Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 3

Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 3

This article is part of our Start vs. Sit series.

Welcome to Start/Sit for Week 3. Week 2 had some interesting results across the FBS landscape, with Clemson (maybe?) looking fallible and Florida losing to Kentucky for the first time since 1986. This week's slate is a bit up in the air with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas and forcing schools to cancel their games, but there are still plenty of exciting matchups to dig into in Week 3. Let's look at this week's top start and sit candidates.

PLAYERS TO START

AAC

Shamari Brooks, RB, Tulsa (vs. Arkansas State)

A deep running back committee had me concerned about Brooks' upside coming into the year. Through two games, however, Brooks has established himself as the guy in the Tulsa backfield. He is averaging just less than 25 carries and has scored two touchdowns in both games. The matchup this week is a bit of an enigma; Arkansas State predictably shut down Southeast Missouri State's ground game and predictably got shredded by Alabama, so it's hard to know what to make of the Red Wolves' run game just yet. What we do know is that Brooks is the bell cow in a run-heavy offense that went to the ground nearly 60 percent of the time against Texas. Brooks makes for a strong play in Week 3.

ACC

Jordan Mason, RB, Georgia Tech

With KirVonte Benson done for the year with a knee injury, Mason is in line to take on the starting B-back role for the Yellow

Welcome to Start/Sit for Week 3. Week 2 had some interesting results across the FBS landscape, with Clemson (maybe?) looking fallible and Florida losing to Kentucky for the first time since 1986. This week's slate is a bit up in the air with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas and forcing schools to cancel their games, but there are still plenty of exciting matchups to dig into in Week 3. Let's look at this week's top start and sit candidates.

PLAYERS TO START

AAC

Shamari Brooks, RB, Tulsa (vs. Arkansas State)

A deep running back committee had me concerned about Brooks' upside coming into the year. Through two games, however, Brooks has established himself as the guy in the Tulsa backfield. He is averaging just less than 25 carries and has scored two touchdowns in both games. The matchup this week is a bit of an enigma; Arkansas State predictably shut down Southeast Missouri State's ground game and predictably got shredded by Alabama, so it's hard to know what to make of the Red Wolves' run game just yet. What we do know is that Brooks is the bell cow in a run-heavy offense that went to the ground nearly 60 percent of the time against Texas. Brooks makes for a strong play in Week 3.

ACC

Jordan Mason, RB, Georgia Tech

With KirVonte Benson done for the year with a knee injury, Mason is in line to take on the starting B-back role for the Yellow Jackets. Mason has already looked strong through two weeks, taking 24 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown. With an even bigger role on tap, we could be looking at a 1,000-yard rusher who might even be available on your waiver wire. Georgia Tech's rushing attack isn't as loaded with explosive athletes as the Penn State backfield that ran for 211 yards against Pitt, but it's still good and Mason is stepping into a favorable situation.

BIG 12

Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State (vs. UTSA)

Barnes' workload was the chief argument against him during draft season, and through two weeks, he has accounted for 46 percent of Kansas State's rushing attempts. Quarterback Skylar Thompson is adept as a runner in his own right, but there isn't another back challenging Barnes for carries just yet. Dalvin Warmack, by comparison, has just four percent of the team's rushing share. So, bottom line, Barnes will see the bulk of the carries this weekend. And when there are upward of 20 carries going to Barnes against UTSA, that's something that bears paying attention to – especially when the Roadrunners are coughing up 5.3 yards per carry. Look for Barnes to gash the Roadrunners in Week 3. I'd also consider your Texas running backs this week against USC's defense that ranks 123rd in the nation in yards per carry allowed at 6.49.

BIG TEN

Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan (vs. SMU)

Two weeks into the year and we can already tell that SMU is one of the worst teams in FBS. The Mustang faithful might already be having buyer's remorse with what Sonny Dykes has put on the field dating to the embarrassing bowl game effort at the end of last year. Well, a trip to the Big House isn't going to fix things, and Higdon will be one of the players who makes sure of that. Higdon is coming off a 156-yard effort against Western Michigan's leaky run defense, and while SMU's run defense isn't quite as big a disaster as WMU's (321 RuYPG allowed ... yikes), it's still a unit that hasn't been tested by a ground-heavy team like Michigan. The only concern for Higdon is getting pulled in the second half when Michigan has an insurmountable lead, but he should put up top-30 RB production before that happens. Minnesota running back Bryce Williams might be worth a look in deeper formats as a potential Rodney Smith replacement as well.

CONFERENCE-USA

Mason Fine, QB, North Texas (at Arkansas)

Arkansas might be at home and it might have an SEC roster, but Fine is one of the rare Group of 5 quarterbacks you can trust even when his team is punching above its weight class. Fine has attempted 90 passes through two weeks and is at the helm of one of college football's most up-tempo and dangerous passing attacks. Getting a matchup against an Arkansas team that was lit up for 389 yards and two touchdowns by Colorado State's K.J. Carta-Samuels is a good thing for those on the fence about Fine for this week. Start him with confidence.

MAC

Nathan Rourke, QB, Ohio (vs. Virginia at Nashville)

Few Week 1 outcomes were as concerning as Rourke's. He went just 2-for-8 for 44 yards before getting benched against Howard. Howard! No, Rourke isn't Peyton Manning as a passer, but he's certainly better than a 25-percent passer against an FCS team. Passing production wasn't the reason behind Rourke going so high in fantasy drafts anyhow, as owners were looking to cash in on the double-digit rushing touchdown upside. Rourke has been announced as the starter against Virginia, so as long as he's not awful out of the gate, he should be able to keep backup Quinton Maxwell on the sidelines. Furthermore, this isn't too tough a matchup against Virginia, and Rourke won't have to worry about a hostile environment with the game being moved to Nashville.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Ty Gangi, QB, Nevada (vs. Oregon State)

A shaky outing against Vanderbilt shouldn't change your perspective on Gangi or the Nevada offense that has an extremely high ceiling. Gangi got to 342 yards on just 26 attempts against Portland State in the opener, and while you have to take that stat line with a grain of salt, but he faces Oregon State defense Saturday that gave up 340 passing yards to Southern Utah! And now Gangi has matchup nightmare Brendan O'Leary-Orange back in the fold to give him one of the best receiving corps in the Mountain West. Look for Gangi to take advantage of the soft matchup to post one of the top quarterback scores of Week 3. I also wouldn't shy away from my Boise State players this week heading down to Oklahoma State.

PAC-12

Cameron Scarlett, RB, Stanford (vs. UC Davis)

I'm cherry picking a bit here, but Scarlett becomes an immediate option in fantasy leagues with Bryce Love sitting out with an undisclosed injury this week. Now, Scarlett isn't going to come in and replicate what Love usually does – he's a completely different back from a skill-set perspective. But Scarlett is a load to bring down at 6-foot-1, 216, which will be an issue for a team like UC Davis. Oregon State's Jermar Jefferson is another trendy Pac-12 back that has my seal of approval this week against Nevada. I also wouldn't shy away from using Myles Gaskin in a tough spot on the road. For my money, the Pac-12 has the best slate of games this week.

SEC

All Alabama Players (at Mississippi)

Mississippi, where do we begin? The best thing that can be said for the Rebs giving up 41 points to Southern Illinois is they were maybe overlooking the opponent. Even then, that's not a good sign heading into a matchup against an Alabama team that has the best offense of the Nick Saban era. So pick your poison – fire up Tua Tagovailoa, fire up either of your Harrises, fire up Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. There's also the added bonus of Mississippi having enough offensive firepower to hang around just long enough for those Alabama starters to max out their production.

SUN BELT

Jalin Moore, Appalachian State (vs. Southern Mississippi)

Moore turned in a bit of a dud in Week 2 with just 38 yards and no touchdowns against UNC Charlotte in a game where the Mountaineers hung 45 points on their in-state opponent. This week Moore will be facing a decent but unspectacular Southern Miss defense that gave up 5.3 yards per carry against Louisiana-Monroe. Moore is too integral to this offense to be bottled up two weeks in a row, particularly against a subpar opponent. One key for later in the week will be keeping an eye on the status of this game with the hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas.

PLAYERS TO SIT

AAC

Terence Williams, RB, Houston (at Texas Tech)

Williams leads the team in carries yet trails Patrick Carr by 55 rushing yards. Of course, a two-game sample has plenty of volatility baked in, so Williams could easily get himself in gear as soon as this week. My concern has less to do with Williams' performance to this point and more to do with the way Houston's offense functions. It's a great offense, don't get me wrong. It's also an offense that makes use of its running back depth. Williams has to contend with Carr and Mulbah Car getting 38 percent of the carries and D'Eriq King getting another 16 percent of the pie. There's also a high likelihood that Houston won't be able to shift into cruise control this week against Texas Tech's 11th-ranked scoring offense,

ACC

Cade Carney, RB, Wake Forest (vs. Boston College)

Carney has been Wake Forest's best back through the early portion of the season, but some of those numbers are inflated by a big game against Towson where he ran for 130 yards. He was held to just 3.4 yards per carry against Tulane in the opener and now draws a matchup against one of the ACC's stingiest defenses with Boston College coming to Winston-Salem. Boston College has played a soft schedule to this point but has taken care of business by giving up just 3.4 yards per carry. Carney is starting to see the kind of workload that makes him worthy of a roster spot in most leagues, but starting him this week against BC is a different story.

BIG 12

Shawn Robinson, QB, TCU

This is Robinson's first big test of the year after carving up Southern and SMU to start the year. In fairness, Ohio State hasn't faced a quarterback of Robinson's caliber either, but the Buckeyes' front seven looks terrifying once again. Ohio State has allowed a grand total of 16.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks this year whereas Robinson is averaging 30.8 points per game. So, this boils down to which side you trust more, and even with this game being played in Texas, Ohio State still has the edge. Look for Ohio State to generate pressure unlike anything Robinson has seen yet, and look for Ohio State's corners to blanket TCU's receivers. I might even be a bit worried about my Oklahoma State running backs with Boise State coming to town, too.

BIG TEN

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (vs. Missouri)

Well, we might've been a little hasty to anoint Moore as the next big thing. Obviously Moore's Week 2 dud had more to do with Purdue's failings to get him involved and less to do with him having any lack of talent. Moore is still the most dangerous player on Purdue's offense, but that only means so much when scheme and team context are working against him. Then there's the fact that Missouri quietly has a competent defense. The Tigers gave up just 12.2 fantasy points against Wyoming wide receivers on Saturday, forcing 17 incompletions on 30 pass attempts. Moore figures to be a bigger part of the game plan after Purdue's shocking home loss to Eastern Michigan, it just might not matter much.

CONFERENCE-USA

Spencer Brown, RB, UAB (vs. Tulane)

Brown is easily one of the best backs in the Group of 5, so leaving him on the bench is always a tough call. It might be necessary this week, however, against a Tulane team that's sneaky tough on defense and held Wake Forest to just 3.58 yards per carry in the season opener. Brown averaged just 4.7 YPC against Coastal Carolina, a team that has otherwise coughed up 6.95 yards per carry this season. Brown is a lock to push for 20-plus carries on a given week, but until quarterback A.J. Erdely can start stressing defenses with his arm, teams will have the luxury of selling out to stop Brown and the UAB ground game.

MAC

Jonathan Ward, RB, Central Michigan (at Northern Illinois)

Two weeks in and two clunkers later, is it time to be worried about Ward? Not being able to run all over Kentucky is excusable, but 10 carries for 29 yards and no touchdowns against Kansas? Unforgivable. And now he's heading into a matchup against a Northern Illinois club that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs in the MAC. I don't expect Ward to stay down forever, but he's outside the RB3 range in 12-team leagues for me this week.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Juwan Washington, San Diego State (vs. Arizona State)

It's time for us to go back and delete our tweets about how bad Herm Edwards was going to be because the Sun Devils – if nothing else – are no joke. Of course, neither is Washington, who is second behind only Jonathan Taylor in rushing yards per game with 157.0. We're getting into Unstoppable Force vs. Immovable Object territory in this matchup, and I'll side with the immovable object. San Diego state is reeling at quarterback with Christian Chapman out. Chapman isn't a major threat at quarterback, but he was at least steady and gave the Aztecs some semblance of a passing attack. Arizona State now gets to fully sell out to stop Washington, and while I don't expect that to alter San Diego State's plans, I don't expect that to be a particularly good idea for the Aztecs, either. The Sun Devils have allowed 65 rushing yards on 61 carries this year.

PAC-12

Jake Browning, QB, Washington (at Utah)

This is one of the top matchups of the weekend even if Utah isn't ranked. The Utes are tough even if they're not battle tested just yet. Browning, for being both good and experienced, is in a tough spot. Utah has been effective in generating pressure, and that's exactly what gave Browning fits in the season opener against Auburn. In fairness, Utah's front isn't quite to Auburn's level, but it's still good enough to keep Browning under duress, especially with stud left tackle Trey Adams sidelined.

SEC

Nick Brossette, RB, LSU (at Auburn)

Brossette has been one of the better early stories as a fantasy asset this season, racking up 262 yards and two scores through two games. He even showed out against a respectable Miami front with 125 yards and two scores, so it's clear that he's a legitimate fantasy option. Auburn's defensive front is not to be trifled with, however, and that's a bad sign for LSU heading into Week 3. Look for Auburn to focus on stopping the run first and foremost to make LSU turn to Joe Burrow as the key to moving the ball. Burrow hasn't shown that he's capable of accomplishing a tall task like that, however, and I'm skeptical that he'll look vastly improved in a hostile environment against the best team he's faced. With that, Brossette could be in for a highly frustrating Saturday afternoon with the tough matchup combined with an uneven workload.

SUN BELT

Willie Jones, QB, Texas State (at South Alabama)

South Alabama had the misfortune of running into a well-rested Oklahoma State club on the road in Week 2, which gives the Jaguars some rough looking defensive metrics heading into Saturday. Jones, meanwhile, has strung together a pair of decent outings this season and brings a rushing threat that demands the respect of opposing defenses. South Alabama is an opportunistic defense that can slow down mobile quarterbacks, however. The Jaguars picked off Louisiana Tech's J'Mar Smith three times and held him to just eight rushing yards on eight attempts in the season opener. Look for Jones to struggle on the road this week.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only College Football Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire College Football fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
Army vs. Navy: Odds, Picks & Predictions
Army vs. Navy: Odds, Picks & Predictions
College Football DFS: Army Navy Game Showdown Slate for DraftKings and FanDuel
College Football DFS: Army Navy Game Showdown Slate for DraftKings and FanDuel
Michigan vs. Iowa: Odds, Picks & Predictions for the Big Ten Championship Game
Michigan vs. Iowa: Odds, Picks & Predictions for the Big Ten Championship Game
Louisville vs. Florida State: Odds, Picks & Predictions for ACC Championship
Louisville vs. Florida State: Odds, Picks & Predictions for ACC Championship