One Big Thing – AFC – Week 3

Updated: October 1st 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

  Miami

Remember when folks were debating whether Jordan Howard or Matt Breida was going to be the more relevant running back to have in Miami? Neither has seen any relevancy outside of Howard’s weekly 1-yard touchdown appearance and instead looks like this is Myles Gaskin’s backfield. He has already reached last year’s production in just the first three (3) games and along with James Robinson in Jacksonville, seems to be this year’s waiver wire hero.

 New England

Rex Burkhead decided to have one of his playoff performances in the regular season and it caught most off guard in fantasy last week. While it is likely that this was a perfect storm of missing James White and opportunities around the goal line maybe in this new run-first offense his skillset is more versatile than that of White or Sony Michel. As I hinted in the Street FA Report this week he may be more involved in the offense than most think and while it may have a bigger impact on real football than it will fantasy it is good to see him getting involved the most he has been since coming from Cincinnati four seasons ago.

NY Jets

This team is bad. It certainly does not help when the starting running back and two starting receivers are missing games due to injury but their 0-3 start seems like it was always an inevitability. Braxton Berrios has been a nice story the last two weeks but hopefully, Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell return soon to make this team worth watching at least for fantasy implications.

Buffalo

Gabriel Davis had a nice showing with John Brown going down with an injury. The fourth-round rookie from UCF scored his first touchdown in week two and then had over 80 receiving yards against the Rams last week. The Bills throttled down for much of the second half with a seemingly comfortable lead only to have to quickly pick things back up on their final drive to avoid an Atlanta-level collapse. If Brown was to miss any additional time, Davis may have another opportunity to see some targets and build a rapport with Josh Allen.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh

This offense is just the Hydra of Greek mythology; when one player goes down another takes his place. The succession line of receivers all the way back to Mike Wallace has shown that if the Steelers draft a receiver we need to be on notice. Dionte Johnson exited last week with a concussion and in his absence, both James Washington and Chase Claypool stepped right in and saw eleven (11) targets. It begs the question if they can develop/have such an eye for talent do they need to extend a player like Juju Smith-Schuster or could they focus resources elsewhere and continue to develop the other receivers in his place?

Cincinnati

It was another strong showing for Joe Burrow and was a small coming-out party for second-rounder Tee Higgins who caught his first two career touchdowns. A reason why this game seemed to be much better for fantasy than maybe it should have was that it went the full five quarters but it all counts the same. The Bengals have played the most 3WR (79%) and 5WR (5%) sets thus far so it is likely that Higgins will continue to see the field as the season moves along. Especially if John Ross continues to be inactive and Auden Tate is pushed down the depth chart, Higgins could be one injury away from a starting role.

Cleveland

The Browns executed the same game plans as week 2 against the Bengals and for the second straight week, it worked. It helped that Washington kept turning the ball over but a win is a win. As long as the Browns keep playing inferior opponents they should be able to run the ball at will with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. We will see whether they get to play the “good” Dallas Cowboys this week or the “bad” Dallas Cowboys. That may decide whether the Browns have a chance at winning this game or not.

Baltimore

Everything about Baltimore’s week 3 matchup with Kansas City was disappointing. Lamar Jackson was not able to elevate his game to Patrick Mahomes’ level of excellence and his receivers let him down with several dropped balls on key downs. Luckily for them, they have a cupcake matchup against a Washington team that was just bullied by Cleveland last week. Only a catastrophic performance this week would cause any concern in those starting Jackson or Mark Andrews moving forward.

AFC SOUTH

Jacksonville

Similar analysis here for James Robinson as with Myles Gaskins in Miami’s blurb. He looks like he will be the Waiver King for 2020 as he currently ranks as the RB6 in PPR. His usage appears to be matchup proof too as the Jaguars were trailing for the entire game and he continued to be involved in the passing game. He has filled the role vacated by Leonard Fournette well and should be a week-to-week RB2.

Indianapolis

Two weeks in a row and Mo Alie-Cox continue to surprise fantasy players with his production. Last week with Jack Doyle out of the lineup it made sense but this week Doyle returned and went without even a single target. Meanwhile, Alie-Cox has now scored 30PPR points in the last two games and is currently a top 10 TE. He is a rosterable tight end now and is one more solid performance away from being a weekly starter.

Texans

Three games and three losses thus far for Bill O’Brien and his new-look Texans. It has been a tough start to the season playing the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers but this team has been a perennial playoff team for the last half-decade with DeShaun Watson so it is still surprising to see them winless. I have said it in past weeks but they miss DeAndre Hopkins’ consistent and splash plays to help keep the offense moving. They just cannot seem to get out of first gear right now. Hopefully, they can turn things around against Minnesota and Jacksonville the next two weeks.

Tennessee

Derrick Henry had a nice bounce-back game after being held to under 10 PPR points in week 2 by scoring 27 points against Minnesota last week. There was maybe some talk that Tennessee drafted Darrynton Evans to spell Henry more but Henry has out-touched the rest of the Titans backfield 87:9 through three games and he does not appear to be slowing down.

AFC WEST

Las Vegas

Not sure how much Darren Waller was hampered with his lower-body injury last week and whether that may have limited his preparation for New England but Bill Belichick was able to shut him, and the entire Raider offense down. A week after they shocked the Saints by going up and down the field in the second half this offense could not sustain drives until New England was in full control of the game. At least Hunter Renfrew had a bit of a coming-out party so maybe he can build momentum into the next game with both Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs trending towards not playing this week.

LA Chargers

Someone should have waited to tell Justin Herbert that he was starting again this week as it seemed to help him stay loose against Kansas City two weeks ago. Against a more inferior Carolina team, Herbert showed a little more of what we would expect from a rookie quarterback making his second career start. Not that it was a bad performance, he had a chance at the end to win it, but he just did not have the “it” factor. Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler fantasy owners are not complaining though as in his two starts he seems to have rejuvenated their values to be where most had them ranked coming into the season. Hopefully, Herbert keeps an eye on the quarterbacks he is facing the next two weeks (Brady and Brees) and takes away a couple of tricks from them to help him improve.

Denver

When Tim Patrick is your leading point scorer in a week it probably was not a good week for the offense. The Broncos looked overmatched against a strong Buccaneers defense that dominated them all afternoon. Not sure they would have fared much better if they had a healthy lineup but it would have at least been more interesting of a game to watch. The way this season is going John Elway should not rush to bring Drew Lock back to risk re-injuring his shoulder. For Lock though, he may want to come back as soon as possible to avoid being replaced by one of the incoming rookie quarterbacks that could be available with Denver’s currently top 5 draft pick.

Kansas City

The Chiefs for all intents and purpose gave Patrick Mahomes a blank check to keep him as their starting quarterback. In RSO leagues so should you. He effortlessly reminded everyone that he is capable of putting up 40 fantasy points each week and has not even hit his prime yet. Tyreek may lose his speed and Kelce may only have two or three years of peak play left but Mahomes will continue to elevate all the talent around him. Unless you are playing in a 1QB league and you get a haul of players and picks in return when his resign button becomes active after week 4 just hit accept. Whatever resign value he has on his expiring rookie contract is undervalued.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews