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Posted Thursday for TNF and updated Friday for the main slate, “The Fantasy Blueprint” will get you the stats and information that actually matter for fantasy football, and it will be produced in a way that doesn’t waste our time. If you don't know what "Fantasy Usage" is, read this. If you want my best bets, they’ll be at the top on Saturday. If you need live Vegas odds, go here. If you simply just want my weekly rankings (posted Wednesday), subscribe here for $3.99 per month and use promo code WINKS10 for 10% off. If you have other questions, reach out on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).
Here are my five favorite bets using Rotoworld's Live Odds page. My record since 2019: 53-36-1 (59%).
Titans/Vikings under 49.5 points - Two run-heavy teams.
Patriots (-6.5) vs. Raiders - Short week + travel + injuries for LV.
Bengals/Eagles over 46.5 points - Two pass-heavy teams with iffy defenses.
Steelers (-3.5) vs. Texans - Elite defenses vs. horrid OL.
Packers/Saints under 52.5 points - Missing chain movers. Betting against Brees.
Seahawks (30.25 points, -5 spread) vs. DAL
RB14 Chris Carson
WR29 Tyler Lockett (Smash Spot)
WR50 DK Metcalf (Facing A Backup CB)
WR89 David Moore
TE37 Greg Olsen
The Fantasy Blueprint:
MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson is set for more fireworks in Week 3. Seattle is the 3rd-most pass-heavy team in neutral situations (57%), and now catches a Dallas defense that’s allowed the 3rd-most plays on defense (70 per game). Vegas’ 30.25-point projection for the Seahawks is more than justified. Russ is locked into top-3 QB rankings for the rest of the season. His 9 passing TDs are three more than second place. … Greg Olsen is running routes on 63% of dropbacks but is rarely targeted (8% target share) with most looks going to WRs and RBs. Olsen is completely TD-reliant right now. The good news, if any, is that LB Jaylon Smith is struggling to cover tight ends in space. …
75% of the air yards and 47% of targets go to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. The concentrated share of looks makes Seattle extra enticing for DFS tournaments. Between the two, Lockett has far better fantasy usage (WR29 to WR50), but both are bankable efficiency outliers as borderline WR1/2s. Updated Friday: The Cowboys (26th vs. fantasy WRs) will also be without CB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) who was expected to cover Metcalf for portions of this week's game. Rookie CB Trevon Diggs will be playing through a shoulder injury. … David Moore is a distant third receiver (WR89 fantasy usage on 10% target share) while running a route on a tick over half of Russ’ dropbacks. …
Chris Carson has only averaged 11.5 carries per game but is very involved as a receiver, making him game-script proof as a high-end RB2. His touch share while leading (25%) and trailing (36%) are strong, as is his 14% target share. Dallas has been mediocre against the run (17th in rushing EPA), allowing the Rams and Falcons to rush for 113+ yards in each game.
Carson is my RB14 this week. Subscribe to Rotoworld EDGE+ here to unlock the rest of my personal weekly positional rankings (posted Wednesday) for only $3.99 per month. Use promo code: WINKS10 for 10% off.
Cardinals (30.0, -5.5) vs. DET
RB16 Kenyan Drake (Smash Spot)
RB38 Chase Edmonds
WR4 DeAndre Hopkins (Smash Spot)
WR66 Larry Fitzgerald
Update: WR80 Christian Kirk (Out)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
The 2020 offense is what coach Kingsbury envisioned heading into last season. Kyler Murray has been the best player in both games so far, posting above-average passing efficiency along with a position-leading 79 rushing yards per game (that’ll regress). At home with a healthy supporting cast and a 30-point team total, Murray should have no issues obliterating a Detroit defense that easily ranks dead last in ESPN’s pass rush win rate (19%) with the second worst defense all the way up at 30%. Murray could single-handedly get coach Matt Patricia fired. … TE Dan Arnold has ran a route on 68% of dropbacks, but he has 4.1 and 4.6 expected fantasy points in his two contests as a low totem pole option. …
NFL target leader (25) DeAndre Hopkins will battle Detroit’s injury-filled secondary headlined sporadic rookie CB Jeffrey Okudah. It’s liftoff time once again for Hopkins, who enters the game with WR4 fantasy usage, a 32% target share, and a very healthy 30-point team total. … Updated Friday: Christian Kirk (groin) is out for Week 3, allowing explosive 2019 second-rounder Andy Isabella into starting three-receiver sets. Isabella can play inside or outside and offers the team a downfield dimension with Fitzgerald operating underneath. Isabella has no weekly floor but has a big-play ceiling as a WR4/5 given Arizona's 30-point team total. … Larry Fitzgerald (WR66 fantasy usage) is always a tough pill to swallow, but if Kirk is out, I’ll have flex interest. The Lions have allowed, by far, the most PPR points from the slot this season (see chart way below), and Fitzgerald will have 2x the juice early in the season as he will at the midpoint and beyond. … Andy Isabella has only ran a route on 20% of dropbacks so far, but he’d be in three-receiver sets if Kirk misses. It'd be the break he needs for fantasy purposes. His 4.34 speed and reportedly improved confidence make him a cheap DFS tournament play as someone with a 3-5 target projection. This offseason, Kingsbury said one of his goals is to get Isabella more involved. …
Kenyan Drake has been a slight under performer but catches the get-right spot of all get-right spots in Week 3. Detroit turned their Madden tackling sliders to 0, currently ranking 31st in rushing EPA defense and 28th against fantasy running backs. Drake’s 35% touch share while leading sets him up for a ceiling game as 5.5-point home favorites. … Chase Edmonds remains a must-keep bench asset as a player with top-12 upside if Drake’s foot were to ever flare up. Edmonds’ lowly 35% snap share gives him no floor as a desperate flex play.
Ravens (28.25, -3) vs. KC
RB37 Mark Ingram
RB70 J.K. Dobbins
WR57 Marquise Brown (Game Script Boost)
WR75 Miles Boykin
TE11 Mark Andrews (Game Script Boost)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Due to blowout wins, the Ravens have only passed the ball 25 times per game, but their neutral pass rate is quietly 12% higher in 2020 than it was in 2019, the biggest increase in the NFL. With Kansas City expected to make this game competitive, we’ll see potential ceiling games from all Ravens players. Lamar Jackson is averaging 76.7 rushing yards per game since 2019 and posted 21.3 fantasy points against Kansas City last year despite not throwing a touchdown. Jackson’s rhythm and passing touch looks a step better this year, too. He’s my top-ranked fantasy quarterback of Week 3. … Including garbage-time, Mark Andrews has run a route on 76% of dropbacks this season after sitting at 57% last season. It’s the leap he needed to be an elite tight end, and this is the game environment to cash those tickets. He’s likely to run more than the 21 routes he had in Week 2’s blowout with the Chiefs actually presenting an offense that can keep up. … Blocking TE Nick Boyle runs a route on just under half of Baltimore dropbacks as a DFS Showdown punt play. …
Marquise Brown will be one of the most efficient targets in the NFL, but he needs Baltimore to pass more than 25 times per game to be treated as more than a boom-bust WR3/flex. Through two games, Brown only has WR57 fantasy usage despite a 24% target share and 35% air yards share. In this projected shootout, it’s time to really bump Marquise up weekly rankings, especially with him playing at full health. A ceiling game could be in store for Brown as an WR2. … Miles Boykin runs just as many routes as Brown, but his WR75 fantasy usage and 12% air yards share keep him out of redraft starting lineups. … The same can be said for slot man Willie Snead and his WR93 fantasy usage. …
Mark Ingram (RB37 fantasy usage), J.K. Dobbins (RB70 fantasy usage), and Gus Edwards (RB71 fantasy usage) combine to make a frustrating committee, but one worth figuring out given Baltimore’s 28.25-point team total and explosive rushing attack. Ingram has started each game and is the favorite for pure grind-it-out carries (team-high 19 total rushes) as a boom-bust flex. Dobbins is the favorite for passing downs (position-high 29 routes) and more explosive rushing plays, but he comes off the bench and provides zero floor as an RB3. Gus Edwards cleans up in garbage time, which is less likely to happen given the Week 3 opponent.
Colts (27.25, -10.5) vs. NYJ
RB10 Jonathan Taylor (The Column Cover Boy)
RB29 Nyheim Hines
WR46 T.Y. Hilton (Rebound Candidate)
WR72 Zach Pascal
WR76 Michael Pittman
TE21 Jack Doyle (Questionable)
TE25 Mo Alie-Cox
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Despite a 2/3 TD/INT ratio, Philip Rivers enters Week 3 as fantasy’s QB24. He can find himself in shootouts, but now has a foundational running back and a 10.5-point projected lead this week. The Colts’ 27.25-point total and the Jets’ putrid 31st-ranked passing EPA defense are enough to fire up Rivers as a two-QB option in Week 3, even if we can project for below-average pass attempts. New York is 26th vs. fantasy quarterbacks. … Updated Friday: Jack Doyle (knee) was able to practice in full on Friday, which puts him on track to play Sunday. That would end any TE2 streamer buzz for Mo Alie-Cox. These two could form a frustrating 1-2 punch.
From The Fantasy Usage Model, “T.Y. Hilton has been a rebound candidate for all three weeks, but I’m willing to go back to the well. He just missed a couple of long touchdowns and now is a candidate for more looks with Campbell (21% of air yards) sidelined with a knee injury. Hilton’s WR73 production can be chalked up to just bad variance. A home matchup against the no-life Jets should be the right medicine to get back on track as a top-30 receiver.” … Michael Pittman ran a route on 97% of Week 2 dropbacks and will climb up the target tree while Campbell heals. The second-round rookie has playmaking and red zone appeal but is a wait-and-see WR5 for now. Indy’s 27.25-point team total and the Jets’ nonexistent pass defense does open up things for a potential breakout game, however. … Zach Pascal will also be a near full-time route runner as a versatile slot/outside hybrid. His WR72 fantasy usage keeps him out of 12-team starting lineups. …
Elite prospect Jonathan Taylor has lived up to expectations and then some as a locked-in top-8 fantasy back for the rest of the season. Taylor has RB10 fantasy usage and an elite 48% touch share while leading through two games. As 10.5-point favorites, we can project the rookie for upwards of 20-30 touches. New York is 26th against fantasy running backs and could completely give up at any second under Gase. … Nyheim Hines, nicknamed “Bad Ekeler”, is in a touch-and-go situation. Hines needs negative game script to be on the flex radar with Taylor proving capable as a receiving back, the only role Hines can handle in the NFL. Indy’s status as week-leading favorites works against Hines this week. Last Sunday, Hines had one touch on just nine snaps.
Nursing Home Saints (27.25, -3) vs. GB
RB3 Alvin Kamara
WR81 Tre'Quan Smith
WR58 Emmanuel Sanders
TE15 Jared Cook
The Fantasy Blueprint:
The Packers’ defense has held opponents to the second-fewest plays this season (52 per game), and the Saints are 30th in neutral pass rate (39% pass) through two games. It’s definitely time to lower expectations for 41-year-old Drew Brees, who looks like he’s aged seven years this offseason. To make matters worse, Brees is 31st out of 34 in completion percentage over expected (-5.3%) and looks to have worse arm strength and accuracy in 2020. This all despite New Orleans’ 4th-best OL per ESPN’s pass block win rate metric. Brees is a low-end QB2, at least until Michael Thomas (ankle) is back. … Like most fringe TE1s, Jared Cook offers close to zero floor despite 59 air yards per game because of how conservative this offense will be under Brees in 2020. Luckily, Cook is the favorite for red zone targets at home with a (arguably too high) 27.25-point team total. He’s touchdown dependent. …
Michael Thomas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and likely needs more time to heal. … Tre’Quan Smith earned 12.8 expected fantasy points in his Week 2 start and looked a step or two better than Sanders. He out-targeted him 7 to 3 and actually showed up in the box score as a worthwhile flex. Smith also catches the easier individual matchup of the two while operating in the slot more frequently. Smith is a solid flex play. … Last week, Emmanuel Sanders turned 87% routes into 4.9 expected fantasy points. There’s clearly no floor to work with, but it’s hard to ignore the high team total and his route share as at least a WR5 this week. His individual matchup against CB Jaire Alexander knocks him down a tad bit, however. … Undersized specialist Deonte Harris ran a route on 59% of Week 2 dropbacks. …
The entire Saints Offense without Thomas is set up around watching Alvin Kamara make defenders miss in space, particularly after the catch (25% target share). That’ll remain the case at home, but he’s also set up well on the ground against Green Bay’s league-worst rushing EPA defense. There’s an argument for Kamara to be the No. 1 back of the week. … Latavius Murray (RB40 fantasy usage) has a 24% touch share while leading and a 10% touch share while trailing. He can occasionally pay off with a random touchdown but typically isn’t a risk worth taking as a flex play. He’s one of the best RB insurances in fantasy, however.
Patriots (26.75, -6) vs. LV
NA Rex Burkhead
RB59 Sony Michel
Update: RB53 James White (Out)
WR10 Julian Edelman
WR13 N'Keal Harry
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Cam Newton is already in the top-5 fantasy quarterback discussion after showcasing health in his foot and shoulder. The Patriots lack receiving talent, but make up for it with elite interior run blocking and the 2nd-most play-action based offense in the NFL per PFF. He’s the QB3 overall and could flirt with 10 rushing touchdowns as evidenced by his league-high 9 carries inside-the-10. The Raiders’ nonexistent pass rush is last in adjusted sack rate. … There aren’t any tight ends worth mentioning. …
An offseason bargain in fantasy circles, Julian Edelman leads the NFL in air yards share (52%) while surprisingly averaging 117 air yards per contest. That’ll regress, but his 29% target share is here to stay. Edelman clearly looks a step slower on tape, but he’ll grind his way to a top-24 fantasy finish if he can stay healthy. He has WR10 fantasy usage through two games. … N’Keal Harry is a below-average NFL athlete and continues to struggle separating. The good news is his 29% target share, which keeps him on the map as a WR4 in good matchups like this one. We should expect New England to run more in Week 3, however, as 6-point home favorites. …
Updated Friday: James White (personal) is out for Week 3, which allows the versatile Rex Burkhead to be involved in the Newton-led rushing attack. In last week's high-scoring affair with White out, Burkhead had 13.6 expected fantasy points on a position-high 71% snaps and 73% routes. Burkhead is a RB3 if you're in a pinch. ... Sony Michel only attempted seven carries last week, bringing his fantasy usage through two weeks down to RB59.
Eagles (26.25, -6.5) vs. CIN
RB5 Miles Sanders
WR36 DeSean Jackson
NA Greg Ward
TE5 Dallas Goedert
TE8 Zach Ertz (Rebound Candidate)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Carson Wentz has been the worst quarterback in the NFL through two weeks. He’s 33rd out of 34 in completion percentage over expected (-6.6%) and last in EPA per dropback, two of the most predictive stats out there. Luckily, the Eagles are 4th in neutral pass rate, and Wentz can scramble to save himself as a fantasy QB2. If Wentz, fantasy’s current QB25, can’t carve up a Cincy defense that’s 31st in pass rush win rate, it’s definitely time to fully panic. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “I believe Goedert is a better receiver than Zach Ertz right now, but that doesn’t mean we fully fade Ertz. The offense needs Ertz’s reliability as an over-the-middle target while they work through injuries at receiver. Ertz has quietly had TE8 production despite TE20 box scores, meaning he’s bound to positively regress at least to mid-range TE1 levels. Cincy might have the only defense with linebackers slower than Ertz, our catch-and-fall king.” … Dallas Goedert (TE5 fantasy usage) and his 20% target share are here to stay with Reagor and Jeffery battling injuries. Goedert has a defined role as a seam stretcher and big-play threat while Ertz stays near the line of scrimmage. Goedert belongs inside the top-8 tight ends for now, as we root for Goedert to continue stealing looks away from his veteran counterpart. …
Jalen Reagor’s thumb injury will be measured in months, not weeks. That sets up DeSean Jackson for more stable production as a flex play. I still caution citing air yards and going home. Yes, Jackson is 4th in air yards (282), but he has WR36 fantasy usage because 88% of his targets are near the sideline (less valuable) and most of those air yards came on way-too-deep heaves (less valuable). With that said, Jackson’s 19% target share could climb a couple of points. Hopefully underrated deep safety Jessie Bates (video) doesn’t ruin his perceived smash spot as a usable WR3/flex. … Greg Ward is a slightly better bet than JJ Arcega-Whiteside for WR5 production. He’s at least produced in the NFL before and was a starter last week. …
Miles Sanders played 82% of the snaps in his debut following his hamstring strain, and now faces a “run funnel” defense that’s allowed the most rush attempts on defense. Cincy will be without starting DT Geno Atkins (and Mike Daniels is playing through an injury), setting up Sanders for 20-plus touches as a midrange fantasy RB1.
Browns (25.75, -7.5) vs. WAS
RB20 Nick Chubb (Game Script Boost)
RB23 Kareem Hunt
WR22 Odell Beckham
WR79 Jarvis Landry (Questionable)
TE30 Austin Hooper
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Baker Mayfield has been destroyed by a tough matchup and propped up against a piece of cake one. This one falls somewhere in the middle. Washington’s defensive line has lived up to the hype as evidenced by their No. 1 defensive EPA status, but they’ve also allowed the second-most pass attempts because their offense is playing fast. Mayfield and the Browns want to #EstablishTheRun when possible, leaving Mayfield with no floor as a low-end QB2. … Perhaps David Njoku landing on injured reserve will open things up for well-paid TE Austin Hooper, who enters the game with TE30 fantasy usage on 10% target and 5% air yards shares. There are not enough touches to go around for consistent production, making Hooper a no-floor TE2 solely based on name recognition. …
Odell Beckham has looked near full-health in his two games, seeing WR22 fantasy usage on a team-high 26% target share. He’s an upside play against a secondary without much talent. Expect more deep shots for Odell, who likely settles as a boom-bust WR2/3 depending on weekly matchups and if his downfield targets are on or off target. … Jarvis Landry doesn’t look to be completely over his hip injury, and his WR79 fantasy usage backs it up. He’s tough to trust right now, even if we expect his 15% target share to tick upwards long term. I view Landry as a sell candidate, but I can understand waiting things out in hopes he can shake his injury. It does not help that the Browns are 28th in pass attempts. …
Nick Chubb’s touch share while leading (37%) is far higher than it is while trailing (21%), which makes him a boom-bust fantasy asset week to week. As 7.5-point home favorites, this is a “boom” game script, although Washington’s front seven is no joke. Chubb likely comes close to his 16.7-carry career average in wins this week as a low-end RB1. He’s still the best pure rusher in the NFL for my money even if he’s splitting snaps. … Kareem Hunt is running hotter than any running back in the NFL. He’s the RB8 despite handling RB23 fantasy usage as Chubb’s change-of-pace and passing-game substitute. Because of his talent and the scheme he’s in, we can project Hunt to beat expectations, just not by this much. Hunt is a big-play RB2/3.
Titans (25.5, -2.5) @ MIN
RB7 Derrick Henry
WR47 Corey Davis
WR49 Adam Humphries
Updated: WR26 A.J. Brown (Out)
TE10 Jonnu Smith (Questionable)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
There are 38 QBs with 200 plays since 2019. Here’s where Ryan Tannehill stacks up in the following predictive metrics: Success Rate (1st), EPA per Dropback (3rd), Completion Percentage Over Expected (2nd), and EPA+CPOE Composite (1st). In this system, he’s a magician and extremely accurate. This doesn’t mean it’ll equate to fantasy production, but Tannehill can no longer be slept on. Against Minnesota’s 27th ranked passing EPA defense, expect Tannehill to be very efficient as a fantasy QB2. Volume is always the concern. … As long as Brown (knee) misses, Jonnu Smith should be treated as a fantasy TE1. He has No. 8 fantasy usage on a 18% target share, plus offers elite athleticism in space and in the red zone. The Vikings’ two safeties make this a tough matchup to overcome -- Minnesota is 10th vs. TEs -- but Smith is a worthwhile gamble even if the floor is lower than we’d like. …
A.J. Brown (knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, which lines up with his multi-week timetable at the time of his injury. … Corey Davis’ 19% target and 30% air yards shares keep him involved as a flex play while Brown heals up. The Titans are always candidates for under 30 pass attempts per game, but Davis has a fantastic individual matchup against an undermanned, inexperienced Vikings cornerback corps that’s No. 31 vs. fantasy receivers. … Adam Humphries’ WR49 fantasy usage isn’t too far behind Davis’ WR47, but Humphries is the lower-ceiling player out of the slot with his low average depth of target. …
After running unsustainably hot in 2019, Derrick Henry has overcorrected early in 2020 when it comes to efficiency. He’s the RB28 on RB7 fantasy usage, which includes an NFL-high 28.0 carries per game. Henry just needs to find the end zone, something he’s a candidate for given Tennessee’s 25.5-point team total. Henry shouldn’t be counted as a top-5 RB, but he’s still a top-12 RB1. … I’m curious to see third-round rookie Darrynton Evans’ role as a potential third-down back after he practiced in full this week (hamstring). There are worse players to have at the very end of fantasy benches in my opinion.
Falcons (25.5, -3.5) vs. CHI
RB11 Todd Gurley
WR2 Calvin Ridley
WR27 Julio Jones (Questionable)
WR7 Russell Gage
TE13 Hayden Hurst
The Fantasy Blueprint:
To nobody’s surprise, the Falcons are 2nd in pass attempts while getting close to nothing from their ground game. Matt Ryan is playing well as fantasy’s QB6 and remains indoors for a home matchup against a quality Bears unit (No. 4 in passing EPA defense). Quantity typically wins out in these environments, particularly given Ryan’ stacked skill position group. He’s a low-end QB1 with Atlanta projected for 25.5 points. … 3rd in routes run among tight ends, Hayden Hurst has the role we’ve expected as a direct Hooper replacement. It’s led to TE13 fantasy usage despite a nightmare Week 1 matchup vs. Seattle. This week’s home matchup is not one to fade, especially if Julio is hobbled. His 14% target share through two weeks is close to his floor, making Hurst a low-end TE1. …
Julio Jones (hamstring) is not at 100%. Practice reports, tape, and stats all back that up. Of course, if he’s active, he’s in season-long starting lineups, but I’m not expecting top-5 numbers in the short term until Julio proves he can work at full speed. We’ll see how the Falcons list him on the official injury report this Friday. … Calvin Ridley is the WR1 in total fantasy usage and fantasy points. He’s an absolute stud on tape, looking more explosive than ever, and more importantly is being peppered with high-value targets over the middle. Ridley’s status as a top-8 fantasy receiver is here to stay. While Julio hobbles around, Ridley is locked into my top-3. I wouldn’t sell high. … Russell Gage’s WR7 fantasy usage comes as a total surprise, but it’s not believable given Julio’s hamstring injury. Gage is a recommended WR3 at least until Julio’s 17% target share climbs. Through two weeks, Gage’s 21 targets are 9th in the NFL. He’s also run a route on 85% of Atlanta dropbacks. …
Knee injuries have zapped any explosion and cutting ability from Todd Gurley, who has 0 broken tackles on 37 total touches this season per PFF. The Falcons are subbing him out as well (54% snaps), particularly on passing downs (36% routes). His volume as a pure runner (RB11 fantasy usage) keeps him in the RB2 mix, but it won’t be pretty when he’s not falling into the end zone on goal-line touches. The Bears are 14th in rushing EPA defense.
Jaguars (25.25, -2.5) vs. MIA
RB28 James Robinson (Game Script Boost)
RB64 Chris Thompson
Update: WR90 D.J. Chark (Out)
WR67 Laviska Shenault (Ascending)
WR52 Keelan Cole
WR78 Chris Conley
TE26 Tyler Eifert
The Fantasy Blueprint:
My bet for the most underappreciated 2020 offense, the Jaguars catch a good spot at home against Miami’s 29th-ranked passing EPA defense. Jacksonville is 3rd in ESPN’s pass block win rate and is incorporating quick-hitting concepts to get playmakers in space. Gardner Minshew is accurate and willing to play downfield when asked, plus offers 23.8 rushing yards per game. Minshew, who is the QB11 in 2020 after being the QB14 in 2019, belongs on the QB1/2 borderline. … Tyler Eifert has run a route on 66% of dropbacks this season, but it’s only translated to TE26 production. That could increase if Chark is out, although Eifert is on the TE2/3 borderline in most matchups. … TE James O'Shaughnessy runs some routes if looking for a punt play in DFS Showdown.
D.J. Chark’s WR90 fantasy usage and 11% target share are some of the bigger question marks of the fantasy year. I think there’s something to OC Jay Gruden opting for more balance within his receiving group, but I think his chest and back injuries are the true culprit. Chark was limited on Monday and Tuesday before not practicing at all on Wednesday. His individual matchup, if healthy, is a good one with Dolphins CB Byron Jones (groin) ruled out. Expecting any sort of floor with Chark is not wise. He’s best viewed as a flex play right now. … Keelan Cole (WR52 fantasy usage), Laviska Shenault (WR67 fantasy usage), and Chris Conley (WR78 fantasy usage) round out his low-key deep receiving corps. Shenault, the second-round rookie with elite athleticism, has flashed the most and Gruden is scheming him touches out wide, in the slot, and out of the backfield. Shenault’s role will improve as the season progresses, and he’s already playing on 57% of dropbacks. He gets a slight boost playing against Miami’s No. 30 ranked rushing EPA defense because of potential short-yardage wild cat plays. Shenault has some flex appeal, particularly if Chark is out. Cole is the starting slot receiver and runs the second-most routes on the team behind Chark. He’s a good fit with a Gruden’s offense that’s utilized underneath receivers in recent seasons. On the other hand, Conley is a rotational player (39% routes) who wins vertically, making him a boom-bust WR5 in plus matchups like this one. He’d be the biggest beneficiary if Chark is unable to go.
Game script and defensive matchups are positives for James Robinson, who has 35-of-37 RB carries through two games as Jacksonville’s workhorse grinder. The Dolphins have allowed the 6th most rush attempts compared to the 30th most pass attempts this season, which lines up with 2019 totals, too. Robinson is a candidate for 15-20 carries and all goal-line opportunities as a borderline RB2/3. … Chris Thompson is out there on just under half of the Jaguars’ dropbacks but hasn’t received many targets with other underneath players higher in the pecking order. His RB64 fantasy usage, and Jacksonville’s status as 2.5-point favorites work against the unplayable Thompson.
Chargers (25.25, -6.5) vs. CAR
RB25 Austin Ekeler
RB15 Joshua Kelley (Game Script Boost)
WR16 Keenan Allen
WR43 Mike Williams (Rebound Candidate)
TE6 Hunter Henry
The Fantasy Blueprint:
It took no time for Justin Herbert’s first-round tools to pop on tape, and he has the playmakers to make some noise in fantasy circles despite questionable decision-maker coach Anthony Lynn’s post-game comments last Sunday. Per PFF, 42% of Herbert’s throws came off play action (3rd) and he wasn’t afraid to throw downfield, two things that boost efficiency and fantasy scoring. More importantly, Herbert rushed four times for 18 yards and score in his first start. With a 25.25-point team total on his side, Herbert is a solid QB2 streamer. His presence is good news for all Chargers’ skill players. … Hunter Henry has lived up to his midrange TE1 billing through two weeks as he showcases his top-10 talent in this contract season. Henry has TE6 fantasy usage and is benefiting from the Chargers’ new high-tempo offensive approach (4th in pace). After losing LB Luke Kuechly to retirement, I view Carolina as a defense to attack with fantasy tight ends. …
Keenan Allen and his WR16 fantasy usage stand to benefit with Herbert under center. Tyrod is a downfield thrower and dual-threat scrambler, while Herbert typically scans the field as a more traditional passer, although he’s athletic as well. Allen’s individual matchup isn’t a concern against rookie slot CB Jeremy Chinn, but play volume could be if L.A. expectedly gets the ground game going. Allen is a WR2/3 in PPR leagues. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “Known in the deep waters of analytics twitter as “Redacted”, Mike Williams notoriously pops up as a rebound candidate in my fantasy usage model. He’s posted WR43 fantasy usage through two weeks while playing through a shoulder injury, but has only shown WR79 numbers in the box score. Still, there’s on-tape reasons to like Williams this week. First off, Herbert is expected to start with Tyrod (ribs) battling the Chargers’ medical staff, but more importantly, L.A. faces the Panthers at home. Carolina has allowed 7.0 adjusted yards per attempt despite facing Vegas and Tampa to open the year. Williams is an upside WR4.” …
With Justin Jackson (quad) sidelined to begin the season, rookie Joshua Kelley has been vaulted into a mini-Gordon role as short-yardage grinder. He’s handled 4-of-5 inside-the-10 carries for the Chargers while seeing 17.5 carries per game to start his career. The Panthers were 32nd against fantasy RBs in 2019 and look to have the worst rushing defense in 2020. Kelley easily offers top-30 RB value in ideal game script as 6.5-point home favorites. His touch share jumps from 18% to 34% when L.A. goes from trailing to leading. … Austin Ekeler’s Week 1 target share was alarming, but he should see a few underneath targets while working with Herbert instead of Tyrod. Ekeler’s true concern is his ceiling if he’s not handling goal-line work, instead relying on relatively unbankable explosive plays. Betting on talent is justifiable to an extent, keeping Ekeler in the mix as a borderline RB1 in great matchups like this one. It'd consider selling Ekeler if he had a big game due to game script assuming his red zone and target share don't change.
Cowboys (25.25, +5) @ SEA
RB2 Ezekiel Elliott
WR9 Amari Cooper
WR24 CeeDee Lamb
WR71 Michael Gallup
TE9 Dalton Schultz
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Because Russ is cooking and the defense can’t rush the passer, offenses playing Seattle have played the most snaps in the NFL (72 per game) by two full plays. That includes the most pass attempts allowed, too, setting up Dak Prescott for an all-too-obvious ceiling performance. The Cowboys’ 25.25-point team total feels too low against a defense that’s 31st vs. fantasy quarterbacks due to a complete lack of pass rush. Prescott belongs inside the top-seven quarterbacks. … Dalton Schultz’s 71% routes run rate and TE9 fantasy usage from last week were aided by a unique game script. He’s more of a TE2 streamer than low-end TE1, particularly in poor matchups like this one. Seattle’s safety duo is one of the best in the NFL, and it’s already proving as so (5th vs. fantasy TEs). …
Now fully healthy unlike late last season, Amari Cooper has regained control as Dallas’ alpha receiver, seeing a 26% target share and the 3rd-most raw targets (23) in the NFL. With game script on his side as 5-point dogs, Cooper projects for 10ish targets once again and faces another defense without much cornerback talent. Seattle is dead last against fantasy receivers. … Michael Gallup’s WR71 fantasy usage (11% target share) is one of fantasy’s biggest surprises. As the X receiver, Gallup has the toughest job of the three, but his target decline can partially be explained by Lamb’s addition (and a small sample). Gallup still has WR3/flex appeal because he’s seeing 27% of the team’s air yards and is a legit playmaker in a great offense. If things don’t improve in this high-scoring affair, it’s probably time to really adjust expectations for Gallup. … I’m treating first-round stud rookie CeeDee Lamb as a WR3 already. He has WR24 fantasy usage and is popping on tape, particularly out in space as he did at Oklahoma. Lamb also has played in the slot on 91% of snaps, a number that’s slightly higher than pre-season expectations. In the highest totaled game of the week, Lamb should be started with confidence in 12-team leagues. …
Ezekiel Elliott is in the conversation for the No. 1 overall fantasy running back for the rest of the season. He has RB2 fantasy usage and looks as good as ever on tape. The Seahawks’ No. 1 rushing EPA defense can simply be chalked up to random samples.
Chiefs (25.25, +3) @ BAL
WR18 Tyreek Hill
WR39 Sammy Watkins (Questionable)
WR119 Mecole Hardman
WR63 Demarcus Robinson
TE2 Travis Kelce
The Fantasy Blueprint:
You'll want to start everyone on the Chiefs in what's being deemed the "September Super Bowl." Patrick Mahomes hasn't played as sharp as we're used to, but still enters the week as fantasy's QB8 despite a total lack of downfield throws. Things will work out long term, especially if Mahomes is forced into a pass-heavy attack while chasing Lamar. ... If there’s a weakness in Baltimore’s defense it’s covering tight ends following S Earl Thomas’ release, especially with the youthfulness at linebacker. Travis Kelce simply should be treated as the TE1 overall. …
Given scheme and talent at corner, Tyreek Hill faces a more challenging matchup than Kelce as Mahomes’ top-two targets. CBs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey have held opposing receivers to the third-fewest points this season, but Hill remains a boom-bust WR1 in a high-scoring environment as the league’s scariest big-play threat. … Sammy Watkins (concussion) did not practice Thursday after leaving Week 3. His status will need to be updated Saturday when official injury reports come out. I can’t write up Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson until more info as well. …
Clyde Edwards-Helaire can handle a large rushing role and was mixed in as a check-down asset in Week 2 during their comeback win. A bellcow role seems nearly inevitable, particularly when the Chiefs are in close affairs like this week. The Ravens’ No. 6 rushing EPA defense makes this an uphill battle but volume (RB8 fantasy usage) and talent keep him well inside top-8 RB rankings. … Updated Friday: Darrel Williams (ankle) practiced in full Friday.
Bills (25.0, -2.5) vs. LAR
RB19 Devin Singletary
Update: RB24 Zack Moss (Out)
WR8 Stefon Diggs
WR20 John Brown
WR28 Cole Beasley
Update: TE29 Dawson Knox (Out)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Stud OC Brian Daboll is spreading the field with three or four receivers and allowing Josh Allen to throw off play action 40% of the time (4th) per PFF. That’s textbook. Allen’s QB2 overall ranking is certainly influenced by facing the Jets and Dolphins to open the year, but he’s set up for production even as the schedule toughens up. Allen and Bills are 5th in pass attempts right now with the 8th-highest neutral pass rate. … Updated Friday: Dawson Knox is out. …
Despite a league-low 35 available targets from the previous season, Stefon Diggs has walked into WR8 fantasy usage on a massive 27% target share with the 7th-most air yards in the NFL (241). He’ll be challenged by elite shadow CB Jalen Ramsey, but volume and his own talent are worth betting on as an upside WR3. In better matchups, Diggs is a strong WR2. … John Brown catches an easier individual matchup than Diggs vs. CB Darious Williams, and his 20% target share is strong enough to trot out as a WR3, even if his production will be more boom-bust. This game is one that could shoot out. … Slot man Cole Beasley quietly has WR28 fantasy usage with Buffalo playing pass-heavy in each of the first two games. Rams slot CB Troy Hill has been iffy as well, setting up Beasley for flex appeal in PPR formats. …
Updated Friday: With rookie Zack Moss (RB24 fantasy usage) out, Devin Singletary projects for a near full-time role. Singletary was losing inside-the-10 touches (Moss' 4 to Singletary's 1) and routes run (Moss' 35% to Singletary's 35%) to the rookie back. The matchup works in Singletary's favor, as the Rams are 24th in rushing EPA defense and 25th against fantasy running backs. Singletary, who already had RB19 fantasy usage with Moss active, can be trusted as a rock-solid RB2 in a game we want pieces of.
Bucs (24.75, -6) @ DEN
RB35 Leonard Fournette
RB34 Ronald Jones (Lost Job?)
NA Chris Godwin
NA Mike Evans
TE22 O.J. Howard
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Bill Belichick’s former sixth-round system QB Tom Brady has been inconsistent while trying to fit into Bruce Arians’ deep-drop vertical offense. It’s a questionable fit, especially while only using play action on 16% of dropbacks. Cam Newton is at 43% for reference. To improve upon his QB21 ranking, Brady needs Godwin to return and Tampa to rank better than 25th in neutral pass rate (43%). I was joking about the system QB thing by the way. … O.J. Howard (TE22 fantasy usage) is far more involved than the ghost of Rob Gronkowski (TE44 fantasy usage), who has been droppable since Week 1. Neither are strong TE2 streamers with the offense figuring things out on the fly, especially with Godwin expected to return. Denver is 22nd against fantasy tight ends. …
Updated Friday: Chris Godwin cleared concussion protocol and will play. Deemed a better fit with Brady this offseason, Godwin remains a bit of a wild card as a top-12 fantasy receiver entering Week 3. The Broncos' pass rush has been weak (30th in adjusted sack rate) as has their performance against fantasy receivers (30th), setting up Godwin and Mike Evans for a path to WR1/2 numbers. ... Even with Justin Watson (shoulder) ruled out, Scotty Miller isn't on the redraft radar with a healthy Godwin. ...
Ronald Jones started and scored a touchdown last week, but a no-excuse fumble is probably enough for his fate to be sealed. Leonard Fournette closed the game with a long run and touchdown, and more importantly, hasn’t made a crucial mistake in front of Brady, who has historically needed trust out of his RBs. Fournette’s RB35 fantasy usage will trend towards inside the top-20 in short notice as an emerging RB2/3. As 6-point favorites, Fournette can be entered into flex spots with some confidence. I’d look elsewhere for RoJo.
Steelers (24.5, -4) vs. HOU
RB17 James Conner
WR38 JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR11 Diontae Johnson
WR88 James Washington
WR111 Chase Claypool
TE28 Eric Ebron
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Ben Roethlisberger’s style has changed. To protect his old body, he’s getting the ball out quicker than ever. It’s worked thus far (QB13 through two games) because his playmakers are excellent after the catch, but his upside is capped by Pittsburgh’s 50% neutral pass rate and his own 32nd aggressiveness out of 34 QBs. Still, Roethlisberger should live up to QB1/2 expectations against Houston’s 28th passing EPA defense. … Eric Ebron is more touchdown-dependent than expected, even though we expected that to be the case entering the season. Ebron has only commanded a 10% target share, which has equated to TE28 fantasy usage. A 24.5-point total is high enough to chase if desperate for a TE2 streamer. …
Diontae Johnson (7.2 aDOT) is a perfect fit with Big Ben’s declining average depth of target. He has a team-high 32% target share and WR11 fantasy usage while providing WR2 value through two weeks. Houston’s 16th-ranked defense against fantasy receivers sets up Johnson for top-25 WR production, even if I expect JuJu to begin eating into Johnson’s workload share. … Updated Friday: JuJu Smith-Schuster has gotten there with touchdowns, but his WR38 fantasy usage and 13% air yards share are concerns through two weeks. To me at least, JuJu has more talent than Diontae and will face easier matchups from the slot over the course of the season, meaning I’ll lean on JuJu as a WR2 if healthy. He was a full participant on Friday after two DNPs earlier in the week. ... Explosive rookie Chase Claypool has simply outplayed vertical threat James Washington, who can’t be started in all formats given his WR88 fantasy usage. I think Claypool eventually starts in three-receiver sets. He’s worth adding in 14-team leagues already. The dude is a total stud if he can carve out enough targets. …
James Conner (ankle) still doesn’t look right on tape, but we chase volume and good offenses. Conner checks both boxes after out-snapping Benny Snell 50 to 10 last week. It’s Conner’s backfield for now, and the Texans have allowed the 4th-most rush attempts this season. As 4-point home favorites, Conner is a volume-based, high-end RB2. He benefits from OG David DeCastro's expected 2020 debut. ... Snell is a high-end insurance asset on fantasy benches.
Lions (24.5, +5.5) @ ARI
RB36 D'Andre Swift (Game Script Boost)
RB50 Adrian Peterson
RB61 Kerryon Johnson
NA Kenny Golladay (Questionable)
WR32 Marvin Jones (Rebound Candidate)
WR48 Danny Amendola
TE23 T.J. Hockenson
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Despite missing Golladay, Matthew Stafford and the Lions have been 5th in neutral pass rate (57%) under aggressive OC Darrell Bevell. It hasn’t translated to production yet -- Stafford is the QB19 -- but an indoor matchup against the fast-paced Cardinals sets up for a solid Week 3 outing for the passing offense. Stafford had 385 yards and 3 TDs in this matchup last season. He’s a top-12 quarterback if Golladay is back. … T.J. Hockenson is a clear loser after two weeks. He’s losing snaps to TE Jesse James and only commanded a 12% target share despite Golladay’s hammy. With more competition for targets, Hockenson is only a TE2 even in this elite matchup that led to a 6-131-1 receiving line last season. …
Kenny Golladay (hamstring) has been limited in practice this week and is tentatively on track for this “must win” game. Starting players off soft-tissue injuries typically adds more risk than we’d like, but Golladay’s projected targets in this high-scoring affair are easily worth the gamble. CB Patrick Peterson isn’t good enough to downgrade receivers for anymore either. Golladay can be plugged into the boom-bust WR2 group immediately, assuming he’s active. Follow the news, of course. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “Marvin Jones is a natural lid-lifting No. 2 receiver for an offense, not a true alpha receiver. He only had a 19% target share in the two games without Golladay. I think Golladay’s projected return is a benefit for Jones, who now will face softer coverages and play in a more efficient offense. Jones’ target share and WR32 fantasy usage shouldn’t go down with Golladay in the lineup, but his efficiency will increase. Expect his WR44 production to pick up, especially with the fast-paced Cardinals on deck.” … Danny Amendola popped for 134 yards on 13 targets in this matchup last season, but his WR48 fantasy usage makes him an uncomfortable flex play even in PPR formats. There’s simply more competition for targets in 2020. …
It hasn’t looked pretty, but second-round rookie D’Andre Swift has the valuable passing-down role in typically efficient offense. Swift has a 26% touch share when Detroit’s trailing, which sets him up for flex value in Week 3. Expect Swift’s role on the ground to increase over time, too. It’s best to buy low now before he has a random breakout game. The Cardinals are 27th against fantasy RBs. … Adrian Peterson has a 6% touch share while trailing. The Lions are 5.5-point road dogs. He’s also sharing time with Week 2 starter Kerryon Johnson, who’s RB61 fantasy usage makes him completely unplayable in most fantasy leagues.
Packers (24.25, +3) @ NO
RB1 Aaron Jones
WR1 Davante Adams (Doubtful)
WR65 Allen Lazard
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Behind the Packers’ league-best pass-blocking OL per ESPN’s analytics metrics, Aaron Rodgers has had a rebound campaign, entering the week as fantasy’s QB7. To reach a ceiling, he absolutely needs Adams to be healthy, something that looks increasingly less likely this week. Rodgers and the Packers could trend away from their 11th-ranked neutral pass rate if Adams is out. He’s more of a QB2 than QB1 given the circumstances. … TE Robert Tonyan’s 60% route share has translated to a 4% target share. That’s still better than Jace Sternberger, though. …
Updated Friday: Davante Adams (hamstring) is doubtful, which means out or ineffective if active in the NFL. ... Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR42 fantasy usage) has been more involved than Lazard (WR65 fantasy usage), but as a primary outside receiver (63%), he's more likely to spend time in stud CB Marshon Lattimore's coverage. MVS can pay off as a big-play threat, but he offers zero floor as a flex play. ... Allen Lazard played more slot snaps inside (31) than outside (28), allowing him to see more high-value targets away from Lattimore on paper. Lazard's 12% target share is concerning, but he belongs on the flex radar in an offense that's been clicking (5th in passing EPA). ...
Green Bay is scheming high-value touches to Aaron Jones. He has 14 targets on just 36 routes this season, plus has four inside-the-10 carries to Jamaal Williams’ one. Jones continues to turn out explosive plays, which has led to RB1 overall production. If Adams is out, Jones can be projected for truly elite touch totals in the rushing and passing game.
Vikings (23.0, +2.5) vs. TEN
RB26 Dalvin Cook
WR33 Adam Thielen
TE40 Irv Smith
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Arguably the most unwatchable offense in the NFL, Minnesota ranks 31st in during-snap motion (2%) and 29th in neutral pass rate (41%). With few playmakers, Kirk Cousins is unsurprisingly 31st in QB fantasy points with no light at the end of the tunnel. … Irv Smith (TE40 fantasy usage) and Kyle Rudolph (TE49 fantasy usage) continue cannibalizing each other from any TE2 value. The Vikings are 30th in fantasy points from their tight ends. …
The Vikings’ 96 plays through two weeks easily rank dead last with the damn Jets and Texans tied for 30th all the way up at 115 plays. Despite that, Adam Thielen is the WR17. Once Minnesota inevitably has more plays and pass attempts, Thielen will shine given his position-high 33% target share. At worst, Thielen is on the WR1/2 borderline at home against the CB Adoree Jackson-less Titans. … This may be the week first-round rookie Justin Jefferson surpasses non-NFL starting caliber WR Bisi Johnson in routes, but he can’t be counted on until we see more targets come his way. I expect that to be soon. …
The Vikings want Dalvin Cook to be featured. OC Gary Kubiak said he wants to run even more than they have to open the year, locking Cook into a big workload each week regardless of game script. The Titans are 27th in rushing EPA defense right now, so Cook should have success on the ground. To reach a ceiling, Cook’s 8% target share has to bump up a few points. That should happen as he gets his feet under him after a limited training camp. … Alexander Mattison remains one of the better RB insurances in fantasy. He’s already seeing a 12% target share and would step into a three-down role immediately if Cook’s shoulder or knee flares up.
Dolphins (22.75, +2.5) @ JAX
RB27 Myles Gaskin
RB52 Jordan Howard
WR17 DeVante Parker
WR37 Preston Williams (Rebound Candidate)
WR53 Isaiah Ford
TE3 Mike Gesicki
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t been tackled since surgery, meaning Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely here to stay. He survived an impossible opening schedule (NE, BUF) and is rewarded with a fully healthy receiving corps and a date with a Jaguars’ team that’s dead last in passing EPA defense. Fitzpatrick, the QB20 through two weeks, is a viable QB2 streamer despite a round matchup on Thursday night. … Mike Gesicki counts as a tight end in fantasy circles, but he’s truly a slot receiver with 80% of his routes coming from that position. Gesicki was breaking out to close the 2019 season -- he finished as the TE5 from Week 13 on -- and is clearly on his way to every-week TE1 status through two weeks this season. He has TE3 usage on a team-high 21% target share, while showcasing his 97th percentile athleticism in the red zone. Jacksonville’s safeties and linebackers are positions to attack for fantasy purposes, as evidenced by their No. 29 ranking against the position thus far. … Durham Smythe is a blocking tight end but does run a handful of routes per game as a DFS Showdown punt play.
DeVante Parker (hamstring) practiced in full Wednesday, a sign that his injury is behind him. This week’s matchup is far easier than his last two, especially if he avoids CB C.J. Henderson as projected. Parker’s WR17 fantasy usage is a great sign for his upside WR3 billing. Last week, he showed burst while running routes on 91% of dropbacks. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “Preston Williams has been utilized (WR37 fantasy usage) but has just missed on plays. His 28% air yards share will pay off eventually, and a Week 3 matchup against the Jaguars (3rd most passing yards allowed) is an ideal way to cash in positive regression tickets. Williams has some flex appeal in 12-team leagues despite a WR101 start to the season.” … An undersized slot player, Isaiah Ford has quietly posted WR53 fantasy usage while Miami has played in comeback mode in two-straight weeks. Off the radar in standard-sized redraft leagues, Ford has sleeper appeal in DFS Showdown after running a route on 74% of Week 2 dropbacks.
Running back roles have been defined in Miami. Myles Gaskin (RB27 fantasy usage) is the passing-down back while Jordan Howard (RB52 fantasy usage) handles goal-line duties. Howard only has a 6% touch share while trailing, so he has zero floor if things get away from Miami early. Gaskin is the preferred play in DFS Showdown after seeing 24% of touches while trailing through two games. Matt Breida has only played 22% of offensive snaps.
49ers (22.75, -4.5) @ NYG
NA Jeff Wilson
NA George Kittle (Questionable)
NA Jordan Reed
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) will be replaced by Nick Mullens, who has a similar YPA (8.4 to 8.2) despite playing in worse circumstances. Mullens can be a workable game manager (253 career passing yards per game), but we can project a conservative game plan from San Francisco on the road with injuries galore. Mullens is a prove-it QB3 despite New York’s inviting cornerback corps. … George Kittle (knee) can push through his injury if the 49ers want him to play. They’re debating if it’s safe to put Kittle out there on suspect turf. Kittle is an obvious top-four TE despite playing with a backup quarterback given his high target share and playmaking ability. … I was impressed with Jordan Reed’s athleticism in Week 2 (video) and expect him to stay involved in San Francisco’s 2-TE-heavy offense. Reed ran a route on 63% of Week 2 dropbacks and finished with 16.3 expected fantasy points. He’s a recommended TE2 streamer if Kittle is out and could stay within top-20 rankings even if Kittle returns while the receivers work their way back from injuries. We can chalk up New York’s No. 4 ranking against fantasy TEs to small samples. …
Brandon Aiyuk had 4.1 expected fantasy points in his debut last week and shouldn’t be started in 12-team leagues until we see a breakout game. Aiyuk hasn’t practiced much while battling injuries. This could take longer than expected. … I have zero interest in any other 49ers receiver. …
Jerick McKinnon has RB41 fantasy usage through two weeks as the clear-cut passing-down back. Volume will be up in Week 3 with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman out, but I question how involved he’ll be between the tackles. The 49ers would be hypocritical to put a player with an extensive injury history into a major role if they believe field conditions are bad. Instead, I believe Jeff Wilson will handle more than half of the rushing work and almost all short-yardage situations as a flex candidate given the 49ers’ status as 4.5-point favorites. Meanwhile, Mostert offers a more bankable floor in PPR leagues. There’s a ceiling to chase as well. Both will be ranked in the 20s for me this week. You can purchase my rankings here for $3.99 per month. Use promo code WINKS10 for 10% off.
Rams (22.5, +2.5) @ BUF
RB21 Malcolm Brown
RB46 Darrell Henderson
Update: RB42 Cam Akers (Out)
WR30 Robert Woods
WR59 Cooper Kupp
TE19 Tyler Higbee
The Fantasy Blueprint:
No play caller has done more for their QB than coach Sean McVay; The Rams lead the NFL in play-action rate (48%) per PFF and use the 2nd most during-snap motion. Essentially, Jared Goff is throwing in the best environments, but on limited volume as the Rams rank dead last in neutral pass rate (38%). Goff checks in as the QB17 entering Week 3 but can climb rankings if asked to throw more often. As 2.5-point dogs, Goff could be in store for more attempts, putting him on the mid-range QB2 radar despite a defense that’s 10th vs. fantasy quarterbacks and creating the most pressure per ESPN. … Tyler Higbee’s three-touchdown performance is the reminder of his upside when this offense gets rolling off play action. The Bills were gashed by Gesicki in Week 2, but will get LBs Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano back from injury. Still, this is a game to chase and Higbee has a solid 16% target share. He’s a low-end TE1 with upside. Gerald Everett has run a route on only 24% of dropbacks. …
Robert Woods, our pre-snap motion king, has commanded a 22% target share while also seeing 2.0 carries per game. Despite the conservative offensive approach so far, Woods is the WR25 on WR30 fantasy usage. Those numbers are bound to improve with target touches concentrated in this 2-TE-heavy offense. Woods, however, belongs on WR2/3 borderline while facing Buffalo’s 13th-ranked defense against fantasy receivers. He’ll battle CB Tre’Davious White this week. … Cooper Kupp has WR59 fantasy usage and is a distant second on the Rams’ target tree (19% share). Some of this can be explained by Kupp’s decrease in slot snaps from 66% in 2019 to 55% this season, but his individual matchup on the inside against CB Taron Johnson is far easier than Woods’ on the outside. This is a get-right spot for Kupp despite my season-long concerns if the offense stays conservative. …
Updated Friday: Cam Akers (ribs) has been ruled out, trimming the Rams' three-back committee down to two. In a high-scoring environment with the Rams first in neutral run rate (62%), it's an important backfield to get right. Malcolm Brown was the starter in each of the first two weeks, has the higher fantasy usage (RB21), and still offers the most as a pass-protector on passing downs with Henderson relegated from pass blocking by this staff, so I lean Brown for the most snaps (81 to 34), targets (4 to 3), and inside-the-10 carries (5 to 2). With that said, Darrell Henderson has more juice as a pure runner and would be in-line for a bigger workload if Brown's finger is reaggravated (Brown fully practiced on Thursday and Friday by the way). Neither have floors. Both have ceilings. In the end, I think both have flex appeal with Brown being the better play.
Bears (22.0, +3.5) @ ATL
RB33 David Montgomery
WR14 Allen Robinson (Rebound Candidate)
WR68 Anthony Miller
WR96 Darnell Mooney
TE20 Jimmy Graham
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Mitchell Trubisky still has major accuracy issues, but his athleticism (21 rushing yards per game) and this Bears’ surprisingly functional offensive line are good enough to keep him in ball games. Trubisky, who is fantasy’s QB14 through two weeks, belongs on the QB2 streamer radar against a porous Atlanta defense that’s 30th in passing EPA and dead last against fantasy quarterbacks. … Jimmy Graham’s 13% target share isn’t worth chasing in an offense that could fall apart at any moment. He’s a touchdown-dependent TE3 in a good matchup versus the Falcons’ 30th-ranked tight end defense. …
From The Fantasy Usage Model, “The disgruntled receiver literally liked my tweet that read, “Only 47% of Allen Robinson's 17 targets this year have been deemed catchable by PFF.” He’s certainly mad at his quarterback’s accuracy, but even for Trubisky’s standards, that’s too bad to not get better. Robinson’s 234 air yards are 8th in the NFL and his 29% target share is 9th. That’s translated to WR14 fantasy usage through two weeks. Despite his current standing as the WR56, I like Robinson as a top-15 receiver for Week 3’s matchup against the Falcons, who have allowed the second most passing yards (744) in the NFL so far.” … Darnell Mooney (4.38 speed) is a better fit than 92% slot receiver Anthony Miller for Chicago’s 2-TE base personnel. That’s why Mooney ran more routes than Miller last week, 21-17. Miller’s dropped touchdown didn’t help either. With Chicago passing the ball at the 3rd-lowest rate in neutral situations (41%), neither Miller nor Mooney can be trusted in 12-team lineups. …
David Montgomery looks healthy and is averaging 14.5 carries with 3.0 targets already. The carries will increase over time, as will his goal-line touches (0 through two weeks). The 22-point team total gives him touchdown upside as a volume-based RB2. The Falcons are 22nd against fantasy running backs. … Tarik Cohen’s 14% touch share while trailing isn’t high enough to mess with, especially when he’s averaging under 5.0 YPT since 2019. He’s a justifiable drop in 10-team leagues.
Raiders (20.75, +6) @ NE
RB6 Josh Jacobs (Questionable)
Update: WR86 Henry Ruggs (Out)
WR102 Hunter Renfrow
TE1 Darren Waller (Questionable)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Always accurate but too gun shy, Derek Carr has impressed with more help around him. Unfortunately, help could be taken from him in Week 3. RT Trent Brown (out), OG Richie Incognito (IR), and OG Denzelle Good (questionable) are all on the injury report, as are Waller and Jacobs. Especially given the opponent, Carr is an easy fade despite a quality Monday Night Football showing. … Updated Friday: Darren Waller (knee) didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, but got in a limited practice Friday. I'll chalk this up to maintaince and assume he's mostly healthy for his difficult Week 3 matchup. Despite the threat of a full-out Belichick swamping, I'll bet on Waller's volume as a top-5 fantasy tight end. He leads the NFL in target share (35%) and won't face competition for schemed-up touches from Ruggs, who is out.
Updated Friday: Henry Ruggs (knee) will miss Week 3 and CB Stephon Gilmore's coverage. If you roster Ruggs, this is great news. This allows Ruggs to recover in a week we weren't going to roster him. ... With Ruggs out, slot man Hunter Renfrow and third-round rookie Bryan Edwards will be given more opportunity, but in a tough game environment with Jacobs and Waller featured, we shouldn't have any faith in them for fantasy. ...
Updated Friday: Josh Jacobs (hip) didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday, but at least got in a limited practice Friday. It's likely rest, but Jacobs has dealt with many injuries early in his career and was even on the sideline for portions of last week's game. Assuming he's mostly healthy, Jacobs can be started, although viewed closer to the RB1/2 borderline than in weeks past. Jacobs has a 15-touch floor and has a 13% target share through two weeks.
Texans (20.5, +4) @ PIT
RB30 David Johnson
WR15 Will Fuller
WR45 Brandin Cooks
WR74 Randall Cobb
TE27 Jordan Akins
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Per ESPN, Pittsburgh is second in pass rush win rate, and the Houston offensive line ranks 31st. Deshaun Watson will be running for his life, looking to create on his own after the Texans’ first 15 scripted plays. Watson has little help around him and is stepping into his third-straight impossible matchup, which has tanked his fantasy ranking to QB15 through two weeks. Watson’s floor is lower than normal as a borderline QB1/2. … Jordan Akins (TE27 fantasy usage) is completely touchdown-dependent. It’s best to chase TE3 production in better game environments. Houston is projected for 20.5 points. …
In classic fashion, Will Fuller went from 19.2 PPR points to a total goose egg last week, likely due to some injury flare up. I’m guessing it was just cramping because he practiced in full all week long. Few receivers have Fuller’s weekly ceiling, so I’m willing to chase the reward despite the risk of another mid-game injury. Pittsburgh is tough in terms of efficiency (5th in passing EPA defense), but they’ve allowed the 2nd-most pass attempts because of game script. Fuller will be inside my top-25 rankings if you want to take the plunge with me. … Brandin Cooks took advantage of Fuller’s odd Week 2 situation with 8 targets, but he was a distant second option when Fuller was a full go in the season opener. Cooks simply hasn’t had the same burst as he did before years of injuries. He’s a boom-bust WR4 in most matchups. … Slot man Randall Cobb has WR74 fantasy usage and can’t be counted on in the flex unless it’s a pristine matchup. This isn’t. …
David Johnson handled 100% of the running back work in Week 2 but will likely battle Duke Johnson (ankle) in Week 3 as he did in the season opener. Johnson has looked fine on tape. He just sees low-value reps between the tackles behind an awful offensive line. With Pittsburgh trotting out the No. 2 rushing EPA defense, expectations need to be held in check. D.J. is on the RB2/3 borderline as a volume play.
Bengals (19.75, +6.5) @ PHI
RB18 Joe Mixon
RB32 Giovani Bernard
WR5 A.J. Green (Rebound Candidate)
WR44 Tyler Boyd
WR94 John Ross (Lost job?)
WR97 Tee Higgins
TE17 Drew Sample
The Fantasy Blueprint:
As it did at LSU, the Bengals’ move to empty sets last week unlocked the best out of Joe Burrow. His pressure rate dropped from 48% to 5%, so I expect more 4- and 5-WR sets moving forward. That will increase Burrow’s pass attempts and scrambles, making him an underrated top-15 quarterback moving forward. He’s already the QB12 despite a 5.2 YPA. … With C.J Uzomah (Achilles) done for the year, former pass-blocking tight end Drew Sample will be thrust into a more featured role as a TE2 streamer in fine matchups like this one. The Eagles’ linebackers had no chance against McVay’s tight ends last week and don’t have the safety play we’ve been accustomed to in recent seasons. They’ve allowed the fifth-most PPR points to tight ends this season. …
From The Fantasy Usage Model, “I’m giving the A.J. Green one more week to turn things around. Green is not only leading the Bengals in targets (22) through two weeks, but he’s also leading the NFL in air yards (338) with the next closest down at 311. We can fully expect Green to play below fantasy usage expectations given his age and situation, but there’s a middle ground to be had given his WR5 fantasy usage and WR68 production. His horrendous 45% “catchable target rate” and in-game stamina should improve as the season progresses. A few extra days of rest following last Thursday’s contest could be the recipe for top-36 production.” … Slot man Tyler Boyd only has a 13% target share through two weeks, partially because of bad randomness but also there’s far more competition for looks. Cincy used at least three receivers on 91% of plays this year, and one of those receivers is a true target hot. Boyd needs to earn more looks to be more than a PPR league flex option because touchdowns will be tough to come by in this inconsistent offense. …
Despite lapping Gio Bernard as a receiver (video), Joe Mixon’s touch share while leading (50%) is far higher than it is while trailing (18%) because he’s been subbed on clear passing downs. Mixon can provide borderline RB1/2 value on rushing production alone (17.5 carries per game), but he needs more receiving work to reach a ceiling and avoid clunkers. He’ll be tested as 6.5-point road dogs in Week 3. …
Panthers (18.75, +6.5) @ LAC
RB22 Mike Davis
WR6 D.J. Moore
WR21 Robby Anderson
WR64 Curtis Samuel
The Fantasy Blueprint:
On the 10th-most pass attempts in the NFL, Teddy Bridgewater has dinked and dunked his way to fantasy’s QB23 through two weeks. With CMC out, Bridgewater will be leaned on even more, but things will not come easy against a Chargers Defense that slowed down Patrick freaking Mahomes last week. Vegas’ 18.75-point team total keeps Bridgewater outside of the top-24 quarterbacks. … Ian Thomas has two catches. No thanks. …
D.J. Moore has WR6 overall fantasy usage on 29% target and 46% air yards shares. Those numbers are his floors for as long as CMC is out. Moore is the most reliable target in the offense and projects for 10+ carries this Sunday as a volume-based WR1/2 despite a tough individual matchup against L.A.’s No. 7 defense vs. fantasy receivers. … Robby Anderson (WR21 fantasy usage) has ran laps around Samuel after getting away from coach Adam Gase. Anderson’s 24% target share feels real and makes me a believer in his flex appeal moving forward. Anderson brings a vertical element to the offense but is being schemed underneath targets, too. CB Casey Hayward lowers Anderson’s floor this week, however. … Twitter darling Curtis Samuel may get a few more chances out of the backfield post-CMC, but remains a receiver first. Unfortunately, Samuel is a distant third receiver right now. His WR64 fantasy usage and 13% target share make him risky as a flex, especially with slot CB Chris Harris waiting for him. I’d like to see the potential extra touches schemed to him before plugging him into starting fantasy lineups. …
Christian McCaffrey’s ankle injury opens up a near full-time workload for Mike Davis, who is the only non-CMC back to run a route in Carolina. Davis won’t get anywhere near CMC’s full workload, but McCaffrey leaves behind a whopping 39% of team touches while trailing. Davis is a volume-based top-25 fantasy RB.
Broncos (18.75, +6) vs. TB
RB13 Melvin Gordon
Updated: WR35 Jerry Jeudy (questionable)
WR31 KJ Hamler (Rebound Candidate)
TE12 Noah Fant
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Drew Lock-replacement Jeff Driskel is one of the better backup quarterbacks, at least for fantasy purposes because he’s averaged 29 rushing yards in eight career starts. Unfortunately, Driskel catches a Bucs’ unit that is top six in passing EPA defense, adjusted sack rate, and against fantasy quarterbacks. Driskel will be appealing next week. … Noah Fant has lived up high pre-draft expectations. He was the best athlete on the field in each of his first two games and has earned TE12 fantasy usage on a 15% target share. Those totals figure to climb post-Sutton, making Fant a low-end TE1 with upside despite an awful 18.75-point team total. Fant was the best tight end prospect in my model’s history dating back to the 2005 NFL Draft. Total stud. …
Updated Friday: Jerry Jeudy (ribs) is reportedly a game-time call for Sunday's afternoon contest. If healthy, the first-round rookie will be tossed into the deep end but looked like an emerging star with the ball in his hands. Drops are typically overrated for fantasy purposes, especially when we can project volume to win out. Jeudy’s 21% target share will climb over the next few weeks as a fantasy flex play. Poor quarterback play will make him more prone to duds, however. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “More of a deep-league only play, KJ Hamler is set for a full complement of routes following Sutton’s knee injury. Hamler will rotate into the slot but is a good bet for at least one downfield target in Week 3 to take advantage of his sub-4.4 speed. The second-round rookie had 116 air yards on 7 targets in his debut (WR31 fantasy usage), enough looks to make him a bench stash in 12-team leagues.” …
Melvin Gordon is running behind the 2nd worst OL per ESPN’s run block win rate metric and faces a defense that was No. 1 against fantasy running backs in 2019. With a low 18.75-point team total, Gordon’s chances of scoring are lower than normal, making him a volume-based RB2/3 rather than a plugged-in RB2 despite Phillip Lindsay’s (toe) expected absence.
Football Team (18.25, +7.5) @ CLE
RB39 Antonio Gibson (Game Script Boost)
RB31 Peyton Barber
WR23 Terry McLaurin
TE4 Logan Thomas (Rebound Candidate)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Dwayne Haskins is still missing too many plays to be counted on, but the offensive scheme at least gives him a chance. Washington is 2nd in offensive pace and 3rd in during-snap motion per ESPN. The Football Team’s 18.25-point team total keeps Haskins deep into QB3 purgatory. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “Washington’s offense should improve with more reps given the new scheme and their youthfulness in general. That’ll help Logan Thomas cash in on his TE4 fantasy usage. The late-career breakout candidate currently has a 26% target share, the second highest among all tight ends. If he can stay above 20%, he’ll be a top-12 fantasy tight end. I’m willing to bet on that happening against the Browns in Week 3, even though Thomas has been the TE18 through two games. Cleveland has allowed the most fantasy points to the position after getting carved by Mark Andrews and Bengals TE Drew Sample if you’ve heard of him.” …
All 17 of Terry McLaurin’s targets have come while tied or trailing. With game script on his side, McLaurin should see top-24 volume (WR23 fantasy usage) despite drawing coverage from CB Denzel Ward . Volume and his own talent are enough to force McLaurin into the WR2 mix in most matchups, including this one. Updated Friday: The Browns will be without CB Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward (groin) did not practice on Friday. …
Antonio Gibson’s snaps (18 to 43), routes (8 to 22), carries (9 to 14), and fantasy usage (9.2 to 10.7) all grew from Week 1 to Week 2. Expect his role to continue increasing, making him a season-long buy if possible. This Sunday, Gibson catches the negative game script he needs for a ceiling game (24% touch rate while trailing vs. 0% with a lead). … Peyton Barber on the flip side only saw 1 touch last week and will only be involved when the Football Team has a lead, if at all. Washington is 7.5-point road dogs.
Giants (18.25, +4.5) vs. SF
NA Dion Lewis (Game Script Boost)
WR12 Darius Slayton
WR51 Golden Tate
TE7 Evan Engram (Rebound Candidate)
The Fantasy Blueprint:
Even before Saquon Barkley’s ACL tear, the Giants were 1st in neutral pass rate (61%) while opting for a quick-hitting passing attack under Daniel Jones. With receiving talent in bulk, Jones projects for top-8 passing volume (currently 6th in attempts). San Francisco’s defense is without DE Nick Bosa, DT Solomon Thomas, and CB Richard Sherman, plus has starters who are battling through injuries. It’s an underrated spot for Jones as a mid-range QB2, but the porous OL holds him back from reaching the top-15. … From The Fantasy Usage Model, “Through two games, Evan Engram has TE7 fantasy usage but TE23 fantasy production. Given Engram’s talent and athleticism, this is the definition of just running bad on a small sample, making this a no-brainer buy low spot. That’s especially the case with Barkley and Shepard injured. Expect Engram’s 19% target share to climb right away. Even against the 49ers’ stud linebackers, I like Engram as a top-8 option this week.”
WR analysis will be added following official injury reports Friday.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan made waves this week for his opinions on the Giants’ RB situation. In the offseason he believed Wayne Gallman “could carry the load” if Saquon were to miss time, but after seeing Dion Lewis and talking to sources, he wrote that Dion Lewis is “the best bet to be the Giants’ top back” even with Devonta Freeman signing for near the veteran minimum. I lean Lewis in Week 3 and potentially beyond given his familiarity with the offense, pass-blocking skills, and fit with New York’s pass-heavy approach. Lewis is a boom-bust RB2/3 for now. Freeman and Gallman are bench stashes. There’s a chance all three cannibalize each other’s flex appeal.
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Jets (16.75, +10.5) @ IND
NA Jamison Crowder (Out)
NA Breshad Perriman (Out)
TE18 Chris Herndon
The Fantasy Blueprint:
On top of the obvious offensive struggles in New York, the Jets also face a defense that’s held opponents to the fewest plays, including the fewest pass attempts. Sam Darnold simply has no shot at sustained success under coach Adam Gase, who has dialed up *checks notes* play action at the second-lowest rate (15%) in the NFL. Avoid at all costs. … Chris Herndon busted in an ideal home matchup without Crowder last week. Among tight ends, he’s blocking at the highest rate in the NFL on passing plays per ETR’s Dwain McFarland, which has led to TE18 fantasy usage through two weeks. Herndon is a desperate TE2/3. …
Updated Friday: Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (ankle) are both out, forcing Braxton Berrios, who is questionable himself, into the best position for garbage-time production. If you trot out Berrios (13.4 expected fantasy points last week) as a flex play, just don't watch the game and refresh the box score on Sunday night. He absolutely does belong in the flex mix if healthy.
Don’t play a Jets RB.
Charts of the Week
The Cowboys/Seahawks is the game of the week with both teams projected for 25+ points each and Dallas playing at the fastest pace in the NFL. The team with the best mixture of points and pace is the Cardinals, and it’s not particularly close. The Chargers and to a lesser extent the Colts are two teams that may go overlooked this week. On the flip side, expectations for the Texans should be held in check given their low team total and slow pace.
Defensive plays allowed is the most underrated fantasy football stat when it comes for analyzing matchups. Unlike efficiency metrics, plays allowed incorporates important things like pace, ball control, and strengths/weaknesses of a defense. For example, the Bengals aren’t a great passing defense in terms of efficiency, but they’ve allowed the second-fewest pass attempts because teams get up early against them and run the ball (most rush attempts allowed). I highly encourage looking at this chart every week. It’s a great way to break ties. For more on this topic, I listed potential “pass funnels” and “run funnels” in this tweet.
There are quite a few teams in “eruption spots” when it comes strictly to offensive efficiency. The Titans and Jaguars are surprisingly projected for quality passing attacks, while the Texans, Lions, Browns, and Eagles may be overrated this week. In terms of two strong teams clashing, I’m most excited about the Rams/Bills matchup. It’s two of the best-coached teams in the NFL.
The Packers have had the most efficient rushing attack in the NFL, and it hasn’t been close (read: unsustainably good). You can say the opposite about the Bengals, who may be pivoting to more spread concepts after small sample success with it last week. That’d be a benefit to Joe Mixon. The Jaguars, Patriots, Vikings, Ravens, and Cardinals stick out as rushing offenses in great spots. Despite being in the bad bottom-left quadrant, the Colts rushing offense will smash, too, even if it’s more volume-based.
Passing volume can be forced by the scoreboard. We see pass rates spike/fall when a team’s in-game winning percentage exits the 25-75% middle ground, which is what I define as “neutral game script.” We can project game script by using Vegas’ point spreads, thus the reason for this chart. The Panthers, Jets, Rams, Vikings, and Bears are teams that likely pass more than normal this week because they’re all underdogs, while the Eagles, Patriots, Seahawks, and Colts are likely to rush more often because they’re all favorites. The Chargers already run a lot and are heavy favorites, setting them up for a ton of rushes in Week 3.
Neutral pass rate is how often an offense passes the ball in situations where teams typically have a choice between passing or rushing. That means I remove garbage-time plays, two-minute drills, and third downs. This chart simply ranks teams by how often they’re choosing to pass. I listed the offenses with the biggest neutral pass rate changes from last season in this tweet.
I’ll clean this chart up moving forward, but this shows how many fantasy points each defense allows only on passing plays (read: no rushing). Teams are ranked from easiest defensive matchup to hardest, meaning the Colts have allowed the fewest PPR points in the air so far. The blue part of the bar shows PPR points allowed from the slot, while the orange part of the bar shows PPR points allowed from the outside or in the backfield (remember receiving only).
When it comes to picking defenses, I care about how often they’re expected to create pressure and how many points they’re expected to give up. The three teams that check these two boxes the most this week are the Steelers, Colts, and Bucs with the Browns, 49ers, and Charges in a tier right below. I’d pivot off the Ravens, Bears, and Broncos if I’d used them in previous weeks due to matchup.