Sunday had its share of crazy rides for fantasy GMs. We saw quarterback rotations for two teams, some nail-biting finishes, and more players fall to injury.
If you found yourself scratching your head after seeing your players in the red zone but didn’t score, you’re not alone. A lot, and I mean a lot, of obscure players had themselves a fantasy day on Sunday, stealing touchdowns from our starters. When it comes to Week 3 shockers, these surprise players take the cake.
I’m Sorry, Who?
Leading our list of fantasy vultures is the Patriots’ RB Rex Burkhead with six rush attempts for 49 yards and two touchdowns as well as seven receptions for 49 yards and a receiving touchdown. He finished with a whopping 34.8 points in PPR formats and is rostered in only 11% of leagues in Yahoo and 17.9% in ESPN. This was Burkhead’s first game scoring three touchdowns in a game since entering the NFL in 2014.
The wide receivers had the biggest dose of fantasy-firsts in Week 3. Cardinals’ WR Andy Isabella stepped up in Christian Kirk’s absence catching four receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns, finishing with 20.1 points. Dontrelle Inman also found the end zone twice for the Washington Football Team on three receptions and 38 yards.
We knew the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks was going to be a shoot out, but I bet you didn’t know that WR Cedric Wilson was going to score two touchdowns on five receptions and 107 yards. Actually, you may not have known who Wilson was before this game. He has been on and off the Cowboys’ active roster, practice squad, and injured reserve since 2018. This was his first game with 100 plus receiving yards.
Other long-shot wide receivers to score a touchdown included Broncos’ Tim Patrick, Raiders’ Hunter Renfrow, Eagles’ Greg Ward, and 49ers’ Brandon Aiyuk. An honorable mention is due to Titans’ Kalif Raymond who had three targets, three receptions, and 118 yards. He is rostered in 0% of Yahoo and 0.1% of ESPN leagues.
Forgotten TEs also made their presence known on Sunday in a big way. Bears’ TE Jimmy Graham waved at the fantasy camera as he led all tight ends with 24 points from six receptions, 60 yards, and two touchdowns. Former Steelers’ tight end, “Outlaw” Jesse James, also found the end zone for the Lions on three receptions for 50 yards. He finished Sunday as the TE6 behind the Colts’ tight end, Mo Alie-Cox, who also hauled in three receptions and a touchdown. However, these two tight ends had nothing on Bills’ TE Tyler Kroft who came in just behind Graham as the TE2 with four receptions, 24 yards, and two touchdowns. Not to be left out, the Packers’ TE Robert Tonyan also found the end zone in their victory over the Saints on Sunday night.
Fantasy Yay’s and Oy Vey’s
Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson leads Week 3 with 36.8 points. He threw for five touchdowns in his second consecutive game after throwing four touchdowns in Week 1. Wilson is on fire and it will be difficult to slow him down leading up to their bye in Week 6. Seattle faces Miami and then Minnesota in Weeks 4 and 5.
Buffalo’s QB Josh Allen is also lighting up fantasy rosters. He has been the QB3 or better since Week 1, finishing as the QB2 this week against the Rams with 31.24 points.
Some surprising quarterbacks in the top-5 include Los Angeles’ Jared Goff who made an admirable comeback attempt against the Bills but ended up taking the loss 32 - 35. If you didn’t catch Thursday night’s game, you missed Miami’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick school the Jaguars and finish with 25.2 points. You also missed an epic post-game interview, pineapple button-down shirt, and some luxurious chest and facial hair.
If you stream the quarterback position or if you were trying to ride the “hot hand”, then watching Trubisky get benched was less than ideal. He had the best matchup among QBs facing the worst defense against quarterbacks in the Atlanta Falcons. Despite this, Trubisky still couldn’t get it done. To add insult to injury, Foles stepped in and threw three touchdowns to finish as the QB16 at Sunday’s conclusion.
Titan’s QB Ryan Tannehill was another popular start in Week 3 against an abysmal Vikings Defense. He did throw for over 300 yards but couldn’t connect in the end zone and also threw an interception. He finished with a measly 12.74 points.
The Saints’ RB, Alvin Kamara, is a stud. With WR Michael Thomas sidelined with an ankle injury, QB Drew Brees targeted Kamara early and often. He saw 14 targets with 13 receptions for 139 yards and two receiving touchdowns in addition to six rush attempts for 58 yards. He leads all running backs with 44.7 points heading into Monday night’s game.
Welcome back to the top-5, Austin Ekeler. The Chargers’ matchup against the Panthers promised fantasy points at the RB position, but it was Ekeler who took command of the backfield and didn’t let go. He was finally involved in the passing game with 11 targets, 11 receptions, and 84 yards. He also rushed 12 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t so cheery for fantasy GMs that started his counterpart, Josh Kelley. He fumbled once and also wasn’t utilized much against a defense that bleeds points to the position.
Where there is the good, we also have the bad. Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, Cardinals’ Kenyan Drake, Bengals’ Joe Mixon, and Broncos’ Melvin Gordon all struggled mightily yesterday. None of the running backs eclipsed ten points in their matchups. It is a sad fantasy day when Jets’ RB Kalen Ballage outscores you with 10.2 points.
As I mentioned earlier, we had some interesting names pop up on the touchdown list for tight ends. In fact, the top-5 tight ends at the end of Sunday were Graham, Kroft, Steelers’ Eric Ebron, Tonyan, and Alie-Cox.
If you started better-known tight ends, you may not be too upset, but you’re probably not that happy, either. Zach Ertz and Hunter Henry finished with 14 and ten points respectively. Even Rob Gronkowski got involved with six receptions and 48 yards. However, Austin Hooper, Tyler Higbee, Hayden Hurst, Evan Engram, and Darren Waller all disappointed with eight points or less.
T.Y. Hilton (WR - IND)
Adam Thielen (WR - MIN)
Joe Burrow (QB - CIN)
Matthew Stafford (QB - DET)
Evan Engram (TE - NYG)
Tyler Higbee (TE - LAR)
Miles Sanders (RB - PHI)
David Johnson (RB - HOU)
Stefon Diggs (WR - BUF)
Cooper Kupp (WR - LAR)
Tyler Lockett (WR - SEA)
James Conner (RB - PIT)
Joe Mixon (RB - CIN)
Eric Ebron (TE - PIT)
There is a silver lining when big names have bad games. You may have just the opening you need to complete a trade or open up negotiations. Remember, trades are dependent on your team’s needs. For example, Seahawks’ WR Tyler Lockett is a trade-away option coming off of a monster game of 37 fantasy points. If you have depth at WR and have other positions that you need to roster, then Lockett would be an excellent option to get a better RB. On the flip side, if you do not have depth and Locket is your WR1, then this would not be the best trade for you. Bills’ WR Stefon Diggs also falls in this category. Always evaluate your team before deciding who you should trade for or trade away.
Hilton and Thielen are high on my trade-for list. Hilton has been disappointing all year, but most of that can be contributed to growing pains with Rivers. This week, Hilton had a 100% catch rate on his three targets in a game script that leaned heavily on the run. He is the Colts’ WR1 and Rivers should start to pepper him with more targets as their chemistry grows. Thielen scored a touchdown and posted 10.8 points in PPR, but it was his counterpart, rookie WR Justin Jefferson, who stole the show with 27 points on nine targets, seven receptions, 175 yards, and a touchdown. Now might be the only shot you have to grab Thielen as fantasy GMs may be forgetting his 28 point game in Week 1. The Vikings will see the Texans, Seahawks, and the Falcons, who are all weak against the WR position.
The Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp had his best week yet, finishing Sunday’s game with 21.2 points. He was a highly drafted wide receiver this year and his stock has never been higher than this week. This consistency may not continue while WR Robert Woods and TE Tyler Higbee (a trade-for candidate) are getting a heavy volume of targets. If you have a positional need, use Kupp’s capital after this big game.
QBs Joe Burrow and Matt Stafford are both getting on a roll. Burrow and the Bengals are intent on passing as much as humanly possible and the Lions are committed to fighting for a win in the 4th quarter. With that much passing volume, Burrow is volatile but could be an excellent spot start in the right matchup and Stafford finally has Golladay back to round out his offense. Both QBs can be an excellent addition to your roster and give you a chance to flip a player instead of dropping them.
Miles Sanders has been a very disappointing 1st Round draft pick in fantasy. Even coming back from injury after Week 1, Sanders has struggled. However, the Eagles as a whole have struggled. Check the temperature of your league mate who has Sanders rostered. He or she may just be in the mood to make a deal after Sanders posted 12.7 against the Bengals. He has a ton of potential and was projected for a big year for a reason. Once the offense starts clicking and QB Carson Wentz gets his act together, Sanders should be the primary beneficiary, especially with so many receivers banged up.
Your window to trade for David Johnson is coming to a close. He managed to squeak out a touchdown on 13 rush attempts for only 23 yards and caught two receptions for 23 yards against the Steelers 4th best defense against the run. He only managed 11.6 points, but GMs who may have been on the fence on Johnson should be coming to their senses. The Texans have a bit easier schedule in terms of run defenses facing Minnesota, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Green Bay in the four weeks and Johnson’s fantasy production should keep increasing. If you can close the deal on Johnson, do it as soon as possible.
Speaking of the Steelers, Conner had a huge game after speculation that he could lose his job to Benny Snell. He scored over 22 points and saw action in the passing game as well. However, the Texans are 7th worst against the run, so this doesn’t come as a big surprise. Conner’s production and his injury history are difficult to predict. They will face a decent Titans and Eagles Defense against the run, then face Cleveland and Baltimore before their bye in Week 8. QB Ben Roethlisberger is no stranger to passing volume, despite his rusty start. He may start to rely on his talented pass catchers, limiting Conner’s production in the run game. Conner’s stock is at it’s highest now while he’s healthy. His next decent matchup isn’t until Week 10 against their division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals.
As for the Bengals’ RB Joe Mixon, I am not sure what I can say to help console you if you happen to be burdened with him on your roster. I know I am breaking my cardinal rule, but if you have to trade away Mixon, then go for it. If anything, you will be avoiding the headache of whether or not to start or sit him. His name value alone may get you a decent trade, but his production has been poor. If you can hold until he has a better game, that would be best, but I don’t blame you if you feel the need to get rid of him.
Giants’ TE Evan Engram is the perfect example of targeting a player when their stock is at their lowest. He, like Burrow, is a volatile start, but if the Giants can find some rhythm now that RB Saquon Barkley is out for the season, Engram will see his share of targets.
If you have Ebron on your roster, Sunday was your day to celebrate. Now trade him. He is rostered in only 27% of Yahoo leagues, so you may not be facing this issue. However, instead of needing to cut him later to make room for other streamable positions, try a trade to get a better player than waiver wire options. TE Vance McDonald is still around and seeing targets as well as WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and rookie Chase Claypool. When it comes to the share of targets, Ebron will be boom or bust for the Steelers and your fantasy squad.
Remember to trade away players when their stock is at their highest and target those who are coming off at least one bad game. You can also leverage any backups you may have on your squad due to injuries to the starters such as Chris Carson (backup Carlos Hyde).
Seahawks’ RB Chris Carson suffered a knee sprain in Sunday’s game. … Buccaneers’ WR Chris Godwin suffered a hamstring strain and did not finish the game. This was his first game back since Week 1 after clearing concussion protocol. … Bears’ RB Tarik Cohen may have suffered a torn ACL. He will undergo tests to confirm … Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson was out after the first half with a hamstring injury while TE Dallas Goedert left early with an ankle injury. This adds to a long list of injures for the Eagles that include the recovering Alshon Jeffrey (foot) and Jalen Reagor (thumb). … Steelers’ WR Diontae Johnson was ruled out of Sunday’s game early with a concussion. … Saints’ TE Jared Cook left the game early with an ankle injury.