WKF Week 3 Fantasy Breakdown
Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans (+7.5 / 43.5)
It was the best of teams, it was the worst of teams. Carolina comes in at 2-0 favored by 8 points against a Houston team with the worst roster in the NFL being forced to start a rookie 3rd string QB, Davis Mills. I don’t know that moving to 3-0 truly puts Carolina into contention for the Super Bowl, but they’ve been impressive thus far. Sam Darnold is excelling in his new offensive scheme. D.J. Moore has taken a higher volume role in the offense, leaving Robby Anderson to be the deep play threat as we suspected would be the case last year. Christian McCaffrey is essentially a WR1 and RB1 in one roster spot. There are weapons all over the field in this nice juicy matchup. For Houston, I might tentatively consider Brandin Cooks who has been on fire the first few weeks. However, I worry that Davis Mills will cap his upside, and the Panthers’ defense has looked tough. If you have comparable options, I’d probably avoid all of the Texans, but I can’t fault anyone for playing Cooks on Thursday.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5 / 55.5)
We have two of the most fun offenses in the NFL going head to head this week with the LA Chargers facing the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is obviously a human highlight reel, but Justin Herbert is no slouch himself with a cannon for an arm and the vision to make some big plays with his legs when he needs to. And as is the case with pretty much every game the Chiefs play, you gotta pound the Over. Big fantasy games for both of them this weekend.
As far as the run game goes, you’d think you gotta be worried about Austin Ekeler in a negative game script, right? But you see, the funny thing is the Chiefs’ Defense is 32nd in the league right now in rushing yards allowed. Sure, some of that has to do with Lamar Jackson running the ball so much last Sunday night, but the run defense that’s ranked 31st in the league has allowed almost 20% fewer rushing yards than the Chiefs. That’s a huge gap between the worst and the second worst teams, and I suspect that Brandon Staley will be aware of that as he gameplans. Get Austin Ekeler in your lineups. We may even see a rushing TD from Herbert this weekend… He had 5 last year.
What do you do about Clyde Edwards-Helaire though? I have him outside of my top 15 RBs for sure, but that doesn’t mean you can sit him in most leagues. Odds are you used a second-round pick on him in your draft, so you probably don’t have a better option at RB2. If you do, good for you! I’d certainly start the likes of D'andre Swift, David Montgomery, and even Chase Edmonds over him. Even still, he may be your best flex option strictly on the merit of his role as the lead running back in one of the most high powered offenses in the league.
The Ravens might’ve done most of their damage to the Chiefs on the ground (they literally ran for more yards than they passed, and they were playing from behind most of the game. So impressive.), but most teams will need to rely on their receivers and the Chargers are no exception. Mike Williams has been one of the hottest fantasy assets in the game this season as he’s one of only 6 total skill position players to have scored at least 22 PPR fantasy points in each of the first two games. I still think Keenan Allen is the WR1 in that offense, but Mike Williams has always had a nose for the end zone, and the Chargers will need to score a lot.
Don’t overthink Tyreek Hill’s struggles last week. The Ravens have an absolutely amazing defense and they knew that preventing big plays would be their best path to a win. No one told that to Travis Kelce as he rumbled 46 yards for his score, but he’s also Travis Kelce. The Chargers defense is not the Ravens defense. You’re starting Hill.
I guess all five of these paragraphs have been a very long way of saying get all of these players in your lineups folks. Yes, that includes a Herbert/Williams stack on the cheap for your DFS lineups.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5 / 52)
Kyler Murray is playing at an MVP level, and has this Cardinals offense clicking. I’m happy to play any of the top 3 WRs (sorry, that does not include A.J. Green). Jacksonville gives up A TON of air yards, so expect Murray to be able to throw the ball down the field repeatedly. This bodes well for DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk, but may subdue the output of Rondale Moore slightly, as his touches are being schemed closer to the line of scrimmage. This shouldn’t be a competitive game, so both RBs have a path to success, although Edmonds is clearly the favored option over Conner.
For Jacksonville, I hope they can protect Lawrence. Kirk Cousins was under relentless pressure in week 1, which limited his ability to throw the ball down the field. Lawrence has been dialing up the deep ball frequently to start his career, but to do that, you need time. If he has a clean pocket and enough protection to let D.J. Chark and Marvin Jones get downfield, we could definitely see an offensive explosion. James Robinson should be fine as well, as I expect Jacksonville to have plenty of check downs when Arizona goes into their prevent defense up multiple scores (over/under would be 7:30 left in the 3rd quarter).
Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns (-7.5 / 46.5)
It’s Justin Fields time! Unfortunately, it is due to a Dalton injury, but Justin Fields will make his first start against a stout Cleveland defense. I don’t expect to see a huge game from the rookie, but he should be fine and provide enough accurate passes for Allen Robinson to be his normal fringe WR1. Montgomery is in for a tough day, but I fully expect him to get plenty of volume as Nagy tries to protect Justin Fields in his first start. However, if Chicago is going to have any chance in this game, they’ll need to unleash Fields’ playmaking ability, which means he’ll put up some numbers on the ground as well as through the air.
Cleveland is going to be very interesting this week. Odell Beckham returns to make his 2021 debut in Week 3. However, do we see the frayed connection that plagued the start of 2020 with Baker Mayfield, or does the clear WR1 on the team (especially with Jarvis Landry out), take advantage of what should be plentiful opportunities? I’m fully expecting him to have a statement game in his return and will be playing him with confidence. The RBs have a tougher challenge, as the Chicago front is no joke. You can’t sit Chubb, and I would think that Hunt will catch enough passes to be relevant given the lack of established receiving weapons, but temper expectations for the duo.
Washington Football Team vs. Buffalo Bills (-7.5 / 45.5)
Taylor Heinicke did get his first victory of his NFL career last week on Thursday Night Football against the New York Giants, but he’s going to get a bit of a baptism here this week while visiting the Buffalo Bills. Let’s just say, the Bills’ defense is a bit better than the Giants and Heinicke and the Football Team will find themselves in an offensive hole early. Terry McLaurin is a safe play however, especially after his 14 target, 11 reception, 107 yard and one touchdown game last week with Heinicke throwing him the ball. As for any other wideout for Washington, don’t even think about it. Antonio Gibson, despite his slow start to the season, has seen at least 15 touches in each of his first two games. He may be bottled up, but let's hope that Washington uses him in the passing game instead of Week 2 star, J.D. McKissic. I wouldn’t gamble on McKissic this week if I had other options. Logan Thomas can remain in as really the only other pass catcher for Heinicke. He saw seven targets last week.
As for the home side, play the usual names. Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and company. Washington still has a rather good defense, especially front seven, so don’t roll out Devin Singletary or Zack Moss this week unless you really have to. I’m still uncertain on what to do with the likes of Cole Beasley, but if you do play in a full PPR league, go for it, especially with Gabriel Davis banged up. Dawson Knox has had a decent start to the season but I’m looking elsewhere for tight end in this one. Also, if you have them or for some reason they’re on the waiver wire, play the Bills’ defense.
Prediction: Bills 31, Washington 13
Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans (-5.5 / 52)
Keep an eye on Carson Wentz’s status for this game. He’s trying to recover from spraining both ankles, and if he can’t go, I’m not comfortable using anyone besides Pittman as a WR3 or the RBs (Taylor as a low end RB1, Hines as and RB2.) The Titans haven’t been the stoutest, defensively, giving up 30 points in both games, thus far. So there is definitely some hope for scoring to occur.
From a Titans perspective, Week 1 was essentially a throw away game. In Week 2, they performed much better and beat the Seahawks. Don’t expect another performance like the one Derrick Henry had, but how often do we see 40+ point fantasy performances… I expect we’ll see Tennessee try to get their passing game going with Tannehill looking to connect with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones early and often on play action. Derrick Henry won’t see 35 carries again, but don’t let him missing practice worry you – that’s just maintenance to recover after such a heavy workload last Sunday.
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots (-3 / 43.5)
Which Jameis Winston are we going to get this week? After Week 1, we thought maybe Winston had left behind his Jekyll and Hyde days and really taken a step forward. After all, the Saints named him the starter over Taysom Hill for a reason. And then in Week 2, his completion percentage dropped by 20 points and his Quarterback Rating dropped by over 100 points. Both of those performances are peak Jameis in their own way. The Patriots will be planning to win games this year on the laurels of their defense, so I’m not the most optimistic regarding Jameis Winston this week.
Speaking of quarterbacks struggling - Mac Jones hasn’t proven he’s a fantasy commodity yet, and this won’t be the game for it either. Remember, they made Aaron Rodgers look like Zach Wilson in Week 1. Mac Jones is not as good as Aaron Rodgers. None of yall were planning on starting Jones anyway, but I just want to give you some validation for that decision. You’re welcome.
So who do you start on the Patriots offense? I think the answer is “as few as humanly possible.” Damien Harris has been their best offensive player, but New Orleans has had one of the best run defenses in the league so far this year, so I don’t think you can trust him as anything more than a Flex praying he gets in the end zone. Jacobi Meyers is the clear cut WR1 in the Patriots offense, but he’s still a WR3 dart throw on our fantasy charts in this game.
And the Saints? Well like I said, I’m worried about Jameis and none of their pass-catchers have wowed me up to this point, so the answer is Alvin Kamara.
For deeper league advice - I still think it’s Marquez Callaway you want out of the Saints receivers. Pre-season wasn’t a fluke, the guy showed real skills, and he was the most targeted receiver in Week 1 when they beat the Packers.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants (-3 / 48.5)
Do you know who leads the Falcons in fantasy points through 2 weeks? If you answered: Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, or Mike Davis; you’re wrong. Enter: Cordarrelle Patterson. Bolstered by 2 week 2 TDs, the veteran is laying claim to touches that were once reserved for the aforementioned trio of skill position players. While the offense has been disappointing, I’m not panicking over Ridley or Pitts. Mike Davis should have always been a bad bet – he was being drafted for his situation more than his talent. Now that we’ve got some legitimate competition (or have at least figured out who it is), he’s a very risky start.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5 / 44.5)
Ben Roethlisberger should be a go this week for the Steelers but he could be without leading wide out Diontae Johnson. Mike Tomlin was quoted as saying that Johnson is “looking better, not to be confused with great.” If Johnson is not a go, I’m playing the crap out of Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool, that is, if Big Ben is at quarterback. If Johnson is to go, you still play all three. Rookie back Najee Harris has been far from impressive to open his NFL career, but he did find the endzone on one of his five receptions last week. If he can keep up the passing game work, he’ll be fine, but with only 3.2 yards-per-attempt to start this season, it’s not looking too good for the Alabama product. I’m not sure if he’s able to be sat considering your draft capital in him, but the Bengals have only allowed 190 rushing yards through two games, with names such as Dalvin Cook and David Montgomery running against them. You may have better options than Harris this week. I’m not playing a Steelers’ tight end either.
On the Bengals’ side, I’m always in on Joe Mixon who already has almost 200 yards on the season with a touchdown. He’s also seen three targets-per-game. As for the passing game, I’d be okay playing all three of the pass catchers. Both Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase have found the endzone in each of the Bengals’ first two games. Tyler Boyd saw nine targets last week. The Steelers’ defense has allowed 627 yards through the first two games of the season, which is fifth most in the NFL thus far. Joe Burrow and the Bengals should be slinging all over this Steelers’ defense. As always there isn’t a Bengals’ tight end worth playing. I think this game (as long as Big Ben plays) goes over the projected 44.5 combined points
Prediction: Steelers 27, Bengals 24
Baltimore Ravens vs. Detroit Lions (+9.5 / 49.5)
The Ravens should give it to the Lions’ this week, who had a competitive week one game, but let the Packers have their way with them in the second half of Monday Night Football. Of course, Lamar Jackson will be played and the way he used Hollywood Brown last week, I don’t think you can bit him either. That connection is deadly. This team is hot, electric and have a ton of confidence after taking down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. It’s safe to play Ty’Son Williams who has done the passing work for the Ravens’ backfield and leads Latavius Murray in carries. Murray is a bit of touchdown dependent, as he’s scored in each of the Ravens’ first two outings. I’d be a bit cautious with Murray if you by chance have some other options. Mark Andrews is a plug-and-play weekly as well.
As for the Lions, Jared Goff has not been awful to start his tenure in Detroit. He’s thrown for 584 yards and five touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. Of course, keep T.J. Hockenson in your lineups. As for any other Lions’ pass-catcher, I don’t think I’m lining anyone up. Quintez Ceephus is the only one I’d even consider as he’s quickly become Goff’s go-to-guy outside of Hockenson. Ceephus has scored in each of the Lion’s first two games this season. The Ravens may have allowed a lot of yards through the air, but they’re limiting opposing running backs as they have allowed just 144 rushing yards over two games; sixth fewest is the NFL. However, both De’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are great pass catching backs and in what could be an early hole for the Lions, I think both are heavily involved this week. Fire them both up!
Prediction: Ravens 31, Lions 17
New York Jets vs. Denver Broncos (-10.5 / 41.5)
So normally I lead off these segments with the Quarterbacks, as they’re often the most fantasy relevant position on any given team. That said, I think I need to kick this off with the Denver Broncos D/ST. They have been arguably the second best fantasy defense in football if you take consistency into account, and this week they face Mr. Four Interceptions himself… Zach Wilson will struggle again. His only solace is that Bradley Chubb is out after getting surgery on his ankle, but that Denver defense as a whole will still own the NYJ offensive line.
With the Broncos most likely dominating on defense, I suspect that both Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams will earn their keep as they continue to split that backfield literally perfectly down the middle. I still think Gordon has slightly higher odds of getting into the end zone as the veteran back, so I do like him more than Williams. That said, for the first time this season, I would give the advice to roll Williams out with confidence in your flex spot.
But it can’t be all RBs, and Jerry Jeudy won’t be back for a while, so we’ll continue the Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton show! Fant seems to be a lock for 6 or more targets, which he’s garnered in each of his past 6 games, and Sutton took over the WR corps last weekend with 8 more targets than the next closest WR. The pass volume may not be there for both of these guys, but at least one of them is a lock for double digit fantasy points this week, and I’d lean toward Fant.
I really wish I could talk more about the New York Jets offense for fantasy purposes, but I really can’t. Corey Davis is the only player you’re considering starting on that offense, and even he’s not a lock as anything but a WR3 or flex play. Don’t even start the Kicker, because there’s a chance they don’t even get into field goal range.
Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5 / 45.5)
Derek Carr leads the league in passing yards. Let that sink in. He’s averaging over 400 yards per game. Josh Jacobs has been missing practice. Carr has weapons he can use all over the field – Waller is one of the best TE options in the game. Henry Ruggs, the ’20 1st round pick has shown glimpses of stardom with his speed. Bryan Edwards is becoming more consistent and delivering on the promise that the analytics crowd fell in love with. I’m not expecting a ton on the ground, where Peyton Barber should lead the team in carries (likely about 12 rushes for 30 yards or so), and he might fall into the endzone. However, if I’m playing a Raiders RB, it will be Kenyan Drake who may get a similar or slightly higher touch total, but will be more involved in the receiving game.
Miami will be led by Jacoby Brissett. He’s a serviceable backup, and that’s about all there is to say. Don’t expect big numbers from the passing game, so a player like Jaylen Waddle who may be deployed closer to the line of scrimmage may get a slight boost compared to downfield threats Will Fuller and Davante Parker. I would expect to see extra emphasis on the running game as well, so slight upgrades for Malcolm Brown, the short yardage back, and Myles Gaskin their all around best RB – who should also be involved catching dump offs out of the backfield to try to keep the chains moving in 3rd-and-medium situations.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Los Angeles Rams (+1.5 / 55.5)
There are three games with over/unders of 55.5 points, this happens to be one of them. This is one of the easiest breakdowns I may ever do this season. Play everyone.
For Tampa, Antonio Brown will not suit up as he recently tested positive for COVID-19, leaving more value for both Mike Evans and Chris Godwdin in this high-scoring affair. There will be value in one of Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. I’m leaning Johnson but I’m only playing him in the most desperate of situations. He could be a nice DFS play however. Of course, you keep Gronk in your lineup as all he’s doing is scoring touchdowns to start the season. If you must play one of the Tampa backs, make it Leonard Fournette. Ronald Jones has seen just ten carries and three carries; opposed to Fournette’s 20 carries and 11 targets.
On the Rams side, Darrell Henderson may not play, giving great value to Sony Michel. However, I think the pump goes to the wideouts. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are locks. I also think Van Jefferson could have WR3 numbers this week. Tyler Higbee can be played as well.
And of course, you’re playing both Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. This is going to be a fun one.
Prediction: Rams 38, Bucs 34
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings (+1.5 / 55.5)
If you read my week 1 game previews, you’ll know that I’ve been expecting better things from the Minnesota Vikings’ defense this season, and they have done the opposite of delivering on that promise. Kyler Murray threw for 400 yards against them last week, and the Bengals ran all over them to the tune of 149 yards, so you can pick your poison.
In just two weeks, the Vikings have given up two touchdown receptions of longer than 50 yards. You know who loves tossing the deep ball? Russell Wilson. You know who is the number 2 WR in fantasy right now? Tyler Lockett. And he’s also already caught two deep touchdown passes of over 60 yards from Russell Wilson this year. He could make it a third this game, but there’s a part of me that also thinks Russ may take this opportunity to put DK Metcalf back on the map. He was their deep ball guy last year, and he’s been abnormally quiet this year so far. He got 11 targets against Tennessee last week though, so his stock is on the rise.
Seattle’s defense has been spotty as well, allowing the Titans to come back and win after they were down 24-9 going into the half. This inconsistency will allow Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen to continue their streak of Fantasy consistency. The amazing thing about Minnesota is they have three skill position players who are pretty much every-week locks in your lineups, but Kirk Cousins is consistently ranked outside of the top 12 in projections for fantasy QBs. Even though he doesn’t add value with his feet, he could be an excellent streaming option this week as the Vikings will be required to throw to keep up with Seattles’ high powered offense.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers (-3.5 / 48.5)
So we’ve seen Green Bay blown out by the Saints and then score at will on Detroit. I’d expect to see a performance right down the middle against San Francisco. Rodgers will be able to connect with Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones should be fine, but we probably just saw his best game of the year. Don’t worry about Marques Valdez-Scantling. He went catchless, but Rodgers missed him in the endzone, and on a deep ball so he easily could have had 80 yards and 2 TDs. You could do worse for your flex, and not many in that range have his upside.
San Francisco will be conducting walk-in interviews for RBs on Sunday morning. All joking aside, both Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon are looking VERY iffy for Sunday I’m probably not rolling the dice on anyone from this backfield even against Green Bay’s porous rush defense. Instead, I’ll trust that Shanahan will scheme his team into good situations, leveraging the mismatches that Kittle can provide and working in Lance a bit more than we’ve seen him thus far. I’m expecting a more defensive game, so temper expectations for players in this one.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3.5 / 51.5)
Roll out Jalen Hurts with confidence. You can bank on 20-plus points from him, and the offense being run in Philly should create opportunities for Devonta Smith to get open at least several times. We’ll see if Ertz can play through his hamstring strain. If not, Goedert becomes a very strong play against a Dallas defense that has had to move start rookie LB Micah Parsons to DE.
You can start all the usual suspects from Dallas, as long as they are active (sorry Gallup owners.) Dak should hook up with CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper seemingly at will. Jarwin and Schultz will cannibalize each other, but it’s a coin toss as to whether one will score and save their fantasy day. Zeke is playable as a fringe RB1, and Pollard has earned more consistent usage moving forward, so play him with confidence as an RB3.