I hope the title of this article doesn’t confuse you guys! Smash starts is always a risky way to talk about anyone from a fantasy perspective, especially when we’re recommending fringe players. You need to understand that these aren’t the best players in fantasy. These are guys who should be started because of existential circumstances.
It’s easy to say to play Christian McCaffrey and Justin Jefferson every week, but nobody needs to know that. Fantasy managers need to know who to start at their flex spots, and that’s why I write this piece.
The premise behind this article is simple. Identify fantasy football smash plays on the fringe of your starting lineup. We rarely recommend a top-20 player at any position, but we want to help you fill those critical flex spots.
9 Fantasy Football Smash Starts for Week 3 (2023)
Smash Starts for Week 3
Kirk Cousins (MIN) vs. LAC
Most people drafted Cousins as their backup quarterback, but they will want to start him this week. This guy is chucking the ball as much as anyone, attempting 44 pass attempts in each of the first two games. That’s easy to understand since he has Justin Jefferson and one of the worst defenses in the NFL. It also led to Cousins collecting 34 fantasy points in Week 2, one of the season’s best performances. Carrying that form into a matchup with the Chargers only adds to his value, with Los Angeles allowing the most passing yards in the NFL. This game also has a 54-point total, and it could be the shootout of the week.
Raheem Mostert (MIA) vs. DEN
If you read my offseason articles, you know I drafted Mostert and Jeff Wilson everywhere. My theory was that drafting both of them would land you one elite running back, and that’s panned out perfectly so far. Wilson started the season on injured reserve (IR), allowing Mostert to be the workhorse back. That expanded role led to Mostert tallying 18 carries for 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Week 2. That was against a stingy New England defense, and Denver is far from that in the early going. The Broncos rank 24th in total defense, with Miami entering this matchup as a 6.5-point favorite. Please don’t leave Mostert on your bench once again.
Alexander Mattison (MIN) vs. LAC
If you scrolled through Twitter on Thursday, you’d think Mattison was torturing puppies on live television. The hate went way too far in that game because we expect most players to struggle against that elite Philly defensive line. The reason we’re willing to go back to Mattison is his role, playing in 75% of the team’s snaps so far this season. He’s earned that role with Dalvin Cook leaving town, averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game when Cook has been out in the past. We expect him to return to that player shortly, and a matchup against the worst defense is a great way to get him back on track. Don’t expect Cam Akers to do much after being acquired on Wednesday, either.
Zack Moss (IND) at BAL
Looking at snap counts is always one of the most important factors when picking between flexes. That’s what has us excited to use Moss because he played all but one snap in Week 2. He should continue to play that role as long as Jonathan Taylor is out, with Moss totaling 18 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown in that Week 2 gem. He also got four catches and performed similarly at the end of last season. In the two games he played at least 40 snaps last year, Moss averaged 21 carries for 97 rushing yards per game. Facing Baltimore is terrifying, but it doesn’t matter since Moss isn’t coming off the field.
George Pickens (PIT) at LV
I wasn’t excited about Pickens this season, but that changed once Diontae Johnson got injured. That means Pickens is the focal point of the passing game right now, providing four catches for 127 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. The four catches might look concerning, but we’re ecstatic that he led the club with 10 targets after posting seven targets in Week 1. That’s the progression you want to see from a young and talented wideout, making Pickens a potential breakout as long as DJ remains out. Vegas is a beautiful matchup, too, allowing the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL last year.
DJ Moore (CHI) at KC
The discord around the Bears has been a disaster, and it’s easy to understand why. We’re willing to give Justin Fields and Moore another chance, though, because these two are way too talented to perform like this. We saw glimpses of Moore’s potential in Week 2, amassing six catches for 104 yards. He was also doing that in the final months of last season, scoring at least 16 fantasy points in four of the final six games. This is a game where they’ll have to throw to keep up with KC, which is terrific since the Chiefs allowed the most points in the NFL last year. Getting double-digit targets should be in play, and it’d be silly to sit Moore in such a tasty spot.
Nico Collins (HOU) at JAC
Where is the respect for this guy? Collins was still sitting on waiver wires coming into the week, and it’s hard to understand why. He was certainly claimed after Week 2, collecting 13 catches for 226 yards through the first two weeks. That makes him one of the top receivers in the NFL so far, and he should continue to get work since Houston will be playing catch-up all season long. That could be the case here, but we’re not worried about a 25th-ranked Jacksonville secondary.
Sam LaPorta (DET) vs. ATL
The tight end position is a wasteland, but this rookie is looking like a sneaky find! Only five tight ends have at least five receptions in each of the first two weeks, and this rookie is one of them! He’s filled the TJ Hockenson role beautifully and looks like one of Jared Goff‘s top options in this dynamic offense. That looks even better in this matchup, with Atlanta allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. There are a ton of fantasy managers looking for a consistent tight end to start week after week, and LaPorta is one of the best options right now.
New England Patriots D/ST (at NYJ)
I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a 37-point total in Week 2. That’s a good indicator of where both of these teams are at right now because these are two of the worst offenses in the NFL. The Jets look like a joke without Aaron Rodgers, surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs. That’s horrifying against a well-coached New England team because this is supposed to be one of the best defenses in the NFL. Entering this game as a 2.5-point road favorite in a game with a 37-point total is all you need to know because that means the Jets are only projected to score 17 points.