The B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 3
We're just two weeks into the 2022 fantasy football season, and already quite a few fantasy managers are freaking out.
Granted, not everyone is in panic mode. Fantasy managers who invested in players like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb and Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown are likely sitting pretty.
2-0 is a good place to be.
But on the other end of the spectrum lies managers who drafted Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry and Seattle Seahawks wideout DK Metcalf. The season isn't sunk at 0-2, but the boat's taking on water. If things don't turn around soon, it's down the drain the season goes.
A good old fashioned panic attack might be understandable, but it's not going to halt a skid. The only thing that will do that is getting a win. Setting the right lineup. Maximizing points.
To do that, you need to know which players are must-starts and who is destined to disappoint in Week 3. And as it happens, that's the information contained in the B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football in Week 3.
Convenient, ain't it?
Week 3 Smash Starts
Two weeks into the 2022 NFL season, it has become clear that players like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown are every-week must-starts in fantasy leagues.
These players aren't quite so obvious. But they still need to be in starting lineups in Week 3.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (at DET) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,700]
Cousins isn't an easy guy to get enthusiastic about after his latest Monday night meltdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he doesn't have to worry about the calendar this week—or playing a stout defense. The Lions are allowing 30 points per game two weeks into the season and giving up the third-most fantasy points in the league to quarterbacks.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (at ARI) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,500]
Stafford hasn't met expectations so far this season, ranking 20th in fantasy points among quarterbacks in the early going this year. If ever there was a matchup that screams "slumpbuster," the Arizona Cardinals would appear to be it—the Redbirds are allowing over 300 passing yards and three touchdowns per game to quarterbacks so far in 2022.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (at TEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,400]
If last week's loss to the Cardinals was any indication, fears of a committee backfield in Vegas were overblown—Jacobs tallied 20 total touches against the Cardinals. That kind of workload should equate to big things against the Titans. Tennessee is allowing a whopping 169.5 yards per game on the ground this season—most in the AFC.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,500]
Sanders is quietly off to a solid start to the 2022 season after racking up another 20 touches against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2—the fourth-year pro is averaging almost six yards a carry for the season. Sanders' workload and effectiveness so far bode well for this matchup with a Washington defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. LAR) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000]
Brown has been neither great nor terrible over his first two games with the Cardinals, hauling in 10 passes for 111 yards and a score. So far this season the Rams have been surprisingly easy to move the ball on through the air—no team in the NFC has surrendered more PPR points to wide receivers two weeks into the season.
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns (vs. PIT) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,600]
Cooper had something of a Cleveland coming-out party against the New York Jets in Week 2, reeling in nine passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. Jacoby Brissett appears to have confidence in and a rapport with Cooper, and the eighth-year veteran's 16 targets two weeks into the season portend a good game in a plus fantasy matchup against the Steelers Thursday night.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. JAX) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,400]
While so many tight ends have been failing to meet expectations, Everett has quietly exceeded them—two weeks into the season he ranks fourth in PPR points among tight ends. Everett appears to have quickly developed a rapport with Justin Herbert, and this week's matchup with an improved Jaguars team could be a higher-scoring contest than many think.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots (vs. BAL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,200]
Fantasy managers are having a really tough time getting excited about a tight end with two catches for 20 yards so far this season. But this week's home date with the Baltimore Ravens should offer the seventh-year veteran a good shot at a rebound—the Ravens have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends so far this year.
Week 3 Must-Fades
Fantasy managers who invested significant draft capital in Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb are working through the five stages of grief two weeks into the season—and most are stuck on anger.
There's still time for underperformers to turn things around, and it's still much too early to be pressing the panic button. But in Week 3 at least, these players will more likely than not leave fantasy managers holding the proverbial bag.
If you have any sort of viable alternatives, this is the time to explore them.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (vs. BUF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,100]
After his 469-yard, six-touchdown eruption of a performance last week against the Baltimore Ravens, there are likely quite a few fantasy managers eager to roll Tagovailoa out in the hopes that his next explosion will happen with Tagovailoa actually in the starting lineup. But given how dominant the Bills have looked defensively in 2022, that explosion ain't coming in Week 3.
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos (vs. SF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,800]
To say that Wilson's first two games in Denver have been underwhelming is an understatement—he's thrown just two touchdown passes on the season and ranks outside the top-15 in fantasy points among quarterbacks. That's not especially likely to change Sunday night against a 49ers defense allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.
A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers (at TB) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,000]
Dillon and fellow running back Aaron Jones are the focal points of the new-look offense in Green Bay, but after leading the backfield in touches in Week 1 Dillon took a clear back seat to Jones in Week 2. That's not likely to change this week—the Buccaneers are an exceedingly difficult matchup for a between-the-tackles banger like Dillon.
Jeffrey Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers (at DEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,300]
Wilson was solid in his first game as San Francisco's lead back a week ago, topping 100 total yards against the Seattle Seahawks. With that said, Wilson isn't the sort of player who can buck a bad matchup based on talent alone, and the Broncos are a bad matchup. In fact, Denver is the worst matchup in the league for running backs so far this season.
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (at NYG) [DraftKings DFS Value: $6,600]
The last thing Lamb's fantasy managers want to see after just nine catches for 104 yards over the first two games combined is Lamb's name included here. Better days are ahead for the third-year pro. They just aren't likely to come in Week 3 against a New York Giants defense that has been surprisingly effective in limiting opposing wide receivers.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at CAR) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,900]
Thomas has looked good in his first game action in well over a year, notching 11 catches for 122 yards so far this season and finding the end zone at least once in both games. That level of production makes Thomas a hard player to sit, but his work is cut out for him Sunday against a Panthers team giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals (vs. LAR) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,600]
Ertz has been a relative rarity this season in that he's a mid-range TE1 who hasn't gotten off to a horrific start in 2022. However, Ertz has his work cut out for him if he's going to keep it going in Week 3 in Arizona's home date with the Los Angeles Rams. So far this season, only one team has allowed fewer PPR fantasy points to tight ends.
Mike Gesicki. Miami Dolphins (vs. BUF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,300]
Gesicki was one of the beneficiaries of Tagovailoa's Week 3 rampage against the Ravens, snaring four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Don't fall into the trap of chasing last week's numbers with the fifth-year veteran though—the Bills have been a brutal matchup for just about every position in fantasy football this year, and tight end is no exception.
Week 3 Mastering the Matchups
If you started Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard or rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets in Week 2, then things probably went well for your team—all three cracked the top-10 at their position in fantasy points.
Of course, if you started those players, you should also consider buying lottery tickets, because the trio were little more than that last week. None were really expected to do much in Week 2.
However, sometimes you can see a big week coming. Read the tea leaves that portend a big stat line. Identify favorable matchups that pave the way for a big week.
And this week, all these players could be headed down the highway of fantasy happiness.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots (vs. BAL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,100]
Jones has been quiet statistically speaking in 2022—he's only averaging about 230 passing yards and a single touchdown pass per game this season. Given that the smoke is still rising from the rubble of Baltimore's secondary after its immolation at the hands of the Dolphins last week, those numbers are closer to Jones' floor than his ceiling this week.
Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts (vs. KC) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,200]
The Colts were an absolute disaster last week against the Jaguars, and Ryan failed to hit 200 passing yards with three interceptions in the faceplant. But things can't possibly get any worse than they were a week ago, the Chiefs have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2022 and the Colts are going to have to throw the ball to keep pace with Kansas City's offense.
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (at ARI) (DraftKings DFS Value: $5,700]
Henderson was out-carried by Cam Akers in last week's win over the Atlanta Falcons, but Henderson was light-years more effective on a per-carry basis. Anyone with two functioning eyes can tell that Henderson is the better running back at this point, and this week the Rams face a Cardinals defense giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (at CHI) [DraftKings DFS Value: $5,000}
After not being used much in the opener, Pierce saw a much larger workload in Week 2, carrying the ball 15 times for 69 yards against the Denver Broncos. Pierce could have an ever better game this week in Chicago against a Bears defense that was just shredded by Aaron Jones of the Packers—this game could present the rare opportunity for a positive game script for the Texans.
Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots (vs. BAL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,100]
Agholor had a great game in last week's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, hauling in six passes for 101 yards and a score. The eighth-year veteran appears to have the confidence of Mac Jones, and at the risk of being accused of piling on the banged-up Ravens secondary Baltimore was beaten repeatedly over the top last week.
Greg Dortch, Arizona Cardinals (vs. LAR) [DraftKings DFS Value: $4,300]
Raise your hand if you thought that Greg Dortch would be leading the Redbirds in both catches and receiving yards two games into the season. Heck, raise your hand if you knew who Dortch was until just recently. The third-year pro has established himself as the Cardinals No. 2 receiver ahead of a plus fantasy matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.
Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks (vs. ATL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,600]
Fant's first two games with the Seattle Seahawks have been less than impressive—he's been targeted just six times and has made just five receptions for 27 yards. But perhaps this week's home date with the Atlanta Falcons can spur a rebound—so far this season Atlanta has surrendered the fifth-most PPR points to tight ends.
Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans (vs. Las Vegas) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,300]
Players with two catches for 25 yards for the season do not inspire a lot of confidence from fantasy managers. And in fairness, Hooper is something of a desperation play. But the Titans have to get the offense untracked, and targeting Hooper over the middle against a Raiders defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends could be a step in the right direction.
Week 3 Reading the Defense
A big part of success with fantasy defenses lies in playing the matchups—in taking advantage of teams playing against weak offenses.
In that regard, the Cleveland Browns appeared to be a great option for fantasy managers who like to stream the position entering the 2022 season. Cleveland's first four games all appeared to be favorable matchups—at Carolina, the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers and finally at Atlanta.
Things haven't exactly gone as planned.
Spearheaded by edge-rusher Myles Garrett, the Browns have logged six sacks. But the team has just two takeaways and has allowed 55 points, including 31 last week to the Jets. For the season, the Browns are 27th in fantasy points at the position.
On paper, this week's matchup with a struggling Steelers offense still looks good.
But as we've found out the past two weeks, games aren't played on paper.
Strong D/ST Starts
New York Jets (vs. CIN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,400]
Recommending a Jets defense that was dead last in the NFL last year against the reigning AFC champions feels weird. But this has a lot less to do with the former than the latter—two games into the season the Bengals have surrendered 13 sacks, turned the ball over five times and given up the most fantasy points to defenses in 2022.
Kansas City Chiefs (at IND) [DraftKings DFS Value: $3,700]
The Chiefs aren't a great defensive football team, and even with last week's 99-yard pick0-six factored in the team still barely ranks inside the top-20 in fantasy points. But this week the Chiefs face a floundering Colts offense that just made the Jacksonville Jaguars the AFC's No. 1 fantasy defense in Week 2 and allowed a top-10 stat line to the Texans in Week 1.
Las Vegas Raiders (at TEN) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,500]
Like the other streaming recommendations this week, the Raiders aren't exactly lighting it up this season. As a matter of fact, two weeks into the season only two teams have scored fewer fantasy points defensively than the Raiders. But the Titans have had all kinds of problems generating offense and have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to defenses.
Weak D/ST Starts
Denver Broncos (vs. SF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,700]
On paper at least, the San Francisco 49ers aren't a bad matchup for defenses. But those numbers were inflated by a dismal offensive outing in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears. Now, rather than an unproven youngster under center, Jimmy Garoppolo is back at quarterback for the 49ers. Last year, the Garoppolo-led 49ers allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to defenses.
Miami Dolphins (vs. BUF) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,200]
After posting the second-most fantasy points among team defenses in Week 1, the Dolphins came crashing back to Earth last week against the Ravens, posting the fewest fantasy points in the league. There will be better days ahead, but they aren't coming in Week 2—the Buffalo Bills are an absolute buzzsaw offensively right now.
New England Patriots (vs. BAL) [DraftKings DFS Value: $2,500]
The New England Patriots have been about as consistently productive as you can reasonably expect a team defense to be given how much can change from one season to the next. But despite not having a run game to speak of, the Ravens are piling up yards and points—only the Cleveland Browns have given up fewer fantasy points to defenses.
Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag
Every week during the 2022 season, I'll be pulling a handful of fantasy football questions from the Bleacher Report app and answering them here. Hopefully those answers will aid not only the managers making the query but others as well.
Have a question you want to have answered? Head on over to the fantasy football section of the app and make with the asking.
Flex question. Drake London or Ezekiel Elliott? – @GrimMdaBeast
That we would seriously consider starting a rookie receiver over him speaks to the rotten start that Elliott has gotten off to in 2022—he has just 25 carries for 105 yards through two games this season. London is pacing the Falcons in not only catches and receiving yards but also in targets. Assuming the benefit of PPR, the safer play here is to start London and hope that Elliott gives you a reason to start him in Week 4.
Stuck between deciding whether to run CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks or Garrett Wilson as my flex this week. -- @Seamdaddy
I have already expressed my misgivings about Lamb's prospects in Week 3, so he's out. That leave a competition behind a proven veteran in Brandin Cooks of the Texans and a promising rookie in Garrett Wilson of the Jets. As great as Wilson looked last week against the Browns, Cooks has piled up over 1,000 receiving yards in seven of the past eight seasons and has double-digit targets in both games this season.
Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt or Josh Jacobs? Half PPR. -- @davidthaking
Hunt faces a Steelers team that was dead last in run defense last year, but his second banana status in Cleveland's run game (and the questions it raises about his workload from week to week) slots him behind Sanders and Jacobs. Choosing between that pair isn't easy—both have excellent Week 3 matchups. But with Jacobs looking the part of a bellcow back against a Titans team that has been savaged on the ground this year, he has a slim edge here.
Need 2 of these 3 wide receivers in a PPR league. Rashod Bateman, Allen Lazard, Tyler Lockett. -- @Samsumone
Bateman only has six catches for the Ravens this season, but given that two of them are 50-plus yard touchdowns, he's a go. Lazard vs. Lockett is a close call, especially with Lazard working his way back from injury and Lockett coming off a 100-yard game. However, one of those wide receivers has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. The other is catching wormburners from Geno Smith. Lazard gets the nod.
RB2 question. David Montgomery or Jeffrey Wilson? -- @JackAttack27
This is an interesting call. Both of these running backs are coming off good games—Wilson topped 100 total yards against the Seahawks in Week 2, while Montgomery's 122 rushing yards on 15 carries was the highlight of another otherwise dismal offensive effort from the Chicago Bears against Green Bay. The tiebreaker here is matchup—while Montgomery gets a Texans team that gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this year, Wilson gets a Broncos team that ranks dead last. Montgomery is the play here.
THE Fantasy Bust of Week 3
No one player can make or break an entire season. Even cataclysmic injuries to top-five picks can sometimes be overcome with some waiver wire magic and/or a trade or two.
Cue about 10 percent of the folks who rostered Christian McCaffrey the past two years smiling wistfully. The rest are throwing things.
However, one player can make or break a week. Get a huge game from the right guy, and a team can cruise. Have a starter lay an egg, though, and it can be game over.
With that in mind, we're going to conclude each edition of the B/R Guide to Dominating Fantasy Football with one player who is going to define the week to come—for better or worse. The Boom (or Bust) of the Week.
In Week 3 it's the latter—and a player who has been breaking hearts all season long.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (vs. LV) [DraftKings DFS Value: $8,100]
It has been a brutal start to the season for the Titans, and their star running back hasn't been immune to the struggles. After a miserable 13-carry, 25-yard effort against the Buffalo Bills Monday, Henry has carried the ball 34 times for 107 yards and a touchdiown, Henry is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and ranks 36th in PPR points among running backs.
Now, Henry and the Titans face a Raiders defense allowing just under 110 yards a game on the ground. Per Vic Tafur of the Athletic, Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham expressed respect for Graham—while making it clear that stopping him will be a focal point of the defense.
“I’ve admired from afar because as a defensive coach, there’s not too many things we like about offense, but when you see the way he runs the ball and the physicality, I wish he would have switched over to defensive end or linebacker at some point,” Graham said. “I’m excited about the challenge. You hear so much about him throughout the league and over the years and really haven’t had a chance to face him. The only time I faced him was in 2018 in the preseason and he was only out there for one drive when I was at Green Bay. This is going to be fun because he challenges you, the combination of him and the offensive line.”
This call says less about the Vegas defense than the sorry state of Tennessee's offense. The line is banged up. Ryan Tannehill has been dreadful. And with no passing attack to speak of to keep defenses honest, Henry is facing eight and nine-man fronts with alarming regularity.
Henry's an immensely talented back. One of these weeks, he's going to go off.
But it's not going to be Week 3—because Henry's situation is a hot mess right now.
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Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.