Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 3

Perhaps more than anything, fantasy football is a game of adjustments. Season-long fantasy doesn't end at the draft, and smart managers learn to take the trends and data that each week of games offers and apply it to their roster decisions moving forward.

This weekly piece will look at trends from the previous slate of games and determine which trends in snaps, usage, and matchups are actionable moving forward. Let's dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from an exciting 2022 NFL Week 3.

Drake London Is Ascending Quickly

The list of top 12 fantasy wide receivers through three weeks has a number of familiar names, a few veteran surprises, and one rookie: Drake London.

Yes, there are players like Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave lurking, but London stands above the rest with his 25 targets, 214 yards and two touchdowns through three games. On a team where many were looking for second-year tight end Kyle Pitts to break out, it has been London who stands out for his connections with Marcus Mariota and usage in the offense.

London was the first wide receiver taken in the 2022 NFL draft, selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons as the team desperately tried to replace the production of Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. Just barely 21 years old, London looks like he was designed in the Optimal Wide Receiver lab coming out of USC. He pulled down 88 balls for 1,084 yards and seven scores in just eight games his last year at USC, and that production has followed him to the pros.

London is already top 10 in target share, yards per route run, average cushion, and fantasy points per route run.

To even be in that kind of company after 180 NFL minutes is proof that this Atlanta team trusts him in all aspects of the offense and that he has very little target competition. Other than London, only Pitts (23.7%) has a target share above 10% on the Falcons so far. Even Cordarrelle Patterson has seen his passing game usage drop to just a 9% target share.

The question now is -- does this production continue?

I don't see why we should expect any kind of significant drop as long as Marcus Mariota is still the quarterback. As mentioned, there is next to no target competition, the Falcons should be trailing in many games, and Atlanta is fourth in the league in yards per pass play through three weeks.

But the truly scary thing for fantasy teams who have to face London? The Falcons are throwing just 47% percent of the time right now, the 29th-most in the league. If that number ticks up toward even the league average, London is going to coast to a top-10 receiver season this year.

Russell Wilson Needs Cooking Lessons

The "Let Russell Wilson Cook" crowd sure is getting an unappetizing selection of dishes through Wilson's first three games as a member of the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos may be 2-1 and tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West lead, but Denver has scored just 43 points in three games, with only the Colts scoring fewer this season. And as much as Denver fans may not want to admit it after the long-term commitment, Wilson is a huge part of the problem.

According to numberFire's Passing Success Rate metric, which measures the percentage of passing plays that result in positive expected points, Wilson ranks just 28th (39.13%) among 32 quarterbacks with at least 50 drop-backs this year. The only quarterbacks worse than Wilson? That would be Daniel Jones, Mitchell Trubisky, Baker Mayfield, and Justin Fields.

Wilson also ranks 26th in true completion percentage, 25th in pressured completion percentage, and 25th in catchable pass rate to his receivers. With playmakers such as Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Javonte Williams, and K.J. Hamler on the squad, it's not like Wilson is bereft of talent or people who can catch the ball. He just has simply not been accurate or decisive in his first three contests.

As we enter Week 4, Russell Wilson ranks 25th in overall fantasy points at the quarterback position. Is that likely to move upward throughout the season? Yes. But fantasy managers have only 14 weeks to compile the best record they can before the playoffs, and Wilson has already wasted 21% of those weeks.

Khalil Herbert Is Ready for the Spotlight

I'm not saying that David Montgomery is the infamous Wally Pipp and Khalil Herbert is Lou Gehrig, but I'm not not saying it either.

After Montgomery went down with what could be a serious injury on Sunday, all Herbert did in his absence was run right over the Houston Texans for 158 yards and two scores. By doing that, he cemented his place as one of the league's best running backs through the first three weeks of the season.

numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric measures the expected point value of every play on the field, including rushing attempts, receptions, targets and so on. Among running backs with at least 30 carries this year, Herbert ranks first in Rushing NEP per carry.

Player Carries Total Rushing NEP Rushing NEP Per Carry
Khalil Herbert 33 15.94 0.48
D'Andre Swift 27 11.97 0.44
Aaron Jones 32 9.68 0.30
Nick Chubb 62 14.23 0.23
Cordarrelle Patterson 49 10.23 0.21
Darrell Henderson 27 4.71 0.17
Rhamondre Stevenson 29 4.48 0.15
Breece Hall 21 3.22 0.15
Rashaad Penny 32 4.59 0.14
Saquon Barkley 53 7.21 0.14
Miles Sanders 45 5.93 0.13
Christian McCaffrey 50 6.02 0.12
Ezekiel Elliott 40 4.80 0.12
Damien Harris 35 4.00 0.11
Tony Pollard 28 3.13 0.11
James Conner 30 2.62 0.09
Josh Jacobs 42 2.31 0.05
Kareem Hunt 36 1.94 0.05
Jamaal Williams 43 1.64 0.04
James Robinson 51 1.50 0.03
Michael Carter 28 0.73 0.03
Chase Edmonds 23 0.58 0.03
Dalvin Cook 43 0.81 0.02
Jonathan Taylor 61 0.60 0.01

He is also first in overall Rushing NEP despite ranking just 14th in carries through three games. Herbert has added value in the passing game, is a capable pass-blocker, and the Bears clearly trust him with the massive rushing load they look to deploy all year.

It's no secret at this point that the Bears just do not want Justin Fields to pass. His 45 pass attempts through three games are fewer than Jimmy Garoppolo, who has played a game and a half. What that means, of course, is that the Bears plan to establish the run all day long. Their 65% rushing play percentage ranks first in the NFL by more than 11 percentage points. Even if Montgomery comes back healthy, this is a backfield that has plenty of work to share, and I expect Herbert's role to increase as the season goes along.

He is the clear number-one waiver priority for all leagues this week.