As a rule, man’s a fool. When it’s hot, he wants it cool. When it’s cool, he wants it hot, always wanting what is not.
An old poem my grandmother used to say about the universal nature of human suffering. Speaking of human suffering and the fickle essence of the material world, how about Fantasy Football Week 3, and all of last week’s “stock down” players?
Christian McCaffrey broke 100 yards receiving, DeMarco Murray tore up the Seahawks (not his hamstring), Bilal Powell’s back on the menu, but Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor, you can remain seated. Then you had risers like Trevor Siemian, Derek Carr, C.J. Anderson, and Derrick Henry who decided that those things we writers call “narratives” could use a little bit of what we writers call “dramatic, gut-punching plot twists.”
Yes, the cosmos is cold and cruel, even concerning matchups as juicy as the Ravens D/ST vs. Blake Bortles‘ Jaguars. Proceed at your own peril with me as I try to make sense of it.
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Kirk Cousins (QB – WAS)
He’s gotten off to a slow start each of the last two years, so there was no need to panic. But there was perhaps cause for concern as his top targets walked out the door in the offseason.
Considering all the yards and touchdowns he threw up on Sunday, without Reed in the lineup or Pryor as a factor, owners can finally breathe a sigh of relief that he’s most likely returning to form. He’s looking once again like a safe bet to finish the year as a top ten fantasy QB, even if he is inconsistent getting there.
Todd Gurley (RB – LAR)
OK, it’s time to admit that he’s back. Owners can comfortably assume high-end stud RB1 production moving forward. Either McVay is a genius or Fisher is a dunce (probably a bit of both), but this new offensive system has breathed life into the fading flame that was Todd Gurley‘s career.
He could still demonstrate better vision at times, but the game-breaking speed and playmaking ability are back on full display, and the offense is capable of moving down the field. Drafted tentatively as a low RB1, Gurley is a top tier running back moving forward.
Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
18 rush attempts, three receptions, and over 100 total yards of offense in Bill Lazor’s first game as OC. This is what we were all hoping for. His ceiling will always be capped by the Bengals’ poor line and the presence of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill.
But Mixon has the talent to overcome the line (did you see those jump cuts?!), and those other backs have seen their volume share trending down since Week 1. Total touches in Week 3: Mixon – 21, Hill – 8, Bernard – 5. Hill and Bernard only had one touch each in the second half on Sunday.
This is Mixon’s backfield now. The arrow is pointing straight up. He’s a weekly RB2 with RB1 upside should he begin to find the end zone.
Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN)
Maybe you were worried about Sam Bradford’s knee. Maybe you thought Week 1 was a fluke, and Week 2 was the new normal with Case Keenum. Maybe you sold high on Diggs thinking it was too good to be true.
You were wrong. Stefon Diggs is a legitimate fantasy and real-life WR1. Frankly, if you put him in a black and gold jersey, I’m not sure if I could tell him apart from Antonio Brown with his knack for getting open at will and making acrobatic touchdown catches.
Nothing else needs to be said. Just watch the film and see for yourself.
Here’s a new star being born. Congratulations, owners, on the mid-round breakout stud.
Brandin Cooks (WR – NE)
Finally! Owners can exhale. This is the type of blow up game that you drafted Cooks to provide. It’s yet to be determined if he can consistently find these WR1 weeks, but you can at least rest assured now that he’s not going to be a bust.
He’d been tackled within the five-yard line multiple times in the first two weeks, so you had to sense this coming. Still, his value was down because fantasy points are all that matters, and he was not living up to the billing in that regard. He’s officially back on the map as a WR1.
His clutch, game-winning touchdown grab is exactly the type of play that gain’s Brady’s trust as a go-to target in crunch time. Let’s hope this is the performance that sparks a hot streak for him.
Cam Newton (QB – CAR)
I know what you’re thinking: “Luc, wasn’t Newton on your stock down last week?” Yes, he was.
His stock was down in the way that a pneumatic old man’s stock is down. That was last week. This week, he’s six feet under.
Way down. This doesn’t look like rust on the machine anymore; this looks like the engine’s burst into flames. Either his shoulder is way worse than they’re letting on, or he’s forgotten how to play the position.
This was supposed to be a get-right game against a porous Saints’ defense. He’s missing simple throws. They might go to Anderson soon, and you should move on too.
I’d drop him in all but the deepest of leagues. Hope this isn’t the beginning of the end of a promising career.
Lamar Miller (RB – HOU)
I swear, sometimes, when the light hits him just right, 2017 Lamar Miller looks just like 2016 Jeremy Langford, doesn’t he? An undersized scat back asked to carry a load; Miller is a nickel trying to be a dime. In Week 2, Miller had 18 rushes to Foreman’s 12, a 60% share. That’s good enough for most starters.
Week 3 saw Miller’s total volume and yardage shrink to only 14 carries (still a 63% share) and a mere 56 yards. This was a predictable decline, as one might have figured that the Texans will not have the luxury of running 30 times per game like they did versus the Bengals on that miserable Thursday night. Miller’s yards per carry is still higher than D’Onta Foreman‘s for now, which I suppose counts for something, but I wouldn’t start bragging about a 3.7 YPC if I were an owner.
Not only are the numbers troubling, but so is the context. First, look at the offense as a whole: there will be minimal scoring opportunities to be had. Second, look at the tape: Foreman breaks tackles and fights for positive yards, whereas Miller gets taken down by the mere sight of a would-be tackler.
Foreman is simply better suited to pound between the tackles, which is what Bill O’Brien wants to do. You have to seriously wonder if Miller will get goal line looks anymore, on the rare occasion that the offense gets that close. At best, Miller’s going to be as pedestrian as he was last year — which means you have a second round low ceiling RB2.
At worst, Foreman continues to prove that he’s better for banging between the tackles and takes that 60% share for himself as well as goal line, where Miller still owns receiving. Owners are not going to receive value proportional to the price they paid.
Isaiah Crowell (RB – CLE)
Death, taxes, and the Cleveland Browns disappointing. 2.9 YPC on the season, 17.7 points through three weeks combined, constantly negative game script even against bad teams...what’s there to like? I’m not sure if you can even comfortably put him in your flex spot at this point.
Granted: now that I say that, he’s going to explode next week. But can you count on him as a dependable weekly RB2, even if that happens? They said “never draft a Browns running back early,” and we pooh-poohed them for being close-minded.
But some rules aren’t meant to be broken. Some people spent a second-round pick on this guy as their RB1. Say a prayer for them.
Samaje Perine (RB – WAS)
You had your chance, and you blew it. 2.6 YPC with a fumble lost. He’s still a promising dynasty prospect, but Perine is not ready for prime time, and he won’t be anytime soon.
Hopefully, you didn’t burn a high waiver pick on him. “We don’t forget fumbles,” Head Coach Gruden said.
Julio Jones (WR – ATL)
It must be nice to be a Falcons fan who doesn’t own Julio Jones. He seems perfectly content to be a decoy and draw coverage while opening space up for Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Austin Hooper, etc. Jones has only one touchdown in his last seven regular-season games. Repeat: Jones has ONE score in his last SEVEN regular season games.
It came in Week 17, by the way, which is no good to fantasy owners. Jones will undoubtedly explode for a game or two, and he’s demonstrating a solid yardage floor, but still...Standard scoring league owners are probably wishing they had this pick back as the Falcons sold us on “featuring Jones in the red zone.”
In a sense, they are featuring him: as a magnet for coverage, and not targets. He should still end the year with about 1,400 yards and six or so scores, which obviously is not bad. It’s just not the kind of dominant fantasy output we were expecting.
He’s the textbook definition of being more valuable in real life than in fantasy. It’s looking like Jordy Nelson, and A.J. Green, who went 10 or so picks later in most places, are going to be bigger fantasy factors.
Amari Cooper (WR – OAK)
I’ll never understand why Cooper was a consensus late-second/early-third round investment. Same player as last year, same team as last year, yet everyone expected different results...why?
I know the narrative: too much potential, too much upside, it has to get better at some point, right? This argument was focused specifically on the red zone this past off-season. His usage by default had to go up, the drops by default had to go down, he can’t possibly remain second fiddle to Michael Crabtree for that long, and look at all that muscle he added! These have been the excuses through two years.
Here’s his production, three weeks into his third year: 12.3, 3.3, 0.6. That’s a downward arrow. He draws the Denver Broncos next week, by the way.
Ever the darling of scouts and fantasy experts, and always the bane of regular-Joe fantasy owners, Amari Cooper is currently WR53 in standard leagues and the WR3 on his team regarding fantasy scoring.
No, he won’t finish the season behind Cordarrelle Patterson. Yes, he is going to get better.
But that’s only because it literally can’t get any worse at this point. It’s looking like another WR2 kind of year.
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Nick Zychowicz is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Nick, follow him @NJZychowicz.