After another crazy week of action, Week 3 is the time for us to start formulating opinions on players. After 3 weeks of data, trends are becoming solidified and fantasy players can see whose good (Marvin Jones) and places where situation trumps the player (Todd Gurley). Some players get the job done regardless of how they do it, whether it’s inefficiently or efficiently, methodically or through big plays. Here are some clear trends through this season and what they mean for fantasy:
Lamar Miller Averaging 3.6 Yards Per Carry
This offseason it seemed as if Lamar Miller would get the opportunity he deserved. He signed with the Texans, who under Bill O’Brien, have been top 5 in rush attempts both of his seasons in Houston. It was time for Lamar Miller to take his 4.5 YPC to 250 rush attempts and over 1,200 yards. Through 2 games the plan hasn’t quite worked. Miller has seen plenty of opportunities so far, rushing 28, 25, and 21 times and catching 10 total passes. His efficiency has not been up to par to previous seasons as he is only averaging 3.6 YPC. Despite this, Miller is averaging 89.7 yds/gm and ranks as the RB 18 without scoring any touchdowns.
Verdict: Miller will be fine. The Texans have been missing 3 key offensive linemen and Miller hasn’t been able to find room to run, despite looking like the same player as 2014 and 2015.
Is Latavius Murray in a RBBC?
Murray, who burst onto the scene in 2014, has been very pedestrian in 2016. The Raiders recognized his inefficiency and found explosive backups in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. With those two emerging, the dreaded 4 letter symbol has been slapped on the Oakland backfield. RBBC. Latavius Murray has seen his carry share fluctuate from 58% to 35% to 40% from Week 1 to Week 3. Week 3 marked the second week in a row that Murray saw less than 50% of the snaps (48% and 47.7%). Murray has remained limited in the passing game, only seeing a 8% target share in the passing game. His big play ability has been non-existent, with his longest run going for 22 yards and his longest reception being limited to 13 yards. With such a small percentage of the Oakland market share, it’s unlikely Murray can sustain his RB 13 pace and average of a TD per game.
Verdict: Murray is a definite sell high in fantasy. It seems impossible that Murray will maintain RB 2 numbers deep into the season, making him a prime candidate to be sold high on.
The Packers Put Up 34 Points On The Lions?
Jordy Nelson returned to form. Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect. Eddie Lacy still looked fat but got the job done. Finally, the Packers offense returned to 2014 levels posting 34 points on the Lions. Watching this game was a relief to all fantasy owners. Jordy Nelson was outrunning people down the middle of the field and making strong catches, while Rodgers appeared to be back to his old self. Rodgers threw for all 4 of his TDs in the first half, before the Packers took their foot off their gas pedal and let the Lions back into the game.
One element of the offense was missing though as Randall Cobb didn’t perform close to his consistent 2014 self, when he was the WR 6 overall, posting a stat line of 91/1287/12. That season, Cobb had 3 games of under 45 receiving yards, this year he has 2 already. This was a bizarre game script for the Packers though as they got up big early and didn’t throw the ball much in the second half. Cobb still saw the 2nd most targets on the team (3) and gained 33 yards on 1 reception.
Verdict: Looks like I was a week late on my prediction of the Packers offensive return to dominance, but now the Pack is back. Rodgers, Jordy, and Fat Eddie are all must starts, with Randall Cobb hovering in the WR 2 conversation until further notice.
Christine Michael has Awoken
It has happened. Christine Michael was awoken from his career-long slumber to become the featured back we all believed he could be. All he needed was the opportunity to get all the carries all day long. In Week 3 C-Mike went bananas, rushing 20 times for 106 yards and his first 2 career TDs. Thomas Rawls left the game against the 49ers with a ‘leg contusion’ and Michael got down to work. Michael displayed power, burst, and speed, looking like a real RB 1. Thomas Rawls’ was injured in the game and it was later announced that he has a hairline fracture in his fibula. This injury apparently takes around 4-6 weeks, but many people have said that it is likely closer to 6 weeks. Michael retains his RB 1 role in the backfield and should see +65% of the Seattle touches. Michael’s upcoming matchups include @ the Jets, Bye, vs Falcons, @ Arizona, @ New Orleans, and vs Buffalo. None of the matchups are terrifying, with Arizona giving up +100 yards and 2 TDs to LeSean McCoy.
Verdict: Michael is going to be a difference maker for fantasy teams in a great situation. The Seahawks love to run the ball with one back and Michael is that guy right now. Fantasy owners can confidently start Michael as a fringe RB 1.
The Volatility of the Saints Offense
In a Monday night game featuring the QB 1 and 2, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, the Saints went off for 32 points and still lost. Brees did all he could, completing 36 passes for 376 yards and 3 TDs. But guess what, Brandin Cooks, the Saints WR 1, only had 2 catches for 13 yards. John Kuhn was the only guy to score a rushing TD. Brandon Coleman, Mike Thomas, and Tommylee Lewis (Who?) combined for 17 catches on 23 targets, 192 yards, and 1 TD. Coby Fleener (Finally) caught 7 of 11 targets for 1 TD. In Week 1, Brandin Cooks was the highest New Orleans scorer (discounting Brees), in Week 2 it was Willie Snead, and Week 3 was Coby Fleener. We know that the Saints are going to score a load of points, but do we know who will score them? After 3 weeks, it seems as if Brandin Cooks is the #1 target, Willie Snead is #2, and Coby Fleener is #3.
Verdict: Both Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas are unlikely to have this type of production again. Cooks and Snead are must starts, with Coby Fleener hovering in a startable territory in good matchups. Mark Ingram is a middling RB 2, with Travaris Cadet stealing PPR work.