What we learned from Week 3 in fantasy football

Week 3 ended with a few valuable lessons being taught, presumably at the perfect time.

One such lesson was that Alshon Jeffery still has too much competition for scores, despite leading the Chicago Bears in targets through three weeks.

Another is that until Colin Kaepernick gets some receiving help, his fantasy value may be pretty lackluster.

The most important lesson, though, is that there is no such thing as too much depth at running back.

Two horses, Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles and the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, had injury scares during Thursday’s game. While neither appeared serious, losing either player for the season without a backup could kill a fantasy roster.

Owners of Reggie Bush may have had that sink in already as he was ruled out early Sunday morning, while Joique Bell proceeded to dominate, often for other owners.

Owners of Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson at least had some time, but many were left with an empty slot if they picked Jacquizz Rodgers to step up.

There’s a reason Rodgers wasn’t selected to take over for Michael Turner, because Rodgers is unable to attack the area between right and left tackle. Jason Snelling and his 235-pound frame is the team’s go-to guy in the red zone and may become more in Week 4.

The two compliment each other’s weaknesses, but that’s only good for so much. Luckily for Jackson’s owners, they will only be without him for a few more weeks.

While there were other injuries a varying degrees, CJ Spiller played only one half and Frank Gore waved in backup Kendall Hunter on what seemed like every drive. If Gore’s issues become more serious, Hunter should be added immediately. The 49ers face St. Louis on Thursday, so stay tuned to any development.

Guys that you could replace them with are:

Isaiah Pead, STL

Pead has been on the hunt for Daryl Richardson’s job since Week 2. After Richardson practiced with not much limitation, he played only one snap, leaving the rest to Pead.

Despite Pead not putting up monster numbers, St. Louis was playing from behind the entire game and the run game was abandoned. Pead should get a chance at home against a 49ers run defense that has allowed 117.5 yards per game along with three rushing touchdowns.

LeGarrette Blount, NE

The once bruising bell-cow-to-be, Blount has been in freefall mode since his rookie season. But Bill Bellichick has been known to get the most out of his guys and there’s no reason to think Blount would be any different.

With Shane Vereen done for most of the year and Steven Ridley falling short of expectations, Blount may become the biggest fantasy RB sleeper this year. Maybe. He’s certainly worth an add if you’re short on RBs, and his upside is there since New England has been near the top in rushing attempts over the past few seasons.

Johnathan Franklin, GB

After Eddie Lacy fell victim to a concussion, James Starks became the big news in Green Bay. Just one week removed from Starks being the first 100-yard rusher for the Pack in some while, Franklin rushed for 103 yards on only 13 carries while adding 23 receiving yards.

The fact is that the Green Bay offense is loaded front to back. But Franklin may have earned himself another look. The only drawback is that Green Bay has a Week 4 bye.

Unless you’re an owner of Vincent Jackson, you’re probably not too worried about injuries. You may be worried about overall production, though, if you drafted Roddy White. He has been playing with a high ankle sprain, which is something that tends to linger.

Believe it or not, New York Jets wide receivers might actually be returning to fantasy relevance with Geno Smith under center. Both Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes had over 100 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

I told my friend this, and the conversation went awry:

Me: Bro, did you see that? Holmes and Hill went off today!

Robbie: No they didn’t, and no I don’t want them.

Me: Bro, seriously.

Robbie: No Jets receiver could ever score a touchdown.

Me: Yeah… I suppose you’re right.

That’s a conversation that should ring true to many fantasy owners, as there hasn’t actually been a relevant Jets receiver in a long time. They should all be on waivers, possibly even Geno Smith as well.

Unless you’re not dominating your league, you might want to consider looking into them. Both Hill and Holmes are pretty even in targets (Hill with 23 and Holmes with 19) and both have one touchdown, but Hill leads in the yardage category, though only slightly.

Back to Alshon Jeffery, who has 21 targets, but just barely over 100 receiving yards.

The Bears coaching staff made it clear they were going to spread the ball around, a promise they have delivered on. Yet Jeffery is still without a touchdown reception, essentially making him irrelevant.

Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte also come before Jeffery in the red zone passing game. Despite much optimism that Jeffery could flourish as a fantasy wide-out, he hasn’t and probably won’t unless an injury to another teammate forces the issue.

The most interesting part of Week 3 in fantasy football is that it’s often the final week of huge scoring before injuries, fatigue and the compilations of game tape begin to cause problems.

It’s time to either put your eggs in one basket, or to diversify, depending on how each individual team is doing. My fantasy bust and sleeper list — which so far has been about 50/50 — included names like CJ Spiller, Alfred Morris and Chris Johnson.

Morris and Spiller remain sell high candidates, while Johnson remains, well, lost in the forest somewhere. Victor Cruz, who has had a great year so far, was also on the bust list, as was Reggie Wayne. The thought was that teams already know that if they stop Cruz, they stop the Giants offense, but haven’t had much success. Until today.

Cruz led the team in receptions with three, yet only managed 25 yards. That’s a troubling sign that Carolina, who beat the Giants 38-0 for the biggest loss of the Tom Coughlin era, figured out how to limit Cruz. I doubt they’ll be the last.

Wayne still hasn’t shown much fantasy flash, and an owner may be without luck — pun intended — getting much for the older receiver.

As for what targets may be the acquisitions of the season, it really all depends on your scoring system. Running backs dominate fantasy, especially in leagues that give a point for each carry. In points per reception leagues, Wayne might reel in players like Darren Sproles. Meanwhile, Cruz could help to acquire Trent Richardson or Arian Foster.


Tweet your Fantasy Football questions @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and read his Fantasy Football coverage at SFBay.ca.