As a whole, Week 3 was far gentler to the spirits of fantasy owners than the cruel hand of Week 2, as the vast majority of major fantasy stars are still standing and many top-flight Week 3 options came through with huge performances. Hopefully your fantasy team(s) is well on its way to securing another tally in the “W” column and you’re already doing some advanced scouting on Week 4. But before we stomp on the gas pedal and motor on to the fourth week of the season, let’s take a quick look at notable happenings from an exciting Sunday in Week 3.
Prime Time Players
Top-end wide receivers had a field day on Sunday, with spectacular performances seemingly spewing from every game. Julio Jones led the NFL in targets on Sunday, as Matt Ryan connected with Jones on 12 of 20 passes. To put Julio’s 20 targets into perspective, neither Colin Kaepernick nor Jimmy Clausen attempted 20 passes in Week 3. Jones ended up with 164 yards and two touchdowns, putting him at 440 receiving yards through three games.
A.J. Green had a huge game as the Cincinnati Bengals battled the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Green caught 10 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, with both of his scores coming in the fourth quarter of a tight game. Green now sits at 335 yards on the season after his first big game of the 2015 campaign.
Old timers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith Sr. also got in the action on Sunday, with both receivers going well over 100 yards. Fitzgerald kept his hot start rolling with nine catches for 134 yards and two scores, while Smith went head-to-head with A.J. Green and caught 13 passes for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both of these veteran receivers are the leaders in their team’s passing scheme so fantasy owners will continue to see solid production out of Fitzgerald and Smith for the time being.
Ben Roethlisberger suffered the most notable injury of Week 3, as a late Sunday night MRI revealed a sprained MCL for the Pittsburgh quarterback. Early reports are estimating roughly four weeks as a recovery timetable, which means Michael Vick will be taking over at quarterback for the Steelers for at least the next month. Le’Veon Bell, who had a solid 2015 debut on Sunday, will likely see huge workloads while Large Ben is out and Todd Haley’s offense will have a short week to prepare for this transition with a Thursday matchup against Baltimore looming.
Marshawn Lynch’s Week 3 status was in question over the weekend, but a calf injury didn’t prevent Beast Mode from suiting up on Sunday. Lynch entered the game mid-way through the first quarter and ran for 14 yards on five carries before then leaving with a hamstring injury. Coach Pete Carroll said the hamstring issue is “nothing to be alarmed about,” but Lynch’s Week 4 status should be considered extremely questionable at this point. Seattle backup running back Thomas Rawls looked like a miniature Beast Mode himself on Sunday, running for 104 yards on 16 carries after Lynch’s departure. Rawls will be a hot priority on waiver wires this week.
Sammy Watkins caught one pass for 39 yards before leaving Buffalo’s Week 3 game against Miami with a calf injury. No significant news has been announced regarding this injury, so stay tuned to Rotoworld this week for more information on the second-year wide receiver.
While not technically a Week 3 injury, Chris Ivory (quad/groin) was involved in a tricky situation on Sunday as he was labeled “active” prior to New York’s game against Philadelphia, but did not see the field. Bilal Powell ended up with most of the backfield work for the Jets, racking up 75 yards on 17 touches, including seven receptions. With Ivory technically “active” in Week 3, he will likely have a decent shot at playing in Week 4.
Hat Trick Trio
The three running backs below crossed the goal line three times each in Week 3, which was somewhat surprising considering these three players combined for exactly one total touchdown prior to Sunday.
Joseph Randle received a normal workload with Tony Romo out, but Randle was far more productive against Atlanta than he was in previous weeks. Randle ran for 87 yards and three scores on 14 carries (6.2 ypc) and was the clear leader of the Dallas backfield with Darren McFadden handling just six attempts. A trip to New Orleans awaits Randle in Week 4.
As the New England Patriots throttled the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the team turned to LeGarrette Blount to run down the clock in the late stages of the game. Blount responded by finding the end zone three times on 18 carries and looked like the LeGarrette Blount of old. Dion Lewis still handled the large majority of the New England backfield work while the game was close, so Lewis still gets the edge as far as trust levels and Patriots running backs are concerned. For now.
Devonta Freeman received a monstrous workload with Tevin Coleman (ribs) out, turning 30 carries and five receptions into 193 total yards and three touchdowns. This performance could lead to a bigger share of the Atlanta backfield work for Freeman when Coleman returns, but he will be the unquestioned lead back until that time comes.
Goose Egg Gang
There were numerous fantasy performances on Sunday that drove owners to drink, but the following players chipped in exactly as many fantasy points on Sunday as you did from the comfort of your living room.
Through two weeks, Tyler Eifert was providing tremendous draft value to his owners as he hauled in three touchdowns and 153 yards in Cincinnati’s first two games. That changed in Week 3, when Eifert couldn’t corral any of his three targets and came away empty handed. To be fair, Eifert did have a goal line catch/non-catch/what-is-a-catch situation that was ruled incomplete, but close doesn’t equal fantasy points.
The Colts completed an impressive comeback against Tennessee on Sunday, but wide receiver Andre Johnson was not involved in the fun. Johnson saw just one target and did not register a single fantasy point, with fellow receivers T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief hogging the attention from Andrew Luck. Andre Johnson now has just 51 receiving yards through three weeks and is sliding out of the picture in Indianapolis.
Nobody is going to confuse Torrey Smith with Jerry Rice in San Francisco, but in a game where the 49ers trailed by a significant margin, fantasy owners were right to expect more than zero catches on two targets. Patrick Peterson played a role in Smith’s absence from the Week 3 box score as well, as the Arizona corner was locked on Smith in this game. Vernon Davis was dealt the same catch-less fate on Sunday, with Colin Kaepernick’s struggles impacting the entire team.
Terrance Williams figured to contribute while Dez Bryant works his way back from a broken foot, but Brandon Weeden didn’t see things the same way on Sunday. Williams was targeted twice in Dallas’ loss to Atlanta and failed to register a catch. 18 of Weeden’s 22 passes went to tight ends or running backs, so clearly the Cowboys backup was more interested in safer throws in his first start of the season.
Roddy White has all but lost his grip on his role in Atlanta, as the former fantasy standout wasn’t targeted and hasn’t caught a pass since Week 1. Leonard Hankerson is currently working opposite Julio Jones in Atlanta’s passing attack.