Week 3 Fantasy Football Pickup Reccomendations
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21% owned)
Suggested bid: $6
You will occasionally see this column refer to "run-funnel" or "pass-funnel" defenses, meaning that a defense is so good at stopping either the run or the pass that opponents typically attack the other, less formidable aspect of that defense. The Eagles, for instance, have a pass-funnel defense. They're great at stopping the run and not so great at stopping the pass, so opponents tend to go pass-heavy against them. Well, the Buccaneers have a pass-funnel offense. They have a weak group of RBs and don't run the ball with authority, but they have dangerous pass catchers: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard. Fitzpatrick currently leads the NFL with 819 passing yards and pass-funneled the Eagles to the tune of 402 yards and four TDs in Week 2. We know this carriage always turns back into a pumpkin eventually, but for now, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (33% owned)
Suggested bid: $3
The Red Rifle is coming off a four-TD game against the Ravens, and the arrow is pointing up on his Fantasy value for a number of reasons. Dalton now has some legitimate targets other than just ace WR A.J. Green. Tyler Boyd appears to have become a quality slot receiver. John Ross may not be a high-volume pass catcher, but his blazing speed makes him a dangerous lid lifter. Tyler Eifert can't be considered an elite pass-catching tight end after his myriad injuries, but he's one of three TEs capable of picking up first downs for the Bengals. With Joe Mixon expected to miss several weeks, Cincinnati might skew pass-heavy in the short term, and its upcoming schedule is pretty Dalton-friendly. This week, the Bengals visit Carolina, which has holes in its secondary. Then it's a road game against the Falcons and their injury-plagued defense, followed by games against the Dolphins, Steelers, Chiefs and Buccaneers. Dalton looks like a viable weekly QB play all the way up to Cincinnati's Week 9 bye.
Blake Bortles (31% owned)
Suggested bid: $1
Conventional wisdom says the blueprint for the Jaguars involves playing stifling defense, running the ball effectively and hiding Bortles as much as possible. But the 26-year-old Bortles occasionally shows signs of being more than just a game manager. He lit up the Patriots for 377 yards and two TDs on Sunday, he has 77 rushing yards this season, and now he hits a favorable stretch of schedule, with home games against the Titans and Jets, followed by a road game against the Chiefs. Bortles also appears to have found a dependable No. 1 receiver in Keelan Cole, who flashed his potential late last year and has taken another step forward early this season.
Ryan Tannehill doesn't have a great supporting cast, but he's a decent streaming option over the next two weeks thanks to matchups against the Raiders and Patriots. Mitch Trubisky is probably going to need at least a few weeks of game action to master the Matt Nagy/Mark Helfrich offense. Once he does, the Bears' young quarterback could become a valuable Fantasy asset. Marcus Mariota is being widely dumped because of an elbow injury and a sputtering Titans offense, but plan-ahead types might want to grab him now, in advance of a matchup with the pass-funnel (there's that term again) Eagles in Week 4, Sam Darnold looks like he belongs as an NFL starter, and his Thursday-night matchup against the Browns in Cleveland isn't bad. Nick Foles has an inviting matchup against the Colts this week, but Carson Wentz is returning from ACL surgery. Just make sure Foles will start this week before putting in a claim. Quarterback-needy owners in deeper leagues should probably put in their claims on Josh Rosen now, since Sam Bradford's two starts for the Cardinals have been disastrous and a QB change is imminent.
Giovani Bernard and Mark Walton, Cincinnati Bengals (41% and 1% owned)
Suggested bids: $22 for Bernard, $1 for Walton
Gio is sure to be a hot pickup this week in leagues where he remains unowned. With Joe Mixon expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a knee injury, Bernard becomes the lead guy in the Cincinnati backfield for the short term, and he's been a versatile run-catch guy ever since entering the league in 2013. Gio has a career average of 4.2 yards per carry, and he's averaged 46 receptions per season. Walton a fourth-round draft pick this year out of the University of Miami (Fla.), will back up Bernard and offers only speculative value in the event of an injury to Bernard.
Javorius "Buck" Allen, Baltimore Ravens (26% owned)
Suggested bid: $17 in PPR, $11 in standard
Kenneth Dixon is out for the season, leaving the Baltimore backfield to Alex Collins and Allen. Collins was the far more coveted fantasy asset in this year's drafts, but so far, Allen has out-snapped Collins 72-69, and they've both touched the ball 20 times. Somewhat surprisingly, it was Allen, not Collins, punching in a short-yardage touchdown against the Bengals last week. Allen is sort of a Rodney Dangerfield in Fantasy circles, never getting respect. But with quality running backs hard to find on waivers these days, the versatile Allen is worthy of attention.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings (46% owned)
Suggested bid: $12
Ramp up your bid if the prognosis on Dalvin Cook's injured hamstring gets more dire as the week progresses. Cook went down in overtime of the Vikings-Packers game Sunday. Murray has a role in a good offense even if Cook is healthy, but if Cook is out this week, Murray will be a top-10 RB play in a home game against the sad-sack Bills. Even if Cook plays, Murray is still startable in most leagues because of the matchup.
Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins (25% owned)
Suggested bid: $4
He isn't a sexy option, but Gore has had nine carries in each of the Dolphins' first two games and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. A home game against the Raiders this week sets up well for Miami's inside running game, since the Raiders are without injured 300-plus-pound run stuffers Justin Ellis and P.J. Hall.
Theo Riddick had nine catches for only 47 yards on Sunday. That sort of performance obviously has value in PPR leagues, and Riddick might have more than a few stat lines like that if the Lions are constantly playing from behind. Nyheim Hines had seven catches in Week 1 and a short TD run in Week 2, and he could see an uptick in usage in Week 3 if Jordan Wilkins misses time with an ankle injury. LeGarrette Blount is part of a messy three-headed backfield in Detroit, though he appears to be the top goal-line option. If Leonard Fournette remains out for another week, owners in deeper leagues might be tempted to make a run at Corey Grant, who had six catches for 56 yards and four carries for 13 yards Sunday in Fournette's absence. Ito Smith is another guy who might be an option in deeper leagues after he had nine carries for 46 yards in the first of several games that Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is expected to miss. The Buffalo offense is a tire fire, and the Bills have a brutal matchup in Minnesota this week, but Marcus Murphy will draw interest in some leagues if he's forced to start in place of LeSean McCoy, who injured his ribs Sunday.
John Brown, Baltimore Ravens (50% owned)
Suggested bid: $14
OK, technically we're cheating a bit here, since we're only supposed to include players owned in less than half of all CBS leagues. Brown is right at the 50-percent threshold, but we feel compelled to include him since he's still available in so many leagues. Brown leads the Ravens with 136 receiving yards and two TD catches through two games. He has the same number of targets as Willie Snead and two fewer than Michael Crabtree, but it's obvious that "Smokey" is the foremost playmaker in the Ravens' passing attack. He's good enough to start in the flex spot for a lot of Fantasy teams, and he's playable against the Broncos this week since he probably won't see much of shutdown Denver cover man Chris Harris Jr., who typically covers slot receivers and will probably match up with Snead.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (37% owned)
Suggested bid: $12
Another game, another TD catch for Godwin, who's now caught eight of 10 targets for 97 yards and two scores. It will be hard to count on target volume with Godwin playing in an offense that also includes Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. However, as mentioned in the Ryan Fitzpatrick blurb above, the Buccaneers are going to throw a lot this year, and the 22-year-old Godwin is a precocious young talent.
Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns (13% owned)
Suggested bid: $8
With the Browns getting rid of Josh Gordon, there's an opportunity for Callaway to become a significant contributor to the Cleveland offense. The rookie has immense talent but comes with more baggage than Kim Kardashian checking in for a two-week stay at Chateau Marmont. With Brown not suiting up on Sunday, Callaway played 82 percent of the Browns' offensive snaps and had three receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. Callaway has talent worth gambling on if you have a hole to patch at the WR position.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars (27% owned)
Suggested bid: $6
Never mind that Westbrook was having a mostly forgettable outing Sunday against the Patriots before springing a 61-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that effectively put the game away. That's what Westbrook's speed can do, and as the No. 2 receiver in Jacksonville, he should get a sufficient number of opportunities to turn on those jets. So far he has nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Phillip Dorsett, New England Patriots (34% owned)
Suggested bid: $4
Maybe Dorsett's coming-out party ends when Julian Edelman returns from his four-game suspension. But that's still a few weeks away. And, who knows, maybe Dorsett has staying power. He's been targeted 14 times in New England's first two games and has 12 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Dez Bryant, free agent (37% owned)
Suggested bid: $3
Who could use Dez? The Browns? The Redskins? The Jets? It seems only a matter of time before some needy team dials Bryant's number. There are people who are convinced that Bryant is washed up, but he's only 29, and speed was never the hallmark of his skill set anyway. It might be worth getting him with an inexpensive bid while you still can.
Tyrell Williams is off to a sluggish start and dropped what should have been a long TD catch in Week 1, but he still offers enticing potential as a 6-foot-4 speed merchant who gets significant playing time and is paired with QB Philip Rivers. Dante Pettis was expected to play an expanded role in Week 2 with Marquise Goodwin out, but Pettis had only one catch for 35 yards. The rookie might still be worth starting this week against the porous Kansas City defense if Goodwin remains out (and possibly even if Goodwin is back). Courtland Sutton had only one catch in Week 2, but he played 82 percent of Denver's offensive snaps and is one of the most talented members of this year's rookie WR class. Devante Parker said he was healthy enough to play on Sunday after missing Week 1 with a finger injury but still wasn't activated. Hmmm. His talent is hard to ignore, but he's been a tease for the entirety of his time with the Dolphins. Tavon Austin might just be the most valuable Fantasy asset in the Dallas WR corps, though that isn't saying much. Austin, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup are all widely available, and each of them will turn in the occasional noteworthy performance, but they're only worth a look in the deepest leagues.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (39% owned)
Suggested bid: $10
Cameron Brate has become an afterthought in the Buccaneers' offense, which bodes well for Howard's Fantasy value going forward. The 2017 first-round draft pick has seen only six targets so far, but Howard has turned them into five receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown, including a 75-yard TD catch against the Eagles in Week 2. Injuries to Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen have thinned out an already undersized herd of usable tight ends, so Howard shouldn't be unowned in so many leagues. If you're hurting at tight end, grab him.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars (40% owned)
Suggested bid: $3
It's eerie how similar ASJ's stat lines have been in the Jaguars first two games. In Week 1, he was targeted five times and had three catches for 25 yards. In Week 2, he was targeted five times and had three catches for 23 yards ... and a touchdown. TD variance is going to tell the tale of Seferian-Jenkins' Fantasy value this year. Looking at it optimistically, his expected TD count figures to be higher for a good team like the Jaguars than it was last year for the Jets.
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints (44% owned)
Suggested bid: $2
Hear ye, hear ye! Watson has a Week 4 matchup against the Giants, whose lack of success against opposing tight ends is well known to most Fantasy owners. Get him now and save yourself a dollar or two if you have the roster space. Watson's reunion with Drew Brees hasn't produced sparks yet, but the grizzled old tight end is still worth the attention of anyone with a hole at the position.
Jonnu Smith wasn't targeted in his first game with the Titans since the season-ending injury to Delanie Walker, but Smith could still pop due to his extraordinary athleticism. Ricky Seals-Jones hasn't been able to overcome the quarterbacking of Sam Bradford, which will throw most Fantasy owners off his trail. There's still value here, we believe, and a QB change in Arizona might unlock it. How strange that Jesse James turned in the best receiving game of his career on the day that the Steelers got previously injured Vance McDonald back. It's hard to tell which Steelers tight end has more Fantasy value. Our money is on the much faster McDonald, though Ben Roethlisberger has a more established rapport with James. Panthers rookie Ian Thomas is raw but toolsy, and with Greg Olsen on the shelf for the long term with a foot injury, Thomas might be rosterable in deep leagues.