The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars are set to kickoff Week 3 of the NFL season tonight, in what should be a Thursday Night thriller. With that, fantasy lineups need to be ready to go as owners will start navigating through major injuries for the first time this season. Before we break down what players are a must start and sit this week, as well as some sleepers, make sure to check out the Week 2 recap here to stay up to date.
Now let’s get into it:
Ryan Tannehill at Vikings
Tannehill is legit and has a mouthwatering matchup this week against a struggling Minnesota defense. Quarterbacks have averaged over 20 fantasy points against the Minnesota defense through two weeks, who have also given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Tannehill, who is the third highest ranking quarterback in fantasy points per game since Week 8 of last season, should be in for another big game.
Ben Roethlisberger vs Texans
Big Ben gets a home date with the struggling Houston Texans after putting up over 20 fantasy points in his first two contests. Averaging more than 35 pass attempts per game, the game script shouldn’t change in this one for the Steelers as the Texans cornerbacks have struggled so far this year.
Deshaun Watson at Steelers
On the other side of Roethlisberger is Watson, who has struggled so far this season against the NFL’s two juggernauts (Chiefs and Ravens). This matchup doesn’t get easier for Watson and the Texans, as Pittsburgh hosts the league’s best-pass rush. That does not bode well for Watson, who has as many interceptions as touchdowns, who is behind the eighth-worst pass blocking offensive line, according to PFF.
Sleeper: Gardner Minshew II vs Dolphins
If the Jacksonville Jaguars plan was to tank for Trevor Lawrence, Gardner Minshew was certainly not made aware. With a few quarterbacks set to miss this week, fire up the Mustache as a more than suitable replacement. Minshew has averaged more than 22 fantasy points over the first two weeks while being one of the league’s most accurate passers (75.4 completion percentage). Miami has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and nearly 100 rushing yards, something Minshew can certainly take advantage of.
Mike Davis at Chargers
With McCaffrey hurt, Davis was the most popular waiver wire add this week and for good reason. Davis caught all eight of his targets last weekend when filling in for McCaffrey. He should be in line for plenty of work through the air, and on the ground, against the Chargers.
Drake has gotten off to a slow start this season, piling up just 160 scrimmage yards and one score through two weeks. However, Drake has a bounce back matchup on deck this week against the Lions, who have surrendered the third-most scrimmage touchdowns and third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs since last season.
Fournette seemed to take over as Tampa’s lead back in Week 2, as he recorded the most snaps in each of the last three quarters. However, this week brings a challenge in the Denver Broncos who have allowed the seventh-lowest fantasy points per game to running backs. The Denver defense held Derrick henry to just 3.7 yards per carry in Week 1 while James Connor was able to just muster around 3 yards per carry if it had not been for a late 59-yard run last weekend.
Sleeper: Joshua Kelly vs Panthers
Kelly handled 52 percent of the Chargers rushes last weekend, compared to Austin Ekeler’s 36.4 percent, according to PFF. Though two weeks, Kelly has also seen six carries inside the 10-yard line compared to Ekeler’s one. Combine that with his matchup against Carolina’s defense, who has allowed the most rushing touchdowns and sixth-most rushing yards this season, and Kelly is a solid starter for this week.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Football Team
Odell and the Browns will look to build off of last Thursday’s victory, in which he caught four passes for 74 yards and a score. Expect another high yardage game from Beckham this weekend, as the Washington Football Team has allowed the second-best percentage on deep passes attempted this year.
CeeDee Lamb at Seahawks
CeeDee Lamb could be the best wide receiver of the weekend. No player has lined in the slot more than Lamb (112 snaps) this season. No team has given up more yards to players lined up in the slot (264 yards) than the Seahawks. In fantasy terms, Seattle’s defense has allowed 34.4 fantasy points per game to opposing slot receivers. Pair that will Dallas’ offense likely having to keep pace with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks and a huge game should be in store for Lamb.
Stefon Diggs vs Rams
Diggs has been red hot with new quarterback Josh Allen, but a Week 3 regression could be in play here. As Allen has loved pushing the ball downfield this season, the Rams defense has allowed just one deep ball completion all year. Lining up in the slot should help him avoid Jalen Ramsey, but Diggs is still a risky play
Sleeper: Diontae Johnson vs Texans
As Big Ben makes the quarterback start list, his receiver makes the sleeper list. It appears the Steelers just breed wide receivers, as the former third-round pick has been quite impressive so far this season. Johnson has out-targeted JuJu Smith-Schuster over the past two weeks (21-14) and only DeAndre Hopkins has more targets among wide receivers. He also faces a pair of Texans cornerbacks who earned PFF coverage grades outside the top 40 cornerbacks. Expect a lot more action and production from Johnson this weekend.
T.J. Hockenson at Cardinals
Hockenson has been one of the few bright spots for the Lions this season. He now faces a Cardinals team that he dominated for 25.2 fantasy points in his first-ever NFL game last season. The Cardinals defense was worst in the league against tight ends last season. This year, George Kittle was off to a strong start against them before hurting his knee, while Logan Thomas missed some chances to put up a much more impressive stat line. Hockenson should see his fair share of work here on Sunday.
Logan Thomas at Browns
Thomas has been all over our fantasy lists and now earns a spot on the start list. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the fantasy season, Thomas has the third most targets among tight ends. As mentioned before, he hasn’t made the most of them, but he should turn that around this week against a Browns defense allowing a league-high average of 25.4 points per game to tight ends.
Chris Herndon at Colts
There was a lot of hype around Herndon this offseason, but Adam Gase has kept him in to block on 40 percent of the Jets passing snaps. With the Jets poor offensive line, Herndon’s 16 pass blocks lead all tight ends. If Gase does let him run free, the matchup is not in his favor. The Colts have allowed an average of just 4.7 receptions for 44.3 yards to tight ends since the start of last season. This year? Well, they’ve just allowed three of seven passes for 11 yards. Keep Herndon on your bench until he proves otherwise.
Sleeper: Mo-Alie Cox vs Jets
In the same game, Herndon’s opposing tight end falls on our sleeper list. Starting last week in place of Trey Burton (IR) and Jack Doyle (ankle/knee), Cox impressed hauling in five passes for 111 yards. Expect his usage to increase this week against the poor Jets who gave up two touchdowns to Jordan Reed last weekend.
Patriots Play of the Week
If White is able to suit up this week after the tragic loss of his father, he should be in line for lots of work. The Raiders’ defense was allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this year. They are even worse against backs in the passing game, White’s specialty, allowing the most receiving yards and fourth-most receptions to the position. If White does not decide to play this week, I'll go with Rex Burkhead as he should then be in line for his fair share of work on the ground and through the air.
That is all for this week’s preview. Best of luck to all of you in your matchups this weekend. If you have any fantasy questions or need advice, feel free to reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines!