Fantasy Football Week 3 Takeaways: Surprises & Disappointments (2022)
Week 3 was not the prettiest week in football. In a sense, it’s fitting that it will be remembered as the week of the “Butt Punt.” There were lots of punts and lots of offenses that played like…well, you know.
Still, every week of NFL football has fantasy points that are scored and key storylines to follow. Week 3 is no different. So let’s dive right into it.
Top 5 Surprises
Trevor Lawrence officially arrives
TLaw’s rookie campaign did not exactly go as planned, but we can chalk a lot of that up to Urban Meyer’s ineptitude. Lawrence looked much improved in his first two games under new Jags coach Doug Pederson, quickly transforming Christian Kirk into an every-week fantasy starter. But Week 3 was Lawrence’s true coming out party. He led Jacksonville to a resounding 28-point victory over the Chargers in L.A. and finished as the QB4 for the week (through Sunday night’s action). Fantasy managers who came out of their drafts with Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford — not to mention Trey Lance or Dak Prescott — might want to give Lawrence a serious look if he’s available.
Khalil Herbert runs with opportunity to serve as Bears’ lead back
You could just as easily call it a disappointment that David Montgomery left early with a leg injury, but let’s focus on the positive first. One week after Montgomery ran for 122 yards against the Packers, Herbert one-upped him by rushing for a league-high 157 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans on Sunday. While Bears coach Matt Eberflus says Montgomery is “day-to-day,” his return next week can’t be taken for granted. More importantly, Herbert may have done enough to earn close to an even timeshare with Montgomery, something local reporters predicted could happen before the season even began.
Romeo Doubs makes his case to be Aaron Rodgers‘ go-to guy
With Davante Adams in Vegas, the Packers’ wide receiver group is a muddled lot, but Doubs could be ready to change that. The fourth round pick out of Nevada caught all eight of his targets for 73 yards and a score on Sunday against a tough Tampa Bay defense. That’s the kind of efficiency Rodgers demands — but hasn’t often got from his inexperienced pass-catchers over the years. Allen Lazard (four receptions, 45 yards, TD) also had a nice day against the Bucs, but Doubs has more upside than Lazard and Randall Cobb. And Doubs is more polished and ready to contribute than fellow rookie Christian Watson, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Jamaal Williams posts second multi-touchdown game in three weeks
D’Andre Swift entered Week 3 with an ankle injury and left it with a shoulder injury, too. It’s no great surprise, then, that he played fewer snaps and had less than half as many touches as Williams. Neither of Swift’s ailments seem particularly severe, but Williams could continue to handle a majority of the Lions’ backfield touches until Swift gets fully healthy. Once Swift is 100 percent, Williams could still have some RB3/flex appeal thanks to his outsized role near the goal line.
DeVonta Smith, Chris Olave build on promising Week 2 performances with even better Week 3 lines
It was fair to wonder after Week 1 whether the Eagles’ and Saints’ passing attacks would have enough volume to support “secondary” receivers like Smith and Olave. Well, it turns out that talent finds a way.
After goose-egging in Philadelphia’s opening game, Smith put up solid numbers in Week 2 before going ballistic against the Commanders in Week 3. He ended up catching eight balls for 169 yards and a touchdown, including several phenomenal grabs and a few others where he turned on the jets after the catch. With Jalen Hurts playing out of his mind and Dallas Goedert dealing with a shin injury, Smith could be integral to Philly’s plans in the coming weeks.
It’s much the same story for Olave, who has taken on a bigger role in the Saints’ offense each week. After catching three passes in Week 1, he was the intended target of over 300 air yards last week. Then on Sunday, Olave finally posted a huge fantasy day, hauling in nine catches for 147 yards against Carolina. Considering Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry both left the game with injuries, Olave could maintain a 30%+ target share again next week.
Top 5 Disappointments
Justin Fields grounded again
It seemed unfathomable that Fields had only attempted 28 passes through the Bears’ first two games. Surely that had something to do with their Week 1 game being played in a monsoon and their Week 2 contest being played at Lambeau Field in primetime, right? Nope. We learned in Week 3 that the Bears’ run-obsessed ways are not about to change anytime soon.
Fields only attempted 17 passes against the Texans, and only managed to complete eight of them — unless you count the two that were caught by Houston defenders. Chicago regularly ran the ball on third-and-long, and they ended up winning the game, vindicating their strategy. Fields broke off a couple of nice runs, but his pass volume is far too low to give him or any of his pass-catchers fantasy relevance in most formats.
Carson Wentz implodes against his former team
Anyone who has watched Wentz play football over the years can’t be too surprised that he put up a stinker against the Eagles on Sunday. Inconsistency, both in terms of decision-making and ball placement, is just part of the package with Washington’s signal-caller.
Wentz finished as a top-five fantasy QB in Weeks 1 and 2, but even then, he threw three picks. If anything, the surprise in Week 3 was that Wentz didn’t make up for his poor early play with garbage-time production late. That has been the key to Wentz’s fantasy success this year, but it didn’t really happen this time. Washington’s final drive did end in a score, but it was a rushing touchdown by Antonio Gibson. Washington has talented receivers and a bad defense, so Wentz is going to have some more big games. But this game highlights why it is always a little risky to rely on a QB like him.
DJ Moore finds himself on a milk carton again
Plenty of fantasy managers are sure to be peeved over Justin Jefferson‘s lack of production in Week 3, but the more concerning disappearing act is Moore’s. Moore finally crept ahead of Robbie Anderson in total targets for the year, but he still has yet to surpass six targets in a game. Against the Saints, he only caught one of his six targets for two yards. Baker Mayfield has inexplicably leaned on Anderson and Shi Smith rather than consistently getting the ball into the hands of his two best playmakers, Moore and Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers managed to win on Sunday, but that is not a long-term recipe for success for Carolina or Moore’s fantasy managers.
Joe Mixon gets out-produced by Samaje Perine
Those are words you never want to see. Mixon seemed primed for a big game against the Jets, but it simply was not meant to be. He ceded a passing game touchdown to Perine early in the first quarter, and then ended up getting rested late in the game with a sore ankle, allowing Perine (47 yards) to nearly double-up Mixon (24 yards) in rushing. The good news is that the injury appears minor, and Mixon’s passing game work through the first three weeks has actually been incredibly promising. Much better days are ahead if that usage continues.
The infirmary list grows
While Week 3 was not a catastrophic one for injuries, several top players departed early or played limited snaps.
As briefly mentioned above, D’Andre Swift is now dealing with both ankle and shoulder injuries, David Montgomery suffered a couple different lower leg injuries, and the Saints’ Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are dealing with foot and ankle injuries, respectively.
Dalvin Cook exited Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a dislocated shoulder, but he and the team are optimistic that he’ll be able to play next week in London with a shoulder brace. Fantasy managers can breathe a sigh of relief — and take solace in the fact that Cook had a solid game against the Lions (96 yards, TD) before departing.
Then there’s Mac Jones, who may have suffered the most significant injury of the week to a skill position player. Jones is believed to have a high-ankle sprain and could be headed to IR. Thankfully, the Patriots have an experienced backup in Brian Hoyer, but Jones’ absence would still be reason to at least slightly downgrade our already-limited expectations for New England pass-catchers.
Lamar Jackson is the first QB in NFL history to have 3+ TD passes and 100+ rushing yards in back-to-back games. He currently leads the league in touchdown passes while also ranking top-five in rushing yards. For you baseball fans, he is the Shohei Ohtani of fantasy football: a QB1 and a RB1.
Derrick Henry caught five passes for the second time in his career and enjoyed a career-high 23.1% target share. Henry was the number one RB in fantasy before succumbing to injury last season, but this year has been a bit of a slog for him so far. It’s fair to wonder whether the Titans have a good enough offense or defense to play with a lot of second-half leads, so Henry’s fantasy managers will have to hope his newfound role in the passing game is a sign of things to come.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had more rushing TDs (one) than rushing yards (zero). CEH is playing less than half of Kansas City’s backfield snaps and has been involved in barely a third of the team’s rushing attempts and pass routes. He’s currently a top-three fantasy RB, but it is largely based on unsustainable touchdown production.
Josh Jacobs is one of four RBs to handle 80% of his team’s RB rushes in both Week 2 and Week 3. Jacobs’ status for Week 3 looked iffy at best when it was reported that he wasn’t traveling with the team on Friday due to an illness that had him listed as questionable. But Jacobs caught a flight on Saturday and stepped right into his usual role as the Raiders’ early-down bell cow. His upside is capped by a limited role in the passing game, but the guaranteed weekly touches do give him an appealing floor.
Garrett Wilson has the most targets (32) for a first round WR through three games in the last 25 years. Wilson missed several drives on Sunday with a rib injury, but was the Jets’ most-targeted receiver on the routes he did run. That high usage is a boon to his fantasy value even if he is playing fewer snaps than Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, but we’ll have to see how the transition from Joe Flacco to Zach Wilson affects things. Regardless, it looks like the Jets have got themselves a real talent.
Second-string RBs headline this week’s waiver wire. Khalil Herbert and Alexander Mattison should have already been rostered by forward-thinking fantasy managers, but the fact remains that each is currently available in around half of Yahoo leagues. They should be priority adds this week, as should Jamaal Williams, who is somehow still on the waiver wire in 40% of Yahoo leagues.
Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts further separate from the rest of the QB1 class. Every year, there are a handful of players that stand far above the rest. These players almost always come from one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses. While they aren’t exactly the same thing as “league winners,” a term which tends to refer to players that go relatively late in drafts, you’ll rarely take home a fantasy championship without rostering at least one of them.
It’s only been three weeks, but we already have some clear difference-makers at the quarterback position. Most fantasy teams featuring Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts are probably off to a good start. While Jackson has arguably been in a league of his own, there is a major drop-off from this trio to everyone else at QB right now.
Alright, that’s it for this week. If you like what you see here, you can get more of my thoughts on waiver wire pickups, buy-low/sell-high candidates, rest-of-season player values, and more by subscribing to the Rest of Season Rankings Podcast and going to ROSrankings.com. I’m also always happy to talk about anything fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.