Thumbs Up of the Week: Josh Allen (v CIN)
Since returning to the starting lineup following an elbow injury last year, Allen has averaged 22.7 fantasy points per game over his past eight appearances, but preconceived notions (i.e. people not admitting they were wrong about him as a prospect) seem to be keeping him from elite QB1 status. That could change with a big game in the home opener against a Bengals team that has allowed 10.9 yards per attempt so far this season. Allen is my No. 3 quarterback for Week 3.
Thumbs Up: Kyler Murray (v CAR)
He’s only rushed for 17 yards this season, but Murray is still a top-12 fantasy quarterback, and he just threw for 349 passing yards against a stout Baltimore secondary in his first career road start. Arizona is only going to increase their play speed as the season progresses and Kliff Kingsbury finds out what works, so Murray—who has thrown 84 times in two games—is a high-floor QB1 with yet-to-be-seen upside.
Thumbs Up: Matthew Stafford (@ PHI)
Especially with their pass rush lacking, Philadelphia’s secondary will be a group to attack all season, and Stafford should be able to follow up Case Keenum (27.2 fantasy points) and Matt Ryan (19.1 fantasy points) with a big game. Historically, Detroit’s quarterback has had success against the Eagles, including eight touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past two matchups. Unless Jalen Ramsey is in midnight green by Sunday, I don’t see an answer for Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones on the outside.
Thumbs Up: Daniel Jones (@ TB)
I thought the Giants may have waited until after a Week 6 game on Thursday Night Football (in New England) to get Jones in the starting lineup, but Pat Shurmur needs to win now following an 0-2 start, and the rookie gives him the best chance not only because of his arm, but also because of what he can do with his legs. The Buccaneers have an attackable secondary that just allowed 333 yards to a weakened Cam Newton, so Jones is already on the fantasy radar due to injuries/ineffectiveness around the league.
Others: Philip Rivers (v HOU), Mason Rudolph (@ SF)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Cam Newton (@ ARI)
Newton has been a fantasy difference-maker throughout his career because of his rushing production, but the concerns I had about him coming into the season—being a 30-year-old mobile quarterback coming off multiple injuries—have already emerged. If he ends up playing this week at less than 100%, Cam will be difficult to trust with younger, in-their-prime options like Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray pushing him down the rankings.
Thumbs Down: Carson Wentz (v DET)
With Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) seemingly doubtful to play in Week 3, Wentz will be without his top touchdown threat and top deep threat, which really limits his ceiling in a matchup against an underrated Lions defense. I could see Matt Patricia taking away Zach Ertz with bracket coverage while having Darius Slay shadow Nelson Agholor—leaving it up to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (one reception for four yards in two games) to be the main playmaker in Doug Pederson’s offense. Wentz is just a low-end, low-floor QB1.
Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (v LAR)
Mayfield has not looked great through two weeks, as Cleveland’s offensive identity (mostly shotgun throws) is the opposite of what it probably should be (feeding Nick Chubb to set up play-action passes). The Rams will be the toughest challenge yet for Baker, as he will face plenty of pressure from Aaron Donald and company with Aqib Talib occupying Odell Beckham Jr. He shouldn’t be dropped, but I don’t think it’s too early to look elsewhere for fantasy owners that drafted Mayfield as a top-five option.
Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (@ MIN)
A Week 1 victory was followed up by a 10-0 start last week against the Chiefs, but the good times quickly ended for Oakland, and the passing attack may struggle to get back on track in Minnesota on Sunday. Even if Carr efficiently runs the offense and keeps the Raiders in the game this week, it’s unlikely to lead to huge numbers with Tyrell Williams getting shadowed by Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings using a ball-control offense centered around Dalvin Cook. I would rather play Mason Rudolph or Daniel Jones.
Others: Andy Dalton (@ BUF), Case Keenum (v CHI)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Marlon Mack (v ATL)
A tough matchup against Tennessee led to a modest day for Mack in Week 2, but the workload was still there with 23 touches (after 25 touches in the opener), and he also saw more action in the passing game (two receptions on three targets). The Colts will want to keep Atlanta’s high-powered offense off the field, so Mack should be featured behind his league-best offensive line with more receiving work than usual because of the Falcons’ defensive system allowing short passes to running backs. Consider him a high-end RB2.
Thumbs Up: Kerryon Johnson (@ PHI)
I was high on Johnson for this week even before backup C.J. Anderson was released, as players sometimes just seem like a good matchup against a particular team. The Eagles have already lost Malik Jackson (foot, season) and Tim Jernigan (foot) on the defensive line, so Johnson—a tackle-breaking machine—will likely be able to get multiple chunk plays if he reaches the second level, as Philadelphia can struggle to tackle at times.
Thumbs Up: Royce Freeman (@ GB)
He only caught one pass, but Freeman surprisingly had a significant role on passing downs in Week 1, and it looks like that will continue after he pulled in a career-high five receptions last week. Plus, through two games, Freeman (5.2 YPC) has been more efficient than Phillip Lindsay (3.3 YPC) in what looks like an even backfield split, and I could see Vic Fangio wanting the bigger back to get even more work with Denver sitting at 0-2. Green Bay has allowed 24.9 fantasy points per game to opposing runners.
Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (@ SEA)
People seem to believe Drew Brees’ thumb injury is bad news for Murray, but why would that be the case other than likely having fewer scoring opportunities? With Teddy Bridgewater under center, I expect Sean Payton to go with a more balanced, traditional offense to set up play-action passes, which would play to Murray’s strengths so he can get downhill. Even in a difficult matchup against the Seahawks, Latavius is being overlooked.
Others: Frank Gore (v CIN), Justice Hill (@ KC)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Leonard Fournette (v TEN)
In three career games against the Titans, Fournette has been limited to 145 yards and one touchdown on 47 attempts (3.1 YPC), with Jacksonville going 0-3 over that stretch (11.7 points per game). The running lanes are unlikely to be any bigger nor the game script any more favorable with Gardner Minshew under center in his first primetime appearance. The only positive is increased usage as a receiver, but it’s not enough to get Fournette out of low-end RB2 territory.
Thumbs Down: LeSean McCoy (v BAL)
Whether or not Damien Williams (knee) plays in Week 3, I wouldn’t recommended McCoy as anything more than a weak FLEX because of the matchup. Baltimore has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing runners after limiting Miami and Arizona to 18 attempts for 28 yards (1.6 YPC), and while the Chiefs have a better offensive line, left tackle Eric Fisher (abdomen) won’t play. McCoy probably needs a score to pay dividends.
Thumbs Down: Adrian Peterson (v CHI)
A touchdown saved fantasy owners that rolled with Peterson against the Cowboys, but the opponent this week will be even more difficult, as the Bears look just as stout this year as they were in 2018. It’s certainly a stretch to expect AD to reach numbers close to his career average against Chicago (111.6 rushing yards and 1.0 rushing touchdowns per game in 14 meetings), especially since the last matchup came in 2015.
Thumbs Down: Joe Mixon (@ BUF)
I still have Mixon as an RB2 option, but compared to preseason expectations, his outlook isn’t great for Week 3. Last week, Cincinnati’s starter only got in a limited practice on Friday due to an ankle injury, so he is unlikely to be 100% against the Bills, who contained Le’Veon Bell in the opener and held Saquon Barkley to 52 rushing yards after the opening drive (when he had 55 yards and a touchdown). It might be wise to start someone else if you’re loaded at running back.
Others: James White (v NYJ), Peyton Barber (v NYG)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Antonio Brown (v NYJ)
There was slight concern that the Patriots would test Brown by not featuring him in his team debut to see how he reacts, but the opposite actually happened as they peppered him with targets on the opening drive, then gave him a couple of looks in the end zone (one of which was a touchdown, with the other being a poor throw by Tom Brady on a would-be score). The playing time will only increase as AB gains familiarity with the offense, so he is a high-end WR1 against a Jets defense that has already allowed big games to John Brown (7/123/1) and Odell Beckham Jr. (6/161/1) to start the year.
Thumbs Up: Allen Robinson (@ WAS)
The Redskins have also been burnt by wideouts this season, as no one has allowed more fantasy points to the position through two weeks. And while Robinson was held in check by Josh Norman back in 2015 with just one reception for 27 yards on six targets, the former Panthers cornerback was a different player then, and Matt Nagy has moved his No. 1 receiver around enough to avoid shadow coverage if the matchup were to be an issue again. Robinson should be a top-20 play.
Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (v DET)
Agholor’s ownership percentage is criminally low for being the last man standing in Philadelphia’s receiving corps, but he’s worth a plug-and-play start in Week 3. I highly doubt confidence will be an issue for Agholor after he immediately rebounded from the costly drop to make a crucial play on fourth down to keep his team alive on Sunday Night Football, and Doug Pederson will have no choice but to feature him because of all the injuries on offense.
Thumbs Up: James Washington (@ SF)
Pittsburgh won’t throw as much with Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) no longer running the show, but play-action passes should increase with Mason Rudolph at quarterback, and that could allow Washington to get more designed deep shots in one-on-one coverage with JuJu Smith-Schuster demanding attention. The second-year receiver obviously has plenty of chemistry with Rudolph after four years together at Oklahoma State, and I would be shocked if Washington didn’t replace Donte Moncrief in the starting lineup this weekend.
Others: Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore (@ ARI)
Thumbs Down of the Week: T.Y. Hilton (v ATL)
The Falcons facing DeSean Jackson for a full game last week would have given us more relevant evidence one way or another, but historically, deep threats haven’t made a ton of noise against Atlanta, so I think Hilton may end up with a “floor” game on Sunday. Also, the scores are unlikely to continue for T.Y. after he found the end zone three times already to start the year (his career-high is seven), and he’s currently averaging just 10.8 yards per reception.
Thumbs Down: Tyrell Williams (@ MIN)
Jon Gruden heavily factors in the strengths/weaknesses of opponents when building his weekly game plan, so I wouldn’t anticipate a ton of targets for Williams—who is dealing with a hip pointer—against Xavier Rhodes in Week 3. It’s also notable that Derek Carr tossed a couple of interceptions last week and may be less willing to test one of the game’s best cornerbacks. Keep the veteran out of lineups if possible.
Thumbs Down: Corey Davis (@ JAX)
Perhaps the Jaguars are just posturing to get another team to increase their trade offer before Thursday night, but it sounds like Jalen Ramsey will suit up for Jacksonville, which is bad news for Corey Davis. The former No. 5 overall pick has totaled five receptions for 59 scoreless yards in four matchups against the Jags, so no one will be happier than him if Ramsey gets moved in the very near future. Davis isn’t a must-own.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Boyd (@ BUF)
The Jets and Giants weren’t exactly good measuring sticks to see if things have changed in 2019, but the Bills are a shy-away matchup for No. 1 receivers due to Tre’Davious White’s presence, so Boyd needs to be downgraded for Week 3. Even if Buffalo doesn’t shadow Boyd, the entire secondary is extremely stingy, and it’s worth noting that in 2017, Sean McDermott’s squad held the Pitt product to just two receptions for six yards.
Others: Robby Anderson (@ NE), Jarvis Landry (v LAR)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Darren Waller (@ MIN)
Waller has caught 13-of-15 targets for 133 yards through two games, and he should see an expanded role as the top target in the passing game with Tyrell Williams having a difficult matchup. By now, the talented 27-year-old should be owned in all leagues, but I have him ranked as a top-five play with a stable floor and bubbling upside. The Vikings allowed Austin Hooper to catch all nine of his targets in Week 1.
Thumbs Up: Greg Olsen (@ ARI)
The Cardinals have been absolutely shredded by opposing tight ends to start the season, as they ceded a 6/131/1 line to T.J. Hockenson and then followed it up by allowing Mark Andrews to go for a 8/112/1 line. Now, Olsen isn’t a young breakout candidate like them, but he’s coming off a 100-yard game and had some extra time to rest up before a critical game for Carolina’s season. I have Olsen as a top-eight option.
Thumbs Up: O.J. Howard (v NYG)
I know people are already jumping ship on Howard, but it might not be wise to make a determination after two weeks—no matter how disappointing they were. Last season, Howard caught five passes for 78 yards against the Giants, and Bruce Arians is too good of a coach to let him continue to be a zero in the box score. The extra days to prepare will hopefully let Howard reset and breakout.
Other: Gerald Everett (@ CLE)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jordan Reed (v CHI)
Reed is expected to make his season debut on Monday night, but I would still avoid him. The last thing fantasy owners need is an unforeseen setback, especially when there are other capable options at tight end. Furthermore, even if he’s said to be OK to play days in advance, Reed will see a lot of Roquan Smith in a possible slugfest.
Thumbs Down: Trey Burton (@ WAS)
For the Bears, Burton is basically in the same boat in terms of health, as despite being active last week, he caught just two passes for five yards and may be at risk for a setback. Maybe I’m just being scared off by what happened to the Eagles weapons in Week 2, but I’d avoid both Burton and Reed in favor of unheralded options like Gerald Everett or Will Dissly.
Thumbs Down: Jason Witten (v MIA)
If there was ever time for a “maintenance” day, this is it. Witten has scored in back-to-back games to begin the 2019 campaign, but any fantasy points compiled this week may need to come in the first half.
Other: T.J. Hockenson (@ PHI)