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Booms and Busts for Week 3 Lineups

Week 2 in the NFL continued the trend of non-traditional starters in fantasy out-producing their counterparts that are mainstays in lineups. Players like Derek Carr, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Rondale Moore put forth surprising efforts, catching many fantasy managers off guard as these are players that were largely on the waiver wire entering the week. But after these performances, you'll see them quickly added to rosters for Week 3 in hopes that the hot streak can continue. This trend has been an alarming one to begin the year, as we're seeing many of the upper echelon players that were drafted early underperforming at an alarming rate. Antonio Gibson, Calvin Ridley, and George Kittle were all early-round draft picks that currently find themselves outside the top 10 at their respective positions.

These types of peaks and valleys in production lead to questions for fantasy managers when it comes time to set lineups for the week. The casual fantasy manager undoubtedly goes with the "start your studs" mentality for most decisions each week. But this ideology can lead to underperforming weeks and losses piling up as your chances at making the playoffs decrease. Looking at projection models to determine lineup decisions for you can help in most cases, but it's never a true guarantee. Having a grasp on matchups to exploit or avoid is what sets fantasy managers apart. Successful managers take those chances in their lineups each week by playing lesser than players over typical starters due to higher upside. That's how you can maximize your roster and make fantasy a game of skill as opposed to being one of just clicking a couple of buttons.

As for the matchups for Week 3, we're likely looking at yet again another week of surprise performances. This trend is ever-increasing in fantasy and is putting more guesswork into the planning process each week. But as you sort through the analytics and get more of a feeling of top plays and games to avoid, it will help with those tough lineup decisions that you're mulling over. That is what we are doing here, as I dive into the numbers and give you some names of players that are lined up for success in Week 3 and other players that could disappoint you.

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Week 3 Woos - The Good

Matthew Stafford vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Matt Stafford era has gotten off to a very solid start for the Los Angeles Rams. He has provided steady production through two weeks for the fantasy managers that waited a little longer to draft their quarterback. He currently ranks inside the top 10 in passing yards (599) and touchdowns (5). But ranking third in both yards per attempt (10.7) and accuracy rating (8.4) is where he is finding his consistency. Most casual fantasy managers may see the matchup with the Bucs and feel nervous, but I see it as a positive. Attacking the Bucs secondary has seemed to be the way to keep pace with them as they currently rank in the bottom third allowing 23.9 FPPG to the position. Making Stafford a solid play as a QB1 yet again in Week 3.

Chase Edmonds @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Edmonds is not a player that breeds excitement for managers most weeks as they are filling out lineups or setting up DFS plays. Because let's be honest, his numbers have been modest at best to begin the year. He ranks 22nd at the position in snap share (59.5%) and is outside the top 15 in both carries (20) and rush yards (109). But where he is holding some value is as a pass-catcher, where he ranks seventh in both receptions (9) and yards (72). He has yet to find the end-zone, but I expect to see that change this week in a great matchup against the Jaguars. A defense that is currently a bottom unit in points allowed to the position (23.4 FPPG). Look for Edmonds to provide a nice statistical day for fantasy managers and return RB2 value.

Marquise Brown @ Detroit Lions

For a passing offense that is very much maligned, Brown has gotten off to a solid start to the 2021 season. Even bothered by a lingering ankle injury, Brown has brought in six receptions in each of the first two games as well as a score in both. His 21.4 FPPG ranks 8th at the position and also sits inside the top 10 in yards after catch (78). Look for the strong play to continue as the Ravens travel to Detroit to play the Lions. A defense that is currently surrendering 23.3 FPPG to opposing receivers. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense should be able to move the ball at will, leaving plenty of opportunities for Brown to take advantage. I've currently got him ranked as a WR2 for the week, meaning you should start him with confidence.

Austin Hooper vs. Chicago Bears

The Browns are losing pass-catching options left and right to begin the 2021 season. Jarvis Landry just landed on IR this week and Odell Beckham is expected back but should be considered limited in his return from injury. Which makes Austin Hooper an intriguing option in Week 3. His snap share hasn't been impressive (59.3%), but while on the field, he produces. Currently ranking inside the top 10 in target share (17%), receptions (8), and red-zone targets (2). Facing a Bears secondary that has been torched to begin the season should provide Hooper with enough upside where fantasy managers can sneak him into lineups as a low-end TE1 option.

 

Week 3 Boos - The Bad

Ryan Tannehill vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Titans' offense has struggled mightily to begin the season and much of that could fall on the shoulders of Ryan Tannehill. He looks to be uneasy behind a very shaky offensive line and it has affected his production to this point. His low yards per attempt (7.5) and lone touchdown pass have contributed to an abysmal FPPG of 14.9 (26th). Not what managers were looking for when drafting him as a QB1. The struggles may continue again in Week 3 as he faces a tough Colts defense that is allowing 22.6 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. These two teams always seem to play close and the upside for scores could be limited in this game for Tannehill. If you have another viable option to pivot to (Daniel Jones), I would make the switch this week.

Mike Davis @ New York Giants

Many fantasy managers were expecting to see a bell-cow workload for Mike Davis this season, given the fact that the team did not add another back to compete with him in the offseason. Well, the workload has been there to start the season, especially in PPR formats where he sits inside the top 10 in targets (13) and receptions (10). But his results have been subpar, to say the least so far as evident by his 11.8 FPPG which ranks him 29th at the position. Now add in the fact that Cordarrelle Patterson has caught the coaching staff's eye and he is losing scoring opportunities. The matchup against the Giants could be one to take advantage of for Davis, but as he loses work to Patterson, managers are losing confidence in Davis. He is a very risky play even as a Flex for Week 3.

Deebo Samuel vs. Green Bay Packers

Samuel has been quite the surprise to begin the season as he currently sits as the WR3 in fantasy. Mostly on the strength of receptions (15) and yards (282), his 24.0 FPPG is very strong and a bonus for managers that drafted him as a bench option. He is clearly the top option for Jimmy Garoppolo with a tremendous 40.8% target share. But with all the positives to begin the year, the going could be tough for him in Week 3 as he will likely be matched up with one of the NFL's top cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander. Alexander's strong play has led to the Packers' secondary being one of the league's best and only allowing 20.0 FPPG to opposing receivers. This could be a week for fantasy managers to sit Samuel in such a tough matchup, but if you are lacking options, temper expectations back to a Flex level of potential.

Tyler Higbee vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a solid performance in Week 1 for Higbee (5/68), he pulled a disappearing act a week ago only seeing one target, which he caught, for eight yards. These Jekyll and Hyde type of games will be expected from him as the Rams offense is full of quality pass-catching options. Stafford has been heavily favoring Cooper Kupp and the receivers through two weeks, leaving fewer opportunities for Higbee to produce. Expect for that to continue this week as the Rams face a Buccaneers defense that has been far more forgiving to receivers (33.6 FPPG) than they have been to tight ends (7.7 FPPG). With other matchups to exploit at the position this weekend, leaving Higbee on the bench and streaming for Week 3 could prove to be fruitful.



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