Fantasy football Week 3 recap and top waiver wire picks

A chaotic fantasy football season continued Sunday, but we actually got to see some quality games.

Of the 14 games played on Sunday, eight of them finished with a margin of victory within 10 points. Seven of those games finished with a margin of victory within six points. Even Monday’s game was close until late as the Cowboys topped the Cardinals 28-17.

Sunday didn’t start out with a quality game, however. The Jacksonville Jaguars must have felt at home as they trounced the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 in London, England early.

Blake Bortles made you think he’s still a viable fantasy option as he threw four touchdowns on the day. Three of those scores went to Marcedes Lewis, the Jaguars’ tight end who hadn’t caught three touchdowns in a game ever. In fact, he hadn’t scored that many TDs in a whole season since 2013 when he had four.

The Ravens skill players were non-existent in terms of fantasy. It’s hard to trust the results of this game, given the unique circumstances. Suffice it to say Bortles may have some viability left while the Ravens running backs aren’t actually as bad as they appeared. One thing is undeniable, though, and that’s that the Jags’ defense is a real option to start for you.

Speaking of what looked like a good start, turns out Trevor Siemian isn’t John Elway just yet. He feasted on a poor Cowboys secondary last week but didn’t find such success against the Bills. Though he turned the ball over twice, he managed to provide enough for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to avoid turning in dud games.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

One thing to keep an eye on from this game was the use of Jamaal Charles. C.J. Anderson was great in the first two weeks, but Charles had the same amount of touches as Anderson and scored. Charles also outgained Anderson 57 to 43.

Another running back tandem that had better success was the one in Chicago. Jordan Howard, though banged up, had his best game of the season with 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including the game winner against the Steelers in overtime. Tarik Cohen nearly scored the winning touchdown but was ruled out of bounds, negating an electrifying play. He finished with 102 yards of offense.

On the other side of the ball, Antonio Brown was reliable as always with over 100 yards and a score. Le’Veon Bell had his best fantasy game of the season as he finally got into the end zone.

The best running back performance of the week came from Todd Gurley on Thursday night. He scored three times and totaled 149 yards.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on September 21, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Another back that came through was the ultra-efficient Chris Thompson of Washington. I didn’t think he would be able to keep making the most of his few touches like he did in the first two weeks. Well, the Redskins gave him 18 touches for 188 yards and a touchdown. Shut me up.

A running back that has to have few doubters left is rookie Kareem Hunt. He scored once again, this time from 69 yards in the fourth quarter. Hunt became the first player ever to score a touchdown from beyond 50 yards in each of his first three career games.

Dalvin Cook, another rookie, Devonta Freeman and DeMarco Murray all had big days. Murray surprised with a 115-yard performance, highlighted by a 75-yard score. Cook totaled 169 yards and scored while Freeman rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown.

On the flip side, Terrance West, Jay Ajayi and Marshawn Lynch were terrible in what looked to be decent matchups.

In a far cry from last week, 13 wide receivers caught passes for over 100 yards. The best performance of the week came from Stefon Diggs, who caught eight passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. It was quite the surprise given that Case Keenum was his quarterback Sunday. Even Adam Thielen had a serviceable five catch-98 yard game.

Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball for a touchdown over defender Vernon Hargreaves #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter of the game on September 24, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

T.Y. Hilton had a surprisingly good game with Jacoby Brissett at the helm. Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.

Brandin Cooks had his best game as a Patriot, catching five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in the final minute.

Larry Fitzgerald had a huge game for the Cardinals, like I thought he would, taking advantage of a banged up Cowboys secondary. He caught 13 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Fitzgerald’s counterpart nearly had a terrible game, but Dez Bryant was able to turn a short pass into a highlight score as he dragged four defenders into the end zone with the help of his teammates. The Cowboys’ best receiver of the night turned out to be Brice Butler. He caught just two passes but gained 90 yards and scored.

Sammy Watkins had his best game as a Ram on Thursday. He scored twice and gained 106 yards.

Chris Hogan, Jordy Nelson and Odell Beckham Jr. each scored twice as well. Beckham Jr. made another one-handed highlight catch for his second score of the day.

New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, left, catches a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Mills during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The worst receiving performance of the day was put up by Kelvin Benjamin, though it was mostly due to his leg injury. With him and Greg Olsen already out, Cam Newton was terrible.

The only worse performance from a quarterback was by Joe Flacco, who scored negative fantasy points.

It’s important to mention that Russell Wilson finally looked like he did in the second half of last season. He threw for a career-high 373 yards and four touchdowns. If you bought him low after his first two weeks, good for you. Wilson even hooked up with Jimmy Graham well. The tight end caught seven passes for 72 yards.

It’s been a tough two years for tight ends. Fifteen of them caught touchdowns this week, though. Vernon Davis was a big factor in the Redskins’ win on Sunday night. If Jordan Reed stays sidelined, Davis can be a nice pickup.

Top waiver wire picks

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: 7 rec., 133 yards, TD.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons: 5 rec., 79 yards, TD.

Case Keenum, QB, Vikings: A great streaming option for as long as Sam Bradford is out.

Robert Woods, WR, Rams: 6 rec., 108 yards.

Brice Butler, WR, Cowboys: 2 rec., 90 yards, TD. If he can continue to stretch the field and catch jump balls, things could open up for the passing game.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Broncos: He’s owned in just 33 percent of Yahoo leagues. Stow him away if you have room.

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texans: 10 touches, 90 yards.

Wendell Smallwood, RB, Eagles: Darren Sproles is out with a broken arm and Smallwood stepped up.

Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: 3 rec., 95 yards, TD

Vernon Davis, TE, Redskins: 5 rec., 58 yards, TD

Fantasy football impact: Jamaal Charles to the Broncos

The Broncos have decided to give Jamaal Charles a chance to play with little risk on their end. He was signed for the veteran minimum and his contract is heavy on incentives.

It’s yet to be seen if Charles can return to old form after a devastating knee injury sidelined him for essentially two years. He had just a handful of carries in 2016 before being shut down again. In fact, since his contract has no guaranteed money, he’s not a lock to make the team.

What is clear is C.J. Anderson probably takes a hit in fantasy value if Charles is worthy of a roster spot. If Charles is able to provide even half of the production we’re used to seeing out of him, Anderson’s numbers will fall. Plus you have to remember Anderson’s overall history.

C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball as he is followed by Caraun Reid #91 of the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter of a 21-13 Charger win at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Before getting hurt, Anderson rushed for 437 yards and four touchdowns in seven games. Those were solid numbers for the time he played, but you have to remember that in his four years he hasn’t carried the ball over 200 times nor has he rushed for more than 849 yards. He’s a modest pass receiver, only scoring three times through the air in his career.

Charles, on the other hand, has 20 receiving touchdowns in his nine-year career. He’s also carried the ball over 200 times in four of his nine seasons.

The big question is if he can reproduce something close to those numbers. We’ll just have to wait and see if he can bounce back from a very tough couple of years.

I currently have him ranked in the top-70 of my top-100 fantasy football rankings for the upcoming season, but that will very likely change before the season gets started.

Mock drafts aren’t as optimistic as I am and have him going in the mid-90s.

There’s a lot yet to be determined but the big takeaway is that C.J. Anderson’s value likely takes a hit and Charles is a big x-factor at this point. One thing to note is that Charles seems to be carrying a chip on his shoulder over the way he was let go by the Chiefs. That could prove useful for him if he’s healthy enough.

Fantasy football free agent outlook

By now most of the pieces have fallen into place in the puzzle that is NFL free agency. While Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Jay Cutler have yet to find new homes, there have been quite a few moves that will affect the upcoming fantasy football season. Here’s a look at 15 of the biggest names, where they ended up and what kind of impact their new situations will have on fantasy football.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles—If you have any faith in Jeffery’s ability to stay healthy, this is the situation you want him to be in. Though he’s with a new team, he signed a one-year deal which automatically puts him in a contract year. He should be the No. 1 WR on the team, unless Jordan Matthews shows improvement. He’s a mid-level to high end WR2 with a second-year quarterback at the helm in Philly.

Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears walks across the field after another Bears turnover in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants—Either this will turn out to be a major shot in the arm for an offense that is already pretty good, or Marshall’s interest in life outside football becomes even more apparent. He made sure he stayed in New York, which allows him to keep hosting Inside the NFL during the season. He called himself the No. 2, alongside Sterling Shepard, behind Odell Beckham Jr. Check out his ADP before you waste a WR2 spot on him. Do not reach for him.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins—It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to reproduce the numbers he put up in Cleveland. Josh Doctson should be healthy this season and Jamison Crowder is likely to be the No. 1 receiver on the team. Pryor is a unique talent and could end up recording similar numbers to last season, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in Washington especially if Jordan Reed can stay healthy.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks—You may not want to touch him with a ten-foot pole after last season. But that means he might be available on the cheap. I don’t think you can expect to take him as a No. 1 or No. 2 running back on your team with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise in Seattle. He’s going five RB spots after Thomas Rawls in some early mock drafts. If he slips to the sixth round, go ahead and give him a shot.

Kemal Ishmael #36 of the Atlanta Falcons defends against Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers in the second half at Lambeau Field on December 8, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers—If he can be himself for at least three quarters of the season, it will be a big help for Mike Evans owners. Evans had a monster season and that was with Adam Humphries being the second-most effective wideout. Jackson will be good for WR1 numbers in a handful of games but most likely a good flex option for most of the season.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings—His situation in Oakland has been really good for the past few years but he hasn’t been more than solid. He enters a much tougher situation in Minnesota so we’ll get a clearer picture of what kind of running back he really is. He’s going late in the third round in mock drafts, but even that is too early for me.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Packers—It always seems to be about potential with Bennett. He has a lot of it, but will this be the set of circumstances that will help him truly break out? If I had to choose, I’d say yes. Aaron Rodgers all but catches the ball for tight ends. He is going as early as the fourth round and as late as the 14th. Don’t pay too much, but if you get him late it could be a nice surprise.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kenny Britt, WR, Browns—He has the talent and the size to put up solid WR2 numbers. He might put up numbers comparable to Pryor’s from 2016, but getting him early would be a risk.

Jared Cook, TE, Raiders—The playoff hero for Green Bay will try to add some firepower to a solid receiving corps. With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree putting up nearly equal numbers on the outside, Cook could make some hay in the middle of the field.

Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers—He’s reunited with his old coordinator from Washington in head coach Kyle Shanahan. The last time the two worked together, Garcon put up career numbers (113 receptions, 1,346 yards) with the Redskins in 2013. He should be the clear No. 1 in San Francisco and could do a lot worse than Brian Hoyer at quarterback.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens—The versatile veteran puts a dent in the hopes people have for Kenneth Dixon. Woodhead will be a good dump off option and third down back for Baltimore.

Shaun Draughn, RB, Giants—This move is more about the impact it will have on Paul Perkins. The Giants signing Draughn seems to be a sign that they are happy with the backfield they have in place, meaning Perkins will have the best shot to be the 1st and 2nd down back.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots—Something tells me he may end up getting the ball in goal line situations. Dion Lewis and James White are threats to catch the ball out of the backfield so I would be surprised if Burkhead is anything more than a bye-week desperation play.

Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans tackles Rex Burkhead #33 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Brian Hoyer, QB, 49ers—He regains some fantasy relevance as the likely starter for the 49ers. He has some pieces to work with in Garcon and Carlos Hyde.

Mike Glennon, QB, Bears—Much like Hoyer, he may end up being serviceable in a pinch as a starter in Chicago.

Fantasy football mock draft before dress rehearsal week

It’s dress rehearsal week for NFL teams so we should get a better look at the talent available for upcoming fantasy drafts. Before a majority of those games kicked off, I decided to take another look at where players are going in a mock draft. With a better idea of players average draft positions (ADP), I think I assembled a high value team. There were a couple of missteps along the way, though.

You can see my first mock draft here and my second one here. Here’s what I ended up with this time around, drafting in a 12-team standard league.

  • Round (overall pick)–Player, pos., team
  • 1st (8)–DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
  • 2nd (17)–Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
  • 3rd (32)–Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
  • 4th (41)–Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 5th (56)–Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
  • 6th (65)–Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (80)–Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
  • 8th (89)–Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
  • 9th (104)–Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
  • 10th (113)–Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
  • 11th (128)–DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders
  • 12th (137)–Panthers Defense/special teams
  • 13th (152)–Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (161)–Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 15th (176)–Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
  • 16th (185)–Chris Boswell, K, Steelers

My first four picks went as well as could be expected. I took DeAndre Hopkins with the eighth pick and he’s going one spot higher in most drafts. Ezekiel Elliott was taken seventh, allowing me to snag Hopkins.

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Jamaal Charles was available at No. 17 because someone picking 16th reached for Doug Martin, even though he’s normally taken around the 25th spot.

Taking Keenan Allen with the 32nd pick was very nice since that’s about 10 spots lower than his ADP. Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery and Amari Cooper went ahead of him.

Latavius Murray was my fourth pick, taken six spots after his ADP. He’s expected to do it all for Oakland so I felt comfortable having taken two good WR1s and a proven RB1.

My biggest mistake came in selecting Emmanuel Sanders nearly 20 spots before his ADP. A minute goes by fast so make sure you have the appropriate amount of windows open while drafting online. I missed out on Andrew Luck, Michael Floyd, Frank Gore and Ben Roethlisberger.

Drew Brees and Allen Hurns made me feel better in the next two rounds. Brees was available six spots after his ADP while Hurns was available 20 spots after his. Hurns also started a run of Jaguars for me. Before you judge, let me explain.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Chris Ivory was too good to pass up in the eighth round as he was available 25 (!) spots lower than his ADP. He’s been going as high as the third round. I took Julius Thomas in the 10th round because the tight end pool was getting pretty shallow.

Sandwiched between Ivory and Thomas was rookie Michael Thomas, who is on my sleepers list. I may have reached a bit, but he’s gone as high as the sixth round in some drafts. If he pans out as a WR2, I’ve got the QB-WR link with Brees.

DeAndre Washington serves two purposes as the 128th pick. He’s a handcuff for Murray but could carve out a role for himself as a third-down option.

 

De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With the Panthers defense slipping to 137th, I decided to fill a starting spot with a top-four defense.

After taking Derek Carr at the 152nd spot, a whopping 48 spots lower than his ADP, I took another shot at a sleeper, selecting Tyler Boyd. He’s gone as high as the sixth round, but don’t take him before the 11th. His ADP is early in the 12th.

With my final pick, disregarding the kicker, I decided to go with a steadying influence in Jason Witten. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, I’ll have insurance.

Other notes and trends:

  • DeMarco Murray is clearly on the rise. He went 90th overall in my first mock but leaped to the 37th pick in this one.
  • Jamaal Charles is nearly falling to the middle of the second round. Don’t be afraid to take him late in the first.
  • Alshon Jeffery continues to hold onto second-round status, but injury concerns could cause him to slip to the third.
  • Don’t take Carlos Hyde in the third round or earlier. Either Murray is a better option.
  • The top three Cardinals receivers all went within eight spots of each other, in the late fifth and early sixth rounds.
  • Tyrod Taylor is a sleeper, but someone drafted him in early in the seventh round when he likely would have been available in the 10th.