Two weeks in the NFL is enough time to gauge where teams stand. With the 18-week schedule, two weeks isn’t enough info for fans to hit the panic button or get too optimistic, but enough for concern or realistic excitement.
Week 3 is also a big turning point for fantasy teams. Two weeks of data is enough to make some safe assumptions about the upcoming weeks. Let's look at the headlines from Week 2 of the NFL season to get ahead of some trends for Week 3.
Week 2 Headlines Worth Noting – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Good – Will It Be Swift?
D'Andre Swift was the biggest winner in fantasy on TNF in the Eagles’ 34-28 victory over the Vikings. Swift ran for 175 yards and 1 TD on 28 carries, while Vikings RB Alexander Mattison ran for 28 yards on eight carries.
My takeaways from TNF are that the Vikings are not set on establishing the run, and Mattison does not look very explosive with the ball in his hands. On the other hand, Swift showed what a talented RB should do when fed the rock. He was patient, explosive, and had great vision to find the hole.
Swift is not guaranteed to handle the bulk of the RB touches once Kenneth Gainwell is healthy, but I would be shocked if he returned to his usage in Week 1 (one carry). What was on clear display in that game is how different a good offensive line (Eagles) looks compared to a bad one (Vikings), and the RBs to own are ones that have good O-lines.
Swift has the highest possibilities of outcomes at the RB position right now. As he showed on TNF, he has the skills and O-line to end the season as a top-5 RB, or he could be the backup again and be outside the top-30. I am riding the hot hand and putting him in my lineups for Week 3.
The Bad – The Bears Offense
Talking about bad offensive lines brings me to my next team with many underperforming players – Da’ Bears. Justin Fields has thrown as many TDs to opposing teams as he has to his own team. The Bears are struggling upfront, and once again, they look lost on offense. Fields and Co. will have better days ahead of them, but everyone on that offense can safely be benched for their upcoming matchup with the Chiefs.
The Ugly – Nick Chubb’s Injury
One of the most gruesome injuries to watch is when someone’s knee does what Nick Chubb's knee did on Monday night. Seeing his face on the cart was heartbreaking, and I hope he can return to the smash-mouth runner we know him to be. To all the Browns fans and fantasy managers with Cubb – keep your head up.
Notable Injuries from Week 2
• Browns RB Nick Chubb suffered a multi-ligament left knee injury + dislocation and is out for the year.
• Lions RB David Montgomery (thigh) is expected to miss a few weeks.
Play or Stay Away
The hardest thing about fantasy football is choosing which players to start each week, especially early in the season when there is little data and no one is on their bye week. Below is a list of players who can be trusted in your lineups for Week 3 and some who should be on your bench or dropped to the waivers.
The Rams didn’t want Kyren off the field in week 2 📈 pic.twitter.com/e23r5Hd0b7
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 20, 2023
Play QB Matthew Stafford – Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford has only thrown one touchdown pass through his first two games but averages 320.5 passing yards. Stafford’s TDs should come as the season progresses. Last year, Stafford got injured, but in 2021, Stafford threw for 4,800 yards and 41 TDs. This year’s version of the Rams reminds me of the Detroit teams that Stafford carried year after year – a talented young offense with a below-average O-line and defense.
Stafford has thrived in this situation, and the first two weeks are enough for people to get on board with the veteran QB. Stafford has the easiest schedule among QBs over the next three games, so it's time to get him in your lineup and let the former No. 1 overall pick win you games.
COMEBACK: The #Rams appear to be BACK after a down year after two games vs. very good defenses, the Seahawks & #49ers👀— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) September 20, 2023
Puka Nacua is on pace for 2,261 yards.
Tutu Atwell is on pace for 1,666 yards.
Kyren Williams is on pace for 34 TDs.
Matthew Stafford is on pace for 5,448… pic.twitter.com/Q65JvgLqUt
Stay Away QB Justin Fields – Chicago Bears
Justin Fields has the highest upside out of any fantasy QB, but his floor is about as low as it gets. The Bears have thrown the ball 66 times, the second lowest amount in the NFL, and have only called five designed runs for the QB. For comparison, Fields averaged over seven designed runs a game last season. Without the clear rushing upside, Fields quickly becomes a bottom-half fantasy QB.
In Week 3, the Bears must travel to Arrowhead to take on a Chiefs defense that has played well the first two weeks of the season and has been the fourth toughest against QBs. It’s time to put Fields on your bench until he performs better or his schedule gets easier–which happens after Week 5.
With J.K. Dobbins out for the year, the Ravens have fully moved to RB by committee with Justice Hill and Gus Edwards. Hill out-touched Edwards 14-11 in the Ravens 27-24 win over the Bengals. Edwards was more efficient with his carries and was fed the rock on the 1-yard line for his TD. Edwards has been one of the most efficient runners in the league and should start to see his usage increase. Hill was absent from practice on Wednesday so it could be Edwards backfield this week.
The Ravens are set on establishing the run, making both the RBs a decent flex play. Hill is dominating the goal-line touches, but that could change as the season progresses. Edwards is not used in the passing game, which limits his upside, but if he can vulture some more goal-line work, then he is a solid play each and every week. Edwards is an RB3 with Hill and an RB2 if his counterpart misses time.
Stay Away RB Alexander Mattison – Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have thrown the ball a ridiculous 77.9% of the time. For reference, no team has finished a season with more than 67% of pass plays since 2006 (Lions). The Vikings should eventually regress to the medium, but as it stands, they have only run the ball 26 times for 69 yards. Alexander Mattison has 19 carries and is 28th amongst running backs in production premium and 33rd in yards created.
The game script may leave Mattison out again this week against the Chargers, who have allowed the most passing yards and have been involved in two high-scoring games. Another high-scoring shootout is brewing for the Chargers, making all Vikings pass catchers great fantasy options. Mattison is the man out in this matchup and should be left on your bench. Bench him, but please, no hate messages for guys just trying to do their jobs.
Alexander Mattison, Minnesota's running back, offers his response following a relentless amount of disparaging and racist comments following Minnesota's game on Thursday night against the Eagles. @AlexMattison22— Tamir Moore (@TheTamirMoore) September 17, 2023
I stand with Alexander here. NO PLACE for racism 🙁. pic.twitter.com/kcSBpsi08y
Nico Collins was on the radar as a breakout candidate last season, but poor QB play prevented him from doing so. This year, Collins is the clear No. 1 WR in Houston and is off to a hot start. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud looks ready to perform in the NFL, making Collins a clear start until something changes. Collins finally had his breakout game this past Sunday with seven receptions for 146 yards and one TD.
The Texans look better this year, but they still are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and they will need to throw the ball a lot to have chances to win in most games. At 6’5” Collins is an excellent security blanket and a deep threat for Stroud, who has targeted him 20 times through the first two games. I’m ranking the fourth-year pro as a fantasy WR2 the rest of the way.
The Texans have their franchise QB in CJ Stroud and Nico Collins is playing like a WR1. It’s not all bad in Houston. pic.twitter.com/botT1hXB0J— James Roy (@n1texansfan) September 17, 2023
The Denver Broncos rank right around the middle of the league in most offensive categories. After a slow start in Week 1, Russell Wilson threw for over 300 yards and looked more like vintage Russ in the 35-33 loss to the Commanders in Week 2. Jerry Jeudy, who missed Week 1, only had 25 yards on three receptions.
I am not convinced Wilson and the Broncos will continue to put up those passing numbers, especially this week against a tough Miami defense. The Dolphins, who will be at home, have given up the third least fantasy points to WRs this season. The good news is that Jeudy didn’t suffer a setback on Sunday and should start to see his usage increase. Place Jeudy on your bench until there is a visible increase in his usage.
Vintage Hunter Henry has been on display for the first two weeks. He has caught at least five passes for 52 yards and one TD in each game. Surprisingly, the Patriots have thrown the ball a league-leading 96 times, and Henry was the target on 13 of those passes. Belichick and the Patriots are known for creating top-fantasy TEs, and many people expected Henry to be such last season.
I do not expect the Patriots to continue throwing the ball nearly 50 times a game, but Henry is clearly in their game plan, especially around the goal line. And although they will run the ball more, the Patriots staff trust third-year QB Mac Jones to air it out if the game script calls for it, which was not the case the past two years. Most fantasy platforms are undervaluing Henry with their projections. I expect Henry to finish as a top–12 TE nearly every week.
Kyle Pitts has become the name associated with underperformance in real life and in fantasy. Pitts followed all the hype of being the highest-drafted TE at No. 4 in 2021 with an outstanding rookie campaign with over 1,000 receiving yards. Last year, Pitts was the most frustrating player in fantasy football, and it wasn’t even close.
Pitts has all the talent in the world but is stuck in Atlanta’s run-heavy offense. Pitts and Drake London will have some good games, but they are impossible to predict right now. Pitts has only seen eight targets and has four catches for 59 yards on the season. At some point, we must stop valuing this guy solely based on talent. The numbers are not there to keep him in your fantasy lineup.
I think every Fantasy Football owner in the world wishes Atlanta Falcons Tight End Kyle Pitts was on a different team pic.twitter.com/SVleYbzmT8— Brad Smith (@mackdaddyffb) September 14, 2023