Kickoff: Sunday, September 27th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Betting Odds: NE -6.5, 47 total via Oddsshark
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr (Start, QB2)
The Patriots were torn up through the air by Russell Wilson last week, and they’re certainly vulnerable again against Derek Carr in Week 3. Carr threw for 282 yards and 3 TDs against a New Orleans defense that had just stymied Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 1. Is Carr good? I’m inclined to think so. He’s got weapons on his side, and his offensive line is solid. With Josh Jacobs, there’s always a running threat, so defenses can’t key in on the pass as long as Jacobs is on the field. It’s a winning formula and one you can take a shot on against the Patriots this week. He’s still a QB2, but I like the upside he brings this week.
Josh Jacobs (Start, RB1), Jalen Richard (Sit)
The Patriots are middle of the pack against the run this season, but you’re starting Josh Jacobs no matter what. Just do it.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Henry Ruggs (Start, WR3), Hunter Renfrow (Sit), Bryan Edwards (Sit), Darren Waller (Start, TE1)
Here’s the deal with the Patriots defense: The linebackers are not good. They’re slow and they’re not great at coverage. Starting ILB Ja’Whaun Bentley is the 56th ranked LB by Pro Football Focus this season, with a coverage grade of 51.3. Not good. Meanwhile, Stephon Gilmore has been bad. Like, 69th ranked corner in the league bad. That’s not nice. The fastest corner on the roster is Jonathan Jones, and he’s likely going to line up opposite Henry Ruggs. That means it will likely be J.C. Jackson, the 7th ranked corner this season, on Hunter Renfrow while Gilmore matches up with Bryan Edwards.
Gilmore may not be playing well, but Edwards hasn’t shown anything this season. He’s a sit. Jackson is going to give Renfrow fits all day, and honestly, Renfrow hasn’t been involved enough early on to recommend starting anyway. He’s a sit as well. That leaves us with Ruggs, who is leading this receiving corps in targets with eight over two weeks. He’s a WR3 based on volume and big-play potential, and I think he’s got a good chance for at least one boom play this week.
That leaves us with the monster that is Darren Waller, who received 16 targets last week and has accumulated 24 over the first two weeks of the season. New England held Mike Gesicki in check in Week 1 and kept Greg Olsen without a catch in Week 2, and has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, but you’re starting Waller no matter what.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton (Start, QB1)
In Week 1, Cam Newton put on a show on the ground and we all questioned if he could still throw the ball effectively. In Week 2, Cam put on a show in the air unlike one he’s ever put on before in his career. New England needed him to step up and make big plays through the air to stay in the game, and boy did he ever. He proved to us that he shouldn’t be doubted any longer, and as long as he’s healthy he’s a QB1 in fantasy. That’s no different this week against a Raiders defense that has allowed the 4th most passing yards this season, so roll Cam out with confidence.
Sony Michel (Start, Flex), James White (Start, RB3), Rex Burkhead (Sit), J.J. Taylor (Sit)
Ugh. This backfield is a mess right now. James White missed Week 2’s game after his father tragically died in a car accident, while his mother remains in critical condition after a car accident in Florida on Sunday. It’s an incredibly sad story, especially considering White is beloved by his teammates, current and former. There is no word on whether he will suit up for Week 3, but that’s the least of his worries right now and it should be the least of yours as well. White is an RB3 in this matchup if he does suit up and I’ll leave it at that.
Sony Michel only played on 20.8% of snaps in Week 2, carrying the ball only seven times as the Patriots had to throw the ball far more often as they dealt with a potent Seattle offense who kept on scoring. The Raiders can put up points, so if the New England defense struggles to contain them then the run game may go out the window once again in Week 3. Las Vegas is the middle of the pack against the run this year, so Michel does have an opportunity for a decent day. Unfortunately, his value right now is incredible touchdown dependent, and he’s not a guy I want to be rolling out there unless I have no other choices. He’s a flex with some upside, but the floor is oh so bad.
Rex Burkhead saw a 70.8% snap share as he filled in for White and received most of the passing down work last week. He wasn’t very good running the ball (two yards on six carries) but if he’s catching passes he’s worth at least a flex flier. Keep an eye on the White situation, and if you need an injury fill-in off waivers or someone to fill in for White, Burkhead has a path to 10-15 points this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julian Edelman (Start, WR2), N’Keal Harry (Start, Flex), Damiere Byrd (Sit)
Week 2 was a wake-up call for everyone who slept on Julian Edelman before the season, as the guy’s still got it and showed he can still be a reliable weapon in the New England offense. Considering he’s still the only dependable option on this team every week, you should continue rolling him out there, especially this week against the poor Raiders defense. He’s a solid WR2 option this week.
N’Keal Harry has been on the receiving end of 18 targets so far this season, and he’s earned a vote of confidence from Cam Newton along the way. What’s troubling is his 5.5 aDOT, and as someone who’s watched both games, I don’t recall very many times when they tried to get him the ball downfield. Everything has been either a quick screen or a quick slant, which works for you in PPR but caps his ceiling overall. A touchdown would be nice, but he only has one red-zone target and it looks like they prefer to run the ball with Cam when close to the goal line. As a Patriots fan, I’m salty, because Harry doesn’t look like the player that was advertised when he was drafted in the 1st round last year, but I can’t deny the target share and his status as the #2 receiver. Against this defense, he’s a flex play with a bit of upside.
Here’s a surprise: Damiere Byrd has an 86.8% snap share through two weeks and he earned nine targets with a 10.3 aDOT in Week 2. He showed good chemistry with Cam Newton, someone he played with for two seasons in Carolina so there is a history between the two. The Patriots are desperate for receiving help right now, especially since they’re getting zero production out of their tight ends, so Byrd has an opportunity to step up and earn a significant role in this offense. I have him listed as a sit this week simply because I need to see more than one week of success, but he’s a sneaky deep league play in a game where the Patriots will likely be passing often, and he’s someone worth stashing if you’re desperate at receiver.
-Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23 on Twitter, iamatechnician on Reddit)