Fantasy football: Week 3 starters, benchwarmers

Ladd Biro
Special to Packer Plus
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Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Kareem Hunt, or to bench Andy Dalton and Latavius Murray? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins at Jets: I always seem to regret the times I recommend Cutler, but here I go again. He got off to a solid, though not spectacular, start as a Dolphin in Week 2. He looked comfortable with his receivers, and he clearly benefited from the team’s strong running game. Miami should score frequently against the inept Jets defense, and that should bode well for Cutler’s stat line.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers vs. Saints: This is the week the rookie’s owners have been waiting for. McCaffrey has yet to have his breakout game, as the Panthers’ offense has been fairly toothless to date. Fortunately, New Orleans’ defense tends to be an elixir for sputtering offenses. McCaffrey should find more room on the ground this weekend, but it’s as a receiver where he should really shine. He should pick up many of the targets left behind by Greg Olsen.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans vs. Seahawks: Even if DeMarco Murray (hamstring) manages to suit up for this game (and that appears unlikely), Henry is destined to get the majority of the workload. He looked terrific last week against the Jaguars, and he should be featured again behind Tennessee’s solid offensive line when Seattle comes to town.

J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals vs. Cowboys: Nelson has not yet achieved must-start status, but he’s getting close. With a touchdown in six of his last seven games going back to the 2016 season, he is clearly benefiting from opposing defenses’ focus on Larry Fitzgerald. Given how poorly Dallas’ inexperienced secondary fared last week in Denver, it’s reasonable to expect Nelson’s scoring streak to continue on Monday night.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins at Jets: Cutler surprised many by targeting Jarvis Landry 15 times in the Dolphins’ opener last weekend. This Sunday, given the sorry state of the Jets’ secondary, look for Parker to be showcased more, especially on the downfield routes Cutler favors.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Derek Carr, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford; RBs Kareem Hunt, C.J. Anderson, Chris Thompson; WRs Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Chris Hogan, Michael Crabtree, Martavis Bryant, Jamison Crowder, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate.

Roll ‘em back

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks at Titans: I predicted a bounce-back game for Wilson in Week 2, but I sure was expecting a bigger bounce. He did manage to connect on one touchdown pass against the 49ers, but sadly, that’s his only score all season. On the road against a solid Titans defense, and still hampered by a sieve-like offensive line, Wilson can’t be trusted.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans at Patriots: Miller is getting plenty of touches, but the production is lacking. His weak offensive line isn’t doing him any favors. Houston could be forced to abandon the running game even earlier than usual this week against Tom Brady & Co., so Miller’s ceiling is low.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks at Titans: I like Carson’s long-term potential, but not this weekend against a tough Tennessee rush defense. Seattle’s run game has been fairly awful thus far, with Carson the only RB producing much of anything. But until they start showing signs of life, and face a more forgiving defense, this entire backfield should be benched.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys at Cardinals: You and I both know you have to start Bryant. But methinks you’ll wish you hadn’t. Not only have Bryant and Dak Prescott seemed out of sync through the first two games, but Patrick Peterson will be shadowing Bryant all over the field on Monday night. Jason Witten is more likely to break through in this one than Dez.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots vs. Texans: I own Cooks in two leagues, so I share my fellow owners’ frustration with his failure to bond with Tom Brady. While a breakout game surely is on the horizon, it’s hard to believe it will come against a solid Texans secondary when Cooks could manage just two receptions for 37 yards against the woeful Saints. I don’t know if I’ll really bench him, but I probably should.

More thumbs down: QBs Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, Eli Manning, Trevor Siemian, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor; RBs Jonathan Stewart, Jacquizz Rodgers, Matt Forte, LeGarrette Blount, Kerwynn Williams, Ameer Abdullah, Tarik Cohen, Adrian Peterson, Isaiah Crowell, Jeremy Hill, Paul Perkins, Joe Mixon; WRs Mike Wallace, Ted Ginn, DeSean Jackson, Kendall Wright, Marvin Jones, Brandon Marshall, Jermaine Kearse, Nelson Agholor, Rishard Matthews, Mohammed Sanu, Jordan Matthews, Cole Beasley, Terrelle Pryor.


Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles vs. Giants: LeGarrette Blount appears to be on his last legs, literally, while Wendell Smallwood looks overmatched. Sproles is the lone bright spot in the Eagles’ backfield rotation, and he should play a bigger role than usual in this contest. As a dual threat, Sproles is in the best position to exploit any openings in the Giants’ defense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…starts Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen if Sam Bradford isn’t under center. Not that Bradford is such great shakes, but he has the strong rapport with his wideouts that Case Keenum clearly lacks. The Vikings’ passing game is not competitive with Keenum at the controls.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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