Elijah Mitchell and Justin Fields are among potential Week 3 fantasy busts and sit on the start-or-sit bubble. As most bust candidates do, they have the undeniable upside, but Mitchell’s shoulder injury and the 49ers’ philosophy of “RBs don’t matter” keep him from being a must-start. Many have been chomping at the bit to start Fields, but we know a rookie’s first start can go one of many ways.
As always, we’re not coming with weak choices who& should obviously ride the bench; rather, we’re looking at guys who absolutely could make us look silly for placing the label on them. If some of these guys are in your lineups, it doesn’t mean you have to bench them. After all, it’s your team, and it’s often tough to come up with better options. Just understand the potential for a disappointing week.
Last week, we nailed the running back position. Mark Ingram and the Raiders’ RBs were flat-out busts, and while Damien Harris did end up with a solid fantasy outing, a touchdown saved his game in a day that would’ve netted only seven fantasy points without it. At quarterback, we correctly identified Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston, as neither scored a touchdown. The big run continued with Corey Davis, DJ Chark, Tyler Higbee, Mike Gesicki, and Juwan Johnson (although all tight ends seem like busts beyond a select few.)
We whiffed on Julio Jones and got mixed results on defense. Overall, it was a solid week — our second straight week at finishing in the green in the busts department.
Week 3 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Elijah Mitchell, 49ers vs. Packers (Jackson Sparks). This might seem plain ole dumb as Mitchell is one of the few relatively healthy backs for the Niners, but even he is dealing with a shoulder injury heading into the matchup on Sunday Night Football. This feels like a game where the 49ers get run over. The Packers bounced back after a rough Week 1 performance, and the Niners are dealing with RB injuries and an offense that sputtered last week in Philadelphia. The Packers’ defense is much weaker in the secondary, so the 49ers might be forced to make this game a gunslinger showdown. There’s always the chance a random running back on the 49ers becomes the lead dog in any given week, too.
D’Andre Swift, Lions vs. Ravens (Vinnie Iyer). He’s still startable, but prepare for disappointment. The Ravens are solid against running backs and will be more vulnerable on the back end in a high-volume passing game. Plus, Jamaal Williams is eating into Swift’s workload a little more than expected.
Sony Michel, Rams vs. Buccaneers (Matt Lutovsky). Even if Darrell Henderson shakes off his rib injury and plays, fantasy owners might be expecting more work for Michel, who saw 10 carries last week after Henderson exited. If Henderson is out, many will view Michel as a volume-based flex in standard leagues. You can try him there, but either way, his ceiling is low against Tampa’s second-ranked run defense. You’re hoping for a short TD, and even that’s tough to come by against Tampa.
Week 3 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Tom Brady, Buccaneers @ Rams (Sparks). Tom Brady has never proven the doubters wrong, right? Well, maybe he has, but this week is going to be different. Historically, the games Brady has struggled in are ones where he’s pressured from right up the middle. Enter Aaron Donald. Brady isn’t the most mobile guy, so if Donald is on, he can wreck the game in a hurry. Also, isn’t he due for one bad game a year where the sports world overreacts and calls him washed? This is that chance! Don’t bench him for just anyone, but if you have a viable alternative, consider it.
Derek Carr, Raiders vs. Dolphins (Iyer). Keep the NFL passing yardage leader and hot pickup parked against a tough defense that’s more vulnerable against the run.
Justin Fields, Bears @ Browns (Lutovsky). Fields looked awful in his first extensive regular-season action last week, but that’s nothing new for rookie QBs thrust into games around halftime. With a week to prepare, he should be better, right? Maybe, but he’s not someone you feel great about in your single-QB lineups right away. If you really want to play Fields somewhere, use him in DFS.
Week 3 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Mike Evans, Buccaneers @ Rams (Sparks). Evans has often been shut down by elite corners. In Week 3, he’s the most likely candidate to be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. Enough said.
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers @ Rams (Iyer). There won’t be many big-play chances on the Rams, as their more methodical targets get the job done for Brady. (And the missed practice time due to being on the COVID list doesn’t figure to help.)
Will Fuller V, Dolphins @ Raiders (Lutovsky). Is Fuller going to finally play? We’ll see. He missed Week 1 because of a suspension and Week 2 because of a personal matter. He should miss Week 3 for your fantasy team because of his QB situation and Vegas’s surprisingly decent defense.
Week 3 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. Buccaneers (Sparks). Higbee was one of our picks to bust last week because of Darius Leonard, and he caught just one pass on one target. This week, he gets Lavonte Davis and Devin White. Hard pass.
Logan Thomas, Washington @ Bills (Iyer). In shallow leagues, you might have better options than forcing him into a tough spot despite the “revenge game” narrative.
Robert Tonyan, Packers @ 49ers (Lutovsky). Tonyan’s Week 2 performance is enough to make him a “must-start” at this position, but we know he comes and goes in the Packers’ offense, and this feels like a “goes” week, as San Francisco showed last week against Philly how it can clamp down on TEs when they’re not the No. 1 options in an offense. Tonyan also had just three targets, showing he’s even riskier in PPR leagues.
Week 3 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
Washington Football Team @ Bills (Sparks). Washington’s defense carried a lot of hype into the season but has been largely disappointing through two weeks. They are 23rd in FPPG as it sits today, and the Bills’ offense looked to get back on track in Week 2. If Daniel Jones had success against WFT, Josh Allen should do just that and then some.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Packers (Iyer). They keep finding ways to come through, but the Packers won’t let them do it again given all their key injuries.
D/ST Los Angeles Rams vs. Buccaneers (Lutovsky). Talent alone has the Rams on the start/sit bubble, but the Bucs simply don’t allow many fantasy points. Tom Brady will take some sacks and maybe even turn it over, but the Rams ceiling is lower than ever even if this is a relatively low-scoring game.