Fantasy football: The most important, must-read tips and takeaways from NFL Week 3 – Washington Post


Well, here we are; it’s Week 3. While a lot can change in fantasy football during the course of the regular season, we now have a larger sample size for analyzing and surmising rosters. What have we learned? And for those owners in need of replenishing their roster due to injuries or disappointments, who’s possibly left out on the free agent market? While it’s not surprising to see players come out of the blue to contribute, or fall short of expectations, we can say with confidence what we haven’t seen: There have been few Herculean efforts in the fantasy realm thus far. Who came out of the woodwork this week? Who got banged up? Who can help my squad? Let’s dive right in on all that and more.

INJURIES

There were few players of fantasy impact hurt Sunday, and there were also some names that weren’t active that may be impacted by Sunday’s action.

DeSean Jackson, Redskins: Anyone who has owned Jackson over the years knows he’s a bit of a feast-or-famine player in fantasy. He’s also been hampered by injuries and has only played a full 16-game schedule once since his rookie year in 2008. Jackson had been dealing with an ankle injury since the preseason and appeared to hurt it again early in Sunday’s contest. But he returned and made an impact as Washington earned its first win of the season. With that said, Jackson has a tasty matchup next week against the Cleveland Browns.

Jeremy Langford, Bears: Chicago’s tailback hasn’t done a whole lot this season, but he did have scores in Weeks 1 and 2 to stoke hope among his owners that the yards would eventually come. But the Bears’ offense has not been very good, in part because Jay Cutler has been hurt. And now, Langford gets carted off in Sunday night’s contest against the Cowboys. Those who selected Langford were already wondering why they didn’t opt for someone else in the draft, but now he may miss substantial time. If you can manage to grab his replacement, Jordan Howard, who had nine carries for 45 yards, you should do so. He’s only owned in 15.5 percent of ESPN leagues.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Seattle’s quarterback was already nursing an ankle injury when he suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win. With a big lead, there was no reason for him to re-enter the game, but with a Week 5 bye, the team could consider sitting Wilson in Week 4 against the New York Jets in an effort to get him some extended recovery time. Let’s face it, if you own Wilson, he has been pretty so-so this season. Even if he plays next week, we’ve reached the point where he may no longer be a must-start.

Notable players who didn’t play in Week 3: Thomas Rawls, Sammy Watkins and Rashad Jennings. Do owners of those players need to be concerned? Yes, yes and yes. Rawls (lower leg injury) had offseason surgery and didn’t get a lot of touches the first two weeks of the season. After Sunday’s game, he may be relegated to a backup role (see below). … That Watkins is missing time is really not that surprising. He’s typically solid when he’s on the field, though he only had six receptions for 63 yards after the first two weeks of the season. There’s not much one can do if Watkins is on your roster. He’s probably not going to net much in a trade at this point; owners have to bide their time and hope Watkins comes back and thrives. Buffalo’s offense has looked much better after a dud in Week 1; Watkins would likely see some success if he can stay upright and a part of the Buffalo attack. … The Giants actually had decent success running the ball, averaging 5.7 yards a carry. In Jennings’ absence, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa split the workload with 11 and 10 carries, respectively. While Jennings (thumb) should resume his role in what could be a time-share, the schedule isn’t kind the next couple of weeks, as New York faces a stout Vikings defense followed by a matchup vs. the Packers.

QUARTERBACKS

The leader in the clubhouse was Denver’s Trevor Siemian, who dazzled with 312 yards and four touchdowns Sunday. Siemian had only thrown for one score during the first two weeks, but he impressed in leading the Broncos past the Bengals on the road. Siemian was followed by Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer and Case Keenum. Two weeks ago, we labeled Wentz an afterthought, but he has our attention now after a 301-yard effort and a pair of scores as Philadelphia romped past the Steelers.

Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood: Truth be told, the Green Bay signal caller has really looked kind of ordinary in fantasy for some time now. Starting with Week 10 of the 2015 season, while managing to throw a TD pass in every game down the stretch, Rodgers’s yardage and overall fantasy production wasn’t anything special. Rodgers threw a pair of touchdowns in the season-opener for the Packers, but the offense was held in check by what is obviously a very strong Minnesota defense. Rodgers threw four touchdowns Sunday, but it should be noted that his highest yardage for the season came in Week 2 (213 yards). The touchdowns certainly quieted concerns for his owners this week, but this will be interesting to monitor in the weeks ahead. Mostly it just reaffirms the notion that this year’s group of quarterbacks is performing pretty evenly across the board, the exception being Matt Ryan as he enters Monday night’s contest among the top fantasy QBs — even though the bulk of them have played an additional game.

Last thoughts: It would have been interesting to see the fallout had the Redskins not earned the victory Sunday. The 0-3 start would have been disastrous, given that they would have fallen a full three games back of the Giants. While Kirk Cousins played well in the second half and finished with two TD passes and no interceptions, his inexplicable decision to not throw the ball away at the end of the first half — one that likely cost Washington a field goal — would have been roundly discussed had the team lost. But they didn’t and with the Browns’ secondary set to visit next weekend, Cousins has a chance to right the ship even more. … Given the parity among QBs so far this season, Wentz may just be turning into a consideration. He’s now passed for 278 yards or more and two touchdowns in two of the three games for Philadelphia. … Blake Bortles didn’t finish among the top 10 quarterbacks in Weeks 1 or 2, and he failed to do so again in Week 3. That’s probably not what owners were hoping for after his breakout 2015 season. Jacksonville has what appears to be good matchups over the next couple of weeks so owners are likely going to have to stick it out unless they have other options. … By the way, Wentz and Siemian are owned in 19.4 and 4.7 percent of ESPN leagues, respectively.

RUNNING BACKS

It was a strong weekend for tailbacks. San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde used some garbage time in a lopsided loss to the Seahawks to take over the top spot from LeSean McCoy. The rest of the top 10 featured LeGarrette Blount, David Johnson, Christine Michael, DeMarco Murray, Jeremy Hill, Todd Gurley, Darren Sproles and Charles Sims. A season-high eight running backs posted 20 or more points for the week. There were five players from the top 10 list in Week 1 that finished among the top 10 in Week 2. Of those five players, only two placed in the top 10 in Week 3: David Johnson and DeMarco Murray. Johnson is to be expected, but there were reservations about Murray. Murray should to get the benefit of the doubt moving forward following three strong weeks. Are there others capable of joining this duo?

Touches, touches, touches: 22, 29 and 24. Those three numbers represent the number of carries Bill Belichick has given LeGarrette Blount in successive weeks this season. With their third-string quarterback under center, Blount led New England in a rout of Houston with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, Tom Brady is going to return soon, and that could cut into Blount’s workload a bit, but so long as he doesn’t cough up the football, he’s easily an RB No. 2 at this point, maybe even No. 1 for some owners.

Last thoughts: McCoy hasn’t done much as a receiver, but he is playing well as the Buffalo offense has bounced back from a poor season-opener. … We mentioned Rawls sitting out Sunday, and the time-share with Michael was of little consequence for both players the first two weeks of the season, Week 3 saw Michael break out of his shell for 106 yards and two scores, including an impressive 41-yard TD run. With Rawls out, and Wilson exiting Sunday’s game, Michael could be leaned on as those two recover from their injuries and make their way back into the lineup. Michael was highlighted by at least one fantasy writer before the season began. … Owners who breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday? Those who drafted Todd Gurley. The Rams tailback delivered his best game on the young season, finishing with 85 yards and two touchdowns. Despite all that talent, there will probably be a lot of hand-wringing for Gurley owners this year as defenses dare Los Angeles to throw the ball.

WIDE RECEIVERS

In what might be the most shocking aspect of this week’s top 10 list, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown failed to make it for the second consecutive week. Brown was productive; he did have 12 receptions for 140 yards, but his absence from the list is still notable given how frequently he went No. 1 overall in drafts.

Turning to the leader board, Detroit’s offseason acquisition, Marvin Jones, continues to show a strong rapport with Stafford. He finished with six receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He was followed by T.Y. Hilton, Terrelle Pryor, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Jordy Nelson, Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson and Tavon Austin.

On the rebound? There were several names dotting the leader board Sunday that have been elite players in recent years. If Siemian is turning a corner, then Sanders, who had 13 targets Sunday, could be more productive than most thought entering the season. In Seattle, Doug Baldwin has produced two solid performance in three weeks. Baldwin was an early-round pick in most drafts and rightly so, but there are still lingering doubts and those will remain depending on Wilson’s status. Green Bay’s Nelson looks like he’s finally back to the fantasy stalwart we’ve been accustomed to and while we have pointed to Rodgers’s numbers being rather average, Nelson’s should be fine. We were never too concerned with Allen Robinson and T.Y. Hilton, and they showed why with solid efforts in Week 3.

Last thoughts: In Arizona, you have the trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. You also have Johnson, who catches his fair share out of the backfield. So far, the Cardinals offense isn’t what we thought it would be as they are now 1-2 after getting beat handily by the Bills on Sunday. Fitzgerald had been the better of the three for fantasy purposes, but for owners of those three wideouts, it’s going to be a roll of the dice each week. You’re likely to get 60 yards out of all of them most weeks, but touchdowns are going to be the difference since the ball is spread around so much. Arizona still faces the Rams twice, the Panthers, the Vikings and two matchups with the Seahawks. Expectations for all three wideouts should be dialed back. … No matter what Jackson’s status is going forward in D.C., we witnessed one thing that should continue if Jay Gruden and Co. are smart: utilizing Jamison Crowder. Crowder is a playmaker. And to the Redskins’ credit, they’ve tried to involve him. The wide receiver earned 10 targets in Week 1, eight more in Week 2 and seven in Week 3. While the numbers have declined, Crowder showed up big Sunday both on special teams and with a critical third-down touchdown. He’s owned in just 11 percent of ESPN leagues so he’s definitely worth grabbing if you’re in need of a wideout.


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