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September 19, 2019

Fantasy football: Start Dak Prescott, sit Carson Wentz and other start/sit advice for Week 3

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Wentz-Prescott_091919_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

It may still be early in the NFL season, but we're starting to get a good grasp on who's hot and who's not in the world of fantasy football.

Here's a look at one player at each position we recommend starting or sitting in Week 3.

(Keep in mind, we are not including any obvious picks, like Saquon Barkley, Patrick Mahomes and others, only players who could make for tough decisions on your roster.)

Quarterback

Start QB Dak Prescott, DAL (vs. MIA) — Dak and the Cowboys are taking on the lowly Dolphins this week, and that Miami defense has been even worse than the offense, allowing an average of 317 passing yards and four touchdowns per game through the first two weeks of the season. Oh, and 51 points per game. Seriously.

If you own Prescott, this is the week to start him. He's been playing extremely well this season — 674 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception and an 82.5% completion percentage — and the matchup doesn't get any friendlier than this. The only potential downside? The matchup might be a little too friendly, and Dallas could get conservative and keep the ball on the ground once they get a big lead. Still, this is a no-brainer start.

Sit QB Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. DET) — No, this is not a cheap attempt to get clicks. As someone who owns Carson Wentz in fantasy and planning on sitting him this week against the Lions in favor of Tom Brady (against the Jets), I assure you this is sincere. And it has almost nothing to do with Wentz himself. Sure, the Eagles QB has gotten off to two horrendous starts in his first two games this season, but he's bounced back in both and still managed to put up solid fantasy numbers.

But this week, again without DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, who combined for the Eagles four touchdowns in Week 1 against Washington, it's not hard to see Wentz having a down week without some of his top playmakers. Add to that the fact that the Eagles will be without two of Wentz's favorite red-zone targets in Jeffery and second-year tight end Dallas Goedert — which will allow the Lions defense to key on his other favorite target, Zach Ertz — and we could see the Eagles cross the goal line on the ground rather than through the air.

Running back

Start RB Austin Ekeler, SD (vs. HOU) — Melvin who? In two short weeks, Austin Ekeler has made Chargers fans all but forget about still-holding-out Melvin Gordon and has essentially stripped the talented running back of nearly all his bargaining chips as he looks for a new deal. All he's done since taking over as the Chargers' lead back is average 143.5 total yards (62 rushing, 81.5 receiving), six receptions and two touchdowns per game through the first two weeks.

So why are we reminding you to start Ekeler? Because he's going up against the Texans defense, one that many may look at expect to be a tough draw for running backs, but that hasn't been the case this season. Through two weeks, they're 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt (6.0) and have surrendered an average of 125 yards per game. Moreover, they've allowed the two starting running backs they've face (Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette) to average over 10 yards per catch (11 combined receptions for 112 total yards).

Sit RB James Conner, PIT (at SF) — Conner, who left last week's loss with a knee injury, is expected to play on Sunday, but that doesn't mean we feel confident putting him back into the lineup. The second-year starter, who took over for Le'Veon Bell last season, struggled even before hurting his knee, averaging just 2.6 yards on 21 carries. And the 49ers defense that he'll face on Sunday has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season — and is surrendering just 3.2 yards per carry to opposing backs, which is good for seventh best in the NFL.

You'd think the receivers would be the ones must hurt by Ben Roethlisberger's injury, but aside from JuJu Smith-Schuster, it might be Conner who takes the biggest hit, as defenses will now be able to key up on the Steelers run game with Mason Rudolph under center. Oh, and he's just one misstep from aggravating that knee injury and having to leave the game again.

Wide receiver

Start WR Marquise Brown, BAL (at KC) — Last week, we told you to pick up the Ravens rookie off the waiver wire, and now we're telling you to plug him into your starting lineup. After catching four passes for 147 yards and a pair of scores his debut, Brown saw his production take a hit, but he did see his role in the Ravens offense greatly increase. He was targeted 13 times, up from five in Week 1, and although he caught just eight of them for 86 yards and failed to reach the end zone, it's a clear sign that Lamar Jackson and Baltimore want to get him more involved.

Against a Chiefs team that looks as explosive as ever, it easy to see this game turning into a shootout. And that could be good news for Brown.

Sit WR Tyrell Williams, OAK (at MIN) — Williams is dealing with a hip pointer but is still expected to play on Sunday, but in our opinion, it doesn't matter. The guy everyone was high on after Antonio Brown's departure has largely been a disappointment so far this season, averaging just five catches and 75 yards through the first two games — although he has found the end zone once in each game.

The Vikings defense is solid again and has been doing a good job of limiting the number of passing yards they allow. And when they return home on Sunday, where they forced Matt Ryan and the Falcons into three turnovers in Week 1, it's safe to assume they'll be looking for revenge after falling to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week.

Tight end

Start TE Greg Olsen, CAR (at ARI) — Yes, Cam Newton is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Cardinals, but that doesn't matter in this one. For starters, backup quarterbacks tend to utilize tight ends more than starters, perhaps because the throws are often the easiest to make. Just look at Vance McDonald's two touchdowns last week with Mason Rudolph. But this is really about the matchup, as Arizona surrendered the most PPR points to opposing tight ends in each of the first two weeks.

Sit TE Eric Ebron, IND (vs. ATL) — Ebron has just seven targets (four receptions) through the first two weeks for just 33 yards and a score. That's not going to get it done. Your best bet is to start looking elsewhere.

Defense to stream

49ers (vs. PIT) — San Francisco's defense has been very good this year, and they'll get to go up a Steelers offense without Big Ben and a less-than-100% James Conner in the backfield. Through two games, the 49ers have seven sacks, four interceptions, and a pair of D/ST scores. In the words of Larry David, that's pretty... pretty... pretty good.

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