Biggest NFL Week 3 Takeaways: Garoppolo Injury Fallout, Luck’s Struggles, More

Sep 24, 2018 1:29 AM EDT
  • The Bills' win over the Vikings headlines a group off huge upsets in Week 3.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo left Sunday's game with an apparent knee injury, and his status is uncertain.
  • Julio Jones' touchdown drought continues after the Falcons lost in OT to the Saints.

Week 3 was a friendly reminder that no matter how much you think you know about the NFL, you’re always 60 minutes away from feeling like an idiot.

The Texans (-6.5), Patriots (-7), Jaguars (-10) and Vikings (-16.5) all managed to lose straight-up to seemingly inferior opponents at home.

Also, the Browns won their first game in 20 tries all the way back on Thursday.

So what have we learned so far? Let’s run through this week’s biggest takeaways and identify actionable trends for Week 4.

Apparently the Bills Don’t Suck?

The formerly 0-2 Bills shocked the world by building a 27-0 halftime lead over the Vikings before ultimately winning 27-6. Per ESPN’s David Purdum, they are the largest underdog to pull off an upset since the Redskins took down the Cowboys as +17.5 dogs in 1995.

68% of public tickets and 71% of the money backed the heavily favored Vikings against a Bills team that boasted a league-worst -55 point differential after two weeks.

They literally had a player retire halfway through a game, and rookie starting quarterback Josh Allen has yet to complete over 60% of his passes in a season dating back to high school.

Allen’s combination of rushing ability and willingness to test defenses downfield could make him a surprisingly fantasy-friendly quarterback sooner rather than later.

Still, it’s probably wise to take a deep breath before taking too much away from this shocking upset. The Bills and Vikings will travel to face the Packers and Rams in Week 4, respectively, which should give us a better idea of just how good both teams truly are.

Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes is Here to Stay

Mahomes broke an NFL record with 13 touchdowns in the first three weeks, and the 2017 No. 10 pick set the mark by halftime of the Chiefs’ Week 3 victory over the 49ers.

The only thing more impressive than Mahomes’ touchdown total has been his ability to keep everyone involved: Nine different Chiefs have scored a receiving touchdown this season. Strongly consider exposing your fantasy lineups to anybody and everybody with a consistent role in the Chiefs’ offense if possible.

Overall, the Chiefs have scored an absurd 118 points through three games. Next up is a trip to Denver, where Mahomes made his first start in Week 17 of last season. All he did then was engineer a 27-24 victory while averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt with the Chiefs’ backups against the Broncos’ first-team defense.

Say It Ain’t So, Jimmy GQ

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the team is fearful that franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL during the team’s Week 3 loss to the Chiefs.

It’s hard to understate just how promising Garoppolo’s career has started …

  • Eight wins and two losses in 10 career starts (including Sunday).
  • Joined Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to ever average over eight adjusted yards per pass attempt entering Sunday (min. 300 passes).
  • The 49ers have averaged 27.1 points per game in eight starts with Garoppolo compared to just 17 PPG in 11 games without him since 2017.

The fantasy stock of everyone involved with the 49ers’ offense will take a hit with C.J. Beathard under center, with the possible exception of ex-Iowa teammate George Kittle. A trip to Los Angeles to face the Chargers in Week 4 isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered.

What Happened to the Old Andrew Luck?

Luck posted an average target depth of 9.5 yards from 2012-16, but entered Sunday with a league-low mark of just 5.6 yards in two games since undergoing surgery for a torn shoulder labrum. So far, his efficiency numbers have been less than stellar (to be kind):

Andrew Luck yards per attempt by season

  • 2012: 7.0
  • 2013: 6.7
  • 2014: 7.7
  • 2015: 6.4
  • 2016: 7.8
  • 2018: 5.3

Luck was one of the league’s most efficient passers from 2012-16, but he has been a shell of his former self in three games this season.

The arm strength of the Colts’ franchise quarterback is enough of an issue that they brought in backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to attempt the game-ending Hail Mary. This apparently isn’t a big deal to the Colts or Luck.

Will Julio Jones Ever Score Another Touchdown?

Former Alabama star receiver Calvin Ridley caught seven of eight targets for 146 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints’ leaky secondary, while alleged No. 1 receiver Julio Jones turned five receptions into 96 scoreless yards on six targets.

Ridley’s domination was so thorough that the Saints actually had No. 1 cornerback Marshon Lattimore switch from Jones to Ridley during the second half. Jones has now failed to find the end zone in a career-high eight straight regular-season games.

Is it time to make a switch at quarterback?

(Just kidding, Matt Ryan has nine total touchdowns in the past two games.)

Houston, We Have a Problem

The Texans are 0-3 with losses to the Giants, Titans and Patriots. The defense hasn’t exactly been a strength, but 2018 Deshaun Watson hasn’t been able to replicate last season’s magic through three weeks.

  • Watson in 2017: 61.8% completion rate, 8.3 Y/A, 19 TD/8 INT, 25 FP per game
  • Watson in 2018: 59.4% completion rate, 8.2 Y/A, 5 TD/3 INT, 21.3 FP per game

The biggest difference is Watson’s inability to lead the offense to the end zone: The Texans averaged 34.7 PPG in his six starts last season, but just 19.7 PPG in 2018. Week 4 presents a potential get-right spot on the road against the Colts’ still-unproven defense.

Jakeem “The Dream” Grant

“Almost-Tyreek without Andy Reid” is a sentence I never thought I’d read describing the Dolphins’ 5-foot-7 speedster, but FantasyLabs’ Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman might have a point:

  • Tyreek Hill (34 games): 10.1 yards per target, 13.9 yards per catch
  • Jakeem Grant (35 games): 9.9 yards per target, 15.4 yards per catch

Grant leads the Dolphins with 14 targets (18% target share) and is second with 149 air yards. It would behoove head coach Adam Gase to keep finding ways to get the Dolphins’ most electric playmaker in space.

Roster Receiving Running Backs vs. the Falcons

It’s not exactly a secret that the Falcons have “struggled” to limit opposing running backs in the passing game, as they’ve allowed the most receptions to the position in each of Dan Quinn’s three seasons as head coach. This schematic choice is meant to limit downfield pass attempts in favor of check-downs to the running back.

The problem is this scheme was much easier for the Falcons to accomplish with 2017 Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones (foot, IR). The defense has been absolutely shredded over the past two weeks without his services.

McCaffrey and Kamara are among the league’s very best receiving backs, but Bernard and Mixon aren’t exactly slouches in the passing game. Per our NFL Trends tool, the Falcons rank among the league’s bottom six defenses in average DraftKings PPG, Plus/Minus and Consistency Rating allowed to running backs since 2015.

Winning Trends

DFS players and gamblers alike should utilize the FantasyLabs Player Props tool. Our industry-leading tool is composed of projections powered by Sean Koerner, the No. 1 in-season FantasyPros ranker for each of the past three seasons.

The props tool sorts through player props available at various online sportsbooks, compares them to our own set of internal projections, rates the quality of each potential bet on a scale of 1-10 and then identifies the book at which the bet can be made most favorably.

As of this Sunday evening, the 2018 NFL player props with a bet quality of 10 are 57-33-2 (62% win rate).

You haven’t lived if you haven’t sweated the over/under on a pocket-passing quarterback’s rushing yardage total. Week 3 featured nine such bets with a bet quality of 10, and the prop tool managed to correctly predict six (66.6%) of those bets.

Hurt in Battle

Week 3 presented plenty of key injuries on both sides of the ball. We won’t know more about Week 4 availability until later in the week, but the following players will certainly be worth monitoring:

  • 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (knee)
  • Bengals WR A.J. Green (groin)
  • Titans QB Marcus Mariota (elbow)
  • Titans QB Blaine Gabbert (concussion)
  • Giants TE Evan Engram (knee)
  • Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (neck)
  • Browns QB Tyrod Taylor (concussion)
  • Packers DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
  • Cowboys LB Sean Lee (hamstring)
  • Rams CB Marcus Peters (calf)
Credit:

Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jimmy Garoppolo

Follow Ian Hartitz on Twitter
@IHartitz

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SCHEDULE
OPEN
CURR
# BETS
HOU
WAS
43
+3
42.5
+3
CIN
BAL
43.5
-4.5
43.5
-4
PIT
JAC
47.5
+6
47
+5.5
CAR
DET
50.5
+3
49.5
+4.5
DAL
ATL
47.5
-4.5
50
-3
TEN
IND
48
-3
50.5
-1
TB
NYG
52
PK
52.5
-2.5
OAK
ARI
41
-4
41
-5.5
DEN
LAC
47
-7.5
45.5
-7
PHI
NO
54.5
-9
56
-7.5
MIN
CHI
45.5
-2.5
44.5
-2.5
KC
LA
63.5
-1
63
-3.5