Ten Things We Learned in Week 3 (Fantasy Football)
After the first two semi-lackluster weeks in fantasy football, Week 3 brought the points explosion fantasy managers love to see. Three players scored over 40 fantasy points, none of whom were quarterbacks, and the main waiver wire additions this past week put fantasy managers at ease with their performances. Three weeks is now a decent enough sample size to confirm who is surpassing their expectations and who isn’t playing quite as well as we hoped. A lot has changed since fantasy drafts took place nearly a month ago, so we have to adjust our expectations week after week. There are many developments to pay close attention to coming out of Week 3, including the ten intriguing storylines listed below.
1. Start Every Offensive Player in Miami – No Ifs, Ands, or Buts
Doesn’t matter the matchup, doesn’t matter how a player performed the previous week – if you roster any of the relevant fantasy options on Miami, you start them. Raheem Mostert was a late-round pick, so you might have two “bigger names” at RB ahead of him. Doesn’t matter, get Mostert in your lineup. Devon Achane didn’t play in Week 1 and saw just two touches in Week 2. You saw what he did Sunday against Denver, find a way to get him in your lineup. Because of his injury concerns, Tua Tagovailoa was a late pick, so he could even be the second QB on a fantasy roster. Trade the first one – Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, etc., and start Tagovailoa. You do not want to miss out on one of the most electric offenses in NFL history. You don’t want to leave 40+ points on your bench again.
2. Sam LaPorta Is Defying Rookie TE Odds
You could see Sam LaPorta‘s involvement from the opening game of the 2023 season when Detroit defeated Kansas City on Thursday night football. He was on the field for the majority of offensive plays, participating in both passing and blocking schemes. LaPorta has played over 80% of snaps this season and has accumulated 18 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown. That puts him in the top 25 for receiving yards and the tight end with the most receiving yards through three weeks. LaPorta may have gone undrafted in redraft leagues, but should now not only be rostered but be in starting lineups week in and week out. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the rookie finishes the season as a top-three tight end.
3. Jahan Dotson Belongs on Fantasy Benches
Jahan Dotson was a favorite heading into the fantasy draft season after finishing the 2022 campaign on a strong note. Washington’s offense was supposed to be improved with Sam Howell under center, and a banged-up Terry McLaurin was supposed to lead to more looks for Dotson. Through three weeks, the second-year WR has 83 yards on 10 catches and no touchdowns. He managed just four targets on Sunday in a game where Washington trailed from the get-go. It’s fair to keep Dotson on fantasy rosters and hope for improvement as the season progresses, but for now, he should not be started even in a favorable matchup against the Bears in a couple of weeks.
4. Jerome Ford Is the Only Running Back Worth Rostering in Cleveland
Jerome Ford‘s rushing numbers don’t jump off the page – 10 attempts for 18 yards hardly breeds confidence. But the Titans’ defense has always been stalwart against the run game. This was expected. Ford still managed a rushing touchdown and showed his receiving chops with a score through the air, comforting managers who spent most of their FAAB on him. The surprise was seeing both Kareem Hunt and Pierre Strong Jr. in the game on the Browns’ first drive. Expect both of those players to continue to get work, but Ford is the only Cleveland running back who should be rostered. He will get the bulk of the carries moving forward. The schedule remains a gauntlet with Baltimore and San Francisco up next but opens up against Seattle and Arizona afterward.
5. Kenneth Walker III Is a Top-10 RB
Kenneth Walker III saw all the preseason hype about Zach Charbonnet and quickly squashed the possibility of the rookie being a fantasy contributor. Walker III is second in the league with four rushing touchdowns and just outside of the top 10 with 204 rushing yards. He’s added receiving work to his repertoire, having already caught eight passes through three weeks when he totaled just 27 receptions all of last year. After a sloppy opening week, Seattle’s offense is starting to hit its stride and the second-year RB is going to reap the rewards. Charbonnet should only be considered as an insurance policy.
6. The Texans Are Showing Life in the Passing Game
Dameon Pierce was the highest-drafted Texan in fantasy drafts, while the only other Houston player being drafted was Nico Collins somewhere in the early double-digit rounds. Ironically, Pierce has struggled behind a depleted offensive line, and rookie CJ Stroud is breathing life into the passing game thanks to Collins, Robert Woods, and rookie Tank Dell. In what would have been the biggest upset of Sunday if it hadn’t been for Arizona’s victory over Dallas, Houston defeated Jacksonville handily behind Stroud’s 280 passing yards and two touchdowns and Dell’s 145 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dell was a waiver wire target this past week and should be rostered in 100% of leagues. The upcoming schedule is favorable for wide receivers and both Collins and Dell should be in the starting conversation, especially with bye weeks coming up. And you could do worse than streaming Stroud in the right matchup. The rookie QB is the first in NFL history to have over 900 passing yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions in his first three games.
7. Adam Thielen Has Fantasy Value
Cue the ghost of Adam Thielen courtesy of Mike Wright, “I’m back…” My colleague Javier Manzanera made the case for Thielen in Fantasy Court and I argued against him, but one must admit when they are wrong. I believe Thielen has fantasy value moving forward. Coming off of a seven-catch game for 54 yards and a touchdown, the veteran followed it up with 145 receiving yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. D.J. Chark returned to the lineup and rookie Jonathan Mingo has been involved, but the veteran WR is clearly the number one target on a Carolina offense that will be playing from behind often this season.
8. It’s Time to Worry About Derrick Henry
In my first column two weeks ago, I warned against trusting any Tennessee players moving forward, even Derrick Henry. I still think Henry has plenty left in the tank, but the Titans’ offense is so abysmal that the star running back will not be able to put up the numbers we’re used to seeing. He had just 20 yards on 11 carries against Cleveland on Sunday, and even his 25 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown performance against the Chargers last week would have been a bigger day in the past. It might be worth waiting a week or two for another game where Henry scores and then trying to sell on the recent good game and name recognition.
9. Alvin Kamara Should Quell the Saints’ Running Back Woes
The Saints have been one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL this year, as the combination of Jamaal Williams and Tony Jones Jr. has been uninspiring on the ground. Rookie Kendre Miller returned in Week 3 and rushed for 34 yards on nine carries, but struggled to move the ball in the second half. Alvin Kamara is due to return next week after serving a three-game suspension, and while he has never rushed for over 1,000 yards in his career, he brings a dynamic skill set to the backfield that New Orleans desperately needs. With Williams on IR and Jones Jr. likely relegated back to the bench, Kamara should have the majority of the touches out of the backfield and help ignite the offense with his rushing ability.
10. It May Be Time to Start Trusting Arizona’s Fantasy Options
For the first three weeks of the season, it was James Conner and that’s it. No other Cardinal should be started in fantasy. Well, Marquise Brown has scored two weeks in a row, Zach Ertz has 20 targets through three games, and rookie Michael Wilson racked up 86 yards on Sunday. Even Rondale Moore scored on an electric 45-yard run out of the backfield. Brown is starting to look like a weekly start with some upside. Ertz is startable at tight end and both Wilson and Moore can be rostered in deeper leagues or started in DFS formats. Even Arizona’s defense is worth monitoring for the right matchups.