Fantasy managers may have some tough lineup decisions heading into Week 3. As expected by this point of the season, plenty of players are on the injury report and some are already on the IR. If you are looking for a San Francisco running back, good luck, as they all seem to be banged up in some form. Some of the players in this column are listed because of other injuries to players on their team or their own injuries.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
Fields has been named the Week 3 starter as Andy Dalton is dealing with a bone bruise on his knee. Fields provided a spark in Week 1, but when he filled in for Dalton in Week 2, his passing wasn’t great. He did, however, run for 31 yards. The Bears face the Browns in Week 3, and Fields now has had a week of practice with the starters and he can go into the game with the mindset that he will be playing, rather than hoping he’ll come off the bench. Fields’ rushing numbers alone make him a solid QB2 with QB1 potential – much higher than his No. 23 ranking.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons
Barkley was drafted as an RB1, but after the first two weeks, some fantasy managers are debating sitting him until he can prove himself. Don’t sit him this week. The Giants face the Falcons, which should be a great matchup for Barkley. He’s had extra time to rest because the Giants played on Thursday night last week. Yes, he’s still recovering from last season’s ACL injury, and yes, he has missed plenty of practice time, but he doesn’t need practice to play. Barkley should perform better than his No. 17 ranking this week.
Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Week 2, Darrell Henderson Jr. suffered a rib injury. He left in the fourth quarter and Michel stepped in. Despite still being new to the team, Michel managed 10 carries, which he turned into 46 yards. In New England, Michel was capable of being a workhorse. While that’s not going to be the case with Henderson in the picture, if he were to miss time, Michel would be a solid RB2. For Week 3, it does seem like Henderson may play, but he may have more of a limited role while dealing with a ribs injury. Bump Michel up from his No. 31 ranking.
Quintez Cephus, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Ravens
Tyrell Williams was placed on IR, which opens the door for Cephus to take on a bigger role. Cephus has seven targets in each of the first two games. He also has scored a touchdown in each of the first two games. While the touchdown rate isn’t sustainable, he is someone that Jared Goff is looking to in the red zone. Goff relied on Cooper Kupp when he was in Los Angeles, and perhaps Cephus might start to fill a similar role for him. In PPR formats especially, Cephus should finish higher than his No. 61 ranking.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns vs. Chicago Bears
In Week 2, Jarvis Landry suffered an injury to his MCL. Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to play in a game, and the best-case scenario for Week 3 is he is elevated to being a game-time decision. Baker Mayfield is going to need someone to throw the ball to, and that just might be Hooper. In Week 2, Hooper had the most targets on the team with five. He caught all five of those for 40 yards. Look for him to be more involved in the offense in Week 3, especially if Beckham is out. Hooper is ranked No. 18 but should exceed that.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts
After a slow start in Week 1, Tannehill broke 300 yards in Week 2. He had 347 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but he did throw the ball 40 times. In Week 1, he had a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown (but he also had an interception). Derrick Henry came back to life in Week 2, which meant that Tannehill didn’t have to do as much. That should be the case in Week 3 as well, against the Colts. Indianapolis may struggle to put up points, so Tannehill may not be needed to throw the ball as much, making his No. 9 ranking a bit high.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints
No one is expecting Harris to be an RB1 this week, but being ranked No. 13 seems awfully high. Harris is coming off a good Week 2: 62 rushing yards and a touchdown with one reception for two yards. It wasn’t quite his 100-yard day from Week 1, but he also didn’t fumble the ball, so fantasy managers (and Bill Belichick) should breathe a sigh of relief. However, he is dealing with a finger injury. This may not be a new injury, but it’s not ideal when the Patriots face a tough Saints run defense. Harris will have better games throughout the season, but this may not be one of the good ones.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Johnson has been a target hog this year, with 10 in Week 1 and 12 in Week 2. He caught five of his Week 1 targets for 36 yards and a touchdown. Last Sunday, he caught nine passes for 105 yards. However, he did suffer a knee injury at the end of the game and he appears to be very questionable to play in Week 3. Ben Roethlisberger also is dealing with an injury, although he is likely to play. Between both injured players, it’s hard to trust Johnson at No. 31 for the week, assuming he is active.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Carson Wentz somehow managed to injure BOTH ankles in Week 2, making him extremely unlikely to play in Week 3. As of this writing, he has not been ruled out, but it does not seem that he is not expected to play. With a combination of Jacob Eason and Brett Hundley at quarterback, it would be a surprise if Pittman managed to get to his No. 39 ranking. Pittman started the season slow in Week 1, but had a great Week 2 with eight receptions for 123 yards. He likely won’t get that in Week 3.
Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints
When both Hunter Henry and Smith are active, neither one can be trusted for fantasy. While it is certainly possible one of them may have a big game, it hasn’t happened yet. In Week 1, Smith had a 5/42/0 stat line and Henry was 3/31/0. In Week 2, Smith’s stat line was 4/28/0 and Henry’s was 2/42/0. Neither is putting up good numbers. While Smith has had more targets, he hasn’t done a lot with them. Smith is ranked No. 13, but as long as Henry is there, he should fall below that.
Week 2 Full Disclosure
Up (2/5 correct)
- Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 15, Finished: 18)
- Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders (Ranked: 37, Finished: 26)
- Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns (Ranked: 40, Finished: 102, injured)
- Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (Ranked: 13, Finished: 28)
- Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos (Ranked: 11, Finished: 7)
Down (3/5 correct)
- Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (Ranked: 5, Finished: 22)
- Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Ranked: 9, Finished: 8)
- Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens (Ranked: 35, Finished: 7)
- Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers (Ranked: 71, Finished: 108)
- Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (Ranked: 10, Finished: 20)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.