Shooting Stars and crashing asteroids: Week 3 recap

September 29, 2020

Another week, another blown fourth quarter lead by the Falcons. Another blowout against the Jets. These things are like death and taxes; life’s few certainties. But fantasy football remains the topic at hand and it was quite a doozy of a week. Take out your telescope; it’s time to look at the shooting stars and crashing asteroids.

Shooting stars

Jared Goff (QB5)

Welcome back, Jared Goff. The Bills secondary was absolutely exposed as the Rams led a tremendous comeback that came just short courtesy of a questionable pass interference call. But the story of the game was all Goff, who threw for 321 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception. He also added a touchdown on the ground. It was an encouraging sight after a poor Week 1, but this is now back-to-back weeks of QB1 production. With the Giants and Washington on deck he should be a priority pickup for those needy at the position.

Aaron Rodgers (QB7)

Run-heavy. Lost a step. Not enough weapons. On his way out.

Rodgers took note of each and every criticism and has come back with a vengeance. He threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns, recording his third-straight game with no interceptions and multiple touchdowns. Even without Davante Adams the quarterback looked terrific. Allen Lazard, who should be a hot waiver wire pickup, looked terrific but this was just vintage Rodgers. He made something out of nothing and completely dissected a solid Saints defense. With Atlanta on deck, there’s no reason to expect a drop off in production.

Austin Ekeler (RB5)

Hopefully Tyrod Taylor heals up after the team doctor punctured Taylor’s lung, but this is Justin Herbert’s team. And Herbert loves him some Ekeler.

Ekeler rushed 12 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, but with Herbert at the helm Ekeler caught 11 balls as well for 84 yards. The dual threat running back now has two consecutive weeks with four receptions, a nice baseline. The Chargers game planned for Herbert this week and made sure to get the ball out early and often to Ekeler. His fantasy value should be pretty safe moving forward — the transition to Herbert keeps Ekeler in RB1 territory.

Darrell Henderson (RB11)

The player that nobody wanted during draft season should be all the rage now. When Cam Akers got hurt, the rotation between Henderson and Malcom Brown became clear. What did not become absolutely lucid until now was how much volume Henderson would actually see. The answer? 20 rushes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also added a reception for six yards. He was clearly the more explosive back and should be viewed as a high-end RB2 until Akers returns to the rotation. Even then, Henderson earned a role in this offense given Akers’ lack of involvement. The Giants are on deck; fire him up.

Justin Jefferson (WR2)

The rookie certainly did not look like one as he torched the Titans to the tune of 175 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. It was the rebound the Kirk Cousins desperately needed and interestingly, it came after Jefferson was finally moved out wide. He took the majority of his snaps in the slot through the first two weeks but played the Stefon Diggs role to perfection in Week 3. This certainly will not become commonplace, but Jefferson needs to threaten defenses downfield for this offense to move the ball efficiently. He should be a priority pickup in leagues where he was dropped.

Tee Higgins (WR13)

That’s right. Two rookies in a row. What a world.

Higgins made the jump in snap count from Week 1 (22 percent) to Week 2 (61 percent) and continued that trend in Week 3 (81 percent). He delivered on those snaps, catching five passes for 40 yards and two scores. Touchdowns are fickle; they can and will be too unpredictable. But the usage is the noteworthy change that everyone should be aware of. He’s a full-time starter in this offense that loves to throw the ball. His production will likely be up-and-down due to the presence of Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, but the passing volume in this offense should continue to make him an intriguing boom/bust WR3/4.

Robert Tonyan (TE4)

Yes, this is the tight end position. Deep, deep names. Lovely.

Tonyan saw increased volume with Davante Adams (hamstring) inactive and led Packers tight ends with five receptions on as many targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. The team needs someone to catch the ball with Rodgers playing some of his best football. With Adams sidelined, that appears to be Allen Lazard and Tonyan. It can certainly flip between Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but against Atlanta, Tonyan is a viable play in a weak tight end landscape. It’s certainly bold — but he’s found the end zone in back-to-back weeks. If the volume is there, then he can be a last-ditch TE1/TE2.

Mo Alie-Cox (TE5)

Two weeks running, Alie-Cox found himself in the top five. With Doyle back in the fold fantasy owners were worried that Week 2 may have been a mirage, but Alie-Cox wasn’t having it. He only saw three targets but secured each one for 52 yards and a touchdown. With Parris Campbell (knee) and Michael Pittman Jr. (leg) sidelined indefinitely, the Colts will ask a lot from their tight ends. Alie-Cox is clearly the better receiver of the two, but they can co-exist. It will be volatile, but tight ends tend to be. Rivers loves to target the tight end and head coach Frank Reich loves to utilize them. Play him by matchup; the Colts play against Chicago in Week 4 who are not a scary matchup. It might be a desperation play but he can be fired up as a last-ditch option.

Crashing asteroids

Lamar Jackson (QB23)

Passing for 97 yards will not get it done against the Chiefs. Jackson fell to 0-3 against Patrick Mahomes as the Ravens looked flat on Monday Night Football. Jackson’s legs, as usual, provided the floor that prevented this from being a cataclysmic week for fantasy owners. Jackson looked skittish for most of the night as the Chiefs were able to pressure the former 2019 MVP. The blame should not entirely be on Jackson, however. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews combined for their fair share of drops in key situations that crippled the team. Jackson was very close to a multi-touchdown night. Two down weeks should not change your view on Jackson — the current QB12 on the season somehow — so continue to fire him up as a high-end QB1.

Ryan Tannehill (QB24)

Tannehill was my go-to streaming option for Week 3 and fell on his face. The attempts, surprisingly, were actually there in a game where the Titans dominated time of possession. But Tannehill could not find the end zone whereas Derrick Henry secured himself two scores on the ground. Better days are ahead — there will be few games where Tannehill is kept out of the end zone entirely — but it serves as a reminder that, after two productive weeks, this is still Henry’s team. The offense goes as he goes and that will not change. With Pittsburgh and Buffalo on deck, Tannehill should be sent back to waivers for the time being.

Joe Mixon (RB33)

It feels like 2019 all over again where Mixon just is not on the field when it’s important, at least for the first half of the year. Giovani Bernard continues to nip at Mixon owner’s week-in and week-out, recording 12 receptions on 15 targets through three weeks. The Bengals offensive line looks just as bad as it always has which has not helped Mixon in the slightest. With the offense shifting to one of the most pass-happy systems in the league under Zac Taylor and Joe Burrow, Mixon could be a shaky RB2 until he starts catching more passes. Whether that happens is entirely up for grabs.

Leonard Fournette (RB56)

Fournette did just enough in Week 2 to make everyone think the transition was made only to laugh and stab owners in the back. Fournette saw just seven carries which went for 15 yards in a game that the Buccaneers had firmly in hand.  Game script went his way, but he still could not get the job done. Bruce Arians loves him some passing work and at times he will completely abandon the running game, especially without a true starter to give the work to. Ronald Jones looked like the starter once more, taking 13 carries for 53 yards along with two receptions for 20 yards. The Buccaneers will ride the “hot hand” until an injury or consecutive breakout forces Arians hand, leading to an unpredictable mess in Tampa Bay.

D.J. Moore (WR50)

I’m not ringing the alarm bells just yet but it’s incredibly worrisome to see a player many drafted for his volume… not get volume. Robby Anderson appears to be the go-to option in Carolina with Mike Davis seeing considerable passing volume out of the backfield in lieu of Christian McCaffrey’s injury. It might not be the steady year we hoped for Moore, but this is still a team that will be playing behind more often than not. Treat him as a WR2 for the time being.

Julian Edelman (WR88)

Six targets turned into just two receptions for Edelman as the focus was all on Rex Burkhead. It was typical Bill Belichick messing around with the defenses. It was a great matchup so owners should be understandably upset, but don’t hold this over Edelman. He’s still the solid option he has been over the first two weeks. Buy low if you can — this trend won’t continue.

Tyler Higbee (TE20)

The highs and lows for Higbee should come with the territory. In a smash spot against Buffalo, who have been gashed by the tight end in 2020, Higbee came up short with just two catches for 40 yards. He also caught a two-point conversion. With Gerald Everett splitting snaps it just will be volatile. His ceiling, as we saw in Week 2, makes him an every-week start. But the floor is far from appealing, and it won’t change anytime soon.

Mark Andrews (TE35)

It was a horrific night for Andrews who couldn’t seem to catch a cold against the Chiefs. The targets were there and more often the pass was too, but Andrews just could not bring them in. It was an incredibly disappointing showing with the Ravens playing from behind. Like Moore, I’d try not to overreact to this. Andrews is still a great talent who should bounce back from this. These are lapses in ability, not opportunity, and we know the talent is there. It will get better and much more stable.