The Primer: Week 3 Edition (2019 Fantasy Football)
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers
Line: LAC by 3.0
Deshaun Watson: It was a home opening to forget for Watson, who struggled to get anything done against an A.J. Bouye-less Jaguars defense. To be fair, the Jaguars are better than most give them credit for, as they’ve allowed just seven top-10 performances over their last 18 games. The Chargers, unfortunately, aren’t a much better matchup, as they’ve allowed just four top-10 performances over their last 18 games. We need to talk about the injuries they’re dealing with in their secondary, though. First, it was stud safety Derwin James, then it was cornerback Trevor Williams, and now it’s safety Adrian Phillips, who was placed on IR this Tuesday. That’s three of the four starters in their base defense. While the Jaguars were without Bouye last week, Watson may have caught a bigger break here. Through two weeks, we’ve watched them allow a rather-hefty 7.63 yards per attempt to the combination of Jacoby Brissett and Matthew Stafford. That number was a much lower 7.08 yards per attempt over the course of last year. Their touchdown percentage of 7.02 is among the highest in the league in 2019, while it was just 4.20 percent in 2018. The injuries have started to pile up and because of that, so have their numbers. This game could be higher scoring than most think. Watson should be back in fantasy lineups as a QB1 this week who has some sneaky upside against a Chargers team who did allow four quarterbacks to rush for at least 32 yards last year, which is essentially another passing touchdown.
Philip Rivers: With the defense starting to cave in a bit, we could see Rivers throw the ball much more than we anticipated this offseason. Through two games, he’s on pace for 560 pass attempts, but he just lost another starting safety, which means the Chargers are down three of four starters in the secondary. The Texans have lost a few pieces as well, and it’s led to them allowing a rather-high 72.4 percent completion-rate, which includes a backup rookie quarterback making his first start on the road. They decided to cut their starting nickel cornerback after Week 1, which now leaves them with long-time veteran Johnathan Joseph, Broncos cast-off Bradley Roby, and second-round rookie Lonnie Johnson at cornerback. The Chargers have the wide receivers to exploit these matchups, as Rivers’ favorite target, Keenan Allen, would be matched up with Roby, who was let go by the cornerback-needy Broncos. At home, Rivers should be considered a high-end QB2 and a solid streamer who should offer a rock-solid floor.
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson: Surprise, surprise… After trading away a third-round pick for Johnson, most assumed he’d be the leader in this timeshare, but after two weeks, it’s a lot different than most imagined. Johnson has played 66 snaps and totaled 19 touches (15 carries, four receptions) while Hyde has played 62 snaps and totaled 31 touches (30 carries, one reception). While most want that to change, it won’t if Hyde continues to average a robust 5.8 yards per carry behind a makeshift offensive line. Johnson is going to have more value in games they fall behind, which oddsmakers expect this week. The Chargers struggled against running backs last year (allowed seventh-most points to them) but particularly in the passing game, as they allowed the second-most PPR points through the air to running backs. They allowed an average of 14.7 PPR points per game through the air alone. Think about that for a second. That amounts to five catches for 67 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game, on average. While the Colts didn’t exploit that in Week 1 (they didn’t really need to while rushing for 187 yards), the Lions running backs totaled four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown through the air last week. The timeshare all comes down to gamescript and this one should be a bit different than last week. Johnson is the safer play who’s somewhat gamescript-proof, so consider him a decent RB3, especially in PPR formats, while Hyde is more of a lower floor play if the game goes south for the Texans. He’s still in the low-end RB3 conversation because it’s likely that he’ll get the goal-line work (he has three red zone carries compared to just one for Johnson).
Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson: Through two weeks, Ekeler is the No. 1 running back in fantasy football. It appears the Chargers can just copy/paste Melvin Gordon‘s role with Ekeler and be just fine. He’s averaging 14.5 carries and 6.0 receptions per game, while Gordon averaged 14.6 carries and 4.2 receptions per game last year. Anytime you have a running back averaging 20 touches per game, he’s in RB1 territory. The Texans have allowed 5.50 yards per carry over the first two games, which featured a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette. While Kamara can beat anyone, Fournette isn’t playing behind the most talented offensive line. Ekeler’s line may not be great, but when they’re struggling, the Chargers simply move to the screen-game, especially with Hunter Henry out. Knowing Ekeler is gamescript-proof and against a defense that’s finding life a bit hard without Jadeveon Clowney, he should be right back in lineups as a low-end RB1 who might concede some touches to Jackson if he keeps looking as good as he has. It’s been somewhat glanced over due to Ekeler’s fantasy numbers, but Jackson has averaged an amazing 8.9 yards per carry over the first two weeks and that doesn’t even account for his 60-plus yard touchdown run that was called back due to a late holding call. With Ekeler fumbling late in the game last week, they could lighten his load around the goal-line. If you recall, Ekeler fumbled on the goal-line in the preseason, too. Jackson remains a high-upside stash, though he can’t be started just yet.
Deandre Hopkins: He’s had two tough matchups to start the year against Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore, so to see him walk away from those as the No. 15 receiver in fantasy isn’t a bad thing. He’s going to see Casey Hayward this week, a cornerback who is very good, but not on the level of Ramsey. He’s allowed just a 56.4 percent completion-rate, but has allowed a massive 14.4 yards per reception and a touchdown every 13.0 targets since the start of the 2018 season. It surely doesn’t help that he’s the only starter left in the secondary (when they’re in base). It’s not the best matchup he’ll have all season, but it’s not as bad as either of the first two, either. He should be in lineups as a WR1 every week no matter what and you’ll just have to live with a down game or two. This isn’t a week where you need to aggressively attack him in DFS, however.
Will Fuller: Outside of his 54-yard catch right at the start of the Saints game in Week 1, Fuller has caught just four passes for 55 yards. He’s still yet to score, which is a letdown considering the Jaguars were without A.J. Bouye last week. It didn’t help that he was charged with two drops in that game. He catches another break in Week 3 when he matches up with 2018 undrafted free agent Brandon Facyson in coverage. He was forced into the starting lineup once Trevor Williams was put on injured reserve. Through two games, he’s allowed 10-of-12 passing for 126 yards and a touchdown. It’s not just him, either, as the Chargers are now playing backup safeties at both positions with Derwin James and Adrian Phillips out for the season. If the Texans want to get that deep ball going, this is the game to do it, provided Watson gets enough time. Fuller should be in lineups as a high-upside WR3 this week and one who might use this game to catapult him up the fantasy leaderboards.
Keke Coutee/Kenny Stills: With Coutee back in the lineup last week, these two cannibalized each other’s upside. While Coutee played 28 snaps, Stills fell back to 24 snaps. Keep in mind those were the counts while the Texans ran 64 plays on offense. When either is on the field, they’ll be matched-up with the Chargers nickel cornerback Desmond King, who’s one of the better slot cornerbacks in the game. He keeps the play in front of him and doesn’t allow touchdowns. It’s the reason teams have only targeted him three times in coverage this year. After Danny Amendola racked-up 7/104/1 against the Cardinals, he saw just one target against the Chargers. We need one of these two receivers to emerge as the clear-cut leader in snaps before we start trusting them. While it’s likely to be Coutee, we can’t say for certain.
Keenan Allen: With Mike Williams not quite 100 percent and Hunter Henry out for a while, Allen saw a massive 15 targets last week. It wasn’t what you’d call a great game, as Darius Slay did a good job in coverage and held him to 8/98/0. That’ll still work for fantasy owners, but there’ll be more efficient days. The Texans do run a lot of man coverage as well, but they’ll have free agent acquisition Bradley Roby on Allen after they cut Aaron Colvin last week. Let me be clear: Roby isn’t half the cornerback Slay is and will have trouble covering Allen. Roby hasn’t been tested in the slot, which is a new position for him, as he only saw two targets in his debut. During the Week 1 game in this Texans scheme, Colvin allowed 8/117/1 on just nine targets in coverage. In man coverage last year, Roby allowed a quarterback rating of 154.2. Allen should be a rock-solid WR1 this week who could go bonkers.
Mike Williams: It didn’t seem like he was going to play last week, but to see him out there for 40-of-65 snaps is a good sign, though Dontrelle Inman played more than he usually does. Williams looked fine on his five targets, bringing in three of them for 83 yards, though he arguably could’ve caught all five targets and one was a clear drop. The good news is that Williams is going to be matched up with a rookie cornerback making just his second NFL start. Lonnie Johnson was a second-round pick out of Kentucky and he’s got good size at 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds. Here were my notes from his college film this offseason: Was attacked early in the Georgia game. Too much of a cushion underneath, doesn’t have makeup speed. Missed Holyfield in the open field, ran right around him. Teams were willing to attack him. Slow to flip his hips, not a playmaker. To say I was surprised he was taken in the second-round is an understatement. Williams not playing full-time is a bit of a concern, but if he’s back practicing in full, this is a matchup he should win. Consider him a semi-risky WR3, but one who has a solid matchup.
Travis Benjamin: He’s going to see a mix of Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby in this game, though after his disappointing Week 2 performance that included a drop, Benjamin is going to start losing snaps to Dontrelle Inman, and rightfully so. He’s not a fantasy option.
Jordan Akins: He’s now seen five targets through two games, totaling three catches for 42 yards. That’s not quite what you’re looking for out of a streamer, as you ideally have a five-target floor in that given week. Over the first two weeks, we’ve watched the Chargers hold Eric Ebron to just one catch for eight yards, and then T.J. Hockenson to one catch for seven yards. The fact that they’re now starting two backup safeties is appealing, but not enough to start Akins.
Virgil Green: With Hunter Henry out, Green saw just two targets, just one more than his Week 1 performance with Henry on the field. The Texans were a team that was abused by tight ends last year, allowing 8.42 yards per target with a 73.4 percent completion-rate. The 2.00 PPR points per target they allowed ranked as the sixth most in football. They have allowed 10-of-12 passing to tight ends over the first two weeks, but haven’t really been tested. It’s tough to say they will be this week knowing the matchups the Chargers have at wide receiver. Green could be a hail-mary tournament option but you can’t confidently use him in redraft leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers
Line: SF by 6.5
Mason Rudolph: It’s a new era in Pittsburgh, as Ben Roethlisberger is out for the year and Rudolph is in. He looked competent taking over for Roethlisberger last week, completing 12-of-19 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. Now heading out on the road to play the 49ers, which used to be looked at as a plus-matchup for quarterbacks. Now, all of a sudden, the 49ers are 6.5-point favorites? The new and improved front seven pressured Jameis Winston on 38 percent of his dropbacks, while pressuring Andy Dalton 32 percent of the time. Both of those quarterbacks have horrendous offensive lines, so is it possible everyone that the 49ers defense is being propped-up a bit too much? Dalton was able to finish that game with 311 yards and two touchdowns, though a long garbage-time touchdown helped. The Steelers offensive line can handle quite a bit of pressure, though they may have caught a break, as edge rusher Dee Ford aggravated a knee injury last week and may not play. There are a lot of questions surrounding this matchup, and that’s not what you want when streaming. Knowing the 49ers have played better, that they will be home, and are 6.5-point favorites, you should be in wait-and-see mode with Rudolph, though he should be able to provide some value in 2QB leagues.
Jimmy Garoppolo: So, the Bengals make everything better, eh? Garoppolo completed 17-of-25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns in a game where the Bengals defense didn’t show up. Still, it’s good to see Garoppolo get a confidence-builder like that, as he’s been struggling since returning from his torn ACL. The Steelers defense got better in-between games as they acquired the versatile Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins while placing Sean Davis on injured reserve. However, Garoppolo may catch a break as their top cornerback Joe Haden re-aggravated his shoulder injury in the loss to the Seahawks. The Steelers secondary has had all sorts of problems through the first two weeks, as the cornerback/safety communication just hasn’t been there down the middle of the field. They’ve allowed Tom Brady and Russell Wilson to combine for 641 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. Granted, those two are both top-five quarterbacks in the game right now, but it’s good to see what’s possible. With all the moving parts on the Steelers defense, it’s possible Garoppolo is catching them at the right time, though it’s tough to say he’s more than a high-end QB2 with his struggles in non-Bengals games, combined with the fact that he’s going to be missing his starting left tackle, as Joe Staley broke his leg during their Week 2 game.
James Conner: After having an MRI done on his injured knee, Conner says that he expects to play in Week 3. The start of the season has not been kind to last year’s breakout star and life isn’t going to be easier with a first-time starter under center. The 49ers were a middling run-defense last year, as they allowed a mediocre 4.08 yards per carry. This year has brought a bit of mixed results, as the duo of Ronald Jones/Peyton Barber totaled 108 yards on 21 carries in the opener, but then they completely shut down the Bengals duo of Joe Mixon/Giovani Bernard to just 23 yards on 17 carries in Week 2. Conner’s offensive line is far better than either of those teams, though this game is also in San Francisco with them favored by 6.5 points. The Steelers are unlikely to allow Mason Rudolph drop back and throw the ball 40-plus times, but they’re also unlikely to give Conner a massive workload after injuring his knee. There are some red flags here, pushing Conner down to the low-end RB2 territory with a lower floor than most in that range. Let’s not pretend he’s shown us a high floor even before this week, as he’s finished as the RB29 and RB18 in the first two weeks.
Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert: This backfield is going to be a nightmare to predict all season. Many wanted to start Breida as an RB2 last week and there was no disagreement on my part as he should’ve been locked into 15-plus touches. He got 13-of-41 running back/fullback touches. He totaled 132 yards on them, so he did his part, but knowing he was just the RB16 in a week the 49ers rushed for 244 yards and two touchdowns is severely disappointing. The game was a blowout and knowing Breida’s inability to stay healthy was likely a factor in his limited touches. The Steelers are not going to be as easy of a matchup, as they’ve played two of the more run-heavy teams in the league over the first two weeks and have allowed 221 rushing yards on 55 carries (4.02 yards per carry) with just one touchdown. One area the 49ers running backs should be utilized is in the passing-game, as the Steelers have allowed the fifth-most receiving points to running backs, and that’s without a touchdown. The 17 receptions they’ve allowed to them ranks as the second-most in the league. Knowing Breida has just two targets through two games doesn’t make us feel great about him getting much of that production. Breida gets the low-end RB2 nod due to being a big home favorite, but he’s far from reliable. Mostert seems to have carved out a bigger role in the offense and some can argue it should be bigger. He’s totaled 56 carries and 12 targets over the last two years with the team. On those touches he’s totaled 384 rushing yards (6.86 yards per carry) one rushing touchdown, 10 receptions, 93 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. He could wind-up being the player they hoped Tevin Coleman would be, though it’s tough to rely on him as anything more than an RB4 with the Shanahanigans (it’s been a while since you’ve seen that, right?).
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Of the 19 pass attempts that Mason Rudolph threw in Week 2, he targeted Smith-Schuster with five of them for a 26.3 percent target share. His share on Ben Roethlisberger‘s 62 attempts was just a 17.7 percent target share. It’s way too small of a sample size, but Rudolph appears to know who his money-maker is. The 49ers slot cornerback is K’Waun Williams, who is coming off a game where he allowed 5-of-7 passing for 58 yards and a touchdown in his coverage. Most of that was to Tyler Boyd, another big slot receiver. Williams isn’t a pushover but he’s also not someone to shy away from in coverage. Knowing Smith-Schuster has run 47 of his 74 routes from the slot means he’ll see him quite a bit. You should keep plugging in Smith-Schuster as a low-end WR1 who just might surprise with his new quarterback.
James Washington: Let the buzz begin with Washington who was college teammates with Mason Rudolph where they both had tremendous success, particularly on the deep ball. It also helps that Washington saw his snap percentage jump in Week 2 while Donte Moncrief was demoted. It does seem like Diontae Johnson is getting more involved, but it’s good to know Washington has the leg-up on him right now. You know all those plays Washington has made in the preseason over the last two years? Most of them came with Rudolph under center. The 49ers play sides, so Washington will see a mixture of Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon in coverage. While Witherspoon has been surprisingly good this year, he’s been what most would call a bust after his first two years in the league were a disaster. It’s good to see him turn a corner, though I’m not willing to say it’s a matchup many will need to avoid. Sherman is still a solid cornerback, though he can struggle with speed. You shouldn’t be playing Washington in redraft leagues just yet, but the move to Rudolph may actually benefit him.
Marquise Goodwin: There’s two full-time receivers in the 49ers offense right now, and they’re Goodwin and Deebo Samuel. Meanwhile, Richie James, Kendrick Bourne, and Dante Pettis fight for the rest. It’s only amounted to six targets for Goodwin, though. Had he not caught a 38-yard touchdown last week, he’d likely be on waiver wires. The Steelers did lose safety Sean Davis this week, but added Minkah Fitzpatrick, which we can call an upgrade. They have struggled defending wide receivers deep and over the middle of the field. They’re currently allowing 15.6 yards per reception to wide receivers, which would’ve ranked as the highest mark in football last year. They also may be without Joe Haden, as he apparently re-aggravated his shoulder injury. That would leave the Steelers with Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, and Artie Burns at cornerback. None of them run faster than a 4.46-second 40-yard dash. Goodwin can get behind this defense, though the question is whether Garoppolo will have time to do that while missing his left tackle against the Steelers pass-rush. Goodwin should be considered a boom-or-bust WR5.
Deebo Samuel: Through two weeks, Samuel has played more snaps than any other 49ers receiver. He’s also been targeted (10) more than any of them as well, including seven targets in Week 2 where he turned them into 5/87/1. While it was a good matchup, he may have another good one this week, as the Steelers may be without their top cornerback Joe Haden (he’s now expected to play after returning to practice on Friday). They have really struggled with speed through the first two weeks, as Phillip Dorsett, D.K. Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett have all shined. That’s not exactly Samuel’s game, as he’s more of an underneath receiver who Garoppolo can rely on, as evidenced by his 5.3-yard average depth of target. There may be weeks to trust Samuel in fantasy, though this may not be one of them. If Haden is out, he gets upgraded, though he’s still in WR5 territory.
Dante Pettis: After playing two snaps in Week 1, the 49ers did get Pettis on the field more against the Bengals, though the game was out of reach very early on, so it’s difficult to take much away from the game. I mean, Kendrick Bourne played 23 snaps and Richie James played 31 snaps, which makes Pettis’ 35 snaps somewhat expected. Pettis still wasn’t targeted, so he should remain on fantasy benches this week. If he doesn’t play a meaningful role in this game, you can cut bait.
Vance McDonald: Yes, he caught two touchdowns once Mason Rudolph came into the game. He also finished with just 38 yards on seven targets. The great news is that he played 51-of-56 snaps, which is uncharted territory for him. If he’s on the field that much, he’s going to get targets, plain and simple. You also have the whole revenge game narrative, as the 49ers traded McDonald to the Steelers before the start of last season. The 49ers haven’t been a team to target with tight ends, though, including last year when they allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to them. There were just two tight ends who topped 46 yards against them, and both those tight ends saw at least nine targets. They were also the only tight ends who finished better than TE12 against them, so it wouldn’t be wise to rely on McDonald for more than low-end TE1 or high-end TE2 numbers this week.
George Kittle: It’s been a very mediocre start for last year’s record-setting tight end, as he’s been targeted 13 times, netting 11 receptions for 108 yards. There have been two touchdowns called back, so don’t go panicking. The Steelers are coming off a game where they allowed Will Dissly five catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns. There were a massive 10 tight ends who finished with at least 10 PPR points against the Steelers last year, including Travis Kelce‘s 7/109/2 and Jared Cook‘s 7/116/0. Not to mention they just lost one of their starting safeties for the year. They did replace Sean Davis with Minkah Fitzpatrick, but it’ll be just his first game with the team after five days of prep. You’re playing Kittle every week and this matchup is no reason to back off of him.
Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns
Line: LAR by 3.0
Jared Goff: I made the comment in this article last week that Goff has what seems to be an ongoing problem. He’s now thrown zero or one touchdown in nine of his last 10 games. Fantasy owners were happy with his 19.1-point performance last week, but it took a rushing touchdown to get there. The Browns may have looked good while allowing just three points to the Jets and their horrid offensive line, but it’s hard not to. The Rams have allowed Goff to be pressured on 43.8 percent of his dropbacks, which ranks as the third-highest mark in football. That’s an issue with the defensive line of Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon. The offensive line is going to have their hands full. Goff has a 61.7 passer rating when under pressure this year, which ranks 22nd among the 34 qualifying quarterbacks. The good news is that their safety play has been abysmal and the Rams will likely attack the duo of Morgan Burnett and Jermaine Whitehead (starter Damarious Randall is still out). Despite playing against Marcus Mariota and Luke Falk, the Browns defense has allowed 8.16 yards per attempt, which ranks as the ninth highest mark in the league. This is a road game and Goff has been struggling since late last year, which makes me hesitant, but the Browns aren’t quite the elite defense some thought they’d be. Consider Goff a high-end QB2 who, if he snaps out of his funk, could deliver top-five numbers against this defense. *Update* The Browns have reported hamstring injuries for both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, their top two cornerbacks. If they aren’t 100 percent, it would upgrade everyone on the Rams offense.
Baker Mayfield: Those who dubbed Mayfield a breakout star this offseason might be re-thinking things after two weeks, as he’s currently behind the now-benched Eli Manning in fantasy points. I’ve talked about how Mayfield was likely concussed right before the second half in Week 1, his performance against the Jets in Week 2 didn’t do wonders for confidence in him as a must-play. His only touchdown of the night came when Odell Beckham did most of the work, taking a quick-hitting pass to the house. The Rams also haven’t been a team to attack when it comes to fantasy quarterbacks. I’m going to update this chart every week until people catch on about the Rams defense and how it’s much better than most think. Here are their splits with and without Aqib Talib since the start of the 2018 season:
Those are quite the differences and the sample size continues to get bigger. No quarterback has finished top-15 against the Rams over those 10 games with Talib, which is really saying something. This game is in Cleveland, but after his shaky start to the season, it’s tough to say Mayfield is anything more than a high-end QB2 who should likely be sat for safer options, like Josh Allen.
Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown: After two weeks, how are Gurley owners feeling? He’s now played 66.4 percent of the snaps through two weeks, while Brown has played 32.2 percent of them. The touch count for them sits at Gurley 34, Brown 18. This is the definition of a 65/35 split, though Gurley is losing out on some goal-line work that most running backs on the ’65’ side get. Brown has seven rushing attempts inside the red zone while Gurley has four of them (Darrell Henderson even has one). The Browns linebacker unit is one of their biggest weaknesses, so if Gurley can get through the first level, he may break a few big runs. There were six occasions last year where the Browns allowed multiple rushing touchdowns to a single running back. In Week 1, we watched Derrick Henry finish as the RB3 and then watched Le’Veon Bell finish as the RB6 without even scoring. A lot of this has come in the passing game, as they’ve allowed a massive 38.7 PPR points through the air alone to running backs. This is where Gurley separates, as he’s seen five of the Rams’ six targets to running backs. Start Gurley as an RB1 this week and expect a solid performance, even if he does lose some goal-line work. Brown can always punch it in, but knowing where the Browns are weakest, it’d make sense for Gurley to be the focal point. Still, Brown is a high-end RB4 in a good timeshare on what should be a high-scoring team.
Nick Chubb: Last week was a letdown for essentially the entire Browns offense with exception to Odell Beckham. Knowing the Jets were without 3-of-7 starters on the front seven should’ve allowed Chubb to have a field day. He finished as the RB8, so it wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t elite. He’s averaging just 3.9 yards per carry through two weeks, as the offensive line hasn’t opened many holes and the passing game hasn’t brought enough scoring opportunities. The Rams were obliterated by Christian McCaffrey in Week 1, as he totaled 209 yards and two touchdowns against them. Then, last week, Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray were held to a combined 83 scoreless yards. It surely didn’t help that Drew Brees missed essentially the whole game. The Rams run defense hasn’t been very good since Sean McVay arrived, as they’ve allowed 4.76 yards per carry over the last two full seasons, the highest mark in football. There were 16 running backs who posted top-24 performances against them last year, though only four of them were top-12. Chubb should be in lineups as a high-end RB2, at worst, whose offense should start creating more scoring opportunities soon.
Brandin Cooks: The Browns aren’t likely to shadow any of the Rams receivers this week, as they all move around and all present risk to the defense. This is a could thing for Cooks, as he’ll see rookie cornerback Greedy Williams in coverage more than half the time. Williams is likely going to be a good cornerback in the league, though he’s yet to be tested. He has plenty of speed, as he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine just a few months ago, which does hurt Cooks’ upside. Over the course of his career, Cooks has fared much better against cornerbacks who’ve run a 4.45-second or slower 40-yard dash, thanks to a study by my friend, Scott Barrett. Knowing that Woods will see a lot of Denzel Ward, it’s hard not to like Cooks a bit in this game, though he’s still in the middling WR2 range. *Update* Both Ward and Williams are questionable for this game with hamstring injuries, making Cooks a bit less risky.
Robert Woods: It was Woods’ worst week in quite some time, as he totaled just 6.2 PPR points in the game against the Saints. It was just the third time in the last 25 games that he’s scored less than 10.0 PPR points. The matchup that awaits him in Week 3 is Denzel Ward, who hasn’t been shutdown through the first two weeks, allowing 123 yards on 12 targets in coverage. There are 54 cornerbacks who’ve seen at least 10 targets in coverage this year, and Ward’s 10.3 yards per target ranks as the 14th highest. While it’s still very early, that mark was down at 5.5 yards per target last year, which was the sixth-best mark in football. Is something going on with him? Maybe, which leaves the door open for Woods. He’s not a locked-in cash game option or anything, but he’s still on the low-end WR2 radar. *Update* There’s no guarantee Ward plays this week after popping up on the injury report with a hamstring injury. If he’s out, it upgrades Woods’ matchup rather significantly.
Cooper Kupp: He leads the team with 19 targets through two weeks, highlighting they have zero concerns about his surgically repaired knee. He’s still yet to find the end zone, though they’ll come before long with the targets. He’ll match-up with T.J. Carrie this week, the definition of an average quarterback. This is his sixth season in the league, and he’s allowed a 64.2 percent completion rate while giving up an average of 11.9 yards per catch. He hasn’t allowed a touchdown in his coverage since the 2017 season, so it seems unlikely Kupp ends his draught in this matchup. With that, there were two slot-heavy receivers who posted top-24 games against the Browns last year. Tyler Boyd posted 7/85/1 while JuJu Smith-Schuster posted 5/119/0. Both of those receivers were not the alpha of the offense, so maybe there’s something to it? Kupp is still just a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 this week.
Odell Beckham: It was good to see Beckham get into somewhat of a groove last week, though the Browns offense isn’t moving as good as we thought it might. The offensive line is a real problem and it seems like the plays are taking far too long to develop. Is it any surprise that his 89-yard touchdown came on a quick slant route? Nope. The Rams play sides so we’re not going to see anyone shadow him. If you read the Mayfield paragraph above, you know the Rams are a different defense with Aqib Talib on the field. They’ve played 10 games with him on the field and in those games they’ve allowed just two wide receivers to post more than 18 PPR points (which is around what it takes to get into top-12 territory). Those receivers were Mike Williams and Alshon Jeffery. It took two touchdowns from Williams back in Week 3 of last year, and then Jeffery managed to turn eight targets into 8/160/0 in Week 15 with Nick Foles under center. Beckham can beat anyone and finish as the WR1 any given week, though this matchup will be a lot tougher than last week. He should be considered a middling WR1 this week.
Jarvis Landry: Matching up with the Jets was supposed to bring out the best in the Browns, though Landry owners are seemingly ready to drop him after his three-catch, 32-yard performance. The inefficiency with the Browns just continues, as he’s averaged just 6.6 yards per target since joining the team. He’ll see Nickell Robey-Coleman this week, a nickel cornerback who’s not allowed more than an 84.5 QB Rating in his coverage since back in 2015. In fact, since the start of 2018, he’s allowed just 4.8 yards per target. If you’re looking for Landry to get back on the fantasy radar, it doesn’t look great here. Consider him just a relatively weak WR4 until we see some results.
Gerald Everett: It seems like Tyler Higbee may be out for some time with a lung issue, meaning Everett is no longer in a timeshare. There have been just five games he’s totaled over 40 percent of the snaps since the start of last season. In those games, he averaged 5.2 targets, 3.4 receptions, and 24.8 yards, so it hasn’t exactly translated to big results, but the volume is good. The Browns were torched by Delanie Walker in Week 1 when he caught five passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns. The 3.03 PPR points per target the Browns have allowed to the tight end position ranks as the second-most through two games. Against the position last year, they allowed 100 receptions (second-most), 1,008 yards (eighth-most), and seven touchdowns (ninth-most). Everett is just a hail-mary TE2 option but if you’re looking for someone who might pay off in a tournament, he could be that guy.
David Njoku: After a scary landing on Monday night, Njoku is in the concussion protocol. On a short week, it may be tough to get cleared. If you own Njoku and plan on using him, it’d be wise to snag Trey Burton or Demetrius Harris as a backup plan due to the Browns playing on Sunday night. The Rams played against two veterans the first two weeks and held them to miniscule performances as Greg Olsen finished as the TE19, while Jared Cook was the TE25. The Rams were one of the eight teams who allowed 1,000 yards to tight ends, but volume was a big part of it, as they allowed just the 12th-fewest fantasy points per target. It’s just hard seeing Njoku very involved in the gameplan this week knowing he can’t be cleared until later in the week. There are better options you can rely on this week. *Update* Njoku isn’t likely to play this week after suffering a wrist injury, combined with his concussion. If you’re looking to play his backup, it’s Demetrius Harris.
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins
Line: CHI by 4.0
Mitch Trubisky: It’s been a horrendous start to the season for Trubisky who no longer has the “I didn’t play in the preseason” excuse to rely on, as we’re now going into Week 3. Of the 36 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 20 passes, here are his ranks: 58.3 percent completion-rate (29th), 4.8 yards per attempt (35th), 0 touchdowns (36th), 65.1 QB Rating (34th). He’s not even running the ball, which is even more puzzling. It’s difficult to trust him, though he does have a great matchup in Week 3 against the Redskins defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks through two weeks. They also allowed that against divisional opponents, which is not usually the case, as those teams know each other better than most. It didn’t stop Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz from combining for 582 yards and six touchdowns on just 69 pass attempts. The Redskins only pressured Wentz on 26.8 percent of his dropbacks (23rd) and Prescott on 18.2 percent of his dropbacks (32nd), which should help because Trubisky has been brutal under pressure, posting a 22.9 QB Rating. The only one who’s been worse was the recently-benched Eli Manning. Is it possible that Trubisky comes out of this as a top-five quarterback? Sure. Should you be relying on him for anything more than low-end QB2 numbers? No. I’ll leave you with a chart on what Trubisky did at the start of the year in 2018. He could be a slow starter, but this is painfully slow.
|First 3 Games||69.2||5.69||197.0||0.67||1.00|
|Last 11 Games||65.8||8.07||239.3||2.00||0.82|
Case Keenum: After completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and no interceptions, Keenum is the No. 5 quarterback in fantasy football, ahead of Deshaun Watson. WHAT. His prize? The Bears defense that’s now held 14 of the last 18 quarterbacks they’ve played outside the top-12 (QB1s). The last time the Bears allowed a quarterback to score more than 15.9 fantasy points was back in Week 7 of last year against the Patriots. In fact, 10 of the last 18 quarterbacks they’ve played have finished as the QB22 or worse. Playing on primetime, the Bears defense should be alive and well as the Redskins are still without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. The duo of Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack should find their way into the backfield quite often, making life difficult for Keenum, who is not a recommended option, even in 2QB leagues.
David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and Mike Davis: After seeing a Cohen 51, Davis 40, Montgomery 27 snap share in Week 1, things went more to plan in Week 2 as Montgomery played 27 snaps, to 22 for Cohen, to 15 for Davis. Expect that to continue moving in Montgomery’s direction, as he’s the future of the organization. The Redskins defense has now allowed 249 rushing yards and one touchdown to the combination of Cowboys and Eagles running backs. The 4.70 yards per carry they’ve allowed is similar to the 4.56 yards they allowed last year, though it didn’t help that they were without interior lineman Jonathan Allen last week. He returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, though his status is still up in the air. It’d make plenty of sense from a defensive coordinator’s point of view to say they’re going to put all their attention into stopping the run and force Trubisky to beat them, though one mistake I’ve learned over the years is to understand that not all coaches think logically. With that, the Bears aren’t likely to lean on Trubisky, meaning they’ll likely try to stick with the run as long as they can. Montgomery should be in play as a mid-to-low-end RB2 who’s still in more of a timeshare than we’d hope, and in an offense that’s struggling to work into scoring position. Cohen should still be involved quite a bit, as he at least delivers confidence passes to Trubisky at a time where he needs them. He should be considered a decent RB3/flex-type option.
Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson: We talked about the struggles for Peterson last week, that his role can evaporate quickly in a negative gamescript. The Redskins are underdogs once again this week, though it’s tough to see the Bears running away with this game considering how bad their offense has looked. It’s going to be tough for Peterson this week, though. The Redskins running backs have combined to total 52-of-60 yards after contact. On 26 carries, their offensive line has produced exactly eight yards before contact. Meanwhile, the Bears defense allowed the second-fewest points on the ground to running backs last year. Throughout the entire season, they allowed just 133.6 fantasy points on the ground, or 8.35 points per game. That’s ridiculous. Knowing Peterson has caught just 22 passes over his 17 games with the Redskins, you can’t get much there. He’s a touchdown-or-bust low-end RB3 for this game. Thompson should fare better, though the Bears weren’t a team to allow much to running backs in the passing game, either. The 5.05 yards per target they allowed last year ranked as the fifth-best. You now know why the Bears allowed just nine top-24 performances to running backs all season. Thompson is just a low-upside RB4, though he should at least offer a floor in PPR leagues.
Allen Robinson: Remember last week when I mentioned that Robinson’s floor was much lower with Trubisky? Many thought that because he did that well in a game Trubisky was bad, that it was a floor-type performance in Week 1. Four catches and 41 yards later, they’re disappointed. The Broncos surprisingly had Chris Harris Jr. shadow, which definitely contributed, though it’s good to see Robinson tally seven of Trubisky’s 27 attempts despite that. He’s now seen 20 of the 72 pass attempts for a massive 27.8 percent target share. He’ll no doubt be shadowed by Josh Norman in this game, the former shutdown cornerback who’s been slipping over the last year and a half. He’s now allowed a massive 10 touchdowns on his last 86 targets in coverage, which is the most by any cornerback in that span. That includes a touchdown in each of the first two games. Can Robinson continue the streak? It would require Trubisky to actually throw a touchdown (would be the first this year). Because of his struggling quarterback play, Robinson should be played as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 who can become much more if Trubisky pulls it together.
Anthony Miller: After playing just 15-of-71 snaps in Week 1, he was bumped to 31-of-60 snaps in Week 2, which is closer to what we can expect moving forward, especially with Trubisky struggling, as it seems like they want to run a lot of two wide receiver sets with an extra blocker on the field. His increased snap count didn’t amount to any more targets, though, as he has one fewer target than Cordarrelle Patterson on the season. That’s a problem, but it’s the world we live in. It’s a shame because the Redskins are trotting Jimmy Moreland out to cover the slot. He’s seen nine targets while in the slot this year and has allowed eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. It now likely makes sense why he was a seventh-round pick this year. It’s absolutely impossible to trust Miller as anything more than a WR5 but the matchup could allow him to get back on the fantasy radar. If you’re playing the showdown slate in DFS, Miller is a great cheaper option.
Taylor Gabriel: He’s playing in 2WR sets, so he’s a full-time player. It hasn’t amounted to much but he’s the type of player where one play can help you big time in a showdown slate. Quinton Dunbar missed last week with a knee injury and his replacement, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was sent to injured reserve after last week’s game. They may get back Fabian Moreau this week, but it’s a pretty messy secondary. Dunbar didn’t practice on Wednesday and he’s the one with the most speed in that secondary. If he misses this game, Gabriel could be a sleeper. The issue with all Bears receivers comes back to Trubisky, who has to hit his targets.
Terry McLaurin: I was hesitant to say he was the Redskins WR1 after one week of play, but after two weeks and a 19.8 percent target share, I’m a believer. He’s also seen four red zone targets through two weeks, so he’s clearly a favorite of Keenum. He plays on the left side of the formation over half the time, which means he’ll see Prince Amukamara more than he will Kyle Fuller. Amukamara had trouble with Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s speed in Week 1 and he wasn’t quick enough to cover Emmanuel Sanders last week, though neither was Fuller. Keep in mind that McLaurin’s average depth of target is 17.8 yards, the sixth-highest in the NFL. It’s unlikely that Adrian Peterson is going to find room to run on this Bears defense, meaning the Redskins will likely resort to the pass. There were just 14 wide receivers all of last season who totaled at least 14.0 PPR points against the Bears and every one of them saw at least eight targets. Can McLaurin get there? He appears to be here to stay but this week is one he’s just a WR4 who “might” be able to hit WR2/3 numbers with a big play.
Paul Richardson: He’s actually third on the team in targets, behind both McLaurin and Quinn. That’s an issue by itself, but the other issue is that he’s going to see the most of Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller. Despite the numbers suggesting Fuller hasn’t been great this year, he was tight in coverage on almost every catch made against him, and the touchdown he allowed to Emmanuel Sanders was one only five percent of NFL wide receivers make. Given the brutal matchup overall, combined with the toughest cornerback matchup on the team, Richardson is a fade.
Trey Quinn: He didn’t have a big game in Week 2, which was semi-disappointing considering the matchup with the Cowboys, but he’s still seen 13 targets through two weeks, ahead of Richardson. When both McLaurin and Richardson have tough matchups, Quinn should be the outlet for Keenum. The matchups aren’t great for the two this week, though the matchup against the Bears hasn’t been kind to receivers. Last year’s fantasy slot machine, Buster Skrine, has played surprisingly well for the Bears through two weeks, allowing just 57 scoreless yards on 12 targets in coverage. The Bears pressure they get up front should be rather intense, so we could see Quinn get more targets given the role he plays, though he’s just a boring low-ceiling WR5 in this matchup.
Trey Burton: In Burton’s return to the lineup, the Bears eased him in with 26 snaps, while Adam Shaheen played 20 snaps, and Ben Braunecker played 14 of them. The pass routes were much more even, though, as it was Burton 9, Shaheen 8, and Braunecker 7. The Bears have seemingly eased in everyone coming off injury, so this isn’t too surprising. The Redskins have a new safety duo of Landon Collins and Montae Nicholson, and the duo has been burned to this point. They’ve allowed a combined 10 receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets in coverage. The competition of Zach Ertz and Jason Witten is nothing to scoff at, though. We should probably wait to trust Burton until we see him play a full game and see Trubisky get things together.
Jordan Reed: He’s still in the concussion protocol, though he is apparently getting closer to playing. I’m not sure what to make of that considering we heard similar things prior to their Week 1 game. The Bears haven’t been a team to stream tight ends against, as they haven’t allowed a tight end 15 PPR points since way back in 2017. Not one tight end topped 14 PPR points against them last year, and even though Jimmy Graham scored 12 PPR points against them in Week 1, more than half of that came on a jump-ball that Aaron Rodgers let the former basketball player win. If Reed clears the concussion protocol, it simply means he can be picked up, but you shouldn’t count on him this week. *Update* Reed didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday, meaning he’s unlikely to play in Week 3.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Line: TEN by 2.0
Marcus Mariota: It’s been a mixed bag for Mariota through two weeks, and you can say the same thing about the Jaguars defense. After allowing Patrick Mahomes to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, they’ve held him and Deshaun Watson to less than 250 passing yards and no touchdowns over the last six quarters. The crazy part about last week was that they were on the road without both defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback A.J. Bouye. On a short week, this game should be interesting. The last time these two teams met was in primetime when Derrick Henry rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns. At home, Mariota threw for just 162 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception in that game. In their first meeting last year, Mariota threw for just 100 yards on 18 attempts. There have been seven quarterbacks who’ve scored more than 16.3 fantasy points against the Jaguars over their last 18 games. Four of them had to rush for a touchdown in order to get there. Mariota has rushed eight times for 56 yards this year, but his passing is what can hurt his fantasy floor. In a game with one of the lowest point totals we’ll see, combined with him on the road, Mariota shouldn’t be played as anything more than a low-end QB2.
Gardner Minshew: He may not have been as good as he was in the opener against the Titans last week, but Minshew has shown what might be a stable fantasy floor. He’s completed 78 percent of his passes while averaging 8.4 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and one interception, but we must not forget he did it against the Chiefs and Texans secondaries. The Titans are the toughest of the bunch, as they’ve held Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett to just 6.5 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and four interceptions. The pass-rush is alive and well, pressuring Mayfield 27 percent of the time and sacking him five times, while pressuring Brissett on 31 percent of his dropbacks and sacking him three times. Minshew did rush for 56 yards in Week 2, showcasing his ability to navigate the pocket and provide a fantasy floor, but outside of Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, and Carson Wentz, no quarterback has been able to score more than 20 fantasy points against the Titans over their last 18 games, which have all been under Mike Vrabel. Minshew looks better than expected, but he’s still just a borderline streamer in 2QB leagues rather than one you want to play in standard leagues.
Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis: The last time Henry played against the Jaguars, his owners were likely rewarded with a win after he rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns. It’s important to remember that it did come in Week 14 when the Jaguars had packed it in for the year, but it’s still noteworthy. Their first meeting didn’t go nearly as well, as he rushed for just 57 yards on 18 carries and didn’t score. The silver lining here is that the Titans are remaining true to what they said about riding Henry this year. Of the 47 touches by Titans running backs this year, Henry has 37 of them, a 78.7 percent share. That number last year was just 51.3 percent. The Jaguars defense has allowed exactly 4.65 yards per carry in each of their first two games, while allowing both the Chiefs and Texans running backs to rush for more than 100 yards, which included fellow power-back Carlos Hyde and his 90 yards on 20 carries last week. Those are very respectable numbers for Hyde who doesn’t have anywhere close to Henry’s breakaway speed. Henry’s seemingly high-touch floor with his breakaway potential combine to equal a solid RB2 in fantasy with an RB1 ceiling. Now totaling just 10 touches and a measly 27 total yards over the first two weeks, Lewis is clearly just a handcuff to Henry at this point, and not startable in fantasy.
Leonard Fournette: He’s now received 36 of the 37 touches among Jaguars running backs this year. That is what we call a goldmine at the running back position, as it gives you a stable floor every week. Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve had with Fournette through two weeks, as he’s yet to find the end zone. The good news, however, is that under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Fournette has seen eight-plus man fronts on just 21.4 percent of his carries. That’s much different than his first two years in the league where that number was 44.3 percent. With Minshew playing respectable, it should keep defenses honest. Had it not been for a long Jordan Wilkins run (55 yards) against them last week, the Titans would’ve completely shutdown the Colts run-game. Without that run, they would’ve rushed 26 times for 87 yards (3.35 yards per carry), and the Colts have one of (if not) the best offensive lines in football. But that does count and the Titans have allowed both the Browns’ and Colts’ running back combos to accumulate at least 20 PPR points in each game. Knowing Fournette has received 98 percent of the Jaguars touches, he does carry RB1 upside, even in a tough matchup. We still cannot forget the Titans defense under Mike Vrabel has allowed just eight rushing touchdowns through 18 games, making Fournette a high-end RB2 who still presents a high floor.
Corey Davis: He had a much better matchup in Week 2, though the numbers (3/38/0) weren’t much better. It’s clear that he has much more competition for targets in 2019 than he did in 2018, though it also doesn’t help that Mariota threw the ball just 28 times. Fast-forward to Week 3 and you have a clear avoid matchup for Davis, as he’s sure to see shutdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey in coverage. He’s fresh off a game where he held Deandre Hopkins to just four catches for 40 scoreless yards. There were just six wide receivers who finished as top-18 wide receivers against the Jaguars last year and every single one of them saw at least 10 targets, a number Davis is sure not to hit in this game. While his talent is likely inside the top-30 wide receivers in the league, his opportunity this week is not, and he should be on fantasy benches.
A.J. Brown: While Corey Davis is clearly the No. 1 receiver in this offense playing 94 snaps over the first two weeks, Brown is battling with Adam Humphries and Tajae Sharpe for snaps. Over the first two weeks, the snap count looks like this: Sharpe 58, Brown 55, Humphries 54. The production is not close, as Brown has 125 yards to the combined 28 yards of the others, though he’s hardly trustworthy in a matchup against a Jaguars defense that allowed just 1.49 PPR points per target to wide receivers, which ranked as the second-lowest mark only to the Ravens. Brown would get a nice upgrade if cornerback A.J. Bouye were forced to miss another week (missed Week 2), though he’s expected to be ready. Bouye is one of the best cornerbacks in football, so if he plays, Brown becomes a non-option in all formats. If Bouye were to sit, Brown would still be a mediocre WR5-type option who’s splitting snaps, though he would become a better option in the DFS showdown slates.
Adam Humphries: He’s caught just three balls for four yards over the first two weeks, which makes him an afterthought in fantasy leagues, though he’ll likely have the best matchup of the Titans receivers in this game, especially if A.J. Bouye suits up. It’s still not a truly great matchup, as former first-round pick D.J. Hayden has been one of the better slot cornerbacks in football over the last four years, allowing just 104-of-164 passing (63.4 percent) for 965 yards and three touchdowns in his coverage. Still, if Bouye suits up, Hayden is the weakest cornerback of the bunch. Humphries is still unplayable in season-long leagues until we see some in-game chemistry between him and Mariota.
Dede Westbrook: Who would’ve thought losing Nick Foles would hurt this much? After having his Week 1 performance saved by a late touchdown, his Week 2 performance (one catch, three yards) killed fantasy lineups. Not just that, but he has what might be the toughest matchup of the Jaguars receivers in this game. Logan Ryan is a very stable slot cornerback who has kept most in-check over his time with the Titans, though we did see him get burned by speed last week, as Parris Campbell flat-out outran him for a 12-yard touchdown catch on a crossing route. While that play wasn’t a highlight for him, he does already have two interceptions on his 2019 resume. Campbell may be a smidge faster than Westbrook, but a 4.34-second versus a 4.31-second isn’t something you can see with the naked eye. Westbrook is hard to trust considering his lack of performance with Minshew, but he has the speed to beat Ryan. Consider him a somewhat shaky WR3/4 for this game. It does help to know he finished with 7/88/1 the last time they played the Titans, though it’s a different offense with a different quarterback.
D.J. Chark: He leads the team in targets (13), receptions (11), yards (201), and touchdowns (2). The question is: can you continue to trust him with Minshew? The Titans have faced Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and T.Y. Hilton through the first two weeks, but have yet to allow any receiver top 14.3 PPR points against them, which would have ranked outside the top 25 wide receivers in both weeks, and it’s fair to say those receviers are more talented than Chark. What’s promising is that he did total nearly double the targets (9) than the next closest Jaguars receiver (Westbrook and Conley with five apiece) with Minshew on the field as the starter. You obviously have to consider him, but knowing how well Adoree Jackson (the cornerback he’ll see 50 percent of the time) has played to start the year, it’s tough to rely on him as anything more than a middling WR4. Jackson has only allowed 45 yards on 69 snaps in coverage this year.
Chris Conley: Him and D.J. Chark are alternating on the perimeter, though Chark is getting a bit more time in the slot. Conley has seen more volume than most predicted, as his 12 targets through two weeks is more than enough to be fantasy relevant. He’s been highly efficient on them, too, as 10/170/1 is good enough to land him as a top-25 receiver through two games. He’s going to see a mixture of Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler in coverage, a duo that’s not allowed much yardage through two weeks. They’ve combined to allow just 103 yards on 17 targets in coverage against opponents that included superstars Odell Beckham and T.Y. Hilton. While Butler has allowed two touchdowns, those are harder to predict, making Conley a risky WR5 in this matchup that has one of the lowest totals of the week, though his stock has trended upward.
Delanie Walker: It looked like another big week for Walker after catching a few balls in the first quarter, though the Titans offense stalled as the game went on. The Jaguars have done a very respectable job with tight ends over the first two weeks, holding Travis Kelce to just three catches for 88 yards and no touchdowns, and then… well, everyone shuts down the Texans tight ends. Many will point to the fact that the Jaguars allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to tight ends last year, but much of that was touchdown-dependent. They allowed just 6.96 yards per target to tight ends, which ranked as the eighth-lowest mark in the league, while the touchdown they allowed every 12.6 targets ranked as the sixth most often. Walker has never scored more than seven touchdowns in his career and has just three seasons with more than four touchdowns, so he’s not a massive red zone guy. He’s still in the low-end TE1 conversation due to the uncertainty surrounding many at the position, but this shouldn’t be a week he goes off or anything.
James O’Shaughnessy: Most expected Geoff Swaim to run as the starter, but after two weeks, O’Shaughnessy has run almost twice the routes that Swaim has (51-28). Some will look at this matchup and think it’s one to attack because the Titans have allowed a tight end touchdown in back-to-back weeks, but it’s really not. Holding David Njoku to just 32 yards and then holding the combination of Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle to a combined 46 yards is a feat. The touchdowns are forgivable, as they are (1) hard to predict, and (2) they were to two elite red zone options. If there’s a great matchup for tight ends, it’s the Chiefs defense, who O’Shaughnessy already played and totaled 32 yards against. He’s not on the streaming radar in Week 3.