By Gene Lesser / Chris Dell
Last week saw a mixed bag from our recommended streamers and stashes, but overall some very positive results. First and foremost, Ben Roethlisberger disappointed, turning in a paltry 13.8 fantasy points against what looks to be now like a very underrated Las Vegas Raiders defense. Latavius Murray, on the other hand, rewarded us with nearly 10 carries and his second touchdown in as many weeks while giving us a solid 9.6 fantasy points (RB28). That was a nice hit for RB2/flex-needy teams. Nelson Agholor simply didn't get the volume needed in a Patriots blowout and finished as WR71 in Week 2, while Jared Cook had a long touchdown overturned that essentially turned his day from potential boom to overall bust. The Green Bay Packers D/ST gave us a solid showing to wrap things up, finishing tied with the Rams and in the top 12 overall performances. We now move on to Week 3, and with a slew of fantasy football stars currently dealing with questionable tags and/or other ailments, we'll once again dive into our top recommended streamers and stashes, as well as a few honorable mention candidates at each position:
Please Note: the players listed below are owned in 50% or less of ESPN fantasy football leagues
STREAM: Daniel Jones (42.0%) - Mr. Jones has the pleasure of facing an Atlanta defense that continues to allow opposing quarterbacks to abuse them. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a robust 33.2 fantasy points against them through two games. Jones had success last week against a solid Washington defense and looks to be getting more comfortable behind a revamped offensive line. There's no denying that this is home run spot for him against the Falcons, nor can you deny Jones' elite level expected completion percentage so far this season, which is top 5 in the NFL. Jones is the #5 overall fantasy quarterback this season despite throwing for less than 300 yards in each of his two games and not having a single game with multiple touchdown passes. The ceiling is certainly there for a QB1 overall performance in Week 3.
STASH: Trey Lance (22.6%) - Unlike Justin Fields, we are still waiting on the debut of #3 overall pick Trey Lance in San Francisco. But don't let that deter you from the fact this youngster can be an absolute league-winning stash on your bench. Many owners have already grown impatient and dropped Lance to waivers after taking him in fantasy drafts, which doesn't make sense given we didn't expect him to start the season in the first place. Take advantage of your opponents' impatience here, as Lance just needs one injury to the oft-injured Jimmy G, or perhaps a bye week (Week 6) to become the 49'ers starting QB. If he does, then just imagine Taysom Hill/Jalen Hurts rushing with Justin Herbert's passing. Yes, he has THAT type of upside. In this offensive scheme and with Shanahan calling plays/Deebo, Kittle & Co, then the fact remains that Lance should absolutely be rostered in more than 22.6% of ESPN leagues as he is right now.
Honorable Mention: Kirk Cousins (31.8%), Teddy Bridgewater (24.7%), Taysom Hill - STASH (1.7%)
STREAM: Kenneth Gainwell (28.4%) - The rookie Gainwell has averaged nearly 10 touches per game in his first two career NFL appearances, totaling 75 yards in the process to go along with 15 carries and 4 catches on 6 targets. Gainwell's snaps, routes and overall share of the season are due to increase here as the season gets going too. This coaching staff hand-picked Gainwell, and although he was a relatively late-round draft pick he's already supplanted former third-down specialist Boston Scott (zero touches in two games). He now gets a primetime showdown with an average-at-best Dallas Cowboys defense on Monday Night Football with the Eagles coming into town as +3.5 dogs. A negative game script could favor Gainwell's receiving skillset in this matchup as he continues to siphon snaps/touches away from incumbent starter Miles Sanders. If you're needy for RB2 or flex production, he's worth a plug-and-play.
STASH: Alexander Mattison (32.8%) - Dalvin Cook was listed as a non-participant in practice on Friday and is looking to be a game-time decision come late Sunday afternoon in Week 3. Alexander Mattison will be OUR STREAM OF THE WEEK if Cook is indeed ruled out though. This excerpt here is from our 'Hunting The Waiver Wire' column earlier this week in which we listed Mattison as a top pickup then when he was 28.5% owned: "it seems like Cook will be fine moving forward, but we still can't ignore the fact he's receiving a ton of touches right now in this offense (50 total touches in 2 games, 42 total carries). Mattison saw more snaps, routes and touches in Week 2, although in a very limited role (3-11 rushing and 1-1-17 receiving), and don't forget the workhorse potential he flashed last season in Cook's absence when he put up rushing lines of 20-112 and Week 17 where he went 21-95-1 and 3-3-50-1. He needs to be rostered in all leagues 12 teams or larger." The chance of Cook missing Week 34 is very real. Be ready to capitalize.
Honorable Mention: Latavius Murray (47.1%), Tony Jones Jr. - STASH (15.9%), Damien Williams - STASH (14.0%), Jeff Wilson Jr. - STASH (5.9%), Jacques Patrick - STASH (2.9%), Jake Funk - STASH (0.6%), Kerryon Johnson - STASH (0.5%)
STREAM: K.J. Osborn (25.1%) - In an offense with two pro bowl wide receivers Osborn has made an early impact as the "1C" receiving option in this offense, turning 15 targets into 12 recepetions for 167 yards and a touchdown in two games. Cousins has not hesitated to rely on the second-year wideout, and he now gets a very favorable matchup against a bad Seahawks secondary in a game that has shootout written all over it. Osborn has a good chance to make it three straight weeks of top 20 PPR performances AND three straight posting 5+ catches, 6+ targets and 76+ yards. Stream with confidence as your WR3.
STREAM: Darnell Mooney (49.6%) - Gone are the days Mooney strictly runs burner routes down the field with Mitch Trubisky/Nick Foles throwing ducks his way. Mooney is being utilized in all areas of the field in 2021, and we saw that materialize in Week 2 as the second-year wideout caught 6 of 8 targets for a team-high 66 yards and left a few close/potential big plays on the field. Mooney is tied with Allen Robinson in targets (15) through Week 2 and leads A-Rob 92 to 59 in total yards, in addition to 11 to 5 receptions and an 8.4 to 7.4 yards per catch clip. He's now averaging 7.5 targets per game, facing a negative game script in Week 3 is being schemed-up off play action as well as quicks/screens to give him opportunities in space. When Fields entered the game for Andy Dalton in Week 2 his first pass attempt turned into an 11-yard completion to Mooney and ended up targeting Mooney on 4 of his 13 pass attempts, good for a solid 31% share. If this trend even halfway holds up, we're looking at a more than viable streamer and someone who just needs one big play to catapult him into WR2 territory on Sunday.
STASH: Elijah Moore (29.9%) - Despite a relatively slow start to his rookie season, Moore is starting to carve out a size-able role in Jets offense that should see nothing but negative game scripts for the entire 2021 season. Moore now sits tied with Corey Davis in targets (12) through two weeks and saw a huge bump last weekend in both production/efficiency and usage, turning his lowly 4-1-(-3) line in Week 1 to a modest 8-4-47 line in Week 2 against a tough Patriots defense. Moore's stock will only continue to rise from here, and after Week 3 the Jets' schedule lightens up with dreamy matchups vs. the opposing secondaries of the Titans/Falcons. Moore just might have his fantasy breakout during those two weeks.
STASH: Tim Patrick (14.0%) - With the injury to Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick has cemented himself as the team's No. 2 wide receiver in Denver. He's averaging over 10 yards a catch and has already scored in both games to start the season. With Jeudy out until mid-October at the earliest, look for Patrick to remain a big part of this balanced passing attack in Denver and someone who can give you solid flex numbers 'til then.
Honorable Mention: Sammy Watkins (31.1%), AJ Green (25.0%), Christian Kirk (22.9%), Emmanuel Sanders (22.9%), Zach Pascal (21.1%), Bryan Edwards (14.6%), Quintez Cephus (10.8%) Hunter Renfrow (10.1%), Darius Slayton (7.6%), Rashod Bateman - STASH (7.1%), Van Jefferson (6.1%), KJ Hamler (2.8%), Quez Watkins (2.0%), Dyami Brown (1.6%), Cedrick Wilson (0.8%), Braxton Berrios (0.7%), Adam Humphries (0.6%), James Washington (0.5%), Freddie Swain (0.5%)
STREAM: Jack Doyle (8.4%) - Doyle emerged from the shadow of Mo Alie Cox in Week 2 to the tune of 8 targets, 5 catches and 64 yards. Even in a quiet Week 1 he received four targets from Carson Wentz and now ranks second on the Colts - only behind Michael Pittman Jr. - in targets (12), receiving yards (85) and even a long reception of 34 yards. Sunday's Week 3 tilt vs. the Titans doesn't necessarily jump off the paper, but if Doyle remains this involved in the offense he's almost a no-brainer stream given his ownership and chance to receive extra passing volume in a negative game script. Doyle was once a reliable fantasy tight end years ago before injuries have marred his past few seasons. He's a worth a shot Sunday.
STREAM: Hunter Henry (37.4%) - The 2021 "Tight End Wasteland" is real folks. Essentially any player less than 90% owned (the Noah Fant cutoff) is a borderline dart throw to produce week in and week out, which leaves us with Hunter Henry as our top sub-50% owned streamer for Week 3. Henry faces a Saints defense that has been kind to tight ends and recently gave up 6-4-62 to the not-so-dangerous duo of Dan Arnold and Ian Thomas in Week 2. New Orleans is allowing over 12 yards per reception to the position and their man-heavy scheme could just give Henry enough opportunity to pay off come Sunday. Although Henry is splitting time with Smith at the tight end position, but he's averaging over 15 yards per reception and has nearly matched the 70%+ owned Jonnu in production so far this season. Look for Sean Payton & Co to make Mac Jones beat them through the air, which bodes well for Henry in a favorable matchup
STASH: Evan Engram (32.9%) - Engram seems to be working his way towards his first game action of the 2021 season and could slot right into the starting role with a hyper-efficient Daniel Jones. This week's matchup with Atlanta is great and Engram could absolutely be worth a DFS dart throw, but we want to see him finish a full game healthy before we stream him in season-long formats. This is a young, talented tight end who finished 4th, 7th and 7th in fantasy points per game from 2017-2019 before a disappointing 2020 season in which he just couldn't find the end zone yet still managed 100+ targets. This guy should be owned in more than 50% of leagues, and if you can clear a bench spot for him, you'll be better off for it.
STASH: Albert Okwuegbunam (0.5%) - Noah Fant has popped up as questionable on the early injury report over the last few weeks and the man they call "Albert O" was a very heralded TE draft prospect who is waiting in the wings. We've already seen this Broncos offense/Teddy Bridgewater favor the position as a key part of their scheme, making this quite possibly the #1 tight end handcuff to own in the entire NFL.
Honorable Mention: Cole Kmet (22.5%), Gerald Everett (11.5%), Pat Freiermuth (4.6%), Maxx Williams (4.4%), Dawson Knox (4.4%)
STREAM: Las Vegas Raiders (26.0%) - At home against an inept offense sans Tua whose backup (Jacoby Brissett) was sacked four times with an interception against the Bills in Week 2. The Raiders’ DL ranks 7th in pass rush win rate, seventh in adjusted sack rate, and fifth in pressures. The Dolphins’ OL ranks 28th in pass block win rate, 30th in adjusted sack rate, and 29th in sacks per pass attempt. Las Vegas is also generating a ton of pressure despite ranking dead last in blitz frequency (Pro Football Reference).
STREAM: New York Giants (7.2%) - Ryan has been sacked four times and thrown three interceptions in just two games, and although the Giants' pass rush might not be as talented as Philly or Tampa Bay, the fact we're getting the opportunity to stream against the aging Ryan should not be ignored. We'd still favor Tennessee or Cincinnati as equals in this category, but really love the Giants as a low-owned DFS GPP play.
STASH: Chicago Bears (13.6%) - What was supposed to be the strength of this team was embarrassed in Week 1 against the Rams. Week 2 was a different story as they dominated the Bengals en route to a 21 point fantasy day. They face solid test this Sunday on the road against the Browns, but it's the following week when they return back home to face a turnover prone Jared Goff and Lions offense that you will want to have this defense ready to be slotted in your lineup. Stash right before Sunday afternoon kickoff.
STASH: Tennessee Titans (6.3%) - Even if Carson Wentz does suit up, you're looking at home divisional game in which the opposing quarterback has two bum ankles (and a bad shoulder too), was already immobile coming in and has a banged up offensive line to add insult to injury (literally). But that's not the best part about stashing the Titans. In Weeks 4-5 they face quite possibly the two most turnover prone QB's in the league in Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence. This could be a three-week streamer that could deliver nearly an entire month of top 10 D/ST numbers. Ignore the public narrative and play the matchups.
Honorable Mention: Dolphins (21.0%), Bengals (5.7%)