While watching Week 3 games over the course of Sunday, I couldn’t help but wryly laugh at how my recommendations were playing out. After my call-out of Tyrod Taylor, he responded with a marvelous fantasy showing versus the New York Jets. This weekend, I was on the wrong end of calling Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael a tease. In fairness, he had been a tease to this point in his career. New tricks, old dogs.
In Week 3, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley was highlighted as someone to trade away at the first signs of life … here’s your chance, because outside of his two touchdowns, it was anything but pretty.
Entering Week 4, we have the beginning of those dreaded bye weeks. The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles are on holiday, which leaves many owners without Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jordan Matthews, among other lesser contributors.
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr., Cleveland Browns
Eight catches for 144 yards and 21 more rushing yards with a ground score later, Pryor will be a hot waiver commodity. There is legitimate talent here — he’s not just an athlete but also a good football player. Pryor probably could excel as a defensive back or even running back in this league. The former (part-time?) quarterback has a fine matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 4. This defense has lost starting free safety DeAngelo Hall and possibly cornerback Bashaud Breeland to injuries. Only three teams have coughed up more points to wideouts in both standard and PPR scoring than the ‘Skins through three games. Confidently start the former Ohio State Buckeye. Long term, however, Josh Gordon will return to steal some of Pryor’s thunder. I have major doubts that the Browns offense, with a rookie quarterback, has enough to fuel two regular fantasy plays.
TE Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers
Desperate for a tight end play in Week 4? Cozy up next to Celek if — and only if — Vance McDonald’s hip injury keeps him out of action. Celek would slide into the starting lineup and face the Dallas Cowboys, fantasy third worst defense of the position. The 49ers receivers should be blanketed on the outside by Dallas’ surprisingly strong cornerback play, which will force quarterback Blaine Gabbert to find Celek as a safety outlet. Willing point-per-reception owners could be in for a double-digit performance, but don’t blame this wingman if you’re disgusted with yourself after the fact.
Make it a fling
WR Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins
The slot receiver has caught at least four passes in each of the first three games and benefits from the defensive attention paid to DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. Crowder has favorable matchups leading up to Washington’s Week 9 bye, and he can come in as a serviceable lineup filler in PPR leagues. Contests with Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit and Cincinnati could prove to be fruitful.
WR Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Humphries has seen 20 targets (15 catches) in the past two weeks — games in which Tampa Bay was throttled and forced into catch-up mode. Considering they haven’t allowed fewer than 24 points thus far, this is where the recommendation becomes that much better. Jameis Winston will throw a tremendous amount in 2016 if this defense continues to struggle and the Bucs’ running game is on shaky ground. Humphries also gains from the release of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Denver and Carolina are ahead as telling measuring sticks. Both defenses will focus on removing Mike Evans from the game plan, leaving Winston to give Humphries some more lovin’ before Tampa’s Week 6 vacation.
TE Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Did someone in your league give up on Miller after his relatively slow start? Check the waiver wire to see if he’s available. Quarterback Brian Hoyer isn’t the long-term answer in Chicago, but who knows when Jay Cutler will return and for how long he’ll remain healthy. Miller, owned in only 40 percent of leagues polled, is basically a must-start as long as the cautious Hoyer is in the starting lineup. Consider Miller for the fantasy season’s duration if he shows similar production when Cutler returns.
RB Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles
First of all, the Eagles are nesting this week, so understand this recommendation is for Week 5 and beyond. Ryan Mathews is dealing with ankle swelling from a preseason injury that hasn’t properly healed. With his extensive injury history, he is no guarantee to return in the near future, even with a week off. Smallwood is an explosive player but is still learning the ropes of the NFL. He has stash appeal and could even be trotted out in Week 5 against the Detroit Lions as a flex if Mathews doesn’t go. Smallwood is widely available in fantasy circles (cue the “that’s what she said” jokes).
Put a ring on that thing
QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Among my favorite sleepers entering the season, as covered on USA TODAY, Tannehill gives fantasy owners big upside — after all, he hasn’t been a quarterback more than a handful of years — and tremendous risk … as evidenced by his three-turnover Week 3. There must be an acceptance of the bad with the good, much like how you put up with your better half’s snoring or obsession with reality dating shows. The Dolphins will pass a ton in 2016, and Miami’s offensive weapons are more than capable of keeping Tannehill in the midrange QB1 conversation. He is available in nearly 50 percent of leagues polled.
WR Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys
Beasley is widely available in casual leagues (79 percent on Yahoo!, for example) but not quite as easily had in more competitive setups. Check your wire to be safe. His best value is in reception-rewarding scoring formats, where he has proven to be good for double figures each of the first three weeks. Beasley has a rapport with the overly cautious Dak Prescott and mingles with singles on a weekly basis because of Dez. Dallas is slowly opening up the playbook as Prescott becomes more comfortable. The San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers are on the docket before a Week 7 bye, all of which being favorable matchups for varying reasons.
The big tease
TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
From a historical perspective, Allen gets your motor revving with sporadic big games, only to let you down when things heat up. He can produce massive statistical outbursts that are followed up with weeks of inactivity and minor contributions. He hasn’t done much after leading us on in the opener. Tight end Jack Doyle has become a the outlet for quarterback Andrew Luck we all expected Allen would represent. Allen hasn’t gained separation as well as his athleticism suggests he should, and Doyle is playing above his head at this time. Be careful that it doesn’t get to the point where Doyle outright overtakes Allen as the feature tight end, although that isn’t a prominent concern since Doyle is a sound blocker.
Grounds for divorce
WR Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Given my track record with players I have criticized this season, Tate will probably catch 15 passes in Week 4. Joking aside, he has 22 targets and only 13 receptions for 94 yards and no touchdowns in three games. Marvin Jones has completely taken over as Matthew Stafford’s go-to receiver, and there is little reason to believe that will change anytime soon. The Lions’ defense is shoddy and banged up at the moment, which coupled with their play-calling patterns, means passing will heavily outweigh running. Giving up on him via waivers is foolish, but if he cannot show signs of life over the next four weeks (CHI, PHI, LA, WAS) then it’s time to punt. For now, greatly lower your expectations, if benching him isn’t an option. For those who don’t currently own Tate, maybe you can acquire him on the cheap as a flier.