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Week 3 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts for Week 3

Quarterback

Jay Cutler, MIA (at NYJ) - Cutler played under control against the tough Chargers defense in Week 1, taking what they gave him. He mixed short passing to Jarvis Landry with downfield shots to DeVante Parker, always set up in manageable down and distances by quality running from Jay Ajayi. All of these elements should click for more touchdown drives this week against the toothless Jets defense.

Deshaun Watson, HOU (at NE) - Watson was given a very limited playbook for Week 2 against the Bengals because his first NFL start came on a short week. This week, he has extra time to prepare against one of the weaker defenses in the NFL through two weeks. Watson should be playing from behind agains the Patriots and have plenty of chances to pile up yardages as a runner and passer against a prevent defense.

DeShone Kizer, CLE (at IND) - Kizer has some extra risk with a migraine putting him on the sideline for part of Week 2. If he plays the whole game in Week 3, he should have some success throwing downfield against a weak Colts pass rush and pass defense. Kizer can also pad his fantasy stats with his running ability.

Carson Palmer, ARI (vs DAL) - Palmer came on as the game went on in Week 2, and he was able to minimize the poor throws that led to a disastrous Week 1. In Week 3, he gets the banged up Cowboys secondary which was one of the weaker units in the league to begin with. Even though John Brown is likely out, Jaron Brown and JJ Nelson still gives the team three quality receivers along with Larry Fitzgerald, more than enough to exploit the Cowboys’ achilles heel.

Running Back

Derrick Henry, TEN (vs SEA) - Demarco Murray missed two practices so far this week, and it’s fair to assume that if he misses practice on Friday, he won’t play, opening the door for Henry to start. Even if Henry plays, we should look to something closer to a 50-50 split between the two. Henry was marauding through the Jaguars usually tough run defense in the second half last week and easily could have had multiple scores if the Titans had stuck with him inside the five. If Henry starts, he should be in your lineup.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs NO) - Stewart has been getting enough volume to merit starts in deeper leagues through the first two games, and that shouldn’t change against a Saints defense that is clearly one of the league’s worst. Drew Brees won’t be effective enough for the Saints to establish a big lead and force the Panthers to abandon the run on the road, so look for Stewart to get 15+ carries and at least a few scoring opportunities.

James White, NE (vs HOU) - Rex Burkhead has missed two practices, so it looks like White will get more opportunities out of the backfield in Week 3 against the Texans. White has led the team in snaps out of the backfield and he has shown that he is a formidable inside runner. The Patriots only have one fully healthy wide receiver, which will only lead to more targets for White this week.

Chris Johnson, ARI (vs DAL) - Johnson still has something left in the tank. He was the best running back for the Cardinals in the post-David Johnson backfield, and all indications are that he will be the lead back on Monday night against the Cowboys defense that just got destroyed by the Broncos on the ground. He should get at least 12-15 carries and a reasonable chance at a goal line score.

Joe Mixon, CIN (at GB) - Mixon is a bit of a shot in the dark this week, but when a new offensive coordinator is hired, priorities can change. There’s little doubt that Mixon is the best all-around running back on the Bengals roster, and if new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor noticed it, he could get more work. Lazor should speed up the tempo, so Mixon’s two-way ability makes him a natural choice to stay on the field more than Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill.

Alex Collins, BAL (vs JAX) - Terrance West hasn’t practiced through Thursday. If he’s not ready Sunday morning against the Jaguars, that will give Collins a chance to be the primary Ravens running back between the tackles against a limited Jaguars team that won’t be able to force the Ravens to give up on the running game. Collins had the best burst of any Ravens back in Week 2 and he could take the job from West and not look back in Week 3.

Theo Riddick, DET (vs ATL) - Riddick is the best receiving back on the Lions (and would be the best on a lot of teams). The Falcons have given up 19 receptions to running backs already, including two receiving scores. In each of the first two games, opposing running backs have at least eight receptions. This should be a safe week to play Riddick in PPR leagues, with a better than typical chance of a score.

Wide Receiver

Rashard Higgins, CLE (at IND) - Vontae Davis could be back this week for the Colts defense, but that shouldn’t affect Higgins, who did his damage from the slot in Week 2. The Browns pass offense should focus on Higgins as the most successful wideout so far this year and Davis possibly taking away Ricardo Louis or Kenny Britt (when Britt isn’t taking himself away with a lack of effort). DeShone Kizer is not shy about throwing downfield, which increases the chances of a big play for Higgins.

Tyler Lockett, SEA (at TEN) - Lockett was back to full speed in Week 2 and appeared to re-take the #2 role in the pass offense. Tight end Jimmy Graham is also banged up, which should free up more targets for Lockett in a week the Seahawks are expected to re-commit to downfield passing and get Russell Wilson on track.

Devin Funchess, CAR (vs NO) - Funchess was getting open often against the Bills defense in Week 2. Expect much of the same against the Saints defense, which is by far the easiest to solve in the NFL through two weeks. Greg Olsen’s absence should also shake some extra targets loose for Funchess, who will likely be the #2 target in the passing game.

Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson, ARI (vs DAL) - The Cowboys were one of the most underwhelming secondaries in the league coming into the year. Now they have Orlando Scandrick dealing with a broken hand and Nolan Carroll in concussion protocol. Even with John Brown out, the Cardinals have a formidable wide receiver group. Both of Nelson, who is the big play speed threat, and Brown who has excellent speed to go with underrated speed and athleticism, are viable WR3/Flex plays against the Cowboys on Monday night.

Danny Amendola (vs HOU) - Amendola is trending in the right direction among a Patriots wide receiver group that is nursing leg injuries from Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett, in addition to all-world tigh end Rob Gronkowski’s groin injury. Amendola was the most productive Patriots wide receiver in Week 1 despite missing part of the game, and he should be one of Tom Brady’s prime matchups in Week 3 against a banged up Texans cornerback group.

Tight End

Jack Doyle, IND (vs CLE) - This one is elementary. Jacoby Brissett only had eyes for Doyle in Week 2 against Arizona. This week’s opponent, Cleveland, has already given up two scores to Steelers tight end Jesse James in Week 1 and eight catches for 91 yards to Ben Watson in Week 2. Doyle is a top ten tight end play for Week 3.

Jared Cook, OAK (at WAS) - Cook has at least four catches in each of the first two games with the Raiders, and he should be an important part of the pass offense against Washington. Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland will do their best to limit the damage done by Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, leaving Cook with a matchup made even better by Mason Foster’s absence due to a separated shoulder. Washington has allowed over 100 receiving yards to tight ends in each of the first two games.

Ben Watson, BAL (vs JAX - London) - Watson has the look of a safe PPR play at tight end this week against a Jaguars defense that has six catches and at least 60 receiving yards to tight ends in each of the first two games. Watson was Joe Flacco’s favorite target in Week 2 and corner is a strength of the Jaguars defense, assuming Jalen Ramsey plays in London.