Carson Wentz, replacement running backs headline Week 3
Thankfully for fantasy owners, Week 3 was not nearly the injury bloodbath that Week 2 was. With the games going fairly close to as predicted, fantasy experts could breathe a little sigh of relief. Sure, there were some disappointments (Carson Palmer), but overall, the guys that we thought would succeed did well. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any storylines to head into Week 4.
The Philadelphia Eagles
What's more surprising: Ryan Mathews gave fantasy owners negative points in a 34-3 blowout victory or the fact that Carson Wentz is 3-0 heading into the Eagles’ bye week? Going into the season, Wentz wasn't even going to be the starter. Sam Bradford was set to be the starting quarterback with Wentz and Chase Daniel backing up him up. But Bradford was traded to Minnesota before Week 1 after Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, and the Eagles decided to turn the reins over to Wentz. Three wins later, Eagle fans and fantasy owners can see why.
No longer can the excuses be that the wins were against the poor, winless Browns and Bears. Philadelphia’s defense is a solid unit (held the Steelers to three points), and Wentz did his part with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns. In all three starts, Wentz has looked like a solid, capable NFL quarterback. He has no turnovers yet this season. As a rookie, he's going to take his lumps (the Vikings in Week 7 looks to be a tough matchup), but he has shown promise. For fantasy owners, he's a solid QB2 and may be a bye week replacement.
As for Mathews? He somehow got replaced by Wendell Smallwood in Week 3, and it's not clear why. Look for the practice reports this week to see if there was an injury Mathews was dealing with that was not announced. However, his owners should be concerned. Darren Sproles led the team in receptions and receiving yards and Kenjon Barner had more touches than Mathews. Something must be going on, but it will take time to figure out exactly what.
Week 2 was brutal for running backs, but fantasy owners knew early in the week that they would be without their starting running back for Week 2. How did the replacement running backs fare in Week 3?
Jerick McKinnon: 16 carries for 45 yards, one reception for two yards
Matt Asiata: six carries for 15 yards, one reception for four yards
Fozzy Whittaker: five carries for 22 yards, five receptions for 34 yards
Cameron Artis-Payne: 12 carries for 47 yards, one reception for 11 yards
Jay Ajayi: seven carries for 28 yards, one touchdown
Kenyan Drake: nine carries for 37 yards, two receptions for 11 yards
Dwayne Washington: 10 carries for 38 yards, one reception for -3 yards
Charles Sims: 13 carries for 55 yards, one touchdown, six receptions for 69 yards
Overall, none of the replacements did anything to take over the starting job once the starter is able to return (either this season or next year), but it is only one game. The best of the bunch is Charles Sims, but when Doug Martin returns, the job should still be his. Out of this group, fantasy owners were likely disappointed in any of the running backs they started (or spent a significant amount of their FAAB money on).
In looking to Week 4, these guys will be carrying the ball for their respective teams again. It's too early to make any early indications, but don't be fooled by Ajayi's touchdown. Sure, it was the game-winning score, but it wasn't enough to move him out of the timeshare situation in Miami. In Carolina, despite Whittaker's stat line, Artis-Payne was the starter and the go-to running back, although he didn't do anything to ensure more carries. In Minnesota, McKinnon had more touches and was on the field more than Asiata. Both have limited value. The bottom line is, none of these guys are must-owns if fantasy owners have needs elsewhere.
Top DST: Minnesota Vikings?
At the beginning of the season, the Minnesota Vikings DST was likely not drafted. After Week 1, many fantasy owners picked them up, chasing a two-touchdown performance. However, depending on the league's scoring, Minnesota is just one of two DSTs (Philadelphia) that have scored double-digit fantasy points all three weeks. The Vikings haven't allowed more than 16 points and they are scoring them on defense – eight sacks, three interceptions, a safety and a punt returned for a touchdown on Sunday against Carolina.
The Vikings DST is 85 percent owned at this point, however, if they are still available, they are worth picking up. The schedule is great: home to the New York Giants and the Houston Texans before the bye. After the bye Minnesota is at Philadelphia and Chicago before coming home to face Detroit. Plenty of fantasy points can be gained by this DST in the coming weeks.
For those in leagues where the DST is already owned, keep an eye out for players facing Minnesota. The defense is giving up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to both wide receivers and running backs.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)