Stars of Week 3
QB: Russell Wilson, SEA: 27-40, 315 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Alvin Kamara, NO: 6 carries, 58 yards, 0 TDs (13 receptions, 139 yards, 2 TDs)
WR: Tyler Lockett, SEA: 9 catches, 100 yards, 3 TDs
TE: Jimmy Graham, CHI: 6 catches, 60 yards, 2 TDs
Not often, but every once in a while in September we get wind of a special season that will be forthcoming. With lots of noise surrounding Russell Wilson having yet to receive even one MVP vote, the Seahawks franchise QB has gone where no other QB in NFL history has – 14 TD passes through the first three games. With apologies to Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, it’s Wilson who has looked like the league’s best QB this year. This past Sunday, Mr. Unlimited torched the Cowboys’ secondary with 5 TD passes. Expect the video game numbers to continue throughout most of the year, especially with the Hawks also sporting a porous defense.
Playing Madden 21 with Russell Wilson on Sunday was perhaps the most underrated WR in the NFL, Tyler Lockett. Lockett caught three of Wilson’s 5 TDs, consistently having 5 yards of separation from the Cowboys’ defenders. Lockett’s an easy WR1 this year, and he’ll continue to be the Seahawks’ top receiving option.
After three weeks, the New Orleans Saints have caused great concern with their play, particularly because of QB Drew Brees. While Brees’ struggles are a subject for another day, his star RB – Alvin Kamara – has actually benefitted greatly as a result. Brees has trouble throwing the ball more than 10 yards downfield, and Kamara has become Brees’ clear top passing target with star WR Michael Thomas out. Kamara has looked electrifying, unstoppable for defenses despite their knowledge the ball will be in his hands. There’s a strong argument for Kamara being the top overall pick if we were to redraft fantasy leagues today.
We finish with Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham, who has come to life now that the team has made the QB switch to Nick Foles. Foles likes his tight ends, so add Graham if you have a need at the position.
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.
- Josh Allen, QB – BUF: 24-33, 311 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: The two most polarizing QB prospects in the 2018 NFL draft have become the two standouts from that group. Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson wisely rejected whispers from a former NFL GM who advised him to play WR. Bills’ QB Josh Allen didn’t face questions as to whether he was a QB, as he “looked the part” and could chuck a football over them mountains. The question Allen faced was whether his throws would land within 10 yards of the barn door at which he’s aiming. Rightfully, lack of accuracy in college is a huge red flag for a QB when evaluating NFL prospects, as it’s a trait that’s hard to significantly improve. Allen took major steps last year, using his rushing prowess to supplement his powerful but less accurate arm. Fast forward to 2020, and Allen appears to have taken that next step with his throws. Allen’s completion percentage has increased from 58.8% in 2019 to 71.1% in 2020, while his average yards per attempt have increased from 6.7 to 9.1. While of course his yards per attempt have gone up in part because he’s completing more passes, this statistic remains significant because it shows his completion percentage improvement is not due to dinking-and-dunking. Allen’s making similar downfield throws to last year, but just more accurately. The focus on Allen here serves as a coronation – he’s now a top 5 fantasy QB, and a weekly must-start. Along with Allen’s improved passing skills, it’s his rushing which provides an additional level of security as a weekly start – ensuring that he has a high weekly floor. Allen has arrived, and his improvement is the real deal.
- New York Giants RBs: All sub 6 carries – none over 10 yards
Analysis: With star RB Saquon Barkley out for the season, the question from a fantasy perspective naturally became who to own among the Giants’ RBs. The Giants went out and signed Devonta Freeman to join Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman in their stable of RBs. None of the three aforementioned RBs were even able to cross the 10 yard threshold – yuk! Granted they were facing the San Francisco 49ers, who have a tough defense, and the team resorted to the passing game most of the way. Looking at the snap count/carries ratio, it went as follows: 20/1 – Dion Lewis, 18/4 – Wayne Gallman and 15/5 – Devonta Freeman. Examining the situation in the aggregate, my read is that Devonta Freeman will be the best RB to own from this group. His 15 snaps while leading the team in carries, despite being signed just mid-week, tells me that the Giants feel that Freeman’s the best back to lead the team’s rushing charge. I would agree with the Giants, assuming that’s their assessment. Look for Freeman to continue to become the primary ball carrier for the Giants – not a bell cow, but somewhere along the lines of 60 – 70% of the carries. Lewis should continue to serve primarily as the third down back, and Gallman will spell Freeman on some drives. In terms of value, Freeman will be a flex play in deep leagues (12+ teams), Lewis a flex play in very deep leagues (16+ teams) and Gallman should remain on your league’s waiver wire. The Giants will be trailing teams in most games, so Freeman’s value has a low ceiling. Lewis has too many better targets to compete with, which limits his ceiling as well.
- Justin Jefferson, WR – MIN: 7 catches, 175 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: With star WR Stefon Diggs traded to the Bills, the Vikings had a gaping hole to fill opposite the team’s other star WR, Adam Thielen. Logically, the Vikings used the first round pick acquired for Diggs to select their successor…Justin Jefferson from LSU. Jefferson came into the league with championship pedigree, boasting good route running skills and great hands. Rookie WRs often face a longer learning curve, so it was fair to give Jefferson up until his third NFL game to explode onto the scene. Jefferson scored his first NFL TD while hauling in 7 passes for 175 yards, all while looking like a 10 year pro. Looking further at the numbers, QB Kirk Cousins targeted Jefferson a team leading 9 times...so Jefferson’s numbers were more than a result of a few deep bombs. While rookie WRs are tougher to count on in fantasy football due to weekly inconsistency, Jefferson’s in a great spot. Besides Adam Thielen, the Vikings don’t really have much else at WR – meaning that Jefferson will be thrust into a starting role out of both merit and necessity. Jefferson should be your top WR add this week, so make the move if you need a WR.
- Brandon Aiyuk, WR – SF: 5 catches, 70 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: Continuing with the trend of featuring rookie WRs, we turn to the bay to take stock in Kyle Shanahan’s new toy for the offense, Arizona Stat alumnus Brandon Aiyuk. The rookie WR made a quiet NFL debut last week, with 2 receptions covering 21 yards. In Aiyuk’s second game as a pro, he led the 49ers in yards (70) and targets (8). The 49ers have been without their top WR, Deebo Samuel, thus far, but his return appears to be imminent. Nevertheless, Aiyuk will have a key role in the 49ers’ passing game even upon Samuel’s return. Aiyuk fits Shanahan’s offense perfectly – he’s shifty, great in open space and quick as hell. The 49ers will spread the ball around each week, so Aiyuk sits behind the aforementioned Jefferson on the waiver priority list. However, Aiyuk will be a viable flex option in deeper leagues (12 plus teams), with a ceiling above that as he continues to develop.
- Allen Lazard, WR – GB: 6 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: The Green Bay Packers were without star WR Davante Adams as they entered the SNF showdown with the New Orleans Saints, who were without their own star WR, Michael Thomas. Going into Week 3, Allen Lazard was a popular question as a fantasy fill-in. Goes without saying, but Lazard blew away my expectations, along with those of all other fantasy analysts. The second year WR wrecked the Saints secondary to the tune of 146 yards over 6 catches, with a TD mixed in. Lazard led the team with 8 targets, a healthy lead over tight end Robert Tonyan, who was second with 5 targets. Could Lazard elevate to be a trusted second WR opposite Adams? Lazard has had a few impactful games mixed in with much more contests where he’s been a non-factor. So the evidence thus far doesn’t support a breakthrough. On the flip side, there’s a gaping hole waiting to be filled, so the opportunity will be there. My ultimate view – Lazard will be a must start in any additional games where Davante Adams sits, but he’ll be a flex option in deep leagues (at best) in games where Adams plays. Given Aaron Rodgers’ propensity to (smartly) spread targets around to his running backs and tight ends, upon Adams’ return, Lazard won’t be targeted enough consistently to merit a place in your lineups. But he has established himself as the guy in case Adams sits. So with all this, Lazard’s worth an add in deeper leagues, but know what you’re getting.
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 featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Baker Mayfield, CLE (facing the Cowboys’ secondary this week)
RB: Myles Gaskin, MIA
RB: Jeff Wilson Jr., SF
Bonus RB: Carlos Hyde, SEA (he'll take the lead chair with Carson out)
WR: Tee Higgins, CIN
WR: Scotty Miller, TB
TE: Logan Thomas, WAS (targets are there, increased production coming)