Initial reaction to the Week 3 fantasy rankings
Our staff’s Week 3 fantasy rankings are live, which means it’s time to take another look at which players and rankings stand out from the pack. But before we tackle Week 3, let’s recap the highlights from Week 2.
What we got right
Our staff was unanimous in ranking Cam Newton as the top overall fantasy quarterback in Week 2, which was exactly where he finished, with 33 points. Pat Thorman and I were both on board with Derek Carr in the top-10, and he came in at No. 4 against Atlanta… We were also unanimous in advising not to trust Devonta Freeman as a RB1 given Atlanta’s backfield split, and Thorman had Freeman ranked just one spot away from his actual finish as the RB20.
What we got wrong
Props to Mike Tagliere for his relatively pessimistic QB9 ranking of Drew Brees against the Giants, a team that Brees had tagged for 505 yards and seven touchdowns during Week 7 of last season. While Brees actually finished way down as the QB22 (coming off a huge Week 1), four other rankers had him ranked No. 2… Tagliere was also the lowest on Lamar Miller (RB11), who turned in a RB18 week… Tagliere (spotting a theme here?) and I were also coldest on Allen Robinson, although apparently not cold enough as he again burned fantasy owners.
On to Week 3:
Matt Ryan: QB6 (ATL @ N.O.), Carson Wentz: QB23 (PHI vs. PIT)
Here we see just how stark the contrast can be between perceived fantasy value and real-life value. First, allow me to disclose that I 1) live a couple of subway stops up from Lincoln Financial Field and 2) last week endorsed riding the Wentz Wagon as a QB streaming option in deeper leagues and/or daily sites. A bit crazy? Perhaps. Still, through two weeks, the Eagles’ rookie does happen to be PFF’s highest graded passer (91.1). Meanwhile, Matt Ryan comes in at No. 20 in our grades (75.1). But in terms of pure fantasy production, Ryan ranks No. 2 (and highlights my Week 3 QB streamers) while Wentz sits all the way down at No. 23. Clearly, are rankers are able to make the all-important distinction between fantasy and real life.
Russell Wilson: QB5 (SEA vs. S.F.)
This feels like a put-up-or-shut-up ranking for Wilson, who has shown pretty close to nothing as he sits 27th among fantasy QBs entering Week 3. Of course, Wilson has gotten no favors from his offensive line, which ranks 30th in our pass-blocking efficiency metric and has yielded the second-most pressures (33) and hurries (22). Protection was also an issue last year. Still, with only one passing touchdown through two games, our rankers are taking a bird’s-eye approach at Wilson’s larger data sample size in projecting a rebound performance at home against a shaky 49ers defense. For me, he’s more of a fringe QB1, and certainly not worth the high price tag in DFS.
David Johnson: RB1 (ARI @ BUF)
Not that this pick particularly stands out, but it just seemed like a good opportunity to reinforce why Johnson was the first running back off the board in many a fantasy draft this summer. Through two weeks he absolutely stands head and shoulders above the field, ranking first among 42 qualifiers in our elusive rating category (158.6) as well as missed tackles forced (14), while ranking fourth in yards after contact per attempt (3.96). He is also second among all running backs in receiving yards (141) and third in yards from scrimmage (275).
Jeremy Langford: RB22 (CHI @ DAL)
The chances are that if you read the name Jeremy Langford anywhere on our site during the calendar year 2016, you got the hint to stay far, far away. Remember those elusive stats we just broke down for Johnson? Well, Langford ranks dead-last with a 0.0 elusive rating. As in, he hasn’t broken a single tackle in 31 touches. He also lost a key fumble on Monday night as he played only 58.5 percent of the Bears’ offensive snaps after playing 96.5 percent in the opener. Meanwhile, Ka’Deem Carey and rookie Jordan Howard (who looked pretty darn capable against Philadelphia) both got more work in Week 2.
Antonio Brown: WR1 (PIT @ PHI), Julio Jones: WR2 (ATL @ N.O.)
It’s splitting hairs, but the guess here is that Julio Jones’ strained calf is the primary reason he is not ranked as the top fantasy wideout against a Saints defense that is giving up 344 passing yards per game so far. Brown hits the road to face the Eagles, who have yet to allow a passing touchdown.
Stefon Diggs: WR27 (MIN @ CAR)
I suppose our rankers are expecting some regression in a tough road matchup here, but seriously? Not even cracking the top-20? I’m sure our rankers all have perfectly valid reasons, but I’m buying what the second-year standout is selling with his Madden-like average of 4.25 yards per route run. It’s not like we haven’t seen big-time production before, considering Diggs did average 105 receiving yards over his first four games as a rookie last season. Also working in his favor is the fact that Adrian Peterson is likely shelved with a torn meniscus and Sam Bradford (who played surprisingly well against Green Bay) gets another week to acclimate himself with words like “you betcha.”
Eric Ebron: TE12 (DET @ GB)
Brandon Marianne Lee has Ebron as high as No. 7 this week, while Jeff Ratcliffe has him all the way down at No. 23. I’m on Team Brandon with this one. Ebron has finally flashed the kind of athleticism that made him the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Through two weeks, he has corralled 9-of-12 targets for 99 yards and a touchdown, and he had another touchdown called back this past week because of offensive pass interference. Ebron sits No. 8 among fantasy tight ends and is our No. 7 graded receiving TE. Matthew Stafford appears to have found a new favorite big target in the wake of Calvin Johnson’s retirement.