Fantasy football owners who expected to bank on the considerable receiving talent on the other end of Tony Romo, Drew Brees, and Jay Cutler’s passes may find themselves in a bit of a conundrum when it comes time to set lineups this week.
Brees and the status of his bruised right rotator cuff remains very unclear before the New Orleans Saints kickoff against a stacked Carolina Panthers defense on the road, hindering receiver Brandin Cooks’ potential in Week 3.
While the Cowboys' Romo and his projected two-month stay on the sidelines puts Terrance Williams’ value under heavy scrutiny, and Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal could also be limited now that inconsistent Jimmy Clausen is expected to take over for Cutler for the next couple of weeks.
But the injuries to some of fantasy’s top quarterbacks could result in some unlikely fantasy heroes as Week 3 gets underway.
Owners can still turn to their benches for some help at wide receiver. However, even if owners are scrambling for a WR1, WR2, or WR3 replacement, some wide outs are far more worthy of a start than others.
So based off their recent play, as well as who they’ll line up against in Week 3, here are four receivers to start and four to sit.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts
With Andre Johnson on the slide and T.Y. Hilton fighting through a knee injury, Moncrief has stepped up as Andrew Luck’s best target. He’s pulled down 13 of his 19 targets for 168 yards and two touchdowns against two very strong Buffalo and N.Y. Jets’ defenses. With running back Frank Gore and the Colts offensive line in shambles, Luck will continue to throw 40-plus times a game, with Moncrief a huge beneficiary in Week 3 against a Tennessee D that’s allowed four touchdowns and 8.0 yards per pass.
Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills
Harvin (hip) was kept out of Wednesday’s practice, but returned as a full participant Thursday. His yards dipped in Week 2 but he was facing an improved New England secondary, whereas this week Harvin meets a Dolphins D that’s allowing 234.5 receiving yards per game, six plays of 20 yards or more through two games, and will be preoccupied with Sammy Watkins. Harvin’s essentially supplanted Robert Woods as Buffalo’s No. 2 receiver, with 10 targets to Woods’ five, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been quite accurate with a 75.5 percent completion rate.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Romo’s absence could hurt Williams with Brandon Weeden now under center, but with Dez Bryant out and Jason Witten also potentially sitting in Week 3, Williams is a must start against Atlanta. The Falcons secondary has given up only three touchdowns, but opposing receivers have also gained 380 yards after the catch against them. Williams and running back Lance Dunbar will be targeted by Weeden a ton this week.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin catches nearly every ball sent his way, totaling 127 yards and a touchdown off 14 receptions from 17 targets. Seattle should get their first win of the season against a Bears D that’s surrendered a league-worst seven receiving touchdowns and hasn’t recorded a single sack.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Allen’s production fell off a cliff in Week 2 and the trend should continue against Minnesota. The Vikings secondary has allowed only two touchdowns and two plays of 20 or more yards, while opposing receivers haven’t generated more than 216 yards after the catch. It’s far more likely San Diego feeds rookie running back Melvin Gordon more attempts against a Vikings rush D giving up 4.9 yards per carry.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
More than half of Matthews’ 182 yards through two games have come after the catch, the problem is Luke McCown could be the one targeting him, not Drew Brees. Secondly, the Eagles face a Jets D that’s already forced 10 total turnovers. And third, the Jets have the rushing attack to keep New Orleans’ and Matthews off the field for extended periods of time. The Saints are currently No. 24 against the run with 259 rushing yards allowed in two games.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jeffery missed Week 2 after testing his hamstring in Week 1, and he was held out of practice the last two days making the likelihood of a return against Seattle’s punishing “Legion of Boom” highly unlikely. But even if Jeffery does play, Jimmy Clausen has connected on a mere 53.2 percent of his passes throughout his career. And Clausen’s the type of quarterback that will quickly turn around Seattle’s glaring lack of interceptions.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Tate draws a Denver D that has yet to give up a single receiving touchdown and has picked off opposing passers four times, tied for the league-lead with New England and the Jets. He’s also snagged only 10 of his 18 targets for 104 yards, and quarterback Matthew Stafford is dealing with a rib injury before facing a Broncos pass rush that’s already racked up 7.0 sacks.