Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 3
Patriots vs. Lions
The New England Patriots are nothing if not unpredictable. At the end of Week 2, as the Cleveland Browns were preparing to cut the most controversial and also most talented player on their team, the Patriots were likely already brainstorming what it would cost to bring him and discuss the Patriots way. And now, they are rolling in to face the declawed Lions in Detroit, with a new high flyer who may need to not get high for the season. Let’s see what the immovable force is, and dive on in!
Any new players we should be interested in?
The New England Patriots surprised the national media, and almost nobody locally when they traded a fifth-round pick in 2019 to the Cleveland Browns for Josh Gordon (with a built-in clause if he wasn’t to play a set amount of games the Browns would trade a seventh-round pick back to New England.) As the Patriots continue to practice out handfuls of no names, has-beens, or never wills, the dealings to get Gordon come welcome, but with an eyebrow raised. The enigmatic wide receiver has both disappointed and amazed Browns’ fans since his drafting. He comes into New England with a besmirched name, but there is a possibility with new mentorship, and a winning air around, that Gordon could get his head on straight and succeed. When all goes well, Gordon can be the best player not only on the field at any given time but in the league. We’ll keep tabs on this one. For reference, check out his lone catch in Cleveland this year, a short touchdown pass that was no easy task.
Is Brady destined for a week of mediocrity like last week, or will he bounce back to week 1 fashion?
Tom Brady rolls into Detroit after showing us more of the same top 3 quarterback at home in week 1 (26/39, 277, 3 TDs and an interception), and looking perplexed and a touch slower on the road in Jacksonville in week 2 (24/35, 234, 2 TDs). From poised and precise in Week 1, a game of two halves where the Patriots auto-piloted from the first half on, to perplexed and panicked in Week 2, looking completely over their own showing before the final whistle blew, there is some mystery over what Brady can be for us over the course of the year. Fret not! Brady is and always will Brady in my eyes. Over the course of the season, games like Week 2 will happen, but over the year, well over three-quarters of the games, he will show an elite line, pushing himself to the top of the quarterback pile by pure accuracy and knowledge on how to make his weapons work for him. Josh Gordon will likely line up in some of the easier route trees, and some possible deep routes, and with both Phillip Dorsett and James White soaking up targets from the less “sexy” names available in their offense, this train continues to roll, as they pitch some coals on, and face off against a team that’s in complete disarray after only 2 weeks, the Detroit Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t penciling in Tom Brady for over 360 yards, and 4 touchdown passes. Start with confidence.
Who should we start against this Lions’ as they attempt to find their roar?
The options without Julian Edelman up to week 5 have not been the most appealing, but in Week 3, with two weeks of routes and time to mesh, and the lessened worry of elite defense paired up against them, the Patriots really should be able to roll out a litany of packages, and offensive schemes, and for that reason, there aren’t many “slam dunk” options, rather yet, start who you have in this offense and just hope that lottery ticket ends up scratched off. James White, and Sony Michel should cover the majority of the running and passing plays out of the backfield, as we wait for Rex Burkhead to be ready to handle a larger workload coming off the concussion right before week 2.
On the receiving end, my personal expectations would see Phillip Dorsett as the most productive piece in the wide receiver crew, as the hope would be for a possible large route break or two from Josh Gordon. Chris Hogan has shown some flashes, but I still feel like for the time being, he’s playing out more of a Danny Amendola profile, looking to be the Brady non-backfield personnel when plays break down, and would account he should only profile out to about a fifty yard maximum workload. Expect big points, but with the squad as it is, and roles still being completely leveled out, the focus would be more on where targets are starting to be focused, and who can get the most consistent yards. My bets are on White, Michel, and Dorsett. Rob Gronkowski is a beast as well, start as you always would. Wax on, wax off.
Tom Brady: 35/42, 358 yards, 4 tds, 1 int
Sony Michel: 10 for 42, 3 for 20 receiving, 1 TD on the ground
James White: 6 for 38, 8 for 82,1 receiving TD
Rex Burkhead: 4 for 15, 2 for 12
Phillip Dorsett: 9 for 92, 1 TD
Chris Hogan: 4 for 20
Josh Gordon: 2 for 52, 1 TD
Rob Gronkowski: 10 for 88, 1 TD
Despite opening the season a very disappointing 0-2, the Lions started to look like a professional football team that belonged in the NFL last week. A small holding call on the opposite side of the field of a potentially game-winning interception kept the Lions winless, but watching Matthew Stafford step up and deliver on his franchise quarterback status was an excellent improvement. So, naturally, the opponent to build on that momentum has to be the perennial championship contenders, the New England Patriots. At least we’re at home… ?
Is this the week we see Stafford dominate from minute one?
In past seasons, we’ve seen multiple games in which Matthew Stafford drives down the field in the opening minutes of the quarter, drops a great pass into the arms of a receiver for a first drive touchdown, and the gas is on from that moment until the end. If you drafted Stafford or you’re starting him, that’s what you’ve been looking for. He has arguably the best offense around him in his career, even without Calvin Johnson, with an improved (kinda) offensive line and a slew of much better (kinda) running backs.
Last week, Blake Bortles, legendary mediocre quarterback, absolutely dominated the Patriots through the air. No defense wants to give up 377 passing yards on ~8.4 yards/attempt to Blake Bortles. The four touchdowns were nice, too, although that’s mostly due to the absence of a run game with Leonard Fournette out with injury last week.
Verdict? Hard to say. I don’t think Stafford is going to dominate from minute one, but I absolutely expect him to put up a large stat line by the end of the game. Stafford has thrown the ball 50+ times in each game so far, and though that may not continue for long, it should definitely continue again this week. That being said, if he’s airing it out that much he’ll probably throw at least one interception.
Unfortunately, playing the Patriots defense can always be a mystery. Stafford has a really high ceiling this week, but his range of possibilities is all over the place.
Expected stat line:
Stafford ceiling – 35/55, 390 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Stafford floor – 25/55, 210 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INT
Play with caution.
Last week, the Lions’ wide receivers had a field day and the Patriots couldn’t contain Jaguars’ wide receivers. Similar story for the Lions this week?
Absolutely. The one thing that’s been proven without a doubt this season is that the Lions offense runs almost exclusively through Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay. That’s not going to change against a defense that gave up 11+ PPR points to five different receivers last week.
The Stafford to Jones deep ball has been off, but Stafford has looked visibly frustrated at himself for it. That’s great news coming from a massive competitor. He’s going to keep airing it out until he finds his mark, and he’s probably been practicing it constantly all week. Marvin Jones has been getting open for it, too; these aren’t just errant deep ball throws into heavy coverage. I expect we finally see one connect this week.
Golladay is a wizard. If he doesn’t break 10 PPR points this week outside of injury, I’ll buy a hat and eat it (disclaimer: not actually going to do that). I would have liked to see more targets in the second half for him last week, but just from game usage and ability it’s looking more and more like his floor is around 4 catches and 60 yards.
Back-to-back weeks with 13+ targets for Golden Tate. Repeatable? Shockingly, yeah. It’s not only repeatable, I might bet the over. You’re probably not expecting the end zone with Tate, but you’re expecting a lot of productivity outside the red zone. If you’re trying to seal the Lions offense, you’re containing Jones and Golladay to minimal catches and hoping Tate doesn’t break a big one. This especially becomes true when Stafford launches three or four deep throws per game. I’m very high on Tate right now, and this game should be another target-fest for him.
Expected stat line:
Golden Tate ceiling – 10 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD
Golden Tate floor – 6 catches, 50 yards, 0 TD
Marvin Jones ceiling – 6 catches, 130 yards, 2 TDs
Marvin Jones floor – 2 catches, 30 yards, 0 TDs
Kenny Golladay ceiling – 8 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs
Kenny Golladay floor – 4 catches, 60 yards, 0 TDs
Will the real Lions running back please stand up? Please stand up? Please stand up?
Not this week. Sorry, Kerryon Johnson truthers. For people who don’t own Kerryon, after Week Three might be a good chance to try and trade for him if you’re interested. The usage is going to continue to be low for the Lions run game in general, and LeGarrette Blount looked solid in his few carries last week. We’re going to continue to see a split in carries between the two of them, and with the low volume of the rushing offense that’s probably going to peak around 10 carries per back. Neither are startable, because you’re banking on a touchdown that the Lions don’t have to give. Still at zero rushing TDs on the season for Detroit, and even if it changes this week you’re basically just flipping a coin and praying that it lands on its edge.
On the other hand, Theo Riddick is still startable and will remain startable. Last season we saw him fall off from a PPR standpoint due to minimal targets for whatever reason. The new Riddick’s back to the old Riddick, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Yes, Riddick’s yards/target are way down, but he’s great with the ball in his hands and those targets are amazing for an RB from a PPR standpoint.
Expected stat line:
Kerryon Johnson ceiling: 65 rushing yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions, 30 receiving yards
Kerryon Johnson floor: 25 rushing yards
LeGarrette Blount ceiling: 55 rushing yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 10 receiving yards
LeGarrette Blount floor: 30 rushing yards
Theo Riddick ceiling: 20 rushing yards, 9 receptions, 65 receiving yards, 1 TD
Theo Riddick floor: 6 receptions, 40 receiving yards
Are the Lions tight ends s-
No please stop asking about the Lions tight ends.
How about the D/ST… ?
Matt Prater = Matt Greater?
Is there going to be any relevant IDP information going on for the Lions this game?
I’m going to say no, here. There are a few linebackers that may end up doing well, and Matt Patricia has shown little hesitation with rushing a linebacker off the edge from coverage. It’s worked pretty well, netting multiple sacks. That being said, way too hard to predict and the Lions are way too bad at tackling to start an IDP from the team.