Wed Sep 28 1:32am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws while being hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers' William Gholston during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady gets up after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
With some of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the NFL struggling to produce points it was no surprise the league had one of its lowest scoring weeks.
The 20.3 points per game by teams was the lowest for a Week 3 since 2009 and the fourth lowest for any week in the past five seasons.
Teams led by Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers - the winners of four of the last five MVP awards - played a major role with their teams combining for 43 points Sunday. That's the fewest points scored in the 57 weeks all three of those stand-out QBs have started. The previous low was 55 in Week 15 of the 2018 season.
Brady and the banged-up Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had the biggest problems offensively early this season, failing to score more than 20 points in any of their three games. Tampa Bay is scoring 17 points per game, down from 30.1 last season.
That's just the fifth time that's ever happened in three straight games for a team quarterbacked by Brady and second in the past 11 seasons. It happened once in 2019 in New England.
The Bucs and the New York Giants are the only teams without a first-half touchdown as absences on the offensive line and receiver have taken a toll.
The beneficiaries of that poor production by Tampa Bay were Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who pulled out the 14-12 road win despite failing to score following the first two drives.
It marked just the fourth time in Rodgers' career that he ended up on the winning side in a game when Green Bay failed to score more than 14 points. The Packers are averaging 16 points per game, down from 26.5 last season.
Kansas City's offense was clicking to start the season with 44 points in the opener but has scored just 44 the last two weeks, including a 20-17 loss at Indianapolis in Week 3 that marked just the fifth time the Chiefs scored 17 points or fewer with Mahomes at quarterback.
Overall, the 21 point per game average for the NFL is the lowest through Week 3 since it was 20.2 points per game in 2010.
The Buffalo Bills somehow managed to lose a game to Miami despite outgaining the Dolphins by 285 yards.
In the Super Bowl era, teams that outgain the opposition by at least 285 yards had a 266-11-1 (.959) record in those games before Tua Tagovailoa and Miami's 21-19 win.
The last team to overcome that and win was also the Dolphins, in Tagovailoa's first career start on Nov. 1, 2020, when Miami was outgained by 326 yards in a 28-17 win over the Rams.
The San Francisco-Denver game also was an outlier, with the Broncos win becoming just the second 11-10 game in NFL history. The Steelers beat the Chargers by that score on Nov. 16, 2008.
It was also the second game in NFL history when the winning team had exactly one touchdown, one field goal and one safety. The other time it happened came Oct. 12, 2008, when Minnesota beat Detroit 12-10.
In an odd coincidence, the safety in that game came when Dan Orlovsky stepped over the end line in the end zone just like Jimmy Garoppolo did Sunday night.
For the fifth time since the merger, only two teams remain winless after Week 3 with Las Vegas (0-3) and Houston (0-2-1) doing it.
That previously happened in 1988, `89, '90 and 2012, But this is just the first time since 1959 that only one team started a season 0-3, with the Lions doing it that year.
The Raiders managed to lose all three games despite their opponents failing to win any in their other games, joining the 2012 Saints and 1989 Cowboys as the only teams to do that since the merger.
There are also only two teams at 3-0, with Philadelphia and Miami pulling that off. This is the third time since the merger that only three teams either won or lost each of their first three games.
It also happened in 1972 when Miami was 3-0 and New Orleans and Philadelphia were 0-3; and in 1971 when Washington was 3-0 and Philadelphia and Buffalo were 0-3.
The NFL standings have undergone an early season flip.
Eight teams that missed the playoffs last season have winning records so far this season led by undefeated Miami. Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Denver and the Giants also have winning records at 2-1 after missing out last season.
There are seven teams that made the playoffs in 2021 that have losing records early this season with the Raiders the only 0-3 team in the league and defending AFC champion Cincinnati at 1-2. New England, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, San Francisco and Arizona also are 1-2.
The Buffalo Bills are signing veteran free-agent cornerback Xavier Rhodes to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday night, according to sources. The former All-Pro will help an injury-depleted secondary and will also reunite with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was Rhodes' head coach with the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. Cornerbacks Dane Jackson (neck) and Christian Benford (hand) are injured and All-Pro Tre'Davious White (knee) remains on Injured Reserve for at least another week. Buffalo is also hurting at safety, with Jordan Poyer (foot) sitting out in the Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Micah Hyde (neck) is done for the year. Rhodes will provide valuable veteran depth in the short term.
ESPN's Turron Davenport encourages fantasy managers to remain patient with Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks. The 22-year-old first-rounder had just two targets in the Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but he continues to find an increasing role in the team's game plan, and the targets will continue to come his way. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to get Burks more opportunities to take advantage of his yards-after-the catch ability. Downing said Burks has been growing every week and is generating confidence with the coaching staff. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has called Burks a big, strong, physical receiver with great hands and good body control. As with most rookies, fantasy stardom doesn't come right away. Even though he has only eight catches for 115 yards through three games, Burks remains stash-worthy in all fantasy formats.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith has had two straight strong games with a combined 15 catches on 19 targets for 249 yards and a touchdown, but ESPN's Tim McManus is pumping the brakes on Smith being a weekly lock for solid fantasy production with A.J. Brown also in the fold. Remember, Smith had zero catches on four targets in the season opener, and Brown is being targeted on 33.3 percent of his routes, the 10th-highest rate in the league through three weeks. Smith is being targeted on 23.9 percent of his routes, which ranks 65th. There's a better chance that the second-year wideout will have more variance in his output on a week-to-week basis, but his upside is through the roof in Philly's explosive offense.
Minnesota Vikings All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson ran wild against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, but the Eagles and Lions have limited him in the last two weeks by consistently double-teaming him. "I have to do a better job," head coach Kevin O'Connell said, "of giving Justin different aspects of lining up in different spots, different personnel groupings, whatever I need to do to help him." He had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener, but he's totaled nine catches for only 62 yards in the last two weeks. A bounce-back won't be easy in Week 4 against a Saints defense that has allowed only 183.7 passing yards per game through three weeks, but Jefferson will continue to be a must-start, high-end WR1 nonetheless.
New Orleans Saints first-round rookie wide receiver Chris Olave should continue to see consistent weekly targets with tight end Taysom Hill and receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Deonte Harris and Tre'Quan Smith all injured in some form heading into the Week 4 game in London against the Minnesota Vikings. Olave might be the last man standing right now, but he's also improving by the week. The 22-year-old has seen 26 targets in the last two weeks and has a healthy 17 receptions for 268 yards (15.8 yards per catch) in his first three NFL contests. If one or both of Thomas or Landry are unable to play this Sunday, Olave will basically become a must-start in fantasy lineups against a Vikings defense that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game (275.7) through three weeks.
The Los Angeles Rams backfield of running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. has been tough to predict through the first three weeks. Akers spent most of the first half of the Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines, but then head coach Sean McVay leaned on him in the second half after an impressive series. Akers and Henderson ended the game with a 50/50 split in carries. ESPN's Sarah Barshop expects something close to that moving forward, with the expectation there will be some games where McVay just rides the hot hand. It's about as frustrating as it gets for fantasy managers that have either Akers or Henderson. After just three carries in the season opener, Akers has been more involved the last two weeks and is the better upside back of the two in fantasy.
The Miami Dolphins have two wide receivers -- Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle -- that are interchangeable as the WR1 for the team. Waddle has three straight games with a 40-yard catch and is being used more as an explosive option than he was in his rookie season. Opposing defenses are going to scheme around stopping Hill, as he's earned it in his career. It means that he won't always put up explosive numbers like he did in Week 2 (11 catches, 190 yards and two touchdowns), but he should still have a pretty safe fantasy floor. ESPN's Marcel Louis-Jacques thinks Hill's Week 3 performance (two catches, 33 yards) will be more of an outlier in 2022. The Cheetah will look to bounce back on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Kansas City Chiefs still don't seem comfortable using running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in most third-down situations, and until they do, the Chiefs backfield is likely to remain a committee involving Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon and rookie Isiah Pacheco. However, CEH does have three touchdowns in the first three games, and while that pace is not sustainable, he seems to be the team's preferred option near the goal line. The 23-year-old has mostly disappointed since the Chiefs made him a first-round pick in 2020, but he is averaging a career-high 5.3 yards per carry on 22 rushes through three games to go along with the three scores. A Week 4 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' tough run defense won't be easy, but Edwards-Helaire remains the most attractive fantasy back in KC as things stand now.
ESPN's Lindsey Thiry believes that Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer will remain a viable option when Keenan Allen (hamstring) returns from injury. Allen will return to being quarterback Justin Herbert's go-to target, but Herbert is expected to continue spreading the football around to include Palmer. The two established a strong rapport during training camp this summer. Palmer had his best game of the early season in the Week 3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, racking up six catches on nine targets for 99 yards, and he scored in Week 2. The 24-year-old will be more of a WR4/flex in deeper leagues when Allen returns, but he's certainly worth stashing for his upside. Palmer is currently rostered in only 27 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was raving about rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs after the Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so Doubs could be in line for the No. 1 receiving role heading into Week 4 against the New England Patriots. Doubs' combination of route-running and athletic ability, combined with improving hands, make him the most likely receiver to break out in this offense, in the opinion of ESPN's Rob Demovsky. Fellow rookie Christian Watson has a lot to like, too, but Doubs is off to a much faster start after catching 14 of his 16 targets for 137 yards and a touchdown through his first three NFL games. The 22-year-old is rostered in only 27 percent of Yahoo leagues and will be a popular waiver-wire target this week.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown should remain quarterback Kyler Murray's No. 1 target moving forward, unless Brown is completely taken out of the game by an opposing defense, writes ESPN's Josh Weinfuss. Between Brown's ability and his relationship with Murray, he will continue to be the team's top playmaker in the passing game with DeAndre Hopkins suspended. His workload will likely be determined after the first game or two after Hopkins returns from his six-game suspension. Hopkins' return could open up the field for Brown as well. The 25-year-old went off in the Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, going for 140 yards on 14 catches (17 targets), and he'll remain a must-start in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers.
The Chicago Bears are going to need to lean on their running game while they work through issues with their passing attack, so running back Khalil Herbert will have ample opportunity for a consistent workload no matter how much time David Montgomery (ankle, knee) may miss. When Montgomery was injured in 2021, Herbert averaged 19.5 carries and over 70 rushing yards per game from Weeks 5-8. And when Montgomery was injured in the Week 3 win over the Houston Texans, Herbert ran all over Houston for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He leads all RBs in rushing yards over expectation per attempt, according to Next Gen Stats. Even though we don't know yet if Montgomery will miss any time, Herbert is absolutely worth a waiver-wire pickup this week if you're in need of RB depth.
New Orleans wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith appeared in his first game of the 2022 season in Week 3, going for four catches and 105 yards in a loss to the Carolina Panthers. Smith was pressed into service after the team lost both Michael Thomas (toe) and Jarvis Landry (foot) to injuries. Smith will look for another big game in Week 4's home matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Smith's Week 4 value in fantasy hinges directly on the availability of Thomas and Landry. If they don't play, he can be treated as a boom/bust flex option. If they do suit up, Smith should not be in fantasy lineups for Week 4.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway caught a four-yard touchdown in a Week 3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Callaway has been active in all three games the Saints have played but his TD grab in Week 3 was his first catch of the season. Callaway was pressed into extra service in Week 3 after the Saints lost both Michael Thomas (toe) and Jarvis Landry (foot) to injury. The veteran wideout will look to find the end zone again in a Week 4 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Callaway's Week 4 outlook is dependent on the status of both Landry and Thomas. If both don't suit up, Callaway can be treated as a boom/bust flex option in fantasy.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave has been exceptional through the first three games of his NFL career. After a quiet Week 1, Olave has gone for 14 catches and 227 yards over his past two games. The rookie out of Ohio State will look to keep it going in Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings at home. Minnesota has been average against wide receivers in fantasy in 2022, allowing the 14th-most fantasy points per game to the position. Olave could be in store for a larger role than usual with both Michael Thomas (toe) and Jarvis Landry (foot) looking questionable for Sunday's game. Treat Olave as a solid WR2 for Week 4.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf is coming off his most productive game of the season as he caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in a Week 3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Metcalf will look to keep it going in a Week 4 road matchup against the Detroit Lions. Detroit's defense has been leaky against the pass so far in 2022, allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. Metcalf isn't producing the big numbers that he did while Russell Wilson was in town but he remains a high-end WR3 in fantasy heading into Week 4's matchup with Detroit.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett is leading his team with 21 catches and 211 yards through the first three games of the season. Lockett will look to stay hot in a Week 4 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Detroit's defense has been generous to opposing wide receivers in 2022, allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to the position through three games. Lockett has a chance to post a big game and should be treated as a high-end WR3 heading into Week 4.
Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has been accurate through his first three games of the season, hitting all four of his field goals and going 5-for-5 on extra points. Myers will look to remain perfect in a road game against the Detroit Lions in Week 4. The veteran kicker will enjoy the benefit of excellent kicking conditions in the dome in Detroit but his offense hasn't afforded him many opportunities to put points on the board in 2022. Treat Myers as a low-end fantasy kicker for Week 4.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith will head on the road to face off against the Detroit Lions in Week 4. Smith has been solid through three games this season, throwing for 717 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions so far. He draws a plus matchup against a Detroit defense that is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position in 2022. Fantasy gamers can treat Smith as a mid-range QB2 in fantasy for his Week 4 matchup.
Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny has gotten off to a slow start in 2022. Penny has 141 yards on 32 carries through three games while still looking for his first touchdown. He will head on the road to take on the Detroit Lions in Week 4. Detroit's defense has struggled to contain opposing running backs in 2022, allowing the most fantasy points per game to the position through three games. Penny is in a position to break out against the Lions in Week 4, but he should still be treated as an RB3 in fantasy thanks to his struggles in the early going.