Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: Matchups We Love and Player Stat Projections

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2017

Sep 17, 2017; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) reacts during the fourth quarter as Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones (20) looks on at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football owners enter the major portion of Week 3 with a sense of hope. 

After weeks of dud offensive performances mostly making up the biggest story, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers played to a 41-39 affair in favor of the latter.

There, Rams running back Todd Gurley put up 32.90 points and 49ers back Carlos Hyde countered with 21.40 points. L.A. quarterback Jared Goff went for 23.58. 

A shootout between a pair of rebuilding teams might not inspire some, but points are points at this stage of what has been a down season so far. And based on Gurley's early resurgence, owners can start to lean on stars in a big way. 

Let's break down each position. 

           

Week 3 Schedule

Baltimore vs. Jacksonville in London

Atlanta at Detroit 

Cleveland at Indianapolis

Denver at Buffalo 

Houston at New England 

Miami at N.Y. Jets 

New Orleans at Carolina 

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia 

Pittsburgh  at Chicago 

Tampa Bay at Minnesota 

Seattle at Tennessee 

Cincinnati at Green Bay

Kansas City at L.A. Chargers 

Oakland at Washington

Dallas at Arizona

            

Quarterbacks

PlayerProjected Points
Aaron Rodgers23
Tom Brady NE20
Cam Newton*21
Ben Roethlisberger19
Matthew Stafford17
Matt Ryan12
Drew Brees12
Jay Cutler11
Derek Carr11
Russell Wilson11
Philip Rivers10
Jameis Winston10
Dak Prescott10
Kirk Cousins10
Marcus Mariota10
Author's projections. *If he plays.

It's hard not to gush over Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton going into Week 3. 

Newton on his own hasn't looked great over the first two weeks of the season, totaling 14.14 and 11.82 points in so-so matchups. But the Week 3 matchup is the big talking point here—the New Orleans Saints just coughed up 30.78 points to Tom Brady.

For those keeping track, the Saints easily surrender the most points on average to opposing quarterbacks right now after letting Sam Bradford tally 25.54 in Week 1.

Newton is only practicing limited right leading up to the game, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press, but he's too good an option to ignore and his veteran status means full practices aren't necessary for a big day. 

On a lesser-known name scale, owners should feel comfortable with Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler

The anticipated debut for Cutler in Week 1 didn't happen thanks to Mother Nature, but in Week 2 he totaled 13.10 points on a 24-of-33 mark.

Newfound efficiency and mistake-free football from Cutler is a nice development as he heads into one of the week's top matchups against the New York Jets.

Those Jets rank only a few spots behind the Saints in terms of points allowed to quarterbacks on average after allowing five total passing scores so far. 

             

Running Backs

PlayerProjected Points
Le'Veon Bell22
Jay Ajayi*20
Kareem Hunt18
Melvin Gordon17
Devonta Freeman15
Ty Montgomery14
Ezekiel Elliott13
Dalvin Cook13
LeSean McCoy13
Leonard Fournette12
Marshawn Lynch12
C.J. Anderson11
Isaiah Crowell11
Mike Gillislee11
Christian McCaffrey10
Javorius Allen10
Jonathan Stewart9
Lamar Miller9
Chris Carson8
Ameer Abdullah8
Jacquizz Rodgers8
Tarik Cohen8
Derrick Henry7
Frank Gore7
Tevin Coleman7
Mark Ingram7
Jordan Howard*7
DeMarco Murray*7
Joe Mixon6
Samaje Perine 6
Author's projections. *If he plays.

Steady is the best way to describe Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon over the first two years of his career. 

He hasn't wowed like some might have expected, but 10 touchdowns a year ago helped him remain relevant and a big play in the right matchup. 

He has one of the best matchups of Week 3. 

Gordon will get to collide with the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that allowed nearly 30 points to notable New England backs in Week 1 before a quiet Week 2.

In one game against the Chiefs last year, Gordon rushed for two scores, making for a great situation; when the field shrinks near the end zone, he becomes the workhorse when the Chargers square off with their rivals. 

Other than the usual names, owners should gun for Green Bay Packers lead back Ty Montgomery. The former wideout is on fire to start the season, totaling 15.30 points in Week 1 and another 23.0 on a pair of scores in Week 2. 

Montgomery did his damage in Week 1 against the stout defensive front of the Seattle Seahawks, so there shouldn't be any concerns around him at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Those Bengals currently cough up the eighth-most points to opposing backs on average after teams simply grind them down thanks to Cincinnati's inept offense. 

          

Wide Receivers

PlayerProjected Points
Antonio Brown20
Julio Jones17
A.J. Green17
Keenan Allen16
Odell Beckham Jr.*15
Mike Evans15
Michael Thomas13
Kelvin Benjamin12
Amari Cooper*11
Brandin Cooks11
Davante Adams11
Michael Crabtree10
Tyreek Hill10
Golden Tate10
Jordy Nelson10
Dez Bryant9
DeAndre Hopkins9
Demaryius Thomas8
Doug Baldwin8
Devin Funchess8
Terrelle Pryor8
Devante Parker*8
Martavis Bryant8
Emmanuel Sanders8
Alshon Jeffery7
Larry Fitzgerald7
Jarvis Landry*7
J.J. Nelson7
Adam Thielen6
T.Y. Hilton6
Chris Hogan*6
Kenny Golladay 6
Brandon Marshall 6
Jamison Crowder6
DeSean Jackson6
Author's projections. *If he plays.

Keenan Allen is back, folks. 

After missing eight games in 2015 and 15 one year ago, Allen somehow looks like his old self again so far, catching 14 of his 20 targets for 135 yards and a score through two games. 

Outings of 9.5 and 10 points don't jump off the page just yet, but a 100-yard day in Week 2 as Philip Rivers settles into making him the top option in the passing attack again is nothing short of a good sign. 

So too is a matchup against Kansas City. Sans Eric Berry, the Chiefs permit the fifth-most points to opposing wideouts on average right now, even allowing Philadelphia wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to both hit on 66 yards or more. Allen shouldn't have a problem hitting those numbers. 

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Michael Thomas #31 of the Miami Dolphins tackles Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the NFL game at the StubHub Center on September 17, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As for Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin, he's had a quiet season so far. But, with tight end Greg Olsen now on the shelf, an eight-target day from Week 2 could balloon in size as he becomes the reliable every-down target. 

This is especially the case against a Saints defense that has allowed three different receivers to score at least 13.80 points so far. 

            

Tight Ends

PlayerProjected Points
Rob Gronkowski*14
Travis Kelce13
Jordan Reed*12
Zach Ertz10
Kyle Rudolph8
Delanie Walker8
Martellus Bennett8
Zach Miller8
Eric Ebron7
Austin Hooper7
Hunter Henry6
Jason Witten6
Author's projections. *If he plays.

Outside of the obvious names, tight end is one of the biggest matchup-reliant positions out there. 

This remains the case in Week 3, where owners should feel free to target Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 26-year-old has two outings just shy of 10 points so far and a strong total of 18 targets, meaning he's near the top of the pecking order with quarterback Carson Wentz. 

Next, Ertz gets the reeling New York Giants, a team that has coughed up a minimum of 10.20 points to opposing starting tight ends so far and a touchdown to each. 

Sep 10, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) leaps to make a catch during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. Philadelphia Eagles defeated Washington Redskins 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Tommy
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Fans know the name Jordan Reed quite well. We're still waiting on the Washington Redskins star to have a breakout game, though fans know what he can do. His chances have been there thanks to the 14 targets over two games, at least. 

Reed was a bit of an undercover gem against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3. The unit gave up 7.6 points to Delanie Walker to start the season, then faced the New York Jets, which only targeted a starting tight end once. Reed will get his normal usage and should see a double-digit day. 

             

Defense/Special Teams

UnitProjected Points
Denver Broncos11
Baltimore Ravens10
Pittsburgh Steelers9
Philadelphia Eagles9
New England Patriots8
Miami Dolphins7
Kansas City Chiefs7
Seattle Seahawks7
Jacksonville Jaguars6
Minnesota Vikings6
Author's projections.

Selecting the defensive unit facing the Jacksonville Jaguars remains a viable strategy. 

This week the honor goes to the Baltimore Ravens, a unit that has scored 25.0 and 17.0 points over the course of two straight games. 

Those games came via great matchups, which the Jaguars provide thanks to quarterback Blake Bortles, who so far has a pair of touchdowns and interceptions while completing 56.4 percent of his passes.

Should Baltimore stop the run, which it hasn't had huge difficulty doing so far, it'll be one of the top-scoring days.  

               

Kickers

PlayerProjected Points
Justin Tucker9
Stephen Gostkowski9
Matt Bryant8
Mason Crosby8
Cairo Santos7
Giorgio Tavecchio7
Dan Bailey6
Graham Gano6
Chris Boswell6
Matt Prater5
Author's projections.

The underrated part of the New England Patriots taking on a strong defense like the one belonging to the Houston Texans is the impact it has on the kicking game. 

Stephen Gostkowski has already totaled a minimum of nine points through two games and the Texans have coughed up the same number while allowing the 10th-most points to the position on average. 

If Houston stunts the New England offense, Gostkowski has a big day. If it doesn't, he still has a path to a big day via plenty of opportunities after touchdowns. 

             

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.