Fantasy football Week 3 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit in your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins — He gets to face the Cleveland Browns’ defense and actually put up great numbers against New England last weekend (387 yards, two TDs). The biggest fear here is that Miami will get too far ahead and stop throwing.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates a touchdown during a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill celebrates a touchdown during a NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — He was a pretty decent start in his past two games, but he should be very good against the Oakland Raiders, who are worst in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers — With Doug Martin sidelined for about three weeks, Sims could really shine. His pass-catching ability makes him a decent start against the Rams, a team in the bottom half in points allowed to running backs.

Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans — Facing the Raiders, the team ranked last in points allowed to wide receivers, Sharpe should have success. He’s been targeted at least seven times in each game so far.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) is chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Antwione Williams (52) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) is chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Antwione Williams (52) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

Theo Riddick, RB, Lions — Riddick looks to be the top choice to take over for an injured Ameer Abdullah. He was already competing for playing time and is better at catching the ball than the bigger rookie Dwayne Washington.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons — He’s facing a bad defense that happens to defend tight ends well, but the number of targets he gets (eight per game) is encouraging.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions — He’s taken over as the main receiver in Detroit, having been targeted at least 10 times in each of the first two games. He faces a Packers defense that allowed Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ pass attack to have some success.

Dolphins defense/special teams — They’re facing a Browns offense that’s starting Cody Kessler. Enough said.

Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, right, hits New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after he threw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. Garoppolo was injured on the play and did not return to the game. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, right, hits New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) after he threw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. Garoppolo was injured on the play and did not return to the game. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Sits

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers — He’s getting comfortable in this section as this is the second week in a row I’ve had him sitting. Last week he had just 52 total yards, and this week he faces a Seattle defense that is third in points allowed to running backs.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Mathews rushed just nine times for 32 yards Monday night, but two short touchdowns saved his week. With Carson Wentz doing well through the air, the Eagles aren’t relying on the running game as much.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — He hasn’t carried the ball more than 11 times in a game this year and has to face the Broncos’ defense this week.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defeat the Bengals 24-16. (Doug Kapustin/AP Images for Panini)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defeat the Bengals 24-16. (Doug Kapustin/AP Images for Panini)

Golden Tate, WR, Lions — He’s clearly behind Jones in the pecking order, and Eric Ebron is even finding some success at the tight end spot. Give Tate a seat until he proves he can be productive.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills —If he’s cleared to play, be aware that he won’t be at full strength because of a foot injury. He hasn’t been good so far this year, and he will be facing Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals’ secondary. I’d sit him.

Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns — Things were looking up when Josh McCown was set to play quarterback, but with his injury I’d wait and see on Barnidge.

Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars — He led the Jags in targets in a blowout loss last weekend. The Jags won’t get blown out by the Ravens, and the defense Hurns faces is fifth-best in limiting WR production.

Fantasy football mock draft before dress rehearsal week

It’s dress rehearsal week for NFL teams so we should get a better look at the talent available for upcoming fantasy drafts. Before a majority of those games kicked off, I decided to take another look at where players are going in a mock draft. With a better idea of players average draft positions (ADP), I think I assembled a high value team. There were a couple of missteps along the way, though.

You can see my first mock draft here and my second one here. Here’s what I ended up with this time around, drafting in a 12-team standard league.

  • Round (overall pick)–Player, pos., team
  • 1st (8)–DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
  • 2nd (17)–Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
  • 3rd (32)–Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
  • 4th (41)–Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 5th (56)–Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
  • 6th (65)–Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (80)–Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
  • 8th (89)–Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
  • 9th (104)–Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
  • 10th (113)–Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
  • 11th (128)–DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders
  • 12th (137)–Panthers Defense/special teams
  • 13th (152)–Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (161)–Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 15th (176)–Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
  • 16th (185)–Chris Boswell, K, Steelers

My first four picks went as well as could be expected. I took DeAndre Hopkins with the eighth pick and he’s going one spot higher in most drafts. Ezekiel Elliott was taken seventh, allowing me to snag Hopkins.

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Jamaal Charles was available at No. 17 because someone picking 16th reached for Doug Martin, even though he’s normally taken around the 25th spot.

Taking Keenan Allen with the 32nd pick was very nice since that’s about 10 spots lower than his ADP. Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery and Amari Cooper went ahead of him.

Latavius Murray was my fourth pick, taken six spots after his ADP. He’s expected to do it all for Oakland so I felt comfortable having taken two good WR1s and a proven RB1.

My biggest mistake came in selecting Emmanuel Sanders nearly 20 spots before his ADP. A minute goes by fast so make sure you have the appropriate amount of windows open while drafting online. I missed out on Andrew Luck, Michael Floyd, Frank Gore and Ben Roethlisberger.

Drew Brees and Allen Hurns made me feel better in the next two rounds. Brees was available six spots after his ADP while Hurns was available 20 spots after his. Hurns also started a run of Jaguars for me. Before you judge, let me explain.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Chris Ivory was too good to pass up in the eighth round as he was available 25 (!) spots lower than his ADP. He’s been going as high as the third round. I took Julius Thomas in the 10th round because the tight end pool was getting pretty shallow.

Sandwiched between Ivory and Thomas was rookie Michael Thomas, who is on my sleepers list. I may have reached a bit, but he’s gone as high as the sixth round in some drafts. If he pans out as a WR2, I’ve got the QB-WR link with Brees.

DeAndre Washington serves two purposes as the 128th pick. He’s a handcuff for Murray but could carve out a role for himself as a third-down option.

 

De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With the Panthers defense slipping to 137th, I decided to fill a starting spot with a top-four defense.

After taking Derek Carr at the 152nd spot, a whopping 48 spots lower than his ADP, I took another shot at a sleeper, selecting Tyler Boyd. He’s gone as high as the sixth round, but don’t take him before the 11th. His ADP is early in the 12th.

With my final pick, disregarding the kicker, I decided to go with a steadying influence in Jason Witten. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, I’ll have insurance.

Other notes and trends:

  • DeMarco Murray is clearly on the rise. He went 90th overall in my first mock but leaped to the 37th pick in this one.
  • Jamaal Charles is nearly falling to the middle of the second round. Don’t be afraid to take him late in the first.
  • Alshon Jeffery continues to hold onto second-round status, but injury concerns could cause him to slip to the third.
  • Don’t take Carlos Hyde in the third round or earlier. Either Murray is a better option.
  • The top three Cardinals receivers all went within eight spots of each other, in the late fifth and early sixth rounds.
  • Tyrod Taylor is a sleeper, but someone drafted him in early in the seventh round when he likely would have been available in the 10th.