Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Time to panic or Week 3 antic?

2RXC6K7 Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) runs with the ball as he is chased by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Tim Settle (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Washington Commanders QB Sam Howell had a rude awakening courtesy of the Bills defense: 170 passing yards. Zero TDs. Four INTs. Ouch.

Christian Kirk outperforms Calvin Ridley again: After a strong start to the season, Ridley has had back-to-back down weeks.

• The split for Buffalo Bills TEs Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox through three weeks is troublesome: These two tight ends are limiting one another’s upside for fantasy football by splitting snaps.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Another week, another roller coaster for fantasy football managers with plenty of disappointing performances from designated fantasy studs. Which one of them should really have fantasy managers concerned? Here are five stats highlighting various fantasy disappointments from Week 3 and a temperature check — is it time to panic, or just a Week 3 antic?

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Sam Howell throws four INTs against the Buffalo Bills defense.

After back-to-back performances as a top-13 fantasy quarterback, Howell fell flat on his face in Week 3’s showdown against the Bills. He finished the day with 170 passing yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions, taking nine total sacks on the day. Ouch. Depending on league scoring settings, Howell may have very well scored negative fantasy points.

Though Howell has a ways to go in terms of his development as a passer, there’s reason to believe that the Bills dominant defense was a big reason for the disastrous performance he posted in Week 3. Dating back through the 2022 season, the Bills have allowed the second-fewest points (16.9) and have tied for the third-fewest yards (308.7) per game. They’ve totaled 36 takeaways since last season, with 24 of those being interceptions, both ranked top-two among defenses in the league. The Commanders' schedule opens up over the next two weeks with games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, both secondaries that should provide Howell opportunity as a more-than-viable streamer moving forward.

Temperature check: Week 3 antic

Green Bay Packers RB A.J. Dillon was a non-factor with a starting role.

There was some hope that Dillon would step up in a big way with the opportunity to start in Aaron Jones (hamstring) absence. However, in two starts, Dillon has struggled, sitting as the overall RB39 after totaling just 96 scrimmage yards and no touchdowns. He’s totaled 27 touches in the two games Jones has been out, but he’s not the only running back that has seen work. RBs Patrick Taylor and Emanuel Wilson are in the mix for snaps as well. 

Taylor’s role has been particularly concerning in regards to Dillon’s upside, as he's been the Packers’ featured back on third and fourth downs, playing 58.1% of such snaps to Dillon’s 38.7%. It’s translating to work as a receiver for Taylor, too, as he leads the running back room with five targets over the past two weeks. Simply put, if Dillon can’t perform for fantasy teams in a lead role, it’s difficult to imagine any circumstances where he will be a flex-worthy play barring a change in his usage and overall efficiency.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Christian Kirk outperforms Calvin Ridley for the second consecutive week.

Ridley got off to a hot start in Week 1, posting an 8/101/1 outing in his first game with his new team. It translated to a WR6 finish on the week, which had fantasy managers all in on his upside, but in the weeks to follow, they were met with disappointment, as teammate Christian Kirk outscored him in back-to-back weeks since.

Though it hasn’t translated in terms of fantasy points, Ridley’s overall usage should be enough to calm the nerves of fantasy managers. So far this season, Ridley has led the team with a 24.8% target rate on routes run and a 27.6% deep target rate. Unfortunately, he and Lawrence haven’t always connected, averaging a career-low 50% catch rate through three weeks. Ridley’s also struggled a bit with drops this season, currently leading all wide receivers with four so far this season for an uncharacteristically high 23.5% drop rate. 

The offense has at times felt out of sync for the Jaguars, particularly following their surprising home loss to the Houston Texans, but expect a bounceback across the board and leverage Ridley’s inefficiencies as a buy-low opportunity in fantasy football.

Temperature check: Week 3 antic

Kansas City Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney ran just two routes in Week 3.

Toney was listed as questionable with a toe injury ahead of Week 3 after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday. He was active for the game, though he played just two total snaps on offense, catching his lone target for -1 yards, which puts his grand total through three games at seven receptions for 35 total receiving yards. Yikes. 

More concerning than the lack of production, however, is the lack of playing time. Could it have had something to do with his lack of snaps against the Bears? Maybe. However, having also played a snap on special teams would make that seem less likely — after all, why would you tout your “top receiver” out to play special teams, where injury risk can be great, if he’s not well enough to play on the offense? Most fantasy managers have already moved on from Toney in redraft leagues, but those who haven’t can take Week 3 as a sign to pull the plug. Dynasty managers, in particular, should be particularly alarmed, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to trade away Toney with every passing week.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Buffalo Bills TE Dalton Kincaid has finished outside of the top 15 in back-to-back weeks.

Fantasy managers thought that Kincaid might be the exception to the rule that rookie tight ends don’t perform well for fantasy. After all, it seemed like a lock that this team would be deploying Kincaid as more of a slot receiver than a true in-line tight end, as most presumed that veteran teammate Dawson Knox would be relegated to a blocking role. So far through three weeks, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In their first three games of the year, Knox has run 92 total routes to Kincaid’s 89, seeing 11 and 12 targets on those routes run, respectively. Neither has exceeded 6.5% of the team’s targeted air yards. Simply put, these two teammates are splitting work in a way that wasn’t previously expected, and it’s rendered both of them unrosterable in most leagues. Ahead of Week 4, Kincaid is rostered on 74% of Yahoo! leagues and 58% of ESPN leagues. It’s time to drop Kincaid until we see the work lean more heavily in his favor.

Temperature check: Time to panic


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