Fantasy Football Week 3: Matt Camp's Fantasy Big Board
Not only is the injury list long heading into Week 3, but it's also full of fantasy football superstars who otherwise likely fill some of the top spots in your starting lineup.
The tight end position is especially brutal, as Rob Gronkowski (groin), Jordan Reed (chest), Jimmy Graham (ankle), Tyler Eifert (back/knee) and Greg Olsen (foot) all left Week 2 worse for the wear. Olsen wound up landing on injured reserve with a broken foot.
Losing David Johnson to wrist surgery after Week 1 was a big enough blow to the RB group, yet it only got worse with DeMarco Murray (hamstring), LeSean McCoy (wrist/groin), Jordan Howard (shoulder) and Rob Kelley (rib) all slowed and/or sidelined by injuries during Week 2.
All of these injuries demonstrate why you need to stay vigilant on the waiver wire regardless of your record or confidence in your team. A realistic start to a draft could have included Jordy Nelson, who isn't a lock to play Sunday due to a quad injury, and Murray as the top two picks on a fantasy roster. That team already looks shaky before the third game of the season.
Just be happy if you can roll into Thursday night with someone like Todd Gurley in your lineup. He's healthy and performing at a high level.
Check out my first look at the points-per-reception (PPR) rankings for Week 3. These will change throughout the week and up to Sunday's action as we get more information about injuries and limitations, so make sure to bookmark this page for my full rankings in both PPR and non-PPR formats.
I present my top 100 players (minus quarterbacks) for the week as a way to help determine your flex spots. You may favor a certain position or player over another based on his role and/or your scoring rules.
As an additional tiebreaker, here are the teams I like as a whole this week based on their matchups:
- Miami Dolphins (at New York Jets)
- Carolina Panthers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
- Green Bay Packers (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (at Chicago Bears)
Week 3 Top 100 PPR Rankings
Better Than Usual
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. NO)
Though Newton will be without his top safety valve in Greg Olsen, going against the fantasy-friendly Saints defense should help ease that pain. Sam Bradford and Tom Brady combined for 793 yards and six touchdowns against New Orleans in Weeks 1 and 2. The Saints have been playing without top CB Delvin Breaux (leg), and they could also be without CB Sterling Moore (pectoral) this week, according to Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.
You typically wouldn't need much convincing ever to play Newton regardless of his matchup, but a disappointing 2016 season has lingered into 2017. With Newton still knocking the rust off from offseason shoulder surgery, he's 18th in fantasy QB scoring. If he can't break out of his funk in this matchup, it'll be time to panic.
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. SEA)
When Mariota was able to participate in the entire preseason, it eliminated any worries about the knee injury he suffered at the end of the 2016. While the former Heisman winner hasn't been bad in the first two games, he's nowhere near the fantasy QB who dominated for much of last year. He has just 471 passing yards, two TDs (one passing, one rushing) and an INT.
It's hard to expect him to bust out with the Seahawks visiting Sunday. They've faced two far different QBs in Aaron Rodgers and Brian Hoyer with far different results. Rodgers threw for 311 yards with a TD and an INT, while Hoyer had just 99 yards and an INT. Mariota is much better than Hoyer, but he isn't near the level of Rodgers. If you need to stick with him this week, lower your expectations.
Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. DAL)
If you played Palmer last week, it was strictly for the juicy matchup in Indianapolis. It wasn't pretty to watch, yet Palmer managed to throw for 332 yards with a TD and an INT. He has completed just 54.8 percent of his attempts this season, with two TDs to four INTs. That shouldn't inspire much confidence, as this team looks completely different without David Johnson.
Palmer and the Cardinals host the Cowboys on Monday night in a battle of 1-1 teams. After shutting down Eli Manning (220 yards, one INT) in Week 1, they allowed 231 yards and four TDs to Trevor Siemian in Denver last weekend. This is an average defense, yet it's not like the Cardinals have much firepower to challenge them, especially with how shaky Palmer has looked. Don't be fooled by last week. Look elsewhere for your QB.
Jay Cutler, MIA (vs. NYJ)
In his first game with the Dolphins, Cutler pulled off an impressive win on the road against the Chargers. Even though Jay Ajayi carried the offense (28 carries, 122 yards), Cutler played under control, completing 24 of 33 pass attempts for 230 yards and a TD in a matchup with a solid defense.
There's nothing solid about the Jets, which is why it's fair to expect more out of Cutler in his second game. Through two weeks, they've allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs, mostly because of five TDs. They didn't look good against Tyrod Taylor in Week 1 and had no answers for Derek Carr last week. This isn't a strong endorsement of Cutler, but if you're stuck or need a second QB, he's worth a look with the matchup in his favor.
Week 3 Quarterback Rankings
|1||Aaron Rodgers (GB)|
|2||Tom Brady (NE)|
|3||Derek Carr (OAK)|
|4||Matt Ryan (ATL)|
|5||Matthew Stafford (DET)|
|6||Drew Brees (NO)|
|7||Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)|
|8||Cam Newton (CAR)|
|9||Kirk Cousins (WAS)|
|10||Philip Rivers (LAC)|
|11||Jameis Winston (TB)|
|12||Carson Wentz (PHI)|
|13||Russell Wilson (SEA)|
|14||Marcus Mariota (TEN)|
|15||Jay Cutler (MIA)|
|16||Trevor Siemian (DEN)|
|17||Dak Prescott (DAL)|
|18||Carson Palmer (ARI)|
|19||Alex Smith (KC)|
|20||DeShone Kizer (CLE)|
|21||Andy Dalton (CIN)|
|22||Jared Goff (LAR)|
|23||Eli Manning (NYG)|
|24||Deshaun Watson (HOU)|
|25||Joe Flacco (BAL)|
|26||Josh McCown (NYJ)|
|27||Jacoby Brissett (IND)|
|28||Mike Glennon (CHI)|
|29||Tyrod Taylor (BUF)|
|30||Brian Hoyer (SF)|
|31||Blake Bortles (JAC)|
|32||Case Keenum (MIN)|
|33||Sam Bradford (MIN)|
Better Than Usual
Buck Allen, BAL (at JAX)
The Ravens have been fortunate to call on the depth of their backfield and get strong production following the losses of Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Danny Woodhead (hamstring). Allen has led the way with 35 carries for 137 yards and five receptions for 35 yards and a TD on seven targets.
In Baltimore's Week 2 victory over the Browns, Terrance West suffered what Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun described as a "soft-tissue injury" that is a "day-to-day thing." That leaves the door wide-open for Allen to lead the way once again in Week 3 against Jacksonville. Allen has shown he can handle a heavy workload on the ground and an active role as a receiver, which is a huge boost to his fantasy value. The Jaguars allowed 197 rushing yards to RBs in the first two games.
LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. DEN)
Last week, the Bills gave McCoy Friday off from practice and then removed him from an injury report that had him listed with wrist and groin injuries. He kept his active role in the passing game with six receptions on seven targets for 34 yards, yet he managed only nine yards on 12 carries while playing 74.1 percent of the snaps in the loss to the Panthers.
Monitoring McCoy's practice time this week should paint a better picture of how healthy he is going into a game against a Denver defense that just limited Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries. It's hard to believe Tyrod Taylor will have much success against the Broncos' excellent pass defense, so the Bills can't afford to scale back McCoy's touches unless he isn't healthy enough to play as much.
DeMarco Murray, TEN (vs. SEA)
The hamstring issue Murray dealt with in the preseason acted up again in Week 2, which kept him on the sidelines for much of second half of the team's victory over the Jaguars. Derrick Henry totaled 14 carries for 92 yards and a TD in Murray's place, while Murray had just nine carries for 25 yards.
According to Jim Wyatt of Titans Online, Murray is day-to-day with his hamstring injury. However, the Titans can afford to rest him knowing they have Henry, especially after the former Heisman winner played well in relief of Murray last week. Considering Seattle has a better pass defense than run defense, the Titans need to rely on their rushing attack in Week 3. If Murray isn't healthy enough to go, Henry will get plenty of chances once again.
Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. PIT)
Howard went into last week's game with a shoulder injury, and he ended up playing just 48.4 percent of the snaps while picking up seven yards on nine carries. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Howard left the stadium with his arm in a sling, which seemingly puts his status in doubt for Week 3. Meanwhile, Tarik Cohen played 62.5 percent of the snaps and caught eight of nine targets for 55 yards. He also added 13 yards on seven carries.
Even though the 5'6", 181-pound Cohen doesn't fit the mold of a lead back, the Bears don't have any choice but to feature him with Howard injured. Even if Howard is able to play, his stock has dropped to the point that he doesn't have to be in your lineup. Plus, if the Bears can't keep the game close with the Steelers, Cohen would see more action than Howard in a hurry-up role.
James White, NE (vs. HOU)
Predicting how the Patriots will use all of their RBs is never easy, yet injuries are one way to clear things up. In their Week 2 win over the Saints, the Patriots went into the game without Danny Amendola (head/knee) and saw Rex Burkhead (rib), Chris Hogan (leg) and Rob Gronkowski (groin) all miss time. White ended up catching all eight of his targets for 85 yards and contributed 11 yards on his two carries.
For the season, White actually leads the team with 11 receptions on 13 targets and trails only Gronkowski in receiving yards (149-115), so he's been active enough to use as a RB3/flex in PPR formats. If any of the aforementioned injuries linger into Week 3, White could have another busy afternoon when the Texans visit New England.
Week 3 Running Back PPR Rankings
Better Than Usual
Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs. NO)
Relying on Benjamin has been a tough task throughout his career, so if you have trepidation about using him with confidence this week, the feelings are justified. However, consider his role in a great matchup with the Saints in Week 3.
The Panthers already lost Greg Olsen to a broken foot, so Olsen's targets need to go elsewhere, and at least some of those should come to Benjamin. In Week 2, Benjamin caught six of eight targets for 77 yards against the Bills, so he's coming off a solid performance with a chance to build on that against the Saints. New Orleans has a shaky secondary with injuries at CB. If there's a perfect situation for Benjamin to come through when he's actually supposed to, this is it.
Jordy Nelson, GB (vs. CIN)
Nelson was on the field for just seven snaps last week before exiting the game with a quad injury. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Nelson has a quad strain that isn't considered serious, yet he's "50-50" to play in Sunday's matchup with the Bengals.
While Nelson is a lock to be in fantasy lineups every week, part of the problem with his status is the 4:25 p.m. Eastern start for the game in Green Bay. Nelson's injury status must be monitored closely throughout the week, although with his status already up in the air so early in the week, you should make alternate plans if he can't play.
Titans WRs, TEN (vs. SEA)
Determining how the Titans would distribute targets to Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker and Corey Davis figured to be a tough task coming into the season, and after two games, we haven't learned much. Matthews has 14 with Decker and Davis tied at 13, so the distribution has been pretty even, although that doesn't help much when it comes to determining fantasy value.
Actually, it's made all three plays too tough to trust for fantasy, and this weekend's matchup with the Seahawks isn't helping the cause. While Seattle hasn't been lights-out against WRs, it's allowed an acceptable 269 yards and one touchdown (against the Packers) in the first two games. Until this situation clears up and the matchups get easier, you can stay away from the Titans' WRs.
Rashard Higgins, CLE (at IND)
Higgins was activated to the game-day roster for Week 2 and made an immediate impact with seven receptions for 95 yards on 11 targets while playing 76.1 percent of the snaps. In the same game, Corey Coleman was lost to a broken hand that landed him on the injured reserve. Considering the injury to Coleman and the early struggles of Kenny Britt (2 REC, 15 YDS, 5 TGTS), Higgins has a chance to carve out a regular role.
Luckily enough, the Browns face the Colts in Week 3. After two weeks without top CB Vontae Davis (groin), the Colts allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs in matchups with the Rams and Cardinals, so it's not like they've faced the strongest WR talent or even great QBs. It's probably asking a lot to rely on Higgins to play a meaningful role in your fantasy lineup so early in the season, but if you're looking for a sleeper to take a shot on, the situation sets up well for him.
Week 3 Wide Receiver PPR Rankings
Better Than Usual
Hunter Henry, LAC (vs. KC)
Since the Chiefs are without safety Eric Berry, there's a hole to exploit in their defense, and that can be done with the TE. Last week, Zach Ertz got the Chiefs for 97 yards on five receptions, and while 53 of those yards came on a tipped pass, he still had 10 targets, so the opportunities were there for the taking.
After not receiving a target in Week 1, Henry bounced back in a big way with seven receptions for 80 yards on seven targets against the Dolphins in Week 2. Compare that to Antonio Gates, who has four receptions for 28 yards and a TD on seven targets in two games, and you should know that Henry will play a bigger role in the offense this season. Henry is the type of matchup nightmare the Chiefs need to worry about without Berry, and Philip Rivers will be smart enough to exploit it.
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at TEN)
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is typically very optimistic when it comes to discussing his players, so you have to take notice when he isn't. During his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle (h/t Seattle Times' Bob Condotta), Carroll said Graham is dealing with a "sore ankle," which puts his status up in the air for the team's Week 3 game in Tennessee.
Graham, along with the rest of Seattle's passing attack, has been disappointing for fantasy players in the first two weeks of the season. Following an impressive performance in 2016 when he wasn't completely healthy, Graham entered this season at 100 percent, yet he's only managed four receptions for nine yards on nine targets.
Keep an eye on what Graham does in practice this week to see if his status clears up before Sunday. You'd be wise to find a backup in the event Graham can't play.
Tyler Eifert, CIN (at GB)
Unfortunately, Eifert's injury history usually gets brought up before his talent, and a pair of injuries landed him on the sidelines last week against the Texans. Even though he was on the field for 78.1 percent of the snaps, back and knee issues limited him to just three receptions for 42 yards on four targets.
Eifert's status for Week 3 is "uncertain," according to Schefter. Through two games, Eifert has just four receptions for 46 yards on five targets and is part of a Bengals offense that's been just miserable for fantasy. Even if he's healthy enough to play, Eifert can't be trusted to perform as a reliable fantasy starter. Hopefully, he gets better and the Bengals can turn things around soon, although it's fair to be skeptical about both situations improving.
Julius Thomas, MIA (at NYJ)
If you're scrambling to find a TE because of all the injuries at the position, you might consider Thomas in Week 3. While he had just three receptions for 26 yards on three targets against the Chargers last week, he could be in line for a stronger performance when the Dolphins head to New Jersey to face the Jets.
So far, the Jets allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to TEs, which continues the poor trend from last season when they gave up the ninth-most fantasy points to TEs. In the first two games, New York surrendered 11 receptions for 116 yards and a TD on 19 targets in matchups with Charles Clay and Jared Cook. This is a mismatch Thomas can exploit and one the Dolphins should focus on, especially in the red zone.
Week 3 Tight End PPR Rankings
|1||Travis Kelce (KC)|
|2||Zach Ertz (PHI)|
|3||Rob Gronkowski (NE)|
|4||Delanie Walker (TEN)|
|5||Hunter Henry (LAC)|
|6||Jordan Reed (WAS)|
|7||Jason Witten (DAL)|
|8||Martellus Bennett (GB)|
|9||Kyle Rudolph (MIN)|
|10||Jack Doyle (IND)|
|11||Coby Fleener (NO)|
|12||Eric Ebron (DET)|
|13||Jared Cook (OAK)|
|14||Evan Engram (NYG)|
|15||Julius Thomas (MIA)|
|16||Jimmy Graham (SEA)|
|17||Austin Hooper (ATL)|
|18||Benjamin Watson (BAL)|
|19||Charles Clay (BUF)|
|20||Cameron Brate (TB)|
|21||Tyler Eifert (CIN)|
|22||Ed Dickson (CAR)|
|23||Antonio Gates (LAC)|
|24||Gerald Everett (LAR)|
|25||Zach Miller (CHI)|
|26||Jesse James (PIT)|
|27||David Njoku (CLE)|
|28||George Kittle (SF)|
|29||Vernon Davis (WAS)|
|30||Dwayne Allen (NE)|
|31||Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ)|
|32||O.J. Howard (TB)|
Best Streaming Options
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
The Eagles defense has quietly put together a nice start despite a loss to the Chiefs in Week 2. Over the first two weeks of the season, it's scored the fifth-most fantasy points of any defense thanks to eight sacks, one interception, three fumble recoveries and a TD.
This week, the Eagles face a Giants offense that's looked mostly anemic in losses to the Cowboys and Lions to open the season. It's scored just 13 points thanks to a nonexistent ground game, offensive line issues and very little impact from Odell Beckham Jr.In the first two weeks, the Giants surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The matchup in Philadelphia is arguably tougher than what they've seen from the Cowboys and Lions.
Ownership percentages: ESPN, 13.1; Yahoo, 28
Green Bay Packers (vs. CIN)
Streaming defenses can be as simple as finding the most attractive matchup. While the Bengals have enough talent to be a formidable offense, they've been anything but in their first two games. They've yet to find the end zone and have just nine points in ugly losses to the Ravens and Texans. Through the first two weeks, Cincinnati ranks third in most points allowed to fantasy defenses due to eight sacks, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a shutout loss to the Ravens in Week 1.
You know a team has big problems when it makes a coordinator change before the end of September, which is what the Bengals did when they fired Ken Zampese and promoted QB coach Bill Lazor to OC. Don't expect a quick fix for the Cincinnati offense on the road in Green Bay.
If the Packers jump out to an early lead, the game could come down to the performance of Andy Dalton, which is bad news for the Bengals. Green Bay already has six sacks on the season and could be a problem for the troublesome Cincinnati offensive line.
Ownership percentage: ESPN, 9.6; Yahoo, 38
Week 3 Defense Rankings
|1||Denver Broncos (DEN)|
|2||Baltimore Ravens (BAL)|
|3||Philadelphia Eagles (PHI)|
|4||Los Angeles Rams (LAR)|
|5||Green Bay Packers (GB)|
|6||Seattle Seahawks (SEA)|
|7||New England Patriots (NE)|
|8||Jacksonville Jaguars (JAC)|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT)|
|10||Kansas City Chiefs (KC)|
|11||Miami Dolphins (MIA)|
|12||Arizona Cardinals (ARI)|
|13||Tennessee Titans (TEN)|
|14||Minnesota Vikings (MIN)|
|15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB)|
|16||New York Giants (NYG)|
|17||Cleveland Browns (CLE)|
|18||Oakland Raiders (OAK)|
|19||Houston Texans (HOU)|
|20||Indianapolis Colts (IND)|
Best Options Widely Available on the Waiver Wire
Giorgio Tavecchio, OAK (at WAS)
Surprisingly, Tavecchio can be snatched up and inserted into fantasy lineups with relative ease despite being the top kicker over the first two weeks. Thanks to a strong Raiders offense, he has eight extra points and four field goals, including two from 50-plus yards. The matchup in Washington isn't one to worry about, so expect Tavecchio's strong start to continue into Week 3.
Ownership percentage: ESPN, 31.1; Yahoo, 37
Graham Gano, CAR (vs. NO)
Carolina's offense has yet to truly click over the first two games, yet they sit at 2-0 thanks to a favorable schedule that produced wins over the 49ers and Bills. The schedule provides another good matchup when the Saints come to town on Sunday. Thanks to a poor defense, the kickers have scored the fifth-most points against New Orleans in the first two games.
While the Panthers offense isn't where it needs to be, Gano has been a reliable fantasy kicker. He's tied with Dan Bailey for the seventh-most fantasy points in the first two games, as he's been perfect on six field goals and two extra points. Take his perfect season into this weekend with confidence.
Ownership percentage: ESPN, 17; Yahoo, 28
Week 3 Kicker Rankings
|1||Mason Crosby (GB)|
|2||Matt Bryant (ATL)|
|3||Stephen Gostkowski (NE)|
|4||Dan Bailey (DAL)|
|5||Giorgio Tavecchio (OAK)|
|6||Graham Gano (CAR)|
|7||Justin Tucker (BAL)|
|8||Matt Prater (DET)|
|9||Cairo Santos (KC)|
|10||Brandon McManus (DEN)|
|11||Chris Boswell (PIT)|
|12||Dustin Hopkins (WAS)|
|13||Blair Walsh (SEA)|
|14||Will Lutz (NO)|
|15||Cody Parkey (MIA)|
|16||Jake Elliott (PHI)|
|17||Nick Folk (TB)|
|18||Phil Dawson (ARI)|
|19||Greg Zuerlein (LAR)|
|20||Adam Vinatieri (IND)|