Week 3 of the NFL is in the books, and we saw plenty of interesting performances. Some of the players we worried about returned to form. Others slid further away from relevance. As is always the case, there was plenty to chew on when it comes to injuries, player rotations, and the potential for our favorite deep stashes and prospects. That’s why we have to take in what we’ve learned and apply it.
As will be the case throughout the season, I’ll be taking stock of what we’ve learned each week. I’ll be offering one player per position—QB, RB, WR, and TE—who improved their stock and one who saw their stock slip. For those trying to win now and those playing the long game, it’s important to pounce at the right time. So, without further ado, here’s Week 3 of the Dynasty Stock Watch.
Stock Up: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
About: Before the start of the season, Stafford was my pick to be the NFL MVP. Some called it bold, but I had high hopes that we’d see peak Stafford thanks to his off-season move to the Rams. Through three weeks of the season, he hasn’t disappointed. Stafford has looked like a star despite not having a running game and playing a schedule that featured 2020 playoff teams each of the first three weeks of the season. He’s thrown for 942 yards and nine TDs with only one INT so far. That’s an average of more than 300 yards and three TDs a game while completing 70.2 percent. That’s an encouraging sign, especially for a player that you likely got at a discount this off-season. That kind of veteran insurance is perfect for a team that needs time for a young prospect to mature.
Stock Down: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
About: Many were excited about Fields finally getting a start. Some had him ranked in the Top 12. I thought he’d do well, ranking him as QB24 for Week 3 after having him Top 24 for the season-long rankings. We didn’t account for just how bad this Bears’ offense is under coach Matt Nagy, who doesn’t appear to know how to use Fields. I still like his talent and potential long-term, but like other rookies, he looks like he’ll need time to mature and possibly a better system around him. He also, most certainly, appears to need a better line. In Cleveland, a defense that allowed Tyrod Taylor to move the ball well the week prior, Fields was sacked nine times, throwing for just 68 yards on 6-for-20 passing. Better days will surely come, but it feels like time to moderate expectations for now.
Stock Up: Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers
About: Sometimes, the best ability is availability. Hubbard is a player that many dynasty players snagged late in rookie drafts after he was taken in the Fourth Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Then, following pre-season, the Panthers snagged veteran Royce Freeman. In 2020 fans saw Mike Davis return a solid amount of value filling in for an injured Christian McCaffrey, so it was fair to wonder who would get that shot should it happen again in 2021. McCaffrey left Thursday’s game early with a hamstring injury, and it seems likely he’ll miss some time. Hubbard got a majority of the work behind him, looking explosive at times as he carried 11 times for 52 yards, adding three receptions for 27 yards. Freeman got work, too, and will undoubtedly get snaps if McCaffrey misses time, but those who roster Hubbard have to be excited about his potential opportunity.
Stock Down: Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders
About: Drake signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Raiders this off-season. This was coming off a year where he finished as RB16, rushing for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Cardinals. It seemed like he’d provide a potent one-two punch with Josh Jacobs. And yet, with Jacobs missing the past two games, it’s been veteran journeyman Peyton Barber who has been the go-to guy. In Week 3, Barber got 23 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown, catching three passes for 31 yards on five targets. Drake, meanwhile, had eight carries for 24 yards and three receptions for 33 yards on six targets. That’s not a promising sign for those hoping Drake would return week-to-week value and not a great sign of his position in the Raiders’ backfield pecking order going forward.
Stock Up: Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
About: Patrick has been the consummate journeyman receiver for the Broncos over his four years. He is always there to step in when others are out. Last season, with Courtland Sutton out for the season, Patrick saw 79 targets, catching 51 passes for 742 yards and six TDs. This season, despite the return of Sutton and hype for second-year receiver Jerry Jeudy and third-year tight end Noah Fant, Patrick has steadily produced. He scored touchdowns each of the first two weeks and caught five passes for 98 yards to lead the team in Week 3. Jeudy is out on short-term IR with an ankle injury, while second-year receiver K.J. Hamler left Week 3 with a knee injury. Patrick keeps producing and could end up being a steal for those who got him late or picked him up on the Waiver Wire.
Stock Down: Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
About: For the past few years, it has been a steady, under-rated producer. He finished as WR14 in 2020 and figured to be a solid WR2 with upside in 2021. The Rams’ passing offense is off to a great start, but Woods hasn’t been a big part of it. While fellow receiver Cooper Kupp has exploded, Woods has seen 19 targets, catching 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they aren’t what was expected. It seems clear that Kupp is atop the pecking order in Los Angeles, and everyone else is in a tier below. In a game against the Buccaneers in Week 3 where Stafford threw for four touchdowns and the Rams scored 34 points, Woods saw just six targets, catching three passes for 33 yards.
Stock Up: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
About: From the moment he was drafted, it seemed Freiermuth was the future at tight end for the Steelers. But when would the future arrive? The team rolled into the season with plenty of mouths to feed between three receivers—Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool—a rookie running back in Najee Harris and a veteran tight end Eric Ebron. So, where would Freiermuth fit? It turns out through three weeks, he fits just fine. He’s seen ten targets, catching eight passes for 82 yards and a TD. It’s not incredible, but it shows that he’s already a factor for the Steelers three games into his rookie season.
Stock Down: Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots
About: Smith has talent, and we saw flashes of it in Tennessee, but it never totally came together. There were players ahead of him or that he was competing with. It was a low-volume pass offense. The hope was Smith would go somewhere he could be featured, and we’d see him explode. His signing with the Patriots seemed like the perfect marriage of a player with talent and a passing game in need. And yet, it hasn’t yielded much. In three games, he’s seen 16 targets, catching ten passes for 74 yards. Not horrible, but not the Top 12 kind of numbers fantasy players hoped to see. In Week 3, Mac Jones threw the ball 51 times. Smith, the top free agent for the Patriots, saw six targets, catching one pass for four yards. That’s not a hopeful sign.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.