When the Lions lost Calvin Johnson to retirement this offseason, I don't think even Detroit natives believed they'd see another 200-yard receiving performance this season. Granted, they did sign Marvin Jones, a guy who was highly touted in Cincinnati but just never seemed to put it all together and excel. Well, the Lions now have their new go-to WR in Jones after he motored his way to 205 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in Green Bay this weekend.
Looking at the rest of the league, Week 3 produced stud fantasy games from unlikely heroes such as Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian, Carlos Hyde, Terrelle Pryor, and Carson Wentz. And yet, even with all the good we saw, there was the bad with bombs like the Dolphins defense, DeAngelo Williams, Ben Roethlisberger, and C.J. Anderson. Sometimes, no matter how great the matchup is on paper, the fantasy gods just aren't smiling on your team for that particular weekend.
If there is a more awkward quarterback situation than that of the Patriots, I'd love to hear about it. Tom Brady is suspended for one more week, Jimmy Garoppolo is highly questionable for Week 4 with a shoulder injury, Jacoby Brissett sprained his thumb and could be out for a few weeks at least. If Garoppolo can't go, my guess is that Julian Edelman would move under center and the Patriots would run a wild-cat type of offense. And even if Garoppolo does go, he will clearly be less than 100 percent. I'd avoid the Patriots WRs and play LaGarrette Blount this weekend.
In a bit of waiver wire news, I told you to pick up Bears RB Jordan Howard and I hope you listened. Jeremy Langford was carted off the field Sunday night, but he was outplayed by Howard even before then. Howard will be the lead back in Chicago and there is little chance he gives up that role moving forward. Howard needs to be owned in all formats!
The Giants lost RB Shane Vereen for the rest of the year (triceps), putting Orleans Darkwa in the driver's seat for early-down work until Rashad Jennings is healthy. The reality of this situation is Darkwa is likely going to be a fantasy bust given the Giants' schedule (@ MIN, @ GB, vs. BAL, vs. LA, vs. PHI, vs. CIN). I'd let someone else make this mistake.
Side note – watching that Monday Night Football game reminded me of playing 500 in my backyard as a kid. You remember, where you and a few of your friends threw the ball up to see who could catch it, and each pass had a point value assigned to it. Looking for a defender on that field was like the principal trying to find Ferris Bueller on his day off!
Trevor Siemian – Broncos: Watching Siemian in Week 3, an outsider might have thought Peyton Manning stole a time machine and traveled into the future to play as Trevor Siemian. Siemian picked apart the Bengals defense like a starving man on a Thanksgiving ham this week, completing 23 of 35 passes for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Siemian is unbeaten as a starter, and has statistically gotten better every single game. He's still not someone I trust in fantasy terms, but he has my attention. His success also means a Paxton Lynch sighting is unlikely unless you show up to a Broncos practice.
Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: Winston has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride this season, lighting it up in Week 1 (281/4/1), stinking it up in Week 2 (243/1/4), then bringing it all full-circle and posting a 405/3/1 line in Week 3. The Rams offense may be a total mess, but their defense is nothing to look past.
Winston clearly has the talent and weapons to put up elite fantasy numbers in the NFL, but consistency hasn't found him yet. He is a risk/reward play because you just don't know if you will get the good, the bad, or the downright ugly from him.
Carson Wentz – Eagles: Boy oh boy, did Wentz put on a show at home against Pittsburgh, racking up 301 yards, 2 TDs, and no INTs. The stats don't do him justice, as the Eagles were so far ahead that Wentz was able to spend the 2nd half of the game handing the ball off rather than throwing it and risk snapping his consecutive passes thrown without an INT record (102).
I wouldn't go off the deep end with Wentz just yet, but there is no doubt that the Rams whiffed in drafting their franchise QB when they passed on Wentz and selected Jared Goff instead. His schedule gets tougher after his Week 4 bye, but he should be owned in most formats going forward.
Carlos Hyde – 49ers: Teams usually have little success against the Seahawks when running the ball, but Hyde surprisingly put up high-end RB1 numbers in Week 3 when he ran the ball 21 times for 103 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The 49ers passing game is in shambles, but Hyde has shown he can be trusted in spite of that.
Look for Hyde to continue to be a RB1/2 next week against the Cowboys defense.
Christine Michael – Seahawks: Michael was a man on a mission Sunday, running the ball for big gains early, including a 41-yard touchdown run right out of the gate. In the end, Michael finished with 106 rushing yards and 2 TDs in what could only be described as a ground battle in Seattle. He's always had the talent to put up these kinds of numbers, but his maturity and desire has been questionable in the past. If he has indeed "figured it out," the rest of the season could be huge for Michael and his owners.
Thomas Rawls has lost his starting job barring an injury to Michael at this point. He's a must-start player in all formats, and makes for a fine RB2 play against the Jets next week.
Darren Sproles – Eagles: This happens every year with Sproles; he does nothing worthy of fantasy consideration, then burns some poor defense for massive yards in the passing game, causing fantasy owners to run to their waiver wire and pick him up, only to regret it when he goes back to his obsolete role the following week. This time it was in Week 3, when Sproles caught 6 of 6 targets for 128 yards and a TD against the Steelers.
The numbers are what they are, and they made Sproles a high-end RB1 this week. Don't go chasing fantasy points and pick him up this week—you WILL regret it!
Charles Sims – Buccaneers: With Doug Martin sidelined with a bad hamstring, the Bucs called upon Sims to start in his place. And while he wasn't Martin out there, he did enough to satisfy fantasy owners with his 55 yards and 1 TD on the ground, and 69 yards (8 rec.) in the air. With Martin out a few weeks at least, Sims is a great player to own as we head into the bye weeks.
The Bucs take on the Broncos' elite defense in Week 4, so Sims is little more than a RB2/flex play in my book.
Marvin Jones – Lions: Jones put on a show in Green Bay, lighting the field on fire with his 8 catches, 205 receiving yards, and 2 TDs on Sunday. With yardage totals of 85, 118, and 205 through the first three games of the season, Jones has solidified himself as the No. 1 WR for the Lions going forward.
With the Bears' atrocious secondary up in Week 4, Jones is a WR1 play all day long!
Allen Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson had been having a quiet 2016 season, catching just 9 passes for 126 yards and no touchdowns heading into Week 3. That was causing panic in some owners' minds, allowing some to make hasty trades, and others to bench him until things got back on track for him. Well, this weekend he had his 2016 coming out party as he hauled in 7 passes for 57 yards and 2 TDs against the Ravens.
The yards weren't what owners have become used to, but the touchdowns and targets are a great sign for Robinson and Blake Bortles. Now is a good time to buy low if Robinson's owner is having early-season jitters with him.
Terrelle Pryor – Browns: Pryor must have been wearing his Kordell Stewart throwback jersey under his Browns jersey on Sunday, because the QB-turned-WR racked up 35 passing yards, 21 rushing yards, and 144 receiving yards against the Dolphins. For those in PPR formats, Pryor hauled in 8 passes, adding to his impressive fantasy totals for those brave enough to own and play him.
With Josh Gordon slated to be back in Week 5, I would be aware and beware when it comes to Pryor and waiver wire additions this week. He has a chance to do well against the Redskins in Week 4, but you can be sure they won't let him make them look as bad as he did the Dolphins this week.
Zach Miller – Bears: As is standard procedure with fantasy TEs, Miller and his virtually unowned-self took a blowtorch to the Cowboys defense and hauled in 8 of 9 targets for 78 yards and 2 TDs. Tight end in fantasy football is basically TD-or-bust once you get outside the top 5 options, and every week there is some waiver wire miracle like Miller out there. Don't chase fantasy numbers with him.
Miller has become a favorite target of Brian Hoyer, but he still can't be trusted as much more than a TE2 going forward.
Cameron Brate – Buccaneers: Speaking of unowned, no-name TEs coming from nowhere to put up amazing fantasy numbers (for a TE), allow me introduce you to Cameron Brate. Brate became the No. 1 TE on the Bucs depth chart after they released Austin Seferian-Jenkins following his DUI arrest. Brate drew 10 targets on Sunday, reeling in 5 of them for 46 yards and 2 TDs against the Rams.
This is very likely to go down as Brate's most productive fantasy game of the season, making him a waiver wire guy to avoid unless you are absolutely 100 percent desperate at the TE position.
Jimmy Graham – Seahawks: Graham looks like he is finally healthy and recovered from his Achilles injury as he played like a man among boys in Week 3 against the 49ers. Graham caught 6 of 9 targets for 100 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, putting him right back in the TE1 talks again.
The Seahawks are dealing with a bit of a situation at quarterback with Russell Wilson suffering a sprained MCL. Coach Pete Carroll is saying Wilson will play, but it is too early to truly know. Graham needs Wilson to play to be trusted as a fantasy option in Week 4. Stay tuned.
Buffalo Bills defense: Watching the Bills/Cardinals game on Sunday almost made me want to turn off the sound and put on that old Benny Hill theme music every time the Cardinals offense had the ball. Part of it was a great gameplan set up by Defensive Coordinator Dennis Thurman, and part of it is the decline of Carson Palmer.
Regardless of who or what it was, the Bills held the Cardinals to 16 points allowed while amassing 5 sacks, 4 INTs, 1 recovered fumble, and 1 defensive touchdown. Next week the Bills get a Patriots offense with major questions at the QB position. The Patriots defense won that game on Thursday night, NOT the offense.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: Palmer looked good in Weeks 1 (271/2/0) and 2 (304/3/0), but looked every bit of the 36-years-old he is. The aging quarterback managed to complete 26 of 50 passes for 261 yards, no TDs, and 4 INTs against a revitalized Bills defense. As I mentioned above, Palmer was sacked 5 times and you know it rattled him into playing even worse as the game went on.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for him next week against the Rams, although the defense should have a much easier time with the Rams offense than they did with the Bills this week. Palmer will have a hard time being trusted as a fantasy starter in Week 4 after this disaster.
Brock Osweiler – Texans: Osweiler is looking a LOT more like a pretender than a contender in the NFL, completing just 59.6 percent of his passes for 695 yards, 3 TDs, and 4 INTs through his first three games with the Texans. Of those stats, 196 yards and 1 INT came in Week 3 against the Patriots on Thursday night.
Osweiler has amazing weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, but great WRs can't make a QB better than he is. He's in no real danger of losing his job given his contract, but he certainly hasn't been worth the money they are paying him.
Ryan Mathews – Eagles: Mathews managed to see just 8 snaps in a blowout victory over the Steelers in Week 3, putting up a whopping -5 yards on 2 carries. That's right, he didn't even get to touch the ball enough to break even on the day!
Now Eagles coach Doug Pederson is saying they will continue to use a backfield rotation even when Mathews is healthy. His value is sinking faster than the Titanic, and now he sits as a flex option, AT BEST.
Jeremy Langford – Bears: Langford twisted his ankle on Sunday, reportedly putting him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. However, before that happened he was looking like a man on his way out of the starting lineup after Jordan Howard showed what he can do. Langford finished the day with 31 rushing yards and 15 receiving yards to Howard's 45 rushing and 47 receiving yards.
Langford isn't a must-hold player in standard fantasy formats, but Howard is a must-add guy when the waiver wires open on Tuesday morning.
DeAngelo Williams – Steelers: Not much went right for the Steelers on Sunday, and Williams was a victim of those circumstances as much as anyone. Playing from behind almost from the get-go, Williams managed just 8 carries for 21 yards, and 4 catches (7 targets) for 23 yards.
It was a bad way to end his starting fantasy life this season (barring an injury to Le'Veon Bell), but such is the life of an NFL player these days. With Bell off suspension, Williams will head to the bench where he becomes nothing more than a handcuff in fantasy leagues.
C.J. Anderson – Broncos: This game looked like the Bengals were focused on shutting down the run, while allowing Siemian throw it in an effort to see what exactly the Broncos QB has. Well, that halfway worked as Anderson gained just 37 yards on 14 carries (2.6 YPC), with no touchdowns.
Anderson is in no danger of losing his job. The Broncos employ a run-heavy offensive scheme, locking him into a RB1 role every week he is on the field. Of course there will be days like these, but as I said before, such is the life of an NFL player.
Kelvin Benjamin – Panthers: Benjamin managed just one target all game long on Sunday, failing to haul it in for a 1/0/0 line against the Vikings. The Panthers passing game is always a hard one to predict given Cam Newton's propensity to take off and run the ball. But we don't expect his No. 1 WR to garner just a single target in a game when he is fully healthy.
OC Mike Shula said they have to find a way to get Benjamin the ball more, which isn't hard when he sees just one of the 35 passing attempts made in a game. He should see plenty of targets in Week 4 against a MUCH softer Falcons secondary.
Tyler Lockett – Seahawks: Lockett is one of those fantasy players that I am starting to think has more name value than fantasy value. Doug Baldwin is the No. 1 WR in Seattle—we all know that. But No. 2 is up for grabs with Jermaine Kearse running routes like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that isn't there!
Lockett failed to draw a single target on Sunday, but did manage 70 return yards for those who are in leagues that count that stat. Through three games now, his numbers have been 3 catches and 17 yards, 4 catches and 99 yards, and no catches for no yards. Lockett is not someone you have to stash on your bench if there is a sexy free agent on the waiver wire.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker – Jets: The Jets offense was the victim of a horrific game by Ryan Fitzpatrick, in which he threw 6… yes… SIX interceptions! That is the most INTs in a single game since 2001, when a little-known Ty Detmer threw 7.
Marshall finished with 3 catches for 27 yards, while Decker put up just a single catch for 31 yards. This is that "floor" that sports people always talk about, so feel safe in knowing that it can't realistically get any worse than it did in Week 3 for Marshall and Decker.
Randall Cobb – Packers: It was clearly the Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson show on Sunday in Green Bay, with the two hooking up for 101 yards and 2 TDs. Cobb, however, was a non-factor as he finished the game with just 3 targets, catching 1 of them for 33 empty yards.
Cobb has failed to total more than 57 receiving yards in a game this season, and hasn't scored yet either. He's shaping up as a WR3 in fantasy terms, unless the Packers draw up some new schemes to get him the ball after their Week 4 bye.
Rob Gronkowski – Patriots: When the story broke that Gronkowski was indeed active and would play against the Texans on Thursday night, I saw all those big-box websites jumping on the "start Gronk" fantasy bandwagon. But because I'm no fool, I stayed off the bandwagon and told people when asked via social media or email to just play whoever they had been playing.
So what did Gronk do? Well, he drew 1 target, which he didn't haul in. So he got people a big fat goose egg in Week 3! With maybe me or you starting at QB for the Patriots in Week 4, I'd play it safe and just continue using whomever you had to start the season. When Brady hits the field in Week 5, everything will fall into place for Gronkowski owners.
Miami Dolphins defense: I'm so angry with the Dolphins defense this week, I scratched all the Miami's off every single map in my house! The Dolphins had the single best opportunity to absolutely humiliate a team as far back as I can even remember, and instead they made the Browns look like legitimate AFC North title contenders on Sunday. Don't let the final score (30-24) fool you, the Dolphins could have VERY easily lost that game.
In the end, Miami sacked Cody Kessler 4 times, but managed no interceptions and 1 forced fumble on the day. I will NEVER mention the Dolphins defense in a starter situation again this season, I promise you that from the depths of my soul!