Offenses finally got going in Week 3 and play overall seemed improved
over Weeks 1 & 2. Let’s review the good, the very good,
and some ugly as TMB recaps what just took place over the weekend
and on Monday night and turns it on its ear…
Thursday Night Madness
Before we proceed with what took place on Sunday and Monday, we
simply have to talk about Thursday night. Raise your hand if you
were expecting a 13-10 slog-fest between the Rams and 49ers. Anyone
with their hands down is a liar.
First, those two teams haven’t moved the fantasy excitement
needle for some time now and second, it’s Thursday night-
usually code for bad offensive football. That’s what made
what actually did take place such a shocker.
We’ve talked a little bit in recent weeks about the vast difference
in play between this year and last for Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.
Thursday was more of the same, but to an even greater degree as
Goff threw for 292 yards and 3 scores, while Gurley ate up 149 yards
and scored 3 TDs of his own. Even Sammy Watkins came along for the
ride, netting 100+ yards and multiple touchdowns.
Then, there was San Francisco. Carlos Hyde looks like the second
coming of Devonta Freeman. Pierre Garcon had nearly 150 receiving
yards. What is going on with all of this? It’s the presence
of two new head coaches that are re-making the NFC West into an
offensive showcase once again.
Hyde and Watkins have a history of not staying healthy, so maybe
they’re good candidates for trade at this point. But, don’t
assume they’ll taper off based on past norms. There’s
fantasy relevancy springing to life on the Left Coast right before
Jordan Howard played through a shoulder
injury on his way to being a top 5 fantasy RB in Week 3.
Jordan and DeMarco’s Revenge
Last week, here at TMB, we made no attempt to mask our concern about
the immediate of long-term futures of running backs Jordan Howard
and DeMarco Murray. What a difference a week makes. Howard was sensational
on Sunday, ripping off 164 yards and scoring 2 TDs. Not to mention,
he basically did all of that with the use of an arm and a half at
best. Murray, meanwhile, broke off a 75-yard TD run against one
of the best defenses (supposedly) in the NFL. It took his day to
120 yards total. What lessons can be learned from all of this? Never
bench your studs? Never overreact to one week? Sure and sure, but
those are fairly elementary fantasy football truths. I think moving
forward, Howard’s success is the bigger story. The Bears can’t
pass the ball and they have an excellent offensive line. It’s
a recipe for a lot more Howard if his body can hold up. As for Murray,
his numbers were pretty pedestrian until the long TD. Both did indeed
silence the naysayers this week, but Howard is the better bet moving
It’s becoming apparent that Tom Brady was a tremendous value
wherever you drafted him after Round 2. Brady has long enjoyed great
first halves of games in terms of fantasy production, only to be
followed by whatever RB the Patriots use for a clock killing role
in half number two. 2017 is a different year. The Patriots gave
up 33 points to a team on Sunday with a rookie quarterback (more
on that in a moment) and no wide receivers outside of DeAndre Hopkins.
In short, the Patriots defense looks like it can hardly stop anyone
and we’re going to get four full quarters of production from
Brady as much more often than not.
This reality is also elevating receivers likes Chris Hogan (two
TDs in Week 3) and Brandin Cooks, whose stock shot forward as much
as any player in the league after posting 130+ yards and multiple
scores. Sure, the Patriots are still going to occasionally get way
ahead and milk clock against really, really bad teams and offenses,
but if you can get in on the Patriot action, get in now. Shootouts
will be commonplace wherever this offense (and defense) are playing.
As I shared in the opening paragraph, there were a few teams that
did not perform well on the fantasy stage. It begins and ends with
dismal games from the Ravens and Raiders.
If you were coming into Sunday night just needing a few points from
guys like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch, or Derek Carr, it was the most frustrating of nights. The Raiders played
as if they didn’t want to be on the field and all the praise
heaped upon them through two weeks has now converted into a cloud
I guess at least Carr did produce positive fantasy points- something
Joe Flacco can’t say after an abysmal 8-18-28, 2 INT stat
line. The Ravens offense appears to be in total disarray right now
and I wouldn’t recommend starting a single guy from it.
As for the Raiders, a bounce back is likely for Carr and his wideouts,
but Lynch is a real concern at this point. The speedier Jalen Richard
may work his way into a timeshare sooner than later.
Honorable mention in the poor offensive performance department goes
to the Miami Dolphins, who only avoided being shut-out by calling
timeout with 6 seconds left to perform an additional play. After
two games, it’s too soon to express anything definitive about
the Dolphins. Perhaps a game vs. the Saints will bring clarity.
Speaking of the Saints (And Jets)…
As far as juicy matchups go, Carolina and Miami were headed for
the ideal on Sunday. Then, a funny thing happened. Both were completely
shut down offensively by the Saints and Jets’ defenses. That’s
not a typo. In fact, I have a friend that started both Kelvin Benjamin
(left early with an injury) and Devin Funchess just to capitalize
on the expected positive matchup. I said in this article last week
that Jay Ajayi owners should “rejoice”. The fact that
neither Carolina nor Miami could capitalize on such ideal opportunities
speaks to the fact that fantasy football remains highly unpredictable.
As for the former, it also means you need to pull Cam Newton out
of your weekly lineup. After a 0 TD, 3 INT day vs. New Orleans,
there are better options out there. For example…
Young Quarterbacks on the Rise
The following quarterbacks threw for 300+ yards and multiple TDs
in Week 3: Case Keenum (Minnesota), Brian Hoyer (San Francisco)
and DeShaun Watson (Houston). There were others, but none that may
or may not be sitting on your waiver wire as we speak. In addition,
Colts QB Jacoby Brissett ran for 2 TDs. Blake Bortles (yes, Blake Bortles) threw for FOUR touchdowns! DeShone Kizer threw for 2 TDs
and ran in another. All of these quarterbacks are likely available
in your league. If you’re still rostering Joe Flacco or need
to bench Cam Newton, these guys are worth a look. Keenum and Brissett
probably lose their jobs soon and Bortles will almost certainly
come crashing back to earth, but DeShaun Watson is worth an add
just on potential alone. If he continues to develop rapidly, you
could have a QB1 on your hands by mid-season.
The Amazing Chris Thompson
We’ve seen this story before. Devonta Freeman, after all, was supposed
to be more of a situational back than a bell-cow guy. There came
a point in Freeman’s development, however, where it was impossible
to deny his skill set and impact on a game and we’re almost at that
same point with Chris
Thompson. Thompson’s ridiculous effort on Sunday night (6 catches
for 150 yards and a TD) came on the heels of a 100+ yard, multiple
TD game in Week 2. He is no longer just a solid flex option. He’s
a locked-in RB2 with potential of more if Rob
Kelley remains out and Samaje
Perine can’t quit fumbling. Sometimes things become crystal
clear in fantasy football and the fact that Thompson is more than
just a situational back looks like truth to me.
An End To 2 ½ Games Of Slumber
Arguably the most painful offense to watch through two weeks was
that of the New York Giants. That pain extended through halftime
on Sunday and then a switch got flipped. Eli Manning’s second
half included touchdown throws to Odell Beckham (two, actually)
and Sterling Shepard leading the Giants nearly to victory before
the Eagles got the best of them late. How can a team look so bad
and then look like a totally different unit? Does this second half
signal a true turn of events for the G-Men? One thing is for sure-
the Giants can’t run the ball to save their life, so a more
aggressive, downfield offense is the only option they have. You
know we’re getting close to October when Beckham and Russell Wilson finally have decent games. Consider Giants players (minus
the running backs) viable options… for now.
Whole Lotta Larry
Every year, early fantasy draft picks are spent on a player's potential
alone. Waiver wire picks burned on the same thing. And, it's a good
strategy given that a few younger players will indeed “break
out” each year. But, there's a flip side. People will, pass
on a player like Larry Fitzgerald far too long. Fitzgerald was the
best player on the field Monday night, catching 13 passes for 149
yards and a TD. Sometimes, the best path to fantasy championships
includes a veteran or three to go along with the next “big
thing”. If you recognized that on draft day or traded for
Fitzgerald prior to this week, kudos to you.
If You Were Drafting Today…
Final question. If you were re-drafting today for Week 4 through
the end of the season, where would you select Kareem Hunt? Would
you pick anyone before him? If so, who? After another 170+ yard
rushing performance and another TD, Hunt remains the biggest story
in fantasy football so far this season. I Would love to hear from
you guys as to just how high you think he ranks moving forward.
Let us know.
That's a wrap on TMB for Week 3. We'll see you next Tuesday for
more of what we do… Best of luck in Week 4!