Week 3 Fantasy Football Booms and Busts: Buffalo back in business

·8 min read

It’s been three weeks, and we’ve seen all temperatures with the Buffalo Bills offense.

Opening day, the Bills came out cold — and were deservedly beaten by Pittsburgh.

Week 2, the Buffalo offense warmed somewhat — but the 35-0 victory over Miami was also a bit misleading. Buffalo didn’t meet its normal level of efficiency.

Time for concern? Forget all that. Buffalo invited Washington to town in Week 3, and quickly directed the WFT defense to the woodshed.

Josh Allen was back in MVP-candidate form, throwing for 358 yards and four touchdowns, almost effortlessly. Allen wasn’t sacked or intercepted on the day, and he didn’t even need to run much (just nine yards), though he added another score on the ground. Buffalo finished with a 43-21 victory, but it felt like a game where Allen and Friends could name the score.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills runs to his right with the ball in the first quarter of the game against the Washington Football Team at Highmark Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Quarterback Josh Allen accounted for five total touchdowns in an impressive win over Washington. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

Stefon Diggs was the lone signature player Washington was able to contain — 10 Diggs targets netted a modest 6-62-0 line. But Emmanuel Sanders (5-94-2) continues to age gracefully, while Cole Beasley (11-98-0 on 13 targets) kept the chains moving. Zack Moss added 60 yards by land, 31 by air, and a touchdown catch. Meanwhile, Devin Singletary didn’t do much — 11 for 26 on the ground, and one catch that went nowhere.

Get used to Allen’s pinball stats, the schedule is a daisy. Houston waits in Week 4, and then it’s Kansas City and Tennessee — two teams that haven’t shown much on defense. The Jaguars and Jets highlight the schedule in early November.

Perhaps Diggs would belong in the second round if we redrafted today, but Allen is who we thought he was. Beasley turned into an ADP bargain, and Sanders is the rare 30-something receiver that still has juice left. Moss wasn’t active in Week 1, but he’s had the better of the backfield value since then. He’s at least a flex at this point, and maybe a lower-end RB2 in some formats.

Washington has to go back to the drawing board

The offense had just 13 first downs, while the vaunted — and apparently, grossly overrated — defense has played poorly every week. Buffalo finished with 29 first downs and 481 yards of offense.

Antonio Gibson’s sluggish day was bailed out by one electric 73-yard touchdown catch. Logan Thomas had an early fumble, but at least tacked on a garbage-time touchdown late. Terry McLaurin's snappiest highlight was a first-half tackle, one of two picks Taylor Heinicke threw on the day. The best news for the WFT — they have a solid chance to win at Atlanta next week.

Week 3 observations

• Tyler Higbee has yet to give us a smash game, though 5-40-1 is enough to land in the Top 10 at a thin position. Higbee managers can take heart that he’s playing every snap, and he’s athletic enough that Sean McVay will occasionally scheme specifically for Higbee, such as on Sunday’s touchdown against Tampa Bay.

• The Jaguars couldn’t hang with Arizona all day, but at least James Robinson continued to trend upward. Robinson was effective as a runner, handy as a receiver (six catches), and busy all day — his 21 touches far outpaced Carlos Hyde’s eight. Maybe Urban Meyer isn’t going to be long for the NFL, but at least he’s recognized who the best Jacksonville back is.

• Saquon Barkley handled a heavy workload and enjoyed some touchdown deodorant, but we’ve yet to see him look anything like the Pro Bowl performer he was early in his career. New York’s horrible offensive line isn’t doing him any favors — and Barkley did collect six catches, saving him in PPR formats — but he’d be on the fringe of first-round value if we redrafted tomorrow.

• For the second straight week, Derrick Henry not only handled a ridiculous rushing workload (28 carries), but he was also useful as a receiver. As much as we all admired Arthur Smith’s coordinator time in Tennessee, the Titans missed an opportunity to use Henry as a multi-dimensional back. It’s not that Henry needs to emulate a Christian McCaffrey or Marshall Faulk workload, but it makes for a more dynamic offense — and every so often, you want Henry to be tackled by the lighter guys on the opposing defense, not the heavy beef up the middle.

• Maybe Matt Nagy knew what he was doing when he kept Justin Fields out of the starting gig to begin the year. Fields absorbed nine sacks at Cleveland — to be fair, quarterback sacks are generally a shared responsibility of the quarterback and line — and only completed six passes, good for all of 68 yards. Allen Robinson might be more of a WR3, at best, until the Bears get Fields up to speed or return to the low-ceiling but experienced Andy Dalton. At least the Lions are a good draw next week.

• One crazy thing about Ja’Marr Chase’s fast start is that the Bengals aren’t peppering him with targets —he’s only seen 16 through three weeks, including five on Sunday despite the absence of Tee Higgins. Chase is a good example of why you shrug over dropped passes; if a receiver can get open, follow him and trust him. Hollywood Brown (three horrible drops) still makes sense as a weekly start for Baltimore.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 12: Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals
Ja'Marr Chase just continues to impress. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

• Every Kansas City game has been a coin-flip game; any record from 3-0 to 0-3 would make sense. It almost feels like the Chiefs are bored at times; for two straight weeks, opponents have taken the deep ball away from Tyreek Hill and forced Patrick Mahomes to methodically move the ball down the field. Give the Chiefs credit for not shaming Clyde Edwards-Helaire after his early fumble; he was effective on 17 carries (100 yards, touchdown). This offense still needs a dynamic third piece, however, and I’m not sure CEH is that guy.

• When Najee Harris needs 19 targets for the Steelers, that's a bug, not a feature. I get it, Diontae Johnson didn't play and JuJu Smith-Schuster got hurt. And Harris is a fine player. But Ben Roethlisberger looks like the 44-year-old quarterback that Tom Brady is.

• Although Alvin Kamara is still plenty good, it’s strange to watch the Saints rebrand themselves as a defense-first team. Jameis Winston avoided the big mistake and can keep his job for now, not that anyone throws a parade over a 6.1 YPA. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith aren’t giving New England any explosive plays.

• I still expect Kyle Pitts to emerge at some point in the first half of the year, but Cordarrelle Patterson is Atlanta’s second-most important skill player right now. And Arthur Smith isn't really sure how to solve the hand he's been dealt. 

• Maybe Adam Thielen has lost a half-step and the Vikings have to consider that with downfield routes, but he’s still a subtle, crafty technician, and that’s why he’s going to score double-digit touchdowns again. At this point, he and Kirk Cousins can complete each other’s sentences.

• Derek Carr is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL right now. He didn't have Josh Jacobs on Sunday and the Dolphins did a solid job on Darren Waller, and yet Carr still chucked for 386 yards and made 9.0 YPA. The Raiders passing game is starting to take an interesting form, with players who threaten every quadrant of the field. Jon Gruden has his minuses as a head coach, but he still is an excellent offensive designer. 

• Gio Bernard was targeted 10 times with the Bucs down most of the day, catching nine and scoring a touchdown. Looks like Tom Brady has his new James White. Just remember, White always had a very low upside for rushing work and generally a low fantasy ceiling, except for one year. But when you're in Brady's Circle of Trust, we have to pay attention. 

• Unless Jimmy Garoppolo plays out of his mind for two weeks, I suspect the Trey Lance era could start in Week 7 against Indianapolis. The Niners are off in Week 6, giving plenty of time to work on a transition. 

San Francisco's offense was sharp in the opening week, in part thanks to Detroit. Things were sluggish against Philadelphia and Green Bay the last two weeks. And obviously at some point, San Francisco is best served to focus on getting its future quarterback in the saddle. 

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