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Fantasy football lineups for Week 3: Start Miles Sanders and sit David Johnson

A rash of early season injuries not only has cost some fantasy football managers a win or two and forced them to scour the waiver wire for leftovers, but it also prevents them from seeing how their offenses and defenses could perform down the road.

How are we supposed to know the full potential — or limitations — of the 49ers passing game if they can’t keep Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo and other mainstays on the field at the same time?

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Conversely, do you have to worry less about the 49ers' pass defense without Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas?

You’d like to trust that the identity of an offense or defense won’t change drastically despite some major losses, though Michael Thomas' absence from the Saints was quite noticeable Monday night against the Raiders.

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Finding the right matchups for the players you can count on are especially important in Week 3.

Start

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray vs. Lions

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray runs for a touchdown as Washington Football Team free safety Troy Apke misses the tackle during the second half on Sept. 20, 2020.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray runs for a touchdown as Washington Football Team free safety Troy Apke misses the tackle during the second half on Sept. 20, 2020. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Between Mitch Trubisky and Aaron Rodgers, the Lions have given up five touchdowns through the air this season. Kyler Murray really hasn’t opened up the Cardinals passing game with DeAndre Hopkins just yet, but that could happen in Week 3.

And although Trubisky and Rodgers are good scramblers, the Lions haven’t faced a running threat of Murray’s level either.

Also consider: Patriots QB Cam Newton vs. Raiders

Eagles RB Miles Sanders vs. Bengals

Eagles running back Miles Sanders stiff arms Rams linebacker Micah Kiser during the first quarter on Sept. 20, 2020.
Eagles running back Miles Sanders stiff arms Rams linebacker Micah Kiser during the first quarter on Sept. 20, 2020. (Corey Perrine/AP)

The Bengals put up little resistance against Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt in the Thursday night game, and although Chargers backs Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler have different styles, both put up good numbers.

A dual-threat back like Miles Sanders should get on track quickly in this matchup.

Also consider: Steelers RB James Conner vs. Texans

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Jets

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs through a small opening during a game against the Vikings on Sept. 20, 2020.
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs through a small opening during a game against the Vikings on Sept. 20, 2020. (Zach Bolinger/AP)

The 49ers’ Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon sliced through the Jets' run defense like melted cheese. Jonathan Taylor may not be able to run 22 mph, but he showed against the Vikings (26 carries for 101 yards and a TD) that he can wear down a defense.

Also consider: Bills RB Devin Singletary vs. Rams

Titans WR Corey Davis at Vikings

Titans wide receiver Corey Davis tries to get past Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson in the second half on Sept. 20, 2020.
Titans wide receiver Corey Davis tries to get past Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson in the second half on Sept. 20, 2020. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

Mike Zimmer’s new-look Vikings secondary isn’t working out too well. The Colts have taken some dings to their pass catchers and yet they still carved up Minnesota’s defensive backs. They made Mo Alie-Cox (111 yards) and Zach Pascal (1 TD) look like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

The Titans’ Corey Davis topped 100 yards in Week 1 and, with A.J. Brown sidelined, scored his first touchdown of the season in Week 2.

“I had confidence in the guys we had out there,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said via the Nashville Post. “Obviously, (we) miss A.J. (Brown). He’s a heck of a player. With (Cameron) Batson and Kalif (Raymond), Nick (Westbrook-Ikhine) was out there a little bit, I have a ton of confidence in those guys. They all bring something a little bit different to the table.”

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Also consider: Bears WR Allen Robinson at Falcons

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb at Seahawks

Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb carries the ball against the Falcons in the first half on Sept. 20, 2020.
Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb carries the ball against the Falcons in the first half on Sept. 20, 2020. (Ron Jenkins/AP)

The Seahawks have given up an alarming number of big plays to receivers so far. The Patriots don’t exactly have a stable of talent yet: Julian Edelman (eight catches for 179 yards), Damiere Byrd (6-72) and N’Keal Harry (8-72) had a PPR field day.

CeeDee Lamb had six catches for 106 yards against the Falcons and is emerging as a playmaker for the Cowboys.

Also consider: Jaguars WR DJ Chark vs. Dolphins

Bengals TE Drew Sample vs. Eagles

Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) is congratulated by tight end Drew Sample (89) after scoring a touchdown on Sept. 17, 2020.
Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) is congratulated by tight end Drew Sample (89) after scoring a touchdown on Sept. 17, 2020. (Kirk Irwin/AP)

Drew Sample put in admirable work after C.J. Uzomah suffered an Achilles injury, grabbing seven of nine targets for 45 yards. The Eagles secondary got torched by Tyler Higbee (3 TDs) and gave up a score to Washington’s Logan Thomas in the opener.

Also consider: Washington TE Logan Thomas vs. Browns

Seahawks K Jason Myers vs. Cowboys

Seahawks kicker Jason Myers kicks as Michael Dickson holds during the first half against the Falcons on Sept. 13, 2020.
Seahawks kicker Jason Myers kicks as Michael Dickson holds during the first half against the Falcons on Sept. 13, 2020. (Danny Karnik/AP)

Russell Wilson can’t throw four or five touchdown passes every week, can he?

The Cowboys gave up 17 points to Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo and would’ve given up double digits to the Rams' Sam Sloman had he not missed a kick in the opener.

Also consider: Falcons K Younghoe Koo vs. Bears

Chargers defense/special teams vs. Panthers

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) celebrates his sack with defensive end Melvin Ingram (54) and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes gets up from the ground on Sept. 20, 2020.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) celebrates his sack with defensive end Melvin Ingram (54) and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes gets up from the ground on Sept. 20, 2020. (Kyusung Gong/AP)

The Bolts gave the Chiefs all they could handle until Patrick Mahomes and Co. pulled it out in the end.

The Panthers have a lot less bite without running back Christian McCaffrey. If Mike Davis can’t get things going on the ground, Carolina might have to make Teddy Bridgewater a volume passer, and that’s not what Matt Rhule wants. The offensive line is iffy and Bridgewater was sacked five times by the Buccaneers.

Also consider: Washington Football Team at Browns

Sit

Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor vs. Panthers

Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor runs the ball during a game against the Bengals on Sept. 13, 2020.
Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor runs the ball during a game against the Bengals on Sept. 13, 2020. (Emilee Chinn/AP)

This isn’t about Tyrod Taylor’s ribs or whether he’s about to lose his starting QB job to Justin Herbert, though they’re certainly valid concerns. The Panthers have just given up so much on the ground that quarterbacks haven’t needed big passing numbers.

The Panthers defense has two of the bottom 20 fantasy-point performances by quarterbacks, but two of the top six allowed to running backs. For a Chargers team that has questions about its passing game, this matchup will allow coach Anthony Lynn to ride Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley to a win.

Also consider: Broncos QB Jeff Driskel vs. Buccaneers

Panthers RB Mike Davis at Chargers

Panthers running back Mike Davis splits between Buccaneers linebacker Devin White and outside linebacker Lavonte David during the second half on Sept. 20, 2020.
Panthers running back Mike Davis splits between Buccaneers linebacker Devin White and outside linebacker Lavonte David during the second half on Sept. 20, 2020. (Jason Behnken/AP)

Is this any way to treat Mike Davis in his first start in relief of Christian McCaffrey?

We just talked about how the Panthers are letting teams run on them. Well, the Chargers are the opposite: L.A.'s defense has held running backs to two of the eight worst fantasy outputs at the position so far, according to FantasyData.com.

The combination of the Chargers running game and taking away their opponent’s rush could put a real damper on Davis' fantasy potential if he doesn’t get an early score.

Also consider: Rams RB Malcolm Brown at Bills

Texans RB David Johnson at Steelers

Texans running back David Johnson gains yards against the Chiefs during the game on Sept. 10, 2020.
Texans running back David Johnson gains yards against the Chiefs during the game on Sept. 10, 2020. (Reed Hoffmann/AP)

The Texans have problems on offense that go beyond David Johnson’s own ineffectiveness in Week 2. The team’s thin pool of pass catchers certainly doesn’t help Johnson’s cause.

The Steelers haven’t been very giving to running backs — they tie for the second-fewest rushing attempts allowed (16) this season, according to Yahoo.com.

Also consider: Dolphins RB Myles Gaskin at Jaguars

Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins at Ravens

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins runs during training camp on Aug. 24, 2020.
Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins runs during training camp on Aug. 24, 2020. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

There’s no guarantee that if Sammy Watkins goes into concussion protocol he’ll miss the Ravens matchup — like Chris Godwin did with the Panthers game.

But here are three things to consider: 1. The Chiefs can turn to Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson; 2. the Ravens have held receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Will Fuller in check (though Fuller reportedly has a hamstring issue); 3. the game is on Monday night, meaning it could be too late to make a waiver move if Watkins is a late scratch.

Also consider: Bills WR John Brown vs. Rams

Lions WR Kenny Golladay at Cardinals

Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay stretches at practice on Aug. 21, 2020.
Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay stretches at practice on Aug. 21, 2020. (Daniel Mears/AP)

Kenny Golladay is expected to return from a hamstring injury and could match up against the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson.

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The Cards shut down 49ers receivers in Week 1 and can chalk up their one letdown against Terry McLaurin to his pure talent.

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Golladay also has to contend with sharing balls with Marvin Jones and Marvin Hall.

Also consider: Steelers WR Diontae Johnson vs. Texans

Jets TE Chris Herndon at Colts

Jets tight end Chris Herndon during a practice on Aug. 22, 2020.
Jets tight end Chris Herndon during a practice on Aug. 22, 2020. (Adam Hunger/AP)

With injuries to Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell, fantasy managers expect Chris Herndon to see enough volume against the 49ers to make him worth a start. He had just one catch for 5 yards, and now he faces a Colts secondary riding high off putting the clamps on the Vikings.

Also consider: Bills TE Dawson Knox vs. Rams

Raiders K Daniel Carlson at Patriots

Raiders place kicker Daniel Carlson kicks a 20-yard field goal during the first half against the Panthers on Sept. 13, 2020.
Raiders place kicker Daniel Carlson kicks a 20-yard field goal during the first half against the Panthers on Sept. 13, 2020. (Brian Westerholt/AP)

After the Patriots lost a barn-burner, expect them to be sharp. Field goals probably won’t cut it in this game, and the last two kickers (Miami’s Jason Sanders and Seattle’s Jason Myers) had 4 and 5 points, respectively.

Also consider: Vikings K Dan Bailey vs. Titans

Saints defense/special teams vs. Packers

Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore tackles Raiders tight end Darren Waller during the first half on Sept. 21, 2020.
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore tackles Raiders tight end Darren Waller during the first half on Sept. 21, 2020. (Isaac Brekken/AP)

The Saints lost their shirts in Las Vegas (hey-yo!), but seriously folks, Derek Carr and Darren Waller dissected their secondary in the second half.

Up next are the high-powered Packers, the only team to saddle each DSTs (Lions and Vikings) they’ve faced with negative points.

Also consider: Cowboys DST at Seahawks

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