Wednesday - Oct 28, 2020

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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 3

Welcome to the Week 3 edition of “Red Light, Green Light,” a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s NFL contests (and Monday night).

In each NFL Week 3 game profile below, I will choose a total of 3 players to highlight as green, yellow or red light options.

green-light Green Light: Players who have a great matchup. These guys are usually flying under the radar, and can be counted on as a strong source of fantasy production.
yellow-light Yellow Light: Players with just an OK matchup and/or usage concerns. These guys are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire.
red-light Red Light: Players with serious matchup/usage concerns, thus requiring lowered expectations lowered for the week, and/or should just be avoided altogether if possible.

Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not carry your team to victory.

As always, the information conveyed below is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, but can be used to evaluate those decisions as well.

Note: Fantasy points allowed statistics are based off of the Fantasy Sharks default points per reception (PPR) scoring system. Point Spreads and Over/Unders are based off the Fantasy Sharks consensus analysis.

Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2020 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Texans Steelers
Quarterback 19th 20th
Running Back 8th 28th
Wide Receiver 17th 12th
Tight End 18th 16th
Defense/Special Teams 4th 18th
Vegas Line: Steelers -3.5
Vegas Over/Under: 45

Green Light – James Conner (RB, Pittsburgh)

So much for Benny Snell forcing the Steelers backfield into a timeshare. In Week 2 against Denver, Conner handled 18 touches to Snell’s four, which he turned into 121 total yards and a score (most of which came on a 59-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter as the Steelers were trying to run out the clock). Only Detroit and Cincinnati have allowed more rushing yards to opposing backfields than the Texans so far in 2020.

Yellow Light – JuJu Smith-Schuster

While the two touchdowns for Smith-Schuster in Week 1 were nice to see, it appears the pendulum is swinging towards Diontae Johnson morphing into the No. 1 wideout (23 targets for Johnson through two games, as compared to 14 for Smith-Schuster). Early returns seem to suggest Smith-Schuster won’t be the same target hog he was in 2018.

Red Light – Deshaun Watson (QB, Houston)

The Texans have allowed Watson to get sacked four times in each of their first 2020 contests, while the Steelers generated 10 sacks total over that same span. Watson isn’t going to have much time to find his receivers downfield, and Pittsburgh’s linebackers have the speed to keep him contained on the ground.

Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2020 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Bengals Eagles
Quarterback 30th 22nd
Running Back 3rd 17th
Wide Receiver 30th 23rd
Tight End 19th 5th
Defense/Special Teams 10th 1st
Vegas Line: Eagles -6.5
Vegas Over/Under: 46.5

Green Light – Miles Sanders (RB, Philadelphia)

The Bengals have allowed an NFL-worst 358 rushing yards to opposing backfields thus far in 2020. After missing the Eagles’ season opener, Sanders didn’t seem to miss a beat in Week 2, logging 131 total yards and a score against the Los Angeles Rams.

Yellow Light – Drew Sample (TE, Cincinnati)

With the Bengals’ primary pass catching tight end C.J. Uzomah (Achilles, Injured Reserve) going down early in their Week 2 loss to Cleveland, Sample stepped up in his stead, reeling in 7-of-9 targets for 45 yards. After catching just passes in 10 contests last season as a rookie, Sample looks poised to emerge as a safety valve for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

Red Light – A.J. Green (WR, Cincinnati)

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay has already put the clamps on both Terry McLaurin and Robert Woods in consecutive weeks. Additionally, Green’s return to regular season NFL action has resulted in some ghastly efficiency, as he’s sporting a meager 36.4 catch conversion rate.

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2020 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position 49ers Giants
Quarterback 17th 21st
Running Back 25th 21st
Wide Receiver 10th 9th
Tight End 31st 29th
Defense/Special Teams 16th 2nd
Vegas Line: 49ers -4.5
Vegas Over/Under: 41

Green Light – Darius Slayton (WR, New York Giants)

With running back Saquon Barkley (knee, Injured Reserve) out for the season, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) set to miss at least the next three weeks, the Giants will funnel Slayton and teammate Golden Tate all the targets they can handle. San Francisco has had particular difficulty defending opposing wideouts this season with cornerback Richard Sherman (calf) out.

Yellow Light – Brandon Aiyuk (WR, San Francisco)

The rookie first round pick returned last weekend after sitting out of the 49ers’ season opener with a hamstring injury, and put up just two catches for 21 yards on three targets in a game where the team just didn’t need to throw very often. If the Giants can keep this contest competitive, Aiyuk will be afforded more chances as the 49ers’ most dynamic option atop of a thin wideout group.

Red Light – Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Devonta Freeman (RBs, New York Giants)

In the absence of Saquon Barkley, it is not exactly clear how the Giants plan to deploy their stable of reserve running backs. Lewis handled all the team’s running back touches in Week 2 after Barkley left the game, and managed to cobble together 56 total yards and a score. However, that performance game with Gallman as a healthy inactive (sure to change going forward), and prior to the Giants signing Freeman to a one-year, $3 million contract. Despite season-ending injuries to 49ers’ defensive linemen Solomon Thomas (knee) and Nick Bosa (knee), front seven has enough talent to overwhelm the Giants’ sieve-like run blocking unit.

Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2020 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Raiders Patriots
Quarterback 24th 13th
Running Back 2nd 16th
Wide Receiver 18th 8th
Tight End 22nd 30th
Defense/Special Teams 27th 21st
Vegas Line: Patriots -6
Vegas Over/Under: 47.5

Green Light – New England D/ST

The Raiders could potentially be down running back Josh Jacobs (hip) and tight end Darren Waller (knee). If that ends up being the case, it’s hard to see the Las Vegas offense scoring many points on the road in Foxboro.

Update: Both Jacobs and Waller returned to practice on Friday, though one or both of them could be operating at less than 100 percent.

Yellow Light – Cam Newton (QB, New England)

Newton looked incredible last Sunday night with 397 passing yards with a score and an interception while tacking on another 47 yards and two scores via the ground. The rushing production doesn’t seem like it will dry up anytime soon, but if the Raiders aren’t able to keep this contest competitive, the Patriots will have little incentive to air it out like they did against Seattle.

Red Light – Darren Waller (TE, Las Vegas)

Waller is the engine driving the Raiders pass game. Fantasy managers know it, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sure knows it. Expect the Patriots to have a plan to keep Waller contained after he ran rampant over New Orleans (12 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets) last Monday night.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.