2015 Fantasy Football Tough Decisions: Week 3
Colby Conway helps you with all of those tough fantasy football lineup decisions in Week 3
As if signing up for the Fantasy Alarm Assistant G.M. wasn't a good enough decision already, we present to you even more assistance in setting your lineups this week.
Every Friday throughout the NFL regular season I will be sending you this lineup helper that I like to call: Tough Decisions. In this article I will breakdown players with similar value, ranking and projection heading into this coming week.
Let's take a look at the TOUGH DECISIONS for Week 3:
The Case for Taylor: Don’t look now, but Tyrod Taylor has the fifth most fantasy points among all quarterbacks through the first two weeks of the season. Only Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers have more fantasy points than the signal caller in Buffalo. Through the first two weeks, Taylor has completed 37-of-49 passes for 437 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also carried the ball 14 times for 84 yards, which is the fourth-highest among quarterbacks, and one touchdown. Even though the Dolphins have been pretty stingy against opposing quarterbacks thus far, but Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Sure, Taylor isn’t either, but he is better than the other two signal callers the Dolphins have faced this year. The Dolphins have allowed just one rushing touchdown by a quarterback since the start of last season, so Taylor may have to do the majority of his damage through the air in week three.
The Case for Mariota: Much like Taylor, Mariota is surprising many at this juncture by being tied for the sixth most fantasy points for a quarterback. Not only has he thrown more touchdown passes than Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, but his six touchdowns tie him with the legendary Dan Marino for most touchdown tosses through two weeks by a rookie quarterback since the merger. Since the start of last season, the Colts are just below the league average for points allowed to an opposing quarterback. However, the matchup could be a little different, especially due to the injuries the Colts have suffered of late. Three members of the Indianapolis secondary, Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Darius Butler, are suffering from a concussion, neck and hip injuries respectively. Mariota and the Titans might be going up against a depleted Indianapolis defense in week three, which bodes well for Mariota owners.
The Verdict: Mariota. The Colts’ secondary is beat up and especially if even one of those guys can’t play, Mariota’s chance of a solid game can only improve. Much of Taylor’s fantasy value comes from his ability to run the ball, but since the Dolphins do a good job of not allowing the quarterback to score via the run, you have to go with the more trustworthy arm.
The Case for Freeman: With Tevin Coleman expected to miss a couple weeks with a fractured rib, Freeman seems poised to handle the duties in the Atlanta backfield. He has struggled moving the ball on the ground this season, seeing as he has 22 carries for just 43 yards and a touchdown, but he can be deadly catching the ball out of the backfield. He has seven receptions for 63 yards through the first two games. The Cowboys have allowed the ninth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but they have yet to face a solid running team. They faced Rashad Jennings in week one and then in week two they faced a Philadelphia Eagles team who has suddenly forgotten how to run the football with success. While Freeman may be wrapped up frequently in the run game, the Cowboys have struggled slowing down opposing backs through the air, allowing the sixth most receiving yards out of the backfield through the first two weeks.
The Case for Abdullah: After an impressive season opener in which he totaled 94 yards on 11 touches with one touchdown, he was held in check by the Minnesota defense in week two. In that game, he rushed the ball six times for nine yards and caught one pass for nine yards. The only silver lining for Abdullah was that teammate Joique Bell was even worse, carrying the ball four times for two yards and catching two passes for 16 yards. Abdullah is the feature back and the fact that he received 13 more snaps than Bell shows that the team is comfortable with him in the lead role. A week three matchup against the Broncos lies ahead this weekend, and it won’t be easy sledding for the shifty rookie. Although allowing league average points to opposing running backs, Abdullah will have a hard time making a large impact in the passing game. So far in 2015, the Broncos have allowed an average of just 3.7 yards per reception. Abdullah will be much better this week than he was in week two, but don’t expect the numbers he put up in week one against a soft Chargers defense.
The Verdict: Freeman. It’s going to be close between two, but a big catch-and-run from Freeman against the Cowboys will give him the advantage between these two. Abdullah should have a good game as well, but Freeman is going to be just a bit better. Freeman has a good chance to score both a rushing and receiving touchdown in this game.
The Case for Yeldon: Even though he hasn’t been particularly effective through his first two games, sheer volume yields flex consideration on a weekly basis for the former Alabama back. Yeldon saw 15 carries in week one, but saw that number jump to 28 in a win over the Dolphins in week two. 43 touches through the first two games ranks him among the upper echelon of running backs, but he will need to start being more effective if he wants to take the next step in fantasy tiers. He is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry at this juncture, but going up against a New England defense who is allowing an average rush of 5.3 yards bodes well for the rookie. However, that all sounds fine and dandy, but the Patriots are expected—and should—get an early lead, likely forcing the Jaguars to abandon the running game early. He does have three receptions in each game this season, but a total of 29 receiving yards is underwhelming for a guy who will likely need to produce in the passing game to salvage fantasy value in this one.
The Case for Crowell: Crowell struggled in week one against a stout Jets defense. In week two, he fared much better, rushing for 72 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries against the Tennessee Titans. The Raiders have allowed the most points to opposing running backs since the start of last season and Derek Carr should help keep this game close. With Josh McCown starting for the Browns, expect a run-heavy attack from them, allowing Crowell to receive somewhere around 18-20 carries in this one. He isn’t a hug factor in the passing game, so he will need to do most, if not all of his damage on the ground.
The Verdict: Crowell. As tempting as it was to pick the rookie in Jacksonville, this matchup for Crowell is tantalizing. The Browns should run the ball a solid amount on Sunday and Crowell could find the end zone multiple times in this one. The Pats will likely get ahead of the Jaguars early, and if that is the case, Yeldon won’t see a normal workload of carries in week three.
The Case for Edelman: Edelman has been a beast through the first two games and has been extremely consistent while doing so. He has 11 receptions for 97 yards in each of the first two games, but he was able to find the end zone twice in week two against the Bills. Even though the Jaguars are around the league average for fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers, Tom Brady will find a way to get the football to Edelman plenty of Sunday. If the Jaguars are able to keep this game close, Edelman’s numbers will only improve that much more. Edelman is a WR2 this week who could put up WR1 numbers again in week three, especially if Jacksonville is able to keep this game relatively close. Tyrod Taylor was able to put up 32 points against the Pats, and Edelman owners will be hoping Blake Bortles can do the same.
The Case for Sanders: The Broncos passing attack has looked nothing like we are used to seeing, but Sanders has still found a way to remain fantasy relevant. He caught two touchdown passes against the Chiefs in week two. Manning has looked his way early and often, as his 26 targets trail only New England’s Julian Edelman. The Lions have been average against the pass this season, but his volume of work will keep him fantasy relevant in week three. Detroit has allowed just one passing touchdown to a wide receiver this season, but that should surely change when Peyton Manning comes to town with Sanders and Demaryius Thomas at his disposal.
The Verdict: Sanders. Edelman has a good matchup, and since Tom Brady is dynamite with the football right now, you can’t go wrong with Edelman. However, if New England gets ahead early, Edelman will lose a lot of time to catch the football. The Lion have allowed the most points to wide receivers so far this season and Sanders should feast on Sunday.
The Case for Hankerson: Hankerson was a non-factor in the season opener, catching two passes for 16 yards against a borderline anemic Philadelphia secondary. However, week two was a different story. He caught six passes on 11 targets for 77 yards with a touchdown against the Giants. Fellow teammate Roddy White was the opposite, having a solid season opener, but failing to catch his lone target in the second game of the season. It’s hard to trust this dynamic moving forward, because you don’t exactly know who is going to be that second receiver behind Julio Jones in Atlanta. With Tevin Coleman going down with an injured rib, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Atlanta let Matt Ryan throw the ball more. Who does that benefit more? Exactly, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Hankerson.
The Case for Colston: Colston’s receptions and yardage have increased in each game, so if that trend continues, he should eclipse four receptions and 70-some yards. However, Drew Brees is currently dealing with a shoulder injury and it’s hard to get a grasp on how serious the injury is. If Brees is unable to play, all Saints pass-catchers’ fantasy values will take a monumental hit. However, if he is able to play, Colston is a threat to find the end zone in week three. The Panthers did a good job of shutting down Texans’ star wideout DeAndre Hopkins in week two, however, Brees is able to throw receivers open, unlike Ryan Mallett in Houston.
The Verdict: Hankerson. Although Colston seems to have the higher floor than Hankerson, the upside with the Falcon wide receiver is savory in week three. Even if Roddy White does see more targets in week three, which he probably will, Hankerson established a nice connection with Ryan. Hankerson should find the end zone again in week three, while trusting any receiver other than Brandin Cooks in New Orleans can be risky.
The Case for Olsen: The injury to Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t equated to the early season success many were expecting for Olsen. He was held to just one catch in the season opener, but was able to get on track against the Texans in week two, catching six balls for 70 yards. The Texans have been torched by tight ends early this season, but going up against Travis Kelce and Olsen the first two weeks aren’t the easiest of tasks. The Saints have held opposing tight ends to just seven catches in two games, but those receptions have gone for 115 yards with a touchdown. Tight ends are averaging 16.4 yards per reception against the Saints, therefore, a few big plays between Cam Newton and Olsen are a likely possibility. However, Olsen’s measly seven receptions on the season are a team high, signifying the Carolina passing attack is far from trustworthy.
The Case for Eifert: The tight end in Cincinnati is currently the second best tight end, trailing only New England’s Rob Gronkowski. He opened up the season with a field day against the Oakland defense, catching nine passes for 104 yards with two touchdowns. He followed that up by catching four passes for 49 yards with another score against the Chargers. In week three, Eifert will have his stiffest test, but the opposition, the Baltimore Ravens, will also be facing the best tight end they have faced thus far. The Ravens have held opposing tight ends to just seven receptions for 30 yards through the first two weeks. However, neither Owen Daniels nor Mychal Rivera are the caliber tight end that Eifert is shaping to be in 2015. The matchup isn’t ideal, but Eifert has the ability to put up numbers against a stout Baltimore defense.
The Verdict: Eifert. Yes, his matchup is tougher than Olsen’s, but as it was alluded to earlier, the Carolina passing attack is far from trustworthy. Dalton targeted Eifert in the red zone twice last week and Eifert has more red zone looks than Olsen so far this season.