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Through the first couple weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the top seven skill position players (FanDuel PPG) are all wide receivers. Each of those seven top wide receivers are on the main slate. To put that into context, here is the breakdown of top PPG performers by position for the five previous seasons:
As you can see, the top skill-position scorers were mostly running backs in each of the last five seasons. It is very early, but that is not remotely the case so far in 2022, which begs the following question…
Is 2022 (A) going to be dominated by elite wide receivers, or (B) a case where the first two weeks were a fluke and running backs will reassert their dominance?
If you believe A, building your Week 3 lineup around these elite wide receivers makes sense because the pricing has not totally caught up to what recent performances suggest. If you believe B, there may never be a week where rostering multiple elite backs was more contrarian.
Quarterback Positional Overview
The top quarterback options this week have an incredible combination of passing and rushing upside. It feels like a week where we should not try to outthink ourselves and galaxy brain our way out of obviously fantastic options like Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen. Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes II, and Lamar Jackson have also proven to have elite upside and make for strong options this week. If you feel the smaller sample size of Tua Tagovailoa in the Mike McDaniel offense is more relevant than his career performance to date, he is absolutely in the mix right alongside the other top quarterbacks.
Top QB Plays
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia ($8,100) Hurts leads all quarterbacks this season in carries, rushing yards, yards after contact, and rushing touchdowns. He has also shown major improvement as a passer. He leads the NFL in yards per attempt and is the top-graded passer through two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus. Hurts is in a great situation to experience continued success. He has the advantage of operating behind a stout offensive line and the Eagles now boast one of the better one-two punches at wide receiver after acquiring DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown in the last two years. Plus, Dallas Goedert is emerging as one of the best tight ends in the league. With Hurts making a leap as a passer, his weekly fantasy upside is massive because no quarterback has been more productive as a runner in recent years.
Josh Allen, Buffalo ($9,000) Going back to last year’s playoffs, Allen has played four straight games in primetime. He has been an unstoppable force and generally looked like the best player on the planet in each of those four games. In blowout wins over the Rams and Titans to start this year and brilliant playoff performances against the Patriots and Chiefs to close out 2021, Allen has scored at least 29.7 fantasy points in four straight. He has a chance to tie Peyton Manning’s NFL record of five straight games with at least four touchdowns.
Headed to Miami with just one goal: squish the fish.— Built in Buffalo (@BuiltInBuffalo_) September 24, 2022
Kam Towle (@BillsmanKam) previews the game as Josh Allen and the Bills go for their eighth straight win against MiamiðŸ‘‡#BillsMafiahttps://t.co/kmGsEL4nhp
The Dolphins just allowed Lamar Jackson to rack up 437 yards of offense (318 passing and 119 rushing) and four touchdowns last week. Allen has the proven upside to put up similar numbers against the same defense this week.
Other QBs to consider:
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami ($7,300) In two games under Mike McDaniel, Tagovailoa has thrown for 739 yards and 7 touchdowns. The sample size is tiny, but we should at least be open to the possibility that this Dolphins offense that features two of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL and a brilliant young coach could be one of the NFL’s best. In a likely shootout against a Bills defense with a banged-up secondary, Tagovailoa is going to be a justifiably popular option in Week 3.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati ($7,500) This week, Burrow gave his version of Aaron Rodgers’ famous R-E-L-A-X press conference. Things are getting to a critical point early for a Bengals team that cannot start 0-3 if they want to return to the playoffs. The good news is that the Jets are an ideal matchup for the Bengals.
Running Back Positional Overview
It is another tough week at running back. There are very few backs on the slate who are virtually guaranteed 20-plus touches, which is a big deviation from recent years. We highlight a pair of those guys below as top plays. As mentioned in the introduction, the top wide receivers are vastly outproducing the top running backs in the early part of the season. If you think this continues, it may make sense to punt the running back position with a pair of $7K or cheaper options so you can roster a trio of elite pass catchers.
Top RB Plays
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati ($8,200)
In terms of projected volume, it is hard to beat Mixon on this slate.
He is averaging 23 carries and 5.0 receptions on 6.5 targets per game through two weeks. While he has yet to find the end zone this season, this is the same player in the same role who scored 16 times in 16 games in 2021. Mixon is due for some positive touchdown regression and is likely to see his abysmal early YPC numbers rebound toward league average. The matchup against the Jets looks ideal. New York is fresh off of allowing 187 total yards and 3 touchdowns to the Browns duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Plus, the Bengals are 6-point favorites, which points towards a potentially favorable game script for Mixon.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay ($7,200)
Sticking with the idea of trying to lock in volume, Fournette’s 45 carries through two weeks stand out. We should feel good about penciling Fournette in for another 20-plus carries this week against the Packers. There is also upside for serious volume as a receiver. The Buccaneers have jumped out to early leads the first two weeks, which has contributed to Fournette seeing just six total targets so far. However, with Aaron Rodgers on the other side and the Buccaneers receiving corps absolutely decimated by injuries and suspension (Mike Evans is out), Fournette might be due for a big game as a pass catcher. He averaged 7.5 targets per game in his final six regular-season games of 2021 (plus 9.0 in the postseason).
Other RBs to consider:
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England ($5,400)
Stevenson saw his share of snaps increase to 62% last week and dominated third-down opportunities. If the Patriots fall behind the Ravens, he could be in line for solid usage at a rock bottom price. The price is the key attraction here in a week where it is hard to find value at running back. As mentioned in the introduction, if you feel that the elite wide receivers are going to keep putting up monster numbers then punting one of the running back spots to allow yourself cap space to load up at wide receiver makes sense.
Antonio Gibson, Washington ($6,700)
If we want to feel good about our chances of getting 20 opportunities from our running back, Gibson looks like the cheapest option. Through two weeks, he is averaging 14.0 carries and 6.0 targets per game. He also saw 15 carries and 7 targets the last time he faced the Eagles.
Dameon Pierce, Houston ($5,800)
The rookie had 16 touches against the Broncos last week and is clearly seeing his usage ramped up after a surprisingly small role in Week 1. Houston is a slight road underdog against the Bears but the game should remain close throughout, so we could finally see Pierce get the opportunity to wear down the opposition with 20-plus carries.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina ($8,500)
He saw his usage creep up in Week 2, and it appears that Carolina is working towards McCaffrey again being a 20-carry guy who also has 10-target upside. We saw McCaffrey get 24 carries and 6 targets in a Carolina win over this Saints defense early last season, and he could see a similar workload again in an early must-win game for the Panthers.
Wide Receiver Positional Overview
As discussed in the introduction, in Week 3, your roster-building strategy is going to be determined by whether you believe we keep seeing these monster receiving games from the elite wide receivers like Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, and Tyreek Hill. If you believe these top guys are regularly going to put up 20-plus points, then it makes sense to cut some corners at other positions to roster three top wideouts. Last week, we suggested rostering St. Brown along with one top wide receiver and one underpriced rookie. We bring up last week because this week looks eerily similar. St. Brown is still underpriced and an elite option. There are again a few elite wide receivers worth targeting. And once again, these super talented rookies are the highest-upside plays amongst the bargain options, with Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Romeo Doubs standing out as the top bargain WR3 plays (or cap-saving flexes).
Top WR Options
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo ($8,300)
What Diggs has been able to do through two games is astonishing. He has already caught 20 passes for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns. While Gabe Davis may suit up on Sunday, his ankle still looks like it could limit him. That should mean a couple more targets for Diggs on top of his already heavy market share. While some will shy away from the matchup against Xavien Howard, Diggs has thrived against the Dolphins. He has 24 catches for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns in four games against Miami (one of which he only played a half due to the blowout). We also saw Diggs dominate his individual matchup against Jalen Ramsey in Week 1. Diggs is right there with Cooper Kupp for the top wide receiver on the slate overall and is priced $1.5K cheaper.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit ($7,800)
We will keep going back to the well with St. Brown. He was our cover player and a top play last week, and we pinpointed the Lions as the breakout offense to target in August. As our sample size of elite performances continues to get larger, we should be more and more convinced that St. Brown is one of the best offensive players in the league. He has averaged 24.3 FanDuel points per game over his last six games with the following fantasy point totals:
To put that 24.3 PPG average into context, Jonathan Taylor averaged 20.8 PPG in his monster 2021 season. Cooper Kupp had 21.6 PPG in his record-setting 2021 season. St. Brown is right up there with those elite guys since he emerged as a star midway through his rookie season, but the relatively limited sample size means we get St. Brown at a $2K discount compared to the other top options.
Jaylen Waddle, Miami ($7,500)
There may not be a tougher small sample size call to make than with the Dolphins wide receivers. Both Waddle and Tyreek Hill are averaging over 25 FanDuel points per game, which is insane for a pair of teammates and unsustainable to some extent. But how unsustainable? This Miami offense is innovative, and the market share of targets is extremely concentrated between Waddle and Hill. Plus, we know both are special with the ball in their hands. One long YAC touchdown from Waddle automatically puts you in a position where you can potentially get a tournament-winning performance from him. All of the above also applies to Hill, but the slight cost savings makes Waddle the slightly better option this week.
We’ll get Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle vs. Bills secondary without Micah Hyde & playing with 2 rookie CBs.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 23, 2022
An @nflnetwork inside look on why more Tua, Hill & Waddle fireworks could be the recipe for Dolphins to pull an upset over an elite Bills team: pic.twitter.com/ChBN1zQfk6
The matchup looks great because we know that the Dolphins will have to be extremely aggressive to keep pace with Josh Allen and the Bills' offense. Buffalo may be without both starting safeties and a starting cornerback, which would make an otherwise imposing defensive unit beatable. We saw Waddle and the Dolphins put up crazy numbers against a similarly banged-up Ravens secondary just last week.
Drake London, Atlanta ($6,300)
Two years ago, Justin Jefferson took the league by storm and averaged 14.4 FanDuel PPG. Last year, JaMarr Chase topped Jefferson and had a historically productive rookie season with 15.5 FanDuel PPG.
Through two weeks, London is averaging 15.2 PPG. Odds are against him maintaining this pace and giving us the third historically great rookie wide receiver season in as many years, but we should at least be open to the possibility that he has a Jefferson/Chase type of rookie season. London is a major talent and recent years have shown the leap from college to the NFL is not as daunting as it once was for top young wideouts.
Other WRs to Consider:
Cooper Kupp, LA Rams ($9,800)
We would be talking even more about Kupp’s hot start (24-236-3) if so many other wide receivers weren’t also putting up big numbers early. Kupp has been on a year-plus hot streak unlike anything we have seen, and he is a fantastic play again in Week 3. Unfortunately, he is priced well above the other top pass catchers, which makes him much harder to fit into lineups.
Chris Olave, New Orleans ($5,500)
Olave has had a somewhat disappointing first two weeks. In part because there was the chance for so much more. He has been open multiple times on poorly thrown deep balls from Jameis Winston and could have had a monster fantasy game (especially last week). Even though Olave has not hit his ceiling, he is still on an early pace for 68 catches and 1,029 receiving yards. He is simply too cheap for the amount of opportunities he is getting combined with his talent level.
Greg Dortch, Arizona ($5,100)
Outside of the top rookies, Dortch looks like the top salary-saving option at the position this week. With Rondale Moore out, Dortch has stepped into a high-volume role in the slot for the Cardinals. He has played 91% and 71% of the snaps in the first two weeks, respectively. While the return of Zach Ertz contributed to Dortch seeing fewer targets in Week 2, he averaged 13.8 yards per target and scored a key touchdown in the come-from-behind win over the Raiders.
Tight End Positional Overview
Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are top options, but the salaries are tougher to fit in this week. There are plenty of strong options in the mid-5K range, led by Dallas Goedert and Kyle Pitts. Lineup construction is much more comfortable if you save some money at tight end.
Top TE Options
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia ($5,500)
Goedert’s solid 82-yard performance Monday night against the Vikings likely was not factored into his price here, giving us a bargain tight end option that has a solid floor and legitimate ceiling. Goedert has run a route on 92% of dropbacks this season, which ranks second amongst all tight ends. He led all tight ends in yards per route run last year and does so again through two weeks of 2022. If the Eagles' offense continues throwing the ball, Goedert is going to be a top option all season.
Yards After The Catch— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) September 22, 2022
(@NFL Players In 2022)
119 . . . Austin Ekeler (LAC)
116 . . . Jaylen Waddle (Mia.)
104 . . . Tyreek Hill (Mia.)
103 . . . Dallas Goedert (@Eagles)
Goedert also ranks 1st among NFL TEs in yards/catch (17.8) and 3rd in receiving yards (142).#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/FRt7yv9FRh
Darren Waller, Las Vegas ($6,400)
Waller’s salary is harder to fit in than the bargain options like Goedert but is much more palatable than the very top tight ends. Waller ranks third in air yards and deep targets at the position this season. He has seen 14 targets through two weeks. With Hunter Renfrow out and the Titans likely focused on limiting Davante Adams, much of the offense could run through Waller in Week 3. Tennessee’s defense has yet to adjust to life without top defensive end Harold Landry, and this could be a get-right spot for Carr and the Raiders' passing offense.
Other TEs to consider:
Mark Andrews, Baltimore ($7,700) Andrews is the best tight end in the NFL. He is capable of receiving lines like we saw in Week 2 (9-104-1) in any given week, so he should always b in our player pool for tournaments. However, this is a tougher week than normal to fit in his salary. Plus, the Patriots typically do a good job limiting the opposition’s top receiving weapon, and Andrews is clearly that for the Ravens.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City ($7,800) Kelce has been an elite option for the last half dozen years and has a nice matchup against a Colts linebacker crew that has been struggling without Shaq Leonard.
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta ($5,600) The early usage and production has been extremely frustrating, and it seems like Drake London may already be Marcus Mariota’s preferred target over Pitts. That being said, it is still very early and Pitts is clearly frustrated. If Mariota wants to hold off Desmond Ridder for the starting job, he needs to get the ball to the guy who is the face of the franchise.
Cincinnati Bengals ($3,600)
The Jets have turned it over five times and given up five sacks through two games. Cincinnati’s defense has been solid to start the year, especially considering how many bad spots the unit has been put in by the struggling offense. If the Bengals can finally get off to a fast start offensively, we would have the type of game script that might lead to a big fantasy day for Cincinnati’s defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars ($3,200)
The Jaguars' defense is fresh off of a shutout of the Colts and may get a big boost if they get to face Chase Daniel instead of Justin Herbert. Jacksonville has already notched five interceptions this season, and the pass rush cranked up with five sacks in Week 2. Above all, the price tag is very attractive given the number of strong pay-up options at wide receiver.
Seattle Seahawks ($3,400)
Without a slam dunk higher-priced option on the slate, it makes sense to take some swings on the bargain defenses. The Seahawks fit the bill playing at home on what could be a windy afternoon against a shaky Atlanta offense.
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