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START/BENCH: Week 3

Generally speaking, I’m an advocate of not freaking out one way or another just two weeks into the season. It’s just not a large enough sample size to make any sort of reasoned assessment of a player’s fantasy prospects for an entire season.

You can’t get too high about the players who have gone nuts over the first two games. You also can’t get too low about folks who are off to slow starts.

In short—don’t lose your mind one way or another just yet.

No benching Aaron Rodgers for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Please.

I’m also not usually one to make early changes to the “studs” list. Yes, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs (like Fitzpatrick) is off to a ridiculous start, with 10(!) touchdown passes in two games this year. But as Deshaun Watson’s showing us in 2018, it can be dangerous to put too much stock in a handful of games played. That’s not to say Mahomes won’t make his way onto the list. Or that he won’t do it soon.

Just that I’m not quite ready to pull that trigger. Or pull Watson or Russell Wilson off the list. Or make any other knee-jerk judgments after two games.

However, there is one change to the studs list in Week 3. Arizona Cardinals tailback David Johnson is no longer on it.

It’s not even really Johnson’s fault. The Arizona offense has been historically bad over the first two weeks of the season. Arizona has just 350 yards of total offense and six points scored (a Johnson TD) for the year. There are 19 NFL teams averaging more total offense per game than the Redbirds have tallied in two.

Johnson’s still an awfully hard player to sit. Obviously, you can’t cut bait on a top-five overall pick. But right now neither he nor Larry Fitzgerald can be trusted at all by fantasy owners.

And two of the “Big 4” tailbacks in 2018 are off to horrible starts.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Blake Bortles, JAX (vs. TEN)

New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe admitted (via the team’s website) that the Pats were taken aback by the Bortles that smoked their defense in Week 2. “He did a number on us,” Rowe said. “We didn’t really expect that  — him to come out and throwing like that. But we did expect their best shot, so it kind of wasn’t a surprise. We know Jacksonville doesn’t like us that much, and they kind of work extra hard on us. So it wasn’t a surprise, but he did have a good day.”

A “good day” is putting it mildly—Bortles scorched the Pats for 377 passing yards and four touchdowns in what was one of the best performances of his career. In a week that’s light on streaming options with favorable matchups, Bortles is easily the best of the lot as he tries to build on that effort against a bad Tennessee Titans team.

ROLL THEM OUT

Ryan Fitzpatrick, TBB (vs. PIT)

There isn’t a bigger surprise over the first two weeks of this season than “Fitzmagic’s” statistical explosion—two straight 400-plus yard, four-TD games against 2017 playoff teams. I’m not going to sit here and say that Fitzpatrick will make it three in row Monday night against the Steelers. But given how the Pittsburgh defense looked against Kansas City in Week 2, I’m not going to say he won’t.

Jimmy Garoppolo, SFO (at KCC)

There’s a dark side to the 2-0 Chiefs. As good as the offense has been this season—and oh boy has it been good—the defense has been every bit as bad. This is a team that’s going to win via shootout more weeks than not—no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring. Mahomes isn’t the only must-start fantasy quarterback in their matchups moving forward.

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SIT THEM DOWN

Andrew Luck, IND (at PHI)

The Colts got their first win of 2018 in Week 2 against the Redskins, but Luck wasn’t exactly sharp in the game—he managed just 179 passing yards in the contest and was picked off twice. The Eagles are seething defensively after getting torched by the Buccaneers at home—they will take out those frustrations on Luck and the Colts at home in Week 3

Philip Rivers, LAC (at LAR)

Rivers is a hard quarterback to sit right now, as the Bolts are firing on all cylinders offensively. Through two games the Chargers are second in the NFL in total offense, and Rivers is top-five in fantasy points at his position. However, this week brings the stiffest test by far of the young season—the Rams new-look defense has been every bit as good as advertised so far this year.

Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. DAL)

I might not be ready to pull Wilson off the studs list altogether, but at this point in the season I’m in no rush to plug him into my starting lineup, either. In both of Seattle’s games this season, Wilson has been sacked half a dozen times and turned the ball over multiple times, and the Cowboys have piled up nine sacks already in 2018.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.