Every week Nic hosts his Fantasy Football Rundown on Twitter were he hits on every single NFL game and every single player that’s fantasy relevant. Tune in every Thursday at 3 PM EST to watch the Fantasy Football Rundown live and join the conversation.
Carson Wentz is doing his best cyborg impression, playing through a litany of injuries. Alshon Jeffery has been cleared to play -- expect a locked-in WR2 performance with Top 12 upside. He should see 10 targets. Nelson Agholor will have the ball schemed to him, despite his drops. He’s a PPR flex play, in line for 7 targets. Zach Ertz should see similar usage, making him a TE1, but far from the TE1 you drafted him to be. Sadly DJax is out. Mack Hollins will play in his stead but operate only as a 2nd flex option in standard leagues. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a bench stash. Miles Sanders played very well but fumbled twice. The front office remains committed to him, making him an RB2/ flex option against a nominally strong Packers run defense. Darren Sproles and Dallas Goedert are ignorable. Jordan Howard is startable as a touchdown-dependent 2nd flex option in Standard leagues.
The Eagles Run and Pass Defenses earned health grades of C+ and D, respectively, per Dr. David Chao. This bodes well for both aspects of the Packers’ underperforming (and poorly coached) offense. Aaron Rodgers still comes in as my QB15, however, his ceiling is that of a Top 12-15 option. This is a bounceback spot for Davante Adams, given the eviscerated nature of the Eagles’ secondary. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has a good chance to pop off too. Geronimo Allison is a dangerous starting option given his season-long stumble-show -- he’s a desperation 2nd flex option. Jimmy Graham and his injured groin makes for an undesirable TE1/2 option. However, he’s a decent dice roll with Philly’s plague of injuries. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are in a full-on timeshare. Neither can depend on volume and the Eagles boast a talented, yet injured front-seven. Jones is my RB20. Williams, my RB31.
Stop sleeping on Derrick Henry. The Podfather, Matthew Kelly nailed this over the summer: listen, learn. The Falcons’ head coach, Dan Quinn, schemes his defense to prevent deep passes and actually encourages team to throw to their running backs. The idea is that they rely on the speed of their defense to tackle the back, the moment he catches it. Pulling that off just got a lot harder with 2017 Pro Bowl strong safety Keanu Neal going on IR. Dion Lewis has managed a near even timeshare with Henry but the difference in production is a chasm. Expect Henry to get more and more time on the field. Although Marcus Mariota is unstartable, his tight end is not. Delanie Walker is a weekly TE1 given his exceptional target share and usage, especially in the play-action passing game. Continue to keep an eye on AJ Brown -- he has 10 targets over the last 2 weeks. Nominal No. 1 WR Corey Daivs has 9. Adam Humphries is looking like Week 4 fool’s gold as his target count in Week 3 (9) tripled his combined targets in Weeks 1 & 2 (3). Fade him.
Devonta Freeman’s share of snaps has continued to rapidly increase over Ito Smith’s -- as has his production, if meagerly. Tennessee’s stifling run defense is a problem though, just ask Leonard Fournette, who have negative rushing yardage (h/t Scott Barrett) for much of last week’s game. Freeman is my RB18 this week. Ito Smith is not ranked. Julio Jones is a matchup-proof WR1. Mohamed Sanu continues to be quiet and belongs on the waiver wire. Calvin Ridley sadly has a sour matchup, lining up against stud slot corner Logan Ryan -- a player Evan Silva of Establish The Run highlighted in his Week 3 Matchups: Titans and Jaguars piece. Austin Hooper put on a show last week, reeling in 6 of 7 targets for 66 yards and 2 scores. Hooper owns 18.4% of the Falcons target share, second highest on the team behind Julio. Hooper is securing his place in the TE1 ranks in season-long leagues and walks into a delicious matchup against a Titans defense that’s allowed a tight end touchdown in all three games this year.
Washington at Giants
It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Washington on Sunday. Case Keenum reportedly missed practice, dealing with a foot injury. Colt McCoy returned to practice, presumably with a now-healthy leg. However, head coach Jay Gruden said it would be rookie Dwayne Haskins who would get the starting nod, should Keenum not be able to go. Just got an update that Keenum should play. Whichever man gets the job, he would be startable in two QB leagues as a streaming option against the hapless Giants defense. Terry McLaurin is the real deal. The rookie receiver has compiled 257 yards and 3 touchdowns through three games and is startable in all formats as a WR2. McLaurin is entering true alpha territory with a 20.15% target share in the Washington offense. Update: Craig Hoffman just reported Terry McLauring is dealing with a hamstring issue today. Neither Paul Richardson nor Trey Quinn are reasonable starting options. Quinn is averaging just 33 yards per game. Vernon Davis is on the TE1/TE2 fringe. Adrian Peterson is startable only as a 2nd flex option in standard leagues. Chris Thompson is a viable flex in PPR.
Daniel Jones flashed his dual threat playmaking ability in last week’s triumphant win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His ability to create both through the air and on the ground cement his status at the QB10 in my rankings this week. Evan Engram leads the team with a mammoth 24% target share and is a near lock to clear 100 yards and a score against Washington’s Junior Varsity defense. Sterling Shepard stormed back from his concussion last week, to the tune of 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s being used dynamically, as a downfield threat, in the Giants’ new look Jonesian offense. Add Golden Tate while you still can. The rest of the receiving corps is ignorable as Jones spread the ball around, hitting 6 other pass catchers throughout the game. Wayne Gallman steps into lead back duties and a clear path to 15-20 touches. In this matchup, that’s good for an RB21 ranking.
Philip Rivers gets his likely season-highest ranking (QB8), getting the Miami Treatment in Week 4. Keenan Allen leads the NFL in targets by nine, registering 42 to the second place’s Michael Thomas (33), receiving an unholy 35.29% of the Chargers’ targets. He could post 200 yards in this one. With the news of Melvin Gordon’s return coming today, Austin Ekeler knows that he is playing for his future. Expect fantasy’s RB3/4, depending on format, to play out of his mind. He’s this week’s RB4. Mike Williams is dealing with knee and back injuries and the team may opt to rest him in such an easily winnable game. Justin Jackson, Dontrell Inman, and Travis Benjamin are all 2nd flex options in what could be a garbage-time-bowl.
Josh Rosen is not startable against such a strong defense. Preston Williams racked up an absurd 12 targets last week and is far-and-away Rosen’s favorite target. He needs to be stashed in all formats. Neither Kenyan Drake nor Kalen Ballage are advised starts.
Derek Carr remains a back-end QB2. Josh Jacobs should see favorable game script but his groin injury is worrisome, as Dr. David Chao touched on in episode 30 of his Pro Football Doc podcast. Helping his cause though, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard still has not cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol. Tyrell Williams faces his stiffest challenge yet and is bound to cool off from his touchdown-per-game pace soon. Consider trading him at his current WR2 value. Darren Waller will push for a Top 3 tight end finish given his 30.85% target share of the Raiders passing game. Although he’s yet to prove himself, Hunter Renfrow earned himself notoriety, appearing in both a supportive tweet from Evan Silva and, as Silva noted in his matchup column this week, popped in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy-Low Air Yards model.
Kyle Allen had himself a game last week and he should have another, this week against a palty Texans secondary. A surprise to some, Allen takes the cream of the QB2 crop, coming in as my QB13. Allen’s proficient play is a boon for everyone involved, bringing Christian McCaffrey back to his former overall RB1 slot. Although doing it on different catch totals, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel posted nearly identical receiving yard totals 52 and 53, respectively, adding a touchdown apiece. Moore added 12 yards on the ground. Greg Olsen posted a team-best line of 6 catches, on 7 targets, for 75 yards and 2 scores. All players have a shot at a repeat performance this week.
Deshaun Watson faces a stout Panthers defense that drops him to the QB5. Bill O’Brien’s infatuation with Carlos Hyde reduces he and Duke Johnson Jr. to mere RB3s. DeAndre Hopkins is a locked-in WR1, as always. Will Fuller seemingly never leaves Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy-Low Air Yards model, making him a candidate for a WR1 finish week-in and week-out. Kenny Stills severely out-snapped and out-targeted Keke Coutee, 53% to 28% and 6 to 0, respectively.
Injuries to starting defensive tackles Da’Shawn Hand and Mike Daniels and stud cornerback Darius Slay make this a Fire ‘em up! spot. Patrick Mahomes is the unquestioned QB1. Damien Williams has yet to return to practice. Backfield production-leader, Lesean McCoy and backfield touch-leader, Darrel Williams are both startable -- McCoy as an RB2, Williams as an RB3. The video of Lesean McCoy limping into the stadium, ahead of last week’s game was a false alarm -- if the issue is simply pain management, Toradol can save the day. Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are both low floor/very high upside plays while Sammy Watkins has remained a high floor/capped ceiling wide receiver since his Week 1 explosion. Travis Kelce is at high-end TE1.
Matthew Stafford comes in as the QB14 in a matchup should force HC Matt Patricia to let him throw. Following the departure of CJ Anderson, Kerryon Johnson hogged 20 of the backfield’s 25 carries to himself, rendering RB2/3 borderline results across all formats. That kind of usage should bring Top 12 RB results against the Chiefs’ cellophane run defense. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. should produce as WR2s and 3s this week. Silent-since-Week-1 slot receiver Danny Amendola missed practice with a chest injury. And also-silent-since-Week-1 tight end TJ Hockenson is as typical of a tight end dice roll as there ever was.
The Ravens pass defense is a mixed bag. Although they’re allowing the NFL’s 9th-most Yards per Attempt, 6th-most Yards per Game, while registering just the 17th-most sacks, they’ve also racked up the most QB Hits. Given the offensive line woes, Baker Mayfield is understandably playing like he’s seeing ghosts. Unfortunately, he comes in as this week’s QB21. Freddie Kitchens made good on his promise to keep Nick Chubb on the field and eradicated our concerns over his snap count. He almost never left the field and we can expect a heavy helping of Chubb. The only problem is Baltimore’s top notch run defense and pass funnel/injured secondary. The way you beat the Ravens is through the air. Hopefully Chubb continues last week’s passing game usage, but the matchup drops him to the overall RB13 spot. Rashard Higgins’ bum-knee, Antonio Callaway’s suspension, and David Njoku going on IR has narrowed the fantasy-relevant receiving tree to just Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Chubb nearly doubled his target total last week, recording 7 -- he had 8 through Weeks 1 & 2. Jarvis should continue his PPR flex usability. ODB though, is the perfect receiver for Baltimore’s deep-threat-friendly secondary and should be considered a WR1 with a sky-high ceiling.
Lamar Jackson posted his worst results of the season and still finished as the QB10. This week he gets the Browns’ injury-riddled secondary. Mark Ingram was last Week’s RB1 in both Standard and .5PPR (2nd in PPR) and comes in as the RB6 this week. Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are just bench stashes. Marquise Brown is a weekly WR2 with WR1 upside -- that’s especially the case this week. The good thing about Mark Andrews is, regardless of health, he stays roughly at a 50% snap share. He’s still a TE1 this week, even with the foot issue. Ignore the remaining pass catchers.
Tom Brady is the QB5 through 3 weeks. Even with the uninviting matchup, he’s still at Top (TB)12 option. The retirement of Rob Gronkowski showed us that the Patriots will significantly alter their personnel packages and offensive play-calling to suit the strengths of their team. FB James Develin going on IR means a whole lot less of Sony Michel and a whole lot more of James White and Rex Burkhead. We’ve seen both of these backs produce together before -- both are startable. James White remains a flex (Standard)/RB2 (PPR). Rex Burkhead played 74% of snaps last week, with Sony Michel active, producing 69 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 17 touches. His Standard/PPR ranking is the inverse of White’s. Both Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon reside on WR2/3 borderline this week as Buffalo plays stout defense on the perimeter -- and Bill Belichick loves to exploit weaknesses. Look for Julian Edelman (and his okay-to-play chest injury) to produce WR2 numbers. No tight ends are of note.
Josh Allen is the QB11 this week -- his rushing floor can’t be denied. Sadly, Devin Singletary has not been able to practice this week, leaving Frank Gore to carry the load. His a shaky flex play in all formats. John Brown is the lone passing game player of note. Like Gore, he’s just a flex. Dawson Knox is a stashable TE.
Buccaneers at Rams
Jameis Winston is a mid-tier QB2 in a surefire shootout. Ronald Jones continues to soundly outplay Peyton Barber, the starter. HC Bruce Arians seems committed to Barber though so both backs are relegated to the RB3 ranks. Dare Ogunbowale is droppable, despite seeing a decent snap share -- he’s just not getting the ball. Thanks to Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy-Low Air Yards model, we knew we needed to stick to Mike Evans last week. He likely to his boom/bust ways with Winston at quarterback and a rollercoaster schedule. He’s a WR1 this week but we should consider selling high on him. Chris Godwin is a week-in/week-out WR2.
Jared Goff looks completely lost. He’s a QB2 until further notice. Regardless of how Sean McVay might want to use him, Todd Gurley’s knees are shot. He’s a mid-to-low-end RB2. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson are unstartable bench stashes. Cooper Kupp has been an absolute monster over the last two weeks. Brandin Cooks has performed admirably as well. Robert Woods is the one who’s been lacking but Vernon Hargreaves is no joke though -- this isn’t a good bet for Woods’ breakout week. The tight ends are really not usable.
Russell Wilson has combined for 706 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, 73 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground over the last two weeks and now faces a Cardinals team that pushes the pace as hard as anyone. He’s the QB4. Pete Carroll reaffirmed his support Chris Carson, who remains an RB1. Both CJ Prosise and Rashaad Penny (whose had an up and down practice week thus far) need to be rostered though, on the off chance that Carson’s fumbles never go away. From today’s episode of JJ Zachariason’s The Late Round Podcast (Week 4 Matchups), the Cardinals are “the worst team at defending the slot” -- Tyler Lockett’s going to eat. DK Metcalf is a high upside flex option in what should be a shootout -- think the Seahawks version of Mecole Hardman this week. Will Dissly’s been a stud in the box score, game clock be damned! Nick Vannett’s departure bodes well for his chances to continue his TE1 production.
Kyler Murray retains Top 12 QB status in a matchup that should feature a ton of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Seattle has struggled to cover just one slot receiver since Justin Coleman’s departure -- and that Cards have two. Both have high-end WR2 upside. Damiere Byrd’s bad hammy nukes his startability in deep leagues. David Johnson is the RB9.
Kirk Cousins is unstartable this week -- he’s already being reigned in and now they have to face the NFL’s stingiest defense. Dalvin Cook remains a Top 12 RB, based on his likely 25-touch workload, based on game script and known intended usage. Adam Thielen is startable as a flex with WR2 upside. Stefon Diggs and his 12 total targets belong on your bench -- and on the trade block. Stash Alexander Mattison and avoid the tight ends like the plague.
Mitchell Trubisky is similarly unstartable. David Montgomery is finally starting to see an uptick in snaps and touches. He’s a shaky, volume-driven fringe RB2/3. Allen Robinson is a never-to-be-benched WR2. Taylor Gabriel remains in the concussion protocol and Trey Burton is a touchdown-dependent TE1/2.
Jaguars at Broncos
Gardner Minshew is playing well enough that the Jags need to consider keeping him as the starter, regardless of Nick Foles’ health. He faces a nominally tough opponent in Denver this week, coming in as a QB2. Leonard Fournette faces a surprisingly generous Broncos run defense, retaining bankable RB2 status. Denver has allowed a running back rushing score every week -- is this Fournette’s date with pay dirt? DJ Chark has announced himself as the alpha in Jacksonville and can be confidently started as a back-end WR2. Dede Westbrook is a fade, once again.
Joe Flacco’s scattershot arm keeps him as an undesirable QB3. Emmanuel Sanders WR2/3 value though. Cortland Sutton has seen steady usage but is still tied to Joe Flacco -- he’s an avoid this week. Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman continue to live in the back-end RB2 range, hurting each other’s ceiling. Noah Fant is playing a high-volume of snaps and deserves to be stashed.
Dak Prescott is an every-week top-tier option at quarterback. Devin Smith saw the 2nd-highest target total last week but failed to do much with it. He can be started this week as a flex in Standard. Reports over Amari Cooper’s ankle health abound. What we know, via Rotoworld, is that his MRI results were negative (a good thing) and he was able to practice on Wednesday, in a limited capacity. He’s on track to remain a WR1 in Week 4. Jason Witten continues to be a reliable, if unsexy, TE1 option. Ezekiel Elliott should remain a key player through all four quarters this week, as a blowout (read: Tony Pollard production) is unlikely.
There is no QB controversy in New Orleans. It’s Teddy Bridgewater’s offense but he remains just a QB2. Michael Thomas will remain a WR1 and Ted Ginn Jr. could be started as a 2nd flex option in Standard, given the Saints’ propensity to use their deep threats at home. Alvin Kamara got workhorse usage last week and that should remain the case until Drew Brees’ return. Latavius Murray is now droppable.
A sneaky shootout-potential game here. Andy Dalton comes in as the QB16. He and Tyler Boyd would be higher, if not for the recent acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick by Pittsburgh, to man their slot. Minkah drops the ceiling of both but Boyd is still a volume-based WR2/Flex. John Ross III should get loose here though. Tyler Eifert is ignorable but Joe Mixon and his now-healthy ankle should be set for a season-best game against a generous Steelers run defense. Mason Rudolph’s inability to move the Steelers’ offense bodes well for Mixon from a gamescript standpoint.
Mason Rudolph looked bad last week. He’s unstartable. James Conner should be the featured player in the Pittsburgh game plan -- it’s a bounceback week for him as the Bengals have one of the sloppiest run defenses in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster drops to a mid-tier WR2. He’s still the alpha here but it’ll be tough sledding with Rudolph at the helm. Diontae Johnson and James Washington are both rosterable and can be started as long-shot flex options in a good matchup. Recently acquired tight end, Nick Vannett is a non-factor.
Tune in every Thursday on Twitter (@faketeams) at 3 PM EST to watch me cover the weekly matchups live and give me your questions!