Week 3 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, And Sleepers

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media after his practice in Napa Valley, Calif., August 7, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese via Creative Commons License.
Oakland Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media after his practice in Napa Valley, Calif., August 7, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese via Creative Commons License.

Week 2 felt like the Black Monday of injuries for many NFL superstars. Names like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Raheem Mostert, Julio Jones, Davante Adams, Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and others have sent fantasy managers in a scramble to find suitable replacements for Week 3. At the end of the day, the health of these players is paramount to fantasy value and we respect that. For the purposes of winning the fantasy season, we are ready to prepare your squad to fight through these testy waves and secure a winning lineup for Week 3 with our Starts, Sits, and Sleepers list.

First, some housekeeping from our Week 2 predictions that we would like to revisit in a Right vs. Wrong predictions recap.

LAFB-favorite Aaron Jones Posts 40+ Fantasy Points In Week 2

We told you to bet the house and lock it in with Aaron Jones against the Lions. If you listened, enjoy the money bath, and the W. If you didn’t, your weekend may have been worse than Atlanta’s. Arguably the best Aaron on his team, Aaron Jones rushed for 168 yards, caught four passes for 68 yards, and scored three total TDs. It’s a split belief of thinking Jones is that good and calling out the Detroit Lions for having a horrible run defense. With a matchup against New Orleans in Week 3, keep Jones in your lineup but don’t bet the house. Bet the porch or something.

Miles Sanders Outperforms Sit Status

The Sit pick at running back for Week 2 was mostly a favor toward the opposing defense than it was a condemnation on the RB. Miles Sanders is undoubtedly the best talent that the Eagles have carrying the ball, but the matchup against Aaron Donald and the Rams appeared like a good time to sit the Penn State product. LA’s back-to-back allowance of 95+ rushing yards to the opposing team’s lead RB is unraveling as a bigger issue for the Rams’ defensive line, making fans wonder if they are truly lethal with stopping the run game. Miles Sanders got the best of them in this contest and we’ll own up to it.

Is The Good Derek Carr Back?

Sleeper starter for Week 2 Derek Carr was at the heart of the Raiders’ upset against the Saints on Monday Night Football. Without Michael Thomas, the Saints were unable to pull away on offense and suffocate the Raiders’ own offense with their usual “play from behind” approach. Making the most use of Darren Waller and opening up lanes for Josh Jacobs to continue momentum on offense, Derek Carr is back to the type of game-winning efficiency he was known for in 2016. If an injured Drew Lock or disappointing Carson Wentz is ailing your QB slot, pick up Carr for some dependable QB2 play, given that his big-play abilities are still weak.

Don’t Sell On T.Y.

T.Y. Hilton may have been a name we loved going into Week 1 and 2 that didn’t perform according to the strong recommendation, but anyone that actually saw the game saw a performance with great indicators for success moving forward, which included a drop in the end zone and ultimately a drop away from a strong fantasy game. It’s too early to feel low on Hilton after a major improvement to the offense with Philip Rivers throwing the ball, and if anyone is already considering him as a trade asset, buy him while his value is on a dip and see it pay off.

Now it’s time for Week 3.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, And Sleepers


Start – Matthew Stafford vs. Arizona Cardinals

Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense is beginning to find its footing with Kyler Murray’s hot start and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Facing a potent offense, Matthew Stafford will come in to prove why he should not be overlooked, forgotten as a quarterback who can still put up top 10 stats.

The entire Lions team is dependent on how far Stafford can take them with a league-worst defense that surrendered the best fantasy performance of the year to Aaron Jones (168 yards, three touchdowns). Playing from behind, Stafford will be able to air out the ball to targets like T.J. Hockenson, Marvin Jones, Jr., and hopefully a returning Kenny Golladay who has been greatly missed by this uninspired offense. If you are thinking of shaky plays like Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, or Philip Rivers, choose Stafford instead.

Another start — Ryan Tannehill vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sit – Derek Carr vs. New England Patriots

We may have started the article hailing Derek Carr as a spark of his Pro Bowl self from 2016, but the New England Patriots are playing with a level of competition reminiscent of the Brady years that will prove to be a challenge to the red-hot Raiders. Cam Newton is finding his rhythm as a dual-threat QB in Josh McDaniels’ offense giving New England a balanced dynamic alongside their stout defense that is not playing at 2019 levels but still showcases Belichick’s chess-like approach to reading offenses.

Carr has been without a ton of support from his receivers, relying mostly on Darren Waller to find the open pockets on the field, and while his status as a dependable QB option for the season is locked in, this week’s matchup cannot be advised to fall in Carr’s favor. There are still some issues with getting the ball out in time and New England will have pressure on Carr’s front door.

Another sit — Baker Mayfield vs. Washington Football Team

Sleeper Start — Daniel Jones vs. San Francisco 49ers

Depleted at running back and missing Sterling Shepard after being sent to IR, Daniel Jones is a name too cautious to consider for many team managers. With bottom-ranked names like Mitchell Trubisky, Kirk Cousins, Teddy Bridgewater, and Baker Mayfield finding themselves ranked higher than Daniel Jones this week, people are beginning to sleep on the prospects laid out for Jones coming into this season. Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears marked the first time Jones had his arsenal of offensive players together in full force. By the end of the contest, Saquon and Shepard were tending to injuries that proved worse than imagined. Daniel Jones will have to step up with no expectations of a running attack and a matchup against the 49ers is a surprisingly good time for Jones to find his groove.

With Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Nick Bosa out, along with expecting Nick Mullens to start at quarterback, the pace of the game should not escape the Giants and proves favorable for an air attack from Jones similar to his Rookie debut against the Buccaneers. Thankfully this QB has been groomed by playing in depleted offenses, with his humble beginnings at Duke, so relying on Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram should be enough weapons for Jones to operate. Consider him over good QBs with bad matchups such as Tom Brady at Denver, Drew Brees at Green Bay, and even Deshaun Watson against the brutal Pittsburgh defense.

Another sleeper — Gardner Minshew vs. Miami Dolphins

Running Backs

Start — Jonathan Taylor vs. New York Jets

You may consider this a no-brainer, but this Start of the week comes with a P.S. at the end of it.

First, Jonathan Taylor’s upside is dependent on two major factors that every elite running back needs. Factor #1 is a great offensive line. Quenton Nelson is the best protector of the quarterback in the league and the lanes created by the o-line let Taylor show off his Wisconsin speed. Factor #2 is being part of the passing game. Philip Rivers likes to get his backs involved through the air and Taylor’s recent outing had him total 67 yards receiving on six catches. A great dual-threat that the upper echelon of running backs all have.

If you’ve never seen Jonathan Taylor run, it’s the type of mechanics that make Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Alvin Kamara next-level special. Jonathan Taylor’s collegiate career had every requirement to be a top-15 pick in the first round and dropping to the second for the Colts is, in my opinion, the steal of the draft. The fastest player on the field with elusive speed to break out of the backfield or breeze through a route will produce one of the better rookie campaigns in a while. Probably since Saquon.

P.S. If you know someone who is unfazed about having Taylor as their running back, we give you the red alert to trade for him. Give up Austin Ekeler if you need to. Give up Leonard Fournette if you need to. Give up James Conner. You heard it here, the hype behind Jonathan Taylor is real.

Another start – Kenyan Drake vs. Detroit Lions

Sit – New York Giants backfield

With Saquon Barkley out for the year and a slew of injuries leaving fantasy managers running to the waiver wire to fill-in running back or flex spots, the place you should NOT be looking for replacements is in New York — which could really be applied to either team, specifically the Giants.

Whether it’s Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, fantasy owners need to turn a blind eye to this backfield until any silver lining can arise out of Devonta Freeman’s inclusion in the offense, even if last season did not boast much upside for the 28-year-old player (averaging 3.9 rushing yards per carry). Gallman runs with a piano on his back and Dion Lewis’s upside with catching the ball is stunted when you watch Daniel Jones play, rarely looking for the running back as the pocket collapses. It’s tempting, we know, but you’ll be putting these guys back in free agency by Week 5. For now go with other bottom of the barrel options like Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, Antonio Gibson, or D’Andre Swift before choosing New York’s backfield.

Another sit – Melvin Gordon vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sleeper Start – Jeff Wilson Jr. vs. New York Giants

We weren’t playing. We told you were in the business of big moves and little concern. Jeff Wilson Jr. may be available in most leagues and if you don’t plug him into your lineup, you will be submitting your top waiver wire request for him in Week 4 if the league genius didn’t pick him up by then. With Raheem Mostert unlikely to play in Week 3 and Tevin Coleman landing on IR, the backfield is left to Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. against the New York Giants this Sunday.

Some concerns may surround the availability of Garoppolo, but whether it’s him or Mullens with the benefit of a Kyle Shanahan offense, Jeff Wilson gets a golden opportunity in Week 3. The Giants proved to have the same swiss cheese defense after giving up yards and a touchdown to David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and the sputtering Chicago Bears offense. If you have fallen victim to any of the Week 2 injuries at running back and are contemplating shaky options like the Giants, Jets, Miami, or Carolina backfields, pick up Wilson for a higher ceiling this week.

Another sleeper – Joshua Kelley vs. Carolina Panthers

Wide Receivers

Start – Darius Slayton vs. San Francisco 49ers

After a massively down week for the New York team, navigating around the tricky situation at running back in tandem with the passing game devoid of Sterling Shepard feels like a tiny gold rush with fantasy nuggets embedded in the mix for savvy fantasy folks to find.

In the case of Darius Slayton, Daniel Jones’s newfound star receiver is primed to break out against the 49ers as the best target for a desperate offense and an injury-filled defense in San Francisco. Slayton disappeared in Week 2 with only three receptions and 33 yards to show after a Week 1 performance that continued the hot streak on which his rookie campaign ended (nine receptions, 102 yards, and two touchdowns in Week 1). As a major downfield threat, it is casual for Slayton to be on the receiving end of a 20-30 yard throw by Jones during most games, and especially against the Niners secondary, whose success is often predicated on the pressure brought on by a defensive line that is no longer there without Solomon Thomas or Bosa. Danny Dimes will have more time to throw, which means Slayton will have more time to get down the field.

Another start — JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Houston Texans

Sit – Emmanuel Sanders vs. Green Bay Packers

Emmanuel Sanders’ impact may have been overvalued with the move to New Orleans. Under a Kyle Shanahan playbook, Sanders was able to thrive as a downfield threat consistent with his days in Pittsburgh or Denver. Whether it’s the age showing for Drew Brees, especially on Monday night against the Raiders, or the emergence of Tre’Quan Smith, Sanders has been relegated to a spot so far down the depth chart of target priorities that Taysom Hill may be a stronger priority for Sean Payton. The trust in Sanders isn’t there especially after two weeks of production totaling to four catches and 33 yards after two contests. With options like Preston Williams, Russell Gage, and Henry Ruggs III still available in free agency for most leagues, better to go with the heavy targets instead of the familiar name.

Another sit – Brandin Cooks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sleeper Start – Tyler Boyd vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The target magnet from last year is back to a No. 2 role with A.J. Green’s return, and the introduction of Joe Burrow is producing a similar uptick in value to this receiver as T.Y. Hilton’s upgrade after Philip Rivers joined the Colts. Finding seven receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown in Week 2, the potential for Boyd to be a reliable WR2 is making a return especially with Burrow’s flashes of true moxie expected from the No. 1 overall pick. Along with Joe Mixon’s versatility from the backfield, Boyd and Green can begin to build a similar dynamic to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s last successful stint with the Steelers. Expect Boyd to step up in this matchup against the Eagles, which on paper doesn’t appear as much of a challenge if faced against Nickell Robey-Coleman, but could take a turn for the worse if Darius Slay has a game.

Another sleeper – Kenny Golladay vs. Arizona Cardinals

Tight Ends

Start – Hayden Hurst vs. Chicago Bears

We like this matchup for Hayden so much, it Hurst… Atlanta’s Week 3 matchup with Chicago may be a one-sided offensive battle in favor of the Falcons — even if retaining a lead rather than building it is their Achilles heel. Chicago gave up six receptions for 67 yards against the mostly cold Evan Engram on Sunday and with a potent Falcons offense possibly missing Julio Jones this weekend, Hurst is an easy pick for TE1.

Even in a situation where you may have to pick between starting Hurst over names like Jared Cook, Tyler Higbee, Evan Engram, and maybe even Mark Andrews in a matchup against the Chiefs, go with the Falcons’ tight end in this particularly great matchup. However, if you decided that Hurst is intriguing but not worth starting over a Darren Waller or T.J. Hockenson, slide him into the FLEX role. It’s cavalier and almost like calling a bank when shooting a three-pointer, but highly recommended this week for the sake of high production and some style points along the way.

Another start – Jared Cook vs. Green Bay Packers

Sit – Noah Fant vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A glaring thorn in Noah Fant’s side going forward is the injury to Drew Lock that will keep the franchise quarterback off the field for 3-5 weeks. What was a tricky situation to start with after Denver drafted Jerry Jeudy to help with the passing game, Noah Fant’s involvement in the offense appears to shrink in value with every week that passes. With his best game totaling 81 yards, some may be looking at this as a flash of potential from his days at Iowa, but this prediction has been recycled far too many times since last year. Keep Fant on the bench if you’re looking at other tight ends like Jonnu Smith or Mike Gesicki.

Another sit – Chris Herndon vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sleeper Start – Logan Thomas vs. Cleveland Browns

A worthy tandem piece to Terry McLaurin’s receiving skills, Logan Thomas has been looking more like Jordan Reed in Dwayne Haskins’s arsenal. The healthy Jordan. While the verdict is not out on Haskin’s ability to pull off the deep ball or read a defense, he is proving to be a QB who won’t make glaring mistakes that can cost a team. A trademark of the reliable quarterback is utilizing the tight end for safer, short-yardage throws and Thomas has got the speed to outrun linebackers or catch the ball at its high point. With 17 targets through two games, Thomas is boasting tremendous upside and a matchup against the Browns is the ideal scenario for him to stand out this week.

Another sleeper – Dallas Goedert vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Defense/Special Teams

Start – Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen is on a tear as the definitive second-best quarterback to come out of the much anticipated 2018 quarterback class, eclipsing Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen but trailing reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. Allen’s dual-threat as a gunslinger with surprising mobility to pick up first downs with his legs has made the Bills QB the second-best player in fantasy in terms of total points. Who would want to bet against that …

The Rams are coming into the contest with a shaky identity as run-stoppers, giving up 97 yards to Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1 and 95 yards to Miles Sanders in Week 2. Where the Bills find their rhythm is through Allen’s connection with Stefon Diggs and John Brown rather than running back Devin Singletary, who has yet to reach more than 60+ yards on the ground. The Rams’ secondary, made up of Jalen Ramsey and the emerging Troy Hill (who secured an interception last Sunday) are sure to slow down the rampant production of Buffalo’s wideouts, and with NFC Defensive Player of the Week linebacker Micah Kiser (recording an incredible 16 tackles in Week 2), the middle should be plugged up to keep Josh Allen from playing hero with his legs. This matchup is one of talent on both sides of the field, we will bet on the Rams to meet the challenge.

Another start – Philadelphia Eagles D/ST vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sit – Seattle Seahawks D/ST vs. Dallas Cowboys

The days of the Legion of Boom are over. Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams are the only notable players on defense for the Seahawks, which is a massive shift from the formidable, well-rounded unit of years past and a clear identity for the Seahawks to let Russell Wilson cook. Containing Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb won’t be a simple assignment for Tre Flowers, Shaquill Griffin, and the rest of the secondary. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb combined for a total of 206 yards against the Falcons and this week’s matchup should undoubtedly be a shoot-out. The Seahawks may find an interception or two, but pressure on the quarterback and short-yardage play will be a death by a thousand cuts for the Seahawks D/ST. A returned punt or kickoff for a score is their only saving grace.

Another sit – Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals

Sleeper Start – Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints

The Smith’s are back to the high level of play from 2019. Jaire Alexander is posting the campaign from a cornerback through two weeks and the lack of Michael Thomas is showing a tired Sean Payton offense that is escaping the aging Drew Brees. The Saints’ outing against the Raiders serves as the first red flag of the season that we usually relegate to the Saints when they start cold at the beginning of a season. We then expect Brees to prove us wrong, but that cliff for aged quarterbacks is beginning to knock at Brees’s door. The Packers are fulfilling their end on offense and Michael Pettine is calling the right plays for his defense to find interceptions on the field.

Another sleeper — New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media after his practice in Napa Valley, Calif., August 7, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese via Creative Commons License.

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr speaks with the media after his practice in Napa Valley, Calif., August 7, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese via Creative Commons License.