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NFL Fantasy Week 3: Wide Receiver Sleepers

Spreading the wealth among three wide receivers, receiving tight ends and running backs led to the continued decline of NFL Fantasy wide receiver point totals in 2017. There were several weeks when only a handful of wideouts managed to score 15 standard NFL Fantasy points in a game.

There were 17 wide receivers who topped that number in Week 2 and another 17 who wound up in double digits. It makes sense when you see everyone from old men to upstart rookies throwing for 400 yards.

It makes the pool of potential NFL Fantasy sleeper wide receivers that much bigger. We waded around for a while and decided these folks have the biggest surprise potential in Week 3.

Best bet: Dante Pettis, 49ers at Chiefs

Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t exactly lit it up this season, but he will be forced to show us the Jimmy G of 2017 if the Niners are to have a chance in Kansas City.

Pat Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs’ offense will slow down eventually, but we don’t see that happening against San Francisco. Even if it does, what constitutes “slowing down”? Only scoring four touchdowns?

Garoppolo will have to get his wide receivers more involved than last week. With Marquise Goodwin still hobbled, that will mean a good dose of veteran Pierre Garcon and his new rookie partner, Dante Pettis.

Pettis made highlight reels with a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone in Week 1, but only saw 2 targets against the Lions. That has to increase and gives Pettis the chance to be a true NFL Fantasy sleeper.

Good bet: Kamar Aiken, Eagles vs. Colts

This comes down to numbers. The Eagles don’t have many receivers. They signed an old friend of Carson Wentz in Jordan Matthews. But the loss of Mike Wallace and continued unavailability of Alshon Jeffrey creates an opportunity for Aiken to step up for at least a week.

Matthews knows the system a bit from his previous tenure, but some things undoubtedly changed. Plus, we don’t know what kind of shape he’s in.

Wentz could spend the day throwing to Agholor and tight end Zach Ertz and call it a day. But odds are, the third (or second) wide receiver will have to get involved.

Aiken saw six targets in his first game as an Eagle. There is no reason to expect that number to drop against the Colts.

Not a bad bet: DJ Moore, Panthers vs, Bengals

Devin Funchess is the WR-1. Jarius Wright is emerging as a favorite of Cam Newton. Torrey Smith was signed to be the answer. Running back Christian McCaffrey gobbles up more passes than any of them.

It sure doesn’t sound like there is much opportunity for a rookie wide receiver to beak into Cam Newton’s receiving circle this year. But that was head coach Ron Rivera saying the team had to get DJ Moore more involved in the offense.

He plays the role of Smith, who saw 7 targets last week. Christian McCaffrey, who saw 14 targets, is by far the least efficient of Newton’s options. Moore took a sweep for 7 yards against Atlanta. Maybe that is what Rivera has in mind.

But somehow, I trust Rivera to do something to get Moore a few more touches this week. With his speed and evasiveness, he can turn just one into a big play and a worthy NFL Fantasy output.

Don’t bet on it: Amari Cooper, Raiders at Dolphins

Amari Cooper was game-planned out of Oakland’s Week 1 contest. In Week 2, he was a focal point, catching all ten targets in a big day.

Now he travels with the Raiders cross-country for an early contest. This affects his quarterback as much as Cooper. Facing an underrated and enthusiastic defense doesn’t help. But I expect Gruden to adjust the game plan for fatigue, which means short passes and a ground attack.

One of my followers told me that I should call this column NFL Fantasy Deep Sleepers, since I pick obscure and less-used players. I guess that’s right, but I don’t find much of a challenge in predicting a good game from a WR-2. It’s the WR-3 and WR-4s that surprise us. And someday, I’ll guess right on them all!