Fantasy takeaways and what we’ve learned 3 weeks in
We are now three weeks in to the 2020 NFL season, and it is time to make a little status of some of the things we (think) we know so far.
In this article I am going to give you some of my takeaways from the season, some obvious, some maybe less so. I won’t be telling you specifically what to do with the takeaways as that can differ from team to team, but I will try to tell you how what to take away on a generic level.
The Aaron Rodgers revenge tour is real
When Jordan Love was picked 26th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, David Bahktiari, starting LT for the Packers said that this was going to make Rodgers angry, and that the NFL should watch out. Through three weeks, this has been true, and Rodgers has played lights out on the football field. He is currently the QB6 in fantasy, and that is with 7 of 12 quarters played without his bestie, WR Davante Adams.
Rodgers has a good schedule for QBs for most of the season and is most definitely back to being a weekly starter unless you have someone like Mahomes, Lamar, Josh Allen, or Russell Wilson. If that is the case, I would flip Rodgers for a better position of need.
Mike Tomlin spoke the truth. James Conner is their bell cow
In week 1, James Conner left the game with a minor injury, and we saw Benny Snell have 19 touches in that game, as a result. Going into week 2, a lot of people were down on Conner, as they were afraid Snell, who looked good in week 1, had earned a bigger share of the backfield.
Fast forward two weeks, and here we are. In week 2 and 3, Conner combined for 40 touches, while Snell had 10. The conclusion is that as long as Conner is healthy, he is the undisputed leader of this backfield, and is a must-start, like Head Coach Mike Tomlin proclaimed prior to the season.
Now we just found out earlier today that the Titans-Steelers game will be postponed to later in the season, so act accordingly.
Tampa Bay’s offense is not nearly as good as we thought. It is their defense that is legit.
Back in the offseason, a lot of speculation was flying around that this Tampa Bay offense would be incredibly explosive with Tom Brady at the helm, and plenty of weapons in the pass game, in the form of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski and co.
3 weeks into the season, and I can easily say, that this offense is nowhere near as scary as some people thought it would be.
Godwin is in and out of the lineup with injuries, but he is producing when on the field. Mike Evans has been Jordan Howard-esque, producing statlines of 1-2-1 and 2-2-2, being catches, yards and TDs, in two of the 3 games. This is fine for fantasy because of the TDs but it is not sustainable in the long run. We need to see Evans get meaningful yardage in games where Godwin is on the field, but for now he is still an every week start, given how he has found the endzone several times.
Gronkowski had a bit of an awakening in week 3, where he actually did more than just block. And don’t even get me started on the backfield. It’s a mess between RoJo and Fournette mostly, and then McCoy working in on passing downs.
All in all, this is not a scary offense, and the fantasy production is wildly inconsistent here. The true heroes of Tampa right now, is the DST, that has produced back-to-back games with 14+ points.
Foles might be the Bears QB who gets it.
After two wildly uneven performances by Trubisky, doing his best Jekyll and Hyde impersonation with strong performances in one quarter, only to throw several uncatchable balls in the next, Matt Nagy finally had enough in week 3 against the Falcons.
Enter Nick Foles. After watching him play, it is evident that Nick Foles understands one thing. Get the ball to your best players!
That is exactly what Foles did, as he fed Allen Robinson and for some reason Jimmy Graham. I expect the offense to be heavily centered on ARob, Graham and then David Montgomery, now that Tarik Cohen is out and Monty should see more volume in the passing game. As such I have Robinson as a must start and Montgomery as a high-end RB2 right now. For Graham I still want to see it for at least another week, before I am ready to declare him relevant.
Alvin Kamara is the going to be the RB1
Honestly, there is not much to say here. This is one of the most obvious takeaways possibly. If you have seen Kamara play this season, he is close to impossible to bring down due to his absurd balance, and he is a match up nightmare for anyone trying to cover him.
Despite not having a lot of carries, Kamara still has the volume with a lot of receptions and target. As long-time fantasy managers will know, receptions are worth more than carries, and that is especially true for Kamara with what he can do after the catch.
Even with Michael Thomas hopefully being back soon, Kamara is still going to be featured heavily throughout the season, and he has shown that the 4 TDs he had last season was a fluke, and that he is more than returning your investment of drafting him as a top5 fantasy asset. He is your RB1 rest of season.
The Eagles are BAAAAD! Except for Miles Sanders
You just look at the Eagles, and it looks like a team that is imploding. The problems start with Carson Wentz. His mechanics just look off. His base and throwing stance is far to wide, his throwing motion looks incredibly slow, like it has to be wound-up, Tim Tebow-style, and he is hanging on to the ball for far too long.
The problems surrounding Wentz, is naturally extending to his targets in the passing game, meaning that Zach Ertz and Desean Jackson has severely underproduced.
The only players you can trust are Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz as starters. Wentz is droppable at this point.
Diontae Johnson is the WR1 for the Steelers offense
Despite leaving the game early in week 3 with a concussion after getting just 2 targets, Diontae Johnson is tied for 11th in targets across the league with 25. That is 6 more than Juju Smith-Schuster.
In the two full games Diontae Johnson has played, he has led the team with 10 and 13 targets.
Furthermore, Diontae himself told reporters that his QB, Ben Roethlisberger has made a concerted effort to build chemistry with Johnson in practice going into week 3. Unfortunately, we never got to see that.
But combining the information that we have available to us, the only logical conclusion is that Diontae is the #1 WR for this offense when he is on the field.
James Robinson is a very solid fantasy option
JRob has taken the fantasy world by storm, posting 61.9 PPR points, good for fifth among RBs. He is getting the workload of a featured RB, and that locks him in as an RB2 rest of season for me. He is even getting work in the passing game when the team is trailing.
With an average of almost 18 touches per game, Robinson is locked in in your starting lineup as someone who has a very solid floor and a high ceiling, like he showed on TNF in week 3.
Philip Rivers and the Colts WRs are not worth trusting
The big issue with the Colts offense last season, was that you could not trust Jacoby Brissett to consistently get the ball to the pass catchers in the offense.
A year later, we have pretty much to exact same issue, with Philip Rivers at QB. Parris Campbell is out injured indefinitely, Pittman has dealt with minor injuries, and TY Hilton has not been able to catch wide-open TDs.
Rivers himself has not looked great himself, coming in at QB26 after 3 weeks, and with how the WRs has played, Rivers has turned more to his TEs and RBs, like he did during his last couple of seasons with the Chargers.
Right now, Rivers is not someone you can trust for fantasy, and neither are any of the receivers on the Colts.
Multiple backfields are a mess for fantasy
I personally feel like this is one of the biggest takeaways so far this season. Multiple teams have crowded backfields, and several of them are so ambiguous that it is better to fade them altogether rather putting your faith in any of the players in them.
So far, backfields I would avoid any players from unless injuries happen are the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, the Detroit Lions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants.
If you are playing players from any of these backfields right now, it should only be out of necessity, so due to injuries or bye weeks. If anyone emerges to win the job and a larger touch share from any of these backfields, that player could very well become a late season breakout, but until that happens, I’m shying away from these backfields.
Justin Herbert makes the Chargers offense fantasy relevant
After week 1, with Tyrod Taylor at QB, any Charger looked largely irrelevant for fantasy as a result of an extremely poor offensive showing. Before the game in week 2, Tyrod got injured, meaning Justin Herbert was thrust into the fray, against the defending champs, the Kansas City Chiefs.
What had looked like a sluggish offense in week 1, all of a sudden looked much better with Herbert at QB and proceeded to feed Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen with targets. Rightly so, as they are two of the teams three best offensive weapons. In week 3, Herbert continued the tendency, and included Ekeler as well, making Ekeler (11 targets), Henry (7) and Allen (19) combine for a 75% target share.
As long as Herbert is the QB, all three are must-starts, and you cannot really start anyone else outside those 3.
If Tyrod for some reason returns as the starter, like Anthony Lynn has previously said he would once healthy, I would still start the three aforementioned players, but heavily temper expectations.
Cleveland is going to run, run, run. And then run some more
Kevin Stefanski has indeed brought his run game from Minnesota to Cleveland as we expected. This means that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has been heavily involved in the game plans the past couple of weeks, much to the chagrin of fantasy managers owning Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
Going forward, neither OBJ nor Landry are more than flex options, given how the Browns coaching staff clearly wants to limit Baker Mayfield’s impact on games. In week 3, Chubb and Hunt combined for 38 touches, leaving just scraps for everyone else.
With that in mind, you need to severely temper expectations for all Browns pass catchers for the rest of the season.
There you have it, some of the fantasy takeaways I have from the first 3 weeks of football.
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