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

NFL rookies likely to make an immediate impact

Rookies always make an impact in fantasy football and if you make a smart pick on a first-year player he could help you get over on your fantasy competition. Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Amari Cooper were big contributors last season as rookies. Odell Beckham Jr. probably won a championship for some of you the year before as a rookie for the Giants. Here’s a look at some new talent that will make an early impact.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys: This list has to start with Zeke. The buzz around him leading up to the draft increased daily and the Cowboys eschewed conventional wisdom to select what they must think is a special player. He has all the traits you want in an every-down back. He’s tough, with good size and has the speed to break off long runs. He can even catch the ball well out of the backfield. Add to that the fact he’ll be running behind one of the best offensive lines in the game and you could see why he could put up big numbers. The biggest obstacle to him impacting the game early on is the fact that he’s in a crowded backfield. Darren McFadden is still in town, and he rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time since 2010 last year. But it was just his second time playing all 16 games. Add to that, Alfred Morris was signed as a free agent and Lance Dunbar is expected to fill a third-down role. That’s got to show how much the Cowboys think of Elliott, given that there’s barely room in the backfield. We think he’ll be the lead back early on and put up the best numbers of any rookie this season.

Ezekiel Elliott has all the attributes you want in a running back. He could play every down if the Cowboys trust him early on. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliott has all the attributes you want in a running back. He could play every down if the Cowboys trust him early on. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Vikings: With a young quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater, you’ll want a receiver who can win 50/50 balls. Treadwell is that kind of player, drawing comparisons to guys like DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has produced with no-name qbs and Treadwell actually has a decent one in the backfield. We think he’ll produce the biggest numbers of rookie wideouts.

Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins: If anyone has a shot to be better than Treadwell as a rookie, it’s Doctson. He’ll be playing with the best quarterback of the rookie receivers on this list in Kirk Cousins. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will hold the WR1 and WR2 spots, but Jackson has missed eight games over the last two seasons and Garcon will be entering his ninth season.

Josh Doctson of TCU holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Josh Doctson of TCU holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns: He’s obviously in a bad place to win, but with the Browns needing lots of help at receiver, he should end up getting the lion’s share of targets. With no proven quarterback in town, his outlook isn’t great, but we could see him contributing to your team in your stars’ bye week or against a good matchup.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals: A.J. Green will be on the opposite side of the field and all Boyd will have to do is beat out Brandon LaFell, a player who has only caught more than 50 passes just once in five seasons. If Boyd can step up, he could start bringing in WR2-type numbers. With Green as the big-play threat, Boyd could fit in nicely as a possession receiver.

Derrick Henry, RB Titans: He’ll backup DeMarco Murray, but we just don’t trust Murray to stay healthy all season given that he’s done so just once in his five-year career. Henry should make an impact even if Murray is healthy because the Titans should run a lot.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans: His main role with Houston will be to free up DeAndre Hopkins by running off defenders. But that doesn’t mean he won’t hit the big play occasionally. He’s got the speed to run by anyone, though his hands are a bit of a liability. He won’t be a WR1 or WR2, but he could end up as a flex alternative if the Texans face a bad secondary that gives up the big play every once in a while.

Will Fuller will stretch the field for the Texans, but he's got to get better at catching the ball. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Will Fuller will stretch the field for the Texans, but he’s got to get better at catching the ball. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

C.J. Prosise, RB, Seahawks: Though Thomas Rawls was awesome last season, he’ll have more pressure to perform. Prosise’s value is in his pass-catching ability, but if Rawls struggles to perform as the starter, keep an eye out. We think Prosise is the logical handcuff to Rawls. The Seahawks must not be too confident in Rawls since they drafted three running backs.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants: If Victor Cruz has trouble coming back from injury, Shepard could find himself with WR2 numbers. Even if Cruz ends up bouncing back, Shepard can do some real damage in the slot. You can’t reach on him, but after you’ve got your top two receivers, feel free to go speculating.

Sterling Shepard could provide some useful fantasy numbers if Victor Cruz struggles to come back from injury. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Sterling Shepard could provide some useful fantasy numbers if Victor Cruz struggles to come back from injury. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: With the Matt Forte era over in Chicago it looks like Jeremy Langford who will fill the role. Don’t be surprised if Howard finds his way into a running-back-by-committee situation. He’s a bruising runner and if he’s not slow to the line he’ll be effective. He’ll put pressure on Langford not to falter.

Other likely contributors:
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Ravens
Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos
Paul Perkins, RB, Giants
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons
Braxton Miller, WR, Texans
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints