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Fantasy Overview: Week 3 - Footballguys

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 3 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league and how you can benefit. 

We are two weeks into the season and we're starting to get some clarity, which is always a good thing, no matter if it's good news or bad. It's the unknown and making important decisions involving the unknown, that makes this hobby a challenge. The more we know, the better off we are.

so what do we know? we know a lot, actually

The first three weeks of the season are my favorite. So much is being learned at this time.

Ryan Fitzpatrick's success is impressive, but when you look at the opponents he faced (at NO and PHI), those were two strong NFC playoff defenses last year. Enjoy that clipboard, Jameis.

One stat on Patrick Mahomes' 6 Touchdown game last week - He had more touchdowns than incomplete passes (5). The Chiefs have weapons on offense and they have someone who can get them the ball. All eyes have been on Tyreek Hill, but don't forget about Sammy Watkins. He's now a legit WR3 without worry.

Teams that are 2-0 include: Miami, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Denver, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles (Rams). The Chiefs are the only team to do so without playing at home yet.

Teams that are 0-2 include: Buffalo, Houston, Oakland, NY Giants, Detroit, Arizona, Seattle. The Seahawks and Texans have yet to play a game at home.

Running Backs should be renamed Receiving Backs

There are 0 backs who are averaging 20 carries per game through two weeks. Eight are averaging 17-19 carries per game, but only two have a yards-per-carry of 4.0 or higher - and it's not who you would expect. Joe Mixon (4.7 YPC) and Lamar Miller (4.9 YPC). On the opposite side, nine backs have 10 receptions or more. Only Michael Thomas (28 receptions) has more than backs, Christian McCaffrey (20) and Chris Thompson (19).

Fantasy backs who can shoulder the load as a rusher and receiver are rare and extremely coveted, but what about the others? What about the Derrick Henry's, LeSean McCoy's, Jay Ajayi's and Marshawn Lynch's? Sure they will find the end zone here and there and perhaps a select few will have a LeGarrette Blount-like season of low yards and 8-10 touchdowns. It could happen, but it won't be found consistently throughout the league. What is consistently found is the increase of backs who make a difference as a receiver, even if they aren't utilized often as a rusher.

The NFL is evolving. The quarterback throws a high percentage pass to a back who catches the ball, runs downfield, and breaks tackles. Rinse and repeat. A 7-yard gain is easy and it's being exploited. Offense is where it's at.

Here's the kicker - these backs, especially in PPR format, are outproducing other backs like the aforementioned above. Austin Ekeler, Chris Thompson, Christian McCaffrey, Matt Breida, James White, Javorius Allen, Dion Lewis, and Bilal Powell are all in the Top 25 - and others are coming. Corey Clement, Tarik Cohen, Nyheim Hines, Theo Riddick and Corey Grant to name a few.

Two stats to look at when evaluating running back fantasy performance

Yards per rush - Leaders (min 10 rushes)

Receptions per game (Leaders)

have fantasy players on high scoring teams

Top scoring teams through Week 2

  • 80 points - KC
  • 75 TB
  • 70 BAL
  • 68 CIN
  • 67 LAR
  • 61 NO
  • 60 NYJ
  • 59 LAC
  • 58 PIT
  • 53 GB, MIN
  • 51 JAC

Top 10 PPR fantasy ranks by position (Week 1 rank)

Quarterback

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB (1)
  2. Patrick Mahomes, KC (4)
  3. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (17)
  4. Kirk Cousins, MIN (12)
  5. Philip Rivers, LAC (3)
  6. Drew Brees, NO (2)
  7. Blake Bortles, JAC (21)
  8. Cam Newton, CAR (15)
  9. Joe Flacco, BAL (10)
  10. Andy Dalton, CIN (14)

Running Back

  1. Alvin Kamara, NO (1)
  2. Melvin Gordon III, LAC (4)
  3. James Conner, PIT (2)
  4. Todd Gurley, LAR (7)
  5. Chris Thompson, WAS (5)
  6. Saquon Barkley, NYG (11)
  7. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (21)
  8. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (15)
  9. Austin Ekeler, LAC (8)
  10. Joe Mixon, CIN (3)

Wide Receiver

  1. Michael Thomas, NO (1)
  2. Tyreek Hill, KC (2)
  3. DeSean Jackson, TB (3)
  4. Mike Evans, TB (7)
  5. A.J. Green, CIN (12)
  6. Stefon Diggs, MIN (32)
  7. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (23)
  8. Adam Thielen, MIN (24)
  9. Emmanuel Sanders, MIN (4)
  10. Davante Adams, GB (14)

Tight End

  1. Jared Cook, OAK (1)
  2. Jesse James, PIT (10)
  3. Will Dissly, SEA (3)
  4. Travis Kelce, KC (54)
  5. Zach Ertz, PHI (8)
  6. Rob Gronkowski, NE (2)
  7. Eric Ebron, IND (4)
  8. Jordan Reed, WAS (5)
  9. O.J. Howard, TB (14)
  10. Evan Engram, NYG (30)

players I have my eye on

Quarterback

Jared Goff, LAR - The Rams are one of the better teams in the league and they have yet to hit their stride offensively. Goff has only 3 touchdown passes in two games, but he's averaging 9.03 yards per attempt.

Carson Wentz, PHI - Wentz definitely has the knowledge, decision-making and arm strength to make a difference in his first game back, but his ability to make a cut on an 11-yard run downfield is what I'm interested in seeing. If he can come back and not skip a beat, he will elevate several players around him and put him back on the fantasy map.

Josh Rosen, ARI - The bullseye is on you now, Sam. Your time is coming. Yes, the playcalling has been less than ideal, but hopefully, when your name is called, you can make a difference. If the Cardinals continue to struggle and Rosen isn't inserted into the starting lineup, we'd have to surmise that he isn't ready yet, but I believe he is.

Running Back

Ronald Jones, TB - Peyton Barber was decent in Week 1 but slowed down in Week 2. He's averaging 2.6 yards per carry and hasn't done enough to suggest he's a must for the offense. Tampa Bay has more invested in Jones and with the success the offense is having, he may just fit in with what they want to do.

Corey Clement, PHI - He's just shy of Jay Ajayi in total snaps (51 vs 46), but Clement's 5.1 YPC bests Ajayi (3.9 YPC). Clement also has 5 receptions, tied for third-most on the team. Perhaps the biggest news is that Carson Wentz is coming back.

Jordan Wilkins, IND - The Colts are feeling out their running back situation, and Marlon Mack was my preseason favorite to earn the main role, but Wilkins is the one getting the majority of carries (24) and his reception totals aren't bad (5). It is still anyone's game, but Wilkins is the one who has seized the moment, at least for now.

Giovani Bernard, CIN - With Joe Mixon (knee) shelved for a few games, Bernard has the opportunity to shine as both a rusher and receiver. He's capable of doing both and can be a nice start while Mixon is out.

Spencer Ware, KC - Kareem Hunt is the Chiefs main back, but it can be argued that Ware is a better receiver. The Chiefs have used a lot of empty backfield snaps the last two weeks, so there's a chance that Ware's usage could increase once he feels mentally and physically comfortable with his knee. He's someone to keep an eye on.

Wide Receiver

Michael Crabtree, BAL - The last time Crabtree had less than 8 touchdowns in a season was 2014. John Brown may be getting some of the early love, but Crabtree is a more-sound red zone target, plus the Ravens have scored 70 points in two games. Offense has not been a problem.

Tyler Boyd, CIN - After A.J. Green, Boyd is the team's second-leading targeted receiver. John Ross appears to have a specific niche skill where he can use his talent in space, but Boyd has shown the ability to make plays over the middle and outside the hashes. Week 3 is the rubber game where we see if he belongs. I think he does.

D.J. Moore, CAR - All Moore did on his first NFL catch was to juke a defender and dash into the end zone for a 51-yard score. His transition is coming along a bit slowly because he's learning three different receiver positions. His time is coming and he could be electric.

Antonio Calloway, CLE - The decision to trade Josh Gordon has definitely opened up the door for Calloway who went from 15 snaps in Week 1 to 50 in Week 2. He's already scored a touchdown and more should be coming. He's entering the conversation as a what the heck flex play.

Calvin Ridley, ATL - Ridley, not Mohamed Sanu looks to be Matt Ryan's over the middle option. He has shown the ability to get separation on his routes and was utilized much more in Week 2. He's the only Falcons wide receiver with a touchdown right now.

Alshon Jeffery, PHI - No wide receiver outside of Nelson Agholor is making plays for Philadelphia. The return of Carson Wentz will expand the playbook and the aDOT (avg depth of target). Mike Wallace (ankle fracture) is out for an extended time, making Jeffery a hot target for when he returns, which might be Week 4.

Tight End

Hayden Hurst, BAL - Hurst is out due to a stress fracture in his foot but may be back as early as Week 4. The Ravens are using a TEBC approach in his absence and nobody is standing out as a potential replacement or target hog from the tight end position. Hurst may be eased into the offense, but his pedigree far outweighs the competition. He could be a factor by mid-season.

Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI - Arizona's offense isn't great, but that may change if/when Sam Rosen gets his chance to shine. Seals-Jones is dominating the target snap counts with over 90% each game.

David Njoku, CLE - The departure of Josh Gordon will elevate others in the Browns offense. Njoku is one of them. He has 7 targets in both games but has yet to find the end zone. His time is coming.

O.J. Howard, TB - I spoke about Howard last week, but he's now starting to separate himself even more from Cameron Brate as a fixture in the offense. He had 46 snaps to Brate's 14 in Week 2.

Jordan Reed, WAS - Alex Smith only has eyes for Chris Thompson right now, but that should lean back to Reed in the coming weeks. He's second on the team in targets and has already found a connection with Smith in the end zone once. More is coming.

IT'S TIME TO FINE-TUNE

If you started off 0-2 or 1-1, it's not too late to turn things around. Sometimes, one player in your lineup with a big game can make the difference between a win and loss. There are plenty of players who have yet to have a big week and some are probably on your roster. Make the right waiver picks and lineup decisions and don't be afraid to make a trade that could change your season for the better if he hits. Sometimes you have to overpay for the player you want, but if it works for your lineup, I say do it.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com

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