Lineup Prep: Week 3

Wed Sep 23 10:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Taylor can produce big again



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Here is to hoping this week is a little more calm on the injury front. Last week was devastating for so many fantasy teams, seeing so many top players go down. It was hard to watch. The good news for last week was there were a lot of big fantasy performances. It looks like players and offenses are rounding into form in a hurry. Let’s hope that is the trend going forward and the injuries stop. We can hope, right?

Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . . .

I like the Devonta Freeman signing in New York. Sure, their line is terrible and Freeman isn’t quite the same player as past seasons, but I think he can be somewhat productive for fantasy teams in a starting role. He topped 1,000 total yards in 14 games last year and is 28 years old. Freeman also has 50-plus receptions three of the past five seasons. He is a three-down back with a track record of success. He won’t be Saquon Barkley but he can help ease his loss a little for the Giants and fantasy teams.

I love the way Josh Allen is playing right now. He is throwing the ball with more confidence and seems on the same page with his receivers. Plus, the offense is really doing a great job of utilizing his strengths and receivers in this offense. I just want to temper expectations for him going forward. He played the Jets and Dolphins to open the season, two of the worst defenses in football. He is not going to do this every week. I do think he is a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year, though, and could maybe even be top five. But just don’t get too carried away with his great start.

This year is showing more than ever that staying away from running back committees is good idea for fantasy owners. There are all sorts of situations causing headaches for fantasy teams, including the Ravens, Dolphins, Rams and Lions. Who knows if these situations will sort out any time soon? Keep this in mind when drafting next year. It is better to just let someone else in your league deal with these running back committees.

Sure, he made a few mistakes but I was really impressed with Justin Herbert in his NFL debut. He was thrown into action at the last minute on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs but almost led his team to victory. He just brings a lot more to the Chargers offense, so I hope he gets the nod going forward for the team. He would be a plus for all playmakers on that side of the ball, especially at receiver.

So all the offseason Calvin Ridley hype was warranted. He leads all fantasy receivers in scoring after two games. He has multiple touchdowns and 100-yard performances each of his first two games. Ridley has really taken his game to a new level. Julio Jones and Ridley might be the best receiver duo in football right now. I expect both these players to be top-10 fantasy receivers by the end of the season, especially since this offense throws the ball so often.

I really didn’t think Darren Waller was going to be able to repeat his big season from last year. I don’t have any shares of him. I will be the first to admit a mistake and I made one here. He is still getting tons of looks in this offense despite the team upgrading at receiver. He has 24 targets in two games and already a double-digit reception, 100-yard performance under his belt. Waller is the real deal and should continue to post big numbers in this offense.

I hope the Raiders scale back the usage of Josh Jacobs a little. He already looks beat up and we are just two weeks into the season. He has 25-plus carries each of his first two games, though, and 59 total touches. Jacobs might not hold up at this current rate, especially if you consider how he looked late in the Week 2 game. The Raiders might be wise to manage their franchise back a little better going forward.

So Nyheim Hines scores two touchdowns and has 15 touches in Week 1. The Colts starting back, Marlon Mack, gets hurt in the game and Hines sees his touches actually go down the following week. He has just one touch last week. Yeah, I can’t explain it. I thought he would at least get double-digit touches or near that. It seems the Colts are all in on Jonathan Taylor as their three-down back - at least for now. I would avoid using Hines until you see some steady production from him on a weekly basis.

There are some great games to watch this weekend. I have several that I’m looking forward to watching, including the Raiders/Patriots, Cowboys/Seahawks, Packers/Saints and Chiefs/Ravens. This is shaping up to be a great weekend of football. Hopefully, it plays out that way. Plus, many of these games are setup to be high scoring, which is always good for fantasy owners.

Don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 3 rankings

News and Notes: The Broncos signed Blake Bortles on Tuesday. He should serve as the backup this week but could move into the starting role before long. . . . .The Giants signed running back Devonta Freeman on Tuesday. He could be the starting lineup in a hurry once he gets up to speed in the Giants offense.

HOT PLAYS

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars. Minshew is off to a great start this season, having three touchdowns in each of his first two games. He also topped the 300-yard mark last week. Minshew is playing with confidence and making plenty of plays in an offense that is airing it out more often. He should continue his hot ways this week against Miami, a team that allows the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Minshew is a solid starter for fantasy teams in this one.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts. Taylor was the featured back last week for the Colts because of the injury to Marlon Mack and excelled in that role. He got a ton of work and enjoyed his first 100-yard game, rushing 26 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Taylor has 199 total yards in two games. He should continue to get a lot of chances in this offense and is setup for a big rookie year, especially with Mack hurt. Taylor can produce his best game to date this week against the Jets, a team that allows the seventh most fantasy points to running backs.

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks. Metcalf has posted similar numbers to start the season. He has four receptions, topped 90 yards and scored a touchdown in each of his first two games. He is off to a solid start, showing his huge ceiling for the coming season. Metcalf might be able to best his first two games this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has been burnt by the pass each of their first two games. The Cowboys allow the seventh most fantasy points to receivers and allow 268-passing yards per game.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. Gordon is off to a decent start to his Broncos career. He has 80-plus total yards in each of his first two games and scored in both those games. He hasn’t enjoyed the big game just yet but is producing consistent numbers. This week might be his first big fantasy performance of the season. Gordon could be counted on for more work with the Broncos ravaged by injury. He might be the focal point of the offense for the next few weeks. Gordon gets the Bucs, a team that allows the fifth most fantasy points to running backs.

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys. Lamb had his first 100-yard game as a pro last week, catching six passes for 106 yards. He has at least five receptions each of his first two games. He is getting plenty of chances to make plays his rookie season in the Cowboys offense. Expect more of the same this week against the Seahawks, a team that allows more than 400-passing yards per game. Seattle also allows the most fantasy points to receivers. Look for Lamb to build on his big showing from Week 2.

COLD PLAYS 

David Johnson, RB, Texans. Johnson did very little in a tough matchup last week against the Ravens, running 11 times for 34 yards. He also caught two passes for 16 yards. He had just 50 total yards. He has a similar tough matchup this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh allows the fifth fewest fantasy points to running backs and are first overall against the run after two games. If you have better options, go with them.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions. Jones has disappointed some to start his season, especially if you consider he was the No. 1 target for the Lions with Kenny Golladay out of the lineup. Jones didn’t take advantage, having 78 yards in two games. He also has just four receptions each of his first two games. Golladay is expected back this week, which could take away a few targets from Jones. Plus, Jones plays the Cardinals, a team that has done well against the pass to start the season. Arizona allows the fewest fantasy points to receivers.

Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Brees is off to a bit of a rough start for his standards, having three touchdowns and an interception in two games. He did top 300-passing yards last week but got many of those yards late with the game in hand. He has struggled to make plays down the field. And the loss of Michael Thomas clearly doesn’t help matters for Brees. He probably is best suited on fantasy benches until Thomas is back in the lineup. Brees gets the Packers this week, a team that is 13th overall against the pass.

Malcolm Brown, RB, Rams. Brown has double-digit carries each of his first two games and produced pretty well with his chances. Darrell Henderson emerged last week, though, and could be cutting into Brown’s playing time. Plus, Brown has limited upside because he doesn’t get a ton of work in the passing game. He did not catch a pass last week. He ran 11 times for 47 yards, giving him fewer than five fantasy points. Brown should be pretty ho hum again this week against the Bills, a team that allows the 14th fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Philip Rivers, QB, Colts. Rivers might have a favorable matchup this week against the Jets, but that doesn’t mean you should use him. He will likely be without two of his favorite targets, Parris Campbell and Jack Doyle. Plus, Rivers had a good matchup last week and did little, throwing for just 214 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. Rivers also has three interceptions in two games, having more interceptions than touchdowns for the season. Go with other options.

SLEEPERS

Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals. Burrow had a big performance last week, throwing for 316 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns. He has attempted at least 36 passes each of his first two games. The Bengals aren’t a very good team and could be playing from behind often, giving Burrow many chances to air it out. This is a positive for his fantasy value. Burrow might get a chance to win the game this week, though, playing a reeling Eagles team. Philadelphia has allowed four passing touchdowns without getting an interception in their first two games. Burrow is a good spot start for fantasy teams.

Joshua Kelley, RB, Chargers. Kelley has been getting plenty of work as the Chargers backup running back. He had 23 carries last week and 12 in the opener. He has 173 total yards in two games. It also was good to see him getting some work in the passing game last week, catching two passes for 49 yards. But if he gets 23 carries this week against the Panthers, look for Kelley to have a big game. Carolina has really struggled to stop the run, allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. The Panthers allow 127.5-rushing yards per game. Kelley should garner flex consideration for fantasy teams.

Steven Sims, WR, Washington. Sims is off to a decent start to his season. He has three receptions and 50 or more yards each of his first two games. He is getting some work as the slot receiver for Washington. It would not surprise to see him have his best game of the season this week against the Browns. Cleveland is 27th overall against the pass and allow the sixth most fantasy points to receivers.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Packers. Valdes-Scantling is off to a solid start, having 60-plus yards each of his first two games. He has been targeted 13 times, which is very encouraging for his fantasy value. He is getting a lot of looks on a weekly basis in a suddenly potent passing attack. He should produce another solid game this week against the Saints, a team that allowed the Raiders to throw all over them in Week 2.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions. Swift hasn’t done a whole lot running the ball to start his career, but is making plays in the passing game. He has eight receptions in two games, including a five-catch, 60-yard performance last week. He has been targeted five teams each of his first two games. The Lions aren’t getting much from Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson, so it makes sense to see what Swift can do with more chances. Maybe this is the week he gets even more looks. Swift could have a breakout game against the Cardinals if that happens. Arizona allows the sixth most fantasy points to running backs.

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Dolphins/Jaguars, Bears/Falcons, Lions/Cardinals, Cowboys/Seahawks, Packers/Saints, Chiefs/Ravens.   

Low Scoring Games: Jets/Colts.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Dallas Cowboys Oct 20 12:50am ET

The Dallas Cowboys Defense struggled once again in Week 6, allowing 38 points and recording just one sack with no turnovers. They ended up with -3.0 points in standard scoring formats, their third time in six games winding up with negative points. They've totaled seven fantasy points this season. Seven. Even with a seemingly good matchup next week against the struggling Washington Football Team's offense, the Cowboys will not be a recommended fantasy defense.

From RotoBaller

Dalton Schultz Oct 20 12:40am ET

Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz made four catches in a Week 6 loss, gaining 35 yards. He was targeted five times, mostly running short routes in a game where Andy Dalton threw the ball 54 times but struggled seemingly every time he threw. Schultz flashed in his first post-Blake Jarwin start, but he's settled into a decent floor but low-ceiling tight end option. He'll come down with a touchdown now and then, but is more of a high-end TE2 in most matchups.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Oct 20 12:40am ET

Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein made one field goal and missed another in Week 6. He made his one extra point attempt. Zuerlein's made field goal came from 34 yards out and his miss came from 58 yards. With the huge downgrade in the Cowboys offense in going from Dak Prescott (ankle) to Andy Dalton, Zuerlein's time as a top-12 kicker this season may have come to an end.

From RotoBaller

Michael Gallup Oct 20 12:30am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup caught only two passes in a Week 6 trouncing by the Arizona Cardinals. Gallup was targeted six times and dropped a potential first half touchdown, ending up with just 23 yards on the night. Gallup has become very much a boom-or-bust wide receiver, and with Andy Dalton under center in place of Dak Prescott (ankle), there are likely much more bust than boom weeks coming up.

From RotoBaller

Cedrick Wilson Oct 20 12:30am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cedrick Wilson made just two catches in a Week 6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson was targeted three times, gaining 10 yards on his two catches. Andy Dalton threw the ball 54 times and showed that even though the Dallas defense will make him keep throwing the ball plenty, he likely won't be able to push the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart into fantasy relevance. Wilson won't be a recommended starter in most formats as long as the rest of the Cowboys receivers remain healthy.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Oct 20 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard ran the ball 10 times in a Week 6 loss, gaining 31 yards. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching two passes for nine yards. Pollard came into this one with a total of 13 rush attempts, so his 10 runs were a bit of a surprise. Starter Ezekiel Elliott lost two fumbles and cost the Cowboys a competitive first half, likely leading to an increased role for Pollard. Still, Elliott is in no danger of losing his role on offense, leaving Pollard as a huge difference-maker only if Elliott misses time due to injury, illness, or suspension.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Oct 20 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper bounced back from his rough Week 5 performance. He was targeted 10 times in the passing game, catching seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. This was very much a garbage time performance, as Cooper wasn't even targeted until late in the first half. His touchdown came from one yard out and made it a 31-10 game with about six minutes left in the game. Cooper will take a hit with the loss of Dak Prescott (ankle) for the season, but based on his talent and the fact that the Cowboys Defense will make sure the offense has to throw the ball a lot, Cooper will remain a high-end WR2.

From RotoBaller

CeeDee Lamb Oct 20 12:20am ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb made seven catches in Week 6, gaining 64 yards. He was targeted 10 times in the passing game, tying for second with Amari Cooper behind running back Ezekiel Elliott. Lamb will continue to see plenty of targets every week, but the drop off from Dak Prescott (ankle) to Andy Dalton is looking like a much bigger drop than originally expected. Lamb will retain WR3 value in standard leagues with a bonus in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Oct 20 12:10am ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton did not play well in his first start. Dalton took over in Week 5 after Dak Prescott (ankle) was forced to leave the game and looked decent, but looked almost the complete opposite in his Week 6 start. Dalton completed 34 of his 54 pass attempts for 266 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He added four yards on two carries. Dalton missed some throws by high school margins and checked down to running backs 15 times despite having three elite wide receivers running on the field. Some of it was probably rust and Dalton should look better than this at most points this season, but he proved that the drop off from Prescott to Dalton for the rest of the season may be a lot more significant than originally expected. Dalton will be a QB2 for a matchup against the Washington Football Team in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Oct 20 12:10am ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 12 times in a Week 6 loss, gaining 49 yards. He saw a team-high 11 targets in the passing game, catching eight of them for 31 yards. It was a rough game for Elliott, who lost two fumbles in the first half and was one of the key reasons this was not even a competitive game. Elliott saw backup Tony Pollard carry the ball 10 times in this one as well. "Zeke" will have better games, but with Andy Dalton under center, opposing teams won't be as concerned with the passing game and will be able to focus on shutting down the running game. Based on volume alone, Elliott will remain a weekly RB1, but he won't be the top-tier option he was with Dak Prescott (ankle) calling the shots.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Oct 19 11:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin (concussion) left the Monday night game against the Cardinals in the first quarter after suffering a concussion. Martin was ruled out to begin the second half with the team trailing 21-3. The Cowboys above-average offensive line has been decimated by injuries this year. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick retired in the offseason. Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith had season-ending neck surgery last week, while right tackle La'el Collins is on Injured Reserve after having hip surgery. Joe Looney, who replaced Frederick at center, is on Injured Reserve as well. With quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) also out for the year, the offense struggled against Arizona. The injuries to the offensive line have been more bad news for the offense, especially for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Andy Dalton.

From RotoBaller

John Brown Oct 19 9:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown returned after a one game absence, but it looks like he took this game off as well. Brown failed to haul in all of his four targets during the Week 6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Quarterback Josh Allen had a tough time connecting with his receivers in this one. However, both Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley found the end zone. Brown should have WR4 upside against the New York Jets next week.

From RotoBaller

Gabriel Davis Oct 19 9:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was not able to do much damage against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He finished with one reception on his lone target of the game for seven yards in the loss. Quarterback Josh Allen did not have a good game throwing the ball, so that was part of the problem as well. Davis is likely going to get lost in the shuffle with the Bills receivers healthy at the moment. He might have desperation deep league appeal against the awful New York Jets Defense in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Cole Beasley Oct 19 9:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been reliable all season long and that continued against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He hauled in four of his seven targets for 45 yards and one touchdown. The Bills weren't able to get the air attack going well in this game. However, that should change next week against the horrendous New York Jets Defense. Beasley continues to be a reliable PPR option and that should be the case next week as well.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Oct 19 9:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a fairly quiet game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He hauled in six of his eight targets for 46 yards and one touchdown in the loss. He led the Bills in all receiving categories, but quarterback Josh Allen finished with a total of 122 passing yards in this game. Diggs salvaged his fantasy value with the touchdown, but he should rebound nicely next week. He'll get a favorable matchup against the New York Jets in Week 7. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on him as a WR1 for that game.

From RotoBaller

Mecole Hardman Oct 19 9:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman only received one target on Monday and recorded zero yards against the Buffalo Bills. Hardman is a weekly boom or bust candidate and he had some potential in Week 6 with Sammy Watkins (hamstring) sidelined, but it was Demarcus Robinson who took advantage on Monday. Due to inconsistent performances, Hardman is only WR4/WR5 with upside most weeks. Hardman will look to pick up some stats against the Denver Broncos in a Week 7 matchup.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Oct 19 9:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary was the lead back once again, but failed to do much damage on the ground. He rushed 10 times for 32 yards on the ground in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Singletary also hauled in one of two targets for 13 yards through the air. Rookie Zack Moss did return in this game, but Singletary still managed to get double digit carries. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on Singletary as a low-end RB2 against the New York Jets next week.

From RotoBaller

Zack Moss Oct 19 9:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss (toe) was able to suit up for the Week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. He missed each of the last three games due to a toe issue, but honestly he could've missed this one too and it wouldn't have changed anything. Moss finished with 10 yards on five carries in the loss to the Chiefs. Devin Singletary remained the lead back and that will probably be the case going forward. Moss should have increased value against the New York Jets next week. He could be worth a stash for that matchup.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen Oct 19 9:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had arguably his worst game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. He completed 14 of 27 passing attempts for 122 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the loss. He also added 42 yards on the ground with eight rushing attempts. Allen started off red-hot to begin the season, but hasn't looked the same over the last two weeks. He should be a top tier QB1 for the Week 7 matchup against the New York Jets.

From RotoBaller

Darrel Williams Oct 19 9:00pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams rushed six times for 26 yards and a touchdown on Monday against the Buffalo Bills. Williams also snagged one reception for 15 yards. The Chiefs ran the ball 46 times and part of that could be because of the bad forecast throughout the game. Despite the nice night, Williams is likely to be demoted to the third running back on the roster with the recent addition of LeVeon Bell. Williams should be avoided in all formats and should only have value if Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Bell were to get hurt.

From RotoBaller