Week 3 and has come and gone and there are more injuries to worry about in fantasy football. This week the Chargers lost RB Danny Woodhead for the season with a fractured fibula; The Ravens lost TE Dennis Pitta with a dislocated hip that required surgery; Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph needs surgery on his groin, and will miss about six weeks; and last but not least, Jake Locker suffered some sort of wrist injury that is still somewhat unclear. For now he is questionable for week 4, but even if he plays you have to bump down WRs Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter on the rankings.
At times like this you have to not only read the news and be informed, but you have to be a waiver wire vulture that swoops in and gets first crack at replacement players. You cannot discount the value of depth for fantasy teams, especially with the bye weeks starting next week and injuries mounting.
Just in case you need help, look at players like Donald Brown (10.8 percent owned on NFL.com) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (in deeper leagues) at RB, and Travis Kelce (12.9 percent) or Niles Paul (16.4 percent) at TE. Obviously every league is different, so if you need help with your specific league make sure you send me a message and I will figure out your best option with you.
- Did you know that Blake Bortles finished as a top-20 fantasy QB this week with 223 passing yards, 30 rushing yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs? The Bortles era has arrived in Jacksonville and fantasy owners will see the values of Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns rise as he gets comfortable with the NFL game.
Kirk Cousins – Redskins: Cousins is making it very hard for the Redskins to talk confidently about giving the starting job back to Robert Griffin III when he returns from his latest injury. On Sunday he put up 427 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, yards that RGIII has never seen and TDs he hasn't seen since week 10 of last season! At this point Cousins needs to be owned in ALL leagues.
Austin Davis – Rams: Playing the Cowboys has a way of making backups to the backups look like Pro Bowl-caliber players, as Davis did this week. Davis filled up the stat sheet with 327 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions, numbers good enough for a QB1 ranking on NFL.com. With that said, I wouldn't recommend Davis even in 2QB leagues as the Rams have a bye in week 4, and then face the Eagles in week 5 before getting the 49ers and Seahawks in weeks 6 and 7.
Knile Davis – Chiefs: Davis was one of my starters this week because the Chiefs employ a run-heavy scheme and the Dolphins really seem to be struggling to find their identity on defense this season. Leading up to the game there were rumors that Jamaal Charles might play, causing a lot of people to either take Davis out of their lineup or bench him just in case. That would have been a bad move as he finished the day with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown. For fantasy RBs, he finished 6th on NFL.com in standard scoring leagues. Not bad for a guy you got off the waiver wire for free!
LeGarrette Blount – Steelers: Blount is one of those guys that people own for some reason in fantasy football (10.8 percent on NFL.com), but they never start because he is a clear backup and only gets touches when the game is out of control. I know… I know… what if the starter gets hurt? I'm not wasting a spot on a backup unless we are in a deep bench league or a 14-plus team league. That said, Blount managed to rumble his way to 118 yards on the ground and a touchdown on Sunday. Blount's workload is totally score-dependent, so playing him is an extremely risky proposition as long as Le'Veon Bell is healthy.
Jordan Matthews – Eagles: Of all the Eagles you might expect to see on this list, Matthews probably wouldn't make many of the lists out there. However, if the Eagles want to improve their offense they might want to switch out Riley Cooper with Matthews in 2-wide sets. No matter, Matthews was able to haul in 8 passes and 2 touchdowns on Sunday, but had just 59 yards to show for it. I wouldn't be quick to add Matthews as long as he remains the Eagles WR3.
Kelvin Benjamin – Panthers: Benjamin is owned in 55.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, and it was only a matter of time before it became all about the Benjamin in Carolina. That happened in week 3 as Cam Newton targeted him 11 times and he came down with 8 of them for 115 receiving yards and a touchdown. At 6'5" Benjamin is a huge redzone target and should have plenty more days like this as the only real threat in the WR corps.
Allen Hurns – Jaguars: Hurns is officially an early season diamond in the rough for fantasy owners who were lucky enough to snag him off the waiver wire after his week 1 4-110-2 line. While he did total just 1 catch in week 3, he made it count as he turned it into a 63-yard touchdown and a #15 ranking for fantasy WRs this week. Hurns' value remains fluid with Shorts and Robinson starting, and Lee looking to return from a hamstring injury any game now. He is a must-own player for the time being.
Martellus Bennett – Bears: Bennett is owned in virtually every fantasy league known to man, and rightfully so. Bennett is tied for the 2nd-most targets to TEs this season with 26, with 8 of those coming on Monday night. He turned those 8 targets into 5 catches for 54 yards and 2 TDs. Bennett is going to be a TE1 as long as Jay Cutler can avoid the dreaded Bears injury curse this year. Has anyone thought to put the Bears on Obama Care with as much as they get injured?
Atlanta Falcons defense: The Falcons defense had been one of the worst fantasy defenses to own leading up to week 3, totaling just 3.00 fantasy points the previous two weeks. However, that all changed when they got a hold of the Bucs offense and proceeded to tally up 4 recovered fumbles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD, 1 return TD, and allowed just 8 points. The Falcons aren't anywhere close to being that good, and my guess is they will never see fantasy points anywhere in this range ever again. We all missed it, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: Stafford just couldn't get anything going this week against a Packers defense that is less than intimidating on paper and finished with 246 yards passing, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, and a lost fumble. Because he put up a goose egg for touchdowns and played catch with the defense twice, he finished as the lowest ranked starting QB on NFL.com (for fantasy purposes) with 4.64 points. This is sure to go down as a season-low for Stafford, but on the bright side he gets the Jets, Bills, Vikings, Saints, and Falcons before his bye in week 9.
Aaron Rodgers – Packers: What in the world is going on in Green Bay? Eddie Lacy is simply killing fantasy owners with nothing to show for a first round pick as of yet, and Rodgers needs to Discount Double-Check to make sure he is playing on Sundays as he finished this week with 162 passing yards and a single touchdown. Detroit's defense is good, but is Rodgers not supposed to be elite? 162-1 won't cut it from a guy who is atop most of the weekly QB rankings. The Packers bye doesn't come until week 9, so the coaching staff will need to put in extra hours with the team traveling to face the Bears in week 4.
Danny Woodhead – Chargers: As you already know, Woodhead is done for the season and to make matters worse he didn't even go out with a bang for fantasy owners. In week 3 he managed just a single carry which resulted in just one (1) yard before his injury. With 85.2 percent of people owning him on NFL.com, you can be sure there are a LOT of people scouring their waiver wire this morning looking for a replacement.
Frank Gore – 49ers: When I think of fantasy players that I consider to be overrated, Frank Gore certainly comes to mind for running backs. This week Gore managed just 6 carries (that's right, 6 carries) which resulted in a whopping 10 yards. He does get the Eagles in week 4, but owners need to understand that he is no longer the workhorse RB he once was. His touches are inconsistent and Carlos Hyde is waiting to take his job.
Brandon Marshall – Bears: Marshall aggravated his ankle injury in the 2nd quarter of the Monday Night Football game, and finished with just 1 catch for 8 yards. We'll have to wait and see what test results reveal, but Marshall is CLEARLY playing at less than 100 percent health. No matter what, he is a WR1 whenever he is on the field.
Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals: With Carson Palmer out, Fitzgerald's stock is plummeting faster than a rock thrown into a pond. Even though he was able to see 7 targets in week 3, he was only able to reel in 3 of them for a total of 34 yards and a lost fumble. It's hard to say this, but his days as a fantasy starter are over as long as Drew Stanton looks at John Brown more than him. I'd sit Fitzgerald down until Palmer takes the field, but also stay away from falling into the trap of picking up Brown off the waiver wire.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Just when you think you can trust Ertz as a sleeper TE, he forgets to set his alarm clock and wake up for the game! Ertz managed just 3 targets, 2 catches, and 14 yards on Sunday. Tight end is always a boom-or-bust position in fantasy football, which is why more leagues are going towards a flex spot instead of a traditional TE only spot. The Eagles get a 49ers defense next week that is averaging 5.1 PPG allowed to TEs this season, 9th-best in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers defense: I actually own the Panthers defense in several of my leagues, and that was not a good thing in week 3 as they managed to LOSE points in fantasy! Yes, that's right, they managed to lose 3.00 points on NFL.com this week by allowing 37 points to the Steelers while getting just 1 sack for defensive stats. They are a much better unit than this most weeks, so chalk this up to a bad game and move on.
Now you want to know how I did, right? Well, I missed on Sammy Watkins, Steve Smith, Ertz, the Texans defense, but was right on the other 12 picks. That's good enough for another 75 percent rating, and an overall rating of 77.77 percent this season.