We’re now one-eighth of the way through the 2020 fantasy season. With 14 games left to play for each team comes 14 more weeks of overseeing one’s own virtual team. The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks… but that’s what makes them so intriguing. Last week Tre’Quan Smith produced WR3 FF numbers (5 of 7 for 86) and Jordan Akins continued to work as a safety valve for DeShaun Watson (converting all 7 of his targets), but AP didn’t get the volume and both Jimmy G and Parris Campbell left with injuries.
Let’s see what we uncover in Week 3!
As someone who’s been in a long-standing, on-again, off-again relationship with the Chicago Bears, I’ve developed some quarterback-related trust issues. Mitch has done little to alleviate my anxieties, but the matchup this Sunday is too juicy to ignore. Facing a Falcons defense that’s allowing the highest completion percentage (77.4%) and second-highest YPA (9.2) to opposing signal callers, Mitch is in a spot to produce.
[Week 3 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]
For what it’s worth, he’s also not been terrible over the past two weeks, posting two multi-touchdown efforts and committing just two turnovers since the start of the season. He’s additionally padding his stats with rushing yards, as he’s attempted three red zone carries (QB7) and recorded 42 rushing yards (QB11) over his last pair of games. While he’s not Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott, he does have a capable and healthy complement of receiving talent at his disposal as well as the swag necessary to believe he can hang with Matty Ice. Pre-order those lemon pepper wings — I see you, A-Town — because Sunday figures to be a perfect mix of tart and spicy.
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (51% rostered – $18)
A top-25 fantasy producer for two consecutive weeks, the rookie running back has averaged 18.5 touches per contest and even out-toted Austin Ekeler by a margin of 23:16 in Week 2. Well-built and utilizing a compact frame (5’11, 212 lbs), Kelley is a downhill runner with plus balance and power who can push past tacklers.
Since the start of the season, he’s understandably been used in short-yardage situations. While his YPC last week left a lot to be desired (2.8), it’s worth noting that he’s been tackled for a loss on a total of just two occasions. He’s also in possession of impressive long speed (not much initial burst though), which he demonstrated via a 35-yard gain after the catch on Justin Herbert’s first completion vs. Kansas City. The 1B to Ekeler’s 1A, Kelley’s many gifts figure to be on full display in Week 3 when he takes on a Panthers defense that is allowing opposing runners a YPC of 4.8 and has given up the most rushing scores (6) so far this season. Kelley is the Yahoo consensus RB24 heading into Sunday’s action.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (3% rostered – $10)
From start to finish, the 49ers franchise battled with Murphy’s Law last Sunday — they didn’t win. Down several key players on both sides of the ball, San Fran is expected to start Nick Mullens at QB, while Jerick McKinnon leads the backfield in the stead of Raheem Mostert (MCL) and Tevin Coleman (knee). While McKinnon is (or at least was before his own injury woes) an explosive and versatile athlete (100 percentile SPARQ) it’s unlikely that Kyle Shanahan will give him the workhorse treatment. After all, McKinnon has recorded a total of 3 totes since joining the 49ers in 2018. In fact, the last time he carried the ball more than 15 times was Week 6 of the 2017 season when he was still in Minnesota.
All of this is to say that Jeff Wilson could be a short-yardage hero in Week 3. Undrafted out of North Texas (where he scored 30 TDs over his final two campaigns), Wilson is a power back who isn’t afraid of contact and, in his own words, doesn’t “waste time” and likes to “get downhill.” On the active roster since 2018, Wilson is no stranger to stepping in and stepping up. During Weeks 2 and 3 of last year, while Tevin Coleman was dealing with a high ankle sprain, Wilson logged 18 carries for just 52 yards but FOUR touchdowns. That ability at the goal line (4 scores on 27 carries in 2019) is what gives the 24-year-old such sneaky touchdown appeal, especially in a game that figures to be run-heavy. In Week 3 he’ll take on a Giants defense that has yet to give up a rushing score but is allowing a YPC of 4.6.
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (46% rostered — $17)
We have yet to gain full clarity regarding Green Bay’s receiving options behind Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. There’s a good chance that neither Allen Lazard nor Marquez Valdes-Scantling will ever pull ahead, instead remaining matchup-based options for both Aaron Rodgers and fantasy managers. What we do know presently, however, is that Lazard has logged more snaps (85.4% share to MVS’ 58.3%) and run more routes (61 to 50) while Valdes-Scantling has drawn more targets (13 for MVS and 9 for Lazard).
Of Lazard’s 129 offensive snaps, 96 of them have come via the slot. MVS, on the other hand, has only recorded 66 snaps in the slot. That means if Davante Adams (hamstring) can’t go on Sunday night, Valdes-Scantling will likely move outside. This could result in more opportunities for MVS but also suggests he’ll draw top-end coverage from Marshon Lattimore. Meanwhile, Lazard figures to see the best matchup, as he’s likely to be P.J. Williams’ primary assignment. Last year Williams allowed a passer rating of 118.3 (CB62) and was manhandled by Darren Waller in Week 2 after sitting out the opener with a hamstring injury. With Vegas projecting a point total of over 52, good fantasy fortune figures to be bestowed upon at least one of these wideouts. I’ll give the edge to the guy who’s in a favorable matchup, and on the field more.
Drew Sample, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (1% rostered – $10)
Sample’s sample size as a receiver is decidedly small. But his opportunity heading into Week 3 is huge. Selected primarily for his blocking experience (he posted a 46-487-5 stat line over his four-year college career at Washington) in the second round of last year’s draft, Sample flashed unexpected athleticism in relief of C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) last Thursday night.
Second in team targets behind only A.J. Green, the former Huskie converted 7 of 9 balls for 45 yards. With Uzomah done for the year, Sample figures to work as an underneath target for his young QB. This Sunday he’ll face an Eagles defense that has struggled to contain the middle of the field, giving up a score to Logan Thomas in Week 1 and three tubs to Tyler Higbee in Week 3. The stream is real, friends.
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