Sunday’s NFL action provided a lot of questions heading into Week 3. This is the time where we have to start deciphering between what constitutes an early-season fluke and a guy that could wind up launching your fantasy team into the championship this year.
Don’t go dropping Jeremy Hill or DeMarco Murray for Matt Jones or David Johnson just yet.
With all games in the books aside from Monday night’s contest between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, the cream is beginning to rise to the top. We know much more after two weeks of football, but don’t tell your friends or co-workers that. Just play it cool.
Here’s everything you need to know to make Week 3 a good one for your stable of fantasy warriors.
Boom: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Mr. Newton has his Panthers atop the NFC South at 2-0 despite a pair of games under 200 yards passing thus far. That all changes this Sunday when he squares off against a New Orleans Saints defense that got torched by Carson Palmer in Week 1, and once again looked weak in handing Jameis Winston his first NFL victory during Week 2.
Newton also posted 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground against the Saints last season. While Cam is still adjusting to life without his top target, Kelvin Benjamin, he has made due by working the ball around the field to other reliable options such as Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr.
That being said, expect Cam to dial up a few bombs against the Saints’ porous secondary. He is due for a big output on Sunday.
Bust: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Nothing is going to give here. It’s not rocket science.
Stafford is an abysmal 3-32 in his career against winning teams, and the Denver Broncos pass defense thus far has been impenetrable, having held both Joe Flacco and Alex Smith without a touchdown pass through two games.
Fantasy owners must accept that 2011 Matthew Stafford isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Those 5,000-plus yards and 41 touchdowns were an outlier, and while Stafford won’t lose your fantasy league for you, he isn’t the guy you put blind faith behind.
If you have the Broncos defense, roll with them and don’t think twice. Pick City is coming to the Motor City this weekend.
Sleeper: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
If your eggs were all in the Tony Romo basket, Cousins deserves a look on the waiver wire.
Without his deep threat in DeSean Jackson, Cousins dinked and dunked the St. Louis Rams to death this past Sunday to an efficient 23-of-27 outing with 203 yards and a touchdown. With the Skins firmly establishing their identity after pounding the rock 37 times behind Matt Jones and Alfred Morris, Cousins is a safe bet to put up a solid line against the New York Giants on Thursday.
He won’t set the world on fire, but Cousins is a great short-term option for quarterback-needy teams.
Boom: Arian Foster, Houston Texans
According to Sporting News‘ Bob Hille, Arian Foster is back practicing for the Houston Texans and is prepared to shatter his injury timeline. Don’t be surprised to see him suit up for his Week 3 matchup with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers front seven that has already been battered by the likes of Bishop Sankey, Terrance West, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.
Houston can’t get its bell cow back soon enough. The quarterback situation is a mess, and Alfred Blue has flopped trying to replace Foster. He will eat as many courses as he can handle when he suits up again, just as he always does.
Given the awful play of some high-profile backs around the NFL thus far, Foster is a home run. Set it and forget it.
Bust: Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
Forsett exploded last year, but through two games this season, he has looked much more like the pre-2014 version of himself. With youngsters Lorenzo Taliaferro and Javorius Allen salivating to eat more and more into his workload, run away from Forsett.
Not just for this week—for for the whole season. Don’t buy a repeat campaign for the almost 30-year-old back in a Marc Trestman offense that loves throwing to guys out of the backfield. That will mean more looks for the young guns, as Forsett has turned eight receptions into a paltry 25 yards thus far.
Look for him to be stifled by that Cincinnati Bengals front seven on Sunday.
Sleeper: Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
C.J. Anderson is dealing with toe and ankle injuries and has been generally awful this season up to this point. If you are desperate for a fill-in, Hillman has some nice upside.
If you’ve simply had it with Jeremy Hill, DeMarco Murray or Forsett, Hillman is worthy of flex consideration against that mediocre Lions defense.
Boom: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
The good news for fantasy owners is that Andy Dalton has looked surprisingly adept through two games. Green has not reaped most of the benefits, but they’re coming.
The Baltimore Ravens have not kept Green out of the end zone since 2012, surrendering over 330 yards and three scores over their last three matchups.
Green has seen an unusually low 12 targets through two games, and now gets to feast on a secondary that was just decimated by the likes of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Lock and load, Green owners.
Bust: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Not only does Jeffery get a horrible Week 3 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, but he is not even a guarantee to lace them up. The Bears’ No. 1 wideout is hobbled by hamstring and calf issues that kept him out of Week 2.
To add even more insult to injury, Jay Cutler went down Sunday as well. An injured QB and hobbled wideout against the Legion of Boom does make for a fantasy victory.
Explore other options for Week 3. Even if he does play, he is a strong candidate to throw up a donut a la Mike Evans.
Sleeper: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders
A whopping 24 targets through two games is all you need to know. Derek Carr loves his new wideouts and is not afraid to show it.
Crabtree is a solid long-term option that should be on your radar all year. Also, expect Joe Haden to be all over Amari Cooper this week, so there’s plenty of room for Crabtree to eat once again.
Oakland is no longer a fantasy wasteland. Derek Carr is a legitimate quarterback that should give you no qualms about snagging Raiders receivers in 2015.
Boom: Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Two games and two touchdowns up to this point for the highly touted tight end of the Lions. The former No. 10 overall pick is making due on that draft hype so far and is becoming one of Stafford’s go-to targets.
Ebron is one of many tight ends to fall flat in their rookie year, which makes him a perfect long-term sleeper candidate this season. A battle with the Broncos means this will likely be a shootout, and there could be some nice garbage-time feasting available.
He received 10 targets in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t keep getting looks.
Bust: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller is the oatmeal of the breakfast buffet. Nobody is ever ecstatic when they have him, but he is always reliable and won’t let you down, even if he never knocks your socks off.
This week, expect a slight dip in Miller’s early-season production. He saw 11 targets in Week 1 and just two in Week 2, but salvaged his day with a short touchdown and a two-point conversion. His fortune will run out this week against the St. Louis Rams.
Sleeper: Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens
At least for the time being with rookie Breshad Perriman out, Joe Flacco’s weaponry is rather barren. Someone has to eat, and in Week 2 that man was Crockett Gillmore. His 88 yards and two touchdowns cannot be ignored moving forward.
Dennis Pitta isn’t coming back anytime soon, and Gillmore has outperformed Maxx Williams thus far. Scoop him up if you are in need of tight end help.
There is always a good option or two in terms of free-agent defenses. This week, think about Denver’s defense against the Lions, or even roll with the Buccaneers unit against a jumbled Houston Texans team. Especially if Foster is out once again, have no reservations about trotting out the Bucs D after their great showing in a 26-19 win over the New Orleans Saints.
You can’t go wrong starting whoever is playing the Texans right now.
Take Travis Benjamin Seriously
After exploding for three more touchdowns in Week 2, that makes four for the Browns’ de facto No. 1 wideout. If he is still available, you have to make a move for him while he is this hot.
Johnny Manziel looks to have given the offense a shot in the arm, and we all know he isn’t afraid to let it rip. Someone is going to benefit from that mentality, and who better than Benjamin?
He is owned in just 12 percent of leagues, and that number is about to skyrocket. Jump on board now, because there’s no reason why he can’t be Cleveland’s 2015 installment of Josh Gordon.
Get Matt Jones Right Now
If you already have Matt Jones, congratulations. You, my friend, know exactly what you are doing.
There were plenty of rumblings prior to the season that Jones was going to quickly push Alfred Morris out of his feature role, and it only took two games for him to completely overshadow the former Redskins workhorse. After 123 yards and a pair of scores against the Rams, Jones won’t be available for long.
Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com