Fantasy Football: Valuable Lessons Learned in Each Week Three Game

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IApril 4, 2017

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while...

Which must explain the slam dunk registered in the emergency, last-minute pick up and start players post I threw out to fantasy owners Sunday morning.

Louis Murphy has five catches for 119 yards? Outscores a whole slew of the much higher ranked household names at receiver in Week 3? Peyton Hillis runs for 144 yards and adds seven receptions for 36 more yards against a typically stout Baltimore defense? Benjarvus Green-Ellis, owned in just 4 percent of Yahoo leagues Sunday morning, did indeed carry the load for the Patriots  with 98 yards and a score.

There’s plenty to review from what has been a very interesting Week Three so far. Lessons all fantasy football owners should take away from this morning’s box scores:

Browns/Ravens: Hillis was downright amazing, posting numbers I expected from Ray Rice.

Rice is injured … more news on that later today, but it could be serious from early reports. Hillis was never deemed starter-quality at the NFL level, and Jerome Harrison was expected to be the guy this year in Browns-land after Montario Hardesty went down for the year, but Hillis probably just cemented himself the full-time gig, even when Harrison is fully healthy.

If he’s still floating on your waivers somewhere, make a play for him right away. As expected, Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin rebounded against the Browns and should continue to make solid starts the rest of the way.


Titans/Giants: What happened to the Giants defense? Chris Johnson proves yet again why people drafted him early in all fantasy league formats this summer. Javon Ringer posted a nice five yards-per-carry (six carries, 30 yards) and should be handcuffed to Johnson wherever possible in fantasy leagues.

The Tennessee passing game continues to be a mess and something to avoid when you’re looking for fantasy value. Giants receivers continue to get plenty of looks from Eli Manning—it will just be hard to know who will get the majority of the fantasy points from week to week.

The first week, it was Hakeem Nicks, last Sunday Mario Manningham and this week, Steve Smith led all receivers with nine catches and 103 yards. Even in the losing effort, Ahmad Bradshaw posted nice overall numbers, especially in PPR formats.

Chiefs/49ers: Wow. That’s about all one can say. The 49ers were expected to do so much this season and instead get skunked by Kansas City. Frank Gore continues to find ways to produce fantasy points, this time mostly through the air with nine catches and 102 yards, but you can’t expect that every week.

Everyone that drafted Jamaal Charles early in fantasy drafts has to be seething at the Chief’s continued usage of Thomas Jones. Charles finished with a respectable 12 carries for 97 yards (and three receptions for 57 yards through the air), but just imagine how impressive his day would have been if Thomas Jones didn’t steal 19 carries and 95 yards. The timeshare is working for the Chiefs, so don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

Tony Moeaki continues to be a solid up-and-coming tight end option, notching four catches for 44 yards and a TD on Sunday.

It appears that Michael Crabtree’s value isn’t going to escalate anytime soon.

Cowboys/Texans: Roy Williams’ five catches for 107 yards and two TDs was really impressive, just don’t sell the farm to get him at this point—remember that the Cowboys have plenty of other weapons. It will be hard for any receiver to have super stats on a consistent basis—even Miles Austin struggled this week with two catches and 22 yards. Expect him to rebound after the bye.

Felix Jones owners continue to cringe as Marion Barber plays a bigger role in the offense, but I still have a gut feeling that the tides will turn over the course of the season. Barber’s 17 carries for 55 yards performance on the ground was pedestrian, but Jones’ six-plus yards per carry (seven carreis for 43 yards) can’t be ignored forever.

I still wonder if the Cowboys are putting Marion on display much like the Bills and Marshawn Lynch. There are some teams that need RB help, especially as injuries start to take their toll.

The Texans didn’t do a bad job in any area of the game from a fantasy perspective, but then again, they didn’t wow me, either. Next week’s matchup with Oakland is just what the doctor ordered.

Vikings/Lions: Many, including myself, expected the Vikings to turn around their season against the Lions, and that they did.

Adrian Peterson notched another stellar fantasy day and the Minnesota defense stuffed up-and-coming Jahvid Best. Yet, one has to worry and wonder about the Vikings passing game. Favre should have exploded for all kinds of stats, but instead notched a pedestrian 204 yards and a TD.

And don’t overlook the two interceptions…bringing his season total through three games to six.

Percy Harvin did OK with six catches for 62 yards and a score, but how long until his headaches sideline him again?

Tony Scheffler looks good at tight end for the Lions and backup QB Shaun Hill, but how will that change when Matthew Stafford is back under center?

Steelers/Buccaneers: Rashard Mendenhall diced up Tampa’s defense for 143 yards and a score and looks to be maturing into a solid fantasy option. His TD was on a three yard run, showing the Pittsburgh brass is fine with him in goal-line situations, which is huge for his value moving forward.

Mike Wallace may have accumulated only three receptions, but made the most of them with 100 yards and two scores.  With Big Ben due back soon, Wallace looks like a good value receiver moving forward.

Tampa just couldn’t get anything going on offense, although it is interesting to note that LaGarrett Blount, notched the team’s only TD and led the Buccanneers in rushing yards (although it was a paltry 27 total yards). Sleeper alert?

Patriots/Bills: CJ Spiller flashed some big-time skills in this game, scoring on a kickoff return and also on a five-yard pass.

For the Patriots, Randy Moss still didn’t light things up from a yardage or reception standpoint, but notched two TDs. One has to wonder about Tom Brady, who finished with unimpressive stats outside of his three passing TDs.

As we suggested, Benjarvus Green-Ellis morphed into the primary ball carrier for the Patriots, and should have some definite value moving forward.

Falcons/Saints: Need another reason not to take much stock in fantasy kicker rankings? Garrett Hartley, a top five fantasy kicker in many rankings, missed three FGs including a game-winner in overtime and could be looking for work by the end of this week.

Matt Ryan continues to show that he’s a legitimate fantasy QB and those with Tony Gonzalez are smiling this morning after an eight catches for 110 yards and a TD performance.

Lance Moore was the receiving option of choice this week for Brees, with six receptions, 149 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving corps in New Orleans will continue to be a hard group to gauge from week to week. Even Marques Colston, who many had ranked as a solid starting fantasy WR, has been disappointing overall from a week-to-week option.

Michael Turner returned to prominence with a 114 yards and a score. Don’t forget about Jason Snelling, who had 14 carries and 62 yards of his own and could still be a huge value play when/if Turner goes down with injury.


Bengals/Panthers: Cedric Benson had 87 yards rushing, but it took him 27 carries to get there. His two TDs (one rushing, one receiving) helped ice the cake for his owners this week.

Carson Palmer again looked overmatched in the passing game despite his many weapons, and one wonders if the best is behind him career-wise.

Carolina can’t get much going offensively. DeAngelo Williams continues to disappoint, but then again, he didn’t get many carries, just 10, although he did rack up 54 yards with those touches, while Jonathan Stewart carried eight for 13 yards. The saving grace for Stewart was a one-yard TD run in the third quarter. Both backs are killing their respective fantasy owners, but continue to be solid buy-low candidates even though the Carolina offense doesn’t look too promising moving forward.

Eagles/Jaguars: Perhaps the Eagles should change their name to the Vicks. It was nearly a one-man show as Vick threw three TDs and ran for another. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin seemed to enjoy the extra attention through the air, accumulating a total of 236 yards and three TDs between the two of them. The player lost in the shuffle was LeSean McCoy, which doesn’t surprise me.

Maurice Jones-Drew owners can officially panic now. The 88 yards rushing (4.4 average per carry) wasn’t horrible, but still only a fraction of what you’d expect from an elite back playing against a defense that allowed rookie Jahvid Best to have a statistical fireworks display a week ago.

One has to wonder if the ankle injury Jones-Drew was nursing in the preseason will hamper him moving forward, because he doesn’t seem to be himself—especially in the passing game, where he finished with two catches for one yard.


Colts/Broncos: Austin Collie is looking like he’ll be the real deal at receiver, notching yet another massive day with 171 yards and two touchdowns in the absence of both Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon. His emergence even took away from Reggie Wayne, although Wayne should rebound next week.

The Colts continue to lack a running game, and neither Joseph Addai nor Donald Brown should be trusted in fantasy circles until the Colts start utilizing them more.

Kyle Orton continues to look like a great value QB this season, notching 476 yards against Indy. Jabar Gaffney finally made his mark, too, with 12 catches for 140 yards while Brandon Lloyd added six catches for 169 yards and a TD. The Broncos receivers are plentiful, and that will make it hard to predict who will have the best game from the group from week to week.

In Knowshon Moreno’s absense, Laurence Maroney—not Correll Buckhalter—got most of the carries.

Rams/Redskins: Steven Jackson was lost early to injury. Check back later today to see what the test results suggest for his long-term value. Kenneth Darby got the carries when Jackson was out, so keep him on your radar as waivers open tomorrow.

Santana Moss continues to produce solid, consistent numbers for the Redskins through the air, making up for a disappointing ground game that was divvied up between Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis.

Cardinals/Raiders: As mentioned earlier, Louis Murphy was a solid receiving option for the Raiders and should continue to get plenty of looks with Bruce Gradkowski under center. Darren McFadden had another big game on the ground as Michael Bush was babied with just three carries for 13 yards. Wonder how the split will go moving forward?

Beanie Wells had a decent game in his return from injury, and Tim Hightower’s value take an immediate hit.


Seahawks/Chargers: Those in return yards/TDs leagues were loving themselves some Leon Washington, who notched two return TDs in the second half for 200 yards total.

John Carlson finally emerged for Seattle at TE, leading the Seahawks with 61 yards and a TD on five receptions.

Mike Tolbert was OK in Ryan Mathews’ absence, notching 71 yards against a surprisingly affective Seahawks run defense. Philip Rivers had a whale of a game with 455 yards passing and two TDs.

Jets/Dolphins: Perhaps they should use Braylon Edwards only part-time more often in Jets-land, as he notched a key TD on a 61-yard play in the second half. Dustin Keller has emerged as an official starting TE in fantasy football, snatching six Mark Sanchez passes for 98 yards and two scores.

Brandon Marshall finally broke out with a 10 catch, 166 yard, one TD game.

LaDanian Tomlinson continues to make a case for being a fantasy football starter, going 70 yards with one TD on just 15 carries while Shonn Greene netted 36 yards with 10 carries on the ground.

The Dolphins backs didn’t fare too well against the Jets defensive front.


Check out our week-by-week free fantasy player projections, fantasy points against analysis, positional rankings, sit/start advice, trade strategy and other important information here.

Be sure to check here throughout the week for everything you need to assassinate your fantasy football competition in Week 4.

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