Fantasy Football Week 3: Biggest Takeaways from Last Week
Aaron Rodgers couldn't beat the 49ers in San Francisco, particularly because his Packers defense couldn't stop Colin Kaepernick. Marshawn Lynch's Seattle Seahawks had no problem with that in a late finish to Sunday's fantasy Week 2.
Lynch was fantasy lightning in stormy Seattle, while Rodgers trumped everyone with 480 yards passing and four touchdowns in what was another week of huge scores. We break down all of the biggest fantasy takeaways from the weekend, including a super Sleeper in Seattle by the name of the Incredible SeaHulk.
Yes, Robert Turbin is merely Lynch's backup, but that is precisely why Turbin is so important. Click all the way through this 10-part slideshow to get the skinny on that fat-armed, potential fantasy monster.
1. So Much for Ignoring Knowshon Moreno
- Montee Ball blew a big chance for value Sunday, fumbling into the end zone on the first drive.
- Ronnie Hillman not only is no longer a starter in the Broncos' "official depth chart" terms, but he is also no longer worth owning in any fantasy league.
We thought we had the Broncos' running back committee pegged again. This time Knowshon Moreno left us with fantasy regret for not playing him.
Moreno's 93 yards rushing and two touchdowns were intriguing in their own right, but a couple more underlying developments have made him an intriguing fantasy starter again:
We should have all paid more attention to what Moreno did down the stretch for fantasy owners last season. He looked completely capable of being a feature back, at least as long as he stays healthy.
He looks healthy now, and that means he gets to grind out the clock and be a sneaky threat in the red zone for the best offense in football.
Ball will rebound—in fact, the Broncos gave him 12 carries in the game (Moreno got just 13)—but his fumble in the red zone will likely give Moreno the Broncos' feature back role.
Moreno might be available in your league if you don't play on ESPN. Here are the major site-ownership numbers of the back we classify as a must-start against the Raiders in Week 3:
You can cut Hillman in all leagues and only consider Ball a handcuff or low-end flex play until something happens with Moreno. Because Moreno's durability has always been a concern, don't cut Ball, but expect Moreno to be the feature back in all of the important situations for the foreseeable future.
"You don't have to go outside yourself and try to make plays," Moreno told Joan Niesen of The Denver Post. "You just have to go out there, do the keys, make sure you're doing the right thing, and those things will come."
Moreno is finally a favorite of head coach John Fox, and the fumbling rookie Ball might be the one in the doghouse.
2. Fantasy Opponents Will Be Pointless in Seattle
We knew playing in Seattle was a negative thing for the fantasy opponents of the Seahawks. We didn't know even the superstars are going to prove to be garbage.
Colin Kaepernick went from fantasy monster to a head-scratcher with his performance against Seattle and its "12th Man" on Sunday night. He mustered just 127 yards passing and threw three interceptions. Jets rookie Geno Smith was the only quarterback to perform worse than him in CBS Sports fantasy leagues thus far in Week 2.
Kaepernick is going to be fine, if not outrageously good, in Week 3 against the Colts at home, but his riches-to-rags performance in Week 2 shows he is not immune to a bad matchup. Anquan Boldin (one catch for seven yards) and Vernon Davis (three catches for 20 yards) are not either.
Good defense can still shut down even the most dynamic of players and offensive schemes.
You cannot like any of your fantasy options playing in Seattle going forward and can absolutely forget about using any Jaguars in Week 3 (or Titans in Week 6).
3. James Starks Rises from Fantasy Obscurity
The Packers had waited 51 games (including the postseason) for a 100-yard rusher and didn't care who it was going to be. Fantasy owners were hoping it wouldn't be anyone but Eddie Lacy. Instead, we have a dilemma on our hands, watching James Starks come through against the Redskins on Sunday.
After Lacy left the game with a concussion on his first carry, Starks took charge in a blowout, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers came from a player owned in less than 1 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
"I know this is what I'm capable of doing," Starks told Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I just have to keep rolling. It's one game. I have to continue to get better, do things right each and every play and try to be a better player."
As intriguing as Starks looks right now—we suppose you have to add him, just in case—a solid Bengals defensive front is still next up on the schedule, and Lacy could be cleared to play if he passes the concussion tests this week. Expect Starks to be this week's most-added player off waivers and yet a big disappointment if you trust him to start in fantasy lineups right away.
4. Chargers' Eddie Royal Has Become Fantasy Royalty
You might have ignored this writer's waiver-wire musings last week, but Philip Rivers and Eddie Royal surely have your attention now. Rivers clearly has life as a fantasy quarterback, and Royal's career resurgence is a huge part of that.
"Eddie Royal is unbelievable," quarterback Philip Rivers told Chargers.com. "That's five touchdowns in two games and he's looking so good."
Rivers threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns against a bad Eagles defense, and Royal leads the NFL in touchdown receptions through Week 2, catching seven passes for 90 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. Both are must-haves in all fantasy leagues now, even if you might be wary of starting them every week.
A Week 3 matchup against the Titans shouldn't keep you from starting them, though.
Royal, not Vincent Brown, clearly is Rivers' favorite target.
5. You Sat James Jones? Whoopsy!
James Jones was a fantasy goose egg in Week 1. You're cursing him twice if you sat him in Week 2.
All he did was reel in 11 passes for 178 yards Sunday against a maligned Redskins secondary. He surpassed his single-game bests in catches and yards by halftime, racking up nine for 152.
"One game, zero catches means nothing," Jones told Mike Spofford of Packers.com. "It's a long season. Our quarterback is trying to get everybody the ball. He's trying to win, we're trying to win. You're going to have days like this, you're going to have days like that."
Jones' performance is an example of the roller-coaster nature of fantasy wide receivers, particularly ones just below the elite class. Like holding commodities on the stock market, you are best off just holding the course. On a long enough time series, the arrow will be pointing up.
Jones has an underrated Bengals secondary to face in Week 3, and no one will want to sit him after this performance. But with Aaron Rodgers looking as potent as ever, you should probably feel the same way long term even if he posts another stinker next week.
6. Danny Amendola's Status Sounds More Ominous Than It Is
You already swallowed hard on the fact Danny Amendola is an injury risk every week, and then the NFL Sunday insiders go and deal you another kick in the groin, saying he might have a tear that could require hernia surgery, according to Fox Sports (h/t Boston.com).
Usually where there is smoke, there is fire, but in this case we are going to suggest the insiders are merely looking for a juicy scoop to make their pregame shows seem to have more impact. That doesn't mean Amendola won't need surgery, but it also doesn't change his status from what we already figured would be a multiple-week absence.
Sunday's news was merely stoking an idle fire.
Amendola cannot be counted on in Week 3 against the Buccaneers at home, but we do have Julian Edelman as a must-start option, particularly in PPR leagues, and the likes of rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson to consider off waivers (in that order).
If the insiders really wanted to give us something we didn't already know, they could have told us exactly how much, or even if, Rob Gronkowski is going to play in Week 3. With the previous Amendola news, it was already speculated Gronk would be back for the Bucs.
Now, we might be inclined to rate Gronk as a must-start right away in fantasy. Even if he is limited, he will be a factor in the red zone, and even a frustrated Tom Brady will get the Pats there.
7. Tavon Austin Is a Fantasy Factor by Volume
If you have followed this writer, you are going to throw some hate this way. The columns here have been steadily warning against falling in love with Tavon Austin too soon.
After a two-touchdown performance Sunday, that distaste for the rookie slot receiver has to stop.
Austin might have a modest 88 total yards through two games, but he has 12 catches and had two touchdowns Sunday. He is going to be Sam Bradford's favorite target, learning curve or not.
Bradford told Brian Feldman of KMOV TV in St. Louis after Sunday's game:
[Austin] said something to me and I said 'Bro, keep playing. Don't worry. I'm going to keep throwing you the ball.' He's young and obviously he's competitive too. He's a perfectionist and wants everything to be perfect. But I think I've learned over the course of my career that it's never going to be perfect on Sunday and the way things have been the past two weeks you have to keep playing, one play at a time, and you never know what can happen.
Austin is a must-start in PPR formats because of his volume of targets, and once he finally pops a big play, he's going to look like a viable starter in all leagues. The Rams are at the Cowboys in Week 3, and that game could help Austin open up nicely.
8. David Wilson Looks Like a Waste
Don't cut David Wilson. Don't trade him.
But definitely do not consider him a fantasy starter.
Wilson started for the Giants, but, despite clearly having improved his ball security, he rushed just seven times for 17 yards. Wilson gave up short-yardage and goal-line work to recently signed Brandon Jacobs, who scored a one-yard touchdown. And most of the passing-down and no-huddle work in Eli Manning's failed comeback attempt went to Da'Rel Scott.
Remaining the Giants' starter is all Wilson has going for him right now. Keeping him as a fantasy starter is not something we advise.
The Panthers and All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly are on deck in Week 3. You need to avoid everyone in the Giants' backfield right now.
9. You Hate Ray Rice? Well, He Hates You Now, Too!
In Week 1, Ray Rice didn't look like he would be impacted much by Bernard Pierce. But Pierce scored in Week 2 and out-rushed Rice (57 yards to 36). It wasn't just the rushing total either. Pierce got 19 carries to Rice's 13, doing most of that work running out the clock.
Rice owners took to Twitter to give their first-round pick the business—as if he had anything to do with his own usage against the Browns. Rice left the game with a hip flexor issue, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
After receiving the hate, Rice tweeted on Sunday, "I was a fan of fantasy football until today. So many spiteful and hateful words. I still love you all. God bless. Great win today."
The Ravens have an important game on the schedule next against the Texans, one of their toughest of the season. The Texans have a good run defense, and Rice's shaky status should worry fantasy owners. You might need to sit him even if he does play. (We suspect he will.)
"The running game will keep rolling," fullback Vonta Leach told The Sun. "Bernard did a good job for us and we've got confidence in Bernard just like we do with Ray. Hopefully, [Rice's hip flexor injury is] not that bad. I think we'll be all right."
Pierce will assume the feature role if Rice is out, but he clearly will be a factor even if Rice plays at something less than 100 percent against the Texans. Pierce told the Sun:
It was a long fourth quarter, and somebody had to grind out those runs. I've just got to keep playing to the best of my ability and keep making plays. As long as they keep giving me the ball, I'll keep carrying it. When you're trying to run the clock down, they know you're running. They have to stop you, and we can't let that happen ... Sooner or later, [Rice is] going to be back. Ray's going to be back, I have no doubt in my mind.
No MRI is scheduled, according to The Sun, so Rice should be fine, but he no longer cares what you fantasy owners think.
10. Robert Turbin Is a Must-Have Handcuff
Lost in Seattle's eye-opening 29-3 victory Sunday night is the sleeper status of one Robert Turbin. He might be—no, he is!—the most important waiver-wire addition this week.
His value is hidden by the fact he has done little to deserve that status. After all, he has rushed for just 48 yards through two weeks.
The Seahawks have shown they are not a Russell Wilson team. They don't throw for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns every week. They are arguably the most stubborn run-heavy team in football.
Marshawn Lynch was a three-touchdown start Sunday night with 28 carries for 98 yards and three catches for 37 yards against a 49ers defense that could have made a claim to being the best in football. Turbin backed him up with six carries for 31 yards in mop-up duty.
Everyone loved rookie Christine Michael this preseason, but Turbin is still the Incredible SeaHulk. Michael was a healthy inactive in a crucial division game in which the Seahawks planned to run the ball right down San Francisco's throat. That says little about Michael—or a whole lot, depending on how you look at it.
The lowly Jaguars are coming into that Seahawks nest next Sunday, and Turbin will rate as a fantasy starter at the always-sketchy running back position. Lynch is going to hit his fantasy totals in the first half, and Turbin could rush for 100 yards and a touchdown in that one.
Pick up Turbin in all leagues if you are frustrated with your running back's production. If you are a Lynch owner, you are making a big mistake leaving Turbin out there on waivers, particularly if you are going with Michael as his supposed handcuff.
If you are looking for more waiver-wire advice, we will have it for you at Bleacher Report on Tuesday. Come back now, you hear?
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.