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Week 3 Free Agent Focus

By Alex Korff | Updated on Thu, 13 Jul 2023 . 2:28 PM EDT

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars

Blind-bid recommendation: 5-8%

After tossing 3 TDs in the opener, Minshew went for 3 more -- along with 339 yards -- in Sunday's loss to the Titans. He’s continued to add value with his legs as well, rushing for 19 yards in each of the first 2 games of the season.

Minshew will be a nice Week 3 spot starter vs. a Dolphins defense that’s coughed up big fantasy games to Cam Newton and Josh Allen. And after that come games at Cincinnati, at Houston and back home against Detroit. That could be 4 more starter-level fantasy turns before his Week 7 bye.

Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals

Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

The Bengals have called pass on 66% of their plays through 2 games. That’s helped Burrow to 509 yards and 3 TDs. The rookie has added another 65 yards and a score on the ground.

He’ll be a borderline Week 3 spot starter at Philadelphia and a nice option in Week 4 at home for the Jaguars. Burrow is probably already owned in the leagues of most of you reading this, but he remains available in 55% of ESPN leagues.

Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers

Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

The rookie completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in the OT loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. He added 18 yards and another score on the ground. With rushing upside and a nice group of pass-catchers, Herbert will be a spot-start option in favorable matchups.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Chargers HC Anthony Lynn said after Sunday's game that the job still belongs to Taylor when he's "100 percent." That could open the door, though, for sticking with Herbert in a Week 3 clash with Carolina if Taylor's not all the way back from his chest injury. Of course, it would seem to behoove the coach to move forward with the rookie if further review of Sunday's game increases the staff's confidence.

At the least, this job should belong to the 1st-round pick soon.

Joshua Kelley, RB, Chargers

Blind-bid recommendation: 40-55%

Despite his 12-60-1 rushing line in the opener, Kelley remains available in 74% of ESPN leagues. He carried a whopping 23 times vs. Kansas City in Week 2 — and even added 2 catches on 3 targets.

Los Angeles running 79 offensive plays in a game that went to OT helped. But it’s clear that Kelley is a big part of this Chargers offense. He should be owned in pretty much every fantasy league.

Mike Davis, RB, Panthers

Blind-bid recommendation: 25-30%

Christian McCaffrey left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and is now expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Davis stepped in to snag 8 of 8 targets for 74 yards, with 7 of them surfacing over the Panthers’ final 2 drives.

Week 3 finds the Panthers visiting a Chargers defense that has played well so far, but Davis should control the backfield touches for as long as McCaffrey's out. And the following 2 weeks hold upside scoring matchups with Arizona and Atlanta. If McCaffrey misses the full 6, then Davis would also get the 2nd Falcons meeting in Week 8.

The timetable for McCaffrey's return makes Davis a stronger option than Henderson

Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams

Blind-bid recommendation: 20-25%

It’ll take more than 1 good game to make Henderson a trustworthy fantasy start. But we obviously can’t just leave him unowned after he led Rams’ backfield in carries (12, vs. Malcolm Brown’s 11), ran for 81 yards and a TD and caught 2 passes for 40 yards in the win over the Eagles. A rib injury for Cam Akers only adds immediate upside to Henderson. We'll see whether Akers will miss more time.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, 49ers

Blind-bid recommendation: 20-25%

McKinnon was out-carried 14 to 3 by Tevin Coleman in Sunday's game, which Raheem Mostert left early. But McKinnon ripped off 77 yards and a score, while Coleman trudged to 12 yards. McKinnon has also reached the end zone in each game so far. So he should be in for role expansion going forward anyway.

San Francisco's injury situation figures to accelerate that this Sunday, though. Mostert is expected to sit with his MCL sprain. And now Coleman is expected to miss "multiple weeks" with his own knee sprain. McKinnon will split work with Jeff Wilson, who had 4 games of 10+ carries over the past 2 seasons after other Niners RBs went down.

This could be an opportunity for McKinnon to prove to Kyle Shanahan that he deserves more touches the rest of the way -- or to show us that he won't see any more than a limited role.

Dion Lewis, RB, Giants

Blind-bid recommendation: 10-15%

Lewis took over as New York’s lead back Sunday after Saquon Barkley’s injury, carrying 10 times for 20 yards and a score and catching 4 of 5 targets for 36 yards. RB Wayne Gallman was a healthy scratch for this one but figures to be involved going forward. The Giants might also add a free-agent back such as Devonta Freeman. But, for now, Lewis looks like the best bet for fantasy production in this backfield. Just don’t expect him to be a difference maker.

Russell Gage, WR, Falcons

Blind-bid recommendation: 12-15%

After hauling in 9 of 12 targets for 114 yards in the opener, Gage posted a 6-46-1 line on 9 targets in Sunday's loss at Dallas. And that came on just 36 Matt Ryan pass attempts. It’s also worth noting that WR Julio Jones dealt with an ankle injury throughout this game. Gage, however, is looking like he could at least be in WR4/flex consideration all year in 1 of the league's most pass-happy offenses.

Laviska Shenault, WR, Jaguars

Blind-bid recommendation: 5-10%

We highlighted him here last week, but Shenault remains available in 87% of ESPN leagues. He was busy in Sunday's loss to the Titans, catching 3 of 4 targets and carrying 5 times for 37 yards. The rookie’s role might just continue to grow.

Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WRs, Packers

Blind-bid recommendation: 5-10%

These guys will become much more interesting if Davante Adams’ hamstring injury forces him to miss more time. Lazard tallied just 45 yards on 3 catches Sunday but posted a 4-63-1 line in the opener. Valdes-Scantling followed his 96-yard, 1-TD Week 1 with 64 yards on 3 grabs in Week 2.

Logan Thomas, TE, Washington

Blind-bid recommendation: 8-12%

He tallied just 26 yards on 4 catches in Week 2, but Thomas saw another 9 targets. That brings him to 17 through 2 games. If that type of usage continues, he’ll be in weekly fantasy-starter consideration. Thomas remains available in 90% of ESPN leagues.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys

Blind-bid recommendation: 3-8%

Here’s why we were so high on Blake Jarwin this season. In Dallas’ 1st game of the year without Jarwin, Schultz racked up 9 catches for 88 yards and a score. His 10 targets led the team. That won’t happen often — but the Cowboys’ high-flying offense will give Schultz a lofty weekly ceiling.

Jordan Akins, TE, Texans

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3%

Akins led Houston with 7 receptions in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, catching all 7 of his targets and tallying 55 yards. That followed a Week 1 in which he nearly doubled the playing time of teammate Darren Fells and more than tripled Fells’ routes (33-10). Akins has taken over as Houston’s lead TE. Week 3 sports a tough TE matchup with Pittsburgh, but Noah Fant just posted a 4-57-1 line against the Steelers this week.

Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Colts

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3%

Alie-Cox took full advantage of Jack Doyle's and Trey Burton’s absences Sunday, turning 6 targets into 5 catches for 111 yards. We’ll see when Doyle and Burton return from their injuries (Burton is out at least 1 more game). But Alie-Cox might have just forced his way into a big role the rest of the way.

Deep League Options:

Jeff Driskel, QB, Broncos

Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

He played well in relief of Drew Lock against a tough Steelers defense. Driskel completed 18 of 34 passes for 256 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. He ran for just 5 yards but has upside beyond that. Driskel has averaged 29 rushing yards over 8 career starts.

With Lock expected to miss 2-6 weeks, Driskel is worth owning in 2-QB and superflex leagues.

Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins

Blind-bid recommendation: 15-20%

So Gaskin's busy Week 1 wasn’t an aberration. He tied for the team lead with 7 carries and racked up 7 targets in Sunday's loss to the Bills. Gaskin totaled 82 yards. We’d still rather just avoid this Miami backfield all together. But Gaskin is at least worth owning in deeper fantasy leagues.

Jeff Wilson, RB, 49ers

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3%

The 49ers don't expect to have Raheem Mostert available for Week 3. They're awaiting MRI results on Tevin Coleman's knee injury. If both sit out against the Giants, then Wilson would at least challenge Jerick McKinnon for the lead ball-carrying role -- and quite possibly lead him.

Wilson came on at the end of Sunday's win over the Jets after Mostert and Coleman had each left. He also scored 4 rushing TDs over weeks 2 and 3 last season after Coleman went down in the opener. And Wilson logged games of 15, 23 and 11 carries back in 2018 as an undrafted rookie. Shanahan clearly likes him to some degree.

Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-5%

The rookie isn’t yet a fantasy option. But it’s worth noting that he’s already ascended to #3 on Cincinnati’s WR depth chart, playing 65% of the snaps in Thursday night’s loss to the Browns. An injury to A.J. Green or Tyler Boyd would make Higgins an intriguing fantasy play in what’s been a pass-heavy Bengals offense.

Damiere Byrd, WR, Patriots

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-5%

Byrd posted a 6-72 line in Sunday night's loss to the Seahawks. He benefitted from QB Cam Newton chucking it 44 times -- a level he won't reach often. But Byrd's 9 targets ranked 3rd on the team and were a solid 20.5% of Newton's total. That type of target share would make Byrd a spot-start option in deeper leagues.

Drew Sample, TE, Bengals

Blind-bid recommendation: 5-8%

C.J. Uzomah’s season-ending Achilles' tear on Thursday night elevates Sample to the top of the depth chart. He caught just 46 balls across 4 college seasons and just 5 as a rookie last year. But Sample goes 6’5, 255 pounds with above-average athleticism. And the Bengals took him in the 2nd round just last year. QB Joe Burrow has targeted his TEs 21 times (21.6% share) over his first 2 games. That includes 9 throws to Sample in Thursday night’s loss to the Browns.

Jordan Reed, TE, 49ers

Blind-bid recommendation: 2-3%

Stepping in for the injured George Kittle, Reed caught 7 balls for 50 yards and a pair of scores in Sunday's win over the Jets. Kittle is reportedly iffy for Week 3, so Reed could at least be a spot starter in a plus matchup vs. the Giants.

Alex Korff Author Image
Alex Korff, Product Manager
Alex is an engineer by trade and focuses a lot on the game theory and the “value” of players. He spends most of his time in spreadsheets and building new fantasy football tools.
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