Fantasy Football Week Three Rundown

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Fantasy Football Week Three is upon us! Here is a close look at all the Sunday matchups to help guide you in your starting lineup decisions.

Fantasy Football Week Three Rundown

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

  • Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was the lone highlight in an ugly Thursday night Week Two win. His 67 rushing yards and a touchdown make him him a viable start in two quarterback leagues. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been targeted often since Watson took over the starting job. In the last three quarters, Hopkins has received 25 targets which gives him a safe wide receiver two floor moving forward. Running back Lamar Miller led the Texans with 18 rushing attempts in Week Two, but limited production with those touches. Rookie D’Onta Foreman got the majority of the first half rushing load, and looking quicker and stronger than Miller. While fantasy owners are calling for Foreman to take over the starting job, Miller’s catching ability still makes him the Texans back to own, albeit by default. On the road at Foxborough, Miller is no better than a low running back two in all formats.
  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded in a big way from his zero touchdown performance Week One performance against Kansas City. His 447 yards and three touchdown performance erased any concerns from Patriots fans. Running back Mike Gillislee is a must start as New England’s goal line back with 18 carries, 69 yards, and a touchdown last week against New OrleansJames White continues to be a target hog with 13 targets and 11 receptions through two games. It’s time to start worrying about Brandin Cooks, who received less targets than Rob Gronkowski, White, and Chris Hogan in “revenge game” opportunity against New Orleans. Rex Burkhead could be out with a rib injury, but wide receiver Danny Amendola (led Patriots in receptions in Week One) is back from his concussion. Fantasy owners should start Brady, Gronkowski, Gillislee, White, and Hogan with confidence. Until proven otherwise, Cooks is only a wide receiver three with a wide receiver two ceiling.

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)

  • The Ravens travel to England as one of ten undefeated teams in the NFL.  Despite battling injuries, the Ravens backfield has been very productive. Terrance West is dealing with a soft tissue injury which has opened the door for Javorius Allen, who finished eighth in both standard and PPR fantasy formats in Week Two. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been nursing a bad back from preseason, but should continue to find veteran tight end Ben Watson against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the season. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has scored a touchdown in each of the first two games, although on only six total receptions. He is not worth a start against the Jacksonville cornerback duo of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.
  • Jacksonville’s fantasy players are very polarizing. They are definitive starts or sits this week against the Ravens. The Jaguars defense was great in week one with 10 sacks, but got worn down late against the Titans. They remain a safe play against Baltimore this week, who will be without star guard Marshal Yanda.  Leonard Fournette is second among all running backs with 40 carries, and is one of the few three down workhorses currently in the league. While the Ravens are tough against the run, Fournette is a clear start in 12 team leagues regardless of format. While Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are intriguing fantasy options, quarterback Blake Bortles needs to perform better. He has two interceptions and one fumble lost this season. It is better to look elsewhere against a Ravens team that is currently fourth best against fantasy wide receivers this season.

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

  • Quarterback DeShone Kizer took a step backwards against the Ravens in Week Two. He finished 15 of 31 for 182 yards and three interceptions. The Browns wide receiving core hasn’t helped much, with Kenny Britt clearly struggling and Corey Coleman out after suffering a broken hand. Running back Isaiah Crowell remains a strong Week Three play despite only 70 total rushing yards in two games. Duke Johnson is 11th among running backs with 11 targets, but only has five receptions. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins is the clear top receiving option and is hoping to build off his seven reception 95 yard performance last week. Both tight ends (Seth DeValve and David Njoku) are talented, but are currently siphoning fantasy value from each other.
  • While all of Indianapolis waits for the return of quarterback Andrew Luck, no one is more anxious than the Colts wide receivers. Both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief have failed to score this season. Indianapolis will look to limit quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s mistakes, so tight end Jack Doyle should be a fantasy starter every week. Doyle caught all eight of his targets for 79 yards last week.  Frank Gore is still the lead running back and should be a solid running back two at home against Cleveland. Rookie Marlon Mack is talented but is only insurance for Gore at this point.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Giants offense has been struggling and playing Philadelphia in their home opener is not an easy task. Eli Manning is currently 29th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. The Giants fantasy running back situation is a mess. It is hard to justify starting a running back on a team that only has 97 total rushing yards through two games. In PPR formats however, Shane Vereen is a solid option. He leads the team in both targets (13) and receptions (12). Odell Beckham will be better, but is against a tough Eagles secondary that ranks top 10 against opposing fantasy wide receivers. The weakness in Philadelphia’s defense, is defending the tight end. Rookie Evan Engram should have a safe floor in a game where the Giants will need to score points.
  • Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz has been impressive in two road games to start the season. He has thrown for over 300 yards in both games at Washington and at Kansas City. Running back LeGarrette Blount may actually get a carry in this game (zero carries last week), but is still not a starter in any fantasy format. Darren Sproles had 10 carries and four targets at Kansas City, and should finally crack the top 24 PPR running backs this week. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins caused Dez Bryant problems in Week One, but sat out Week Two with an ankle injury.  Reports are that he will not play Sunday, giving fantasy owners a green light to start wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. With a mediocre linebacking core, tight ends are always a strong fantasy play against the Giants.  Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has the second most targets (18) and second most receptions (13) at the position.  Ertz is an automatic start until further notice. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a great first week and terrible second week. If you want to roll the dice, he’s a wide receiver three flyer.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

  • Miami running back Jay Ajayi had a 96.8 opportunity share in Week One against the Chargers. He is an automatic fantasy start in all formats, especially against a Jets defense that is fourth most generous to opposing fantasy running backs. Quarterback Jay Cutler was very efficient in Week One. He was 24 of 33 for 230 yards and a touchdown. Both Dolphins wide receivers are automatic starts this week.  Jarvis Landry was a PPR dream with 13 receptions against the Chargers, and DeVante Parker still totaled 85 yards besides getting shadowed by cornerback Casey Hayward.
  • Running back Matt Forte is still a solid running back two choice in both standard and PPR formats. He is the clear goal line back, and has seven receptions on nine targets this season. Unless Forte gets hurt, fellow running back Bilal Powell is a clear sit averaging only 5.1 fantasy points per game (60th among all running backs).  Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is ninth among all wide receivers with 11 receptions. The Dolphins secondary allowed nine catches and 100 yards to Keenan Allen in Week One, so Kearse should be a solid wide receiver two fantasy value at home. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is back from suspension, but is a sit until proven otherwise.

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills

  • The Broncos have played great in two home wins. Quarterback Trevor Siemian is the top quarterback in fantasy football with 450 yards and six passing touchdowns. Running back C.J. Anderson has the second most rushing yards and most importantly, leads all running backs with 13 red zone touches. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are solid starting fantasy wide receiving options this week.  The Bills have been tough against tight ends, so Virgil Green (only three receptions) should be on fantasy benches.
  • While this looks like a tough matchup, there are sneaky good fantasy plays for the Bills. At home, quarterback Tyrod Taylor has averaged 46.2 rushing yards, 1.44 touchdowns, 0.56 interceptions, and 23.4 fantasy points. He is an solid top 12 fantasy quarterback start despite the tough Denver defense. Running back LeSean McCoy is the focus of the Buffalo offense and is a top play on volume alone. Tight end Charles Clay has been Taylor’s top receiving option and should do well against a Broncos defense that allowed 10 receptions, 97 yards, and one touchdown to Jason Witten at home last week. Despite the “No Fly Zone,” wide receiver Jordan Matthews should be a safe wide receiver three play at home.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears

  • The Steelers are 2-0 but really haven’t clicked on offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been efficient with four touchdowns and one interception. Le’Veon Bell hasn’t produced normal fantasy output, but his 88.7 percent opportunity share (third among running backs) should ease owners minds. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is an automatic start, but be careful with Martavis Bryant who averages just 3.2 catches and 0.3 touchdowns on the road in his career. Tight end Jesse James has ten receptions and two touchdowns on the season, and is a solid start against a Bears defense that is below average against opposing fantasy tight ends.
  • Chicago has struggled offensively, but a close loss at home to Atlanta in Week One provides hope. Running back Jordan Howard is now injured, giving rookie Tarik Cohen the majority of backfield touches. He ranks first among all running backs with 21 targets and is a must start in both PPR and standard formats. Kendall Wright had 10 targets at Tampa Bay, and fantasy owners should be most encouraged by his four red zones targets. Tight end Zach Miller has the same amount of targets (10) as Jesse James and Jack Doyle, but falls short in efficiency with only seven fantasy points this season. The only Chicago starts for fantasy are Cohen and Wright.

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

  • The Falcons offense has picked up where it left off last season. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman are automatic starts every week. Tevin Coleman is the 21st ranked running back in standard scoring and 25th in PPR scoring formats. Start both Freeman and Coleman with confidence at Detroit. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has produced a very underrated wide receiver two start to the season. He ranks ninth with 11 receptions and is 13th with 132 receiving yards. Tight end Austin Hooper underwhelmed with only seven receiving yards in Week One, but faces a Lions defense that just got torched by the Giants trio of tight ends. Hooper will be a tight end one this week.
  • Matthew Stafford has been the most efficient quarterback in the NFL this season. He only has 414 passing yards, but has thrown for six touchdowns and just one interception in two games. He should feast on a Falcons defense without 2016 NFL sack leader Vic Beasley on the field. Wide receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are solid wide receiver two plays, and Kenny Golladay should flirt with wide receiver three production even with limited targets. Tight end Eric Ebron found the end zone last week, and should have a safe floor in a high scoring game. The Lions running back situation is muddled, but Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are both worth starting in PPR formats.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

  • The Buccaneers face a stiff test after an easy Week One home opening win against Chicago. Quarterback Jameis Winston will operate with Vikings star cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowing wide receiver Mike Evans. Rhodes held New Orleans’ Michael Thomas and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown to a combined seven catches for 86 yards while in man to man coverage. Look for DeSean Jackson to rebound from a three catch 39 yard performance in Week One, and both Tampa Bay tight ends (Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard) should see volume on short to intermediate routes against a tough Vikings defense.
  • With quarterback Sam Bradford ruled out, all fantasy options suffer for Minnesota. Last time the Vikings were home, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were both top four fantasy wide receivers in PPR formats. While backup quarterback Case Keenum is experienced, don’t expect better than wide receiver two production from either player. Running back Dalvin Cook is one of only four running backs averaging over 95 yards rushing per week, despite not having scored this season. That trend will change this week. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is a safe fantasy play this week, and should catch Keenum’s eye with a safe route tree.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

  • The Saints are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth consecutive season. Quarterback Drew Brees should be solid regardless, as his 68 percent completion percentage, 294 passing yards, and 1.5 touchdown averages at Carolina will attest. Mark Ingram is the Saints best all around running back, averaging 4.93 yards per carry with nine receptions through two games. But until the crowded backfield with Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara thins out, he is no more than an running back two. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has 10 receptions and 134 total yards, which are solid but not spectacular totals. The “Ted Ginn Revenge Game” narrative is alive here, but Carolina is currently the second stingiest team against opposing fantasy wide receivers. Tight end Coby Fleener has two touchdowns and is tied for the second most fantasy points at the position. He is certainly a starting option among a muddled fantasy tight end pool.
  • If quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t get on track this week, fans should be very concerned. He faces a Saints defense that allows fantasy points like a pinball machine. New Orleans is the most generous defense for opposing fantasy quarterbacks, which should make for a big game for Newton. New Orleans cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore have been ruled out, which means start wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess with complete confidence. Running back Jonathan Stewart is a safe running back play with volume to support an running back two finish in PPR and standard scoring formats. Christian McCaffrey has been somewhat of a fantasy disappointment so far, so go with better goal line running back options this week if possible.

Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans

  • Seattle has again struggled offensively to start the season. The Seahawks have only produced 21 points against the mediocre defenses of San Francisco and Green Bay. While quarterback Russell Wilson has only 26 total fantasy points, his 74 rushing yards proves he is completely healthy. With offensive line issues still existing, Wilson is a sit this week against the Titans except in two quarterback fantasy leagues. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin‘s struggles have paralleled Wilson’s, but he still is the top receiving option and is worthy of a start against a Titans defense that is fifth most generous to opposing fantasy wide receivers. Hopefully Tyler Lockett‘s nine targets against San Francisco were a sign of things to come, but he is only a wide receiver three flyer this week. Paul Richardson returned to practice on Friday after a Week Two game where he dislocated a finger yet caught a touchdown pass. Rookie running back Chris Carson gets the start, but will he produce behind a poor offensive line on the road against Tennessee?
  • If head coach Mike Mularkey decides to bench injured running back DeMarco Murray, the Titans offense has perfect fantasy clarity. Derrick Henry could follow Carlos Hyde‘s lead from Week Two and emerge as a top 12 fantasy running back play. Despite a strong Seattle defense, quarterback Marcus Mariota is too versatile to not start. The Titans signal caller balances red zone efficiency with elusive rushing ability (50 rushing yards this season). With rookie wide receiver Corey Davis ruled out, veteran Rishard Matthews is the most healthy and productive Tennessee passing option. First year Titan Eric Decker should be played as a wide receiver three option as well. Tight end Delanie Walker has been on the field for over 90 percent of the snaps, and has 137 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown. Walker is one of the few matchup proof tight ends in fantasy.

Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers

  • A make or break game for the Bengals who are 0-2 and have scored a combined nine points this season. Cincinnati fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and turn to quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor to right the ship. The priority will be to get wide receiver A.J. Green going, who only has 10 receptions through two games. With tight end Tyler Eifert and rookie wide receiver John Ross ruled out, Green should see a plethora of targets against a poor Green Bay secondary. The running back situation is clouded, but this could be the springboard game for rookie Joe Mixon, who has struggled with 17 carries for only 45 yards. Still, he remains a better option than Jeremy Hill who only has three total fantasy points.  Giovani Bernard remains an explosive third down option, and the Bengals hope for quarterback Andy Dalton to emerge from his awful start (zero touchdown, four interceptions) to the season.
  • The Packers return home with several key injuries. Wide receiver Randall Cobb is listed as doubtful and fellow wideout Jordy Nelson is questionable. That leaves Davante Adams, who is an automatic start with Aaron Rodgers at home. Tight end Martellus Bennett is also a must start, because his 17 targets far outweight his limited fantasy production so far. The best fantasy player for the Packers will continue to be running back Ty Montgomery, who has been the second best fantasy running back in the league through two games. He is active as both a runner and receiver, and will face a Bengals defense that ranks eighth most generous to opposing fantasy running backs this season.

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

  • The Chiefs enter this big AFC West rivalry game at 2-0. Rookie Kareem Hunt is the top fantasy running back in football through two games and is a clear must start. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill scores fantasy points in a variety of ways and will produce wide receiver two value in PPR leagues against a Chargers secondary that again will be without cornerback Jason Verrett. Travis Kelce had the second best fantasy tight end performance last week with eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Alex Smith has been his usual efficient self, but is only startable in two quarterback leagues.
  • The Chargers are two missed field goals away from being 2-0. Philip Rivers continues his top 12 quarterback ways, with 72 attempts, 523 passing yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception. He should have a big game against a Chiefs defense that allowed Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz to throw for 333 yards in Arrowhead Stadium. The season-ending injury to safety Eric Berry means both tight ends (Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates) are startable, with Henry getting the majority of targets. Rivers connection with wide receiver Keenan Allen looks incredible, and his 14 receptions on 20 targets is a great fantasy start. Tyrell Williams has yet to fire, but is always a red zone threat at 6’3″ with a 33 1/2″ arm length. He is a high-end WR3 at home.

Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins

  • The Raiders look every bit the part of a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Quarterback Derek Carr has five touchdowns, no interceptions, and is completing 75 percent of his pass attempts. Start him and enjoy the production. Running back Marshawn Lynch is the goal line workhorse with a touchdown on 121 rushing yards. Since the Raiders want to keep Lynch fresh for the playoffs, backup Jalen Richard is a viable running back two option. Richard has the same amount of fantasy points as Lynch on 19 less carries. As for wide receivers, Week One was Amari Cooper‘s show, while Week Two was Michael Crabtree‘s. Cooper probably draws cornerback Josh Norman, so I like Crabtree better this week but both are automatic fantasy starters. Tight end Jared Cook has a strong matchup against a Redskins defense that is seventh most generous to fantasy tight ends. However, he hasn’t produced much yet, so Cook is still a low end tight end one until proven otherwise.
  • This has the makings of an offensive “get right” game for Washington. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has only thrown for 419 yards in two games, but that was a result of a heavy run script game at the Rams in Week Two. The Raiders defense has been fifth best against opposing fantasy running backs, so be careful starting an injured Robert Kelley or backup Samaje Perine. Satellite back extraordinaire Chris Thompson is the fifth best fantasy running back through five weeks, and is a must start in PPR formats. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has predicted this will be his breakout game, and fantasy owners should agree. Pryor should again reach double digits targets as he did Week One against Philadelphia. Jamison Crowder is tied for third on the team in targets with Thompson, but is overdue for a strong fantasy performance. Crowder will benefit from the nagging injuries of tight end Jordan Reed. Start Crowder as a solid WR3 but sit Reed until he receives a clear bill of health.

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