Well, that was quite the week. We had five players put up 35+ Half-PPR points, including two running backs from the same team as Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane ran all over the Broncos for 375 combined yards and eight touchdowns. If we lower that number to 25, still a huge performance, we get eight more players … and two more Dolphins.
But of course, players not on Miami’s track team also scored points on Sunday … and some didn’t. Let’s take a look at what to take away from Week 3’s Sunday action.
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
- The Rashod Bateman dream might be dead. Even with Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined, Bateman was the Ravens’ WR3 (and fourth receiving option) in each of snaps, routes, and targets. His previous flashes of talent are still enticing, but I don’t blame anyone who drops him in shallower leagues.
- With 11 targets in Week 3, rookie third-rounder Josh Downs is now averaging seven targets per game. A low 8.3 yards per reception and zero touchdowns means it hasn’t translated into huge fantasy output — and those metrics aren’t likely to change dramatically, as Downs is working primarily underneath and running 84% of his routes from the slot — but any rookie earning that many targets is worth rostering.
- After Gus Edwards left early with a concussion, Melvin Gordon was the clear lead back, playing 88% of snaps for the Ravens. While Gordon isn’t the player he once was, he’s worth adding in deeper leagues, where any starting running back is valuable.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
- The Titans’ offense, especially Derrick Henry, got absolutely nothing going, but I’m not ready to write him off just yet. The Browns’ defense is off to, by some metrics, the hottest defensive start we’ve seen in decades. Henry has always been game-script-reliant, and the addition of Tyjae Spears has made him even more so (he played just 38% of snaps in this one). There’s a chance Father Time has added to his undefeated record, but I think King Henry will ride a few more times in easier matchups. After all, we spent all offseason talking about how he plays the Texans twice in the fantasy playoffs; we shouldn’t give up hope three weeks in with one true dud against a historic-looking defense.
- Many, myself included, expected Jerome Ford to struggle in his debut as the Browns’ starter in a tough matchup with an elite Titans’ run unit. And he did, averaging a putrid 1.8 yards per carry … but still put up 18 fantasy points, thanks in large part to an impressive receiving TD in which he lined up out wide and ran a nasty slant-and-go to make Azeez Al-Shaair look silly. Normally, I would be worried that Kareem Hunt played a real role (23% snap share, seven touches to Ford’s 12) despite just joining the team, but Hunt’s previous familiarity with this offense makes it less likely he was being eased in. Ford should hold onto the top job, making him a weekly play, while Hunt might be back to his old 2021 PPR flex self.
- Tyjae Spears may be capable of destroying Derrick Henry’s fantasy value, but don’t get too excited about the rookie’s prospects as a fantasy asset himself. He needs the Titans’ offense to hit the perfect level of ineptitude — struggling enough that Henry is forced to the sidelines, but still productive enough that Spears can eat — in order to see relevant volume, and predicting when that will happen is essentially impossible.
Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions
- I’ve seen people complaining about Jahmyr Gibbs’ Week 3 usage with David Montgomery sidelined, and I can’t understand why. Despite rumors that Craig Reynolds would claim all of Montgomery’s early-down work, Gibbs easily set new career highs in snap share (59%, up from 48%) and rush share (57%, up from 26%). One target isn’t ideal, but he just had NINE last week; if Montgomery misses more time, the rookie is going to have a game where it all comes together and he absolutely explodes.
- Tyler Allgeier has seen his snap share and rush share decrease with each week, hitting new lows of 31% and 39% on Sunday. He saw three carries inside the five in Week 1, scoring two of them, but the floundering Falcons’ offense has generated just one such attempt over the last two weeks … which went to Bijan Robinson. Any hope we had that Arthur Smith’s Stone Age offense would allow Allgeier to be more than a handcuff is pretty much gone.
- Instead of giving my weekly update on Kyle Pitts’ elite usage metrics and non-existent fantasy production (for what it’s worth, I’m starting to wonder if the problem isn’t partially him — you can’t tell me this is 4.4 speed), let’s look at a tight end who actually is scoring fantasy points: Sam LaPorta. First at the position in yards through three weeks, the rookie is forcing his way into the must-start tier at the position, and aside from a slightly sub-par route participation rate there’s nothing to suggest he can’t keep this up.
New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers
- If you missed out on LaPorta, grab Luke Musgrave. I talked in Week 1 about how he was a few stumbles away from a monster NFL debut, and he was just missed again this week by Jordan Love on what could have been a huge play. With his third straight week leading the team in routes run and a new career-high of eight targets, he’s going to be the next rookie TE to break the trend and break out.
- 36-year-old Jimmy Graham scored a touchdown in this one, putting himself, Taysom Hill, and Juwan Johnson each within four points of one another on the season. With Alvin Kamar returning from suspension, Hill’s best chance to produce is likely behind him, and Johnson is averaging 20 yards a game. Both are droppable.
- Pending the Monday night games, Jordan Love is the fantasy QB3 … but I don’t buy it. Along with the big play to Musgrave that he missed, Love also threw at least one pass that should have been intercepted (PFF has him at two turnover-worthy plays). More importantly from a fantasy perspective, Love’s production is currently being carried by the insane stat that he personally has accounted for eight of the Packers’ nine touchdowns, seven through the air and one on the ground this week. Everything else, from total yards to PFF grade to yards per attempt to CPOE, lands Love in the average or below-average tier of QBs. Especially given six of his seven passing TDs came against the woeful Bears and questionable Falcons, I’m expecting Love to regress toward the fringe QB1 conversation, if not further.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
- After a huge Jaguars debut in Week 1, Calvin Ridley has had back-to-back lackluster weeks. However, he dropped what should have been a big TD in this one and had two end-zone targets last week. With 26 targets through three weeks, he’s a buy-low candidate if you can get him.
- After back-to-back weeks of 44+ attempts to start his career, C.J. Stroud attempted 30 passes as the Texans shockingly controlled this one from start to finish. With this reduced volume, at least one of the Houston WRs was bound to disappoint, and this week it was Nico Collins and Robert Woods, who each finished with just 34 yards. Unfortunately, I see no reason it won’t be Tank Dell, who had a big game this week, in any other week going forward — prior to this week, Dell was third in the trio in routes and targets. There’s certainly value here with the way Stroud is playing, but it will likely be frustrating relying on any of these WRs.
- Travis Etienne had a very productive game, but it was rookie Tank Bigsby (this was a big game for rookies named Tank) who scored a one-yard TD. On the season, Bigsby has three attempts inside the five, while Etienne has yet to have one. He’s still a weekly RB2, but Etienne’s ceiling is capped as long as this continues.
Denver Broncos @ Miami Dolphins
- I have expressed some skepticism over De’Von Achane’s ability to see enough volume to be a weekly play … I was wrong. It’s honestly hard to take too much away from a game this lopsided, but Achane had four touchdowns, plus one called back by a penalty, and was involved before this game reached garbage time (about halfway through the first quarter). Jeff Wilson Jr. returning could make things murkier, but with their incredible explosiveness and the way this offense is rolling, both Achane and Raheem Mostert can be must-start players.
- Marvin Mims continues to look like the Broncos’ most explosive player, but he also continues to play too few snaps to be fantasy-relevant. On the bright side, he seems to have moved up the depth chart since Week 2 … past Lil’Jordan Humphrey to be the Broncos’ clear WR4 behind Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Brandon Johnson. You can stash him in deep leagues and hope he keeps climbing, but he’s nowhere near start-worthy yet, and I’m not convinced he will get there this season without an injury.
- This shouldn’t be possible, but I’m about to have a negative takeaway from this Dolphins’ explosion. Durham Smythe, whom I have been hyping thanks to his 98% snap share and 94% route participation in Weeks 1 and 2, saw his involvement plummet, playing just 36% of snaps. I found a single Tweet claiming Smythe was injured, so the dream is not dead yet, but maybe the fact that he was injured and no one noticed is a sign of his current fantasy relevance (or lack thereof).
Los Angeles Chargers @ Minnesota Vikings
- Josh Palmer’s TD this week probably should have been an interception instead. But it still counts, and with Mike Williams now out for the season, Palmer is firmly in the flex discussion. In five games without Williams in 2022, Palmer averaged 9.2 targets, 74.4 receiving yards, and 12.9 fantasy points (16.0 in full PPR).
- Normally, paying attention to coachspeak following a move like the Vikings’ trade for Cam Akers can be invaluable. But Kevin O’Connell has been unhelpful, originally declaring emphatically that Alexander Mattison was still the lead back but then issuing a not-so-veiled threat to bench him for ball security issues. If I had to pick a side, I like the idea of acquiring Mattison for cheap from a manager worried about Cam Akers — Mattison currently leads the league with a 78% rush share, so he can afford to lose some work and still be a fantasy option.
- If we could combine Gerald Everett’s athleticism and between-the-20s workload with Donald Parham Jr.’s red zone targets, we’d have a great fantasy TE. However, that combined TE would play 106% of snaps and run 84% of routes, which goes to show that neither guy alone has a large enough role to be trusted in fantasy.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
- Ezekiel Elliott averaged nearly two full yards more per carry than Rhamondre Stevenson this week. For the season, he’s grading out higher in rush yards over expected per carry (-0.19 to -0.93), success rate (46.4% to 37.8%), yards after contact per carry (2.21 to 1.80), and PFF rush grade (71.6 to 69.4). These numbers are all close, and I certainly don’t expect Elliott to steal Stevenson’s job anytime soon … but he’s not going anywhere either, and Stevenson isn’t going to be more than an RB2 with his current volume and lack of efficiency.
- I’ve preached the “sell Garrett Wilson” gospel enough in this space, so I’ll move on to the Jets’ other young star. I’m not as out on Breece Hall as I am Wilson, as he, unlike Wilson, has a proven track record of producing on a Zach Wilson-led offense. At this point, you might as well hold him and hope he improves as the season goes on and he is further removed from his ACL injury.
- Like the Texans, this was a week of inevitable regression in passing volume for the Patriots. The result was a game in which no receiver or tight end besides Pharaoh Brown scored more than 6.6 fantasy points. Going forward, the only options you can rely on are DeVante Parker, who is clearly their top WR, and Hunter Henry, who should see enough targets to be an option given the state of the TE position.
Buffalo Bills @ Washington Commanders
- Last week, I bemoaned James Cooks’ lack of goal-line opportunities. This week, he had his first rushing attempt inside the five — not on the season, in his career. Unfortunately, Cook failed to score, instead watching Latavius Murray punch it in on the next play. Given he may have to wait another 19 games for his next goal-line touch, I can’t rank Cook as more than an RB2, no matter how great he continues to look.
- Antonio Gibson fumbled again in this one but still played 67% of snaps, while Brian Robinson fell correspondingly to 37%. Robinson still posted an elite 83% rush share, but that translated to just 10 carries. He may have a few more duds in any game where the Commanders fall behind early, while Gibson could salvage some fringe PPR flex value.
- Dalton Kincaid’s snap rate is trending in the opposite direction you’d hope for from a stud rookie, starting at 80% in Week 1 then falling to 61% then 50%. His route percentage was actually up from Week 2 with 66% this week, but still lower than his 78% in Week 1. I’m not too worried about Kincaid as he is still a rookie tight end seeing premium snaps out wide in an elite offense, but this is certainly worth monitoring.
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
- Don’t look now, but Zach Charbonnet jumped up to a 44% snap share this week, while Kenneth Walker fell to 46%. Of Charbonnet’s 31 snaps, 10 came in the two-minute drill, where he has clearly usurped DeeJay Dallas as the top option. The rookie also saw a goal-line carry, although he failed to convert and Walker still leads the team with seven attempts inside the five (three this week) to Charbonnet’s two on the season. Both backs are obviously talented, and we may see this continue to trend towards closer to a 1A/1B situation, with Walker leading in touches while Charbonnet plays in passing situations.
- It hasn’t always been pretty, but Miles Sanders ranks second behind just Bijan Robinson in target share at the RB position with 16%. He also, for now, is firmly holding off Chuba Hubbard, whose involvement has actually decreased since Week 1. As long as he maintains that volume, Sanders can be a weekly RB2, especially in PPR formats.
- I wouldn’t give up on such a talented rookie this quickly, but things are looking dire for Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s fantasy value this season. He’s not running a full set of routes (64% on the season) or seeing many targets (13), and even those targets he does see are about as low value as targets can get: He has just 38 air yards and one red zone target. The worst part is, unlike with other rookie WRs who clearly deserve and should eventually earn more volume compared to their teammates, I don’t see JSN overtaking either Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf anytime soon.
Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals
- James Conner played just 64% of snaps and had a 50% rush share this week. For someone who last season had a six-week stretch (which would have been longer if he stayed healthy) of 92% and 76% in those metrics, this is a big downgrade. Luckily for anyone with Conner on their fantasy team, this decrease from his projected volume will likely be counteracted by the Cardinals’ huge increase over their projected offensive efficiency. With a smaller share of a bigger pie, Conner should still produce RB2 numbers, but it’s worth monitoring to see if he returns to bell-cow usage and unlocks a greater ceiling.
- Despite playing fewer snaps than Jalen Tolbert in Week 2 with Brandin Cooks sidelined, Michael Gallup is still clearly above Tolbert with Cooks healthy, and actually led the Cowboys with 92 yards on seven targets. Behind CeeDee Lamb, Cooks and Gallup will likely both have occasional productive games but lack consistency, making both only flex options in deeper leagues.
- Following a miserable debut just a few weeks after joining the Cardinals, Josh Dobbs has played well in each of the last two weeks, adding production on the ground to finish with 25 and 17 fantasy points. He also set a new season high with five designed rush attempts this week, a category where he now ranks behind only Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, and Daniel Jones. He so far scrambles on dropbacks far less than any of these other dual-threat QBs, but any QB with five designed rush attempts in a game is worth monitoring in 1-QB leagues and is certainly an option in Superflex.
Chicago Bears @ Kansas City Chiefs
- Last week, I said Jerick McKinnon seemed to have lost his lucky four-leaf touchdown clover. This week, he found it, scoring two classic Chiefs goal-line receiving TDs en route to a 16-point fantasy outing. However, those two TDs were two of his five touches, and he again failed to crack a third of snaps with a 27% snap share. Where last year down the stretch he averaged over five targets and four carries a game, he has yet to record more than three targets or two attempts this season. With that usage he is entirely reliant on multi-touchdown days to be a worthwhile fantasy play, and good luck predicting when those will come. Given you can never confidently play him in your lineup, I’m still happy to drop him in all but the deepest of leagues.
- While the result of an embarrassing loss was the same, the Bears did switch up their play calling, giving Justin Fields seven designed runs compared to just five total across the first two weeks. Although it didn’t translate to fantasy points this week, this is the usage he saw at the end of 2022 that will make him fantasy-relevant no matter how dysfunctional things get in Chicago … as long as he can hold his starting job.
- Rashee Rice was a yard away from the end zone twice in this one, finishing with five catches on seven targets for 59 yards. He also hit 51% in both route and snap share, easily new career highs. While there’s a large chance he simply becomes another member of the Chiefs’ rotating cast of WR options, the rookie at least brings some uncertainty, and therefore upside, that the others do not. He’s worth stashing to see how things play out.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Las Vegas Raiders
- Davante Adams did not mince words after the Raiders loss, leading many to speculate an incoming trade for the superstar WR. However, a trade is highly unlikely, especially given Adams’ large contract. Luckily for fantasy managers, Adams is producing just fine in Las Vegas, leading the league with an insane 40% target share. He should continue to be a locked-in WR1 as long as he and Jimmy Garoppolo stay healthy.
- I agree with the rest of the world that Najee Harris looks much less explosive than backup Jaylen Warren, but he’s actually leading Warren in the vast majority of rushing efficiency metrics, everything from PFF grade to yards after contact per attempt. In fact, the much-maligned Harris is actually the seventh-highest runner in the league in terms of the percentage of his carries that go for positive yards over expectation. Unfortunately, all those rush yards over expectation have led to just 5.2 fantasy points per game, as Harris has scored zero touchdowns and been a non-factor in the passing game. However, this week was the Steelers’ first matchup with a non-elite defense, and he did see 19 carries. It’s not for the faint of heart, but there’s a chance buying low on Harris will pay dividends in softer matchups down the line.
- Another former Alabama running back who might be worth sending an offer for is Josh Jacobs. He is still seeing an absolute workhorse share of just about everything in the Raiders’ offense, and that kind of volume has been fantasy gold on worse offenses than this. Don’t spend too much expecting him to return to 2022 form, but he could easily be at least an RB2 going forward.