2021 Season: Week 3 Sunday Storylines

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Editor

Another week in the books. Some things from Week 2 continued in Week 3. Multiple injuries to key players, exhilarating wins and excruciating losses. Other things came back from Week 1 to surprise us. Especially, the New Orleans Saints looking good. But three storylines stood out above the rest (yes, even above Shanahanigans), so let us take a closer look.

Week 3 Sunday Storylines

Pour Some Out from Your Cooper Kupp for Robert Woods

Last week, one of the main storylines was how Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is the top fantasy football wide receiver. This week, the big storyline coming from out of Los Angeles is how his teammate wide receiver Robert Woods has disappeared. Through the first two weeks, Woods was unnaturally quiet. Week 3 got even worse. Woods scored a mere 6.8 points-per-reception (PPR) fantasy football points. He may ultimately not even be a top-48 wide receiver on Tuesday.

Not that wide receivers cannot bounce back from a slow start. Last year, Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks was PPR WR67 through three weeks. Cooks finished PPR WR17. But there are some concerns for Woods's future production. Namely, there has been a noticeable (though not massive) drop in targets. In Week 1, Woods had just four targets. Woods never had less than five targets once in 2020. Plus, his target share season-to-date has decreased two and a half percentage points from his season-long target share last year. That does not sound like much, but those two and a half points represent a nearly 11% reduction in target share year over year. Woods can still absolutely bounce back, but that is not great, Bob.

Rookie Mistakes: New Quarterbacks Struggle in Week 3

With Justin Fields getting his first start for the Chicago Bears, only Trey Lance has yet to start a game out of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks. Lance should be counting his blessings then because the other four rookies did not look good today. They all looked, well, bad.

Here are the lines from each quarterback. First, Fields, who had a forgettable six completions for 68 yards and not much else. Luckily for him, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was arguably worse, with two interceptions and less than 170 passing yards in a 26-0 shutout against the Denver Broncos. Not that New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones or Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence. While they each found the end zone, they also threw multiple interceptions in their respective losses. In fact, even though it was not Lance's fault that the San Francisco 49ers lost on a last-second field goal to the Green Bay Packers, all five rookies lost their respective games in Week 3. Talk about a serious case of growing pains.

End of an Era in Pittsburgh?

There are many things the last-place Pittsburgh Steelers would like to forget about their Sunday loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite some bright flashes from their young offensive talent, their offense looked anemic both on the ground and in the air, and the defense was not any better. Unfortunately, the thing that probably looked the worst was the play of long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who simply did not have it on Sunday.

For the record, this is the era I think is ending in Pittsburgh. This is not a take about Mike Tomlin being on the hot seat (he is not). However, Roethlisberger's time must now be surely drawing to a close. To be fair, Big Ben came into this game with a left pectoral injury. But that is part of the problem. He is old, often injured, less able to recover, and it is impacting his performance. In particular, the deep ball seems to be gone from Roethlisberger's arsenal entirely. If the Steelers want to have any hope for a playoff berth, it may require them to move on from their veteran quarterback.

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