Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 3
Week 2 was a terrible week for injuries around the NFL. And when injuries affect teams around the league, they will certainly make an impact on your fantasy football team.
With players that include Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, DeSean Jackson, Sam Darnold, Michael Gallup and Alshon Jeffery — the list goes on — all falling victim to the injury bug, you might be stuck in a situation on your fantasy team in which you need to utilize some of my fantasy football sleepers.
And why not? As you’ll see below, I had a few quality hits last week.
Most-Productive Players from Week 2
|Odell Beckham Jr.
On the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, five players were started in fewer than 50 percent of leagues at ESPN. These aforementioned players are the sleepers of the week beginning with Demarcus Robinson, who was the highest-scoring player from Week 3 who wasn’t a quarterback and had a breakout game with Tyreek Hill sidelined. It was Sammy Watkins in Week 1 and Robinson in Week 2. Will it be Mecole Hardman in Week 3? Robinson was only started in 0.1 percent of leagues at ESPN.
Another notable performance was by Raheem Mostert, who was only started in 1.1 percent of leagues at ESPN and finished as the second most productive running back in Week 3. While Tevin Coleman remains out, the 49ers will continue to use a three-headed monster approach to their backfield with Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Matt Breida.
Sleepers Week 2: Full-Disclosure
Full-Disclosure: by the Numbers
As per usual, I am a slow starter, which was evident in my Week 1 Sleepers column. However, Week 2 was a lot more fruitful with 6-of-8 of my positional players not including quarterback finished with double-digit fantasy points. But keep in mind, my quarterback calls were no slouches either.
- Both Josh Allen (QB7) and Andy Dalton (QB9) finished as top-nine fantasy QBs for Week 2.
- Matt Breida (RB14) and Chris Thompson (RB25) were my top calls at running back, but I whiffed hard on my guy Jordan Howard. Eventually, Howard will get a game in which game-flow is in his favor. perhaps Philly will rely on the run a bit more with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson dealing with injuries and may miss a game or two apiece.
- Tyrell Williams (WR26), Josh Brown (WR31) and Michael Gallup (WR33) all finished in the WR3 tier. Not the best, but double-digit points are better than the alternative.
- I missed on Vernon Davis (TE20), but Darren Waller (TE8) was a solid contributor with 12.3 points. Just think, Waller only really has two career starts under his belt and will only improve moving forward.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 2 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 3? Don’t sweat! My cohost at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Start’em/ Sit’em column featured exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
Week 3 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.0
Jimmy Garoppolo currently sits as the QB16 with 35.1 fantasy points through two games. However, the first two weeks of the 2019 NFL season was a tale of two quarterbacks. I included Garoppolo in my Week 1 sleepers column to no avail. He finished as the QB26 with 11.4 points in a seemingly great matchup against Tampa Bay. But Tampa’s defense looks legit through two games. Add that with the fact that Garoppolo was coming off of his 2018 knee injury and struggled in the preseason and you can see why he struggled in the season opener. He was still getting up to speed.
In Week 2, Garoppolo showed why we should be buying into him. Completing 17-of-25 passes for 296 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, Garoppolo lit up the lowly Bengals on the road for 23.7 points and a QB6 finish. Now, after opening the year with two games on the road, Garoppolo will get a tremendous home matchup with the Steelers, a team that has been generous to the opposing QB.
Through two games, Pittsburgh has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to enemy signal callers at a 24.9 FPPG pace. Tom Brady and Russell Wilson had their way with the Steelers. Is Garoppolo next? I believe so despite the addition of the versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has only been with the team for a few days and may only be used in certain packages and game situations. Considering the emergence of Deebo Samuel, the rapport with Marquise Goodwin and the fact that George Kittle hasn’t even gotten going yet — and I haven’t even mentioned the 49ers’ rushing attack to open passing lanes up for Garoppolo — and the San Francisco QB should be in line for another QB1 performance in Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.4
I’m going to take a shot on my (former) guy Kirk Cousins. The perennial choke artist has gotten off to a horrific start to 2019 but has a prime bounce-back opportunity ahead against the Oakland Raiders. Through two games, Cousins is sitting as the QB25 with only 25.2 fantasy points and a 12.6 FPPG average. While he only threw 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, a blowout win over the Falcons, he didn’t need to throw a ton as the game was dominated by Dalvin Cook on the ground. He followed that up with a 230/1/2 dud at Green Bay, a team he historically lights updating back to his days with the Redskins. He only completed 43.8 percent of his passes in Week 2. Although the Packers defense is improved, Cousins needs to play better. If it’s a confidence issue, he has a chance to get right on Sunday.
Entering his upcoming matchup at home against the Raiders, he will get a defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to rival QBs. While Pat Mahomes inflated that number last week with 31.6 points, they did yield 14.8 points to Joe Flacco in the season opener on a 268/1/0 line. Although I see Dalvin Cook going off again this week, this game has Kirk Cousins bounceback written all over it. With all the quarterback injuries from Week 2, you might be in a spot in which Cousins is your best option. It could be worse as Cousins as a history of plus fantasy performances in the right matchup, a pair of Pro Bowl-caliber wideouts, athletic pass-catching tight ends and a dynamic running back who can take one to the house on a screen. If Cousins gets on track, he has fringe QB1 upside for Week 3. I don’t see Raiders defensive backs being able to continue Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Week 3 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.8
Devin Singletary has yet to practice this week with a knee injury and is trending toward an inactive designation for Sunday’s matchup with the Bengals. However, even if Singletary plays, he will likely be limited which means Frank Gore is primed for a busy afternoon. While Gore only handled 11 touches — all carries — in the season opener, the 36-year-old rusher followed that up with a 21 touch (two receptions), 83-total yard with a touchdown Week 2 outing at the Giants, finishing as the RB11 with 16.3 PPR points.
Facing a Bengals defense surrendering the most fantasy points to enemy backs at a 35.4 FPPG rate, Gore could return RB1 upside in consecutive games. Through the first two games of the year, the Bengals have allowed two different backs to accumulate at least 80 total yards and a touchdown (Chris Carson and Raheem Mostert) while yielding 132 total yards or a score to two other backs (Jeff Wilson and Matt Breida). In a home game in which the Bills are not only expected to win but are also expected to control, expect a ton of usage from Buffalo RBs. While I’m buying into Gore for Week 3, it wouldn’t surprise me if T.J. Yeldon also contributes double-digit points in PPR scoring formats, especially if Singletary sits.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.8
I’m going to go right back to the Chris Thompson well for Week 3 after consecutive games of quality production in lieu of Derrius Guice. Last week, Thompson caught 5-of-8 targets for 48 yards and carried the ball twice for three yards. While he didn’t light it up, he finished with 10.1 PPR points, which is just about the right floor for a Flex option. I’m not only buying back into Thompson for last week’s production, however, I’m also taking into consideration his usage in the season opener in which he caught 7-of-10 targets for 68 yards and rushed three times for 12 yards. While Thompson is healthy and on the field, he will be involved, especially in the passing game, and it is only a matter of time until he goes off. That could happen this week against Chicago.
While the Bears have one of the best run-stuffing front-sevens in the NFL — they are surrendering the seventh-fewest fantasy points to RBs at an 11.1 FPPG rate — they are coming off of a game in Week 2 in which they showed vulnerability in the passing game to the position. Broncos backs combined for nine receptions for 78 yards on 14 targets. I mean, c’mon, were talking about Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman here. Thomspon could and should do work on Sunday. Assuming the Bears, more so, Mitchell Trubisky and the offense, get on track in a plus matchup at the Redskins, Washington will be trailing and should be forced to play from a negative game script, which favors Thompson’s ceiling. Thompson is a solid Flex option for Week 3 with RB2 upside if he breaks off a big play for a score.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.4
With Tevin Coleman in line to miss his second consecutive game with his high-ankle sprain, it is once again time to rev up Raheem Mostert. While he is the RB2 on the depth chart behind Matt Breida, it is clear the 49ers will use a two or even three-headed monster approach to their backfield if you want to include Jeff Wilson.
Mostert is coming off of a big week. In a road game against the Bengals, Mostert accumulated 151 total yards and a touchdown on 16 touches while finishing as the RB3 with 24.1 PPR points. And it’s not like Breida and Wilson were non-existent either. All three 49ers RBs finished in the top 14 at their position in PPR scoring for Week 2. Although I don’t expect that to happen again this Sunday against Pittsburgh, there should be more than enough opportunity for both Mostert and Breida to have productive outings.
Facing a Steelers defense at home allowing the 11th most fantasy points to RBs at a 20.0 FPPG pace, Mostert will once again return RB2 upside or better for Week 3. The Steelers have allowed at least 82 total yards or a touchdown to four different running backs through the first two games of the season (Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Rex Burkhead, James White) with an 11.7 PPR-point floor for those aforementioned rushers. If the 49ers can jump off to an early lead — and they should taking into consideration the fact that they will get Mason Rudolph in his first career start on the road — 49ers backs will be employed early and often. I’m starting Mostert with confidence in Week 3.
Week 3 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 10.0
With Tyreek Hill out, Mecole Hardman should be in your fantasy lineups. Yes, so should Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, but Hardman is the sleeper wideout from the Chiefs I am targeting in Week 3. While Robinson caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week against Oakland, Hardman quietly had himself a game as well, hauling in 4-of-6 targets for 61 yards and a score of his own. He also had a long touchdown called back, which would have padded his stats that much more. Although the Chiefs are getting a tough matchup with the Ravens this Sunday and don’t play the Raiders every week, their offense is explosive enough to exploit the very best defenses and secondaries. Just ask Jacksonville.
Facing a Ravens defense yielding the 17th most fantasy points to enemy WRs at a 25.2 FPPG rate, Hardman is a boom or bust option for your fantasy team. But considering the rate the Chiefs can put points on the board, it is difficult to bench any one of their weapons, especially when Hill is not on the field. While the Baltimore defense is normally stingy, they are vastly better against the run. I’m not saying their secondary is regressing, but since they are blowing teams out, there is a greater opportunity for garbage time production against teams like the Dolphins and Cardinals. That won’t be the case in Week 3 against the Chiefs. These two teams will go blow-for-blow with each other and could showcase an offensive explosion. Coming off of a game in which he played in 72.7 percent of Kansas City snaps and ran 34 routes, Hardman is a high-ceiling low-floor Flex option for Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.0
With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery expected to miss this week’s game against the Lions, Nelson Agholor should be fired up in all formats. Not only will he enter the matchup as the Philadelphia WR1, but he also has an existing and under-the-radar rapport with Carson Wentz. I’m actually shocked that he is only being started in 9.0 percent of leagues at ESPN at the time of this writing.
While Agholor was quiet in the season opener, he had a sensational outing in Week 2 in Atlanta in which he 8-of-11 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown and finished as the WR7 with 24.7 points. I expect that trend to continue on Sunday in a favorable home encounter against the Lions who are yielding the 10th most fantasy points to receivers at a 26.7 FPPG rate. Through the first two games of 2019, Detroit’s secondary has given up at least three receptions for 83 yards to three different wideouts (Larry Fitzgerald, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams) with an 11.3 PPR point floor for those before-mentioned WRs. Expecting to draw Darius Slay in coverage, who allowed 19.3 fantasy points to Chargers WRs last week, Agholor should be locked into your fantasy lineup for Week 3.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.4
With Micheal Gallup out with a knee injury, Devin Smith should assume his role as the Cowboys’ big-play receiver opposite Amari Cooper. However, in case you only heard of Smith because of his long touchdown catch last week against the Redskins, let me catch you up. Smith is a former second-round pick by the New York Jets from 2015 out of Ohio State. But the speedy deep threat could never find his way in the league as a result of recurring knee injuries. The Cowboys gave him a chance and it could pay-off.
In last week’s matchup with the Redskins, Smith caught all three of his targets for 73 yards and a touchdown, showcasing why he was a second-round pick. In his upcoming matchup against the Dolphins, his elite speed could burn a Miami secondary that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs at a 33.7 FPPG rate. In fact, the Dolphins have surrendered a league-high five touchdowns to four different WRs through two games. I’d take a shot on Smith as a Flex play in deeper leagues and also in DFS GPPs.
Week 3 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 21.1
In two games since coming out of retirement, Jason Witten has caught 7-of-8 targets for 40 yards and two touchdowns. He is the PPR TE12 with 23 fantasy points. While Witten scored in consecutive games against NFC East opponents, who also happen to employ soft defenses, his Week 3 matchup with the Dolphins is just as appetizing.
Through the first two weeks of the year, the Dolphins are allowing the second-most fantasy points to enemy tight ends at a 13.4 FPPG pace. The numbers are deceiving, however, as the Ravens trio of Mark Andrews, Hunter Hearst and Nick Boyle combined for 23 points against Miami while the Patriots TE Matt LaCosse only accumulated 3.3 points. But let’s face it, without Rob Gronkowski in New England, the Patriots aren’t really utilizing the tight end position in the passing game anyway. I expect Dallas to continue to target the tight end often as Witten and Blake Jarwin were targeted 12 times in two games, combining for an 11/101/3 line.
With Michael Gallup out of the mix with a knee injury, Witten could be utilized more often in his absence, which heightens his ceiling. While I still view Witten as a touchdown-dependent asset, I believe he will once again find the end zone in one of the top tight end matchups for this week’s slate of games.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.9
Will Dissly flashed through the first two weeks of 2018 before ultimately fading and succumbing to a season-ending knee injury, but he played well enough to hold my attention. Why? Because people forget that Jimmy Graham was once the Seattle tight end and was a featured part of Russell Wilson’s aerial attack, especially in the red zone. Just because Graham is no longer around doesn’t mean that the position is in a fantasy wasteland like it is in New England currently. You just need the right player to fit, and that is Dissly in Seattle.
Although he flew under the radar this offseason, Dissly was going to be the guy once healthy. And while he had a quality matchup in the season opener with Cincinnati, he only accumulated one reception for 12 yards and exited the game early with a knee injury. That wasn’t the story in Week 2. Healthy and ready to go, Dissly went off against the Steelers for a 5/50/2 stat line on five targets — both scores came in the red zone. Dissly’s five targets were also good for third on the team behind Tyler Lockett (12) and D.K. Metcalf (7). If Dissly can remain healthy, he could easily emerge as Wilson’s third option consistently in the passing game.
While he is entering a tough matchup with the Saints, who are yielding the 25th most points to TEs at a meager 3.5 FPPG rate, I believe Dissly could still return double-digit fantasy point upside in Week 3. Not only did the Saints face the Texans and Rams, who are not accustomed to featuring the tight end in their passing attack, but both teams have depth at receiver and the tight end is usually a non-factor. That is not the case with the Seahawks, who outside of Lockett and Metcalf, don’t have the deepest cast at WR. In theory, you can make the case that a healthy Dissly is the WR3 for the Seahawks. Coming off of a game in which he drew five targets, Dissly is an opportunity-dependent option for Week 3 with fringe TE1 upside if he scores.
Other Great Articles at Gridiron Experts
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- NFL Fanduel Picks: Seven Players to Consider for Week 3
- Fantasy Breakdown: RBBC Review Week 3
- NFL Week 3 Picks
- Deep Dive: Dynasty Advice Week 3
- DraftKings Thursday Night Showdown: Titans at Jaguars
- Start’em Sit’em Week 3
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.