Fantasy Football Week 3: Under-the-Radar Options to Start at Each Position

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 09:  Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 9, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Anyone can look good starting Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson in fantasy football, but it takes much more skill to find a diamond in the rough on a weekly basis.

Those who started Eddie Royal or Knowshon Moreno in Week 2 certainly received a great reward for their risky selections. In the slim chance that anyone started James Starks last week, he also came through with a nice performance.

This week is certain to have more surprising performances, although some of them can be predicted if you look hard enough. Here are players that will end up having big weeks despite a low amount of support around fantasy leagues.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams in action against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 24, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

After three years of mediocre play, the pressure was starting to mount for Sam Bradford. Fortunately, he has come through in a big way to start the year.

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In two games, the former No. 1 pick amassed 651 passing yards and five touchdowns. In the last game against the Atlanta Falcons, he did a great job of spreading the ball around, with Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Tavon Austin all being productive.

Additionally, tight end Jared Cook and running back Daryl Richardson have been solid receiving targets and will continue to help out Bradford throughout the season.

This week, the Rams will face the Dallas Cowboys, who have allowed six passing touchdowns through two games. Only the Baltimore Ravens have allowed more, although that was thanks to Peyton Manning in the opener.

Bradford has a lot of talent around him, and he appears ready to utilize this to have a big year. When the matchup is as good as this, put him in your lineup.

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to running back Bilal Powell #29 in the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Ph
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Yes, Bilal Powell is still splitting carries with Chris Ivory. To make matters worse, Ivory looked a little better in the Jets' last game against the New England Patriots.

However, New York is going to run the ball enough for both players to get their chances. The squad wants to protect rookie quarterback Geno Smith as much as possible, and the coaching staff knows that the run game is the strength of the offense.

Additionally, Powell gets a boost due to his production as a receiver, as well as the fact that he has been getting the goal-line carries. This makes him the better fantasy start between the two running backs.

Of course, things get even better with a juicy matchup, like the Jets have on Sunday. Buffalo had the second-worst run defense in the NFL in 2012, and things have not gotten much better this year. The team is currently 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game.

Powell should get his chance to shine this week, and there is a high likelihood that he turns this into a lot of production.

Nate Burleson, WR, Detroit Lions

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions runs after a reception against Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans during the game at LP Field on September 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 44-41 in overtime. (P
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While Calvin Johnson could be in for a huge day against the Washington Redskins, do not count out the Lions spreading the wealth to Nate Burleson in Week 3.

The veteran player has been nothing more than a possession receiver to start the year, totaling 123 yards on 13 catches. However, he tied for the team lead with eight targets in the last game against the Arizona Cardinals.

If he gets this many looks this week, he can put up some big numbers.

Washington has been awful defensively, giving up an average of 10.2 yards per pass attempt in the first two games, which is the worst mark in the NFL. Last week, three different receivers for the Green Bay Packers earned at least 15 fantasy points, while tight end Jermichael Finley was right behind them with 12.

Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford will have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball down the field, and Burleson should be on the other side of at least a few of these plays.

Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAOPLIS, IN - DECEMBER 30: Coby Fleener #80 of the Indianapolis Colts scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Although you never want to cheer an injury, one player going down always creates an opportunity for someone else. With Dwayne Allen declared out for the season, Coby Fleener becomes a must-add in all fantasy leagues.

The two tight ends split opportunities last season when both were rookies, but Allen was the one who stood out with almost twice as many receiving yards.

However, Fleener had one of the best games of his short career last week with Allen out, grabbing four passes for 69 receiving yards and a touchdown. He also got eight targets in the loss, showing that he is clearly a big part of the team's plans going forward.

While the San Francisco 49ers have a tough defense, this could work to Fleener's advantage as he becomes a safety net for Andrew Luck when he is under pressure throughout the game. 

With good size and agility, the second-year player is set to become one of the more productive tight ends in the sport.

Minnesota Vikings D/ST

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 15: Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings causes Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears to fumble the ball during the first half on September 15, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

While the Vikings might not be the best at keeping teams off the scoreboard, the defense is opportunistic. That is exactly what separates a good fantasy defense from a bad one.

Last week, Minnesota forced four turnovers against the Chicago Bears. The team also scored a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown. Even though the squad allowed 31 points in a loss, it represented an excellent fantasy start.

Although it is tough to predict defensive touchdowns, the Vikings will have plenty of chances with a home games against the Cleveland Browns. Not only did the Browns trade their best player in Trent Richardson, but third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer will be making his second-career start in place of the injured Brandon Weeden.

Cleveland will have a tough time offensively in this game, which makes the Vikings a great start in Week 3.

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