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After three weeks in the fantasy football crucible, we're learning a few things, in most cases thing we should have known already, but probably ignored:
Don't bet against Rex: Buffalo Bills Coach Rex Ryan is a complete nut, but has his team at 2-1 and has helped create unforeseen fantasy relevance for a number of players, including QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Karlos Williams, TE Charles Clay and long-lost WR Percy Harvin.
Big Ben is injury-prone: The pre-season hype had Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT, throwing for 5,000 yards and 40-something TDs this season, but there wasn't much talk about how incredibly frail he can be. Throughout his 12-year career, he's played a full 16-game slate only three times. With an MCL injury keeping him out a minimum four weeks, he's not looking like such a draft steal right now.
Devonta Freeman just need a chance: The small-statured (5-foot-8), fleet-footed ATL RB was stuck behind dinosaur Steven Jackson and other backups last year despite buzz about his playmaking skills. Even this year, ATL put rookie Tevin Coleman first in line ahead of Freeman, but with a rib injury to Coleman, Freeman stepped up big this week (see below). Good luck winning the starting job back, rookie.
Larry Fitzgerald is not dead: In case you thought it was just an anemic Bears defense that helped Fitzgerald look renewed, he did it again in Week 3, collecting 134 yards and two TDs on nine catches. With 333 yards and five TDs, he has roughly 50 more yards than he had in his first six games last year, and three more TDs than he had in the entire 2014 season.
Week 3 Winners
QB: Tyrod Taylor, BUF.
As mentioned above, he was on hardly anyone's draft list, and only then as a very late round backup. Heading an invigorated offense, he has 714 yards passing and eight total TDs in three games. Maybe not Tom Brady stats, but if he's still available on the waiver wire, he's a lot cheaper.
RB: Devonta Freeman, ATL.
How good was his breakout week? 141 yards rushing, three TDs, 52 yards receiving. I still think Coleman will get some work when he's healthy, and it will be interesting to see what happens when the defense stacks up more often on run plays against Freeman, but the next great dual-threat has arrived.
WR: A.J. Green, CIN.
After a quiet start to the season, Green busted out with 227 yards and two TDs in a game that started slow and turned into a shootout late. QB Andy Dalton isn't terribly reliable, but he can air it out when he has to, and may have rediscovered his rapport with Green.
TE: Greg Olsen, CAR: Somehow the Panthers are 3-0 and this former Bear continues to be the No. 1 receiving target of QB Cam Newton. His 134 yards and two TDs last week led all TEs - yes, even including Gronk.
Week 3 Losers
QB: Russell Wilson, SEA.
The Seahawks did destroy the Bears as planned, but not because Wilson had a great week. There was nothing wrong with his 235 passing yards, one TD and 28 rushing yards except that it was terribly pedestrian for a guy we thought would take over games with both his arm and legs this year.
RB: Justin Forsett, BAL.
Is the problem a weakened offensive line, or is Forsett just coming back down to earth after an inflated 2014 stat campaign? Week 3 was his worst yet, with just 13 rushing yards and 16 receiving yards. He faces top run defense PIT this week, so may see time on the fantasy shelf.
WR: Sammy Watkins, BUF.
A lot of guys in Buffalo are climbing the fantasy charts, but Watkins is falling. Is Taylor forgetting he's on the field? His 39 yards receiving last week came on just one catch. That demonstrates how quickly he can pile up fantasy points on a handful of catches, but he needs to be fed more often.
TE: Tyler Eifert, CIN.
One of the biggest plays at TE Weeks 1 and 2 fell hard in Week 3, with zero catches on just three targets. I thought he would get at least a small share of whatever didn't go to Green, so it will be interesting to see this is just a one-week issue or a longer famine.
Week 4 Big Play
Arian Foster, RB, HOU: There is no guarantee he'll play this week (there were reports he would see playing time last week, which didn't happen), but it seems like he's very close to returning much earlier than expected from a groin injury. HOU has found no other answers at RB, so he could come up this week against an ATL defense that was beaten all day by DAL RBs last Sunday.
* The Big Lead likes Derek Carr, QB, OAK this week. Carr had a decent season last year, and was a frequent back-up pick in drafts this year, but the sudden spike in interest is due mainly to the fact he's facing the Bears this week. Get used to it, Chicago.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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