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Tale of the Tape: Week 3 (Fantasy Football)

by Matt Okada | @MattOkada | Featured Writer
Sep 26, 2017

Welcome to Tale of the Tape, where we break down a handful of highlight GIFs from the week’s slate of NFL games and translate them into fantasy football relevance. If you see a highlight worth analyzing in the future, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasySensei!

For now, let’s get into Week 3 of the NFL season!

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The Toe Drag Swag from Garcon

Pierre Garcon posted one of the most impressive games of his career on Thursday Night Football, both from a statistical and pure tape standpoint. He made several strong catches and runs, including this 19-yard beauty that was originally ruled incomplete but eventually reversed on a coach’s challenge. Garcon totaled seven catches for 142 yards on 10 targets and showed how valuable he can be when this Shanahan offense gets going. Especially in PPR leagues, Garcon should be a consistent starter with a high target-driven floor.

Charles Not Quite in Charge, But Certainly Involved

Speculation was rampant throughout the offseason as to whether Jamaal Charles would make the Denver roster and if so, what role he would play. Well, in Week 3 his role was to lead the team in carries (nine, to C.J. Anderson‘s eight) and rushing yards (56), and to add this strong 12-yard scamper into the end zone. Doubted by many following a seemingly endless reconstructive process on his knees, Charles has looked extremely good running for Denver, averaging over five yards per attempt as he has throughout his entire career. Don’t expect Charles to take over a lead back workload, but he is certainly worth a speculative add in case of injury to Anderson or as a FLEX option in very deep leagues.

The Duke Finding Ways to Produce

If you were around for the preseason Tale of the Tapes (or last week for that matter), you may remember some Duke Johnson highlights and a PSA that he would be involved in Cleveland. This is why. Johnson made the most of his two carries (23 yards), dodging and dashing his way to paydirt from 19 yards out, and added 81 receiving yards on six catches. With Corey Coleman injured and Isaiah Crowell underperforming so far, Johnson is easily the best weapon on the Browns’ offense. As long as the touches keep coming, which they should if the Browns hope to find their first win soon, Johnson can be a startable RB in fantasy, especially in PPR formats.

Stefon Diggs Stepping Into the Near-Elite Tier at WR

If you sat Stefon Diggs after a down week in Case Keenum’s first spot-start in place of Sam Bradford, you were sorely disappointed in Week 3 and have hopefully learned your lesson. Diggs has firmly planted himself in the WR1 conversation after a monstrous 173-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers – still with Keenum at the helm! Taking off like a rocket in a third-year breakout, Diggs is now an unbenchable stud. He currently sits atop the rankings as the No. 1 WR in fantasy in all formats, and with Bradford expected back relatively soon, could easily finish in the top five.

For Tevin Coleman, Opportunity Ain’t No Thing

A general rule of thumb in fantasy is that opportunity is king, especially for running backs. Not so much for Tevin Coleman. Quite possibly the most efficient RB with his touches in the NFL, Coleman put together 89 total yards on six carries and three catches on Sunday. Incredibly explosive as a runner and receiver, Coleman is constantly breaking big plays like this 27-yard catch-and-run and putting together fantasy-relevant stat lines as a result. With his ability, Coleman is worth starting over the Crowells and Powells of the world. Not to mention, should Devonta Freeman ever go down, Freeman has an easy path to RB1 production.

Zach Ertz Flying to Top TE Heights

With a slew of injuries around the NFL at the tight end position, Zach Ertz’s 21 receptions for 245 yards a touchdown through three weeks has quickly made him an elite option in fantasy. He sits just behind Rob Gronkowski in both standard and PPR fantasy points and with two poor showings from Travis Kelce, is vying to hold that spot for the entire season. The primary reason is his connection with QB Carson Wentz, who targeted him twice in a row from the three-yard line to secure this touchdown, and who has targeted him 28 times total, tops in the league. Consider Ertz a locked-and-loaded stud if you have him and be willing to pay up big on the trade market if you want a modicum of reliability at tight end.

Jordan Howard Toughs Out a Rebound Game

Jordan Howard is dealing with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder and it showed in Sunday’s matchup with the Steelers. He had to come out of the game multiple times and even favored the shoulder when taking contact. And yet, that didn’t matter much to the box score, as Howard showed incredible grit in piling up 164 total yards and two touchdowns through four quarters and overtime. He lifted the Bears to a surprise victory over Pittsburgh on this 19-yard run and proved that neither injury nor the emergence of Tarik Cohen will keep him from performing. Fantasy owners who were panicking after Week 2 should keep an eye on the injury report, but can breathe a little easier after seeing Howard in top form again.

Rishard Matthews Still the WR to Own in TEN

Last season, Rishard Matthews broke out to the tune of 945 yards and nine touchdowns, good for 14th among WRs in standard formats. And yet, coming into 2017, he was overlooked in drafts due to the additions of Corey Davis and Eric Decker. Well, with Davis hurt and Decker quiet through three weeks, Matthews is once again the receiver to own in Tennessee. This amazing 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass did make up the majority of his fantasy production Sunday (6-for-87 and the TD), but Matthews leads the team in targets (24) and yards (201) and is a close second to Delanie Walker in receptions (14). While none of the Titans WRs are top-level fantasy commodities, Matthews is currently the most valuable.

Chris Thompson Torching Just About Everyone

Apparently, Chris Thompson has not received the memo that he’s supposed to be a run-of-the-mill scat back. His Sunday Night Football stat line of 8-for-38 on the ground and 6-for-150 and a touchdown through the air have him at the No. 3 RB in fantasy through three weeks. While some have been quick to label Thompson’s hot start a fluke, don’t be so sure. Rob Kelley and now Samaje Perine are both battling injuries and the entire Redskins receiving corps has largely underwhelmed (besides Thompson). Like Duke Johnson above, Thompson may have enough of an opportunity in a (better) Washington offense to put up consistent fantasy numbers. He may not be an RB1 for long, but the small speedster could be an every-week FLEX play with high-end upside in PPR leagues.

Larry Fitzgerald is Still Alive

Following two poor weeks to start the season, fans and fantasy football players were wondering if Larry Fitzgerald’s age had finally caught up with him. Breaking news: Fitz is still very good at football. In a hard-fought battle with the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, Fitzgerald had 13 receptions on 15 targets for 149 yards and a touchdown and made classically spectacular Fitzgerald catches like this one, over CB Orlando Scandrick. Obviously, we shouldn’t expect numbers quite this gaudy from Fitzgerald every week, but it’s clear he has not faded quietly into the night. For the foreseeable future, the future Hall-of-Famer is back into WR2 territory.

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Matt Okada is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @FantasySensei.

Featured, NFL