Week 3 Start and Sit Calls for 2021 Fantasy Football

By Nick Sterling in Fantasy Sports
| September 22, 2021 8:25 am PDT

We are two weeks into the 2021 NFL season, and fans are beginning to get a sense of which players will be mainstays in their fantasy lineup.

However, a lingering injury or bad matchup can cause an owner to start someone off their bench or waivers. I’m here to tell you the best players to start and sit.

Let’s look ahead to Week 3 and check out my selections.

Fantasy Starts for Week 3

Finding an advantageous matchup can make all the difference in your team scoring a victory.

Here are the players that may give you the edge in fantasy football in week three.

QB: Teddy Bridgewater (Denver Broncos)

Teddy Bridgewater is off to an excellent start with the Denver Broncos. The historically conservative quarterback has 592 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

His 20 rushing yards may be low for fantasy owners, but it’s still early in the season. Bridgewater has rushed over 190 yards in his three seasons as the full-time starter.

This week, Bridgewater gets a golden matchup against a lowly New York Jets defense.

New York has had all kinds of trouble on the offensive end, but that is just masking their defensive issues.

In Week 1, Sam Darnold has his way with his former team. Check out his stat line.

  • 24/35
  • 279 passing yards
  • 1 passing touchdown
  • 5 rushing yards
  • 1 rushing touchdown

Bridgewater has never averaged over 249 passing yards in a season, so it’s encouraging to see him average 296 through two games this season.

It certainly doesn’t help that Jerry Jeudy is out, but Courtland Sutton showed that he is capable of being a WR1. Add in Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Noah Fant, and you have a legit group of pass-catchers.

The Jets have a weak secondary. I expect Bridgewater to take advantage of that.

RB: Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Is this the week the New York Giants unleash Saquon Barkley?

The Giants have been playing it conservative with their superstar running back. He tore his ACL early in the 2020 season but his recovery has taken longer than expected.

He was healthy enough to start the season but the Giants limited his workload.

Here are Barkley’s numbers from the first two weeks.

Stat Week 1 Week 2
Carries 10 13
Rushing Yards 26 57

Barkley showed a lot of burst on a 41-yard run in Week 2.

Aside from the injury, Barkley has had two tough matchups to begin the season. This week, he takes on a Falcons defense that has shown little resistance.

In Week 1, Miles Sanders rushed for 74 yards and had 39 receiving yards. Both Jalen Hurts and Kenneth Gainwell had over 35 rushing yards.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went pass-heavy but both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry.

New York may not have the best offense but the Falcons have allowed a league-high 80 points. New York will have their opportunities to score.

I think this is the week fantasy managers finally realize why they spent a first-round pick on Barkley.

WR: Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams)

It hasn’t been a terrible start to the season for Robert Woods, but it isn’t one that fantasy owners are too happy with.

Through two games, he has eight receptions, 91 yards, and a touchdown. Again, it’s not bad but there were higher expectations with the Los Angeles Rams upgrading the quarterback position.

Matthew Stafford has taken a liking to Cooper Kupp. Kupp leads the league with 16 receptions and ranks top five with 271 yards and three touchdowns.

So, why am I high on Woods this week? Well, there’s shootout potential in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what could be an NFC Championship Game preview. This week’s matchup is one of the top NFL games to bet on in week three.

Tampa Bay leads the NFL with 79 points through two weeks. Teams have to score a lot of points to keep up with them.

The Dallas Cowboys passed for over 400 yards in Week 1, with 303 going to wide receivers. Last week, the Atlanta Falcons had 300 passing yards and two touchdowns.

I feel like the Buccaneers will emphasize slowing down Kupp. That will lead to more targets and receptions for Woods.

We could see a big week for the Rams wideout.

TE: Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia Eagles)

This was supposed to be the year Dallas Goedert became the TE1 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Goedert came on strong late in the 2020 season and Zach Ertz requested a trade in the offseason. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone according to plan.

Goedert has put up better numbers through two weeks but he isn’t getting the full workload.

  • Dallas Goedert: 90 snaps
  • Zach Ertz: 78 snaps

Ertz is a thorn in Goedert’s side. Goedert can be an elite tight end but he’ll never reach his full potential with Ertz in the fold. However, it looks like Goedert may have the tight room to himself this week.

On Monday, the Eagles placed Ertz on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. They later announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. There is a chance Ertz plays on Monday night but he likely won’t be 100 percent after missing practice all week.

The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t contain Rob Gronkowski in Week 1. He went off for eight receptions, 90 yards, and two touchdowns. They did a better job holding Jared Cook to 38 yards last week.

I think this is a smash spot for Goedert. If Ertz misses the game, he has top-five upside in a plus matchup.

Fantasy Sits for Week 3

These players probably won’t win you many matchups. In fact, they’ll probably lose you some.

Let’s look at the players I’m fading this week.

QB: Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints)

Talk about being on two different ends of the spectrum. Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints were on top of the world following their big Week 1 victory over the Green Bay Packers. In Week 2, their offense looked like a complete mess.

Winston passed for just 111 yards and threw two interceptions. And both interceptions were very poor decisions that had fans flashing back to his Tampa Bay Buccaneers days.

As a result, the Saints were among the biggest NFL losers in Week 2.

Maybe the writing was on the wall after a better than expected Week 1 performance. He did have five passing touchdowns, but he only had 148 passing yards.

Unfortunately for Winston, things don’t get much easier in Week 3.

The Saints will travel to New England to take on the Patriots. New England’s pass defense ranks sixth in the league and they are the only team in the league with more than four interceptions.

Some will say the Patriots have had a pair of easy matchups with Tua Tagovailoa and Zach Wilson. While I do think Winston is better than those two guys, he showed last week that he is turnover-prone.

If anything, I think we’ll see the Saints lean on their ground game in what could be a low-scoring affair.

RB: Darrell Henderson Jr. (Los Angeles Rams)

Darrell Henderson Jr. assumed the starting role when Cam Akers tore his Achilles this offseason.

Henderson is off to a great start this season. His 29.0 fantasy points in standard formats ranks sixth among running backs. He hasn’t been a big player in the passing game, but he has 29 carries through two weeks.

Even with the success, there are two reasons I’m fading Henderson this week. The first being his opponent.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense is insane. They allowed the fewest rushing yards in 2019 and 2020. Through two weeks, they’ve allowed the second-fewest yards. That includes holding Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards.

We also have the fact that Henderson left Sunday’s game with a rib injury.

There is optimism that he can play, but he won’t practice until Friday at the earliest. Not being 100 percent against this defense is not ideal.

Even if he does play, I think the Rams will try and work in Sony Michel. Michel looked good in relief of Henderson.

  • 10 carries
  • 46 yards

There are just way too many factors going against Henderson this week. A pass-heavy approach will likely lead to a disappointing day.

WR: Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans)

Brandin Cooks had a lot of question marks surrounding his fantasy value coming into the season. He was the number one target but he plays for the Houston Texans. However, we’ve seen their offense exceed expectations.

Stat Week 1 Week 2
Receptions 5 9
Yards 132 78
Touchdowns 0 1

Cooks is living up to his status as the wide receiver one. Unfortunately, the Texans passing offense will undergo a drastic change for the next few weeks.

Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury that will force him to miss the next few weeks. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills will take over.

The quarterback change can’t be good for Cooks. He and Taylor had really established a connection over the first two weeks.

Mills and the Texans only have a few days to prepare for the Carolina Panthers. A short week won’t do any favors for the rookie quarterback.

Through two weeks, Carolina has the best overall and pass defense. They’ve shut down Zach Wilson and Jameis Winston. I can’t imagine Mills having much more luck than those two.

Mills’ struggles will likely rub off on Cooks. It’s been a great start but the hype train may come to a halt on Thursday night.

TE: Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)

It’s been a tough start to the season for Mike Gesicki.

The fourth-year tight end failed to record a catch in Week 1. He did rebound for three receptions and 41 yards in Week 2. However, outside factors are limiting his upside.

Tua Tagovailoa suffered a rib injury that forced him to miss the majority of action last week. His status for Week 3 is up in the air but right now, it sounds like he won’t play. The downgrade at quarterback won’t do any favors for Gesicki.

This week, the Miami Dolphins travel to Las Vegas to take on a red-hot Raiders team.

Las Vegas kicked off their season with wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. In both matchups, they shut down the opposing tight end.

Stat Mark Andrews (Ravens) Pat Freiermuth (Steelers)
Receptions 3 4
Yards 20 36
Touchdowns 0 0

Gesicki sits fourth on the team in targets. The only way I see him having a quality game is if he has a lot of volume. However, that probably won’t happen.

Will Fuller will likely make his Dolphins debut this week. That’s just another pass catcher that Gesicki has to deal with.

I’d leave Gesicki on the bench this week.

More Week 3 Fantasy Football Advice

It’s still early in the season, so I wouldn’t overreact to a few slow starts. Guys like Josh Allen, Alvin Kamara, Davante Adams, and Mark Andrews are all outside the top 20 at their position.

But no one is benching those guys. They have a track record of success and will improve as the season goes along.

The old adage isn’t a cliche.

“Start your studs.”

You will want to consider projections and matchups to a certain degree, but the biggest piece of advice for fantasy football in week three is to not panic.

Betting on the NFL in Week 3

When you look at quarterbacks and wide receivers to start, you’d like to see a shootout. Robert Woods is a great option this week because the Buccaneers vs. Rams matchup features the highest point total of the week.

On the flip side, the Saints vs. Patriots have the second-lowest point total of the week. If you fade Jameis Winston, betting on the Patriots and the under may be the right move.

How you look at fantasy football can often impact how you bet. The two don’t always go together, but identifying some correlation can help you, one way or the other.

For some advice with your week three NFL betting, check out the early odds.

NFL Week 3 Betting Lines (2021) - Analyzing Early Odds for Every Game

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