Snap Rates and Targets: Week 3 RB/WR Sleeper Candidates

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Other than the known commodities across fantasy football, here are a few running backs and wide receivers to consider plugging into your lineups in Week 3, using their snap rates and targets from the previous game to help find the most appealing options. Although no team has a bye week, these players possess favorable enough matchups to deserve consideration in the flex position or beyond for those in a pinch.

RBs:

1. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers: Even though the 10th-year tailback was out-snapped by Christian McCaffrey (66.2 percent overall) 43 to 25 against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, Stewart (40.4 percent overall) still received plenty of work. In total, he accumulated 15 rushes for 40 yards, including two carries inside the 10-yard line, compared to McCaffrey’s 13 total touches. On top of that, the rookie amassed just 1.25 yards per carry (YPC) on 8 attempts, struggling to run between the tackles.

Hence, Stewart appears to still own the lead back role, and he has a great shot at bouncing back versus the New Orleans Saints. Through the first two weeks, the Saints have allowed the third-most fantasy points (PPR) to running backs (73) despite yielding just one score on the ground, along with opposing rushers racking up 4.43 YPC. Additionally, they’ve also given up the most receiving yards (185) to that position. There’s some obvious appeal for McCaffrey to find success as well, but given Stewart’s healthy 16.5 attempts per game, he should be the biggest beneficiary in the rushing department come Sunday. His touchdown dependency is a slight risk, though.

2. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears: With Chicago trailing for more than three and a half quarters in Week 2, Cohen rung up a 62.5 snap rate in Tampa Bay, collecting 8 catches for 55 yards. While he only had 13 rushing yards on seven carries (1.86 YPC), “The Human Joystick” represents a consistent threat through the air, picking up 21 targets over his first two games in the pros, some even coming from the slot.

His co-worker Jordan Howard is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the second-year rusher has just a 57.1 catch rate in 17 career games. Given the likelihood that the Bears are trailing early once again, Cohen should end up seeing most of the work in a matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’ve tied for sixth-most receptions allowed to opposing backs. Mike Glennon is also tied for the lowest deep ball rate in the league, so an intermediate passing attack should continue to be in effect.

3. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: Fellow running back Jeremy Hill was named the starter to begin the season, but neither him (20 percent overall) nor Mixon (30.4 percent overall) has seen the highest snap rate in the Bengals’ backfield thus far. Fifth-year scatback Giovani Bernard sits at a 49.6 snap rate, as well as 105 total yards and 4.2 YPC. Nevertheless, Mixon was seen as the most efficient rusher against the Houston Texans in Week 2, compiling 10 touches for 41 yards, 36 of them coming on the ground.

Despite the Green Bay Packers giving up just the 15th-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing tailbacks, new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor could shift additional touches to his rookie weapon, considering he helped current Texans’ and former Miami Dolphins’ RB Lamar Miller, who fits a similar mold, string together a career-high 1,374 total yards in 2014. Additionally, the game script will force the Bengals to throw often because of an elite Packers’ offense. If Lazor does want to involve Mixon more often, this is the time to unleash him.

WRs:

1. DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson didn’t showcase much explosiveness in the Buccaneers’ season opener on Sunday, producing a mere 39 yards via 3 receptions. Still, with Tampa Bay holding a 20-plus point lead for much of the contest, he only accounted for a 52.9 percent snap rate. Plus,the 10th-year receiver finished with seven targets, only two behind Mike Evans. Traveling up to Minnesota on Sunday, Jackson could notch a similar stat line as Steelers’ wideout Martavis Bryant, who racked up 3 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown on Sunday with Vikings’ cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowing Antonio Brown.

Since 2016, Rhodes has held Brown, the Saints’ Michael Thomas and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. to a combined 130 yards. Therefore, Rhodes should be all over Evans, leaving Jackson with an opportunity to break loose. Through two weeks, the Vikings are also tied for the sixth-most fantasy points (PPR) given up to opposing wide receivers.

2. J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals: Nelson was expected to burn an Indianapolis Colts’ secondary without Vontae Davis, and he did to the tune of 7 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown, recording a 75.8 percent snap rate in the process. Moreover, the third-year wideout has collected 13 targets over the Cardinals’ first two games, trailing only Larry Fitzgerald (19). He’s in line to see a similar workload with John Brown expected to miss another game on Monday night with a quad injury.

Surprisingly, Nelson already ranks third among wide receivers in PPR scoring, and the Cowboys have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts thus far. Albeit Carson Palmer owning the third-lowest completion percentage in the league, Nelson should keep eating in Week 3 with an advantageous matchup.

3. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks: After recording a 53.1 percent snap rate in Week 1 while overcoming a leg injury, Lockett’s role increased on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, totaling a 74.4 percent snap rate, along with 6 catches for 64 yards. His nine targets in the contest tied for first with star wideout Doug Baldwin, too. Even though fellow receiver Paul Richardson missed some of the game due to a broken finger, Lockett proved he’s a focal point of an offense, dealing with plenty of issues on its offensive line.

In Week 3, he’ll face off against the Tennessee Titans, who’ve given up the fourth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Similar to the aforementioned Jackson, Lockett could carry a boom-or-bust tag, but if he sees a similar target share, he’ll do just fine in PPR leagues.

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