Five Burning Questions for Week 3 (2020 Fantasy Football)
It’s safe to say that we were all concerned with injuries heading into a strange 2020 season. With no preseason games and a shortened training camp, it was nearly impossible to fully prepare for Week 1. I did not foresee this many injuries happening as quickly as Week 2.
If you survived last week without any major losses to your fantasy squad, congratulations. For the rest of us, it’s time to scour free agency, identify trade targets, and pray we can make it a few weeks with so many studs missing time. If you aren’t used to streaming positions like quarterback, tight end, and D/ST, you may need to start doing so now. In fact, you may be in a position where you stream your entire team.
So many things are up in the air after last week, but let’s look at five burning questions we are facing heading into Week 3.
1. Who Will Step Up as a Waiver Wire MVP?
The injury bug swept through the NFL in Week 2 like a buzz saw, leaving fantasy teams decimated in its wake. Never before has the waiver wire been so important to fantasy football that I can remember in all my years of playing. Some of the big names to fall victim were running backs Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and Raheem Mostert to name a few. It’s especially painful given the injury list leading up to Week 2 like wide receivers Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin.
The wide receiver group generally has a bit more meat available to grab during the season, but running backs aren’t as deep. Snatching a replacement running back was your number one priority. Depending on your league size and waiver wire availability, you were probably looking at players like Joshua Kelley, Mike Davis, Jerick McKinnon, Myles Gaskin, or Devonta Freeman.
All of these players have the opportunity for production over the next few weeks, but Kelley and McKinnon stand out as the most valuable rest-of-season pickups.
Kelley and Austin Ekeler‘s backfield roles are beginning to get clearer as we get deeper into the season. Week 1 was just weird with Ekeler seeing only one target the entire game but rushing 19 times. The strategy wasn’t effective for Ekeler who works his fantasy magic in the passing game. The Chargers finally gave Kelley a role in the second half and he finished the game with 12 attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. Last week, with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert making his debut, Ekeler was more involved in the passing game seeing five targets and Kelley made an impact the whole game rushing 23 times for 64 yards. I think this trend will continue, which makes Kelley a valuable back to start at the RB2 or flex position.
Not only is it heartwarming to see McKinnon back in the NFL, but he stepped up for the San Francisco 49ers in a big way. He rushed three times for 77 yards and a touchdown after scoring a receiving touchdown in Week 1. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is a run-happy coach who features multiple backs in his offense. McKinnon should see a greater workload in Mostert’s absence and I believe he will still be involved in the offense once Mostert returns.
2. Will Devonta Freeman Get It Done For the Giants?
Don’t worry, I haven’t dismissed Freeman in terms of an MVP waiver claim candidate. Right now, I do like Kelley and McKinnon the most, but I will have a keen eye on Freeman’s progression with the Giants. While he was a very talented running back in 2015 and 2016, his success fell off in subsequent years. In 2017 he rushed 196 times for 869 yards and seven touchdowns after two years with 11 TDs. He only played in two games in 2018, then just couldn’t quite get it done again last year. Over 14 games he rushed 184 times for 656 yards (3.6 yards per attempt) and only two touchdowns. He was then released by the Falcons.
There was a lot of speculation as to where Freeman would sign during the offseason, but it came and went and Freeman had yet to find a home. He was clear that he wanted to be involved in his future offense and get paid, so that may have had something to do with his lack of a team. And also, well, he wasn’t really looking that great over the last few years.
Freeman will be filling in some big shoes with Giants. Let’s not kid ourselves, though. He won’t be seeing Barkley level touches, at least for a while. Running backs Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman will still be around to split the load even when Freeman gets a better handle on the playbook. He should see volume, which is great for fantasy, but I don’t think he will be looking at RB1 numbers. He is a good pick up, especially if you drafted Barkley, but I am not ready to crown him as a fantasy stud just yet. He’ll have to disprove two years of his own lack of production to become a fantasy workhorse once again.
3. Can Julio Jones Bounce Back in Week 3?
It’s difficult not to have at least a minor freak out with wide receiver Julio Jones’ performance in Week 2, especially compared to burgeoning wide receiver Calvin Ridley scoring two touchdowns on 10 targets and 109 yards last week. Then there’s emerging wide receiver Russell Gage getting into the mix who saw 12 targets with nine receptions and 114 yards in Week 1 and posted six receptions on nine targets for 46 yards and a touchdown last week. Jones had a big game in Week 1 but failed to haul in a touchdown then was practically non-existent against the Cowboys with only four targets and two receptions.
Then, of course, there was this.
Former #LSU WR Russell Gage blew up for 100+ yards last week.
Now he lines up at QB drops it into the hands of Julio Jones. Unfortunately, the lone time you’ll see him drop a pass… pic.twitter.com/TdQtbvidfK
– Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) September 20, 2020
I am pretty sure the collective jaws of football fans dropped to the floor after this play.
If you have Jones rostered, try not to worry too much yet. This is Julio Jones we are talking about. He will have a daunting schedule facing Chicago, Green Bay, and Carolina, but the Falcons are committed to slinging the football. Quarterback Matt Ryan has already attempted 61 passes and is on pace for 488 for over 5,700 yards. There will plenty to go around for the elite wide receiver to get his share.
If one of your league mates are getting fed up with Jones, now is the time to target them in a trade, especially if you are hurting at the wide receiver position.
4. Is It Time to Hit the Panic Button on the Eagles?
For real football, the answer is no, not yet. For fantasy… maybe. I will admit that I am reaching for the button. It is entirely possible that the Eagles are a victim of no preseason games to work out the kinks. The Eagles just don’t look like themselves. The offensive line could not keep quarterback Carson Wentz upright, allowing eight sacks in Week 1 and he threw two interceptions and also had two fumbles.
In Week 2, Wentz avoided being sacked the entire game but again was plagued with interceptions without throwing any touchdowns. He did rush one in, but he finished the game as the QB25 with 12.86 points. You didn’t draft Wentz for this kind of production. Missing wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and a banged-up wide receiver Jalen Reagor does not help Wentz over the coming weeks. Now that Reagor has been ruled out for 6 to 8 weeks, this adds volume to the already shrieking alarm.
Miles Sanders finished well in his first game back rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown and even seeing three targets for 36 yards, but he also lost a fumble. I have said this before and I will say it again. I will not be surprised to see the Eagles go back to a committee backfield. They win in that format. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start Sanders, quite the opposite. But something has to change in order for the Eagles to start getting some wins.
For now, I am benching Wentz in favor of streamable QB options like Gardner Minshew until the offense can get themselves under control. Tight ends Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz may be must-starts on your roster, but hold your nose and prepare to start upside players if they disappoint.
5. Can “Minshew Mania” Keep Rolling on TNF?
Minshew has been surprisingly reliable for fantasy in 2020. He posted 20.82 points in Week 1 against the Colts, and I will be the first one to tell you that I was surprised. I started the Colts D/ST because they were going to play him. It cost me. Even though the Jags lost to the Titans last week 30 – 33, Minshew still had a great day. He finished as the QB12 (QB1) with 23.46 points. He has been targeting his pass-catchers like wide receivers D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, and rookie Laviska Shenault and even getting veteran tight end Tyler Eifert involved with a touchdown. Rookie running back James Robinson has been lights out for the Jags rushing 16 times for 102 yards and a touchdown last week.
Week 3 is an excellent matchup for Minshew as they host the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. Miami allowed 25.7 points to the quarterback position in Week 1 and 34.58 points last week to the Bills’ Josh Allen.
As reported Wednesday, Chark is dealing with a chest/back injury and did not practice. Keep an eye on his status heading into their matchup. I like Minshew much better with Chark available.
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