Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 3
Broncos vs. Ravens
Who is the running back to start in Denver this week?
This is the million dollar question. For the first two weeks, I’ve wholeheartedly recommended running with RB Royce Freeman over RB Phillip Lindsay. This is the week where I finally change my mind. The Baltimore Ravens have scored the third most points in the NFL up to this point. I have a feeling that means the Broncos will be playing from behind for most of the day. Lindsay has received the majority of his touches when the Broncos are trying to come back. That is exactly what I expect to happen in this game. I predict Lindsay will be a middle-of-the-road RB2 this week. Honestly, and it pains me to say this, I would avoid starting Freeman if you could. I don’t think he will fit into the game script very well. Freeman will be a low-tier flex start this week.
What has happened to Demaryius Thomas?
Oh, are you referring to the fact that WR Demaryius Thomas has only caught 50% of his targets so far this season? It is very concerning, but let me temper your fears a bit. No receiver on the Broncos has been targeted more than Thomas through two weeks. He had an incredible touchdown catch in Week 1. Despite the dropped passes, QB Case Keenum continues to look towards Thomas in clutch situations. You drafted Thomas with a relatively high draft pick, so you have to ride this tough stretch out. I would only be scared of a wide receiver if they were not getting targets. Thomas is getting the targets, he’s just not converting on them just yet. Like I said in the previously, I think the Broncos will be playing from behind for most of this game. I expect Thomas will continue to get plenty of touches. He’s a veteran. He’s trusted. If he’s able to figure out his hands, I think Thomas will be a solid WR2 this week, primarily based on volume.
Okay, but what if Thomas doesn’t turn it around?
I guess that means we panic, right? Just kidding. Just like the Broncos, you should have a contingency plan if Thomas continues to struggle. WR Courtland Sutton continues to develop as a wide receiver. Last week, he had a remarkable touchdown catch that was ruled incomplete. He’s slowly being worked into this offense, and many speculate that he was drafted to be Thomas’s replacement in upcoming seasons. He’s a large-bodied receiver who profiles similar to Thomas, so I expect he would fill that role very well if needed. Sutton is a low-tier flex play this week, but he is a must-own by any Thomas owner.
Any other players to watch on this Broncos team?
TE Jake Butt is getting a decent amount of targets in this offense. Last year, Keenum did a great job getting the ball to his tight end. Butt has emerged as the top tight end in Denver after missing the entirety of last season with an injury. This year has been down for the tight end position, so if you are struggling, I recommend taking a risk on Butt. Not only will you have plenty of good jokes about his name, but you could end up with a sneaky top-12 tight end by the end of the season. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend starting him until he proves to be more involved in the offense. He is a TE2 this week against the Ravens.
Which version of Joe Flacco will we see this week?
I have a feeling we’ll be seeing bad Joe Flacco this week. As he proved last week, Flacco can’t handle a good pass rush. He gets nervous and starts tossing up bad throws left and right. The Broncos have a good front seven and should be able to generate a solid pass rush against the Ravens, unless their offensive line plays better than they have in the past. As a result, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a few YOLO balls tossed up here and there.
Will that hurt the receivers?
Potentially, but even last week John Brown was usable in fantasy. And the thing is, I’m really mostly impressed by the Broncos’ front seven. Their secondary, though, is pretty beatable, and someone with the talent of Brown or Michael Crabtree (or even Willie Snead) could take advantage of that, assuming Flacco has enough time to throw.
So what’s wrong with Alex Collins?
Don’t worry about Alex Collins just yet. Weeks 1 and 2 were unique situations that I don’t anticipate being the norm this year. Week 1 saw the Ravens in a blowout where they put in their second-stringers in the second half, and Week 2 saw them down big early, which led to Flacco throwing the ball 50+ times. I don’t believe that’s going to happen here. That being said, the Broncos have a good run defense, which is going to make life hard for Collins. I’ve still got him as an RB2, but know it’s going to be rough out there.
Should I start the Ravens’ defense?
I would. I’m not personally convinced that Case Keenum and a combo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman can beat this talented defense, especially if C.J. Mosley is back (which is sounds like he may be). I could see the Ravens’ secondary forcing Keenum to make some mistakes.