One of the things fantasy football players learn with experience is that sometimes having the teams your players are on are getting clubbed early in their games can be a positive.
I call it the “Romo Rule.” From the fantasy perspective, the best thing that could happen if you had Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was for Dallas to fall behind by 14 points early. Invariably, Romo would abandon the run, throw 50 times, and post eye-popping numbers.
Last Sunday, we saw the Romo Rule explode. In Baltimore, Tua Tagovailoa had 150 passing yards and one touchdown at halftime trailing 28-7. In the second half, he threw for 319 yards and five TDs.
In Detroit, at halftime Carson Wentz had 59 passing yards and no touchdowns with the Washington Commanders trailing 22-0. In the second half, he threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
In Las Vegas, at halftime Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had thrown for 53 yards with no touchdowns and an interception – trailing the Raiders 20-0. After halftime, he threw for 224 yards with a passing and a rushing touchdown.
The next time a team falls down by 20, don’t necessarily consider all is lost. Romo made a career of inflating his stats in early blowout games. If Week 2 taught us anything, the Romo Rule may be in play a lot more.
Here is the Week 3 Fantasy Market Report.
Fantasy football risers
Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown earned fantasy football credibility late last year. In his final six games, he caught 51 passes (eight or more in every game), had more than 85 receiving yards in five of them, and scored five touchdowns. He wasn’t going to be a surprise, but because the Lions were awful, he didn’t get a lot of recognition. St. Brown’s value in drafts and auctions and it seemed as if he had to prove himself again. Two weeks in, he’s backed it up nicely. He has more receptions than the next three Lions receivers combined and has picked up where he left off last season – catching 17 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. He can make a case that he belongs with the likes of Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson as the most consistent wide receivers in fantasy football (and the real NFL).
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa: Tagovailoa earned attention prior to Sunday’s record-setting day, but it really started in Week 1. He threw for 270 yards and a touchdown against a very good New England defense in a game the Dolphins controlled throughout. He followed up that with one of the greatest individual performances of any quarterback in any half, overcoming two interceptions to throw for 469 yards and six touchdowns. He has shared the wealth with newcomer Tyreek Hill (19 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns) and Jaylen Waddle (15-240-3). This may be a small sample size, but he has done what he did against the Patriots and Ravens – two of the best-coached defenses in the NFL.
Washington Commanders WR Curtis Samuel: Commanders head coach Ron Rivera was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers when Samuel was drafted. Not only was the latter used as a receiver, he was also a threat as a runner in the red zone, scoring five rushing touchdowns in his final three seasons with the Panthers. When he became a free agent, Rivera was quick to vouch for Samuel, and he was signed. Injuries wiped out his 2021 season to just five games, but he has established himself as a primary option in Washington’s 2022 offense. In the first two games of the season, Samuel has been targeted 20 times, catching 15 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns and has rushed five times for 38 yards. For a player who is a WR4 or WR5 on most rosters, he has the potential to move up in a big way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette: One of the attributes fantasy owners look for most in running backs is finding players who are clearly the main show in town. Fournette has become that guy – not just for Tampa Bay, but across the entire league. Only Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon has more utilizations thus far in 2022. When he was in a timeshare with Ronald Jones, Fournette often took a back seat in terms of workload. With Jones gone via free agency, Fournette has taken over. He has rushed 45 times for 192 yards in the first two games. Nobody else in Tampa has rushed more than eight times, and the second-leading rusher in terms of yardage is veteran wide receiver Julio Jones. It’s rare to see one player monopolize a ground game like this and, with the Buccaneers looking for more offensive balance, there is no reason to think it will change any time soon.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas: Prior to 2020, Thomas was viewed as the top wide receiver in the NFL. Injuries have marred the last two seasons, so Thomas’ value dropped considerably – making him a WR3 in his average draft position (ADP). Thomas hasn’t returned to his dominant status – through two games, he has caught 11 passes for 122 yards – but one thing has remained clear. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown three touchdown passes – all of them to Thomas. The days of 10 catches and routinely topping 100 yards haven’t come back yet, but when you’re scoring touchdowns at Thomas’ pace, he isn’t a WR3 on fantasy rosters anymore.
Fantasy football fallers
Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts: I debated with colleagues about Pitts before draft season started. I understand he’s is a generational athlete at his position, but in 17 games as a rookie, while he caught 68 passes for 1,026 yards, Pitts scored only one touchdown. I consider the Falcons’ passing game to be worse this year than it was last year. That is why I had a really hard time ranking Pitts as a top-three tight end – where he consistently went in fantasy drafts, according to his ADP. Through two games with retread Marcus Mariota as his quarterback, Pitts had posted an identical stat line in both – two catches for 19 yards and no touchdowns. That’s fine if you’re in a TE-mandatory league and didn’t use any draft capital to fill the position. Those who took Pitts have been struggling because three points a week doesn’t cut it for a pedestrian tight end, much less a guy who was an investment pick.
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray: In many fantasy drafts, Murray was a top-five quarterback, which typically means whoever has him on their rosters is ignoring landing a second quarterback for quite a while. Murray looked awful in the opener against Kansas City and, if the Las Vegas Raiders hadn’t choked in the final quarter of Sunday’s game, it would have been a second blowout loss. In two games, he has accounted for just 470 passing yards, less than 60 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns. While it isn’t time to panic, it is time to be concerned when so many other quarterbacks are posting stronger fantasy numbers and the Cardinals are going long stretches in games with the offense doing next to nothing.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris: Harris hit the league by storm as a rookie last season, rushing 307 times for 1,200 yards, catching 74 passes for 467 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. Through his first two games, he has rushed 25 times for 72 yards (a dismal 2.9-yard average), caught seven passes for 43 yards, and scored one touchdown. The thought heading into the season was that the Steelers would need to lighten his workload because of a foot injury he dealt with last year and again in training camp. But nobody could have expected this, and those who have him as their fantasy RB1 likely don’t have many options other than continue playing him and hope the situation improves.
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields: There were a lot of people hoping the Bears would catch lightning in a bottle with Fields, which made him a priority QB2 on fantasy rosters. However, the Bears have been brutal on offense. Through two games, Fields has only thrown 28 passes – completing 15 of them for just 191 yards and two touchdowns. Even as a runner, he has been ineffective – rushing 19 times for 48 yards and one score. Maybe down the line Fields will have value, but for now he has rendered himself almost unplayable in any format and/or bait for the waiver wire if you someone else who is available.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: In two games, Patrick Mahomes has completed 54 passes for 595 yards and seven touchdowns. He has been prolific. Of those, only six have gone MVS’ way for just 57 yards and no touchdowns. When there was talk about who would be the wide receiver to step up and fill the void at wide receiver following the Tyreek Hill trade, it was a toss-up between Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Neither of them has stepped up – Smith-Schuster has fared little better with nine catches for 89 yards and no TDs. Because he has an All-World quarterback, fantasy owners will likely continue to play Valdes-Scantling, but this act is getting stale already.