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Jared Martinez/Los Angeles Rams

Week 3 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Matthew Stafford (@ ARI)

Interceptions were again an issue for Stafford last week, but he tossed three touchdowns and will now face an Arizona defense that continues to have question marks in coverage. Over the past five matchups versus the Cardinals (including playoffs), Stafford has thrown for 284.8 yards per game with a 12:1 touchdown-interception ratio. I have him as a top-seven play with Allen Robinson getting more involved alongside Cooper Kupp to elevate the passing attack.


Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (@ TEN)

It didn’t result in a win, but Carr did a better job spreading the ball around last week—targeting Hunter Renfrow (ten), Darren Waller (eight), Mack Hollins (eight), and Davante Adams (seven) more evenly. That distribution will only benefit as opponents are forced to roll coverage away from Davante Adams, and the Tennessee cornerbacks had a very difficult time containing Stefon Diggs and the Bills on Monday night. Carr is a solid QB1 with a good combination of floor and upside.


Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (@ MIN)

Goff has a 6:1 touchdown-interception ratio through two games, and he’s playing with a ton of confidence by delivering pinpoint passes to his weapons. Overall, the way Detroit’s offense runs through D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown makes the Week 2 matchup in Minnesota very favorable for Goff, and he threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns against them in the Lions’ first win of 2022. Consider him a high-end QB2.


Thumbs Up: Marcus Mariota (@ SEA)

A road matchup versus the Rams—who were coming off a Week 1 blowout—was an expected challenge for Mariota, but he showed a strong connection with first-round pick Drake London and did well to keep Atlanta in the game. There is no way Kyle Pitts will continue to be contained, so Mariota’s upside will increase as the superstar tight end gets going, which I think will happen this week in Seattle. The rushing ability makes Mariota an excellent streaming option.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Kyler Murray (v LAR)

For the most part, Los Angeles has not been a kind matchup for Murray, as he’s gone 1-6 against them (including playoffs) while throwing for seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. On the ground, the Rams have limited him to one rushing score and just 21.7 rushing yards per game in their seven meetings, so they have consistently proven they know how to handle the dual-threat quarterback. I have Murray as more of a low-end QB1 for this week.


Thumbs Down: Trevor Lawrence (@ LAC)

We are still waiting for the rushing upside of Lawrence to be shown, and maybe that will happen this week to escape Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack off the edge. That said, I’d be more worried about the pass rush causing routine havoc for Jacksonville’s passing attack, and Lawrence has averaged a modest 16.0 fantasy points per game in better matchups versus the Commanders and Colts. The long-term outlook remains encouraging, but last year’s No. 1 overall pick is outside the top 20 for Week 3.


Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (v NO)

Mayfield has had solid rushing production (six yards and a touchdown in the opener, then six carries for 35 yards last week), but the passing success hasn’t come yet with 190.0 yards per game. I doubt he suddenly turns it on for a very difficult matchup against the Saints—and Mayfield already having four fumbles has flown under the radar because none of them have been lost. Look for New Orleans to bring heat off the edge to possibly make it another disappointing day for Mayfield and the Panthers.


Thumbs Down: Tom Brady (v GB)

Brady being listed as a “Thumbs Down” in back-to-back weeks doesn’t feel right, but the issues at wide receiver—with Mike Evans suspended and Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) injured—could lead to a Leonard Fournette game versus Green Bay. Godwin in particular returning would boost Brady back into at least the midrange QB1 ranks, but he’s more of a low-end QB1 option versus a stingy defense without having his full assortment of weapons.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: David Montgomery (v HOU)

In a difficult road matchup versus the Packers last week, Montgomery was the lone bright spot for Chicago—rushing 15 times for 122 yards and catching both of his targets for 14 yards on 80% of the team’s offensive snaps played. Week 1 had the looks of a more even split with Khalil Herbert, but the Bears featuring Montgomery elevates him back into the clear RB2 ranks. Start him with confidence against a Houston defense allowing the third-most rushing yards per game in the league (163.0).


Thumbs Up: Josh Jacobs (@ TEN)

Jacobs hasn’t found the end zone yet this year, but Sunday feels like a possible shootout in Tennessee where both he and Derrick Henry have big games on the ground. A committee hasn’t been a concern so far with rookie Zamir White playing six snaps through two weeks, so Jacobs will hopefully repeat with another 20-touch outing after getting there in Week 2. I like him as a strong RB2 play.


Thumbs Up: Rashaad Penny (v ATL)

The Seahawks couldn’t get anything going on the ground last week versus the 49ers, but Atlanta will be a much softer matchup this weekend, and getting Penny rolling is key to Seattle remaining competitive in the NFC. Dating back to last season when he caught fire, Penny has averaged 5.0+ yards per carry in five of his past seven games—and the rushing attack improving will open things up for Geno Smith and DK Metcalf. Penny remains a borderline top-20 play at running back.


Thumbs Up: Ezekiel Elliott (@ NYG)

Those who drafted Elliott have to keep playing him, and Monday night is a spot where he can breakout versus a New York defense that he’s scored six touchdowns against over their past four matchups. Last week, Zeke handled 16 touches in the first game without Dak Prescott (hand), and the increased involvement of Tony Pollard (13 touches) was expected to help manufacture offense without Prescott under center. I’d bet on Elliott being the guy that finds the end zone on Monday night.


Thumbs Down of the Week: James Conner (v LAR)

Conner got banged up last week with an ankle injury, and that’s enough to worry about his workload at less than 100% with Eno Benjamin and Darrel Williams both showing well against the Raiders. I’m assuming he suits up for a big NFC West clash, but Conner averaged 2.61 yards per carry against the Rams last year and was saved by a bunch of short scores; he’s a risky low-end RB2.


Thumbs Down: Chase Edmonds (v BUF)

Seeing just six touches in a game where the Dolphins trailed throughout is a concern for Edmonds—especially considering he averaged 6.6 yards per carry on the day with the limited work. It’s not time to say Raheem Mostert is the back to own in Miami, but Edmonds has a lowered floor and ceiling heading into a tough matchup versus a Buffalo defense allowing a league-low 66.0 rushing yards per game.


Thumbs Down: Jeff Wilson Jr. (@ DEN)

Wilson Jr. had a very productive game as the lead back in Week 2—rushing 18 times for 84 yards in addition to hauling in both of his targets for 19 yards. However, the Niners surprisingly used rookie Tyrion Davis-Price near the goal-line, and veteran Marlon Mack being signed to the 53-man roster (replacing TDP as he recovers from an ankle injury) should shift the backfield some now that he has a better grasp of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Wilson Jr. is more of a FLEX than RB2 on Sunday night against an improved Denver run defense.


Thumbs Down: Ravens RBs (@ NE)

J.K. Dobbins is on for another week, but I’d be avoiding the Baltimore backfield altogether until someone establishes themselves as a trustworthy option. Last week, Kenyan Drake rushed six times for eight yards on 25% of the snaps, Mike Davis rushed five times for four yards on 31% of the snaps, and Justice Hill rushed three times for 16 yards on 36% of the snaps. A matchup in New England doesn’t seem like the spot for a runner to emerge.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: DK Metcalf (v ATL)

I remain extremely high on Metcalf for the season, but it’s a definite relief to hear Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll say the team needs to target the monster wideout down the field this week. Metcalf has scored three touchdowns in two career meetings versus the Falcons, and Atlanta’s defense has already ceded multiple scores to Michael Thomas (two) and Cooper Kupp (two) to begin the year (with Allen Robinson close to a multi-score game of his own). Metcalf should soon have a high-ceiling performance, and I’m hopeful it will happen this weekend.


Thumbs Up: CeeDee Lamb (@ NYG)

The upside for Lamb takes an undeniable hit with Dak Prescott out, but he’s been very good in both of Cooper Rush’s starts—catching six passes for 112 yards in last year’s win over Minnesota and totaling 81 yards in last week’s victory over Cincinnati. Lamb seeing 11 targets in each of the first two weeks is extremely encouraging, and the Giants should have a difficult time containing him with Michael Gallup (knee) set to return. Get Lamb in lineups as a confident WR2.


Thumbs Up: Julio Jones (v GB)

If healthy enough to play this week, Jones could be the No. 1 target for Tom Brady with Mike Evans suspended and Chris Godwin highly questionable—and that certainly puts him in the top 30 at wide receiver. Again, I have concerns about the chances of a big game for TB12, but he should still put up some numbers, and Green Bay is one of five teams to allow more than 8.0 yards per pass attempt so far this season. Julio not being likely to draw shadow coverage from Jaire Alexander sets him up for a nice day.


Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (v BAL)

Agholor’s full ability was on display last week in a huge win over Pittsburgh, as he caught six-of-six targets for 110 yards and a score—which should be a top contender on “You Got Mossed!” this weekend. The Patriots will be at their best offensively be featuring Agholor on a weekly basis, and the presence of DeVante Parker has helped him not only be used in a more versatile role, but also see more favorable coverage. He’s a tremendous flier on Sunday versus a Baltimore squad that just allowed speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to combine for 361 yards and four scores.


Others: Darnell Mooney (v HOU), Sammy Watkins (@ TB)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Terry McLaurin (v PHI)

I feel like I have McLaurin here every time he’s played the Eagles over the past two years, but Darius Slay has proven to be a very difficult matchup—as proven on Monday night—by limiting Washington’s No. 1 wideout to 53.3 receiving yards per game in four meetings since the Eagles acquired Slay in 2020. It’ll be interesting to see how Philly defends the Commanders with Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel both being dangerous weapons, but McLaurin projects to be the one drawing coverage from Slay. I have him as more of a mid-to-low WR3.


Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (v SF)

Sutton got going in Week 2 by catching seven passes for 122 yards in a low-scoring game, so Russell Wilson could continue looking for him for a primetime matchup versus a former divisional foe. San Francisco limited Sutton to two receptions for 14 scoreless yards their only matchup, though, and he’s a big-bodied receiver that Charvarius Ward matches up very well against—including last season when Ward and the Chiefs held Sutton to a combined three receptions for 28 yards in two matchups. The consensus ranking of WR12 feels far too high for Week 3.


Thumbs Down: Jarvis Landry (@ CAR)

Landry is another player that might be too high this week—with the industry ranking him ahead of guys like Allen Lazard, Russell Gage, Chase Claypool, Treylon Burks, and plenty of others. Last week, Landry was held to 25 scoreless yards on five targets, and the Saints will continue leaning on Michael Thomas and Chris Olave (who had 13 targets in Week 2) as the primary wide receivers for another possible slugfest.


Thumbs Down: Rashod Bateman (@ NE)

Bateman has been extremely efficient to begin the season with a 6/167/2 line on just 12 targets, and a big part of that was beating top cornerback Xavien Howard for a 75-yard touchdown last week. Still, he’ll now get his toughest test yet for a trip to New England, and Bateman could be set for a quieter game if he doesn’t hit on a score with snap percentages of 66% and 61% over the first two weeks. The second-year wideout is still worth starting in redraft leagues, but his DFS outlook is a bit shaky.


Others: Drake London (@ SEA), DeVante Parker (v BAL)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Cole Kmet (v HOU)

Kmet had two difficult matchups to begin the season (v SF, @ GB), and he came out of it with zero receptions on zero targets. I believe the production will come, though, as Kmet is too good of a player to not emerge, and the Texans are a matchup I really like for him working the intermediate areas of the field. Choosing to keep Kmet out of lineups (or on the waiver wire) until he shows something is understandable, but I’m optimistic about Chicago’s tight end as a top-ten option at the position.


Thumbs Up: Logan Thomas (v PHI)

At a shallow position, Thomas is somewhat flying under the radar as an important part of the Washington offense—gathering at least five targets in both games to open the year while seeing his snap percentage jump from 62% in the opener to 73% last week. Since becoming a starter, Thomas has scored in both matchups versus the Eagles, and it looks like Philadelphia will continue struggle defending the position after allowing a score to Irv Smith Jr. on Monday night.


Thumbs Up: Irv Smith Jr. (v DET)

Speaking of Smith Jr., a zero-catch opener was quickly forgotten for those that stuck with him—as he caught five-of-eight targets for 36 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. The Vikings will eventually get Adam Thielen going alongside Justin Jefferson, but Smith Jr. can be a solid start versus a Detroit defense that has allowed 52+ yards to tight ends in each of the first two weeks.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Mark Andrews (@ NE)

The inclusion of Andrews here isn’t at all to make you consider benching him, and he’s still ranked as a top-five option that could easily finish as the No. 1 play at the position. But for those playing DFS in particular, the Patriots have limited Andrews to nine receptions for 82 scoreless yards in two matchups, and the running backs being less of a factor for Baltimore to open the year might make it easier for New England to stay disciplined versus play-action passes. With a FanDuel salary ($7,700) just under Travis Kelce ($7,800) and significantly higher than Darren Waller ($6,400), Andrews is a tough sell for Week 3.


Thumbs Down: Evan Engram (@ LAC)

We saw Derwin James and the Chargers contain Travis Kelce last Thursday night, and now Engram will draw the difficult assignment. Including last season, the former first-round pick has faced Los Angeles twice in his career—combining to catch one-of-eight targets for eight yards. A solid start with 11 receptions (on 12 targets) through two games isn’t enough to feel confident about Engram in lineups.


Thumbs Down: Albert Okwuegbunam (v SF)

I mentioned last week that Okwuegbunam was someone I originally had as a “Thumbs Up” option before seeing the consensus had him ranked as a top-12 option, and now there is no wavering about his standing for a matchup versus the 49ers—who have allowed a measly 11 yards to tight ends this season. Albert O might only have a couple of more weeks as the clear top receiving option at the position for Denver before rookie Greg Dulcich (hamstring) is eligible to come off IR.