NFL fantasy: Week 3 Start ‘em… Sit ‘em… Defense

There was no sign of the Week 1 D/ST standouts among the top defenses in Week 2. Who should you start and sit in Week 3?

Things can change pretty fast in NFL fantasy. Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams shared the top NFL fantasy D/ST score in Week 1 and plummeted to numbers 28 and 30 in Week 2. Will either rebound in Week 3? Check out our recommendations as to what defense to start or sit this week. 

Start These Guys: Philadelphia Eagles (vs New York Giants) 

Philadelphia faced a challenge in the Kansas City Chiefs last week. It didn’t go as well as planned, but they still managed to sack Alex Smith four times. The Giants won’t offer much of a challenge. Expect a D/ST line similar to the Eagles’ Week 1 effort against the Redskins, with four turnovers and a defensive touchdown to go along with the sacks. 

Sit These Guys: Detroit Lions (vs Atlanta Falcons)

Detroit owns the second-best NFL fantasy D/ST after two weeks. They got there with turnovers and a defensive score in Week 1, followed by a ton of sacks and a punt return in Week 2. In Week 3, they run into the Atlanta Falcons offense, with multiple weapons who don’t turn the ball over and put points on the board. Detroit has a good defense, but not a great defense. After the easy week they just had against the Giants and the missing day between games, they will slip significantly against the defending NFC champions. 

Start These Guys: Miami Dolphins (at New York Jets) 

Not to pile on my New York teams, but you can stream almost any defense playing them for a while. Miami absolutely shut down the Chargers’ running game last week. The Jets don’t have Philip Rivers behind center to keep them in the game without it. Miami should be able to score points for yardage and points allowed and tack on a couple of sacks and a turnover before it is done. 

Sit These Guys: Carolina Panthers (vs New Orleans) 

The Panthers come into Week 3 with seven sacks and the sixth-ranked NFL fantasy defense. They face an aging quarterback working behind a battered offensive line and having trouble getting on the same page with many of his receivers. You would think they would be a must-start. But that aging quarterback is Drew Brees playing in a must-win situation for the 0-2 Saints. He finished with the fourth-best quarterback fantasy score in Week 2 despite those limitations. He will put points and yards on the board as the Panthers’ D/ST drops down the leaderboard this week. 

Start These Guys: Tennessee Titans (vs Seattle Seahawks)

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is threatening jobs on the offensive line and isn’t sure what’s wrong with his star tight end Jimmy Graham. Whether the Seahawks show up with new players trying to mesh or the original line that can’t mesh, the Titans’ front seven will be in the Seattle offensive backfield all day. Sacks and turnovers will result as the Titans keep Seattle among the preseason playoff favorites wondering why they did not invest more in their offensive line. 

Sit These Guys: Green Bay Packers (vs Cincinnati)

Green Bay registered six sacks over the first two weeks and faces one of the most porous offensive lines in Week 3. Playing in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, the Packers are being touted as a strong streaming option. Don’t believe it. Cincinnati is a great unknown this week after firing their offensive coordinator. They had three extra days to figure out how to make what was supposed to be a potent offense click in Week 3. It might not be the onslaught they faced in Atlanta, but it might not be pretty, either. 

Week 3 flash-in-the-pan prediction

The Indianapolis Colts take out their frustration over starting the week as a home underdog to the Browns by shutting out Cleveland with five turnovers and a defensive touchdown. 

Full disclosure about Week 2

I split my fortunes last week, starting the 19th-best Browns and the 23rd-rated Chargers. I barely hit on Tennessee who came in at number 12. Meanwhile, I correctly sat Dallas and Green Bay, who tied for the D/ST-24 position. My third recommended sit snuck in at number 11. 

I am sure this week will be better, but be sure to check back next week. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to [email protected]. Look for answers in our weekly Mailbag post every Wednesday.

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.