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10 Risky & Safe Fantasy Football Starts: Week 3 (2023)

10 Risky & Safe Fantasy Football Starts: Week 3 (2023)

After Week 1, everyone tells you not to overreact. It’s only one week, but by the time Week 2 is finished, we’re 11% of the way through the fantasy season, and it’s time to start being reactionary and noticing what the league is telling us.

Each week, we look at the safest and riskiest starts to help you get ready for all the action. Here are Week 3’s best and worst options.

10 Risky & Safe Fantasy Football Starts: Week 3

Riskiest

Marquise Brown (WR – ARI) vs Cowboys

The offseason narratives can sometimes get a little bit out of control on players who have little to no competition, and that certainly seems like it was the case for Marquise Brown. Despite clearly being the most talented pass-catcher on the Cardinals, he is 22nd in target share among wide receivers with 25.4%. Given the lack of options for the Cardinals, many had hoped that number would be over 30% through two games. Brown is producing at a rate of 2.6 PPR points per touch, higher than Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, but he faces a Cowboys defense that, through two games, has allowed only 10 wide receiver receptions on 25 pass attempts. Brown could get there on volume, but it’s a very risky proposition against one of the best defenses in the league.

Garrett Wilson (WR – NYJ) vs Patriots

Through two games, Garrett Wilson has scored 33.2% of the Jets PPR points to date, but without Aaron Rodgers, it’s likely going to continue to be a very boom-or-bust season for Wilson. After scoring on a coverage bust against the Cowboys, Garrett Wilson’s next six targets resulted in one catch for 15 yards and two interceptions. Wilson is absolutely ready to be an elite player in the NFL, but we cannot ignore the fact that Zach Wilson is easily one of the worst three quarterbacks in the league, and there is no hope for that to improve with the Jets facing the Patriots in Week 3.

DJ Moore (WR – CHI) vs Chiefs

It’s a close run contest between the Bears and the Falcons for the most uninspiring quarterback play, but Justin Fields edges it with a league-low average depth of target of 4.5 yards, all while holding onto the ball for 3.19 seconds, which ranks 28th among quarterbacks. Simply put, Fields is holding onto the ball for a long time, and it’s not because he’s waiting for plays to unfold downfield. DJ Moore managed to reach 104 total yards in Week 2, but there’s very little to rest your hat on that he might be able to consistently produce with Fields at quarterback, particularly when the Chiefs defensive line should be able to have their way with the Bears offensive line.

Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) vs Rams

The Bengals were embarrassed on their own turf by a Ravens team missing their starting cornerback, safety, left tackle and center. Outside of quarterback, there aren’t many more important positions on a roster. Luckily for the Bengals, the major talking point instead was Joe Burrow’s calf injury that flared up again after causing Burrow issues during training camp.

The Bengals play the Rams on Monday Night Football, buying Burrow an extra day to be ready, but fantasy managers will have to consider whether they will have any get-out-of-jail-free cards to play if Burrow is suddenly inactive on Monday night. At that point, your choices would be either Matthew Stafford or Bengals backup quarterback Jake Browning. All of those points are to be considered even before we talk about the Bengals’ lackluster start to the 2023 campaign and Joe Burrow’s 18.6 points combined in two games.

Safest

Nico Collins (WR – HOU) vs Jaguars

There are four wide receivers who boast over 275 air yards to date: Tyreek Hill (361), Kendrick Bourne (314), Justin Jefferson (293) and Nico Collins with 287, who is also the PPR WR6. Collins is being used all over the field, and CJ Stroud has locked onto Collins with a team-leading 23.3% target share. The Texans face a Jaguars defense that isn’t particularly imposing so far, allowing the 12th-most yardage to opposing wide receivers. With the Texans’ offensive line still banged up, Stroud will need to get the ball out to the players he trusts quickly.

Brian Robinson (RB – WAS) vs Bills

This offseason, it felt clear that the Commanders would operate a two-running back committee, utilizing Brian Robinson as the ground-and-pound runner while letting Antonio Gibson get back to concentrating on a skill he dominated coming out of college: pass-catching. Instead, what has materialized is that Robinson is seeing the ninth-largest opportunity share among running backs (75%) and has turned it into RB3 overall production, with 42.5 PPR points. The Bills might not be an ideal matchup for the Commanders, but to date, they’ve allowed 5.0 yards per carry to running backs, and Robinson’s usage has been consistently strong. Right now, we can consider him an every-week starter.

Kenneth Walker (RB – SEA) vs Panthers

If the Seahawks were planning on phasing Kenneth Walker out, they certainly haven’t looked like it so far, giving Walker a combined 34 touches in the first two weeks. The Seahawks play the Panthers in Week 3 and are allowing running backs to rush for 5.2 yards per carry, which is the sixth-highest amount in the league. Bryce Young and the Panthers are a team finding their feet and likely won’t be able to threaten the Seahawks in the same way the Detroit Lions did a week ago. Walker projects to have a very favorable script in this game and could be one of the best plays of the week.

Tony Pollard (RB – DAL) vs Cardinals

Through two weeks, Tony Pollard ranks third among running backs in rush attempts (39), joint second in targets (10), and is the running back four in PPR and half PPR formats. The Cardinals have been friskier than we might have expected coming into the season, but they’re unlikely to be able to deal with a dominant Cowboys defense, which will likely mean more plays on offense for the Cowboys, allowing Tony Pollard to have another big week. With injuries to other running backs in the second round, Tony Pollard could turn out to be one of the best picks of the second round this year.

Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) vs Colts

There were some whispers around fantasy football that Mark Andrews might see a diminished role in 2023, with the Ravens adding a better arsenal of pass-catchers for Lamar Jackson than at any other time in Jackson’s career. After one game back on the field, what became clear is that Andrews will continue to be Jackson’s favorite target, seeing a 24% target share against the Bengals, with 50% of those targets coming on third or fourth downs. The Colts might struggle to keep up with the Ravens this weekend, but Lamar will likely be plenty productive early on, and Andrews can have another big week.

Puka Nacua (WR – LAR) vs Bengals

What more do you need to see? Puka Nacua has proven he’s not a flash in the pan with a league-leading 39.3% target share and 52.0 PPR points, despite playing one of the tougher defenses in Week 2, the San Francisco 49ers. Nacua is an auto-start until we see otherwise.

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