2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 3: Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2023

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After a crazy couple of weeks in the NFL, we are now seeing the true identities of teams starting to form along with their players. Some are off to slow starts, while others have drastically exceeded expectations. Injuries are also starting to pile up, which is affecting rosters as well.

With that in mind, let’s discuss our Week 3 fantasy football sleepers to consider for your weekly and DFS lineups. Please note that all betting odds listed below are current as of Tuesday, September 21.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections for Week 3

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Quarterback

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

  • Seahawks-Vikings Total: 55.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 55.5 (-110), Under 55.5 (-110)

Kirk Cousins is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the fantasy realm. He’s not a sexy fantasy choice and doesn’t run the ball much, but he is efficient and can pop at will.

Cousins is also surrounded by some of the best skill-position players in the sport, including Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and now K.J. Osborn as well. With a new explosive wideout added to his arsenal, Cousins is that much more likely to go off.

Cousins has managed 25+ fantasy points in each of the first two games of the year in road shootouts with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. Now, he returns home to face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in what’s expected to be another high-scoring game based on the Total.

The Minnesota Vikings rank 10th in plays per game (67.5) and 11th in points (28.5). That should enable them to keep pace with Seattle’s explosive offense, resulting in lots of pass attempts for Cousins. While he may not surpass 25 fantasy points again, he will likely finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback if the game unfolds as expected.

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Deep QB Week 3 Sleeper: Daniel Jones, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons

  • Falcons-Giants Total: 48.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 48.5 (-110), Under 48.5 (-110)

It’s time to unleash Daniel Jones against the Atlanta Falcons, who have been lit up by Jalen Hurts and Tom Brady in the first two games. The Falcons are surrendering the most FPPG to enemy quarterbacks (29.1) with eight total touchdowns. Against a defense that struggles to pressure the quarterback, Jones should be able to work out of a clean pocket.

The Giants will also benefit from extra rest after playing on Thursday Night Football in Week 2. Jones had one of the best games of his NFL career, racking up 31.5 fantasy points by throwing for 249 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another 95 yards and a score.

Jones has played well thus far despite opening the season against the stout defenses of Denver and Washington, so look for him to take advantage of the soft matchup here. He has the arsenal to be a weekly top-12 quarterback in fantasy and should enjoy another big game in Week 3.

Also Consider: Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Running Back

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

  • Colts-Titans Total: 48 via BetMGM
  • Over 48 (-110), Under 48 (-110)

We don’t know who the Indianapolis Colts will start at quarterback this week given the ankle injuries suffered by Carson Wentz last week. Either way, look for them to lean on Nyheim Hines as a prime check-down option, especially if Wentz starts and has limited mobility.

While Hines was quiet last week against the Los Angeles Rams, he was terrific in the season opener. His week-to-week production can be volatile given his role as a pass-catching back, but he should see plenty of looks against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

The Titans are yielding the 14th-most FPPG (17.5) to opposing backs this year and have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They also have an explosive offense that could prove difficult for the Colts to keep up with, potentially resulting in more pass attempts by Indy and additional volume for Hines.

James White, New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints

  • Saints-Patriots Total: 43 via BetMGM
  • Over 43.5 (-110), Under 43 (-110)

I’ll roll out James White for the second consecutive week. While Damien Harris is the primary back on the New England Patriots, White’s role in the passing game is clearly defined, especially with Mac Jones under center.

White actually out-snapped Harris 29-25 last week against the New York Jets, rushing five times for 20 yards and a touchdown while hauling in all six of his targets for 45 yards. White has now snagged 12 of his 13 targets for 94 receiving yards over the season’s first two games, establishing a solid PPR floor.

Look for Jones to continue leaning on White against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. While New Orleans’ defense is tough, Jones will likely be forced to throw White’s way to keep the chains moving.

Deep RB Week 3 Sleeper: Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants

  • Falcons-Giants Total: 48.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 48.5 (-110), Under 48.5 (-110)

Depending on the fantasy platform, Cordarrelle Patterson can be rostered as a running back or as a receiver, since the Falcons are using him as both.

After notching 8.7 PPR points in Week 1, Patterson erupted for 23.9 last week. He’s rushed seven times and recorded multiple receptions in both games, giving him a useful PPR floor.

Mike Davis is Atlanta’s RB1, but Patterson’s versatility keeps him involved in the offense. It should also pay off against the Giants, who have been gashed by hybrid backs during the first two games.

New York’s defense has surrendered an 11/100/0 line on 12 targets to running backs through the air thus far. Those 11 receptions are the 12th-most in the NFL, while the 100 yards are the sixth-most given up to backs in the passing game.

Overall, the Giants are surrendering the seventh-most FPPG to running backs (22.3), making this an enticing matchup for Patterson.

Also Consider: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars; J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team @ Buffalo Bills

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Wide Receiver

Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Bengals-Steelers Total: 44 via BetMGM
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

Ja’Marr Chase might have been a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but for now he’s the Cincinnati Bengals’ WR3 behind Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. While all three receivers can be started in fantasy, it’s only a matter of time until Chase emerges as their No. 1 wideout.

Chase’s career is already off to a fast start, as he’s notched two touchdowns on 155 receiving yards over the first two weeks. He’s put up some huge numbers despite receiving just 11 targets, which speaks to his big-play ability.

Now, Chase will try to keep that momentum going against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3. Pittsburgh’s secondary has struggled, allowing the third-most receptions (37), the sixth-most yards (445), and two scores to wide receivers.

Chase could be poised to rip off more big plays and find paydirt again in Week 3. The Steelers’ ailing defense will be hard-pressed to slow down Joe Burrow and his aerial attack, especially if T.J. Watt and Devin Bush are sidelined.

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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons

  • Falcons-Giants Total: 48.5 via BetMGM
  • Over 48.5 (-110), Under 48.5 (-110)

Although the New York Giants paid Kenny Golladay in free agency, he is playing second fiddle to Sterling Shepard. Shepard has always been a capable receiver with a high ceiling, but he’s been derailed by injuries in recent seasons.

Shepard’s healthy so far, however, and is off to a monster start. His rapport with Daniel Jones has paid enormous dividends early on, resulting in 207 receiving yards on an NFL-high 16 receptions. Even more impressively, he excelled against two of the better defenses in the NFL.

Now he’ll get the Atlanta Falcons, who have one of the league’s worst units and are yielding the eighth-most FPPG (30.1) to the wide receiver position. Shepard has accumulated 17+ PPR points in each of his first two games of the year, so he should make it a third in Week 3.

Sterling Shepard New York Giants WR

Sterling Shepard has been one of the NFL’s best wide receivers to start 2021, making him a top fantasy play for Week 3. (Image: USA TODAY)

Deep WR Week 3 Sleeper: Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Cardinals-Jaguars Total: 52 via BetMGM
  • Over 52 (-110), Under 52 (-110)

Rondale Moore is quietly carving out a role on the Arizona Cardinals’ high-powered offense. Despite a crowded receiver room filled with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green, Moore is playing well and impressing. In two games, Moore has caught 11 of his 13 targets for 182 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Kyler Murray is taking notice as well. Though Moore played the fewest snaps of the aforementioned wide receivers (28) in Week 2, he led the team in targets with eight — twice as many as Hopkins.

In Week 3, the Cardinals will look to continue their high-scoring ways against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Given Jacksonville’s porous defense, Arizona has a great chance to top 30 points for the third straight week. The Cards should feast, including Moore.

Also Consider: K.J. Osborne, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks; Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Tight End

Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings

  • Seahawks-Vikings Total: 55 via BetMGM
  • Over 55 (-110), Under 55 (-110)

Gerald Everett has been quiet in his first two games with the Seattle Seahawks, netting just three catches on four targets for 23 receiving yards and a touchdown. Everett still seems to be establishing chemistry with Russell Wilson, who already has strong relationships with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

It should only be a matter of time until Everett breaks out, however. He’s seeing far more action than fellow tight end Will Dissly, so the usage is there. The results will eventually follow, potentially as soon as this week against the Minnesota Vikings.

In what figures to be a high-scoring affair, Everett should hopefully see a few more targets. If he does, look for him to tear up the middle of the field against Minnesota’s defense.

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Rams-Buccaneers Total: 55 via BetMGM
  • Over 55 (-110), Under 55 (-110)

Yes, I like to include Tyler Higbee a lot in my sleepers. He is the definition of a sleeper though, right? Higbee has the upside to pop as a top-three tight end, but he doesn’t always receive the opportunities to do so.

Higbee only received one target in Week 2 after a strong Week 1, so he could be due for a rebound in Week 2. Higbee played 59 snaps and ran 27 routes in Week 2, so he should see more looks in Week 3, especially considering that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have struggled to contain tight ends.

Tampa Bay is allowing the 15th-most FPPG (7.8) to the position after surrendering 16 receptions for 153 yards to enemy tight ends in two games. Higbee should be able to reach double-digit PPR points this week with the potential for a top-five finish if he finds the end zone.

Deep TE Week 3 Sleeper: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans

  • Colts-Titans Total: 48 via BetMGM
  • Over 48 (-110), Under 48 (-110)

We already mentioned the Colts’ uncertainty quarterback this week. Regardless of who ends up under center, Jack Doyle should be busy.

While Doyle hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this year (he does have a two-point conversion), the veteran has re-established himself as the team’s top pass-catching tight end with eight receptions on 12 targets for 85 receiving yards over the first two weeks. With that kind of volume, Doyle brings a solid floor in PPR fantasy.

Doyle will try to find the end zone in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, who have allowed the fourth-most points in the NFL this year. Like Nyheim Hines, Doyle could be a top short-yardage option in Indy’s offense for Week 3, especially in the red zone.

Also Consider: Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs; Dan Arnold, Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Kicker

Matt Prater, Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Cardinals-Jaguars Total: 52 via BetMGM
  • Over 52 (-110), Under 52 (-110)

After toiling for the Detroit Lions over the past seven seasons, Matt Prater is now a key piece one of the NFL’s top offenses. The Arizona Cardinals rank second in points scored thus far, and should be in line for another prolific output against a weak Jacksonville Jaguars defense.

That should keep Prater busy in Week 3 against a unit that has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to kickers in 2021 (13.5 FPPG). After tallying 20 points in Weeks 1 and 2 combined, Prater has a high floor and high ceiling in this matchup.

Also Consider: Zane Gonzalez, Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans; Nick Folk, New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3: Defensive Team

Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans

  • Panthers-Texans Total: 44 via BetMGM
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

The Carolina Panthers have bolstered their defense with young talent over the past couple of years, which is starting to pay off in 2021. They’ve allowed the fewest points in the NFL this year and have another tasty matchup on deck this week against the Houston Texans, who are expected to start rookie QB Davis Mills with Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) out.

The Panthers have tallied 10 sacks and three turnovers while permitting just 21 points over the first two weeks combined. I’m all in on them against a rookie signal-caller who won’t have much time to prepare for this Thursday Night Football matchup.

Also Consider: Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars; Las Vegas Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins

NFL Week 2 Fantasy Football Recap

NFL Week 2 Disappointments:

  • QB Ryan Tannehill (14.58)
  • QB Joe Burrow (13.28)
  • QB Dak Prescott (8.48)
  • RB James Robinson (9.4)
  • RB Antonio Gibson (9.3)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (8.9)
  • RB Melvin Gordon (8.9)
  • RB Myles Gaskin (8.6)
  • RB Javonte Williams (8.4)
  • RB Joe Mixon (8.1)
  • RB Alvin Kamara (7.0)
  • RB Miles Sanders (6.9)
  • WR Jakobi Meyers (7.8)
  • WR A.J. Brown (7.3)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (6.8)
  • WR Robby Anderson (6.8)
  • WR Tyreek Hill (5.9)
  • WR Amari Cooper (5.4)
  • WR Marquez Callaway (2.8)
  • WR Antonio Brown (2.7)
  • WR Brandon Aiyuk (1.6)
  • TE Logan Thomas (9.5)
  • TE Mike Gesicki (7.1)
  • TE Jonnu Smith (6.8)
  • TE Hunter Henry (6.2)
  • TE Jared Cook (5.8)
  • TE George Kittle (5.7)
  • TE Tyler Higbee (1.8)

NFL Week 2 Injuries to Monitor:

  • QB Tua Tagovailoa (ribs)
  • QB Tyrod Taylor (hamstring)
  • QB Andy Dalton (ankle)
  • QB Carson Wentz (ankle)
  • QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder)
  • RB Darrell Henderson (ribs)
  • RB Elijah Mitchell (shoulder)
  • RB JaMycal Hasty (ankle)
  • RB Trey Sermon (concussion)
  • WR Laviska Shenault (shoulder)
  • WR Jarvis Landry (knee)
  • WR Nico Collins (shoulder)
  • WR Danny Amendola (hamstring)

Anthony’s Accountable

This is a recap of my plays from last week (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10+ PPR points (15+ for QBs):

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater (21.22)
  • QB Sam Darnold (19.90)
  • RB Ty’Son Williams (11.3)
  • RB James White (18.5)
  • RB Leonard Fournette (11.6)
  • WR Brandin Cooks (22.8)
  • WR Sammy Watkins (8.4)
  • WR Tim Patrick (12.7)
  • TE Tyler Higbee (1.8)
  • TE Jared Cook (5.8)

For more NFL Week 2 recap analysis, check out our Run It Back series on Instagram:



Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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