Ten Things to Watch: Week 3
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
Week 2 is in the books. We saw high-scoring offenses, substantial upsets, and yet another tie. With Week 3 looming in front of us, let’s take a look at ten things you should watch in fantasy this week.
1. A Million Ways to Not Score in the West
What a terrible start it’s been for RB David Johnson. He’s currently the RB27 on a pitiful Arizona Cardinals team. He’s not being targeted as a receiver as often. He is averaging just 14 touches a game. He has yet to break 50 yards on the ground. This is not the player you wanted when you used a top-five pick to draft him. Unfortunately, things do not get any easier. The Cardinals have a tough game against the Chicago Bears this week. The head coach of the Cardinals, Steve Wilks, said that they will try to increase Johnson’s volume of targets. There is even talk about Johnson lining up as a receiver. The Cardinals are getting desperate as they are averaging a whopping three points per game. As the Cardinals search for any form of offense, it will be worth watching to see how the team is able to use Johnson. If the team is able to utilize him like they said they want to, then I see no reason that Johnson can’t be a top-10 running back again. If the offense continues to flounder, I expect Johnson owners will start to sweat in the hot Arizona sun.
2. Carson Wentz Is Back
Philadelphia’s favorite quarterback has returned. No offense to Super Bowl MVP, QB Nick Foles, but Philly is Wentz’s town. After missing the last few games of the season last year, QB Carson Wentz is making his return against the Indianapolis Colts. Last season, Wentz was looking like an MVP before he got hurt. Fantasy owners are hoping he picks up where he left off. It might be a tough game, as Wentz will be without WR Mike Wallace and WR Alshon Jeffery. Fortunately, Wentz will have his favorite target, TE Zach Ertz. Fellow quarterback, Deshaun Watson, struggled in his first game back from an ACL injury, so expectation should be tempered for Wentz. That being said, owners that drafted him should be excited to see him hit the field for the first time this year. Watch this game to see if Wentz is able to continue his dominance from last season.
3. Josh Gordon AKA Randy Moss 2.0
In a move that broke the internet, the Browns announced they were going to release or trade WR Josh Gordon. A few days later, the ultra-talented Gordon ended up being traded to the New England Patriots. Football fans everywhere have jumped on the hype train. If you thought Gordon-mania was out of control when he was on the pitiful Browns, imagine what will happen when superstar QB Tom Brady throws him the ball. Fans are hoping that Gordon is able to become the number one target in New England as WR Randy Moss did many seasons ago. If Gordon is able to have the impact that Moss did, Gordon is a league winner for whoever owns him. The entire fantasy football community will be watching the Patriots take on Detroit on Sunday night. Gordon is nursing a hamstring injury, but if he were to suit up for Sunday night’s game, it will be must-watch television.
4. Is Blake Bortles the BOAT?
QB Blake Bortles threw up some incredible numbers this last week against the Patriots. He had 377 yards and four passing touchdowns. He finished with 32.6 points in standard scoring leagues. In past seasons, Bortles was a consistent QB1, primarily because he was constantly getting garbage-time touchdowns after his team fell behind. If you haven’t noticed, the Jaguars have amassed a crazy good defense and a tough, grind-you-down running game. The only downside, Bortles tends to spend most of his time handing the ball off to RB Leonard Fournette. In 2017, the Jaguars led the league in rushing attempts with 33.1 attempts per game. As a result, Bortles fell to QB13 after finishing in the top-10 in the previous two seasons. So, what happens when Fournette misses a game due to an injury? Bortles remembers he’s the BOAT (best of all time) and carves up the New England Patriots. He connected with several of his wide receivers, most notably WR Keelan Cole, who is looking like the most talented wide receiver in Jacksonville. Fournette is preparing like he’s going to start this upcoming week against the Titans. Watch this game to see if Bortles can continue to tear up defenses with his arm or if his talents are going to be stuck on shore.
5. California Love
Who would’ve pegged RB Austin Ekeler as a PPR monster? Going into this season, Ekeler was a must-own handcuff for RB Melvin Gordon owners and that’s it. Now that we are two weeks into the season, Ekeler is the RB9 in PPR leagues. You might say, “Nick, if Ekeler is that high, Gordon must be injured, right?” Wrong! Gordon is currently the RB2 with Ekeler right behind him. There are several teams that don’t have a running back in the top 10 in terms of fantasy production. The Chargers have two. After finishing with 23.6 points in Week 1, Ekeler got another 12.8 points in Week 2. Will this production continue for the second-string running back? This upcoming week, the Chargers face a tough defense in the Los Angeles Rams. With Gordon appearing on the injury report with a mild neck strain, Ekeler might be in line for a large workload. Watch this game to see if Ekeler can continue at his monstrous pace, especially against a top-tier defense.
6. Tough Times for the Steel City
Last week, fans saw WR Antonio Brown scream in frustration at his offensive coordinator as the Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a game after the Steelers blew a lead and tied the Cleveland Browns, a team who hasn’t won a game in over a year. After a frustrating two weeks, it seems that Brown has reached a boiling point. He did not report to the team facilities on Monday. He got into an argument online that ended with Brown saying to trade him. For a while there, things were not looking good in Pittsburgh. A few days later, Brown did show up for the team and all of this seems like a big non-story. So, why is this relevant if Brown eventually showed up? The Steelers have one of the most fantasy-relevant offenses in football. When they succeed, you succeed. It appears that the Steelers are trending in the wrong direction in regards to their player management. RB Le’Veon Bell continues to hold out. Antonio Brown is yelling at his coaches and skipping meetings. The team is 0-1-1. Fans are getting restless. Now, this all might be for nothing. The Steelers could come out against the Buccaneers and tear it up this week. Brown could finish with over 100 yards and a touchdown. The team is able to succeed on the back of RB James Conner. I just want to be there if it doesn’t turn around. I want to see what happens if the team continues to tail-spin. That’s when we see things change. That’s when fans start chanting for Bell to return. That’s when players start to demand to be traded. If the Steelers aren’t able to make their players happy, there could be some uncomfortable rumors spreading around Pittsburgh. And those rumors could be fantasy relevant.
7. Keeping Up with the Joneses
The Green Bay Packers have quite the committee at running back. Running backs Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, and Aaron Jones are all fighting for a role on this team. After serving his two-game suspension, Jones returns to the Packers to take on the Washington Redskins. Williams failed to capitalize on Jones’s absence, so the bulk of the carries in Green Bay are still up for grabs. Jones has shown that he is the more dynamic back, but he will often sit in third-down situations. He’s worth stashing on your bench, just to see how this all plays out. Coach Mike McCarthy says that Jones will play behind both Williams and Montgomery to start out. If Williams continues to struggle and Jones is able to show that he is the more explosive back, we could quickly see a change of the guard for Green Bay. Watch this game to see if you can get any more insight on the Green Bay running back situation.
8. Mixon It Up With Bernard
After it got announced that Joe Mixon could miss 2-4 weeks, many waiver-wire articles clamored for RB Giovani Bernard. People said that he would be an instant RB2 on this Cincinnati Bengals team. This was before the Bengals went out and signed running back and fantasy darling, Thomas Rawls. It was speculated that Bernard would get the bulk of the carries for the Bengals, but Rawls throws a wrench into those plans. The Bengals face the Carolina Panthers this week. If Bernard were to get all the touches that the team usually gives Mixon, he could be a top-10 running back. If he is forced to split duties with Rawls, Bernard could be a dud. With Mixon potentially sitting for more than one game, it will be important to watch this game to see if Bernard really does get the touches that warrant his high waiver-wire price.
9. Mahomes Is Where the Heart Is
Watching QB Patrick Mahomes play is like watching someone play Madden on rookie difficulty. He makes everything look easy. This last week, Mahomes finished with 38.8 points, throwing for over 300 yards and six touchdowns. Mahomes runs an exciting offensive for the Chiefs. WR Sammy Watkins and WR Tyreek Hill are fast, dynamic receivers who can turn any play into a touchdown. TE Travis Kelce is an athletic tight end that gives Mahomes even more weapons. You can’t expect him to throw six touchdowns every game, but I think the Chiefs are must-watch football until proven otherwise. In what will be his fourth NFL start, Mahomes will face the 49ers in Arrowhead. Gone are the days when no wide receiver caught a touchdown pass for Kansas City. The Chiefs have a star-studded offense and a quarterback who isn’t afraid to take shots down the field. Watch this game to enjoy the most exciting offense in football and, hopefully, reap the fantasy benefits.
10. Do You Believe In FitzMagic?
I know I wrote about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, but no one really thought he could do it again. Well, we were all wrong. Against a stout Eagles defense, Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also retained his title as the top quarterback in fantasy football. While QB Jameis Winston is being sued, Fitzpatrick is loving his role as the leader of the Buccaneers. This week, Fitzpatrick will go up against a Steelers defense that allowed Patrick Mahomes to throw for six touchdowns. It’s hard to believe this isn’t an illusion, but Fitzpatrick is a must-start this week. You should watch this game because we could be witnessing history. No player has ever had a two-game start like this. If Fitzpatrick is able to keep this up, I see no reason to believe that Winston will win his job back.
That’s all folks. Hopefully, I’ve given you enough to watch this week. I’ll be back next week, giving you ten more things to watch in fantasy football. Good luck to your teams out there!