Sneaky Week 3 Fantasy Football Starts: Royce Freeman, Greg Olsen, More

Adam Ronis
Sports Illustrated

Injuries always happen in the NFL. It's part of the game, but it feels like the fantasy football landscape has been decimated, especially at quarterback. There are also several running backs and wide receivers dealing with injuries that could sit this week. Sometimes, we have to dig deep into the bench and get sneaky. While they aren't starts in every format, here are some sneaky players to consider in Week 3.

Quarterbacks 

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

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In some formats, Allen is still available. Considering the injuries at quarterback, Allen is a good option. Allen has a high floor due to his rushing ability and has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the first two games. He has 17 carries for 59 yards and the Bengals were gashed by the run last week. Allen has two touchdown passes and is averaging 253.5 passing yards per game. He could exceed those numbers and put up one of his best stats lines of the season.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Stafford put up big numbers in Week 1 because the game went into overtime and it was against the high-paced Cardinals. He passed for 385 yards with three touchdowns. Last week against the Chargers was more in line with what the Lions will consistently be, as he attempted 30 passes, throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers should be in the middle of that range against the Eagles, who have been vulnerable against the pass. The Eagles allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 320 yards and three touchdowns last week and Case Keenum had 380 passing yards with three touchdowns in Week 1.

Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts haven't asked Brissett to do much in the first two games, with both being on the road. While Brissett has yet to reach 200 passing yards in a game, he has five touchdowns and one interception while attempting 28 and 27 passes. Expect the Colts to open it up more against the Falcons in the team's home opener.

Running Backs

Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills

Gore continues to amaze at the age of 36, especially for a running back. While he hasn't been great the first two games, he's getting a lot of volume with 30 carries for 88 yards. Devin Singletary is dealing with a hamstring injury and could sit this week. Gore has a great matchup against the Bengals, who allowed the 49ers running backs to rush for 238 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns last week. The Bengals have allowed 5.4 yards per carry.

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins

It could be an ugly game against the Bears on Monday night and Thompson is dependent on game script. If the Redskins play from behind, Thompson will see more snaps than Adrian Peterson. That was the case last week against Dallas and Thompson had five receptions for 48 yards on eight targets. Thompson has 12 receptions for 116 yards in two games, and the Bears did struggle to defend the pass to running backs last week, allowing Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay to total nine catches for 78 yards.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I prefer to avoid the Buccaneers' backfield, but if there's a time to play Barber, it's Week 3 against the Giants. The Buccaneers are 6.5-point favorites at home and Barber could be churning out the clock in the second half. The Buccaneers had the lead last week and Barber had 24 touches. He rushed for 82 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown and the Giants have allowed three rushing touchdowns in the first two games.

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos

Phillip Lindsay was drafted several rounds ahead of Freeman in fantasy leagues, and the gap has closed. One of the reasons why some have been shy to start Freeman is his lack of involvement in the passing game. Freeman had one reception for five yards in Week 1, but five catches for 48 yards last week. If he sees at least a few passes per game, it makes him more appealing. Freeman has played better than Lindsay and there's a chance the touches begin to tilt in his favor.

Wide Receivers 

Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys

Michael Gallup will miss 2-4 weeks after having surgery to repair his meniscus. While Cobb plays the slot and Gallup is on the outside, Cobb could see more targets in a Cowboys' offense that has gained the most yards per drive. Cobb has looked good with his new team and with Dallas hosting Miami, anyone on the field is capable of scoring a touchdown. The Dolphins have allowed 102 points in two weeks and the Cowboys' offense has been more aggressive this season.

Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns

Higgins missed last game with a knee injury and is scheduled to return this week. He played 43.8% of the snaps and had two receptions for 46 yards before suffering a knee injury. Tight end David Njoku suffered a concussion Monday night and has a broken wrist. The absence of Njoku should open up targets for Higgins.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles

The status of starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) aren't known yet, but there's a good chance both sit this week against the Lions. Arcega-Whiteside played 92.6% of the snaps last week with those two receivers leaving the game early, but he didn't post a great line with only a four-yard reception. Keep in mind he wasn't a big part of the game plan going into that game, and it will be different in practice this week. In deeper formats, add him.

Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins

Recommending any player from Miami feels wrong, but this is sneaky starts. The Dolphins have been outscored, 102-10. This won't be an easy spot on the road against the Cowboys. Williams has been the one Dolphins player that has shown something. Williams had three catches for 24 yards with a touchdown in Week 1 and had four catches for 63 yards last week.

Tight Ends

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

The targets have been there for Olsen, who has 18 through two games. In Week 2, the Panthers had a short week with a Thursday night game and Olsen was questionable with back soreness. Not only did the veteran tight end play, he had six catches for 110 yards and could have had more if Cam Newton was accurate. The Cardinals have allowed 15 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns to tight ends so far this season. 

Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers

Like most tight ends outside of the elite, there will be inconsistency. Graham had 30 yards with a touchdown in Week 1 and followed it with no receptions last week. The Broncos have allowed 14 receptions for 138 yards to tight ends.

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

When going to the bottom tier of the tight ends, getting a touchdown is the goal. Witten has scored a touchdown in each of the first two games despite only 40 yards on seven receptions. The Cowboys are spreading the ball around and Dak Prescott will look for Witten in the red zone. More importantly, the Cowboys play the Dolphins.

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