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Heroes and Zeroes - Week 3 Fantasy Football Picks


I was wrong. There, now that's out of the way and we can move on to Week 3. See, the point of being an "expert" ranker, analyst, writer, editor, yadda yadda is that you are professing your knowledge and dedication to a topic in order to help others. As much as I enjoying writing and ranking and explaining my completely unfounded obsession with John Brown (I was right!), it serves no purpose to do all this for my own sake because I already know how I feel about players and matchups. I do it to help you, the loyal reader.

So, when I call Andrew Luck a Hero and he only throws for 179 yards with two TD and two INT, that's disappointing. When I say Mike Wallace is going to this the breakout sleeper play of Week 2 and he instead breaks his ankle in the first quarter, that's heartbreaking. When I tell everyone not to start Tyler Lockett because the matchup is too tough and he won't be as productive as expected and then he catches a garbage-time fourth-quarter toss in the end zone, that's borderline infuriating. But that's fantasy football. It's why we have start/sit tools, rankings, and even amazing podcasts to help us with those tough calls. So I guarantee all these calls won't be correct, but I can guarantee that I put all my effort into trying to get it right because I want to help you win. You are giving me a cut of your championship winnings in exchange for all this free advice, aren't you?

Now, here are my fantasy "heroes" and "zeroes" at each position for Week 3 of the NFL season. These are under-the-radar players that I believe will perform unexpectedly well or big names that might fare poorly relative to expectations in this week's matchups. To see how our staff feels about all the players you might possibly care about, look no further than our very own RotoBaller consensus weekly rankings.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 3 Lineup Heroes

QUARTERBACK

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Before diving into matchup data, it must first be declared that Jared Goff wins over Jimmy Garoppolo every time. I don't mean that the Rams will beat out the Niners for the division (duh, of course they will), I'm talking best-looking QB in the league. Everyone calls Jimmy GQ the best-looking man in the NFL, but riddle me this: if Jared Goff is a doppelganger for Ryan Gosling, who is one of the best-looking actors in Hollywood, how could he not win out? Judge for yourself:

Now, let me explain why will he'll be the hottest fantasy QB on your roster in the way that's far sexier to us: statistically.

Goff hasn't really had the training wheels taken off this year, since Todd Gurley has done all the heavy lifting in relatively easy bouts with Oakland and Arizona. There was simply no need to rear back and pass the ball when the opposition barely resisted and could mount no offensive threat to counter. Enter the Chargers. Philip Rivers and friends have put up 890 yards (third-most) and 59 points (eighth-most) in two games so far and that was with their foot off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter of last week's mercy slaying of the Bills. Aside from the Chargers' potent offense, they also come in with a stumbling defense that has looked far different without Joey Bosa. They applied no pressure to Pat Mahomes, sacking him just once while allowing him to toss four TD. The fact they even allowed Josh Allen to reach the end zone should be a mark of shame.

Goff isn't necessarily due for a huge performance, but in a world where four touchdowns for a barely-owned player like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton or Blake Bortles is now a regular occurrence, I feel pretty good about his chances to be "hot" this week.

RUNNING BACKS

Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles

It goes without saying that Jay Ajayi's status on Sunday will affect Clement quite a bit, but even if Ajayi does play I'd still put Clement in my lineup as a PPR flex. The Colts have been surprisingly stout against the run so far, allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards to RBs on 3.4 yards per carry. They have not found a way to stop pass-catching backs though, allowing Joe Mixon to catch five balls for 54 yards before Chris Thompson gashed them for 13 and 92. Even if he doesn't see more than 10 carries, Clement is still handling the load that Darren Sproles leaves behind, as he is suffering through another injury. Add in a decimated wide receiver corps and a gameplan that figures to be conservative in Carson Wentz's first game since ACL surgery and you have the makings of a heavy workload for the underrated Clement.

Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings

I promise I won't recommend every backup running back who faces the Bills (just most), but in this case there's an extra good reason to like Murray. Dalvin Cook has missed practice twice already, despite his contention that it was just a cramp that forced him to leave last week's game. That must be one nasty cramp. If it is indeed a hamstring issue, he may miss Week 3 altogether or be limited. In a game that should be a walk in the park for the Vikes, Murray could easily see 20 touches. He's no burner, but a trip to the end zone seems likely - he scored six TD in his last four home games of 2017.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

Forget trying to find more touches for Jordan Howard - how about targeting someone other than Allen Robinson? The Bears have not yet delivered on the promise of a dynamic young offense led by a pure X's and O's head coach and a second-year QB. Their defense is so good that they could probably average 17 points each week and still find a way to win 11 games, but that's neither here nor there. The offense needs to diversify, as A-Rob has a 30% target share and only two other WRs have more than one target. Miller was taken in the second round to be an immediate impact player, so Mitch Trubisky will need to start putting more trust in him sooner than later. Hauling in his first NFL touchdown is a step in the right direction but he'll need to gain more than 11 yards to be fantasy-relevant. Here's a good spot, as the Bears face the hapless Cardinals. Miller will square off against second-year pro Budda Baker, who has been limited with an ankle injury and struggled to a 61.7 rating on coverage according to PFF. He's merely a flex consideration, but one that has more promise than fellow rookies Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore, who gained attention last week for their own debut scores.

TIGHT END

Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers

In his first NFL start, Thomas came away with a meager two catches on 10 yards and dropped what should have been a touchdown pass in the end zone. The good news is that Cam Newton is looking his already. In eight quarters of football, Thomas has seen three red zone targets and brought in two of them. As a low-end TE2, all you need is that one that goes for six points. Thomas and the Panthers face off against the Bengals, who have already given up 20 receptions to tight ends in two games. Ouch. While Jesse James and Will Dissly are surely better choices if you're streaming the position, Thomas is more likely to be available in your league and give you a much-needed boost if you're still trying to replace Greg Olsen or Delanie Walker.

 

Week 3 Lineup Zeroes

QUARTERBACKS

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The "Aints" ain't exactly back. See, New Orleans gave up 48 points and nearly 500 yards of offense to Tampa Bay and its backup QB in Week 1, but after this weekend that might be the low point for the Bucs offense. They clamped down on Cleveland last week by allowing 275 yards and 18 points, much of which came on a last-minute heave-and-catch by the famed Tyrod Taylor-Antonio Callaway connection (get used to it). The Falcons aren't the Browns, obviously, but they aren't Saint-killers either. Thank god, because that would be sacrilegious. Divisional games tend to be closer because teams are so familiar with each other and this definitely won't be an easy contest for the Falcons. Although he's put up huge numbers against New Orleans in the past, this is clearly a very different defensive unit. Last season, Ryan averaged 254 yards and posted a 2/4 TD/INT rate against these Saints. Playing in the oversized Mercedes-Benz dome isn't a plus in his favor either - Ryan threw for 15 fewer yards per game and averaged just one TD in eight home games last year (8/7 TD/INT vs 12/5 on the road). All told, this could be a dynamic, high-scoring game between two potent offenses, but it won't be. Ryan's matchup is far less enticing on paper than it appears, so stick with Fitzmagic or, better yet, Jared Goff.

RUNNING BACKS

Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens

There is growing sentiment that Alex Collins could, in fact, be a draft day bust. Don't say we didn't try to warn you. He did miss Wednesday's practice with an illness, but that isn't expected to keep him out of action on Sunday. What could keep him out of action is the fact his team might be playing from behind. The Ravens looked like a much worse defense without CJ Mosley, who is expected to miss this game too. Collins is already in a strict timeshare with Javorius Allen, as they matched each other with 50% of the offensive snaps in Week 2 after Allen outsnapped Collins 30-27 in Week 1. If the precious touches that Collins receives are in a negative game script, he'll need to break a big gain or find paydirt in order to come through for your fantasy team. Collins is averaging 3.0 Y/A against one mediocre and one bad defense thus far - this might not be the week to hope for a breakthrough. If you're the handcuffing type (still talking fantasy football here, don't get any ideas) then you should opt for the Buck this weekend.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Randall Cobb / Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers

Last year Allison had exactly one big game in Week 3 but was a non-factor the rest of the way. With Cobb, first it's 142 yards, then it's 30. He didn't even reach the century mark once last year. Without Aaron Rodgers most of the year, it was excusable. That output could be blamed on a very tough defense and a somewhat gimpy Rodgers. As of right now, Rodgers is still gimpy and predicts pain a la Clubber Lang; meanwhile, the matchup is actually tougher according to the numbers. The Redskins have allowed the fewest passing yards over the first two weeks of 2018. Sure, they played Arizona Week 1, who I just spent much time mercilessly shredding above, but they followed it up by holding Andrew Luck under 200 yards passing. (I just had to remind myself...)

Allison has the displeasure of being matched by Josh Norman, who although he gets less press these days without Dez Bryant to keep his name in circulation, is still a premier corner. If he receives another steady diet of targets, he could enter regular WR3 status, but I'd like another week of evidence before I'm a believer. Cobb has a very favorable matchup against slot corner Fabian "Island of Dr." Moreau but has been so boom or bust over the last couple of years, it's hard to roll him out with great confidence.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

Does the streak end here? Two games with a touchdown isn't much of a streak, but remember that he finished 2017 with a TD in two of the last three games and technically has never not scored a touchdown when he's played as a Colt. Marinate on that for a second...

Ebron's target share is just fifth on the team but he's converted two scores on his seven catches to reward fantasy owners.  He's a big play waiting to happen, but like any tight end outside the top handful of reliable options, he'll need to keep scoring to be worth starting. I expect this game to be a low-scoring slugfest and would not count on him to continue his run of good luck with Andrew Luck.

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