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Top Fantasy Football Storylines: Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Christian McCaffrey, Khalil Herbert

by Bo McBrayer | @Bo_McBigTime | Featured Writer
Sep 28, 2022
Lamar Jackson

The NFL season’s unrelenting undertow has us descending into the deep, frigid waters toward bye weeks and international games. Our fantasy football hopes and dreams have already crashed against the rocks of injuries and incompetent coaching.

There are surprising teams, whether on the ascent or drowning, with players often reflecting that fate in their own performance. Week 4 is the meat of the schedule. The first three slates were remarkable, carving out the storylines like the Nile through the Sahara.

Will the breakout performers continue to march forward on their path to greatness? Will the players who have been parched until now find their fantasy oasis? I can’t wait to find out.

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

Lamar Jackson is From Another Planet

In case you forgot, Lamar Jackson broke fantasy football in 2019 with a whopping 28.11 fantasy points per game. It was easily the highest mark ever for a QB, thanks to a league-leading 36 touchdown passes along with 1,207 yards and seven more touchdowns on the ground. Ready for the crazy part? Through three games in 2022, the Louisville legend is averaging a ridiculous 34.75 fantasy points per game. Injuries have largely prevented us from seeing peak Jackson the past two seasons, but he is now healthy, beefed up and hounding for the lucrative contract he deserves.

A healthy Jackson is one of the best football players ever to lace up cleats, period. The Ravens have gone all-in for their QB in every way except contractually. It stands to reason that they should start shoving money under the mattress for the rainy day when Jackson and his mother come dancing back to the negotiating table. I hope he breaks every record and compels the front office to bend the knee and come to terms with Jackson on every line item on his wish list. In the meantime, I have never rooted harder for a player to stay healthy so I can see them play every Sunday.

Jalen Hurts is From the Moon Orbiting Lamar’s Planet

Alabama QBs are en vogue these days. Only two unbeaten teams remain after three weeks, helmed by the QB who led the Crimson Tide to the 2018 National Championship game and the QB who replaced him at halftime to win that National Championship. Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa are forever intertwined in the annals of football history. Hurts has been doubted mercilessly ever since his shaky play forced him to ride the pine and watch Tua bask in the accolades.

A coach’s son, Hurts’ attitude has always been an A+++ attribute of his. Ever since his fateful benching, he has improved each season dramatically. The 2022 version of Jalen Hurts is torching opposing defenses on the ground and through the air, with noticeable advancements in his decision-making and accuracy. The acquisition of AJ Brown and turbo-development of DeVonta Smith give Hurts a nasty duo of versatile technicians at the WR position. Hurts is currently averaging 28.78 fantasy points per game and has none of the same elite defenses on the schedule that Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will deal with. The Birds are looking nasty this year, led by an MVP candidate very few predicted.

Where Are the Targets for Our PPR Heroes?

Not every storyline is a positive one. Call me a cynic, but I remember when RBs, who are also great receivers, were schemed into the offense to get this catch passes. It didn’t matter who the QB or offensive coordinator was. There was an understanding that, even in a committee, the stud RB got all the essential touches and ran lots of routes to make plays in space. Since when are coaches so strange that they galaxy-brain themselves into doing the exact opposite as what has always worked in football?

Pepperidge Farm remembers when 5-foot-8, 176-pound Warrick Dunn played 12 NFL seasons and averaged 265 touches over that span. He even eclipsed 300 touches for the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 and 2006, in his age 30 and 31 seasons.

Nowadays, RBs aren’t even given 200 touches if they’re under 200 pounds. Backs are rotated through so frequently that players like Chuba Hubbard and Tony Jones are running routes with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara watching on the sidelines. It makes me sick. CMC and AK41 are two players who have suffered through plummeting passing work in the first three weeks of 2022. It seems like the coaches aren’t even trying to exploit matchups anymore, and the QBs are just “following orders” instead of funneling the ball to their best players as much as possible.

Saquon Barkley and Joe Mixon, drafted in the second round of fantasy drafts this summer, are living their best lives with great volume and production. They are currently the big outliers and leave fantasy managers miffed at the puzzling lack of usage in the passing game for CMC, Kamara and D’Andre Swift. These players are special as receivers, and traditionally PPR cheat codes, that have been huge letdowns to this point.

Khalil Herbert is The RB She Told You Not to Worry About

Some RBs are not disappointments. I have been pounding the table all summer to draft Khalil Herbert as a premium handcuff with standalone value, regardless of David Montgomery‘s health. The first three waiver articles for FantasyPros featured Herbert as a top waiver priority for the same reasons. The 11-toed Virginia Tech Hokie was already earning a growing share of the snaps and touches in the painfully run-heavy Bears offense. Herbert went bonkers when Monty left the game in Week 3 versus the Houston Texans. His days on the waiver wire at sub-50% rostership are gone, along with most of the FAAB dollars for the lucky managers who finally woke up this week.

Week 3 was not an outlier performance for Herbert. If you recall, he was the only player to rush for 100 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. Herbert is currently the PPR RB9, thanks to his 157-yard, two-touchdown outburst and a Week 1 touchdown to seal a muddy win over the 49ers. He is good and will now have as much work as he can muster for a few weeks with Monty on the mend. Oh, and his next two games are against the porous Giants and Vikings, who are currently the 24th and 25th-ranked run defenses. Montgomery might find himself returning to health and finding Herbert’s old job is his new job at this rate.

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