One Big Thing – NFC – Week 3

Updated: October 2nd 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.

NFC EAST

 Washington

It feels like a long time ago that Washington looked like a good team that had eight (8) sacks against Philadelphia on opening weekend. Two convincing losses against an up and coming Cardinals team and an average Browns team have shined a light on many flaws this team still has. Dwayne Haskins still has not shown much to prove he is a franchise quarterback yet. His decision making last week led to sacks and his four (4) turnovers kept giving the Browns a short field to convert on. It will not get any easier as they face a Baltimore team that will be looking to take out some frustration after their own embarrassing loss last week.

 Philadelphia

How much of this team’s ineptitude on offense is the cause of not having any healthy receivers available for Carson Wentz and how much is just his regression. We probably cannot separate the two to distribute blame accordingly but either way, it will continue to be the focus for the Eagles while they are on this downward spiral. The one thing that stood out to me was how their week 3 game ended. For all the praise that Doug Pederson and his staff received during their Super Bowl run for being creative and trusting the analytics when going for it on fourth downs and two-points conversions, they decided to punt with 19 seconds left in overtime from Cincinnati’s side of the field. They told everyone that they are okay with a tie. When you are a struggling team looking for their first win and playing against the worst team from last year you need to create some momentum for your team by showing faith in your offense. This was not it.

 NY Giants

As someone who was buying into Daniel Jones as being a strong second-year breakout quarterback along with Kyler Murray, it does not appear to be happening. Whether it is the new play calling with Jason Garrett, the lack of a running threat with Saquon Barkley out, or teams figuring out Jones with a full offseason of tape there appears to have been no momentum built from last seasons successes to this year. Against a lineup that featured more backup than starters for the 49ers, the Giants could only manage 231 yards of offense and failed to score a single touchdown. It is also affecting second-year receiver Darius Slayton who looked great in week 1 but has been rather quiet the past two weeks due to the offense’s struggles.

 Dallas

The Cowboys went toe-to-toe with the best the NFC has to offer, unfortunately, their defensive struggles showed once again that it will be difficult for them to win in anything but a shootout. Cedrick Wilson was a big surprise as he had over 100 yards receiving and two (2) touchdowns on two 40+ yards passes. His fantasy value is still hovering close to zero though as he played on just 29 percent of the snaps and likely was able to take advantage of a poor Seahawks secondary. Dak Prescott must be enjoying what his defense is doing for his stats though. Through the first three games, he has averaged over 47 pass attempts and almost 400 yards trying to keep up with the opposing team’s offense. If Jerry Jones is not going to pay him someone will.

NFC NORTH

 Minnesota

Please welcome to the stage, Justin Jefferson! His performance last week was one that Vikings fans were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round this offseason. While the team could not hold on for their first victory of the season Jefferson did his part with 175 receiving yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. His snap percentage has been there all season so it is good to see his stats finally reflecting his usage. Hopefully, he can build on this performance to make a case for the best rookie receiver from this stacked class.

 Chicago

The Legend of Nick Foles continues. Foles threw three (3) touchdowns in relief of Mitch Trubisky to get the Bears to a 3-0 start to the season. He immediately elevated the stats of the receivers around him as Allen Robinson and Jimmy Graham had their best fantasy weeks thus far. How much of this was because the offense was trailing and therefore needed to be passing is debatable. Regardless, the Bears (and fantasy fans) should get their answer during Foles’ first two starts as a Bear while playing the Colts and Buccaneers who feature two of the better pass defenses thus far.

 Detroit

This was somewhat of a revenge game as the Cardinals stole a win from the Lions opening week last year. With Kenny Golladay back the offense seemed to have more fluidity and also avoided committing any turnovers. Golladay’s return had a direct correlation with Quintez Cephus seeing only 15 percent of the offensive snaps after averaging 73 percent the first two games. It would take another injury for him to see meaningful playing time at this point. The same goes for D’Andre Swift who only saw six (6) snaps last week. This is Adrian Peterson’s backfield at least for 2020 now.

 Green Bay

The Packers have made it to 3-0 but their receiving room is going to make Aaron Rodgers earn his MVP if he wants it. Allen Lazard had his best performance in replace of Davante Adams but is now sidelined with his own injury until further notice. This leaves guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darrius Shepard and Davante Adams (if healthy) along with Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger at tight end to step up. It is unfortunate too because they face the Falcons this week who have been shredded by opposing passing games this season. Any of these receivers could be a sleeper this week so if the Tennessee/Pittsburgh game has you scrambling see if MVS or Shepard are free agents.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

Despite missing superstar Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers were able to plug and play backup Mike Davis for their first win of the season. Starting a backup running back in fantasy is always a risky play since it is not always clear how much the team trusts them to carry a heavy workload but Carolina showed no caution with Davis. He had 13 of the team’s 19 designed carries and also added eight (8) receptions, showing that his usage against the Buccaneers in relief of McCaffrey was not circumstantial. He may not have much of a role once McCaffrey returns but for at least the next month he should be an RB2/Flex option every week.

 Atlanta

The Falcons’ offense is not the reason they have blown two massive fourth-quarter leads but they have not helped their defense out either. After scoring their 26th point with 10 minutes left in the third quarter their final six (6) drives went Punt, Missed Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Punt, Interception. Five of those six drives also lasted only five plays or less with three consecutive three and outs. Whether that is poor play calling or poor execution you have to be able to sustain drives to put teams away. It does not help that their top three receivers are all dealing with injuries heading into their Monday night game against Green Bay.

 Tampa Bay

Unlike Pittsburgh who had to fight to close out backup turned starter Jeff Driskel the Buccaneers made it look easy in a 28-10 victory. It was a little disappointing that Mike Evans only had two (2) catches for two (2) yards but they were both touchdowns so that helps cover it up. The running back usage continues to bamboozle fantasy players as it started to look like Leonard Fournette was building towards being the primary ball carrier only to have Ronald Jones have 10 more snaps and six (6) more carries. It will be easier to predict this week as Fournette will be out with an injury so Jones should be a strong RB2 candidate.

 New Orleans

For a second consecutive week, it was the Alvin Kamara show for New Orleans as he accounted for 50 percent of the team’s offensive yards. Unfortunately for the Saints, they need Michael Thomas to be able to win games regardless of how stellar Kamara is playing. Drew Brees refuses to push the ball downfield allowing the defense to play tighter coverage. With Thomas now ruled out for at least one more week Kamara could have another massive game against a so-so Lions team.

NFC WEST
San Francisco

It was another convincing win against a New York-based football team but once again the injury bug depleted an otherwise already thin roster even thinner. Both Jerick McKinnon and Jordan Reed were nicked up in the victory and while McKinnon should be able to suit up in week 4, Reed may be heading to the IR. Luckily, Brandon Aiyuk showed why he was a first-round selection making plays in both the passing and running game. With reinforcements coming this week with George Kittle and potentially Deebo Samuel making his season debut this team the 49ers should be able to handle the slumping Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

 LA Rams

The Rams did not look strong in the first half on Sunday but they were able to stick with their game plan and turned it around in the second half, even completing the comeback before giving the lead back to the Bills in the final two minutes. Everyone who did not sell short on Darrell Henderson’s disappointing rookie season was finally rewarded with what hopefully is his breakout game. He rushed for his first career 100+ yard game. Rookie Cam Akers is out for another week so it will continue to be Henderson and Malcolm Brown splitting snaps in the backfield. Their next opponent, the New York Giants, should give Henderson owners another solid week of RB2 production.

 Arizona

Kyler Murray had his first sub-par performance of the season as he threw three (3) interceptions and while it did not necessarily have as big an impact on his fantasy points thanks to his superior rushing production it likely cost his team a win. Andy Isabella was a bright spot for the offense as he had two (2) touchdowns and over 20 PPR points. He only saw 40 percent of the snaps which was fourth among the Cardinals receivers but maybe he has earned more opportunities with how efficient he was. With Christian Kirk still nursing his injury and DeAndre Hopkins missing all practices this week he has a chance to have a follow-up performance.

Seattle

It was another week of mastery by Russell Wilson as he threw five touchdowns against the Cowboys. He would have had a sixth if not for D.K. Metcalf fumbling at the goal line off a perfectly placed deep pass. The Seahawks secondary has not looked good these first three weeks either which means that Russell Wilson is likely to continue passing the ball out of necessity. Both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have a real shot at finishing in the top 5 of fantasy receivers, currently being WR2 and WR6 respectively. This offense is what many though Chris Godwin and Mike Evans were going to be with Tom Brady coming to town.

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