Week 3 was certainly a strange week for fantasy football, but it was without a doubt the most exciting week the NFL has had all season.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt continued his fantasy and real life dominance by running for 172 yards and a late score. Hunt has now logged three consecutive performances with at least 25 points per reception fantasy points.
Consensus top overall draft pick Le’Veon Bell finally delivered a performance his owners can be proud of, but it is worth noting that the Pittsburgh Steelers bell cow was still relatively inefficient versus the Chicago Bears. His signature patience while waiting for holes to open up is still there, but Bell is looking notoriously sluggish accelerating through the holes and while he is running routes.
Bell is averaging just 3.5 yards per tote, and 4.3 yards per reception. His career averages are 4.4, and 8.6 respectively. Bell has been a little more name than game this season, but the 2014 fantasy football MVP is still receiving elite levels of volume behind one of the league’s strongest offensive lines. Maintain confidence in the Michigan State alum, because he will be running at full speed by fantasy playoff season.
Fantasy Football Stock Risers and Fallers: Week Four
Week three is historically the week where the NFL starts to look like the NFL we know and love. The fantasy stars emerge, and more waiver wire targets begin to look like league winners. Just as well, certain players who were being dangerously hyped up in previous weeks begin to lose momentum and ultimately find themselves on most waiver wires.
Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – Running Back
Wendell Smallwood had a pedestrian rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he spent all of training camp in 2017 competing for reps with rookie Corey Clement. Smallwood has used the first three weeks of the season to offer his team a change of pace behind bruising back LeGarrette Blount and pass catching specialist Darren Sproles.
The Eagles lost Sproles for the season in week three to a broken arm and a torn ACL. Smallwood stepped in after Sproles departed and played well. The West Virginia product logged a respectable 80 yards on 13 touches, which led the backfield. It should be noted that Blount recorded 12 touches of his own.
Smallwood’s workload will likely depend on game flow in the coming weeks. Expect him to step into Sproles’ role as the passing down back for now. He has never been a stellar pass catcher dating back to his college years, but he is better than Blount in that aspect. Smallwood is just 2.9 percent owned in ESPN.com leagues, so acquiring the second-year pro is a low risk move that could pay tremendous dividends in the coming weeks.
Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – Running Back
The entire Cincinnati Bengals offense has been off to a sluggish start through three weeks, but they finally got the ball moving in week three against the Green Bay Packers. Mixon was finally given a chance to flourish as Cincinnati’s featured back and did not disappoint. The rookie accumulated 101 yards from scrimmage on 21 touches. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green logged his best game of the season as well, which definitely helped Mixon and the rest of the offense get moving.
Given the success the Bengals offense experienced in week three compared to the previous two weeks, it is fair to assume Mixon dominating the touches could easily become a trend. For reference, Mixon logged 34 total snaps, and he recorded a touch on about 62 percent of them. What is most encouraging about the work Mixon saw is the offense flourished when one of their running backs was given a chance to build some momentum.
Mixon carries a Pro Football Focus player grade of 78.5, good for 11th best in the NFL at his position. His rushing and receiving grades are relatively balanced, which is exciting for those that own him in a PPR league. The window to buy Joe Mixon low has virtually closed, but he remains a player that should be heavily pursued in all formats after this performance.
Week three was extremely climactic, but it just would not be fantasy football if it was without some devastating and potentially match-up killing performances.
If you are a Cam Newton owner, you know exactly what that means.
Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – Running Back
Owning Derrick Henry this past week was a lot like opening what looks like a brand new Playstation 4 on Christmas morning and finding Sunday clothes inside the wrapping instead.
Henry was being hyped up as a fringe RB1 in the event that starting Titans’ running back DeMarco Murray were to miss time. Murray was dealing with hamstring tightness all week long and was not a lock to even play until Sunday morning. Many had already fired up Henry in their starting lineups and had very little time to make an adjustment once Murray was ruled active.
Henry started the match-up against the Seattle Seahawks as Murray’s backup, and he played the role as such. Henry ran well once again, recording 13 carries for 54 yards. Unfortunately for Henry and his owners, he was overshadowed by a stellar 75 yard touchdown run by Murray. That scamper was so impressive not because he burnt anybody with his speed, but he flashed his elite level vision and tackle shedding throughout the entire run. The run displayed Murray’s seven years of experience as an NFL runner, and it showed everyone why he will remain the starter in Tennessee unless he is forced to miss significant time.
Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – Running Back
Those that invested in the 31-year-old former Seattle Seahawk expected Marshawn Lynch to pick up right where he left off before his 2015 injury. That has not been the case in Lynch’s return to the league.
Lynch has seen his snap count decline in each of the last two weeks after logging 47 percent of the backfield plays for the Oakland Raiders in week one. On Sunday night versus the Washington Redskins, Lynch played on just 16 of his offense’s total snaps, which is a near 16 percent total snap share decline in just two weeks.
Lynch still holds fantasy value as the unsung goal line back in a potent offense, but his lack of receiving skills are more prevalent than ever on a team that lives and dies through the air.