Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 3


Austin West, Contributing Writer

Who would have thought that Week two could be even crazier than Week one? Huge wins for the Jets, Cardinals, and Dolphins this week in games that the opposing teams should have run away with but let off the gas and add a notch to the loss column. Speaking of the loss column, I know everyone is dying to know my picks that I got wrong last week. Unfortunately, the biggest heartbreak was Kirk Cousins in primetime. Now with a record of 2-10 on Monday night games (it’s a school night, he could be tired), Kirk Cousins was 27 for 46 with 221 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions as late in the game he tried to force throws to Justin Jefferson. Don’t be mistaken, I am still going to be riding the Kirk Cousins hype train this season but maybe he just isn’t cut out for the Fantasy Train.   

Meanwhile, the rest of the players I picked to overperform projections all came up just short of meeting their projections. Diontae Johnson missed his projected total by just one point in the Steelers loss to the Patriots. Antonio Gibson four points under as Washington was playing from behind against the red-hot Lions (who would’ve thought that’s how we’d talk about the Lions this year?) Finally, Robert Tonyan got absolutely forgotten as he had only two targets as Packers running back Aaron Jones almost quite literally beat the Bears defense single-handedly, besides of course his five offensive linemen and Tonyan when blocking. For the guys picked to underperform we went a little 50/50. Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury early in the game against the Seahawks, which for 49ers fans and dynasty team owners was a tough loss to see. CeeDee Lamb and Cooper Rush kept the Cowboys alive in the win column as Lamb picked up just over his projection of 14 points with a 15-point outing. Rashaad Penny and Hunter Henry both underperform in their matchups as well with a total of two points, all from Penny. So for those keeping score at home, if we count Trey Lance, three of my underperforming picks were correct but none of my overperforming picks did. It’s a step up from last week and we look to continue the trend into Week three.  

Tickets to Ride 

Quarterback, Joe Burrow: While I highly considered putting Kirk Cousins back in this spot on my list, I refrained because I want to try to not have repeats if I can really help it. I mean would people really want me to keep saying start Jalen Hurts or Kyler Murray every week? Many people are worried about how Joe Burrow can perform behind an offensive line that has allowed a league-high 13 sacks in two games. This week they face a Jets defense that gets QB pressures on 18.2% of dropbacks and blitz on 15% of snaps, both bottom 10 in the league. If the offensive line stands up to the rush, Joe Burrow is throwing against a pass defense that allowed 216 passing yards and two touchdowns per game. With the ability to spread the ball to multiple targets of Jamarr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Hayden Hurst, Joe Burrow looks to have a get-right week after a sub-optimal performance against the Cowboys. 



Running Back, David Montgomery: Wait, the running back for the losing team in a blowout is your pick to overperform this week? Absolutely. David Montgomery was the Bears’ offense against the Packers, and I’m sure every fantasy analyst can agree with that statement. Averaging over eight yards a carry on 15 attempts, Montgomery shined on Sunday Night Football. Now he faces a Texans defense that has allowed a league top three 163 rushing yards per game. While only one rushing touchdown has been allowed, with Justin Fields passing minimized these past two weeks, Montgomery, backup RB Khalil Herbert, and Fields could have the opportunity to boost that number for the Texans’ defense. With Cole Kmet practically removed from the offense, Montgomery has become the check-down for Fields, but with under 10 targets in two weeks, don’t expect a massive breakout in the pass game this week. 

Wide Receiver, Michael Thomas: The current New Orleans Saints target leader, was saved by his touchdown in Week two vs the Buccaneers. While rookie Chris Olave did have more targets from Jameis last week, 13 to Thomas’s nine, Olave is more of a deep threat rather than Thomas who has a larger range of routes run. This receiver core will also be the best the Panthers have faced this year, even though the Panthers have been one of the best defenses against the pass, only allowing 150 passing yards per game. You have to remember though, they’ve faced Jacoby Brissett and the Browns and Daniel Jones and the Giants. With Chris Olave running fades and Michael Thomas over the middle the field will be spread out for Jameis Winston to air it out to either of these talented receivers. Michael Thomas is the main endzone target for Jameis in short yardage as well, with three touchdowns in two games, all of which were within 10 yards of the goal line.  

Tight End, Tyler Higbee: With just under 20 targets in two games this season, Tyler Higbee has cemented himself as a major target for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Higbee has been involved in 81% of Rams’ routes run through two weeks, just outside the top 10 in the league for tight ends. The Cardinals have been weak against starting tight ends, allowing a touchdown and at least 50 receiving yards to both Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Both the Chiefs and Raiders have similarly built offenses to the Rams, multiple high-profile receivers, and a top 15 quarterback at the helm. Higbee should be able to keep up his target share in a must-win division rivalry against the Cardinals that could turn into a shootout similar to the Raiders vs Cardinals contest.   

Missed the Train 

Quarterback, Russell Wilson: Let Russ cook? Well, it seems the kitchen is on fire when it comes to the Broncos’ passing game and Wilson’s production. With his rushing upside reduced to just three attempts in two games and his pass catchers reduced by the week, Wilson looks less and less like the quarterback from Seattle. Wilson has thrown for at least 200 yards and just one touchdown in the last two games but with Jerry Juedy injured early in the game against the Texans in Week two and considered day-to-day for Week three, that just leaves Courtland Sutton, Albert Okwuegbunam, and the Broncos running backs to catch passes from Wilson. The Broncos face the 49ers, the toughest defense by far out of the teams the Broncos have faced. (Seahawks and Texans) The 49ers are first in the league in passing yards allowed per game but faced off against the Bears in a monsoon and the Seahawks and Geno Smith. A tough matchup and minimized pass catchers means a long day of failed cooking attempts for Russ. 



Running Back, AJ Dillion: One of the best backup running backs in the league, AJ ‘Quadzilla’ Dillion has been a lock in FLEX play the last two weeks, even though he scored under-digit fantasy points last week. However, in a matchup against the Tampa Bay defense may prove to work against both Dillion and Aaron Jones. The Buccaneers’ defense is a top 10 defense against the run, only allowing 86.5 rushing yards per game and just a single touchdown to a running back through two games. They have also only allowed eight receptions for less than 30 yards to running backs which, with over 50 receiving yards on six receptions, is where AJ Dillion gets a large chunk of his production. This also looks to be a game where the Packers are trailing so if Tampa Bay is able to stall the pass, the offense may become unusable.  

Wide Receiver, Christian Kirk: Who would have thought when Jacksonville paid Christian Kirk all that money this off-season it would actually look to pay dividends? Kirk has looked like a true WR1 in the past two weeks. However, I feel that this will be cut down this week against the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense. The Chargers have played both the Chiefs and the Raiders, and while Davante Adams, the clear WR1, scored 30 points, no Chiefs receivers scored more than 13 points. Kirk is right in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum. In no way is he comparable skill-wise to Adams, but target share is uncannily similar. The Chargers are top half in the league in passing yards allowed to wide receivers as they’ve held all receivers to under 50 yards besides Davante Adams. The O-Line/D-Line matchup looks to be a major part of this contest as well the Jaguars allow a 20% pressure rate on dropbacks and Chargers are able to get pressure on 20% of their defensive snaps. Trevor Lawrence may have to get the ball out fast and that could lead to more involvement from running backs Etienne and Robinson as well as safety valve Engram at tight end.  

Tight End, David Njoku: While Njoku had a bounce-back week in Week two from Week one, to say that Week two was a great outing for him would be a wild exaggeration. In Week two, he picked up five targets but only pulled in three of them with two major incompletions, one of which cost a touchdown. The Browns face off against the Steelers who have only allowed four points to tight ends with Hunter Henry of the Patriots going 0/1 on receptions scoring a goose egg on the day for fantasy managers. With Jacoby Brissett at the helm, the Browns’ passing game has been bottom ten in the league in passing yards and the Browns focus on run first with running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Njoku becomes the second option behind Amari Cooper and equal to Kareem Hunt in this matchup.   

All projections and rankings are provided by FantasyPros experts in the PPR scoring format 

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