Against all odds, the 2020 NFL season is on, which means so is your fantasy season. You already got our “Kill, Marry, Chill” draft advice, but now you need to know whom to play each week. Well, we also have you covered there. You have your top guys you’re always starting, but it’s those borderline calls you need to get right to win. So, each week, we’ll go through some guys that we want to “kill” (not looking to start), “marry” (locking into our lineups), and “chill” (considering as sleeper options) to help you fill out your lineup and lead you the promised land of a fantasy championship. Here’s what you need to know for Week 3 of fantasy football.
Quarterback – Cam Newton (vs. LVR)
Yes, I’m telling you to consider benching the third-highest scoring QB in fantasy after two games. That’s the Crow Worthy difference.
Think about why Newton’s averaging 30 points per game: He’s currently tied with Christian McCaffery for the league lead in rushing touchdowns at four. Without those punch-ins, Cam would be 15th in fantasy points among QBs. Cam’s rate of scoring isn’t going to continue, especially when everyone with eyes is expecting Newton to keep the ball when the Patriots are in goal-to-go situations. Just like the Seahawks were on that goal-line stand to win in Week 2.
Cam also might be without his top three playmakers this week. Starting wide receivers Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry are both dealing with ailments and are questionable heading into the weekend. Meanwhile, running back James White is still grieving over the loss of his father and did not practice on Wednesday.
I see Cam as a rushing-touchdown-dependent QB1. Even if the Raiders’ defense is nothing to write home about, they’re still good enough to keep Newton in check. Unless your QB situation is in dire straits, look to go with someone else this week.
Running Back – Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown (@ BUF)
Rookie Cam Akers is dealing with a rib injury and is questionable to play in Week 3. Even if he does suit up though, he’ll be at less than 100% and probably won’t see much action, so it looks like Henderson and Brown will split backfield duties fairly evenly this week.
The Rams are currently second in rushing attempts, going to the ground 79 times over the first two games, so there will be plenty of touches to go around for both guys to make a mark this week. But who’s going to make that mark? These aren’t guys with track records of success in this league. If either has a big game, it’ll pretty much be uncharted territory for them. Moreover, after two games this season, neither has seen much action in the passing game and there’s no clear favorite for carries inside the 10. And that’s all before getting into the Bills’ defense, which is still a really good unit. They’re both easy benches for this week.*
*Brown recently had surgery to repair his pinky, but he’s still expected to play this week. If he can’t go for some reason, and if Akers joins him on the inactive list, Henderson will immediately become a flex play in all formats, so keep your eye on the injury reports.
Pass Catcher – John Brown (vs. LAR)
Another bold “kill” this week. Brown’s a top-10 wide receiver in both formats, but things haven’t exactly been challenging so far. The Bills have played the Jets and Dolphins, and the fact that Josh Allen might be the MVP front-runner at this point says more about those teams than it does about Allen. The Bills are taking on the Rams in Week 3 though, and this Buffalo offense is about to come back down to earth.
The NFC’s L.A. team held both the Cowboys’ and the Eagles’ passing games in check, and a lot of that has to do with the secondary; the pass rush has generated the fourth-lowest pressure rate in the league. Specifically, it has a lot to do with the two outside corners Brown will be lining up across all day. PFF has both Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams graded as top 15 cornerbacks after two weeks, so Brown won’t get any reprieve this game at either of the outside spots. More discouragingly for his fantasy prospects, Allen already seems to have formed tight chemistry with his new receiver Stefon Diggs, leaving Brown at number two in the pecking order for targets. He’s only a flex play in deeper leagues this week.
Quarterback – Ryan Tannehill (@ MIN)
I really thought Minnesota was still going to be good this season. In fact, I was so confident about it, I wrote a couple of thousand words on the subject. Now that I know better, I’m feeling big things from Tannehill this week. I was part of the camp that was skeptical if he could actually keep up his performance from last season after he had, by some metrics, one of the most efficient passing seasons of all time. Well, two games into 2020, a 120.7 passer rating says he wasn’t a fluke.
He’s once again destroying the hearts and souls of opposing defenses on play-action—Tannehill has a 133.9 passer rating on PA attempts this season after he had a 143.5 rating on such attempts last season. With the Vikings giving up more than 150 rushing yards in both of their contests, Derrick Henry should have no problem establishing the run and setting up that play-action for Tannehill.
The Titans may go into this game without their number one wide receiver A.J. Brown, but it doesn’t even matter. This Vikings pass defense is lost and hopeless, and it may go into this game without either of its starting cornerbacks. Henry is going to bulldoze this front seven and Tannehill will be able to unleash the Titans’ play-action, so his receivers will have enough open space between them and the nearest defender to start a farm. You better be starting Tannehill this week.
Running back – Melvin Gordon (vs. TAM)
Congrats to everyone who drafted Melvin Gordon, because you have yourself a bell-cow back for at least one more week. Backfield mate Philip Lindsay is likely to miss his second straight game because of turf toe, so Gordon looks like he’s in line for another 20+ touches like he had last week. But while the workload is in his favor, the matchup isn’t.
Tampa Bay is holding opposing running backs to just 2.9 yards per carry, which means neither Alvin Kamara nor Christian McCaffery could get anything going on the ground against this defense. Yeah, they’re that good. However, they’ve had some problems with stopping running backs in the passing game. Through the first two weeks, The Bucs have allowed the second-most receptions and receiving yards to running backs. That bodes well for one of the league’s better receiving backs over the past five seasons.
This Broncos offense is down its starting QB and top wide receiver, so getting the most experienced playmaker going is a priority. I wouldn’t say he’s likely to break off for a career day, but Gordon is a high-floor option as your RB2. Hey, why not throw some stability and reliability into your lineup?
Pass Catcher – CeeDee Lamb (@ SEA)
There are going to be a lot of yards and a lot of points in this game, which means there will be a whole bunch of fantasy points coming out of this one. There are a lot of no-brainer starters who’ll be playing this game, including wide receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Amari Cooper. I want to throw Lamb’s name into that mix of must-starts. We’re only in Week 3, but Lamb already looks the part of an elite playmaker. He’s comfortably outpacing Michael Gallup in targets and appears to have Dak Prescott’s full trust.
Don’t be surprised if he ends up leading the Cowboys in receiving yards this game. Cooper and Gallup will be on the outside, and Seattle has tough matchups on both sides of the field in Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar. Lamb, on the other hand, lines up in the slot, where he’ll face Ugo Amadi, the Seahawks’ understudy nickel corner who took over for Marquise Blair after the latter went down in Week 1.
If you have Lamb but are otherwise thin at wide receiver, great, start him as your WR2. If you have Lamb and are stacked at receiver, great…put him in as your WR2.
Quarterback – Joe Burrow (@ PHI)
It’s honestly shocking how people are ready to deem someone a franchise quarterback after two games. Burrow has by far the lowest yards-per-attempt figure in the league, he’s bottom-six in passer rating, and he’s already fumbled the ball a league-high three times. I’m loving those 97 pass attempts after two games though. Head Coach Zac Taylor seems intent on having Burrow sling the ball all day long, which means he already has big fantasy potential. That high volume should continue in this game because the Eagles are absolute trash. The rookie quarterback can tear this defense apart, especially since he’ll have a clean pocket for a lot of the afternoon.
The Bengals’ offensive line is two years away from being two years away, but they’ll have an easier time dealing with the Eagles’ middle-of-the-road pass rush after the Browns and Chargers manhandled them. Plus, Philly’s All-pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday with an injury, so hopefully, things like this won’t happen this week.
The Bengals are at full strength with their deep arsenal of skill-position players and they have a good matchup to get that first win of the season. Joey B’s going to cook. He’s a QB1/2 this week.
Running back – Joshua Kelley (vs. CAR)
Last month, I wrote a betting guide on the Panthers’ win total in 2020. I said to take the under on 5.5 games, and the reason came down to how bad this Panthers defense is on paper. Here’s what I wrote:
“Teams scored 31 (thirty fucking one!) rushing touchdowns on Carolina in 2019. That was just the ninth time a team allowed 30 or more rushing scores in a season…and as you may recall, Carolina is down one future Hall-of-Fame linebacker [Luke Kuechly] from last year’s group.”
Well, as it just so happens, Carolina has given up the most rushing touchdowns in the league, allowing six scores on the ground in the first two weeks. How about that!
The Chargers lead the league in rushing attempts and have split carries evenly between Kelley and Austin Ekeler. Kelley holds the edge in short-field situations though. He’s taken eight carries in the redzone to Ekeler’s four, including six totes within 10 yards of the end zone to Ekeler’s one. When you’re getting short-yardage duties against the Panthers, you’d have to have Trent Richardson levels of incompetency to not score. Kelley’s a good flex play in PPR and a great RB2/flex in standard.
Pass catcher – Evan Engram (vs. SF)
Engram isn’t getting a lot of love on the Fantasy Football Week 3 rankings, so that’s why I’m considering him a “chill” here, even though he was drafted as a TE1. The Giants’ tight end isn’t even in the top 20 in fantasy for the position, and the 49ers have conceded just one catch for five yards against opposing tight ends this season. Fantasy football success comes down to just one thing though: opportunities.
Even though the results haven’t been there yet, Engram is seventh in targets among tight ends this season with 15. But there’s a real possibility he hits double-digit looks this game, because the Giants are down a star running back in Saquon Barkley and a starting receiver in Sterling Shepard. Plus, the 49ers are going to mop the floor with the Giants in this game, so Daniel Jones will need to do a lot of throwing from the get-go.
Engram will need to compete with WRs Darius Slayton and Golden Tate for targets, but zone defenses like the one the 49ers like to run tend to give young QBs some trouble. I’m expecting Danny Dimes to look underneath to Engram as a safety valve a lot in this game. That kind of workload makes for a good option in Fantasy Football week 3, especially in PPR.