Thursday Night Football wasn’t a total dud, but those of you who trusted Gardner Minshew definitely woke up with a bad taste in your month. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you. He’d been so good the first two games, how could he not light up the Dolphins? Sigh …
Of course, if Fantasy football were predictable, it wouldn’t be any fun, would it. And things are certainly unpredictable right now. We head into the rest of Week 3 still waiting for status updates on the likes of Julio Jones, Davante Adams, and pretty much the entire Rams backfield, among many others, and we’re still reeling from all of Week 2’s injuries and their inevitable fallout.
In today’s newsletter, I’ve got a breakdown of everything you need to know about from Thursday’s game, and it wasn’t all bad news for the Jaguars! Then, I’m going through every game left on the schedule, rounding up all the latest injury updates, helping with the toughest lineup decisions, and telling you what I’m looking for from each.
And, of course, here’s your Week 3 prep guide to take into the weekend with you. I’ll be back in your inbox Sunday morning with injury updates and your start/sit questions in another mailbag. Send your lineup questions to Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive with the subject line “#AskFFT” for help.
Week 3 prep guide:
TNF Recap: Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13
- The big takeaway: James Robinson is legit. It’s hard to imagine a worse circumstance for a running back than a game where your team goes down double digits in the first quarter and is never within a one-score margin from the six minute mark of the second quarter on. And yet, there was Robinson, dropping 30.9 PPR points Thursday night. He got six targets, catching them all for 83 yards — I told you to take the over on 13.5 receiving yards yesterday — and rushed for a pair of touchdowns among his 46 yards on 11 carries. Sure, he won’t rush for two touchdowns or catch six balls every week, but Robinson has a locked in, high-volume role that seems pretty much game-flow proof. Through his first three games, Robinson has 210 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 10 catches for 129 yards. Can he keep up an RB1 pace all season? You’d have to bet against it in this offense, but I wouldn’t put down a big bet on it at this point.
The FFT crew breaks down the TNF game and key Week 3 lineup decisions on the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Follow all of our podcasts and subscribe here.
- Long Live Zero-RB: Robinson was at least on Fantasy radars when Leonard Fournette was released; Myles Gaskin was barely rostered in 10% of leagues even after he was the Dolphins No. 1 back in Week 1. He got 22 carries in Thursday’s win, as Matt Breida and Jordan Howard once again played almost no role in the game plan — Howard did vulture another touchdown. Gaskin has 38 carries and 16 targets through three games, a pretty healthy role. He’s looking like another brilliant waiver-wire claim. And we never saw it coming — there was no sign that Gaskin was in line for the lead role in Dolphins camp. Just a product of this weird, preseason-less season.
- Minshew Meh-nia: So, that was a dud, huh? Gardner Minshew was riding high as a top-five Fantasy QB coming into the game, and the Dolphins defense looked like it wouldn’t put up much of a fight. However, Minshew just didn’t have faith in any of his receivers to make plays down the field with D.J. Chark sidelined by an injury, and ended up with a thoroughly disappointing day. Laviska Shenault was used almost exclusively in the short-range game, and the Jaguars swapped in too many guys who just can’t make plays. If you have Chark on your team, you should at least feel heartened that he’s likely going to be the No. 1 receiver moving forward, and hopefully they start to lean on Shenault as more than just a gimmick. What a waste this game was.
- Dolphins passing game note: Preston Williams got all the hype in the preseason, and Mike Gesicki got all the hype coming into Week 3, but DeVante Parker is still the best option in this passing game. He hasn’t put up huge numbers yet, but he’s close. Parker missed half of Week 1 but was productive when he played, and got into the end zone against the Bills, and had five catches on five targets for 69 yards in a game where the Dolphins only threw it 20 times. If you get a chance to buy low on Parker, take it, because he could be a top 15 wide receiver moving forward. And the opportunity for the breakout comes in Week 4 against the Seahawks.
Week 3 Game Previews
Bears at Falcons — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Falcons -3; o/u 47.5
- Implied totals: Bears 22.25-Falcons 25.25
Maybe the Falcons might finally face an offense that won’t roll over them. The Bears are 2-0, but it isn’t because Mitchell Trubisky has taken a big step forward, so this is one I think the Falcons can pull out fairly easily. Anthony Miller’s subpar play to date doesn’t hurt their chances.
- Toughest lineup decision: Russell Gage — Start. You could argue that this is one game where the Falcons may not need to involve their third wide receiver as much, but with Julio Jones nursing a hamstring injury, if he plays a decoy role, Gage could continue to find success.
- What we’re watching for: I want to see how the Falcons use their running backs in a more normal game environment. Todd Gurley has gotten plenty of carries, but has just five targets through two games — Brian Hill and Ito Smith have combined for seven. Gurley is still running more routes than the backups, so that’s good news.
- Injuries: Julio Jones (Hamstring — Didn’t practice Wednesday, but could still play.
Rams at Bills — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Bills -2.5; o/u 47
- Implied totals: Rams 22.25-Bills 24.75
This is a fascinating matchup between two teams that have switched up their offense approaches so far. The Bills are the pass-heavy offense coming into this one, attempting passes on 57.9% of their plays; the Rams have thrown it just 41.7% of the time. I could see this one being a slow, grind it out game that goes under.
- Toughest lineup decision: Rams RB — Just gonna have to wait. If Malcolm Brown (finger) and Cam Akers (ribs) sit out or are limited, Darrell Henderson is a start. If not, it might be tough to trust anyone here. The roles just aren’t clearly defined yet. If I had to start one, it would be Brown.
- What we’re watching for: It’s still this Bills passing game. Josh Allen has been incredible to start the season, with six touchdowns, no picks, and a whopping 9.0 yards per attempt. How much of his improvement is real, and how much was a product of the Dolphins and Jets defenses? Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey should be a good test of that.
- Injuries: Malcolm Brown (finger) and Cam Akers (ribs) — Did not practice Wednesday, but both have a chance to play. … Zack Moss (toe) — Missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, and seems like a legitimate question mark for Week 3. Could be a big game for Devin Singletary, who has mostly split work evenly with Moss so far.
Washington at Browns — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Browns -7; o/u 45
- Implied totals: Washington 19-Browns 26
Washington was more competitive in Week 1 than expected, but Week 2 looked more like we thought it would. The Browns don’t have Arizona’s offense, obviously, but their ability to run the ball and control the clock could make for few chances for Washington, especially if they can’t play mistake-free football.
- Toughest lineup decision: Antonio Gibson — Start. He’s not a must-start, by any means, but I’ll put it this way — I would start Mike Davis over him, but I’m taking Gibson over any of the Giants’ options.
- What we’re watching for: I want to see whether Gibson starts to see a bigger role in the passing game. Peyton Barber was put on the sidelines, hopefully for good, in Week 2, and Gibson played 65% of the snaps, but had just two targets. The converted wide receiver looks good running the ball, but the passing game usage has been disappointing.
- Injuries: Steven Sims (toe) — Upgraded to limited practice Thursday, so trending in the right direction.
Titans at Vikings — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Vikings +2.5; o/u 49
- Implied totals: Vikings 23.25-Titans 25.75
Here’s a quote from Gary Kubiak: “We’re just not running it enough.” The Vikings have thrown the second-fewest passes in the NFL to date, and even accounting for their low overall play volume, they’ve thrown fewer passes than the average NFL team so far. And that’s with allowing the second-most points in the NFL. Expect a lot of Dalvin Cook in this one.
- Toughest lineup decision: Corey Davis — Flex. It seems like my FFT colleagues are more optimistic about Davis than I am. Yes, Minnesota’s defense has been a mess so far, but Davis just had three catches for 36 yards in a game A.J. Brown missed, so I’m not sure we should be viewing him as a reliable starter.
- What we’re watching for: It’ll be that Vikings pass/run split. They’ve only thrown the ball 51 times in the first two weeks, and it doesn’t sound like they’re eager to do much more of it than that. Adam Thielen will dominate targets, and that should include a few deep shots, but if he struggles again in this one, it might be time to start worrying.
- Injuries: A.J. Brown (Knee) — Still looks unlikely for Week 3. … Jonnu Smith (ankle) — This was a new addition to the injury report as he missed Wednesday’s practice, but he was a full participant Thursday and seems fine.
Raiders at Patriots — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Patriots -6; o/u 47.5
- Implied totals: Raiders 20.75-Patriots 26.75
We might see 70 rush attempts between these two teams. That makes it sort of tough to envision a high-scoring affair here. I would take the under.
- Toughest lineup decision: At this point, there isn’t really a tough decision between either of these two teams. You’re starting Cam Newton and Julian Edelman, and you’re starting Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Beyond that, N’Keal Harry is in the discussion, but you probably have better options given that we’re still waiting for Harry to break out.
- What we’re watching for: We’ll keep waiting on that Harry outbreak, though. He’s earned a sizable target share so far this season, but he’s looked sort of sluggish. I’d like to see him break a couple of longer plays.
- Injuries: Darren Waller (Knee) and Josh Jacobs (hip) — Did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday. Waller said he would play, and it’s possible the Raiders are just playing it safe with both on a short week. But it’s hard not to be nervous, so hopefully we get a positive update on both Friday.
49ers at Giants — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Giants +4; o/u 41.5 (lowest on the schedule)
- Implied totals: Giants 18.75-49ers 22.75
WOOF. The Giants have looked pretty miserable on offense, and now they’re missing Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. On the other hand, the 49ers are missing multiple defensive starters and their starting quarterback. And their starting running back. And they’re still favored. This one could be ugly.
- Toughest lineup decision: I think you should probably just avoid the Giants backfield entirely. Maybe Devonta Freeman gets up to speed quickly enough to play a significant role, but that’s pretty unlikely. He may be a useful contributor eventually, but you’ll want him to show it first — and you won’t want to trust Dion Lewis unless Freeman is out.
- What we’re watching for: How much does Jerick McKinnon play? The assumption is he’ll take on a larger role with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman out, but he just hasn’t played very much even while looking pretty good. If they’re still limiting his work, McKinnon could be a disappointment against a good matchup.
- Injuries: Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) — Unlikely to play. Nick Mullens will probably start. … George Kittle (knee) — Moving in the right direction, but still uncertain.
Bengals at Eagles — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Eagles-5; o/u 46.5
- Implied totals: Bengals 20.75-25.75
The Eagles line played better in Week 2, but Carson Wentz didn’t. Given that the Bengals just got run over by the Browns, I would think we might see a heavy dose of Miles Sanders in this one — and plenty of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert with Jalen Reagor out and the Eagles wide receivers once again struggling to step up.
- Toughest lineup decision: A.J. Green — Start. With 22 targets through two games, it’s awfully tough to justify sitting Green, but his 80 yards on those 22 targets make it awfully tough to trust him. After missing most of training camp coming off a lost season and playing in a new offense with a new quarterback, you can give Green a mulligan. But if he struggles again this week, it might be time to reconsider his spot on your roster. They can’t keep targeting him this much if he isn’t performing.
- What we’re watching for: The Bengals offense remains fascinating. It had massive play volume in the first two games and Burrow has mostly acquitted himself well, so there could be a big breakout coming. One thing I’d like to see: More of that first half passing down’s work Joe Mixon got last week.
- Injuries: Alshon Jeffery (foot) — He’s not going to play this week, but if Jeffery is out there on your wire, he might be worth stashing.
Texans at Steelers — 1:00 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Steelers -4; o/u 45
- Implied totals: Texans 20.5-Steelers 24.5
Deshaun Watson is going to face an easy matchup eventually, but not in Week 3. In the past, you wouldn’t have worried about a tough matchup, but Watson is struggling without DeAndre Hopkins — and Will Fuller’s weird usage in Week 2 didn’t help. I would probably still start Watson, but that’s mostly because the two best streamers of this week just played Thursday night.
- Toughest lineup decision: Will Fuller — Sit. I wish I could start Fuller, or I wish I could tell you to sit him and feel confident in it. He played just 64% of the snaps and didn’t have a target in Week 2, one week after putting together an eight-catch, 112-yard showing against the Chiefs in the opener. He’s not on the injury report for Week 3, despite concerns he had a hamstring injury in Week 2, so … I have no idea. That means I have to stay away.
- What we’re watching for: Ben Roethlisberger has really zeroed in on Diontae Johnson, who has 23 targets to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 14 — nobody else on the team has more than eight. Those targets have really come in bunches — he had three in four plays in one fourth-quarter stretch in Week 2, three in five during another in the third, and three more in six during the second quarter. It’s like every third drive, Roethlsiberger gets laser-focused on Johnson. You can’t argue with the result, but I wonder how sustainable it is.
- Injuries: JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) — Smith-Schuster has been dealing with a nagging injury, but played 91% of the snaps in Week 2. It’s alarming that he missed two straight days, but all indications are Smith-Schuster is going to be out there this week.
Jets at Colts — 4:05 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Colts -11; o/u 44
- Implied totals: Jets 16.5-Colts 27.5
You can’t set the line high enough for me to pick the Jets. They’re one of the worst teams in the NFL when healthy, and nobody is healthy. This is going to be another Jonathan Taylor game for the Colts.
- Toughest lineup decision: T.Y. Hilton — Start. Hilton hasn’t been himself yet. He’s dropped several passes, including a sure thing touchdown last week. You’d feel a lot better about him if he brought that one in. Hilton got a pep talk from his Grandma and promised better moving forward. You wouldn’t bet against Grandma, would you?
- What we’re watching for: Not the Jets offense, that’s for sure. The Colts figure to rely heavily on Taylor when they can get ahead and control the clock, and they should be able to do that. It would be nice to see Nyheim Hines get more involved after Taylor’s big first start, though I wouldn’t drop him if it doesn’t happen. Future matches will require more mixing and matching.
- Injuries: Jamison Crowder (hamstring) — Unlikely to play. … Breshad Perriman (ankle) — Also unlikely to play. … Chris Hogan (ribs) — Seems like he could play, and with rookie Denzel Mims on IR, Hogan is the No. 1 wide receiver for your New York Jets. Yikes.
Panthers at Chargers — 4:05 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Chargers -6.5; o/u 43.5
- Implied totals: Panthers 18.5-Chargers 25
The implied total for the Panthers seems low, though against another tough defense it wouldn’t surprise me if they struggled. I just don’t think it will be because they’re missing Christian McCaffrey — as good as he is, this offense still has enough talent to move the ball.
- Toughest lineup decision: Mike Davis — Start. He’s not McCaffrey, or anything close, obviously, but he’s not a total scrub, either. Davis caught all seven targets thrown his way for 70 yards after McCaffrey left the game, and I would expect he’s going to get plenty of touches in both facets of the game. I think he has top-15 upside as long as McCaffrey is out.
- What we’re watching for: How did we get this far without mentioning that Justin Herbert is starting again. He wasn’t perfect in his first start, but he was pretty impressive for someone who didn’t know he was starting until seconds before kickoff. Herbert was good news for Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, both of whom you should start this week, and for Keenan Allen. What I want to see this week is Herbert taking more shots to Mike Williams down the field. If Herbert can be even an average QB who takes some risks and throws it 35 times per game, this offense has huge potential for Fantasy.
- Injuries: N/A
Lions at Cardinals — 4:25 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Cardinals -5.5; o/5 55
- Implied totals: Lions 24.75-Cardinals 30.25
The Cardinals look a lot better this season, but it doesn’t look like we expected it to. They’ve been an inefficient passing team being carried by the running game and defense. Matthew Stafford should be a tougher test for at least one of those phases, and he could keep the game closer than this if Kyler Murray doesn’t start making more plays with his arm, especially down the field; Murray ranks just 23rd in intended air yards per attempt, and just 27th in air yards per completion. It’s been a lot of short, quick stuff.
- Toughest lineup decision: Lions RBs — Start D’Andre Swift. Swift has been a non-factor in the running game, but he has five targets in each game and could be due for a big performance any day now. He’s already locked in the most valuable role in this offense for Fantasy, and if he can get to, say 8-10 rushes per game, he’ll be a solid starter. If I have to start someone here, it’s him.
- What we’re watching for: I want to see Matthew Stafford start to take some shots down the field with Kenny Golladay back. He’s fallen from a league-high 10.6 intended air yards per attempts to 12th with 8.3. The emergence of more pass catching running backs in the offense could also be playing a role, but we can’t tell how much of that change is for real until he has his top weapon back. That increased downfield usage played a big part in Stafford’s big half-season before the injury.
- Injuries: Christian Kirk (groin) — Has not practiced yet, and this could explain the slow start. It makes me more likely to stash him, but with so many injuries around the league, you might not have that luxury. … Kenny Golladay (hamstring) — He’s been limited in practice, but he’s fully expected back this week. And you’re starting him.
Buccaneers at Broncos — 4:25 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Broncos +6; o/u 43.5
- Implied totals: Broncos 18.75-Buccaneers 24.75
All of the hype in the offseason for the Buccaneers was about that start-studded offense, but it’s the defense that has been the strength of the team. With Jeff Driskel in at QB for the Broncos, that doesn’t bode well for the Broncos.
- Toughest lineup decision: Melvin Gordon — Start. It isn’t an ideal situation at all for Gordon, but neither was last week’s against the Steelers. Driskel’s mobility should make it tougher for the defense to key on Gordon in the running game, and volume alone should make Gordon a viable start.
- What we’re watching for: Three weeks, three situations where we’re just watching the Buccaneers running game. Last week, it felt like there was too much confidence that this was Ronald Jones‘ backfield to lead; now, it feels like there’s too much confidence that Leonard Fournette is the guy. But Jones wasn’t just benched immediately after the fumble — he played 11 snaps to Fournette’s 14 in the second and third quarters, and it wasn’t until the final two drives that Fournette really took over. If Jones gets off to a good start this week, he could very well be the top back again.
- Injuries: Drew Lock (shoulder) — Out at least the next two weeks. … Jerry Jeudy (ribs) — Limited at practice, but should play. Scotty Miller (hip/groin) — Limited practice, but should play. … Phillip Lindsay (foot) — Likely out at least another week.
Cowboys at Seahawks — 4:25 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Seahawks -5; o/u 56 (highest on the schedule)
- Implied totals: Cowboys 25.5-Seahawks 30.5
Despite the fact that both teams are putting up a ton of points, they’ve gone about it with very different offensive philosophies — the Cowboys are the fastest team in the NFL between snaps, while the Seahawks are dead last. Whether the Seahawks can dictate tempo might determine how many points are put on the board in this one, and going up against the Cowboys receiving corps may inspire them to try to sit on the ball a bit more.
- Toughest lineup decision: Dalton Schultz — Start. There’s just studs all over the place on these two teams, so Schultz is probably the only player you might have to make a decision on. His usage in Week 2 was incredibly encouraging, but consistency will likely be an issue in a Cowboys offense with so many playmakers. I would’ve started Gesicki on Thursday over Schultz, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to view Schultz as a potential top-12 option.
- What we’re watching for: The Seahawks are just 25th in the NFL in pass attempts, but they’ve also run the fourth-fewest plays overall. They’ve thrown on 53.3% of their overall plays, compared to 49.4% last season. If the Cowboys’ fast pace increases their play volume, Russell Wilson is probably going to continue his incredible start to the season.
- Injuries: There are some injuries on defense, but there’s nothing Fantasy players need to worry about.
Packers at Saints — 8:20 p.m. Sunday
- Line: Saints -3; o/u 52.5
- Implied totals: Packers 24.75-Saints 27.75
Even at home, the Saints being favored is a shock. The Packers have scored 40 points in consecutive games, and I don’t see any way this Saints offense is keeping up unless Michael Thomas makes an unexpected return from his ankle injury. I could see the Packers walking away with this one easily.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jared Cook. On the one hand, I thought Cook might see a larger role with Thomas out; on the other hand, it feels like the moment you expect Cook to help you most is the moment he disappoints you most. He’ll do better than his two-catch showing in Week 2, but Cook is in danger of being droppable with another disappointing showing.
- What we’re watching for: Will the Saints try anything different this time around? The Week 2 game plan was a surprising one — I thought we would see Alvin Kamara splitting out wide more, with an increased role for Latavius Murray as a result, and maybe some extra Taysom Hill to frustrate Fantasy players. Instead, Murray had just three carries and Hill touched the ball just two times. Given how bad Drew Brees and the pass catchers in New Orleans looked Monday, I would hope Sean Payton will try out some different things.
- Injuries: Michael Thomas (ankle) — Has not practiced and will likely miss another week at least. … Davante Adams (hamstring — Oh yeah, Davante Adams hasn’t practiced this week. He seems to legitimately be in doubt for Week 3, so make sure you’ve got a contingency plan ready. Allen Lazard or Marquez Valdes-Scantling both make for fine ones.
Chiefs at Ravens
- Line: Ravens -3.5; o/u 53.5
- Implied totals: Chiefs 25-Ravens 28.5
The last time these two teams met, the Ravens fell just short in a comeback effort, losing 33-28, which explains the high over/under. These are two great defenses, but the individual brilliance of the two quarterbacks will probably win out, right?
- Toughest lineup decision: Mecole Hardman — Sit. With Sammy Watkins in the concussion protocol, Hardman becomes an intriguing upside play, and if you’re playing DFS, that’s exactly what he is. But we haven’t seen him used consistently enough, even when Tyreek Hill was out last season, to trust.
- What we’re watching for: That Ravens backfield is probably still the main thing to watch. J.K. Dobbins has league-winning upside he ever gets the chance, and even if he could just manage to push past Gus Edwards, he’d be a viable flex starter at least. But you’ve gotta see it first.
- Injuries: Sammy Watkins (neck/concussion) — He’ll have to clear the concussion protocol to play, so we’ll have advanced notice.