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The Best of Week 3

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles. 

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week. 

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.  

1. Buy High: RB Derrick Henry

Is it Henry's time in Tennessee? Our staff thinks so. Sigmund Bloom recommends Henry as the only "Buy High" in his weekly "Buy Low, Sell High" feature:

Derrick Henry, RB, TEN - Henry is a hot commodity with Demarco Murray banged up, but Murray could still return this week and keep Henry in an RBBC. Murray probably won’t go away and allow Henry to take this job over completely, but Henry might not need the full job to be an every week fantasy starter. He was dominant against a Jaguars defense that was feared by opposing running games and could have easily had two or three scores if the Titans had stuck with him inside the five the way they used Murray last year. His league-winning potential is intact, as Henry is even better than last year and Murray is already hurt.

The DFS Roundtable is also willing to test-drive Henry this weekend, especially in GPP contests.  

James Brimacombe: I like Tarik Cohen in a full point PPR setup but I would stick to only GPP for him because of the offense that he plays in. As far as Derrick Henry he is a guy that I love and if given the opportunity I believe he can handle an increase in volume. Volume is key for me when filling in my running back position. If DeMarco Murray is not able to play this week against the Seahawks I would consider using Henry in cash games. Even in a tough matchup, Henry has potential to see 15-22 touches and we have already seen two strong performances by Ty Montgomery and Carlos Hyde against this run defense....

John Mamula: ...The Titans offense is more interesting as Derrick Henry is starting to emerge with 14 rushes for 92 yards and 1 touchdown in a difficult matchup last week in Jacksonville. If DeMarco Murray is inactive, Henry will be a target in cash games and GPP contests in a home game versus Seattle. The Seahawks defense has not been as stout against the run this season allowing 159 rushing yards to San Francisco last week and 90 rushing yards to Green Bay in Week 1. I expect the Seahawks rush defense to improve later in the season but Henry is underpriced in this spot.

My Take: Despite the fact that Murray is a proven starter and still displayed skill prior to missing time, Murray's age and injury are losing odds against Henry's skill and youth. I was asked on last night's Audible whether a reader's A.J. Green for Henry trade was a good one. Cecil Lammey set up the question as if the Green side was a lopsided winner, but I understood why one would make this deal for Henry.

If you're a team with wide receiver depth and you believe that your corps can collectively sustain consistent starter production every week, you may not get the highs Green's skills can offer, but you get away from Cincinnati's poor offensive line and a coordinator switch that likely means the Bengals will underwhelm fantasy owners all year. In return, you get a talent behind a strong offensive line who could deliver RB1 production if he earns the starting role with his play and Murray's injury as the door-opener.

It's a gutsy decision, but I'd rather risk my season on Henry than placing a small bet on Javorious Allen or most waiver wire running backs to exceed expectations. 

2. Will the Chiefs offense cool off? There's concern in the trenches

I usually give my take last, but I'm leading off with it first and using the staff's collective takes on some recent Chiefs developments to finish the segment.

The Chiefs have been one of the most enjoyable offenses to watch in the NFL because Andy Reid and his staff have developed an offensive plan that minimizes Alex Smith's vertical weaknesses without taking away the deep passing game and eliminated the need for a running back to block in pass protection without fielded predictable alignments based on the personnel. This is what detailed in this week's Top 10

1. A KC Masterpiece: The Chiefs offense is maximizing its talent, minimizing its limitations 

Not only are the Chiefs using these five players as ball carriers, they are varying the alignments of the runners. Hunt, Hill, and Thomas take exchanges from the backfield or motion from wide receiver alignments. Hill and Kelce also work from the wing and earn the end-around or shovel pass...

 ...even short gains are successful because they set up bigger plays later in the game. Last week, Hill took a jet sweep to right end earlier in the game. This set up a fake jet sweep later that baited the Patriots into thinking Hunt was lead blocking for Hill on the same type of play, but he ran a bullet route up the seam and earned a mismatch with a defensive end for a long score. By the way, this play was so effective, CBS commentator Tony Romo astutely noted that Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels stole the play and used it against the Saints on Sunday. 

The Chiefs set up the Eagles for the knockout blow with another pair of plays from this scheme.  The first was a third-quarter run by Hill where he executed "orbit motion"—a common term FOX's Charles Davis used to describe Hill's pre-snap motion from one side of the field and back again. 

On this play, Hill got the ball and earned the third-down conversion.


Personnel and scheme playing gms with B Graham

A post shared by Matt Waldman (@mattwaldmanrsp) onSep 17, 2017 at 6:42pm PDT


Note that Thomas as the player in the backfield and Kelce was at the right end as the lead blocker. While successful in keeping a drive alive, it also set up the game-winning touchdown where Hill once again ran orbit motion pre-snap with Thomas in the backfield and Kelce was as the wing back at right end.

The motion hinted at the same play where Hill work back to the right and Kelce would lead block for a run to the right flat. This time, Hill ghosts across the formation to the right, Smith fakes the read option to Thomas and delivers the shovel pass to a streaking Kelce behind three linemen sealing the Eagles front inside for a clean alley up the left side. 


Chiefs scheming again sets up, delivers knockout blow

A post shared by Matt Waldman (@mattwaldmanrsp) onSep 17, 2017 at 7:28pm PDT


Kelce, arguably the best playmaking tight end in the game, hasn't had a bad gain on any of these shovel passes this year.  Purely from a football standpoint, it's beautiful scheming and execution. For fantasy owners, it means that the Chiefs are content with using these formations with hybrid personnel to keep opponents off balance with runs inside or outside or passes short and deep to a variety of options. 

Will defenses figure it out like the read-option with Robert Griffin III in Washington? Absolutely, but it could take most of the year. When they do, the Chiefs staff will hope that Hunt has improved enough as a pass protector that they can incorporate I-formation and single back sets with Smith under center and feel Smith will remain safe. 

Until then, Hunt is a boom-bust RB1 with a reasonable RB2 floor. Hunt ran hard this weekend only earning two really strong creases in the contest. His effectiveness as a pass receiver presents enough scheme diversity for the Chiefs that he's not needed as a blocker for now...

...If you have Hunt, Kelce, and Hill, congratulations (at least until we see a defense truly stymie them). 

That all looks good, but center Mitch Morse is out for the year and that position is the glue for offensive line play. Devin Knotts, Justin Howe, and Keith Roberts hint that this in Week 3's Rushing Matchups


Kareem Hunt continues to lead this rushing attack after filling in for the injured Spencer Ware and Hunt continues to impress behind an offensive line that Footballguys offensive line expert Matt Bitonti rates as an average offensive line. Hunt struggled for most of the day in week one, but was able to show his breakaway ability to run for a 53-yard touchdown and later added a two-yard rushing touchdown.

The Chargers run defense started off slow against the Dolphins allowing Jay Ajayi to run for 44 yards on his first six carries but did hold Ajayi to just 78 yards on his next 22 carries. The Chargers defensive line comes in highly regarded with Brandon Mebane, Cory Liuget, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but so far they have underperformed as the Chargers have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards to opposing running backs this season.

The above analysis is a good results-based take about the Chargers while still hinting at the fact that L.A. figured out Ajayi as the game progressed and could mean that the Chiefs are in more trouble than a bottom-line look at the data may indicate.  

Bitonti has concerns in this week's Offensive Line Rankings and Notes:


KC -7


Center Mitch Morse suffered what the team is calling "a mid-foot sprain" in last week's home win over Philadelphia. Morse is going for an MRI, and this injury could be season-ending. At the least, expect Morse to be out of action for weeks if not months. Zach Fulton steps in at the pivot, and he's a solid veteran. Fulton usually plays guard but last week appeared to have no problem delivering the ball to quarterback Alex Smith. Still, Morse if one of the better young centers in the league, and this is a downgrade for the Chiefs offensive line. Without their starting center, they fall to low-tier classification.  

In addition to getting the ball to Smith, the greatest concern is offensive line calls on blitz pickups and run assignments. The center typically handles these and because the Chiefs are choreographing a lot of plays with shifts, motion, and misdirection, small errors with these pre-snap calls can stall or kill this offense.

Chad Parson's "A New Reality" is a dynasty-focused article, but his thoughts on selling Hunt high reflect the value that his readers and peers are earning from Hunt right now. It's a good sign that Hunt is a good player, but one earning RB1 production a scheme that defenses haven't figured out, but will. When it does, Hunt's value could be a bubble that will burst.  

My take on Kareem Hunt is not a popular one. While I have no problem riding Hunt as the No.1 producer at the position through two weeks, his stock is through the roof. Hunt was traded for David Johnson straight up for example. Also, Hunt returned multiple 2018 firsts and seconds and Tevin Coleman in another deal. As a Hunt owner, at least explore the market. My advice is always to 'make the other owner say no'. Owners like to get the email alert of a trade proposal in their box. While many offers are not appealing, it is like an unopened Christmas present - this could be the great deal they have been waiting for the past few weeks. Seek a stud in the deal like Amari Cooper or Mike Evans or Leonard Fournette. Aim high, but explore the market.

Hunt is still a player worth starting, but if a competitor comes calling and offers healthy studs in re-draft for his services, take the deal under serious consideration if you have depth at running back. Owners in leagues where Hunt is a squad's RB2 (even if he's performing better than the RB1) and lineups allow 4-5 receivers/tight ends in PPR formats should pay particular attention. 

3. Is Javorious Allen a False Postive? Alex Collins' Admirers Speak Their Mind

Let's return to Bloom's Buy Low, Sell High for Baltimore's running back quandary. Allen has become a hot free agent this week thanks to a Terrance West injury that could cost him a start in Week 4. However, there's a healthy counterpoint brewing for former Seahawk Alex Collins:

Javorius Allen, RB, BAL - Allen should continue to put up solid PPR numbers as the Ravens best receiving back, but he isn’t a good runner between the tackles, and his role will remain capped. If you don’t need Allen, it’s a good time to trade him with Alex Collins potentially about to steal the show.

Alex Collins, RB, BAL - Collins is just sitting there on the waiver wire and he could end up leading the defense and running game heavy Ravens in carries this year. He had the best burst of any Ravens back in Week 2, head coach John Harbaugh praised Collins, and the team has never seemed sold on Terrance West. West’s calf injury is all the opportunity Collins needs to take over the early down work, as Javorius Allen is not a good runner between the tackles.

The underlying question beyond Allen or Collins long-term (if West isn't a factor for a while) is the loss of guard Marshal Yanda. Bitonti's Offensive Line Rankings downgraded the Ravens to a point where they are a low-confidence unit: 

BAL -6

The Ravens' offensive line lost a great player as right guard Marshal Yanda injured his ankle and will miss the season. Yanda is one of the best guards in football. This Ravens' line has already lost Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa for the season, which leaves Tony Bergstrom to replace Yanda. Bergstrom is a veteran with experience but he is not a dominator like Yanda. The Ravens' offensive line falls to the low-tier as the injuries keep piling up. 

Because line play is a concern, it's best to consider options that create yards on their own and have versatility. In this week's Gut Check I shared my pre-draft scouting reports on Allen and Collins, which I think are still accurate assessments of their strengths, weaknesses, and playing styles. Here's my overall take on the situation and why Collins deserves serious consideration as the long-play despite Allen's current status as the potential replacement starter for West: 

In terms of his mentality as a runner and all-around game, Collins reminds me some of Spencer Ware, who the Seahawks also originally drafted. Collins fumbled in his debut against the Browns but according to our recap crew, Collins was the most decisive runner of the three who played last weekend and the coaching staff fed him the ball to begin its next offensive series. This game and the Colts-Cardinals matchups were the only two I haven't seen. 

I'd consider adding Collins now because West's status appears iffy and the team liked Collins enough to use him despite only having a few weeks of experience as a Raven. It's a good sign that Collins has picked things up fast and impressed the team with his play. However, West could return quickly and Allen could hold things down well enough that Collins is a 3-to-5-carry afterthought who winds up on the bench and off your roster in a couple of weeks. 

Still, soft tissue injuries often need more time than the initial diagnosis. West and Woodhead's injuries both qualify and it could mean Collins will have a chance to force a split with Allen or overtake him. At the very least, continue monitoring Collins.  

The Ravens running backs are far less likely a league-winning move than making an aggressive deal to buy Henry or sell Hunt at top-dollar, but trades are the most volatile area of managing fantasy teams. Many of you will have to take a chance on Allen and/or Collins and hope for the best-case scenario.

4. DFS (And Season-long) alert: Buy into DeVante Parker

The casual fantasy player may still remember Parker as the talent who disappointed them repeatedly over the past two years. While that slow-to-forgive outlook is fading fast, this week's analysis at Footballguys is a solid reminder to consider a new outlook on the Dolphins receiver. 

Our DFS roundtable highlighted Parker as a good play this week:  

James Brimacombe: Devante Parker is the second name I would add to the value-breakout WR list this week. Parker saw plenty of targets last week with 9 but only caught 4 of them for 85 yards. The Dolphins play the Jets this week in a game where the Dolphins will be looking to score some points. With the Jets giving up 3 touchdowns to Michael Crabtree last week it is hard to not see Parker finding his way onto the score sheet. Parker continues to build trust with Jay Cutler and the two will surely connect on more than 4-of-9 targets this week.

Chris Feery: Excellent calls thus far by the guys, and I can get on board with all of the selections listed. I’m particularly high on DeVante Parker this week in a cupcake matchup against the Jets. James nailed the analysis, and I’ll echo his point on the trust factor. During the preseason, Cutler was showing a clear inclination towards Parker over Jarvis Landry. By extension, Parker received some extra attention from the Chargers last week, which freed up Landry to do more damage. The situation could very well reverse itself this week, but the Jets don’t have the horses to keep up either way.

Aaron Rudnicki concurs in his Week 3's Exposed: 

WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs NYJ)
Juston Burris gave up two of the three touchdowns scored by Michael Crabtree last week and the third came against Buster Skrine. The Raiders strength is their outside receivers, but the Dolphins continue to rely heavily on Landry over the middle. He posted an amazing 13 catches on 15 targets last week, even though he only converted them into 78 yards. I expect him to have another strong showing against Skrine and the Jets this week, but Davante Parker is a strong consideration as well since he's likely to see a lot of Burris here.

My Take: I also highlighted Parker as a player who Cutler is not afraid to target in tight windows of coverage at difficult moments: 

Watch these two plays below and tell me that I'm wrong:


D Parker rebounds over C Hayward

A post shared by Matt Waldman (@mattwaldmanrsp) onSep 18, 2017 at 9:00am PDT



Trick shot J Cutler

A post shared by Matt Waldman (@mattwaldmanrsp) onSep 18, 2017 at 9:20am PDT


Take a shot on Parker, he's finally figured out how to prepare as a professional. He also has a quarterback who is a free-wheeling as Ryan Tannehill has been robotic. It's a productive pairing.

5. The Packers offense has the  Most Predictable Game Script 

Our DFS Roundtable also identified Green Bay's matchup with Cincinnati as one of the best and most predictable game scripts this week.

BJ VanderWoude: Of the 16 games on the week three schedule, only six home teams (New England, Carolina, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Tennessee and Green Bay) are currently favored to win. Excluding New England, pick the home team that you think has the most predictable game script, and explain which players benefit the most from this game script.

Phil Alexander: The only home team outside of New England in a truly favorable spot appears to be Green Bay, hosting the Bengals as 8.5 point favorites. Cincinnati is off to a tumultuous 0-2 start that already cost offensive coordinator Ken Zampese his job and now has to install a new game plan on the fly at Lambeau.

Provided Aaron Rodgers gets back starting offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari (or at least one of them), he still has enough offensive weapons to overcome the possible losses of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. We saw how the Packers schemed Jared Cook open during Nelson's absence in last year's playoffs, and they could certainly do the same with Martellus Bennett if Nelson is forced to miss. Geronimo Allison is no world beater, but he proved capable enough of replacing Cobb in the slot down the stretch last season and comes at or near the minimum price on both sites.

While the Bengals aren't a great rushing matchup, Ty Mongomery -- The PPR RB2 through two weeks -- will be buoyed by the game script and Green Bay's (possible) lack of receiving options. Green Bay's offense stands little chance of getting stuck in the mud and hurting Montgomery's numbers. Since 2014, Rodgers has averaged four more fantasy points per game at home compared to his games on the road. As long as he has time to survey the field, he'll get the ball to his open pass catchers.

James Brimacombe: I would have to go with Phil and say Green Bay. The Packers are coming off a game where they were out played by the Falcons and they are going to have some extra motivation playing at home to try to rebound. With Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson both getting injured last game I will be avoiding them and looking at an Aaron RodgersTy Montgomery and Davante Adams super stack and even pairing A.J. Green in on the Bengals side of the ball. Both Adams and Montgomery will see an increase in targets if one or both Cobb and Nelson were to miss the game.

Even with Nelson going out early against the Falcons we saw Adams with 10 targets (which was up from 7 in Week 1), and Montgomery with 7 targets (4 in Week 1). The wildcard play would be Martellus Bennett who jumped from 6 targets in Week 1 to 11 targets in Week 2, and he could have his coming-out game for Green Bay in Week 3.

Justin Howe: ...I'm a little GPP-interested in the Bengals-Packers game, too, on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton and the Bengals are simply much better than they've looked thus far, and with a coordinator more apt to fit scheme to personnel. Much of their early-season awfulness has stemmed from their league-worst offensive line, and from former coordinator Ken Zampese's insistence upon slow-developing, downfield play calls that don't work well under pressure. Under Bill Lazor, a Chip Kelly disciple, I'm expecting more focus on quick-hitting utilization of the Bengals' pass-catching backs, who can excel in space and counteract the line's horrid play. I wouldn't be surprised to see Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon each flirt with 3-5 catches a week - and both have the upside to usurp the other entirely for a week or two at a time.

Justin Bonnema: Phil pretty much nailed it with the Green Bay pick. Even if they have some injuries along the offensive line and we’re not sure which receivers will be healthy, we know that Ty Montgomery is going to dominate opportunities. So far on the season, he has handled over 85% of team carries and 12.1% of team targets. That’s a massive amount of volume for a running back, especially one that plays in an Aaron Rodgers led offense. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals turn things around after firing Ken Zampese and promoting Bill Lazor to offensive coordinator, which makes me think the Over is in play. So I’ll be stacking this game heavily in GPPs.

Chris Feery: I agree with the majority here: Green Bay has the most predictable game script, in spite of the injuries that may impact them in Week 3. In fact, the injuries open up some great value for GPP purposes. Ty Montgomery will see plenty of opportunities as it is, but he could become even more involved in the passing game this week. He also comes in at a discount in relation to other top backs, and the potential for top-flight production at a cheaper price is tough to pass up.

DaVante Adams would move into must-play territory if Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are forced to miss this one. He’ll see a boatload of targets if that proves to be the case, and that would be even tougher to dismiss than rostering Montgomery. On the value end of the spectrum, Geronimo Allison becomes awfully appealing if the other wide receivers are out. A Packers power stack of Aaron Rodgers-Adams-Nelson would afford you with a ton of salary leftover to build a competitive roster, and that could prove to be quite fruitful if the game goes according to script.

My Take: Jene Bramel believes Nelson will play and play well. Montgomery has not ceded much to rookie Jamaal Williams, so he also appears safe. Bramel is worried most about Cobb. I agree with Feery's Rodgers-Adams-Nelson stack this week. Good luck!