Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL)
After Johnson's showing against Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, there's no way Miami can keep Johnson out of a prominent role. He ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries Saturday, adding three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown and a fourth touchdown on a kick return. Johnson is an immense talent on a team that's generally a mess as a whole. The only hope the Hurricanes have is to give Johnson all the work he can handle. He has 248 yards and four touchdowns as a runner on just 27 carries.
Wes Brown, RB, Maryland
He's probably no more than an ACC-only league pickup until he proves himself a bit more, but in such formats Brown should probably be owned after Saturday's showing against Connecticut. Previously thought to be a non-factor in the Maryland rotation despite his status as a high recruit, Brown emerged as the Terrapins' most productive runner against the Huskies, totaling 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. The consensus four-star recruit should turn into Maryland's top back if he keeps his head on straight.
J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State
Starter Wes Lunt left Saturday's game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a knee injury of some sort, reportedly a dislocated kneecap, and Walsh came in to post huge numbers in his place. Already a better fantasy option than Lunt due to his superior running skills, Walsh showed an ability to produce through the air as well Saturday, completing 21-of-30 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns while running for 73 yards and a touchdown. That sort of showing might make Oklahoma State rethink its depth chart, and Walsh would be a potentially strong fantasy option if he emerges as starter.
Blake Jackson, TE, Oklahoma State
With two monstrous games in a row, Jackson is a must-own in all formats. The high-ranking recruit for some reason didn't catch a pass in Oklahoma State's opening game against Savannah State, but he's been on fire since, hauling in 11 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown. With Oklahoma State's receivers inconsistent for the most part, Jackson could very well be the team's leading pass catcher across all receiving categories by year's end.
Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh
As one of the blue chip running back recruits from the 2012 class, it never would have surprised anyone to see Shell lead Pittsburgh in rushing in a given game. It probably wasn't expected to occur quite this soon, on the other hand, yet Shell pummeled Virginia Tech for 157 yards on 23 carries Saturday, giving a glimpse of the star power he'll provide Pittsburgh once Ray Graham moves to the NFL. As long as Graham is playing for Pittsburgh, though, Shell might struggle to be a fantasy option outside of Big East-only leagues.
Prince-Tyson Gulley, RB, Syracuse
Like Shell, Gulley is primarily a Big East-only league consideration for the time being, but he continues to play an important role in the Syracuse backfield and has the talent to earn a bigger role as the season progresses. His value is especially high in PPR formats, as he pulled in five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown against Stony Brook on Saturday, giving him a good fantasy boxscore despite running for just 28 yards on 11 carries.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson is probably the best fantasy wide receiver in the Big Ten, especially in PPR formats. After a five-catch game against Navy on Saturday that resulted in 136 yards and three touchdowns, Robinson is up to 24 catches for 322 yards and four scores on the season. He has four times as many receptions as the next receiver for Penn State, and that receiver (Shawney Kersey) just left the team, so Robinson has almost no competition for targets. He should be owned in all formats.
Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
Weisman could make a nice Big Ten spot start at running back Saturday as Damon Bullock (head) and Greg Garmon (elbow) might be out againt Central Michigan. He filled in for Bullock and Garmon against Northern Iowa last Saturday and finished with 24 carries for 113 yards and three touchdowns as well as three catches for 33 yards.
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Cato needs to be owned in all leagues. Marshall's offense has proven to be extremely aggressive through the air, and as a result Cato has enormous yardage numbers through three games. After throwing for 432 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against Ohio on Saturday, Cato now has 1,222 yards and eight touchdowns passing after three weeks. With two good receivers in Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson as well as a Conference-USA schedule, there's no reason why Cato can't stay hot the rest of the year.
Marcus Rucker, WR, Memphis
Injuries have been a constant issue for Rucker throughout his career, but his production tends to be quite decent when he is at full strength. With Jacob Karam providing Memphis its best quarterback play in at least five years and Rucker apparently healthy, Rucker is in a position to produce for fantasy owners. He caught fire against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, snagging 10 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, giving him three touchdowns on the year. Rucker caught eight touchdowns during his sophomore season, so he can definitely push for double-digit scores this year.
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
He's ideally no more than a fantasy backup in his redshirt freshman season, but Golson continues to show promise for Notre Dame, with his most recent accomplishment a 20-3 victory over a Michigan State squad that possesses a tough defense. It was an ugly game from a passing perspective as he threw for just 178 yards and a touchdown on 32 attempts, but he added another touchdown as a rusher, and his ability to hold up on the road against a tough defense makes Golson a promising fantasy backup prospect in deep formats.
Jaime Wilson, WR, Western Michigan
Eric Monette and Josh Schaffer looked like good breakout candidates for Western Michigan entering the year because they were the only returning Broncos wideouts with any noteworthy level of experience. Through three weeks, though, it looks like Wilson is the real star of the group, as the true freshman has simply crushed his opponents in the competition for targets. Wilson has 29 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns so far, with Schaffer (nine catches) and Monette (six catches) far behind.
Andy Cruse, WR, Miami (OH)
Star wideout Nick Harwell surprisingly missed Saturday's game against Boise State with an unspecified leg injury, depriving the Miami offense of a receiver who totaled 108 catches in his last 13 games. If Harwell's absence should linger, it looks like Cruse is Miami's best bet to fill the void. His average of 5.8 yards per catch is atrocious, but with 26 catches and two touchdowns through three weeks, Cruse's lack of upside is tolerable in deep and MAC-only formats. In PPR leagues, of course, Cruse's big reception numbers could translate to quite a bit of usefulness.
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Adams continues to look extremely promising for Fresno State. After catching 19 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the first two weeks, Adams hauled in four more passes for 74 yards and a touchdown against Colorado on Saturday. He looks like one of the nation's brightest young talents at receiver, and despite playing alongside accomplished veterans like Josh Harper and Isaiah Burse, it appears as if Adams is unchallenged as Fresno State's top receiver. He must be owned in all formats.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada
Sudfeld is primarily a deep-league consideration because he splits playing time with fellow promising tight end Kolby Arendse, but Sudfeld is nonetheless on the radar due to his quietly strong start in Nevada's high-powered offense. Despite facing two BCS defenses in California and South Florida in the first two weeks, Sudfeld headed into Week 3 with nine receptions before hauling in two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown against Northwestern State on Saturday. Sudfeld has 11 catches for 151 yards and a score through three games.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Sankey and the Huskies have a bye this week and take on a tough Stanford defense upon their return, but Sanky should certainly be owned in Pac-12-only leagues and plenty of other formats thanks to the long-term value he provides at running back. With Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper both out for the year with knee injuries, Sankey finds himself in the feature-back role in a Washington offense that should put up points against most opponents. The former high-ranking recruit has just 185 yards on the year, but outside of his hopeless road matchup against LSU in Week 2 he has 169 yards and three touchdowns in two games.
Steven Manfro, RB, UCLA
Manfro could be a decent depth stash at running back in Pac-12 and PPR-league consideration. Manfro is emerging as a productive running back/wide receiver hybrid for UCLA, actually leading the team in receptions and receiving yardage through three weeks with 14 catches for 164 yards. He also has one touchdown each on the ground and through the air. His role seems to be increasing in the Bruins offense, too, as his reception totals have increased from three, to four, to seven catches in the first three respective weeks of the year.
Bo Wallace, QB, Mississippi
Wallace and the previously high-flying Mississippi offense crashed back to earth against a strong Texas defense Saturday, as Wallace finished with just eight yards rushing while completing 13-of-24 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He should bounce back with big numbers against Tulane this week, however, making him an excellent spot start before Mississippi takes a beating from Alabama in Week 5. Wallace had seven touchdowns (two rushing) and 135 yards on the ground as Mississippi took on Central Arkansas and UTEP in the first two weeks.
Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida
The Gators might finally have a quarterback. Driskel took his game to a new level Saturday, completing 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns while running for 81 yards on the road against Tennessee. Since the game was Florida's most important to this point, Driskel's numbers are especially encouraging. He showed his best form with the highest stakes so far, looking good in the exact opposite of garbage time. He needs to be owned in SEC-only leagues at the least, and he's worth looking at if you need quarterback depth in other formats.
Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky headed into this year with a running-back rotation between Andrews and Keshawn Simpson, but with Simpson missing time due a knee injury Andrews took over as the main runner the last two weeks. Despite facing two SEC squads in Alabama and Kentucky, Andrews has impressed and could run away with a feature back role for Western Kentucky. The junior was probably Western Kentucky's MVP in its upset win over Kentucky on Saturday, totaling 130 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while adding 36 yards on three catches. Andrews has looked remarkably good as a receiver all year, as he's up to 13 catches for 147 yards through three games.
Shawn Southward, RB, Troy
Previously held back by running back committees in his earlier days at Troy, Southward is breaking out this year as he receives a bigger workload. Through three weeks, Southward already is more than halfway to his 2011 carry total, taking 64 carries for 374 yards (5.8 YPC) and five touchdowns after receiving just 123 carries for 556 yards and four touchdowns all of last year. He's also making an impact as a receiver, catching 16 passes through three weeks for 95 yards. After beating up Mississippi State's SEC defense to the tune of 137 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries Saturday, Southward should probably be owned in all formats.
Tevin King, RB, Louisiana Tech
King might be tiny at around 5-foot-7, 170, but he's proving to be a monster runner so far this year for Louisiana Tech. After two games, he has 316 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, averaging a little more than nine yards per carry in the process. He has even shown glimpses of receiving abilities, catching four passes in the team's opener against Houston. He torched Rice for 204 yards on the ground and Houston for 112 yards and three scores the week before that, making him fairly close to a must-own in most formats until he cools off.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
That's right, two Louisiana Tech running backs on the list this week. Both King and Dixon have enormous numbers through two weeks, with Dixon getting three fewer carries but posting one more touchdown (four) than King (three). After burning Rice for 113 three touchdowns on 14 carries Saturday, Dixon enters Week 4 with 203 yards on the ground in two games. Houston and Rice both have unimpressive defenses, but those numbers are convincing. Dixon is quite valuable in non-AQ leagues and a justifiable pickup in all other formats, too.