Just when you think you understand the NFL, teams take all preconceived notions and turn them on their heads. Week 3 showed us that gridiron football will never run out of teachable moments for players and fans alike. For a fantasy football focus, here are 10 things we learned in week 3.
10No Sure Thing
There really is no guaranteed win in the NFL. Last week, most people picked the Vikings to beat the Bills pretty easily. As a result of that perceived great matchup, I played Latavius Murray with confidence in one of my fantasy leagues. He and the entire Minnesota team except for Adam Thielen disappointed. On the other side, Josh Allen was one of the best QB plays in week 3 in what appeared to be a matchup to avoid. The Vikings-Bills game was not the only example of strange outcomes. Both the Titans and Lions’ defenses had given up a ton of fantasy points to opponents entering week 3. The players for the Jaguars and the Patriots seemed like must-starts in those respective matchups. Alas, they disappointed as well (WR Phillip Dorsett got me 0 points on two different fantasy teams). There is no sure thing in the NFL.
There were 5 QBs taken in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL draft. Two of them started in week 3 while two others came in mid-game to replace veterans. The highlights were Josh Allen getting his first victory as a starter and Baker Mayfield leading the Browns to a comeback win. They defeated the Jets whose rookie QB Sam Darnold has had up and downs this season, but looks right for the job. Meanwhile, Josh Rosen came in for the end of the game with the Cardinals down by 2 points. He couldn’t get the team in field goal range but most likely, the Rosen era has started in Arizona.
8Getting (Balti)more Targets
It appears the top 2 targets for the Ravens are establishing themselves. In week 3, almost half of Joe Flacco‘s pass attempts (19 of 40) went to either John Brown or to Michael Crabtree. This was similar to week 2 when they were both targeted 10 times. Flacco has established a report with these WRs. Brown had Baltimore’s longest reception in each game, with 2 TDs so far in 2018. In those same games, Crabtree has either tied for the lead or led the Ravens in targets. This passing offense will probably continue to flow through Brown and Crabtree.
During week 3, Eagles QB Carson Wentz made his much-anticipated debut of 2018. With his top WR still recovering from shoulder surgery, Wentz targeted other positions often. Only 7 of his 37 targets went to WRs. On the contrary, TEs were targeted 21 times with Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz accounting for 12 receptions and 146 yards. Goedert even managed to snag his first career TD. While Alshon Jeffery‘s return may change things, we learned that Wentz will look at his TEs often. This is especially true if Philadelphia runs 2TE sets as often as they did in week 3. Ertz saw 98.8% of offensive snaps in that game, while Goedert was on the field with the offense 67.1% of the time.
6Full(er) Part of the Game Plan
Like Carson Wentz, fellow QB Deshaun Watson was also recovering from an ACL tear. In his third game of 2018, Watson appears to have established his top 2 targets very clearly. Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins were targeted on over half (21 of 40) of Watson’s pass attempts. That was even more apparent in week 2 when those two WRs received 20 of Watson’s 32 targets. We expected this type of workload from Hopkins as he is one of the best WRs in the league. Fuller, however, has less overall pedigree but he is a great deep-ball receiver. His 16.5 YPR is currently the 17th highest in the league. The only players with higher YPC and more receptions than Fuller are Tyreek Hill (22.1), Brandin Cooks (17.7) and Tyler Boyd (16.6).
Speaking of Tyler Boyd, for the second week in a row, he led in Bengals in receiving yards. Yes, even with A.J. Green‘s monster performance in week 2 (3TDs), he only had 69 yards as compared to Boyd’s 91. With Green’s injury in week 3, Boyd stepped up big with 132 yards and 1 TD. In a game where 5 Cincinnati players each received 7 targets, Boyd was the only one to eclipse 75 yards and 12.5 yards per reception (YPR). If Green should miss significant time, Boyd may see a large uptick in targets. At worst, he is worth a play in fantasy team when other WRs have tough matchups.
The Green Bay Packers have a full-blown running back committee. With Aaron Jones returning in week 3, we finally saw what that would look like. During his 2-game suspension, Jones’ teammates saw a large workload. This is especially true for Jamaal Williams who had 15 and 16 caries in weeks 1 and 2 respectively. That dropped significantly to 5 rushing attempts in week 3 as Jones was actually the Packers’ leading rusher. It was almost a full-blown even split as both Jones and Williams had 7 touches. Ty Montgomery was actually the busiest with 4 carries and 7 targets (of which he managed to catch 6). It would be really shocking to see one of these RBs establish themselves as a workhorse in 2018.
Through 3 games this season Kenyan Drake has 30 carries while Frank Gore has rushed 24 times. Perhaps game script has rendered these 2 RB equal as the Dolphins have won all 3 games. Gore only has 1 reception on the season while Drake has had 9. This tells me that Drake is the designated pass catching back and will be used more often when the Dolphins are trailing. When they are in the leading, however, all bets are off as Gore has been arguably more effective on the ground. In 2 of the 3 games so far this season, Gore has had more rushing yards. His 4.1 yard per carry (YPC) average is better than Drake’s 3.4 YPC. This 2 headed backfield will probably continue for most of the season.
2Mike Looks Right
Mike Williams is looking like a legitimate NFL WR. Early in the 1st quarter, Williams made a 42-yard diving catch in the end zone. While that was impressive on its own, it was even better considering that he actually got a step ahead of Marcus Peters on the route. Williams actually tied Keenan Allen with 7 targets in week 3. It seems that Williams will be a weapon often utilized by Philip Rivers.
1Chris Carpool (no more)
After splitting the load in weeks 1 and 2, Chris Carson finally became the featured RB. In a game where the Seahawks were up by 14 at halftime, Carson got 32 carries and 2 targets. Rashaad Penny became an afterthought in the offense with only 5 rushing attempts in week 3. Carson has looked much better and Seattle finally stopped trying to force first-round pick Penny and his playing time. He will eventually get a larger workload, but it may not come in 2018. For now, Carson is driving solo in the Seahawks backfield, not in the carpool lane.
Thank you for reading. I hope that we all learned something from this NFL week. Keep checking Going For 2 in order to learn more every day.