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Fantasy storylines for Week 3 of the NFL preseason

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With two weeks of preseason action in the books, we've reached the most important game of the exhibition season: Week 3. It's the dress rehearsal for most teams, where the starters will play anywhere up to three quarters before basically being shelved until the regular season. While many overlook the preseason as merely a tease for the regular season slate, seasoned fantasy owners know that there is much to be learned from watching these games. This is where you can uncover potential breakouts like Mark Ingram last year, or Doug Martin this year. With that in mind, here's what we'll be keeping our eye on in Week 3 of the NFL preseason. Don't forget, you can watch all of the preseason games live (expect in local markets) and get access to thousands of regular season games (including All-22 coaches film) with an NFL GamePass subscription. It's a no-brainer investment for die-hard football fans.

You can find a recap of what caught our eye in Week 2 of the preseason RIGHT HERE.

FRIDAY


New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers (7:30pm ET)


NEW ENGLAND: Dion Lewis looked good last week and could make his case even stronger to be the passing down back with another productive performance. Who is going to catch passes? The Patriots wide receivers are resembling the Red Shirts in Star Trek lately. We want to see who, if anyone, emerges, or if Reggie Wayne was somehow able to hold off Father Time, even though he looked to have lost that fight last year.

CAROLINA: Devin Funchess is being forced into the limelight far earlier than the team wanted. Can he start to emerge as a reliable target who can actually play to his size? Lots of live reps against the Patriots No. 1 defense could help. Also, can Corey Brown or Jerricho Cotchery make a case to be fantasy relevant (our guess is a hard no).

Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars (8pm ET, CBS)


DETROIT: Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner have impressed all preseason, and we'll be interested to see hope many reps both get with the ones.

JACKSONVILLE: T.J. Yeldon (finger) is expected to make his NFL debut in this game, so all eyes will be on him. Many presumed him to be the de facto bell-cow, but after nice performances from Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson, I'm not so sure that will be the case. This game could go a long way to helping fantasy fans get a true glimpse of how this backfield will be split up.

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (8pm ET)


Every game, all season

TENNESSEE: Clarity is all we ask in this backfield after Bishop Sankey put on arguably the best performance of his NFL career last week (through gaping holes, mind you). My best guess is still with David Cobb winning this battle before the season's end, though. And can Dorial Green-Beckham please get more work with the first team? We really don't want to be subjected to too many more games with a starting lineup of Hakeem Nicks/Harry Douglas/Kendall Wright. Thanks.

KANSAS CITY: The battle to watch is between Chris Conley and Albert Wilson for the No. 2 wide receiver spot. Wilson has the edge (and is the current starter), but has been quiet in camp, leading the team to say that they'll give Conley a lot of work against the Titans.

SATURDAY


Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (4pm ET, NFLN)


PITTSBURGH: Markus Wheaton has become a very intriguing player to watch. With Martavis Bryant facing a potential four-game suspension, Wheaton has a chance to live up to Ben Roethlisberger's assertion that he will be the breakout wide receiver. Keep a close eye on him Saturday night.

BUFFALO: With so many starters shelved with injuries (LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, etc.) there's little reason to tune into this one from a fantasy perspective. Just hope that Tyrod Taylor continues his push for the starting gig, even though EJ Manuel will get the start on Saturday. #TeamTyrod.

New York Jets at New York Giants (7pm ET)


NEW YORK JETS: Chris Ivory's preseason performance has helped his ADP skyrocket, but seeing even more work for him in the passing game would help cement him as a middle-round RB2. An improved rapport between Ryan Fitzpatrick and his wide receivers will also be what we're watching for, especially against the Giants' banged-up secondary. Both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have value this season.

NEW YORK GIANTS: This backfield has been a mess to figure out, with Rashad Jennings (seven touches), Shane Vereen (six touches) and Andre Williams (six touches) splitting up a measly amount of opportunities. Hopefully we can get a better sense of how this offense will run out of the backfield. Oh, and stop worrying about Odell Beckham Jr. He'll be fine.

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (7pm ET)


ATLANTA: With Roddy White going under the knife (albeit, for minor surgery), it presents an opportunity for offseason star Leonard Hankerson to assert himself into a more prominent role in this offense. We still don't know how this backfield will look either, with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman both working their way back from hamstring injuries. Both should see some work against Miami, and we will be watching closely.

MIAMI: This offense has been humming so far, despite not having its full complement of weapons. Kenny Stills just got his feet wet last week, and we'd like to see him dive in a little deeper during the regular season dress rehearsal.

Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (7pm ET)


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MINNESOTA: Teddy Bridgewater has looked great all preseason, so we don't really need to see much more. This offense looks ready to be a surprisingly good unit in 2015.

DALLAS: Running backs, running backs, running backs. This is arguably THE most important battle to watch this weekend, as the fantasy implications could be HUGE.

Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7pm ET)

CLEVELAND: Duke Johnson could get into the mix, and if he finds even a modicum of success he could jump to the top of this running back committee. Neither Isaiah Crowell nor Terrance West has been overly impressive thus far.

TAMPA BAY: The Doug Martin hype train has been picking up followers all preseason, but we're more interested in getting an extended look at Jameis Winston. He has some big fantasy targets (Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins) that could feast or fall flay depending on how Famous Jameis adjusts to the NFL game.

Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (7:30pm ET)


WASHINGTON: Matt Jones has been making a serious push for some carries in the regular season, but Alfred Morris should still be able to hold him off. Still, the presence of Jones worries me with Freddy Mo a tad. Can anyone play quarterback on this team? We'd love to see some good results.

BALTIMORE: As far as we know, Steve Smith is going to be facing four DBs by himself on every play, as no one has emerged as a No. 2 option for the Ravens. This will be the best chance for the likes of Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro or Breshad Perriman (by default -- he's still sidelined with a sprained PCL) to make their case for the gig. Also keep an eye on Crockett Gillmore, one of my favorite deep sleeper candidates for 2015. He'll get an extended run with the starters playing longer, and could make a splash.

Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (7:30pm ET)


CHICAGO: The Bears pass-catchers are all knicked up to some degree, but it'd be encouraging to see the likes of Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson make a few plays.

CINCINNATI: This offense could be loaded with fantasy potential. It'll be nice to get an extended look, and hopefully not see Andy Dalton continue to throw hospital balls to his pass-catchers.

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (8pm ET)


PHILADELPHIA: Both Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray ran with the first team (and scored last week), so we'll be watching how they split up touches closely. Of course, our eyes will be glued to every dropback Sam Bradford takes, and where he goes with the football. Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz owners are keeping their fingers crossed.

GREEN BAY: There's only one question everyone wants answered: Who will pick up the slack with Jordy Nelson sidelined for the year? Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis will all need to be watched closely.

Indianapolis Colts at St. Louis Rams (8pm ET)


INDIANAPOLIS: Phillip Dorsett appears to have the inside track on the No. 3 wide receiver job for the Colts over Donte Moncrief, so owners will want to see who gets in more work with the starters. Similarly, with Andrew Luck on field for more snaps, keep an eye on how he targets his two talented tight ends, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

ST. LOUIS: Brian Quick is the name to watch for the Rams, as he'll be returning to the lineup for the first time since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last season. People scoff at the mention of Quick, but he had 22 catches for 322 receiving yards and three touchdowns over the first four games of 2014. If a viable fantasy pass-catcher is to emerge from the Rams offense, odds are it will be Quick.

Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers (8pm ET, CBS)


SEATTLE: Russell Wilson has had to run for his life during much of the preseason, so it'd be great to see some stability develop on his offensive line. We got a glimpse of the Wilson-Jimmy Graham connection last week, but we want MORE PLEASE.

SAN DIEGO: Melvin Gordon missed last week's game after tweaking his ankle, but is expected to get a ton of work on Saturday. Owners picking him up around his fifth-round price tag will want to watch closely to see if he has improved from his shaky NFL debut. Ladarius Green is also a name to watch, as he could have some early-season value with Antonio Gates on the shelf with a four-game suspension.

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos (8pm ET)


SAN FRANCISCO: Jarryd Hayne has been a preseason sensation, but will all of his production lead to any time with the first team? Colin Kaepernick has looked shaky and inaccurate thus far, so it'd be great to see him settle down and actually connect with Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Vernon Davis a bit more regularly.

DENVER: Is C.J. Anderson going to remain the bell cow, or will the specter of Ronnie Hillman haunt his fantasy ceiling? Owners who have invested heavily (i.e first or second round pick) in Anderson will want to watch how the carries are divvied up closely. Manning loves his tight ends, but Owen Daniels is no spring chicken. Keep an eye on Virgil Green to see if Manning looks his way in the red zone.

SUNDAY


Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (4pm ET, FOX)


HOUSTON Brian Hoyer is now officially the starter, and we'd love to see him look for DeAndre Hopkins early, often and always. We'd also like to see someone run away with this backfield job while Arian Foster recovers, but we're not holding our breath.

NEW ORLEANS: Mark Ingram has been seeing some pass-catching work with C.J. Spiller recovering from his knee scope, and it'd be great to see that continue to boost his value as a top-end RB2 even more. We're still waiting for one of these young pass-catchers to rise up to the occasion. Sunday afternoon's extended look at the first team is the best chance for Brandon Coleman or Nick Toon to really step up and make a splash.

Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders (8pm ET, NBC)


ARIZONA: David Johnson and Andre Ellington have both looked good in the preseason, and we're really curious to see how they get rotated in with the first team offense. John Brown is an emerging star, and could make a splash against Oakland's secondary with the first team taking more snaps. He's an ideal middle-round WR target with tremendous upside.

OAKLAND: The Oakland offense has signs of life thanks to Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper, but the young guns will be put to the test against a stout Arizona defense. I for one, am eager to see how they do, as both Cooper and Murray carry pretty high fantasy price tags.

-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy football writer/editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGelhar, where he's happy to answer your questions about fantasy football, movies, life, the universe and everything.

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