Editor’s note: The names listed below are NFL players who were drafted in virtually every Yahoo Fantasy league. That said, this column is not an endorsement to bench them in Week 3. You’re in control of your roster; every league size and shape is different. What we are trying to explain is that expectations should be lowered this week compared to usual for some of football’s best. Aside from examining this week’s matchups, this can also serve as a reminder not to overreact if one of your stars disappoints in Week 3.
Aaron Rodgers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The back-to-back MVP winner has lost fantasy value through no fault of his own. The return of Allen Lazard helps some, but this is still a limited Green Bay offense that functions through their running backs. Rodgers hasn’t been a top-25 fantasy QB after two games with his new receiving corps, even ranking behind Justin Fields, who’s attempted fewer passes than Cooper Kupp has been targeted!
Even with Akiem Hicks out for Tampa Bay, Rodgers has another bad matchup for fantasy purposes this week against an elite Bucs defense allowing the lowest EPA/pass (-0.45) in the league. Worse yet, the Buccaneers are decimated on offense (including Mike Evans out suspended) and have been playing a sluggish pace, so expect them to continue being run-heavy on first downs. Put differently, the over/under in this matchup opened at 48.5 points and has dropped down to 42, which is dramatic line movement without weather reasons. Don’t expect top-15 QB numbers from Rodgers during this defensive battle. Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota are all superior fantasy options in Week 3.
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Javonte Williams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Williams has looked great this season and is due for some better touchdown results at the goal line, but he has a few hurdles working against him Sunday night. The 49ers have ceded an NFL-low 2.6 YPC to open the year (hello there Talanoa Hufunga) and have been one of the stingiest defenses against fantasy backs since the beginning of last season. Moreover, Williams has the same number of carries as teammate Melvin Gordon, as he continues to yield plenty of work (although maybe a banged-up Jerry Jeudy leads to more targets). Finally, Williams must overcome a young coaching staff that’s made a comical number of errors to open the year. There’s no way you’re benching Williams in fantasy leagues given the dire RB landscape, but it’s safer to expect RB2 type production more so than his top-10 ECR projects.
Darnell Mooney vs. Houston Texans
Mooney’s expert consensus rank is the WR36 this week, which suggests he’s in consideration for fantasy lineups despite having yet to total five receiving yards over two games. Poor weather didn’t help in Week 1, but Justin Fields ranks 33rd in pass attempts in a league with 32 teams.
Mooney averaged 11 targets and 78.4 receiving yards with Andy Dalton and Nick Foles last season but just six targets and 50.6 yards in 10 games with Fields, and those splits have only gotten (much) worse in 2022 with a new coaching staff. There’s nowhere to go but up, but it’s as rough as it gets playing in a Chicago offense that leads the NFL in 3-and-out% and has completed (15) nearly half as many passes as the next lowest team in the run-heaviest system in football.
If that’s not enough shade, Mooney has run 56% of his routes from the slot this season; Houston’s slot corner Desmond King has allowed the lowest target/route rate (5% at snap) in the NFL and the third-fewest fantasy points to the position this year. Mooney looks closer to a drop than he does a fantasy starter right now.
Travis Kelce ($33) @ Indianapolis Colts
Kelce is off to a solid start this season, but he’s a DFS fade at this salary. Mark Andrews had a 40% air yardage share in Week 2 compared to 26% for Kelce, who’s five years older and getting targeted at a far lower rate yet has a 21% higher salary in DFS. An upset by a desperate 0-2 Colts team wouldn’t be shocking, but a true shootout with this version of Matt Ryan would be surprising. Look elsewhere when setting your DFS lineups this week.