If you're going into Week 3 with an 0-2 record, another loss could significantly lessen your chances of going to the playoffs. Fortunately for fantasy football managers, Week 3 has several clear-cut start 'em options—good for a bounce-back matchup.
Most owners will scramble to plug Dallas Cowboys into their starting lineups. They have a fantasy-friendly contest with the Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots will host the New York Jets in what should be another blowout result in favor of the defending champions.
Beyond the obvious must-start contributors, we'll dig a little deeper into the upcoming slate of games for the smartest plays and sleeper picks. All under-the-radar selections are owned in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Smart Matchup Plays, QB:
1. Josh Allen vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em
2. Philip Rivers vs. Houston Texans: Start 'Em
3. Jameis Winston vs. New York Giants: Start 'Em
4. Kyler Murray vs. Carolina Panthers: Sit 'Em
5. Baker Mayfield vs. Los Angeles Rams: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (49 Percent Owned)
Jimmy Garoppolo found his way against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, throwing for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Despite the skepticism about the strength of the Bengals, the San Francisco 49ers signal-caller needed a solid outing after a shaky performance in the season opener.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Steelers acquired defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, but his presence won't change the secondary in one outing. Keith Butler's defense ranks 29th in yards allowed and has surrendered six touchdowns through the air in two weeks.
Garoppolo will have a chance to put together a strong showing in the 49ers' home opener against a secondary that's susceptible to big plays on the back end. Fantasy owners should feel confident about starting him after Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson registered 300 passing yards against the Steelers.
Smart Matchup Plays, RB:
1. David Montgomery vs. Washington Redskins: Start 'Em
2. Austin Ekeler vs. Houston Texans: Start 'Em
3. Aaron Jones vs. Denver Broncos: Start 'Em
4. Damien Williams vs. Baltimore Ravens: Sit 'Em
5. Kerryon Johnson vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Frank Gore vs. Cincinnati Bengals (8 Percent Owned)
Frank Gore doesn't provide much excitement; he's 36 years old and averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Nonetheless, the 15th-year ball-carrier leads the Buffalo Bills in rush attempts (30) and faces a run defense that allowed 259 yards to the 49ers in Week 2.
Furthermore, running back Devin Singletary suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday's contest with the New York Giants; he's considered day-to-day. According to ESPN's Marcel Louis-Jacques, the team continues to acquire information on the situation.
In two weeks, Gore has been the featured tailback. Singletary's ailment will likely limit his touches if he's available to play. Don't expect the five-time Pro Bowler to lead all running backs in fantasy points for Week 3, but he's worth a look in the flex position because of the Bills' upcoming matchup and his backup's short-term uncertainty.
Smart Matchup Plays, WR:
1. Marvin Jones Jr. vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Start 'Em
2. John Brown vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em
3. Marquise Brown vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Start 'Em
4. Emmanuel Sanders vs. Green Bay Packers: Sit 'Em
5. Jarvis Landry vs. Los Angeles Rams: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Deebo Samuel vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (14 Percent Owned)
Here's the second component to a sleeper stack. Garoppolo and Deebo Samuel may continue to build upon last week's production. The rookie wideout caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Samuel's offensive snap count dropped from 59 to 29 from Weeks 1 to 2, but he could see his on-field time increase after leading the 49ers in targets Sunday. San Francisco selected him in the second round of this year's draft, which indicates the team's high regard for his talent.
Wideout Dante Pettis, the 49ers' 2018 second-rounder, hasn't been involved with the offense much, logging 37 offensive snaps with only one target in the first two contests. His disappearing act seems like a good sign for Samuel, who goes up against Pittsburgh's porous pass defense.
Smart Matchup Plays, TE:
1. Kyle Rudolph vs. Oakland Raiders: Start 'Em
2. Greg Olsen vs. Arizona Cardinals: Start 'Em
3. Delanie Walker vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Start 'Em
4. Jimmy Graham vs. Denver Broncos: Sit 'Em
5. Austin Hooper vs. Indianapolis Colts: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Will Dissly vs. New Orleans Saints (4 Percent Owned)
Last year, Will Dissly made his presence felt in the first two weeks, recording six catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. During the fourth game, he tore his patellar tendon and missed the remainder of the season.
Dissly only caught one ball for 12 yards in the season opener, but he left a bigger impression Sunday against the Steelers. The second-year tight end hauled in all five of his targets for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Wilson has looked toward Dissly in the red zone with confidence; the 6'4", 265-pound pass-catcher secured all his touchdown catches on plays that started inside the 20-yard line. If you're concerned about David Njoku, who's in concussion protocol, look for the Seahawks tight end as a sleeper pick this week.
Smart Matchup Plays, DEF:
1. Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos: Start 'Em
2. Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals: Start 'Em
3. Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em
4. Los Angeles Chargers vs. Houston Texans: Sit 'Em
5. Atlanta Falcons vs. Indianapolis Colts: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (35 Percent Owned)
Despite Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Tennessee Titans defense has some impressive numbers—32 points allowed, eight sacks, four interceptions and a touchdown in two contests.
On a short week, the Titans will face rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. The Jaguars signal-caller has played well, throwing for 488 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in relief of Nick Foles (collarbone). However, he's going up against a stingy defense that ranks top 10 in yards and points allowed.
Fantasy owners should feel good about Tennessee's defensive unit facing a rookie in Thursday Night Football's bright lights. Coming off a loss, head coach Mike Vrabel's group should shut down an offense rallying around a short-term replacement under center.
Snap counts courtesy of Pro Football Reference.