After everything that happened in Week 2, Week 3 felt like a big breath of fresh air! Or maybe that’s the cooler weather I’m feeling as we roll into October? Anyways, not only was the air fresh, but we also got to see a lot of fresh faces making an impact across the league.
In this week’s article, we get back to the figurative treasure hunt, and hopefully unearth some gems for your fantasy football teams, and your sports card portfolios. In just the third game of the season, this group of guys showed their stuff and embodied what it means to be “UPNXT” in the NFL. So, who are these guys?
Sticking with the theme this week, we have a Viking, a 49er, and even a Dolphin! Without further delay, let’s open our treasure maps, set sail towards the big red X, grab our shovels, and dig deep to find who’s UPNXT for Week 4!
BONUS: Hang around until the end for a quick recap of last week’s picks!
If you know anything about Vikings, you know they were notorious for showing up and raiding whatever, and wherever, they wanted in the medieval world. On Sunday, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings unleashed a raid of their own on the Titans, except this was an air raid, featuring rookie wideout Justin Jefferson. Although the Vikes didn’t get the win, there was an obvious connection between Cousins and Jefferson.
Jefferson easily led all Vikings’ receivers in Week 3 with nine targets, converting them into seven receptions, for 175 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the day for the rookie receiver came on a 71-yard bomb in the third quarter, which resulted in Jefferson’s first professional touchdown. “JJ” also had receptions of 33 and 31 yards, showing he has big-play potential written all over him.
Fantasy Ownership: Jefferson may not be as low owned as some of the other guys on this list, but at just 32%, he is likely available in most of your fantasy leagues. If he can continue to make the most of his targets like he did last week, the number two wide receiver role is his for the rest of the season. He is our top pickup of the week.
DFS: (DraftKings: $5,200, FanDuel: $5,400) @ Texans Week 4 presents a decent matchup for Justin Jefferson to continue where he left off versus the Titans. Facing the Texans, with a healthy implied game total of 53.5, this spot has the potential for fantasy goodness. The game should be close throughout, and while Houston has shown they have a competent pass defense, if the Vikings fall behind early, they will have no choice but to air it out often against the Texans.
Card Market Rating:
Buy. With so few examples of graded Justin Jefferson cards on the market, it is hard to get an idea of his current value. Prices have jumped all over the place in the last couple of weeks for his Mosaic Silver Prizm, with ungraded examples selling as low as $15 right before this week’s game, and jumping as high as $50 after the game. If he continues to have big games like he did in week 3, his value will continue to rise. I like Justin Jefferson in both the short and long term.
It’s no secret that the 49ers are banged up right now. They’ve had trouble keeping their skilled position players healthy in recent years, and this year is no different. On Sunday, Brandon Aiyuk did his best Deebo Samuel impression, amassing five catches on eight targets, for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Not only that, he picked up another 31 yards on three carries as well, showing his versatility and athleticism in the process. That stat line led to Aiyuk finishing first in receiving, and second in rushing, an impressive feat to be certain.
Aiyuk dealt with an injury of his own in training camp but seems to be completely healthy and deeply involved in this offense. With the plethora of receivers on this roster, it was encouraging to see Aiyuk step up as the number one guy. Opportunity is the biggest reason why we chose to write about Aiyuk this week instead of the likes of Tee Higgins, Cedrick Wilson, or Andy Isabella. His upside is tremendous, and there’s little in way of competition until Samuel eventually returns to the lineup.
Fantasy Ownership: Aiyuk comes in at a slightly lower ownership percentage than Justin Jefferson. With Aiyuk rostered in just 27% of leagues, he makes for a nice backup plan if you can’t get your hands on Jefferson. He’s our close second favorite wide receiver addition this week.
DFS: (DraftKings: $TBD, FanDuel: $TBD) vs. Eagles A Sunday night matchup versus the struggling Philadelphia Eagles waits for Brandon Aiyuk and the banged-up 49ers. While we don’t have DFS pricing available for this game yet, we do have an implied total of 45, with the Niners opening as -6.5 favorites. With a modest total and the potential of being covered by Darius Slay, Aiyuk is likely a contrarian tournament play this week.
Card Market Rating:
Buy. I was a big fan of Aiyuk at Arizona State and thought his game would translate well in the pros. In week 3, he took advantage of the opportunity presented and put his name on the map. Just like Justin Jefferson, the Aiyuk card market is cluttered with mostly ungraded Mosaic base cards and Silver Prizms selling for between $10 – $30. He is in a great offensive system on an injured team that continues to win, giving him a chance to shine. With a Sunday Night matchup on the national stage coming in week 4, and considering the low cost of entry, the time feels right to take a flyer on Aiyuk.
Did you tune in to the Beard versus the Stache showdown on Thursday night? If you did, you might have been surprised at how much the Dolphins used rookie running back Myles Gaskin, and how little they used Jordan Howard and Matt Breida against the Jaguars. In fact, they used Gaskin on nearly 79% of the running back snaps, compared to just 7% and 14% for Howard and Breida respectively.
Gaskin gobbled up 22 carries for 66 yards and added five receptions for an additional 29 yards on the night. Jacksonville has been surprisingly stingy against the run, but you must love the confidence this coaching staff has in Gaskin. There’s nothing to suggest that either of the veteran backs on the roster will wrestle away the lead back role from Gaskin, although Howard does seem to be the Dolphins’ preferred short yardage option.
Fantasy Ownership: Although Gaskin was a popular waiver wire writeup last week, he’s still under owned at just 47%. I expect fantasy managers to finally catch on this week, and Gaskin’s ownership to shoot up significantly. The line for the Gaskin train figures to be “Myles” long, so make sure you prioritize him if you need help at running back.
DFS: (DraftKings: $5,000, FanDuel: $5,400) vs. Seahawks Miami has the unfortunate task of playing the red-hot Seattle Seahawks this week, in a game which projects the Dolphins to be playing from behind all afternoon. The implied total is 54, making this a contest you’ll want to target from a fantasy perspective. Gaskin has proven to be the back that the Dolphins trust most in the passing game, so I expect the bulk of his production to come through the air. Considering this, he makes for a better play on DK, where we get full-PPR scoring. Gaskin is a fine GPP play this week.
Card Market Rating:
Hold. It’s hard to give advice either way here, but I am not buying into Myles Gaskin. The Dolphins backfield across the board is nothing special, and they won’t be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars on short rest every week. If you are a believer that the 2019 7th round pick can become THE guy in Miami, it won’t cost you much to buy some of his Prizm rookies, but don’t go crazy.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
THE LINE: Passing: 31/44 312 YDS, 2 TD. Rushing: 1 CAR, -1 YDS.
THE SCOOP: This game saw Burrow attempt a generous 44 passes, which seems to be a sign of things to come. Through three games, Burrow has thrown a whopping 47 passes per game. While this number is inflated thanks to Week 2, the Bengals will likely find themselves playing from behind a lot this year. Burrow should continue to be a solid play if he can stay healthy, (and that’s a big if), as he has already been sacked a league-high 14 times.
UPNXT: vs. Jaguars. The Tiger King gets a favorable matchup versus Jacksonville in Week 4. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue tallying big numbers, while taking care of the football and avoid taking sacks.
Dion Lewis, RB, New York Giants
THE LINE: Rushing: 1 CAR, 0 YDS. Receiving: 1 REC, 10 YDS
THE SCOOP: This was a stinker of a game all around for the Giants. Lewis found himself last in carries, but third in targets, despite leading New York’s backfield in snap share.
UPNXT: @ Rams. With the backfield picture unclear, and the Giants struggling to generate offense, Lewis is better off on your bench until his role his more defined.
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
THE LINE: Rushing: 13 CAR, 46 YDS. Receiving: 9 TGTS, 8 REC, 45 YDS, 1 TD.
THE SCOOP: Davis dominated the carries for Carolina on Sunday. Not only that, but he led the team in targets with nine, which was probably the biggest surprise of all. The Panthers aren’t shying away from involving their running back in the passing game, which is something Davis’ fantasy owners like to see.
UPNXT: vs. Cardinals. I fully expect Davis to lead this backfield in touches once again. If he can continue to be a factor through the air, he should make for a safe RB3/FLEX play until CMC returns.