Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 3
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Even throughout Cooper Kupp's historic, unflappable season, he was the top wideout for the week just three times in 2021. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may pop in terms of fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Back Tua Earth: Tagovailoa Isn't a Top-20 Quarterback Against Buffalo
Tagovailoa has been nothing noticeably above a league-average passer since entering the NFL in 2020, but the first come-from-behind win when down at least 21 points in the fourth quarter -- with six touchdown passes along the way -- will generate buzz.
Miami draws the Buffalo Bills at home, and the Bills' pass defense has been disgustingly good to open 2022. They've ceded -0.32 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back to passers, which, unsurprisingly, is the best mark in the league. They've capped Los Angeles and Tennessee to just 17 points on the board total.
Whether Tua can continue to put up Patrick Mahomes-ish numbers or not with his old partner-in-crime will remain to be seen, but even if you scoop Tua off waivers this week, his matchup is just too brutal to start him.
2. Finally Something Cook-ing: Dalvin Delivers a Top-5 Week
There are plenty of running backs that we're hitting the panic button on following slow starts, but Dalvin Cook's drought can easily end this week.
Cook's role -- given the presence of Alexander Mattison -- is always the first concern when he's not posting solid scores, but that's still intact. He played 67.8% of the snaps in an exclusively negative game script against Philadelphia, and that was 77.1% against Green Bay in an exclusively positive one.
Even better, Cook has gotten at least five targets in both contests. Given the value of a target in half-PPR leagues, it's as if Cook got 30 carries against the Packers in that positive script.
The Vikings are six-point home favorites versus the Lions in a game with a 52.5-point total, so this is as ideal a spot as you could want for a top-shelf back. It also doesn't hurt that Detroit is dead last as a defense in Rushing NEP per carry allowed (0.38) thus far.
Expect Dalvin to find the endzone at least once, but he could have a multi-score day if Minnesota finds their path of least resistance to be on the ground.
3. Metcalf's Moment: Seattle's Top Wideout Posts His First Double-Digit Score of the Year
If you play in a league with friends that aren't fantasy football diehards, D.K. Metcalf might even sneak to some waivers this week.
Of course, that's the wrong move. The talented wideout is destined for better days regardless of his attachment to Geno Smith and a fledgling Seahawks offense. It's hard to see that on paper, though. Metcalf has been capped at seven targets and hasn't eclipsed 40 receiving yards in either game thus far. He also doesn't have a touchdown.
Now, it's worth remembering, that seven targets -- with a 91.5% snap share -- are still a good role. This is a game of inches; Metcalf even had a monstrous play wiped out due to a penalty just this week. The Falcons are a matchup where things might break his way.
Atlanta has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to wideouts. Michael Thomas caught a pair of touchdowns in the opener against them, and Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson both hauled in easy scores.
A.J. Terrell doesn't shadow the opponent's best target, so it's easier to justify starting your studs. Therefore, Metcalf is in one of his better spots all year in Week 3.
4. To Be or Not To Higbee: Tyler's First Score of the Year Comes in Arizona
Much to the demise of those of us who targeted Tyler Higbee's heavy snap share in 2021, the Rams' tight end actually is getting work in 2022.
It was expected Allen Robinson would be the guy replacing Robert Woods and Odell Beckham in the champs' passing hierarchy, but Higbee has unquestionably been the "B" option to Cooper Kupp. He's secured 12 catches on 20 targets in Los Angeles' first two games, and he's already 19.6% of the way to match his entire 2021 yardage total.
The good times aren't likely to slow down in Arizona. Patrick Mahomes clowned the Cardinals for five touchdowns in the opener, and the Raiders did enough in the first half last week to still pin them as the NFL's worst passing defense in terms of Passing NEP per drop back allowed (0.40).
Last year, Higbee's fantasy viability came down to his red-zone role. He had 18 red-zone targets in 2021, and he's already seen 3 this year. Against a struggling Cards' pass defense, he's a phenomenal candidate to cash in a score this weekend.
5. Big D Dumps Danny: Cowboys D/ST Records 4+ Sacks in New York
The Giants are 2-0, but all is not well for Big Blue. Their offensive line is still struggling, ceding the third-highest pressure rate (28%) in the NFL thus far. They've eeked out a couple of one-score wins, but they're still overall just below the league average in Offensive NEP per play (0.02).
As for the Dallas D/ST, they've wreaked havoc in two games against one stout offensive line (Tampa Bay) and one that's far from stout (Cincinnati). Dallas' 35% pressure rate is second in the entire league behind Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence.
With just a 39.5-point total on deck, it's not like oddsmakers are expecting an offensive explosion from either team. America's Team is a great D/ST streamer if they're still on your wire.