Fantasy Football Week 3: Biggest Takeaways from Last Week
Once again fantasy football makes no sense in yet another up-is-down, left-is-right week.
We break down the maddening fantasy fortunes—and misfortunes—in our weekly Monday look at the biggest takeaways from the Week 3 action.
Seeing might not be believing, though, so take every point you get in fantasy with a grain of salt...and slap that salt right in those wounds.
1. Bilal Powell Is Now a Must-Have in Fantasy
The Jets were a laughingstock last season and even coming into this year, but Bilal Powell owners are the ones laughing now...all the way to 149 yards rushing (27 carries) in Week 3.
Powell might not have gotten that much action if not for Chris Ivory's early-game departure to a hamstring injury, but Powell looks like the Jets' feature back now—at least until Ivory heals. Ivory had his hamstring wrapped and would not speak with reporters after the game, according to ESPN's Jane McManus.
Available in almost 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues, Powell is not only a must-add, but he's also a must-start at the running back position now.
A Week 4 matchup at Tennessee is not overly favorable—the Titans defense has played surprisingly well—but Ivory won't be 100 percent, if he even plays at all, and Powell has earned feature-back status for a defense-and-running team.
Center Nick Mangold agrees:
BP is great. It's always difficult when you've got a guy who's quiet, because it's very difficult to get a read on him. BP is a very quiet guy, but he studies, he prepares like no one else. (He's) very good in protections and he's got that lightning-quick speed. And you combine them and you can do good things. It was good to see him get the yardage that he did today.
Powell won't be a threat for 100-plus-yard games every week, but he will at least get the carries and goal-line opportunities for a team with a lot more juice than anyone anticipated having.
2. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson Offer Some Payback
Fantasy football is a roller coaster you have to ride out. Everything doesn't tend to be a descent, particularly with your No. 1 quarterbacks.
Wilson (202 yards and four passing touchdowns) travels to Houston next week. It is a tough matchup, but the second-year quarterback has shown he can rise to the occasion in big games. Keep him active through thick and thin.
Also, Sidney Rice has proved to be healthy again, catching five passes for 79 yards and two TDs. He should still be considered the Seahawks' primary fantasy receiver to own—despite Zach Miller's two short TDs. Rice is owned in just 53 percent of CBS Sports leagues. Pick him back up.
Newton (223 yards, three passing TDs and one rushing TD) is on bye, so you cannot start him, but you might want to consider stashing the likes of Brandon LaFell (3-52-2) and Ted Ginn (3-71-1)—yes, that Ted Ginn—off waivers.
Newton is going to make a sleeper out of some receiver, particularly since Steve Smith (3-40) is past his prime. LaFell is the most obvious choice.
3. Your Elite Backs Are Struggling
You played by the unwritten rules, drafting running backs early and often; yet, you are not reaping the rewards.
- Adrian Peterson was good but not great.
- Doug Martin is stuck in an ugly situation in Tampa Bay.
- Arian Foster is as healthy as he has been all season, but he hit a season low.
- C.J. Spiller was stuffed again (just nine yards on 10 carries) and left with a knee injury (more on that later).
- Ray Rice (hip) couldn't even play.
- Marshawn Lynch was mostly a non-factor.
- Trent Richardson looked like the backup to Ahmad Bradshaw in his Colts debut.
Heck, tight ends and quarterbacks—two positions everyone should have waited on—are carrying fantasy teams. It just doesn't make sense.
This is another example of how you have to stay patient with fantasy football. What goes around comes around.
You are still better off having those guys above. Don't sell low, especially not for a fast starter.
4. Cleveland Rocks! We All Underestimated the Browns
For this week's example of why we all know nothing about the NFL: The Browns looked like fantasy monsters.
Brian Hoyer (321 yards and three touchdowns) has won the quarterback job in his spot start for Brandon Weeden (thumb); Jordan Cameron (6-66-3) continues to write an early-career Hall of Fame resume; and Josh Gordon (10-146-1) showed just how much he has been missed, returning from a two-game suspension.
Who needs Trent Richardson anyway?
The Browns have a much tougher matchup on tap against the Bengals in Week 4, but Gordon proved he is a must-start receiver in all leagues and Cameron won't be sat until the Week 10 bye.
One downside: The running game was pitiful. Willis McGahee was held to nine yards on eight carries, but he at least cleared up some confusion about which Browns running back to own.
McGahee's availability was one reason the Browns could make the bold trade with Richardson. McGahee has immediately made Chris Ogbonnaya (23 yards rushing, 30 receiving) and Bobby Rainey (4-17 rushing) unnecessary in fantasy.
5. Any Packer Can Rush for 100 Yards, Apparently
Everyone jumped all over James Starks, despite our warnings not to. Those owners had to suffer through a Starks injury and a Johnathan Franklin breakthrough.
The UCLA rookie rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, adding 23 yards receiving, after Starks left with a knee injury. Franklin missed the last series with an ankle issue, too, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Both will be re-evaluated Monday heading into the Week 4 bye.
The good news comes for the Eddie Lacy owners. The Packers proved they have a running game, and Lacy (concussion) should front that committee in Week 5.
Franklin is an add in fantasy, perhaps, but only as a handcuff for Lacy. Franklin and Starks will be getting scraps behind the workhorse. The looming Week 4 bye will certainly help you avoid the temptation to add Franklin off waivers this week. Consider that fortuitous.
6. Wide Receivers Continue to Come from Everywhere
We have already mentioned the big weeks for Sidney Rice, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Josh Gordon, but how about the performances of Antonio Brown, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Kenbrell Thompkins, Jason Avant, Donnie Avery, Nate Washington and Nate Burleson?
The wide receiver position looks well-stocked and rife with waiver-wire options, so much so that you might not even miss Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Steve Smith and LaFell on bye in Week 4. (The Packers and Panthers are the lone teams off in the first set of bye weeks.)
So which of those receivers above deserves the most trust going forward? We will break them down in Tuesday's Waiver Wire column at Bleacher Report, but Holmes, Thompkins and Avant were the most underrated fantasy commodities among them coming into the week. They stand to have the best value going forward.
7. Colin Kaepernick Needs Some Help
Colin Kaepernick looked like a world-beater in Week 1. In the two weeks since, he has been beaten down by the world—well, the Seahawks and Colts at least.
It is not entirely his fault. Anquan Boldin was his only true threat he had to work with, as Vernon Davis (hamstring) was out. Kyle Williams and rookies Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald just are not good enough to keep Kaepernick productive, apparently.
Kaepernick was 2-of-8 for 12 yards when targeting a receiver other than Boldin on Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I have to make those (throws), regardless," Kaepernick told the Chronicle's Eric Branch. "I have to be able to throw receivers open and give them a chance to make plays."
A Thursday night division game on the road looms against the Rams, and Kaepernick probably should not be used in fantasy unless Davis gets some promising health reports early in the week. The 49ers offense has sputtered in the hands of Kaepernick, and it will be time to turn back to the running game.
Frank Gore would agree. The Chronicle's Kevin Lynch reported Gore gave coach Jim Harbaugh "choice words" after the game.
Gore might have a justifiable beef—one Gore's fantasy owners share. He was limited to five touches in the second half and just seven carries in the game's final 50 minutes after a hot start.
Expect the offense to go back to Gore early and often against the Rams on Thursday night. The Rams were scorched by DeMarco Murray (175 yards rushing) and the Cowboys. Kaepernick is a tough play right now.
8. Eli Manning and the Giants Are a Complete Waste
No one could have projected the Jets would be flying high and the Giants would look so insignificant through three weeks of the season. There are myriad places to point the finger, but most of it goes to quarterback Eli Manning and the awful play of his offensive line.
Manning has been a turnover machine—he was sacked seven times Sunday—and the offensive line has provided a league-worst 44.3 rushing yards per game. David Wilson had a rare touchdown called back on a holding penalty, and Hakeem Nicks was held without a catch in his return to North Carolina.
There is nothing positive to say about your Giants after Week 3.
It won't get easier at Kansas City (3-0) next week. The Chiefs have been playing some of the best football in the NFL, and Andy Reid is very familiar with the Giants and has an extra three days to prepare.
Manning and David Wilson are must-sits right now, particularly because that offensive line is arguably the worst in football.
9. Philip Rivers, Eddie Royal and San Diego Crash Back to Reality
Give credit to the Tennessee Titans and their surprising defense, but the Chargers and Philip Rivers looked far more like their 2012 fantasy form Sunday.
It wasn't entirely their fault, though. The play-calling just got too conservative.
The Chargers held the lead up until an out-of-nowhere rally by Jake Locker (299 yards passing, one passing touchdown and 68 yards rushing and a TD). Rivers, despite finishing 20-of-24 passing in the game, attempted just six passes in the second half as the Chargers tried (and failed) to run out the clock.
"I'm not going to second-guess the play-calling," Chargers coach Mike McCoy told Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We were doing what we thought was best to win the football game."
Eddie Royal had a touchdown called back by an illegal pick and was held to just two catches for 34 yards. Vincent Brown, two catches for 11 yards, did even less, and Ronnie Brown vultured a one-yard touchdown from Ryan Mathews (16 carries for 58 yards).
The Chargers should have a much better time of things offensively next Sunday at home against the Cowboys, but their fantasy options outside of tight end Antonio Gates (5-55-1) are shaky at best.
10. C.J. Spiller Owners Breath a Sign of Relief
Note: This was updated Monday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Last but most definitely not least, C.J. Spiller's fantasy owners should be thanking fate for turning what was believed to be a knee injury into a mere thigh issue, according to BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown.
"I'm a little sore, but it shouldn’t be nothing that'll keep me out this week," Spiller told the team's official website Monday morning. "I should be feeling better, day by day, but just taking it slow. Just a little sore right now."
It is not like Spiller's fantasy owners would be missing much. He has been a huge reason for their slow start.
Fred Jackson outperformed Spiller again Sunday with 72 yards rushing and 37 receiving (four catches). Jackson is a must-add in fantasy regardless of Spiller's injury severity and the difficulty of the Week 4 matchup against the Ravens run defense, which has been top five in fantasy against running backs to date.
Spiller will start and you have to keep him active because of the premium investment you put in the breakaway back. Jackson is a must-have handcuff, although starting him against the Ravens is not likely to be real beneficial for your fantasy production.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.