Fantasy Football Week 3: What you missed Thursday, starring Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the suddenly, shockingly explosive Rams offense
Chris Towers breaks down Thursday Night Football, and the rest of the news from a busy day around the NFL.
What's this? Every Tuesday through Friday, Chris Towers will catch you up on the previous day's biggest news first thing in the morning. Here's what you missed Thursday:
The Rams offense looks legit
Break up the Rams! The term "QB Whisperer" gets used an awful lot, but Sean McVay may actually earn it. Or maybe Jared Goff is just good. Either way, this offense looks nothing like the one that slogged through 2017, and whoever deserves credit for it, I just hope they keep it up.
Goff was terrific Thursday, completing 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards and three scores, and he looked good doing pretty much everything asked. He was solid from the pocket and on the move, displayed good decision making, and finally hooked up with Sammy Watkins on a deep ball. Through three games, he now has 817 passing yards, five touchdowns, and only one pick. It's too early to say for sure, but those of us who wrote Goff off after his disastrous rookie season look mighty silly these days.
Of course, the QB isn't everything, and Goff has plenty of help here. Todd Gurley looks like a new man, having rushed for 201 yards on 34 carries over his last two games. Add in 36 yards on five receptions Thursday, and he has strung together one of his best two-game stretched ever. And that's not even getting to the five touchdowns in that span, including three Thursday. He now has six on the season, matching his total from 2016, and it only looks slightly fluky. He won't keep this scoring pace up, but the Rams are getting him the ball in space, and the overall competence of the offense is clearly helping him out. Gurley looks like the must-star back we were hoping he would be last season.
And finally, Watkins deserves some love. Watkins' abilities should never have been in question, but it was fair to wonder if his late addition to the roster limited his upside this season. There was nothing limited about Watkins' upside Thursday however, as he hauled in six of seven passes for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His workload hasn't been what you'd hope, with just 14 targets in three games, but hopefully Week 3 was just the start of a breakout season. Remember, Watkins had 1,057 yards and nine touchdowns in just 13 games in 2015. His upside is immense.
Carlos Hyde isn't going anywhere
Remember when Hyde was on the bubble in San Francisco? Well, he's racked up 237 all-purpose yards in consecutive games against tough Seahawks and Rams defenses, and now has 51 touches through three games. He's the best player in this offense, and I'm not sure it's even close at this point.
The quality of the offense overall remains a concern, which is why he just got his first two touchdowns of the season Thursday. However, they have proven willing to rely on him heavily, and that's a great sign. Scoring opportunities may be tough to come by, but Kyle Shanahan is featuring him in the both the passing and running game, and Hyde looks like a must-start Fantasy option moving forward.
Pierre Garcon still matters
We were hoping Garcon would be a solid Fantasy option this season, but a lackluster opening two weeks might have spooked you off. This was a great sign, as Garcon went off for seven catches and 142 yards Thursday night. He has now hauled in 16 of 25 passes thrown his way for 249 yards, with 10 targets in two of his three games.
The bad news is, Garcon has no touchdowns, and shouldn't be counted on for much in that regard in this offense. However, he has never scored more than six in a season, so that just isn't part of his game anyway. What you're hoping for here is he keeps getting healthy targets and can stay in that 70-80 yard per game range moving forward. He looks like a strong WR3 in PPR formats.
Other notes from TNF…
- Watkins is in the concussion protocol… Just something to keep an eye on moving forward, as Watkins was forced to leave the game late. Luckily, the Rams have extra time off before their next game.
- Cooper Kupp is droppable… We may have gotten too excited about Kupp after his six-catch, 76-yard performance with a touchdown in the opener. He has just five catches for 50 yards in two games since, with eight targets. He'll have his moments, but if you need a roster spot, Kupp's production looks awfully pedestrian at this point.
- Kyle Juszczyk (neck) was forced to leave TNF… There was some hope that Juszczyk might be Fantasy relevant in Kyle Shanahan's offense, but he had just four touches in three games before his injury.
What else you need to know from around the NFL
DeMarco Murray (hamstring) is very much in doubt for Week 3
The Titans are hopeful Murray can get on the practice field Friday, but his bothersome hamstring injury has kept him off the field so far. Given the nature of this injury, which has lingered since the preseason, you almost prefer to see Murray sit out the week, get fully healthy, and come back when the risk of re-injury is lower.
However, it is clear Derrick Henry's value is improving daily. I still don't think there's much evidence he's going to push Murray for work when both are healthy – Murray dominated work in 2016, and outsnapped Henry by 19 plays in Week 1 – but Henry looks like a must-start player if Murray misses time.
The Jets are adding a third back to their RBBC
As if we needed another reason to avoid the Jets' offense, Jets offensive coordinator John Morton told reporters he will mix rookie Elijah McGuire in even more. McGuire saw seven touches on 12 snaps in Week 2, and will push Matt Forte and Bilal Powell for work. I still think Powell is the most intriguing talent in this backfield, but the Jets probably have more incentive to see what the younger McGuire can do, given their future-focused position. Don't be surprised if he becomes the man to own here.
- Graham was held out of practice for a second straight day with an ankle injury, but Pete Carroll said he has a chance to play in Week 3. Of course, Carroll is the most relentlessly positive coach in the entire league, so that might not mean much. Graham's status will get more clarity Friday, but you need to start thinking about contingency plans.
- Reed was back at practice Thursday, despite dealing with rib and chest injuries. However, it wasn't a padded practice, and Reed worked with wide receivers on pass-catching rather than on blocking with tight ends. For what that's worth. This is a pain tolerance issue for Reed, and we may not get a final call until 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday.
- Gronkowski was upgraded to a limited participant Thursday, as he deals with a groin injury. That's a good sign, obviously, though Gronk's history makes him a question mark nearly every week. You knew what you were signing up for.
- If any of these three sit out, Charles Clay (40 percent owned), Cameron Brate (38 percent owned), Benjamin Watson (36 percent owned), and Evan Engram (53 percent owned) are all worth adding. And, if Reed or Gronkowski sit out, Vernon Davis and Dwayne Allen would be fine streaming options, and both are nearly universally available.
- Sam Bradford (knee) remains limited in practice… He was able to practice on a limited basis all of last week, so this doesn't represent much of an improvement. This one looks like it will go down to the wire Sunday again, so don't make your decisions on Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs until you hear.
- Chris Johnson is expected to get more carries in week 3… It's hard to justify starting Johnson, but he's certainly worth owning. In 2015, he started nine of his 11 games, racking up 79.3 yards from scrimmage per game. He can be a low-end starting option.
- DeVante Parker (ankle) and Jay Ajayi (knee) both missed practice Thursday… Neither sounds particularly serious right now, but both bear watching. Ajayi was limited last week, and then got a huge workload in the game against the Chargers, so this seems more precautionary than anything else.
- Jordan Howard (shoulder) was limited again Thursday… Howard is progressing exactly like he did a week ago, when he was able to play through the injury. Of course, he was also forced out of Sunday's game after an ineffective nine carries, so view him as a risk.
- Randall Cobb (chest) sat out Thursday's practice again… We'll see if he can get a session in Friday, but I wouldn't count on him being available. Davante Adams figures to gain with Cobb and Jordy Nelson dealing with injuries.
- Terrance West (thigh) missed practice again… Make other plans if you've been relying on him, and expect Javorius Allen to get a ton of work in his absence.
- Tyler Eifert (back, knee) is expected to sit out Week 3… Eifert was not even spotted on the rehab field, and ESPN.com's Bengals reporter does not expect Eifert to play in Week 3.
- Melvin Gordon (knee) was limited Thursday… Gordon was a late addition to the injury report, after not being listed Wednesday. It's not clear at this point how serious it is, but it's encouraging that he was able to practice in some capacity.
- Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was upgraded to full practice… Expect to see him on the injury report with various issues, as the Broncos try to limit his exposure this season. This doesn't look like a concern.
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