There have been few themes as constant through the first three weeks of the NFL season as the struggles of the rookie quarterbacks. None of the rookies rank amongst the top-25 Fantasy quarterbacks on a season or per-game basis.
Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson have combined for nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions. And as bad as they've been, I'm not sure any of them have turned in a performance as unproductive as Justin Fields did in his first NFL start. Considering how excited I was for Fields' first start, that seems like the perfect place to start Week 3's Believe It or Not.
Justin Fields should be dropped in most redraft leagues
The Case: In his first NFL start, Fields completed just six of 20 passes and only ran three times for 12 yards against the Cleveland Browns. To be clear, it wasn't all Fields fault. He was sacked nine times thanks to a miserable performance from his offensive line and the game plan didn't help him much either.
Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of hope that the offensive line or the game plan will improve any time soon. There's still reason to hope for Fields in Dynasty leagues, but you don't need to waste a roster spot on him in redraft.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
If I was doing the short version it would be this: He plays the Lions in Week 4.
But there's also a roster construction point to be made. Fields should have only been on your roster in this format as an upside backup. No matter how bad he looked in his first start against a very good defense, my opinion of his potential upside hasn't changed all that much. If he gets to two bad starts, or three like Lawrence, I would be more comfortably saying we're not going to see the upside this year.
Of course, if someone like Chuba Hubbard is on your waiver wire and Fields is your worst player, you should drop him. But I'm not dropping him for another backup quarterback or just out of spite.
Time for Week 3 Believe It or Not...— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 26, 2021
Justin Fields should be dropped in one-quarterback redraft leagues
Saquon Barkley is back as a must-start RB in all formats
The Case: On Sunday against the Falcons, Barkley saw 22 touches, and produced 95 yards and his first touchdown of the 2021 season. His seven targets were tied for the team lead. Maybe most telling was that the team left Devontae Booker on the inactive list, signaling their faith in Barkley's knee. His Fantasy managers should have no doubts about starting Barkley moving forward.
The Verdict: Believe it.
I should address Barkley's efficiency, it was bad. Particularly his 3.2 yards per carry. And it was the Falcons. But it's the volume that makes Barkley a must-start back. Entering Monday Night Football, there are only five running backs averaging 20 touches per game. Anyone who has a chance to join that group is a must-start running back regardless of their efficiency.
Saquon Barkley is a must-start running back in all formats— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 26, 2021
Jonathan Taylor has a Nyheim Hines problem
The Case: Through three weeks Hines has scored more PPR Fantasy points than Taylor and in Week 3, he played more as well. For the season Taylor still has accounted for 56% of the team's rush attempts and 10% of their targets, but he still hasn't reached the end zone like Hines did in Week 3.
No one should seriously consider benching Taylor, but it's seeming less and less likely that he's going to justify his ADP.
Verdict: Believe it.
While I do believe Hines is a part of the problem, it's not the only problem for Taylor. The Colts offensive line and defense have not been as good as we expected. Those two issues are part of what has put the team in positions where they're more likely to use Hines. I'm not sure it's going to be that way all year, but I feel pretty confident that's going to be the case more than we anticipated.
Rest of season, Taylor should be viewed in the same range as Saquon Barkley, as a borderline top-12 PPR running back. He still has top-five upside if the team can get to more run-heavy situations, like we projected they would before the season. Week 4 against Jacoby Brissett and the Dolphins would be a great place to start.
Jonathan Taylor has a Nyheim Hines problem— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 26, 2021
Robert Woods is a sit until further notice
The Case: Woods only has a 20.4% target share and he's been held to three catches (and fewer than 35 receiving yards) in two of three contests. Cooper Kupp is dominating targets in this offense while DeSean Jackson and Van Jefferson are making big plays down the field. Woods' skillset doesn't appear to be as valuable in the latest iteration of Sean McVay's offense and he hasn't been as efficient when targeted, catching just 57.9% of his targets so far.
Until we get some indication things are going to change, you should be sitting Woods.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
Yes, Woods has been mostly terrible. And it is possible you could have two better receivers. But most of my leagues are three receiver leagues that are full PPR and in almost all of them, I'm sticking with Woods. Even a 20% target share on one of the best offenses in football should eventually translate to Fantasy success.
Put another way, Woods averaged 1.74 PPR Fantasy points per target the past four seasons in Los Angeles. That rate with his current target share would put him at 10.93 PPR Fantasy points per game, plus whatever he does with his one-to-two carries each week. I believe it's more likely that Woods' targets go up than down in the coming weeks, so I'm willing to bet his efficiency rebounds as well.
Robert Woods is a sit until further notice— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 26, 2021
Giovani Bernard is the best Tampa Bay RB in full PPR, rest of season
The Case: After a disappointing first two weeks of the season, the Buccaneers finally unleashed Giovani Bernard in the passing game. The veteran responded by catching nine passes for 51 yards and scoring the first running back touchdown of the season for the Buccaneers.
His 20.1 PPR Fantasy points were 8.5 points better than Leonard Fournette's best game this season and more than double what Ronald Jones has scored for the year. It's hard to imagine the team will go away from Bernard after what he showed in Week 3.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
Not unless you think the Bucs are playing from behind a lot this year. They basically gave up on the run game and went hurry up because of the score. Bernard is their hurry-up back, and he did well in the role. But he still does not have a rush attempt this year.
If I had to pick one Tampa Bay running back it would still be Leonard Fournette, but none of them look like more than a flex with the way touches are being distributed in this offense.
Giovani Bernard is the best Tampa Bay running back in full PPR, rest of season— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) September 26, 2021