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Week 3 - Puff, Puff, Pass

Welcome to week 3 friends. My name is Josh ‘Smokey-Hell’ Nelson (@TNFF_Smokey) and this is “Puff Puff Pass,” my weekly start/sit article where I advise you on which players you should start and "puff" up the points in your starting line-up, or who you should sit and “pass” on down to your bench. Follow along every week to boost your knowledge and to gain an edge on your opponents.


Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville Jaguars)

I can’t believe there are people out there who have still not caught Minshew Mania. Gardner is the real deal, posting 6 TDs through the first two weeks, along with 512 passing yards and 38 rushing yards. The most underrated dual-threat QB in the league, Minshew matches up with Miami in the battle of Florida in Week 3. Having thrown for 3 TDs in a game four times in his career, two coming this season, I believe Gardner gets fellow teammate DJ Chark going this week and puts up his first 4 TD game!

Verdict - PUFF

Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)

Baker has not put up amazing numbers to start off the year, but he hasn’t been terrible. This week he faces the Football Team of Washington, whose fierce run defense forces QBs to throw on them. Mayfield has an all-pro list of talent surrounding him and a return to his rookie year form is within the range of outcomes. This is the week for him to do so. If the Browns offensive line can create some space and time for Baker, he can use his legs and maximize his fantasy value, which has not been utilized under the Stefanski regime so far.

Verdict - PUFF

Sam Darnold (New York Jets)

I ain't afraid of no ghosts! Neither is Darnold this season, but he should be afraid, as he faces the #1 passing defense in the Indianapolis Colts. I think this will be a great football game, but not a great game for fantasy points, unless you’re in an IDP league. I predict a low scoring affair with Darnold getting neutralized by the potent defense of Indy. Sam is averaging 197 passing yards and looking mediocre as he works with an increasingly mediocre and injured skill position group around him.

Verdict - PASS

Running Backs

James Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)

People were writing off the Jaguars run game when Uncle Lenny (Fournette) was unceremoniously cut just before the start of the season. I don’t think they’re writing it off anymore. Robinson has carried the ball 16 times each week, averaging 82 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving with a TD as well. There’s no chance this kid is still on waivers, unless you’re in a lobotomy league. If anything, his price is only increasing. Miami has been allowing an average of 164 rushing yards per game, opening the door for a huge week from the undrafted sensation out of Illinois State. Start with confidence.

Verdict - PUFF

Kenyan Drake (Arizona Cardinals)

Fantasy players with shares of the Drake are probably seething, seeing his name on here, as he has not lived up to his ADP so far. Granted, his first two weeks were against tough run opponents in San Francisco and Washington, yet that still doesn’t lessen the sting. Week 3 is Drake’s 'get-right week', with a sweetheart match-up against the Lions defense that has been surrendering the most rushing yards in the league. Look for Drake to punch one into the end zone this week.

Verdict - PUFF

Todd Gurley (Atlanta Falcons)

Several factors have me fading Gurley this week. First, Matt Ryan has been chucking the ball a ton ... just not to Gurley. His passing game involvement with the Rams is was what made Gurley fantastic in fantasy and the hope going into this season would be that it returned - but it hasn't. Second, Atlanta’s opponent this week, the Chicago Bears, have a stout run defense, but are lacking in pass defense, which leads me to think Ryan is going to have to throw the Falcons to victory. Lastly, Chicago’s defense has the third best red zone TD% allowed so far, and they don’t let you score TDs often when you are in close. Gurley has been getting a great amount of red zone touches, but might have trouble punching it in this week.

Verdict - PASS

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Wide Receivers

Michael Gallup (Dallas Cowboys)

The Cowboys’ downfield threat is perfectly positioned to have a monster day versus the Seahawks, in what should be another shootout Sunday afternoon. Through two weeks, Seattle has given up 47(!) plays of 10+ yards and Gallup’s big play ability will be on display. Dak is targeting Gallup 18.2 yards on average downfield thus far, and Amari Cooper still demands top coverage from the opposing defense, leaving Gallup to feast. I think 120 yards and a TD are not out of the question.

Verdict – PUFF

Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons) *WEEKLY WINNER*

A real bold call Smokey, putting 2020’s hottest wide receiver as a start, right? What if I told you we haven’t seen Ridley’s ceiling yet? Julio Jones has been nursing an aggravated hamstring injury since playing the Cowboys last week, and did not participate in practice Wednesday. Julio has played through many games before with an injury, but he might be more of a decoy to draw coverage this week. I touched on Chicago’s poor pass defense in the Gurley section and for that and the other reasons, Ridley is not only a smash start, he is my Weekly Winner for Week 3.

Verdict - PUFF

DeVante Parker (Miami Dolphins)

A hamstring issue has been hampering 2019’s surprise breakout WR DeVante Parker, causing him to exit the game against Buffalo and slowing him down since. He is not on the latest injury report, so if you have to play him, you can take your chances, but soft tissue injuries have a way of re-aggravating and being a thorn in a fantasy player’s side. So far, Parker is looking like Year 1-4 DeVante and not Year 5 *cough outlier cough.* With the rash of injuries across the NFL last week, you might not have a better option, but you might want to try.

Verdict - PASS

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Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)

This is the Dolphin you want to be starting this week. Athletic wonder Gesicki was shut down in Week 1 against New England, but came out with an insane 11 receptions for 130 yards and a TD against Buffalo last week. If you want to see an eye-popping athletic profile, go check out Gesicki’s metrics at playerprofiler.com. He has one of the best athletic profiles in the league. His talents will be overwhelming for Jacksonville, who last week let Jonnu Smith put up 5 receptions for 84 yards and 2 TDs. I think the Gesicki train is just starting to build steam and should only get better once Tua gets in. I’m targeting Gesicki to acquire in trades everywhere.

Verdict - PUFF

Jordan Reed (San Francisco 49ers)

This actually puts a smile on my face as Jordan Reed is a guy you want to root for. Decimated by concussions, sprains and strains to nearly every body part, he could have retired in the off-season and no one would have judged or blamed him. Instead, he found himself in San Francisco filling in for an injured George Kittle. And what did he do last week? 7 receptions for 50 yards and 2 TDs! Now, he’s back in the same stadium playing a different terrible New York team, and if the 49ers are smart, they’ll rest Kittle another week. If they don’t, forget everything I said and play Kittle. Don’t get cute!

Verdict - PUFF

Darren Waller (Las Vegas Raiders)

Waller is a force! You will not find any argument from me there. However, he faces a bigger force in the Patriots defense this Sunday, who has limited opponents’ TEs to near irrelevance this season. New England’s run defense is not what it was last year, so look for it to be a Jacobs week for the Raiders. I’m not sure I would even consider Waller for a flex spot this week. Reluctant fade.

Verdict - PASS

Thank you for reading my "Puff, Puff, Pass" article for week 3. Do you agree or disagree with any of my starts and sits? Please leave a comment or let me know @TNFF_Smokey

Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)

Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)