This weekend was difficult. And no, the end result of my fantasy matchups had little to do with it. However, those weren’t great either.
We, as a fantasy football community, lost one of its most prominent pillars on Friday night. Mike Tagliere, a writer with FantasyPros and a beloved figure in this space, had been fighting for roughly a month after contracting COVID. His wife, Tabbie, has been offering updates via Twitter for all of us to send prayers and positive vibes to the man many knew as “Tags.”
If you can offer anything to help the Tagliere family, it would be appreciated.
I didn’t know Tags, but I was very familiar with his work. The Primer was a behemoth of a weekly in-season article but chock-full of information that made fantasy players better. He was an inspiration to many of us for his work ethic. But more importantly, people talked about how incredibly kind and encouraging he was.
This space can be contentious at times. We’re all seemingly jockeying for position, trying to one-up each other and show companies we’re the best and that we should have the next big break. And one thing that tends to get lost in the fray is kindness. It’s not hard to be a good person and to root for others around you to succeed. It’s also not hard to encourage and support those around you that are chasing similar goals.
Many were heartbroken to hear about the passing of Tags, I among them. What I would love to see is his legacy live on through us. Let’s all be kind and encouraging to one another. Let’s all rally around what Tags stood for and be the best versions of ourselves. I know he’d be proud of us for it.
I wish I had a chance to get to know you, Tags. The path you paved is one I strive to embody. My best to your friends and family, and I hope we’re able to make you proud going forward.
A quick reminder of what Play and Fade mean: Play simply means players that I love based on matchups and my expectation that they’ll finish with more points than projected. Fade indicates players that I think will underperform their projections/consensus weekly rankings. It doesn’t mean I’m outright benching them, but I’m likely not rushing to put them in any DFS lineups either. Onto Week 4.
QB Taylor Heinicke (WAS) @ ATL – You know who is really fun to watch play football? Taylor Heinicke. He’s a kid living a dream. Do you know what defense is fun to play if you’re a quarterback? The Atlanta Falcons. They allow the 5th most fantasy points to QBs, and Heinicke has at least two touchdowns in both of his starts on the season. He also has 44 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on the season, enhancing his floor. You can do worse among streamers this week.
Other QBs with good matchups: Jalen Hurts (PHI) vs. KC and Jared Goff (DET) @ CHI
RB David Montgomery (CHI) vs. DET – I’m convinced the Ravens were exhausted and played down to their competition last week because the Lions’ run defense isn’t usually good enough to hold Lamar Jackson and the Ravens rushing attack to 116 yards. Last year, they allowed the most fantasy points to RBs, and they have allowed the 9th most through three weeks this year. After watching that shoddy game plan Matt Nagy put together against Cleveland on Sunday, one has to think David Montgomery will be heavily leaned on to take pressure off whichever QB ends up starting for the Bears on Sunday. Monty should easily have 100+ total yards and a TD.
RB Zack Moss (BUF) vs. HOU – You know who’s been a top-10 RB over the last two weeks? Yeah, Zack Moss. The same Zack Moss who was a healthy scratch in Week 1. The Bills have found a running game, and it starts with Moss, who has three touchdowns over his last two games. Houston has allowed three touchdowns (one receiving) and the 10th most fantasy points to RBs on this young season. Why does the receiving touchdown matter? Moss and running mate Devin Singletary have seen the same number of targets the last two weeks (5), but Moss has more catches (5 to 3) — and a receiving touchdown. Moss is a worthy RB2 on the week.
Other RBs with good matchups: Miles Sanders (PHI) vs. KC, Melvin Gordon (DEN) vs. BAL, and Trey Sermon (SF) vs. SEA
WR Allen Robinson (CHI) vs. DET – I am a positive person. I want to believe the best in people. Head coaches have jobs because they have some semblance of football acumen. The game plan Matt Nagy put together last week has me questioning all these beliefs. But it’s a division game, and the Lions’ defense lacks a corner that can run with Allen Robinson. He’s topped 12 fantasy points in each of his last four meetings with Detroit, with no less than 74 receiving yards. I have to think Robinson gets back on track this week, and you should too.
WR Corey Davis (NYJ) vs. TEN – REVENGE GAME! The Jets offense has looked lost, but the lone bright spot has been the usage of Corey Davis. He started with a bang in Week 1, scoring two touchdowns, and found his way to ten targets last week. QB Zach Wilson has been settling for a lot of underneath passes of late due to getting sacked 15 times through three weeks. But this game is about revenge. OC Mike LaFleur should want to get a motivated Davis the football and let him give this offense a spark. The Titans’ secondary has been carved up so far, allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to receivers this year. Corey Davis will pile up yards for the Jets much like Derrick Henry will for the Titans. An easy WR2 for me this week.
Other WRs with good matchups: Jaylen Waddle (MIA) vs. IND, Brandon Aiyuk (SF) vs. SEA, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB) @ PIT
TE Logan Thomas (WAS) @ ATL – Logan Thomas may not have the highest yards gained per reception, but he’s at least a reliable presence for young Taylor Heinicke. Thomas has either five receptions or a TD in each of the first three games of this season. In fact, that streak dates all the way back to Week 12 of last season. So nine straight weeks. We’ve already established the Falcons have a terrible defense. They also allow the 7th most fantasy points to TEs. So it should be an easy ten fantasy points for Logan Thomas this week.
Other TEs with good matchups: Tommy Tremble (CAR) @ DAL and Juwan Johnson (NO) vs. NYG
QB Ryan Tannehill (TEN) @ NYJ – The Titans are expected to be without Julio Jones and A.J. Brown on Sunday. But here’s the weird stat about the spiraling Jets defense — while they’ve allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs, they’ve allowed the 2nd fewest to QBs. Last week, Tannehill had a decent bounce back in throwing three touchdowns but still managed 2 INTs and less than 200 yards passing. Without Brown and Jones, why wouldn’t the Titans just run Derrick Henry 40 times? The Jets could put all 11 defenders in the box, and I’m willing to bet Henry still averages eight yards a carry. Hard pass on Tannehill this week.
Other QBs with bad matchups: Russell Wilson (SEA) @ SF and Sam Darnold (CAR) @ DAL
RB Saquon Barkley (NYG) @ NO – Would you look at that? Saquon Barkley gave us a tease of the old Saquon with a top-10 finish last week. But it still left us wanting more. And more is not what we’re getting from Barkley this week against a stout Saints run defense. They allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs a year ago and the 6th fewest so far this season. They also allowed the 5th fewest receptions to RBs last year. Barkley has had his work cut out for him with as bad as the Giants offensive line. With the injuries to their receiving corps, the Giants need all the Barkley they can get. And yet, I still have zero confidence. This is one top RB I actually wouldn’t mind outright benching if you have better options. (I’m reasonably sure I’m going to regret that comment, but to hell with it. I’m dug in, and there’s no turning back now!)
RB Ty’Son Williams (BAL) @ DEN – I really want to believe in Ty’Son Williams. But I also feel that we’re heaping unreasonable expectations on him because we had such high hopes for J.K. Dobbins heading into this season. That said, as well as Williams has looked running the football, he’s yet to earn the team’s trust in critical situations, and it’s getting in the way of his fantasy production. I don’t know what to think of the Broncos’ defense yet, as their stats are potentially skewed due to playing three of the worst teams in football to start the year. But take them for what they are — a team allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points to RBs. Combine that with the puzzling usage of Williams, and I’m steering clear this week.
Other RBs with bad matchups: Tony Pollard (DAL) vs. CAR, Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL) vs. WAS, and Damien Harris (NE) vs. TB
WR Diontae Johnson (PIT) @ GB – This goes against everything I believe about Diontae Johnson. He is forever the number one in my heart. But he’s coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss last week’s game, and he gets to face arguably the best cornerback in the league in Jaire Alexander. Ben Roethlisberger is throwing the football like a shot put these days, which doesn’t bode well for much in the way of downfield opportunities. I expect a low aDOT and little to no scoring opportunities against this Packers defense that has looked VERY different from their Week 1 showing against the Saints.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR) @ DAL – This is another very dangerous call, as Moore has been on fire of late. But with my belief that Sam Darnold takes a big step back without Christian McCaffrey behind him, I’m fading the Panthers’ number one option with superstar-in-the-making CB Trevon Diggs opposite him. The Cowboys’ defense isn’t what they were last season, and the Panthers are about to find that out. If Carolina is going to beat Dallas through the air, it will be with the forgotten Robby Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. I’d expect more FLEX-type numbers this week from Moore if you get anything close to a respectable game from him this week.
Other WRs with bad matchups: Marquise Brown (BAL) @ DEN, Michael Pittman Jr. (IND) @ MIA, and Bryan Edwards (LV) @ LAC
TE Mark Andrews (BAL) @ DEN – I always get nervous about putting upper echelon TEs on the Fade list, but Mark Andrews is the Tyler Lockett of TEs. It’s hit or miss when he’s going to do well. I’ve mentioned that I don’t know how “for real” Denver is as a defense, but they currently allow the 3rd fewest fantasy points to TEs. Last year, they allowed only three touchdowns to TEs not named Travis Kelce or Darren Waller and zero so far in 2021. Lamar Jackson is dealing with a nagging injury, likely from having to carry this team with no real running game, which likely doesn’t bode well for his already shaky accuracy. So if Andrews finishes as a TE1 this week, it’s likely on the low end.
Other TEs with bad matchups: Tyler Higbee (LAR) vs. ARI and Evan Engram (NYG) @ NO