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Alli Rusco/Minnesota Vikings

Week 3 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (v ATL)

Goff was listed in this spot last week when he had 22.92 fantasy points, and he gets another plus matchup versus an Atlanta defense that allowed three touchdown passes to Jordan Love last week. The likely absence of David Montgomery (quad) will put more emphasis on the passing game, so look for Goff to stay hot—and Detroit to hold up in pass protection when pressure is brought—and be a top-seven option for Week 3.


Thumbs Up: Kirk Cousins (v LAC)

The Vikings are 0-2, but Cousins has been as accurate as ever, and the numbers back it up with 354.0 passing yards per game and a 6:1 touchdown-interception ratio. So far, Los Angeles has not at all lived up to expectations defensively with the second-most fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and this matchup has the makings of a shootout at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins should be a definite top-ten option.


Thumbs Up: Dak Prescott (@ ARI)

Prescott is another quarterback we have in the top ten this week, and he’s coming off one of the most efficient games of his career by completing 31-of-38 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns against a stingy Jets secondary. Perhaps the Dallas defense will make it so Prescott and the passing attack doesn’t need to get off the ground, but Arizona has battled in both games to begin 2023—and they’ve notably allowed just 3.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs.


Thumbs Up: Deshaun Watson (v TEN)

I don’t like mentioning Watson and would never personally consider him in any league or lineup. Also, he has looked pretty bad since returning from his 11-game suspension for sexual assault. That being said, it’s been pointed out by others that Cleveland—now that Nick Chubb (knee) is done for the year—might have an offense that is clearly built around Watson with increased spread concepts, and Tennessee is more vulnerable through the air than on the ground.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Joe Burrow (v LAR)

Burrow is a tough guy to bench based on how good he is when healthy, and it’s easy to imagine an explosion on Monday night with Ja’Marr Chase expressing his desire to take more deep shots. At the same time, Burrow is simply not healthy at this point as he manages a summer calf injury, and Aaron Donald has almost been a little too quiet to begin the season. A low floor puts Burrow in the high-to-mid QB2 range.


Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (@ GB)

New Orleans is 2-0 despite a couple of sub-par performances by the offense, but I’d expect Carr and his weapons to hit their stride when Alvin Kamara returns. This week in Green Bay will be a difficult matchup, though, and the offensive line of the Saints has struggled in the early part of the season. We have Carr outside the top 20 at quarterback, and guys such as Brock Purdy and Kenny Pickett would be preferred plays.


Thumbs Down: Jordan Love (v NO)

On the other side of the Saints-Packers matchup, Love has thrown for three scores in both games to begin 2023, and his confidence should be high at home. Just be careful about overvaluing past fantasy performances, as Love is throwing for less than 200 yards per game and only has 29 completions through two weeks. It’d probably be wise to look elsewhere with Green Bay taking on one of the NFL’s top cornerback groups on Sunday.


Thumbs Down: Tua Tagovailoa (v DEN)

Denver had a complete collapse last week after being up 21-3, and the defense did not look great in the loss to Washington. Unfortunately, Tagovailoa might be without Jaylen Waddle (concussion) for an offense that is very top-heavy at wide receiver, and Patrick Surtain II—likely with help—should be shadowing Tyreek Hill. Overall, the upside for Tua being drained a bit pushes him just outside the QB1 ranks with the expectation that Waddle will be out.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyren Williams (@ CIN)

Those who roster Williams should have him locked into lineups with two multi-touchdown games to open the season, and the former Notre Dame standout is an all-around player that should be a featured part of the LA offense every week. The fact that there are still doubters makes me want to put Williams here, and we have him as a top-12 option for this week and a hopeful RB1/RB2 option for the rest of 2023.


Thumbs Up: Javonte Williams (@ MIA)

Undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin finding the end zone last week was a disappointment, but Williams handled 12 carries—compared to just one carry each for Samaje Perine and McLaughlin. Rust for Denver’s starter will continue to be knocked off as the weeks pass, and Miami’s run defense might be closer to what it was in Week 1 (208 yards and two touchdowns allowed) with the Broncos having weapons to keep the box light. Williams should be a strong RB2.


Thumbs Up: Kendre Miller (@ GB)

We moved Miller up in the rankings with him being declared fully healthy just as Jamaal Williams (hamstring) is out, so the rookie should get one huge opportunity to lead the backfield before Alvin Kamara is back in Week 4. At TCU, Miller showed impressive balance and natural feel as a runner, which is a good combination to take advantage versus a Green Bay defense that struggles against the run. Consider Miller a low-end RB2/FLEX option.


Thumbs Up: Najee Harris (@ LV)

Harris has a ton of haters for whatever reason, but he’s done his best to maximize his yardage behind underwhelming run blocking (and two tough run defenses) with a solid 4.6 yards per carry so far this season. Last year, Najee was big by churning totaling 95 yards on 22 touches in a Christmas Eve win over the Raiders, and Pittsburgh should want to get him (and Jaylen Warren, who we have in the top 30 this week) going in Las Vegas. Keep rolling with Harris on Sunday night.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Jerome Ford (v TEN)

News of Kareem Hunt officially returning to Cleveland dropped before writing this, and that might be enough to cause hesitation about getting Ford in lineups. But if not, the Titans just shut down Joshua Kelley in a similar situation last week (13 carries for 39 yards), and Mike Vrabel’s defense is typical stout against the run. Ford leans more towards the FLEX end of the low-end RB2/FLEX spectrum.


Thumbs Down: D’Andre Swift (@ TB)

Swift is coming off a career-best performance and might get a shot to lead the Philadelphia backfield on Monday night, but a “hot hand” approach is expected—lowering his floor against an elite Tampa Bay run defense. Basically, if Swift doesn’t find success early, we could see Kenneth Gainwell or others get touches, and Jalen Hurts can obviously take goal-line opportunities for himself. Some are ranking him as a comfortable RB2 option, but a quiet game wouldn’t be a surprise.


Thumbs Down: Dalvin Cook (v NE)

There was plenty of talk about Breece Hall only getting four carries last week, but the same was true of Cook—who has now rushed 17 times for 40 scoreless yards to begin his Jets career. New England will change their defensive game plan depending on the matchup, so the combination of facing tighter boxes and Hall possibly being unleashed after voicing his displeasure pushes Cook down towards risky FLEX territory.


Thumbs Down: Matt Breida (@ SF)

New York doesn’t get a good matchup at all with Saquon Barkley (ankle) not expected to be available, so Breida is far from a must-start with Gary Brightwell and rookie Eric Gray set to be involved as well. Through two games, the Niners have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the league (130), and the small sample size is legitimate considering San Francisco’s recent history of being an unforgiving unit. Breida is barely inside the top 40 at the position.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Mike Williams (@ MIN)

I don’t quite understand the strategy by Minnesota last week with a shell coverage in the secondary, but at the same time allowing Philly receivers to run right by them deep. If things don’t get figured out quickly, Williams should be primed for a monster outing, and it’s at least been encouraging to have him targeted underneath to raise his floor so far in 2023. Eventually, the downfield shots will come, and Williams should be a low-end WR1 this week.


Thumbs Up: Chris Godwin (v PHI)

Godwin is another option that has been solid through two weeks, but fantasy owners are hoping for a little more upside. On Monday night, that upside has a good chance of being unlocked with Godwin set to take on a Philadelphia secondary that will be without slot cornerback Avonte Maddox (pectoral), and I don’t think Godwin—in the slot—would be a favorable matchup for James Bradberry if he kicks inside. We view the veteran as a WR2 with upside.


Thumbs Up: Jerry Jeudy (@ MIA)

Jeudy was quiet in his season debut with three receptions for 25 yards, but I get the feeling that he can breakout this weekend in Miami by being made a more central part of the game plan. Remember, the former Alabama star was on fire down the stretch in 2022, so don’t overreact to one quiet week when he was being eased in. Overall, the matchup should be a plus without Jalen Ramsey (knee) on the backend for the Dolphins, and we have Jeudy inside the top 24 wideouts for Week 3.


Thumbs Up: Michael Gallup (@ ARI)

This is another “feel” play, but Gallup often has quiet games before exploding with Dak Prescott wanting to get the vertical threat more involved. Maybe those days are gone with Dallas playing to their defense, but the opener was a 40-0 victory, and Gallup often drew coverage from Sauce Gardner in Week 2—leading to my optimism about him still being a significant part of the offense for better matchups. If the Cowboys want to push it a bit, there should be plays to be made downfield on Sunday.


Others: Allen Robinson II (@ LV), Nelson Agholor (v IND)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (v PHI)

Evans has been hot to with a 12/237/2 line through two weeks, and Baker Mayfield being able to hit him with deep shots bodes well for his rest-of-season outlook. That said, the Eagles will be his toughest challenge yet, so Evans—somewhat of a volatile option—could disappoint with a low-floor game on Monday night; in addition to tight coverage, Evans might not even have time to get behind the defense if Philadelphia’s front dominates.


Thumbs Down: Marquise Brown (v DAL)

Trevon Diggs has been shutdown to begin the year, and Stephon Gilmore is obviously no easy draw across from him—so Brown isn’t a recommended play despite a 6/54/1 line in Week 2. From a long-term perspective, Brown could get Kyler Murray (knee) back soon, and the Cardinals are already throwing it over 30 times per game despite not yet trailing big versus an opponent (though that might change after this week).


Thumbs Down: Skyy Moore (v CHI)

Moore was able to get loose for a 54-yard gain and a short touchdown in the win over Jacksonville, but can fantasy owners count on him to follow it up with another strong outing? Lost in the performance was Moore seeing his playing time drop from 69% in the opener to 58% in Week 2, and I’m anticipating more quiet weeks ahead with Kansas City having a spread-the-wealth attack around Travis Kelce. It might be best to look elsewhere if possible.


Thumbs Down: Commanders WRs (v BUF)

I am still optimistic about Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson for 2023, but they are the WR41 and WR73, respectively, to begin the year, and the matchup is one to avoid this weekend with the Bills coming to town. At this point, it might be wise to wait until after Week 4 (@ PHI) before getting the dynamic duo into fantasy lineups.


Others: Michael Thomas (@ GB), Romeo Doubs (v NO)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyle Pitts (@ DET)

Last week was another disappointment for Pitts, but I’m not ready to take him out of lineups—as the ability is too high to pull him after just two games. This week, Pitts will face a Detroit team he caught six passes for 102 yards against as a rookie, and they’re currently allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. We’re keeping Pitts as a top-five option for another game.


Thumbs Up: David Njoku (v TEN)

Njoku has modest production with six receptions for 72 yards this season, but he’s sure to be a bigger part of the offense with the passing game as more of a focus without Nick Chubb for the rest of 2023. It would make sense for Deshaun Watson to get going by targeting Njoku as a target that he’s shown a strong connection with, and I’d consider him a solid TE1 play against the Titans.


Thumbs Up: Taysom Hill (@ GB)

The run defense of the Packers being weak is something that was brought up earlier, but even with Kendre Miller getting back into the lineup, we could see a bunch of Hill carries after he rushed nine times for 75 yards on Monday night. Although the Saints have him listed as a quarterback, ESPN and other sites listing Hill as a tight end makes him someone to consider as a borderline top-12 option.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Higbee (@ CIN)

The young duo of Puca Nakua and Tutu Atwell being the featured options for Sean McVay has made Higbee somewhat of an afterthought, including just three receptions for 12 yards last week. Matthew Stafford probably won’t be going away from what’s worked through two weeks, so Higbee—even with Cincinnati allowing a touchdown to an opposing tight end in both games this year—is pushed down to the low-end TE2 ranks.


Thumbs Down: Luke Musgrave (v NO)

Another article with an option facing the Saints listed here, but it’s not failed yet with a measly 3.5 fantasy points allowed to the position heading into Week 3. Musgrave will have better days ahead with the offense maybe throwing a bit more if needed, but I’d recommend looking elsewhere based on the matchup.


Thumbs Down: Dawson Knox (@ WAS)

Knox found the end zone in Week 2, but he’s averaged just 3.9 yards per target with Dalton Kincaid (nine receptions for 69 yards on ten targets) looking like the clear preferred option in Buffalo. If he doesn’t hit on a score, Knox will likely have a low-floor game on an offense with plenty of rotational depth.