5 Burning Questions: Week 3 (2019 Fantasy Football)
Week 2 seemed to be filled with high profile injuries and injures lead to questions about who will take over and how the team will recover. According to Adam Schefter, 18 quarterbacks under the age of 26 are expected to start in Week 3, something that hasn’t happened since 1987. So here’s to the success of the young guns and the speedy recoveries of their elderly counterparts. Here are the five burning questions of Week 3.
Which backup quarterback will shine brightest on Sunday?
In Week 2 we saw three quarterbacks over the age of 37 fall. Ben Roethlisberger was already placed on IR for the remainder of the season to get surgery on his elbow, Drew Brees has been ruled out at least six weeks to get surgery on his throwing thumb, and Eli Manning is being benched for the Giants sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. Daniel Jones will start for the Giants, Mason Rudolph for the Steelers, and the Saints will play a mixture of Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. But who will have the most successful start?
Jone is taking over a little earlier than most expected, but he gets a juicy first matchup against a porous Tampa Bay defense. Mason Rudolph looked pretty good in his first NFL action, completing 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception last week once Roethlisberger went down. Many are excited to see him reconnect with his former Oklahoma State receiver James Washington. In 2017 (their senior years in college), Rudolph and Washington connected for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hopefully, that chemistry didn’t go anywhere.
Teddy Bridgewater was a former starter and reliable game manager in Minnesota, but he’s never thrown more than 14 touchdowns in a season and has only started one game for the Saints since returning from his gruesome knee injury, and it wasn’t that pretty. The Saints like to use Taysom Hill all over the field at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, it will be interesting to see if they give him extended time under center, or simply have him on the field more often for a myriad of unconventional play calls.
I think Rudolph will look the best, at least in Week 3. He’s coming off of an impressive second-half performance from last week, he now gets a full week of practice reps with the first-team offense, and in addition to James Washington, he has a great surrounding cast with Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner, and an offensive line that has ranked second in pass blocking (according to Pro Football Focus) through the first two weeks.
What is going on with Tampa Bay’s offense?
There was a whole lot of buzz during the fantasy draft season surrounding the passing game in Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston was being drafted as the QB12, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were going as WR9 and WR17 respectively, and O.J. Howard was the fourth tight end off the board. Through two weeks, only Godwin (the current WR11) has returned value. Winston hasn’t even put up top-24 quarterback numbers, Evans only has six receptions through two games and is the WR68, and Howard wasn’t even targeted last week against the Panthers.
If Winston can’t start playing better, it’s going to be a long season for his pass catchers. I believe better days lie ahead, but we may have to tamper our preseason expectations a bit. Evans only has two fewer targets than Godwin, but Godwin has managed to find the end zone in both weeks, and Evans will more often than not draw the better defender’s attention. Their production should even out, I don’t believe we’ll see Godwin finish the season as a WR1 and see Evans outside of the top-50, but Godwin is a great receiver and is there to stay, It’s more likely we see them both finish as mid to low WR2s (assuming Winston can turn it up a notch).
Will Matt LaFleur actually “even up” the touches between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams?
In Week 2 against the Vikings, Aaron Jones got a workhorse load (even though he only played on 58% of the offensive snaps). He took his 23 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown and his four catches on six targets for 34 yards. The Packers were happy with the win, the fantasy world was happy with the usage, but apparently Matt LaFleur was not happy. He wants to keep Jones fresh by balancing out the touches between him and Williams, even though Jones looks like the clear better option. Through their careers, Jones is averaging 5.3 yards per carry while Williams is only averaging 3.6 (and so far this season his YPC is at two).
I don’t think Jones’ snap share will drop much lower than the 58%/59% he’s had in the first two games, but if LaFleur is set on taking away some of his work and giving it to Williams, Jones’ ceiling definitely comes down a bit.
Who will be more electric in the Jackson/Mahomes Bowl?
In 2018, Lamar Jackson was given the starting job halfway through the season, and he spent that time largely showing off his legs. He only threw six touchdowns in the seven games he started and his completion percentage was just 58.2%. In 2019 though, he’s come out slinging it. He’s already eclipsed his passing touchdown total from last year in two games, he’s completing 71.9% of his passes, and he leads the league with a touchdown percentage of 12.3%.
He’s starting to remind people of last year’s sophomore phenom, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes only played one game at the end of 2017 and then lit the league on fire in 2018 to the tune of 50 passing touchdowns. With Mahomes picking up where he left off and Jackson exploding onto the scene as the next great thing, the Week 3 matchup between the Chiefs and the Ravens is becoming the most anticipated game of the early season.
Last year the Rams bested the Chiefs 54-51 in the most offensively loaded game I’ve seen in my lifetime. This year, there will be similar expectations around the Chiefs/Ravens game, as the two teams top all the offensive numbers through the first two games of the season. The Ravens were able to clobber the Dolphins and then slide past the Cardinals, but neither of those offenses comes close to the one led by Mahomes. Jackson is going to have to continue his blazing hot streak and lean on his defense as much as possible to keep up with the Chiefs, who are now a well-oiled machine compared to the Ravens offense which feels brand new.
Does Josh Rosen have any chance in his first start as a Dolphin?
A year and a half ago, Josh Rosen was considered by many to be the most NFL ready quarterback in the 2018 NFL draft. Fast forward to Week 3 of 2019 and it seems the quarterbacks drafted with him in that first round (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson) have all found more success so far in their careers. To be fair, Arizona was the worst team in the league last season and that doesn’t completely fall on Rosen’s shoulders, and then he gets traded to a team that appears to be trying to lose in 2019 which is definitely not Rosen’s fault. He hasn’t been gifted an offensive line or a defense on either of the teams he’s played for, so how critical can we really be about his lack of success when he was barely given a real chance?
I still believe that Rosen can become a quality starter in the NFL with better tools around him, or at least a competent game manager, but unless he surprises everyone and makes some noise on the tanking Dolphins, he may not get another chance to prove he can start in this league.