Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season is in the books which means that absolutely everyone thinks that they know absolutely everything. It’s the point in the season when people get tunnel vision and begin thinking that their sample size is larger than it actually is—that the things that have been will continue to be, but it’s almost never so simple.
Nonetheless, there are trends which emerge at this point in the season that aren’t likely to change. The key is spotting the difference between the trends and the pretends, and that’s where fantasy sports becomes more of an art than a science. Here are a few trends that I think are likely to stand the test of time—and a few other imposters that are just pretending to be trending.
Fantasy Football Week 3: Trending Or Pretending
Kansas City Offensive Powerhouse
Granted, these numbers are pretty inflated at this point in the season and I do think that Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are going to see fewer opportunities to flex downfield—this offense is so loaded with talent it’s hard to imagine them being stopped—especially by the defenses in their division. Their own defense is going to improve markedly when Eric Berry returns from his heel injury, which will mean more opportunities for Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. While the individual productions may level out—the overall potency of the offense doesn’t seem to be limited to just one or two key components.
Melvin Gordon Does It All
Again I’m hedging by saying that I think his production will plateau somewhere below his current rate, but not by that much. In the first three weeks, Gordon has produced running between the tackles, catching passes in the flat and even catching passes downfield. He’s been the featured piece of the Chargers’ offense when they were behind and when nursing a lead, it seems like the Bolts are more than happy to ride or die with Gordon for as long as he’s healthy, his fantasy owners should be similarly committed.
NFC West’s Foul Fowl
So the Rams are red hot off of a big-spending offseason and the 49ers were showing signs of life prior to the Jimmy Garoppolo injury, but the Seahawks and Cardinals have looked variable shades of terrible most of the year and I don’t foresee that changing this season. The Cardinals are swapping out Sam Bradford for Josh Rosen, but I don’t think that a rookie is the answer for everything that’s wrong with the red birds this year.
Russell Wilson has been scrambling backwards more often this season and when he has been protected his receivers haven’t been able to create separation or hold on to his passes. These teams face off in week 4 for a big-time race to the bottom of the NFC West, but neither has much to look forward to.
Calvin Ridley, Roll Tide
Teams aren’t going to stop doubling Julio Jones—at least not this year. That means that Ridley is going to continue to see favorable matchups and single coverage without safety help over the top. Matt Ryan is no slouch at reading defenses and is known for taking what defensive secondaries overlook. At the end of the year, Ridley might have more fantasy points than Jones.
Other Trends In Brief
Buccaneers offense firing cannons, Bengals have claws, Rams bowling over the competition, Cowboys all hat and no cattle.
Bills’ Mafia Make Vikings An Offer They Can’t Refuse
There was apparently a pretty significant coaching change on the defensive end of the ball in week 2 and whatever it was surely worked against the Vikings who were heavily favored. Optimists are quick to call this the new normal for the Buffalo defense, but I’d say this outcome had more to do with the Vikings looking past the Bills rather than a coaching change answering the prayers of upstate New York.
Washington On The Warpath
There’s a lot to like about the Washington Racial Slurs this season, and it’s not their offensive mascot. Their defense is finally solidifying after seasons in flux and Alex Smith is just downright adorable. The problem is that it’s all very tenuous. There are so many new pieces coming together to make this team that only one or two injuries could throw the whole thing into chaos—or they could fall behind early—or a half dozen other very conceivable eventualities come to pass and the Redskins will fade from relevance. They will, however, benefit from playing in a division with Dallas and the New York Giants.
Dolphins Making Waves
Ryan Tannehill is the real deal and people are still underestimating this Miami team, but their division isn’t going to do them any favors. I still like the ‘Fins to contend for a wildcard spot, but the air is going to come out of their sails a bit in weeks 4-6.
Other Pretenders In Brief
Patriots’ losing ways, Steelers’ offense makes noise with no Bell, Baker Mayfield can do no wrong.