Every week, I will be going around the league and touching on the NFL’s most important fantasy football topics. This week, I look at six PPR players who you may consider starting in fantasy football this weekend. This includes Jeff Wilson, Christian Kirk, Drew Sample, James White, Darrell Henderson, and Michael Pittman Jr.
Should I start RB Jeff Wilson in Week 3?
It looks like the tremendously injured 49ers team will be without Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert this week as they return to the same stadium they played in last week. But this time, it’s to face the New York Giants.
That leaves Wilson, a hard-charging pounding runner that fits Kyle Shanahan’s system because he attacks a crease with decisiveness very well, as well as Jerrick McKinnon, to handle the running back duties for San Francisco.
McKinnon is certainly going to monopolize the traditional receiving back duties. Wilson has only caught 15 passes in his three NFL seasons. He also averages under 4.0 yards per carry despite being in Shanahan’s friendly system.
An unrefined player coming out of college, McKinnon has a great combination of pure speed and strength and has developed in the passing game facets of the position. The 49ers also have a lot of money invested in McKinnon.
But should Jeff Wilson Jr. be in your fantasy lineup in Week 3? If you are banking on Wilson, you are banking on him handling the early-down duties in an elite rushing system as well as the goal-line duties. That might work out well, but you also could be extremely disappointed if McKinnon just handles the bulk of all touches at this position. And that is very possible. Plus, even though the Giants season has been a disaster thus far, they defend the inside run well with their excellent interior defensive linemen.
In Week 3, can I rely on WR Christian Kirk in PPR leagues?
DeAndre Hopkins has been everything Arizona wanted when they traded for him and so much more. Still, there is room for another wide receiver to produce big numbers in this offense, and that certainly could be Kirk from now on.
Kirk has very good speed and does excellent work with the ball in his hands after the catch. He can operate out of the slot or on the perimeter. Kirk did little to speak of in Week 1, but his role grew against Washington. He only caught two passes for 57 yards in Week 2. But Kirk’s usage is very intriguing, as the Cardinals love sending him deep downfield.
Hopkins will move the chains and do his best work in the intermediate zones, but Kirk is going vertical. Kyler Murray’s ability to extend the play sets up well for Kirk once the original play breaks down. Try to get Kirk on the cheap now before he plays the Lions this weekend. Detroit’s defense is terrible, and they are incredibly susceptible to getting beat over the top. Kirk’s owners are likely unhappy with him right now but might not be for long.
Is Drew Sample a tight end to target in PPR leagues?
Many of us were shocked when the Bengals drafted Sample, widely considered a blocking tight end, in the second round of the 2019 Draft. Well, he is a good blocker and has a big powerful body for the tight end position. And frankly, the Bengals offensive line needs all the blocking help it can get from other positions. That isn’t helpful for fantasy, but it gets Sample on the field.
CJ Uzomah was having a fine year and a somewhat surprising year before falling to injury, leaving Cincinnati’s tight end duties all to Sample. After Uzomah left the game last week, Sample got more targets in that game alone than his entire NFL career to that point.
Sample does have the ability, but tight ends usually take several years before hitting their stride at the NFL level. This week, the Bengals play the Eagles, the defense that Tyler Higbee tore up for three touchdowns. Don’t take the bait, though. In fact, in most fantasy leagues, Sample isn’t yet rosterable. So, I wouldn’t start him as a Week 3 PPR player. But as a dynasty stash, he is a fine player to invest in for the long haul as he develops this season.
Is James White a reliable PPR starter this week?
First off and most importantly, our condolences go out to White and his family. What a terrible tragedy. And of course, White didn’t play last week in Seattle. White is far and away the Patriots best receiving back, and in the past, with Tom Brady leading the offense, we knew exactly what that meant.
But now, with a revamped system and Cam Newton running the show, we only have one true game to judge what might be in store for White. And that stat line against Miami in Week 1? Five carries for 22 yards, and three catches off three targets for 30 yards. That isn’t a lot to get really excited about. But that is only one game and the first game in this new system with an offseason that was unlike any other in NFL history.
So, here is the allure with White. First off, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels know what he can do, and they obviously trust him to no end. But this is even more important – New England’s pass catchers are really quite terrible. In fact, there is a pretty decent chance that only Julian Edelman catches more passes than White from this point on. He did catch 159 balls over the past two seasons.
White has much more value in PPR leagues rather than standard, but receptions go a long way to producing fantasy points no matter what. And White is set up to catch a lot of passes. And the Raiders, New England’s Week 3 opponent, have been tormented by running backs in the passing game.
Is Darrell Henderson the Rams running back to trust in Week 3?
Henderson’s value has a ton to do with the health of Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown. The Rams travel to Buffalo this week, and although the Bills have a very good defense overall, they have been run on this year.
Last week after Akers left the game, Henderson began to see work in Los Angeles’ high powered offense and put up 121 yards. So naturally, there is a lot of chatter about him being a PPR player to start in Week 3.
Henderson is a dynamic talent with a lot of big-play potential and could be an improved player in the passing game this year. But Brown is the short-yardage back, and Akers is the most talented running back on the roster.
If everything breaks right this week, starting Henderson could pay off for you, but chances are he will frustrate his owners in a three-headed backfield most of the year. And if one of these three stands out and becomes the clear number one, it will likely be Akers once he gets a feel for the NFL.
Is Michael Pittman Jr. a viable replacement for Parris Campbell?
After an extremely promising start to the season, Parris Campbell is now on injured reserve. Zach Pascal takes over for Campbell as the Colts slot receiver with TY Hilton and Pittman doing their work on the outside.
With that in mind, a Week 3 PPR player you may consider starting is Pittman. But should you? Pittman has certainly already made a great impression and is playing a high number of snaps for a rookie wide receiver. He has phenomenal size with downfield ability. Pittman also brings toughness and attitude that fit Indianapolis’ offense well.
But the Colts are likely to be a run-first unit with Jonathan Taylor carrying the load behind a great offensive line, which takes a lot off of Philip Rivers’ plate. Pittman is a player to monitor and has a great matchup against the Jets this week, but he probably needs Hilton to show a quick decline to get the production needed to become a fantasy starter. This passing game is somewhat of a work in progress.
Matt Williamson is a Senior NFL Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @WilliamsonNFL.