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Fantasy football Week 3 start ‘em or sit ‘em

The Cardinals' J.J. Nelson smiles after a 45-yard

The Cardinals' J.J. Nelson smiles after a 45-yard touchdown reception against the Colts, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. Credit: AP / Michael Conroy

Which of these borderline players should you start or sit in Week 3 of the NFL season?

Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos QB

at Buffalo

Siemian is tied with Matthew Stafford for the NFL lead in touchdown passes with six. The third-year quaterback has been solid for the Broncos, completing 65 percent of his passes for 450 yards with just two interceptions. He’s even contributed to the team’s No. 1 run game. Siemian has rushed for 33 yards on 11 attempts and scored the first rushing touchdown of his career in Denver’s opener against the Chargers. All of that puts Siemian second in fantasy points in standard scoring leagues behind KC’s Kareem Hunt. But, the Bills’ defense ranks second in the league and has held opposing quarterbacks to 10.7 fantasy points per game so far. But with the Bills’ inefficiencies on offense, the defense can’t seem to get off the field. The Bills’ offense is 27th in the league in time of possession (27:06), which will catch up with the defense sooner or later, especially against a Broncos rushing attack led by C.J. Anderson. But Siemian is still more of a QB2 this week.

DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns QB

at Indianapolis

Kizer was limited to 52 of the Browns’ 66 snaps in their loss to the Ravens last week because of a migraine, and it wasn’t much better when he was out there. After a strong debut where he completed 20 of 30 passes for 222 yards, a touchdown and an interception and added a rushing touchdown in a loss to the Steelers, Kizer was 15 of 31 for 182 yards with three interceptions and a lost fumble against the Ravens. The Browns’ offense still is figuring things out with eight new starters, including three new offensive linemen, and it didn’t catch any breaks with tough matchups against division foes to start the year. The Browns will get a break in Week 3 when they take on a unit dealing with even more fresh faces. The Colts started the year with 11 new starters on defense, and through two games, they’re ranked 28th in total defense. There are growing pains all around in this matchup, but Kizer gets the edge as a high-end QB2.

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks RB

at Tennessee

With question marks surrounding the Seahawks’ run game entering the season, the rookie out of Oklahoma State has emerged as the lead back. While Thomas Rawls got the start last week, Carson was the clear No. 1 man, rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries. Pete Carroll has been anti-committee in the past, so Carson should continue to get the bulk of the carries if he continues to perform. He’s led the team in carries in each of the first two games. The 5-11, 218-pound power back is averaging 5.1 yards per carry — compared with the 1.3 yards per carry from Rawls, C.J. Prosise and Eddie Lacy combined. Carson still was available in 33 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 78.3 percent of ESPN leagues as of Wednesday evening. He’s worth a pickup in all formats and is a solid RB2 going forward.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans RB

vs. Seattle

DeMarco Murray is considered day-to-day after leaving Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, but whether he’s ready to go or not, Henry should see increased reps, even though Titans coach Mike Mularkey has said he views Murray as the clear starter and Henry as the clear backup. After taking over for Murray last week, Henry rushed for a career-high 92 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the Titans’ win over the Jaguars. It was just the fifth time Henry had double-digit carries. The Seahawks’ defense is 23rd against the run this season. While Murray is the Titans’ running back you want, Henry is a flex with upside if Murray is out.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals RB

at Green Bay

After an impressive preseason, Mixon — along with the rest of the Bengals’ offense — has been kept quiet, rushing for just 45 yards on 17 carries. Jeremy Hill started both games, but Mixon leads the team in carries. The Bengals are 0-2 without a single touchdown. Until they can get something going, none of the Bengals’ backs are worth starting.

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings WR

vs. Tampa Bay

It was a much different game for Thielen in Week 2, partly because he was without Sam Bradford, who’s battling a knee injury, and partly because he was facing a legitimate defense. Thielen had nine catches for 157 yards against a lousy Saints defense in Week 1 but was limited to five catches for 44 yards with Case Keenum throwing to him against the Steelers. It’s unclear if Bradford will be back this week, but don’t expect Thielen to be the same player without him, even though Keenum is 2-0 with a 118.8 passer rating in his career against the Bucs. Thielen’s a flex at best with Keenum, and a WR3 if Bradford’s healthy enough to play.

Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins WR

vs. Oakland

Crowder’s off to a slow start in his first year as a bona fide starter. The third-year receiver, who had a surprisingly strong year out of the slot last season, has seven catches for 61 yards this season. With tight end Jordan Reed’s status in question after he suffered a rib injury and SC joint ligament sprain against the Rams last week, Crowder and Terrelle Pryor Sr. could see an increase in targets. The Raiders’ defense is the team’s biggest question mark, but so far it has mostly exceeded expectations. Still, the Raiders have allowed 19.1 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season, giving Crowder an opportunity to break out. He’s a WR3 with upside.

J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals WR

vs. Dallas

With John Brown likely out again with a quad injury, Nelson has another chance to be a big piece of the Cardinals’ offense. Nelson had five catches for 120 yards, including a 45-yard TD last week against the Colts. It was his second straight week with a touchdown. The Cowboys’ defense is coming off a lackluster week against the Broncos where they allowed four touchdown passes after keeping the Giants out of the end zone in Week 1. Nelson’s a nice flex option against a questionable defense.

Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints TE

at Carolina

Willie Snead has one week left on his suspension, which should benefit Fleener to some degree. The tight end has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and has eight catches for 87 yards. The Saints always rely heavily on the pass with Drew Brees, but after trailing big in each of the first two weeks, they have an inflated 68-32 pass-to-run ratio. The Panthers have the second-best pass defense and have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to tight ends through two games. It’s not the best time to unload Fleener, but he’s a top-15 fantasy tight end, making him a fringe starter.

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons TE

at Detroit

In the Falcons’ season opener he had two catches for 128 yards, skewed largely by his 88-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Hooper had just two catches for 7 yards against the Packers in Week 2. He’s caught all four balls thrown his way, but until the Falcons involve him more in the passing game, he should stay on the bench.

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