Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 3
I am back. I have returned. First off, I want to apologize for not writing my Week 2 sleepers column. It was the first piece of in-season content I’ve missed in over four years. The context? I had unexpected complications from dental surgery and was out of commission.
However, it is a new week. Week 3, in fact. And it is right around the corner. Thus far through two weeks’ worth of games in the 2020 NFL season, we have seen a lot of good teams playing badly, bad teams playing well, and everything in between including a laundry list of notable injuries that have made a tremendous impact on the fantasy football landscape. While we can’t predict injuries, however, I do expect teams around the league to begin to show their true colors. The good teams playing bad will likely turn it around while the bad teams playing well will likely regress. Why? As you should expect, the first two weeks of the COVID-19-stricken season were like preseason games to most of the teams and players around the league. Now that the rust is beginning to come off and the players finally get into football shape, we will now see what is real and what is make-believe.
Take last night’s game between the Dolphins and Jaguars as an example. While many expected Jacksonville to come out on top, many glossed over the fact that Miami spent a lot of capital to add talent to their defense that began to play well down the stretch of 2019 under Brian Flores. Two weeks into 2020, it appears that the new defensive pieces began to gel last night, stifling Garnder Minshew, who was off to a red-hot start along with the no-name Jaguars offense. Buckle up buttercup. it is time to start the 2020 NFL season for real, in Week 3, now that the pseudo preseason is over.
Looking for winning DFS advice? My co-host at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Gridiron 3x: Top Projected Draft Kings Plays for Week 2 column found exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
QB Fantasy Sleepers Week 3
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.7%
Many, including myself, questioned if Ryan Tannehill was the real deal last season. While the Titans didn’t throw a ton, Tannehill managed to be one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Russell Willson-type efficiency. And after two games in 2020, it looks like Tannehill has picked up where he left off in 2019. Currently slated as the QB8 in FPPG (23.1), Tannehill is in line for another productive outing in Sunday’s matchup at the Vikings. Even with stud second-year wideout A.J. Brown sidelined last week, Tannehill managed to light up the Jaguars for 26.8 fantasy points, ending last week’s slate as the overall QB7.
And while Brown is slated to miss another game — he has yet to practice this week with a knee injury — I’d make sure the rejuvenated signal-caller is in my fantasy lineup, especially if you’re team is suffering from injury and you need a high-ceiling. As I’ve said all offseason long on my podcast/ live stream The FF Faceoff, the Vikings defense lost way too many pieces for them to remain as stout as they’ve been under Mike Zimmer. And now with the loss of Anthony Barr for the year, Minnesota’s defense is that much more short-handed of familiar faces. Through two games, the Vikings’ defense is allowing the 12th-most FPPG to enemy QBs at a 21.2 FPPG pace. They are also ion the top 12 in fantasy points surrendered to RBs (11th) and WRs (2nd).
While I do expect Derrick Henry to maintain his role as the focal point of the Titans’ offense, Tannehill is efficient enough to put up QB1 fantasy production for the second straight game. Tannehill has finished as a QB1 in 9-of-12 games as the Tenneessee starter in the regular season. He will make that number increase to 10-of-13 in Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 5.2
It hasn’t been pretty, but Mitchell Trubisky is currently the QB15 in FPPG (18.7) through the first two games of the year. While he did falter a bit in last week’s win over the Giants — Trubisky finished as the QB23 with 13.2 fantasy points — he had a terrific game in the season opener, ending Week 1 as the QB7 with 24.3 fantasy points. The erratic signal called hasn’t had much help yet, however. Players that include Allen Robinson and Tarik Cohen have yet to put up respectable outcomes while Anthony Miller, who had an outstanding Week 1, completely blanked in last week’s win including a dropped touchdown. It all should come together is a dream Week 3 encounter in Atlanta against the lowly Falcons.
Although the Atlanta offense is as-advertised, their defense has been atrocious, as expected. Currently, through two games, the Falcons defense is surrendering the most FPPG to opposing QBs (35.8), which plays right into Trubisky’s favor. And even if normally trustworthy pass-catchers that include Robinson, Miller, and Cohen flounder once again, unexpected heroes Cordarrelle Patterson and Darnell Mooney have stepped up. Even Jimmy Graham found the end zone in Week 1. Trubisky is spreading the ball around and making plays, leading Chicago to a 2-0 record. The Bears front five has also stepped up early, as Trubisky is the 10th best QB in protection rate (88.2).
If Trubisky, who is the QB6 in red zone attempts (14), the QB7 in red zone carries (three) and the QB7 in touchdowns passing (five), continues to effectively lead the offense into the enemy’s territory, he will continue to produce for your fantasy rosters. Trubisky brings QB1 upside into Week 3 in a potential shootout with Atlanta in a contest that holds a 47-point O/U.
RB Fantasy Sleepers Week 3
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.5
The 49ers could have gotten out of Jerick Mckinnon’s contract in the past two offseasons. The fact that they didn’t, shows that offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan has a clear-cut role in mind for the player they paid to be their elusive pass-catching back three offseasons ago, which is why I bought into him at his nothing ADP this year. Not only has he remained healthy, but McKinnon has produced through the early portion of 2020. Through two games, McKinnon is the RB22 in FPPG (23.6) while finishing in the RB2 tier in consecutive games (RB22, RB23).
Although he isn’t getting a ton of opportunities, Mckinnon is making the most of what he gets. McKinnon has totaled 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only nine touches (three receptions) while only drawing a 21.9-percent snap share thus far through two games. His snap share, as well as his opportunity share (16.9-percent), should certainly see an uptick in Week 3 at the Giants since Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are both in line to miss Sunday’s matchup — Coleman was placed on IR this week while Mostert is considered week-to-week.
While Jeffery Wilson is expected to garner the bulk of the early-down work, it would not surprise me one bit if McKinnon drew some of those carries as well. And despite not receiving a single target in last week’s win over the Jets, the Giants should provide a bit more pop on offense which could trigger the 49ers to utilize McKinnon more in passing situations, especially if the game is close, and it could be. While on paper, the 49ers are by-far the dominant team, they are stricken by injuries on both sides of the ball and could even be missing Jimmy Garoppolo this week as well. This has trap game written all over it. While the Giants have played well thus far against the enemy back yielding the 11th-fewest FPPG to the position (17.5), they have given up 113 yards or a touchdown to opposing running backs in back-to-back weeks to open the year. McKinnon is in the RB2 tier in PPR scoring formats for Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.5
While Austin Ekeler is viewed as the RB1 for the Chargers, Joshua Kelley is surprisingly not too far behind. In fact, Ekeler is the PPR RB20 while Kelley is the RB24. Not only are they that close in terms of fantasy outcomes, but they are also that close in opportunity-share as well. Ekeler has 40 touches (five receptions) while Kelley has 37. In total yards, Elekler leads Kelley 235-to-173. Kelley has the lone touchdown of the duo. We were all worried about Ekeler’s workload and through two games, there is a clear time-share between the two backs. Still, at the rate HC Anthony Lynn runs the football — the Chargers are the No. 1 team in team run plays per game (2.21 pace) — both Ekeler and Kelley should be utilized in your fantasy lineups.
In Week 3, Kelley gets a Panthers defense surrendering the most FPPG to enemy running backs (36.5). Not only should Kelley be viewed as a quality Flex option, but he could finish in the RB2 tier when it is all said and done. The Panthers have allowed opposing backs to score at least three times collectively in back-to-back games while the lead rusher totaled at least 113 yards. With Justin Herbert slated to start his second straight games, expect both Ekeler and Kelley to be busy. I am all-in on Kelley in Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.2
Through the first 14 games of Darrell Henderson’s career, he was an afterthought in fantasy. Most of us, including myself, viewed the former third-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft a bust. However, last week, with Cam Akers dealing with an injury to his ribs and Malcolm Brown dealing with an injury to his finger, Henderson had his opportunity to shine. He did just that. unexpectedly, Henderson finished as the RB11 with 20.1 PPR points on 121 total yards with a touchdown on 14 touches. With Akers slated to miss Sunday’s game against the Bills — Brown practiced in full this week and will likely draw an active designation — Henderson will likely be the Rams running back to covet for Week 3 in fantasy while Brown likely maintains a change of pace role due to his injury. Sure, the veteran could always share the workload with Henderson, but the latter is much more explosive and brings more pop to the offense.
While the matchup against the Bills is not the greatest — Buffalo is yielding the 10th-fewest FPPG to RBs (16.8) — they’ve managed to bottle up the Jets and Dolphins in terms of total yards allowed to running backs while still giving up at least one touchdown per game to the position. It is safe to say that Sean McVay’s offense will present a much tougher matchup for the mighty Bills defense and could expose them if Henderson can get going or at least use his explosiveness to break off big chunk plays. If Brown plays, Henderson should be viewed as a high-floor Flex option in PPR with RB2 upside. However, if Brown sits, Henderson is in the must-start conversation in the RB2 spot due to the injuries to backs around the league. This could be a make-or-break outing for the second-year back.
WR Fantasy Sleepers Week 3
ESPN Start-Percentage: 20.2
With Sterling Shepard landing on IR with a toe injury and Saquon Barkley done for the year with his knee, there are open opportunities for Giants pass-catchers. And while Golden Tate will be a factor, the bigger pop will come from Darius Slayton, who has showcased a rapport with Daniel Jones in each of the past two seasons. While Slayton, and the Giants offense as a whole, was shut down by the Bears last week, Slayton flashed in the season opener with a 25.2-point outing, good for a WR5 finish in Week 1 against the Steelers. Slayton has had at least six targets in back-to-back games, a number that will be on the rise with Shepard sidelined.
Although Sunday’s home matchup against the 49ers isn’t the greatest on-paper, it isn’t as tough as perceived in the offseason. Not only did the 49ers defense lose both Nick Bosa and Soloman Thomas across their pass-rush — Dee Ford is expected to be ruled out as well with a back injury — which will allow Daniel Jones more time to work through his progression, but the San Francisco defense is surrendering the 17th-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position at a 21.2 FPPG rate. The 49ers’ defensive unit as a whole has taken a step back thus far. This is outstanding news for a Giants offense that has yet to open up. Allowing three different receivers to finish with at least 13.5 PPR points through the first two games (DeAndre Hopkins, Braxton Berrios, Chris Hogan), I feel safe rolling out Slayton in Week 3 against San Francisco. He is a low-floor Flex option with a WR2 ceiling if he gets open downfield and scores.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 15.2
With A.J. Brown expected to miss his second consecutive game with a knee injury– he has yet to practice this week — it is once again time to fire up Corey Davis, which is the most 2020 thing ever. Through the first two games of the year, Davis has accumulated a 10/137/1 line on 13 targets and has had at least 101 yards or a touchdown per game. While Brown is out and/ or limited, Davis is the defacto WR1 on the Titans.
In Week 3, Davis will get a prime matchup facing a Vikings defense surrendering the second-most FPPG to WRs at a 36.6 FPPG rate. In fact, through two games, the Vikings have allowed a total to five touchdowns to the wide receiver position, four of which, coming in the season-opener against the packers in which they’ve also allowed two different receivers to accumulate at least 96 yards (Davante Adams went for 156, Marquez Valdes-Scantling went for 96). Although the Vikings did now allow a Colts wideout to finish with north of 37 yards receiving, game-script played a role as the Colts dominated the game on the ground with Jonathan Taylor. Davis is a fine Flex play in Week 3 in PPR scoring formats who brings a WR2 ceiling if he scores and puts together a complete game.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.7
Davante Adams has yet to practice this week with a hamstring injury. However, if he gets in a limited session on Friday, he would be trending in the right direction to play on Sunday. However, even if Adams plays, there are no guarantees he will be fully healthy and anything more than a decoy. Regardless of Adams’ status, it is time to fire-up Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Through two games, it looks like Valdes-Scantling is emerging as the No. 2 option behind Adams slightly ahead of Allen Lazard. Between MVS and Lazard, the former is out-targeting the latter 13-to-9 while out-producing him by a hair with his 7/160/1 line to Lazard’s 7/108/1 line.
While the Saints secondary has played well so far this season, yielding the 11th-fewest FPPG to WRs (20.2), they have given up at least one touchdown in each game to the wide receiver position. Valdes-Scantling is currently a Top 10 receiver in deep targets (five), red-zone targets (three), yards/ reception (22.9), yards/ target (12.3), and yards per route run (3.20). Those efficiency and opportunity metrics are some of the greatest predictives out there and can not be ignored. I am all-in on MVS in Week 3 and for the rest of the season.
TE Fantasy Sleepers Week 3
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.9
Logan Thomas has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners through two games. Not only is he third amongst tight ends in targets (17), but Thomas is currently holding a 100-percent route participation grade while slated as the TE7 in routes run (64) and the TE3 in slot snaps (57). He is also fourth in air yards (139), third in deep targets (two), and fifth in red area targets (three). Not is are the Washington Football Team emphasizing Thomas’ skillset, but they are featuring in money situations. Thomas is currently tied with Terry McLaurin for the team-lead in targets (17).
Getting a Browns defense that has been gashed for the second-most FPPG to enemy tight ends (16.4), Thomas will once again have the opportunity to end the week in the Te1 tier for the second time this season — he finished as the TE7 in Week 1. Cleveland’s defense has allowed at least a 4/42/1 line to the opposing TE1 in each of the first two games of the season, a trend that should continue in Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.5
With C.J. Uzomah out for the year with a torn Achilles, it is Drew Sample season in Cincinnati. Sample had a prominent role in the passing attack following the Uzomah injury last week, finishing the Thursday night outing with a 7/45/0 line on nine targets — 6-of-9 of Sample’s targets came after the Uzomah injury in the fourth quarter, which shows Joe Burrow already trusts him and it also confirms their rapport. Considering the expected volume Sample is in line for, the new Bengals TE1 could be set for a breakout campaign as long as he is healthy.
In the battle of the winless, Sample will draw a favorable matchup facing an Eagles defense yielding the most FPPG to enemy TEs (16.6). Philly’s defense has already surrendered a 9/91/4 line to the tight end position and we are only two games in. If Sample continues to be featured the way he was last week, he could finish in the TE1 tier in Week 3.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 3