Week 3 was an interesting one, to say the least. The Buffalo Bills beat a Broncos team coming off a destruction of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, and the Jets won a game. Yes, Jets fans, your boys won one. The Patriots almost lost to a rookie quarterback in Foxboro. The Lions won and then lost a tough one to the Falcons, and Marcedes Lewis scored three touchdowns against a Ravens team that forgot to show up in London. All that, and I haven’t even touched on the trending and noteworthy.
We have two “mini-me” like running backs pounding out the points, and two Vikings receivers getting it done with a starting quarterback who is likely to be unemployed before the snow falls as early as Week 7 in Minnesota. We had two wideouts with big performances likely to demand a waiver wire claim without commanding the opportunities you want to see going forward. It’s three weeks into the Fantasy football season. The trends are starting to form, and not for the better if you’re a Patriots fan or Dez Bryant owner.
Week 3 Noteworthy Players
Completed 25 of 33 pass attempts for 369 yards and three TDs – 28.6 FP
Fantasy Analysis – Keenum was terrible in his first start and lit up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his second. He faces a Detroit Lions defense in Week 4 that ranks ninth worst in passing yards allowed, but sixteenth in touchdowns allowed. Many analysts downgraded Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs last week. That won’t be necessary this week, and you may want to consider Keenum as a sneaky play at an affordable price tag in DFS.
Eight carries for 38 yards, caught 6 out of 7 targets for 150yds, TD – 30.8 FP
Fantasy Analysis – Thompson has at least 100 total yards and one touchdown in back-to-back weeks. He is a carbon copy of Fantasy darling Tarik Cohen in rushing workload, explosiveness as a receiver and skill set overall. He is likely to be a hot waiver wire add this week, but he faces a Kansas City Chiefs defense that is middle of the pack against the run and extremely stingy against running backs in the passing game (89 receiving yards allowed and zero touchdowns to running backs).
Four receptions for 62 yards and three TDs – 28.2 FP
Fantasy Analysis – I expected one of the Jaguars tight ends to emerge as a Fantasy factor because they want Bortles to be as conservative and safe with the ball as possible. This is hardly a sign of great things to come, but it was a surprise and it is noteworthy. Stay tuned.
Caught 7 out of 10 targets for 133 yards, TD – 26.3 FP
Fantasy Analysis – Odell Beckham Jr. is back and Brandon Marshall is still there. All three had double-digit targets in Week 3, but it was Shepard with a 77-yard play to bolster the stat line. Don’t be Fantasy fooled; Shepard is still the fourth option in a passing game that has struggled this season.
Six receptions for 122 yards – 18.2 FP
Fantasy Analysis – Like Shepard, Allison has talent but is unlikely to get enough opportunities. Even the banged up Packers have Ty Montgomery leading the team in touches/targets, Jordy Nelson being Jordy Nelson and Martellus Bennett (21 Targets – fourth among tight ends) trying to turn significant targets into meaningful performance. Allison is likely to be a popular waiver wire target; don’t be Fantasy fooled.
Caught 5 out of 6 targets (both ties for Week 3 team lead) for 31 yards
Fantasy Analysis – If you, like me, are continuously trolling/streaming the waiver wire for a productive starter at tight end, then you need to be looking at Seferian-Jenkins.
I wrote in an article for the RotoExperts draft package that teams with poor quarterback play tend to play conservative. They lean on the tight end, and in Sefarian-Jenkins’ first game back from suspension we saw that. Seferian-Jenkins was a focal point of the Jets passing game in his first game of the season, a positive sign of his potential going forward.
Here was what I wrote about Seferian-Jenkins in the draft package:
“The Jets have six games against defenses that ranked 10th or worse against the tight end. They face the Miami Dolphins twice (14.2 Fantasy Points allowed per game to the tight end), Oakland Raiders (13.9 FPPG), Cleveland Browns (17.2 FPPG), Atlanta Falcons (14.6 FPPG) and the Carolina Panthers (15.5 FPPG). If those 2016 numbers hold close in 2017, then Seferian-Jenkins will be in a position to receive the majority of those 75 tight end points in only six games. If he can score 75 points in those games and another 75 in the other 10 games, Seferian-Jenkins will be a Top 10 tight end. Even if he falls short, he will still be a Top 15 tight end who should be available in the final five rounds, if not a waiver wire pickup after your draft. That’s draft day value based almost entirely on his potential touches and targets without hypothesizing about his skill set at all. That’s just the Fantasy math.”
I am not suggesting that we have a waiver wire superstar here, but the tight end position is a position at which you can find production week to week all season long, and Seferian-Jenkins is a noteworthy player to watch and a bargain punt play in DFS.
Over the first two weeks Bryant was targeted nine and 16 times against two of the tougher defensive backfields in football, the New York Giants and Denver Broncos. Then he faced the Arizona Cardinals and was a non-factor, even though he did score a touchdown. The entire Cowboys offense struggled Monday night and Patrick Peterson often causes problems for a passing game, but Bryant has 11 receptions and 114 receiving yards on 27 targets (ninth among receivers). It’s easy to find a narrative to excuse Bryant’s lack of performance and the Cardinals game is no different, but a trend is building.
Kupps’ stat line is going in the wrong direction, while Jared Goff has been one of the nicer surprises in 2017. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and even Todd Gurley showed up big in the Rams’ Week 3 passing game, while Kupp continues to be smaller and smaller by the week. Four receptions then three receptions, and now, two receptions is a trend line you do not want to be recognized for in this article. You can cut him loose until further notice.
New England Patriots Defense
I labeled the Patriots a “must-stack against” defense in my Week 2 column, and they responded by coughing up 33 points and 301 passing yards to a rookie quarterback in his second official NFL start. The Patriots have allowed the most points per game (31.7), passing yards per game (330.7), and touchdowns per game, while ranking seventh worst in rushing yards allowed per game (130.3).
Oddly, there wasn’t a big-time performance from an individual Texans player and there may not be one from the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, but Cam Newton (coming off a bad game) and Christian McCaffrey (coming off a good one) are legitimate stacks this week in DFS. The Patriots rank second worst in receiving yards allowed to running backs with 17 receptions, 253 receiving yards allowed and two touchdowns.
I really like Chris Thompson, and I am an excessively frustrated contrarian fighting the tides of the overly excited industry opinion of Tarik Cohen, but it’s all about perceived value and has nothing to do with the performance. Tarik Cohen is one of the hottest early season stories and yet, until Sunday night’s explosive performance, Chris Thompson was a waiver wire consideration but not the sizzling story that Cohen has been.
Regarding performance, both have been productive rushing the ball and in the passing game. Thompson is coming off a 150-yard receiving game on National television and is destroying Cohen in total yards and Fantasy scoring as a result. Cohen has been better rushing the ball and has 10 more rushing attempts than Thompson, which is where these two guys need to improve to elevate their Fantasy stock to RB2 status.
My issue with the “Cohen Craziness” is that at 5’6”, 179 lbs. it will be almost impossible for him to rush the ball enough to be a reliable RB2. Cohen is on pace for 125-130 rushing attempts and 820-840 rushing yards, but he is smaller than Darren Sproles, who never had a 100-carry season in the NFL. Can Cohen maintain that size workload and that type of explosive efficiency between the tackles? To be considered an RB2, he will have to maintain that production and keep making big plays. He’s had running plays of 36 and 46-yards this season. That’s 82 of his 157 rushing yards – 52 percent of his yardage on the ground. I maintain my stance; don’t be Fantasy fooled by Tarik Cohen. Sell high now.
I am of the same opinion regarding Chris Thompson’s ceiling. He’s a flex starter in PPR leagues. However, I am higher on Thompson because Rob Kelley is less of a challenge to Thompson’s touches than Jordan Howard is to Cohen’s, and because Fantasy experts love Cohen and, for the most part, have been far less bullish on Thompson. If you hunt for a trade, I suspect Cohen will garner significantly more interest than Thompson, when the reality is he shouldn’t. Thompson is the better player going forward.
Both have been explosive players, both have a high floor and a limited ceiling, and both are must-start Flex starters because of their ability to make big plays in the passing game. However, the buzz is all over Cohen while the cold shoulder seems to be a bit too common towards Thompson.
Did You Know?
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs rank second and third in receiving yards despite two starts from journeyman Case Keenum under center. Thielen leads Diggs by six yards and two receptions, while Diggs has a 4-0 lead in touchdowns and 23.2 more Fantasy points. They are both must-start wide receivers in season-long leagues, while Thielen is an intriguing DFS target because of the lack of Fantasy love and the fact that he ranks second in yards and ninth in receptions.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is tied for third in receptions and tenth in receiving yards. That is not among tight ends, that’s overall. He’s outperformed DeAndre Hopkins, Jordy Nelson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot, Michael Crabtree, Doug Baldwin, LeSean McCoy and Michael Thomas just to name a few. I hate paying for tight ends, but when a player is one of the top performers in the game at one of the most unreliable positions in Fantasy Football, you have to seriously consider owning shares of him in DFS and making a trade for him in season-long leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers explosive wide receiver Martavis Bryant has seven receptions on 18 targets this season. Cooper Kupp has nine receptions, while Broncos’ Bennie Fowler III and Paul Richardson of the Seattle Seahawks have eight. The potential is still there with Bryant but at some point, you have to stop chasing potential and accept that a player isn’t a guy you want to attach your wagon to. The sample, at some point, has to dictate the Fantasy enthusiasm, and Bryant’s sample is extremely underwhelming.
Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Jarvis Landry has 19 receptions while being targeted 26 times in only two games, which has him leading the league in both receptions and targets per game. There was some speculation that 2017 was the year DeVante Parker emerged as the number one in Miami and while he is having a productive season, it’s clear that Landry is the preferred target for Jay Cutler. Landry doesn’t have a touchdown and he only has 126 receiving yards, so there are limits to his overall appeal, but the volume and the receptions aren’t in doubt going forward. He will continue to be a PPR producer.