Week 3 of the NFL season is here, and there are plenty of notable performances. What do they mean? Tristan H. Cockcroft and Matt Bowen are here with instant analysis on the biggest fantasy performers, as well as the duds of the week.
4 p.m. ET games
Daniel Jones‘ historic day: Jones’ first career start was more than just impressive, it was historic: His 34.2 fantasy points were the second-most in history by any quarterback making his first start in the NFL.
The problem, though, is that in addition to simple regression to the mean, the loss of Saquon Barkley to a high ankle sprain for potentially multiple weeks further hampers Jones’ chances of a repeat. Jones was in passing situations for much of Sunday’s game, but defenses might be more prepared for him with Wayne Gallman at running back. I want to rank Jones a top-15 option, but I think he’s a volume-driven streaming pick until Barkley returns and would have a hard time taking him except against the truly weak defensive teams. — Cockcroft
I was also really impressed with the rookie QB. He racked up 336 yards passing and two touchdown throws, plus two more scores as a runner. Jones got the ball out with speed, throwing in rhythm. That’s a sign of a young quarterback seeing the field and finding the matchups. Plus, given his running ability, the Giants can continue to sprinkle in some designed QB runs in the red zone.
With a struggling Redskins pass defense on tap in Week 4, the immediate reaction here is to bump Jones up in the ranks and ride this production. However, as Tristan pointed out, the loss of Barkley due to an ankle injury makes this a little cloudy. — Bowen
Mike Evans‘ monster game: Evans’ 45.0 PPR fantasy points not only set a new personal best, they were the most by any Buccaneers wide receiver in franchise history, and the second-most in Tampa’s history (behind Doug Martin’s 55.2 points in 2012 Week 9). Most notably, Evans did it despite what would have been considered a less-than-stellar matchup against Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who struggled mightily to contain Evans all day. Evans managed 6-of-10 catches for 173 yards and two of his three touchdowns came with Jenkins the nearest defender. — Cockcroft
Russell Wilson goes to the air: Wilson’s 41.3 fantasy points and 50 pass attempts both set new personal bests, as he was forced to the air repeatedly in a game his Seahawks trailed significantly for most of the day. It was also the second time since the beginning of last season that the Saints allowed a 40-point game to an individual opposing quarterback. — Cockcroft
Christian McCaffrey looks fine with new QB: Trust the volume with McCaffrey. A week after he posted sub-par numbers versus Tampa Bay on a short week, the running back went off on the Cardinals defense, racking up 188 total yards and score on 27 touches. Plus, we saw that the Carolina run game can still go with Kyle Allen at quarterback. On McCaffrey’s 76-yard touchdown run, the Panthers ran a classic counter scheme. Get downhill, then shake the safety in the open field. Nasty cut. And with at least 18 touches in every game to start the season, fantasy managers can count on McCaffrey to produce high-volume touches. — Bowen
Keenan Allen continues to get volume: Allen reached the 40 point PPR threshold for the second time in his career on Sunday; his 43.6 fantasy points exceeding the 40.2 he managed in 2017 Week 11. While it was a volume-driven performance — he was targeted 17 times — he has seen double-digit targets in three straight games to begin 2019. — Cockcroft
1 p.m. ET games
Mark Ingram II should be RB2: Ingram set a new personal best for PPR fantasy points on Sunday, his 35.5 exceeding the 32.1 he scored in Week 15 of the 2017 season. It was a performance that looks all the more impressive when you consider he still got 16 rushing attempts despite the fact that the Ravens trailed on the scoreboard for nearly three full quarters. Ingram now has 14, 13 and 16 rushing attempts in his three games, putting him on pace for 229, which is right in line with either his 2014 (226) or 2017 (230) season-ending totals. He’s benefiting greatly from the Ravens’ run-heavy offense and getting the goal-line carries. Despite a second-half schedule that does look tougher than the first half, Ingram should be regarded a locked-in weekly RB2. — Cockcroft
Darren Waller now a mid-tier TE1: You can lock in the Raiders’ tight end as a mid-tier TE1 heading into Week 4 after he caught 13 of 14 targets for 134 yards versus the Vikings’ defense. That gives Waller 26 receptions this season — on 29 targets — in a Raiders system that utilizes his athletic traits and formation versatility. Oakland will flex Waller outside to get isolation matchups, target him in the quick game, toss him the ball on screens, etc. The volume is here, as is an Oakland route tree that caters to Waller’s skill set as a matchup player in the game plan. — Bowen
“Chance of a lifetime,” indeed. Waller’s 29 targets are tied with Zach Ertz for the most among tight ends through three weeks, and they’re seven more than Jared Cook, the man whose role Waller now occupies, had through that many games in 2018. Waller’s 53.4 PPR fantasy points are also nearly 10 more than Cook had through three games. — Cockcroft
Don’t overreact to Miles Sanders‘ big game: If you started Sanders as a flex play today, you probably cashed in with the rookie posting 126 yards on 15 touches. However, I wouldn’t bump him into the RB2 range just yet. I drafted him in multiple leagues and am all-in on his fit in Philadelphia’s offense, but with Jordan Howard firmly in the mix for carries in the Eagles’ backfield — including goal-line touches — the ceiling on Sanders is still pointing toward a flex ranking every week. — Bowen
Phillip Lindsay‘s increased workload: Lindsay managed career highs in rushing attempts (21) and PPR fantasy points (29.0), exceeding the 19 and 28.9 he had in Week 13 in 2018. Chalk it up to a Broncos offense extending several drives rather than a clear shift in the team’s backfield strategy, though, as Lindsay and backfield mate Royce Freeman totaled 36 rushing attempts and played a comparable 41 and 36 of 73 offensive snaps, respectively. — Cockcroft
Dalvin Cook continues impressive start: Make that three consecutive games of 100-plus rushing yards, a rushing score and at least 20 PPR fantasy points for Cook. By comparison, Cook had only two 100-yard games and four total rushing touchdowns in his 15 games played in 2017 and ’18, and he now has three of his five 20-point games this season alone. — Cockcroft
Keep an eye on Mecole Hardman: It’s the big-play ability that stands out to me for the Chiefs rookie wide receiver. In Week 2, Hardman caught 4 of 6 targets for 61 yards and a score, with the touchdown coming on a deep double-move for 42 yards. Sunday? Two grabs for 97 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown reception on a seam route. With Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball in Andy Reid’s offense, there will be explosive-play opportunities for Hardman again in Week 4. He’s a high-upside WR3 for me, with more value in non-PPR formats given his target volume. — Bowen
Frustration with Sony Michel: We talk all the time about the unpredictability of Patriots running backs, but what’s most aggravating about Michel is that while he’s getting the carries, he’s delivering inconsistent results all too often. After getting a goal-line carry in the first quarter Sunday, converting it and easing his fantasy managers’ worries, he finished his day with only 11 yards and that one score on nine attempts, which paled in comparison to Rex Burkhead‘s 11-47-1 rushing line. Michel has received double-digit carries in nine of his past 10 regular-season games, but in them, he has three games worth 12.5-plus PPR fantasy points, and yet another three worth five points or fewer.
With production like that, he’s in danger of slipping into a long-term committee approach that would make it tough for him to ever see RB2 production. — Cockcroft