Another week of the NFL season come and gone. If your team(s) are 2-0, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. On the flip side, if you’ve started 0-2 after all that pre-season preparation and drafting, it’s pretty miserable in your fantasy world these days. Oh, trust me, I’m also feeling the pain after facing Tyrek Hill in Week 1 and then losing Jamaal Williams to injury before he could deliver the win.
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The need for a Win this week is paramount to all of us, and I’ll do my best to help. Here are my “Five Things to Know” for Week 3:
The Los Angeles Chargers defense has given up the most fantasy points per game, and specifically the most points per game to wideouts. Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Tannehill both took advantage of the matchup to post their top scores, 35.8 and 23.5, respectively. The Chargers next travel to L’Etoile du Nord (or “The Star of the North”) to face the winless, yet dangerous, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings.
My buddy, Gladys Louise, wrote about this matchup in her weekly “Defenses to Attack for Your Fantasy Wins” article yesterday. Bobby LaMarco, Gladys and I also discussed Kirk in our Monday Night “Week 2 Fantasy Football Reactions” podcast. To summarize my contribution to that conversation, Cousins has a QBR of 114.2 (2nd only to Jordan Love), 708 passing yards (2nd only to Tua Tagovailoa) and 6 TD passes (T-1st with Jordan Love) with only 1 INT. Needless to say, I expect Kirk and his top weapons to have a big day.
- Strong Start: Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson & T.J. Hockenson
- Flex Consideration: K.J. Osborn & Jordan Addison
Here @Razzball, we have this tool called the “Adjusted Line Yards Matchup Metric” available for free on our website. This tool measures the push an offensive line gets versus a defensive line from the line of scrimmage. This metric helps measure the impact of good or bad offensive lines on the ground game in any given week.
In the same game we just finished discussing, Chargers @ Vikings, we find that the Vikings’ defense has allowed the 2nd most rushing yards to RBs this season. If you go to our tool and sort the Defensive Adjusted Line Yards, you’ll note the Vikings D-line is 3rd worst (4.95). What does this mean for us in the fantasy world?
It means the Chargers run game has the very best matchup. You’ll want to start either Austin Ekeler (still “Q” and will be limited if he suits up) or Joshua Kelley. I hear your apprehension with Kelley, but I’m here to tell you to run him with confidence. His 13-39 performance versus the Titans last week, the #1 defense versus RBs, will be quickly forgotten this weekend.
We have a few other tools here @RazzballNFL to help break down WRs. Creatively, we call them “Defensive Slot vs. Wide PPG Allowed” tool, the “Slot vs. Wide Rest of Season Strength of Schedules” tool, the “Wide Receiver Fantasy Points Scored Slot vs. Wide” tool, and the “Player Usage Data” tool. I’ll pull primarily from these tools for the next two discussions.
Here are the top 5 best slot matchups (by team), along with the players working out of the slot:
- CeeDee Lamb gets the biggest bump due to the high percentage of routes run from the slot, high target rate, and rate of success.
- TuTu Atwell stands out as the next best option, especially with the added attention likely coming to Puka Nacua this week.
- Mack Hollins should have Flex appeal in deeper leagues.
- Despite the matchup, all Colts receivers remain neutral until we hear that Anthony Richardson has cleared concussion protocol.
Here are the five toughest slot matchups (by team), along with the player(s) working out of the slot:
- In the Chiefs-Bears matchup, it’ll be anyone’s guess which WR will be affected the most by the tough Bears slot defense. We know the Chiefs rely most on Travis Kelce, so other than perhaps Rashee Rice, I don’t see any other WR downgrades specifically due to the slot matchup.
- For the Cardinals, Marquise Brown is probably the only player considered a fantasy starter in this tough matchup versus the Cowboys’ defense. The slot matchup won’t change the calculus here either way.
- With DK Metcalf hobbling into this game, Jaxon Smith-Njigba may need to be more involved in the game plan. I don’t see an advantage here for fantasy managers if he remains in the slot at such a high percentage.
- Stefon Diggs’ fantasy owners may want to temper expectations slightly, but he’s still a must-start in every format.
- Similarly, I’m not downgrading Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle due to these slot matchups, either.
In the ever-evolving carrousel of streaming TEs, we’re looking for the plus matchups to exploit. After the first two weeks, the Jacksonville defense ranks 27th vs. TE and leads the NFL in allowing targets to those TEs (30% of total targets against). Houston’s Dalton Schultz is only averaging 2 Tgts per game. Something must give. My educated guess is that we won’t see Jacksonville lead this metric next week. Stay away from Schultz.
Here are a few better options to consider instead:
- Pat Freiermuth and the Steelers head west to Las Vegas and face a Raiders defense ranked 28th vs. TEs. Freiermuth has only five targets on the short season, but I see a great opportunity for a breakout here.
- Tyler Higbee has 10 total targets after facing a pair of middle-pack defenses. This week, the Rams head to the Queen City and face a Bengals defense ranked 29th vs. TEs.
- Believe it or not, the Eagles’ defense is ranked dead last vs. TEs. This bodes well for Cade Otton and the surprisingly successful (according to everyone not identifying as a Bucs fan) Tampa Bay offense. I don’t consider playing Otton very often, but when I do, it’s against the worst TE defense in the league. Stay thirsty, my friends!
There you have it, folks, my five things to know for Week 3. Good luck in all your season-long and DFS action this weekend.
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Until next time, my friends.