Adding the right player to your roster, whether it be before or after waivers clear, can be the difference between winning and losing in fantasy football. Keeping the right players rostered, and not cutting bait with a potential league-winner too early, is equally as important. Difficult decisions will need to be made throughout the season, especially for teams that start slow. This series will highlight players that are too early to give up on, despite conventional wisdom.

Week 3 Recap

     With James White absent, Rex Burkhead turned 11 carries and seven targets into 18.9 fantasy points against the Jets. He’s been the most valuable Patriots running back in 2019 and has entered the weekly RB2 discussion. Continue holding both Burkhead and Damien Harris because of New England’s schedule and Sony Michel‘s struggles. 

     Also continue to hold both Darrell Henderson and Justice Hill, even though nothing about their situations have changed from this time last week. The Rams won’t continue to hold their third round pick back if they continue to struggle with rushing production. Mark Ingram‘s success behind Baltimore’s offensive line is the reason to keep Hill, whose talent and situation will make him a league-winner if anything happens to Ingram. 

     No one will be dropping Burkhead, but feel free to stash any or all of the rookies if they’re dropped in your league and/or you have the bench space to stash them. 


Duke Johnson

     Duke Johnson was supposed to be freed upon being traded to Houston. Instead, he’s averaged 6.8 fantasy points per game over the first three weeks, while ceding opportunities to the inefficient Carlos Hyde. Still, there are reasons to believe that Duke’s time in the fantasy spotlight is coming. He’s seeing more targets, has a better run blocking efficiency rating (per Player Profiler) and is once again among the league leaders with 6.3 yards per touch. He will be the preferred fantasy option in games where the Texans project to face negative game script. As home favorites against Carolina, the breakout may have to wait another week. However, if that game ends up being a shootout, all bets will be off.

Jaylen Samuels

     The offensive turnover in Pittsburgh has contributed to slow starts for both Jaylen Samuels and James Conner. Still, five carries and three targets for Samuels through three weeks is not ideal for fantasy purposes. The run blocking efficiency hasn’t been there for either back, but a favorable rest-of-season schedule is reason to hold onto one of the few handcuffs in the league who would walk into a top-tier opportunity share with a Conner injury. Samuels goose egg in Week 3 doesn’t inspire confidence, but Conner’s inefficiency to this point shouldn’t either. There’s still room for Samuels to work his way into a role that would give him standalone fantasy value.

Deebo Samuel

     Following a 20.4-point fantasy performance in his second career game, Deebo Samuel looked the part of San Francisco’s alpha at the wide receiver position. Those who started him last week expecting him to build on that performance were played by Kyle Shanahan and his tendency to rotate his 49ers wide receivers. It will be especially tempting to drop Deebo while San Francisco is on a bye this week. Keep in mind that the team is 3-0 and has played with generally positive game script for most of the season. Jimmy Garoppolo is only averaging 28 passes per game. Hold Deebo until we see how this passing game output shakes out when the team is forced to play from behind.

Marquise Brown

     Marquise Brown has seen his receiving yardage and fantasy output drop in each of the two games since his blowup Week 1 performance. Only the most desperate of fantasy owners in the shallowest of leagues would consider dropping a player who’s averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game as a rookie in a run-first offense. This is a situation where we need to look past the box score and pay attention to factors like his snap share and routes run increasing by the week. There aren’t many deep threats in the league with the ability that Hollywood has shown through three career NFL games. These players should be treasured, not given up on after a few down weeks.

T.J. Hockenson

     After scoring 25.1 fantasy points in his pro debut, T.J. Hockenson has come crashing back down to earth with 2.8 total points over the last two weeks. Seven targets in the past two games (after nine in Week 1 alone) doesn’t help, though two of last week’s targets came in the red zone. It’s easy to justify dumping a player who hasn’t been productive recently and who is on a bye next week, but dropping him in advance of a potential shootout against the Chiefs is ill-advised. In Detroit’s Week 1 contest against the Cardinals — a game in which Matthew Stafford attempted 45 passes — Hockenson was used primarily as a deep threat. Look for that to be the case again in a favorable matchup this week.

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