Predicting player performances is possible to an extent. I’ve been right about several evaluations and wrong on others. The same results will likely happen in Week 4. Considering the following advice may be a good start – and when someone like Blake Bortles pops off for four touchdown passes on your bench, think of what the late Robin Williams said to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting: “It’s Not Your Fault.”
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans (at Miami in London)
Not overly fast, quick, or shifty, Ingram often provides weekly production as a borderline RB2 or flex. Hopefully you never bought into the offseason Adrian Peterson hype and his current 3.3-yard average on 23 carries. Signing Peterson was odd for many reasons such as he’s 32 years old, rarely catches balls out of the backfield yet went to a pass-first offense and Ingram rushed for 1,043 yards (5.1 average) and six touchdowns last year, including four more scores on 46 receptions for 319 yards. Miami has played two games this season, holding the Los Angeles Chargers to 44 rushing yards and the New York Jets gained 102 yards. The Dolphins haven’t faced an offense like the Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees often plays better at home compared to on the road. That shouldn’t matter at a neutral site. The last time Brees faced Miami was in 2013. He passed for 416 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Ingram missed that game. In 2016, Miami allowed the third-most rushing yards (2,247) for a 140.4 average and 0.75 touchdowns per game. Ingram will now play across the pond and should be the benefactor of a promising offensive performance, whether that be via dump off passes or on the ground against an average Miami defensive line that doesn’t have a game changer other than Ndamukong Suh.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh (at Baltimore)
Consider this a friendly reminder to not get cute and bench a superstar because he started off slow. He rushed for 61 yards on 15 carries (4.1 average) with one touchdown and caught six receptions for 37 yards at Chicago. Missing the offseason is likely a reason the first two weeks were forgettable. Bell torched Baltimore at home in Week 16 last year, rushing for 122 yards on 20 carries (6.1 average) and one touchdown and three receptions for 15 yards and another score. I get the frustration, having Bell in two dynasty leagues myself. Patience is a virtue. Do you know what 4.83 means? That’s his yards per carry average over the past three seasons, including 4.9 yards in 2016 and 2015. He also had 75 receptions for 616 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games last year and 83 receptions for 854 yards and three touchdowns over 16 games in 2014. When Bell is healthy or not suspended he’s one of the greatest players. To play devil’s advocate, let’s pretend he struggles at Baltimore this weekend. That would be a bummer but his next four opponents before Pittsburgh’s Week 9 bye are versus Jacksonville, at Kansas City, versus Cincinnati and at Detroit. Bell’s dominance will return. There may not be a more trustworthy running back for the remainder of the season.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (at Dallas)
Gurley has made many people in the fantasy industry look silly over three weeks. Advising to start him seems obvious after he destroyed San Francisco for 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 36 receiving yards and one touchdown Thursday night. Dallas has a bad rushing defense despite what the overall stats say. The Cowboys shut down the New York Giants in Week 1 and Arizona in Week 3, but were exposed in Week 2 as Denver RB C.J. Anderson gained 118 yards and one touchdown at home. The Rams’ offense can finally score points thanks to head coach Sean McVay’s innovation and should do so against Dallas. Be careful, though. The schedule implies Gurley will be a RB1 two weeks in a row but he’s primed for regression. Gurley is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, which includes 88 yards on 16 carries (5.0 average) in Week 2 versus Washington. The main problem is touchdown dependency. He has four rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in three games and is on pace to score 78 touchdowns through Week 16. That’s impossible. If Gurley goes off against the Cowboys, sell high and try to trade him because his future production looks miserable. After Dallas, his next favorable matchup isn’t until Week 12 versus New Orleans. He faces tough rushing defenses through Week 15 against Arizona (twice), Seattle (twice), Jacksonville, Houston, Minnesota, and the New York Giants.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay (vs. Chicago)
Randall Cobb (chest) missed the game and Jordy Nelson (quadriceps) played at less than full strength yet caught six receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns as Green Bay defeated Cincinnati in overtime on Sunday. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around. Adams wasn’t a huge factor but could thrive versus Chicago as a flex start. The 24-year-old fourth-year receiver is becoming one of Rodgers’ favorite targets. Adams had eight receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown at Atlanta in Week 2 and three receptions for 60 yards at Cincinnati. For the season, he’s averaging 4.7 receptions for 68.7 yards per game. Hosting Chicago on a short week will make those numbers increase. The Bears have the 13th-worst passing defense, averaging 238 yards and one touchdown per game. Chicago has faced quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, and Ben Roethlisberger. As good as those signal-callers are Rodgers is arguably the NFL’s best QB. With Cobb possibly limited or sidelined Thursday, Adams is the No. 2 option on the most efficient passing offense.
Other players to like:
Jay Cutler, QB, Miami (vs. New Orleans in London)
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo (at Atlanta)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina (at New England)
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco (at Arizona)
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets (vs. Jacksonville)
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle (vs. Indianapolis)