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 sleepers and lottery tickets

These next two weekends are the busiest in terms of fantasy drafts. It’s time to talk sleepers and lottery tickets.

Sleepers are those players that aren’t really on anyone’s radar, but can come through for you in the late rounds of your draft. Sleepers are all about finding that player who has the potential to significantly out-perform his draft position. You’re not drafting them to be your starters, but you can hope they’ll work their way into your lineup sooner rather than later.

Lottery tickets are players who, frankly, need the starter in front of them to go down with an injury or demotion in order to be productive.

Here’s a look at some of the potentially most productive sleepers and lottery tickets.

Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bill quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.
Looking for sleepers and lottery tickets for your fantasy football draft? Here are six possibilities for 2016 (clockwise, from top left): Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Falcons backup running back Tevin Coleman, Rams receiver Tavon Austin, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas and Bears receiver Kevin White.

SLEEPERS

Kevin White, WR, Bears: He had high expectations before a stress fracture caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He’ll be Chicago’s No. 2 receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, who many fear might not hold up due to his soft tissue injury history. White’s been going around the eighth round in mock drafts, so he could be a WR3/WR4 that produces like a WR2 if things pan out.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: There are quality receivers in New Orleans, but Thomas could end up being worth a later-round pick if he continues to impress like he did in his first preseason game — four catches for 67 yards, though just one catch for five yards in his second game. He’s being drafted in the middle of the 10th round, so if he’s around at that point, you might as well snag him.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: I’m opening myself up for ridicule with this one, but he totaled over 900 yards of offense and had nine touchdowns last season. He’ll be nobody’s first, second or even third option, but it looks like he finally started to find ways to contribute last year. The Rams will need to lean heavy on Todd Gurley and find ways to continue to get the ball into Austin’s hands in a variety of ways. Going typically in the 11th round, you can afford to take a flyer on this guy.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati: Another rookie that could end up contributing meaningful numbers. He’s had three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown so far this preseason. With little reason to believe in Brandon LaFell as a solid No. 2, Boyd could end up being A.J. Green’s lightly covered counterpart. He could be a steal in the 12th round.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) catches a 12-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions defensive back Tavon Wilson (32) defends in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers: He could end up filling the role vacated by Martavis Bryant, who’s suspended this season. Markus Wheaton has had ample opportunity to be the second option behind Antonio Brown, but has been passed up multiple times. Coates has been getting drafted around the 11th round, but you might even be able to get him in the 14th.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: With an ADP around the 10th round, he could be a nice insurance policy for whichever starter you pick before that. He accounted for 24 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards last season while missing two games.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: He’s been pretty consistent his entire career, gaining at least 700 yards every year after his rookie season. If you want to carry a second tight end, he could be had in later rounds. It could be one final solid season from the tight end and a healthy Tony Romo.

Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: Even with Doug Martin’s resurgent season, Sims had more than 1,000 yards of total offense. He’s getting drafted early in the ninth round and could be a nice flex player even with Martin as the lead back.

LOTTERY TICKETS

Tim Hightower, RB, Saints: He was one of the best running backs at the end of last year, gaining 456 total yards and scoring four touchdowns in the final four games. A pick in the 14th round could end up winning you the lottery.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: Thomas Rawls was impressive last season, but 583 of his 803 rushing yards came in just four games. Michael has looked good in the preseason and might just need an opportunity. He’s going in the 10th round, but might be around in the 12th.

Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders: Latavius Murray should be used heavily in Oakland, but Washington has shown flashes in the preseason. He could carve out a nice role for himself, but if Murray goes down, then he could really shine. His ADP is in the 11th, so it shouldn’t be too tough landing this potential lottery ticket.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: It was odd that Atlanta drafted him a year after taking Devonta Freeman. Freeman then went on to have a great year. I’m not sold on Freeman duplicating his early success last season. He rushed for more than 80 yards just twice in the final eight games. He scored just four touchdowns in that span. Coleman should be available in the middle of the ninth round.