Week 3 of the fantasy football season is in the books. ADP’s and preseason notions now begin to take a backseat to in-season performance. It’s still early, and pre-draft beliefs do still carry some weight, but it’s important to understand when to let go. Below, I’ll walk through some takeaways coming out of Week 3 and their impact on the rest of the fantasy football season.
It’s Cooper Kupp and Everyone Else
Kupp has been an absolute monster the first three weeks. He’s turned a fourth round ADP into the number one overall wide receiver. I expected positive touchdown regression from Kupp with an upgrade at quarterback and a shockingly-low output last season, but nobody could have predicted five touchdowns through Week 3. The best part is Kupp hasn’t been touchdown-dependent. He has at least 10 targets, 7 receptions, and 96 receiving yards in each of his first three games. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that all of the teams that have failed so miserably to contain Kupp’s monster-production finished in the top-20 against fantasy wide receivers last year. If Kupp can annihilate competent defenses in his first three games with a new quarterback, he should be able to continue his dominance. Four of his next six matchups are against teams that finished bottom-seven against fantasy wide receivers in 2020.
Robert Woods, the most highly-drafted L.A. Rams wide receiver this year, has severely disappointed. Although I still believe Woods is a season-long starter, it is no longer a 1A and 1B situation. Kupp is the clear number 1, and Woods’ place in the pass-catching pecking order is still to be determined.
James Robinson is Back
Did he ever actually go anywhere? After all, it was only one week that caused managers to ship off James Robinson in a panic. In week two, Robinson saw a massive uptick in snap percentage and rush share. This past week, the trend continued as Robinson out-carried Carlos Hyde 15-8 and out-targeted him 6-0. His involvement in the passing game and seemingly guaranteed touches on the ground week-to-week have Robinson back in the RB2 range after being cast aside because of the week-one-aberration. Anyone holding out hope for Carlos Hyde to retain value can let go at this point.
When Travis Etienne went down for the season, many expected Laviska Shenault to thrive in the short passing game. To some extent, he has, evidenced by 20 targets through three games, but he’s averaging only seven yards per reception. While Robinson is averaging nearly the same, he has filled more of the pass-catching role than Shenault-truthers had hoped. At this point, Shenault’s role appears to be too insignificant even for flex consideration.
Odell Returns…and Looks Great
Odell Beckham Jr. made his highly-anticipated debut and did not disappoint. As a football fan, it was awesome to watch Odell play again. For fantasy, this was a great sign for Odell-managers. If you didn’t start him because you needed him to prove he’s healthy and still has skill, there you go. He went for 5 catches on 9 targets for 77 yards and added a 10-yard carry. His nine targets led all receivers by a wide margin as Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins each saw just two targets. Odell should be a legitimate flex play rest of season, and he could have bigger upside the next two weeks while Jarvis Landry remains sidelined.
Odell’s presence won’t take anything away from Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt as the offense has run through the dynamic duo for each of the past two seasons. When Landry comes back, he won’t be a reliable weekly flex play and can probably be dropped.
The CEH Mystery
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been one of the most talked-about players through the first few weeks. He was the clear-cut biggest bust through two games, and things appeared to be getting worse as Week 2 ended with a game-losing fumble. It seems Clyde never went into the doghouse as he toted the rock 17 times for 100 yards on the ground and added two catches for nine yards and a score though the air this past Sunday. While the target volume has yet to live up to pre-season hopes, it’s nice to see Clyde involved in the red zone. CEH looked explosive and decisive on Sunday, two attributes he desperately lacked in the first two games. He saw his lowest snap count but highest usage, so it’s likely going to be a roller coaster for Edwards-Helaire-managers from here on out. If you can trade Clyde for something close to his pre-season value, it could save you some stress. If not, he’s still a fine RB2 but lacks the upside fantasy players thought they were getting with their mid-second-round pick.
New Number 1 in L.A.?
In his first full season, Mike Williams scored 10 touchdowns. The next year, he had 1,000 receiving yards. Last year, he failed to reach 800 yards or score more than 5 touchdowns, so it was reasonable to say he hadn’t quite put it all together. Well, it appears he’s figured it out. Don’t believe me? Don’t think there’s a way Mike Williams, perennial boom-or-bust fantasy player could surpass Keenan Allen, perennial top-15 fantasy receiver? Through three games, Williams is averaging 10.3 targets, 7.3 receptions, 98.3 yards, and 1.3 touchdowns per game. He’s the number two fantasy receiver behind only the aforementioned Cooper Kupp. Perhaps numbers that gaudy aren’t sustainable, but Williams’ skillset aligns more closely with Justin Herbert than it did with Phillip Rivers. Health, the departure of Hunter Henry, and a full off-season to build chemistry with Herbert has Williams in line to compete for fantasy MVP.
As for Keenan Allen, his value remains the same. With Herbert ranking 5th in passing attempts and 4th in passing yards so far, it appears the Chargers are going to let him air it out. There is plenty of volume to go around in this offense to feed two great wide receivers. While Williams has stolen the show in this young season, Allen has more total targets and more red zone targets. Williams’ physical prowess and skillset make him more of a natural touchdown threat, but Allen has always produced for fantasy on the back of receptions and yards. Dissimilar to the clear distinction between Kupp and Woods, this L.A. team has a 1A and 1B situation.
We’re still just three weeks into the fantasy season, but it’s important to understand which trends are real and which are deceptive. It’s important to have the ability to put aside beliefs that stem from past seasons or the pre-season. Never put too much weight on a single performance and always keep future matchups and roster construction in mind when attempting to trade away or for any players. It’s only Week 4, but it’s almost time to consider playoff matchups when analyzing your roster.