Fantasy Football Recap & Takeaways: Week 3
Young quarterbacks stole the show in Week 3, and it started with the first game of the week. Unfortunately, one promising young quarterback was a headline grabber for the wrong reason. This week’s results also reminded us that there is no such thing as a lock.
Jets 17 at Browns 21
Perhaps it was premature to start fitting Sam Darnold for a golden jacket after the first two weeks. He was messy in the Thursday Night Football contest. The backfield remains a timeshare with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell sharing work. Crowell scored a pair of touchdowns, but Powell was the more efficient runner by a wide margin. Robby Anderson continues to underwhelm at wideout, while Quincy Enunwa — even in a mediocre showing — remains the unquestioned No. 1 option in the passing attack after leading the team in receptions (four), receiving yards (57), and targets (eight).
The real story of this game was another rookie quarterback. Hue Jackson’s incompetence was on full display. Tyrod Taylor was 4 for 14 for 19 yards with three sacks taken, and while the broadcast booth suggested maybe he’d get the hook, I’m skeptical of that being the case if not for Taylor getting hurt. Seriously, how did Jackson watch these two and come to the conclusion Taylor should be starting? Baker Mayfield immediately provided a spark to the offense and zipped the ball all over the field and into tight windows. His 17 for 23 for 201 yards could have been better if not for some bad drops. His upside makes him a must-add, and his throwing skills breathe life into an offense with some intriguing pieces. Carlos Hyde had his best and most efficient game of the season while Duke Johnson remained a non-factor. Jarvis Landry is easily the top pass catcher and an every-week starter. With Mayfield taking over the reigns, David Njoku deserves a little more time to break out in year two.
49ers 27 at Chiefs 38
The season appears to be over for Jimmy Garoppolo. Late in the game, he suffered a knee injury running along the sideline. The expectation is that today’s MRI will reveal a torn ACL, an injury that would obviously end his season and cripple the value of all pieces of San Francisco’s offense. Matt Breida and Alfred Morris continue to split reps in the backfield with Breida remaining the far more effective back. Given the dearth of talent at tight end, it’s possible George Kittle retains weekly fantasy starter status at his position even in the wake of Jimmy G’s injury. Marquise Goodwin‘s game-changing speed makes him a big-play threat, but the downgrade to C.J. Beathard hurts his rest-of-season value immensely.
The Patrick Mahomes Show continues to excite onlookers after he passed for another 314 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Kareem Hunt saved his value this week with a pair of touchdown runs, and Sammy Watkins followed up his excellent Week 2 with a 5-55-1 line. Travis Kelce was the top dog (8-114-0) in the passing attack this week, and even in a down game, Tyreek Hill cleared 50 yards receiving (51 yards) on two grabs.
Bengals 21 at Panthers 31
Bad Andy Dalton reared his ugly head after good Andy Dalton showed up the first two weeks of the season. Dalton passed for 352 yards and two scores, but he also tossed four interceptions. Giovani Bernard touched the ball 17 times (12 carries and five receptions) for 86 yards from scrimmage and is a solid RB2 while Joe Mixon is out. The team’s top offensive playmaker, A.J. Green, exited early with a groin injury. His status will need to be monitored, though, he’s optimistic that he’ll be good to go next week. Tyler Eifert had his best game of the season corralling six of his eight targets for 74 yards. John Ross received all the preseason buzz, but it’s Tyler Boyd who continues to break out with a 6-132-1 line on seven targets with five yards on one run.
After allowing Cam Newton to throw the ball 45 times in a shootout in Atlanta last week, he was back to his normal pass volume (24 attempts). He passed for just 150 yards, but he did throw two touchdowns and add two more touchdown rushes with 36 yards on 10 carries. Bellcow Christian McCaffrey was finally unleashed, too! He carried the ball 28 times for 184 yards rushing, and he caught both of his targets for 10 yards. Devin Funchess is the only other reliable piece in their offense, but he was solid with a 4-67-1 line. He’s a solid WR2/WR3 in Greg Olsen’s absence.
Bills 27 at Vikings 6
Wow. This was the shocker of the week. Rookie Josh Allen looked sharp completing 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown and rushing 10 times for 39 yards and two scores. He absorbed three sacks, but he avoided turning it over. The offense was without LeSean McCoy, and Chris Ivory was the lead back in his absence. Ivory rushed the ball 20 times for 56 yards, and he caught three passes for 70 yards. Buffalo’s offense is still without a reliable fantasy pass catcher, and Allen spread his 22 pass attempts around to nine different targets. The defense recorded three turnovers with four sacks.
Kirk Cousins was under duress right out of the chute and lost two fumbles on strip sacks. He also threw an interception. The banged up offensive line finally caught up to the Vikings, and Minnesota attempted just six runs as a result of being in a negative game script early. Even when Dalvin Cook returns, he won’t fix all the mistakes from the offense this week. Compounding problems for Minnesota, it’s a short week for them since they’re playing in the Thursday Night Football game at the Rams this week. Kyle Rudolph helped fantasy gamers with a 5-48-1 line, and Adam Thielen was the offense’s true bright spot on a bleak day with a 14-105-0 line on 19 targets. Getting back to the short week and matchup at the Rams, it could be a long day for Cousins facing the Rams elite defensive line. Without diving in deep yet, I imagine Cousins won’t rank as a starter in 12-team leagues at quarterback this week.
Broncos 14 at Ravens 27
The Broncos lost their first game of the year. Case Keenum tipped the touchdown-to-interception ratio further in the wrong direction with his fifth interception of the year and no touchdown passes this week. Undrafted surprise performer Phillip Lindsay’s day came to an early end when he was ejected for throwing a punch. Even without Linsday, Royce Freeman shared backfield work with Devontae Booker. Freeman’s ceiling is capped by the committee approach, and he’s a touchdown-or-bust option who reached pay dirt again this week. Emmanuel Sanders continued his excellent start to the season by catching five of eight targets for 38 yards and rushing for a 35-yard score. No drop issues for Demaryius Thomas, but he still produced only a ho-hum 5-63-0 line on his five targets.
The good news for gamers rostering Alex Collins is that he punched in a six-yard touchdown run. The bad news is that Javorius Allen scored a one-yard touchdown run and hauled in a 12-yard touchdown reception, too. John Harbaugh’s infatuation with Buck Allen is mind-boggling, but this quote from him suggests Allen isn’t going anywhere. Joe Flacco bounced back to adequately manage the game, and John Brown (5-86-0) continues to roll.
Colts 16 at Eagles 20
The Colts lost a nail biter to the defending Super Bowl champions. The backfield is a complete mess and best avoided for fantasy purposes, and Andrew Luck was back in dink-and-dunk form (25 for 40 for 164, one touchdown, and zero interceptions). Of note, Luck was removed for the final play of the game. Head coach Frank Reich opted to use Jacoby Brissett for the team’s failed hailmary attempt. Was he merely playing it cautious with Luck’s arm, or did he question whether his starter had the arm strength needed to reach the end zone? Eric Ebron squandered a golden opportunity with Jack Doyle out, and he managed just a 5-33-0 line that was mostly tallied in garbage time. T.Y. Hilton is the only every-week starter. His 5-50-0 line wasn’t exceptional by any stretch, but his 10 targets made it three weeks of double-digit targets to open the year.
Carson Wentz returned and predictably didn’t light the world on fire. He did post a respectable 25 for 37 for 255 yards, one touchdown, and one interception line. He also absorbed five sacks. Both Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles were out, and the Eagles continued to utilize a committee feeding Corey Clement 16 carries, Wendell Smallwood 10 carries, and Josh Adams six carries. Clement and Smallwood posted an identical 56 yards rushing, but the latter reached the end zone. They both also caught exactly three passes, but Smallwood outgained Clement 35 yards to 19. The tight ends shined. Yes, that’s plural. Zach Ertz caught five of his 10 targets for 73 yards, but talented rookie Dallas Goedert led the way with seven receptions, 73 yards, and one touchdown. Tight end is a waste land, and Goedert should be added immediately.
Giants 27 at Texans 22
The Giants netted their first win of the season, and key offensive cogs Saquon Barkley (17-82-1 on the ground and 5-35-0 through the air), Odell Beckham Jr. (9-109-0), and Sterling Shepard (6-80-1) were clicking on all cylinders. Eli Manning was sacked four more times, but he didn’t turn it over, and he passed for 297 yards and a couple of scores on just 29 attempts. This was the type of offensive showing the Giants brass envisioned from Big Blue. Not all came up roses, though. Evan Engram exited the game early with a knee injury. The severity of the injury isn’t yet known.
The Texans averaged a healthy 6.9 yards per play on offense, but they don’t resemble last year’s high-flying unit. For fantasy purposes, Deshaun Watson was good with 385 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception, and five carries for 36 yards. However, he’s going through some sophomore struggles from a reality standpoint. Lamar Miller was awful on the ground with 10 carries for 10 yards, but he salvaged his day with a garbage-time touchdown in the air (5-41-1 receiving). The one-two punch of DeAndre Hopkins (6-86-0) and Will Fuller V (5-101-1) have cornered the offense’s target share (10 for Hopkins and 11 for Fuller).
Packers 17 at Redskins 31
The Packers followed up last week’s tie with a loss in Washington. Aaron Jones returned from suspension and led the backfield in carries (six) and yards (42), but Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery were also involved. None of Green Bay’s backs can be trusted currently, but Jones picked up his tantalizing efficiency and is the highest ceiling option of the bunch. The key to him emerging as the lead back is improved pass protection, especially with Aaron Rodgers playing on a gimpy knee. Rodgers was solid but unspectacular.
Washington leaned heavily on the running game, and Adrian Peterson responded with 120 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Chris Thompson had a forgettable afternoon. Game script will be huge for the value of each of Washington’s backs. Jordan Reed is still healthy, and he reeled in four of seven targets for 65 yards.
Raiders 20 at Dolphins 28
Jon Gruden remains winless in his return to the sideline. Jordy Nelson had a huge first quarter and finished with an eye-popping 6-173-1 line on eight targets. Running mate Amari Cooper reverted back to disappearing, and he caught just two passes for 17 yards. Marshawn Lynch isn’t exciting, but he reached the end zone for a third straight game to open 2018 and bested 60 yards rushing for the second time. He hasn’t done much with his receptions, but Lynch has caught multiple passes in all three games this year, too.
Oakland’s hilariously ineffective pass rush sacked Ryan Tannehill just one time and allowed him to carve them up for 289 yards passing and three touchdowns on only 23 attempts. Count me in the camp who thought this could be Kenyan Drake’s first big showing in 2018. Nope. He rushed five times for three yards and caught two of four targets for seven yards. Gamers rostering Drake can breathe a sigh of relief that Frank Gore didn’t shine, either, rushing for just 12 yards on six carries. Pricey free-agent addition Albert Wilson led the team with 74 yards receiving, reached the end zone for a second week in a row through the air, and he also threw for a touchdown. Kenny Stills has now sandwiched one stinker in Week 2 with two good games after hauling in three of five targets for 61 yards and a score.
Saints 43 at Falcons 37
This contest lived up to its shootout billing. The Saints earned a victory in overtime. The defense continues to hemorrhage points and yardage, and that’s fantasy gold for the offense. Drew Brees and Co. simply can’t take their foot off the accelerator. Speaking of Brees, he was once again sharp passing for 396 yards and three touchdowns, and he even rushed in a pair of touchdowns. Alvin Kamara was kept out of the end zone, but it’s hard to argue with his 16-66 line on the ground and 15-124 through the air. Michael Thomas was a monster again, too, hauling in all 10 of his targets for 129 yards. The offense has been highly concentrated in 2018.
Tevin Coleman’s second start of the year was a disappointing effort. What wasn’t disappointing was Matt Ryan’s line (26 for 35 for 374 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions). Julio Jones was solid if unspectacular with five receptions for 96 yards, but it was rookie Calvin Ridley who stole the show with a 7-146-3 line. Ridley posted a doughnut in the opener, but he’s since caught 11 of 13 targets for 210 yards and four touchdowns.
Titans 9 at Jaguars 6
What’s the opposite of a shootout? Well, that’s what this game was. Blaine Gabbert started but left early with a concussion. Marcus Mariota relieved him and was tasked with managing the game. It was an ugly offensive showing, and the Titans have yet to have a good offensive showing through three weeks.
Leonard Fournette missed his second straight game, and Blake Bortles crashed and burned after his big game against the Patriots last week. T.J. Yeldon totaled 90 yards from scrimmage on seven carries and six receptions. He’s a usable, low-end RB2 or flex when Fournette is out.
Chargers 23 at Rams 35
The Chargers simply couldn’t keep up with the Rams, but that didn’t preclude them from providing gamers with some useful fantasy lines. Philip Rivers tossed multiple touchdowns (two this week) for the third time in as many games this year, though, his 226 yards passing doesn’t get the heart racing. Second-year pro Mike Williams had his best game of his young career reeling in four of seven targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He’s an emerging piece in the offense. Austin Ekeler was once again highly efficient rushing for 47 yards on four carries and catching all three of his targets for 24 yards. Melvin Gordon remains the feature back, and he rushed 15 times for 80 yards and one touchdown while adding two grabs for four yards.
Todd Gurley is the focal point of the offense, and he whooped the Chargers for 105 yards rushing and a score while adding five grabs for 51 yards through the air. It’s his second 100-plus yard rushing effort. Jared Goff wasn’t to be out-shined, though. He torched the Chargers for 354 yards passing, three touchdowns, and one interception on just 36 pass attempts. His talented trio of receivers was led by Robert Woods (10-104-2 and three rushes for 13 yards), but Brandin Cooks (7-90-0) and Cooper Kupp (4-71-1) were also very good. Without a viable pass-catching tight end, the offense is capable of sustaining three wideouts plus Gurley.
Cowboys 13 at Seahawks 24
With each passing game, Dak Prescott is looking more like his sophomore self than the rookie who turned heads in 2016. Ezekiel Elliott is the only viable fantasy option. He rushed for 127 yards on 16 carries, lost a fumble, and caught three of eight targets for 11 yards.
The Seahawks were able to keep things close and open up a lead before the half, and that allowed them to deploy a run-heavy game plan that brought back memories of the Beast Mode offense. Russell Wilson attempted only 26 passes, and Chris Carson was a workhorse with 32 carries (Rashaad Penny’s three carries were second on the team in Week 3) for 102 yards and a score. Carson also added 22 yards on a pair of receptions. Tyler Lockett doesn’t need huge volume to produce, and he turned six targets into a 4-77-1 line. He has a touchdown in all three games.
Bears 16 at Cardinals 14
Mitchell Trubisky isn’t making the second-year leap, but the Bears earned their second win of the year. Jordan Howard rushed for only 2.5 yards per carry, but he was force fed the ball 24 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. He also made it three-for-three on multi-catch efforts with two grabs for 20 yards. Trey Burton hasn’t blossomed into a fantasy star, but after catching four passes for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, he posted a respectable 4-55-0 line on five targets. Allen Robinson had his worst game of the year with three touchdownless receptions for 50 yards, but he’s establishing a high floor with three or more grabs and 50 or more yards receiving in all three games this year. He’s been targeted 28 times through three games.
Graham Barfield, Managing Editor for NFL.com Fantasy, summed up Arizona’s inept and mind-boggling Week 3 showing in one tweet. Josh Rosen relieved Sam Bradford with under five minutes to go in the game and the Cardinals trailing by two, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy continues to kneecap David Johnson’s fantasy value by misusing and under-utilizing him. Johnson caught one touchdown, but he’s only a fringe RB2 for the time being. Larry Fitzgerald was targeted only two times and caught both for nine yards. He’s caught five balls for 37 yards the last two weeks. He can’t be started until the offense shows some signs of competency. The lone bright spot in their loss was rookie receiver Christian Kirk ripping off seven receptions for 90 yards on eight targets.