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While glancing over running backs before Monday night’s game between the Chiefs and Packers, it actually surprised me that Devonta Freeman was the overall RB1 in PPR. Jamaal Charles passed him with his three-touchdown night against Green Bay, but Freeman is a top-two running back through three weeks of the season. I don’t know many that saw this coming, and I certainly wasn’t one of them, as just last week I advised sitting Freeman against the Cowboys. Obviously, that backfired, but I thought it was a dumb play, even if Freeman was going to dominate touches in the backfield. I figured Julio Jones would dominate any scoring opportunities, and absolutely did not see the Falcons putting up that many points and running that many plays against what has been a stingy Dallas defense. Freeman tore it up with 193 total yards and three scores.
On Tuesday, the Falcons “unofficially” moved Freeman ahead of rookie Tevin Coleman on the depth chart. Coleman got the start Week 2 against the Giants, but had to leave early with a broken rib. Freeman is now the lead dog. I’m still having some trouble getting behind Freeman. He was averaging a pitiful 1.95 YPC on 22 carries between Weeks 1 and 2 before his Week 3 outburst. Freeman’s career YPC average remains a pedestrian 3.69 after last week. Freeman was a carry-over from the previous regime, while Coleman was handpicked by new OC Kyle Shanahan. Freeman has shown good chops as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and I think he settles in more as a FLEX option in PPR over the rest of the season. It might be a good time to sell high on the sophomore.
In Other News…
Coach Bruce Arians said he expects Chris Johnson to still get 15-20 touches per game, even with Andre Ellington (knee) set to return this week against the Rams. Look for CJ2K to get the bulk of the work in Arizona’s backfield, with Ellington and rookie David Johnson mixing in behind him. Arians tends to get a little optimistic with his running backs touch totals, but it’s clear Johnson has made a strong impression since signing with Arizona. He’s the running back to own in Arizona at the moment, but is hard to trust as anything more than an RB2/FLEX option in a crowded backfield.
Crockett Gillmore had a monster 5-88-2 line against the Raiders in Week 2 to put himself on the fantasy map. He responded with three catches for 40 scoreless yards last week against the Bengals and hurt his calf midway through the game. Gillmore is expected to miss Thursday night’s Week 4 date with the division-rival Steelers, leaving rookie Maxx Williams atop the depth chart. With Rob Gronkowski and Delanie Walker on bye, Williams enters the TE1 picture. The Steelers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends through three weeks.
Drew Brees was forced to sit out Week 3 with his bruised rotator cuff. Initial reports are Brees is “very optimistic” that he’ll play this week against the Cowboys. He had a successful throwing session on Tuesday and plans to practice Wednesday. It’s still hard to trust Brees as a QB1 with a weakened arm and dull receiving corps. Expect plenty of Mark Ingram running the ball.
C.J. Anderson has battled toe, ankle, and head injuries the first three weeks of the season, forcing the Broncos to use more Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson than they would like. On Tuesday, coach Gary Kubiak said the offense needs Anderson to stay on the field and make it through a game healthy. Anderson has just 74 scoreless yards on 32 carries (2.31 YPC) this season. The good news is Kubiak seems to remain committed to Anderson as his No. 1 back. He’ll have a favorable matchup this week at home against the Vikings, but Anderson, to this point, has been unable to take advantage of plus spots. Treat him as an RB2 this week until he proves otherwise.
The Miami Herald reports the Dolphins firing coach Joe Philbin in-season “remains a possibility.” The Dolphins squeaked by Washington in Week 1, lost a close one to Jacksonville in Week 2, and then got slaughtered by the division-rival Bills at home last week. Owner Stephen Ross passed on an opportunity to endorse Philbin for the remainder of this season, and players are reportedly grumbling about the length and intensity pf practices, as well as Philbin’s inability to motivate them.
Quarterback & Running Back Slants
The earliest the league’s appeal will be heard in the Tom Brady case is February 1. … Free agent Bryce Brown worked out for the Jets on Tuesday. … Free agent Montee Ball worked out for the Patriots. … Rams waived 2012 second-round RB Isaiah Pead. He contributed nothing across three-plus seasons. … Patriots waived RB Travaris Cadet. … DeMarco Murray (hamstring) appeared to be practicing Tuesday. … Coach Jim Tomsula expressed confidence in Colin Kaepernick. … Matt Cassel is picking up the Cowboys’ offense quickly. … Ben Roethlisberger (knee) said he has no firm timeline for recovery. … Bucs waived RB Mike James. … Coach Bill O’Brien praised Ryan Mallett’s Week 3 performance, saying Mallett showed improvement. … It’s possible Ryan Mathews has earned an increased offensive role with his Week 3 performance against the Jets. … Coach Jay Gruden expressed little concern over Matt Jones’ early ball-security issues, saying he won’t shy away from giving Jones the ball.
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Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
Coach Bruce Arians said the Cardinals made an effort to get Michael Floyd more involved in Week 3. After seeing just two total targets Weeks 1 and 2, Floyd was targeted five times against the 49ers. He was only able to reel in one, but Arizona wants Floyd to get “going.” … Andrew Luck has a 7.4 passer rating targeting Andre Johnson. He’s barely on the WR3 radar. … Breshad Perriman (knee) remains sidelined at Ravens practice. He won’t play Thursday night. … Packers blocking TE Andrew Quarless will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. … Golden Tate said opposing defenses have been calling out the Lions’ plays before they run them. Detroit is off to an 0-3 start and have the lowest team total of Week 4 heading to Seattle for Monday Night Football. … The Titans plan to continue to integrate rookie Dorial Green-Beckham into the offense. … OC Bill Lazor said DeVante Parker is making progress and getting better every day. … Steelers backup TE Matt Spaeth has a broken hand. … The Giants worked out veteran free agents Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, and Chris Cooley on Tuesday. … The Lions aren’t targeting Calvin Johnson downfield much.