Week 2 of the NFL season was a mixed bag for weekly fantasy football league players. It was loaded with injuries, a couple of wild comebacks, the fall-from-grace of several high-profile players, and sprinkled in some sleeper performances.
But it really marked the return of several top performers to the fantasy fold and elite players at multiple positions created more separation from the pack to give weekly-league owners a much clearer idea of who they should target when it comes time to draft or auction prior to Week 3.
Specifically, no matter which weekly-league platform owners are using, the quarterback and running back positions should be much easier to pick in Week 3 and beyond.
At quarterback, the Patriots’ Tom Brady and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger have cemented themselves as the two best in the league and in fantasy this season. Brady’s gunned ahead for the league-lead in touchdown passes and yards, while Roethlisberger’s connecting on an incredible 72.3 percent of his passes, each sailing an average of 11.08 yards per attempt.
And the Minnesota Vikings rightly decided to run their offense around running back Adrian Peterson, resulting in the rusher’s 134 yards off 29 attempts and two receptions for another 58 yards. The 30-year-old clearly has his legs back and should reach pay dirt for the first time this season when the Vikings host San Diego, a defense that’s allowed 244 rushing yards through two games.
At receiver and tight end, there was no movement from last week’s rankings with the Steelers Antonio Brown and the Falcons Julio Jones continuing to burn opposing secondarys, and the Patriots Rob Gronkowski snagging his league-best fourth touchdown of the year.
But as Week 3 approaches, there are still some questions in the FLEX and Defense (D/ST) rankings, with several intriguing matchups coming our way and no players truly standing head and shoulders above the rest. Especially at D/ST, with only eight teams managing to keep opponents below 20 points through two games, and even those squads (Carolina, Washington, Cincinnati, Miami, Dallas, and Minnesota, with Denver being the only exception) have yet to face a top flight offense.
Several stars fell out of our weekly rankings either due to injury, a lackluster Week 2 performance, or just a bad matchup in Week 3. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s out for eight weeks, the status of New Orleans' Drew Brees remains murky, while the Ravens Joe Flacco meets a 2-0 Bengals defense that’s picked him off 18 times in his career.
Bears running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett each slip out of the top five because of Chicago’s uncertainty at quarterback thanks to Jay Cutler’s injury and Jimmy Clausen’s rise to the starting lineup, while Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins suffers with no true quarterback to feed him.
Keep all that in mind before selecting you lineups this week, and here are our players to target for Week 3’s weekly leagues, broken down and ranked by position.
1.Tom Brady, Patriots
2.Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
3.Peyton Manning, Broncos
4.Carson Palmer, Cardinals
5.Andy Dalton, Bengals
Brady gets to pick apart the Jags, while Roethlisberger has a tougher matchup against St. Louis’s on-again off-again D. Manning draws a Lions secondary that’s allowed 539 passing yards and a 108.1 opposing passer rating.
1.Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2.Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
3.Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
4.Alfred Morris, Redskins
5.Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Lynch clashes with a Bears D coughing up 4.3 yards a carry and 124 rushing yards per game with Seattle opening up its home schedule. Bell comes back from his suspension to make Pittsburgh’s attack even more lethal, while Morris meets a struggling Giants D on Thursday night. Charles should also burn a Packers D that’s getting smothered by 5.3 yards per carry from opposing rushers.
1.Antonio Brown, Steelers
2.Julio Jones, Falcons
3.Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
4.Julian Edelman, Patriots
5.Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Sanders benefits as Manning’s top target, 26 passes his way compared to Demaryius Thomas’ 25, while Edelman’s on pace for more than 170 receptions and can carve up the Jags' No.-20 pass defense.
1.Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2.Tyler Eifert, Bengals
3.Travis Kelce, Chiefs
4.Greg Olsen, Panthers
5.Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
No real movement in the top three, but Olsen makes his first appearance in our rankings after bouncing back from a poor Week 1 to snag six balls off 14 targets for 70 yards. Olsen should torch New Orleans’ weaker D, and Rudolph leads all Vikings with 14 targets and their only receiving touchdown.
1.Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
2.Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
3,Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
4.Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
5.Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
Bernard reminded everyone that he’s not just Jeremy Hill’s backup, though he does have a difficult test against Baltimore in Week 3. Ebron’s caught a touchdown in two straight games and has only three fewer targets than Detroit’s No. 2 receiver Golden Tate. Gordon is a force worth up to 10 to 12 points every week, while Murray faces a Browns D that’s last in the league with 320 rushing yards allowed.
Seattle will not go 0-3, especially against Clausen and the Bears. New England may struggle against the Jags rush, but will wreak havoc on Blake Bortles. The Cardinals return home and face an inconsistent 49ers offense marred by a banged up Carlos Hyde, while the Bills should come back to form against a Miami offense averaging just 18.5 points and an o-line that’s allowed 5.0 sacks through two games.