Fantasy football analyst Sal Vetri will use this space to deliver his keys to victory every week of the 2023 NFL season.
Finding 1: The best RB spot of the week belongs to Miles Sanders
He saw only 14 touches in Week 3 but was able to produce 17.2 points on this usage. Sanders quietly has one of the best roles in football. In Week 3, he earned 64% of the snaps and 18 opportunities.
He leads all RBs with 18 targets through three games. He’s on pace for a career-high 102 targets. We are getting the workhorse usage we were promised this offseason. Through three games, Sanders has commanded a strong 16% target share and averaged 19.7 opportunities.
Sanders will face the Vikings' No. 27 run defense at home this week. He’s a top-five projected running back for Week 4. Just be sure to monitor his status as he's questionable with a groin injury.
Finding 2: The sketchy spot of the week belongs to Jerome Ford
Ford played 55% of the snaps in Week 3. This led to a 19.1-point performance on 12 touches. There’s some concern that Kareem Hunt can make this a split backfield. Hunt was reportedly on a snap count in Week 3 and still earned 36% of the non-garbage time opportunities.
Hunt potentially earning more work makes Ford a sketchy option in Week 4, but so does his matchup. Ford is taking on the Ravens' No. 2 run defense. Baltimore is allowing just 3.7 yards per touch to opposing backs.
Ford ranks second in yards after contact per attempt this year. This is where he finds a lot of his success. But the Ravens are fourth best at tackling and don’t allow many yards after contact.
This game has the lowest total on the week at just 41 projected points. Expect a low-scoring, defensive battle. If you have a viable replacement, I’d sit Ford.
Finding 3: Watch Zach Charbonnet's usage
Walker has seen his snaps decrease in three straight games. He played just 49% of the snaps in Week 3. Walker is conceding snaps to the rookie Zach Charbonnet. Charbonnet’s snaps have increased all three weeks, topping out at a season-high 44% in Week 3. Charbonnet is being used as the clear passing-down back as he’s played 100% of the two-minute offense snaps the past two games. In Week 3, he ran more total routes than Walker and was more efficient on the ground as a rusher.
This is still Walker’s backfield, but Charbonnet needs to be rostered in all leagues. He’s currently available in 42% of Yahoo leagues.
Finding 4: Breece Hall is trending up
He’s slowly emerging at the exact time many doctors predicted he would. Hall saw significantly more usage in Week 3, playing 48% of the snaps and earning 57% of the carries. This was much better than his previous run of 33% of the snaps and 36% of the carries.
It’s not quite full steam ahead just yet for him, though. The Jets are still using three RBs. Dalvin Cook played a season-low 27% of the snaps in Week 3 but still saw over 10 opportunities. Michael Carter continues to play around 25% of the snaps, and although he’s not earning touches, he’s running enough routes to cut into Hall’s upside.
But here’s the good news: Hall is trending up and these other RBs are seeing their usage trend down. He might not produce this week as the Jets are a 14-point underdog against the Chiefs, but he has strong matchups coming up. The Jets face the Broncos, Giants, Raiders and Chargers over the next six weeks.
In case you forgot how good Hall is, he has led all RBs in yards per touch since the start of 2022.
Finding 5: The Pick Up and Play of the week is Matt Breida
He’s not the sexy option, but Breida’s Week 3 usage was strong. With Saquon Barkley out in Week 3, Breida played an elite 80% of the snaps and handled 100% of the two-minute offense work. His overall stat line wasn’t anything crazy, seven touches for 18 yards and one TD, but this was a brutal matchup on a short week against the 49ers' No. 1-ranked defense.
Barkley has admitted he suffered a high ankle sprain which is typically a three-week recovery. If Breida starts this week against the Seahawks, he’s worth adding. Seattle ranks 20th in tackling and this game features the second-highest total on the week at 47 projected points. Breida is available in 74% of Yahoo leagues.
Finding 6: Don’t panic over Rhamondre Stevenson
Stevenson saw interesting usage in Week 3. He played a season-low 65% of the snaps and earned only 49% of the rush attempts. He also played 0% of the two-minute offense. Despite the low usage, Stevenson still saw 22 opportunities in a bad weather game against a tough Jets team.
But it was Ezekiel Elliott who was more involved, seeing a season-high 38% of the snaps. He earned 87 yards on 17 touches. If you watched the game, it looked like Stevenson had a bad drop in a key moment. This may have led to Zeke earning the two-minute snaps. This likely won’t continue as Stevenson earned 95% of the two-minute work before Week 3 and has been great in this role.
Now is the time to buy low if your league-mate is panicking over the backfield split from Week 3. Stevenson is still playing 71% of the snaps this year and has averaged an elite 19.3 opportunities per game.
Finding 7: The new No. 1 overall WR is Keenan Allen
Allen is my No. 1 projected WR for Week 4 and he’s a top-10 player the rest of the season. Allen has earned a 33% target share this season, ranking top three in the NFL. This includes eight quarters of Mike Williams competing with him for targets.
It’s difficult to say Allen will see more usage with Williams out for the season. He had just 20 targets in one game; it doesn’t get much better than that. But what this Williams injury will do is make Allen a more consistent player. He’ll likely have more boom weeks now. Since Justin Herbert took over in 2020, Allen has averaged 15.7 points and 10 targets without Williams.
Now, check this out: Since returning from injury in Week 12 last season, Allen has averaged 11.4 targets and 22.9 points. That's more points than Justin Jefferson averaged last season.
Finding 8: Rachaad White is a true workhorse RB
We had questions coming into the year about White’s role and now we have answers: it’s fantastic. White has one of the best roles in fantasy. In Week 3, he saw a season-high 91% of the snaps and earned 17 total touches. He had just 7.2 points but this was to be expected; White had a tough matchup against the Eagles' top-five run defense.
But here’s the most encouraging takeaway from his performance: White ran 90% of the routes with the Bucs trailing. This is an elite number; anything over 70% is good for RBs. This means no matter the game script he’s going to put up points.
Leading? He’ll get carries. Trailing? He’ll earn targets. Consider White a top-20 RB for the rest of the season.
Finding 9: Things aren't as good as they seem for D’Andre Swift
In Week 3, Swift played 54% of the snaps and earned 18 opportunities. He was once again incredibly efficient while earning 138 yards on 17 touches (8.1 yards per touch). Swift ranks top-five in yards per touch this season after ranking second in this metric last year.
He’s productive and now he plays behind the Eagles' No. 1 run-blocking unit according to PFF. This is a match made in heaven for fantasy.
But there’s still one issue: Kenneth Gainwell returned in Week 3 and played 46% of the snaps. He also earned 16 opportunities and played seven of eight two-minute drill snaps. This backfield was completely split despite Swift’s 181-yard game in Week 2.
But this should’ve been expected. Nick Sirianni hinted before the game it was going to be a split backfield. Sirianni loves Gainwell; that doesn’t bode well for Swift. We also don’t know if this split will get worse once Boston Scott is active; he missed Week 3 with injury. Scott played 18% of the snaps in this offense last season.
Remember, Miles Sanders was the lead back in Philly, earning over 1,300 yards and 10 TDs last season and still wasn’t a top-20 fantasy RB. Swift was great in Week 3, but he was still in a 50/50 split with Gainwell. Temper expectations moving forward — and potentially be prepared to sell high on Swift.
Finding 10: Buy low on Kyren Williams
He’s a top-10 RB for the rest of the season. Williams put up just 8.5 points in Week 3, but it's his usage that’s worth discussing. Williams played 100% of the snaps and handled every single RB opportunity. No other back saw a rush attempt or target for the Rams. Christian McCaffrey is the only other RB to play 100% of the snaps this season. That usage is as good as it gets.
Through three weeks, Williams ranks first in RB usage. He has the ultimate cheat codes for fantasy: passing game work and red-zone usage. Williams leads all RBs in routes run with 109 and is second in red-zone touches with 18.
Williams will face good run defenses in Indy and Philly in the next two games. As long as the elite receiving and red-zone roles continue, he’s a top-10 RB in each game.