Fantasy football is fun, sometimes. And fantasy football is hard, much of the time. Week 3 was a challenging week for many. All you can do is make good decisions, load up your roster smartly, and hope some bounces go your way. And remember, the balls roll funny for everybody, kid. Eddie Felson tried to warn us on that.
Big names bolster busts of Week 3's Sunday action
Consider the front of the early-window running back board. Khalil Herbert pinballed the Texans after David Montgomery got hurt. Monty managers feel the pain, and Herbert managers likely didn't benefit this week, though good things could be coming down the line.
Herbert stands as RB1 as we compose this piece. He was started in four percent of Yahoo leagues.
Detroit Lions' spirit animal Jamaal Williams sits No. 2 on the backfield leaders. Williams was plausibly playable for some fantasy teams, as he gets double-digit carries just about every week and has a ton of goal-line equity. But his 107 total yards and two touchdowns were surely tilting to D'Andre Swift managers.
Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Montgomery left with injuries. Christian McCaffrey punched out 108 rushing yards, but he didn't score a touchdown and had just seven receiving yards. Baker Mayfield has torpedoed DJ Moore (1-2-0) for three straight games. Moore can't be started until that pair shows some chemistry.
Alvin Kamara has 19 receiving yards for the year. The 1-2 Saints haven't done much on offense, save for some Jameis Winston garbage-time yards (and one snappy comeback win at Atlanta), but when the Saints actually do move the ball, it's Chris Olave winning downfield. Kamara looks sluggish through his two games, and Michael Thomas (foot) left early with an injury.
We have good news on the Bengals, coming later, but Joe Mixon wasn't invited to that party. The Jets held him to 38 total yards and no touchdowns on 15 touches.
Okay, backfield bricks can happen. Normally we can soothe a tough 1 p.m. window with some easy receiver hits.
Can anyone find any?
The Dolphins had a glorious win over Buffalo, but Tyreek Hill (2-33-0, four targets) wasn't the accelerant. After two weeks of highly-concentrated passing, the Dolphins threw their one touchdown to River Cracraft. At least Jaylen Waddle collected 102 yards on just four catches.
Stefon Diggs didn't kill you off a 7-74-0 line, though a touchdown would be nice. Gabe Davis was quiet in his return (3-37-0), more a decoy than anything else. The Dolphins did harass and confuse Josh Allen for three hours.
Ja'Marr Chase posted a touchdown at the Jets, but he had just 27 total yards and lost a fumble.
Davante Adams needed touchdown deodorant to semi-salvage a 5-36-1 line, off 10 targets. If you had the foresight to predict Mack Hollins throwing 8-158-1 at the world, I'd like your lottery numbers.
Justin Jefferson, who we were ready to follow into a burning building two weeks ago, is in a funk. It's one thing when Darius Slay shuts him down in Week 2. But how do we explain Jefferson's 3-14-0 dud against the Detroit turnstile? Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes to Adam Thielen (a one-yarder, of course) and to a charitably-uncovered K.J. Osborn in the final two minutes.
We’ll keep grinding, gamers. Generally, we think of running back production being heavily tied to usage projections and winning scenarios, while wide receiver is a position where dynamic talent is much more critical. (One of my favorite follows put this into perfect words this week, I can't remember who it is. Reebs? Mattek? McFarland? Hartitz? I'll try to find the apropos tweet.) But that doesn’t mean either position is easy to project. And it doesn’t mean every week is going to be sunshine and lollipops.
Of course, this column is called Booms and Busts. We have a few happy stories to spotlight, too:
Lamar Jackson bet on himself before the year, and that bet looks like a home run. He had no problem with Bill Belichick and the Patriots' defense Sunday, throwing for four touchdowns (two of them to superstar Mark Andrews) and adding another 11-107-1 on the ground. No matter your scoring system, Jackson is easily the No. 1 quarterback on the early board, at least 12 points ahead of the chasers. Jackson was September's cheat code.
Jalen Hurts has a good thing going in Philadelphia. He threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns at Washington, and he was kind enough to make sure all scoring tosses went to the pass-catchers fantasy managers care about (DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert). The widely-available Eagles DST also answered the bell, sacking Carson Wentz nine times. Philadelphia's schedule is comically easy for most of the year. The Eagles might be the NFC's favorite right now.
Joe Burrow didn't go bonkers at the Jets, but the Bengals cleaned up the pass protection and Burrow did a better job taking care of the ball. Three touchdowns, 275 passing yards, no picks, just two sacks absorbed. That's a major step forward for a Bengals team that did little right through two weeks.
Quick-hitting comments will follow after Matt Harmon and I tape the Week 3 review podcast . . .