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Fantasy Football: Breaking down every Week 3 Sunday game

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Los Angeles Rams

Matthew Stafford looks awesome with the Rams, who have a strong argument as Super Bowl favorites after dismantling the Bucs … Sony Michel got stuffed, but Tampa Bay does that to all rushing games, and he was given 20 carries to Jake Funk’s one. Michel even saw four targets, so he’s a must fantasy start whenever Darrell Henderson is out … Robert Woods looks about as fantasy valuable as Van Jefferson moving forward, while Cooper Kupp has to be considered a top-five fantasy WR … Tom Brady led the Bucs with 14 rushing yards, as Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette continue to one up each other in playing poorly. Meanwhile, Gio Bernard is back on the PPR scene after securing 9-of-10 targets … The Rams have never lost after holding a halftime lead under Sean McVay.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was removed from the goal-line and lost another fumble but also got 5.9 YPC with 100+ yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Facing the league’s new premier run-funnel defense helped, but it was also encoring to see Andy Reid show trust after the fumbles. CEH isn’t the back many expected coming out of college, nor is KC’s scheme quite as RB favorable as originally hoped with Patrick Mahomes rarely throwing to backs, but he can still be a fine fantasy RB2 nevertheless … I may have been selling Mike Williams short calling him a top-15 fantasy WR moving forward. He might be top-five — he was the No. 1 WR in Week 3 going into Monday night.

Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions

Detroit’s defense entered playing at a level of bad on its own, but Lamar Jackson deserves credit nevertheless, and his numbers (287 yards passing and a TD to go with 58 yards rushing) would’ve looked even better had Marquise Brown not dropped multiple wide open would-be long touchdowns. Brown’s drops were so glaringly bad one hopes he doesn’t suffer from the yips moving forward. His speed would also be terrifying if he got to play on turf more often … The Ravens entered quietly allowing the second-most yards per play in the NFL and were dealing with a ton of injuries, yet Jared Goff predictably struggled badly against Baltimore’s blitz-heavy defense. Goff is now 0-10 without Sean McVay during his career … If D’Andre Swift didn’t have any carries this season, he’d still be the RB13 in PPR leagues. He’s in store for a monster fantasy campaign … On the other hand, Ty’Son Williams had one touch in the first half and lost carries to a dusted Devonta Freeman, as no Baltimore running back can be used in fantasy leagues … In a wild finish, the game ended with Justin Tucker making an NFL-record 66-yard field goal that hit the crossbar. The greatest kicker of all time (now indisputable to those who backed Baltimore in Survivor this week), Tucker has made 50 straight field goals in the fourth quarter/OT.

Arizona Cardinals @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Kyler Murray was fine but underwhelmed given the matchup, while Chase Edmonds lost three goal-line scores … Christian Kirk (7 for 104) would be a real fantasy asset should DeAndre Hopkins’ rib injury linger … Arizona’s defense has played great to open the season, but Trevor Lawrence once again looked flat-out bad. It’s been an ugly start for Jacksonville’s headline rookies, as first-year head coach Urban Meyer also recently said the NFL is “like playing Alabama every week.” At least James Robinson has reemerged as a safe RB fantasy option with 132 total yards, six catches and a touchdown … Rondale Moore muffed a punt because a ref nailed the ball with a penalty flagHere’s a 109-yard missed FG attempt returned for a touchdown called by Gus Johnson. 

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

Jonathan Taylor saw just 11 touches and lost a rushing TD to Nyheim Hines against a shaky Tennessee defense. The loss of Quenton Nelson and a badly hobbled Carson Wentz didn’t help, but the same could remain true over the rest of the season … Derrick Henry got another 31 receiving yards and executed a nice screen designed specifically for him, so it was an encouraging outing even without his typical TD. Henry has a strong argument as the No. 1 fantasy back moving forward, even in PPR leagues … Julio Jones had a quiet game despite A.J. Brown leaving early, as both wideouts have been big disappointments to open 2021.

Washington Football Team @ Buffalo Bills

Antonio Gibson was stuffed on the ground and had an eventful two targets, turning one into a 73-yard TD catch and then dropping another possible touchdown shortly thereafter … Josh Allen had his get right game as Emmanuel Sanders cashed in all those unrealized air yards. Washington’s defense doesn’t look nearly as good as its ADP … With Allen throwing for 350+ yards and totaling five touchdowns, Stefon Diggs’ quiet box score feels even worse … This Bills defense is legit.

New Orleans Saints @ New England Patriots

Jameis Winston has averaged 21.0 pass attempts over the first three games of the season and lost a goal-line touchdown to Taysom Hill on Sunday. He’s having a season just like his epic 30/30 performance in 2019. Only the opposite … Jakobi Meyers’ 14 targets keep him PPR relevant, while Mac Jones joins the list of struggling rookie quarterbacks … With James White suffering a serious injury, Rhamondre Stevenson should be added in deeper fantasy leagues.

Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants

Matt Ryan’s average depth of target has plummeted with Arthur Smith, as Cordarrelle Patterson has somehow been more fantasy valuable than Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. I absolutely whiffed on Pitts, ranking him far too high … Saquon Barkley looked better than his numbers suggest (51 yards and a TD on 16 carries to go with 43 yards receiving on six catches) and remember the Falcons allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to running backs last season (this is a pass-funnel defense). Barkley should also see increased targets with seemingly every Giants receiver injured, so he should be locked in fantasy lineups … With Kenny Golladay reportedly set to play limited snaps, both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard left after suffering hamstring injuries in the first half. Shepard had looked terrific, was really underrated and was set to smash in a prime matchup. The WR injuries also didn’t help Daniel Jones, who had another two fumbles … Evan Engram lost a fumble but could be fantasy viable as one of the lone remaining NY pass-catchers.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 26: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs the ball during the third quarter in the game against Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on September 26, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Saquon Barkley took a step forward in his comeback with Week 3's performance against the Falcons. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns

Justin Fields finished with one net yard passing, and his 12 yards rushing (three carries) were just as disappointing. Poor Allen Robinson … Odell Beckham Jr. looked good during his return, and he now has a QB who’s getting 9.8 YPA this season … Kareem Hunt benefitted from Jarvis Landry’s absence and had a real nice touchdown run, while Myles Garret recorded a mere 4.5 sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris saw a whopping 19 targets (14 catches) — the second-most by an RB ever. With JuJu Smith-Schuster now injured along with Diontae Johnson, Harris will remain plenty busy in Pittsburgh’s passing “attack” … Chase Claypool could soon see a boost in fantasy value as the only game in town as well … Ben Roethlisberger’s second pick looked like he had the Bengals money line. Big Ben sure looks washed and is now a long shot to play more than a handful of games the rest of the way … A reminder the Steelers somehow beat the Bills in Week 1 … After averaging 40+ pass attempts as a rookie, Joe Burrow is all the way down to 25.0 this season, but he’s more than halfway to last season’s TD total thanks to far greater efficiency (8.5 YPA up from 6.7). Hopefully the volume will increase the further removed Burrow is from knee surgery, but he and Ja’Marr Chase are getting it done either way. Chase is on pace to score 21 touchdowns on 59 catches this season.

Miami Dolphins @ Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr is averaging 400+ passing yards while getting 8.8 YPA over the first three games of the season, as he’s been one of 2021’s biggest surprises. With the team’s aggressive style, Carr also looks like a legit fantasy QB moving forward … Peyton Barber saw 15 more carries than the league’s highest paid backup running back Kenyan Drake, whom fantasy managers continue to hate. Barber got 4.8 YPC in one of the best games of his career and would be a viable flex option against LAC’s run-funnel defense should Josh Jacobs miss Week 4 … Henry Ruggs is intriguing … How does Jaylen Waddle turn 13 targets into 12 catches for 58 yards? Jacoby Brissett (4.4 YPA) made Tua Tagovailoa look like Steve Young … The Dolphins somehow completed a pass for a safety, while the Raiders somehow lead the NFL in yards per game.

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New York Jets @ Denver Broncos

Game script hurt the fantasy days of Teddy Bridgewater and Denver’s pass-catchers (no one saw more than five targets), as Zach Wilson and the Jets were shutout. I’m keeping Courtland Sutton locked in fantasy lineups versus Baltimore next week. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams (who lost a fumble Sunday) can both be used as flex options in deeper formats, but it’s going to take an injury for either to have major fantasy value … It was a tough matchup, but Zach Wilson’s total EPA (-24.3) in this game was in the 1st percentile.

Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings

The biggest news here is Alexander Mattison taking over Dalvin Cook’s role, including seeing eight targets. Minnesota’s lead back could return this week, but Mattison is clearly a top-10 fantasy RB whenever Cook is out … Seattle got 1.2 more yards per play yet lost 30-17. In fact, the Seahawks lead the NFL in yards per play yet sit 1-2.

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Davante Adams couldn’t be stopped even when the whole stadium knew he was being targeted (seemingly all night), and it’s almost unfair he’s also treated as a glorified goal-line back, too. Adams runs every route on the tree and is simply a far better receiver than his workout metrics would suggest. He certainly has an argument as the No. 1 PPR fantasy player right now … Nice to see Brandon Aiyuk back, but that was a rough game by Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s only going to hear the calls for Trey Lance grow louder with more performances like Sunday night ... Trey Sermon struggled when given the chance to start, dropping the first pass his way and finishing with 3.1 YPC. The rookie scored and admittedly dealt with SF run-blocking issues, but he didn’t exactly impress. Elijah Mitchell should still be the guy once he returns from his shoulder injury … Kyle Shanahan is a brilliant play-caller and offensive mind, but can be an absolute enigma as a head coach.

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