Fantasy Football: What to Watch For in Week 3
Hey there #Footclan, and welcome back to the weekly series, “What To Watch For“. Each week we take a look at the schedule and the matchups and point out some interesting things that we all should pay attention to. These can be something simple, or those ongoing burning questions we have in the back of our minds. Let’s take a look at Week 3.
How will Cam Newton and the Panthers offense fair without Greg Olsen?
We have never seen what the Carolina Panthers look like without their star tight end, Greg Olsen. The veteran TE has been given the name the “Iron Man” around the league, playing 16 games year after year. When was the last time Greg Olsen missed a football game you might ask? The second game of his career! Since then Olsen has dominated at the TE position with over 160 consecutive straight games under his belt. He’s padded the stats catching 625 passes, and being the very first TE in NFL history to post three straight 1,000-yard seasons. This all came to an end last Sunday when Olsen caught 1 pass for 10 yards and came up limping and hobbled on the field to the sidelines. The diagnosis is a broken foot and Olsen getting surgery to fix that now means he is on the IR list for the Panthers and out 8 weeks or more possibly. Ed Dickson is the next in line at the TE position, but he’s proven to be a certifiable blocker the past few years and hasn’t caught much when he does line up for snaps.
This means the focus lies with Cam Newton airing it out to his top WR, Kelvin Benjamin. It’s been a very slow start to the season for the duo as far as production, but in order for Carolina to keep a healthy balance of offense, they can’t just solely rely on Jonathan Stewart and rookie sensation Christian McCaffrey to just run the whole game, they need to get Benjamin involved heavily in order to put up enough points on the board to beat the opponents that lie ahead of them. Luckily the Panthers have an easier matchup against the Saints who rank last against the passing game, so now’s the time for Cam and Kelvin to get that connection going and mastered.
Will CJ Anderson continue his top RB dominance against Buffalo?
The 2017 offseason saw C.J. Anderson take up long-distance biking and new nutrition plan in an effort to re-define his body and increase his endurance for long periods of time. So far, it’s paying off as we’ve seen a big difference this season for the running game of the Denver Broncos. He has averaged over 4 yards per carry in both games this season, making it the first time he’s had back to back 4.0 YPC games since the end of the 2015 season. His 199 total yards rank second in the NFL through two weeks of play, and he’s broken off multiple 20+ yard plays that remind this fans of the 2014 rumbles that first brought him to the success of being an undrafted free agent to winning the starting roll in Denver. There is still a lot of football left to play, but the Broncos’ tailback is on a pace for a 1,600 yard rushing season behind the improved offensive line that John Elway worked so hard on this past offseason to assemble. This week they have a tougher opponent with the Buffalo Bills, who kept the Carolina Panthers to only 9 points just last week. If C.J. can keep that pace, he’ll redefine himself in the eyes of Broncos and fantasy fans alike. And if that happens, or if he even gets close, then the Broncos are highly likely to be playing in the postseason. In five postseason appearances, he’s only failed to maintain a 4.0+ YPC once… and then still managed 3.91 on that game. This Sunday will be a true test for Anderson, and at a 1pm start time, we don’t have to wait long to find out.
Who will be the top WR in Miami against the Jets? Landry or Parker?
It’s that time for the part of my segment where we pick on the New York Jets, who’s tanking strategy will be on display yet again. This bodes well for “Smokin’ Jay Cutty” and the wide receivers he will unleash upon the horrible New York secondary. The question is, which one will wind up being the top performer? The consensus is that Cutler has a legit man-crush on DeVante Parker and has even referred to him as a “faster Alshon Jeffery“. In their first week of football after the week 1 bye due to Hurricane Irma, Parker got 4 receptions and 85 passing yards and in the “Ballers preferred format” of scoring got 10.5 fantasy points. That’s a pretty solid start to the season. In that same week, Jarvis Landry came up with a remarkable 13 receptions for 78 passing yards equaling out to 13.6 fantasy points. So now the question remains, will we see the same trend that will see Landry stay on top of the PPR world with all these receptions, or will game-flow mean that the ball will go more to Parker this week instead. Landry is safe with sure hands and can be found in the middle of the field almost at all times, but if Cutler is looking for the long bomb and strike, he’s eyeballing Parker downfield. Either way, we may see one or both of these options as a top 5 WR in PPR ranks this weekend. Maybe we see another 40 point game from a team that has enough high-octane of an offense to do so, just like Oakland did to the Jets last week.
Will Le’Veon Bell finally get going and produce against the Chicago Bears?
It’s been a frustrating first two weeks for Le’Veon Bell owners in fantasy as we’ve seen what happens when you holdout due to contract negotiations and you have no training camp and pre-season to get you into top football playing shape to be ready to take on the many run defenses the NFL brings a running back each season. In his first two starts, Bell has only averaged a 3.2 YPC, distributing only 37 rushing attempts for 119 yards for zero touchdowns and only accumulating 13.8 fantasy points total according to Pro Football Reference. But the saying goes, there is “no time like the present” to get the ball rolling and make the change. We did see Bell’s rushing attempts jump drastically from just 10 rushing attempts against the Cleveland Browns to 27 rushing attempts just last week against Minnesota. Most of his teammates were asked according to Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com and the consensus is that they feel like the game against Chicago this weekend is Le’Veon’s “dress rehearsal” and that now’s the time for him to kick it into high gear and get going. We sure hope this is the case. Bell looked decent last week with over 80 yards rushing, but he was lacking that “burst” and speed where he can turn 10-yard gains into 20 yards or more with one single quick cut and acceleration moving away from the line of scrimmage. Being a Lev Bell owner in my own home league of record, I understand the frustration level. But don’t panic, don’t trade him away, let him get up to speed and give him a few more weeks. If he isn’t cutting it by then, then look to trade for his name value and get you some important pieces to sure up a #footclantitle. I’m just saying don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet.
Can the Colts defense defend their home turf against the favored Cleveland Browns?
In one of the most bizarre headlines of the week, the Indianapolis Colts are the -1 underdog at home against the Cleveland Browns. This mindblowing fact is a true reality check on how bad the Colts season has gone so far. With injuries plaguing their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck with his shoulder surgery in the offseason and a weak defense, with injuries to the secondary, and the absence of Vontae Davis, it leaves Indianapolis in a very vulnerable state for any team to prey on. The surging Browns seem to have something finally going in their favor with rookie QB, Deshone Kizer, first round TE, David Njoku, running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, and an improved offensive line. Now with the “next man up mentality” the Browns are displaying after losing Corey Coleman to a broken hand injury, the former Colorado State WR standout Rashard Higgins looks to become the new WR1. He had his first performance in Week 2 since coming up from the practice squad resulting in 7 receptions for 95 receiving yards. This could be an ugly game to take in, but intriguing nonetheless!