Fire and Ice – Week 3

It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.
On Fire:



Quarterbacks:



Trevor Siemian – Denver Broncos 

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

Trevor Siemian has quietly started 2017 off with two strong performances, which is a little surprising considering he had to beat out Paxton Lynch in the preseason to retain his role as the quarterback for the Broncos. The second year starter looked sharp against the Cowboys on Sunday as he threw for 231 yards, four touchdowns, and two turnovers. The Broncos’ offense looked strong all around over the weekend as both the passing and rushing attacks were able to put up big numbers against a Dallas defense that looked overwhelmed. In two games this season Siemian has thrown for 450 yards and six touchdowns for a whopping 55 fantasy points. At this point I think it’s time to take a look at trying to add Siemian to your team if he’s available. I know it’s only two games, but he looks much more confident and poised in his second year as a starter. If I’m a Cam Newton or Russell Wilson owner then I’m targeting Siemian on the waiver wire. He’s only 8% owned in ESPN leagues and is well worth the investment if you need a little stability at quarterback. 

Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles 

Matchup – New York Giants 

Wentz was on this list last week, but I figured I’d throw him in again since he had another big game. The worry here is that he started out hot in his rookie campaign then faded out as the season progressed. I don’t think that’ll be the case this year, because this kid looks legit. He’s thrown for four touchdowns and over 300 yards in back to back games. The only down side here is that he’s also responsible for three turnovers. That being said, Wentz looks like the real deal. I realize it’s too early in the season to say he’s an every week starter, but if he continues to put up this kind of stat line then he’s certainly trending in that direction. Wentz doesn’t exactly have easy matchups over the next few weeks, but I think he’ll be fine considering he just had a big day against a stout Kansas City defense. 

Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans 

Matchup – New England Patriots 

This is an extremely tentative endorsement for the rookie. Watson didn’t exactly blow me away in his first game as a starting quarterback in the NFL, but you can tell the kid has talent. He only threw for 125 yards against the Bengals, but he did add 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The biggest hurdle Watson is going to have to clear this year is playing with a bad offensive line. If this kid has a little time in the pocket I think he’s got the skills to work through his progressions and find an open target. I can count on one hand when he had that time last week. Houston’s offensive line looks terrible, so I don’t necessarily like Watson’s chances at developing into a viable fantasy option this year. However, he’s still a mobile quarterback that can generate points with his scrambling ability, so there’s some value there. Despite the rushing potential, Watson isn’t worth grabbing in redraft leagues until we see more from him in the passing game. 

Running backs:



CJ Anderson – Denver Broncos 

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

Anderson’s value in drafts dropped seemingly overnight when the Broncos signed Jamaal Charles in the offseason. I understand the hesitation here, but there was no way that an aging running back was going to come in and completely erase CJ Anderson’s value to this team. Denver is giving Anderson all of the carries he can handle to start the season in hopes of keeping the pressure off Trevor Siemian, and that strategy appears to be working. Anderson rushed for 118 on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns against the Cowboys on Sunday, and he looks to be a staple in this offense moving forward. He’s averaging over 22 carries for almost 100 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season. Those are workhorse numbers, and there’s no reason to think his workload should diminish in her near future. He’ll face a decent Bills defense this week, but I still think Anderson gets all the carries he can handle. He’s a solid start heading into week three.

 
Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars 

That’s the last time I’m typing Javorius Allen. He will be addressed as Buck moving forward simply because it’s so much easier to type. It’s absurd to me that I’m actually writing about this guy. Buck Allen was a healthy scratch for much of the season in 2016 and held very little value even in the deepest of leagues. However, he’s been turning heads in the first two games of the season. Kenneth Dixon was lost for the year, and Danny Woodhead is already injured to begin this season. That gives the Ravens a one-two punch of West and Allen. So far Allen looks to be the better back among the two. In the first two games Allen has seen more carries than his counterpart and looks to be the back to own for the foreseeable future. Buck Allen is only owned in 8% of leagues and will be an extremely popular waiver wire addition this week. Baltimore will face a Jacksonville defense in week three that can be beat through the ground game, and I think Allen is a solid RB2/Flex play. 
Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams 

Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

I debated on whether I should include Gurley this week or not. I try to include lower tier players in this column, but then I realized that could be what Gurley has fallen to considering his disappointing 2016 season. However, it looks like he is on the verge of a bounce back year after putting up 41 fantasy points in the first two games this season. He only scored 141 points last year, so he’s already put up 29% of that total in the first two weeks. While his rushing totals haven’t been anything special, Gurley has scored three touchdowns in two games and has been an active receiver out of the backfield. First year coach Sean McVay appears to be using the sophomore running back as a focal point in this offense, and the first two games have been encouraging for Gurley owners. I think he’s a strong play again this week at San Francisco. 
Wide receivers:


JJ Nelson – Arizona Cardinals 

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys 

I feel like we talk about JJ Nelson at least once a year after games like this. The speedy receiver caught five passes on seven targets for 120 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Colts and was the lone bright spot for a new Arizona offense that was mostly unimpressive against a weak defense. Nelson has now scored a touchdown in each game to start the season and is getting plenty of attention from Carson Palmer. At this point I think he’s certainly worth an add, especially when you consider the Cardinals will need help moving the ball with David Johnson out. Arizona will face a Dallas team this week that was just man handled by the Broncos, so I think Nelson has a good chance to put up similar numbers to what we’ve seen in the first two games. 

Jermaine Kerse – New York Jets

Matchup – Miami Dolphins 

I didn’t think much about the Jets acquiring Kearse from the Seahawks. We’ve talked about the Jets offense as a whole and have tried to find some source of fantasy value. It looks like Jermaine Kearse could be that guy. After two games he’s leading New York in catches, targets, and receiving yards and is coming off a big two touchdown performance against the Raiders. I’m not here to tout the former Seahawk as a weekly starter by any means, but his production over two games warrants a second look. The Jets fell behind early to Oakland last week, and that should be a recurring theme this season. If you need help at receiver I think Kearse is a guy that could potentially give you some added depth. He’ll face Miami this week, and they just gave up big numbers to Keenan Allen. While I don’t think he scores two touchdowns again, Kearse has a good chance to produce similar catch and yardage numbers to what we’ve seen in the first two games. 

Allen Hurns – Jacksonville Jaguars 

Matchup – Baltimore Ravens

Hurns was my pick to step up and lead the Jaguars’ receivers after Allen Robinson’s season ending injury in the season opener. It looks like I could be right after Hurns finished the day with six catches for 82 yards in the loss to the Titans last week. After a stunning dominant defensive performance against the Texans to start the season, Jacksonville looked much more like the team we all expected heading into this year. They fell behind early and were forced to try to make a comeback in garbage time in the second half. I think that’s much more likely to be the trend moving forward than what we saw in week one. Any receiver on this team is going to have their ups and downs as long as Blake Bortles is throwing the ball, so don’t scramble to pick up Hurns thinking he’s going to put up 80 yards and a touchdown every week. The Jaguars also have a renewed focus on the running game with Leonard Fournette. This week’s matchup against the Ravens should fall more in line with what Jacksonville wants to do and should be a relatively low scoring defensive game. I think you keep Hurns on the bench in this one. 

Tight ends:


Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys 

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals 

It’s crazy that Jason Witten is still playing at such a high level at the age of 35. That’s ancient for a professional football player, but the future Hall of Famer is still producing solid numbers on a fairly consistent basis. Witten is averaging over eight catches, 78 yards, and a touchdown over the first two games and seems to be one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets. The fact the veteran tight end’s 97 yards accounted for 40% of Prescott’s total yards gives you a pretty good idea of where he stands on the pecking order. I like Witten again this week as the Cowboys face a Cardinals defense that just gave up eight catches and 79 yards to Jack Doyle. 

Benjamin Watson – Baltimore Ravens

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars 

I honestly forgot about Benjamin Watson. He was mostly an unknown until two seasons ago when he developed into a decent fantasy tight end in his first season in Baltimore. Unfortunately, he missed all of 2017 due to injury. He’s obviously back this season and made his name known last week with an eight catch 91 yard performance against the Browns. While it was nice to see the 36 year old veteran putting up big numbers, I wouldn’t get too excited and think these types of performances will become the norm. Watson didn’t record a single catch in the first game and is unfortunately buried in the pecking order for targets. I don’t think he’ll have a repeat performance this week against the Jaguars. 

Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints

Matchup – Carolina Panthers

The hype was real for Coby Fleener last year among the fantasy community. You had a proven tight end moving to New Orleans to catch passes from Drew Brees. Visions of Jimmy Graham swirled around in your mind. We quickly learned Fleener was not going to be the player for the Saints we thought he’d be. The expectations for him were significantly lower this season, but he’s actually been a decent option over the first two games. His yardage totals are nothing special but Fleener has scored a touchdown in back to back weeks. I believe some of the uptick in attention from Brees can be attributed to Willie Snead being suspended currently. Once he returns I think we see Fleener become more of an afterthought once again. I also don’t really like him as an option this week against a tough Carolina defense.

Ice Cold


Quarterbacks:


Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks 

Matchup – Tennessee Titans

Wilson graces us with his presence on this list again this week. While he did have a better game than he did in his season debut, his production is still well below what we’ve come to expect out of him. He failed to throw for over 200 yards in the second consecutive week and has the same amount of touchdowns as turnovers. I understand being a little rusty against the Packers to start the season, but he should’ve imposed his will on the 49ers. I believe the problem stems from the offensive line not giving Wilson enough time in the pocket to find an open receiver, which is something he’ll likely have to overcome all year. He’ll have the opportunity to bounce back this week against a very quarterback friendly Titans secondary. If we still continue to see Wilson struggle, then I’ll officially be worried. 

Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

The matchup between the Bills and Panthers was one of the least entertaining games to watch last week. There were no touchdowns scored and the game ended with four field goals in a 9-3 finish. I will say that Cam did improve on his yardage total from the first game, but he failed to score any touchdowns. Similar to Russell Wilson, Cam Newton’s line is not making life easy for their quarterback. He was sacked six times by the Bills and took a beating for most of the day. After two rough games, Newton will face a very quarterback friendly defense at home this week against the Saints. New Orleans gave up four touchdowns to Tom Brady in week two, so this could be the game where we see Cam start to turn around. 

Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings 

Jameis Winston’s season debut left something to be desired for fantasy owners, especially in a matchup against an inferior opponent. Tampa Bay ended up throttling the Bears 29-7, but Winston only threw for 204 yards and a touchdown. The flow of the game is what hurt Winston rather than a poor performance, so at least that’s a little comforting. Although he didn’t put up big numbers, it was nice to see Famous Jameis targeting his big name weapons. He’ll have a much more difficult test this week when he travels to Minnesota to face an imposing Vikings defense. I don’t see this being the game Winston blows up. 
Running backs:

Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears

Matchup – Pittsburgh Steelers

Jordan Howard owners everywhere have to be freaking out right now. Not only did Tarik Cohen steal the show in his NFL debut, but Howard only had nine carries for seven yards against the Buccaneers last week. This guy was an RB1 selection and scored less than one point in a game. To be fair to the guy, he was limited in practice all of last week and seems to be nursing a shoulder injury. My immediate concern if I’m a Jordan Howard is the emergence of Cohen. Howard was THE guy a season ago, but his value takes a huge hit if the Bears coaching staff decides to start dividing the workload more. Howard only saw two more carries than his counterpart and was completely absent in the passing game, which is an area Cohen excels in. I’d honestly consider trying to flip Howard while the market is still intrigued. This situation scares the hell out of me. 

LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills

Matchup – Denver Broncos

The Bills were absolutely miserable all around last Sunday. LeSean Mccoy, the team’s most talented player by far, ran for only nine yards on 12 carries. To put into perspective how bad Buffalo’s offense was, McCoy’s six catches for 34 yards led the team in both categories. Yikes. I’d say this game is just an outlier and that Shady will bounce back this week, but not so fast my friend. The Bills will host the Broncos, which is the same defense that totally shut down Ezekiel Elliott last week. Speaking of Zeke….

Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys 

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

Man, it was an all around bad week for big name running backs. This kid was basically unstoppable last season, so for him to rush nine times for only eight yards is pretty shocking. Granted, he did face one of the best defenses in the league in the Denver Broncos. Still, only eight yards? The Cowboys defense as a whole was shut down, so it wasn’t like Elliott was the only player to have a down game. This is one you put in the rear view mirror and forget about. Unfortunately for Zeke owners, he’ll face another tough matchup this week on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. I certainly think he gains more than eight yards, but I’d temper expectations that we see a true bounce back game. 

Wide receivers:


Brandin Cooks – New England Patriots 

Matchup – Houston Texans 

Remember last season when Cooks publicly announced his frustration about not getting the ball after Michael Thomas started getting all of the love? How long before we see that this year? The big difference now is Tom Brady is not Drew Brees and Bill Belichick is not Sean Payton. They’ll leave Cooks at home out of principal for pulling something like that. There were two types of fantasy players heading into this year. Those that thought Cooks would be the reincarnation of Randy Moss in New England, and those that thought he’d be a high risk/high reward player. It’s looking like the latter will prevail after two games this season. If you take away the big 54 yard catch he made in week one, then Cooks only has four catches for 71 yards in the first two contests. That’s certainly not the production you expected if you drafted him. I’m not ready to write him off just yet, but I think there’s cause for concern. New England will face a stout defensive unit in the Texans this week, so we can only hope Cooks starts getting more attention.

 

Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals 

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys 

I just realized that Fitzgerald was targeted 13 times in week one against the Lions. That’s a huge number, which makes the fact that he only snagged six of them for 74 yards all the more disappointing. However, I’d take those numbers over the three catches and 21 yards he put up against a soft Colts defense in the second game. It’s obvious to me that Carson Palmer is no longer an elite quarterback in the NFL. We always say there’s no gradual decline with an aging quarterback. They can be an MVP candidate one year and in the bottom half of the league the next. There are a few defenses you want to face as a quarterback in the National Football League, and the Colts are one of them. I only point this out to say that I don’t think Fitzgerald’s struggles are entirety his fault. There’s only so much you can do as a wide receiver when your quarterback struggles to get you the football. I would normally say that I feel good about Fitz this week considering what Trevor Siemian and company were able to do against the Cowboys, but I’m just not so sure. Roll him out there at your own risk until the quarterback play improves. 

Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders

Matchup – Washington Redskins

I joked with Derrick on our podcast during our mock draft about Amari Cooper. He had snagged him in either the second or third round, and I asked why he picked the WR2 on his own team so high. Look, Cooper is a special talent. He runs crisp routes and has great hands. What kills his fantasy value is touchdowns. The kid just doesn’t score that many. You know who does? Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has 30 fantasy points through the first two weeks of the season. Cooper has under 20. The big reason for that differential is Crabtree has three touchdowns to Cooper’s one. Some of that can be blamed on opposing defenses game planning for Cooper and trying to shut him down. Another reason could be that Derek Carr doesn’t key in on one receiver. Whatever the reason may be, I simply don’t view Amari Cooper as a WR1 in fantasy while Crabtree is around to snag all of the red zone targets. He’s a good player, but the truth is you likely overpaid for him. He’ll look to improve on a four catch 33 yard performance this week against a Redskins defense that’s given up some points to start the season.

 

Tight ends:


Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

Matchup – Oakland Raiders 

There are two tight ends that I will never pick in a fantasy football draft. Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed. It’s not that these guys aren’t talented. They definitely are, but the headache of managing them each week with constant injuries is incredibly frustrating. It’s only been two games, and Reed is already banged up with a chest contusion. Let someone else draft this guy in your fantasy leagues, because he’s always going to miss games and create a hole in your lineup. Reed was equally ineffective when healthy in the first week against the Eagles, and I simply don’t trust him to be a reliable fantasy option at this point. My advice would be to sell high and find another that needs tight end help. You don’t want Reed on your team with an injury this early in the season. You may never see him on the field again this year.

 

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Tennessee Titans 

I recall how smart I felt when I snagged Jimmy Graham in the later rounds of my fantasy drafts last season. Everyone was down on him, but I took a chance that paid off. Fast forward to this year, and I’m suddenly extremely concerned as a Jimmy Graham owner. A bad game here or there is to be expected considering the struggles of Seattle’s offense last season. Russell Wilson is often found running for his life behind a below average offensive line. With that being said, Graham has four catches for nine yards to start the season. Those numbers are absolutely alarming to me if I have him on my team. The good news is that he’s a strong candidate to have a better week against the Titans. Tennessee has often given up big points against opposing quarterbacks, so my hope is that Graham’s return to fantasy relevance starts this week. No guarantee though.

 

As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

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