NFL

​Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 3

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve just that.

The following offers suggestions for players to pick up now (who are currently under 50% rostered) so that that you won’t need to use a high waiver claim or spend a significant amount of free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) on them later.

N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots

ESPN Roster Percentage: 47.8%

Second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry has already surpassed his receiving production in his 2019 rookie campaign (23 targets, 12 receptions, 105 receiving yards) just two games into the 2020 season (18 targets, 13 receptions, 111 receiving yards). Harry seems to finally be healthy after being on injured reserve for nearly half of last year with an ankle injury.

Harry seems to have the trust of his starting quarterback. Former Patriot Tom Brady clearly didn’t have a strong rapport with Harry, but current starter Cam Newton fed Harry a team-high 12 targets in Week 2 after throwing to him six times in Week 1.

Despite employing Newton, the Patriots have passed at the sixth-highest rate in the league in neutral situations so far this season, per Rotoworld.

If Harry is able to unlock the potential that New England saw in him when it drafted him 32nd overall in 2019, Harry could be in for a huge sophomore season -- and he has a great chance to continue to prove himself this week against the Las Vegas Raiders, which currently ranks 21st in numberFire’s Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play and ranked 31st a season ago there a season ago.

The time to get Harry is now.

Dion Lewis, RB, New York Giants

ESPN Roster Percentage: 28.8%

There were an absurd amount of injuries in Week 2, with some big-time players landing on season-ending injured reserve -- perhaps none bigger than Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL last week against the Chicago Bears.

The New York Giants responded by signing veteran running back Devonta Freeman to help carry the load in the backfield. Freeman is an uninspiring fantasy option despite his potential workload, however, as his Total NEP has worsened in each of the past three seasons and he ranked ahead of only Frank Gore in Rushing NEP per carry last season among 29 qualifying running backs in 2019.

Dion Lewis isn’t much more efficient, as he actually had nearly the same Rushing NEP per carry as Freeman last season on 130 fewer rushes. But Freeman is expected to handle the majority of carries behind a Giants offensive line that currently ranks dead last in adjusted line yards and percentage of runs stuffed, according to Football Outsiders, while Lewis is expected to handle the majority of running back targets on a team that ranks first in neutral situation pass rate and ninth in running back target share.

ESPN reporter Jordan Raanan expects Lewis to be the main beneficiary of Barkley’s absence for the remainder of the season. Roster Lewis now before his role as New York’s lead back becomes clear this weekend.

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

ESPN Roster Percentage: 16.2%

Similar to Harry, Parris Campbell was an early 2019 draft pick who had an injury-riddled rookie year but seemed primed for a strong sophomore season. Unfortunately, Campbell recently landed on injured reserve with a PCL injury. But that leaves room for another young receiver, 2020 second-round pick Michael Pittman Jr., to shine in Indianapolis’ offense.

Pittman is the type of big-bodied possession receiver quarterback Philip Rivers has embraced throughout his career (e.g., Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Antonio Gates), as the 6-4, 223-pound Pittman dropped just 5 of 176 career catchable passes at USC, per PFF. He actually leads all Indianapolis receivers in snaps so far this season and ranks behind only Harry and CeeDee Lamb in snaps among rookie receivers.

Pittman should see ample opportunity this week against the New York Jets, a defense which currently ranks 22nd in Defensive Passing NEP per play and 31st in point differential. A big game will make Pittman one of next week's hot waiver adds.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys

ESPN Roster Percentage: 14.6%

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was a popular sleeper pick this offseason following Jason Witten's departure. Unfortunately, Jarwin tore his ACL in the first week of the season, leaving an open spot for second-year tight end Dalton Schultz.

Schultz played on 69% of the offensive snaps in Week 1 following Jarwin’s injury, securing just one of four targets for 11 yards. His usage didn’t change much in Week 2, as his offensive snap rate rose to just 70% (20th among all tight ends), but his involvement increased dramatically, as he earned nine receptions on 10 targets (both team-highs) for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Considering the amount of mouths to feed in Dallas and last week's negative game script, Schultz certainly shouldn’t be expected to produce those types of numbers every week, but it’s impressive how big of a role he earned so quickly. He should continue to see a decent amount of targets every week -- especially in scoring position, as his four red zone targets this season is tied for third among all players --- and offer high-end TE2 value.

Schultz could be in for another big game this week against the Seattle Seahawks. The matchup has the highest projected total on FanDuel Sportsbook and the third-highest projected pace, according to Football Outsiders while Seattle has allowed the most yards and plays so far this season. Schultz is very likely to be more heavily rostered a week from now than he is currently.