With Week 3 of the NFL season upon us, fantasy owners around the world have to be wondering when the injuries will stop wreaking havoc on their lineups. Sorry to tell you, but injuries are something you will deal with each and every week of the season!
This time it happens to be Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Tevin Coleman, and Eric Decker. With all of these guys owned in a vast majority of leagues, their owners are now forced to find replacements since it doesn't sound like most of them will be on the field this week. Let's look at some Week 3 streaming options at QB, RB, and WR.
Andy Dalton: Can you believe that Dalton is owned in just 45 percent of leagues, but is ranked 5th for fantasy QBs right now? The Bengals take on a Ravens defense that has allowed 19.3 fantasy points to QBs this season, and those numbers would make him an interesting QB1 streamer.
James Starks: If Lacy can't go on Monday night, Starks becomes an instant RB2 play in all formats. Even if Lacy does play, he is likely going to be less than 100 percent, making Starks a solid flex play at worst. Go grab him if he is still available.
Matt Jones: Jones is going to be a longer hold than Starks, but will most likely be going to form a RBBC (running back by committee) with Alfred Morris. Jones was impressive in Week 2 with his 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and 3 catches for 23 yards, which makes him a guy you have to give serious consideration to in your flex spot.
Donte Moncrief: Moncrief was a boom-or-bust play for me in Week 3, and he boomed rather than busted even though Andrew Luck was an epic failure. T.Y. Hilton is still the lead dog in the receiving corps, but Moncrief is making a strong case for him to be Luck's #2 option for targets.
Allen Hurns: Did you know that despite being owned in just 10 percent of leagues, Hurns is ranked 48th for fantasy WRs thanks to his 9 catches (on 11 targets) and 128 yards? As a comparison, Jeremy Maclin is owned in 95 percent of leagues, Sammy Watkins is owned in 93 percent of leagues, and Mike Wallace is owned in 84 percent of leagues, and all these players are ranked below Hurns in PPR formats. Don't just look at the name, look at the numbers!
Leonard Hankerson: The little-known Falcons WR out-targeted Roddy White 11-1 in Week 2, catching 6 of 11 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. While I have him on this streamer list, I'd be careful not to read too much into the 11:1 ratio right now; "right now" being a key phrase since White is 33 years old and clearly a shell of his former self. You can add Hankerson in most formats, but be smart with how you play him.
Eli Manning – Giants: So far this season Eli Manning has been a disappointment to fantasy owners, putting up just 485 yards and 2 TDs through two games. I for one was hoping Ruben Randle would step into that Victor Cruz role and along with Odell Beckham, Larry Donnell, and Shane Vereen, Manning would have more mouths to feed than ever before. Giants coach Tom Coughlin expressed frustration with Manning this week, and my bet is that will light a fire under him just in time to take on a Redskins defense that hasn't looked good at all this season.
Andy Dalton – Bengals: As I mentioned above, Dalton is ranked 5th among fantasy QBs heading into Week 3, but is owned in less than half the leagues out there. This week the Bengals take on their division rivals, the Ravens. The Ravens' 19.3 PPG allowed and 526 passing yards allowed to QBs are both 14th in the NFL, and their 3 TD passes allowed puts them in the middle of a crowded pack of NFL defenses. The Ravens lost a huge part of their pass rush when Terrell Suggs went down, and I expect Dalton to finish with QB1 stats this week.
Danny Woodhead – Chargers: Woodhead is someone that is widely owned (70 percent), but tends to sit on people's benches (41 percent start him). I want to be clear and say he has far more value in PPR formats than in standard leagues, but for those who need help this week in those PPR leagues, Woodhead should finish with solid RB2 stats in your flex position as Melvin Gordon disappears when the Chargers are forced to play both catch-up, and stay-ahead, ball.
James Starks – Packers: As I said above, Lacy is questionable to play, and even if he does, he isn't likely to carry a full workload. With that being the case, Starks showed last week he can handle RB duties (20 carries for 95 yards against the Seahawks) and the Chiefs defense isn't on the same tier as the Seahawks defense. I'm targeting Starks for RB2 numbers, with RB1 upside if he finds the endzone.
Allen Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson opened the eyes of the NFL and its fan base around the world when he put a 6/155/2 line on the Dolphins. The Patriots offense is better than their defense, and I have a feeling Robinson is going to be heavily targeted once again this week. Robinson isn't just a WR you own as depth for your team; he is a WR that you plug into your WR2 position and have a real shot at getting WR1 numbers from week in and week out.
Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals: Fitzgerald has lost the explosiveness that made him one of the NFL's premiere receivers for many years, but his hands are just as good as they've ever been. So far this season he has been targeted 17 times, and has hauled in 14 of those, for a ridiculous catch-rate of 82 percent. This week the Cardinals host the 49ers, whose defense has graciously allowed the 6th-most fantasy points to WRs this season. Carson Palmer trusts Fitzgerald, and these two are making a believer out of me this season.
Jimmy Graham – Seahawks: Graham used to be a no-brainer plug-and-play TE that you drafted in the 1st or 2nd round right after Rob Gronkowski. This offseason he changed his home from New Orleans to Seattle, and his fantasy owners have been beating their heads against a wall ever since. Despite being ranked in the top 35 players in the preseason by most fantasy websites, Graham is currently ranked 18th for TE targets with 10 and his owners are losing faith. Have no fear though, as all that is going to change in Week 3 when the Seahawks get a juicy matchup with the Bears Swiss cheese defense. I'm willing to bet the Seahawks feature him in the passing game, feeding him early and often.
Cleveland Browns defense: Can you believe the Browns defense is owned in just 26 percent of fantasy leagues, despite being ranked in the top 5 on almost all formats? I know the offense is a complete mess, but Joe Haden and the rest of the defense has been playing lights-out ball this season. This week they get the Raiders at home, and my feeling is they continue that top-5 defensive performance on Sunday as they have Haden shadow Amari Cooper and force Derek Carr to target Michael Crabtree, who is only catching 58 percent of his targets thus far.
Sam Bradford – Eagles: The million dollar question on every fantasy owner's mind is: do I cut Bradford or keep him? For me, the answer is cut him now if you can get a Dalton or Tyrod Taylor off the waiver wire. The Eagles O-line is about to get people fired, and there is nothing coming out of the front office that would suggest they are doing anything to fix it. Offensive scheme can only hide the line so much; defenses will adjust and show the weaknesses.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: Stafford and the Lions passing game just isn't what it used to be with Calvin Johnson not showing the same explosiveness he did in years past. Add that to the Lions facing an elite Broncos defense this week and you have the makings of another QB2 week for Stafford. I'd give some thought to playing Dalton or Ryan Fitzpatrick this week if Stafford is your QB1.
Ronnie Hillman – Broncos: One of the hottest adds when the waiver wire opened Wednesday morning was Hillman, who is pushing C.J. Anderson for touches in Denver. What people are banking on is that he already has leapfrogged Anderson and he will be a sleeper play against the Lions. My bet is he hasn't taken over the starting role in Denver just yet, and his role on offense depends heavily on how Anderson is doing. He is worth a speculation add, but not worth playing just yet.
Chris Johnson – Cardinals: CJ2K looked pretty solid last week against the Bears turnstile defensive line, but to be fair, I could finish with positive yards against them this year. This week however he takes on a 49ers defense that has been generous through two games, but surely wants to stop the bleeding in Week 3. I have a feeling David Johnson is going to see his role increase while Chris Johnson's role will decrease when Andre Ellington returns.
Jordan Matthews – Eagles: Matthews is the perfect example of fantasy football being vastly different than real-life football in that he ranked out as a low-end WR2 last week despite committing several drops and not even being in the same book as Bradford, let alone the same page. This week the Eagles horrendous O-line meets a Jets D-line that just put more pressure on the Colts than a politician on Election Day. I'm willing to bet Matthews is shadowed by Darrelle Revis this week, making him a risky WR3 play in my book.
Brandin Cooks – Saints: Brees is saying he is intent on playing in Week 3, but playing doesn't necessarily mean throwing for Brees. Dr. James Andrews reportedly told Brees to rehab his shoulder hard this week, meaning even if he does play, he is far less than 100 percent. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the Saints lean heavily on Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, and C.J. Spiller and limit the wear and tear on Brees' shoulder with passing attempts. Oh, and you have to remember that the Panthers have allowed the 8th-fewest fantasy points to QBs, and 10th-fewest to WRs so far.
Dwayne Allen – Colts: Allen has seen his ownership rate slip from being drafted in 85 percent of leagues to being currently owned in 46 percent of those same leagues. Through two games he has been targeted just 6 times, catching 3 of them for 17 yards and a touchdown, both of which came in Week 1. To make his lack of production worse, he suffered an ankle injury Monday night early in the first half and didn't practice on Wednesday. His status for this week is questionable, and his usage is doubtful based on the first two games. I'd go ahead and cut him for a guy like Crockett Gillmore if he is available.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Green Bay Packers offense is allowing the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. Add to that the fact that the Chiefs have to travel to Lambeau Field to play this one, and you have all the makings of fantasy owners streaming a defense for this week.