“Sauer Notes” Wide Receiver Week 3: It’s All About the Benjamin’s
Yes, another crazy week of football is in the books ladies and gentlemen. Can you remember a time when the Browns, Jaguars, and Raiders all won in the same week? Yeah, me neither. Regardless, we are not here to talk about the winners and losers of Week 2, we are here for the fantasy implications of Week 2. Luckily, we were not struck with any serious injuries at the wide receiver position this week, so we do not need to really discuss players on that front. We will be taking a look at some of the players who bounced back from a disappointing Week 1, players who have still yet to show up, and players you should be looking to add or monitor as Week 3 plays itself out. I will save you the time and effort reading about why Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are 1A and 1B at the position, we will just let the numbers speak for themselves.
Antonio Brown- 18 catches, 328 yards, 2 TD
Julio Jones- 21 catches, 276 yards, 2 TD
Players With Bounce Back Performances
Calvin Johnson- After a disappointing Week 1 performance where Megatron only saw four targets for a measly 2/39/0 effort, Stafford came back and threw his way 17 times, and Calvin finished with a 10/83/1 line. This was a great sign for Johnson owners who drafted him at a discount from prior seasons, and were probably pondering their decision making in taking him in the second round. We would like to see the 8.3 yards per catch bump up a little bit in the coming weeks, but if he continues to see a heavy dosage of targets, he will surely put up points. The only dilemma surrounding Megatron’s production from here on out is the health of his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, who was pummeled in Sunday’s contest versus the Vikings. It’s a positive sign that Stafford led the team walk through on Monday, and we should get more clarity on his status later in the week. The Lions’ will face a tough test this week against the Broncos’, yet I envision a game flow where the Lions’ are trying to play catch-up, and Stafford is forced to chuck the ball around 40-plus times, giving Calvin plenty of opportunity to produce.
Demaryius Thomas- After the Broncos as a whole struggled Week 1 against the Ravens, they came back with a bit of urgency against the Chiefs on TNF, and came home with the W. Week 1, the Broncos’ could not get anything going on offense and DT finished with 7/60/0. Against the Chiefs, he saw 14 targets, which he turned into a 8/116/0 performance. He has yet to find the end zone, but one figures those will start to pile up once the offense starts firing on all cylinders. He has seen 25 total targets through the first two weeks, which is very promising, and will probably continue to see double digit targets until this offensive line starts to find its way, leading to a more effective running game. Until then, they may just let Manning loose like they did on TNF, as it seemed to be the most advantageous way to move the football. For PPR leagues, DT will remain gold, as he has been in the past, and for standard leagues, do not fret people, the touchdowns will amass.
Odell Beckham Jr.- The Giants’ can not figure out the proverbial rubix cube that is winning a football game thus far in 2015. They have had all their colors all lined up, and then it seems like a little kid runs by and mixes it all up again. After a demoralizing Week 1 effort where Beckham finished with 5/44/0 against a week secondary in Dallas, he followed that up with a 7/146/1 performance against Atlanta. If it were not for his dynamic 67-yard touchdown catch and run, his numbers would have looked rather pedestrian. At the end of the day, you are rewarded for your final stats, not in which fashion they were accumulated. This week, Beckham will face off against the Redskins’ on TNF, and the Redskins’ will be getting CB Chris Culliver back from his one-week suspension. This matchup still should bode well for OBJ as he torched the Redskins the last time they faced off to the tune of 12/143/3.
Still Have Not Shown Up to the Party
Brandin Cooks- On just about everyone’s short list of breakout candidates, Cooks has flopped thus far, pulling in 9 of 15 targets for 111 and no scores. Unfortunately, for Cooks’ owners it may not be getting any better in the immediate future, as he will face off with the Panthers’ quality corners, and may not have Drew Brees throwing him the football. They need to get Cooks the ball, as he is arguably the best playmaker on offense, but that may not happen until Week 4 when the Saints take on the Cowboys. That being said, the Saints’ had a juicy matchup this week against the Buccaneers and failed to produce. At this point, I would lower your expectations for Cooks until further notice, especially if Drew has to miss some time.
Andre Johnson- This may just be a case of Johnson being past his partying days, but he has looked quite terrible thus far in his first two games as a Colt. He has an astounding stat line of 7/51/0, not from just his last game, but his two games combined. The Colts’ offense has not looked good as a whole thus far, but keep in mind they faced two of the best defenses in the league (BUF/NYJ). This week the Colts will take on the Titans as they try to get back on track, which I believe they will do. The only worrisome aspect for Johnson owners is that he has not been able to get any sort of separation, nor has the chemistry been apparent between he and Luck. Donte Moncrief may have moved up the pecking order in terms of Luck’s targets and may have passed Johnson on that respective list. If you are a Johnson owner and he has somewhat of a respectable week this week, I would look around and see what you can get for him, as it appears Moncrief is the second Colt WR you want outside of Hilton for the foreseeable future.
Not going to name the obvious names like Brown, Julio, Beckham, or DT. These are guys on the fringe of your WR spots for Week 3, and get my green light to start on your rosters.
Pierre Garcon- Jordan Reed is the only other target for Cousins, and both should be heavily targeted in Week 3 against a matchup with the Giants who have allowed teams opposing WR to eat them up.
Allen Robinson- Besides the man crush I have for Robinson, the game flow in which the Jags are almost two-touchdown dogs to the Patriot’ will force Blake Bortles to chuck the ball around the field, and who better to catch those throws other than his favorite target in Robinson.
Stevie Johnson- If I have not already written about this guy enough, maybe this will be the last time and people will finally be full believers. Stop reading this, check your phone, see if he is still on your waiver wire. If he is pick him up, because I promise you this will be your last chance. He has caught touchdowns in back to back games, and seems to be one of, if not the, favorite targets of Phillip Rivers.
These are going to be some bigger name players, who if you have a viable alternative, it may be worth looking elsewhere in Week 3.
Alshon Jeffery- Honestly, there are two names here that will easily dictate this decision: Richard Sherman and Jimmy Clausen. To make matters worse, Jeffery did not even play in Week 2, so assuming he plays this week, you may be safer not playing him.
Amari Cooper- I thought everything was pointing up for the rookie wideout? He will continue to be Carr’s favorite target, and he is coming off of his breakout performance in the NFL, so why sit him? Well, I truly believe there are only a few shutdown corners that can alter your decision making on a WR2/3 or a bench spot. Joe Haden, Browns’ CB, is the player I am referencing, and Cooper will most likely draw the matchup with him. Play other options if you can.
Charles Johnson- Saying that WR Charles Johnson has been an early-season bust is an understatement. I am not saying to drop the talented wideout, but he needs to sit firmly on your bench for the foreseeable future. The Vikings passing game has been reeling early this season, as QB Teddy Bridgewater has averaged 192 passing yards a game thus far. Although he has been on the field more than any other Viking receiving option (92% of snaps played), Johnson has been quiet, as fellow options WR Mike Wallace and TE Kyle Rudolph have out-produced him. Going forward, look for the offense to flow through RB Adrian Peterson to take the pressure off of Bridgewater, which may eventually help Johnson, just not yet.
Travis Benjamin- Benjamin leads the NFL in all-purpose yards and he had the biggest receiver day of the standard fantasy season so far (tied with Fitzgerald). It’s become abundantly clear that quarterback Johnny Manziel has found his go-to-guy down the field, and Benjamin has become a DeSean Jackson-like guy for the Browns as their big-play receiver.
Yes, the four targets are discouraging, but the Browns didn’t need to stretch the field after they got out to a big lead. However, their defense is going to struggle and they will play from behind more often than not. That should bode well for Benjamin. It came out earlier today that coach Mike Pettine will give the nod to McCown over Manziel this week, which definitely hurts the value of Benjamin. Furthermore, if you are in a league that rewards points for returns, he is worth the add at this point in the season. If the Browns turn back to Manziel at some point, that would boost his receiving appeal.
Leonard Hankerson- Receiver Roddy White saw just one target in Week 2 and the talk of him fizzling out was on full display. He’s really lost a step and the Falcons might not keep him beyond next season. Enter Leonard Hankerson. He had himself a nice preseason and created some buzz with better route running than in his Washington days. On Sunday, he saw 11 targets against the New York Giants, recording a 6/77/1 line.
Teams are going to double and triple receiver Julio Jones on almost every play, so expect Hankerson to be more involved. He could be a nice play in both PPR and standard leagues. His schedule is nice, too. He gets the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, the Houston Texans in Week 4, Washington in Week 5, the New Orleans Saints in Week 6, and the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Rishard Matthews- Although the Dolphins’ had one of the better rushing attacks last year, that just has not been the case so far this season. Subsequently, the Phins’ have had to throw the ball around the more than they would like.
Matthews has clearly locked down the starting job. Only receiver Jarvis Landry is getting more snaps, and Matthews was second on Sunday for targets. Matthews finished 6/115 in a loss to the Jaguars. There is still some concern that rookie receiver DeVante Parker will creep up in the WR depth chart, but, for now, Matthews is No. 2. Plus, tight end Jordan Cameron is banged up. With two tough matchups looming against Buffalo and the Jets, he may not be a great start for your team for those games.
Devin Funchess- The Panthers can actually move the ball through the air. Funchess finally got his season off the ground with one catch and 15 yards on four targets. He’s still a project, so only pick him up if you can afford to stash a guy for the next month. The Panthers’ leading WR was Ted Ginn, so come on, they have to lean on the rookie at some point. If you have large rosters, he is definitely a speculative add that can help you later on down the stretch.
Good luck to all in your week 3 matchups.
If you have any start/sit questions, or looking for some waiver advice, find me on twitter.
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