Fantasy Football Week 3: Rankings, Stat Projections and Top Waiver-Wire Adds

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIISeptember 21, 2015

Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr (4) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, right, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Oakland , Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Sunday's NFL action provided a lot of questions heading into Week 3. This is the time where we have to start deciphering between what constitutes an early-season fluke and a guy that could wind up launching your fantasy team into the championship this year.

Don't go dropping Jeremy Hill or DeMarco Murray for Matt Jones or David Johnson just yet.

With all games in the books aside from Monday night's contest between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, the cream is beginning to rise to the top. We know much more after two weeks of football, but don't tell your friends or co-workers that. Just play it cool.

Here's everything you need to know to make Week 3 a good one for your stable of fantasy warriors.

Week 3 NFL Schedule
Thursday, September 24
Washington at NY Giants8:25 p.m.
Sunday, September 27
Atlanta at Dallas1 p.m.
Indianapolis at Tennessee1 p.m.
Oakland at Cleveland1 p.m.
Cincinnati at Baltimore1 p.m.
Jacksonville at New England1 p.m.
New Orleans at Carolina1 p.m.
Philadelphia at NY Jets1 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Houston1 p.m.
San Diego at Minnesota1 p.m.
Pittsburgh at St. Louis1 p.m.
San Francisco at Arizona4:05 p.m.
Buffalo at Miami4:25 p.m.
Chicago at Seattle4:25 p.m.
Denver at Detroit8:30 p.m.
Monday, September 28
Kansas City at Green Bay8:30 p.m.
NFL

Quarterbacks

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Week 3 Quarterbacks
RankPlayerProjection
1Andrew Luck IND20.3
2Russell Wilson SEA20.1
3Aaron Rodgers GB19.5
4Cam Newton CAR19.3
5Tom Brady NE18.9
6Drew Brees NO18.8
7Peyton Manning DEN18.8
8Marcus Mariota TEN18.5
9Ben Roethlisberger PIT18.4
10Matt Ryan ATL18.3
11Eli Manning NYG18.2
12Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ17.8
13Colin Kaepernick SF17.7
14Carson Palmer ARI17.7
15Matthew Stafford DET17.6
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Mr. Newton has his Panthers atop the NFC South at 2-0 despite a pair of games under 200 yards passing thus far. That all changes this Sunday when he squares off against a New Orleans Saints defense that got torched by Carson Palmer in Week 1, and once again looked weak in handing Jameis Winston his first NFL victory during Week 2.

Newton also posted 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground against the Saints last season. While Cam is still adjusting to life without his top target, Kelvin Benjamin, he has made due by working the ball around the field to other reliable options such as Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr.

That being said, expect Cam to dial up a few bombs against the Saints' porous secondary. He is due for a big output on Sunday.

Bust: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 20: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions attempts to pass the ball under pressure by Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter of the game on September 20, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapoli
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Nothing is going to give here. It's not rocket science.

Stafford is an abysmal 3-32 in his career against winning teams, and the Denver Broncos pass defense thus far has been impenetrable, having held both Joe Flacco and Alex Smith without a touchdown pass through two games.

Fantasy owners must accept that 2011 Matthew Stafford isn't walking through that door anytime soon. Those 5,000-plus yards and 41 touchdowns were an outlier, and while Stafford won't lose your fantasy league for you, he isn't the guy you put blind faith behind.

If you have the Broncos defense, roll with them and don't think twice. Pick City is coming to the Motor City this weekend.

Sleeper: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass while defensive tackle Aaron Donald #99 of the St. Louis Rams defends in the third quarter of a game at FedExField on September 20, 2015 in Landover, Ma
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

If your eggs were all in the Tony Romo basket, Cousins deserves a look on the waiver wire.

Without his deep threat in DeSean Jackson, Cousins dinked and dunked the St. Louis Rams to death this past Sunday to an efficient 23-of-27 outing with 203 yards and a touchdown. With the Skins firmly establishing their identity after pounding the rock 37 times behind Matt Jones and Alfred Morris, Cousins is a safe bet to put up a solid line against the New York Giants on Thursday.

He won't set the world on fire, but Cousins is a great short-term option for quarterback-needy teams.

Running Backs

Week 3 Running Backs
RankPlayerProjection
1Arian Foster HOU16.5
2Marshawn Lynch SEA15.1
3Eddie Lacy GB14.8
4Adrian Peterson MIN14.4
5Le'Veon Bell PIT13.8
6Jamaal Charles KC13.6
7Joseph Randle DAL12.9
8Matt Forte CHI12.8
9LeGarrette Blount NE12.5
10Todd Gurley STL12.5
11Jonathan Stewart CAR12.4
12C.J. Anderson DEN12.1
13Isaiah Crowell CLE12.1
14Justin Forsett BAL12
15Lamar Miller MIA11.6
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Arian Foster, Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans looks on from the sidelines at NRG Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Foster recently had groin surgery.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

According to Sporting News' Bob Hille, Arian Foster is back practicing for the Houston Texans and is prepared to shatter his injury timeline. Don't be surprised to see him suit up for his Week 3 matchup with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers front seven that has already been battered by the likes of Bishop Sankey, Terrance West, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.

Houston can't get its bell cow back soon enough. The quarterback situation is a mess, and Alfred Blue has flopped trying to replace Foster. He will eat as many courses as he can handle when he suits up again, just as he always does.

Given the awful play of some high-profile backs around the NFL thus far, Foster is a home run. Set it and forget it.

Bust: Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 13:  Justin Forsett #29 of the Baltimore Ravens carries the ball and Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos makes the tackle at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 13, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Forsett exploded last year, but through two games this season, he has looked much more like the pre-2014 version of himself. With youngsters Lorenzo Taliaferro and Javorius Allen salivating to eat more and more into his workload, run away from Forsett.

Not just for this week—for for the whole season. Don't buy a repeat campaign for the almost 30-year-old back in a Marc Trestman offense that loves throwing to guys out of the backfield. That will mean more looks for the young guns, as Forsett has turned eight receptions into a paltry 25 yards thus far.

Look for him to be stifled by that Cincinnati Bengals front seven on Sunday.

Sleeper: Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 29:  Running back Ronnie Hillman #23 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball against the defense of defensive back Shareece Wright #24 of the San Francisco 49ers during preseason action at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 2
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

C.J. Anderson is dealing with toe and ankle injuries and has been generally awful this season up to this point. If you are desperate for a fill-in, Hillman has some nice upside.

If you've simply had it with Jeremy Hill, DeMarco Murray or Forsett, Hillman is worthy of flex consideration against that mediocre Lions defense.

Wide Receivers

Week 3 Wide Receivers
RankPlayerProjection
1Antonio Brown PIT14.6
2Julio Jones ATL12.8
3Demaryius Thomas DEN12.7
4Odell Beckham Jr. NYG12.3
5Calvin Johnson DET11.8
6Randall Cobb GB11.3
7Emmanuel Sanders DEN11.2
8A.J. Green CIN11
9DeAndre Hopkins HOU10.2
10Brandon Marshall NYJ10
11Julian Edelman NE10
12Keenan Allen SD9.8
13Brandin Cooks NO9.6
14Mike Evans TB9.5
15Alshon Jeffery CHI9.3
Yahoo Sports

Boom: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals 

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals is tackled by TJ Carrie #38 of the Oakland Raiders during the first half of their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on September 13, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The good news for fantasy owners is that Andy Dalton has looked surprisingly adept through two games. Green has not reaped most of the benefits, but they're coming.

The Baltimore Ravens have not kept Green out of the end zone since 2012, surrendering over 330 yards and three scores over their last three matchups.

Green has seen an unusually low 12 targets through two games, and now gets to feast on a secondary that was just decimated by the likes of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Lock and load, Green owners.

Bust: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13:  Sam Shields #37 of the Green Bay Packers tips the football away from  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears in the first half at Soldier Field on September 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Imag
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Not only does Jeffery get a horrible Week 3 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, but he is not even a guarantee to lace them up. The Bears' No. 1 wideout is hobbled by hamstring and calf issues that kept him out of Week 2.

To add even more insult to injury, Jay Cutler went down Sunday as well. An injured QB and hobbled wideout against the Legion of Boom does make for a fantasy victory.

Explore other options for Week 3. Even if he does play, he is a strong candidate to throw up a donut a la Mike Evans.

Sleeper: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Seth Roberts #10 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates the game winning touchdown with Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A whopping 24 targets through two games is all you need to know. Derek Carr loves his new wideouts and is not afraid to show it.

Crabtree is a solid long-term option that should be on your radar all year. Also, expect Joe Haden to be all over Amari Cooper this week, so there's plenty of room for Crabtree to eat once again.

Oakland is no longer a fantasy wasteland. Derek Carr is a legitimate quarterback that should give you no qualms about snagging Raiders receivers in 2015.

Tight Ends

Week 3 Tight Ends
RankPlayerProjection
1Rob Gronkowski NE10.5
2Jimmy Graham SEA8.1
3Jason Witten DAL8.1
4Travis Kelce KC7.6
5Heath Miller PIT7
6Greg Olsen CAR7
7Tyler Eifert CIN7
8Delanie Walker TEN6.5
9Jordan Reed WAS6.4
10Martellus Bennett CHI6.3
11Jordan Cameron MIA5.9
12Ladarius Green SD5.9
13Zach Ertz PHI5.7
14Eric Ebron DET5.7
15Vernon Davis SF5.7
Yahoo Sports

Boom: Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 20: Eric Ebron #85 of the Detroit Lions reaches for extra yards while being tackled by Justin Trattou #94 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Phot
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Two games and two touchdowns up to this point for the highly touted tight end of the Lions. The former No. 10 overall pick is making due on that draft hype so far and is becoming one of Stafford's go-to targets.

Ebron is one of many tight ends to fall flat in their rookie year, which makes him a perfect long-term sleeper candidate this season. A battle with the Broncos means this will likely be a shootout, and there could be some nice garbage-time feasting available.

He received 10 targets in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, and there's no reason to believe he won't keep getting looks.

Bust: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit by  Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots after a catch at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Miller is the oatmeal of the breakfast buffet. Nobody is ever ecstatic when they have him, but he is always reliable and won't let you down, even if he never knocks your socks off.

This week, expect a slight dip in Miller's early-season production. He saw 11 targets in Week 1 and just two in Week 2, but salvaged his day with a short touchdown and a two-point conversion. His fortune will run out this week against the St. Louis Rams.

Sleeper: Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Crockett Gillmore #80 of the Baltimore Ravens carries for a touchdown against the block of Taylor Mays #27 of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Septembe
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

At least for the time being with rookie Breshad Perriman out, Joe Flacco's weaponry is rather barren. Someone has to eat, and in Week 2 that man was Crockett Gillmore. His 88 yards and two touchdowns cannot be ignored moving forward.

Dennis Pitta isn't coming back anytime soon, and Gillmore has outperformed Maxx Williams thus far. Scoop him up if you are in need of tight end help.

Defense

Week 3 Defense/Special Teams
RankTeamProjection
1Houston10.6
2New England10.5
3Seattle10.4
4Buffalo9.7
5Philadelphia9.6
6Denver8.9
7Arizona8.6
8Indianapolis8.4
9New York Giants8.2
10Cleveland8.1
Yahoo Sports

Advice

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 20:  C.J. Spiller #28 of the New Orleans Saints is brought down by George Johnson #94 and Lavonte David #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 20, 2015 in
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

There is always a good option or two in terms of free-agent defenses. This week, think about Denver's defense against the Lions, or even roll with the Buccaneers unit against a jumbled Houston Texans team. Especially if Foster is out once again, have no reservations about trotting out the Bucs D after their great showing in a 26-19 win over the New Orleans Saints.

You can't go wrong starting whoever is playing the Texans right now.

Waiver-Wire Advice

Take Travis Benjamin Seriously

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin #11 of the Cleveland Browns returns a kickoff under pressure from fullback Jalston Fowler #45 of the Tennessee Titans during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Clevel
Jason Miller/Getty Images

After exploding for three more touchdowns in Week 2, that makes four for the Browns' de facto No. 1 wideout. If he is still available, you have to make a move for him while he is this hot.

Johnny Manziel looks to have given the offense a shot in the arm, and we all know he isn't afraid to let it rip. Someone is going to benefit from that mentality, and who better than Benjamin?

He is owned in just 12 percent of leagues, and that number is about to skyrocket. Jump on board now, because there's no reason why he can't be Cleveland's 2015 installment of Josh Gordon.

Get Matt Jones Right Now

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Running back Matt Jones #31 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with center Kory Lichtensteiger #78 of the Washington Redskins, guard Shawn Lauvao #77 of the Washington Redskins, and offensive guard Brandon Scherff #75 of th
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

If you already have Matt Jones, congratulations. You, my friend, know exactly what you are doing.

There were plenty of rumblings prior to the season that Jones was going to quickly push Alfred Morris out of his feature role, and it only took two games for him to completely overshadow the former Redskins workhorse. After 123 yards and a pair of scores against the Rams, Jones won't be available for long.

Rankings and stats are all courtesy of Yahoo and ESPN standard leagues.