Ugggggghhhhh.....That was the feeling I had this weekend, when the Saints-Giants game didn’t live up to the fantasy hype. Vegas had the over/under of that game set at 53...that’s fifty-three! And yet, the two teams combined to put up a measly 29 points, including just 1 total offensive touchdown between the two, as the Giants’ lone TD came on a blocked field goal return. As Vince Lombardi once famously said, "What the hell’s going on out here?!". Well, at least I know I wasn’t on this game as a high-scoring shootout all by my lonesome...Sorry America! I’ll try to do better this week!
I’ll get into Week 3’s Fantasy Game of the Week in a minute, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least say something about the heinous amount of injuries that occurred this weekend. It seemed like my phone was going off every 5 minutes and each time I looked down, someone else was out. Seriously, here’s a list of just the Running Backs that left their games this weekend:
- Adrian Peterson (torn meniscus)
- Danny Woodhead (torn ACL)
- Doug Martin (hamstring)
- Thomas Rawls (leg contusion)
- Jonathan Stewart (hamstring)
- Arian Foster (groin)
- Ameer Abdullah (foot)
I mean, what are fantasy owners supposed to do against that?! And that’s just the RBs! Anyway, this is just another reminder that you can’t just rely on the team that you draft and start the season with...as well as the fact that sometimes stuff just happens that you can’t do anything about. You have to continue to pay attention and make smart moves during the season in order take home the championship in your leagues. Remember, the season isn’t over if you’re 0-2! On that note, let’s get into this week’s match-up.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts - Sunday, September 25 at 4:25 p.m., Over/Under: 52
Man, Philip Rivers looked great in Week 2 against what appeared to be a hapless Jaguars’ defense. I loved Rivers coming into the season, but then WR Keenan Allen went down with a season ending knee injury in Week 1 and many (including myself) didn’t know what to expect from Rivers without his top target. Well, now we get to see how he plays without another key player in RB Danny Woodhead, who tore his ACL in the 1st quarter against the Jags. If Sunday is any indication, Rivers will be just fine, as he finished 17-of-24 for 220 yards and 4 TDs. The Colts’ defense has been just decimated by injuries, particularly in the secondary, and I expect Rivers to pick them apart. He’s completing 70% of his passes through the first 2 games with 5 TDs and 0 INTs, while the Colts’ are dead last in total defense and 25th against the pass. I know Allen and Woodhead are important to the passing offense, but I just think Rivers will fine a way here. He shouldn’t be a Top-5 guy, but he’s Top-10 for sure.
The receiving options in San Diego are now headed by WR Travis Benjamin, who finished Week 2 by catching all 6 of his targets for 115 yards and 2 TDs, including a 45-yarder, and he finished as the #2 WR on the week. I know Benjamin is probably going to be hard to trust, but I honestly think he’ll be a consistently big part of the Chargers’ offense going forward and against this Colts’ pass defense, I think he’s a low-end WR2 or at least a really nice flex play. Tyrell Williams also showed up, posting 3 catches for 61 yards on 6 targets, including a 44-yard TD. Williams got a little hype in the preseason and at 6’4" and 205 pounds, he’s a big target for Rivers to find anywhere on the field. I’m not saying you can fully trust him yet, but keep an eye on him and he’s definitely worth owning just to see what he turns into and I don’t mind him as a flex-play in this match-up if you’re desperate.
The resident old man here would be Rivers if not for TE Antonio Gates. Gates hasn’t quite gotten off to the start I was hoping for, but he did manage to score a TD in Week 2. Rivers always looks for Gates in the red-zone and he will continue to do so, especially since Woodhead is now out, as he got more red-zone looks than you would think for a guy his size. The Colts haven’t been awful against tight ends so far — they’ve allowed a total of 9 catches for 97 yards and a TD — but the Broncos QB-TE combo of Trevor Siemian and Virgil Green doesn’t really make you think of fantasy production, so most of what they’ve given up came from the Lions’ Eric Ebron in Week 1. I think Gates has as good a chance as anyone to score this week and he’s easily a starting option.
Update: Gates hasn't been in practice all week due to a hamstring injury and as of Saturday, he's listed as doubtful to play in this week's game. He hasn't been super-involved in the offense in the first two games, but I still think Rivers will miss him and this is just another TE you won't be able to start this week. All of that said, I still have confidence in Rivers to get it done against the Colts' defense. Also, keep an eye on rookie Hunter Henry, who was the most highly touted TE in this year's draft. In deep leagues and emergency situations, I think you could actually do worse than Henry this week, although there are likely other good options out there on the waiver wire.
Where is Melvin Gordon and who is this new guy that replaced him?! I really liked Gordon during draft season as a good value and he’s been fantastic through the first two games this season after having a dreadful rookie year in which he didn’t even score a touchdown. The only complaint from fantasy owners has to be that he didn’t receive enough touches in Week 1 when compared to how effective he was, but we saw how that changed once Danny Woodhead left with an injury in Week 2. Gordon finished that game with 24 carries for 102 yards and a TD to go along with 3 catches for 18 yards. Add that to his production in Week 1 (14 carries for 57 yards and 2 TDs) and what you have is the current #4 RB in fantasy. Then you throw in the fact that Woodhead is out for this game (and unfortunately the season) and that Gordon gets to play against a Colts’ run defense that is ranked 29th in the league and has given up the most fantasy points to RBs through the first two weeks. You know what that leaves you with? A RB1, that’s what. Gordon is a must-start until further notice.
Yes, QB Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense had a bad day against the Broncos in Week 2, but we were all expecting that to be a tough game for them anyway. Don’t forget about the great game Luck had in Week 1 against Detroit when he threw for 385 yards and 4 TDs. I’m not saying he’s going to do that this week, but you can’t be afraid to start these guys just because they had a poor performance against what could be the league’s best defense. I know the Chargers have CB Jason Verrett, who is thought highly of by many, but the pass defense overall has not been great so far, currently coming in at 29th in the league. They’ve also given up the 5th most fantasy points to QBs, which has largely been due to comeback attempts by both Alex Smith and Blake Bortles, who scored 31 and 22 fantasy points respectively. Indy is at home here and I expect Luck to being throwing a lot, whether or not they fall behind in this game. He should be a Top-5 play this week.
Luck will need somebody to step up for WR Donte Moncrief, who looks likely to miss at least this week’s game with a shoulder injury, and I expect that guy will be 2nd-year man Phillip Dorsett. We didn’t get to see him a lot last year, but he has been on the field much more to begin this season as the Colts have been in more 3 WR sets and I always like a guy who ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. The Chargers’ defense has been mediocre against WRs in fantasy so far and I doubt that Dorsett sees much of Verrett here. I think he’s a sneaky WR3 or flex play here if Moncrief sits out as expected. The guy that Dorsett reminded many of when he came out of college is actually the guy who will line up beside him as the other starting receiver, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton hasn’t blown fantasy owners away so far this season, scoring just 11 points in the first two games combined, but I expect him to really get going in this game. He might see a good bit of Jason Verrett in coverage, but I think he has as good a chance as anybody to score a long TD this week. He should be started with confidence.
Isn’t it so annoying when everything looks like it’s setting up just right to work out how you want it to and then it just gets blown up by some guy named Jack Doyle? It is, right?! I really loved TE Dwayne Allen coming into the season since Coby Fleener departed for New Orleans via free agency, but the Colts seem unwilling to give Allen all the TE targets in the offense. Doyle scored 2 TDs in Week 1 (although Allen also had one himself) and had more targets and catches than Allen in Week 2. I’m resisting the urge to quote Vince Lombardi again here, but despite these first two games, I think talent will win out and Allen has always had that in his corner. I’d start him this week against the Bolts and feel good about it, who have given up the 5th most fantasy points to TEs so far. Just keep an eye on how much time Doyle spends on the field here and going forward.
Besides a receiving TD in Week 1, RB Frank Gore hasn’t really produced a lot of stats in the first two games. He’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry (YPC) on 27 carries and he’s definitely not the most exciting option to have in your lineup, but I don’t see how he’s not in the low-end RB2 range this week, especially with all of the RB injuries that hit last weekend and his match-up. Right now I’m sure you’re thinking, "But wait a minute, the Chargers are the 7th ranked defense against the run, what’s this guy talking about?!". Well, take a closer look at the numbers and you’ll see that although San Diego is 7th against the run, they’re actually allowing 5.1 YPC. The reason they’re so highly rated is because they’re tied with Pittsburgh for the lowest total rushing attempts against them, with just 30 through two games. If you look at it from a YPC perspective the Chargers are actually tied with Detroit as the worst rush defense in the league and they’ve given up the 9th most fantasy points to RBs. See, numbers really can lie! As long as the Colts are able to score with the Chargers and not fall behind like their first two opponents, Gore has a nice opportunity here. Like I said, low-end RB2.
The Best of the Rest
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints - Monday, September 26 at 8:30 p.m., Over/Under: 54
This was the only real competition for the Chargers-Colts game, but after the Saints burned me last week I couldn’t use them again this week on pure principle. That being said, New Orleans is traditionally much better at home than on the road, including QB Drew Brees and he’s going up against a Falcons’ defense that has given up 31 and 28 points in the first two games, respectively. Brees is at least a Top-5 option and you should get WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead in your lineups. TE Coby Fleener has been a flop so far, but since the position is so shallow I might just give him another shot in this game. RB Mark Ingram has also been disappointing thus far, but I think he’ll be fine, he just needs more touches. He’s also a starter.
With their defense struggling and giving up all kinds of points, the Falcons’ offense has had to score to keep up, putting up a combined 59 points through the first two weeks. I’ve never been a big Matt Ryan guy, but he’s on a tear right now and should definitely find his way into starting lineups, especially against the Saints’ defense. Julio Jones is an auto start and Jacob Tamme has been surprisingly solid so far, so he should be considered a low-end starter in this match-up. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman have split the work so far and I expect that to continue, but I wouldn’t have a problem starting either one here, Freeman as a RB2 and Coleman as a flex.
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars - Sunday, September 25 at 1:00 p.m., Over/Under: 47
This could be a sneaky high-scoring game, as the Ravens’ offense overall is better than people give it credit for and the Jags are looking to bounce back from a beat-down they received at the hands of the Chargers last weekend. I don’t have a problem starting Joe Flacco if you’re somehow in a bind and Mike Wallace has played well so far. Dennis Pitta made a triumphant return last week and Flacco has always loved to target TEs, Pitta in particular. The running game, however, is a bit of a mess and I’d only use Justin Forsett as a flex if necessary.
Blake Bortles is always good for some garbage time/comeback attempt stats even if he can’t get going early, so he’s probably somewhat safe at this point. Allen Robinson is a must-start every week and Julius Thomas should also be in your lineups when healthy. Allen Hurns is good for a consistent 6-8 points on most days. T.J. Yeldon has been a train wreck so far from an efficiency standpoint and Chris Ivory could return this week. I’d flex Ivory if he plays and would only play Yeldon as a flex if Ivory sits out again.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers - Sunday, September 25 at 1:00 p.m., Over/Under: 48
Beware the divisional match-ups! The Bengals-Steelers game last week reminded us that games between divisional opponents often don’t work out the way we expect, specifically when it comes to high-scoring games. There are a lot of important individual fantasy players in this one, but I’m a little concerned that the stats won’t add up how we want them to at the end of the day. You’re probably starting Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Jordy Nelson at minimum from the Packers’ offense, despite their struggles.
Matthew Stafford didn’t have the game I expected in Week 2 at home against the Titans, but he’s one of "My Guys" this year, so I’m riding him in several leagues. Theo Riddick is basically a must-start in PPR leagues at this point. Marvin Jones seems to have taken over as the #1 WR in this offense, making him a solid WR2 option right now. I also have no problem starting Eric Ebron here, but I’d stay away from Golden Tate in standard leagues.
That’s all I’ve got for this week! As always, you can find me on Twitter at @GarrettHobgood if you have any questions or comments. Good luck to everyone in Week 3!