Following a topsy-turvy Week 3, you have a right to wonder which fantasy performances are to be believed and which to brush off. There were more than the usual number of outliers, ones that could make your mind work overtime trying to rationalize things. Check here for a primer on some of the shortcuts your brain takes to avoid the slower process of logical decision-making when setting fantasy lineups.
Let’s dive in with the game of the week, which gave us not only the butt punt but the Ken Dorsey tantrum that I, for one, immediately nominate to the meme hall of fame.
Devin Singletary, Isaiah McKenzie, Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis; Buffalo Bills
The box score of this game was all the way wrong, except for Josh Allen's. His 447 total yards and two touchdowns should have put his team in the W column, but alas. Singletary led the team with nine catches for 78 yards and a receiving touchdown, while the speedy McKenzie was right behind with seven catches for 76 yards and a score. McKenzie also made an unforgivable decision to try to get a couple more yards instead of going out of bounds, which cost his team the game.
It wasn’t the Bills’ only mistake though; Davis caught only three of his six targets, one of which could have been a touchdown. Diggs led the team in targets, but dealt with leg cramps multiple times during the steamy game, resulting in only seven catches for 74 yards. As a scientist, I’m driven to get to the bottom of some mysteries — and being from Rochester, NY, these Bills’ stats are baffling. Was heat a factor in the team’s box score? Diggs is the only one that went to a northern college (Maryland), and he did seem to suffer the unusually high temps more than his teammates. Davis is from Florida but maybe wasn’t as over the ankle injury as we thought. Or did being on the sidelines for much of the last 10 days limit his conditioning prior to this extreme-conditions game?
Singletary is already starting in most 12-plus team leagues, as are Diggs and Davis. I’m not rushing to pick up McKenzie (42 percent rostered in Yahoo leagues) as his was the flukiest of these performances. Diggs and Davis will have better days, and Singletary will have worse, but with Josh Allen at the helm, this is an offense you aren’t panicking over.
Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints
Although New Orleans did not score a single point until the fourth quarter of Week 3’s loss to the Panthers, fantasy-magician Jameis Winston managed to throw for 353 yards and put two WRs in the top six in receiving yards for the week. Olave, after a slow start with only three targets in Week 1, now has back-to-back 13-target games and, prior to Sunday’s show, was the poster-child for unrealized air yards. Olave (9-for-147 yards) is now third among receivers in averaged targeted air yards (18.2) and eighth in air yards share (41.7 percent) per NextGenStats.
He still hasn’t caught his first professional touchdown but has about 100 more receiving yards than Michael Thomas or Jarvis Landry … who both come out of Week 3 a little dinged up, along with Tre’Quan Smith (105 receiving yards). Despite the known volatility of rookie wide receivers, I’m putting this performance of Olave’s in the FACT bin. This is a team that needs to build on positives, which this was, and it’s looking like he has fast become a favorite target of Winston’s. The king of garbage time is doing it again, so go get Olave if you need a change at WR (he’s still available in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues).
Herbert turned 20 unexpected attempts into 157 rushing yards and two scores. He added two catches for 12 yards in the Bears’ narrow victory over the Texans. It was impossible to predict David Montgomery’s early injury — and everyone was excited for Montgomery to have a field day in the matchup with Houston — so Herbert probably didn’t swing many fantasy matchups (don’t ask my boyfriend about that though). One of the hardest decisions we have to make is when to go after an injury-induced backup. So many teams opt for a committee solution, or there is such a talent gap between starter and backup that it just isn’t worth it.
Herbert, however, is: Per Adam Levitan, Herbert has averaged 20 carries for 100 rushing yards and 0.6 TD per game in five career opportunities with at least 30 offensive snaps. Basically, he’s done it before, taking this performance out of fluke territory, This team wants to run the ball (Justin Fields’ 15 pass attempts per game rank last in the league by 11 attempts per game), and Herbert just showed that it doesn’t really make a difference if it’s him or Montgomery. Though Montgomery’s injury doesn’t appear devastating, Herbert is 100 percent worth a speculative add in case the team decides to take a cautious approach with him.
The Giants, the Bears' upcoming opponent, held big-name backs Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey somewhat in check during the first two weeks of the season, though Dontrell Hilliard was terrific in a receiving role, and McCaffrey did notch over 100 yards on the ground against them. Both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott found success against them on Monday Night Football. Here’s to hoping the Bears stick with the fully healthy Herbert for Week 4.
Quick Hits: Fluke
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Unfortunately, Jimmy G showed everyone why the Niners were ambivalent about him in a lackluster, not-even-game-manager level of uninspired play Sunday night. Kittle should have been a difference maker against what was ranked as the fourth-best TE matchup for fantasy but ended with just four catches on five targets for 28 yards. His average depth of target was just 5.6 yards, well below Garoppolo’s 8.3 yards per attempt career number. Kittle is too good to be ignored, so even though he was already on the field for 91 percent of the team’s snaps Sunday night, his target share is bound to go up. Don’t expect a miracle against the Rams next Monday night, but the number of players I’d start over Kittle is small.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Lost in the glory that Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews are deservedly basking in is the disappointment felt by Bateman believers. Though Bateman was second in targets on Sunday, second meant only four targets, and Bateman caught just two of them. On a day when Jackson throws four touchdown passes, you hate to see Bateman’s six lousy PPR fantasy points.
For all of his talents, Jackson is still one of the league’s lowest-rate passers — only 29 attempts per game. The main beneficiary of the Ravens’ high-scoring offense will vary week to week, and I trust that sometimes it will be Bateman. Unfortunately, even guys like Tyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson can’t get it done every week.
Quick Hits: Fact
Romeo Doubs/Allen Lazard, WRs, Green Bay Packers
Until I was answering pre-game sit/start questions Sunday morning, I didn’t realize so many people mistrusted Lazard, who is in all likelihood still warming up (4-45-1 in Week 3). Doubs (8-73-1) was on the preseason radar on a team with WR roles very much up in the air but had yet to prove himself in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers has quelled doubts about his own abilities with back-to-back 2-TD, 260ish passing-yard games. Going forward, I see both Lazard and Doubs as startable in 12-team leagues.
Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos
It’s sad to say, but Wilson and the Broncos are a situation I just want no part of right now.
No one looks comfortable, cohesion is rare and the box scores are showing it (unlike the dysfunction in New Orleans, for instance). After being one of the lowest-scoring teams last season, Denver is setting a new low with just 14.3 points per game so far. The numbers for Wilson in particular are getting worse — fewer passing yards, fewer touchdowns and fewer fantasy points each week (184-0 vs. SF). Uncooked hot dogs in cheerios with sliced cheese indeed.
No, it won’t continue to be this bad every week, and I fully expect Wilson to have a couple of good games this season, but it will be hard to predict when they’ll occur. If you can find a big Russ believer in your league, save yourself the headache and move right on to Trevor Lawrence (58 percent rostered), Jared Goff (45 percent) or Marcus Mariota (22 percent), who are figuring things out faster than Wilson.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia still ranks near the top of the league in rushing attempts, rushing first downs and rushing touchdowns per game, but since Week 1, it’s all been Jalen Hurts. A great start had zero-RB drafters who targeted Sanders maybe celebrating too soon. Week 3’s 46 yards on 15 attempts in a blowout win over the Commanders was disappointing, to say the least. His lack of work in the pass game is something you should have expected going in, but he's just not making the most of his touches. The good news is that no other running back is stealing the opportunities, and Sanders’ four red-zone rushing attempts aren’t the worst in the league.
I don't think it's my PRIMACY BIAS overweighting Sanders' Week 1 game when I say that his usage (11th-most rushing attempts in the league) dictates that you have to continue to start him, especially in deep leagues and in good matchups, and hope for the occasional big-play game.