Fantasy Football 4-pack: Interesting NFC North goings on in Week 3
Happy Friday, y’all. Let’s celebrate by opening up a fantasy football 4-pack brewed entirely in the NFC North.
Why a 4-pack, you ask? Some of the best craft beer comes in 16-ounce four-packs nowadays — think Surly’s Furious in Minnesota, New Glarus’ Skream in Wisconsin, Old Nation’s M-43 in Michigan and Maplewood Brewery’s Juice Pants here in Illinois.
Also, there’s a fascinating fantasy angle for each of the four clubs that reside in the NFC North, and I’m getting thirsty, so let’s get started.
1. Do the Lions have the best WR trifecta in fantasy football?
It’s not all bad news, Lions fans. Your sieve ‘D’ just means we’ll be treated to more of Matthew Stafford slinging it all over the yard this season to Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and the new monster on the block, Kenny Golladay, who combine to form arguably the best WR trio in the NFL.
Yes, we know the Bucs probably currently have bragging rights in this department and clubs like the Rams, Chargers Patriots and Steelers perhaps have even more potential. But let’s focus first on Detroit, which coaxed 296.6 fantasy points from Tate and Jones last season — the most combined points by a WR pair in the NFC — and added to the 2018 starting lineup Golladay, who might be the most talented of the three.
You already know about Tate’s knack for making yards after the catch and Jones’ dangerous downfield dimension. Golladay, though, appears to have the best of both of those worlds, not to mention the trust of Stafford, who has targeted him 21 times through two games for a team-high 203 yards at 15.6 per catch.
A star in the making, Golladay and Co. welcome on Sunday night the Patriots, who just let Jacksonville, of all WR corps, ignite for a combined 15-233-3 receiving Sunday. It’s no wonder, then, that we have Tate (WR19), Golladay (WR24) and Jones (WR26) as attractive Week 3 starting options.
When was the last time an offense’s top three wideouts finished a fantasy season as WR36 or better? Again, we’re thirsty and pressed for time so we’ll leave that research up to you, but it says here Detroit’s dangerous trio should be the next.
2. Latavius Murray is back in the RB1 saddle
Dalvin Cook (hamstring) has been ruled out vs. the Bills, a real shame since he was going to be a top-five fantasy back in the weekend’s most likely blowout (Minnesota -16). Before we get to his well-known replacement in Murray, a bit of advice: Don’t panic about Cook, who has looked explosive coming off the ACL tear, even if it’s not already apparent in his 35 score-less touches for 185 yards from scrimmage.
The Vikings also ruled out Everson Griffen, and it’s not a coincidence that two of their most important players will sit with injuries that weren’t thought to be super concerning. Minnesota has the quick turnaround next week when they visit the L.A. Rams in a potential conference title game preview on “Thursday Night Football.” Against a Buffalo team that has surrendered a league-high 78 points and will likely be without LeSean McCoy, Josh Allen and Co. are the week’s biggest underdogs for good reason.
As for Murray, he’s averaging 4.1 yards per carry (compared to 3.0 for Cook) and no longer has Jerick McKinnon likely to impede on his handcuff-to-bellcow Sunday promotion. Murray should be treated like a rock-solid RB2 this week, which likely signals a great buy-low opportunity for DFS players and a fortuitous early starting chance for owners who handcuffed Cook.
3. What to do with Aaron Jones?
We can only say for sure that Jones will be active — as in he’ll dress in his 2018 debut after the two-game suspension. We can surmise that in spite of Jamaal Williams’ excellent work in pass pro, his 31 score-less carries for 106 yards (and 12 yards on four catches) should incentivize Mike McCarthy to quickly assimilate his most electric back in Jones. And it’s at least worth noting that Jones, after failing to collect a touch in his first three games as a rookie, commanded at least 20 of them twice over the next month, when he showed game-changing ability in monster performances against Dallas and vs. the Saints.
Washington has the elements to be very stout defensively but has been run on a bit through two weeks. It’s probably too risky to throw Jones in your lineup before we get at least one look at his role in the offense, but we expect it to be significant. We might even scan our leagues to see where Jones is at and whether a trade offer could make some sense. He’s that exciting, and the Packers’ arrow on offense is pointing up.
4. Bears’ offensive diversity, Trubisky’s trust in new WR1 means don’t fear A-Rob-Peterson duel
The Bears’ offense is obviously a work in progress, but there are some early signals portending a bright fantasy outlook for their two biggest offseason acquisitions, Allen Robinson and Trey Burton.
First and foremost, Allen Robinson not only looks healthy, he appears to be on the cusp of regaining his 2015 Pro Bowl form. And the way he’s being used, regularly aligning in the slot, means A-Rob owners don’t have to fear a potential shutdown courtesy of fellow Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson on Sunday. We still have him ranked rather conservatively at WR20 this week, but Robinson’s biggest day as a Bear could be in the offing, after a few Mitch Trubisky prevented Robinson from already scoring would-be explosive touchdowns in each of his first two outings.
There’s a good chance that your rival fantasy owners aren’t following the Bears as closely as we are. Although it’s a bit early, it’s never too early to mull trade possibilities if the situation calls for it. 14 pass catchers have attracted more targets through two games than Robinson. None of them switched teams, never mind doing so after ACL reconstruction. Robinson is a sleeping giant right now, and we’d be looking to get him on our squad if the need for a potential WR1 is real.
Burton caught his first touchdown Monday night, a nifty shovel toss from Trubisky on a fun option play, and most of Twitter saw a missed opportunity by Trubisky to hit a wide-open Burton in the end zone in the opener. (Sensing a trend here with Mitch and missed opportunities?)
We’ll see whether the Bears can capitalize on another big chance Sunday, against a Cardinals ‘D’ with plenty of talent but also struggling linebackers who have already been exposed on touchdowns in the flats to Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson and Tyler Higbee.