This is no ordinary year of football. Three weeks in, many of the presumed top scorers have either underperformed, sustained a major injury, or been served a suspension. Of the top four consensus picks, Jamaal Charles is injured, Adrian Peterson is out of the game for the foreseeable future, and Lesean McCoy and Matt Forte have both played well below expectations. Of the three quarterbacks that were the consensus top three, only Peyton Manning is currently among the top five fantasy performers at the position. Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green are both currently outside the top ten at the wide receiver position. Meanwhile Kelvin Benjamin, Jeremy Maclin, and undrafted rookie Allen Hurns find themselves in the top seven, per ESPN standard scoring. Needless to say, many owners are beginning to panic, wondering if they have wasted their top pick. But do not despair yet. In the words of New York Times’ Jason and Justin Sablich, however, “fantasy people who make definitive statements after three weeks usually regret those statements.” With that said, here are my takeaways from the first three weeks:
Players to hang on to/buy low:
Matt Forte: Coming off of his second consecutive game with under ten fantasy points, Matt Forte is still without a touchdown on the year. Repeatedly stuffed by a tough Jets defensive line, Forte looked far from an elite running back. But keep in mind that Forte has now faced two of the league’s elite running defenses in consecutive weeks, in an offense that responded by resorting to the air attack. There are encouraging signs, as Forte is leading the NFL’s running backs in both receptions and targets. Expect him to bounce back big in the coming weeks, as his rushing and receiving capabilities make him a dual threat.
Demaryius Thomas: The argument against him is clear: he’s a good receiver in an offense with plenty of good receivers. But Demaryius Thomas is more than just a good receiver, he’s among the league’s best. True, the Seahawks secondary shut him down for most of Sunday’s game, but I still believe that Thomas is among the league’s top talents, and more importantly, so does Peyton Manning. If you’ve watched the Broncos this year, you know that Manning’s clear favorite red zone targets are Demaryius and Julius Thomas, and with defenses now attune to what Thomas can do near the end zone, expect Demaryius to grab more than a few touchdowns in the coming weeks.
Andre Ellington: Coming into this season, many analysts ranked Ellington among the league’s top running backs. So far this season, he just isn’t living up to that name. But Ellington is a core member of a great Cardinals offense, and should break out once he is fully healthy.
Players to give up on/sell high:
Eddie Lacy: Through three weeks, Lacy looks defeated. He’s averaging barely more than three yards per carry with a fumble, and he’s showing no sign of bouncing back. It looks like Lacy has hit a big sophomore slump on the heels of a great rookie year.
Allen Hurns: I said this after his dynamic Week 1, but I feel the need to reiterate it now following a good Week 3 outing. My main problem with Hurns? He plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that is just incapable of producing a consistent fantasy option. On top of the fact that he’s actually only been targeted seven times this season, Hurns is going to have to adapt to a completely new quarterback in the coming weeks. Don’t expect many more double digit games from the rookie.