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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

Truths and Lies: Week 3

Two games are in the books and trends are starting to emerge. Recognize those trends quick enough and you can capitalize on them. Here’s one; you can win your fantasy league with a quarterback that runs (Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen) as well as with a tradition drop back passer (Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady). Here’s another; the “Big Three” tight ends have company.

JuJu Smith-Schuster


“The truth only hurts when you want to believe a lie.” - Jennifer McVey

1) It seems obvious, but stay away from wide receivers who are catching balls from backup quarterbacks.

Michael Thomas and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s values take a hit. Thomas was seeing 13 targets per game, but expect Sean Payton to feature the running game, a.k.a. Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, and shorter, quick-release passes to his wideouts which will take away from Thomas’ downfield explosiveness. JuJu was already struggling, averaging eight targets and just 8.1 FPts/G which ranked 43rd. On the other hand, both starting tight ends on New Orleans, Jared Cook, and Pittsburgh, Vance McDonald, saw an increase in targets to seven. While Cook didn’t do much with his opportunities, McDonald scored twice. Remove Ted Ginn Jr., Tre’Quan Smith, Donte Moncreif, Ryan Switzer and James Washington from any starting roles.

2) Patrick Mahomes is ranked third in QB fantasy points.

Fact. Despite his league-leading 821 passing yards and seven touchdowns, his 34.6 FPts/G ranks just third behind Lamar Jackson (35.2) and Dak Prescott (34.9). Fear not Mahomes owners, by the end of the season Mahomes will assuredly be back on top. Jackson’s numbers are inflated having just played the two worst defenses in the league (Miami and Arizona) and Prescott’s opponents weren’t much better (New York Giants and Washington).

3) There was still no better fantasy season for a quarterback than Dan Marino’s in 1984.

Sorry to you young guys who never saw him throw a football, but that’s the truth. While Mahomes’ 2018 was great as was Peyton Manning in 2013 (5,477-55-10) and Tom Brady’s season in 2007 (4,806-50-8), Marino’s season was so much better than the rest of the quarterbacks that season, they pale in comparison. Marino threw for 5,084 yards with 48 TDs and 17 interceptions. But that was before all the rules changes to make passing easier. The next highest QB threw just 32 touchdowns and the average for the top-20 was just under 21 touchdown passes per season. Hall of Famers Joe Montana totaled (3,630-28-10), John Elway (2,598-18-15), Warren Moon (3,338-12-14) and Dan Fouts (3,740-19-17). The chart below shows just how good Marino and his receivers performed.

Year Quarterback Yards % over Top-20 TDs % over Top-20
2018 Patrick Mahomes 5,097 21.8 50 72.4
2018 Top-20 QBs 4,184 29
2013 Peyton Manning 5,477 36.1 55 101.4
2013 Top-20 QBs 4,023 27
2007 Tom Brady 4,806 37.2 50 109.7
2007 Top-20 QBs 3,502 23
1984 Dan Marino 5,084 57.9 48 129.6
1984 Top-20 QBs 3,218 20

4) It's time for Jameis Winston, Cam Newton (foot) and Mitchell Trubisky to step up.

If any of these three don't produce top-level fantasy production in Week 3 it's time to move on. All three face bottom-five defenses (based on QB fantasy points allowed). Winston plays the Giants (31.1 FPts/allowed), Newton sees the Cardinals (33.5) and Trubisky matches up against the Redskins (30.3). All three quarterbacks rank below the top-25 in quarterback production level this season. If they don't show up in Week 3, put them on the block. Trade for better, or hopefully, you have another option on your bench. Many fantasy owners have guys like Andy Dalton (ranks 7th and 19% -owned in all Yahoo leagues) or Josh Allen (ranks 8th and 41%-owned) waiting for their turn to shine.

5) We all laughed when Le'Veon Bell said he was ready for "500 touches" this season.

Through two games he's on pace for 432 touches, and now, without both his starting quarterback Sam Darnold and his top backup Trevor Siemien, he should be in line for even more work. Bell leads all runners with 54 touches (38 rushing attempts and 16 pass receptions on an RB league-leading 19 targets). Two other interesting names in this top-10 running back usage chart below are; Aaron Jones and Chris Carson. Jones was a favorite for blowing up this season and is getting the work needed to do just that. Carson caught just 20 balls on 24 targets in 14 games last season but and has nine catches on 10 targets in two games in 2019. Now a part of the passing game, Carson is ready to become a star too.

Player Team Games Rush Att Rec Touches
Le'Veon Bell NYJ 2 38 16 54
Marlon Mack IND 2 45 2 47
Christian McCaffrey CAR 2 35 12 47
Dalvin Cook MIN 2 41 5 46
Nick Chubb CLE 2 35 7 42
Aaron Jones GB 2 36 5 41
Austin Ekeler LAC 2 29 12 41
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 2 36 3 39
Chris Carson SEA 2 30 9 39
Derrick Henry TEN 2 34 3 37


“When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” - Yevgeny Yevtushenko

1) Eli Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback because he won two Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVPs.

Not for the fantasy Hall of Fame. He is the very definition of mediocrity with a 116-116 overall record. And for fantasy owners he’s been less-than-mediocre having never finished a year averaging more than 23.1 FPts/G (2011). His last four seasons, he’s averaged less than 20 FPts/G and been irrelevant to fantasy owners. Not that Daniel Jones should be expected to do much in his first start with Sterling Shepard (injured) and Golden Tate (suspended) still on the sidelines. But if you have enough slots on your roster, take a chance and stash him for later in the season.

2) The Chargers’ 10-point output last week against Detroit proves they need Melvin Gordon.

Melvin who? It’s not hard to see why the Los Angeles Chargers aren’t in a hurry to bring Gordon back at Gordon’s asking price. Through two games Austin Ekeler leads all backs averaging 26.4 FPts/G in standard leagues and 32.4 FPts/G in PPR leagues. Justin Jackson (15 touches) hasn’t been an issue for Ekeler owners. Barring a losing streak, which is unlikely given their next four games are Houston, Miami, Denver and Pittsburgh, or injury to Ekeler, I wouldn’t expect to see Gordon as a starter until Week 13 … the fantasy playoffs. He’ll return in Week 10 so his contract year is fulfilled, but would need to get in shape. Then with a bye week coming in Week 12, there is no reason to rush him back when you can get him three full weeks of practice and ready for an expected playoff run.

3) Fantasy tight ends are Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz in Tier 1 … and everyone else.

Don’t look now, but Baltimore’s Mark Andrews is putting forth a pretty good argument to include him in the top tier. Efficient, catching 16 of 17 targets for 220 yards and two scores, he leads all tight ends averaging 25 FPts/G in PPR leagues. He’s cracked 100-yards in both games. Only Marquise Brown (18) has seen more targets on the Ravens and no other Raven has more than six targets. Lamar Jackson is for real, rookie “Hollywood” Brown is for real and so is Andrews. (P.S. – Evan Engram ranks second through two games (19.7 FPts/G), though his target share should fall when Shepard and Tate return.)

4) Bengals wideout John Ross can now be trusted as a fantasy starter.

It’s true that Ross is averaging 28.0 FPts/G, second only to Sammy Watkins, but does anyone think Andy Dalton can keep throwing at this pace? Dalton is currently second in passing yards (729) and second in passing attempts (93). Dalton has never averaged more than 36.6 passing attempts per game (2013) but is averaging 46.5 through two games. That will change when Joe Mixon is healthy again. And Ross’ target share will shrink when A.J. Green returns from his ankle injury (he’s out of the walking boot and on a treadmill). Sell high!

5) Kyler Murray will be a passing/running quarterback much like Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson.

False. Murray has actually run just six times in two games and leads the league in passing attempts (94). Thirteen quarterbacks have run more times than Murray and 15 have more rushing yards, including such famous “cigar-store Indians” as Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan. Be wary, however, Murray is third in sacks (8), playing behind OL that received a No. 30 preseason rank from PFF and he’s not a big guy (5-foot-10, 207 lbs.). He’s also completing just 57.4% of his passes which ranks 28th. But at least he’s averaging more fantasy points than Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton … and Aaron Rodgers!