The fantasy football industry will be paying close attention to just how this Philadelphia Eagles backfield plays out. Who gets the first carry? Who will lead in opportunities when it’s all said and done? I’ve got you covered on that, as well as if you can consider the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers safe with Baker Mayfield under center.
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Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Spread: Eagles -4.5
- Total: 45.5
- Eagles implied points: 25
- Buccaneers implied points: 20.5
Jalen Hurts surprisingly doesn’t have a 15-yard rush through two weeks, but with a pair of goal-line scores and a 71.4% completion rate, his fantasy profile is that of a Tier 1 signal caller who carries a higher floor than any other player at the position.
The dominating effort of D’Andre Swift last week limited the number of chances Hurts had to produce through the air, but a volume performance like that from this backfield is not something I believe sticks. If I’m right, Hurts’ best is yet to come. If I’m wrong, it may not matter because he is the beneficiary of the most dominant play in professional sports.
Hurts has more avenues to fantasy glory than any other quarterback on planet Earth. That has him atop my Rest of Season Fantasy Football Rankings.
The two-week profile of Mayfield is encouraging: 34 attempts in both games, 14 rush attempts, and 50% of his targets have gone to a pair of elite play-makers.
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He has finishes of QB13 and QB18 on his 2023 resume, a level of production that will be tough to match against this Eagles defense. Yes, they are a banged-up bunch, but you’re getting too cute if you want to consider him as an option in anything but two-QB formats.
Swift was nothing short of special on Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings: 31 touches for 181 yards and a touchdown. The box score was amazing, and the fact that 64.3% of his carries gained at least four yards supports just how consistently productive he was in the feature role.
D’Andre Swift only went up the middle, between the guards 4 times last night (2.3 yards/att, 0 missed tackles).
He went outside the guards 24 times (6.9 yards/att, 9 missed tackles).
Here’s to embracing what a player does well, and not what coaches wish him to be. 🍻
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) September 15, 2023
The Buccaneers have Vita Vea plugging the middle of their strong run defense, and that’s made opponents lean to perimeter runs/passes. Swift is more than capable of producing on the perimeter, but without a locked-in touch count and the per-touch production in question, Swift ranks just outside of my top 20 at the position.
After getting 81.8% of the Eagles’ RB touches in the season opener, a rib injury held Gainwell out of the Week 2 win over the Vikings. Swift went bonkers in his absence, leaving us with a confusing situation moving forward.
On the bright side, Philadelphia has gone with a featured back system, something that we feared would never happen. Of course, with two different RBs being featured and productive, the reliance on a single back could be a thing of the past.
A less than 100% healthy Gainwell is outside of the top 30 at the position — you can find a better floor/ceiling combination to round out your Week 3 fantasy football lineup.
Rachaad White was essentially thrown into the end zone for a touchdown by a lineman last week, but hey, all touchdowns count for our purposes. Against the Bears, he totaled 103 yards on 22 touches, reminding us just how valuable volume can be.
After a brutal Week 1 performance where he failed every advanced metric, he maximized his touches and looked good in Week 2. His true skill set is likely somewhere in the middle, and that is good enough given his role to be considered a viable Flex play (20.5 touches per game with a 100% catch rate) in this tough spot.
We saw some emotion shown from A.J. Brown on the sidelines last week against the Vikings, presumably for a lack of involvement. Could this be a squeaky wheel situation against an overmatched opponent?
Hurts worked to get him involved last week, and the duo even had a touchdown called back, so it’s not as if Brown is far from high-level production. I still consider him the 1a option in this passing game and have zero reservations about his value moving forward.
Need a little more comforting after a dud Week 2? I’m here to please. Following his first sub-40-yard performance last season, Brown proceeded to score five times over his next three games, a stretch that included his best effort of the season (36.6 fantasy points vs. PIT). Better times are ahead for those who invested early in Brown, and those better times aren’t far off in the future.
Watch the Eagles play football, and you’ll be convinced that Smith runs differently than us mere mortals. The 63-yard touchdown he scored against the Vikings on Thursday night seemed as if he was gliding, and it certainly wasn’t the first time this speed demon ran away from the defense.
He’s scored in both games this season and seen at least eight targets in 12 of his past 14 games: He’s blending into the perfect mix of quantity and quality when it comes to targets.
This Buccaneers pass defense scares just about no one, leading me to believe that Philadelphia opens up their offense more than what we saw last week and allows both Smith and Brown to produce in a major way.
It has become clear that Evans’ skill matches up well with the strengths of Mayfield, and until we see something change, he should be locked into fantasy lineups.
He has a long touchdown in both games this season, and the volume (12 receptions) helps elevate his floor. He has caught six passes in consecutive games to open this season, something he did only once all of last season. Evans has been a top-15 receiver in both weeks this season, and while I have him ranked just outside of that for this week (WR20), he remains fantasy-viable in a tough spot.
That’s now 17 straight games with at least five catches and in PPR, that puts his floor at a reasonable level, but that’s all he is right now: a floor play to consider if your roster is otherwise loaded. Even with the consistent involvement, his next top-40 finish this season will be his first.
The injuries to the secondary of Philadelphia could allow Godwin to pile up the receptions in an efficient manner if Mayfield is willing to take the easy completions, and that is why I have him ranked as a viable Flex option. It won’t be pretty, but a stat line in the neighborhood of seven catches for 65 yards has value.
After failing to haul in his only target in Week 1, Goedert saw four early targets on Thursday night and was clearly a part of the game plan. He finished Week 2 as the Eagles leader in both targets (seven) and catches (six), though the fact that not a single one of those receptions gained 10 yards is a bit concerning.
He’s the third most likely player to catch a touchdown on an offense that prefers to run when in close, so the ceiling here isn’t what we are looking for. Goedert is attached to an elite offense and plays a shallow position, a combination that will land him in my top 10 every week, but if he finds a way to have a big game soon, his stock is one I’d consider shorting while the price is high.
He caught all six of his Week 2 targets which was impressive, but not a single one of those catches gaining more than nine yards is further proof that the ceiling simply isn’t high enough to consider him in even the deepest of leagues.
Who Should You Start in Week 3?
Should You Start D’Andre Swift or Joshua Kelley?
Uncertainty can be golden in some aspects of fantasy football, but not in this spot. Joshua Kelley is in a good matchup and a game that is projected to fly past 50 total points while D’Andre is part of a committee that could result in a swift decline in touches with Gainwell back in the mix.
See what I did there? Come for the advice, stay for the wordplay.
With role uncertainty and limited touchdown equity due to the talent around him, Swift is more risk than reward for me this week. Give me the 14-16 touch role of Kelley and move on.
Should You Start Chris Godwin or Terry McLaurin?
I have them back-to-back in my ranks this week with Godwin holding the slight edge due to the elevated floor that I expect to come due to the Eagle injuries.
We saw T.J. Hockenson find space early and often last Thursday night in this matchup. It’s a role I think Godwin can fill, fueling my expectation for him to haul in five to eight passes in Week 3.
That’s enough to earn him the starting nod over Terry McLaurin, who is facing a tough Buffalo Bills defense and plays on an offense that’s coming into its own on the ground.
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