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On any given Sunday

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Week 3 of the NFL season is now in the books, and with the exception of everything that transpired with the issue of taking a knee during the national anthem, it was an amazing week for lovers of football. We saw one of the best games we'll see all year on Thursday night when the Rams and 49ers swapped touchdowns all game long; we saw the Jaguars absolutely dismantle the Ravens in London; and we saw a rookie in Deshaun Watson go into Foxboro and almost do what no other rookie had ever done—beat the Patriots in their home stadium as a rookie.

When you look at the final numbers, you could almost title this week "Unlikely Heroes" with Case Keenum, Marcedes Lewis, and Jacoby Brissett putting up big games from the waiver wire. Meanwhile, starting lineup staples like Travis Kelce, Cam Newton, and whole teams like the Raiders, Dolphins, and Ravens were the antithesis of help. That is one of the things I love about fantasy sports—the unknown and unpredictable nature of player performance. From protests to touchdowns, I love this game!

  • Telvin Smith is now ranked as the #2 fantasy LB for those in IDP formats, trailing C.J. Mosely by just 0.40 points. Those people holding onto guys like Sean Lee, Lavonte David, and Kwon Alexander, you might want to consider making the switch now.

Winners

Blake Bortles– Jaguars: Bortles and the entire Jaguars team came alive in their home away from home, London. Bortles lit up the Ravens defense for 244 passing yards, 18 rushing yards, and 4 touchdowns on Sunday. It is a stat line that will hopefully quiet the critics calling for the Jaguars to make a switch at QB, but he will need to build on this performance to keep them quiet.

The Jaguars go on the road in Week 4 to take on the New York Jets, a defense that has given up 6 passing touchdowns through the first 3 games of the season. He will be a sneaky QB streaming play for savvy fantasy owners.

Case Keenum – Vikings: Keenum got another start in place of injured Sam Bradford, and boy did he ever make the most of it in front of the hometown fans! He completed 25 of 33 passes for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, while running 6 times for 18 more yards. It was a dominant effort from a QB that is virtually unowned.

Keenum draws the Lions in Week 4, making him a somewhat risky QB streamer. The Lions have allowed 4 passing touchdowns, but have stolen 7 interceptions through 3 games. This week is sure to go down as one of the best games of Keenum's career, and it would be unwise to grab him hoping for a repeat performance again next week.

Kareem Hunt – Chiefs: Hunt has been nothing short of a fantasy savior for owners smart enough to draft him, or lucky enough to grab him off the waiver wire when Spencer Ware went down for the season. Hunt became the first player since Matt Forte in 2008 to begin his career with three straight 100-yard games when he ran for 172 yards and added a touchdown on Sunday.

Hunt was already over 100 rushing yards when he sealed the Chiefs victory thanks to a 69-yard touchdown run with 1:16 left in the 4th quarter. Hunt isn't the fastest guy on the field, but his running style is perfect for what the Chiefs do, and he has the talent to run right through, and around, would-be tacklers. He is an every-week starter in any format, and has probably already locked up Offensive ROY honors in the NFL.

Chris Thompson – Redskins: Ok, I was wrong about playing Thompson this week. I own it! With Jordan Reed and Rob Kelley both out, Thompson racked up 8 carries for 38 yards, and reeled in 6 catches for a monstrous 150 yards and a touchdown. He almost had a 2nd touchdown on a 74-yard screen play, but came up just short.

Thompson's numbers are coming off huge plays, while his touches still remain limited. With Reed and Kelley likely to return for Week 4, I'm still reluctant to buy into Thompson as anything more than a flex play in PPR formats. Even with Samaje Perine averaging a putrid 2.9 YPC through 40 carries, the Redskins still only consider Thompson a passing-down back due to his size (5'8" and 191 pounds).

Stefon Diggs – Vikings: Diggs showed this week why he is going to be a name to know at WR for years to come as he was able to haul in 8 of 11 targets for 173 yards and 2 TDs against the Bucs. Even with the Vikings roller coaster ride at QB, Diggs has a 17/293/4 line through the first 3 games of the season.

I'm not ready to put him in the elite category of WRs due to his QB problems, but he is showing he obviously has the talent to get there. Sam Bradford is uncertain for Week 4, putting Keenum in the driver's seat to start against a Lions defense that has been pretty good at getting INTs this season.  

T.Y. Hilton – Colts: Hilton is a guy I wanted nothing to do with early into this season because of Andrew Luck's injured shoulder, and absence from the Colts lineup. The first two weeks of the season he had pedestrian numbers, accounting for 7 catches and 106 receiving yards. But this week he surpassed those numbers by adding 7 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.

To be fair, he was playing a Browns defense that also gave up an 11/182/0 line to Antonio Brown in Week 1, and a 4/31/1 line to Jeremy Maclin in Week 2. He takes on the Seahawks in Week 4, and my guess is he goes right back to his Weeks 1 and 2 numbers.

Marcedes Lewis– Jaguars: Lewis entered the London game with no catches this season, but exploded for 4 catches, 62 yards, and 3 touchdowns in Week 3. To put things in perspective, Lewis' last touchdown came in Week 2 of last season, and the last time he had more than 50 yards receiving was Week 14, of 2014!

Chalk this one up to "on any given Sunday."

New York Jets defense: If you asked me which defense was the better play between the Jets and Dolphins this week, I would have said the Dolphins. However, I would have been wrong as the Jets finished as the top fantasy points producer for Week 3 defenses thanks to their 3 sacks, 2 INTs, and 6 points allowed.

The Jets are a far cry from the tough defense they once were, but they stepped up in this one and stuck it to the Dolphins at home. Next week they host the Jaguars, so you can be sure to hear a lot about them from those other fantasy experts all week long. For me, I'm not going to bet on them to do this again.

Losers

Joe Flacco – Ravens: The list of what went right for Flacco and the Ravens is far shorter than the list of what went wrong, a fact that many fantasy owners found out when they bet against the Jaguars' underrated defense. Flacco finished the day completing just 8 of 18 passes for 28 yards, no TDs, and 2 INTs. Numbers like that normally suggest an injury of some kind, but Flacco was healthy all game.

The Jaguars had their foot on the pedal from the very beginning, forcing the Ravens to become a one-dimensional offense almost from the opening whistle. With the Ravens playing catch-up, the defensive line was able to pin their ears back and rush, while the secondary played the pass to perfection. At his best, Flacco is a middle of the road QB2, and not one that I particularly care to own.

Philip Rivers – Chargers: Rivers is about the truest definition of "gunslinger" as you'll see in the NFL these days. But that title comes with both the good and the bad, when it comes to statistics. This week was the latter of the two, with Rivers finishing with 20 of 40 completed passes, 237 yards, no TDs, and 3 INTs.

Now in his 14th season as an NFL QB, Rivers is sporting a 4:4 TD:INT ratio, while averaging 253.3 YPG passing. Rivers has the weapons to succeed with Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon, but his gunslinger ways are becoming a problem when you consider he has now thrown 25 INTs through 16 games going back to Week 3 of last season. Be aware, and beware.

Jay Ajayi – Dolphins: With the Dolphins trying to play catch-up, Ajayi only saw 13 touches in Week 3, leading to an abysmal 25 total yards for fantasy owners. These things happen from time to time with RBs when the team falls behind and the QB is forced to throw down field, so I wouldn't worry too much about this.

Ajayi has a great matchup in Week 4 against the Saints, but that one too could end up with Jay Cutler throwing from behind if the Dolphins defense can't keep the Saints offense off the field. 

Marshawn Lynch – Raiders: Lynch's Week 3 performance is a lot like Ajayi's; with his team playing from behind, he never really had a chance at success as a non-factor in the passing game. Lynch managed just 6 carries for 18 yards and 1 catch for 8 yards against the Redskins.

The problem with Lynch is people drafted him hoping for a 20-25 carry RB, and we are seeing his carries go from 18 in Week 1, to 12 in Week 2, and down to 6 in Week 3. His BEASTMODE days appear over, but he still holds low-end RB2 value if he can keep his touches closer to the 15-18 range most games.

Amari Cooper – Raiders: Cooper, Cooper, Cooper (shakes head while saying it). Amari Cooper has been charged with 6 dropped passes through the first three weeks of the NFL season, the most by any WR. This week he dropped just 1 pass, but managed just 1 catch on his 5 targets, gaining just 6 empty yards from it.

Cooper's talent isn't in question, but his hands are becoming a problem that Derek Carr can't ignore. Cooper is locked in as the Raiders WR1, but things won't get any easier for him as the Raiders travel to Denver in Week 4.

Terrelle Pryor – Redskins: Pryor started off his Redskins career with a solid 6/66/0 effort in Week 1, but has managed just 4 catches for 50 yards in the last two games. This week he accounted for 2 of those catches, along with 19 of the yards.

The Redskins seem to be completely ok with checking down to Chris Thompson as a means of moving the ball, which is terrible news for Pryor and Jamison Crowder owners. If Rob Kelley and Jordan Reed can't come back and help move the ball, Pryor won't be worth playing at this rate.

Travis Kelce – Chiefs: Kelce had one of the worst offensive games you will see from him in Week 3 as he managed to see just 1 target, which he caught for 1 lonely yard. There was no injury or game plan that took him out of the mix, just a possible ROY running the ball in Kareem Hunt.

Kelce won't have games like this many more times in his career. So, just like with [Marcedes] Lewis above, on any given Sunday…

Baltimore Ravens defense: All you heard leading up to Week 3 was how the Baltimore Ravens defense was a must-own, and must-play defense against the Jaguars in London. Well, that wasn't the case as the Ravens failed to log a single defensive stat for fantasy purposes, while giving up 44 points to the Jaguars.

Giving up 44 points is bad enough, but to not register a single sack, interception, or fumble just kills any chance for you to have any sort of fantasy success. The Ravens take on the Steelers at home in Week 4, then head to Oakland to take on the Raiders in Week 5, making them a defense to avoid until Week 6 when they take on the Bears.

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