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by Noah Pires
September 20, 2018
Week 3 is upon us, which not only means a new slate of games, it also means there’s more injuries to deal with. Week 2 didn’t take down as many players as week 1, but it left a few players hobbled and a couple more looking unlikely to suit up week 3. Because of this, let’s look at who I have confidence slotting into your lineup while providing you with waiver wire options who are available in 40% or greater Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues.
AARON RODGERS – GREEN BAY PACKERS
Aaron Rodgers suffered this injury week 1 against the Bears, yet returned late that game to spark a 4th quarter comeback. Last week, he had a similarly tough task against a fearsome Vikings’ defensive line, but was able to finish the contest seemingly unscathed. This week, he’s facing a much easier matchup, on the road against the Redskins, which should help him rebound to his elite QB1 status. Reports are saying that Rodgers is afraid his knee is only getting worse, but this is no cause for concern in terms of fantasy football, as he put up numbers week 1 directly after sustaining the injury and put up a decent statline against Minnesota last week. Until he’s officially deemed unable to play, he’ll be a QB1 with one of the best combinations of high floor and a high ceiling at the position. There should be no concern here until this injury keeps him out, so in this matchup, slot him in as a top 5 option at the position.
MARCUS MARIOTA – TENNESSEE TITANS
Mariota sat out last week, which was no detriment to the Titans, as they won in a relatively tough matchup against the Texans with Gabbert at the helm. Mariota hasn’t looked good these past two seasons, and this injury further diminishes his value. He was featured in last week’s “Injury Watch” article, where I spoke of how his passing is nowhere near elite and he doesn’t particularly use his legs as often as he should, which limits his fantasy upside. Because of this, he isn’t the fringe QB1 many drafted him as and shouldn’t be trusted as your QB1, especially with his injury complications.
CASE KEENUM – DENVER BRONCOS
Keenum popped up on the injury report this week, but it’s expected to only be because of precautionary reasons. Because of this, his injury designation should be taken with a grain of salt. With that being said, I’m not sure he has the every week consistency you’d need to be confident in being your locked-in QB1. He’s better used as a streaming option, as he took advantage of his week 1 matchup against the Seahawks, but disappointed last week against another poor defense, playing at home against Oakland. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal, but because of his inconsistency, I wouldn’t be comfortable starting him at Baltimore. Sure, Baltimore doesn’t look to be anywhere near as fearsome as they were last season, but they should still put up a good fight. There are plenty of other options I prefer on waivers this week, so I’d shy away from Keenum playing the Ravens on the road in week 3.
WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS
RYAN TANNEHILL (7% OWNED) – MIAMI DOLPHINS
MATCHUP: OAKLAND RAIDERS
Ryan Tannehill has actually looked decent this year, beginning the season with a strong outing against the Tennessee Titans, who weren’t much of a challenge, but continued his level of play against a fairly stout Jets defense. This week, he gets much of the same he saw in week 1, facing a bottom of the pack Raiders defense. At home, he should have no problem providing fantasy value, as Goff passed for 2 TDs against them week 1 before the Rams had a commanding lead and began running the ball out, and gave up a rushing score to Case Keenum last week, a skill Tannehill possesses. This game should be fairly high scoring, and with the decent weapons at his disposal, paired with his rushing upside, I’d have confidence playing Tannehill as a fringe QB1 this week.
BLAKE BORTLES (34%)– JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
MATCHUP: TENNESSEE TITANS
Blake looked incredible last week against the Pats, throwing for 4 touchdowns and leading Jacksonville to a huge win. This week, they face another weak defense, which bodes well for Blake. Blake has averaged 38.5 rushing yards a game to go along with his 276.5 yards and 2.5 scores, which has helped him to the QB7 spot so far this year, and with this matchup at home against the Titans, he should continue his dominant performance. In weeks 1 and 2, the Titans gave up 2 TDs to both Ryan Tannehill and Deshaun Watson, along with 44 yards on the ground to DW. Blake is surprisingly good on his feet, which should give him added value, as 40 yards on the ground, near what he is averaging, is equivalent to a passing score in most standard leagues. With his receiving core, paired with the weapons out of the backfield, Bortles should be able to find value as a back end QB1 this week in a favorable matchup at home.
OUT: JOE MIXON, DEVONTA FREEMAN
LEONARD FOURNETTE – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Fournette looks to be improving from last week, as he has already been a limited participant in practice. Even though it was only in a limited capacity, it should help fantasy owners gain confidence in him to play this week. I’d monitor his status throughout the week, but his chances of playing this Sunday look much greater than they did a week ago today. If he plays, he’s a locked-and-loaded RB1 in a favorable matchup against the Tennessee Titans. In week 1, he was getting all of the touches out of the backfield, and although that may change in hopes to maintain his health, he’s still the lead back on a team who can turn the ball over consistently, providing good field position. Being the goal line back, he has a high probability of scoring weekly, so if he is active on gameday, don't be afraid to roll him out as a high floor RB1.
DALVIN COOK – MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Dalvin draws a great matchup week 3 against the Bills, but I’m not sure how much it will help him in terms of fantasy value. Firstly, Cook was banged up last week, forcing him out of the game, and even though it didn’t look to be serious, he still isn’t practicing. If I were to guess, it’s because they want to keep him healthy for future matchups where they’ll need him more than they do this week. The Vikings draw the Rams on a short week in their Week 4 matchup and then face the Eagles. Because of this, they aren’t going to rush Dalvin out there in a game that should be decided before kickoff, so even if he does play, he’s more of a low-end RB2 for me as I don’t see him getting anywhere near the touches he’d command if he were 100% healthy and facing a team that would provide a bigger challenge for Minnesota.
JAY AJAYI – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Similar to Cook, Ajayi draws a great matchup, but he is looking like he won’t be suiting up this Sunday. He’s currently “day to day” and didn’t practice Wednesday with a back injury that forced him out of week 2. There isn’t much point in looking into this, as it seems he won’t play, but if he does, he’ll be a touchdown dependent RB3 this week. The Eagles, with Wentz returning, have hopes of reaching another Super Bowl, so even if Ajayi's in, they'll limit his touches to avoid reinjury. They have other serviceable RBs to fill in for the Jay Train, so I'd expect Doug Pederson to go back to his roots and treat this backfield as a true RBBC until Ajayi sorts out his injury concerns.
LESEAN MCCOY – BUFFALO BILLS
Is there anyone with worse luck than LeSean McCoy. Paired with the off field accusations, he is stuck on a stagnant offense that can’t move the ball up field. To top that off, his lineman fell on him last week, causing cracked rib cartilage. He’s currently practicing in a limited fashion and looks like he’ll get on the field Sunday, but I wouldn’t be confident in starting him as anything more than a low-end RB3. Sure, he still has the shiftiness to break a long run, but against an elite defense, behind a terrible offensive line and in an awful offense, paired with his injury, there is little upside for McCoy. He’s only gotten 16 carries and 5 receptions through the first 2 weeks combined, which is an average of about half the volume he saw in 2017. He hasn’t shown an ability to overcome his offense’s limitations, and with the lack of volume, he likely won’t any time soon. As of now, McCoy looks like he won’t return any value this week for where he was drafted, and now, with injury concerns, he is no longer a locked in starter.
MELVIN GORDON – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
This past week, Gordon was forced out of the game after putting up 3 touchdowns in the first half. After sustaining his injury, he didn’t return, but this was for a combination of reasons. Firstly, the Chargers had their way with the Bills, so they didn’t have a need to rush Mel back into the game. Secondly, it was likely that he was kept out for health precautions, as the Chargers knew he would be needed more for this week against a stout Rams defense. He’s back to practicing in full, so his injury seemed to be minor, which is what Coach Anthony Lynn indicated after the game. I have no health qualms about Gordon, and he should be fired up as an elite RB1, even in a tough matchup against the Rams due to the unmatched volume he sees both on the ground and through the air.
Despite these injuries, there aren’t many options on waivers who I’d feel confident slotting into a starting lineup. Sure, if Cook is out, Latavious Murray becomes a top 15 play against the Bills, but if Cook’s in, even if he sees increased volume, he likely won’t have enough that’ll make him a startable option. If Ajayi sits, Clement is intriguing as he’ll service as the goal line back for a Carson Wentz led offense against a porous Indianapolis defense. Lastly, and I hate saying this, I think Ronald Jones could be a sneaky play in a home matchup against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has looked AWFUL defensively this year, and Peyton Barber has not proved worthy of the volume he's been given thus far. With the Bucs’ offense humming, running lanes should open up, and if Jones can take advantage of what the defense gives him, he could be a sneaky pickup this week. I’m not suggesting you start him, but if you have a deep bench, he’s worth a stash, because if he does blow up this game, he’ll be the highest added player across all leagues for week 4.
OUT: ALSHON JEFFERY, DOUG BALDWIN
JOSH GORDON – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
So, the Patriots are still the Patriots, and the Browns are still the Browns. Somehow New England got Gordon AND an early 7th for a late 5th rounder. Last week, Gordon began dealing with a hamstring injury, one which eventually led to the Browns deciding to move on from him, but I’m not concerned about either his hammy or off field issues. Why is that? The Patriots aren’t stupid. A 5th round investment isn’t much, but I doubt they’d be willing to give up anything for a player who they fear is banged up or has a looming suspension. Despite my confidence in Gordon, this week, I wouldn’t put him in your lineup, not because of injury concerns, but because he’s a new piece in this offense. The Lions may look like an enticing matchup, but until he shows he has learned the Pats’ offense, I’m not comfortable starting him. I’d rather be a week late on Gordon’s breakout than a week early.
LARRY FITZGERALD – ARIZONA CARDINALS
Despite leaving early in his week 2 contest, Fitzgerald is reportedly on track to play against the Bears. Even if he’s healthy, the combination of his age, matchup, and offense give me no confidence in returning value as the WR2 he was drafted as. The Cardinals offense has looked nothing short of awful, putting up 6 points through 2 weeks of play. This week, I don’t expect much of a difference, as the Bears have given Aaron Rodgers and Russel Wilson troubles, two quarterbacks who are infinitely better than Fitz’s sorry excuse of a QB. Lastly, his old age paired with this injury doesn’t bode well for him. He’s been durable throughout his career, but being 35 years old with a leg injury isn’t a great combination. Even in a good matchup, with all these factors working against him, I’m not sure I’d have any confidence putting him in your lineup in Week 3 and wouldn't consider him to be much more than a WR3 week-to-week until this offense proves they can move the ball.
JULIO JONES – ATLANTA FALCONS
Julio didn’t practice this Wednesday, but it was reported as him being cautious with his calf, which he had issues with against the Panthers last week. I have no worries with Julio; every year he sustains tons of lower body injuries that never keep him out long week to week, but sometimes limit his effectiveness. This week, he matches up with the Saints, who haven’t looked like the team we saw last year defensively. They’ve given up huge plays to Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, and even Antonio Callaway. Since it’s thought to be nothing serious, Julio should be the elite WR1 he is when healthy, especially in this favorable matchup at home against New Orleans.
MARQUISE GOODWIN – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Goodwin was forced out of week 1 and missed week 2, but it looks like he’s on track to play this week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Typically, I’d have little confidence in a wide receiver who relies on his speed coming off a lower body injury, but he has been given time to recover and is playing against a team who has given up a combined 65 points through their first 2 contests. San Fran’s defense won’t be able to contain the Chiefs, which will lead to a shootout, forcing Jimmy G to chuck. Outside of George Kittle and Pierre Garcon, their only other real option is Goodwin, hobbled or not. The Chiefs’ secondary has given up huge games to WRs in both matchups thus far, and I expect nothing different this week. Goodwin should be the beneficiary of their weaknesses, even with an injury to his thigh, making him an intriguing WR3 play this week.
JARVIS LANDRY – CLEVELAND BROWNS
Landry was limited all week with a knee injury, but reports are saying Juice is going to suit up tonight. Practice limitations on a short week typically aren’t a good combination, but Landry’s volume alone gives him value this week. With the departure of Josh Gordon, Jarvis is the unquestioned #1 in this passing attack. The Jets have looked good thus far against opposing wideouts, but gave up a 7/79/1 line to a similar player in Golden Tate. His skillset, matched with the volume he’s likely to see, despite his injury, makes him a low-end WR2 option this week, worthy of cracking your starting lineup.
CHRIS GODWIN (54%) – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
MATCHUP – PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Not only is this a good matchup, Godwin has shown his upside this year, collecting 8 catches and 2 scores in two contests thus far. Although he may be the third option on this team, he hasn’t been left out, commanding 10 targets in two games. He may not be a guy who you trust week to week, but playing the Steelers, he has serious FLEX upside. They’ve given up huge games to Jarvis Landry, Tyreek Hill, and Sammy Watkins, and in what should be a shootout, Godwin may see the endzone once again. If you need a spot start this week, in primetime at home, Godwin is more than serviceable facing off against one of the league’s most disappointing secondaries.
DEDE WESTBROOK (20%) – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The Jags’ matchup with the Titans is one that should bring value to Jacksonville’s offensive assets, as they have given up big plays to both the Dolphins and Texans thus far. What intrigues me about this matchup the most is who the Titans have faced and given up big games to. Week 1, Kenny Stills dropped 4/106/2 as well as 8/113/1 to Will Fuller last week. Both Fuller and Stills are, athletically, comparable to Westbrook, who has an ability to stretch the field and take the top off the defense. Even with this skillset, which is typical of a boom/bust player, he has been fairly consistent through 2 games thus far, with a 4.5/66.5/.5 average two weeks in. With this gravy matchup, he’s in the same boat as Chris Godwin, both of which have WR3/FLEX appeal in week 3. If Dede is on your waivers, which he is in 80% of leagues, I’d pick him up, and if you have a hole in your WR core this week, I wouldn’t have a problem slotting him into your starting lineup.
OUT: GREG OLSEN, DELANIE WALKER, HAYDEN HURST
JACK DOYLE – INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Jack Doyle hasn’t been practicing this week, which was strange as he didn’t seem to sustain anything serious Sunday. Despite not practicing, I’m not particularly worried about Doyle’s availability, as the Colts have been holding out TY Hilton and Marlon Mack in practice as well. This leads me to believe they are attempting to rest some of their offensive pieces for precautionary reasons. Doyle has commanded 15 targets through the first two weeks, even with Ebron being used. Doyle is still dominating snaps in comparison to Ebron and serves as the team’s 2nd option in their passing attack. Facing the Eagles, who gave up a huge game to OJ Howard, should be a decent spot for Doyle this week. I would have no problem firing him up as a back-end TE1 due to his volume and week-to-week consistency at such an unstable position where most of the top weekly finishers rely on a touchdown.
EVAN ENGRAM – NEW YORK GIANTS
Engram has been limited this week but didn’t show up on the injury report following their week 2 matchup with the Cowboys. Similar to Doyle, I think Engram is being limited due to injury precautions and health maintenance. Even in a stagnant offense, Engram is still one of the league’s most dynamic tight ends, which makes him a weekly TE1, even though he may lack consistency. This week, though, the G-Men face the Texans, who haven’t shown an ability to shut down the tight end position. Sure, last week they held Jonnu Smith to a 0/0/0 line, but he was making his first real start as the primary receiving tight end due to Delanie's injury in a terrible offense. They allowed 7/123/1 to Gronk week 1 and gave up the 6th most yards and receptions to the position in 2017, along with the 4th most scores. With Engram’s athleticism, I think he’s a high end TE1 option this week, even with him being a limited participant in practice.
WAIVER WIRE OPTION
VANCE MCDONALD (12%) – PITTSBURGH STEELERS
MATCHUP: @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Vance Refrigeration returned last week, seeing 5 targets against the Chiefs. Even though Jesse James outshined Vance, he still saw more volume than most tight ends typically get, and with his matchup this week, could turn his volume into production. Through the first two weeks, the Bucs have given up an average of 6.33/65/0 facing the likes of Benjamin Watson, Zach Ertz, and Joshua Perkins. Sure, Ertz is in a league of his own compared to these other players, but the Bucs gave up a 4/57 line to Perkins in the same game Ertz burned them for 11/94. Because of this, paired with the Steelers’ high powered offense, James and McDonald both have the ability to produce, and sitting on waivers in almost 90% of leagues, Vance should be picked up. He has TE1 upside in this favorable matchup, which Vegas has predicted will be the 2nd highest scoring game of the week, and even with a lot of mouths to feed in Pittsburgh, should see the volume necessary for fantasy purposes.
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by Noah Pires
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