Top fantasy takeaways from Week 3’s action
Some rookies, some surprises and some comebacks highlight Jeff Ratcliffe's look back on the Sunday in fantasy.
Top fantasy takeaways from Week 3’s action
Just when we think we know the NFL, it throws us a curveball. Or in the case of Sunday’s contests, like 100 curveballs. We didn’t see the major injuries that Week 2 brought, but there were a number of surprise performances, both good and bad. As we continue to put the season-long puzzle together, here are 10 stats to know from Week 3:
1. Aaron Rodgers leads the week in fantasy points per dropback, but second was …
Dak Prescott. The rookie was extremely efficient on Sunday night, completing 19-of-23 passes for 248 yards and his first passing score of the season. He also notched 36 yards and a score on four carries. Prescott’s 0.89 fantasy points per dropback was just behind Rodgers’ 0.93. Prescott remains a viable QB2 with weekly QB1 upside.
2. Ryan Mathews disappears in Week 3.
After being out-carried by Darren Sproles last week, Mathews saw just two carries in the Eagles’ blowout win over the Steelers, with both coming in the first quarter. Mathews then watched from the sideline as Wendell Smallwood and Kenyon Barner proceed to run roughshod over Pittsburgh. The duo combined for 121 yards and two scores on 25 carries. There’s some speculation that Mathews’ absence was due to an ankle injury, but he wasn’t on the injury report entering the game. This could be a byproduct of the league’s new injury report rules, or it could be Mathews spiraling the drain. Either way, Smallwood is going to be a popular add this week.
3. Kevin White leads the week in deep targets.
With Bryan Hoyer under center for the Bears, White saw his first double-digit target total, with 12 balls thrown his direction. Five of those passes were for 20-plus yards. That’s one more deep target than Marvin Jones and Ted Ginn, who tied for second for the week. White only caught one of his deep ball targets for 32 yards, but his 17.1-yard average depth of target suggests big plays are on the horizon.
4. Ezekiel Elliott gets a big workload Sunday night.
Though he failed to find the end zone, Elliott racked up 30 carries to go along two receptions. The rookie runner posted 140 yards on the ground at a solid clip of 4.7 yards per carry and had his top-graded game of the season. Perhaps most importantly for fantasy purposes, Elliott currently sits tied for third among running backs in touches (76) and is one of just three backs with more than 70 carries through Week 3. Volume is going to continue to be Elliott’s friend going forward.
5. We had a Jimmy Graham sighting.
For only the third time in the last three seasons, Graham reached the century mark, putting up exactly 100 yards on six catches. He also found the end zone. Graham’s nine targets is the second-highest he’s seen since joining the Seahawks last season – he saw 10 targets twice in 2015 – and he finished the week as fantasy’s No. 3 tight end. Graham led all tight ends in receiving yards for the week and currently sits tied for seventh at the position in fantasy scoring. Keep in mind that the performance did come against San Francisco, but Graham looks healthy and is trending in the right direction.
6. DeMarco Murray was clearly the most elusive back of the week.
Revitalized in Tennessee, Murray is off to a hot start and posted a big fantasy week, with 114 yards and a score on 16 carries to go along with five catches for 41 yards. His seven forced missed tackles was tops for the week. He also posted a position-high 4.31 yards after contact per attempt. Through the first three weeks, Murray sits behind only David Johnson in standard scoring and leads all running backs in PPR scoring thanks to his position leading 17 catches.
7. Marvin Jones vaults into the league lead for receiving yards.
That sort of thing happens after you put up a 200-yard performance like Jones did against the Packers Sunday. Jones was extremely efficient on his eight targets, catching six for 205 yards and two scores. His biggest play of the day came on a 73-yard score where Jones made an acrobatic catch along the sideline and nimbly staying on his feet to take the ball to the house. Jones is now the No. 1 fantasy scorer among wide receivers.
8. Not a pick-six, but six picks for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It was a straight-up abysmal performance for the Jets signal-caller, as Fitzpatrick threw a whopping six interceptions and managed to complete just 44.4 percent of his passes. Having a hobbled Brandon Marshall certainly didn’t help the cause, but Fitzpatrick’s performance was by far the worst grade among quarterbacks for the week (from a grading perspective, it was the worst PFF has ever seen). Only seven men in NFL history have thrown more than six interceptions in a game, with the last being Ty Detmer, who threw seven picks against the Browns back in 2001. Better fantasy days are ahead for Fitzpatrick, but he remains an extremely volatile QB2 streamer.
9. Melvin Gordon bottled up, but heavily used.
It was supposed to be a Gordon’s big week as the feature back in a prime matchup against a lackluster Colts defense. Things didn’t quite go as planned, as Gordon managed just 35 yards on 16 carries. However, he did find the end zone and chipped in an additional 43 yards on four catches, which helped to salvage a reasonably good fantasy day. While the 1.8 yards per carry isn’t ideal, fantasy owners should still be encouraged by Gordon’s heavy usage. He played 83.6 percent of San Diego’s snaps and saw a combined 23 targets and carries. He’s also tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns through the first three games. Gordon remains in the back-end RB1 conversation.
10. Terrelle Pryor continues to impress.
Even with Cody Kessler under center, Pryor managed to catch 8-of-12 targets for 144 yards and looked very good in the process. Through three weeks, he’s averaging 17.4 yards per reception, which ranks 12th among qualifying wide receivers. With Corey Coleman on the shelf for the next month, Pryor will continue to have a prominent role in the Cleveland offense. Expect him to retain a decent chunk of the target share even when Josh Gordon returns in Week 5.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.