Why can't we have nice things? Week 3, like Week 2, was defined by injuries, with star players being ruled out before, as well as during, games. However, there were enough healthy players who made a significant impact on the results of the games — some good, some bad.
Here are my takeaways from Week 3.
The fantasy death of Clyde Edwards-Helaire was greatly exaggerated. Edwards-Helaire was the best weapon for the Chiefs in the loss to the LA Chargers, even outscoring Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. CEH rushed 17 times for 100 yards and had 2 receptions for 9 yards, including a receiving touchdown. He had more yards rushing in Week 3 than he did in Weeks 1 and 2 combined (89). Despite the dominant performance, he is currently RB29 on the season and some negative trends remain that fantasy managers must keep their eye on.
The first is the fact that Edwards-Helaire can’t hold onto the ball to save his life. He has fumbled the ball in back-to-back weeks. This didn’t affect his Week 3 performance, but if Edwards-Helaire keeps fumbling, there is a chance CEH will be riding the bench as punishment. Secondly, his involvement in the passing game has been non-existent. CEH only has 5 receptions on 5 targets for 38 yards on the season. If this trend continues, Edwards-Helaire will need rushing volume and touchdowns to consistently put up solid fantasy numbers. Should these concerns be enough to keep Edwards-Helaire out of your weekly lineups?
To be frank, it would be ill-advised to sit the starting running back on the 5th overall-ranked offense in the league. Edwards-Helaire is currently top 10 in rushing attempts (44) and yards (189) on the season. Even if he doesn’t see an increase in passing work, his average opportunity share of 70% ensures he will be highly involved in the offense — as long as he holds on to the ball.
Despite Edwards-Helaire facing the Philadelphia Eagles' 10th overall-ranked defense in Week 4, he should be considered an RB2 as the Eagles are only ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed.
“At Your Beckham Call”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Odell Beckham Jr. is BACK!
Even though he didn’t have one of his trademark one-handed catches, OBJ looked like his old “alpha” self in Week 3. He turned his 31 percent target share into 77 yards on 9 targets. He also had 10 yards rushing. Essentially, Baker Mayfield was looking Beckham’s way early and often. The Browns also didn’t limit Beckham in terms of snaps in his first game back in almost a year:
4 for 62 for OBJ.
He's played 84% of the snaps, per @NextGenStats
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 26, 2021
We established Beckham had an impressive comeback, but how can we trust OBJ to be “OBJ” going forward?
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to have full confidence after just one game. However, his overall involvement in the offense in his first game back was very encouraging. He had 48.7% of the team’s air yards and was top-10 among wide receivers in target share. With Jarvis Landry on IR, Beckham should continue to be the number-one target. Even though the Browns are ranked 30th in passing attempts, they are 18th in passing yards and the No. 8 overall offense. Beckham should have a solid game in Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings, who are ranked 27th overall in passing yards allowed.
X Marks the Spot
JUSTIN TUCKER HIT A GAME-WINNING 66-YARD FIELD GOAL! A NEW NFL RECORD!
Ok, now that that’s been said, back to Mark Andrews. Andrews finally re-entered the land of the elite tight ends with his Week 3 performance. He posted 5 receptions on 7 targets for 109 yards, which resulted in him finishing as the TE2 on the week. This performance provided flashbacks to his 2019 season where he finished as the TE6 in points per game:
Mark Andrews’ 109 yards receiving yesterday was the second highest of his career and highest yardage total since Week 2 of 2019 (112) pic.twitter.com/uAlqliGoi3
— TK (@TKingMode) September 27, 2021
Surprisingly, he had more yards in Week 3 than he did in Week 1 and 2 combined (77). We knew Andrews was Lamar Jackson’s safety blanket, but it’s still pleasing to see his involvement in the offense has increased every week this year:
Mark Andrews' target share by week:
Week 1: 17.2%
Week 2: 20.0%
Week 3: 25.9%
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 27, 2021
Thankfully, Andrews stepped up because he didn’t get much help from the Ravens’ WR1 and RB1. Marquise Brown must have greased his gloves with butter before the game; he had three dropped passes, which could have turned into huge plays for the Ravens' offense. He ended the game with a disappointing 3 receptions on 7 targets for 53 yards. Brown was still tied for the most targets with Andrews, so let’s hope he remembers how to catch next week.
Even with the drops, though, he was more helpful than the running backs.
The Ravens must have forgotten that Ty’Son Williams was their “RB1.” He had five (yes, five) rushing attempts for 22 yards. To top it off, Williams was out-touched and outperformed by Latavius Murray, who had 7 rushes for 28 yards. Williams’ usage was very concerning and something to monitor going forward.
Now that we addressed the struggles of the other position groups, is it fair to say that Andrews will be a reliable top 5 TE rest of season?
The short answer is yes. He is currently just outside the Top 5, sitting at TE7 on the season. He is tied for sixth in average targets per game (5.7), tied for fifth in receptions (13), and is fourth in receiving yards (186) among tight ends. Even though the Ravens are ranked 27th in passing attempts, they are ranked 17th in passing yards with Andrews commanding 18.7% of the team’s air yards with a 21.0% target share. He is an every-week starter, even in Week 4 where he goes against the Denver Broncos' top-ranked defense.
I wanna be like Mike
Mike Williams has been playing Michael Jordan this season. “Big Mike" had a big performance in Week 3 when he had 7 receptions for 9 targets and a career-high 122 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had a two-point conversion, which was just icing on the cake for his WR2 overall finish.
After three weeks we have to ask ourselves, is Williams the new WR1 on the Chargers?
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
Now, this is no disrespect to Keenan Allen who is also having an excellent season. Allen is averaging 7 receptions, 11 targets, and 86 yards through three weeks. These numbers are almost identical to Williams’ who is averaging 7.3 receptions, 10.3 targets, and 98.3 yards on the season. The key difference has been in the almighty touchdown column. Williams has recorded 4 touchdowns, while Allen only has 1. With that said, this situation seems to be more of a “WR1A and WR1B” than “WR1 and WR2.”
So we know he is at least the WR1B on his team but is Williams a locked-in WR1 in fantasy?
Wide receivers with at least a 25% target share in each of their first three games (pre-Sunday/Monday night, obviously):
Just like we all thought three weeks ago.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 27, 2021
How can you possibly say no after what we have seen so far?? Among wide receivers, he is second in touchdowns (4), he is tied for third in receptions per game (10.3), tied for fourth in total targets (31), and fifth in total receiving yards (295). So, basically, he has been really, really good this season. With the Chargers’ offense ranked sixth in passing attempts and fourth in yards, there is no reason why Williams cannot keep up this pace while receiving a 25.6% target share. Williams is still an auto-start against the Raiders' 15th-ranked defense in Week 4.
Justin left on the Field
“Be careful what you wish for.”
Fantasy managers FINALLY got to witness Justin Fields starting an NFL game due to Andy Dalton being injured. Unfortunately, the debut left much to be desired.
Fields had 6 completions on 20 attempts for only 68 yards. Surprisingly, he scored fewer fantasy points in Week 3 than he did in Week 1 and Week 2, when he played 7% and 65% of snaps, respectively. Also, Fields, who is known as a dual-threat QB, had fewer rushing yards in Week 3 (12) than Andy Dalton had in Weeks 1 (13) and 2 (25).
It didn’t help that the Bears' offensive line was a turnstile all game. The line made the Cleveland Browns look like the ‘85 Bears. The Browns had a whopping 9 sacks on Fields and only allowed 6 points. Might as well give Myles Garrett the Defensive Player of the Year award after having 4.5 of those sacks, which was a franchise record for a single game.
After this brutal beatdown, should we be concerned about Fields being a fantasy letdown?
The Browns defense pressured Justin Fields on 55.2% of his dropbacks, tied for the 4th highest pressure rate by any team in a game since last season.
🔸 7 QBP on 25 pass rushes (28.0%)
🔸 8 QBP on 25 pass rushes (32.0%)#CHIvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/Z3rXksph2Q
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 26, 2021
Friendly Reminder: Justin Fields is a ROOKIE who just started his FIRST game. Better days are coming for the Bears’ new franchise quarterback. Obviously, any quarterback is going to struggle while being sacked nine times. The Bears NEED to find a way to protect Fields better going forward for him to be able to progress as a QB. The overall play-calling also added to Field’s lackluster outing.
Fields will provide better passing numbers and rushing numbers as he gets more reps under his belt. In Week 2, he only played 65% of snaps but had 6 completions on 10 attempts for 60 yards and 10 rushes for 31 yards. This will be more indicative of what to expect from him, at least in rushing, for future matchups.
In terms of passing, the Bears should open up the offense in the coming weeks as Fields gets more comfortable. He has a chance at redemption as he gets to challenge the Detroit Lions in Week 4, currently the 31st-ranked defense.