Now that we've finished processing the various performances of week two, it is time to examine players such as Andre Brown, Mikel Leshoure and Donnie Avery who have not previously appeared in your starting lineups, but now might provide a scoring boost if you choose to use them in week three.
They are among this week’s sleepers, who are either players that were drafted toward the latter half of your fantasy drafts, or spent time residing on your leagues’ waiver wires until this week. Either way, a combination of their ability and their specific week three matchups have propelled them into a position to enhance your scoring total, should you decide to start them.
With that, here are the sleepers for week three:
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Raiders
The Raiders have massive talent deficiencies on both sides of the ball, and the CB position is one of the most glaring areas of weakness. That was the case before former starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer both succumbed to injury. Now? Oakland is forced to utilize career backups such as Pat Lee and Joselio Hansen in starting roles. Middling WRs Brian Hartline and Robert Meechem have been more than the Silver and Black corners could handle in the first two games, with Hartline collecting nine passes for 111 yards in week two. Now, they must line up against Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, and the scenario could not possibly be better for owners of Roethlisberger. Factor in an overworked defensive line that has only registered two sacks, and you have a must start situation.
Andre Brown vs. Panthers
This week, Brown is transforming from a backup who was owned by less than 1% of all fantasy owners to a highly coveted roster addition. Especially for those who drafted Ahmad Bradshaw, and thought they had protected themselves from his potential absence by securing David Wilson. The Giants RB script was altered significantly when Wilson became cemented firmly in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. Then, Bradshaw suffered a neck injury while performing against Tampa Bay and Brown was anointed as his replacement. He then burst for 71 yards and a score on 13 carries (5.5 YPC) against the Buccaneers. Brown has worn five different uniforms since 2009, and had just two career rushing attempts prior to week two. So you should be realistic about his long term value. But he has an exceptional opportunity to deliver high quality production this week, when he faces Carolina’s 28th ranked run defense, that has yielded 146.5 YPG. If you get him, start him. Just remember that the Giants and Panthers will engage on Thursday Night.
Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Chargers
If Michael Turner's ineffectiveness did not provide the Falcons with sufficient reason to increase Rodgers' workload, maybe Turner's DUI could change how Atlanta distributes touches to both backs. Turner has only managed a 2.6 YPC average, after rushing for an anemic 74 yards on 28 attempts. That is the lowest average of his career by 1.5 yards, and appears to be a clear signal that his time as a useful fantasy back has concluded. The 2012 version of Turner is certainly not a good fit for the high octane offense that Atlanta can generate. Even though he has only been allotted 12 touches this season, Rodgers appears to be more compatible back with how the Falcons are attempting to move downfield. But buyer beware… if the team chooses to also enhance Jason Snelling’s role, this situation would evolve into an unwanted three way time share involving Snelling, Rodgers and Turner. If so, then you should not be starting any of them.
Mikel Leshoure vs. Titans
We just might receive our first look at Leshoure this week, after a torn Achilles and two game suspension delayed his appearance. If Leshoure were not returning, then Joique Bell would qualify as week three sleeper in his own right, even though he has only generated 15 yards on seven carries. But he also generated 59 receiving yards, and scored a rushing TD in week one. While it is doubtful that Bell carved out a continual role as a short yardage back, his employment did indicate that Kevin Smith is not firmly entrenched as Detroit’s unquestioned feature back. Bell also provided a certain level of toughness to Detroit’s rushing attack, which Leshoure should now deliver. All of which is your cue to consider Leshoure for an appealing matchup this week. Monitor updates about the Lions’ backfield closely as Sunday approaches. But if he becomes involved in the offense, he will accumulate fantasy points against the 30th ranked Tennessee run defenders. And his value should only improve as the season progresses.
Donnie Avery vs. Jaguars
Avery’s nine receptions for 111 yards in week two have thrust him into a certain level of prominence, and propelled him into consideration as a starter when Indianapolis hosts Jacksonville. He was also targeted 10 times by Andrew Luck, and is second on the Colts with 18 after two weeks. Avery is in his fourth year, and his season best totals in receptions (53) and yardage (674) were both achieved as a rookie in 2008. But he is in a good position now to exceed those numbers. The potential of Austin Collie swooping in and diminishing Avery’s role does exist. However, Avery is currently a viable starting option. And if you are in need of a WR3 this week, he supplies you with a sneaky play that could pay dividends.
Andrew Hawkins vs. Redskins
In week one, Hawkins collected eight passes for 86 yards against Baltimore. In week two, his reception total decreased significantly, as he caught just two. However, one of those grabs became an impressive 50-yard TD. He only participated in 32 snaps against Cleveland in week two, which is a concern. But he will line up against a Washington pass defense that ranks a lowly 31st , and is surrendering 311 YPG. The Redskins have also allowed more TDs through the air than any other team (six). Hawkins’ appealing matchup dictates that you can start him confidently, if you are in need of a scoring boost at WR3.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Raiders
The Raiders sub-par secondary will be unable to contain Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, as was mentioned previously. But the lack of talent in Oakland’s secondary will also present an appealing matchup for Sanders. He should be running freely in three receiver sets, and can collect receptions from Roethlisberger whenever Big Ben chooses to locate him. While he currently has caught just seven passes for 89 yards, Sanders could match his season totals on Sunday. He is only the third best wideout on his own team, so the high risk / high reward scenario certainly applies. But he can be employed as a WR3, particularly in deep leagues, because he has been supplied with an exceptional opportunity to generate fantasy points.
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Titans
Even though he managed to garner a TD very late in Detroit's week two encounter with San Francisco, he has amassed a grand total of eight receptions in two games. And he has averaged 47.5 yards, including all of 18 against the 49ers. But on Sunday, he will line up against a Tennessee defense that has already allowed five TDs to TEs this season, including three by Dante Rosario in week two. Expect Pettigrew to easily deliver his most productive game of the year, which should include a TD. He should absolutely be in all lineups.
Lions vs. Titans
Tennessee also has significant problems on offense, ranking just 31st overall, while averaging 248 YPG. The Titans are 22nd in passing (219 YPG) as Jake Locker’s 77.6 QB rating speaks volumes. They are also dead last in rushing with an absolutely unfathomable 29 YPG. Which brings us to one Mr. Chris Johnson. He has produced virtually nothing - 29 yards to be exact - as any Johnson owner is already fully aware. Among the 70 players who have generated more rushing yardage on the ground, the notables include Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and even teammate Locker. This is an amazing opportunity for the 10th ranked Lions, who should overwhelm their overmatched opponent, and deliver excellent results for fantasy owners.