As always, the primary function of this column is to help you secure the bottom half of your starting lineup. Fantasy football is won and lost in WR2/RB2 and FLEX spots. Don’t be the person tweeting screenshots of a 30 point performance sitting on your bench.
Racks: Players that are in a good position to outperform their typical projections. If they’re on your squad, then rack them into your lineup and don’t look back.
Rests: These are players facing tough weeks, whether due to matchups or other circumstances. Rest them for this week.
Flex, rack, rest; welcome to your weekly workout.
Mailbag Questions? Need Rack/Rest advice? Hit me up on Twitter: @DJEN5EN
Jay Cutler: Jay Cutler is the shrug emoji incarnate. Two weeks before starting a new life in color commentary, Miami coach Adam Gase says: “You’re going to come play QB for me, Jay,” to which Cutler responded: ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Expect the Jets to stay strong against the run, and for Cutler to expose their secondary to the tune of a couple TDs and a pick.
Russell Wilson: Back-to-back weeks for Wilson as a Rack because of his matchup. According to Football Outsiders advanced statistics, the Titans have been strong against #1 receivers and abysmal against the rest. I personally don’t count Doug Baldwin as a #1 receiver, so Wilson should be good no matter who he targets.
Carson Palmer: Remember when Carson Palmer played for the Bengals in the 80s? Feels like yesterday and a million years ago at the same time. He’s definitely in the Instagram-worthy sunset of his career, but Palmer can still whip it around. And if the Dallas Cowboys are going to give up four touchdowns to Siemian, then Palmer should be a-ok.
Lamar Miller: Somewhat of a leap-of-faith here, but I think the Texans try to play ball control and hope for a huge defensive play to upset the Patriots. Miller is the ball control. Hope for some run-pass-option plays where the Patriots, who have defensive talent shortcomings, get overzealous in keying on Deshaun Watson.
Mike Gillislee: Gillislee has been so good the first two weeks that I fully expect Bill Belichick to trade him away for a new hoodie and an obscure 3rd string safety that will go on to make the game-clinching interception in the Super Bowl.
Jarvis Landry: The Jets’ defense isn’t playing with a full deck of talent, so expect them to key on Ajayi and Parker while Landry gets loose.
Sammy Watkins: Watkins is startable strictly as a back-end flex play. In what may be his best matchup of the year, Watkins draws one of the NFL’s worst backfields in Week 3. If he and Goff can’t get anything going, then Watkins slides into full-time flex position – at best.
Devin Funchess: This is more for deeper leagues, but if you have Funchess rostered, then you might as well use him against the laugh-track defense that is the New Orleans Saints. Funchess proved reliable against an above average Bills secondary in Week 2 and will look to keep the momentum.
Rashard Higgins: It’s just Higgins and perennial “Shouldn’t He Be Better?” Kenny Britt left in the Cleveland WR room. So far in 2017, the Colts have been as bad against the pass as they have been handling Andrew Luck’s injury. If Higgins is on your roster, then rack him.
Trevor Siemian: Four touchdowns against an exposed Dallas secondary and a rebuilt Buffalo secondary on the docket may have you thinking. Don’t. The Bills’ zone scheme defense is built to keep games low-scoring. Don’t expect Siemian to buck the trend.
Marcus Mariota: The Seattle secondary is on the decline, but that doesn’t make them an easy target. What Seattle is doing is giving up chunks of yards in the run game. Expect a healthy dose of the Henry/Murray ground game.
Joe Flacco: Traveling to London to take on a Jags team that is, like Seattle, strong in the secondary and consistently gashed in the run game.
Mark Ingram/Adrian Peterson: Ingram was on this list last week, as expected. This week, he’s joined by Adrian Peterson because of the impossible matchup against the swarming Panthers defense. This platoon is a mess for fantasy owners and Saints fans alike. If Ingram finds himself on this list again next week, then he’ll be put out to the pasture known as The Declines.
Frank Gore: If you’re a Gore owner, then you’re strictly relying on a goal-line plunge. Cleveland has been strong against the run so far in the young season, and I don’t expect Jacoby Brissett to make them pay for keying on the run.
Jordan Howard: With a bunch of practice squad players making up the Bears receiving corps, the Pittsburgh defense will be keyed in on all aspects of the Chicago run game. Tarik Cohen in the pass game is their only hope.
Tevin Coleman: According to Football Outsiders ranks, no team has stopped the pass-catching back better than the Detroit Lions in 2017. Couple that with a top-10 rush defense overall, and you’re going to want to rack a better matchup into your lineup than Coleman. Even starter Devonta Freeman is in trouble.
Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs: The matchup with Tampa is worthy of drawing startable interest out of Thielen and Diggs, but their quarterback nixes that. Don’t expect Keenum to lead an aerial assault in the Battle of the Buccaneers.
Ted Ginn: The Carolina defense appears to be putting a weak 2016 campaign behind them and shutting down opposing offenses. They held Tyrod Taylor and the Bills to just 53 first-half passing yards in Week 2. Granted, the Bills’ passing scheme has all the aerial accuracy of a North Korean rocket, but Carolina corralled it in impressive fashion.
Eric Decker: There are better options out there than an aging name-brand player vs. Seattle.
Jeremy Maclin: Like the early 2000s Ravens, this iteration of the squad is built around an elite defense and James Harden-level ball hogging. There’s no reason to air it out vs. a surprisingly capable Jags secondary when you can run it down their throats.
Allen Hurns: See Jeremy Maclin. I will concede that the game being in London, and particularly with the Jags’ familiarity with playing there, may warp the traditional outlook on the matchup, but I wouldn’t bet on Hurns and Bortles to be the beneficiaries. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t bet on Hurns and Bortles, ever. Don’t even bet on them to lose, because they’ll find a way to lose that for you, too.
(Future) Fantasy Ghost Of The Week
Each week I’ll highlight a typical fantasy star that will likely under-produce. This doesn’t mean they’re automatic “Rests” – but be prepared to be disappointed.
LeSean McCoy: McCoy and the Bills’ offensive line ghosted fantasy owners in Week 2 and, with the Broncos in Week 3, expect the disappearance to persist. As with every weekly Fantasy Ghost, don’t bench McCoy – he’s a matchup-proof must-start every week (2.5 million in incentives helps) – but make sure the rest of your lineup is tight.
Tweets Of The Week
As always, a pair of tweets to sum up the week that was in the NFL world and out.
Come say that to my face! https://t.co/nBHGWrsP2J
— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh) September 19, 2017
*Pick In BOLD
Last Week (2-1)
Los Angeles Rams -2.5 @ San Francisco
Arizona +3 vs Dallas
Washington +3 vs. Oakland
Have a good weekend, everybody.