Heading into Week 3, we have finally seen all 32 teams play, now that Miami and Tampa Bay have had game action. It’s still early and some stud linebackers that had weak openers stepped up and performed as they have in the past. Alec Ogletree, Lavonte David and NaVorro Bowman all had solid fantasy outings. Stay patient with those high draft picks as water finds its level. Trust me.
Let’s get to this week’s start/sit suggestions for IDP leagues in Week 3.
The Bengals are off to a horrible start as a team but the veteran defensive tackle Atkins has started the season on fire. Through the first two weeks. Atkins has been a disruptive interior force, racking up 3 sacks and 12 total tackles. He has also been credited with 4 hurries as well as 2 hits on opposing quarterbacks. The Packers offensive line is banged up as offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga missed Week 2 due to injuries. Defensive linemen have managed 5 sacks in the first two weeks against Green Bay, and Atkins should flourish in this matchup in Week 3.
Hughes was a preseason favorite of both myself and fellow PFF IDP pundit Ross Miles after he regained defensive end designation. After a mediocre performance in Week 1, Hughes flashed the skill set that had us touting his worth on the defensive line preview edition of “The Nickel” podcast a few weeks ago. Hughes put up 6 total tackles and a pair of sacks in the Bills’ loss to the Carolina Panthers. He was also credited with 4 QB hurries and now has 5 on the season. This week, he faces a Broncos offensive line that has allowed 37 total tackles and 5 sacks to defensive linemen.
It’s only Week 3 and an Eagles player makes an appearance as a starting defensive lineman selection for the second time. This one is all about the matchup. Curry rushes from the right side roughly 97 percent of the time, which means he’ll be facing Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers this week. Last week, Flowers was completely owned by Ezekiel Ansah, allowing 3 sacks, meaning Curry should be able post big numbers.
There were some concerns heading into the season that the defensive scheme shift by San Francisco would have a negative effect on Buckner’s fantasy production, and through two weeks it appears it has. Lining up at tackle has limited Buckner’s ability to get to the quarterback — in the first two games of the season he’s yet to register a sack, or any big plays for that matter. The Rams have allowed just a single sack to a defensive lineman and only 10 total tackles to the position. This does not appear to be the week that Buckner breaks out.
Jones was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after a huge game against the Eagles in Week 2. He posted 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles along with an interception as well as 4 solo tackles and a pass defended. Those numbers are also very nice from a fantasy standpoint, and Jones was the top-scoring defensive lineman for Week 2. Don’t be fooled and chase the monster stat line. A closer look at Jones shows that in Week 1 he failed to register a single tackle (or assist) while playing 48 snaps. There are too many better options available to start Jones and hope that lightning strikes twice.
Ramon Humber, Buffalo Bills (vs. Denver)
After years of mainly being a special teams contributor, the 30-year-old Humber has burst out of the gate having secured a starting gig with the Bills. He has put up double-digit tackles in each of the first two games and is playing 95 percent of the defensive snaps. Humber hasn’t produced any big plays yet but does have 3.5 career sacks. Sometimes we just have to ride the hot hand and Humber plays against a Broncos offense that’s allowed 39 solo and 57 total tackles to linebackers through two weeks.
Brown has played all but two of the defensive snaps for his new team, posting double-digit tackles in back-to-back games. He’s proven to be a tackle producer in the past having put up 143 total stops last year while also flashing big-play potential. Brown has 14 career sacks along with 7 interceptions (2 returned for scores) as well as 4 forced fumbles. With teammate Mason Foster out due to a shoulder injury Brown is in store for another big week.
The Patriots have been generous to the linebacker position through two weeks, allowing solid tackle numbers (roughly 18 per game) as well as big plays. Linebackers have registered 3 sacks as well as a forced fumble against New England. McKinney is coming off a two-sack performance last week and has 17 total tackles with a forced fumble on the season. McKinney rushed the passer 18 times last week and benefits from the attention the J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney garner from opposing offenses.
I was singing the praises of Goodson and listed him as a start option last week. Then he misses the game with a leg injury, leaving IDP owners scrambling for a late replacement. This suggestion is solely based on how healthy Goodson will be if he even suits up for Week 3. Play it safe and leave him on the bench until we see him playing at the high (healthier) level he did in Week 1.
Toomer was assumed to be the main beneficiary of Denzel Perryman being placed on IR, but that hasn’t happened. Toomer has played just 28 percent of the defensive snaps in the first two weeks and can safely be sat against a Chiefs offense that allows the least points to the linebacker position.
After a below-average first week of the season, Davis bounced back a bit last week with a seven-solo-tackle performance. He’s settling in as a starting safety in Pittsburgh and has a very favorable matchup this week. The Bears have allowed 50 solo tackles to defensive backs along with a sack and 3 forced fumbles. Davis should be able to reach double-digit tackles for the first time this season in Week 3.
Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills (vs. Denver)
This is another case of riding the hot hand as Poyer has emerged as a fantasy force in the first two weeks of the season. He’s played every defensive snap and is producing solid tackle numbers as a starting safety along with some nice big-play totals. Poyer has had a sack in each of the first two weeks and has also put up an interception with 5 passes defended. The Broncos have the top rushing offense, so look for Poyer to active in stopping the run while still possessing the big-play potential IDP owners covet.
Joyner is off to a fast start, posting top-10 defensive back numbers through the first two weeks of the season. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has moved Joyner from cornerback to safety and he’s responded with 13 total tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. So why the sit designation? It’s all about the matchup. The 49ers have allowed just 2 passes defended and 43 total tackles to defensive backs. No reason to roll with Joyner in a lousy matchup.
Things are trending in the wrong direction for the veteran Bethea in his first season in the desert. Bethea played only 52 of 71 defensive snaps in Week 2 and has been outperformed by Tyvon Branch. Branch has put up 16 total tackles while Bethea has half as many with only 8. It pains me to say it but father time may be catching up to Bethea.