Our NFL Insiders predict Week 3‘s biggest upsets and fantasy flops and sleepers. Plus: Which 2-0 team is in the most danger of not making the playoffs? And which Week 2 injury will be most devastating for a team?
What’s your top upset pick for Week 3?
Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Seahawks over Titans. The Seahawks are three-point underdogs on the road at Tennessee, and the Seattle offense has failed to establish any sense of tempo the first two weeks of the season. If rookie running back Chris Carson can continue to produce on the ground, however, look for the Seahawks to close out another low-scoring win with the defense getting the game ball.
Mike Clay, NFL writer: Chargers over Chiefs. If you’re going to go down, you might as well go down swinging. I liked the Chargers to shock the world and take the AFC West this season, but a pair of missed field goals later, they sit at 0-2 and well behind in a division that features three 2-0 squads. One of those teams is the Chiefs, and I’m picking the desperate Chargers to win 22-21 in Week 3.
Domonique Foxworth, The Undefeated senior writer: Saints over Panthers. The Saints are 0-2 after losing to the Vikings and Patriots, two teams that we think are pretty good. The Panthers are 2-0 after facing the 49ers and Bills, two franchises that are in rebuilding mode. These teams would have opposite records if they had played the other’s schedule. They are closer in ability than their records show. This game could go either way. I like the Saints’ chances to get a win over Carolina.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Chargers over Chiefs. Maybe it’ll be the Chargers pulling off a division game at home against Kansas City after a couple of close losses to start the season. Before the season, I did have Buffalo winning at home against Denver, but it’s tough seeing where the Bills’ offense will come from. I’m chickening out on that one.
Field Yates, NFL Insider: Jaguars over Ravens. The NFL is a league of parity, so let’s go bold with an upset: Jacksonville over Baltimore in London. How can the Jags get it done? By applying pressure on Joe Flacco and smothering the running game. The Jags had 10 sacks in Week 1, and the Ravens lost guard Marshal Yanda — perhaps their best player — for the season last week.
Teams that have started 2-0 since 1990 have made the playoffs 63 percent of the time. Which 2-0 team is most in danger of not making the playoffs this season?
Bowen: The Panthers knocked off both the 49ers and Bills to start the season, but can this offense produce points in division play with tight end Greg Olsen down for a big chunk of the season and erratic production from quarterback Cam Newton? Even with a tough defense in Carolina, that offense has to find a rhythm to compete with the Falcons and Bucs.
Clay: The Lions have looked better than expected thus far, but keep in mind that they beat a struggling Cardinals team that barely slipped past the Colts in Week 2 and an injury-riddled Giants squad that hasn’t been able to move the ball offensively since 2015. Detroit’s upcoming schedule is much tougher, and the Packers and Vikings are both superior teams in the NFC North.
Foxworth: Carolina has been underwhelming so far against less-than-stellar opponents. And Newton isn’t fully healthy. The Panthers missed the playoffs last season because of an ailing Cam. This season might start to look a lot like last season.
Sando: Baltimore is a tough one for me to buy based on its offensive line and offensive skill players. The Ravens will not play teams from Ohio every week.
Yates: It probably has to be an AFC West team just because the division looks so strong, and they’ll each play each other twice, but until I see more from the Panthers’ offense, I have some reservations, especially with the Falcons and Buccaneers in the NFC South
Who’s your pick to be the biggest fantasy flop this weekend?
Bowen: C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos. He lit up the Cowboys in Week 2 with 118 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. But this Bills defense has quietly shut down the running game to start the season. Through two weeks, the Bills have surrendered only 88 total rushing yards to opposing backs.
Clay: Mike Evans, WR, Bucs. Xavier Rhodes has emerged as one of the league’s top cover corners and is a strong bet to shadow Evans in Week 3. Rhodes has limited his opposition to seven receptions for 86 yards so far this season, despite facing Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas on 37 (or 70 percent) of the 53 pass plays for which he has been on the field. Avoid Evans in daily fantasy leagues against this tough Minnesota defense.
Foxworth: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. He’s my pick to disappoint this week. He and the Texans will be playing in New England, and the Patriots will double-cover Hopkins on most passing downs. They have done that the past few times they’ve played the Texans. Rookie Deshaun Watson has a lot to learn about playing quarterback in the NFL, but I think he will know better than to throw into double coverage, so Hopkins won’t get a lot of chances to make plays.
Sando: Trevor Siemian, QB, Broncos. After two impressive home games, the Broncos head across the country to Buffalo without a starting left tackle. It could be tough to sustain his fast start — he’s No. 2 in the league in QB fantasy points so far — after Buffalo kept Cam Newton in check.
Yates: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills. I’ll never recommend benching a healthy LeSean McCoy, but if ever there was a week when you were breathing a bit easier to face him, this might be it. The Bills play the Broncos, who just swallowed up the Cowboys’ running game and held Ezekiel Elliott to the worst rushing outing of his career. That defense is ferocious.
Pick a fringe fantasy player who should be started in Week 3.
Bowen: J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals. He caught five passes for 120 yards and scored on a deep post route over the top of the Colts’ secondary in Week 2. With a matchup with a banged-up Cowboys secondary, Nelson provides some real upside and big-play ability with that 4.2 speed.
Clay: Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers. Greg Olsen is out six to eight weeks, which opens the door for Funchess to take on a larger target share in Carolina. The third-year wideout is 6-foot-4, and his 68 receiving yards on Sunday were his highest total since the final game of his rookie season. Funchess has a terrific Week 3 matchup against a Saints defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers through two weeks of play.
Foxworth: Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Browns. He could have a big game against the Colts despite not getting the majority of carries. Most rushing attempts go to Isaiah Crowell, but Johnson is featured in the passing game. The Browns exploit mismatches with Johnson in the slot against linebackers and throw him the ball deep down the field. Among NFL running backs, he is first in yards per reception with 15.8, and his 11 targets are fifth highest in that same group.
Sando: Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers. He is intriguing with Olsen out and New Orleans on the Panthers’ schedule next. He had four catches for 68 yards Sunday.
Yates: Jermaine Kearse, WR, Jets. Volume is key in fantasy, and so far Kearse has seen a steady share of it for the New York Jets. He leads the team in targets, catches and touchdowns (he had two in Week 2). If you play in a PPR league of 12 teams or more, he can be utilized in your flex spot against Miami this week.
Which injury suffered in Week 2 will be most devastating to the team’s playoff chances: Denver LT Garett Bolles (leg), Baltimore G Marshal Yanda (ankle) or Carolina TE Greg Olsen (foot)?
Bowen: Cam Newton loses his most consistent target in the passing game with the injury to Olsen. The Panthers tight end was ultra-reliable on middle-of-the-field throws, and he created matchups in the red zone. That’s a tough blow for an offense that is struggling to build an identity to start the season.
Clay: Olsen. Since joining Carolina in 2011, Olsen has appeared in each of the team’s 104 games, has been on the field for an incredible 96 percent of the offensive plays and has been responsible for 22 percent of the targets. The term workhorse is often associated with running backs, but Olsen certainly fits the bill. Expect Carolina’s offensive output to dip while he’s sidelined.
Foxworth: These are all punishing loses, but Yanda is by far the biggest loss. When he is on the field, his impact can be imperceptible. Without him, the Ravens will be noticeably worse. Losing Yanda’s uncommon athleticism will handicap the Ravens’ running attack. Plus, interior linemen are the players who create a pocket for quarterbacks. Flacco will be uncomfortable with no Yanda in pass protection.
Sando: I lean toward Olsen because he’s so important to the Panthers’ offense. Bolles is much less established. Yanda is fantastic, but how much does a guard affect game outcomes?
Yates: I’ll go with Olsen, who is as reliable as they come. The Panthers have not experienced a game without Olsen since acquiring him. The Panthers’ passing offense is an evolving element of this team and now will have to make strides without its best option.