Week 3 boasts some really intriguing matchups. After already having the battle for Floridian Facial-hair Faceoff on Thursday night, the NFL slate will give us the undefeated Bills vs the undefeated Rams, the red hot Packers visiting the underwhelming Saints, and the face of the NFL bowl on Monday night when the Chiefs play the Ravens. With all that action it can be hard to know exactly what the fantasy football takes should be in these week three games but that is where we have you covered. Our staff here at The Fantasy Whisperers has broken down every single game and every fantasy relevant player in that game for you right her in this column to give you just the right edge on who to start this week. If you want to see some video breakdowns of these matchups head on over to our YouTube page and if you want an even deeper dive into every fantasy relevant player each week become a patron and gain access to our weekly matchup shows by heading over to our Patreon page today!
HOU @ PIT
45 o/u -4 PIT
Houston will be trying to bounce back from an 0-2 start as they visit the undefeated Steelers, while Pittsburgh is looking to prove that they’re legitimate contenders by knocking off a 2019 playoff team. Houston’s losses have come at the hands of the consensus top-ranked teams in the league in the Chiefs and Ravens, so they may be better than their record indicates. This may end up being a game with larger implications later in the season as teams start jockeying for playoff position.
Pittsburgh will once again look to Ben Roethlisberger as their signal-caller, and he should be a good mid-tier starting QB option as he takes on a Houston defense that has allowed 67 points in their first two games. He’ll be looking to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as his primary targets, the WRs who have gotten 14 and 23 targets respectively and combined for 3 scores. They’re both good options to start this week (although watch the injury report), with Diontae an especially good pick in PPR leagues due to his high target share. Fellow WRs Chase Claypool and James Washington and TEs Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald aren’t reliable options yet until they start getting more consistent targets, although Ebron is a possible streaming option in a pinch.
Reports of James Conner’s demise were greatly exaggerated, as he bounced back in a big way last week. Fire him up with full confidence. With the injuries at the top of the RB rankings, he’s moved up into the RB1 tier at this point in the season. Benny Snell is looking less relevant and is not a starting option this week.
Deshaun Watson will be the centerpiece of the Houston offense, and he’ll need to have a big game for Houston to get the win. WRs Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller lead the team in targets, followed closely by Randall Cobb and TE Jordan Akins. Cooks and Fuller look to be the startable options here, but they’re both somewhat reliant on big plays for their fantasy relevance. If you have other options, I would recommend looking elsewhere, especially against this stout Steelers’ defense.
The Texans’ run game is totally centered around David Johnson, and he’s a solid start in the RB2 tier. He has seen 8 targets so far in the past two games and Houston should start focusing on increasing that going forward, especially with Duke Johnson still hurting.
Defense and Kicking Game:
The Steelers D/ST is a solid play this week and going forward, and if you have them don’t be afraid to fire them up, even with Deshaun coming to visit. Houston D/ST can be skipped this week as can their kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell, however, is a good streaming option at kicker this week.
CIN @ PHI
46.6 o/u -6 PHI
Cincinnati has had a rough start to the season, and the road doesn’t get any easier as they pay a visit to Philadelphia. While the Eagles have also struggled with an 0-2 start, most see them with an advantage heading into this week, which is reflected in the Vegas odds. We’ll likely see a comfortable win for the Eagles, but there’s enough uncertainty that we could see a surprise from the Bengals.
The Eagles are led by the 2016 second overall pick Carson Wentz. Wentz has struggled so far this season, but this matchup looks like a ripe time for a bounce-back. The only worry is his lack of WR options. DeSean Jackson looks to be the only startable WR at this point, with Alshon Jeffrey and Jalen Reagor both down with injury. Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can be faded in just about all formats. The TEs, as usual, are good to go this week, with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert remaining the focal point of this offense.
Philadelphia is led on the ground by Miles Sanders, who ran for 95 yards and a score in his season debut last week. He’s a locked and loaded RB1 this week, with Boston Scott becoming more and more irrelevant as a fantasy back.
Joe Burrow leads this Bengals squad and I’d recommend letting him get more experience at the helm before you slot him in as your starter. He’ll be looking at A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd as his main options, with both coming in as low-end starting WR options. They’re not exciting, but if the game plays out as expected, the game script should favor them getting plenty of volume. Drew Sample, the TE, is a decent plug-in option this week, but with a low floor.
Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard have split this backfield much more than most GMs with Mixon on their roster would like. Mixon should still get volume, so start him as a solid RB2. Bernard is probably not a good start this week as a FLEX, so look elsewhere.
Defense and Kicking Game:
This might be a good opportunity for a bounce back from the Eagles D/ST, so you can pick them up cautiously this week. Avoid the Cincinnati D/ST as the risk is just too high that the game will get away from them. Jake Elliot is the only good option at kicker in this one.
SF @ NYG
41 o/u -4 SF
The 49ers play their second consecutive game at MetLife stadium, as they take on its NFC resident this week. The Giants have been torn apart two weeks in a row by the Steelers and Bears, while San Francisco has been torn apart by injuries. Both look to stop the bleeding, literally and figuratively.
Daniel Jones commands the Giants’ offense and despite the 49ers losses on defense, he should be under pressure once again this week. He’ll be looking to get the ball to WRs Darius Slayton and Golden Tate, who are both starting options with Sterling Shepard heading to the temporary Injured Reserve. Evan Engram is a locked-in starter at TE, although his lack of production so far is starting to sow some seeds of doubt. Keep an eye on him.
At running back, the Giants biggest loss came last week with Saquon Barkley going down to a season ending ACL tear. Dion Lewis seemed to take most of the work after Barkley went down but it’s tough to trust anyone in this backfield for now, especially with Devonta Freeman being signed this week. Freeman may produce in the future, but he’s tough to trust until we see him in a game. The official advice would be to fade this backfield this week.
The 49ers should be led by Nick Mullens after the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo due to a high ankle sprain suffered last week, although he hasn’t been ruled out quite yet. Either way, it’s hard to trust either one in fantasy this week. They’ll be passing to a hodgepodge of WRs including Kendrick Bourne, Mohamed Sanu, Dante Pettis and Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk leads the group in the rankings but this is probably a corps to avoid for now, even with a favorable matchup against a weak Giants secondary. Tight end George Kittle is uncertain to play and his backup Jordan Reed has been solid, so keep an eye on the injury report pregame: if Kittle plays, he’s locked in, if not, Reed is a great option to replace him in your TE slot.
The injuries have hit the 49ers backfield as well as Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman both look to miss at least a game. Jerick McKinnon should be a good option while they’re both out, with JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson both contributing as well. Keep an eye on it, but start McKinnon as an RB2 this week. Wilson has some FLEX appeal as he has been known to vulture some TDs in the past.
Defense and Kicking Game:
Both D/STs are interesting plays this week, with the 49ers a solid option and the Giants a speculative play, with the upside that comes from playing a backup QB. Start the 9ers if you have them, and if you’re searching for a streaming option, the Giants have a pretty decent ceiling this week. You can avoid both kickers, as their risk is not worth it with better options available.
LV @ NE
47.5 o/u -6.5 NE
The Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0 coming off a dominant win in their new stadium against a strong Saints team. Next up is the Patriots led by an electric Cam Newton who seems to have found new life in his new home. The Patriots are favored by over a TD in this one but I expect a much closer game full of fantasy studs.
Derek Carr picked apart the Saints defense last week throwing for 3 TDs and 0 INT. He will have a much harder matchup this week against a top tier Patriots pass defense. Carr will have streamer appeal throughout the season but week three is not an exploitable matchup. Last week was a disappointing week for Raiders wide receivers as Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow and Brian Edwards combined for just 6 receptions for 83 yards. I expect Ruggs role and involvement to increase as the season goes on but I would search elsewhere for receivers this week. On the other hand Darren Waller was Carr’s favorite target again last week. Him and Waller took advantage and exposed the Saints defense earl and often. Start Waller as a TE1 this week and he should again see plenty of targets.
Josh Jacobs dominated week one and probably led many fantasy teams to victory but after that epic three touchdown performance, he put up 105 scoreless yards against the top 10 run defense of New Orleans last week. Jacobs is still one of the top RBs in Fantasy and you are going to start him every week. So don’t get cute with this one and sit him, volume based RBs are fantasy gold mines.
Cam Newton has been a lot of fun to watch so far this season. In week one he did it with his legs and followed that up by showing us all that he can still sling the ball downfield going for 357 passing yards and 3 TDs (1 passing) in week two. Cam is turning into a must start in fantasy regardless of the matchup because of his ability to beat you on the ground and air. Patriots wide receivers have limited upside each week since Cam continues to be the preferred red zone threat, rushing for 4 of the 6 total Patriot TDs on the season. That being said Julian Edelman had an excellent game last week against the Seahawks and isn’t missing a beat with his new QB. Lock Edelman in as a WR2/3 this as i expect Cam to continue to build on their chemistry in this game. N’Keal Harry saw an increase in targets from weeks one to two and that trend should continue as long as the Patriots have a competitive opponent. This week I would start Harry as a WR3 with some upside as this matchup could turn into a high scoring game. Damiere Byrd also had a productive game and flashed early in the Seattle game but I am not trusting NE receivers outside Edelman and Harry. There was a time when you started the TE on the Patriots every week but those days have passed.
The only “running back” I am starting on the patriots is Cam Newton. This is a fantasy wasteland for running backs with Cam’s TD rushing. Sony Michel is borderline droppable at this point in the season.
Kicking Game and Defense:
The Patriots D/ST was the #1 defense in 2019 and they look to be just as matchup proof in 2020. I would start them with confidence this week again against Derek Carr. The Raiders D/ST is not on the radar this week or most weeks. Both Nick Folk and Daniel Carlson are low end kicking options this week as both have been accurate but their low FG opportunities limit their upside.
TEN @ MIN
47.5 o/u -2.5 TEN
The Titans are 2-0 and head to Minnesota this weekend while the Vikings are hoping to get their first win of the season. Tune in to see if the Vikings can hang in this game and not have the wheels fall off before halftime. There is some really riveting stuff coming out of Minnesota this week. *Eyeroll*
Ryan Tannehill and this passing offense seem to be picking up right where they left off last year even without their stud WR A.J. Brown. Tannelhill gets another opportunity to light up another struggling defense this week and this is good for all fantasy teams with a piece of the Titans offense. Corey Davis is having a resurgence campaign so far given A.J. Brown’s absence with a bone bruise (expected to sit this week as well). Another player benefiting from some extra looks is TE Jonnu Smith who had 84 yards and 2 touchdowns in week two. Start both of these guys this week and watch the fireworks.
Derrick Henry is a must start every week but fantasy GMs should be drooling over this matchup on paper. Henry should get going early and hopefully will end his 2020 touchdown drought this week.
Kirk Cousins was AWFUL last week in what should have been a high scoring game. I am not sure what is going on with Kirk and the Vikes but this offense stuck in neutral. It also doesn't help that Gary Kubiak is trying to put the game on his struggling QB’s shoulders. Feel free to sit Cousins who has four interceptions in two games until this offense gets in rhythm, if it ever does. The People's Champion Adam Thielen is directly feeling the impact of Kirk Cousins’ struggles. You aren't going to sit Thielen but we could see his floor hit a lot more than we are used to this season. Justin Jefferson, Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph are obvious sits this week.
Another player feeling the impacts of Kirk and Kubiak’s poor play calling is Dalvin Cook. Through two weeks the Vikings are playing catchup before halftime comes around. Dalvin is still a starter each week and we should see his volume increase if Kubiak hopes to keep his job and win some football games or, at very least, be competitive.
Defense and Kicking Game:
The Titans D/ST should be getting a boost with the return of Vic Beasley and are an obvious start for me this week against INT-prone Kirk Cousins. The Vikings D/ST is an obvious sit for me this week and probably every week. Dan Bailey has been a reliable fantasy kicker throughout the years but seems to be wasting away on the Vikings sidelines and should be on your waivers as well. :( Stephen Gostkowski found his leg last week after going 1/4 week 1. Start him if you have him.
WAS @ CLE
44 o/u -7 CLE
The Browns came in like a wrecking ball against the Bengals last week putting up big numbers across the fantasy board. They hope that success continues when The Washington Football team comes to visit the Dawg House. This game could turn into a low scoring effort with the dangerous Football Team D/ST looking to limit the upside of the Browns offensive weapons.
THE FOOTBALL TEAMS Preview:
Dwayne Haskins shows flashes here and there by making big plays when the team needs them but he also puts the team in bad situations. This is to be expected from a young NFL QB and he should get better as he progresses. Hopefully. Haskins is not startable at this point in time. In week two we saw Terry McLaurin show us once again why he is so fun to watch and why he was an offseason favorite in drafts. Scary Terry is a WR2 with a good matchup on paper and should have his big play upside. Logan Thomas has seen 17 targets through two weeks of NFL action and has turned into a security blanket for QB Dwayne Haskins as most tight ends do. On volume alone, Thomas is turning into a weekly TE1 and I would roll with him again this week.
One of my favorite players coming into the season was Antonio Gibson and it was good to see Ron Rivera commit to him in week 2 and give him the lead back duties. This kid is big and elusive and as he gets more experience and volume he should make a real impact and could end up winning some managers their championships this year. This isn’t shaping up to be a good matchup on paper but Gibson could end up offering RB3/Flex value this week if the volume/red zone opportunities continue their upward trend. Peyton Barber, J.D. McKissic can be dropped, Gibson has taken over this backfield.
Baker Mayfield found his swagger last week against a less than exciting Bengals defense. It was good to see him and the offense show up in this game but I have concern for Baker going up against the #4 pass defense this week. The Washington Football Team’s D-line is disruptive this year. Verdict: Sit. With Baker success comes Odell Beckham Jr success and we saw that last week with a beautiful deep throw to the Bechkam in the endzone. Odell is seeing the majority of the targets this year and I expect the same this week. Fire him up given his big play upside and only needs. After a productive 2019 campaign Jarvis Landry but 2020 is shaping up to be a disappointment. Coaches are forcing the ball to OBJ and giving both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt all they can handle and that is leaving Landry out in the cold. Fade on landry this week but keep him on your roster if things change. Austin Hooper is another one getting left in the cold. The Browns went out and paid him but doesn’t seem like he is fitting in too well with his new team. Fade on Hooper and stream a TE with more involvement like Logan Thomas.
Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had very productive games last week. If the browns continue to prioritize the run game both guys are fantasy relevant each week. This is great news for those who drafted Hunt but is somewhat of an annoyance for those who drafted Nick Chubb because this can limit Chubb’s upside in some games. This is something you are just going to have to live with as the season progresses unfortunately. This we Chubb obviously being the top choice in this situation due to the volume.
Kicking Game and Defense:
The Washington Football Team D/ST is a solid streaming option for me this week given how disruptive that D-line has been. I expect them to get to Baker often throughout the game. Browns D/ST could also be a sneaky play this week given Haskins is still young and prone to mistakes, plus the offense doesn't put up big points. Cody Parkey did not attempt a single FG but made all 5 of his PAT. Parkey is a low end start this week, there should be an opportunity for more FG this week. Dustin Hopkins is a fade this season.
LAR @ BUF
48 o/u -2.5 BUF
The Los Angeles Rams travel to face the dominant Bills offense and defense. Both teams are 2-0 and both are playing good football but my money is on the league’s leading passer Josh Allen and the Bills defense to close this one out with the W.
Jared Goff tossed 3 TDs last week against an injured Eagles defense but has a real test against a top tier Bills. The offensive line has been playing better than 2019 but this will be the true test and I would fade on Goff this week. Goff spread the ball around pretty evenly last week with Cooper Kupp leading the team with 5 targets and 81 yards. Goff could rely on Kupp this week too as I expect Goff to dump it off to the slot most of the game as the pressure gets to him. Roberts Woods had a rather disappointing game putting up a 2 for 19 yard effort but saved his day with a rushing touchdown against the Eagles. I expect a better game this week as there should be more targets available given the Rams should have to throw to keep up with the Bills offense. Both of these receivers are low end WR3 for me given the tough draw. Tyler Higbee caught all three of Goff’s touchdown passes last week. He is shaping up to be the Rams premier red zone threat. Start him this week given his TD upside.
Week one was Malcolm Brown, week two was Darrell Henderson. Who will it be week three? I am betting on Henderson again given both Brown and Cam Akers are down with injuries and have not practiced all week.Most weeks this seems to be a RBBC headache but Henderson should get all the carries he can handle if both Brown and Akers miss this week. Lock Henderson in as a volume-based RB2 this week despite the challenging matchup.
Like I said last week I am all in on Josh Allen this year and he has yet to prove me wrong this year. He followed up his monster week one by breaking his passing yardage record the very next week. Allen went off! He threw for 415 yards and 4 touchdowns and what is even more promising is the number of passing attempts. We all knew Allen could beat you with his legs but it is promising to see the confidence the coaching staff has in him to throw the ball 35+ times a game. Start Allen as a QB1 this week and watch him pick apart the Rams defense. The increase in passing is not only good to see from Allen but it is also benefiting his wide receivers. Both Stefon Diggs and John Brown are ranked in the top 12 through two weeks. Start both of these guys with confidence given the big play ability from both of them. #BILLSMAFIA!
RBBC Devin Singletary and Zack Moss ran well but did not reward fantasy teams last week. To be honest I am split on what to do with this backfield. On one hand you have Singletary who is seeing slightly more volume and snaps but on the other hand you have Moss who is seeing the majority of the red zone targets and carries. At this point in the season I am going to try and avoid this backfield as much as possible but if I had to choose I would go Singletary this week as he should continue to see the majority of the work. If Zack Moss, who has missed some practice with a toe injury (UPDATE: Zack Moss is OUT then you can confidently start Singletary)
Kicking Game and Defense:
Roll with the Bills D/ST this week, there is enough talent on that side of the ball to put up numbers regardless of the matchup. The Rams D/ST should be on your bench this week, Josh Allen and the Bills offense are clicking on all cylinders this season. Samuel Solman and Tyler Bass are fades this week.
CHI @ ATL
47.5 o/u -4 ATL
The Bears keep winning games and the Falcons keep losing games. Both seem like impossible scenarios so we’ll see which sticks this week!
Mitchell Trubisky’s production depleted from week one to two, including 2 interceptions this past week against the Giants. If this continues, we may not see Mitchell Trubisky. His receiving squad in Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller were equally quiet. Pray for a resurgence or make plans accordingly.
This offense is getting help from David Montgomery who has clocked over 200 all purpose yards and a touchdown after two weeks on the field. Coach Nagy seems to want the ball in Montgomery’s hands when the team is in a likely-to-win scenario so look forward to some serious volume in Sunday’s matchup.
After another incredibly high-powered Sunday from the Falcons, it seems there are many chunks of this pie to get your hands on. Russell Gage, Calvin Ridley and even Hayden Hurst are exciting lineup plays this week and likely moving forward but Julio Jones and his hamstring situation should be monitored. As of writing this article he does not yet have an injury designation.
Todd Gurley faces a tough matchup against the Bears secondary who currently ranks 11th against the run. This, on top of seeing Brian Hill and Ito Smith in the rotation more than I’d like, I am a bit worried about Todd Gurley’s week three outlook.
Defense and Kicking Game:
Bears Defense is a GO against Matt Ryan who can throw it all away on a minutes notice. The Falcons Defense have let up 78 points in the past two weeks so if that’s not a sign to stay away, I don’t know what is! Younghoe Koo is perfect in attempts this season.
CAR @ LAC
44 o/u -6.5 LAC
The Chargers were a big Week 2 surprise storyline in many ways but especially in how they contended with the SuperBowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Carolina’s Week 2 headline were pretty grim with the loss of star playmaker and limp into the season 0-2. Should be interesting to see how Carolina holds themselves together this week.
Robby Anderson has had quite the opening stretch with the Panthers and will likely continue his big playmaking opportunities and fair share of the target market as this team may be caught playing from behind. Behind him (statistically speaking) is DJ Moore who you’ll continue to play given his dominance atop the target share chart.
It always sucks to say that a player like Christian McCaffrey has been hit with injury. Alas, number 22 is on the IR and Mike Davis is coming in as his backup. Fantasy-heads this week noted that Mike Davis was already taking his fair share of the target market and of all the many running back backups stepping up for starting duty in week 3, Mike Davis is quite effective. Cheers to the lucky who claimed him from waivers and to the wise who already had him rostered.
NFLPA is currently investigating the actions taken by a Chargers team doctor that left starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor with a punctured lung after a routine pain killer injection into his ribs. Justin Herbert will start for the unforeseen future. Good news is, Justin Herbert can play. On a minute's notice, Herbert took charge of the Chargers squad and put up a real fight with the Chiefs. Keenan Allen saw his share of action in week two and has a sweet matchup as Carolina looks to put their number one corner on deep play thread Mike Williams was noticeably absent from last week's target share. And keep an eye on Hunter Henry whose target share and production have increased in the new Herbert Administration.
Despite Joshua Kelly’s emergence, Austin Ekeler continues to be the go-to in terms of rushing and receiving. However, Kelley is getting the redline looks which can be very frustrating. Ekeler is the RB to roster in LA but the situation is shifting quickly.
Defense and Kicking Game:
The Chargers D/ST are a great start this week and Carolina might be too if you are a believer in beginners luck.
NYJ @ IND
43.5 o/u -11 IND
There is a Twitter poll with serious legs tasking NY Jets with the removal of Adam Gase as Head Coach. He is a tragedy in the coaching landscape, and it’s reflected in his team’s dismal start. Indianapolis should bury them this week. I am just eager to see how the Jets respond to further humiliation.
Both receivers - Jamison Crowder and Brashard Perriman - are out. Chris Herndon is the only person on this team who has any potential but he is off to an incredibly slow start so just fade on this team.
Frank Gore is starting. Brace yourself. He hasn’t averaged over 4 ypc in a really long time and while he gets insane volume he just isn’t moving the ball.
TY Hilton is off to a slow start but things could shift this week given the news of Parris Campbell’s indefinite departure due to a PCL tear. He’s no one to take out of your line up, just bear through the headaches and torment while this offense gets it together.
Rushing Attack: Jonathan Taylor got over 25 touches last week. Nyheim Hines robbed more FAB than hearts after a dismal week two performance. JT is the guy to have here and should have a day against the Jets.
DAL @ SEA
55.5 o/u -5 SEA
In one of the highest scoring projected matchups of the week, Dak Prescott will face Russell Wilson in a delightful back and forth of high powered offenses.
Dak Prescott has three receivers and they all look good with Amari Cooper leading the way. Rookie CeeDee Lamb is on the field a TON of time and has grabbed a ton of targets and receptions in his time on the field, even competing for the number two spot with Michael Gallup at times. The three receivers sets may be a way forward for this team but it remains to be seen how this 1,2,3 will shake out. It’s probably all good for your fantasy team.
Ezekial Elliot is very good and Tony Pollard is a pure spell-back. It’s a beautiful thing. Zeke will feast this week as he does. Enjoy.
DK Metcalf is the number 1 receiver in snap share percentage and Tyler Lockett is right behind him. They never leave the field and should never leave your starting lineup. Russell Wilson is on another level this year and his receiving corps is insanely ready to go. The Cowboys defense will have a tough time on their hands against this gruesome threesome.
Chris Carson is effective in open field and at the goal line and Pete Carroll loves running the ball. He loves running the ball so much, he promises Carlos Hyde may even get some looks.
Defense and Kicking Game:
Cool it on both team defenses this week this game should be a lot of high powered offense action.
TB @ DEN
43.5 o/u -6 TB
In one of the more interesting draws of week three, the “Super Bowl-bound” 1-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to the mile high city to take on the injury plagued 0-2 Denver Broncos. Denver is reeling after losing four of their marquee names(Von Miller, Phillip Lindsay, Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton in the first two weeks of football and will now try to beat a Tom Brady led Bucs team that seems to still be figuring out things on offense.
There have been some rumblings that Tom Brady and Bruce Arians may not be on the same page after Brady’s relocation to Tampa. There are likely growing pains as this offense tries to get going and possibly without Chris Godwin against this week who is battling back from a mid-week concussion in last week’s practice. Brady’s career record against the Broncos is (8-9) and they remain the only team he has a losing record against but the GOAT is likely licking his chops at the sight of a Von Miller-less Denver defense that just surrendered two touchdowns and over 300 passing yards to Big Ben. If Godwin is in you play him here and of course you should be locking Mike Evans in your lineup as well. The Broncos secondary has let up 4 touchdowns in 2 games to WR including last week’s 84 yarder to rookie Chase Claypool. You should be confident in your Tampa receivers. Scotty Miller can be FLEX’d in PPR formats if Godwin doesn’t suit up but his volatility scares me. Neither of Rob Gronkowski or O.J. Howard can be trusted until we can see either top a 10% target market share in a given game.
Well, we may have just seen it folks and it may have only taken 1.5 weeks to occur. Last week Leonard Fournette appeared to demand more touches in this backfield at the expense of Ronald Jones II. After Jones fumbled, Fournette took one of his 12 carries 46 yards to the house to ice the game for the Bucs against Carolina. It wasn’t just that Fournette looked explosive and got more involvement in the passing game with 4 catches on 5 targets but he also took over the majority of snaps in week 2 as well. Fournette out-carried Jones 12-7 and out snapped him 26 to 21 as well. Only six teams have allowed more rushing yards to the RB position than Denver after two weeks and for that reason you should feel confident firing up Fournette going forward and only FLEXing Jones in the most desperate of RB situations.
It hurts me to write about the passing offense for the Denver Broncos this week, a week after losing their starting QB Drew Lock to a shoulder injury and their stud WR Coutland Sutton to a torn ACL. Enter career-backup Jeff Driskel to lead the Broncos as they attempt to pass on a tough Tampa squad. Driskel is not being started in this one and honestly outside of a FLEX play for Jerry Jeudy I can’t advise starting any pass catchers for Denver other than the fantasy TE2 Noah Fant who Driskel seemed to look for in the red zone last week against Pittsburgh. In limited action against a tough Steelers defense Driskel did manage over 250 passing yards. Between that and Fant’s three red zone targets and two touchdowns over his first two games, you can feel confident starting the breakout tight end.
I am infinitely more confident in the Broncos ability to attack this Tampa defense on the ground than I am through the air this week. Only four teams have allowed more points to running backs in fantasy this season than the Buccaneers and Melvin Gordon is 12th in the NFL in rushing attempts after two games. It has been reported that Phillip Lindsay is likely to miss multiple weeks including this one so as the Broncos try to remain competitive in this one I expect them to lean heavily on Gordon who has also averaged 3 targets per contest.
Kicking Game and Defense:
Given that neither of these team’s kickers are in the top 20 at the position you likely don’t have them on your roster and if you do, my advice would be to look elsewhere. The Tampa Bay D/ST is an advisable stream this week if you didn’t already have them as they will play banged up Denver squad in one of the lower over/unders in week three.
DET @ AZ
54.5 o/u -6 AZ
Two teams heading in two very different directions will meet on Sunday when the undefeated Cardinals host the winless Lions. Detroit is hoping that 1. Kenny Golladay can return from a hamstring injury and 2. That will fix this sputtering offense while the Cardinals are hoping to stay hot fueled by one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in real and fantasy football, Kyler Murray.
The Lions have stated they want to be very careful with Kenny Golladay’s hamstring but at this point Matthew Stafford and those with the QB on their roster are done playing it safe. Stafford has yet to throw for 300 yards this season, has a pick in every game, and frankly has not been start-able in fantasy football yet. Reports indicated that Kenny G was close to returning last week and should be a go in week three. I am having a hard time justifying starting Stafford in this game even if his stud receiver does suit up as the Cards have only surrendered 15.5 points on average so far this year although their games have been against Jimmy Garapolo and Dwayne Haskins. Stafford has a much more star studded cast of pass catchers than either the San Fran or Washington with Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and T.J. Hockenson. I am not starting any WR not named Kenny G this week but I will consider Hockenson. The Cardinals have a highly documented past against the TE position in fantasy and even though they managed to keep both George Kittle and Logan Thomas in check, this is as good a spot as any to be Hockenson’s last chance to remain your starter.
After two weeks of football we are no closer to understanding, let alone trusting this Lions backfield for fantasy football purposes. Doing his best Frank Gore impression, Adrian Peterson leads the Lions in carries with 21. Meanwhile D’Andre Swift paces the team in RB targets(10) and receptions(8) and just last week Kerryon Johnson got in on the fun, scoring a rushing touchdown. On paper this is a great matchup for the Lions as the Cardinals are a top 5 fantasy RB matchup to exploit. Most of the points against them seem to have been had naturally through the ground by opposing backs as they average 107 rushing yards allowed per contest and have given up a league high two rushing TDs this year. This would have me leaning towards AP this week as he leads Detroit backs in both carries and more importantly red zone carries(6) this season. That being said I would try to avoid this backfield at all costs until we see an injury or someone *cough Swift cough* take over.
2020’s QB4 in fantasy after two weeks, Kyler Murray will now face a Lions squad that has surrendered 5 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. This is fantastic news for those with Murray in their lineups on Sunday because 3 of his 5 total touchdowns have come on the ground. The Lions susceptibility through the air and the high over/under mean that it’s “all systems go” for DeAndre Hopkins who has a stranglehold on the Cardinals targets with 34% of the team’s market share. Given Hopkins domination of targets and Kyler’s dominance on the ground Christian Kirk has been a letdown for fantasy purposes. He has played behind even Larry Fitzgerald in snap percentage amongst WRs and even though this should be an exploitable matchup I would steer clear of any non-Hopkins Cardinals passing weapon.
As mentioned above, Murray has taken three scores in himself and that has left fantasy GMs with Kenyan Drake on their roster wanting more. The good news for Drake is that Arizona has been the 4th most run heavy team in the NFL behind 68 team rushing attempts for which Drake has seen 54%. Drake has also seen 5 RZ rushing attempts in two games and even though his QB has taken some scores the bell-cow role is Drakes to this point. Although backup Chase Edmonds has seemed to get more I am surprised to report that he has only seen 15 touches through two weeks. Start Drake with confidence and hold onto Edmonds as one of the most valuable handcuffs in fantasy this year.
Defense and Kicking Game:
As large home favorites this week against a sputtering Lions offense I am loving Arizona D/ST as a cheap streaming option this week. I imagine the Cards will get up early and be opportunistic in this one while protecting a lead. Fade both the Lions D/ST and their kicker Matt Prater who is usually good for the long ball but is looking well past his fantasy prime. Zane Gonzales can be started with confidence kicking for an offense that averages 27 points per game in 2020.
GB @ NO
51.5 o/u -3 NO
The highest scoring offense in football is not the home team in this one as the Green Bay Packers travel to take on the New Orleans Saints 6 days removed from losing to the Raiders in primetime. This game will pit Aaron Rodgers who is looking as sharp as ever against an aging Drew Brees who looks to be playing as conservative as ever and it will be under the Sunday Night lights on NBC.
If the very early conversation for the 2020 NFL MVP is a 3-dog race, then Aaron Rodgers is that 3rd dog behind Russell Wilson and Josh Allen. Rodgers now has 604 passing yards, 6 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions on the year and will face his toughest test to date in the 16th-ranked passing defense of New Orleans. If facing stud cornerbacks Marshawn Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins wasn’t enough there have been rumblings that Davante Adams status is “uncertain” for this Sunday night contest. Adams suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s victory over the Lions that kept him out most of the second half. Monitor his practice participation and status given the timing of that Sunday night game, but if Adams can’t go consider it a nice upgrade for both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard. If MVS and his 3 red zone targets, average depth of target of 16.5, and 19% target market share are the ceiling play then Lazard and the fact that he has run 63% of his routes in the slot are the floor play. If MVS facing Jenkins gives you the heebie jeebies then feel confident that Lazard should draw the slot mismatches in this game that could turn into a shootout rather quickly. Rodgers is a strong start for me if Adams plays and I am considering only a top streaming QB if Adams is unable to go as it is hard to bail on the implied Packer point total.
You are likely in one of two camps: the Aaron Jones truther camp or the “he is going to see negative TD regression in 2020” camp. So far the truthers are taking victory laps as Jones is the RB1 in fantasy, scoring 4 TDs in only two games this year. Jones leads the league in rushing yards with 234 and 143 of those have been after contact. He also leads the league in red zone targets amongst RBs with 6. Jones will see his toughest test to date as the Packers travel to face a Saints defense that is ranked in the top 10 for defensive efficiency against the run. Jones is a no brainer start. Besides the fact that their increasing snap percentages are a thorn in GMs who roster Jones’ side, Neither Jamaal Williams nor A.J. Dillon is on the fantasy radar this week.
The easy thing to do so far this year when profiling the Saints offense is to highlight that Drew Brees can’t push the ball down the field anymore and that this offense is not as explosive as it used to be. I’d like to point out that even though Brees is averaging a career low 6.9 (NICE) yards per attempt, his YPA has been below 8 for six of the last eight seasons. It is not like something drastic has changed with Brees arm and I would argue it has been steadily declining year after year. Without Michael Thomas who is likely out again with a high ankle sprain, To believe in Brees this week, would be banking on Tre’Quan Smith, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jared Cook to step up outside of Alvin Kamara’s elite passing game production. I was encouraged by Smith in the Monday night game against the Raiders but not enough to trust him in this game outside of FLEX consideration. You are starting Cook due to likely having no better options this week. While the Packers have given up 3 touchdowns to WRs over the past two weeks, they were to deep ball passers Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford. It is possible that Brees could throw for a few touchdowns to Alvin Kamara and make your fantasy day? Yes, but to pretend that Brees is not a volatile option and that you can’t roll with a better streaming QB this week is foolish.
This Sean Payton led Saints offense is built for Alvin Kamara especially in the absence of Michael Thomas. The 27th ranked Packers defense is picking up where they left off last year and will be a prime spot for Kamara to smash. Kamara is dominating the snap percentage for his team with 67% over Latavius Murray’s 30% through two weeks and he is dominating the NFL in terms of RB targets with 17 during that span as well. Start Kamara with supreme confidence while Murray is a hold on your bench as a valuable handcuff.
Kicking Game and Defense:
The Packers D/ST has been an opportunistic one in previous matchups this season but with this over/under I am not starting them and I would be looking to stream another defense while holding the Saints D/ST on my bench as they are facing a hot Aaron Rodgers this week. Both New Orleans kicker Will Lutz and Packers kicker Mason Crosby are worth starting this week in what Vegas thinks will be the fourth highest scoring game this week.
KC @ BAL
53.5 o/u BAL -3.5
The NFL really did save the best for last in week three as the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens will host the reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs. This game boasts a bevy of fantasy relevant options and is likely to be a high scoring affair.
Despite the fact that we all pretty much agree that Patrick Mahomes is the most talented quarterback in the NFL, he has had a relatively slow start for fantasy purposes. We are just not seeing Mahomes push the ball down the field the way we are used to….yet. Through just two games, Patty is 22nd in deep ball pass attempts with 5 and has only completed one of those last week to Tyreek Hill for a late 54-yard touchdown against the Chargers. This is not your favorite matchup for the Chiefs offense but with Vegas seeing this as a whopping 53.5 over/under you are rolling your Chiefs studs out there and that includes Mahomes, Hill, and fantasy TE4 Travis Kelce. With Sammy Watkins in the league protocol and his history of being a disappearing act I am fading him even if he does suit up as anything more than a desperation FLEX. If Watkins misses time it would be an upgrade for both Demarcus Robinson and the electric Mecole Hardman but both player’s upside is capped until we see how they would be used in a Watkins absence.
Any questions regarding the potential bell-cow usage of rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire have been answered with him seeing the 6th most rushes(35) and targets(10) amongst fantasy running backs after his first two games in the NFL. You will get better matchups than the tough Ravens front 7, but you are riding or dying with CEH. After leaving the game last week with an ankle injury Darrel Williams saw his backup job go to Darwin Thompson. If you have shares of CEH or play in RB thirsty deeper leagues, stash Thompson in case anything happens to CEH in this injury riddled 2020.
Tied for 22nd in deep ball attempts with Patrick Mahomes is none other than Lamar Jackson. If Mahomes is starting slow, then Lamar just hasn’t had to show us that ceiling of his that we got so used to last year. The Ravens have looked really good so far handling both the Browns and Texans in impressive fashion this year. Lamar is QB10 on the year and has done it behind only the 29th most pass attempts in the NFL with 49. This is a prime ceiling game for Lamar as he and Mahomes look to trade primetime blows on Monday night. This should also spell good news for his top weapons TE Mark Andrews and WR Marquise Brown. “Hollywood” and “Mandrews” are in your lineups this week as both have already seen the ups and downs of game script dependency on this Baltimore offense this year.
The simple truth is that if you have shares of this Baltimore backfield you are better suited not starting any of them if you can help it given the frustrating splits we have seen from Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and now even Gus Edwards. When we dive into the snap percentages it does not get any clearer. After two weeks Ingram leads the backfield with 42% of offensive snaps with Dobbins and Edwards both seeing 31% a piece. My official advice this week and until we see one of these backs separate is to avoid this headache as much as possible even in a matchup against KC where they are allowing 24 points on average to the position this year. If you have to FLEX one I would roll with Ingram.
Defense and Kicking Game:
Neither D/ST should be started in this expected shootout but you are setting and forgetting with both Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker and Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker this week.