Ten Things We Learned in Week Three (Fantasy Football)
Week three was an exciting one. We saw two veteran receivers light up the fantasy scoreboard and a few players finally come back down to earth. The youth movement began as we saw new quarterbacks behind center for multiple storied franchises As usual, there were a lot of things that mattered, and a lot of things that didn’t. The panic meter is steadily increasing in some places, and in other places, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Let’s get to it.
1. Mike Evans is Still the Alpha
Sometimes you have to remind the world they haven’t gone crazy. Mike Evans did just that on Sunday while laughing at all of us who were starting to believe that Chris Godwin was the man in Tampa Bay. Godwin has had an excellent start to the season so far and ranked in the top ten going into week three, but Evans stole the show. He erupted for 190 yards and three touchdowns and should finish as the WR1 overall. Jameis Winston had a strong outing and O.J Howard calmed our nerves for the time being with a decent fantasy performance. Chris Godwin has been the only reliable player on that team so far, but he let us down this week. These things will happen in fantasy football, so there’s no reason to panic about any player on this team. The only thing we need to do is make sure that we never question Mike Evans again.
2. Lamar Jackson is Human
Jackson had a tougher outing this week but still managed to compile 21 fantasy points which should land him in QB1 territory. He threw for 267 yards which is his lowest total of the season but was able to use his legs to keep his fantasy floor high. I said in the week two recap that Jackson had the ability to break fantasy football if he could continue to throw the ball at such a high rate, and that still holds true. Jackson had his first real test this week and even though he didn’t explode for your team it was encouraging to get confirmation that his floor is sky high. He should finish as a top 7 option at the position if he stays healthy, but for now we can put the Patrick Mahomes comparisons on the shelf.
3. Kyle Shanahan is One Hell of a Coach (But a Fantasy Nightmare).
Shanahan has shown the league time and time again that he can develop an offensive scheme that will rival anyone in football. Since he took over the head coaching position in San Francisco, he’s made the most out of the players on his roster. Not many coaches in the league would be able to create matchups that result in Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert, and Matt Breida being well-known names in the fantasy community. In week two we saw Mostert finish as a top 20 running back, but things got ugly for him in week three. Mostert had a very quiet day while Jeff Wilson rumbled across the goal line twice even though he only had 18 yards on the ground. Shanahan is a damn good coach, but he’s frustrating as can be for fantasy owners. Once Tevin Coleman comes back things should settle in more, but that’s far from a guarantee. If the Jeff Wilson experiment is a season-long one, it will limit the ceiling of both Breida and Coleman going forward.
4. Cam Newton is a Liability
Cam is a liability for fantasy owners right now, but he may be a liability for his own team too. Kyle Allen stepped in on Sunday and looked better than Newton has all year, and he raised the bar for all the players on his team in the process. Curtis Samuel had his best outing all season and Christian McCaffrey bounced back in a big way. Most people assumed Cam had an injury in week two, but the fact that Allen had such a strong start to his career muddies the water quite a bit. If Cam continues to struggle with these types of injuries, it’s not crazy to think the Panthers may move on from their former top overall pick. Newton has never been able to remain on the field consistently and it’s becoming an issue for more than just fantasy owners. If you have another strong option available on your waivers, I don’t blame you one bit for cutting Cam and moving on.
5. Keenan Allen is Underrated
Allen has been a monster in fantasy for years now, but he’s often left out of the conversations about the best receivers in the league. Julio Jones, OBJ, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas are all worthy of being in the conversation of course, but Allen has done enough to earn a spot at that water cooler. He’s on pace to finish as a top-three wide receiver in fantasy this year and there are no signs of that slowing down. He owns a ridiculous 40% target share in the Chargers offense this season and it’s very well documented just how great of a route runner he is. The Melvin Gordon-less offense has run through Allen and Austin Ekeler all season long and until the pro bowl running back returns from his holdout, that won’t change. Allen is rewarding the owners who took him in round two, and if you owned him this week you’re likely walking away with a win.
6. The Panic Meter on Davante Adams is Rising
Adams was a consensus top ten pick in fantasy drafts this year but he’s been underwhelming, to say the least. He’s now put up single-digit fantasy points in two out of three weeks and his week two output was nothing to be excited about. The Packers offense as a whole is much slower this season and they only ran 52 plays total against the Broncos on Sunday. Any time you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers it’s a good idea to air it out, but the Packers are undefeated so they haven’t needed to. Adams has three straight seasons with double-digit touchdowns under his belt, but that may be in jeopardy if their offense doesn’t pick up the pace. It’s the first time since 2015 he’s had three straight games without a score and he only has 15 receptions total. These types of trends don’t usually reverse immediately so there’s a reason to be concerned. If you took Adams in round one of your fantasy draft you are likely in a big hole, and it might be time to listen to trade offers.
7. Mark Ingram is an RB1
Let me just say this: Latavius Murray is not Mark Ingram. Even though that was obvious to some people, it’s important to point it out. The former Heisman Trophy winner has found himself a happy home in Baltimore, and this week he rewarded those of you who trusted the process. He crossed the goal line three times on Sunday and will finish as a top-five back on the week, so it’s almost time to crown him a potential league winner. His limited passing game work will keep him out of the top five at the position, but he’s a bona fide RB1 in that offense if he can stay healthy. Those of you who took a chance on Justice Hill had every right to do so, but this is Mark Ingram’s backfield.
8. Devonta Freeman Is Alive! (But Still Not Impressive)
We finally got to see Freeman in a reasonable matchup, but he underperformed once again. Ito Smith was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter and we got the chance to see Freeman in a workhorse role. He finished with a respectable 88 yards rushing but didn’t find the end zone and still hasn’t this season. He’s averaging a brutal 2.2 YPC on the year and the eye-test doesn’t do much to give us an indication that things will improve anytime soon. Freeman has crossed into RB3/flex territory at this point, which is disappointing to say the least. The volume he will see in plus matchups make him a perfectly fine RB3 option some of the time, but the lack of passing game work and poor efficiency will keep him from being a must-play from here on out.
9. Fantasy Ceilings are Crucial
There’s a lot of players that you can rely on for a baseline point total each week, but the select few guys that can win you a week are crucial if you want to win a title. Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, Alvin Kamara and Evan Engram won a lot of people their games this week and there will be plenty of frustrated owners taking L’s even though their team performed just fine. It’s easy to draft the safe players in every round to avoid the donuts and goose eggs, but it’s also important to take a few chances on guys that can light up the box score. The key difference between these players and the other guys in the same ADP range going into drafts was their offensive situations. All of these guys are the top options in their offenses, and their offenses run through them. Even though they may have similar talent profiles, you can’t say the same thing about David Johnson, Nick Chubb, or Adam Thielen. Keep this in mind during trade talks this week, and pay close attention to the process when you’re drafting next year.
10. The QB Torches Have Been Lit
But not quite passed. It was an exciting week for the future of the NFL, as we saw Gardner Minshew, Kyle Allen, Mason Rudolph, Daniel Jones, and Teddy Bridgewater start for their teams. Even though it was only one week, it’s very clear that a few of these guys have a future in this league. Daniel Jones should have the job locked up going forward and Minshew will get plenty of chances to improve his resume for the offseason. The situation in Carolina is a murky one, and Mason Rudolph won’t be much more than a placeholder for Big Ben. Not all of these young guns will be household names for the long term, but the times they are a changin’.