, the NFL releases how many snaps (or plays) each player participated in. Sometimes, you notice a backup getting more and more playing time over time.

Watch the Games

Build up your eye for the game by simply watching with an attention to detail. Highlights don’t tell the full story.

Good players pop off the screen. They give the extra effort; they turn a 5-yard gain into a 10-yard gain; they make a defender miss; they make that spectacular throw, catch, run, tackle, etc.

Learn More About the Xs and Os

Who is on the field in a 12 personnel? What is Cover 0? What is the 3 technique? What is a route tree? What is outside leverage? If you don’t know the answer to these questions—it’s okay—but there may be some blind spots in your football knowledge.

Embrace these challenges and branch out by learning how the pros play the game.


Michelle Magdziuk

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