Because nothing can ever be straightforward, last night's waiver run went through without us knowing whether the Browns were going to add another back. We learned Wednesday morning that Kareem Hunt is returning to the team on a one-year deal.
That's a potentially significant move for Jerome Ford's value, but it doesn't necessarily torpedo it. On the one hand, the Browns already moved on from Hunt in the offseason, after an awkward and ineffective 2022 campaign that saw Hunt struggle through a diminished role. The Browns liked Ford enough to let Hunt walk without really making any other additions to the RB room.
On the other hand, Hunt was the only back they could have brought in who might realistically play a role in Week 3 if he's in shape. He knows the offense well after spending three years with Kevin Stefanski, and he might be ready to play a role this weekend -- and that role could grow if he looks better than he did last season, at least. That's a real threat to Ford, though I would still rank him as the lead back moving forward right now.
And then, of course, there's the other question looming over all of this: Is this Browns offense even good enough to get excited about? Deshaun Watson looks as bad as he did a year ago, coming off an offseason where he didn't have any excuses about rust or limited practice opportunities. That he's been this rough so far is a very bad sign for this offense moving forward, and it might be that Ford is the lead back in a bad offense that isn't even worth chasing.
Ford will definitely be one of the tougher Start/Sit calls for Week 3, and we'll have all of that for you tomorrow in my Week 3 preview. For now, let's get to Heath Cummings' position previews for this week, with everything you need to know for QB, RB, WR, and TE, plus I've got an #AskFFT mailbag at the bottom of today's newsletter with some extended thoughts on Puka Nacua, Derrick Henry, and more:
🔍Week 3 Position Previews
Every Tuesday, Heath Cummings previews each position, providing injury insights, key stats to know, the best waiver-wire adds, DFS targets, and more for, , , and . Here's a brief rundown of each position, along with some key details you need to know before you go read Heath's full breakdowns:
"The first thing to note about Cousins' current placement is that nothing he's done thus far is that outlandish. Sure, his completion percentage and touchdown rate will likely regress a little, but neither is all that far from his previous career high. His yards per attempt is well within the range of his career norms. The numbers are awesome, for sure, but he's a good NFL quarterback playing under an innovative offensive mind with Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison making plays. Awesome should be the expectation."
- Injuries: Joe Burrow (calf), Lamar Jackson (hand), Anthony Richardson (concussion) and Kyler Murray (knee)
- Number to know: 25% -- 25% of Jordan Love's passes have been bad throws, per Pro Football Reference. The six touchdowns don't tell the whole story.
- Matchup that matters: Daniel Jones @SF (8th vs. QB)
- Waiver add/streamer: Kenny Pickett, Steelers: "Once again there is not a quarterback in my top 15 this week who is also available in even a third of leagues; we'll probably have to wait for the byes for that. I do think we get to see a little more of preseason Kenny Pickett in Week 3 against a Raiders defense that is once again getting gashed by QBs. Las Vegas ranks dead last in both QB knockdown percentage (1.4%) and pressure percentage (10.5%). This is a much better matchup than the 49ers or Browns."
- Stash: Matthew Stafford, Rams: "The way Puka Nacua is rolling, the return of Cooper Kupp could turn Matthew Stafford into a borderline top-12 QB. For now, he's not quite as good a streaming option as he appears because volume has inflated his production. The efficiency hasn't been much better than last year, so regression could come any week. I'd feel better about him once Kupp is back."
"One of the topics of the offseason was how wide receivers were taking over the first two rounds of Fantasy drafts. If you bucked that trend, there's a pretty good chance you're not feeling great about it. Three of the top five running backs by CBS ADP are currently hurt Austin Ekeler, Saquon Barkley, and Nick Chubb. So is RB10 (Aaron Jones) and RB19 (J.K. Dobbins). And it's not just injuries.
"We have also had some major letdowns from high volume backs like Josh Jacobs, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Miles Sanders. Jahmyr Gibbs still isn't playing enough, though David Montgomery's injury may change that, and Jonathan Taylor hasn't played at all. Najee Harris and Dameon Pierce aren't the workhorses they were drafted to be, and Alexander Mattison is just as bad."
- Injuries: Nick Chubb (knee), Saquon Barkley (ankle), David Montgomery (thigh), Jamaal Williams (hamstring), Jonathan Taylor (ankle), Austin Ekeler (ankle), Aaron Jones (hamstring), Kenneth Gainwell (ribs), Jeff Wilson (abdomen), Kendre Miller (hamstring), Evan Hull (knee), Salvon Ahmed (groin) and Chase Edmonds (knee)
- Number to know: 0 -- Deon Jackson did not record a touch in Week 2. The backfield belongs to Zack Moss, for now.
- Matchup that matters: Isiah Pacheco vs. CHI (27th vs. RB)
- Waiver add: Jerome Ford, Browns: "We expect Ford to be the lead back in Cleveland even if they bring someone in. The team chose him over Kareem Hunt in the offseason and his 131-yard game in Week 2 didn't change that opinion. View Ford as an RB2 rest of season, and depending on how bad your running back room is, that could be worth a lot of FAB."
- Stash: Matt Breida, Giants: "You should add Breida, Gary Brightwell, and even Eric Gray in deeper leagues. But you cannot start any of them in Week 3 against the 49ers. The matchups get better after this week. If one of these backs emerges as a true lead back in Barkley's offense, they could be an RB2 by Week 4."
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Know What Your Friends Don't
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
"One thing you have to be really careful with after two weeks is noticing the number of plays teams have run. Over the course of a season we would expect the vast majority of teams to average between 58-68 plays per game. In 2022, 30 of 32 teams were within this range. Through two weeks of 2023, just 16 teams are. The Rams, Browns, and Texans have all run more than 75 plays per game. The Jets and Raiders are below 50.
"The reason this matters is because opportunity is king in this game and if you have a couple of low volume games for the team, then even a great target earner could be penalized. Through two weeks, a 20% target share on the Rams or Texans is more valuable than a 30% target share on the Raiders or Jets. While it may be true that the Rams and Texans are both going to play at a faster pace and throw the ball at a higher rate, the gap will not remain near as large as it has been."
- Injuries: Cooper Kupp (hamstring), Christian Watson (hamstring), Diontae Johnson (hamstring), Jaylen Waddle (concussion), Jakobi Meyers (concussion), Brandin Cooks (knee), Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle), Zay Jones (knee), Darnell Mooney (knee) and Wan'Dale Robinson (knee)
- Number to know: 19 -- Kadarius Toney still only ran 19 routes last week. It's impossible to trust him in your lineup, but it's also hard to drop him with how often Patrick Mahomes looks his way.
- Matchup that matters: Mike Williams @MIN (17th vs. WR)
- Waiver add: Josh Reynolds, Lions: "Reynolds has seen a 20% target share the first two weeks and a 30% air yards share thanks to his downfield targets. He has the trust of Jared Goff and should remain No. 2 behind only Amon-Ra St. Brown until at least Week 7. I wouldn't be surprised if it's even longer than that."
- Stash: Quentin Johnston, Chargers: "Johnston has done nothing to convince Fantasy managers to hold him through two weeks. But he's still a Round 1 wide receiver attached to Justin Herbert in one of the best offenses in the league. I expect a few more people to drop him this week, and I'll be trying to add and stash."
"Last week I told you that you should be patient for at least one more week with your struggling starter. I'm going to be honest, Dallas Goedert, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, David Njoku, and company didn't make it easy to keep saying that. Through two weeks, none of them are top 25 tight ends per game. And that's not because the bar has been raised at the position.
"There are currently only eight tight ends averaging double-digit Fantasy points and only 13 who are averaging even eight per game. So while your starter may be annoying you, I'm not sure anyone else has given you a good reason to trust them. Of the eight, Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, Evan Engram, and Darren Waller were drafted to be starters. That leaves Hunter Henry, Sam LaPorta, and Hayden Hurst. Henry does top the waiver list below, but he's the only one of these guys I'm ready to start over Goedert, Kittle, or Pitts."
- Injuries: Greg Dulcich (hamstring) and Logan Thomas (concussion)
- Number to know: 30.5% -- Zach Ertz has a 30.5% target share for the season, leading all tight ends. Cole Kmet and Darren Waller are the only two other tight ends to be targeted on more than a fifth of their team's pass attempts.
- Matchup that matters: Cole Kmet @KC (22nd vs. TE)
- Streamer: Hunter Henry, Patriots: "Henry is tied for second on the Patriots with a 13.5% target share and faces a Jets defense that funnels targets away from wide receivers. There's a very real chance Henry leads New England in targets in Week 3, and he's certainly the top option if they get to the red zone. Henry may just be a starter rest of season."
Want to get your questions answered? Email me at Chris.Towers@Paramount.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" and I'll either include them in a future edition of the Newsletter or try to get back to you personally. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Here are this week's questions:
Greg: With the Kupp "news" that he may be back in week 5, are you trading him away/trying to buy low? And what are we doing with Puka other than starting him? If you are trading Kupp, who would you look to get back in that scenario?
Alright, so there are a few questions here. First of all, there's the "What should we do with Cooper Kupp?" question, and I think that's an easy one: I'm trying to buy low if I can. You're looking for difference makers, and you just have to look at what Nacua is doing to know that this offense can still support Kupp as a difference maker. Matthew Stafford still looks great and Sean McVay still looks like he has a real edge on most of the playcallers out there, so if Kupp can get right, I still think he has arguably as much upside as any player in Fantasy. There's risk in trying to acquire him, of course, seeing as he's already suffered a setback with this injury. But in looking at Dave's Trade Values Chart, I'd do Garrett Wilson for Kupp if I could manage it; I'd also be willing to trade someone like Joe Mixon for him, too.
If I'm the one trading Kupp, I'm aiming higher, of course. I like the idea of trying to move Kupp for Breece Hall or Jonathan Taylor, who have similar upside and timetables to an impact, if you need an RB more than a WR; if I'm moving him for another wide receiver, I think moving him for Keenan Allen makes sense, because I love the upside Allen has shown in this Chargers offense. The problem is, he has his own injury and age-related risks, and doesn't have nearly as much upside, so I actually think that's a bit of a risk. The point is, I'm probably not moving Kupp unless I can get a top-12 RB or WR back for him, and preferably someone with top-five upside.
As for what to do with Nacua … yeah, you're starting him. I think you can make a case that trading him before Kupp comes back is a decent idea, but I legitimately think you need a similar return to be willing to move him at this point – a top-12 RB or WR, or Mark Andrews. Nacua is clearly a terrific fit for this Rams offense, and I think there's room for him to sustain something like a 24% target share even when Kupp is healthy; add in a couple of carries and designed touches per week, and he very well could be a top-24 WR alongside Kupp; that's basically the Robert Woods role, and Woods was averaging 15.0 PPR points per game in 2021 before his season-ending injury, even while Kupp was averaging 26.2
Now, of course, 15.0 PPR points per game would represent a significant decline for Nacua, so you might be able to spin that as a "win" for a sell-high argument. But that doesn't account for the boom potential for Nacua if Kupp comes back at less than 100% or doesn't come back at all. Nacua has shown he can be a dominant Fantasy option in this offense, so if I'm moving him, I need someone who can be one of the best in Fantasy back for him. Which means I'm probably not going to find a trade partner for him. I'm fine with that.
Jay: Who do you like more for the rest of the season at TE: Jake Ferguson or Zach Ertz? My starting TE is Dallas Goedert who I am giving a few more weeks to hope he improves.
I don't think you really need to be rostering a second tight end if you have Goedert, who I have full confidence will figure things out. He only has eight targets so far, which is disappointing, but he's been so wildly efficient in this offense – a catch rate of 76.6% and 10.6 yards per target between 2021 and 2022. The Eagles have done a great job of scheming up efficient targets for him, and I think that'll continue here before long. The Eagles passing game has looked just a bit off so far, and while it might be that the loss of Shane Steichen calling plays has a that big of an impact, it's too early to say so. I'd rather be using my bench spots to stash someone with more upside than either Ertz or Ferguson.
That being said, if I was picking from the two of them, I think I'd go with Ertz over Ferguson. Neither has been particularly efficient so far, but Ertz has seven more targets than Ferguson so far, and Ferguson was starting to lose snaps in Week 2 – he ran routes on just 48% of the Cowboys pass plays in Week 2, as they went with a three-man rotation at TE. It wouldn't surprise me if he was irrelevant before long.
I think so. Davis looks like the same boom-or-bust WR3/4 he was last season, so I don't think that's a huge loss; he's a fine player to have around, but I think he's unlikely to be a consistent enough contributor that you'll miss him. Williams might be, thanks to his role in that very impressive Rams offense, coming off a game where he played all but three snaps and had eight high-value touches (receptions plus carries inside the 10-yard line), per the Stealing Signals newsletter. If he remains in anything like that role, Williams might end up a top-12 RB.
But that's an awfully big if for a guy who ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at under 200 pounds. The Rams clearly like him, but I just don't know if he's cut out for a true three-down role for long. I don't know who else the Rams would turn to, given how the Cam Akers situation has seemingly devolved, but there isn't much in Williams' profile that suggests he's likely to remain a must-start Fantasy RB.
Even if he does, he's unlikely to be more valuable than Waddle, who we've seen be a difference maker for Fantasy in this offense, and obviously has even more upside if anything were to happen to Tyreek Hill. Does he have the WR1 upside? Maybe not quite, but I could absolutely see a top-five outcome for Waddle if a few things go right. He's a legit elite talent, and I think you almost always win when you're the person getting one of those.
Hugh: Your thoughts on trading Derrick Henry for WR help.
We haven't seen the explosive plays from Henry yet, but his success rate sits at 50% despite an ugly-on-the-surface 3.6 yards per carry. Maybe he's lost enough of a step that we can't expect those regular 40-plus yard carries, but we did see him produce a 46-yarder in the passing game, so I'm not ready to write that off just yet. Even with Tyjae Spears playing a significant role early on, Henry still has 40 carries and seven targets through the first two games, and he had four Green Zone touches in Week 2, so Spears isn't really encroaching on that part of his role.
Which is to say, I still think Henry is probably a borderline elite Fantasy RB still, and you need to get a return that reflects that if you're going to move him. That means I'd be shooting for the moon for someone like CeeDee Lamb, but I'd be willing to "settle" for a Davante Adams or A.J. Brown, the latter of whom especially looks like a good buy-low candidate right now. But I don't see any reason to value Henry as anything less than a second-round caliber player still, which means you need to get that kind of return back.