Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: An Early Look Ahead

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Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: An Early Look Ahead
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

Week 3 Fantasy Quarterback Ratings
Rank Name Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders 30
2 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers Cincinnati Bengals 28
3 Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles Kansas City Chiefs 28
4 Matt Stafford Detroit Lions Washington 26
5 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints Arizona Cardinals 25
6 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers Indianapolis Colts 23
7 Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks Jacksonville Jaguars 22
8 Robert Griffin III Washington Detroit Lions 21
9 Tom Brady New England Patriots Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19
10 Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons Miami Dolphins 18

 

Quarterback to Watch: Matt Stafford 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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

Week 3 Running Back Rankings
Rank Name Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles Kansas City Chiefs 25
2 Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks Jacksonville Jaguars 25
3 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Cleveland Browns 23
4 Trent Richardson Cleveland Browns Minnesota Vikings 22
5 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers New England Patriots 20
6 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs Philadelphia Eagles 20
7 Arian Foster Houston Texans Baltimore Ravens 19
8 Alfred Morris Washington Detroit Lions 17
9 C.J. Spiller Buffalo Bills New York Jets 16
10 Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders Denver Broncos 15

 

Running Back to Watch: Trent Richardson

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

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

Week 3 Wide Receiver Rankings
Rank Name Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Washington 30
2 A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals Green Bay Packers 26
3 DeSean Jackson Philadelphia Eagles Kansas City Chiefs 25
4 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys St. Louis Rams 21
5 Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons Miami Dolphins 21
6 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears Pittsburgh Steelers 18
7 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers Cincinnati Bengals 17
8 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders 17
9 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers Cincinnati Bengals 16
10 Victor Cruz New York Giants Carolina Panthers 15

 

Wide Receiver to Watch: DeSean Jackson

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

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

Week 3 Tight End Rankings
Rank Name Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints Arizona Cardinals 22
2 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders 20
3 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers Indianapolis Colts 16
4 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers New York Giants 14
5 Martellus Bennett Chicago Bears Pittsburgh Steelers 12
6 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns Minnesota Vikings 12
7 Tony Gonzalez Atlanta Falcons Miami Dolphins 11
8 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys St. Louis Rams 11
9 Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers Cincinnati Bengals 10
10 Jared Cook St. Louis Rams Dallas Cowboys 10

 

Tight End to Watch: Julius Thomas

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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

Week 3 Defense/Special Teams Rankings
Rank Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Seattle Seahawks Jacksonville Jaguars 20
2 Chicago Bears Pittsburgh Steelers 16
3 Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders 15
4 San Francisco 49ers Indianapolis Colts 12
5 New England Patriots Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12
6 Buffalo Bills New York Jets 12
7 Dallas Cowboys St. Louis Rams 11
8 Houston Texans Baltimore Ravens 10
9 New York Jets Buffalo Bills 10
10 New Orleans Saints Arizona Cardinals 9

 

Defense to Watch: New Orleans Saints

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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

Week 3 Kicker Rankings
Rank Name Team Opponent Proj. Points
1 Matt Prater Denver Broncos Oakland Raiders 15
2 Dan Bailey Dallas Cowboys St. Louis Rams 14
3 Alex Henery Philadelphia Eagles Kansas City Chiefs 13
4 Garrett Hartley New Orleans Saints Arizona Cardinals 13
5 Steven Hauschka Seattle Seahawks Jacksonville Jaguars 12
6 Josh Brown New York Giants Carolina Panthers 12
7 Stephen Gostkowski New England Patriots Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11
8 Phil Dawson San Francisco 49ers Indianapolis Colts 11
9 Blair Walsh Minnesota Vikings Cleveland Browns 10
10 Mason Crosby Green Bay Packers Cincinnati Bengals 10

 

Kicker to Watch: Matt Prater

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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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