Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: An Early Look Ahead

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions looks on prior to the start of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

If there is one thing any fantasy football junkie can attest to, it's that it is never too early for weekly rankings. 

Sure, we're still waiting to see what happens between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, we all want to know how the injury report will shake out. But be honest—you're already thinking about your lineup for next week, aren't you? 

Of course you are. Below, I've provided some early rankings for Week 3 action, compiling the top 10 options at each position. 

Note: These rankings are for standard-scoring leagues.

 

Quarterbacks

 

Quarterback to Watch: Matt Stafford 

Washington has allowed 621 passing yards and six touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the season. In standard leagues, Vick scored 25 fantasy points against them in Week 1, while Aaron Rodgers dissected their secondary to the tune of 35 fantasy points in Week 2. 

Enter Stafford, who has already thrown for 635 yards and four touchdowns. Along with Calvin Johnson, he should have an absolute field day against a weak Washington secondary. 

 

Running Backs

 

Running Back to Watch: Trent Richardson

Richardson has yet to make a major impact this season for his fantasy owners, rushing 31 times for 108 yards and hauling in seven receptions for 51 yards. Plus, he's yet to score a touchdown. In standard leagues, Richardson has offered just 15.9 fantasy points total. 

But the Minnesota Vikings have leaked fantasy points to running backs. In Week 1, they gave up a total of 45 fantasy points in ESPN leagues to the Detroit Lions backs. In Week 2, they allowed Matt Forte to total 161 yards. 

This Vikings' front seven can be run on, and Richardson is a good enough weapon out of the backfield that he can be productive in the passing game as well. Look for him to have his breakthrough performance against the Vikings. 

 

Wide Receivers

 

Wide Receiver to Watch: DeSean Jackson

If fantasy drafts were redone today, DeSean Jackson would be a top-10, if not top-five, wide receiver off the board. In Chip Kelly's fast-paced spread-option attack, he's become a force to be reckoned with.

After two weeks, DeSean Jackson has 16 receptions for 297 yards and two touchdowns. What's more, it seems his production is sustainable, as Michael Vick has targeted him 24 times. Against the San Diego Chargers alone, he beat his defender over the top several times and could have had an even bigger afternoon.

Kelly's system puts playmakers in the open field and allows them to make plays, and Jackson has thrived. Don't expect the Kansas City Chiefs to slow him down.  

 

Tight Ends

 

Tight End to Watch: Julius Thomas

Thomas is now firmly entrenched in this dangerous Denver Broncos attack, already posting 11 receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns. And before you go worrying that his touchdown production isn't stable, keep in mind that he has 16 targets on the year, which ties for sixth amongst tight ends in the NFL.

He's a big and fast tight end, and Peyton Manning never hesitated to utilize Dallas Clark in his Indianapolis Colts days. Against an Oakland Raiders defense that won't be able to account for all of Denver's weapons, Thomas should have another big game.  

 

Defenses

 

Defense to Watch: New Orleans Saints

Yes, you read that right—the Saints made this list. 

Believe it or not, in ESPN standard leagues, the Saints offered fantasy owners seven points in Week 1 and eight points in Week 8. They've forced four turnovers and now face Carson Palmer, who has turned the ball over three times in the first two weeks and has given up a pick-six. 

Plus, Larry Fitzgerald is struggling with a left hamstring injury and had to leave the game against the Lions. If he can't go, the Cardinals become much more limited on offense. If the pickings are slim and you really need a fantasy defense, the Saints are a sneaky pick. 

 

Kickers

 

Kicker to Watch: Matt Prater

Here's what you need to know—the Broncos will likely blow out the Raiders, and Prater is 2-of-2 on his field goals this season and has already booted 12 extra points. It's a pretty safe bet he'll reach double-digit points against the Raiders.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets went 4-0 in their fantasy leagues in Week 2. 

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