This a snippet of Adam Pfeifer’s NFL matchups column, previews the New York Jets vs. Antonio Brown and the New England Patriots for Fantasy Football Lineups. Fantasy rosters needed protective spray because players were bit hard by the injury bug in Week 2. Multiple starting quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all suffered injuries this past weekend, with a handful of key offensive linemen also going down. As a result, we missed on plenty in this article, but we hit on plenty, as well. Back on the horse. With that in mind, let’s dig into some NFL matchups and NFL game breakdowns for your Week 3 Fantasy Football Lineups.
To read the FULL column, click HERE.
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New York Jets @ New England Patriots
Line: NE -22.5
Jets passing game
First, Sam Darnold gets mono and then Trevor Siemian suffers a season-ending ankle injury. What the Falk? Luke Falk, to be exact, will be under center for the Jets for the foreseeable future, which obviously crushes the value of this entire offense. The majority of the passes on Monday night were at or behind the line of scrimmage and this offense just doesn’t have a lot of firepower. Falk isn’t even in the DK player pool. You aren’t considering him in any format.
The streak of tough cornerback matchups continues for Robby Anderson, who will draw shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore this week, arguably the best corner in football. Anderson finished with a respectable stat line on Monday night (4-81) but a lot of that came late in the game when the Browns knew they had it in the bag. If there is any silver lining, all of Anderson’s big gains last week came with Falk under center, but this is a sub-optimal spot. If you have been reading my work for a while (or just this year), you know that Anderson is never my favorite option because he’s boom-or-bust and he always sees the opposition’s top cornerback. Nothing changes this week, especially with extremely questionable quarterback play. I have zero interest in him.
After seeing 17 targets in Week 1, Jamison Crowder caught just four of six targets for 40 yards on Monday night. Darnold’s absence will hurt, as he’s targeted the slot quite often since college. Crowder will probably be the preferred wide receiver play from this team, strictly because he won’t see Gilmore and the Jets aren’t going to be taking deep shots going forward. Of course, we keep seeing big wide receiver performances each week and Crowder doesn’t have anywhere near as much upside as the waiver wire wideouts.
Jets running game
Despite the final numbers, I was very impressed with the effort from Le’Veon Bell on Monday night. In an imploding offense that couldn’t get anything going, Bell fought for every yard. He touched the ball 31 times, giving him a whopping 54 through the first two weeks. No running back has forced more missed tackles so far than Bell (20), still showcasing that shiftiness and smooth running style that makes him one of the best in the game. Only Christian McCaffrey has run more routes among backs than Bell (72) and Bell should continue to see 18 to 20 carries and six to eight catches per game going forward. The Jets are huge underdogs here, which means a lot of checkdowns heading Bell’s way. The usage keeps Bell as a top-10 running back, though I’ll probably let someone else play him in daily contests.
Patriots passing game
New England is a massive home favorite against a Jets defense that will likely be on the field a lot with their offense failing to sustain drives. Tom Brady should be able to pick this poor secondary apart and once again, the only question is how much will he have to do? Despite throttling the Dolphins last week, Brady still accounted for three total touchdowns and could easily reach that mark again here in Week 3. New York is coughing up a healthy 273.5 passing yards per game thus far (23rd). And with Gregg Williams running the defense, you know the Jets are going to dial up a ton of blitzes.
Brady is fine with that, as he leads the NFL in passer rating against the blitz through two weeks (157.9). With all of these weapons at Brady’s disposal, the weekly floor is much higher than it would have been before the season started. He’s not my favorite high-end quarterback of the week but the Patriots should score 30-plus points in this game and the receivers should get open at will against these New York corners.
In his first game with the Patriots, Antonio Brown played just 24 snaps, the fourth-most among all New England wideouts. However, he paced the team with eight targets and ran from the slot on half of his snaps, which kept him away from Xavien Howard, who shadowed Josh Gordon on all of his routes last week. If that trend continues, Brown will have better matchups than he’s ever had, putting him against number-two and three corners. Brown saw five red zone targets in his first game and already looks like Brady’s top guy, which isn’t all that surprising. After a full week of practice and getting more acclimated to this offense, Brown should play more snaps, which could lead to a very good game. There will be mismatches all over the field and the Jets have allowed over 120 yards and a touchdown to both John Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. through the first two weeks. Still just $7,100 on DK, I have serious interest.
Update: Antonio Brown as been released by the Patriots and will not accrue fantasy points this week.
Julian Edelman only saw four targets on Sunday, catching all of them for 51 yards. Of course, the Patriots passing game didn’t need to do much in this game and they likely won’t need to this week either. The floor should still be there for Edelman but there is no denying that his value definitely takes a hit with the arrival of Brown. Edelman does have a great track record against this team, scoring in both meetings last season, while posting 69 and 84 receiving yards. Brown’s arrival moves Edelman from the 13 to 15 range at wide receiver to the 17 to 20 range, though he’s still a strong play this week in PPR formats.
Gordon was blanketed by Howard last week, resulting in just two catches for 19 yards. I completely whiffed on him last week, thinking he’d see coverage from Eric Rowe instead. He played 79 percent of the snaps, a higher rate than Week 1 but Gordon is likely to be boom-or-bust in this offense with Brown in the mix. This is definitely a matchup he can exploit, as the Jets are surrendering a healthy 12.7 yards per completion, the sixth-highest mark in football through two weeks. Gordon is a big play, boom-or-bust FLEX option this weekend.
Patriots running game
In the best game script possible, Sony Michel led the Patriots backfield with 21 carries against Miami on Sunday. He once again wasn’t all that special, running for 85 yards but he found the end zone. As huge home favorites, Michel has a high probability of getting 20 carries and scoring a touchdown once again. New England is still using three running backs but Michel has handled just over 69 percent of the team’s running back carries through the first two weeks. The Jets have allowed a rushing score in each of their first two games and Michel is averaging over 15 fantasy points per game in New England wins during his young career.
What do you do with the other two backs? James White is only averaging around seven touches per game and now AB is in town to take some of his targets away. I’m not dropping White in fantasy leagues but I don’t feel comfortable using him as anything more than a low-end FLEX in PPR leagues. Burkhead, meanwhile, will get 6 to 8 touches but again, that isn’t enough to warrant consideration. And because he’s had plenty of injuries in the past, there is no way the Patriots let him grind the clock down when the team is up big late in the game. That will be Michel’s job. You are praying Burkhead gets some goal line work and plunges into the end zone. That’s about it.
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