Each week, Neil Greenberg will give you three players to start and three to sit in your fantasy football league.
There were a number of injuries in Week 2, mostly at the running back position, which makes for an interesting pool of players for Week 3. But not all the replacement players are diamonds in the rough, so here are a few fancy stats to help guide your hand as you craft this week’s starting lineup.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers offense has suffered a significant blow in each of the first two weeks of the season. Star wideout Keenan Allen was carted off the field in Week 1 after suffering a non-contact leg injury and starting running back Danny Woodhead suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are lost for the season.
But don’t give up on Rivers just yet. He proved he can still create offense and spread the ball around effectively, so much so that he ranks No. 4 in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating.
This week’s opponents are the winless Colts, a team that allows 8.1 net yards per pass and has no pass rush to speak of: just two sacks and the league’s eighth-worst adjusted sack rate (3.1 percent) per Football Outsiders.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
Fantasy football production is all about opportunity, and so far Parker, who appears to have recovered from a preseason a hamstring injury, has shown he is the team’s No. 2 option in the passing game behind Jarvis Landry.
According to DraftKings analyst Adam Levitan, Dolphins Coach Adam Gase has installed a three-WR base, allowing Parker to play a significant portion of passing snaps in Week 2 against the New England Patriots (51 of 53).
Parker has eight catches for 106 yards and no touchdowns, but this week the Dolphins face off against the Cleveland Browns who currently rank No. 22 in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Mariota completed 25 of 33 passes for 238 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in Sunday’s comeback win over the Lions and has a softer matchup this week against Oakland.
The Raiders have allowed the highest passer rating against so far this season (131.4) which in turn has generated the most fantasy points per game against to the position (29.6). Only the Atlanta Falcons have given up as many passing touchdowns (seven) this season.
Mariota, as expected, is heavily targeting rookie Tajae Sharpe (team-high 18 targets) but appears to be creating chemistry with 35-year-old Andre Johnson. Those two have connected on four passes for 39 yards and a score despite just eight targets.
Mariota is only owned in 51.3 percent of ESPN leagues, so he makes for a decent choice if you are looking for a streaming quarterback.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota’s starting running back Adrian Peterson suffered a torn meniscus during Sunday night’s win over the Green Bay Packers, opening the door for McKinnon to get most of the carries. However, in 2014, when Peterson was suspended without pay for the season, the team utilized Matt Asiata much more overall.
Not only did Asiata play more snaps than McKinnon that year (538 vs. 341) but he was clearly the team’s main threat once the Vikings got inside the red zone:
- Asiata: 32 carries for 80 yards and nine touchdowns
- McKinnon: seven carries for 18 yards and no touchdowns
But let’s say this year things are different, you’d still want to stay away from McKinnon this week with Carolina lining up on the other side.
The Panthers have stopped 23 percent of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage this season (No. 8) and were ranked No.6 for the same in 2015 (24 percent stuff rate), making this one of the best run-stopping units in the NFL.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
Since 2015, when the Patriots are leading by seven or more points, Blount has carried the ball 126 times for 544 yards and five touchdowns. When the team is trailing by seven points or more Blount has carried the ball eight times for 22 yards and one touchdown.
And according to the oddsmakers in Vegas, who have the Patriots as a home underdog for the first time in years, New England should lose to the Houston Texans. And if not, at least be close enough in score that it would effectively neutralize what Blount can offer.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The entire Jacksonville offense is disappointing this season. It ranks 28th in Football Outsiders’ overall Defense-adjusted Value Over Average and No. 25 in points per trip to the red zone (four). Quarterback Blake Bortles ranks No. 23 of 30 passers in adjusted completion percentage (69 percent), which accounts for dropped passes, and the running game is no help producing 3.2 yards per carry (No. 26).
The Jaguars face the Ravens this week. Baltimore not only ranks No. 10 in DVOA pass defense, but it ranks fifth against a team’s second option at wide receiver this season, holding wideouts like Hurns to 26 yards per game in 2016.