Fantasy Football: Copestick’s Picks – Week 3


Players I love in Week 3

Todd Gurley – RB, Los Angeles Rams – Despite a down year last season, in Week 2 Todd Gurley showed glimpses of himself during his rookie year, where he rushed for 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns in only 13 games. Expect Gurley to get a lot of touches, playing against a weak 49ers run defense that surrenders over 120 yards a game. Not to mention the 49ers are playing without a key cog in their run support: rookie tacking machine Reuben Foster. With no reliable backup behind Gurley, expect him to improve off his 88 yard, two touchdown performance last week.

Christian McCaffrey – RB, Carolina Panthers –  After one of the most prolific college football careers ever, a heaping amount of hype surrounded Christian McCaffrey in the offseason. He was drafted eighth overall to help take pressure off Cam Newton, who recently recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. McCaffrey looked destined for a heavy workload, but through two weeks, the Stanford product has underwhelmed. He struggled against a stout Bills run defense last week, but failed to rush for even 50 yards against the aforementioned 49ers in Week 1. With that being said, I believe McCaffrey will stuff the stat sheet this week against a porous Saints defense. More opportunities on offense just became available after Greg Olsen, the team’s leading receiver from a year ago, suffered a potentially season-ending foot injury last week. I expect McCaffrey to take full advantage of the void left by Olsen, potentially seeing snaps at slot receiver as well.

Martavis Bryant – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers – Last year, Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant found himself suspended on the commissioner’s exempt list following a slew of failed drug tests. The Steelers have a lot of firepower on offense to begin with, but Bryant’s ability to take the top off the defense adds another dimension the Steelers missed last season. In Week 2, facing a tough Vikings defense, Bryant’s knack for stretching the defense out was on display. As star receiver Antonio Brown was held in check by Pro Bowl corner Xavier Rhodes, someone needed to step up on the Steelers offense. Bryant answered the call averaging over 30 yards per reception, and even throwing in a touchdown. If Bryant can have his way with a defense of the Vikings caliber, imagine what he’ll do to a shoddy Chicago Bears defense that ranks 25th against the pass.

Michael Crabtree – WR, Oakland Raiders – Simply put, Michael Crabtree balled out last week. The receiver out of Texas Tech hung 80 yards and three touchdowns on a New York Jets squad that is a shell of itself from a year ago. Crabtree receives a respectable amount of work between the 20’s, but the bulk of his production comes in the red zone, where he is one of the most dangerous receivers in the league. His calling card is the goal line fade, a play that he and his quarterback Derek Carr can execute like clockwork. Crabtree’s faces the challenge of potentially lining up against standout cornerback Josh Norman, unless the Redskins game plan is to neutralize Amari Cooper, the other talented receiver the Raiders have in their arsenal. In that case, it’s pick your poison for the NFL’s 27th ranked pass defense. Look for the Raiders to move the chains with ease and opt for Crabtree at the goal line.

Players I hate in Week 3

Leonard Fournette – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars –  Although I’m a huge fan of Leonard Fournette, his matchup this week poses a few problems. First, the Jaguars face the Baltimore Ravens, a defense that shutout the Bengals Week 1, and forced the Cleveland Browns into five turnovers last week. Fournette’s production also took a huge decline last week, as his rushing total was cut in half. The Jaguars are also playing in London, which is always a dreaded experience, according to the players. Fournette was taken fourth overall in this year’s draft, with the expectation he would become the centerpiece of the offense. Through the first two weeks, the Jags have involved him as much as they can, although I don’t believe the Jaguars offensive line will get the upper hand on a rush defense that ranks in the top half of the league.

Philip Rivers – QB, Los Angeles Chargers – I feel bad for Philip Rivers. The stud quarterback has the worst luck in close games, and always deals with an injury prone team. Not to mention, Rivers also shares a division with Khalil Mack, Von Miller, and Justin Houston, three All Pro defensive lineman known for ruining games.  In Week 1, Rivers put up two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Broncos, cutting his team’s deficit from 17 points, to a manageable three. The Chargers lost the game after they had the game tying field goal blocked- but Rivers’ luck doesn’t stop there.  Last week, Rivers had the ball down two points, and moved the ball easily into field goal range. Chargers rookie kicker Younghoe Koo then pushed the game winning field goal wide left, resulting in another heartbreaking loss. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, Rivers has a duel with the previously mentioned Justin Houston this week, a guy known to give him fits. It doesn’t help that Joe Barksdale, the starting right tackle, is nursing an ankle injury that could keep him out of the game. Rivers will be forced to resort to short passes, making it harder for the pass rush to get to him.

Pierre Garcon – WR, San Francisco 49ers – Garcon signed with the 49ers in the offseason to bring a true number one wide receiver to the team. I like the volume that Garcon gets, he’s a clear cut number one option with no superstar options behind him, but bad quarterback play has hindered his production. The 49ers stable of quarterbacks currently consists of Brian Hoyer and CJ Beathard: a pretty uninspiring group. Garcon only put up three receptions for 26 yards against the Seahawks stifling pass defense, justifying the small stat line, however I don’t see him turning it around on a short week against the Rams, who are top five in pass yards allowed. Add in the Rams attacking defensive front led by legendary coach Wade Phillips, it will be tough for starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to get the ball out. The Rams defense will disrupt whatever rhythm the 49ers offense possesses.

LeGarrette Blount –  RB, Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles offense looks headed for an up and down year. Blount was handed the rock 14 times Week 1, and scored a touchdown on his only reception. The former New England Patriot looked the part of a true lead back for the Eagles, until he became an afterthought in Week 2. His stat line was almost non-existent. Blount tallied zero rush attempts, and secured one reception for zero yards. Not only is that worthy of placing the Oregon product on your bench, but I would cut him as soon as you can. Blount’s small workload piled on top of a matchup against the New York Giants is a reason to look elsewhere this week. If the Eagles like what they see from Darren Sproles or potentially even Corey Clement, Blount could be released in the near future.

Play of the Week

Chris Carson – RB, Seattle Seahawks – What a story Chris Carson has been. A seventh round pick this year out of Oklahoma State, Carson looked like a camp body or practice squad guy. Those claims would be anything but true; he’s out to take someone’s job. Alex Collins, the Seahawks fifth round pick a year ago, was released before the start of the regular season. Offseason acquisition Eddie Lacy was a healthy scratch in Week 2, and appears to be headed for the same fate as Collins. Carson played more snaps than incumbent Thomas Rawls, and second year running back CJ Prosise played exclusively on passing downs. His matchup against the Titans this week isn’t ideal, but Carson looks destined for a larger role and increased volume.