The weather is starting to turn, soups are replacing salads on appetizer menus, and the NBA preseason is less than two weeks away. All of that means we’re getting into the meat of the fantasy football schedule.
What a time to be alive! No matter how your first three weeks have gone, now is a good time to have your best week of the season, so let’s make that happen!
Trivia Question: Who are the five quarterbacks that have scored at least 15 fantasy points in all three weeks this season?
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Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Spread: Lions -1.5
- Total: 46
- Lions implied points: 23.8
- Packers implied points: 22.2
Jared Goff: He has been fantasy-viable in consecutive weeks, a pair of home games. Go figure. Last season, Goff averaged 39% more fantasy points per pass at home than on the road, and with a near 21% difference through three games this season, this is simply a trend you cannot ignore.
Goff heads to Lambeau on a short week to face a Packers defense that allowed just 6.0 yards per pass in their comeback win over the Saints, creating enough pressure to record four sacks and knock Derek Carr (shoulder) out of the game.
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Green Bay has yet to play a solid pocket passer for an entire game this season (Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and the Derek Carr/Jameis Winston tandem), but they’re a top-10 defense on both third down and percentage of yards gained through the air.
Goff traveled to Lambeau to end last season and threw 34 passes. None of them resulted in a score. With no reliable rushing upside (yes, I’m aware he ran for a touchdown last week — his first in 34 games with the Lions), he can’t overcome an inefficient/low-volume game through the air, and that’s the fear here.
Goff isn’t a top-12 option for me in Week 4.
Jordan Love: Regression caught up to Love in the passing game last week against the Saints (one touchdown on 44 attempts after throwing six on 52 passes through two weeks), but his involvement in the run game was noteworthy.
Not only did Love score on an RPO from the 1-yard line, but he also had a 24-yard scamper for the second consecutive week. He didn’t offer much as a runner at Utah State, and that has me questioning the sustainability of this, but it’s a good sign for a young QB who’s looking to get comfortable.
Love remains out of my top 15 this week, even in a good spot. He’s certainly a name to watch as bye week season approaches, and he gets to work with a full complement of weapons. However, I’m currently watching from a distance as opposed to holding him on my bench.
David Montgomery: The thigh injury that Montgomery suffered late in Week 2 against the Seahawks cost him Week 3, but he’s set to return. This isn’t an efficient rush attack with (Montgomery: 3.8 yards per carry) or without him (Week 3: 3.7 YPC), making his fantasy volume dependent on volume and scoring equity.
The former could be in question, given the potential for the injury to linger, and the latter isn’t a given, with Green Bay holding the Bijan Robinson/Tyler Allgeier tandem scoreless on 39 touches in Week 2. If he clears all hurdles, Montgomery is a low-end RB2 for me and one that carries a good amount of risk.
Jahmyr Gibbs: Returns on the rookie have been mixed this season, and I worry about plugging him in this week with Montgomery. For the season, Gibbs’ 4.5 yards per carry isn’t bad, and the fact that he got 68% of the RB carries against the Falcons last week is encouraging.
On the downside, if you remove two chunk plays, his yards-per-carry average dips to 3.4. He’s also failed to earn more than two targets in two of three games (Week 3: 6.5% target share). The explosive play is part of his profile, but you must consider that Green Bay didn’t allow Detroit to pick up 15 yards on a single one of their 56 rush attempts last season.
During the first two weeks of the season with Montgomery active, Gibbs was out-carried 37-14 by the veteran — a lack of usage that creates a scary floor. In a shared backfield, Gibbs is a fringe Flex with a wide range of outcomes.
Aaron Jones: Following Jones pulling up lame (hamstring) during the Week 1 blowout of the Bears, there was talk that he could have returned to action if the game was closer. Yet, he’s missed both games since that explosive opener (11 touches for 127 yards and two scores). And for a player who has 15+ carries in just one of his past eight games, the volume is a serious question in his Week 4 return.
Need proof? With the season on the line against these Lions, Jones held just a 15-9 touch edge over AJ Dillon. If he was coming off of a healthy week, Jones would be a top-15 running back for me this week. But when taking into consideration the risk that comes with him playing at less than full strength, he checks in outside of my top 20 right now.
AJ Dillon: I have a theory about this ground game, and Christian Watson holds the key. Through three weeks, Love leads the NFL in air yards per pass, and that should open up the run game with defenses looking to prevent the big play.
The problem is that defenses aren’t scared about those chunk plays through the air (Love: 53.1% complete). Watson changes that in a big way when he’s right (14.9 yards per catch last season, four games as a rookie with a 45-yard play), and that’ll help a run game that has seen their RBs average just 3.0 yards per carry over the past two weeks.
With this offense as close to full strength as it’s been this season, Dillon falls out of my flex tier and shouldn’t be counted on in anything but the deepest of leagues.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: The Sun God is playing at a high level with consecutive 100-yard performances, something he only did once during 2022, but this matchup is a bit of a concern.
Last season, St. Brown averaged just 3.1 yards per target against the Packers, a major downward swing from the 8.6 he averaged against the rest of the NFL. Now, does that mean he’s outside of my top 20? Of course not.
With at least six catches in 11 of his past 12 games, the floor is simply too high to get crazy. But with potential efficiency concerns and a profile that doesn’t include much scoring equity (scoreless in 14 of his past 17 games with one road score since Week 17 of 2021), your expectations need to be lowered a touch.
Kalif Raymond: The pride of Holy Cross has reached 7.5 half-PPR points in consecutive games and was one of just four Lions to earn a target on Sunday against Atlanta. Raymond’s 19.4% target share was good to see, but there’s nothing sustainable to see here. Through three weeks, it would appear that this team has found its secondary pass catcher in Sam LaPorta and that they don’t need a consistent third option.
Christian Watson: The burner is set to make his season debut tonight barring an unexpected setback to his troublesome hamstring. Given his skill set and the nature of the injury, can you trust Watson this week?
That’s a little optimistic for me, especially since we haven’t seen Love produce consistent accurate deep balls. He’s throwing deep plenty, just with varied levels of success.
Now, Watson did put up 104 yards on five catches against these Lions when they met to end last season. The upside isn’t a secret, but the ground-level floor isn’t, either.
He’s currently outside of my top 30 at the position, though I’m more sold on him long-term than I was a month ago, given how Love is attacking defenses downfield.
Romeo Doubs: When this kid flashes, he does it spectacularly. Whether it was a pretty 30-yard diving toe-tap effort for the game-winning score or a designed clear-out, there’s certainly something noteworthy here.
That said, Doubs’ 55% catch rate is a problem, especially with Watson subtracting from his target bottom line. I’m rostering him for the 27.9% target share he earned last week, but the boom-bust nature of Doubs’ profile has him outside of my comfort Flex zone on a week where all 32 teams are in action.
Jayden Reed: They tried! The fantasy community invested in the rookie after his two-score performance against the Falcons, and the Packers tried to pay off your transaction. Love dropped a 20-yard dime to Reed in the end zone, but he was unable to complete the catch. He tried Reed again on a quick hitter that looked like a two-yard touchdown, but he dropped it.
Reed has earned 20 targets through three weeks, and the scoring opportunities are encouraging. Where his role sits when Watson and Jones return is anybody’s guess, but I see the risk in his profile increasing due to a dip in target volume.
I like Reed’s value in dynasty leagues. From the learning-on-the-fly nature of this season to the draft capital spent on him (second-round pick, 50th overall), he’s going to be allowed to develop. For redraft leagues, however, the floor is going to be too low as the role declines, and that makes him a stash at best in leagues with deeper benches.
Sam LaPorta: The rookie has seen his target count increase each week, and he’s the first tight end in NFL history to catch at least five passes in each of his first three career games.
Was LaPorta’s 18.4 fantasy points in Week 3 greatly impacted by a broken coverage 45-yard TD? It was, but you’re still looking at reliable volume (surpassed his pregame projected catch total in the first quarter), and that’s enough to be a consistent fantasy starter these days.
Remove that defensive hiccup, and LaPorta is averaging just 1.3 fantasy points per reception this season, a rate that points at a concerningly low floor should the volume dry up. Long term, that is possible — Jameson Williams will be back, and I expect Gibbs’ role in the passing game to tick up with reps — but in the short term, you can feel good about sliding LaPorta into your starting lineup.
Luke Musgrave: The rookie led the Packers in catches against the Saints with six on eight targets (49 yards) in his best performance to date. It could have been even better if Love didn’t airmail a potential 62-yard touchdown.
It’s not the first miss of Musgrave on a fantasy-friendly play, and that has kept some managers off his scent. If you play against box-score watchers, 11 catches for 124 yards through three weeks isn’t going to stand out. But understand that his 73.3% catch rate is impressive from a developing QB and that he’s been inches away from big-time production.
He’s inside my top 15 at the position this week (Detroit saw 47.4% of targets against them go to the tight end position in Week 3) and deserves mention with the other impressive members of the rookie TE class for fantasy purposes, even if his numbers have yet to truly spike.
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Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)
- Spread: Jaguars -3
- Total: 43
- Falcons implied points: 20
- Jaguars implied points: 23
Desmond Ridder: I’m beginning to think that Arthur Smith was right when he opened the season with a “less is more” approach to Ridder. He took seven sacks against the Lions last week, failed to complete 60% of his passes for a second consecutive week, and has just two passing touchdowns on 88 attempts this season.
My rule 99% of the time in Superflex leagues is to start even a bad quarterback over your next best RB/WR, but Ridder is flirting with that 1% of the time where I’d consider going the other way if you waited on addressing the position.
Trevor Lawrence: To call the beginning of this season a disappointment would be an understatement. On the second drive of this season, Lawrence featured Calvin Ridley on a scoring drive that had us wondering just how dynamic this offense could be. Since then, just two of his 105 passes have found paydirt, a level of efficiency that just isn’t going to cut it against a team like the Falcons that likes to limit play volume.
The confusing part for me with Lawrence is that his aDOT is down over 5% from last season, despite the addition of a bonafide playmaker down the field. Could these be growing pains more than the sign of a greater concern? I certainly hope so, and with consecutive games abroad, maybe things will start to click.
The QB position gets ugly after the top eight, so even a Lawrence skeptic should be starting him in this spot, but I need to see more aggression sooner than later if Lawrence is going to remain a top-10 lock.
Bijan Robinson: For the first time in his young career, Robinson fell short of expectations with 7.0 fantasy points in a game in which he didn’t even get the first rush attempt for the Falcons.
Don’t sweat it.
He has a 10+ yard run and catch in all three games this season and is currently pacing for over 300 touches. If the Robinson manager in your league views him as anything less than a top-three running back the rest of the way, go ahead and send out an offer. He’s locked into weekly lineups and could produce some highlights first thing Sunday morning.
Tyler Allgeier: Atlanta being forced into a pass-heavy script was bad news for Allgeier (seven carries for 12 yards). Given how the Falcons play, I don’t think games like this are going to be very common. That means 14-16 touches with a narrow range of outcomes is what you can project weekly.
Without much pass-catching potential or a definitive red-zone role, Allgeier ranks outside of the tier of players that I’m comfortable flexing this week.
Travis Etienne Jr.: The explosion is coming. As a rookie, Etienne didn’t have a single 15-carry, five-target game, but this season, he already has a pair of games with at least 18 carries and five targets.
Against the Texans, he posted a career-high 50 receiving yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Fantasy managers were still disappointed because Tank Bigsby punched in the one-yard score after Calvin Ridley set things up by forcing a DPI in the end zone.
Etienne handled Jacksonville’s first eight carries over the weekend and has an unquestioned role that includes pass game work — you simply can’t ask for more. I have Etienne as a top-five back this week and a top-10 option at the position for the rest of the season.
Tank Bigsby: Bigsby has indeed scored in both games in which he’s been active. That’s simply a fact. But for the season, he has more fumbles than receptions and has totaled 23 yards.
In Week 3, he was out-snapped by Etienne 52-9 — he just happened to get the goal-line carry. I don’t view this like I do the backfield in Buffalo, where I’m downgrading the starter for a lack of red-zone usage. Etienne is the guy in town, and Bigsby is nothing more than a handcuff option that won’t hold consistent value.
Drake London: Hopefully, you took advantage of the one-week sell-high opportunity here. London caught just two of six targets against the Lions (31 yards) and has now been held under 55 receiving yards in 65% of his career games.
He’s a player who needs a touchdown to matter on a team that doesn’t score much due to inconsistent quarterback play. That’s not ideal. London ranks outside of my top 35 both this week and moving forward.
Calvin Ridley: Things haven’t been pretty since the glorious second drive of the season. On that drive, Ridley caught four balls for 41 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he’s been held to nine grabs for 132 yards and no touchdowns. He had a shot at a 26-yard TD last week if not interfered with, but alas, we don’t get points for that, and his disappointing two-week stretch continues.
The target count is just fine (26 this season), but the catch rate reflects a lack of chemistry. After catching four of five targets through that second drive, Ridley has caught just 42.9% of targets. Now, I do think that corrects with reps, and the schedule certainly isn’t too daunting.
In the short term, the Jaguars’ two difficult matchups come in advantageous spots. They get the Bills in London next week — a game that will require significant travel for Buffalo, while Jacksonville doesn’t have to travel anywhere. The other intimidating matchup is the 49ers in Week 10, a game the Jags host following their bye.
Ridley may not be what we thought he was after Week 1, but he’s not this bad, either. I have him as a solid WR2 and a fantasy starter in all formats.
Christian Kirk: He has been bizarro Ridley, in that he started the season disappointing us and has offered consecutive productive weeks (15 catches for 164 yards and a TD in total). Of course, the 13.4 fantasy points he scored on Sunday came with Zay Jones sidelined (and a busted coverage on a 26-yard TD), but Kirk looks the part, and if you read the tea leaves, it’s more likely than not to continue.
Week 3 was impacted by script, but I found it interesting that with Jones out, Jamal Agnew ran 30 routes (Kirk ran 42, Ridley 38). That’s a respectable number for an average player who lost a fumble in the first half and provides me with a level of confidence in this team routinely operating in three WR sets.
Kirk currently sits as a solid WR2 with Jones missing another game — a ranking that lands him in lineups across the board.
Zay Jones: Jones was injured during the Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, a game he exited after failing to catch any of his six targets. With that dud followed by a DNP, it’s easy to forget about Jones as a threat in this high-upside offense. Don’t make that mistake.
He racked up 55 yards and a score in the Week 1 win against the Colts and is still a threat to be the WR2 option in this offense. He needs to remain on rosters, but he has been ruled OUT for Week 4.
Kyle Pitts: Seeing three of Ridder’s first seven targets was great to see, but as is the case with all things Pitts, it didn’t last. Yes, he led the team with nine targets, but 63.4% of his yardage came on those first seven Ridder passes, and his propensity to disappear for significant periods showed up again.
I’m just not sure where the growth comes from. Pitts was on the field for 52 snaps and ran 42 routes, leaving little room for more usage from that standpoint. His ability to produce is questionable at best, and now, is he even the TE1 in Atlanta?
Jonnu Smith was on the field for 48 snaps and ran 32 routes (five catches on eight targets for 37 yards), giving Pitts competition for looks in this low-volume attack.
How bad is it? In a fine matchup and coming off of a week where he led the team in targets, catches, and receiving yards, I have Pitts as TE12.
Evan Engram: Like Pitts, Engram led his team in targets (eight), catches (seven), and yards (67) last week. But unlike Pitts, Engram is locked into fantasy lineups.
Engram has at least five catches in all three games this season and has hauled in 85.7% of targets. I was worried this preseason about his weekly volume with Ridley being added to the mix, but he seems to have carved out a nice niche that has him as my TE5 in this spot.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
- Spread: Bills -3
- Total: 53.5
- Dolphins implied points: 25.3
- Bills implied points: 28.3
Tua Tagovailoa: Tagovailoa has established himself as the premier pocket passer for our purposes. All he did on Sunday — without his clear second option (Jaylen Waddle) — was throw for 309 yards with more touchdown passes (four) than incompletions (three).
There is no taking anything away from what Tagovailoa has done up to this point, but it’s worth noting that he managed just 12.3 fantasy points in the lone tough matchup this season (Week 2 at NE). The Bills look like a defense to fear, but they also have yet to play a potent offense.
With Waddle likely back in the mix, there’s just no way to fade what this Miami offense is doing. The split to watch with time when it comes to this Dolphins juggernaut will be weather-related, but early forecasts are calling for perfect conditions in upstate New York.
Josh Allen: The next time Allen fails to throw multiple touchdown passes against the Dolphins will be the first (11 for 11), and he has recovered with a pair of 20+ point fantasy games after failing to reach double figures in Week 1.
Allen saved his fantasy day in Week 3 with a rushing score, something he failed to do on his 22 carries in three games against the Dolphins last season. Was that a result of something Miami did, or simply a weird blip on the radar?
I lean toward the latter. In what should be the most fun game of the week, Allen is my QB1 for Week 3 (Patrick Mahomes gets a tougher matchup with the Jets while Jalen Hurts gets a divisional foe on short rest).
Raheem Mostert: With seven touchdowns on 51 touches, Mostert was nothing short of fantasy royalty in September. He averaged less than two catches per game last season, making his seven receptions last week potentially the most encouraging aspect of his absurd 142-yard, four-touchdown day.
Let’s get the ranking portion of this article out of the way first: He’s top 10. I can’t imagine I’m breaking ground with that take, and while some per-touch regression is going to happen, Mostert’s 39 touches over the past two weeks support a high floor for a player with a skill set like this.
As for season-long, how can you not explore cashing in this chip? The crazy start is one thing, but that usage I just stated is more likely to crash than sustain. Jeff Wilson Jr. is eligible to come off IR ahead of next week’s game against the Giants, and it” ‘s easy to forget that De’Von Achane held the 4-2 carry edge through the first two drives on Sunday.
The depth chart is a concern, and so is durability. Mostert (31 years old) has one season with 140 carries on his NFL résumé, and while we can’t predict injury, consecutive heavy usage seasons aren’t the way most fragile backs age. If someone in your league believes Mostert is a top-10 option moving forward, I’m making an offer.
De’Von Achane: Nothing to see here. After a two-touch debut in Week 2, Achane casually racked up 233 yards and four scores on 22 touches against the overmatched Broncos.
I noted his early usage in the Mostert preview (four carries for 41 yards and a touchdown on Miami’s second drive), and that is what encourages me long-term for the rookie. The speed that Achane showcased on Sunday is nothing new and gives him weekly upside in an offense that can spread you thin.
I understand the reflex of wanting to lock him into lineups after scrolling through your Week 3 roster and seeing the 49.3-point performance on your bench. I understand it because it happened to me, too.
The upside is real, but so is the downside that comes with being the secondary option in an offense that prefers to move the ball through the air. Achane ranks behind the “I know the workload for these guys” tier of running backs that includes the Jerome Fords and Najee Harris’ of the world, hovering around RB25 at the moment.
Jeff Wilson Jr.: Simply putting it on your radar that as we enter the fourth week of the regular season, players who started on IR will be eligible to play next week. Reporting out of Miami has been cautiously optimistic around Wilson (midsection and finger injuries), and he did average 12 touches per game for the team last season.
Wilson’s unlikely to hold value when this backfield is healthy, but he’s cheap exposure to an explosive offense for those in deeper formats.
James Cook: My wife is a high school teacher, and she routinely has to make phone calls home. I’ve heard, “Student X is showing great progress whenever I see him/her. The effort is there, and I’m seeing nice growth. However, attendance has been an issue.”
That is Cook. With over 110 scrimmage yards (and a 30+ yard rush) in consecutive games, Cook is showing all the signs of a fantasy superstar. However, much like the student above, he has one flaw that is capping his upside and could turn into a major problem if not corrected.
Red-zone usage. The Bills have scored 91 points this season, and while Cook has put them in position to do so, he has yet to get into the fun. Buffalo has four rushing touchdowns inside the 10-yard line, but despite his efficiency (6.2 yards per touch), Cook has been a spectator.
He’s a top-15 back for me this week in what projects to be a shootout, but his role creates a higher risk profile than most ranked in this tier.
After those phone calls home, some students show up to class more often and make the honor roll. Others fail to improve. Cook can make the fantasy honor roll (my rest-of-season top 10) if just given the chance to produce deep in the red zone.
Damien Harris and Latavius Murray: Harris worked ahead of Murray in the rotation on Sunday, so if you’re chasing a touchdown vulture, that is the direction I’d lean. Neither projects for nearly enough volume to be rostered in anything but deeper leagues.
Tyreek Hill: With a touchdown and at least nine targets in all three games this season, Hill is making a push for the top spot in my rest-of-season WR rankings. He took a pass 54 yards to the house on Miami’s third play of Week 3 on his way to finishing with 157 yards.
Hill said he wanted 2,000 receiving yards this season, and we laughed. He’s currently on pace to get there before Christmas. I’m willing to explore trading away most Dolphins right now, understanding that sustaining this level of production would require a historic season.
Hill isn’t “most Dolphins.” Hang onto him and enjoy the ride!
Jaylen Waddle: Concussion protocol resulted in Waddle being ruled out for Week 3 on Saturday, meaning you’ve had a chance to forget how the first two weeks of this season went down.
In those two games, here are the percentages of this passing game that the Hill/Waddle dynamic duo was responsible for:
47.9% of targets
49% of receptions
58.6% of receiving yards
Assuming all the boxes are checked for Waddle entering this week, he’s locked into your lineup. Hopefully, he is healthy enough to follow in the path of Jakobi Meyers, who missed Week 2 with a concussion only to post a productive Week 3.
He held a 5-3 target edge over Hill from Tagovailoa when all three played against the Bills last season. While five targets isn’t a big number, it was a 27.8% target share in a low-volume game.
Stefon Diggs: Diggs has reached 100 receptions in all three of his seasons with the Bills. Currently, he’s on pace for 141. He piled up 114 yards on nine targets in last season’s Wild Card win over the Dolphins.
This game features my two favorite receivers for the week not named Justin Jefferson. Get your popcorn ready.
Gabe Davis: Week 3 was the quintessential Davis performance: ran a ton of routes, earned just four targets, and produced 10.0 fantasy points. This is what you signed up for, and you’re well aware that he easily could have been held without a single fantasy point if not for a 35-yard dart from Allen.
The fact of the matter is that he did get that pass from Allen. Talented players have a way of beating the math some, and that’s what Davis did last week by turning one catch into a viable afternoon.
He went to UCF (TD every 6.6 catches during his time there) and has at least six targets or a touchdown in all six career games against the Dolphins. In the Wild Card win against Miami last season, Davis and Diggs saw 48.6% of targets.
If we see anything close to that on Sunday, Davis will prove himself worthy of being in your lineup, and that’s why I have him easily inside my top 30.
Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox: The tight end position is becoming a part of this offense, and we saw that on Sunday when four of Allen’s first five passes went to the position. Both Kincaid and Knox were on the field for 35-plus snaps and ran 20-plus routes, driving home the fact that this team is committed to the two-TE system (at the expense of a third receiver).
I prefer the upside of Kincaid to that of Knox, but the veteran tight end did see an end-zone target on the first drive last week. The rookie is trending toward my top 10, though I’m not sure he will get there until he proves the ability to out-earn Knox in a significant way, especially in the red zone.
Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears
- Spread: Broncos -3
- Total: 46
- Broncos implied points: 24.5
- Bears implied points: 21.5
Russell Wilson: Wilson is very quietly one of five quarterbacks who have scored at least 15 fantasy points in each of the first three weeks this season. Jordan Love, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Kirk Cousins are the others — congrats on finding the trivia answer!
He gets the pleasure of facing a defense that has allowed at least 18 fantasy points to the position in every game this season.
Wilson has embraced a YOLO attitude over the past two weeks (10.2 air yards per attempt, second highest in the league), and that has looked good on him in terms of fantasy potential. Of course, with that style of play comes inefficiencies (58.6% completion percentage) and a low floor if the big play isn’t connecting, but that’s a concern for another day.
For the first time this season, Wilson cracks my top 15 at the position. I still prefer the average projected outcome of guys like Geno Smith and Brock Purdy, but Wilson is firmly in that tier this week and offers a nice bit of upside for teams looking to swing for the fences.
Justin Fields: No, a month ago, I didn’t think I would have Fields ranked as the QB2 in this game, but life comes at you fast.
His ranking 31st in completion percentage isn’t ideal, but if you told me that was going to be the case, I would have assumed he was attacking downfield, thus adding big pass play to his big run play fantasy profile, keeping him well within the “must start” tier of signal-caller.
That’s not the case. He’s a bottom-10 quarterback in aDOT, making his 58% completion rate downright appalling. The Bears finally let him loose on the ground last week (11 carries), and the funniest thing happened — the Chiefs were ready for it. Imagine that. A quarterback who isn’t throwing the ball accurately or downfield doesn’t have room to run.
His physical tools give him top-five upside in any week, and maybe he capitalizes on that against a Broncos defense that saw the Dolphins score more touchdowns (10) than third-down situations (nine), but nothing he did in September suggests that is likely.
Javonte Williams: As it turns out, losing by 50 is bad for business when it comes to running back production. Go figure. The game script should be a little more friendly to Williams this week, and with a two-week sample size of him being utilized with workhorse intentions, it feels like a big week is inevitable.
Believe it or not, Week 3 was Williams’ first game as a pro with both a 15-yard run and a 15-yard catch. With a promising role in a plus matchup, Williams deserves to be locked in as an RB2 in all formats and is very much in my DFS player pool for the main slate.
Samaje Perine: Perine got his hands on the ball 12 times in the season-opening loss to the Raiders, seemingly as a way to gauge the health of Williams. In the two games since, he’s been trusted with just nine touches and appears to be more of an ancillary piece to this offense than anything you can count on.
If you need the roster space to deal with injuries, Perine is certainly an option to cut.
Khalil Herbert: Herbert and I have had the same number of games with more than 10 carries since Halloween. We are also tied when it comes to the number of carries gaining more than 12 yards this season.
Spoiler alert: I’m 33 years old, 140 pounds soaking wet, and have a history of ankle injuries — not exactly a physical profile NFL backs want to draw comparisons to.
This summer, I cited Herbert’s explosion as a reason to take a chance on him as the lead back in this offense. While I still think that is in his skill set, it doesn’t appear to be something he can access in this mess of a situation.
He is trending in the wrong direction for a dumpster fire of an offense with a promising back pushing him for reps. Keep him rostered, but he shouldn’t be near starting lineups.
Roschon Johnson: The rookie handled the first carry of the game for the Bears and finished with more carries than Herbert. Johnson came into Week 3 trending in a positive direction, and things have only gotten better for Derek Tate and the rest of Roschon’s fanbase.
We know that teams like to get a quick read on running backs with high levels of draft capital invested in them to squeeze as much value out of them as possible before their second contract. That makes the 0-3 start (-59 point differential) as good a reason to be looking to the future as any.
Herbert lost a fumble in the blowout loss to the Chiefs, and if this team wants any hope of winning games, they can’t give away possessions. I have Herbert ranked a touch higher this week, with the thought being that they give him one more chance in a winnable game. These two are very much in the same tier, and it’s a situation I’m actively looking to avoid.
Jerry Jeudy: In the laughter against the Dolphins, Jeudy was productive (five catches for 81 yards), and his fantasy stats would have looked better if he didn’t have a touchdown taken off the board due to an illegal shift.
He seems to be rounding into form after the hamstring injury cost him some practice time this summer and lingered into Week 1.
I do worry that the floor will be low, given the recent risk-taking nature of how Wilson is playing and the number of downfield options on this offense, but much like Wilson, that is a concern for another day.
In this cushy spot, Jeudy is poised for his best day of the young season and projects as a WR2 for me in all formats.
Courtland Sutton: I’m not saying he will push Jeudy for the WR1 role in this offense, but I’m not saying he won’t. The industry as a whole wasn’t receptive to that idea this summer, but Sutton seems to have capitalized on the early missed time from Jeudy to develop a connection with Wilson.
Not only was he the target of Wilson’s first pass last week, but he has a 73.9% catch rate this season and has scored in two of three games.
The TD last week came on a scramble drill where he was able to separate from Xavien Howard in the back of the end zone for a nice 12-yard score. That sort of play doesn’t happen without trust, and it held more value, in my opinion, than the fantasy points the play accumulated.
Sutton is pushing up my Week 4 rankings, and I currently have him ranked ahead of a pair of big-name receivers who are the clear WR1 on their respective teams Terry McLaurin (at PHI) and Mike Evans (at NO).
Marvin Mims: Mims went through the scouting process and was labeled as a big-play threat from day one and through three weeks, I think it is safe to say the scouts had this one right.
The rookie is averaging 27.9 yards per catch with a 24.6 aDOT (highest among players with more than five targets) and looks to be playing the game at a different speed when he gets a clean release.
The Broncos have liked what they’ve seen from Mims up to this point so much that they elected to hand him the ball on the third play last week. If head coach Sean Payton can scheme ways to get this kid the ball in space, he’s going to be a week-winning substitute in rather short order.
The low snap count and high degree of difficulty of those deep passes keep him outside of my top 40, but if you’re in a spot where floor doesn’t matter, Mims is already one of the premier boom/bust options in the game.
DJ Moore: He entered the season atop my Moore rankings, and if things don’t look better this week, he might be my third favorite option with that surname moving forward.
He had a pair of 30-yard receptions on the first drive of Week 2. Other than that, though, he has been a ghost this season.
I’m not here to assign blame because, honestly, I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s his fault, Fields’ fault, or the fault of the coaching staff. All I care about is production, and we aren’t getting much of it.
He scored in the late stages of the blowout loss last week, but backdoor value isn’t what we signed up for. Until this passing game shows any signs of life, Moore will be ranked outside of my top 30 at the position.
Darnell Mooney: He doesn’t matter. I used to chase his production the way I’m ready to chase that of Mims, but those days are gone. Mooney scored against the Packers in Week 1, and that was fun, but we’re talking about a deep threat in a conservative offense with an inaccurate quarterback.
At the moment, I’m more likely to hold a second D/ST on my roster (something I haven’t done since middle school) than to burn a roster spot on this profile.
Cole Kmet: As this passing game flounders, Kmet’s ability to build on the promise he showed last season has gone with it. The Golden Domer has yet to reach 45 yards in a game this season and has seen his target count drop with each passing week.
Don’t put yourself through the pain of investing in this passing game if you don’t have to — Kmet ranks outside of my top 15 at the position this week.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Ravens -2
- Total: 38.5
- Ravens implied points: 20.3
- Browns implied points: 18.3
Lamar Jackson: I’m not a parent, but I imagine seeing Jackson develop in this Todd Monken offense is akin to an adult seeing their child walk for the first time — you know it’s coming, but it’s still exciting to see.
Now, it’s important to note that children stumble when they learn to walk. They bump into things and knock things off of shelves as they catch their balance. Jackson’s version of that: No passing touchdowns and no completions of 30 yards in two of three games.
A stumble may occur here, but if the usage remains, Action Jackson can overcome some deficiencies. Against the Colts, both of his rushing scores came by way of design — the last one being a thing of beauty where they spread Indy thin with receivers and called a QB draw.
The per-pass upside is a concern (Jackson ranks between Justin Fields and Desmond Ridder in aDOT) with his yards per attempt declining each week, but with a completion percentage north of 70% in every game and the rushing profile, he’s a top-six QB for me in all formats.
Deshaun Watson: There’s no shame in taking advantage of an easy matchup. Watson looked much better over the weekend against the leaky Titans than he did in a pair of divisional games to open the season. Of course, we’re back in the division this weekend against a Ravens team that held Gardner Minshew under 5.2 yards per attempt in Week 3.
Even in a good week, Watson had his moments of complete chaos (I’ve watched the play roughly 673 times). But at the end of the day, he has a pair of top-10 finishes on his 2023 résumé.
While I believe in him in the second half of the season, that doesn’t matter today as he has been ruled OUT. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, preseason star and bonafide athlete, will make the start and is only of interest in two-QB leagues or in true contrarian DFS builds.
Gus Edwards: It’s Gus or Bust for me in the Ravens backfield these days, and that’s not changing this week. He needs to clear through concussion protocols, and this Browns defense is no joke, but the proven efficiency and volume for Edwards will be enough to land him in my top 30 running backs.
He’s averaging five yards per carry again this season, something he’s done every year of his career. In two games against Cleveland last season, Edwards ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, again showcasing his consistent per-game production.
Of note: Melvin Gordon III (29 snaps) played over Kenyan Drake (11) last week and would be my highest-ranked Raven if Edwards is ruled out, but not a top-35 play.
Justice Hill: A toe injury resulted in Hill sitting out last week, continuing the tough injury luck that seems to constantly plague Ravens running backs. Baltimore doesn’t have their bye until Week 13, meaning that Hill will have to recover on the fly. He doesn’t matter in terms of your starting lineup, but any usage he absorbs hurts Edwards’ value.
Jerome Ford: As expected, Ford’s role in Week 3 wasn’t what we saw when he was thrown into the Nick Chubb game plan in Week 2. He ended up coming through for fantasy managers because of a pair of touchdowns, but 12 touches for 51 yards isn’t exactly encouraging.
He out-snapped Kareem Hunt 40-14 (including a 7-2 edge on third downs), and that was good to see. However, we’ll have to see if it’s sustainable as Hunt works into game shape.
Ford is going to lead this backfield in production, that much I feel good about. And that role has him ranked as a low-end RB2 for me in this divisional matchup (Cleveland ran for 143 yards when these teams last met).
Kareem Hunt: While he only played 14 snaps, his eight opportunities proved that this coaching staff is plenty comfortable with Hunt.
Last season, Hunt averaged 9.3 touches per game for the Browns, a role that I think is very much available for him to regain in short order. In that vein, I expect him to take some of the shine off of Ford but not enough for him to emerge as a Flex option himself on any sort of consistent basis.
That said, he very much deserves to be rostered for a few reasons. First, I could be wrong, and he overtakes the fifth-round pick for the lead role. Second, Ford could get injured. Third, the opposing defenses down the stretch could leave the door open for multiple running backs to produce (Weeks 13-16: at LAR, vs. JAX, vs. CHI, and HOU).
For Week 4, I’m treating Hunt the same way I am a guy like Jerick McKinnon: an RB4 only to be used in a true pinch.
Zay Flowers: As intoxicating as Flowers’ skill set is, I fear that this receiver room is destined to irritate us by design. Baltimore is attacking defenses with a spread formation, leading to not one, not two, but six different Ravens posting 20-48 receiving yards in Week 3. Flowers had three more catches than any of his teammates had targets last week, and yet, the results were underwhelming.
Flowers is the only Ravens receiver I view as roster-worthy; I’m just not sure he develops as a consistent option during his rookie season. He has yet to post a top-20 week, and I don’t think that changes against this pass rush.
Odell Beckham Jr.: Beckham missed the game against the Colts last week (ankle) due to an injury he suffered in the Week 2 win at Cincinnati and has been ruled OUT for Week 4.
He only saw three targets in Week 1, but he was written into the play before getting hurt against the Bengals, as he saw two targets on the opening drive (a third target was negated by a penalty). Beckham will have his moments when healthy, but nothing that is consistent enough to have my interest.
Rashod Bateman: Feel free to move on here. Even without him being ruled OUT for Week 4, Bateman isn’t the type of player who needs to be rostered.
He has earned just nine targets through three games and is yet to have a 20-yard reception. Targets are only going to be more difficult to come by with time as Flowers develops. And with Jackson ranking outside of the top 20 in aDOT, this Todd Monken offense isn’t built to support a player like Bateman.
Amari Cooper: If Watson can build on his Week 3, Cooper has the potential to work his way into my top-12 receivers the rest of the way. For the season, he has accounted for 26.2% of Cleveland receptions and 35.8% of their receiving yards, a role that gives him elite upside in an offense that will likely take to the air more moving forward.
In Week 3, Cooper was robbed of a 65-yard touchdown when it was ruled that he stepped out of bounds when he didn’t. If that connects, we are talking about another 10 fantasy points and plenty of excitement within the industry (he was WR9 without that play). It’s coming.
He led the Browns in receiving in both games against these Ravens last season (18.9 yards per catch) and is a good bet to do so again this week – he’s a top-15 receiver for me.
Elijah Moore: There might not be a receiver who has played in all three games with under 25 fantasy points this season that I’m more bullish on than Moore. I believe that we’ve seen the worst version of Watson that we will this season, and with that comes an upside to his safety blanket.
Moore was responsible for six of Watson’s first 12 completions last week against the Titans, a level of involvement that doesn’t happen by accident. He has earned at least seven targets in all three games this season and is averaging two rush attempts per game. The rushing usage has yet to result in much, and, honestly, I don’t care.
To me, the rushing attempts are an acknowledgment from the team that they want the ball in Moore’s hands. What more could we ask for? As this team transitions away from a Nick Chubb-focused offense, Moore’s best days are ahead.
He was a top-30 receiver for me entering this week with Watson projected as the starter, but with the QB change, he falls more in the risk/reward flex option as he fell down 10 spots in my positional ranks.
Donovan Peoples-Jones: I don’t hate the idea of plugging DPJ in as a bye-week Flex option when the time comes if Watson builds on the step forward he took in Week 3, but we aren’t there yet. The deep threat has seen just 10 targets this season and has seven straight games with under 50 receiving yards dating back to last season.
If you need support in throwing a dart on him this week, he did catch all four of his targets from Watson when these teams last met, including the game’s only touchdown. Do with that what you will; I’m not playing him this week and have him ranked outside of my top 40 at the position.
Mark Andrews: After missing Week 1, Andrews has nine catches for 80 yards on his 2023 ledger, letting fantasy managers down to a degree thus far. Relax.
He has a 20-yard catch in both games, and his role as the top target earner in this offense is going nowhere. With this Monken offense opting for short/quick passes, you can expect Andrews’ elite PPR reproduction to return sooner rather than later. If he’s available for any sort of discount from what was paid on draft day, pounce!
David Njoku: Even though it’s been a spotty start to the season for Watson, Njoku has caught 10 of 11 targets, making him a reasonable fantasy option if you believe this offense is going to improve with time. He did see 25.5% of the targets in the two games these teams played last season – role upside that lands him as a top-12 tight end for me this weekend, though he’s now a fringe option with the change under center.
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans
- Spread: Bengals -2.5
- Total: 41.5
- Bengals implied points: 22
- Titans implied points: 19.5
Joe Burrow: Was Burrow great on Monday night against the Rams in a game we weren’t sure he’d play? No. He completed just 26 of 49 passes for 259 yards with an interception and had some moments where he was hobbling, but he made it through the game and got the Bengals a win.
Burrow lasting four quarters is all I needed to see to get back on Burrow moving forward. This Titans defense served as a get-right spot for Deshaun Watson last week, and I see more of the same for Burrow this week. He targeted Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins with 52.2% of his throws in Week 3, and if that is sustained, my ranking of QB10 for Burrow this week isn’t going to be high enough.
I’m targeting his upside over the safety that comes with a QB like Brock Purdy or the matchup play in Russell Wilson (vs. CHI).
Ryan Tannehill: We now have a season-plus of evidence that the rushing numbers that used to help Tannehill matter in fantasy circles are gone. That happens with age, and the 35-year-old has lost a step.
All of that is true, and all of that makes it even more concerning that, through three games, over 26% of his fantasy points have come on a single carry. As I mentioned with Ridder earlier, Tannehill is part of the rare tier of signal-callers that I would consider playing an upside position player over.
Joe Mixon: The veteran back has seen his touch count increase every week this season (16, 17, 20) and has seen his fantasy finish at the position improve weekly as a result (27, 20, 15). He has six straight regular-season games with at least five targets or a touchdown, a skill set that lands him as a top-12 player for me, even in a tough matchup.
Mixon didn’t play when these two teams met last season, but Samaje Perine totaled 93 yards and a score. Look for Cincinnati to protect Burrow by establishing the run before exposing this secondary. I’m playing all four of the primary Bengals with confidence.
Derrick Henry: You see, in professional sports, when a player knows what to expect, they thrive. I can’t imagine that is some sort of hot take. There’s a reason why the Houston Astros were interested in stealing/communicating signs. Do you think they would put their collective reputations on the line for an edge that they weren’t confident would pay major dividends?
That’s where we are with the Titans, but in the reverse. They are telling you exactly what they are going to do and hoping to somehow beat you. It’s not happening. Henry was on the field for 17 snaps last week and had, you guessed it, 17 carries. Henry is a large human who is difficult to tackle, but I’ll say it again: When professionals know what is coming, they thrive.
He picked up just 38 yards on 17 carries against the Bengals in Week 12 last season, though a 69-yard catch helped him finish with 117 total yards. Henry is going to continue to be the focal point of this offense, and sheer volume will keep him inside my top 15 as long as I expect Tennessee to remain reasonably competitive.
I expect that to be the case this week, but you have to be aware that the Henry you have now isn’t the one you hoped for when drafting this summer.
Tyjae Spears: He’s not touching the ball enough to truly matter (22 touches this season), but he is playing enough to subtract from Henry’s upside. In Week 3, the third-round pick out-snapped the King 27-17, but his eight touches gained just nine yards. His role in this limited offense is interesting, but due to the limitations of this group as a whole, he doesn’t hold any value in redraft formats right now.
Ja’Marr Chase: A somewhat hobbled Burrow had eyes for his WR1 on Monday night, feeding Chase 32.6% of his targets and getting him his first top-45 finish of the season (WR10). It won’t be the last.
We know Chase can get as hot as anyone in the game (three games with over 115 yards and a touchdown last season), and he is currently riding the longest regular-season scoring drought of his career (three games). Chase is not priced as a top-five receiver on the main DFS slate this week; he will very much be in my player pool, given his slate-breaking potential.
Tee Higgins: Well, this has been a frustrating start to the season. In three weeks, Higgins has a WR3 (vs. BAL) finish sandwiched between a pair of weeks in which he was not one of the 80 best fantasy receivers. He caught seven passes for 114 yards and a score (sans Chase) against the Titans last season – could we get another of those peak performances?
Higgins was an asset last season. That’s a fact, and even in a strong campaign, he had four games with under 40 receiving yards. Don’t overreact to a few high-volume duds. The efficiency will come (two catches on 16 targets in those two down weeks), and I’m going to be there when it does. In this supreme matchup, Higgins is a WR2 for me, and I feel good about it.
Tyler Boyd: With 17 targets over the past two weeks, Boyd’s volume is interesting, but the upside is lacking (16.6 fantasy points this season). If you’re stashing him, it’s as a handcuff, not as a player you expect to play otherwise. For Week 4, he’s outside of my top 50 at the position.
DeAndre Hopkins: You know times are hard in Tennessee when Hopkins produces a highlight play and finishes the day with – wait for it – 6.3 fantasy points. His 26-yard dive-and-toe-drag reception was a work of art, and it tells the story of this Titans offense.
Nothing comes easy.
His target share is 30.9%, and that’s usually something we chase, but trying to find value in those targets is like finding hay in a needle stack.
And yes, I said what I meant there. Finding a needle in a haystack offers no downside outside of struggling to find it. If you’re trying to find hay in a needle stack, your well-being is a concern, and that is how those who spent up for Hopkins this summer feel. He’s not a top-35 receiver for me this week and won’t be until I see him string together consecutive games of production.
Treylon Burks: I typically use this space to highlight rare performances for the better. Whether it is Keenan Allen being on pace to break the single-season reception record after most had assumed his peak days were a thing of the past or Tyreek Hill’s chase for 2,000 yards, I like to keep an optimistic tone. Usually.
Burks turned in a rare performance over the weekend: more targets than receiving yards. Some of the physical tools that he possesses are interesting and allow him to have one-play upside if everything goes right (he did have a 51-yard catch in this matchup last season), but there’s no way I am betting on that with what I’ve seen (or not seen) from this Titans offense through the first month of the season.
Chigoziem Okonkwo: Okonkwo has 7.7 fantasy points this season, a number he passed in four of six individual games to end last season when we all fell in love with the athletic profile. If you’re struggling to fill the TE slot in your lineup, you’re not alone; I’m with you. You will, however, be alone if you elect to try to plug that hole with Okonkwo – you can do better.
Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: Colts -1
- Total: 46.5
- Rams implied points: 22.8
- Colts implied points: 23.8
Matthew Stafford: It feels like the Rams have overachieved massively, given how the media treats them. And yes, they’ve been more competitive as a team than I thought they would be. That’s true. But that success hasn’t resulted in Stafford mattering (his next finish better than QB17 this season will be his first), and I don’t think that changes this week.
The Colts held Lamar Jackson without a passing touchdown last week, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if both teams approached this game with a run-heavy script. Stafford sits comfortably outside of my top 15 this week and is a below-average QB2 for those Superflexers out there.
Anthony Richardson: The rookie was tracking for a monster fantasy day against the Texans through two drives (56 passing yards, 35 rushing yards, and two rushing scores) of the Week 2 win, but his head slammed against the turf and cost him the rest of that game and resulted in a DNP last week against the Ravens.
He opened this week in concussion protocol, but if he can clear the medical hurdles, he will waltz right back into my top 12 at the position against a Rams defense that ranks 24th in yards per carry (4.5). I make note of the weakness in the run defense because that forces them to crowd the line of scrimmage, thus opening the door for Richardson to break a few big plays, either with his legs or arm.
Assuming Richardson is good to go, I’ll have him ranked over Kirk Cousins and his near 6,100-yard pace.
Gardner Minshew: In fill-in duty, the Mustache threw for 227 yards and a score against the Ravens. He isn’t a fantasy option as a starter, but it was good to see him support the three Colts skill guys who are rostered the most.
Kyren Williams: I had Williams as a top-15 RB last week after consecutive top-10 performances. Results-wise, I was wrong, as he finished as the RB26. Process-wise, I stand by it.
He was the only Rams RB with an opportunity against the Bengals, and the stat line looks much better if Stafford doesn’t routinely misfire on dump-off red-zone passes. The role is nothing short of elite, and Williams needs to be locked into fantasy lineups until proven otherwise. My ranking of him this week is identical to what it was last week: RB11.
Zack Moss: “He has posted consecutive top-10 weeks and is coming off of a week in which he turned 32 touches into 145 yards and two touchdowns.”
If I told you six weeks ago that I’d use that sentence to describe a Colts running back, you wouldn’t have been surprised at all. Moss has assumed the Jonathan Taylor role and looks the part. He had a beautiful 17-yard touchdown catch last week and dominated Trey Sermon 64-18 in terms of snaps.
It’s possible that Sermon could work into more of a role with a full week with the team, but much like Akers in Minnesota, I don’t see significant work coming off the starter’s plate. Moss was responsible for every two-minute RB snap and every short-yardage RB snap. Sermon may spell him at times, but the role isn’t changing. He is a top-20 option for me and continues to be a strong player in all formats.
Trey Sermon: He saw seven opportunities on his 18 snaps, an indicator that the Colts want to see what he can do. That said, I don’t think he has any chance to overtake Moss in this backfield or hold standalone value next to him. Sermon is not a player who needs to be rostered in anything but the deepest of leagues.
Cooper Kupp: Just your friendly neighborhood fantasy analyst reminding you that Kupp is eligible to play next week against the Eagles. Of course, this will be a situation we will be tracking, but if you want to roll the dice on him, this time of relative uncertainty should make him reasonably available if the manager with him rostered is off to a rough start.
Puka Nacua: Five catches for 72 yards last week, and fantasy managers were disappointed by a receiver who they may not have known existed a month ago! That tells you just how good Nacua was through two weeks. And with him leading the team in catches and yards last week, he remains a fantasy starter.
The upside is capped (Stafford has two touchdowns on 126 pass attempts this season), and we saw the Colts limit the per-catch production of the Ravens last week. With the limited scoring equity, Nacua relies on volume, a role that will result in him being ranked in the 18-24 range at the position until Kupp returns.
Tutu Atwell: It is clear that the Rams label the speedy Atwell as their home-run threat, a unique role for a 165-pound receiver. The downfield targets are going to be hit-and-miss (four catches on nine targets against the Bengals), but the fact that they weaponized his speed in a Tyreek Hill-lite sort of way on a play from the 1-yard line is encouraging.
With a pair of top-15 performances already under his belt, Atwell is worthy of consideration this week. That said, he does come with a downside due to the limited nature of this passing game and the target-vacuum stylings of Nacua. In Week 4, he serves as my Mike Evans line in his always troublesome matchup with New Orleans. That is, he is the last receiver I have ranked over Evans.
Michael Pittman Jr.: Not all volume is created equal, and Pittman is a prime example of that. Through three weeks, he ranks in the top six in both catches and targets, yet, in the two weeks he failed to score, he finished outside the top 25 at the position.
Don’t get me wrong; the target count for a receiver holding this route depth has a nice value because he is unlikely to fail in a big way. I have him ranked as an average WR2 this week, and that’ll be the case for most weeks moving forward until we see his aDOT trend upward.
Josh Downs: He seems to be the player on this roster most impacted by the quarterback. Through two weeks, the third-round pick was the owner of a 16.7% target share, but in the Minshew start, he saw 28.6% of the targets. He’s going to rank outside of my top 40 no matter the starting QB, but my interest in DFS formats will hinge on who is starting under center.
Tyler Higbee: Five targets per game isn’t what we thought we’d see from Higbee with Kupp sidelined, but that’s the role he has settled in on, and it seems unlikely to change. Stafford was accurate when throwing to Higbee (5 of 5) and inaccurate when going elsewhere (13 of 28), a level of confidence that gives Higbee some hope.
Higbee is the third option in an average offense that runs when in close. That’s not a profile I trust, and that is why I have him ranked outside the top 15 at the position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
- Spread: Saints -3
- Total: 40.5
- Buccaneers implied points: 18.5
- Saints implied points: 21.5
Baker Mayfield: He just isn’t good enough to matter in our game. At least half of his throws have gone to Mike Evans/Chris Godwin in all three games this season. That’s great, but Mayfield has been held under 175 passing yards in two of three games and has yet to post a top-12 week. He should be nowhere near fantasy lineups and doesn’t own enough upside to even be worth a DFS flier.
Derek Carr: Carr is battling a shoulder injury but is now expected to start barring a pre-game hiccup. He’s a fine QB2 but not an option in single quarterback formats. If you’re waiting on Carr news, I’d recommend adding Jameis Winston to protect yourself against a DNP. If Carr were to suffer a set-back …
Jameis Winston: YOLO Winston, in a revenge spot, getting an elite playmaker back on a roster that has two serious deep threats, against a defense that is much more vulnerable against the pass than the run.
Are you not entertained?
I’m not reading into his Week 3 performance (10 of 16 for 101 yards) the same way I wasn’t reading into Jerome Ford’s big Week 2: In-game injury replacements are different than week-long injury replacements.
We know Winston is likely to push the ball down the field, something this pass-catching corps is built for, and we know the Bucs have allowed a 20+ yard passing score in all three games this season.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but Winston is a top-15 option for me that deserves consideration for those streaming the position, those working through a Justin Fields problem, and those playing in DFS tournaments.
Rachaad White: Sean Tucker has yet to see his role expand, and until that happens, White’s role elevates him to a starter in most formats (low-end RB2 for me this week). That’s a process play more than it is the least bit of confidence in the player.
None of his 58 touches this season have gained more than 16 yards, and that means that if the volume ever dries up, his fantasy stock is at risk of crashing in a hurry. He coughed up the ball at the end of the first half last week, giving the Eagles three free points and the Bucs one more reason to consider other options.
Given the state of the position, benching White is a tough sell, but you need to be aware that a third finish outside the top 35 running backs is certainly a possibility. Last season, the Bucs ran 50 times for 148 yards in two games against the Saints, a stat line that is eerily similar to what White has produced through three weeks (48 carries for 150 yards).
Alvin Kamara: The range of outcomes for Kamara this week might be the largest at the position. The veteran is coming off of a three-game suspension, so while the missed time isn’t ideal, it’s not as if he is working back from a nagging injury. That said, we have no idea what his role will be in his debut, and this Bucs defense did shut him down in Week 13 last season (14 touches for 37 yards).
All of that said, I’m taking an optimistic angle on him in this spot. The Bucs are stout in the middle of their line, but it’s not as if Kamara has made a name for himself by grinding out RB dives. He is a player who excels in space, and I trust this coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed, not to mention giving Winston a check-down option.
If Winston is challenging the Bucs vertically – like I think is possible – there will be plenty of space for Kamara to operate, and that is the thought process that went into my mid-range RB2 ranking of him in the Week 4 spot.
Jamaal Williams: Heading into last week, Williams was placed on IR with the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 2. That means that he will be eligible to return until the Week 7 Thursday nighter against the Jaguars. I expect him to hold a role when healthy, but he isn’t someone you can rely on consistently. If you need the roster space, cutting Williams is an option.
Kendre Miller: The rookie is talented, but it appears clear that the Saints view him as more of a project than an immediate contributor. With Kamara still suspended and Williams on IR, Miller was out-snapped 30-21 by Tony Jones Jr. in Week 3 and managed just 34 yards on his 10 touches.
This backfield could be his down the road, and that makes him a fine dynasty option, but I’m not holding out hope for him in 2023.
Mike Evans: Evans has scored in all three games this season. By averaging over nine targets per contest, it’s clear that he has Mayfield’s trust. Now, the million-dollar question: Is that trust strong enough to overcome the kryptonite that is Marshon Lattimore?
When this game kicks off, it will have been 1,847 days since the last time Evans had 5+ catches in a game against the Saints (nine straight meetings), and in three of those games, he was held under 15 yards. He earned just 13.1% of the targets in two meetings with the Saints last season, a number that has to change if he’s going to matter this week.
I have my concerns about Mayfield being able to elevate Evans above this matchup and, therefore, have him ranked as an average Flex option more than someone you need to lock in.
Chris Godwin: Gone is the 17-game streak of games with at least five catches courtesy of the Eagles on Monday night in a game that saw the Birds hold the ball for nearly 39 minutes.
Godwin is to be viewed as a low-upside Flex play who typically carries a respectable floor. The fact of the matter is that Mayfield’s strengths align much better with the strengths of Evans, and he isn’t the type of QB that can sustain a pair of top-25 receivers.
Chris Olave: The budding star has cleared 85 receiving yards on double-digit targets in all three games this season, yet he remains without a WR1 performance due to a lack of touchdowns. The scoring profile is there in terms of what he brings to the table, though it is worth noting that he only found paydirt four times on 119 targets as a rookie.
He caught just nine of 10 targets against these Bucs last season, and guess what? I’m not worried about it. Not one bit. He’s simply too talented for the scoring struggles to persist, and maybe the move Winston helps unlock that potential. Olave is a top-10 receiver for me this week and every week moving forward until I have any sort of reason to pivot.
Michael Thomas: Thomas is on pace for 102 catches, and it seems like no one cares. His comeback is a nice NFL story, but at under one fantasy point per target, he can only be so valuable.
He caught six of nine targets in the one game he played against the Bucs last season, totaling 65 yards and a score in the process. It’s that last part that is key. If he is getting red-zone looks, he’s a fine WR2 option. But with that yet to be the case, he’s an average Flex play for me this week, and that would require the best week of his season to date (he has yet to finish as a top-35 receiver).
Rashid Shaheed: Egg on my face. Shaheed was my pick to click last week, and he had so many catches as episodes of Game of Thrones that I successfully made it through zero.
Depending on your league type, his 76-yard punt return for a score may have helped salvage the two-target disaster. That was the upside I was hoping we’d see on the offensive side of the ball, and it now gives him a 40-yard play in six of eight games. If the change under center does lead to an increase in aggression, Shaheed is going to have another chance to shine.
He led the team in receiving yards the last time these two met (75 yards on four targets), and I’m penciling him in for at least one big play this week, allowing him to crack my top 40 at the position.
Cade Otton: The thought of Otton establishing himself as the third option in this passing game is a thing of the past. He’s been held under 20 yards in both games played against reputable NFL franchises (the Bears at the moment, do not count as such), and it’s hard to spin anything I’ve seen from him as a positive moving forward.
Juwan Johnson: I had more hopes that Johnson would build on the production he gave us during the second half of last season, but that hope has evaporated. He was targeted on two of Winston’s first three passes last week, but with just 61 yards through three weeks and a target-earner in Kamara set to make his 2023 debut, Johnson shouldn’t be rostered and isn’t one of my five favorite streaming options at the position this week.
Taysom Hill: With Carr banged up, the door is open for Hill to flash his versatility, and that is enough to have my interest piqued at the TE position. He had four carries and a target in the loss at Lambeau last week, and while that doesn’t sound like much, his touches typically come in fantasy-friendly spots.
Combine the location of his touches with how much damage they can do, and he’s flirting with my top 15 at the position. He caught a touchdown, had three carries, and threw a pass in this matchup last season – having that in his range of potential outcomes gives him a nice ceiling at a position where everyone has the same goose-egg floor.
Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles
- Spread: Eagles -8
- Total: 43.5
- Commanders implied points: 17.8
- Eagles implied points: 25.8
Sam Howell: If you told me that Howell had a big game at some point this season, I’d believe you. He has some talent supporting him and an athletic profile that can result in some big plays.
If you told me we saw a game like that this week, I’d be shocked. The Eagles are capable of making Howell feel the heat like the Bills did last week, and that resulted in a nine-sack, four-interception afternoon.
Howell has been sacked 19 times this season and has failed to reach 20 completions twice in three weeks. With what we’ve seen through three weeks, you can find a better floor/ceiling combination in 25 quarterbacks this week.
Jalen Hurts: Since the middle of last December, Hurts has had more games with multiple interceptions than multiple touchdown passes. Yet, there are zero concerns about his status as an elite fantasy option due to the floor his legs provide.
He wasn’t overly efficient on the ground against the Commanders last season (48 yards on 15 carries), and that is enough for me to look elsewhere atop the QB board in DFS situations, but there are no decisions to be made in season-long formats: Play him.
Brian Robinson Jr.: I understand the concerns about Robinson in a tough matchup coming off a game in which he was out-snapped 33-20 by Antonio Gibson, but let’s all take a deep breath for a minute.
Breathe in. Breath out.
The blowout nature of last week was to blame for the wonky snap count, and even though he wasn’t used a ton, no one is complaining with him averaging 7.0 yards per carry. I can’t calm your nerves about this matchup. The Philadelphia front seven is just as scary as you think they are.
But it is worth reminding you that the Commanders succeeded in taking the air out of the ball in this spot last season, ending the Eagles’ undefeated season in the process. In that game, Washington ran the rock 49 times and threw it just 29 times (Robinson’s line: 26 carries for 86 yards and a score).
The Commanders’ lead back is a safe RB2 that can be started across the board.
Antonio Gibson: With each passing game, it becomes more and more obvious that Gibson is a liability. He lost another fumble in Week 3 and has played his way off of fantasy rosters. He is no longer a threat to Robinson’s role, and this isn’t nearly potent enough of an offense to sustain a secondary back – even if Gibson were to turn in a few positive performances.
D’Andre Swift: We wanted clarity to this backfield last week, and we certainly got it with Swift cruising past 130 total yards. He has now posted consecutive top-15 finishes at the position, and I have him ranked to make it three straight, given how committed the Eagles are to the ground game.
Swift deserves all the credit he is getting, and yet, I just can’t shake the feeling that we are nearing peak value. Swift has cleared 155 carries exactly zero times in his NFL career, and while the production was impressive last week, here’s his percentage of running back carries:
- Week 2: 77.8%
- Week 3: 53.3%
Swift is the guy and should be locked into lineups for this weekend; I’m just proceeding with caution when it comes to projecting him for the rest of the season.
Kenneth Gainwell: In his return to action, Gainwell turned 15 touches into 48 yards and an RB41 finish. As long as Swift is healthy, that is about where I will have Gainwell ranked. This offense is gold, but with a productive yardage back in Swift and a touchdown vulture playing quarterback, there isn’t space for a third option.
Gainwell should remain rostered, if for no other reason than Swift’s fragility. While he split the work last week, there was no denying who the most explosive option was. With Gainwell getting stuffed on a red-zone fourth-and-short situation, this is Swift’s gig to lose.
Terry McLaurin: It’s been a tough run of matchups to open the season for McLaurin, and the sledding doesn’t get any easier this weekend. That said, he did rack up 128 yards in Week 10 against the Eagles last season, recording twice as many catches as any other Commander had targets.
He has yet to clear 55 receiving yards in a game this season, and while I think water will find its level with time – given his talent – this isn’t a spot where I’m comfortable locking him in. He is floating around WR30 in my ranks with names like Michael Thomas, Courtland Sutton, and Zay Flowers.
Jahan Dotson: I was asked a few times on the Tuesday Waiver Wire Livestream (1 p.m. ET) if Dotson could be cut due to a roster crunch. My answer was yes.
He’s finished outside of the top 80 in consecutive weeks, and the lack of production isn’t even what concerns me most. It’s the fact that he struggled in games where McLaurin had a tough matchup, thus making him a higher-priority target than he will be in most spots.
Until he proves capable of earning targets at even a league-average rate, the explosive play potential is just that: potential. In a perfect world, you have a deep roster where you can try to wait out this tough stretch and bet on his talent. But if that’s not the case, I can’t say that I blame you for moving on.
A.J. Brown: The man has a pair of top-25 finishes this season (WR11 in Week 3) without having found the end zone once. Brown has been interfered with in the end zone and dropped a valuable target last week – be patient. He scored 11 times a season ago, and let’s not forget that he had only one touchdown to his name through five games.
DeVonta Smith: As long as Hurts is struggling with consistency through the air, it’s inevitable that at least one of the three locked-in pass catchers from this offense will disappoint in a major way. Last week, that happened to be Smith (28 yards), and I wish I could tell you that this is the last egg he’ll lay this season. It won’t be.
But that doesn’t mean you stop playing him. Think about this: He had the same number of catches and targets in Week 2 (21.1 fantasy points) as he did last week (4.8). In rostering Smith, you’re betting on his talent to shine more often than not, but you do have to understand the risk in his profile (the risk that Brown and Dallas Goedert, to a degree, also come with).
Smith scored in both games against the Commanders last season, including a 169-yard explosion in Week 3. That’s enough proof of concept for me to go right back to him this week as a top-15 receiver.
Logan Thomas: The 32-year-old Thomas was concussed on his touchdown catch in Week 2, and it held him out of a revenge game last week against the Bills. With eight targets in Week 1 and then the score the following week, Thomas was trending in the direction of a situational streamer. Keep an eye on him, but do understand that he has been inactive for at least three games in four of his six NFL seasons.
If he does sit again, Cole Turner saw seven targets a week ago and proved more than capable while at Nevada. He isn’t someone you need to stream in most redraft leagues, but if you’re pinching pennies in DFS, remember his name.
Dallas Goedert: With seven targets in consecutive games after the one-target disaster in Week 1, I believe it’s safe to label Goedert as a weekly starter. Now, it’s worth noting that he’s done nothing with those opportunities (63 yards and zero touchdowns), but we chase quality volume at the TE position. In an offense averaging 28 points a game, Goedert satisfies that requirement. Hang in there; better times are ahead.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
- Spread: Vikings -3.5
- Total: 45
- Vikings implied points: 24.3
- Panthers implied points: 20.8
Kirk Cousins: Fantasy’s top-ranked quarterback through three weeks is on an absolute tear, and it doesn’t look that crazy; he’s simply maximizing the tools at his disposal. In the Week 3 loss, half of his targets went to Justin Jefferson or T.J. Hockenson — that’s just smart football.
With Jordan Addison or K.J. Osborn turning in a splash play every week, the weapons on this roster combined with the defensive limitations put Cousins in a fantasy-friendly position more often than not.
I don’t think the Carolina Panthers (425 yards allowed to the Seattle Seahawks last week) are what slows this offense down, though I do have my concerns about the Carolina offense pushing Minnesota the way the Los Angeles Chargers did last week.
No, I don’t think Cousins throws for over 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns like his September pace would suggest, but I do think he is a top-10 option until something changes.
Andy Dalton: With Bryce Young sidelined last week, the Panthers elected to open up the playbook — and guess what? It worked. Well, sort of. They held a halftime lead as a 4.5-point underdog in Seattle and flirted with 400 yards of total offense when all was said and done.
Sure, they lost by 10 points, but it certainly wasn’t the fault of the offense, and it’s not crazy to think something similar could happen again this week. Dalton had 20 more completions than the Panthers had rushing attempts, something that simply was never going to happen with how this offense was operating with Young at the helm.
We will get to what this offense could look like when Young returns when the time comes, but with Dalton penciled in, it’s clear that this coaching staff is comfortable airing it out. I find it unlikely that he will repeat his QB7 finish from Week 3, but a top-15 effort is very possible and a great find for Superflex managers or DFS risk-takers.
Alexander Mattison: He’s still seeing north of 80% of the RB work in Minnesota, and until I see that change with my own two eyes, Mattison will be ranked as an RB2 for me. He set season highs in carries (20), catches (five), targets (seven), and scrimmage yards (125) last weekend in the crazy loss to the Chargers, flashing a usage level that only a handful of backs can claim.
His productive day could have been even better if not for a dropped red zone pass that could have turned into a touchdown with one missed tackle. The addition of Cam Akers looks like a depth move more than one of true competition to me.
That’s my view from a distance, given the draft capital spent and the limited success of Akers in Week 1 with the Los Angeles Rams (22 carries for 29 yards).
Could I be wrong? Of course. It wouldn’t be the first time and certainly wouldn’t be the last, but until I have a tangible reason to fear Akers, I refuse to do so.
Cam Akers: Follow the money. It may be cliche, but in a world where we often have to react to how a team uses a player to inform us what they think of him, the cost associated with acquiring a player is as good a sign of what the team anticipates that player to offer as anything.
Akers was acquired from the Rams last week, along with a 2027 seventh-round pick for a 2026 sixth-rounder. At that cost, the Vikings are not committed to making Akers work. They identified an underpriced asset and took a shot. Akers should be on the field and get some work in his Vikings debut, but he’s nothing more than roster depth until proven otherwise.
Miles Sanders: Carolina’s feature back has seen both his touch count and his yards per carry decline each week this season, obviously ominous trends. While those numbers are moving in the wrong direction, he is still the clear-cut option in this backfield and on a 68-catch pace.
He’s no different than a guy like James Conner: limited per-touch upside in a bad offense but a secure role that carries a reasonable floor. I’m not telling you Sanders will win you this week or a title this season, but I’d be surprised if he let you down in such a way that neither was possible. He’s right back in that RB16-20 range for me this week.
Justin Jefferson: What do you want me to say about this guy? Even in a week where he barely catches half of his targets, he turned around and gave you 24.4 half-PPR fantasy points, highlighted by a 52-yard touchdown where he showed route-running expertise in dismantling the Chargers’ zone coverage.
With 117 yards this week, he will bump his career per-game average to 100 yards. How crazy is that? For most receivers, 100 yards is a benchmark that deserves recognition. For Jefferson, it’s just another day at the office.
Jordan Addison: Was Week 3 a turning point? I’m not making an overly aggressive ranking move yet, but it is possible that in two months, we look back and circle Week 3 as the beginning of a serious run.
Yes, Addison scored in each of the first two weeks and didn’t in Week 3, but he finally out-earned K.J. Osborn in a significant way (eight targets to three), potentially signaling the earning of a role. We will see if the WR2 role is truly his moving forward (a role I have a top-25 spot in my WR ranks reserved for should an option emerge). I have him ranked as a low-end WR3 this week and am ready to move him up should we get reports of a role upgrade.
K.J. Osborn: His 36-yard touchdown featured a perfectly timed dive to the pylon, but it was his only reception of Week 3 (three targets). We’ve seen a secondary Viking receiver haul in a 30+-yard touchdown in all three games this season, and as long as Osborn’s name is in that mix, he deserves to be rostered.
I do think Addison wins this role, but I acknowledge that it is still a competition. Osborn is on the outside looking in at my top 45 at the position as I am reading more into the low usage from last week than the singular big play.
Adam Thielen: The veteran receiver has posted consecutive top-20 finishes and has hauled in 80% of his passes this season. The veteran is a proven touchdown maker, so if we get to blend efficiency and volume with that profile, we might be onto something. Assuming Dalton is under center, and thus the entire playbook is available, Thielen makes for a decent Flex play in PPR formats.
If you’ve made it this far, first of all, thank you. Thank you to the editors for the patience it takes to get to this point and to you, the reader, for listening to me ramble about fake football in a long form. I’ll reward you the only way I know how to: with a quirky stat!
Since 2019, one of every 6.9 Thielen catches has resulted in a TD. Let’s put some context on that. We are talking about the same rate as Randy Moss’ first five seasons and better than Calvin Johnson’s first five (7.5). Thank you again for your loyalty in reading this piece: now take that nugget to your Week 4 watch party and be the star of the event!
DJ Chark Jr.: Big receivers who see targets in bulk are a reasonable roll of the dice in a pinch, and the 6’3” Chark seeing 11 targets last week certainly has me interested.
The opportunity is more likely than not to dry up when Young returns, but if you’re chasing upside without any concern for downside (DFS GPP, an undermanned team in a survivor format, etc.), you could do worse (career: 14.5 yards per catch).
Jonathan Mingo: A concussion limited him to just 18 routes last week, and if you’re playing in an ultra-deep league, Terrace Marshall Jr. was the fill-in option. Neither is worth a look in most leagues, but if you want a cheap piece of this game for DFS, there’s your depth chart update.
T.J. Hockenson: The fact that he averages 7.8 yards per catch isn’t great for his ceiling, but are you chasing a ceiling? No. No, you’re not. You want him to be consistent and to give you an edge on 90% of your league at the tight end position.
He’s doing just that. He is currently pacing for 130 receptions, and while I don’t think he gets there, the fact that you can lock him in for 10 points per game is unbelievably valuable at the tight end position.
Hayden Hurst: From a process standpoint, Hurst deserves a mention. He doesn’t carry much upside, but considering that he ran a route on 81.3% of his snaps in Week 3, he’s on my list of punt TE plays for Week 4.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
- Spread: Steelers -3
- Total: 42
- Steelers implied points: 22.5
- Texans implied points: 19.5
Kenny Pickett: After completing 31 passes in the season opener, Pickett has totaled just 31 completions since, and that’s just not enough to fuel much in the way of upside. He’s thrown a 70-yard touchdown in consecutive weeks to elevate his fantasy box score to a degree, but the rushing production seems to be a thing of the past; without it, he’s off my radar as even a streamer.
C.J. Stroud: The rookie is averaging 8.6 yards per pass over the past two weeks and has completed over 63% of his passes in all three games to open his career. The “learn by fire” development plan of the Texans is a fantasy-friendly one, and as a three-point home underdog, the game script could very well have him airing it out again.
There is value in volume, but the QB position is too deep for me to work Stroud into my top 15 in this spot. If you want exposure to this offense, I’d rather do it by way of the receivers.
Najee Harris: Harris went over 65 rushing yards just once in his first eight games last season, and he’s 0 for 3 to open 2023. Even worse? The role in the passing game is all but gone as this team looks to develop Pickett as a field stretcher.
As a rookie, Harris caught 74 balls, and we thought we had a three-down fantasy monster for years to come. We thought wrong. Last season, he saw only 53 targets, and so far this season, he is averaging one foot per target. Not one yard. One foot.
He held a 31-28 snap edge over Jaylen Warren in Week 3 as this treads dangerously close toward a full-blown committee where neither running back holds consistent value. The incumbent may have one more good shot to retain his role: Houston allowed a touchdown to J.K. Dobbins and Zack Moss while Travis Etienne lit them up for 138 yards last week.
Jaylen Warren: He has seen his touch count increase each week this season (8-10-11), and while his production has underwhelmed (3.2 yards per carry), the 16 targets are promising. He ran five more routes than Harris last week, adding a touch of upside to his profile that is valuable given that this ground game is, well, grounded.
Even in a plus matchup, I don’t have either ranked as an RB2 this week and have them separated by only a few spots in my positional ranks.
Dameon Pierce: He scored last week, and that play alone resulted in more fantasy points than he had in either of his first two games this season. That’s a start.
In his best fantasy game of the season, Pierce averaged 2.2 yards per carry and ranked second on his team in rushing yards. His next 12-yard gain this season will be his first, making him strictly a volume play (15.7 touches per game) in an offense that prefers to air it out.
Devin Singletary ran more routes than Pierce in Week 3, hinting that he could well be scripted out of games in which the undermanned Texans are behind. In Houston, I’m not sold that Pierce is the lead back much longer, and more importantly, I’m not even sold that the lead role in this backfield is all that valuable. I prefer both Steeler backs to Pierce in this matchup.
Diontae Johnson: Johnson is not eligible to return to action until after the Week 6 bye. Before being placed on IR, he was labeling himself as “day-to-day,” so it would stand to reason to think he can play in the Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Steelers get the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans in the two weeks after that, a stretch of games that should see this passing game thrive.
George Pickens: The quantity of targets is strong with Johnson out, and with the top target against the Texans averaging 10 targets per game, there’s no reason to think that changes this weekend.
The quality and consistency of targets is another conversation. Pickens hauled in just four of 10 looks in Week 2, and last week he didn’t see a target over the final 22 minutes. The downside is evident, but given my confidence in his target volume and the lack of resistance shown by the Texans against top pass-catching options, Pickens checks in as a low-end WR2 or high-end Flex.
Nico Collins: His breakout season was put on hold last week in Jacksonville (two catches for 34 yards), but the upside he showed in the first two weeks (13 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown) is real. His athletic profile is one fantasy managers have been chasing since he was a third-round pick in 2021, and the time may finally be here.
This is a high-volume passing attack motivated to see what their young quarterback can do, and Collins appears to be the alpha target earner on this offense. So what have other top targets done this season against the Steelers, you ask?
- Week 1: Brandon Aiyuk (eight catches, 129 yards, two TDs)
- Week 2: Amari Cooper (seven catches, 90 yards)
- Week 3: Davante Adams (13 catches, 172 yards, two TDs)
Maybe Collins isn’t on that level, but he is the featured option in an underdog role against a vulnerable secondary. Sign me up for a top-25 ranking this week!
Tank Dell: Dell doesn’t fit into the box of a consistent fantasy threat as neatly as Collins does, but with consecutive top-20 performances, he is certainly making a case to be taken seriously.
Last week, he capitalized on a broken coverage to rack up the points (68-yard touchdown), but he just as easily could have cashed in a long catch that ended on the 1-yard line.
He and Collins have eerily similar stat lines this season, with Dell relying more on the unsustainably big play. That’s why I have Collins some 15 spots higher, but both possess massive potential on a week-to-week basis. This week and moving forward, consider me a buyer of Collins as a top-30 player and willing to sell Dell at that price tag.
Robert Woods: Bobby Trees just doesn’t offer much per-target upside at this point in his career. We saw signs of decline during his final season with the Los Angeles Rams and last season in Tennessee, but the per-target production this season isn’t clearing the low bar we’ve established as the new normal.
- 2023: 0.96 points per target
- 2021-22: 1.21 points per target
Pat Freiermuth: We saw Patty Football score seven times as a rookie, so I believe that the ability to box out and earn targets in close is real, but with just nine targets earned this season, he’s too touchdown-dependent for my liking. A score lands you in the top 10 at the position almost any week, but without much yardage floor to fall back on, Freiermuth has fallen outside of my top 15 at the position both this week and moving forward.
Dalton Schultz: It’s time to let go. Schultz was a viable option in Dallas and looked legit posting a 78-808-8 stat line in 2021, but that’s in the past now. In a high-volume offense, he has managed just seven catches and 47 yards through three weeks. There is no reason to hold on here — join us in the TE streaming pool; the water is fine!
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: Chargers -5.5
- Total: 47.5
- Raiders implied points: 21
- Chargers implied points: 26.5
Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo entered concussion protocol following the loss to the Steelers on Sunday night, putting his status for this weekend in question. But does it change much for our purposes?
Update, September 30 | 6:43 PM ET: Despite being limited in practice on Thursday and Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Garoppolo was unable to clear protocol in time for Sunday and is not traveling to Los Angeles.
Through three weeks, Garoppolo has more picks (six) than touchdown passes (five) and has yet to get this Raiders team to 20 points. Rookie Aidan O’Connell (fourth-round pick out of Purdue) completed nearly 70% of his passes this preseason while averaging 7.8 yards per attempt.
That’s not to say the kid steps right in, and we see this offense function the same, but the three relevant players in this offense would see their Week 4 ranks hardly shift with O’Connell set to make his debut. As a result of this QB news, Jakobi Meyers fell three spots in my ranks – he remains a fine flex play.
Justin Herbert: Is Herbert getting the hang of this Kellen Moore offense? His yards per pass have increased each season this season, and he’s completed 74.4% of his passes thus far without an interception. The efficiency has been nothing short of impressive, and that is without security blanket Austin Ekeler for each of the past two games.
The Mike Williams injury is going to require Herbert to adjust, but what better place to do it than against the leaky Raiders secondary? He lit them up for 614 passing yards last season, including a Week 1 effort that saw him post his best Passer Rating of the season.
My QB4 rotates on a week-to-week basis (behind Allen, Mahomes, and Hurts), and Herbert is the holder of that spot for Week 4.
Josh Jacobs: Earlier this week, we celebrated the 10-month anniversary of the last time Jacobs gained more than 20 yards on a carry. It’s been a slog of a season up to this point for those with Jacobs on their roster (yet to finish a week better than RB20), making this the perfect time for the first of two Charger games this season.
It’s no secret that the Bolts struggle to stuff the run, and Jacobs took full advantage last season by racking up 201 yards on his 36 carries. I’ve got him as a top-10 back again this week in something of a trust fall – if he fails to catch me here, I’ll be looking at him differently ahead of a Monday night date with the Packers in Week 5.
Austin Ekeler: “We’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks.” Not exactly optimistic words from Brandon Staley on Friday regarding his star running back and his ankle injury. Ekeler has now missed more games this season than he did over the past two seasons combined, a reminder of how unpredictable health can be at the running back position.
The Chargers do have their bye next week before two big games (vs. DAL, at KC), leading to hope that Ekeler can use the time off to get right. He’s an interesting bye option if he is on a struggling roster – the Chargers get the Broncos twice and the Raiders once as part of their final four games of the fantasy season.
Joshua Kelley: Along with AJ Dillon in Green Bay, Kelley is part of the running back club that is making me believe that maybe the position does matter. Over the past two weeks, with most of us touting Kelley as a viable option due to the potency of this offense and the position he’d be put in, he has delivered 6.1 fantasy points. Total. On 25 touches.
My confidence in him is fading. In theory, this Vegas matchup isn’t anything to sweat, but it is worth noting that Ekeler picked up just 71 yards for this offense on 24 carries against the Raiders last season. I’m projecting a favorable game script, and with a lead role, that’s enough to get Kelley inside of my top 30, but not by much.
Davante Adams: This Raiders offense hasn’t exactly thrived through three weeks, and yet, Adams continues to star. He has scored 17 times in his 20 career games with the Raiders, averaging 91.9 yards in the process. He posted an 8-177-2 line when these teams last played in Week 13 of last season, and both of those touchdowns were of the 30-plus yard variety.
Here is his fantasy football production through three games this season compared to what he put together last season and where he stood at this point during the best season of his career in 2020.
- First three games of 2023: 62.7 fantasy points
- First three games of 2022: 45.4 fantasy points
- First three games of 2020: 48.8 fantasy points
Jakobi Meyers: In his return from a concussion suffered late in the Week 1 win, Meyers earned 48% of the non-Adams targets (seven catches for 85 yards) and is pretty clearly set to be a consistent threat in this offense.
The Raiders are embracing his versatility. Last week, Hunter Renfrow ran 28 routes, and they bumped Meyers out to a more perimeter role. He, of course, is a proven slot option, and his varied skill set is a nice compliment to Adams.
In a game where the Raiders are going to have to score, don’t be surprised if Meyers again earns double-digit targets and is deserving of a spot in your starting lineup.
Mike Williams: The soon-to-be 29-year-old Williams tore his ACL in Week 3’s win over the Vikings and will miss the remainder of the season. It’s a brutal break for a receiver who was starting to round into form. Williams has just one complete season on his NFL résumé (2018) and will look to enter the 2024 season at full strength.
Keenan Allen: With a 33.1% target share, I think it’s safe to say the veteran receiver has been one of the most surprising sources of dominance thus far. He has finished as the top WR in fantasy in consecutive weeks and, for the season, has six more catches than any of his teammates have targets.
The usage isn’t going anywhere, but the defensive attention could change with Williams out for the season. I’ll be interested to see how the absence of Williams impacts the production of Allen, but rest assured, you have a weekly asset who you can rely on consistently.
Quentin Johnston and Josh Palmer: Opportunity is knocking; who is going to answer? Based on usage this preseason and through September, all signs point to Palmer getting the first shot to fill the Williams role, though I expect both to see their usage spike and the team to potentially go with a hot-hand approach.
In my opinion, the team showed its hand as to what they think of Palmer when they drafted Johnston with the 21st overall pick in April.
Palmer posted a 72-769-3 stat line last season with Allen/Williams in and out of the lineup, and yet, the Chargers couldn’t pass on the upside of the 6’3” Johnston, who scored once every 8.2 catches during his collegiate career.
I’ll be tracking every report out of Angeles as we approach kickoff to get a read on this situation, though I’m guessing the team will play things close to the vest. I don’t have either ranked inside my top 35 this week, but I do have Johnston a handful of spots higher as I chase the perceived ceiling.
Gerald Everett: I’ve been going to bat for Everett in each of the past two weeks, and it’s been an emotional ride. I like the 91.7% catch rate to go along with a few red-zone opportunities in a high-powered offense. Seems reasonable.
That is, until 6’8” Donald Parham comes into the game and scores on his only two targets. Everett remains my preferred tight end in LA, and he did clear 10.5 fantasy points in both games against the Raiders last season, but he has fallen outside of my top 12 at the position. As much as I like him, the target upside simply isn’t high enough if they are to go the Parham direction when in close.
New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Cowboys -6.5
- Total: 43
- Patriots implied points: 18.3
- Cowboys implied points: 24.8
Mac Jones: On the PFN Fantasy Podcast, we cautioned betting on this Patriots offense, despite the positive showing in Week 1, and with Jones finishing outside the top 20 at the position in each of the past two weeks, I’d say we had that right.
The Pats are better off in low-possession, grind-it-out games, and that just isn’t fantasy-friendly. There isn’t a player on this offense I feel good about, and their signal-caller is certainly no exception.
Dak Prescott: Somebody is going to have to explain the desire to make Prescott a thing to me. He lacks consistent touch, his mobility isn’t what it once was, and he lacks pass catcher help outside of WR CeeDee Lamb.
His 102 pass attempts this season have resulted in just three scores, and as a result, he has yet to finish a week better than QB17. I’m not sure Prescott needs to be rostered in standard-sized leagues, let alone started.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Stevenson held a 46-27 snap edge over RB Ezekiel Elliott last week in their win over the Jets, but the veteran had more yards on fewer carries and had the longest run of the day. Early this summer, Stevenson was being drafted as an RB1, and while that dipped with time, managers who invested in him were looking for at least one top-15 finish early in the season.
With just 13 total receiving yards over the past two weeks, the versatility that made Stevenson a breakout performer in 2022 hasn’t been as visible so far this season. This offense isn’t going to offer much in the way of scoring potential, and a flaw will be required for Stevenson to be efficient and return to top-20 value. We’ve yet to see that this season, and he is in danger of falling outside of my top 20 this week.
Ezekiel Elliott: Last week was a vintage performance, and it is clear that he is on this team to touch the ball (he had an opportunity on 63% of his Week 3 snaps). That said, I still don’t think he has much of a path to the lead role in this offense. Given the limitations of this team, he’s never going to be ranked as a legitimate starter for me.
The revenge angle is fun to talk about, but with him ranked outside of my top 40, I don’t think we see much in the way of production.
Tony Pollard: With 58 touches over the past two weeks, Pollard is a perfect example of what can happen when talent meets opportunity. Given the injuries and/or struggles at the top of the running back position, it wouldn’t be difficult to argue Pollard as the RB2 moving forward. That is exactly where I have him slotted this week.
Kendrick Bourne: I don’t want any member of this passing game if I can help it, but with 25 targets this season, Bourne has volume on his side. The veteran receiver has had his moments throughout his career. Considering that he has never had more than 55 catches in a season, you’re reaching if you want to consider him viable for the rest of the season.
I think it’s possible this week looks a lot like last for the Pats. That means no receiver gets to seven fantasy points.
DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster: For one reason or another, both of these options hold name value, but neither deserves to be on rosters. They have combined for 142 yards this season and offer no real weekly upside in any matchup, let alone this showdown with one of the best defenses in all the land.
CeeDee Lamb: Need proof that this offense is an underwhelming unit? Lamb has looked unguardable at various points this season and has one top-30 performance on his ledger. He’s one of the best in the game and clearly should be started in all formats, but if you’re trying to gauge the rest of the season ranks, the limitations of Prescott push Lamb down.
Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup: Both of these secondary options saw seven targets last week. Gallup produced viable fantasy numbers (six catches for 92 yards), while Cooks struggled (two catches for 17 yards). That could flip this week. Or we could return to the point where the WR2 doesn’t hold value in this offense. I don’t have any confidence in either consistently producing, and the scoring opportunities will be few and far between.
Cooks and Gallup rank outside my top 50 at the position and don’t need to be stashed in leagues with shallow benches.
Hunter Henry: New England has gotten strong fantasy numbers from the TE position through the start of the season. It just happened to be a big catch from Pharaoh Brown last week. My wanting to cash in the Henry chip after a few strong outings was less about the player and more a bet against the offense. Sportsbooks are penciling the Patriots in for 17-ish points, and if that’s going to be the case, I like my chances with a TE14 ranking on Henry this week.
Jake Ferguson: Is he the Cowboys’ second-best pass catcher? That’s how I have it ranked. I have Ferguson as a top-10 tight end. He has emerged to be a consistent threat with seven targets or a touchdown in all three games this season, a rate of involvement that gives him enough of a floor for me to feel comfortable in starting him in all formats this weekend.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: 49ers -14
- Total: 44
- Cardinals implied points: 15
- 49ers implied points: 29
Brock Purdy: Another week, another rock-solid performance. I’m beginning to think Purdy very much needs a better nickname than “Mr. Irrelevant.” Even something as simple as BP13 would work. Something.
He’s more than his draft capital. He’s a legit fantasy quarterback who produces week in and week out. Put some respect on this man’s name. Tweet me ideas (@KyleSoppePFN), I’m open to anything and will use my favorite in content moving forward.
Purdy has accounted for multiple touchdowns in eight of nine regular-season starts, and if a swing pass to Deebo Samuel in Week 2 was a few inches in front of the line of scrimmage instead of behind, he’d be a perfect 9 for 9. The upside is limited with this offense running through Christian McCaffrey, but with byes starting next week, Purdy very much needs to be atop your list of replacement options with potentially high-scoring spots coming up over the next two months:
- Week 7: at MIN
- Week 8: vs. CIN
- Week 10: at JAX
- Week 12: at PHI
James Conner: With 16 touches gaining 116 yards and a score, Conner looked great in what we thought was a brutal matchup against the Cowboys last week. As a reward, the veteran back gets the pleasure of trying to repeat that level of success against the 49ers’ stout front.
San Francisco has a +48-point differential this season, and if they continue to dominate, Conner is projecting production that mirrors his Week 1 effort in Washington (19 touches for 70 yards and zero touchdowns). He gave fantasy managers less than that when these two teams last met (19 opportunities resulting in just 54 yards, though he did score).
I have Conner ranked as a low-end RB2 who needs a touchdown to surpass my rankings, something I’m not betting on, with Arizona owning an implied total this week of 15 points.
Christian McCaffrey: That’s now 12 straight games with a touchdown for the artist known as CMC. With the way this offense is crafted, I’m not sure when that streak ends.
Through three weeks, he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has caught 84.6% of his targets. McCaffrey’s yet to touch the ball fewer than 23 times in a game and is the clear focal point of one of the most consistent offenses in all the land.
Elijah Mitchell: After touching the ball just five times through two weeks, Mitchell handled the rock 14 times (44 yards) on Thursday night, including starting San Francisco’s second drive as the lead back.
Entering the season, there was optimism that he could hold standalone value next to McCaffrey this season. I think those hopes are a thing of the past, but he very much needs to remain rostered as insurance to McCaffrey.
We saw Matt Breida essentially flop in filling in for Saquon Barkley on Thursday night, and while I don’t think Mitchell is close to the talent of McCaffrey, this system would make him a locked-in fantasy asset if the opportunity were to arise.
Deebo Samuel: With Brandon Aiyuk sidelined last week, Samuel earned 35.3% of the targets and looked impossible to tackle on various occasions (six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown). I found it interesting that he was only handed the ball once, but that could be a result of the 49ers largely controlling this game and not wanting to tax his body more than necessary.
Having said that, Samuel did take a shot to the ribs during the game and reported being “pretty sore” the next day. While tests came back clean, this is something worth tracking with the 49ers again massive favorites and over a month away from their bye week.
Samuel is a WR2 for me that carries the widest range of outcomes for those I have ranked in his tier.
Brandon Aiyuk: A shoulder injury caused Aiyuk to see zero targets in the final 19 minutes of the Week 2 win and resulted in him sitting out last week. Assuming he’s back in the mix, I will have him ranked as an average Flex option, understanding that the limited targets in San Fran can go in bulk to any of the four options.
Aiyuk is a talented player capable of exploiting this matchup, but no one in this passing game should ever be considered “safe” when everyone is healthy.
Marquise Brown: Brown has scored in consecutive weeks, but I’ll bet against that happening again this season. Hollywood is averaging a career-low 10.2 yards per catch and only has one 25-yard catch over his past nine games.
We used to target Brown for his single-play upside, but that’s no longer a tool in his bag. As the top target in this offense, he’s worthy of a roster spot, but there’s simply too much talent at the position to get Brown into the top 45 this week.
The Cardinals closed last season with the 49ers, and Brown managed to turn four targets into seven yards. The fact that a stat line like that is in the range of outcomes is downright terrifying.
Michael Wilson: The 6’2” rookie has yet to see even five targets in a game, but Wilson has cleared 55 yards in consecutive weeks thanks to the big-play potential. He’s not a player who needs to be rostered in average-sized redraft leagues, but for deeper leagues, he should be on your radar with bye weeks starting to kick in next week.
Zach Ertz: It was fun while it lasted. Ertz was piling up the catches through two weeks, but the magic ran out against the Cowboys in a game that saw him run just 16 routes.
Ertz isn’t a piece of the rebuild in Arizona, so with Geoff Swaim and Trey McBride combining for 16 routes last week, the writing would seem to be on the wall for the veteran. If he underwhelms again this weekend, Ertz managers will join the ranks of the TE streamers.
George Kittle: After totaling just 49 yards through two weeks, Kittle rewarded fantasy managers for their patience with seven catches and 90 yards against the Giants. I would love to tell you that this is the start of consistent weekly production and that he’s back in the tier just below Kelce, including Hockenson and Andrews at the moment — but I can’t.
The targets vacated by Aiyuk played a big role in Kittle doubling his target count for the season last week, and while I think he’s more than capable of spike performances, the hit-and-miss fantasy profile Kittle owns isn’t going anywhere.
I don’t mind the idea of exploring the trade market heading into Sunday, it’s not a bad time to hop off the rollercoaster. If you have him, you’re starting him every week and are well aware that he could be TE1 or TE21 any week.
Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets
- Spread: Chiefs -10
- Total: 41.5
- Chiefs implied points: 25.8
- Jets implied points: 15.8
Patrick Mahomes: With multiple touchdown passes in six straight games (and in 10 of his past 11), Mahomes continues to dazzle without much consistency to speak of at the WR position. He’s also cleared 25 rushing yards in all three weeks this season, allowing him to elevate his fantasy floor in a way he normally saves for the postseason.
The Jets are a good defense, but Mahomes is a great player. Advantage Mahomes.
Isiah Pacheco: We finally got him into the end zone, but again, it could have been more. Jerick McKinnon scored twice from short range, but there is still no doubt in my mind as to who the lead back in this offense is.
The touch count is never going to overwhelm because most of Pacheco’s touches mean one less opportunity for Mahomes. But with over five fantasy points as a pass catcher in two of three games this season, I continue to be encouraged by the improved versatility.
Pacheco is a low-end RB2 for me that carries the potential to have a top-15 week if he can cash in his opportunities from inside the 10-yard line.
Jerick McKinnon: After failing to rank as a top-45 RB in either of the first two weeks this season, McKinnon was RB8 in the blowout win over the Bears. If a backup running back dominates Chicago, does it make a noise?
For me, the answer is no. If the goal was to make him a part of this offense, we would have seen more usage to open the season. McKinnon is tethered to an elite offense and showed off his potential down the stretch last season, so he deserves to be rostered, but putting him in the top 40 at the position is overly optimistic.
Breece Hall: “I want to bet on the talent of him but can’t because of this offense.” You can copy and paste that line to the Garrett Wilson profile.
Hall out-snapped Dalvin Cook 2:1, a role that, if he held it with Aaron Rodgers under center, would have him as a top-15 back. Instead, I’ve got him ranked as a low-end Flex option because this offense simply doesn’t threaten defenses in any form or fashion.
He carried the ball 12 times for 18 yards last week in a brutal showing. For the season, 53.9% of his yards on the ground came on a single carry (83 yards in the Week 1 win over Buffalo). This backfield is very much trending the way of the Bears and Steelers in that they offer zero running backs I want in my starting lineup.
Dalvin Cook: By no means do you have to hold onto Cook at this point. He ran eight times for 18 yards last week and has now finished outside of the top 45 running backs in consecutive weeks. I think there’s a decent chance he makes it three straight such weeks against a Chiefs defense that we underrated this preseason.
Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice: Both of these receivers have shown glimpses of upside. Moore has seen his target count increase each week, while Rice was just a few feet away from a multi-score in Week 3.
However, the weekly floor is simply too low to consider the options in a week with every team in action. With bye weeks coming up, both of these talented receivers deserve to be rostered, but at the moment, they are more “in case of emergency” Flex players than realistic options.
Kadarius Toney: A toe injury plagued Toney during practice last week, and it impacted him in Week 3 (two first-quarter snaps). A healthy Toney has the potential to be interesting, though we know that is something we rarely see for consecutive weeks. If you have roster space to spare, I don’t blame you for holding onto Toney, but if roster spots are at a premium, you can do better.
Garrett Wilson: He turned nine targets into 7.3 fantasy points last weekend against the Patriots, and with the Chiefs focused on him and him alone, I’m not sure how you project much more than that this week.
Neither the talent nor the target share is in question, but a quality of target this low has a way of sapping value from even the best in the game.
This week, I have Wilson outside of my top 35 receivers. It wasn’t hard to convince myself to slot him behind both Tutu Atwell and Jordan Addison. Imagine saying that in late August. What a difference a month makes!
Travis Kelce: I’ll save you all the Taylor Swift wordplay: You’ve made it this far and probably don’t need that from me, given that every medium out there seems to be making similar jokes. I will tell you that (shocker) I have Kelce ranked as my TE1 this week.
On the podcast this week, I raised the idea of trading Kelce. Not that he won’t be an elite option the rest of the way, but if you’re struggling and can get a Tier 2 or 3 tight end with a locked-in starter elsewhere, I think you’d be wise to at least consider the idea.
Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants
- Spread: Giants -1
- Total: 47
- Seahawks implied points: 23
- Giants implied points: 24
Geno Smith: Smith has rebounded nicely after a slow Week 1, totaling 624 passing yards over the past two weeks. I like him in this spot, given his reliance on his star receivers, and I think he can keep the high-end passing numbers going.
He’s inside my top 15 at the position this week, and I feel good about that, but I can’t get him inside the top 10 because I’m no longer confident in his rushing production. After running for 366 yards in his breakout 2022 season, Smith is on pace to pick up just 125 yards on the ground. That may not sound like a massive dip, but at a position that requires the splitting of hairs, the lowering of a floor projection is quite impactful.
Daniel Jones: “Danny Dimes” has two absolute dud performances in three weeks, but those did come at the hands of the two best defenses in football. His accuracy throwing the ball over the past two weeks is at least encouraging (69.6% complete), but with his set of receivers, those completions are only going to do so much damage.
While I do believe the matchups have made Jones look worse than what you can expect moving forward, we are still talking about an incredibly limited option who needs to produce on the ground to have any chance at cracking my top 15. He only tallied two carries for five yards on Thursday night.
Jones isn’t on my radar until Saquon Barkley returns, and even then, I’m not excited about rostering him.
Kenneth Walker: Consecutive multi-TD games – check. Increasing touch count with each passing week – check. Walker is in the process of building a strong rookie campaign, and it looks every bit legit.
In addition to a career-long 36-yard reception last week against the Carolina Panthers, he also had a 36-yard run, which showcased what he can do in space when given the opportunity. He’s a top-10 running back for me the rest of the way; I don’t think what we are seeing is fluky. If you embraced the discount this summer, you’ve put yourself in a great spot to compete.
Zach Charbonnet: Asking him to hold standalone value like we thought he could this summer is likely a thing of the past, but he did run hard against the Panthers over the weekend with nine carries for 46 yards, solidifying himself as a solid handcuff to Walker.
You’re not starting him, but he remains plenty worthy of a spot on your bench, given his proximity to weekly value. Even in a game where Walker looked good, Charbonnet was on the field for only six fewer snaps and ran six more routes.
Saquon Barkley: An ankle injury sidelined him last week and will likely keep him out through this game at the very least (DOUBTFUL). This isn’t lining up favorably for those who invested an early pick in Barkley.
Sure, the 38 touches he has given you thus far have been productive – averaging 0.84 fantasy points per touch, ahead of the 0.72 he gave you in 2022 – but if he misses this week and next, he could return for a brutal run of matchups, including a road game in Buffalo, home games against Washington and the Jets, road trips to Las Vegas, Dallas, and Washington and another home game against the Patriots.
Matt Breida: In one of the more friendly 18-yard fantasy performances you’ll come across, which totaled 9.3 points, Breida found a way to not destroy your Week 3 lineup. I guess that’s a win.
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. This isn’t one of those “running backs don’t matter” spots. Barkley is an elite talent who produces fantasy numbers despite his surroundings. Breida probably is at risk of getting scripted out of this game like he was last week, and even if the “G-men” remain competitive throughout, his ceiling performance isn’t high enough to gamble on.
DK Metcalf: Metcalf was crunched on the 1-yard line in Week 2, hurting his ribs in the process. By grabbing six balls for 112 yards against the Panthers last week, it seems safe to assume that the injury is behind him.
He was good for 55 yards and a touchdown against these Giants in Week 8 of last season, and a fantasy line like that in this spot is about what I’m expecting, with room for significant upside. I think we get Metcalf’s first top-20 performance of the season, and there should be zero hesitation about plugging him in now that we know his health isn’t a concern.
Tyler Lockett: It’s been a weird season for Lockett up to this point, but I think he can have success in this spot, much like he did last year. In Week 8, he put up 63 yards and a 33-yard TD.
This season, Lockett has yet to clear 60 receiving yards, but he did have something of a breakout game in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions with eight catches and the walk-off touchdown.
His consistent hands and route running make him a tough receiver to lock down for extended stretches, so I’m not concerned that he has finished two of three weeks ranking outside the top 50 at the position. You should feel plenty comfortable in deploying Lockett as your WR2.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: As good as we want the rookie to be, right now, he’s not being put in a position to be fantasy-relevant. Against the Panthers last week, he saw just three targets and only caught one catch for 10 yards. He ranked sixth on this team in receiving yards.
He’s a solid dynasty buy right now, but redraft managers aren’t considering him for their weekly lineups. In shallow leagues, he could be on the chopping block after only scoring 10.2 fantasy points so far this season.
Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Darius Slayton: All three of these receivers saw around five or six targets in their loss to the 49ers. Slayton led the way in yardage with – wait for it – 32 yards.
I understand the idea of rostering any of the Kansas City receivers, you want to make a cheap bet on Mahomes. This is a similar situation, as far as a lack of clarity on the hierarchy is concerned, but it doesn’t carry anywhere near the same payoff.
There is no reason to burn a roster spot on any of these WRs – not now and probably not at any point this season. If you need a positive note, Slayton led this team in catches (five), targets (six), and receiving yards (66) when these teams squared off a season ago.
Isaiah Hodgins: I separated him from the other options because we saw Hodgins provide sustained value at the end of last season. He even gave us an 8-105-1 stat line in the Wild Card win over the Vikings.
That’s forever ago now, but I’m not sure how much has realistically changed. He was an afterthought last Thursday, but if I had to pick one Giants WR to keep an eye on, it would be Hodgins, just based on having seen him produce most recently.
Darren Waller: I’m not panicking about Waller because of the position he plays and the role in this offense he holds (20.8% target share). We had some hope as the draft season wore on that Waller would be a dark horse to join the top non-Kelce tier at the TE position.
Those hopes are gone, but as the top option in an offense, Waller can only fall so far in our PFN Consensus Rankings.
Your quirky Kyle stat for the day: In Weeks 1 and 3 of his breakout season, Waller was held to a total of 54 receiving yards. This season, he put up 56 yards in those two games.
He still deserves to be locked into lineups in all formats.
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