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Editor's Note: If you want an early look at the waiver wire for Week 4, scroll to the bottom to see Dave's top targets for QB, RB, WR, and TE.
The next time you find yourself muttering about how unfair/unlikely/unpredictable Fantasy Football is, just imagine how Mike Zimmer must feel.
Zimmer and the Vikings were 17-point favorites against the winless, hapless Buffalo Bills. They were losing 17-0 after the first quarter and couldn't answer the bell the rest of the game after Kirk Cousins was sacked and fumbled to end each of the Vikings' first two drives. Minnesota ended up going three plays on four of their first five possessions and had earned just two first downs and 46 yards by halftime. Cousins had a total of three turnovers to go with his 296 yards and garbage-time score to Kyle Rudolph. He was out-played by rookie Josh Allen, who totaled three touchdowns.
Any Given Sunday. It's not just the name of a football movie.
It's enough to strike fear in the hearts of Fantasy owners who have been riding the wave of Cousins and Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Not only did they struggle Sunday, but they're headed into the Rams' den on a very short week, before traveling to play at Philadelphia in Week 5. This is no slam-dunk stretch for any team, much less one that just got routed by Buffalo.
The Vikings' offensive line is a big problem. Not only was Cousins sacked four times, but he was hit another time and pressured plenty beyond that. Buffalo was smart to attack Minnesota's front five and eventually pin its ears back and get after Cousins. That flustered the quarterback, who was off-target on several throws and didn't get into a rhythm until he threw for 200 yards in the fourth quarter. The Vikings run game was also a total non-factor.
It's not quite enough to push the panic button and get what you can for these guys. It's just a rotten week with a rotten couple of games in their future. At the very least, Adam Thielen has proven his reliability with three straight weeks with 10-plus Fantasy points, and Rudolph has reached a floor of at least seven Fantasy points in non-PPR leagues. At the very most, we're a week removed from Cousins throttling the Packers for 425 yards and four touchdowns, with two of them and 128 yards going to Diggs. Be patient — center Pat Elflein's imminent return should help stabilize the line, and the offense in general will turn it around. If anything, this coming week might be a good time to try and acquire some Vikings.
Minnesota's misadventure wasn't all that went haywire in Week 3 ...
- After hanging 31 points on the Patriots in Week 2, Blake Bortles played just like ... uh, Blake Bortles ... and the Jaguars lost a 9-6 field-goal fight to the Titans.
- Eli Manning was sacked four times but also completed all but four passes, teaming up with Saquon Barkley (117 total yards and a score) to give the Giants a 27-22 win, keeping the Texans winless.
- Matt Ryan threw five touchdowns with 374 yards passing ... and Julio Jones totaled 96 yards on five receptions. He still hasn't scored this season.
- Alex Collins had 18 carries and scored (Javorius Allen had two scores, though!).
- Kenyan Drake, Chris Thompson, Tyreek Hill, Diggs, Amari Cooper and Jimmy Graham all disappointed.
- And of course the Browns won on Thursday for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth ... or something like that. It was a while.
Three Big Questions After Week 3
Is Andrew Luck done?
Luck's completed 68.5 percent of his passes through three games, but for just 5.34 yards per attempt and five total touchdowns. Worse yet, he's consistently thrown with limited velocity and has had a bunch of near-interceptions – including two on Sunday against the Eagles. The Colts even went with Jacoby Brissett to throw a Hail Mary on the final play of the game — a tell-tale sign that Luck's arm isn't back to normal if there ever was one. His receiving weapons are pretty limited — Ryan Grant scored on Sunday, and Eric Ebron accounted for two scores before failing to cash in on any of his opportunities against Philly, and those are his best options behind T.Y. Hilton. It's not very pretty, especially since Indianapolis can't run the ball yet either. Luck is no longer a high-upside Fantasy passer — a lot of people will bench or cut him for alternatives on waivers. A handful of other Fantasy owners will try getting what they can for Hilton, figuring he won't return No. 1 receiver value moving forward. The Colts host the Texans next week and the Patriots after that. Hard to expect Luck to crush either of those defenses.
Has Adrian Peterson turned back the clock?
Peterson landed a favorable game script and got the workload he was missing last week, piling on the Packers for 120 yards and two scores. He heads into his Week 4 bye as a top-five Fantasy running back on the strength of two 20-point outings through the first three weeks. After the bye he'll take on the Saints, Panthers, Cowboys and Giants, all four opponents who can be hurt by the run game and two with mediocre offenses. That's the kind of recipe Peterson needs to maintain his incredible numbers. A number of Peterson's Fantasy people will think this is the best he'll be and try to sell high on him. If the price ends up not being too high, he's worth procuring so long as it's not too expensive.
Will David Johnson ever achieve numbers like he did in 2016?
Johnson reeled in a first-quarter 21-yard touchdown from Sam Bradford, and sadly that was his only great play against Chicago. He caught all of four targets for 30 yards with the score, but turned 12 carries into 31 pathetic yards. Through three weeks, Johnson doesn't have a run longer than 11 yards, and owns two plays good for at least 15 yards — and none for more than 25 yards. The Cardinals' dreadful offensive line combined with the coaching staff's senseless decision-making (Chase Edmonds is getting notable playing time) has turned him into the best touchdown-dependent rusher in Fantasy Football. Things won't get easier — the Seahawks, 49ers and Vikings are next up on Arizona's dance card. Trading him won't net anything close to what's "fair" for a former first-round pick. It's a real quandary for Fantasy owners who might have to just stick with him.
Early Waiver Wire
Fantasy owners who put their eggs in Luck or Jimmy Garoppolo's basket are looking for fresh alternatives after Week 3. Trading might be the best move, but if you can't make a deal then the waiver wire is where you must go:
Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
|This one's pending the health of receiver A.J. Green, but assuming he's fine, Dalton will take on a Falcons defense ravaged by injuries so far this season. He should be on the right side of 20 Fantasy points in Week 4, even if he's on the road for the third time in four weeks.|
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns QB
|You shouldn't need to go back and watch the tape to see that Mayfield is an exciting, mostly accurate passer who raises the expectations of his pass catchers. Put it this way — he's barely practiced with the Browns starters and he turned in 201-yard stat line with a two-point conversion in roughly 32 minutes of play. Just imagine what he might do if he's better prepared to play. The Browns play at the Raiders, who have allowed 20-plus Fantasy points to two of three opponents this season.|
Ryan Tannehill Miami Dolphins QB
|No one wants to lean on Tannehill for Fantasy points, but at the very least you can't deny his deep receiving corps and Miami's inability to run the ball consistently. Would you believe he's sporting a 73 percent completion rate and averaging 9.3 yards per attempt? Tannehill will play at the Patriots next week, a team he's thrown for at least 300 yards against in each of his last four meetings.|
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills QB
|Allen will be a week-in, week-out roller coaster but he's got an absolute cannon for an arm and mobility that makes him dangerous on the ground (two rushing touchdowns at Minnesota). If Buffalo had better receivers he'd be more appealing for Fantasy. He gets the Packers in Green Bay next week followed by a home date with Tennessee.|
Wendell Smallwood Philadelphia Eagles RB
|The Eagles didn't give Corey Clement a big workload, instead sharing the touches among all their backs. Smallwood happened to be the one who scored from four yards out and averaged 5.6 yards per carry along with just over 11.0 yards per catch (three receptions on five targets). If Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles miss Week 4, Smallwood has a chance for a pretty decent outing ahead versus the Titans.|
Javorius Allen Baltimore Ravens RB
|He didn't get nearly as many carries as Alex Collins in Week 3 but he found the end zone twice. As a touchdown-dependent running back, Allen can at least provide support as a bye-week replacement. The Ravens are at the Steelers in Week 4.|
Ty Montgomery Green Bay Packers RB
|Basically a decent PPR option, Montgomery had 10 touches in Week 3, totaling 64 yards. Like Allen, he's a bye-week running back. Unlike Allen, he shares the Packers backfield with two teammates instead of one.|
Ronald Jones Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB
|If Peyton Barber can't sustain anything on the ground against the Steelers, expect Jones to get some chances moving forward. He's worth stashing.|
Hopefully A.J. Green will be fine after leaving his game against the Panthers early with a groin injury. Keenan Allen also left and returned from his showdown against the Rams:
Calvin Ridley Atlanta Falcons WR
|These big-time receivers are expected to remain heavily involved in their respective offenses moving forward. Ridley will particularly be a problem so long as he shares the field with Julio Jones.|
Tyler Lockett Seattle Seahawks WR
|Lockett is Seattle's version of DeSean Jackson.|
Geronimo Allison Green Bay Packers WR
|Allison is Aaron Rodgers' most reliable receiver this side of Davante Adams. You know what to do if any of these first three guys are free agents in your league.|
Tyler Boyd Cincinnati Bengals WR
|It looks like Boyd, not John Ross or Tyler Eifert, will be Dalton's second-most reliable target. With 21 targets and 15 catches so far, he will especially succeed so long as Green and Ross draw coverage away from him. Boyd will be one of the most popular waiver pickups this week in advance of the Bengals game against the Falcons.|
Mike Williams Los Angeles Chargers WR
|As noted during the preseason, Williams is basically the Chargers' only big (nearly 6-foot-4), physical pass catcher with a semblance of speed and hops. He's come through for at least eight Fantasy points in each game this season and found the end zone twice on Sunday against the Rams. He'll take on the 49ers in Week 4 and is at least a flex choice.|
Antonio Callaway Cleveland Browns WR
|He's another Browns receiver who should see better targets from Mayfield. His speed is rare, making him a boom-or-bust Fantasy option practically regardless of the opponent. The good news? Cleveland shouldn't lead in many games.|
Christian Kirk Arizona Cardinals WR
|Did you ever think you'd see the day where a rookie would have more than three times as many targets as Larry Fitzgerald? Kirk led the Red Birds with eight targets, catching seven for 90 yards. In fact he's caught 12 of 15 targets overall, which isn't bad at all. Arizona's going to keep on trailing this season and Josh Rosen should feed him slightly better passes than Sam Bradford has so far. He's worth stashing.|
Jakeem Grant Miami Dolphins WR
|After getting seven targets in Week 1, Grant had four in Week 2 and did nothing special. His speed was on display in Week 3, however, turning his lowly three targets into two touchdown receptions for 70 yards. Expect the Dolphins to scheme up more plays for him to turn on the afterburners against the Pats.|
Albert Wilson Miami Dolphins WR
|See above with Grant. Wilson's not getting consistent work but he's been making big plays for the Dolphins and could also get in on some end-zone fun in Week 4.|
Evan Engram left the Giants' Week 3 game at the Texans with a right knee injury and was spotted with a brace on his leg after the game. Fantasy owners probably need a replacement plan:
David Njoku Cleveland Browns TE
|The people who drafted Njoku are probably going to cut him after three ineffective weeks. Mayfield had a tendency to lean on his tight ends in college and even went to Njoku with one of his first passes. He's absolutely worth speculating on with Mayfield now under center for the Browns.|
Austin Hooper Atlanta Falcons TE
|Hooper didn't do much in Week 3 outside of catching a two-point conversion but lands a nice matchup against the Bengals, who have struggled with tight ends though much of the first three weeks. He's a priority streaming option.|
Ricky Seals-Jones Arizona Cardinals TE
|He scored against the Bears on a Bradford pass Sunday, and figures to remain a regular in the Cardinals offense. Perhaps with Rosen throwing to him he'll be more effective. His matchup versus Seattle in Week 4 is not ideal.|
Dallas Goedert Philadelphia Eagles TE
|It was cool to see Goedert mesh immediately with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, coming through for a touchdown on seven grabs for 73 yards. However, the Eagles remain thin on receiver help — once they get Alshon Jeffery back, Goedert's targets could hit the skids. The Week 4 matchup at Tennessee is interesting.|
So, what do the projections say? Visit SportsLine now to see what the computer model expects for Week 4 and beyond.