NFL Week 3 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 3 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
Wow. What a week, amirite? From a fantasy standpoint – both seasonal and daily – Fantasy Alarm crushed it. Wins galore and numerous people messaged about their DFS hits from the Playbook. From a reality standpoint, the NFL was a whole lot of fun this week. We had a number of high-scoring games, some spectacular season-debuts for some youngsters and some highs and lows regarding point spreads. Overall, I’m all smiles regarding the NFL this week. All smiles. But that doesn’t mean I’m not salty over a few things too. So let’s ditch the pleasantries here and just get to the Week 3 hot takes.
Kyle Allen Told Us He Would Lead the Panthers…Six Years Ago
Do you remember this commercial? No doubt Cam Newton does. Little Kyle Allen told him this day would come and while Cam was busy worrying about his hair and press conference wardrobe, life in the NFL has seemingly passed him by. Every year, whether it’s fantasy or reality, we hear the same arguments against Newton and it’s time we actually started listening. The overall production is not what it used to be as the passing yards, the completion rate, the touchdowns thrown and all those valuable rushing yards have either been in decline or wildly inconsistent. Credit him for trying to play through a variety of bumps and bruises, but he’s missed a few games over the last few seasons and at 30 years old, with all that mileage on his body, we may need to accept the fact that it is time to move on. Little Kyle Allen will endure the usual growing pains every kid goes through during adolescence, but he may be the Panthers best chance to turn their season around and win a surprisingly weak NFC South.
By the way, credit to Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) for reminding us of this commercial and that Twitter isn’t always a cesspool where trolls come to defecate.
Giants GM Dave Gettleman is the Smartest Man in the Room
Come on. You know it. Don’t look at me like that. I know you don’t want to admit it, but again, you have to give credit where credit is due. The entire football world, especially the New York media, destroyed Gettleman for drafting Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick back in April and look who’s having the last laugh now. Not only did Jones throw for 336 yards and two touchdowns, but he also added 28 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. That’s fantasy gold right there. Jones isn’t without his flaws, but overall, he remained calm under pressure and managed to lead the Giants to a come-from-behind victory in the second half even after the team’s No. 1 weapon Saquon Barkley was on the sidelines, on crutches and in a walking boot. The team didn’t miss a beat and before you start dismissing the performance because, well, it’s Tampa Bay, this Bucs defense is light years ahead of where it was last season. Jones will certainly have his fair share of mistakes, but New York is all about results and this was a win for the Giants in more ways than one.
In New England, Defense Wins Championships, Not Tom Brady
Ok, Patriots fans, don’t get your panties in a twist here. I know how sensitive you all are when anyone says anything negative about your local heroes, your teams or your beloved city. But in the wake of this Antonio Brown debacle, the big thing that is getting lost in the shuffle is that this Patriots defense is probably the best we’ve seen in years. So far, through three games, this defense has allowed just three points to opposing offenses. Granted, they’ve played the Dolphins and the Jets over the last two games, but they also did a great job containing the Steelers offense in Week 1 and that was still part of the Big Ben Era. Tom Brady will always get the glory and we’ll still be inundated with talk of how amazing [did you feel the sarcasm on that “amazing?”] Julian Edelman , James White , Sony Michel and even Josh Gordon are, but Josh McDaniels and this offense should relish in the fact that this last ring they’re likely to receive is being served up by the evil genius, Bill Belichick, himself, because defense is truly his specialty.
When the clouds over Arrowhead Stadium finally parted, NFL fans and fantasy owners alike, rejoiced over the fact that even Mother Nature, a notorious hockey fan, wanted to see Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson do battle on a field unimpeded by rain or wind. We are in the middle of a “changing of the guard” in the NFL and this new crop of young quarterbacks is fixing to bring us some exciting football. The kids like Kyle Allen , Daniel Jones, Mason Rudolph , Josh Allen and Kyler Murray are bringing a rejuvenated sense of excitement, but there is really nothing like watching Mahomes and Jackson do battle. Both are studs. Just watch the video of each guy playing. But Mahomes has the edge right now. During the regular season, Jackson is now 0-2 against the Chiefs yet he is 8-0 as a starter against the rest of the league. It’s the same thing we witnessed back when Peyton and the Colts just couldn’t get past Brady and the Patriots. You knew, eventually, Peyton would get his due, and of course he did, but there were plenty of heartbreaking losses where he just couldn’t get over the hump. If these two youngsters can last at this level for even half as long, we’re in for some outstanding football in the coming years.
Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht Leads Charge to Ban Kickers in the NFL
We see it all the time in fantasy football. Some guy gets burned by injuries to his early-round running backs and suddenly he’s the biggest proponent of the Zero-RB Strategy over the next few seasons, regardless of outcome. He’s just been burned too badly and he’s far too stubborn to go back to the old ways even if he knows, deep down, that he really should. We’re about to see just that in Tampa Bay as GM Jason Licht, master of drafting kickers, has once again been burnt and will now likely head the front office campaign to just ban the position completely. Remember when he traded up to draft Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016? He went 22-for-31, was 4-of-11 from 40-yards or more and missed a couple of extra-points even before they even pushed the extra-point back. Aguayo never kicked for the Bucs again and he’s still looking for a job. Well, now we’ve got Matt Gay, the Bucs fifth-round draft choice in 2019 who missed two extra-points Sunday before missing the game-winner at the end. That was his second missed field goal in three games and Licht’s second big miss with a kicker at the NFL Draft. Look for him to submit his legislation to ban kickers completely at some point this season. Maybe after Gay misses a few more heartbreakers.
Either the Dallas Cowboys Win it All Now or They Never Will
OK, so Zeke got paid. He got $90M for the next six years. Now it’s time for Dak Prescott , right? Rumors have his impending extension reaching the $30M per year. How many years? I don’t know but that’s a lot of cabbage. Wait. There’s more. There’s Amari Cooper . What about him? He wants to get paid too and there’s a lot of talk putting him in the company of Julio Jones and Michael Thomas , the latter of whom is the president of the $100M Club for receivers. While locking down the trio is going to be somewhat of a priority for Jerry Jones, one would have to surmise that the rest of the team is getting the shaft. OK, maybe not the shaft, but with so much money invested in these three, how much money is going towards the offensive line or even the defense? The Cowboys have a lot of impending free agents after this year comes to a close and negotiations are going to be quite difficult when you’ve got teams like the Dolphins who are expected to have at least $100M in cap space next year. The allure of a championship may keep some in Dallas, but the allure of Miami Beach and a shitload of money seem like the destined path for today’s players. If the Cowboys don’t win it all now, they may not have the money to put forth a team capable of winning it all down the road. But hey, at least they’ve got Dak, Zeke and Amari. What could possibly go wrong?
Dalvin Cook is the Best Running Back in the NFL
Would you look at that? With his third-straight 100-yard performance, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook leads the league with 375 rushing yards and is tied for second overall with four rushing touchdowns. You sit and watch his games and his runs are a thing of beauty. He’s patient when he needs to be, explosive when he needs to be, he follows his blockers and owning him in fantasy…? Well, as I tweeted out yesterday, feels a little something like this:
But I don’t want to take a victory lap about Cook. No. I want to take a victory lap because I told you to invest in the Minnesota ground game back in June. Yeah, that’s right. Those of you who own the Fantasy Alarm NFL Draft Guide know exactly what I’m talking about as you were inundated with talk about Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison. Yes, Cook is a beast and looks even more beastly when he’s carrying defenders on his back, but look how good Alexander Mattison also looked yesterday. The run scheme and the zone-blocking set in place by Kubiak and Dennison has been “as advertised,” and if you invested (and handcuffed), you’re going to be one happy camper. First it was Denver, then it was Houston and now it’s Minnesota. Players come and go, but schemes last forever.
A Hot Start Is All You Need to Make the Playoffs in the NFL
If you’re a casual football fan then you wouldn’t think twice about the Green Bay Packers opening the season with a 3-0 record. Right? It’s Aaron Rodgers . Of course the Packers are contenders. But things aren’t always what they appear to be because, like the Patriots, the Packers are doing it with a fierce defense and a strong ground game. Rodgers? Yeah, he’s ok, but he’s not the guy he once was.But still, this 3-0 start is going to make a huge difference during the playoff chase. Just like it will for the Bills and the 49ers. No, really. Yeah, they’re both 3-0 as well. I know. They’re really not that good. Just look at how the Bills jumped out to a nice, early lead on the Bengals and then couldn’t put them away until the very end. Or the 49ers who turned the ball over four times in the first half against a Steelers team that just traveled across country and had an inexperienced quarterback at the helm. With these 3-0 starts, you’ve got a couple of pretenders potentially headed towards the playoffs now. Seriously? Seriously. At 3-0, the Bills are now being given a 76% chance of making the playoffs. The 49ers? They have a 61% chance. Both percentages are in the top-six overall. Meanwhile, at 1-2, the Eagles have just a 19% chance. Obviously, these odds will change as we play further into the season, but with a few lucky bounces, who knows what the conference championships re going to look like.
What? That’s blasphemy! How could anyone be better than Kelce? He’s got Mahomes throwing him the ball in one of the most prolific offenses in the game. Well, he also happens to have a ton of competition for targets too. While Kelce will certainly be among the very best at the position this season, you can’t deny the fact that there are a ton of mouths to feed in Kansas City. Right now, you’ve got the running backs involved in the passing game along with receivers like Sammy Watkins , Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson all vying for targets. And don’t look now, but Tyreek Hill seems to be slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery, so we can add him to the mix. For Oakland, You’ve got Waller and you’ve got Tyrell Williams . Anyone else? Anyone…? Anyone…?
OK, a mild exaggeration, but is it, really? Hunter Renfrow? J.J. Nelson ? These options aren’t exactly at the same level as what the Chiefs have and it’s showing in the stats sheets and on the field. Kelce has 17 catches on 25 targets for 284 yards and one touchdown. Waller has 26 catches on 29 targets for 267 yards and has yet to get into the box. As the season moves on, there is a very strong chance Waller sees significantly more targets even though the offensive scheme isn’t as pass-heavy. Right now, Kelce has the advantage in receiving yards and scores, but nine more receptions for Waller certainly helps level the playing field. If you somehow have both, maybe it’s time to consider trading Kelce to someone who is willing to give you the moon. Little does that person know, you may not even be trading your best tight end.
The Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray Era Will Be Short-Lived in Arizona
I heard way too many people trying to take an early victory lap on Murray during the first half of yesterday’s loss to the Panthers. Yeah, a loss. Some of his passing work looked good and he was doing a lot more running, much to the delight of those who started him in seasonal and daily. But was the juice worth the squeeze? He still threw for fewer than 180 yards and had two picks to go with his two touchdowns. Yes, he ran for 68 yards, but did he get into the box? No. He was OK. Not good and certainly not great. Just OK. And while fantasy owners can regale some of the garbage-time points he posted in the first two weeks, the bottom line for Arizona ownership, is now 0-2-1 and their defense looks atrocious. Someone needs to wake up Kingsbury and let him know you have to field quality on both sides of the ball. This isn’t college. If the wins don’t come, he’s going to be out of a job soon enough and his boy Kyler is going to drift off into the world of mediocrity where so many successful college quarterbacks go to die once they hit the NFL.