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BOLD PREDICTIONS: Week 3

Jimmy Garoppolo, who faces the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium this week, will outscore Patrick Mahomes.

My thinking: The Chiefs have been one of the worst statistical defenses through these first two weeks of the season. They have allowed 73 completions (32nd in the NFL), 860 passing yards (32nd), and six passing touchdowns (tied-30th). After a rough Week 1 performance against a stout Vikings defense (45.5% completion percentage), Jimmy Garoppolo was much more efficient in Week 2, completing 18-of-26 passing attempts (69.2% completion percentage) for 206 passing yards and two touchdowns. This is a phenomenal matchup for Jimmy G that should see him exploit the many weaknesses in the Chiefs secondary while lighting up the stat sheet in the process.

Jordan Howard will have two rushing touchdowns vs. the Arizona Cardinals this week.

My thinking: In his first two seasons in the league, Jordan Howard averaged one rushing touchdown every 35.2 rushing attempts. He’s had 29 carries through two weeks and has the pleasure of running against a Cardinals run defense that has allowed four rushing touchdowns in two games. This is the perfect opportunity for Howard to cash in on what should be plenty of opportunities inside the red zone on Sunday.

Aaron Jones will have 100 rushing yards vs. the Washington Redskins this week.

My thinking: The Packers have had to face two top-tier run defenses in Weeks 1 and 2 (Bears, Vikings). Jamaal Williams did not perform well while Aaron Jones was serving his two-game suspension, averaging 3.4 yards-per-carry on 31 rushing attempts in those games. Aaron Jones is now back from his suspension and should hit the ground running from the get-go. He’s a much better running back than Williams is or ever was and will be a welcoming addition to an already above-average Packers offense.

Saquon Barkley will have less than 50 rushing yards vs. the Houston Texans this week.

My thinking: Even though Saquon Barkley failed to eclipse 50 rushing yards in Week 2, this still qualifies as a bold prediction heading into Week 3 considering how good Barkley has been in terms of overall production. He is a bruiser of a running back that is deceptively quick and fast. He’s currently the 5th best PPR running back through two weeks, due in large part to his 14 receptions and 80 receiving yards last week. Nevertheless, Barkley isn’t going over 50 rushing yards in Week 3 for a few reasons. For one, this is the Texans home opener, and they were much better at defending the run at home than they were on the road last year. In 2017, the Texans allowed an average 106 rushing yards per game at home, compared to 112.4 yards per game on the road.

Furthermore, they allowed an average of 0.8 rushing touchdowns per game at home, compared to 1.0 rushing touchdowns allowed on the road in 2017. And lastly, they allowed 3.9 yards-per-carry to opposing running backs at home compared to 4.1 yards-per-carry on the road. Another notable statistic regarding the Texans run defense is that they are currently tied-4th in the NFL allowed just 3.4 yards-per-carry on the ground. Bottom line – while Barkley may continue to be a force out of the backfield, he’s going to have a tough time running against Houston’s front-seven this week and will struggle to accumulate rushing yards.

Michael Crabtree will have eight receptions for 120 receiving yards and a touchdown vs. the Denver Broncos this week.

My thinking: Because…why not? We’re always surprised on a week-to-week basis in the fantasy football world. It’s a wildly unpredictable game that can take you by complete surprise. From Phillip Lindsay coming out of nowhere and taking full control (sorry, Royce Freeman truthers) of the Broncos backfield, to Matt Breida leading the NFL in rushing yards through two weeks, and David Johnson having fewer fantasy points than Javorius Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Bilal Powell. Conventional wisdom says Michael Crabtree has a tough matchup vs. Chris Harris Jr. and a tough Broncos defense in Week 3, especially considering Crabtree played in four games vs. the Broncos in his three seasons as a Raider and tallied just 15 receptions for 147 receiving yards. In six career games vs. Denver, he’s scored one touchdown, and it was way back in 2010 in his second season in the league. However, Crabtree saw ten targets in the Ravens Week 2 loss to the Bengals and is quickly becoming one of Joe Flacco’s most trusted receivers. Among the Ravens wide receivers, he has seen a 33.3% target share through two weeks. My gut is telling me conventional wisdom gets thrown out the door in this matchup and we see Crabtree turn in an impressive performance.

Devin Funchess will have nine receptions for 100 receiving yards and a touchdown vs. the Cincinnati Bengals this week.

My thinking: Devin Funchess, in his first game without Greg Olsen this season, saw nine targets from Cam Newton and had seven receptions for 77 receiving yards. On top of that, Funchess has seen four red zone targets in two games, the highest on the team. Those four red zone targets are tied-9th in the NFL through two weeks. It’s only a matter of time before Funchess cashes in with a touchdown. This week, the Panthers will host the Cincinnati Bengals, who have allowed 695 passing yards in two weeks, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Funchess is also criminally undervalued ($5,000 on DraftKings) and is a sneaky-good option in daily fantasy sports this week if that is your cup of tea.

Jordan Reed will score two touchdowns vs. the Packers this week.

My thinking: From 2015-2017, Jordan Reed played in 32 games and averaged a touchdown reception every 9.5 receptions. He’s fully healthy (at least at the moment) and is tied-6th in the NFL among tight ends with 13 targets after two weeks. The Redskins are going to have to put points on the board to keep up with the high-powered Packers offense. Reed has already seen two red zone targets thus far (catching one of them for a touchdown in Week 1) and should see at least one more vs. the Packers this week.

Dan Bailey, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys (I still can’t believe they let him go), is playing in his first game of the season on his new team, the Minnesota Vikings, and will have 15 fantasy points vs. the Bills this week.

My thinking: Kicker alert! Dan Bailey is one of the most accurate kickers of all-time and will make his season debut for the Vikings this week. A home matchup vs. the Bills is just what the doctor ordered for Bailey to have a successful game. The Bills allowed 12 fantasy points to Justin Tucker in Week 1 and 7 points to Caleb Sturgis in Week 2, and if you haven’t noticed, they haven’t been able to stop a nose-bleed on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings will have no problem moving the ball down the field, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for field goals, especially in the 2nd half when they let their foot off the gas pedal. Bailey is going to have a great week, and as far as kickers go, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot in terms of his fantasy value.

About Evan Reardon

An avid Boston sports fan, Evan has been a Patriots and NFL fan since the 1990's. Fantasy football runs in his family. He grew up in the 90's watching his father and uncles play in a 6-team, Touchdown-only league. He has been playing fantasy football since the early 2000's and has been writing fantasy sports content since 2014.