NFL Week 3 came with more than its fair share of injury-related storylines, as injuries to key starters allowed players such as Justin Fields and Trey Sermon to step into starting roles while players such as Odell Beckham Jr. returned from injury to make their 2021 season debut.
PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2021.
- Snaps include plays called back due to penalties such as offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
- Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
- Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.
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- Davante Adams: 12 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD (56.2% threat rate)
- Aaron Jones: 19 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD (5 avoided tackles); 2 receptions, 14 receiving yards
|Green Bay Packers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|San Francisco 49ers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Start Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk was a backup in Week 1 and a starter in Week 2. Now, he’s returned to an every-down role as a starter. He caught four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. The second-year pass-catcher can be expected to remain in starting lineups and should be able to gain more fantasy points against weaker secondaries.
Monitor the 49ers running back situation: The 49ers didn’t have Elijah Mitchell or JaMycal Hasty for the game. So, San Francisco replaced Mitchell with Trey Sermon and Hasty with fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Sermon should have more fantasy value in the future should he need to start and the 49ers don't surrender an early 10-point lead. He also didn’t do anything to show he should be taking playing time ahead of Mitchell.
Bench Robert Tonyan: Tonyan was held to single-digit receiving yards for the second time in three games. The Packers have continued a heavy rotation of tight ends, which limits his pass routes. He remains in starting lineups due to his touchdown potential, but now he’s not even on the field for red-zone opportunities. The Packers have run seven plays with four yards or less to go for a touchdown, and he’s been on the field for one. Last season he was in for 25-of-43 and scored four touchdowns on those plays.
- Melvin Gordon III: 18 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 21 receiving yards (3 missed tackles forced)
- Tim Patrick: 5 receptions, 98 receiving yards (17.4 aDOT)
|New York Jets||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Denver Broncos||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Melvin Gordon III||36||16||1||18|
Pick up Michael Carter: The Jets have used their running backs interchangeably in the past, but today the main backfield contributors had more distinct roles. Carter was more of the early-down back, while Ty Johnson mixed in on early downs while also playing third downs. This means we can expect Carter to be the clear leader in carries going forward.
In general, the team needs to do better on offense before he goes in starting lineups, but he at least needs to be on rosters because that time could come. He’s still available in 45% of ESPN leagues.
Monitor the K.J. Hamler injury: Hamler injured his knee early in the game and didn’t return. The Broncos had a secure lead for most of the game, so they didn’t use many three-receiver sets the rest of the game. Diontae Spencer took Hamler’s spot as the slot receiver. Spencer probably isn’t worth a pickup if Hamler misses significant time. If anything it should mean a higher target share for the other Broncos players.
Monitor the Elijah Moore injury: Moore got off to a promising start to the game, with six targets on 19 routes, but then he suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the game. Keelan Cole took over as the starting wide receiver. If the second-round rookie misses a game, Cole should be left on the waiver wire.
Avoid the Jets tight ends: Tyler Kroft has been the Jets primary receiving tight end, but he left the game with a chest injury. Ryan Griffin took over as the receiving tight end, but only caught one pass for five yards. Even when Kroft is healthy, the Jets use their tight ends by situation, which doesn’t give Kroft enough playing time to have much of an impact in fantasy football leagues.
- Peyton Barber: 23 carries, 111 yards (101 yards after contact), 1 TD; 3 receptions, 31 receiving yards
- Mike Gesicki: 10 receptions, 86 yards (7.3 aDOT)
|Miami Dolphins||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Will Fuller V||51||40||6||0|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Henry Ruggs III||48||29||7||1|
|Willie Snead IV||5||3||0||0|
Sell high on Mike Gesicki: The Dolphins tight end led the team in receiving yards after catching just three passes over the first two weeks. This week, the Dolphins finally had their three wide receivers available, which could have led Miami to use more 11 personnel. This could mean more playing time by Gesicki going forward, but it will be hard for him to maintain this target share.
Start Jaylen Waddle: The rookie wide receiver led the wide receiver room in snaps, routes run, targets and receptions. He was a clear favorite of new starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He should only get more effective as the season progresses.
Drop Kenyan Drake in smaller leagues: Drake should remain the Raiders receiving back over the rest of the season, but that might not be enough to stay on fantasy rosters. Josh Jacobs missed his second straight game, but Peyton Barber was the clear primary rusher. Drake caught three passes for 33 yards, but it’s unlikely he ever sees a bigger role unless both other backs get hurt. If Drake isn’t going to be in fantasy starting lineups when bye weeks hit in your league, then he probably won’t be in a starting lineup the rest of the season.
- DeSean Jackson: 3 receptions, 120 yards, 1 TD (26.6 aDOT)
- Cooper Kupp: 9 receptions, 96 yards, 2 TDs (34.3% threat rate)
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Los Angeles Rams||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Don’t add Giovani Bernard: Bernard had a busy day, catching nine passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. His role in the offense remained the same as the third-down back and two-minute back, and his touchdown came in the last two minutes of the game. He saw this much work only because the Buccaneers were playing from behind. It’s unlikely Tampa Bay trails by three scores very often this year.
Start Sony Michel as long as Darrell Henderson is out: Michel took the early-down work, while he and Jake Funk split time on third downs or other passing situations. This led to 20 carries. He wasn’t very effective against the Buccaneers' run defense, but he should do better in other games as a starter. Anyone who can see 20 carries in a game should be in starting lineups.
Don’t add DeSean Jackson unless it’s a deeper league: The 34-year-old had one of the best highlights of the week with a 75-yard deep bomb for a touchdown, but he’s still a clear fourth player on the Rams' wide receiver depth chart. That’s unlikely to change with how much the team likes the other three receivers. His stat line will be very dependent on big plays each week. The only way he could become a faster starter is if there’s an injury to one of the other players.
- Alexander Mattison: 26 carries, 112 yards, 6 receptions, 59 receiving yards (36.8% threat rate)
- Justin Jefferson: 9 receptions, 118 receiving yards, 1 TD (8 first downs)
|Seattle Seahawks||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Minnesota Vikings||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Add Tyler Conklin in deeper leagues: Conklin has established himself as the clear receiving tight end on the team. Only five Vikings players saw a target on 38 pass attempts, and he recorded eight of them. He probably won’t have many other games with this many targets, but he is set to see at least a few each week. Conklin should be more reliable than tight ends on several other teams.
Monitor the Chris Carson injury: Carson was dealing with a hamstring injury late in the game, likely contributing to him barely playing in the second half. Alex Collins was the only other back to receive a carry in this game, and he would likely be the primary runner if Carson misses any time. Travis Homer played on half of the third downs in the game.
Monitor the Tyler Lockett injury: Lockett had what looked to be a serious left knee injury but then later returned to the game. Hopefully his return means the injury wasn’t serious, but it wouldn’t be the first time a player re-entered a game and then missed time later. Lockett had the second-most fantasy points for a wide receiver heading into this week but put together a quieter performance with four catches for 31 yards. D.K. Metcalf instead had the big game for Seattle, recording six receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
- Najee Harris: 14 carries, 40 yards, 14 receptions, 102 receiving yards (11 total avoided tackles)
- Ja’Marr Chase: 4 receptions, 65 yards, 2 TD (16.2 aDOT)
|Cincinnati Bengals||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||3||1||0||0|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Ray-Ray McCloud III||47||40||4||0|
|Benny Snell Jr.||4||4||0||0|
Monitor JuJu Smith-Schuster’s injury: He left the game with a rib injury and didn’t return. Ray-Ray McCloud III took over his slot role and put up an identical stat line of three catches on four targets. He would be the player to target off waiver wire if Smith-Schuster misses significant time. The Steelers view James Washington as the backup to the other two starters, so the fact that Diontae Johnson missed this game shouldn’t have any impact on who is in the slot.
Sell high on the Bengals offense: Joe Mixon is clearly the Bengals' top rusher, but he might be losing some of the receiving work he gained at the start of the year. Rookie Chris Evans split third-down work with Mixon and caught both of his targets for 23 yards. Mixon only had a 4-yard catch. The Bengals' two starting receivers combined for three touchdowns, which will be harder to sustain once Tee Higgins is back. They will both have value going forward, but it can’t hurt finding out what they could recoup in a trade at this point.
Monitor the Steelers tight end situation: Pat Freiermuth scored the Steelers' only touchdown. It seemed like his role was increasing over the first two weeks of the season, but Eric Ebron saw a significant lead in routes run. The rookie saw more targets while Ebron didn’t catch any of his three targets. Freiermuth could be a starting fantasy tight end if he received all of the playing time. That could happen this season, but it might take some time.
- Saquon Barkley: 16 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD; 6 receptions, 43 receiving yards (-2.1 aDOT)
- Calvin Ridley: 8 receptions, 61 yards (5.2 aDOT)
|Atlanta Falcons||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|New York Giants||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor the Giants' WR situation: Kadarius Toney started to see more playing time last week, which cut into the playing time of Darius Slayton. However, both Sterling Shepard and Slayton left this game in the first half with hamstring injuries and Kenny Golladay was playing hurt. So, this week, the first-round rookie led the wide receiver room in routes to run, but Collin Johnson had a better receiving day with five catches for 51 yards.
If Shepard misses any time, Toney would be the player to target on the waiver wire because both Shepard and Toney play in the slot in three-receiver sets.
Add Evan Engram: The Giants tight end made his season debut and caught two passes for 21 yards. Most importantly, he was targeted six times, and he could see even more targets going forward if some of these injuries are serious.
Engram barely played in two-tight end sets, which could be injury-related or it could be a permanent change to his role in the offense. If it’s temporary, Engram could be one of the leaders in targets at tight end going forward.
Consider starting Cordarrelle Patterson in PPR: The Falcons' backfield was basically a 50/50 split in the first half, with Mike Davis seeing a few more carries and Patterson a few more pass routes. Davis took more snaps as the game went on, ultimately giving him the snaps lead. Patterson can now be considered one of the better receiving back options in fantasy football. Atlanta gives him more carries than most receiving backs, and he’s used more creatively. As of writing this, he has the third-most receiving yards for a running back this season. If Patterson can improve as a runner, there is a chance he becomes the starter.
- Alvin Kamara: 24 carries, 89 yards, 3 receptions, 29 receiving yards, 1 TD
- Kendrick Bourne: 6 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD
|New Orleans Saints||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Tony Jones Jr.||13||9||2||2|
|New England Patriots||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor the James White injury: White left the game on a cart with a hip injury and was quickly ruled out. There is a good chance he could miss some time. Brandon Bolden primarily took over White’s role, although J.J. Taylor also saw an increase in playing time. This is probably a situation to avoid on the waiver wire, as these two players could end up splitting the role. If anything, this will lead to more work by the Patriots' wide receivers and tight ends. Damien Harris' role was unchanged.
Buy low on Damien Harris: The Saints were the best team at preventing fantasy points to running backs last season and have been off to a similar start this year. New England started the game with three three-and-outs and stayed away from the run game the rest of the day. Harris is still the team's clear early-down back in typical situations and will have much better games than this.
Avoid Saints not named Alvin Kamara: The Saints used a heavy rotation of players situationally throughout the game. Kamara was the only one to run a route on over 60% of New Orleans' pass plays. He was also the only player with more than 50 yards. Taysom Hill was more involved in the offense than previous weeks, with more carries and more routes run than the previous two games combined. The wide receiver room could get more crowded next week with Tre’Quan Smith eligible to return, and then Michael Thomas is eligible to come back after three more games.
- Mike Williams: 7 receptions, 122 yards, 2 TD (2 avoided tackles)
- Austin Ekeler: 11 carries, 55 yards, 6 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 1 TD (1.93 YPRR)
|Los Angeles Chargers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Larry Rountree III||11||5||1||4|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Keep starting Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The sophomore running back lost a fumble for the second straight game, leading some to think Kansas City might bench him. Instead, the Chiefs handed off to him 19 times despite losing for most of the game. He also caught two passes, including a touchdown. Edwards-Helaire needs to remain in fantasy starting lineups as long as Kansas City believes in him, because he will continue to be among the league leaders in touches.
Mike Williams is a must-start: Williams was declared a must-start in this piece before but was started in only 50% of ESPN leagues last week. That should change this week after a 122-yard, two-touchdown performance. He continues to have a much lower average depth of target compared to previous seasons, making him more of a dynamic wide receiver instead of just a deep threat. Williams might not see as many touchdowns going forward, but he should continue to see significant targets and yards.
Buy low on Tyreek Hill: Anytime a star wide receiver fails to score a touchdown and stays under 60 yards, it’s a good time to buy low. This is no exception. Kansas City tried to get its other wide receivers more involved in the offense — but without much success. He saw a lower percentage of snaps compared to usual, but that is likely due to how many plays Kansas City ran.
- A.J. Green: 5 receptions, 112 yards (3 for 4 on contested targets)
- Christian Kirk: 7 receptions, 104 yards (28.6% threat rate)
|Arizona Cardinals||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||67||40||9||0|
|D.J. Chark Jr.||61||37||5||0|
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||44||32||5||0|
Sell high on James Robinson: Robinson had his most successful game of the season with a season-high in carries and his first touchdown of the year. A lot of his involvement had to do with the game script, as the Jaguars had a lead for part of the game and were within at least a touchdown for all of it. Carlos Hyde also had a respectable eight carries and just as many pass routes. The second-year back won’t have as much production in games where Jacksonville spends more time playing catch-up on the scoreboard.
Sell high on A.J. Green and Christian Kirk: Both receivers put up over 100 receiving yards, but this was a perfect situation for them. DeAndre Hopkins was questionable coming into the game and played hurt, while Rondale Moore was given only three touches in the game. This meant both players saw significant targets, and they capitalized on them while facing a Jacksonville secondary that gave up 416 yards to wide receivers in the first two games. A healthy Hopkins will take a higher percentage of targets going forward, as will Moore.
The Cardinals' backfield remains predictable: Arizona continues to use its two-man backfield exactly as everyone expected heading into the season. James Conner gets the goal-line carries, which led to two touchdowns today, while Chase Edmonds gets the receiving work, which included tying the team lead in targets and receptions. Both players should be in fantasy starting lineups in any game Arizona is favored to win.
- Mark Andrews: 5 receptions, 109 yards (4 explosive plays)
- D’Andre Swift: 14 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions, 60 receiving yards (53.8% threat rate)
|Baltimore Ravens||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Detroit Lions||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||27||14||1||0|
Don’t start Ty’Son Williams: The rookie continues to see the most snaps out of the Ravens backfield, but that only led to 22 yards on five carries and one target. Latavius Murray was the primary rusher for the Ravens. This game might have just been a fluke, but if this trend continues, that would mean Williams is just the team’s receiving back. A few more weeks of this, and Williams wouldn’t need to be on fantasy rosters anymore.
Avoid the Lions wide receivers: Each week there has been a different Lions wide receiver who seemed like the top option on the team. This week it was Kalif Raymond, who caught six passes for 68 yards while leading the team in targets. No other wide receiver saw more than one target. Last week Quintez Cephus led the group, and neither receiver was among the top-three on the team in ADP heading into the season. The Detroit running backs will continue to be heavily involved.
Start Jamaal Williams: The Lions' running back ranked 11th in fantasy points at the position coming into the day and put together another solid performance with 42 rushing yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, along with two catches for 25 yards. D’Andre Swift is the start, but Williams is a very close second. The Lions are relying so heavily on their backs that the former Packer should continue to have value each week along with Swift.
- Emmanuel Sanders: 5 receptions, 94 yards, 2 TD (15.8 aDOT)
- Antonio Gibson: 12 carries, 31 yards, (13 yards before contact), 1 reception, 73 receiving yards, 1 TD
|Washington Football Team||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Buffalo Bills||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Make Emmanuel Sanders a top waiver target: Sanders was already a waiver wire target before this week, but now he will be more difficult to pick up. He led the team in routes run and offensive snaps for a skill player, which led to two touchdowns. He should keep a big role in the Bills' high-powered offense all season. He should have a high floor of at least a few catches each game.
Drop Devin Singletary: The Bills' confidence in Zack Moss has grown each week. He went from inactive Week 1 to active Week 2, to Matt Breida being a healthy scratch today. Singletary started the game and dropped a pass on the first drive. Moss took more snaps on the second drive as well as the rest of the game. These two will likely continue to split playing time the rest of the season. It’s hard enough for one back to be a fantasy starter out of this backfield with how much Buffalo passes and Josh Allen’s rushing ability. A split backfield makes it impossible for one to be a starter in most leagues.
Add Curtis Samuel: Washington’s high-priced free agent started the season on injured reserve and is eligible to return next week. This three-week time period gave third-round rookie Dyami Brown a chance to prove he deserves a role in the offense. He didn’t catch either of his targets, lost yards on his carry and received less playing time than previous weeks. This makes it more likely that Samuel will see an every-down role as soon as he’s healthy enough for it.
- Derrick Henry: 28 carries, 113 yards (73 yards after contact); 3 receptions, 31 receiving yards
- Nyheim Hines: 6 carries, 25 yards, 1 TD; 5 receptions, 54 receiving yards (39 receiving yards after contact)
|Indianapolis Colts||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Michael Pittman Jr.||57||39||11||1|
|Tennessee Titans||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor A.J. Brown’s injury: Brown lasted only eight snaps before leaving the game with a hamstring injury, and he didn’t return. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine took over as the starter opposite Julio Jones. The Titans' passing offense spread the ball around, targeting 11 different receivers in total, but Westbrook-Ikhine led the team in receptions (4) and yards (53) and even came away with a touchdown. If Brown’s injury is serious enough for him to miss games, Westbrook-Ikhine would be the man to target off the waiver wire.
Drop Jack Doyle: The veteran tight end was a popular waiver wire target last week after his five-catch, 64-yard performance. But, as it turns out, his role in that game was just temporary, as he was back to running a route on less than half of the Colts' pass plays this week, ultimately catching one pass for 10 yards. It’s also concerning that fourth-round rookie Kylen Granson more than doubled his career pass routes in this game.
Buy low on Jonathan Taylor: Taylor looked great with the ball in his hands today, gaining 64 yards on 10 carries. The problem was Indianapolis didn’t run that many plays and were playing from behind all game. The most promising storyline from this game was that Marlon Mack was a healthy scratch, leaving this as a two-man backfield. The second-year back should have much more opportunities in different game scripts.
- Kareem Hunt: 10 carries, 81 yards, 1 TD; 6 receptions, 74 receiving yards (3.52 yards per route run)
- Odell Beckham Jr.: 5 receptions, 77 receiving yards (16.3-yard average depth of target)
|Chicago Bears||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Allen Robinson II||40||26||6||0|
|Cleveland Browns||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||52||34||9||1|
Sell high on Austin Hooper: The Browns tight end caught a touchdown but continues to see close to an even split in pass routes with David Njoku. The only reason Hooper sees more snaps is that he’s the better blocker. It’s better to have a starting fantasy tight end who runs routes on his team's passing plays. He can be dropped if a trade partner can’t be found.
Start Odell Beckham Jr.: Beckham returned to action and was clearly the Browns' best receiver. He returned to his usual role today, playing almost every snap for the first three quarters before sitting out for most of the fourth quarter as Cleveland ran out the clock. He can be considered a must-start player going forward.
Don’t start Justin Fields: The Bears offense was never able to get much going on offense, with eight drives lasting five plays or fewer before ending in a punt or a turnover on downs.
Fields couldn’t get the rushing production fantasy managers hoped for because he was sacked a whopping eight times on the day. In fact, he took more sacks than the number of passes rushes he attempted combined. He might not be the starter next week if Andy Dalton is healthy.
The Bears have seemed like they were protecting Fields, and this is the kind of game they would want to protect him from. He should remain on fantasy rosters because of his potential, but he needs to show some of that potential before he gets in fantasy starting lineups.