Fantasy Football Matchups, Starts and Sits, Studs! (End of Week 3)

  • Aroosh Kumar ’22, Sachit Sinha ’22, Mat Bucher ’22

Since March, all we hear on the Internet is how unlucky this year has been for all of us. Fortunately, three weeks ago, the 2020-21 NFL football season returned and we now have football nearly every Sunday until February! Along with the return of the NFL comes the return of fantasy football leagues, and we are going to break down the best players at each spot as well as some guys you may want to drop for weeks 4 and 5. 

Quarterbacks:

Quarterbacks, one of the most important positions in football- arguably the position that can consistently bring your team the most fantasy points- are the first thing on our agenda. The top five quarterbacks we will be discussing are Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Dak Prescott (honorable mention Kyler Murray).

Russell Wilson is playing brilliantly and putting together an MVP campaign this season. Racking up over 30 points consistently, there’s never any need to take this man out of your starting lineup regardless of the matchup. Begin to expect 25 plus points from him every week.

Next up we have Josh Allen. It is clear to see the vast improvement in his game this season versus last year, where every throw past 20 yards was off-point. In the first two weeks, the Bills played easy teams, and Allen had monster 30 plus point games. Yet, fantasy team managers questioned if he would be able to perform against the more versatile and dangerous Rams defense. Allen responded with 20 points in just the first half, and a 30 point game in Week 3, quieting all doubters. From this point on, he is your starting quarterback without question.

Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the NFL. However, up until week 2, those who had him on his team were getting good performances, but probably a little less than what you could have hoped for. This all changed in Week 3, where he had a monster 40 point game over a stellar ravens defense, and helped me personally win in my fantasy league. The competition just brings out the best in Mahomes and you should expect another stroke of brilliance against the New England Patriots next week. AS usual, feel free to lock him in as your QB1.

Dak Prescott has the best wide receiver corps in the NFL – that ought to help him hit his targets. After a pretty dismissal performance last year, Prescott is back and better, and with so many weapons, defenses cannot possibly guard them all. The Cowboys have a great team but have lost some really close games this season, regardless Dak Prescott has played well in all of them, even punching in a 40 point game last week in a comeback victory against the Falcons. After throwing for 450+ yards against Jamal Adams and the Seahawks, expect more of the same this year. 

Wide Receivers:

Any football fanatic knows the top wide receivers in football: Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Deandre Hopkins. These five players have more than earned their big-name status in the NFL, making tough grabs and racking up touchdowns and yardage. Let’s break down these five players for the first couple of weeks.

 Michael Thomas should have been a first-round pick and Wide Receiver 1 (WR1) on your fantasy football team. Unfortunately, he put up an underwhelming 4.7 points (3 receptions, 17 yards, 0 touchdowns) in Week 1 versus the Buccaneers. On top of that, he rolled his ankle near the end of the game, and Saints Head Coach Sean Payton announced he will be out for an undisclosed amount of time. More importantly, Drew Brees totaled only 28 points in Weeks 1 and 2 combined. If he continues to play badly over the next few weeks, this could continue later into the season, and Thomas could be directly affected with subpar fantasy points.

Odell Beckham had a mediocre Week 1 in which he put up 5.2 points (3 rec, 22 yards, 0 touchdowns). He bounced back In Week 2, where he racked up 17.4 fantasy points (4 receptions, 74 yards, 1 touchdown) against the Cincinnati Bengals but once again scored a mediocre 9.9 points in Week 3 against Washington. It is worth noting that Beckham had a poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens last year as well, and we are still in the early part of the season. However, the Browns have a fairly tough schedule with the Colts and Steelers in the coming weeks. Continue to observe Beckham; he could have a great season, but if he produces suboptimal numbers in the next few weeks, trade him as soon as possible.

On the upside, Davante Adams had a superb first week. He led all fantasy scorers with 41.6 points (14 rec, 156 yards, and 2 touchdowns). Unfortunately, he scored a mere 6.6 points (3 rec, 36 yards, 0 touchdowns) in Week 2. This may have had to do with the fact that he was sidelined in the second half with a hamstring injury and sat out against the Saints in Week 3. If and when he returns, start him as your WR1 without a doubt; he will have an excellent season. 

Next, we have Julio Jones. In my opinion, Julio is tied with DeAndre Hopkins for the best wide receiver in the league. In Week 1 he performed brilliantly and got 24.7 points (9 receptions, 157 yards). Week 2 was one to forget, however. A game in which pretty much all Falcons wide receivers feasted, Jones had 4.4 points (2 rec, 24 yards). He sat out week 3 with an injury, but expect him to be back in week 4 and put up good numbers.

Lastly, we have Deandre Hopkins. If there were ever any questions as to whether the chemistry between Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins would be there with no preseason and limited reps, let them be dispelled now. Consistently putting up excellent numbers throughout the first three weeks, he should always be your set and forget WR1- regardless of the matchup. 

Running Backs: 

Through three weeks of the NFL, there have been many running backs that have made the difference between a winning and losing fantasy team. Let’s dive deeper into five of these offensive juggernauts.

Week 1 was a tad disappointing for almost every team looking to run the ball. However, Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders was one of the few who excelled in his matchup. In 4 quarters of football, Jacobs racked up 139 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns, adding up to 35.9 fantasy points. Declining in his next two games, he put up a lackluster 13.5 and 9.3 fantasy points. Nevertheless, he will still have many chances in the upcoming weeks to have big numbers for your fantasy team.

Austin Ekeler was one of the most fantasy-friendly running backs last year. In week one that was not the case, with Tyrod Taylor as his quarterback he punched in a mere 9.7 points and concern was rising. However in week 2 and 3 we saw a vast improvement (likely due to a different quarterback, Justin Herbert), posting 18.8 and 30.3 points respectively. As long as Herbert remains quarterback, expect big things from Ekeler.

Derrick Henry, possibly one of the biggest star running backs of last year, has not had the best start to the 2020-21 season. In Weeks 1 and 2, he posted average scores of 16.1 and 8.4 points. We saw his production go up in Week 3, where he scored two touchdowns and totaled 27 points. Stick with Henry, because regardless of slow starts, he will always get touches and get you optimal numbers almost every week.

In the first two weeks, Alvin Kamara racked up around 240 all-purpose yards, four touchdowns, and over 60 fantasy points. However, after Sunday’s 44.7 point game versus the Packers, Kamara now averages an astounding 35.6 points per game. Not much to be said here aside from this: Alvin Kamara may be the best fantasy running back in the NFL this year. Start him at RB1 every week without question.

Lastly, Ezekiel Elliot, young star of the Dallas Cowboys, has generally been playing up to his standards. In his first two games, Elliot has averaged 24.95 points, resulting from his 249 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. In Week 3, he had another 17.8 fantasy points – not a lot, but it shows the consistency of him being able to put up numbers every week. Continue to start Elliot as the season progresses. 

Tight ends: 

Tight ends tend to be guys that people may not always think of when it comes to racking up big fantasy points, but there are several talented players who can provide you with solid 15-20+ points consistently and are great to fill that TE spot on your roster. 

George Kittle, tight end of the San Francisco 49ers, has been an amazing pickup for fantasy teams over the past few years. In Week 1, he had 9.9 fantasy points (4 rec, 44 yards) — in the first quarter alone— and headed to the locker room not too long after. He missed the games in Week 2 and 3 due to a knee injury. He did not play in the last two weeks but aims to make his return in Week 4. Keep Kittle on your bench right now (for obvious reasons) and start him as soon as he’s back. The Niners schedule toughens up right around the time he returns and as he is an essential piece to their offense; look for big games from him following his return. In the meantime, pick up a backup tight end such as Jonnu Smith, Hayden Hurst, or Dalton Schultz from the waivers.

Travis Kelce has been playing as well as expected through two weeks with games of 17 and 24 points and looks to continue this throughout the season. Kelce and Kittle are the two best tight ends in the league, and chances are you don’t have both, so start whoever you have if they are not injured. In Week 3 Kelce put in a solid but not exceptional performance of 14.7 in a week where most notable tight ends struggled. Regardless, he is Patrick Mahomes’s favorite quarterback, there is never a reason not to start Travis Kelce if he is healthy.

Hunter Henry has also looked very promising this season with 206 yards through three games. With QB Justin Herbert making his NFL debut on Sunday, the future for Henry looks bright. While his numbers in Week 3 were slightly low, Henry still has a lot of potential, is still a must-start if you don’t have Kittle or Kelce on your team. 

Zack Ertz is a guy that hasn’t been performing up to par. A lot of it is to blame on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and their hapless o-line, but nevertheless, Ertz hasn’t been the tight end everyone was looking forward to having on their team at the start of the fantasy season. He had three catches for 18 yards in Week 1 versus the WFT, five catches for 42 yards in Week 2, and seven catches for 70 yards (14 points) in Week 3. Wentz has generally been looking elsewhere to throw in this Eagles offense and Ertz’s stats, unfortunately, have suffered as a result of this. Additionally, the Eagles play three of the best defenses in the league over the next three straight weeks (Steelers, 49ers, Ravens) and Ertz’s fantasy points could be even lower than what they are now. While he wasn’t terrible in Week 3, you should probably look for another way to fill in your tight end spot in the coming weeks.

Like Hunter Henry, Mark Andrews is a guy with a lot of upside potential. He had 23 points in Week 1, and a very poor 3.9 and 5.2 points in week . He is the best TE on the Ravens roster and is Lamar’s favorite target. While defenses will start to prioritize covering him over other guys, John Harbaugh will find ways to get his best TE the ball. There is only so much a defense can do to stop the threat of a run by Jackson and cover one of the best TE’s in the league simultaneously. Don’t panic because Andrew is still getting plenty of targets, and if others in your league are trying to get rid of him after his poor performances be sure to acquire him. 

Defense: 

Most people know the saying defense wins championships. In fantasy that is not necessarily the case although your defense can definitely lose you games when it comes to fantasy. What I mean by this is that in fantasy your defense automatically starts with 10 points because they haven’t allowed any points. But as the other team scores, they can lose points which can take you from winning to losing without the other person gaining any points. Obviously, they can get more than 10 points through interceptions, fumbles, and other turnovers.

Now I wouldn’t say surprisingly but in terms of points, the best defense so far has been the Ravens. Whether that is due to the strength of their offense staying on the field and giving them more rest or the pure talent of their pro-bowl corners who are playing really well right now, the defense is thriving. The ravens got absolutely ravaged by Patrick Mahomes and the chief’s prolific offense, but not to worry because chances are that the Ravens will never play an offense that skilled for the rest of the season. 

Next are the Steelers and the Colts. Both averaged 11.5 points per game. First is the Steelers who were a sure-fire defense week 1. With their versatile secondary with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden combined with speedy linebackers and a pro-bowl pass rush, everyone can see why they are highly revered by any fantasy extraordinaire. In week 3 the Steelers performed a little worse than expected, now that does not mean you should automatically drop them but they are going to have their hands full in week 4 with Derrick Henry and the Titans. All things considered, they are still one of the best defenses in the NFL. Then there is the Colts who were electric in week 3. Racking up 27 points, that was mostly conceived from 3 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. Yes it was the Jets but doing that against any NFL team shows toughness which is a big part of defense. I believe the Colts will continue to lock things down in the next week as they play another lackluster offense in the Bears. 

Finally one defense that has a lot of talent but can’t seem to put up any points is the Seahawks. Through week 3 they have averaged -1 points. As you may assume this is terrible for a defense especially one as talented as the Seahawks. It could get better in the upcoming week as they play Miami but the way they have played so far I think it is time to drop them and move on to another defense.

We went through a few important players from every position and gave a quick analysis and predictions of rising stars and some advice as to what to do with those who are not playing that well. That will cap it off for our Week 3 edition, and be on the lookout for our next article in the next heartbeat drop! Go 49ers!

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