Byes will start in one week, and forward-thinking fantasy owners can use Week Three to test out a few of their plug-ins.
The best case scenario would be discovering a gem that practically forces you to sit your previous starter (think Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith). In Week Three, many are hoping Green Bay Packers running back James Starks, or Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins can out shine their injured counterparts.
But strategy should remain the same for most leagues, with matchups and expected playing time trumping perceived talent. The Seattle Seahawks are 20-point favorites against Jacksonville this week, making most of their offense viable for free-agent-or-waiver pick ups, while Cincinnati rookie tight end Tyler Eifert faces a struggling Packers secondary. With 10 receptions for 163 yards, Miami's Charles Clay is another good example as he’s filling in nicely for Dustin Keller.
Keep all that in mind and check out some of the players to start (and some to sit) in Week Three.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
If you won the scrum to pick him up after Eddie Lacy’s concussion, consider yourself lucky. Starks was the first Packers running back to rush for more than 100 yards since 2010, and he should get the majority of the touches until Lacy comes back, which reportedly won’t be for a few weeks.
Da’Rel Scott, New York Giants
The Giants are first in passing and dead last in rushing. Scott is a second or third running back option in fantasy, and so far he's been more effective in the passing game. He already has seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. In a PPR league, Scott would be a solid addition for this week, and a good plug-in when byes start in Week Four.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
Normally the former Steeler would stay on your the bench, but he had a solid game in Week Two and faces a New Orleans team currently ranked 27th in rush defense. Mendenhall is also averaging 4.1 yards per carry, putting him on pace to equal his best years in Pittsburgh.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Andre Johnson is currently questionable after suffering a concussion, but Hopkins had already established himself as a viable option for Matt Schaub. After dealing with his own head injury in the preseason, he’s now second on the team with 12 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. In Week Three, Hopkins faces an inconsistent Baltimore secondary.
Stephen Hill, New York Jets
Hill is tied for the team lead in catches with 10, but hasn’t caught a touchdown yet. Still going forward he’s the best option for the limited Jets offense, and they reportedly plan to spread Hill around the field.
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
There should be a bum rush of owners trying to land any of Seattle’s starters on offense. Tate and or Doug Baldwin are in line for big games against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
His accuracy has shot up from last year, and in Week Two he showed much better chemistry with No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace. Tannehill and the Dolphins are also at home against Atlanta, a team that’s been burned by 300-yard passers twice to start the season.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Same applies to Wilson as it did for Tate and Baldwin. He’s already had one 300-yard passing game this year and is poised for another.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Smith was on pace to complete 70 percent of his passes, if he had played all 16 games last year. While he's been shy of that kind accuracy so far this year, Smith faces a Philadelphia defense that was slowly picked apart by San Diego in Week Two. Expect a lot of passes up the middle to keep the clock going, and for Smith to have a big Thursday night.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
He’s first on the team with three touchdowns, and is good for a solid 10 points a week thus far. Against the Steelers, Bennett might not get in the endzone, but could get huge chunks of yardage. In a PPR league, he’s an excellent start over Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who’s playing with a different quarterback this week.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
The Notre Dame product is quickly supplanting Jermaine Grisham on the depth chart, with eight catches for 113 yards, second only to top flight receiver A.J. Green for the team lead. He faces a Green Bay defense currently ranked 30th against the pass.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
He has caught one of Jake Locker's two touchdowns so far this season in the plodding Titans offense. But against San Diego this week, Walker could have a solid four or five catches for 60-plus yards and a touchdown.