Marcas Grant's 2021 NFL Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 3
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is unclear on the concept of “off days.” Send him your leisure time struggles or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.
I’ve been lucky enough to last 10 years at NFL Media. I’ve been able to work on a lot of different things and write many different columns. Last season, I wrote the weekly waiver wire offerings. Instead of just promoting a list of names with analysis, it was a weird, slightly emo dive into the weekly timeline of building a fantasy football roster.
What was a fantasy football column on the surface was a cleverly (?) disguised attempt at self-care. Trapped inside during a pandemic wondering if the football season would play out to completion turns out to be a stressful thing. Writing about the mundane things that kept me going day-to-day was helpful. I was reminded of it recently by a reader who asked if I planned to do the same thing with this year’s sleepers column.
The short answer is no. Last year was a moment in time that deserved to be memorialized but not repeated. But that doesn’t mean this season’s work can’t be another chance to consciously promote multiple forms of well-being … not just the health of your fantasy roster.
And if you’re not into that? Cool. There will still be plenty of names and analysis for you to scroll through. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that we’re all in this together. Let’s be entertained. More importantly, let’s be happy and healthy.
On to the fantasy!
Someone somewhere will take umbrage with my characterization of Daniel Jones as a sleeper. Sometimes self-care means not stressing about the unheard opinions of straw men created as an opener for a bit of fantasy analysis. Year Three has gotten off to a strong start for Danny Dimes. The biggest reason is that he’s protecting the football.
Daniel Jones:TOs :: Chicken:Waffles
Yep, that tweet hasn’t aged well. I put it there before any of you could rat me out to Old Takes Exposed. Through two games, Jones has no interceptions and just one fumble. That’s remarkable for a quarterback who handed out turnovers like they were Halloween candy. This week, Jones and the Giants take aim at a Falcons defense that has held up as well as a tissue in a washing machine.
While we’ve lighted upon the Giants roster, it’s a good time to look in Evan Engram ‘s direction. His slow fade from fantasy relevance culminated in him being ignored by drafters this summer. A calf injury that prevented him from playing in the first two games hasn’t helped. Yet things are trending in the right direction. There is optimism that Engram could be on the field for Week 3. If so, he faces a defense that has allowed a top-six tight end in each of the first two weeks. Streamers, take note!
Last week in this space, I wrote that “what we wish for and what we get are frequently not the same.” This week, that applies to **Latavius Murray** . Fantasy managers who were hot and bothered after snagging Ty’Son Williams off waivers were dismayed to see Murray used heavily in the second half of Baltimore’s Week 1 loss. The Era of Bad Feelings continued into Week 2 when Murray played 25 snaps and scored a rushing touchdown. The naked eye sees Williams as the more explosive back. Nonetheless, the Ravens haven’t hidden that they plan to use multiple runners. That should put the veteran Murray on your radar this week against Detroit. The Lions helped Elijah Mitchell gain prominence in Week 1 before being poleaxed by Aaron Jones on Monday night.
Cordarrelle Patterson is fantasy football’s answer to the duck-billed platypus. He’s a little bit kick returner and a little bit running back – all while wearing a wide receiver number. Also like the platypus, Patterson isn’t found in many places. He’s widely available in NFL.com leagues. He’s been adaptable and is thriving in a new environment. Much to the chagrin of Mike Davis’ managers. Patterson is closing the gap in snap share and general usage. The matchup might not look spectacular on paper, but Patterson’s added usage as a receiver makes him an intriguing flex start. There is one difference between Patterson and a platypus we should consider. The furry web-footed critter lays eggs. Let’s hope its NFL parallel does not.
Until further notice, Jalen Reagor will have to endure uncomfortable comparisons to Justin Jefferson. That chasm remains Grand Canyon-esque, but the Eagles receiver has shown signs of life early in the 2021 season. He’s second on the Eagles roster in targets and tied with DeVonta Smith for the team lead in receptions. Reagor scored a touchdown in the season opener against Atlanta and very nearly had a long scoring catch against the 49ers in Week 2. We didn’t get the expected fireworks from the Cowboys and Chargers, but that doesn’t mean we’re shying away from targeting the Dallas defense. If Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs lines up against Smith, Reagor could see a bit more action in Week 3.
It used to be a reflex to start all fantasy options against the Raiders DST. That hasn’t been the case so far this season. Gus Bradley’s defense is a top 10 unit after the first two weeks. They put the clamps on Lamar Jackson (as much as any defense truly can) and smothered the Steelers running game. Along the way, the Silver and Black has also racked up five sacks – an impressive number for a team that logged just 21 quarterback takedowns all last season. Now the Raiders face Miami’s 32nd-ranked offense led by a banged-up Tua Tagovailoa. The Raider revolution continues.
Since we’re talking about the Raiders, Peyton Barber has returned to our fantasy frontal lobe. I won’t try to sell you a fiction about the journeyman being a Week 3 star. But as long as Josh Jacobs is out – he’s considered “very questionable” for this week – Barber is going to get touches. So far, the Dolphins run defense hasn’t been rock solid. With the early attrition at running back (*waves vaguely at the 49ers*), Barber could provide a one-week lifeline.
I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the Cardinals DST. It’s not that I thought you’d be bad. It’s that I didn’t think about you at all. The Redbirds couldn’t duplicate their phenomenal Week 1, but they did close down the Vikings in the second half of their wild Week 2 win. Next up is a date with the Jaguars, who boast one of the league’s most anemic passing games and are tied with the Jets for most interceptions thrown through two weeks. Look for the Arizona offense to take control early, allowing the defense to go into attack mode and add to Trevor Lawrence ‘s early-season misery.
Did I mention the Cardinals scoring a lot of points? This might be the only time I ever get to write about Maxx Williams in a fantasy column. In a passing game loaded with targets, Williams won’t ever be top of mind, but he is outpacing A.J. Green in catches and receiving yards. He also spells his name with two Xs – like Maxx Crosby or that weird obscure comic character that was turned into an animated MTV show in the mid ’90s. That has nothing to do with fantasy football, but since we may never pass this way again, it was a chance to include it. Also, the Jaguars have given up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. So there’s that.
The idea of a Sam Darnold-to-Dan Arnold connection made fantasy football types giggle. That is because we are nerds who spend too much time with this stuff and have lost what most would consider a “healthy” sense of humor. Alas, the two have yet to connect for a touchdown, but Arnold has seen a respectable 10% target share early in the season. The Houston Texans have been better than advertised so far (I offer an apology to you, as well, Houston) but they’re still a soft target for fantasy tight ends. Could this be the week that Darnold-to-Arnold results in a touchdown? Tune in Thursday for the answer!
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