Week 3 of the fantasy football season got off to quite a rough start for the majority of owners that drafted first overall in their league. Christian McCaffrey — the consensus No. 1 overall pick from the summer — suffered a hamstring injury in the Carolina Panthers’ game Thursday night, opening the door for backup Chuba Hubbard — the No. 1 waiver wire add for Week 4. The good news for McCaffrey is that head coach Matt Rhule said he will not be placed on the injured reserve.
Speaking of the injured reserve, all players placed on the IR before their team’s first game are now eligible to be activated. That should serve as a reminder to use your league’s reserve spots to your advantage (if you have them). Stashed players that are injured cost you absolutely nothing and have the potential to be roster-changing additions.
With that, let’s explore 10 fantasy football takeaways from Week 3.
Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton ... With K.J. Hamler suffering a torn ACL, the Denver Broncos are now down to two main guys in their wide receiver room. Sutton is likely already owned, but after a down week in which Denver did not have to throw much, there is a strong opportunity to buy him at a low cost. As for Patrick, he is a must-add if he still sits in your league’s pool of free agents. Patrick has scored in the double digits every week this season and is now in line for even more work going forward.
Ravens running back platoon ... In a dream matchup against a weak Detroit Lions defense, both Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray laid eggs as the two were fully entrenched in committee approach. Despite Williams’ success in the past two weeks, he fell behind both Murray and Devonta Freeman on Sunday. It will be hard to trust any Baltimore back in the immediate future.
Matt Nagy ... The Chicago Bears’ offense had a number of sought after players by fantasy football players this year. But, through three weeks, Nagy has ruined all of them. Starting with Justin Fields, the dynamic rookie had high fantasy potential due to his running ability, but Nagy’s offensive game plan on Sunday was so bad it seemed he intentionally set up his rookie for failure. The poor quarterback play has also made life difficult for Allen Robinson. Robinson is still seeing plenty of opportunities (25.3 percent team target share), but has only recorded 10 receptions on the year. The return of Andy Dalton or switch to Nick Foles won't make things any better.
Peyton Barber ... Let’s get weird. Despite Kenyan Drake being the highest-paid backup running back in the NFL, it was Barber who was called upon by the Las Vegas Raiders to fill in for the injured Josh Jacobs. In his last two games, Barber has recorded 13 and 23 carries and had a 23.2-point fantasy breakout against the Miami Dolphins this past weekend. He’s earned more playing time and seems to be the true workhorse if Jacobs continues to miss time.
Robby Anderson’s struggles ... Despite teaming back up with his former quarterback, Sam Darnold, Anderson is barely getting any attention (10.9 percent team target share). Anderson just simply isn't getting opportunities despite being second on Carolina in both short and vertical routes run. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Anderson ranks 13th-lowest in average yards of separation (2.2 yards) among qualified receivers, perhaps a reason behind his issues. He’s not trustworthy for the time being.
Robert Tonyan rollercoaster ... After last season, it was no surprise that Tonyan was touchdown dependent. That is again the case this season, as the Green Bay Packers tight end has just a 8.8 percent team target share. In the red zone, he has mustered two targets — hauling in both for 11 yards and zero scores. While those numbers do not jump off the page — especially for a touchdown-dependent tight end — they are actually on par with his red-zone statistics from last season. Tonyan recorded 10 receptions for 67 yards and seven touchdowns on 11 red-zone targets in 16 games last year, while also having a streak of eight games without a score. The risk of duds like this week will always be in play, but he should start seeing more touchdown opportunities.
Josh Gordon’s return ... One of the biggest headlines from Week 3 was the return of Gordon, who agreed to a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad. The news certainly woke up fantasy owners, but it’s more likely that Gordon holds little fantasy value going forward. With Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill seeing roughly 50 percent of Kansas City’s targets, no other receiver has been able to provide trustworthy fantasy production. Even if Gordon takes the No. 2 receiver role from Mecole Hardman, his usage and production will likely be inconsistent.
Damien Harris dilemma ... New England Patriots running backs have always been a fantasy nightmare, and here we are again. Even with James White leaving with a hip injury, Harris played just 22 offensive snaps and recorded a measly 3.1 fantasy points as the game script worked against him. Harris has been poor in pass protection this season and shouldn't be expected to replace much of White’s production in that area. However, New England still plans on relying on the run game this season and have a stretch of matchups against poor run defenses after their Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It could be an ideal time to acquire the Alabama product for cheap.
Hope for Robert Woods ... For those who drafted Woods over Cooper Kupp this year, I am truly sorry. Kupp has absolutely dominated the first three weeks of the season, ranking as the highest-scoring player of any position. That has meant very little work for Woods, but there may be reason for hope. To start, Woods has still been operating as the clear No. 2 Los Angeles Rams receiver in terms of snaps and team target percentage. He also has a favorable stretch of matchups on his way, starting this week in a potential shootout against the Arizona Cardinals. Don’t give up hope just yet.
Rashod Bateman and Curtis Samuel ... We will end with how we started — talking about the IR spot. If you have openings, Bateman and Samuel should be added this instant if available. Bateman, who suffered a core injury this preseason, is set to return to the Baltimore Ravens’ practice this week. The rookie has an opportunity to be a major contributor to Baltimore’s offense. ... Samuel on the other hand started the year on IR after signing with the Washington Football Team this offseason. The dynamic receiver will have an immediate role as the No. 2 receiver upon his arrival. He should certainly be added and stashed as he is now eligible to return.
That is all for this week’s recap. Leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines with any and all questions about your fantasy team!