The constant threat of injuries is why you should never stop shopping on the fantasy football waiver wire, and we have already seen that when it comes the wide receiver and tight end positions.
Among wide receivers, guys like Julian Edelman and Cameron Meredith were lost before the season even began, while Odell Beckham Jr. missed the first game and still doesn’t look quite right because of an ankle injury. Allen Robinson, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Corey Coleman are other wideouts who already been bit by injuries.
On the tight end front, Greg Olsen is out for as many as two months with a broken foot, and guys like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert are already ailing to different degrees.
What this means is it’s even more critical that you make sure you have sufficient depth to turn to on your roster when one of your top guys gets hurt. It also makes those start/sit decisions more important. To that end, here are my suggestions at the WR and TE spots for Week 3, along with a quick look back at last week’s advice.
Start Keenan Allen (19 fantasy points) – Allen is still a target monster for the Chargers, catching nine balls for 100 yards.
Sit Jordan Reed (10.8 FP) – The Redskins’ offense continues to struggle and Reed is nowhere near 100 percent healthy.
Start Tyreek Hill (8.9 FP) – Hill should have had a huge day against a weakened Eagles secondary, but the Chiefs didn’t need him with Kareem Hunt doing most of the damage
Sit Alshon Jeffrey (22.2 FP) – Jeffrey wasn’t shadowed by Chiefs CB Marcus Peters, which led to him having a big game. He faces another tough matchup this week against the Giants.
I warned you against starting Jason Witten (25.7 FP). Witten might be old, but he is still super valuable to Dak Prescott and helps move the chains.
START THESE WRs...
Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs. NO)
Cam Newton has really struggled to start the season, bringing down Benjamin’s fantasy value. So what’s going to change? How about a matchup against a Saints defense that is giving up the most PPR points (46.4 per game) to wide receivers? Look for Benjamin to see his targets (and fantasy points) increase this week against the Saints, especially with Greg Olsen out.
DeVante Paker, MIA (at NYJ)
Parker ascended the ranks of 2017 breakout candidates the way he and Jay Cutler performed in the preseason. The magic continued last week where Parker was targeted eight times, catching four passes for 85 yards. Look for Parker to see more volume this week and even get in the end zone as the Jets have already allowed five TD passes through two games.
Terrelle Pryor, WAS (vs. OAK)
Anyone who reached for Pryor in their fantasy drafts has to be really disappointed so far. But don’t lost faith. Pryor leads Redskins receivers in both snap percentage (78) and targets (15). This will be the week that Pryor finally has a good fantasy game. The Raiders allowed two touchdowns to the Jets’ Jermaine Kearse last week and this matchup should feature plenty of offense.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Rishard Higgins, CLE (at IND)
Corey Coleman is out with a broken hand, and Kenny Britt (five targets, two receptions and 15 yards through two weeks) is entrenched in what I can only describe as a money coma. Enter Higgins, who led Cleveland by a wide margin in targets (11), receptions (seven) and yards (95) in Week 2 and appears to have a hold on the No. 1 role in an offense that has thrown the ball 72 times through two weeks. The volume alone makes him a strong waiver wire pickup for the season, but in terms of Week 3, there is considerable upside against a Colts defense that has already given up a pair of top-10 scoring outings to the likes of Cooper Kupp and J.J. Nelson.
SIT THESE WRs...
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs. DAL, Mon.)
Dealing with a declining Carson Palmer and an offense that is suddenly one-dimensional after the loss of David Johnson, Fitz finished as the WR21 in Week 1 and then WR69 in a tremendous matchup against the Colts in Week 2. He’s still likely to have volume on his side, and thus should be treated as someone with a WR3 floor, but if you’re looking for upside, it’s difficult to trust anyone in this offense right now, even at home against an inconsistent Dallas secondary.
Alshon Jeffrey, PHI (vs. NYG)
While Jeffrey had a big game last week (22.2 FP) against a tough Kansas City defense, he’s expected to line up against New York Giants stud and true shutdown corner Janoris Jenkins. With Jenkins out of the Giants lineup last week, this defense was still tough to throw on. Getting him back bodes well for New York and not so much for Jeffery and the Eagles.
Jeremy Maclin, BAL (vs. JAC, London)
It wasn't a fluke in Week 1 when Jacksonville was fast and dominant against the pass. The Jaguars have a real pass defense, which should frustrate opposing offenses throughout the season. The rush defense, though, is a different story, meaning the Ravens would be better off running the football rather than airing it out. That will spell trouble for Maclin. Maclin has two touchdowns already this season, but he's plagued by a lack of targets. He has only nine targets, which have turned into six receptions and 87 yards. That's just not enough volume to trust his output against a Jaguars defense that is much improved from years past.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Demaryius Thomas, DEN (at BUF)
Despite Trevor Siemian's big Week 2 performance, I'm not trusting him in his first road game of the season against a defense that has hounded quarterbacks to the tune of seven sacks in two games. The Bills are allowing the fifth-fewest yards per catch this season, so the Broncos will have to earn it. This game should be a low-scoring affair, meaning Thomas likely won't find the end zone. That's problematic for his fantasy owners. He needs touchdowns to garner his true value. The Broncos don't have enough firepower to give Thomas enough receptions to produce monster yardage games.
START THESE TEs...
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. TB)
As you would expect, Rudolph struggled (only 8.5 PPR points) with Sam Bradford out. The good news is that with Case Keenum under center, he saw a team-high six targets. Even if Keenum starts, Rudolph should remain a focal point of the Vikings’ offense. Especially because the position is so thin right now, that you would be hard-pressed to find a suitable replacement.
Jason Witten, DAL (vs. ARI, Mon.)
Witten is playing like he has found the fountain of youth. He leads all tight ends in fantasy points, targets and catches after the first two weeks. The fantasy points should keep on coming this week against a Cardinals defense that somehow allowed 15.9 PPR points to Jack Doyle (with Jacboy Brisset throwing him the ball) last week.
Jack Doyle, IND (vs. CLE)
Jacoby Brissett’s first start as a Colt resulted in eight targets, eight receptions and 79 yards for Doyle, who was by far the team’s most productive offensive player on the day. That might say a little bit more about the Colts’ offense than it does Doyle, but he nonetheless looked great and showed a strong rapport with Brissett. Now Doyle gets to face a Browns defense that was burned for six catches, 41 yards and two touchdowns by Jesse James in Week 1 (finished as the overall TE1) and eight catches for 91 yards by Ben Watson in Week 2 (overall TE4). With so much volatility at the position, Doyle’s an easy start in Week 3.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Austin Hooper, ATL (at DET)
Hopefully you didn’t fall for Hooper’s “huge” Week 1, where he scored 20.28 PPR points. He was lucky as one his two catches was for a long touchdown. In Week 2, he came crashing back down to earth, catching two passes for just seven yards (that’s good for 2.7 PPR points). However, this week is a good matchup for Hooper, as he takes on a Lions defense that allowed a touchdown and 14.7 PPR points to Evan Engram on Monday night.
SIT THESE TEs...
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at TEN)
After two weeks, Graham has fewer catches (four) than Maxx Williams and DeAndre Washington, and fewer yards (nine) than Seattle’s third-string tight end, Nick Vannett. He has had a couple of bad drops, but the Seahawks also have been unable to take many deep shots downfield behind a putrid offensive line. It would be surprising if Graham didn’t get it together at some point, but after basically being shut out two weeks in a row, I’m going to need to see it happen before he gets back in any lineup. He also may end up not playing as head coach Pete Carroll said Graham is dealing with an ankle injury.
Tyler Eifert, CIN (at GB)
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, Eifert is injured. This time he’s dealing with back and knee injuries, which have really caused him to struggle this season. He has only five targets so far. Things don’t get any easier this week against a Packers defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Cameron Brate, TB (at MIN)
Remember when Brate was the breakout tight end of the year last year when he scored eight touchdowns? Well, so far this year, he’s been nearly invisible and is losing more and more snaps to rookie O.J. Howard. Now, Brate gets to face a tough Vikings defense that last season allowed only four total touchdown passes to tight ends.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Antonio Gates, SD (vs. KC)
Gates finally broke the NFL record for most touchdowns by a tight end last week. Congratulations! Now Gates can step aside at let Hunter Henry ascend to the top of the tight end throne in San Diego. Henry should see his role increase moving forward, diminishing Gates’ value. Gates also faces a tough task this week going up against a stout Kansas City defense.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.