After over 630 days, we finally have a Cleveland Browns win at the hands of the 2018 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield who replaced the injured Tyrod Taylor at the end of the second quarter. Mayfield looks like he’ll be the starter going forward if head coach Hue Jackson has any intentions of having a winning season. That was a great way to kick off week three although the first half was a snooze-fest. Being two full weeks through the NFL season, players are falling into place, and newcomers are already exceeding expectations, such as Phillip Lindsay and Kenny Golladay to name a few. Do you know who leads the league in rushing? That would belong to probably Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliott right? 49ers RB Matt Breida holds the lead in rushing followed by Joe Mixon and Lindsay close behind in third. This season has already thrown fans for a loop as Le’Veon Bell is still nowhere to be found and the Steelers are last in the AFC North. The Arizona Cardinals have seemed to forget how to coach as one of the best backs in the league David Johnson is averaging under 15 touches per game and has just six catches through two games. I can tell you we won’t be ready for what week three will bring if this trend continues. But let’s get into some starts and sits for this week three slate of games.
While putting up lackluster numbers last week against a somewhat improved Colts defense, he still refused to turn the ball over. The caveat is Smith’s YPC (yards per completion) was just 8.8 yards. This week he gets the Green Bay Packers where the Redskins could seemingly be down part of the game, leading to Smith having to air it out. Though the Packers defense is improved as they added a few rookies to their secondary, Mitchell Trubisky moved the ball with ease in the first half on this defense in week one. On Sunday, Kirk Cousins shredded them, throwing for over 400 yards. If Smith can look downfield and limit the checkdowns, the chunk plays will be there. While I don’t expect the Redskins to win, I can see Smith finding success through this Packers secondary.
After struggling week one against the Titans, Drake upped his YPC (yards per carry) in week two from 3.4 yards to 4.8 yards. While only managing 15 touches, Drake totaled 70 scrimmage yards with his first score of 2018. I expect Drake’s touches to increase this week against the Raiders as he looks to build off last week’s success. Game script may be in his favor as well as the matchup. The Raiders defense is putrid with the loss of Khalil Mack and opposing RBs have had their way against this group. If Carr is anything like week one, the Dolphins will also be ahead for the majority of the game. All things point towards Kenyan Drake having plenty of opportunities and a possible breakout performance here in week three.
Kenny Golladay has started 2018 on fire by showcasing his talents and pushing for the team’s #1 option. While that belongs to Marvin Jones, Golladay has outperformed Jones in virtually every category. I was skeptical about Jones coming into the season because of Golladay providing similar talents as Marvin and so far that’s proved true. Golden Tate still has his role carved out but the presence of Golladay has vastly affected Jones two weeks into the season. Golladay could continue his hot start this week as they get the New England Patriots. Game script looks positive for Golladay as they should be losing for most of this game and Stafford will be forced to sling the ball 40+ times. There’s a chance that Stephon Gilmore could line up on Golladay, but the volume will be there, resulting in a large target share in week three. There’s no reason why Golladay won’t see 8 or more targets in this contest.
George Kittle has been a beneficiary of Marquise Goodwin’s absence due to injury. Although totaling less than 25 receiving yards in week two, he was targeted nine times in week one and turned that into five catches for 90 yards against a stout Vikings defense. Now facing a porous Chiefs defense who saw Steelers TE Jesse James rack up 138 yards and a touchdown on them last week. That has to be enticing for Kittle as he should have his open looks over the Chiefs linebackers. If Marquise Goodwin returns this week, that may slightly limit Kittle but I feel it will affect the other receivers over the up and coming tight end. Figuring to be a high scoring game, Garoppolo should spread the ball out and Kittle could be in for a rewarding day.
The Bears defense has been a hot waiver wire pickup as they dominated the Packers (first half) in week one and the Seahawks in week two. The addition of Khalil Mack looks to be worth every penny as he looks like the best player on the field at all times. This front seven has halted opposing rushers while the secondary has clamped down on receivers. The matchup couldn’t be better this week as they get Sam Bradford and the Arizona Cardinals. This defense has huge upside this week as they could by far finish as the top group of the week. Arizona has only put up six points in two games and their offense doesn’t look normal. Even if they figure out how to utilize David Johnson, that won’t override the amount of sacks and turnovers the Bears defense will force and create on Sunday. If they are still available on the waiver wire, do yourself a favor.
Through two weeks of 2018, Cam Newton has had one good and one bad game. After struggling against the now improved Cowboys and moving the ball well against the Falcons, he now faces a solid Bengals defense. I believe Newton will have a better performance than week one but he still will struggle. This Bengals defense has proven solid so far as they’ve limited the Colts and Ravens. With a strong secondary led by William Jackson III and a solid front seven, Newton may face a tough test with his struggling offensive line. Carolina has the weapons to put points on the board but I don’t think it will be enough for Cam to have a startable performance. Temper expectations for Newton if you have to start him, but I would look elsewhere for someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick if he’s still available in your league.
Entering the season, I was all over the Royce Freeman hype train. I figured he was going to be the lead back in Denver and handle the vast majority of the carries. The script quickly changed as RB Phillip Lindsay stormed onto the NFL radar. The undrafted rookie, Lindsay, had the exact number of carries as Royce with a touchdown. Now through two weeks, I’m worried about Royce slightly. Lindsay now has 8.7 YPT (yards per touch), is third in the NFL in rushing yards, leads the team in rushing attempts, and is second behind Emmanuel Sanders in terms of scrimmage yards on the team. All of that sure doesn’t bode well for Freeman. Perhaps it will change but for now it seems Royce is close to being limited to a goal line back. As long as Lindsay continues to be this efficient, Royce may be stuck in a tough spot. The matchup certainly doesn’t help Freeman. I feel the Ravens are tougher on running backs through the middle as opposed to outside which hurts Freeman significantly more than it does Lindsay. Until we see Freeman start to take a stronghold on this backfield (which may not happen), expect him to give you less than you paid for on draft day.
(*Dealing with a hamstring injury, is expected to play Sunday vs Bears*)
This offense cannot be trusted as long as they continue this terrible start. Larry Fitzgerald, as well as David Johnson, are being severely affected by poor coaching and poor offensive schemes through these two weeks. After being shut down by the Rams last week, you may be considering cutting ties with your high round draft pick. While I expect (and hope) that Arizona figures out how to run an offense, expect rock bottom again in week three. Facing a Bears defense as I described above as stout so far against two top QBs in the league in Rodgers and Wilson. I don’t think Sam Bradford will figure things out this week which isn’t the news you’d want to hear if you’re a Fitzgerald owner. Expected to be lined up against Kyle Fuller doesn’t help either as besides the touchdown he allowed last week to Tyler Lockett, he’s been tough to face. Once the Cardinals get an easier matchup then maybe you can trust Fitzgerald and this offense but this week, expect Arizona to struggle once again.
After what I saw on Sunday night, this is another offense I cannot trust. Even though Engram did find the end zone, he did it in garbage time as the game was virtually over. I can’t see Engram or this offense being much improved this week as they get the Texans. If the Giants OL doesn’t figures things out, they could be in for a long day as they’ll be lined up against Watt, Mercilus, and Clowney. Even Odell Beckham struggled last week against the Cowboys and I don’t see much different this week. The Texans defense is strong up front and once again may leave Eli Manning little time to get the ball out to his receivers. There’s a chance Engram could salvage a reasonable performance in garbage time, but certainly don’t count on it.
A popular defense heading into 2018 has seen injuries to CB Jason Verrett (season-ending) and DE Joey Bosa (multiple week absence). They got shredded by the Chiefs in week one and proved dominant last week against the Bills but they now get one of the hottest teams in the LA Rams. Although Jared Goff is still a young QB, McVay and that offense is very efficient. They also do not turn the ball over which is something the Chargers will need if they want to win this game. The absence of Joey Bosa will also hurt them significantly as they will have to lean on Melvin Ingram to attempt to get to Goff. I think this game will be competitive but the way the Rams are operating right now, I can’t really see the Chargers shutting them down for four quarters.