2020 Season: Week 3 Boom/Bust (PPR)

(Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels)

Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

Boom/Bust (or Love/Hate if you are the Talented Mr. Roto) is a fantasy football classic, but in case you are new to the game, here is the gist:

Every week, we will look at the FantasyPros projections, and pick a player at each position that we think will outperform their projections (boom), or fall short of expectations (bust), during Sunday's games. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The FantasyPros projections listed are those at the time of writing and will likely change as the week progresses.]

That is really all there is to it. Largely, this is based on matchups, but we could potentially see a projection that seems flawed and factor that in as well. No need to re-invent the wheel on this one.

Week 3 Boom/Bust (PPR)

Week 3 Booms

Quarterback (QB)

CH: Ryan Tannehill (17.4 projected points)

The wheels may start coming off here soon (TEN plays vs PIT Week 4, vs BUF Week 5), but for now, Ryan Tannehill seems to be a thing? Yes, I know I'm talking about 2019's QB4 from Week 6 on. I'm not shocked by any means, but there's a difference between being good for a little more than half of a season and officially being "a thing". We should probably hold off on the discussion as to whether or not he is definitely "a thing" for a few weeks, but it's been a pleasant surprise to see him at QB10 through 2 weeks now. 

"But Charlie, it's only because of the weak competition he's faced," you say?

Well, it's a good thing the Minnesota Vikings are banged up on defense and represent weak competition. The risk you run starting Tannehill is the potential for game script dictating feeding the ball to RB Derrick Henry to clock-drain in the second half if the Titans get up early. Of course, that's a concern, when you consider the Vikings have only managed to have the ball for ≈20 minutes per game to date it doesn't become as scary. He may not go for a ton over 17.4 points, but I'd buy something around 20.

MM: Joe Burrow (16.6 projected points)

Joe Burrow threw 61 times in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. That is not a typo, your eyes do not deceive you, that actually happened. Week 3 sees this awful Cincinnati Bengals team that shows some signs of life on offense and is beyond saving on defense, up against a Philadelphia Eagles DST that is essentially just as bad against the pass as the Cleveland Browns. That same Browns DST by the way, whom Burrow torched for a QB10 finish and 24.54 points. Given the absence of a run game in Cincy, expect a similar finish from Burrow in Week 3, as he tries to will this team to its first win.

Running Back (RB)

CH: D'Andre Swift (9.3 projected points)

To be honest, my pair of picks I would make ahead of this one would be:
  • The fairly obvious being standout rookie RB Joshua Kelley against the Panthers' (arguably) worst run defense in the NFL outperforming 9.3 points.

  • RB Devin Singletary outscoring an 11.9 projection considering Zack Moss is still not practicing and trending toward not playing.
In the interest of spicing things up a bit, I think Swift is a decent stab considering this is a PPR-based article. I wouldn't really recommend him as a reliable play necessarily, but I can't help but see the parallels between Niners RB Jerick McKinnon's performance in Week 1 against the Cardinals and what Swift's usage and output to date say about his prospects in Week 3 against those same Cardinals.

It's not a perfect one-to-one considering McKinnon pulled off a score to achieve what he did, but I never promised my explanation would make sense and I'm sticking to it regardless. If I'm wrong on Swift, in a sense my stating two more obvious booms creates some kind of alternative win-win if you stretch beyond the bounds of conventional thinking. I think that's how that works, right?

MM: Joshua Kelly (9.3 projected points)

I am genuinely not sure how a guy with double-digit points each of his first two games despite being the second fiddle in the backfield (though not by much) somehow is projected to score less than double digits. Especially against the awful Carolina Panthers DST, who have given up an NFL leading rushing TDs. Given that Kelley actually out-touched fellow RB Austin Ekeler in Week 2, even some regression would likely give him double-digit attempts and a shot at the end zone. Best case scenario? He repeats last week's numbers and adds a rushing TD, good enough for 19.3 points in PPR.

Wide Receiver (WR)

CH: CeeDee Lamb (11.8 projected points) 

Malcolm and I have had several intense conversations about the Cowboys' passing offense both before and into the 2020 season. It is entirely too early for victory laps and self-fives, but at least through 2 measly games, Lamb has out-targeted and outperformed fellow WR Michael Gallup who is projected for 13.8 points. 

By virtue of that fact and giving myself any semblance of a cushion I can here, I'm recommending Lamb. However, this could very well be a Gallup game. Hell, it could be a great game for both of them and WR Amari Cooper. The Seahawks pass defense has been terrible thus far and I think Week 3 is a great opportunity to hammer Cowboys pass-catchers. 

MM: Greg Ward (6.7 projected points)

If you read this week's "Start/Flex/Bench" you probably saw that Ward would be a FLEX play if you are feeling frisky. Well punk, I guess I am feeling lucky. As I mentioned earlier, the Cincinnati Bengals DST is awful, giving up 7.7. net yards per pass attempt through two games. The only reason they are not even worse against the pass is that they are so bad against the run that teams just pound it down their throat.

Which is really Ward's biggest issue. Miles Sanders should feast in this game, and if he repeats what Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt did in Week 2, Philadelphia may never need to pass the ball. Barring that though, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey should be out injured for this match-up, leaving Ward as the WR2 on the Eagles for this match-up. We have seen Ward make lemonade from lemons before in opportunities like this toward the tail end of last season, so he should have what it takes to repeat those performances in Week 3.

Tight End (TE)

CH: Whoever the Colts TE is (Mo Alie-Cox 9.3/Jack Doyle 3.9 projected points as of Thursday night)

Pointing out that the Jets have allowed 15.05 points to the TE spot through the first couple weeks here in 2020 feels kind of weird to point out considering how skewed those numbers are by Niners TE Jordan Reed's performance from last week, but there seems to be one actionable piece of information to infer. 

The thing the numbers can't tell us with this small of a sample size but we can reasonably assume is that with S Jamal Adams, PFF's top-ranked safety in the NFL, now in Seattle, I think we're going to be looking at the Jets in a similar light as we viewed the Cardinals last year as it pertains to best TE matchups. With Jack Doyle returning to practice yesterday, who knows who the Colts TE is going to be as of the moment of this writing, but one of either him or Alie-Cox should be an easy start. 

MM: Drew Sample (6.5 projected points)

Promise this will be my last pick from the Eagles vs Bengals game, but they are just such bad defenses I cannot recommend it enough. Plus, the logic here is pretty simple: Burrow will need to pass a lot, someone has to catch the ball, and Sample is not only someone, but he is someone that Burrow knows will catch the ball if Burrow throws it at him, unlike A.J. Green.

Seriously though, Burrow loved going to the TE in Week 2, and Sample is a former second-round draft pick that is now the only name in the game in Cincinnati. Read this week's waiver wire article for a deeper dive on Sample and the Cincy TEs, but the key takeaway is to expect lots of targets for Sample.

Defense/Special Teams (DST)

CH: New York Giants (6.7 projected points)

I don't know that me pointing this out is worthwhile considering I wouldn't really want to start them, but the Giants are facing a significantly injured San Francisco 49ers offense in Week 3. File this under "things I may be right about of zero consequence". 

I would like to note for the record that my favorite stream of the week at DST is the Tennessee Titans. Owned in 29.2% of ESPN leagues as I type this, I like them to provide a safe fantasy cushion against a Vikings offense that barely ever sees the field like I mentioned before. It is due to the fact that the Titans DST may not see the field much that I don't recommend them as a boom per se, but mentioning this is more helpful than just pointing out that the Niners are wrecked and leaving it there.

MM: Tennessee Titans (6.0 projected points)

The Indianapolis Colts finished DST1 in Week 2 against Minnesota, and that was a DST most fantasy managers had left for dead following a mediocre DST13 in Week 1 against the Jacksonville JAGs. Tennessee has been fairly mediocre as well, sitting at DST19 through two weeks, but the match-up is too good to pass up. Minnesota has looked lost all season so far, and Kirk Cousins threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 3 times (including a safety) in his last outing. He may be seeing the ghosts that haunted Sam Darnold last season, which bodes well for Tennessee.

Kicker (K)

CH: Jason Myers (8.1 projected points)

My feelings on kickers in fantasy and my process for picking them was covered last week if you're wondering why this section is lazy. 

Over/unders and whatnot tell me that Seattle kicker Jason Myers, owned in 16.3% of ESPN leagues, is the move for Week 3.

MM: Daniel Carlson (6.7 projected points)

Ignoring the fact that a kicker cannot possibly have decimal scoring, it is weird to see Carlson so low here considering he is averaging 12 PPG through two weeks. The combination of a surprisingly potent offense, a DST in New England that should stop some drives short should equal a fair amount of opportunity for Carlson, who is nailing a 50+ yarder every game. Even if that trend does not continue, I would expect 9+ points from Carlson this week.

Week 3 Busts

Quarterback (QB)

CH: Carson Wentz (18.3 projected points)

You know, this really stinks. I'm not an Eagles fan or anything, but I was sort of looking forward to this offense in 2020. So far, injuries across the offensive line and at skill positions mean it just hasn't clicked for Philadelphia. Yet another injury to the squad just makes me want to bail on Wentz altogether. 

I realize none of this is his fault and do still believe he's a very fine real-life football QB, but this is fantasy football. Given that he's QB24 to this point makes this pick a bit of a cop-out, but if you're still holding out hope, I'd recommend another QB regardless of the decent matchup vs Cincinnati. 

MM: Aaron Rodgers (18.5 projected points)

As a point of order, I feel that it is necessary to caveat this with the fact that all the projections for QB feel low this week, so it was tough to pick this. I do think that Rodgers will fall outside the Top-12 this week, and as he is projected to finish QB10, that would be a bust of sorts. However, I am not sure if he will fall below his projected point total given that QB15 right now is Deshaun Watson scoring 18.76 PPG. For perspective, Rodger's current PPG is 24.48, and a repeat of that would be QB2 this week based on the projections. They are simply skewed too low.

Still, it is a tough match-up for Rodgers against a New Orleans defense that is currently the 3rd best DST in fantasy, and between that and Aaron Jones' continued success running the ball, it could be a quiet night for Rodgers. That is not to even mention that Davante Adams may miss this game, which gives the Packers less incentive to air it out against Pro Bowl CB Marshon Lattimore.

Running Back (RB)

CH: Kareem Hunt (12.9 projected points)

To be clear, I am not objecting to the projected total for Hunt. As stated at the beginning of this piece, this whole is largely based on matchups. I view Hunt more as a low-end RB/solid flex than the RB16 he's ranked as on ESPN for Week 3 due to anticipating a positive game script for Cleveland thus making this more of an RB Nick Chubb game. Don't sit Hunt altogether necessarily but be realistic about expectations.

MM: Nick Chubb (15.0 projected points)

Well, this is awkward.

Riverboat Ron and the Fightin' Football Team have been a surprise this year, looking great on defense against Philadelphia in Week 1 and looking relatively decent against MVP-candidate Kyler Murray in Week 2. I think that the front seven is going to attack early and often, and if the offense can produce at all, Cleveland will find itself down early. Combined with the secondary being the easiest part of the Washington defense to exploit, I would not be surprised if Chubb gets forgotten at times in this game. Chubb could still break off a long run, but that would need to be what you are counting on to get to his projected point total in Week 3. FYI, right now the longest run an RB has against the Washington defense is 16 yards. Not exactly SportsCenter Top-10 material.

Wide Receiver (WR)

CH: Stefon Diggs (16.0 projected points)

Not a lot to say here, but as mentioned in our Week 3 Start/Flex/Bench piece from yesterday, the likely shadow treatment from PFF's 4th best cornerback in the NFL Jalen Ramsey makes me think of Diggs as a WR3/flex. 

MM: A.J. Green (13.0 projected points)

A.J. Green has looked absolutely pedestrian in his comeback tour, with just 16.0 points so far in PPR format. This is despite a team-high 22 targets through two weeks, and his targets went up from 9 in Week 1 to 13 in Week 2, so they are not exactly phasing him out of the offense. Honestly, FantasyPros expert Mike Tagliere said everything I would say here, except unlike him I did not like Green going into the season, so I have no qualms about benching him in Week 3. He is clearly a step off his former pace, he has a tough match-up against Darius Slay, and I think Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow is going to rely more on WR Tyler Boyd and TE Drew Sample and less on Green after Week 2. This was an easy pick for me.

Tight End (TE)

CH: T.J. Hockenson (11.4 projected points)

Even in a good matchup, there's something about Hockenson's success to this point while being 4th in line for targets/having a 16% share that feels unsustainable. Well, that and the fact that WR Kenny Golladay is slated to come back from injury for Week 3 doesn't help.

MM: Noah Fant (11.2 projected points)

I want the record to show that Charles stole my pick here. Sure, he may have written his half of the article hours before I did, but Hockenson is always a bust in my heart, and he knows that.

Instead, I have to go with Noah Fant, who is going up against a Tampa Bay defense that should be good this year. It is tough to gauge so far because they played a world-class New Orleans Saints team in Week 1 that was firing on all cylinders (side note: they look bad without Michael Thomas), and then played a Carolina Panthers team that is almost as bad as New Orleans is good. 

Denver to me clearly falls on the Carolina side of this spectrum, so I expect a good performance from Tampa against back-up QB Jeff Driskel. Which is really why I have to pick Fant as a bust here. Unless he either scores a TD or becomes Driskel's safety blanket as Driskel runs panicked from the Tampa front seven for a couple hours, this feels like a lock for me.

Defense/Special Teams (DST)

CH: Arizona Cardinals (6.6 projected points)

Continuing what I just said, I think the return of WR Kenny Golladay bodes well for the Lions offense and I have a feeling they'll be able to win this game and put up points on the Cardinals.
 
MM: Cleveland Browns (7.9 projected points)

Yes, Arizona's DST looked good against Washington in Week 2, but they had also finished as DST13 the week before. Besides, they still only finished as DST7 in Week 2, which while good, does not feel like we need to suddenly pencil in every DST that goes up against Dwayne Haskins. We certainly do not need to pencil in the Browns, a unit that has only managed 4 points through 2 weeks, of which all 4 came against Joe Burrow and the Bengals in Week 2. A DST5 finish and scoring double their current point total just are not happening.

Kicker (K)

CH: Michael Badgely (7.8 projected points)

Over/unders and whatnot tells me that Chargers kicker Badgely is a bad move this week. I will also mention that Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is risky if the Jets can find a way to be competitive in the game and the Colts are unable to cover the spread.

MM: Stephen Gostkowski (7.6 projected points)

Like with QB, these projections feel a bit low given the scoring at the position. Gostowski is projected to finish K12, but this projection would have him as K17 based on year to date scoring. Given that QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Derrick Henry should pick this reeling Minnesota defense apart, I would not be shocked to see Gostkowski mostly kicking extra points, which is good considering he has already missed three field goals this year.

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