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The Primer: Week 3 Edition (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Sep 24, 2022
Fantasy Football Week 3 Start/Sit Advice

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“Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!”

(All of my fellow nerds know this is a Ghostbusters reference. If you didn’t…you’re welcome.)

Embrace the chaos that is the NFL season. After two weeks of NFL action, the fantasy gawds have chosen violence. Trey Lance‘s season-ending ankle injury had all of Twitter offering up their ankles as tribute. (Heal up, Lance. I can’t wait to see you crush in 2023.) The Giants (yes, those Giants), Dolphins, and Eagles join the Bills, Chiefs, and Buccaneers as the league’s only remaining undefeated teams.

As we sift through the carnage and patch our rosters through trades, waivers, and prayer, remember we only get to experience this insanity for a little over four months, so whether you’re the top scorer in your league or 0-2.

Enjoy it.

Check out all of our Week 3 fantasy football content >>

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PIT vs. CLE | KC vs. IND | BAL vs. NE | HOU vs. CHI | LV vs. TEN | BUF vs. MIA | DET vs. MIN | CIN cs. NYJ | PHI vs. WAS | NO vs. CAR | JAC vs. LAC | GB vs. TB | LAR vs. ARI | ATL vs. SEA | SF vs. DEN | DAL vs. NYG

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts

Pace and playcalling notes

  • This game will be one of the slowest on the slate. Kansas City is only 23rd in neutral pace, while Indianapolis is 28th.
  • These two teams are opposites in close game play calling, though. Kansas City remains pass-heavy with the third-highest neutral passing rate, while the Colts are reprising last year’s “Wentz model-lite,” ranking 11th in neutral rushing rate.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes is currently the QB6 in fantasy football doing Mahomes-type things. He’s tenth in PFF passing grade, eighth in adjusted completion rate and sixth in passing yards (minimum 20 attempts). This week, he should have plenty of time to carve up the Colts’ porous defense (23rd pressure rate). Indianapolis is 29th in pass defense DVOA. They have surrendered the 12th-highest net yards per pass, fourth-highest passer rating, and tenth-highest passing touchdown rate. Mahomes should be able to work the ball deep (seventh-highest deep passer rating) against a secondary that’s 28th in DVOA against deep passing. Mahomes is a top-five option this week at the quarterback position.

Matt Ryan: After two games, the Colts’ receiver room has been decimated by injuries. We’ll see if that changes this week, but Ryan has suffered as the QB28 in fantasy. Kansas City might be 22nd in pass defense DVOA, but that’s largely due to their 11th ranking in passing touchdown rate allowed. They are 16th in success rate and EPA per dropback with the eighth-lowest yards per attempt allowed. Their pass rush has been unstoppable, ranking second in hurry rate and third in pressure rate. This is where Ryan crumbles. Through two games among 33 quarterbacks (minimum ten pressured dropbacks), he’s 31st in PFF’s pressured passing grade and 26th in pressured yards per attempt. Ryan is a low-end QB2.

Running Backs

Week 1

Player Carries Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 15 7 27 2
Jerick McKinnon 8 6 31 3
Isiah Pacheco 14 1 6 2

 

Update: Indy linebacker Shaq Leonard has been ruled out. This is a small bump for Edwards-Helaire’s prospects in Week 3.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Edwards-Helaire has been ultra-efficient with his volume averaging 11 touches and producing 96 total yards. Edwards_Helaire has averaged 41.5% of the snaps through two games, but this is somewhat misleading. In Week 1, the Chiefs handily blew out the Cardinals early, and last week Edwards-Helaire had his knee stepped on after the conclusion of a play. After that occurred, he missed some snaps before returning. Edwards-Helaire leads the backfield with seven high-value touches and a 9.6% target share. If the Colts can keep it close, we could see Edwards-Helaire get more run this week. He’s been the backfield leader for early-down snaps (44.2-46.7%), while McKinnon has garnered the third-down work (71.4%). It’s amazing what a full offseason and health can do for a player. Edwards-Helaire is currently (minimum ten carries) third in yards after contact per attempt, fourth in breakaway percentage, and eighth in PFF’s elusive rating. He’s also first in yards per route run and PFF receiving grade among running backs (minimum five targets). This week, Edwards-Helaire will have to load up on his production through the passing game. The Colts remain a top-tier run defense with the third-lowest rush EPA, seventh-lowest success rate, and the lowest explosive run rate allowed. Indy can be damaged through the air, though, by running backs. They ranked 27th in DVOA last year and are 24th this season. They have faced the 12th-most targets to the position allowing the ninth-most receptions and 11th-most receiving yards. Edwards-Helaire is an RB2 for Week 2.

Jerick McKinnon: McKinnon isn’t in play. Yes, he’s averaged 43% of snaps over the last two games, but he hasn’t been nearly as efficient as Edwards-Helaire, with only 2.00 yards after contact per attempt and 1.00 yards per route run. He’s only been targeted on 19% of his routes. However, McKinnon is a fine stash, as he would take over more of the backfield than Edwards-Helaire currently owns. Pacheco is a distant third RB on this team.

Isiah Pacheco: Pacheco has been the mop-up running back, averaging only 16% of snaps the last two weeks with zero pass game usage. Unless injury strikes this backfield, he isn’t startable soon.

Jonathan Taylor: Jonathan Taylor has averaged 22.5 touches and 119 total yards in two games. With back-to-back games where the Colts have trailed all day, he’s still played 76% and 74% of the snaps with 63% and 62% route shares. The problem for Taylor through the air is while he’s seen a 10.3% target share which is good, if he doesn’t become a more efficient receiver, he’ll lose work in this area to Hines. His 0.41 yards per route run and 14% target per route run are disgusting marks. Kansas City has been tough against rushers with the tenth-lowest explosive run rate and 11th-lowest rushing yards per game allowed. Kansas City is ninth in second-level yards and sixth in open field yards. While yes, the Cardinals’ offensive line is bad, the Chargers are tenth in adjusted line yards and second-level yards, and they could only grind out 3.3 yards per carry. Taylor is still the best rusher they have seen so far behind the most talented offensive line they have come across in 2022. The Colts are top seven in adjusted line yards (seventh), second-level yards (second), and open-field yards (first). Taylor ranks 20th in yards after contact per attempt, 19th in breakaway percentage, and 13th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries). Taylor remains a top-three running back.

Nyheim Hines: Taylor could succeed against this pass defense through the air, but this could easily be flipped on its head and become a Hines game. Hines remains one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. Among all running backs with at least five targets this season, he’s second in PFF receiving grade and third in yards per route run with a 14.1% target share. After ranking 26th in DVOA against receiving backs last year, they are 21st in 2022, seeing the second-most running back targets. They have allowed the most running back receptions and are fourth in receiving yards to the position. Hines is an RB3/4 with RB2 upside if the game script flips and the coaching staff features him in catch-up mode.

Wide Receivers

JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu Smith-Schuster has seen a 15.1% target share running 50% of his routes from the slot. He’s yet to see an endzone target, and his efficiency numbers have been woeful, with a 1.46 yards per route run and 18% target per route run rate. His aDOT (7.8) is the lowest among all the wide receivers on the roster. This is a good matchup to get him going, though. Smith-Schuster main calling card these days is the ability to beat zone coverage. Lucky for him, the Colts have deployed zone on 69-76% of their cornerbacks’ routes. Limited sample, yes, but Smith-Schuster’s splits this year against man and zone have been huge. Against man, he has a 0.91 yards per route run, but that flies up to 2.79 against zone, which is fifth-best (minimum five zone targets). When inside, he’ll match up with Kenny Moore, who allows an 81.8% catch rate and 146.0 passer rating this season. He’s a WR3 with upside this week.

Mecole Hardman: Hardman is a dart throw WR6. He’s splitting routes with Justin Watson with only a 57.1% route run rate. His other peripherals are also yuck, with a 1.48 yards per route run. His target-per-route run rate is at 23%, which is nice, but that’s only amounted to five targets per game. When on the field, he’s alternated with Smith-Schuster in the slot (50%), so he’ll see a good bit of Moore. I would be much higher on him if he were a 100% snap player in Week 3.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling have been the only full-time wide receivers for the Chiefs (highest route run rate of 83.1%). The problem for Valdes-Scantling is he’s been the team’s trusted man coverage beater, with 66.7% of his targets coming against this coverage type. With a boatload of zone coverage in store for these receivers in Week 3, you should sit Valdes-Scantling. He’s a WR5/6 type.

Michael Pittman: Pittman is set to suit up in Week 3. This week, Pittman should be treated as a full go and a top 15 receiver option. In Week 1, Pittman soaked up a 26.5% target share and 35.4% air yard share. He ran a route on 98.1% of dropbacks and put up a sparkling 2.28 yards per route run. He’ll run about 83% of his routes against Rashad Fenton and Jaylen Watson. This year, Fenton has allowed a 77.8% catch rate and 117.6 passer rating. Watson has been stellar for a rookie giving up only a 40% catch rate and 42.1 passer rating. 

Alec Pierce: Pierce isn’t startable this week. In Week 1, he only saw a 4.1% target share with 4.7% of the team’s air yards. With Dulin stepping up in his absence, he could see his routes cut into by Dulin in Week 3. In Week 1, he saw a 66.7% route rate (Dulin 25.9% Week 1). This could easily turn into a 50% split for both players unless one of them bumps Parris Campbell from the slot. 

Ashton Dulin: With Pittman and Pierce back, Dulin returns to being a part-time player and is unstartable in fantasy.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce: Kelce remains king. He’s currently fourth in target share (21.9%) and second in air yard share (28.7%) among tight ends. He’s second in yards per route run behind only Mark Andrews (minimum five targets). The Colts are a perfect smash spot for him this week. They are 31st in DVOA after ranking 21st last year. Last year, Indianapolis ranked in the top seven in most receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns allowed to tight ends.

Colts Tight Ends: The usage here is split between Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson. Neither player has seen above a 14.3% target share or run more than 54.3% of the routes per dropback. These numbers are too low to consider for your fantasy lineups. Sit both.

Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots

Pace and playcalling notes

  • This is another gross game that looks like molasses on paper. Baltimore is 25th in neutral pace, followed by the Patriots, who are trudging along at 30th.
  • Baltimore is the surprising winner of the passing volume battle, ranking 24th in neutral passing rate. Matt Patricia and Joe Judge’s “innovative and new age scheme” has the second-highest rushing rate in the NFL when games are close.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson: Jackson is a mid-QB1 this week after his smash performance against Miami. New England has surrendered the ninth-lowest explosive pass rate, the 11th-lowest success rate per dropback, and the 12th-lowest EPA per dropback. Last time Jackson faced this defense, he completed 70.5% of his passes with 7.3 yards per attempt while rushing for 55 yards as the QB7. Yes, I know that far in the past has no relevance on depth charts and matchups this season, but I think his stat line this week probably looks eerily similar. I would be more energetic if the Patriots were the man coverage heavy team of old, but they have been deploying more zone this year. In Week 1, their outside corners played zone on 62-68% of their snaps. Jackson’s splits last year against man and zone were massive. His completion rate (27th) and accuracy rating (23rd) against zone were outside the top 22 quarterbacks in the NFL (against man coverage third and fifth in those metrics).

Mac Jones: With the slow-moving nature of this Patriots’ offense and heavy instance on rushing, Jones is a low-end QB2 this week. Jones has only finished as a top 12 fantasy quarterback in 31.6% of his NFL starts. Small sample variance: Baltimore’s pass defense looks like a pushover on paper after Tua Tagovailoa and his talented receivers dismantled them in Week 2. In Week 1, the Ravens’ pass defense allowed the ninth-lowest EPA per dropback and 11th-lowest success rate per dropback. Depending on the health of their cornerback unit entering the weekend, I could be revising my stance here. We’ll see.

Running Backs

Week 1-2

Player Carries Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Kenyan Drake 17 1 22 3
Mike Davis 7 0 10 2
Justice Hill 5 2 14 0

 

Kenyan Drake: This backfield is an avoid. Drake has averaged nine touches over the last two games averaging 27 total yards. While he holds the lead of a three-way committee in nearly every category, the work here is too split up to give any back anything more than RB5 consideration. 

J.K. Dobbins: With the roulette wheel of running backs here, Dobbins can’t be trusted. He sounds possible to play this week, but expecting anything more than a handful of snaps and touches is a fool’s errand.

Week 1-2

Player Carries Targets Routes Red zone opportunities
Damien Harris 24 5 19 5
Rhamondre Stevenson 17 4 28 0

 

Damien Harris: After two weeks Harris has averaged 14 touches and 72.5 total yards per game. He’s picked up right where he left off last season as one of the league’s most efficient rushers. He’s currently 13th in yards after contact per attempt and 20th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries). The Ravens are no pushover on the ground allowing the eighth-lowest rushing yards per game, tenth-lowest rushing success rate, and 12th-lowest explosive rush rate. Harris saw his route run % drop from 30.3% to 23.7% from Week 1 to Week 2 as Stevenson took over the passing down back role. Harris’s red zone stranglehold pushes him over Stevenson while both are RB3s this week.

Rhamondre Stevenson: Stevenson has averaged ten touches and 39 total yards. His snaps climbed from 25% to 62% in Week 2 as he became the primary passing-down specialist. His lack of a red zone role is concerning, but it’s only a two-game sample and that could easily change with the drop of a hat this week. Despite Stevenson’s mediocre 6.2% target share, his role in the offense offers the higher upside this week if the red zone touches even out. Last year the Ravens were 30th in DVOA against receiving backs. This year they have already faced the most running back targets in the NFL surrendering the second-most receptions and third-most receiving yards. Last year Stevenson was fifth in yards per route run among running backs (minimum 15 targets).

Wide Receivers

Rashod Bateman: Bateman is on his way to a breakout season. He’s currently the WR18 in fantasy. After Week 2, he’s third in yards per route run (minimum ten targets) and 20th in targets per route run. He’s handled a 20.2% target share and 29% of the team’s air yards. He’ll see Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones on nearly 86% of his routes. Mills and Jones have combined to allow a 60% catch rate and 128.3 passer rating in coverage. Bateman is a top 24 wide receiver.

Update: Bateman missed Friday’s practice with a personal issue (not injury related).

Jakobi Meyers: Meyers is the most disrespected high-volume receiver in the NFL. He has the quietest 29.7% (12th-highest) target share ever. While running 62% of his routes from the slot, he’s averaged 9.5 targets, 6.5 receptions, and 75 receiving yards. He’s 16th in weighted opportunity and 18th in yards per route run (minimum ten targets). The matchup is up in the air for Meyers as Damarion Williams or Marlon Humphrey could cover the slot this week. Williams has been torched, allowing a 66.7% catch rate, 122.2 passer rating, and two receiving scores. Humphrey has only seen four slot targets allowing two to be secured with a 64.6 passer rating. Meyers has entered the WR3 conversation.

Update: Meyers has been listed as questionable (knee). He was a DNP on Wednesday and Thursday. While the Patriots pull injury list foolishness weekly, Meyers does sound banged up. If he plays I’d still expect him to play his usual allotment of snaps. The Baltimore secondary remains banged up. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Brandon Stephens, and Damarion Williams are all listed as questionable. Each of them practiced in full on Friday and in a limited fashion on Thursday, so I expect all of them to suit up in Week 3.

Nelson Agholor: Agholor popped off with a good game last week as his route run rate climbed from 54.5% to 76.3%. He’s seen a 17.2% target share with 20.3% of the team’s air yards. He’ll see Marcus Peters and possibly Humphrey on the outside if he’s not in the slot. Peters allowed an 85.7% catch rate and 158.3 passer rating in his first game back from injury. Agholor could supplant Parker as the number two target behind Meyers this week. He’s been efficient in the early going with 2.94 yards per route run, while Parker has been a cloud of dust. Agholor is a WR5.

DeVante Parker: Parker has only seen a 6.2% target share with an anemic 0.15 yards per route run. He should be on waiver wires and not in starting consideration.

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews: Temper expectations for Mark Andrews this week. Yes, he’s still a must-start. Andrews leads all tight ends with a 31% target share, 33.6% air yard share, 0.67 weighted opportunity, and 2.69 yards per route run (minimum five targets). The matchup is brutal despite Pat Freiermuth securing a touchdown last week. New England has been one of the best defenses against the tight end over the last few years. This season they are 14th in DVOA, ranking 25th in receptions and 27th in receiving yards allowed.

Hunter Henry: If you’re looking for a tight-end streaming candidate, Hunter Henry fits the bill. His route run rate is 71.8%, while his other efficiency metrics, like yards per route run (0.39) and targets per route run (8%), have been abysmal. He’s only seen a 6.2% target share without any end zone targets. This is a route volume and defensive matchup streamer target. Baltimore was 18th in DVOA last year and 24th so far this season. They have allowed the 11th-most receptions and second-most touchdowns to tight ends.

Jonnu Smith: With only a 10.8% target share and 42.3% route run rate, Smith isn’t in consideration despite the plus matchup.

Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears

Pace and playcalling notes

  • This is another average-paced affair, with Houston ranking 14th in neutral pace, followed by Chicago at 17th.
  • The Bears have been extremely run-centric so far, with the third-highest neutral rushing rate. The matchup is there this week for them to continue this trend.

Quarterbacks

Davis Mills: Davis Mills is a low-end QB2 at best this week. He has followed up a standout rookie season with a disappointing beginning to 2022. He has only mustered 5.6 yards per attempt at the QB27 in fantasy. The Bears might be a laughing stock in the minds of many, but their defense hasn’t been. They are 17th in pass defense DVOA with the 12th-lowest success rate per dropback. Chicago also is first in pressure rate while only blitzing on 1.6% of their defensive plays. Mills has been pressured at the 12th highest rate this year.

Justin Fields: Justin Fields is another low-end QB2, but he does present some upside. Has it been pretty through two games? No. He’s finished as the QB23 and QB27 with a combined 28 pass attempts. This is a good avenue to ramp up his passing volume to see where he’s at if you’re the Bears. Fields has been the second-most pressured passer in the NFL, but Houston is only 15th in pressure rate. The Texans are seventh-worth in explosive pass rate and passing yards per game. They have relinquished the 12th-highest EPA per dropback. If you have Fields in Superflex or 2QB formats, he could present more upside this week than the Jameis Winstons and Ryan Tannehills of the world.

Running Backs

Dameon Pierce: Dameon Pierce saw his volume and snap rate rise last week from 12 touches, with 29% of snaps played to 16 touches and 62% of snaps. His rushing share increased from 40.7% to 88.2%, and his route run rate jumped from 12.2% to 36.6%. He ranks 22nd in yards after contact per attempt and 16th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum ten carries). Speaking of good runways to get players going, this is a fantastic spot to rev up Pierce. Chicago has bled out the 12th-highest rush EPA and the seventh-highest explosive run rate while ranking dead last in rushing yards allowed per game. Pierce is a high-end RB3 this week. If he gets 20 touches, he could sneak into the top 20 at running back this week.

Update: Roquan Smith logged DNPs all week. He’s been listed as questionable but I think he’s closer to doubtful. Smith missing this game would be another bump for Pierce.

Rex Burkhead: Burkhead didn’t see a rushing attempt last week and while he retained a 48.8% route run rate that only amounted to an 8.1% target share. Burkhead could lose more of this backfield in Week 3. He’s a must-sit.

David Montgomery: After two games, it looks like I was wrong. David Montgomery remains the workhorse for this team ranking ninth in opportunity share and second in route participation. He averaged 18.5 touches and 93 total yards. His 21.4% target share (second among running backs) is surprising, but even more shocking is that he’s ranked tenth in yards per route run. Houston is 30th in rushing yards per game and allowing the 12th-highest rushing success rate. While the Bears offensive line is only allowing Montgomery to see 1.4 yards before contact, he can still have success against a run defense 19th in explosive run rate allowed. Montgomery is a solid RB2 who could finish as an RB1 this week.

Khalil Herbert: Herbert has been explosive when he’s received touches, but a 28.3% opportunity share (52nd) and 17.9% route participation mark (59th) are too low to consider Herbert as anything more than a bench stash. He’s fifth in true yards per carry and 14th in yards per touch, so if this ever comes to fruition, he could pay off massively.

Wide Receivers

Brandin Cooks: Cooks might be another year older, but he’s not ready to be put out to pasture yet. Among 57 wide receivers with ten or more targets, he’s 30th in yards per route run but 47th in PFF receiving grade. These aren’t damning numbers when you marry it with his insane volume and role. He’s 11th in target share (30.1%) and 12th in weighted opportunity with a 36% air yard share. He’ll run about 74% of his routes on the perimeter against Jaylon Johson and Kindle Vildor. Don’t be surprised if the team does move him inside more this week. Johnson and Vildor have combined to allow a 55.5% catch rate and 77.0 passer rating. Teams have picked on slot corner Kyler Gordon through two games. He’s defended the third-most targets in the NFL (18) allowing the most receiving yards in the NFL with a 155.8 passer rating.

Nico Collins: Collins has seen a 16.4% target share with 26% of the team’s air yards. He’s only turned that volume into 1.38 yard per route run with a 20% target per route run rate. He’s a WR5/6 that’ll run about 90% of his routes against Johnson and Vildor.

Darnell Mooney: My oh my Mooney. Where did all the targets go? Mooney has garnered a 17.9% target share which sounds healthy until you realize that with Chicago’s pass volume owes that’s 2.5 targets per game. His talent and route participation (100%) have evaporated. The same receiver that ranked 27th in route win rate and 11th in win rate against man coverage is still present. Mooney will run about 59% of his routes against Desmond King in the slot. King has only given up a 57.1% catch rate and 92.0 passer rating this season, but this is still a corner who allowed a 73.6% catch rate and 115.9 passer rating last year. Don’t let small sample numbers dissuade you into thinking this is a tough matchup for Mooney.

Tight Ends

HOU Tight Ends: None of the Texans’ tight ends are worth considering for your lineups. Brevin Jordan and Pharaoh Brown are cutting into each other’s routes as each has at least a 43.9% route run rate. With each sitting with disgusting yards per route run and only 8.2% target shares, you’re better off looking in other directions for a streamer. Chicago is 11th in DVOA against tight ends.

Update: Brevin Jordan has been ruled out, but there are better options than Brown as a tight end streamer.

Cole Kmet: Kmet’s underlying usage metrics look more promising than the box scores. He’s still logging an 82.1% route participation playing 82.5% of the snaps. The problem is the play volume for this offense. His 7.1% target share is disgusting, but with his snap share ranking 43rd in routes run is bad news. Houston was 32nd in DVOA against tight ends last season with the 12th-most receiving yards and sixth-most receiving touchdowns allowed. They are 19th in DVOA and receiving yards allowed this year. I would plug and play a ton of streamers over Kmet this week, but if you don’t have any of these options available, then I understand. He’s a TE2 with an average to above-average matchup for Week 2.

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