Stars of Week 3

QB: Tom Brady, NE: 25-35, 378 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs

RB: Todd Gurley, LAR: 28 carries, 113 yards, 2 TDs (5 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD)

WR: Stefon Diggs, MIN: 8 catches, 173 yards, 2 TDs

TE: Marcedes Lewis, JAX: 4 catches, 62 yards, 3 TDs

We could leave Tom Brady’s name in here permanently, even during the bye week, and I bet no one would flinch. Let’s just say he’s a solid starting QB option. For those of you who didn’t catch Thursday Night Football this past week, you missed out! Rams running back Todd Gurley played a starring role against the 49ers, with 3 TDs. We’ll take a closer look at Gurley below. Stefon Diggs continues to take the next step towards stardom, locking down top WR honors with Case Keenum as his QB this week. He’s a weekly starter, and threatening WR1 status. Finally, it is with great pleasure to not only present to you a Jacksonville Jaguar for the honor roll, but a Jacksonville Jaguar tight end! That’s right, Marcedes Lewis sits atop the tight end chair this week. We’ll look at him in more depth below as well. 

Week 3 Takeaways – A Closer Look 

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Cam Newton, QB - CAR: 17-26, 167 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs (3 carries, 16 yards, 1 TD)

Analysis: It was less than two years ago when Cam Newton led all QBs in fantasy points, while guiding the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 – albeit coming out with a loss. Well, Newton regressed to the mean last year, and the early returns this year don’t provide any comfort. Against a middling-at-best Saints defense, Newton threw three picks and found the end zone only once – in this case coming through the ground. Through three games, Newton has 2 TD passes and 4 picks, while not having played a tough defensive schedule. His days of significant rushing numbers are in the past, and his yards per attempt trail his counterparts. Part of the problem is that the Panthers’ offensive line does him no favors. Christian McCaffrey has been helpful as a passing threat, but with Greg Olsen out for the next several weeks and Kelvin Benjamin potentially out as well, look elsewhere for your QB needs until further notice. Newton should be viewed as a QB2 indefinitely.

- Todd Gurley, RB - LAR: 28 carries, 113 yards, 2 TDs (5 catches, 36 yards, 1 TD)

Analysis: Todd Gurley started off his NFL career in 2015 with an eye opening rookie season, generating excitement as the next star running back. Last year the narrative turned, as Gurley averaged a measly 3.2 yards a carry on 278 attempts, and only finding the end zone 6 times. As it follows, year 3 essentially serves as a referendum on Gurley – is he the stud RB we saw in his rookie year, or is he, gulp, the next Trent Richardson? While some concerns remain, it’s safe to conclude that Gurley has the talent – and now the circumstances – to be an elite RB. Sean McVay has breathed new life into the Rams’ offense, with Gurley enjoying a fantastic start to the 2017 season. A big key here is how McVay has incorporated Gurley into the passing game – he already has 2 receiving TDs, with 13 receptions covering 140 yards. Extrapolate those numbers and you’re looing at 700+ receiving yards. The one remaining area of concern about Gurley comes with his running vision – more often than you’d like, he doesn’t hit the right hole, leaving big gains on the table. If he can correct this, then Gurley will comfortably cement himself as an annual first round pick in drafts. But in any event, Gurley should post back end RB1 numbers going forward and should be a weekly starter.

- LeGarrette Blount, RB – PHI: 12 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD

Wendell Smallwood, RB - PHI: 12 carries, 71 yards, 0 TDs

Darren Sproles, RB – PHI (injured): 3 carries, 11 yards, 0 TDs 

Analysis: The Eagles’ RB situation has not registered loudly on the fantasy radar as of yet – and likely won’t for the duration of the year. The hope for fantasy owners was that LeGarrette Blount would play the same role that he did with the Patriots – leading the team in carries and serving as the goal line back. Blount looked to have that role in Week 1, only to not have any carries in Week 2, and back to a key role in Week 3. So which is it, Coach Pederson? We’ll have to keep an eye on the situation to see how the dust settles, but the thought here is that Blount will settle in the 12-14 carry range per game, with most of the goal line work. That’s a useful flex player, not an RB2 weekly starter. Darren Sproles had the inverse utilization in the first two weeks, leading the team in carries in week 2 while not substantially factoring into the run game in week 1. Unfortunately Sproles suffered a broke arm and is out indefinitely. This is where Smallwood comes into play – Smallwood can serve as a flex option in deeper leagues while Sproles remains out. I prefer Blount over Smallwood if you’re picking one due to higher TD potential, but both are useful if you’re looking to pick up an RB.

- Sterling Shepard, WR – NYG: 7 catches, 133 yards, 1 TD                                                  

Analysis: After two weeks of severe struggles, the New York Giants offense finally came to life in the second half of the game against the Eagles. Eli Manning flung the ball to all corners, and while Odell Beckham snagged two TDs, it was Sterling Shepard who led the team in yardage. That second half was the manner in which the Giants envisioned operating their offense for the season – Beckham, Shepard, Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram all involved and causing havoc on opposing secondaries. So is the Giants offense now fixed? Not exactly – the offensive line still has major issues and the team lacks a running game. While this means that the Giants will be throwing all the time, their weekly results will be mixed depending in large part on the mischief caused by their opponents’ defensive lines. As for Shepard, he’s definitely worth an add in deeper leagues, but he’s a WR3/flex option in good matchups and a bench player in tougher ones. So keep your expectations in check, and expect weekly fluctuation. 

- Marcedes Lewis, TE – JAX: 4 catches, 62 yards, 3 TDs

Analysis: For the significantly less than one percent of folks who started Marcedes Lewis, congratulations! Lewis and his cohorts took a blowtorch to the Baltimore Ravens defense in London this past Sunday. Lewis hauled in four catches for 62 yards, three of which resulted in TDs. These game stats are also Lewis’ first stats of the 2017 season, as Lewis was inactive for the first two games. Has the Jaguars’ offense improved? No question, with Leonard Fournette being the key addition leading to improvement. As for the passing game, and specifically Lewis, I would view this game as a one game outlier. Lewis has played in the NFL for 12 years, and while flashing from time to time, hasn’t had a fantasy relevant season since 2012. Don’t let one game fool you – he’s a TE2 and nothing more. If you’re in a very deep league or eventually need a bye week fill-in, Lewis is fine. But he’s not a weekly starter. 

Rapid Fire Pickups

Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in most leagues.

QB: Deshaun Watson, HOU

RB: Jamaal Charles, DEN

RB: Alvin Kamara, NO

WR: Devin Funchess, CAR

WR: Paul Richardson, SEA

TE: Cameron Brate, TB


Week 4 Rankings


  1. Tom Brady, NE (vs. CAR)
  2. Drew Brees, NO (at MIA)
  3. Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. BUF)
  4. Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. IND)
  5. Dak Prescott, DAL (vs. LAR)
  6. Kirk Cousins, WAS (at KC)
  7. Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. PHI)
  8. Matthew Stafford, DET (at MIN)
  9. Marcus Mariota, TEN (at HOU)
  10. Carson Palmer, ARZ (vs. SF)
  11. Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at ATL)
  12. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at BAL)
  13. Jameis Winston, TB (vs. NYG)
  14. Andy Dalton, CIN (at CLE)
  15. Jay Cutler, MIA (vs. NO)
  16. DeShaun Watson, HOU (vs. TEN)
  17. Trevor Siemian, DEN (vs. OAK)
  18. Carson Wentz, PHI (at LAC)
  19. Cam Newton, CAR (at NE)
  20. Alex Smith, KC (vs. WAS)

Running Backs:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. LAR)
  2. Kareem Hunt, KC (vs. WAS)
  3. Le'Veon Bell, PIT (at BAL)
  4. Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. BUF)
  5. Dalvin Cook, MIN (vs. DET)
  6. Jay Ajayi, MIA (vs. NO)
  7. LeSean McCoy, BUF (at ATL)
  8. Leonard Fournette, JAX (at NYJ)
  9. Todd Gurley, LAR (at DAL)
  10. Melvin Gordon, LAC (vs. PHI)
  11. Carlos Hyde, SF (at ARZ)
  12. Chris Carson, SEA (vs. IND)
  13. C.J. Anderson, DEN (vs. OAK)
  14. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (at NE)
  15. DeMarco Murray, TEN (at HOU)
  16. Marshawn Lynch, OAK (at DEN)
  17. Joe Mixon, CIN (at CLE)
  18. Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. TEN)
  19. Mike Gillislee, NE (vs. CAR)
  20. Mark Ingram, NO (at MIA)
  21. Isaiah Crowell, CLE (vs. CIN)
  22. Ameer Abdullah, DET (at MIN)
  23. Chris Thompson, WAS (at KC)
  24. Tevin Coleman, ATL (vs. BUF)
  25. Frank Gore, IND (at SEA)
  26. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (at NE)
  27. Wendell Smallwood, PHI (at LAC)
  28. LeGarrette Blount, PHI (at LAC)
  29. Javorius Allen, BAL (vs. PIT)
  30. Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (vs. NYG)
  31. Derrick Henry, TEN (at HOU)
  32. James White, NE (vs. CAR)
  33. Duke Johnson, CLE (vs. CIN)
  34. Theo Riddick, DET (at MIN)
  35. Bilal Powell, NYJ (vs. JAX)
  36. Robert Kelley, WAS (at KC)
  37. Jamaal Charles, DEN (vs. OAK)
  38. Alvin Kamara, NO (at MIA)
  39. Chris Johnson, ARZ (vs. SF)
  40. Terrance West, BAL (vs. PIT)

Wide Receivers:

  1. Antonio Brown, PIT (at BAL)
  2. A.J. Green, CIN (at CLE)
  3. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (at TB)
  4. Julio Jones, ATL (vs. BUF)
  5. Michael Thomas, NO (at MIA)
  6. Mike Evans, TB (vs. NYG)
  7. Brandin Cooks, NE (vs. CAR)
  8. Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. LAR)
  9. Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. PHI)
  10. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ (vs. SF)
  11. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. TEN)
  12. Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. DET)
  13. Tyreek Hill, KC (vs. WAS)
  14. Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs. OAK)
  15. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. OAK)
  16. Devante Parker, MIA (vs. NO)
  17. Alshon Jeffery, PHI (at LAC)
  18. Golden Tate, DET (at MIN)
  19. Amari Cooper, OAK (at DEN)
  20. Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs. NO)
  21. Chris Hogan, NE (vs. CAR)
  22. T.Y. Hilton, IND (at SEA)
  23. Sammy Watkins, LAR (at DAL)
  24. Adam Thielen, MIN (vs. DET)
  25. Martavis Bryant, PIT (at BAL)
  26. Terrelle Pryor, WAS (at KC)
  27. Pierre Garcon, SF (at ARZ)
  28. Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs. IND)
  29. DeSean Jackson, TB (vs. NYG)
  30. Rishard Matthews, TEN (at HOU)
  31. Tyler Lockett, SEA (vs. IND)
  32. Marqise Lee, JAX (at NYJ)
  33. Jamison Crowder, WAS (at KC)
  34. Jeremy Maclin, BAL (vs. PIT)
  35. Willie Snead, NO (at MIA)
  36. J.J. Nelson, ARZ (vs. SF)
  37. Kenny Stills, MIA (vs. NO)
  38. Tyrell Williams, LAC (vs. PHI)
  39. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (at NE)
  40. Allen Hurns, JAX (at NYJ)

Tight End:

  1. Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs. CAR)
  2. Travis Kelce, KC (vs. WAS)
  3. Zach Ertz, PHI (at LAC)
  4. Delanie Walker, TEN (at HOU)
  5. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. DET)
  6. Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs. IND)
  7. Charles Clay, BUF (at ATL)
  8. Jason Witten, DAL (vs. LAR)
  9. Eric Ebron, DET (at MIN)
  10. Jordan Reed, WAS (at KC)
  11. Jared Cook, OAK (at DEN)
  12. Evan Engram, NYG (at TB)
  13. Cameron Brate, TB (vs. NYG)
  14. Coby Fleener, NO (at MIA)
  15. Jack Doyle, IND (at SEA)
  16. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, NYJ (vs. JAX)
  17. Benjamin Watson, BAL (vs. PIT)
  18. Hunter Henry, LAC (vs. PHI)
  19. Vernon Davis, WAS (at KC)
  20. Austin Hooper, ATL (vs. BUF)

Defense/Special Teams:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (vs. IND)
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars (at NYJ)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
  4. Denver Broncos (vs. OAK)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL)
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (vs. WAS)
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (at CLE)
  8. Minnesota Vikings (vs. DET)
  9. New England Patriots (vs. CAR)
  10. Houston Texans (vs. TEN)
  11. Philadelphia Eagles (at LAC)
  12. New York Giants (at TB)
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. NYG)
  14. Los Angeles Chargers (vs. PHI)
  15. Atlanta Falcons (vs. BUF)