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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 3

What’s the best way to sum up the Week 3 action? Try this: Fewer injuries, but more questions. Is there clarity in the New England Patriots backfield? Is the New York Giants backfield a lost cause? Are there two on-the-rise fantasy tight end prospects in the NFC North? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson sifts through the Week 3 aftermath in his newest edition of “Traps & Trends.”

Week 3 was a strange one. Lots of fantasy teams that cranked out big scoring totals in Week 1 and Week 2 performed poorly, and the teams that didn’t light up the scoreboard through the first two weeks did so this past Sunday. Moving on…I received a lot of positive feedback about including a quickie injury report like I did during injury apocalypse last week, so I’ll make it regular part of the column. Keep in mind that some teams conceal player injury information until Monday morning or Monday afternoon, so don’t be surprised if there’s a surprise addition or two to this list:

Week 3 Injuries

RB Chris Carson (knee)

RB Tarik Cohen (knee; possible ACL)

RB Jerick McKinnon (ribs)

WR Diontae Johnson (concussion)

WR John Brown (calf)

WR Russell Gage (concussion)

WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring)

WR Chris Godwin (hamstring)

WR Mike Williams (hamstring)

WR Michael Pittman Jr. (ankle; returned to his game)

WR Bryan Edwards (ankle)

TE Dallas Goedert (foot/ankle)

TE Jordan Reed (ankle, knee)

TE Jared Cook (ankle)

 

We’re just three weeks into the 2020 regular season, but…

1. He’s not Christian McCaffrey, but can we trust this Davis guy?

The Dude: Mike Davis

The Damage: Making his first start in place of the injured CMC during the Carolina Panthers’ 21-16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Davis didn’t light it up, but he manufactured a serviceable outing. Davis toted the rock 13 times for 46 yards (3.5 yards per carry) but also caught eight of nine targets for 45 yards and one touchdown. That’s 91 combo yards and one score on 21 touches. McCaffrey is expected to miss three more weeks at the minimum. Is Davis a reliable starting option in his place or was his fantasy outing in the Chargers game a fluke?

The Diagnosis: TREND

While he isn’t going to light it up and crank out CMC numbers, Davis should continue to provide workmanlike production as an underrated three-down tailback. There was nothing fluky about his outing against Los Angeles. During Davis’ career-best 2018 campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, he amassed a 112-514-4 rushing line and a 34-214-1 receiving line (42 targets) in a backup/spot-starter role. Davis’ next three matchups are a mixed bag of good ones and bad ones, but his usage as a receiver provides the sixth-year pro with a decent fantasy floor. During Teddy Bridgewater’s last eight starts, he targeted his tailbacks 26 percent of the time, which ranks sixth among all NFL quarterbacks.  Consider Davis a must-start No. 2 fantasy running back until McCaffrey returns.

 

2. Is there finally some clarity in a New England Patriots backfield that has teased and tormented fantasy managers for many years?

The Dudes: Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel & J.J. Taylor

The Damage: This past Sunday, the Patriots rushing attack erupted against a Las Vegas Raiders defense that has been scrappy at home but crappy on the road under Jon Gruden. Some fantasy managers see Burkhead as a hot waiver-wire pickup because he pounded out a 6-49-2 rushing line and a 7-49-1 receiving line on 10 targets during New England’s 36-20 home win over the Gruden guys. Is Burkhead the new king of the Patriots’ backfield?

The Diagnosis: TRAP

Burkhead’s outlier performance in one of his softest matchups of the season probably will go into the books as his best fantasy outing of the season. He has been a rotational runner and backup guy during his four seasons with the Patriots. The injury-prone Burkhead has never challenged for the lead dog role. James White (personal), who has been New England’s top pass-catching tailback for many years, didn’t suit up. When he returns, White will resume his regular role.

Burkhead wasn’t the only Patriots ball carrier to perform well in the Raiders game, Sony Michel, the lead early-down runner amassed a 9-117-0 rushing line, and J.J. Taylor compiled an 11-43-0 rushing line and didn’t catch his only target. New England loves its hot-handed committee backfield that utilizes players in matchup-centric roles. By the way, Damien Harris (hand) is due back possibly this week. If you want to crown Burkhead as the new king of the Patriots backfield because he scored three times and bid all your blind-bidding cash to acquire him, you’re making a big mistake. He’s depth option at best in deep leagues. If you’re new to fantasy football, the New England backfield has been an unpredictable fantasy dumpster fire for a long time.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.