Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 3
You ever drink hot sauce and beer at the same time? Neither have I. But it does seem bold.
Not to be confused with baldness, boldness would be sporting a mohawk at the ripe young age of 75. In an unrealistic football analogy, boldness would be trading the best receiver in football for a washed-up running back with a huge contract. Ehhh, no one would be that stup...oh, nevermind.
For this article, we'll focus the boldness on fantasy football. Think of this piece like Taco Tuesday -- it's better when it's spicy, but the spiciness is not what it's all about, it's there to add flavor. The point here is not to hit on 100% of the predictions, after all, I'm not a vomiting hippo. The goal here is to uncover insights that can help us win some dough in fantasy.
Now, let's go drink a bottle of Tabasco.
(All predictions are for half-PPR, and Yahoo scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Matt Ryan Finishes Outside the Top-20 at Quarterback
Over their last 28 games, the Chicago Bears have ceded just one 20.0-plus fantasy point performance to an opposing quarterback. Just one. During that stretch, they've held Aaron Rodgers (three times), Dak Prescott, Jared Goff (twice), Matthew Stafford (twice), Carson Wentz, and Daniel Jones (twice) to fewer than 18.0 fantasy points. Through two games, the Bears rank inside the top 10 in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play.
Adding to my skepticism of Ryan's Week 3 outlook is the fact that Julio Jones seems to be a true game-time decision -- even if he does play, he'll like be far less than 100%. Chicago does have two corners -- rookie Jaylon Johnson and Kyle Fuller -- inside Pro Football Focus' top 15 in coverage grades so far this season, so they could have some luck slowing down Ryan's top option in the scorching-hot Calvin Ridley.
2. Kenyan Drake Finishes as the RB1
Drake's gotten off to a bit of a "slow" start this season, but he's about to break out in a very big way. Through two games, Drake has racked up 40 touches, while playing at least 65% of the snaps in both contests. This week, he'll face a Detroit Lions defense that ranks second-to-last in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play -- a defense that just allowed Aaron Jones to rack up 43.6 fantasy points.
Last year, Detroit allowed eight different backs to total at least 18.8 fantasy points against them. Drake's about to feast.
3. Austin Ekeler Places Inside the Top-3 at Running Back
So we have Drake at RB1, and now we have Austin Ekeler ($7,500) placing top-three, as well.
Ekeler's matchup on Sunday could not possibly be any more titillating. The Los Angeles Chargers will take on the Carolina Panthers, a defense that's allowed 370 total yards and 6 scores to backs through two games. Last season, Carolina somehow surrendered 2,403 totals yards and 30 touchdowns to running backs. Four different backs scored more than 26.0 fantasy points against them. 10 surpassed 17.0 fantasy points. The Panthers seem to be even worse this year -- in two outings, they've surrendered 33.9 fantasy points to Josh Jacobs and 25.6 to Leonard Fournette.
Among runners with at least 20 carries this season, Ekeler ranks 6th with a 51.43% Rushing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of carries that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense), and among the 38 backs with at least five targets, he ranks third in Target NEP per target and fourth in Reception NEP per target.
After garnering just one target in the season-opener, Ekeler saw four in Week 2 with Justin Herbert behind center, turning those into four receptions for 55 yards. Herbert's presence can only help Ekeler's outlook.
4. Allen Robinson Posts 125+ Yards and a Touchdown
This prediction might not have been considered bold at the start of the season, but after recording a combined 8 receptions for 107 yards and no scores through two games, this is quite a spicy prediction for Allen Robinson ($6,900).
ARob has the unfortunate reality of having to catch "passes" from Mitchell Trubisky, but at least for this week, there's hope that Trubisky can complete a handful of passes in Robinson's direction.
Through two games, the Atlanta Falcons have surrendered 90+ receiving yards to four wideouts. They've only given up one tuddy to the position, but that's bound to regress. After all, Atlanta ranks 30th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and they don't have a single corner inside PFF's top 40 corners (in terms of coverage grades).
Robinson posted 125+ yards twice in his last six games last season, while also recording four scores during that period. A blowup performance could very well be in order here.
5. CeeDee Lamb Finishes as a Top-15 Wide Receiver
All that scoring means a few players are going to outperform expectation, and one of them should be CeeDee Lamb ($5,600). In half-PPR formats, Seattle has allowed 20.4 more fantasy points to opposing receivers than any other team. The Seahawks have also been particularly vulnerable to the slot -- after Russell Gage pegged them for 9 receptions and 114 yards in Week 1, 11-year veteran Julian Edelman dropped a career-high 179 receiving yards in Week 2.
In total, Seattle has ceded at least 72 receiving yards to six receivers, four of them totaled at least 114, and three managed 130-plus. That is absolutely nuts. They're on pace to allow a bonkers 5,848 yards to wideouts. That's (obviously) hilariously unsustainable, but it still shows how mouth-watering this matchup is.
Fire up Lamb as a WR2, with the potential for much, much more.