As we head into Week 3 of the fantasy football season, injuries are starting to seriously add up around the NFL. Keeping an eye on practice reports and injury updates is very crucial.

 

Like we do every Thursday, let’s go game-by-game, highlighting everything you need to know before setting your fantasy lineups.

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Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Total: 38.5, CLE -4.5
Pace: CLE: 28.78 sec/snap (18th), PIT: 25.7 sec/snap (6th)

What to watch for: Jadeveon Clowney has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while Chase Winovich has been placed on IR (wrist).

Browns

Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett was much better in Week 2 than Week 1, but it still didn’t translate to much fantasy upside. He threw for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception but only attempted 27 passes. Cleveland is sporting the league’s third-lowest neutral-script passing rate so far this season (46.7%), and I have no interest streaming Brissett against a strong Steelers defense in a game with an implied total under 40.

Running Back

Nick Chubb scored three touchdowns Sunday, making up for his lack of scores from Week 1. He touched the ball 20 times against the Jets, including three receptions for 26 yards. In completely shocking news (note the sarcasm), Chubb leads the league in missed tackles forced with 19 — he has ranked first, second and third in yards after contact per attempt over the last three seasons. This past season, 18% of his carries went for 10-plus yards, the highest rate in the league among qualified running backs, while his 17% rate of 10-plus yard runs in 2020 was second best. And through two weeks in 2022, Chubb leads the league with seven runs of 10-plus yards for a gash rate of 18%. This is a perfect game environment for Chubb to touch the ball 25 times and the matchup is solid. 14.46% of the runs against the Steelers last year went for 10 or more yards, the second-highest rate in the league and that was with T.J. Watt in the lineup. 

You can also comfortably start Kareem Hunt as a low-end RB2/high-end flex. Because the Browns are running the ball so much, Hunt is getting plenty of touches. Through two weeks, Hunt is averaging a healthy 15 touches per game, while logging around 52% of the snaps. 

Wide Receiver

I advocated sitting Amari Cooper last week, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cooper was fantastic, hauling in nine passes for 101 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. As the clear alpha in this passing game, Cooper is going to see plenty of looks each and every week, which keeps him firmly on the WR3 radar. A matchup against Ahkello Witherspoon is nothing to fear, as he has allowed 11 receptions on 14 targets in coverage so far this season, while also coughing up two touchdowns. 

Tight End

We haven’t seen a solid game from David Njoku yet, but the involvement is certainly encouraging. Sunday, he played 94% of the snaps, running a route on about 88% of dropbacks. For the season, Njoku is running a route on almost 75% of Cleveland’s dropbacks, which is the type of usage we are looking for from streaming tight ends. Njoku is a viable streaming option again this week — if Harrison Bryant (thumb/thigh) can’t play, it will only solidify Njoku’s role in this offense.

Steelers

Quarterback

We might already be on Kenny Pickett watch in Pittsburgh.

Mitch Trubisky has been awful through two weeks, failing to throw for 200 yards in either contest. He is averaging just 2.9 completed air yards per pass attempt, the sixth-lowest mark among qualified signal callers. Just 64.3% of his passes have been deemed on-target, which ranks 23rd in the league, while Trubisky’s 5.1 yards per attempt ranks 34th in all of football. If he continues to struggle, he will be holding a clipboard before you know it. Trubisky should be nowhere near fantasy lineups.

Running Back

I’ll tell you what: I don’t feel great about Najee Harris right now, either. The efficiency is once again not there in this offense, as Harris is struggling behind a bad offensive line and in a bad offense. Harris is averaging just 0.48 yards before contact per rush so far this season, one of the lowest marks among all running backs. With the passing game in Pittsburgh not presenting much of a threat right now, Harris is seeing plenty of attention from opposing defenses. In fact, he’s seen stacked boxes on 24% of his carries so far this season, the 10th-highest rate. He did, however, see 20 touches last week, and it was nice to see him see six targets out of the backfield. Harris played 71% of the snaps in Week 2, which is a good number but not quite as high as we saw him a season ago. It is difficult to make an argument to bench Harris, but I am tempering my expectations. 

Wide Receiver

Diontae Johnson Week 3 NFL Fantasy Football Game-By-Game Breakdown

The production was middling last week (5 catches, 57 yards) but Diontae Johnson once again saw 10 targets. He has now seen double-digit targets in 15 of his last 19 games dating back to last season, proving just how much targets really are earned. We really haven’t seen an upgrade at quarterback from last season, but Johnson’s massive target share keeps him in the low-end WR2 range. He faces a Cleveland defense that was just shredded by Joe Flacco for 307 yards and four touchdowns, while rookie Garrett Wilson recorded 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

Outside of Johnson, I’d be hard-pressed to start any other Steelers wideouts. Chase Claypool continues to play a ton and has taken on a full-time slot role, lining up on the inside 87.3% of the time so far this season, the fifth-highest rate. We didn’t see any carries from Claypool last week, but they will be there most weeks, and he’s seen six targets in each game. This isn’t a great spot, however, as the Browns allowed the fourth-fewest receptions (4.0), targets (5.8) and receiving yards (46.6) to opposing pass-catchers from the slot. George Pickens, meanwhile, has just two catches for 26 yards on six targets through two weeks. Trubisky clearly isn’t going to be able to support more than maybe two pass-catchers in Pittsburgh.

Tight End

Pat Freiermuth has been strong to start the year, the TE6 in PPR through two weeks. His involvement has been fantastic, as Freiermuth ranks third among all tight ends with a 24% target share. Freiermuth is being targeted on 28.3% of his routes, one of the best rates at the position, while he’s seen a pair of targets from inside the 10-yard line already, converting one into a touchdown. It is pretty encouraging that Freiermuth has been this good, despite the Steelers passing game failing to reach the 200-yard mark in a game yet this season. He’s a borderline must-start tight end.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

Total: 40.5, NO -3
Pace: CAR: 22.6 sec/snap (1st), NO: 27.37 sec/snap (11th)

What to watch for: Alvin Kamara (ribs) did not play in Week 2. We’ll see if he returns this week. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston is playing through multiple fractures in his back.

Panthers

Quarterback

I really, really thought Baker Mayfield was a huge upgrade over Sam Darnold. And after two weeks, I still do believe it… Just not as strongly.

Mayfield wasn’t great Sunday, completing just 14-of-29 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. Carolina has not been moving the ball much at all through two weeks, as Mayfield has struggled with ball security. He’s fumbled five times already, while adding an interception. The Saints defense has struggled to rush the passer so far this season, sporting the league’s lowest pressure rate at 6.9%, but you aren’t starting Mayfield in fantasy, especially given how bad the playcalling has been. 

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey didn’t find the end zone in Week 2, but he rushed for 102 yards on 15 carries, while adding four receptions for an additional 26 yards. He also returned to his massive snap share, logging 53-of-58 snaps, while running a route on 77% of dropbacks. We haven’t seen a huge ceiling week from McCaffrey yet, largely due to Carolina’s struggles on offense. Through two weeks, the Panthers rank 30th in plays (4.8) and 28th in yards (25.5) per drive, while no team in the NFL is averaging less time per drive (2:04). If this offense doesn’t pick things up, it will hurt McCaffrey’s ceiling a bit. As for this week’s matchup, after allowing 120 rushing yards and a touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson in Week 1, the Saints run defense looked like the Saints run defense last week, limiting Leonard Fournette to just 64 rushing yards on 24 carries. McCaffrey is still a top-five fantasy running back but this Carolina offense needs to get going.

Wide Receiver

DJ Moore found the end zone Sunday, saving what would have been a second consecutive poor outing. After catching 3-of-6 targets for 43 yards in Week 1, Moore posted the exact same stat line in Week 2, adding the touchdown. He ran a route on 100% of Carolina dropbacks, and continues to play seemingly every snap, but through two weeks, Moore has seen just 22.6% of the targets, a fine number but a step back from his 2021 usage. Last season, Moore finished fifth among all players in first-read targets (143), while handling 35% of Carolina’s first-read targets, tied with Justin Jefferson and Davante Adams for the highest rate in the league. The usage isn’t as high this season, but Moore is having the same issue he’s had over the last few seasons — Carolina simply can’t sustain drives. Still, Moore is too talented, and the offense can’t get much worse. Meanwhile, Marshon Lattimore has not shadowed Moore in any of the meetings between the Saints and Panthers, and I don’t expect him to start this week. Consider Moore a low-end WR2.

Like Moore, Robbie Anderson isn’t coming off the field. He ran a route on over 90% of the Panthers dropbacks last week, while logging 93% of the snaps. Through two weeks, Anderson has run a route on 67 of 69 dropbacks, seeing a respectable 13 targets after the first two games. The overall involvement and usage are encouraging, which keeps Anderson in the WR4 range. However, you’d have to be in a deep league or dealing with injuries to consider starting him.

Tight End

Don’t start Ian Thomas or Tommy Tremble in your fantasy lineups. Although Thomas is operating as the clear TE1 on this team, he simply doesn’t see anywhere near enough targets to warrant any consideration.

Saints

Quarterback

Prior to Sunday’s game, it was reported that Jameis Winston would be playing through multiple back fractures. It is unclear how much it impacted him against Tampa Bay, though I’m sure it did, as Winston struggled, throwing for 236 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Through two weeks, Winston has been very aggressive as a passer, averaging 9.8 intended air yards per pass attempt, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. And Sunday against the Bucs, Winston totaled over 500 air yards, while nearly 30% of his passes traveled at least 15 yards in the air. If this continues, there will certainly be some spike weeks for Winston, especially with plenty of very strong pass-catchers surrounding him in New Orleans. However, I don’t love a matchup with the Panthers, who are allowing just 4.4 yards per pass attempt, the lowest mark in the league, though they have faced Jacoby Brissett and Daniel Jones. Between the middling matchup and back issues, Winston projects as a mid-range QB2 for Week 3.

Running Back

Alvin Kamara missed Week 2 with a rib injury, but it doesn’t sound like it will be a multi-week absence for the All-Pro back. In his absence last week, Mark Ingram got the start but wasn’t close to a full-time player, logging just 37% of the snaps and totaling 12 touches. Tony Jones, meanwhile, played 50% of the snaps and ran 23 pass routes to Ingram’s nine. Ingram was on the injury report during the week, so perhaps that had something to do with it. Regardless, if Kamara is back in the lineup, you are starting him as a low-end RB1. Carolina gave up a ton of explosive runs to the Browns in Week 1 but bounced back in Week 2, limiting Saquon Barkley to just 72 yards on 21 carries, while stacking the box about 24% of the time. And in Week 1, the Panthers had stacked boxes on over 45% of Kareem Hunt’s carries and 22.7% of Nick Chubb’s carries, this coming after a season where they led all defenses in stacked boxes. As long as Kamara is active, you are starting him, and this is a pace-up spot for the Saints, facing a Carolina team that is averaging 22.6 seconds per snap, the fastest pace in football.

Wide Receiver

It was a second consecutive game where Michael Thomas had most of his production come in the second half, but hey, it all counts. Thomas finished the day with six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Thomas has seen eight and nine targets through two games, but more importantly, he looks healthy. Thomas does have a tougher matchup with one of the game’s emerging defensive backs in Jaycee Horn, but you are continuing to start him as a rock-solid WR2.

One week after Jarvis Landry saw an unusual amount of involvement deep down the field, it was rookie wideout Chris Olave’s turn to see a lot of the vertical work in Week 2. In fact, Olave had over 300 air yards against Tampa Bay — an insanely high number — while posting an average depth of target of 24.6 yards. He finished second on the Saints in snaps and routes, just behind Thomas and slightly ahead of Landry. Olave saw six targets 20 yards or more down the field, the most among all players in Week 2, though he only converted one of those targets. The Saints are running way more three-wide sets this season, but Olave was also on the field for the majority of snaps where New Orleans was in 12 personnel, which is great to see. His floor isn’t as high as Thomas’ but, while 14 targets aren’t repeatable — especially with Kamara back — Olave offers upside as a WR3/flex in deep leagues. 

Finally, Landry still played plenty but was third among Saints wideouts in snaps and routes Sunday. After sporting an aDOT of 15.0 yards in Week 1, that number dropped to 4.4 this past week, which is what we are accustomed to seeing from Landry. The veteran remained primarily in the slot (73.4%) and faces a Panthers defense that surrendered the third-fewest targets (5.7), second-fewest receptions (3.8) and seventh-fewest fantasy points (10.7) per game to opposing players out of the slot in 2021. 

Tight End

With Kamara ruled out, a handful of fantasy players started Taysom Hill at tight end in hopes he would get 4-8 carries and some potential goal-line work. And considering the state of the tight end position, I totally understand it. While Hill did carry the ball three times, it remains clear that Juwan Johnson is the TE1 in New Orleans. He played 78% of the snaps Sunday, ran a route on just over 70% of dropbacks. Johnson saw seven targets, giving him a respectable 12 through two weeks. You still shouldn’t start him unless you are desperate, but the involvement is very solid, and the Panthers just coughed up a touchdown to Giants rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger last week. 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts

Total: 49.5, KC -6.5
Pace: IND: 27.09 sec/snap (10th), KC: 29.78 sec/snap (26th)

What to watch for: Michael Pittman suffered a quad injury in practice last week and did not play. We’ll see if he can make it back for Week 3. Shaquille Leonard (back) has also yet to make his season debut on defense.

Colts

Quarterback

While he was missing his top two wide receivers, Matt Ryan was awful against the Jaguars, throwing for just 195 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. It has been a tough start to his Indianapolis tenure — you are already likely looking elsewhere at the quarterback position, but you certainly can’t consider Ryan if Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce remain sidelined. 20% of Ryan’s pass attempts have been into tight windows, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, and that number was at 30% in Week 2 with Pittman and Pierce sidelined, the highest rate among all signal callers for the week. 

Running Back

I didn’t think it was possible, but Jonathan Taylor scored under 10 fantasy points Sunday (7.3 to be exact). It was Taylor’s lowest fantasy output since Week 2 of last season, and although the Colts fell behind in this game, they fell behind in Week 1 as well and it didn’t stop the team from giving Taylor 35 touches. Taylor only saw 10 touches Sunday, a number that is sure to be a season low. Look for the Colts to get back to doing what they do best, which is running the football with Taylor, while also trying to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. The Chiefs have been pretty stingy against opposing running backs to open the season, but Taylor should get back to 22-25 touches in Week 3.

Nyheim Hines, meanwhile, remains an interesting flex candidate most weeks. With Pittman and Pierce sidelined last week, Hines saw five targets, while lining up out wide 35.7% of the time and in the slot 14.3% of the time. In Week 1, Hines lined up out wide on just over 14% of his snaps and in the slot 18.2% of the time. If Pittman and/or Pierce remain sidelined, it is likely Hines continues to line up at wideout 20-35% of the time, while games where the Colts are underdogs usually bode well for Hines. Kansas City, a year after surrendering the fifth-most targets (7.7), fourth-most receptions (6.4) and third-most receiving yards per game (52.2) to opposing backfields, the Chiefs once again rank bottom-three in all categories so far in 2022. With injuries starting to play a serious factor, you could do a lot worse than Hines as a flex play in PPR leagues.

Wide Receiver

This is pretty straightforward: If Michael Pittman is active, you start him. If he is out, don’t trust any Colts wide receivers outside of the deepest formats. In Pittman’s absence Sunday, Parris Campbell finished as the WR1 in points per cardio leagues, leading the team in snaps and routes run, only to finish with one target and zero receptions. Ashton Dulin, meanwhile, caught five passes for 79 yards on seven targets. If Pittman can’t return to the lineup, I would have the most confidence in Dulin as a desperation play from the Colts.

But back to Pittman. In 2021, he was responsible for 27% of the Colts receptions, the third-highest rate in the league. And in his first game of the 2022 season, Pittman accounted for 28% of the Colts receptions. He caught 9-of-13 targets for 121 yards and a touchdown, and every reason why I loved Pittman all offseason was evident in this game. No one else at the wide receiver position made an impact, which led to Pittman seeing a 26% target share in this game. And of his 13 Week 1 targets, Pittman was the first read on seven of them. In this matchup, around 35% of his routes will come against Kansas City’s seventh-round rookie Jaylen Watson, who is coming off a solid game, but the Chargers attacked him constantly, targeting him eight times in coverage. They often tried to get Mike Williams in one-on-one situations against Watson, which is what I’d guess the Colts will do here. And when he lines up against Rashad Fenton, Pittman has the advantage, as Fenton is 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds, while Pittman is 6-4, 223. 

Tight End

The Colts continue to split snaps at the tight end position. In Week 2, Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox each played 27 snaps, while Granson ran 19 routes to Alie-Cox’s 17. Alie-Cox was a second foot away from scoring a touchdown but all in all, you can find way safer tight end options to stream each week.

Chiefs

Quarterback

It wasn’t his best game last Thursday, but Patrick Mahomes did enough, passing for 235 yards and two scores. Through two weeks, Mahomes has been spreading the ball around quite a bit, while the Chiefs have remained a relatively pass-heavy team. Mahomes currently ranks fourth in the NFL with 10 pass attempts inside the 10-yard line and now faces a struggling Colts defense that has allowed opposing offenses to score touchdowns on 100% of red zone trips in the early going. And yes, while it is early, the fact that the Colts haven’t made a stop in the red zone in two weeks, despite facing the Texans and Jaguars, is damning. Indianapolis is also allowing the 10th-highest passing touchdown rate (6.0%) and are currently looking like a pass funnel. Through two weeks, 72.5% of the yards allowed by the Colts have come through the air, the eighth-highest rate in the NFL. Mahomes also has had a ton of success against the defense he is about to face. Gus Bradley was the Raiders defensive coordinator last season and like he always does, Bradley ran more Cover-3 than any team in football. Bradley is now with the Colts, but his philosophy hasn’t changed, as the Colts are running Cover-3 over 60% of the time so far this season. Mahomes absolutely destroyed the Raiders last season. Expect a strong game from him against Bradley’s defense once again.

Running Back

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Week 3 NFL Fantasy Football Game-By-Game Breakdown

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has played really, really well through two weeks. Albeit on just 22 total touches, Edwards-Helaire is averaging 96 total yards per game, while his 8.7 yards per touch is one of the best marks in the league. Now fully healthy, Edwards-Helaire looks fantastic and although he’s the starting running back of a top-tier offense, the upside still isn’t quite there for fantasy. Edwards-Helaire has only played 41% of the snaps through two games and while Week 1 was a blowout, he still only logged 37.3% of the snaps in Week 2. Jerick McKinnon continues to play plenty in both two-minute and red zone situations, while he and Isiah Pacheco have two carries from inside the 5-yard line to Edwards-Helaire’s zero. And that has been my concern all along. Since his NFL debut back in 2020, Edwards-Helaire has just six total carries from inside the 5-yard line. If CEH isn’t going to get 15-plus touches per game, you have to hope he gets goal-line work, which hasn’t been the case since he’s entered the league. If you can move Edwards-Helaire, I’d look to do it but if not, he’s still worth starting as a low-end RB2.

Wide Receiver

Because Kansas City is going to spread the ball around, the wideouts in this offense will be inconsistent. After a very strong debut in Week 1, JuJu Smith-Schuster was held to just three catches for 10 yards last Thursday. Through two weeks, Smith-Schuster has lined up out of the slot exactly 50% of the time, while sporting an aDOT of 7.9 yards, which isn’t massive but is much more exciting than the 6.0 and 6.9 he had during his final two years in Pittsburgh. Smith-Schuster’s production is going to fluctuate most weeks but also keep in mind that a matchup with the Chargers is not an easy one. I’m still comfortable starting Smith-Schuster as a rock-solid WR3 in fantasy leagues, and he could bounce back against the Colts. Indianapolis’s slot defensive back Kenny Moore is a good player but so far this season, he is allowing a reception every seven coverage snaps from the slot, while also allowing a 149.3 passer rating and a score in slot coverage.

Mecole Hardman picked up an ankle injury during Thursday’s game — he did return to the game, but it was only for a few plays before walking off again. If Hardman is ruled out, it really doesn’t make me feel more comfortable starting Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who is being used a lot more in the intermediate parts of the field in Kansas City, averaging just 5.7 yards before the reception this season, way down from his mark of 10.9 last season in Green Bay. If Hardman is ruled out and Justin Watson is active, he’d become a viable cheap play in DFS, as he saw the spike in playing time in Hardman’s absence, not Skyy Moore, who played just two offensive snaps in Week 2 and is mostly returning punts for the Chiefs.

Tight End

Travis Kelce is coming off a quiet game against the Chargers, hauling in five passes for 51 yards. He was targeted seven times. Kelce was a yard or two shy of a touchdown before Derwin James hit him with a spinebuster Triple-H would be proud of. Look for a huge bounceback performance against a Colts defense that allowed two touchdowns to O.J. Howard in Week 1 and coughed up seven receptions to Evan Engram last week. For the season, Indianapolis is coughing up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, as well as the second-most touchdowns per game to the position (1.0).

 

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Total: 52.5, MIN -6
Pace: MIN: 30.7 sec/snap (28th), DET: 27.41 sec/snap (12th)

What to watch for: Vikings safety Harrison Smith is dealing with a concussion and is questionable to play.

Vikings

Quarterback

Death, taxes and Kirk Cousins laying an egg in primetime games.

I’m not sure what it is, but Cousins just doesn’t show up when the lights are on. The trend continued in Week 2, as Cousins was brutal against the Eagles Monday night, completing just 27-of-46 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. It was a terrible showing from the Vikings as a whole, but things should turn around as Minnesota returns home to host a weak Lions defense. So far this season, Detroit is coughing up the third-most points per drive in the NFL (2.46), while teams are scoring points on nearly 38% of drives against the Lions. And in eight red zone trips against the Lions, opponents have scored seven touchdowns for an 87.5% success rate, tied for the second-worst rate. In 2021, Detroit coughed up the fifth-most yards per pass attempt off play-action (8.76), while the 12 touchdown passes off play-action against the Lions were tied for the second-most in football. That bodes well for Cousins, as 25% of his pass attempts have come off play-action this season, while he’s thrown three touchdown passes off the play type. I’d trust Cousins as a low-end QB1 in this NFC North matchup.

Running Back

Dalvin Cook is coming off a tough Week 2 outing, rushing for just 17 yards on six carries, adding four receptions for an additional 19 yards. Minnesota’s offense struggled to sustain drives in the first half and then fell behind, forcing the Vikings to throw. Cook is due for some serious touchdown regression after last season when he scored just three touchdowns on 12 carries from inside the 5-yard line and four scores on 26 carries from inside the 10-yard line. He hasn’t found the end zone yet this season, but he has a tremendous chance of doing so here, facing a Detroit defense that has already allowed four touchdowns to opposing running backs, as well as the most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields (27.8). The Lions are also allowing 5.1 yards per carry in the early going. You are obviously starting Cook here.

Wide Receiver

After a dominant Week 1, Justin Jefferson was slowed down in Week 2. The Eagles defense held him to just six catches for 48 yards on 12 targets, as Darius Slay followed Jefferson on nearly 40% of his routes, limiting him to one catch for seven yards in his coverage. Slay is one of the top defensive backs in the league, but Jefferson is still seeing an amazing 30% target share through two weeks and is in a prime bounceback spot in Week 3. One of Detroit’s top two defensive backs, Amani Oruwariye, did not play in Week 2 and is questionable for Week 3. He shadowed Philadelphia’s top wideout A.J. Brown on nearly 60% of his routes back in Week 1. Jeff Okudah has played very well so far this season, but this is clearly a matchup that Jefferson can take advantage of. Detroit plays man defense at one of the highest rates in the NFL and per PlayerProfiler, Jefferson saw a 32.4% target rate against man coverage last season, the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. With Jefferson continuing to line up all over the formation and come in motion before the snap, more huge games are on the horizon.

Adam Thielen, meanwhile, has just seven catches for 88 yards through two weeks, and while his 52 yards led the Vikings Monday, most of it came on the team’s final few drives. It is pretty obvious that this passing game is going through Jefferson with way more designed plays and schemed touches for the superstar wideout. We know that Thielen is mostly touchdown-or-bust at this stage of his career, but I still have him as a strong WR3, especially in this matchup. With Thielen lining up out of the slot about 44% of the time this season, he should see plenty of coverage from Mike Hughes, who is allowing a 90.9% catch rate and 13.1 yards per reception in coverage so far this season, as well as over 0.30 fantasy points per coverage route. The Lions also just allowed a touchdown to Jahan Dotson from the slot last week. 

That same matchup can be applied to K.J. Osborn, who plays in the slot about 50% of the time. We also know that the Vikings are running more three-wide sets this season, which has led to Osborn sporting a 73% snap rate through two weeks. Monday night, Osborn logged 77% of the snaps and ran a route on 80% of dropbacks. 

Tight End

In Week 1, Irv Smith saw a limited role, logging just 31% of the snaps and running a route on 45% of dropbacks. The involvement was a step in the right direction Monday, as Johnny Mundt started the game, but Smith played 56% of the snaps and ran a route on 60% of dropbacks. He played more than Mundt and scored a touchdown, and he should have had a second but dropped what could have been a 63-yard score. Smith was targeted eight times and there is still upside to be had here, which is very enticing given how rough the tight end position can be in fantasy. Remember, during Weeks 14-17 of the 2020 campaign with Kyle Rudolph sidelined, Smith was the TE4 in fantasy, averaging just under 13 fantasy points per game. He also ranked second among all tight ends in end zone targets during that span with four, while Smith ran a route on nearly 89% of Minnesota’s passing snaps. He was also eighth among all tight ends in routes run during that four-game stretch, despite only playing around half the snaps in Week 14. If Smith can grasp the role we saw Tyler Higbee have in Kevin O’Connell’s offense last season, top-12 numbers are easily attainable. A matchup with the Lions is nothing to fear, as they just allowed a touchdown to Logan Thomas and were a yard away from allowing a score to Dallas Goedert in Week 1.

Lions

Quarterback

Don’t look now, but Jared Goff is currently the QB9 in fantasy. Goff was very good in Week 2, throwing for 256 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s played very well through two weeks and is on the streaming radar in Week 3 against a Minnesota defense that was just destroyed by Philadelphia last week. Goff is still mostly throwing short, as 59.2% of his pass attempts have been between 0-9 yards down the field, the highest rate among all qualified signal callers through two weeks. But he’s been efficient, and the Lions playmakers are helping him out. Minnesota is a zone-heavy defense, which bodes well for Goff, who has been better against zone coverage than against man coverage. 

Running Back

D'Andre Swift touched the ball seven times in Week 2. He finished as the RB6 in fantasy.

Swift’s efficiency has been off the charts this season, averaging 10 yards per rushing attempt. He already has two runs of 50-plus yards, while six of his 20 rushing attempts have gone for at least 10 yards, tied for the fourth most in the league, while only Saquon Barkley has more runs of 15-plus yards than Swift (4). Swift is averaging 0.52 half PPR points per snap and 0.61 points per touch. Detroit’s offensive line has been one of the most impressive units in football to start the season, as the Lions are averaging almost four yards before contact per rush this season. And in Week 2, despite missing center Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson, Detroit rushed for over 130 yards before first contact. Individually, Swift is averaging 6.2 yards before contact per rush attempt, while 123 of his 200 rushing yards have come before contact. Due to a minor ankle issue, the Lions clearly limited Swift’s usage this past week, as he played 50% of the snaps. He did, however, split the goal line snaps with Jamaal Williams and as long as he is practicing this week, Swift should return to his 15-18 touches against the Vikings. The Lions should find success running the ball against Minnesota, who are stuffing just seven percent of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage, while also allowing the second-most adjusted line yards (5.78), per Football Outsiders. Swift is a must-start RB1.

If you are dealing with injuries, Jamaal Williams is still a viable flex play. He is averaging a respectable 12.5 touches per game and while he isn’t the unquestioned goal-line back that many think he is, Williams still ranks second in the league in carries inside the 5-yard line with three. The Vikings are allowing 5.3 yards per rush attempt so far this season and Williams is running behind the same dominant Lions offensive line.

Wide Receiver

I’m not going to say that Amon-Ra St. Brown was my favorite wide receiver in the 2021 draft class but…

Amon-Ra St. Brown was my favorite wide receiver in the 2021 draft class.

It has been amazing to watch him not only meet expectations, but shatter them. St. Brown is coming off an incredible game against the Commanders, hauling in nine passes for 116 yards and a pair of scores, while adding 68 rushing yards. St. Brown saw 12 targets for the second straight game and if you look at his last eight games dating back to last season, you really begin to realize how dominant he has been. St. Brown has now seen double-digit targets and at least a 30% target share in each of his last eight contests, while hauling in at least eight passes in every game during that stretch. It ties an NFL record with Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown, one St. Brown can break with eight more receptions against the Vikings Sunday. Averaging a gaudy 26.3 PPR points per game over his last eight games, the Sun God is obviously a must-start high-end WR2, though he honestly might be looking more like a WR1. 

Source: NFL Next Gen Stats

After an impressive Week 1 showing, D.J. Chark failed to catch a pass Sunday, though the opportunities were there. Goff and Chark couldn’t connect on a deep target and just missed connecting in the end zone. Chark didn’t see a single target in the second half, as St. Brown continued to dominate. He has still run a pass route on around 88% of dropbacks this season and faces a Minnesota defense that will allow you to get behind them. Quez Watkins scored a 60-yard touchdown on Monday and if Christian Watson didn’t drop a wide open touchdown, it would be two 60-plus-yard scores allowed by this Vikings secondary.

Tight End

It is difficult to bench T.J. Hockenson given the state of the tight end position, especially considering Hockenson has seen seven targets in each of the first two games. He just hasn’t done much with the looks, catching seven passes for 64 scoreless yards. Hockenson has yet to see a target from inside the 10-yard line this season, which is a little concerning considering that the Lions actually ranks first in all of football in red zone scoring trips per game (5.0). I think you can bench Hockenson for potentially two streaming candidates at the tight end position this week but otherwise, I’d still roll him out there.

Tight ends I’d start over Hockenson: Tyler Higbee, Logan Thomas, Pat Freiermuth

Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears

Total: 40.5, CHI -2.5
Pace: CHI: 28.34 sec/snap (16th), HOU: 24.76 sec/snap (5th)

What to watch for: After Rex Burkhead was the clear lead back in Week 1, Dameon Pierce saw way more usage in Week 2. We’ll see if that continues going forward.

Bears

Quarterback

Sure, one game was essentially played in a swimming pool, but through two weeks, Justin Fields has attempted just 28 passes. That is insanely low and really limits the upside of everyone in this offense, including Fields. He is averaging nearly 10 rushing attempts per game through two weeks, which certainly helps, but the Bears have to throw more in order for Fields to reach his potential. Chicago is also averaging just 48.5 plays per game (31st), while averaging just 4.9 plays per drive, the second fewest in the league. A matchup with the Texans feels like a potential get-right spot, but the Texans have held Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson to a combined two touchdowns through two weeks. Chicago has only called five RPO plays for Fields so far this season, something that needs to change. But again, we also need to see more passing volume. Even in what should be a solid matchup, Fields is a risky QB2.

Running Back

The lone bright spot of the Bears entire team Sunday night was David Montgomery. He ran extremely hard against Green Bay, rushing for 122 yards on 15 carries. Montgomery forced eight missed tackles in this game, the second-most among all running backs for the week, and now he faces a Texans defense that currently leads the NFL with 17 missed tackles. This is nothing new for Houston, who missed the fifth-most tackles in 2021. The Bears are sporting a rushing play percentage of 65.9% so far this season, easily the highest rate in the NFL. And as 2.5-point home favorites, Montgomery should be getting 20-plus touches in this game. It was also nice to see Montgomery log over 80% of the snaps in Week 2, and if the Broncos head coaching staff wasn’t absolutely lost at the moment, Javonte Williams would have had a huge game against this Texans defense. I have Montgomery as a high-end RB2 for the Week 3 slate and I’d start him with confidence. 

Wide Receiver

Because the Bears have 28 pass attempts through two weeks, there hasn’t been much available for Darnell Mooney. Through two games, Mooney has just two receptions for four yards. Like I stated earlier, this could be a get-right matchup for Chicago’s passing game, as the Texans have allowed over 100 yards to both opposing No. 1 wide receivers they have faced so far this season. But this is also a game where the Bears should be able to comfortably continue running the football at a massive rate. Given the current state of the offense, I’d try to bench Mooney if I can but if not, this should be his best game of the season — though obviously, that isn’t saying much.

Tight End

I have the same number of receptions and receiving yards as Cole Kmet this season.

I, of course, do not play in the NFL.

It has been a disastrous start to the year for Kmet, who literally has yet to score a fantasy point. Granted, the conditions and opponents have not been great for the Bears, who simply are not throwing the ball, but Kmet isn’t an efficient enough player to make minimal volume work. The appeal around Kmet entering the season was volume, as Kmet saw a solid 17% target share last season, the sixth-highest rate among tight ends. Kmet will continue to rank outside of my top-15 tight ends until we see an uptick in passing volume from this Chicago offense.

Texans

Quarterback

Even though we have seen a handful of injuries to the quarterback position already, Davis Mills should not be on your radar. Through two weeks, Mills is averaging just under 12 fantasy points per game and now faces a Bears defense that leads the NFL in pressure rate so far this season at 41.3%. Mills currently ranks 23rd in completion rate when under duress (41.2%), while his 4.5 yards per attempt in the split ranks just 25th among qualified signal callers. 

Running Back

Fantasy football truly is a weekly game. After it appeared that Rex Burkhead was the clear lead running back in Houston last week, rookie Dameon Pierce emerged in Week 2. In Week 1, Burkhead logged just over 70% of the offensive snaps, playing every single third down and two-minute drill snap of the game. He touched the ball 19 times. Pierce, meanwhile, played just 29.4% of the snaps, touching the ball 12 times. After the game, Lovie Smith said that Burkhead played more due to his presence in passing situations, but Houston had a 20-3 lead at one point in that game. Smith also stated that the team needed to get Pierce more involved. That was clearly the case Sunday, as the rookie played 63% of the snaps, while playing on some third down and short plays. Burkhead did still dominate the third-and-long and two-minute snaps, but Pierce handled 16 of the 18 running back touches. This change in usage has Pierce looking more like a low-end RB2/high-end flex, especially against a Bears run defense that is struggling right now. No team in football is coughing up more rushing yards per game than Chicago (189.5), as Aaron Jones just destroyed them. He rushed for 132 yards and a score on 15 carries, while forcing 11 missed tackles. Jones particularly hurt Chicago on off-tackle runs, which could bode well for Pierce, as 13 of his 26 rushing attempts have come off-tackle this year.

Wide Receiver

Brandin Cooks is coming off a mediocre game, hauling in four passes for 54 yards. However, he was targeted 10 times, giving him double-digit targets in both contests to start the year. Cooks saw a 27% target share last week, giving him at least a 25% target share in nine contests since joining the Texans last season. This week’s matchup with the Bears is interesting, as they have a secondary that has essentially funneled everything away from Jaylon Johnson. Through two games, Johnson has not been targeted in coverage. Instead, teams are throwing at rookie Kyler Gordon and Kindle Vildor, who are allowing 0.24 and 0.29 fantasy points per coverage route, respectively. Gordon is allowing a 155.8 passer rating and two touchdowns in coverage so far this season. Cooks will line up against Gordon or Vildor on roughly 70% of his routes unless the Bears have Johnson shadow him, which is unlikely to happen. I think Cooks scores his first touchdown of the season this week.

Nico Collins, meanwhile, saw nine targets last week and is clearly the second option in this passing game. Unfortunately, he will draw the most coverage from Jaylon Johnson, making this a really tough matchup.

Tight End

I was really high on Brevin Jordan entering the season, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. The Texans are using three tight ends, with Pharaoh Brown leading the trio in snaps and routes this past week. 

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Total: 50.5, BUF -4
Pace: MIA: 32.08 sec/snap (31st), BUF: 31.7 sec/snap (29th)

What to watch for: Buffalo’s defensive injuries. Matt Milano, Micah Hyde, Ed Oliver and Dane Jackson are all dealing with injuries.

Dolphins

Quarterback

Wow.

Tua Tagovailoa is coming off the game of his life where he completed 36-of-50 passes for 469 yards and six (yes, six) touchdown passes. The Dolphins trailed by 21 points to start the fourth quarter, forcing the team to throw the ball all over the yard. However, that isn’t exactly new to this team, as Mike McDaniel has leaned on the pass so far this season, sporting a top-10 passing rate in neutral-script situations this season (65.4%). And Miami’s overall passing play percentage of 67.9% is the fourth-highest mark in all of football. We knew this scheme would be much more advantageous for Tua, but through two weeks, it has been fantastic. The Dolphins are using pre-snap motion over 77% of the time, the highest rate in football. And with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle forming perhaps the best duo in the NFL, Tagovailoa has seen way more open wideouts than he’s accustomed to. In 2021, 19.3% of Tagovailoa’s pass attempts were into tight windows, the highest rate in football. But so far in 2022, just 8.4% of his passes have been thrown into tight windows. Between the talent and scheme around him, on top of the volume, Tagovailoa is a very high-end QB2 and flirting with QB1 status, even against the Bills. 

Running Back

After two weeks, I have no clue what to make of the Miami backfield. In Week 1, Chase Edmonds appeared to be the lead back, as he logged 63% of the snaps and out-carried Raheem Mostert 12-5. However, in Week 2, Mostert played 39 snaps to Edmonds’ 36, outcarrying him 11-5 and seeing all of the goal-line snaps. Edmonds saw the snaps in the two-minute drill that went to Mostert in Week 1. Headaches, you give me headaches. McDaniel has clearly proven that he is willing to make fast adjustments in each game, so it is entirely possible that this backfield is tough to predict on a weekly basis. Having said that, however, Mostert needs to be added in every single league. Would I start him this week? Not unless I am desperate. 

Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are must-start wide receivers. Entering the season, I had some concerns about the volume in this passing offense and whether Hill and Waddle would both live up to their ADP. However, Miami has been very aggressive on offense, scheming touches to the team’s top two players, while leaning on the pass. Hill and Waddle constantly got behind Baltimore’s defense last week, both posting insane stat lines. Hill caught 11 passes for 190 yards and a pair of scores, while Waddle also caught balls for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Through two weeks, the Dolphins passing game is insanely concentrated, as Hill and Waddle have combined for over 60% of the team’s targets. In Week 3, this duo will square off against a tough Buffalo Bills secondary that mostly plays zone defense. Buffalo will try to limit the deep passing game here, but Hill and Waddle are also so good at making plays after the catch. Both wideouts are top-15 players at the position, and if the Dolphins continue to air the ball out, the weekly floor will be much higher than I originally anticipated.

Tight End

Last week, I mentioned that Mike Gesicki is absolutely a player you can cut from fantasy teams. He must have heard me, as he responded with four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Gesicki was still only targeted four times and his overall involvement isn’t the greatest, as he played 62% of the snaps last week and ran a route on just over 62% of dropbacks. Slot wide receiver Cedrick Wilson left Sunday’s game with a rib injury — as a result, we did see Gesicki line up out of the slot 54.3% of the time, which is up from his 47.4% rate in Week 1, but still below his 62.5% slot rate from last season. The Bills, meanwhile, coughed up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2021 (6.24). I’m still not all that excited about Gesicki.

Bills

Quarterback

He really might do it. After finishing as the QB1 in fantasy in 2020 and 2021, Josh Allen could become the first quarterback since the mid-'90s to finish as the QB1 in three straight years. He’s off to a great start, scoring 30-plus fantasy points in both games to start the season. Allen just torched the Titans defense to the tune of 317 yards and four touchdowns, and that was in three quarters of work. Per usual, Buffalo’s offense is running through Allen, as the Bills are sporting the league’s fifth-highest pass rate in neutral gamescripts (65.4%). Allen now heads to Miami to square off against the 2-0 Dolphins, a team he has absolutely dominated in the past. Since 2019, Allen has played six games against the Dolphins because, well, that is how divisional games work. In those games, he is averaging 254.5 passing yards, 2.67 passing touchdowns, 33.17 rushing yards and nearly 27 fantasy points per game. The Dolphins continue to play a ton of man coverage and send blitzes, which Allen excels against. With Miami also playing fast and throwing the ball a lot, this game could feature plenty of possessions and plenty of points. It should be fun.

Running Back

If the Bills loved Devin Singletary as much as I do, he’d be an easy top-24 running back in fantasy. However, despite how much more production he provides over Zack Moss, the Bills still won’t give Singletary the every-down role. And until they do, I really can’t recommend starting him in fantasy. Singletary’s 65.3% snap share is solid, but he only touched the ball eight times Monday night, giving him just 18 touches through two weeks. Moss continues to play on fourth-and-short and when the team gets into the red zone, which frustrates me because Singletary is by far a better player. In 2021, Singletary ranked 12th in FTN Fantasy’s elusive rating, forcing 41 missed tackles (11th) and averaging 4.4 yards per carry against stacked boxes, the eighth-highest mark in the league. Meanwhile, Singletary recorded 13 runs of 15-plus yards in 2021. The only players with more such carries? Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook. Please, Buffalo. Play him more.

Wide Receiver

Stefon Diggs is amazing. After a stellar performance in Week 1, Diggs dismantled the Titans in Week 2, catching 12 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He’s now up to an insane 20 receptions for 270 yards and four touchdowns through the first two weeks. He’ll look to keep it going against a Miami defense that plays as much man defense as any team in football, which bodes well for Diggs. In 2021, no player in football saw more targets against zone coverage than Diggs (59), while also ranking ninth in yards (382) and receptions (33) against the defense. And per PlayerProfiler, Diggs sported the league’s 13th-best win rate against man coverage last season at 42.3%. Diggs is a special player in store for a special year.

If Gabe Davis returns to the lineup this week, I am starting him. An ankle injury kept him out of action in Week 2, but we know the upside when he gets a decent snap share. Davis’ 12 end zone targets were the eighth most in football last year, while a whopping 19.7% of his targets came in the end zone. As a result, he averaged an absurd 3.60 fantasy points per touch, the third-most in the league at wideout. And during his rookie campaign, Davis saw 11 end zone looks, which was still good for 16th most. Again, when Davis gets opportunities, he usually delivers. In fact, when Davis saw at least five targets last season, he averaged 14.5 PPR points per game and in Week 1, Davis saw five targets and scored almost 19 fantasy points. Davis has also been good against man coverage, averaging 2.26 fantasy points per target against the defense last year, a top-12 mark in the league. With Byron Jones still sidelined for Miami, the Dolphins will have Kader Kohou defending Davis, who is 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds. Davis is a high-end WR3, low-end WR2 if active.

With Davis out of the lineup Monday, it was Jake Kumerow who benefited. He finished second on the team in snaps (42) and pass routes (32), running a route on 80% of dropbacks before the Bills rested their starters in the final quarter. I’d still think that Isaiah McKenzie would have the most upside if Davis were to sit again but his playing time has been underwhelming through the first two weeks of the season. We did see him dominate against the Patriots when thrust into a larger role last year, which is notable considering that New England, like Miami, plays a lot of man coverage. 

Tight End

After a very quiet Week 1, Dawson Knox did a little more Monday, hauling in 4-of-5 targets for 41 yards. We know Knox is going to underwhelm in games where he doesn’t find the end zone, but Buffalo has been asking him to pass-block a bit to start the season, as he ranks second among all tight ends in pass-blocking snaps through the first two weeks of the season with 17. Knox’s upside is still there, especially if Davis is out, as he should see plenty of red zone looks. 

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

Total: 43.5, BAL -3
Pace: NE: 29.62 sec/snap (23rd), BAL: 28.82 sec/snap (19th)

What to watch for: We continue to track if J.K. Dobbins will make his season debut for the Ravens. Meanwhile, the secondary is once again banged up. Kyle Fuller is out with a torn ACL, Brandon Stephens missed Week 2, and while Marlon Humphrey played Sunday, he was sidelined in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Patriots

Quarterback

Mac Jones has scored just over 24 fantasy points through two weeks, as New England’s passing game continues to underwhelm. Even against a Baltimore secondary that is once again dealing with numerous injuries, there just isn’t enough upside to consider Jones as a fantasy option most weeks. 

Running Back

Week 2 was New England’s first game with pass-catching running back Ty Montgomery inactive, and the usage in this backfield changed a bit. Rhamondre Stevenson led the Patriots running backs with a 62% snap share, though Damien Harris outcarried him 15-9. Harris and Stevenson split 12 third-down snaps, while Stevenson played all eight snaps in the two-minute drill. Other than that, New England alternated between Harris and Stevenson by drive, which is what they did down the stretch of last season. Both running backs ran well against the Steelers, but Harris found the end zone, which isn’t too much of a shock considering he scored 15 times last year and finished third in the NFL in carries inside the 5-yard line (14). Against a tough Baltimore run defense, both New England running backs are flex plays for me.

Wide Receiver

It isn’t sexy, but Jakobi Meyers is the clear WR1 in New England. He is coming off a strong game in Week 2, catching 9-of-13 targets for 95 yards. Meyers has seen over 29% of New England’s targets through two weeks of play, while his 30% target per route run rate is one of the higher marks in all of football. We are all aware of the lack of touchdowns from Meyers, which limits his upside, but the floor should be relatively high on a weekly basis in PPR leagues. Prior to Week 2, Meyers was actually dropped in a lot of leagues. He needs to be added this week and can be started as a WR3 if you are in a pinch, especially if Baltimore’s secondary continues to deal with injuries.

(One note: Meyers missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury, obviously making this situation one to watch heading into the weekend.)

Tight End

Unlike last year, the Patriots are actually using both of their tight ends this season, which is making both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith virtually out of the equation for fantasy purposes. Through two weeks, Henry and Smith rank 19th and 36th, respectively, in routes run at the tight end position. The Patriots also used a lot more 11 personnel last week, which means one of Henry or Smith aren’t on the field.

Ravens

Quarterback

Heading into last week’s matchup with the Dolphins, I was excited to see how the Ravens would counter the expected blitz-heavy approach from Miami. And sure enough, the Dolphins blitzed Lamar Jackson on 54.8% of his dropbacks. However, Jackson and the Ravens had answers for the zero blitz this time around, as Jackson went 13-for-16 for 213 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz, while averaging 13.3 yards per attempt. Jackson ultimately finished the game with 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, while adding 119 yards and an additional score on the ground. He now has the most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback in the history of the NFL with 11, while also becoming the first player in history to run and throw for a touchdown of at least 75 yards. Because the running backs are offering nothing right now, Baltimore has relied way more on the pass. In fact, they are currently among the league leaders in neutral-script pass rate. Jackson is obviously in every single fantasy lineup. 

Running Back

Unless J.K. Dobbins finally makes his season debut, I want nothing to do with this backfield in Week 3. And even then, I’d guess Dobbins would be limited in some capacity, which would make him nothing more than a risky RB3 if that’s the case. This time it was Justice Hill who led the Ravens backfield in snaps (21), though Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis also still played a bit. The production was laughable, as Drake carried the ball six times for eight yards, while Davis rushed for four yards on five carries. 

And now you see why the Ravens have been abandoning the run (Lamar Jackson aside) so far this season.

Wide Receiver

Rashod Bateman was fantastic Sunday, catching four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. His score was a 75-yard touchdown where he ran a slant, stuck his foot in the ground and lost Xavien Howard on his way to the end zone. It is now the second consecutive game where Bateman has scored a long touchdown — there is more room to grow for Bateman, who is still only playing 63.4% of the offensive snaps. On that 75-yard touchdown, Bateman showcased his speed, reaching over 21 mph. That speed could help him against a Patriots secondary that is relatively slow. Bateman was fantastic against man coverage against the Dolphins and will now face a New England team that also runs a ton of man coverage. Currently ranking fourth among all qualified wideouts in yards per route run (3.55), Bateman is a low-end WR2 for Week 3.

Tight End

Having Mark Andrews on your fantasy roster is so, so advantageous. The tight end position after Andrews and Travis Kelce is a wasteland, and when Andrews has games like he did Sunday, you have such an advantage over your opponent. Andrews caught nine balls for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, while seeing 11 targets. Andrews easily leads all tight ends with over 200 air yards so far this season, while his 31% target share is elite. He faces a New England defense that allowed Pat Freiermuth to find the end zone against them last week.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Commanders

Total: 47.5, PHI -6.5
Pace: WAS: 26.48 sec/snap (9th), PHI: 25.96 sec/snap (8th)

What to watch for: Will Darius Slay continue to shadow Terry McLaurin?

Commanders

Quarterback

Through two weeks, Carson Wentz is the fantasy QB4. He’s topped 300 passing yards in both games, throwing three and four touchdown passes. Of course, Wentz has his fair share of turnovers in the early going, but this Washington offense has been very fantasy friendly. Scott Turner’s playcalling has been aggressive, as the Commanders have dropped back to pass over 60% of the time on first downs so far. While Wentz is going to make some mistakes, he has one of the most talented trio of wide receivers in the league, and because Washington’s defense has been awful through two weeks, he’ll have to continue throwing the football. A matchup with the Eagles isn’t the easiest in the world, as Philadelphia just shut down Minnesota’s offense with their improved secondary. But Wentz should get there off volume in this game, especially if Washington falls behind once again. And there is upside, as nearly 13% of Wentz’s pass attempts this year have gone 20 yards or more down the field, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. If you have been streaming Wentz during the first two weeks, I don’t think you have to get away from him here. Just maybe don’t watch the game.

I’d start Wentz over: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers

Running Back

The efficiency wasn’t there for Antonio Gibson in Week 2, but the volume was. Gibson only totaled 41 yards on 16 touches, but he did find the end zone. The snaps were down compared to Week 1, as Washington fell behind 22-0 early in this game, leading to more J.D. McKissic, who played just six fewer snaps than Gibson. I will say that I don’t love this spot for Gibson, facing a stout Philadelphia defensive line. But with Brian Robinson not eligible to return yet, Gibson should be in line for 15 touches, which puts him on the low-end RB2 radar, regardless of matchup.

Wide Receiver

Washington’s wide receivers are all worthy of starting most weeks, especially Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. For starters, the Commanders run three-wide sets as much as any team in the NFL, which has resulted in McLaurin, Samuel and Jahan Dotson ranking sixth, ninth and fourth in the league in routes run through two weeks. McLaurin has been seeing a ton of usage down the field, sporting an aDOT of 14.5 yards, while 30% of his targets have come 20 yards or more down the field. He saw eight targets last week, up from his four targets in Week 1, but it appears that the difference between McLaurin and the second and third wideouts in Washington isn’t anywhere near as large as it has been. McLaurin does have the toughest individual matchup among the Washington pass-catchers, as he’ll see coverage from one of the league’s best defensive backs in Darius Slay. As we discussed earlier, Slay just excelled against Justin Jefferson Monday night, limiting him to just one catch for seven yards in coverage, while following him on about 40% of his routes. In two meetings against Washington last season, Slay did shadow McLaurin both times, following him on 76 and 77% of his routes. And while Washington has way more talent at wide receiver this time, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Slay follow McLaurin for at least half of his routes here. 

Samuel, meanwhile, has an outstanding role at the moment. Unlike McLaurin and Dotson, Samuel is not being used down the field, sporting an aDOT of 3.0 yards, the third-lowest mark among qualified receivers so far this season. The Commanders are manufacturing touches for Samuel, who has 15 catches on 20 targets for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two weeks of play. He also has five rushing attempts, as the Commanders are using him all over the formation. Samuel has lined up in the backfield 10 times already, with one of his touchdown receptions coming from the backfield, where he was ultimately covered by Charles Harris, a 253-pound defensive end. That likely won’t be the last time Samuel sees a defensive end or linebacker against him in coverage, especially since he is among the league leaders in routes from pre-snap motion. Given the makeup of this Eagles defense, the slot and middle of the field is where you attack, which bodes well for Samuel, who has lined up out of the slot 68% of the time so far this season. Don’t be surprised if he’s the highest-scoring Washington receiver yet again.

Finally, Jahan Dotson has gotten off to a tremendous start to his NFL career. After scoring twice in Week 1, he found the end zone again last week, while hauling in 4-of-5 targets for 59 yards. Dotson’s playing time has been fantastic, as he ranks fourth among all wideouts in routes run (93), while logging nearly 94% of the offensive snaps. 33.3% of his targets have been of the deep variety, while his 12.7 yards before the catch per reception rank 10th among all qualified wide receivers. Dotson’s weekly floor may not be as high as Samuel or McLaurin, but his involvement is fantastic. All three Washington wideouts are top-42 fantasy options for me this week and likely going forward.

Tight End

One of the top waiver adds of the week, Logan Thomas continues to produce anytime he plays most of the snaps. That continued in Week 2, as Thomas saw his playing time increase, logging 73% of the snaps last week. He caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown, seeing five targets. After an encouraging start to the year, Thomas’ playing time and routes can only climb going forward and while he obviously has plenty of competition for targets, if Washington’s defense remains this awful, the Commanders will be throwing the ball enough for Thomas to see plenty of looks. A matchup with the Eagles is favorable, as a lot of passes funnel to the middle of the field. In 2021, Philadelphia coughed up the second-most fantasy points (14.2), most receptions (6.3) and third-most targets (8.1) per game to opposing tight ends. The Eagles allowed five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown to Irv Smith last week and if he didn’t drop a 63-yard touchdown, it would have been a huge game. Thomas is a borderline top-12 end this week.

Eagles

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts is coming off the best game of his career Monday against the Vikings, completing 26-of-31 passes for 333 yards and a touchdown and adding 57 yards and an additional two touchdowns on the ground. Hurts constantly attacked the soft spots in Minnesota’s zone defense, and through two weeks, this Philadelphia offense doesn’t just look good, it looks borderline unstoppable. Hurts is averaging a gaudy 14 rushing attempts per game so far this season, on top of the Eagles already wanting to throw the football. Hurts has as good a chance as anyone to finish as the QB1 in fantasy and he should have his third monster game in a row, especially against this awful Washington defense. The Commanders are currently allowing the ninth-most points per drive (2.28), while opposing offenses are scoring points on 44% of drives against Washington, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. Washington is also allowing the eighth-highest passing touchdown rate (6.6%) and in 2021, no team in football surrendered more rushing yards per game to opposing signal callers (28.0). Hurts rushed for two scores in two meetings against Washington and so far in 2022, Hurts is tied for second among all players with three rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line. 

Running Back

Miles Sanders Week 3 NFL Fantasy Football Game-By-Game Breakdown

Per usual, Miles Sanders has been one of the most efficient running backs in football. During his NFL career, Sanders is averaging over five yards per carry, while ranking seventh, 13th and 15th in yards per touch. He’s truly been one of the best running backs in football when it comes to ripping off long runs. In 2021, 35% of Sanders’ rushing attempts went for 15 yards or more, good for the sixth-best rate among qualified running backs. And in 2020 and 2019, Sanders ranked 11th and ninth in breakaway run rate. So far in 2022, Sanders is once again doing the most with his touches, averaging 5.5 yards per touch and 5.9 yards per carry. Six of Sanders’ 30 rushes have gone for 10-plus yards, while he has two runs of 15-plus yards. He had a rare 20-touch game last week and is in a fantastic spot in Week 3, facing a Washington defense that has allowed 7.5 yards per carry so far this year, while over 20% of the runs against the Commanders have gone for at least 10 yards, one of the highest rates in football. The Eagles offensive line continues to create plenty of running lanes for Sanders, who is averaging 4.0 yards before contact per rush, the fifth-highest rate in the league. This looks like a spot where Sanders can get to the second level very often. Start him comfortably as a strong RB2.

Wide Receiver

A.J. Brown has been very good through two games with Philadelphia, and while his Week 2 performance wasn’t nearly as good as Week 1, the Eagles simply didn’t need him to do much against the Vikings. He has been targeted 21 times through two weeks, as he continues to work the middle of the field, giving Philadelphia’s passing game a new dimension. Brown has been dominating on crossing routes already this season and now faces a Washington secondary that has been getting destroyed this season, especially on crossing routes in the middle of the field. Through two weeks, the Commanders are coughing up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts, while allowing nearly five yards after the catch per completion. The Eagles offense is humming right now, and Brown is a no-doubt top-10 wideout.

After a goose egg in Week 1, it was nice to see the Eagles make an effort to get DeVonta Smith involved in Week 2. The sophomore wideout hauled in all seven of his targets for 80 yards against the Vikings Monday night — he may not be as consistent this season, he still projects as a high-end WR3 each week, especially in this matchup. I would like to see Smith play out of the slot more, as he’s only lined up inside 20% of the time so far this season, though it is up from his 11% slot rate from a season ago. Any time he is in the slot in this matchup, Smith could dominate. In 2021, Washington surrendered the most receptions (6.5), sixth-most yards (69.2) and fourth-most fantasy points (15.7) per game to opposing receivers from the slot. And so far in 2022, Washington has arguably looked worse at defending the slot. In Week 1, Christian Kirk recorded six catches for 117 yards from the slot, while Amon-Ra St. Brown just torched Washington for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns. There is also plenty of upside for Smith to make plays down the field, as the Commanders are allowing the fourth-highest aDOT (9.2 yards) and third-most air yards (317) in football. 

Tight End

Dallas Goedert hasn’t found the end zone yet, but he has recorded 60 and 82 receiving yards, which is amazing for a tight end. His usage remains strong, as he logged 84% of the snaps last Monday, while running a route on just over 84% of dropbacks. In a pass-first offense, Goedert is a borderline top-five fantasy tight end.

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets

Total: 45, CIN -4.5
Pace: NYJ: 24.36 sec/snap (2nd), CIN: 25.77 sec/snap (7th)

What to watch for: Will the Jets continue the 2022 trend and run a lot of Cover-2 against the struggling Bengals?

Jets

Quarterback

I’m not exactly sure how it has happened, but through two weeks, Joe Flacco is the QB10 in fantasy. It has mostly been due to volume, as Flacco is averaging 51.5 pass attempts per game, while the Jets are second in the NFL in neutral-script passing rate (70.1%). Flacco’s 109 dropbacks are the second most in the league, and this could be the third consecutive game where Flacco throws the football 40-plus times. That puts him on the radar in superflex formats, especially given the talent the Jets suddenly have on offense. 

Running Back

Breece Hall found the end zone last week, but it is difficult to feel great starting him in fantasy right now. Already playing behind Michael Carter, that continued in Week 2, as Carter played 60% of the snaps, but this time, Ty Johnson got involved too, playing 13 snaps, running 11 pass routes and playing six snaps on third down. Carter and Hall split carries, each getting seven, while Carter got the goal-line snaps and still played the most snaps in the two-minute drill. If Johnson continues to play 12-15 snaps, it is going to be impossible to feel comfortable starting Hall, while it definitely doesn’t help Carter either. 

Wide Receiver

In the shocking come-from-behind Week 2 victory against the Browns, Garrett Wilson had his “welcome to the NFL” moment. The first-round wideout caught eight passes for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns, seeing 14 targets. Wilson saw 32.5% of the team’s targets and was constantly generating separation, especially on his first touchdown where he shook the defensive back and caught an easy fade route in the end zone. The spike in playing time was fantastic, as Wilson’s snap share went up to 61%, while running a route on 80% of dropbacks. Unlike last season, Wilson played over Braxton Berrios and all of a sudden, the rookie from Ohio State is leading the entire NFL with seven targets inside the 10-yard line. Meanwhile, his 224 air yards are good for the ninth most among wide receivers. Around half of Wilson’s snaps have come from the slot so far this season, which means he’ll see plenty of coverage from Mike Hilton in this game, who has been targeted 14 times in slot coverage this season, the most in the league through two weeks. He is being targeted once every 4.4 coverage snaps. Wilson is fine as a WR3/flex play this weekend.

We are still waiting for Elijah Moore to get going, but the usage is fantastic. Moore’s 99 routes run are the second-most in the NFL, while running a route on 91% of the Jets dropbacks so far this season. If the Jets are going to keep passing at this rate, Moore is going to have plenty of very good games. Despite Wilson’s huge game last week, I’d still feel more comfortable starting Moore because he simply isn’t coming off the field. 

Tight End

Because the Jets are throwing the football all over the yard, Tyler Conklin quietly leads all tight ends in routes run through two weeks with 92. In Week 2, Conklin played every single offensive snap and through two weeks, his 16 targets are the fourth-most at the tight end position. And while C.J. Uzomah (hamstring) missed last week’s game, Conklin was still the clear TE1 back in the opening game, playing 92% of the snaps, compared to Uzomah’s 27% snap share. Conklin’s utilization is among the best in the league at the tight end position, which makes him a high-end TE2 for me this weekend.

Bengals

Quarterback

Joe Burrow and the Bengals appear to be having the same issues that the Chiefs and Bills had last season: The vaunted Cover-2 shell.

After a 2021 season where Cincinnati led the NFL in explosive plays and vertical passing touchdowns, opposing defenses are starting to adjust. The Bengals have faced Cover-2 defense at the highest rate in the league so far this season, as the Steelers and Cowboys both played way more Cover-2 than they normally do when they faced Cincinnati. Pittsburgh ran the defense nearly 30% of the time in Week 1, while Dallas ran it over 30% of the time last week. Burrow and the Bengals are going to have to adjust, which means taking the underneath passes when they are there. So far this year, Burrow has attempted just seven passes of 20 yards or more down the field. Meanwhile, the Bengals offensive line hasn’t been great so far, despite all of the additions the team made. Burrow has been under pressure on 31% of his dropbacks this season, while being sacked a league-leading 13 times. Hopefully Burrow has time to throw this week, facing a Jets defense that is sporting the seventh-lowest pressure rate in football (18.2%), while New York is also coughing up a healthy 2.39 points per drive, tied for the fifth most in the league. I think Burrow gets it going this week and I’m still starting him with confidence.

Running Back

Through two weeks, Joe Mixon is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, as the Bengals offensive line is off to a slow start. Of course, he’s still playing a ton of snaps and touching the ball at a high rate, averaging 28 touches per game through two games. Samaje Perine is still playing most of the third downs, but if defenses continue to play a lot of Cover-2 against Cincinnati, Mixon will be getting a lot more checkdowns than we saw last season, which can help make up for his lack of playing time on third-and-long. He is obviously a must-start running back, especially against a Jets defense that just allowed three touchdowns to Nick Chubb a week ago.

Wide Receiver

Perhaps the change in defensive looks against the Bengals will impact Ja'Marr Chase more than anyone. In 2021, no wideout in football had more touchdowns on vertical passes than Chase, while Burrow led the league with 13 passing touchdowns of 20 yards or more. So far this season, Chase’s yards per target have dropped from 11.4 last season to 7.3 here in 2022, while only seeing one target 20 yards or more down the field. Of course, Chase is still elite in terms of his ability to make plays after the catch and the Bengals aren’t going away from him. He’s an easy top-five wide receiver but like he was all offseason, Chase is behind Stefon Diggs for me. 

It is also worth pointing out that when Chase and Tee Higgins are on the field together, the gap isn’t very significant. In 2021, Higgins actually averaged more targets per game than Chase and despite playing in 14 games to Chase’s 17, Higgins only saw one fewer end zone target. In their first full game together in 2022, Higgins saw 10 targets to Chase’s 9, scoring 19.1 fantasy points. While I didn’t project it to happen, all offseason I said that I wouldn’t be shocked if Higgins straight up outscored Chase this season. Entering Week 3, Higgins is a top-15 wide receiver against a revamped Jets secondary that has two promising defensive backs in Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed. Higgins will line up a lot against Reed, who is a good player but is also 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds, while Higgins is 6-4, 216. 

Finally, if teams continue to run a ton of Cover-2 against the Bengals, you would think that would benefit Tyler Boyd, who is lining up from the slot 87.3% of the time and averaging just 0.53 yards per route run. However, he just isn’t involved enough when both Higgins and Chase are healthy, as illustrated by his two targets from a week ago. 

Tight End

Like Conklin, Hayden Hurst warrants more attention in fantasy leagues. He’s been targeted 15 times through two weeks, while his 90 pass routes are the second most among all tight ends this season. The only player ahead of him? You guessed it, Tyler Conklin. With Burrow’s average time to throw of 2.34 seconds the sixth-fastest mark in football, Hurst has been getting plenty of short targets as a safety valve in this offense, something that will continue if the Bengals offensive line doesn’t start playing better. Hurst is a mid-range TE2 for the time being.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Tennessee Titans

Total: 45.5, LV -2
Pace: TEN: 29.43 sec/snap (21st), LV: 29.76 sec/snap (25th)

What to watch for: Titans LT Taylor Lewan is likely out for the season, a massive blow to an already weak Tennessee offensive line. 

Titans

Quarterback

Ryan Tannehill and the Titans are coming off an embarrassing effort against the Buffalo Bills Monday, losing 41-7. Tannehill tossed a pair of interceptions and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, giving us our first look at Malik Willis. Tannehill will once again start in Week 3, but it is tough to make a strong case for him as a starter in fantasy. Tennessee’s offense looks broken right now, while the offensive line is in shambles. Of course, this is a pretty strong matchup for Tannehill, which makes things interesting. The Raiders are currently sporting the league’s ninth-lowest pressure rate (19.5%), while allowing two touchdown passes off play-action through two weeks. That obviously bodes well for Tannehill, who is sporting the league’s ninth-highest dropback rate off play-action so far this season (35.1%), while his 213 passing yards off the play type are the sixth most in football. With the Raiders also allowing the second-most plays per drive (7.3), this could be a get-right spot for Tannehill.

Running Back

Through two weeks, there is a lot of concern surrounding Derrick Henry, and I totally get it. Henry just rushed for 25 yards on 13 carries against the Bills, salvaging his day with a one-yard touchdown run. So far this season, Henry is averaging just 1.2 yards before contact per rush, a bottom-five rate in the NFL. He has also forced just four missed tackles on 34 rushing attempts, as his broken tackle rate has dropped in each of the last two seasons. Both the offense and offensive line are a concern and opposing defenses know that, stacking the box on 29.4% of Henry’s carries so far this season, the fifth-highest rate in football. You are still starting Henry and hopefully this is his best game of the season against a Raiders defense that has been good against the run so far this season.

Wide Receiver

It appears that Treylon Burks is quickly emerging as the WR1 in Tennessee. In Week 1, Burks played just 37% of the snaps, while running a route on just 13-of-35 dropbacks. However, Burks was targeted five times on those 13 routes. Last week, Burks’ playing time increased, as he logged 61.5% of the snaps with the starters before they were pulled from the game, while running a route on 14 of Tannehill’s 22 dropbacks. And again, he was targeted a lot on a per route basis, seeing six targets, turning them into four receptions for 47 yards. His 37% target rate per route run is elite, as Burks leads the Titans in receiving yards and receptions, despite ranking third in routes run. It is still very possible he isn’t a full-time player in Week 3, which is why I’d hesitate starting him just yet, but the arrow is clearly pointing up, and the Titans desperately need him right now. 

Robert Woods, meanwhile, will continue to play more than any Tennessee wideout, though the upside is lacking right now. He was targeted five times on 16 routes last week and actually played out of the slot more, which led to Burks playing out wide over 82% of the time. If he continues to play out of the slot, which is possible after Kyle Phillips had a brutal game, this is a good matchup for him. The Raiders allowed three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown out of the slot to DeAndre Carter in Week 1, while giving up four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown to Greg Dortch from the slot in Week 2. 

Tight End

Austin Hooper played about 56% of the snaps with the starters last week, seeing four targets. He continues to split playing time with Geoff Swaim, though Hooper is certainly running more routes. This is a favorable matchup, as the Raiders are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game so far this season, but I’d still look elsewhere at tight end.

Raiders

Quarterback

It looked like Derek Carr was on his way toward a huge game against the Cardinals last week, throwing for 50 yards and a touchdown on the team’s opening drive. He ultimately finished with a fine statline of 252 yards and two scores, but the Raiders offense was hardly on the field during the second half. Fortunately, his matchup this week is almost as good, facing a Tennessee defense that is coughing up the highest passing touchdown rate in the NFL (9.8%), while also allowing the fourth-most yards per pass attempt (8.3). The Raiders have been very pass-heavy through two weeks, sporting the league’s highest passing rate in neutral gamescripts at 71.4%. Against a secondary that frankly isn’t good enough, Carr should be able to post a strong stat line. He’s an easy top-12 quarterback once again.

Running Back

(After this was published, Jacobs was declared questionable, but he didn't travel with the team, which would certainly seem to indicate he's out for the game. Zamir White makes for an interesting desperation pivot.)

After seeing just 10 carries in Week 1, Josh Jacobs touched the ball 20 times in Week 2, as the Raiders made an effort to get him more involved. It started on the team’s opening drive, as Jacobs touched the ball nine times. With Brandon Bolden sidelined, Jacobs logged 72% of the snaps and ran 19 pass routes. Ameer Abdullah played most of the third downs, but Jacobs did see four snaps in the two-minute drill, while dominating early-down and goal-line work. Jacobs is always going to project better in games where the Raiders can play with a lead, which could easily be the case this week against a reeling Tennessee team. Since 2019, in games where the Raiders win by 2-5 points, Jacobs is averaging 20.8 rushing attempts, 1.1 rushing touchdowns and 19.2 PPR points per game. The Raiders are currently two-point favorites against a Titans team that is stuffing just 9% of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage so far this season, the sixth-lowest rate in the NFL. Jacobs is a strong RB2 for Week 3.