2021 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Loves & Hates
It’s officially overreaction season for many of you. If you’re 0-2, you’re likely sweating your roster over the littlest of things, reflecting on draft night, and coming up with a list of trade offers, only some of which are reasonable. If you’re 1-1, you’re likely someone in my inbox getting excited about how to improve your roster. If you’re 2-0, you’re flexing on your league-mates while simultaneously imagining ways to blow it if you get complacent or something bad happens to your team. Where you can all meet is the present—how do you know which players to fade this week and how do you identify the booms and make sure you start them when you can? Welcome back to my Fantasy Football Weekly Loves & Hates.
In this series, we identify the best and worst value plays at each skill position for fantasy football purposes. We take into account matchups, game scripts, advanced statistics, and any other relevant news. This won’t be your spot for trying to rank the top players at each position or suggesting deep waiver wire digs every week. Rather, whether you are playing DFS or season-long formats, your start/bench/cut decisions can be informed based on the players that stand out the most at each position—the ones that could go off (Loves) and the ones that could disappoint and lose you a matchup (Hates).
We will review the previous week’s picks and grade our performance before giving out picks for the upcoming week. I firmly believe that the most important part of the process of winning is to evaluate your winning and losing decisions. We’ll do exactly that in our evaluations of the previous week’s picks.
Week 2 Review
My Week 2 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for me in parentheses.
With Jerry Jeudy out for an extended period of time, Teddy Bridgewater was going to have to step up his productivity to still produce offense efficiently. Against the lackluster Jaguars, I predicted he would outdo his Week 1 performance and utilize Tim Patrick to find the end zone. He did exactly that as he threw for 328 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers, finishing as the fantasy QB11 on the week. Courtland Sutton was unsurprisingly Bridgewater’s top target but the touchdowns went to tight end Noah Fant and, as expected, Tim Patrick. In Week 3, Bridgewater faces the New York Jets, a bottom five defense against quarterbacks since the beginning of the 2020 season.
Tim Patrick > K.J. Hamler 🤷♂️
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) September 19, 2021
On the other hand, I hated the play to start Matt Ryan against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ general defense. Indeed, Ryan was not as terrible as he was in Week 1 when he couldn’t find the end zone—but he was still outside the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks of Week 2. While the game was fairly manageable for a good chunk of the game clock, the Tampa Bay offense ran away with the game in the third quarter, allowing Ryan to get some garbage time opportunities. He responded by throwing for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, raising some eyebrows at a possible comeback, only to squander any such chance by throwing 3 distasteful interceptions. At 36 years old, behind a beaten up offensive line, Ryan is a risky play against any matchup that knows what they’re doing on defense.
Running Back (B-)
Lesson learned—and it’s good that we’re getting wake-up calls as early as Week 2. When a running back has even the slightest recent injury history, maybe don’t be overly excited about them on short rest in a 17-game season. Antonio Gibson had an opportunity to be a volume hog and a scorer against the Giants defense in “Primetime.” Instead, Washington head coach Ron Rivera sent a message that he won’t be forcing the 23-year-old back in all situations. Gibson flashed his talent and created some tough runs, finishing the game with a snazzy 5.3 yards per carry. For the second straight week though, that didn’t translate into first-round pick fantasy numbers. He took only 61% of the offensive snaps and totaled 15 touches (down from 65% snaps, 23 touches in Week 1). While Gibson put in the effort to create productive offensive drives, he was on the sidelines to watch teammates such as tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and running back J.D. McKissic find the end zone.
On the other hand, our hate pick was indeed much worse on the fantasy box score. Another fantasy first-rounder in redraft formats this season, Jonathan Taylor was such a risky start for me that I suggested a bench consideration on a podcast episode. Against the tough run defense of the Los Angeles Rams, Taylor rushed 15 times for 51 yards and got close to no involvement in the passing game. He took only 45% of the offensive snaps (down from 55% in Week 1) and has still not found the end zone this season. His Week 2 performance was his worst since Week 10 of last season. With quarterback Carson Wentz likely missing some time, it’ll be a big storyline if Taylor’s usage skyrockets as an integral part of leading the offense.
Wide Receiver (A-)
If you’re going to go all-in on a love pick and hype up a player for an NFL week as much as I did, he better deliver and win some matchups for his owners. That’s exactly what Mike Evans was all about in Week 3. After being a non-factor for the Buccaneers in Week 1, I reminded you of who he is and what he means to Tom Brady. I bought into the narrative that Brady will want to spam his big WR1 in the red zone and went so far as to use my Bold Prediction of the Week on a 2-touchdown game from Evans.
5/75/2 TDs 🤑🤑🤑
As far as Melvin Gordon goes, that Broncos backfield is as much of a committee as you can be 😅
Gordon- 13/31/0; 2/38/0 rec.😩
Williams- 13/64/0; 1/10/0 rec. 😐 https://t.co/JIZIdwT27K
— Colin McTamany (@LincoCammytan) September 20, 2021
Boom! Evans was one of three Tampa Bay players to find the end zone multiple times in Week 2 (others: tight end Rob Gronkowski, safety Mike Edwards). He finished as a top-5 fantasy wide receiver on the week. The Atlanta secondary was simply no match for the big bodies on the Buccaneers and Evans reminded all the doubters of how dangerous he is when the end zone is in his zip code.
On the other hand, I hated Deebo Samuel against the Philadelphia Eagles and put some serious doubt on whether he can be a safe start in Week 2 lineups. I clearly misread the situation as Samuel continued to be the #1 man for Jimmy Garoppolo in the passing game. Even against Philadelphia’s very capable defense, Samuel caught 6 of 8 targets for 93 yards and despite not scoring a touchdown, he came through as a WR2-level fantasy performer. Not the best call there as Samuel is now tied for the league lead in the NFL in target share on his team (Samuel and Cooper Kupp tied at 36%).
Tight End (B-)
So far in 2021, there have been only two certainties about the tight end position in fantasy football. The first—T.J. Hockensen was well worth his price and is a serious contender to finish top three at the position in all formats. The second—nothing else is really certain. Yet again, I couldn’t get a read on the real value at tight end.
The athletic profile of Cole Kmet was not enough for either Andy Dalton or Justin Fields to get him production. He took 72% of the Bears’ offensive snaps but only hauled in one catch on one target (down from 5 catch on 7 targets in Week 1). The reception was for a solid 0 yards and Kmet was a complete bust in Week 2. He has not yet scored a touchdown this season.
Meanwhile, my hate pick of Jared Cook was a reasonable take—in a tight game against the Dallas Cowboys, the veteran tight end was not a game-changer. He caught 3 of his 5 targets for a mere 28 yards and finished outside the top 20 fantasy tight ends in Week 2.
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Week 3 Loves & Hates
We’ve already learned some lessons through two weeks of the 2021 season that features an extra game. Let’s grow as a team and make ourselves even better for what looks to be a slate filled with pivotal storyline games.
Love: Jalen Hurts (PHI)
The Eagles had high hopes for their new quarterback coming into 2021 and those seemed fully justified after he balled out in Week 1 for 3 touchdowns and 326 total yards with a 77.1% completion rate. Some panic hit the fan when Hurts regressed to a 52.2% completion rate and couldn’t produce through the air. He did carry the ball 10 times for 82 yards and a rushing touchdown but was still a slight fantasy letdown.
That should absolutely not be the case against the Dallas Cowboys. In 2020, the Cowboys were a bottom-five rushing defense by yards per game and EXP. Only six teams gave up more rushing yards to quarterbacks than the Cowboys and as an overall defense against quarterbacks, the Cowboys were below average. Granted, the Cowboys are better on personnel and coaching defensively this year but they still haven’t done a great job at containing offense and haven’t given us evidence that they can read option plays well.
In a Monday Night Football matchup indoors in Dallas, Hurts should have no problems showing off the overall skillset against the Cowboys and should be a safe start in all formats.
Hate: Tom Brady (TB)
For what it’s worth, I currently have the Buccaneers winning this game to get revenge for a one-possession loss to the Rams in 2020. That doesn’t mean Tom Brady will be anywhere near the overall QB2 he has been so far this season. The Rams are elite in every aspect on the defensive end of the ball and ranked as the No. 1 fantasy defense against quarterbacks in 2020; Brady won’t simply have his way on the deep ball and in the middle of the field as he did against the Cowboys or the Falcons.
Instead, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians may surprise some and get his rushing game much more involved, featuring starter Ronald Jones II, who has had a minute level of offensive production so far. Touchdowns win you fantasy football matchups and Brady’s ceiling is fairly mediocre in Week 3. It’ll be tough for him to finish in the top five at the position, let alone the top two again.
Love: David Johnson (TEX)
Once a fantasy superstar and an elite-skillset runner, David Johnson has dissolved into being a deep bench piece in most fantasy football leagues. At 29 years old, he isn’t trusted anymore to be a volume back and his ability to produce in bulk for fantasy is limited by the yucky offensive ceiling of the team he plays for.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 21, 2021
But the fact that Davis Mills is now at quarterback for the Texans is a ticket to a startable ceiling and a clear path of value for David Johnson in DFS and in deep leagues where you could use a boom-potential running back. In 2020, only two teams allowed more receptions to running backs than the Carolina Panthers and in rushing defense, the Panthers were only middle-of-the-pack in yards per game and EXP. A committee definitely tough to read in Houston, even though this is a Thursday Night Football matchup, I am trusting that David Johnson is a healthy go for the game and he will have an impact in the backfield on short plays as one of the better players remaining on the team.
Hate: Damien Harris (NE)
The Patriots are a fantasy wild card in many senses but the talent of Damien Harris has given reason for his fantasy owners to be thrilled with the potential. Despite James White stealing PPR value as I foresaw before the season, Harris has boom potential against a ton of matchups because of his explosiveness and role.
But there are too many red flags this week. For one, the Patriots have been concerningly poor offensively in the red zone despite the strong play of their rookie quarterback Mac Jones, as they rank dead last in the NFL in that category. Against the Saints defense that ranked top ten against running backs in yards per game and touchdowns, Harris isn’t going to have his way breaking tackles or juking dudes in the open field. To add to the bad news, the Patriots have several injuries to deal with, including starting offensive tackle Trent Brown. If they have issues fielding a healthy offensive line, there’s a chance they’ll have trouble all game moving the ball and even getting to the red zone often against Cam Jordan and the New Orleans defense.
Fade Harris in Week 3 and bench him if you have others with any sort of exciting ceiling. The juice is not worth the squeeze.
Love: Kenny Golladay (NYG)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’m yet again attacking the Atlanta Falcons defense as I did last week with my immaculate Mike Evans call. You place a big receiver that can make catches of any contest and it’s game over for the Falcons secondary. They can’t defend the pass efficiently and their defensive line isn’t good enough to bully the Giants’ offensive line, no matter how depleted they are. Daniel Jones impressed on Thursday Night Football against the Washington defense so it would take a miracle for Atlanta to flip the script and stifle his two-way talent in Week 3.
Kenny Golladay on cameras catching him yelling on the sidelines:
"I let emotions get the best of me…it was me talking to [Jason Garrett] a little bit" pic.twitter.com/RezK1iFEjo
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) September 20, 2021
Oh and just as we did with Evans, let’s snag those narratives, shall we? Last week, Golladay (who has only caught 7 of his 14 targets for no touchdowns this season) was seen yelling at fellow members of the Giants on the sidelines after receiving little volume during their primetime game. If the Giants want to keep their free-agent signing happy in the locker room, they just have to display their trust in him on the field. 👀
Hate: Terry McLaurin (WSH)
Washington WR Terry McLaurin has said Tre’Davious White is one of the toughest CBs he’s faced.
Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/dKtMHvNRJK
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 21, 2021
In 2020, the Bills were a top ten defense at restricting the deep ball and a top-five fantasy defense against wide receivers. One of the primary reasons for that efficiency? Lead cornerback Tre’Davious White, who Terry McLaurin has called one of the best cornerbacks he’s ever faced. In Week 3, these two elite talents will clash and in a statement game for the Bills looking to be above .500 for the first time in 2020 will make stopping McLaurin their #1 priority. The projections are simply too high on McLaurin after a Week 2 explosion against the lackluster Giants secondary.
Love: Noah Fant (DEN)
This is a straight lob. The 23-year-old tight end out of Iowa was drafted in the first round for a reason—he has a monster athletic profile and he has an obvious role on the Denver offense. He’s been inconsistent in his first couple of years as a pro but so far, things seem to be trending up for Fant in 2021. The volume has been encouraging and the production just has to be there with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy not available to be a centerpiece of the passing game for Teddy Bridgewater.
In both games this season, Fant has taken 77% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps. He was fantasy-relevant in both despite scoring a touchdown in only the second game. He’s recorded a total of 10 catches on 14 receptions and in Week 3, he is facing the laughable secondary of the New York Jets. In 2020, nobody allowed more receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, or fantasy points to tight ends than the Jets. Fant should feast and this week, he has a ceiling as high as top-three at the position.
Hate: Robert Tonyan (GB)
In Week 3, the man some call “Bobby T” was fired up exposing the Lions’ secondary. He caught all 3 of his targets for 52 yards including a touchdown and induced a penalty to help move the offense. But calm down—he’s not going to run all over the 49ers’ defense in such little volume. In 2020, no defense was better against tight ends by fantasy points than the 49ers as they only allowed four touchdowns all year to tight ends. Tonyan is touchdown-dependent to be fantasy-relevant and I don’t see him finding the end zone in this 2019 NFC Championship Game rematch.
Are you on board with Ahaan’s Week 3 Loves and Hates? For more great rankings and analysis be sure to check out the rest of our Week 3 Rankings and Analysis!
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