Fantasy Football Deep Dive: Advanced Stats Helping Build Week 3 Lineup

Brandin Cooks is entering must-start territory

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It’s time to set your fantasy football lineup for Week 3 of the 2021 NFL campaign, and we’ve uncovered some advanced statistics that may help you evaluate your starting lineup.

We examined advanced fantasy football stats from SportRadar and used the nitty-gritty to make the case for players who could be in line for a big week and others who probably are best left on the bench based on the matchup. Of note, all stats included represent full-point PPR fantasy football leagues.

Here are a few players who should invoke confidence:

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
The Texans receiver is second in the league in targeted air yards (151.5 per game) and tied for fifth with 10.5 targets per game. Cooks also has four explosive plays of 16 yards or more in the first two games, with the most in the league being six of such plays. Cooks is tallying 1.95 points per target and seeing 33% of the team’s targets. It’s also worth mentioning that the first time Davis Mills took the field this season, he made half of his completions to Cooks. It’ll be interesting to see as the opposing Panthers are prone to pressuring the quarterback with sacks on 14.5% of defensive snaps.

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has put together a strong start to the season with a pair of receiving touchdowns in his first two games. He’s also been a focal point in the Ravens’ passing game seeing team-high 29% of targets ahead of teammate Sammy Watkins (24%). He’s gaining an average of 8.3 yards per catch with five receptions of 16 or more yards. His 3.28 fantasy points per touch ranks him ahead of Adam Thielen, Mike Williams and the aforementioned Cooks. Brown now goes up against a Detroit defense which allows the fourth-worst completion percentage with 12 big plays (10-yard rushes, 20-yard receptions) allowed in two games.

And here are a few others you may want to leave on the sideline:

Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets
The first-year Jets wideout is attracting just 18.5% of the team’s targets (six targets per game) and then proceeding to drop 12.5% of the balls thrown his way. His 32.5 air yards per game ranks him in a tie for 49th among receivers with just one catch of 20 or more yards this season. It won’t get any easier in Week 3 against a Broncos’ defense which blitzes at a nearly 24% clip while allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a league-worst 51% of passes.

Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Davis has been relatively uninspiring through the first two games this season. And while the first-year Falcon is seeing 18.5 looks (rushing attempts + targets) per game — 12th among running backs — he’s recorded 44% of his yards (49) before contact. Additionally, the bruising back has recorded just one goal-line look (within opponents’ five-yard line) in two games while the Falcons are tied for 24th in rushing attempts that lead to first downs.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
Gibson probably is looked at as an RB1 or high-end RB2, but the matchup against the Bills in Week 3 may have you questioning other options. Count on Buffalo to lock in on the Washington running game, throwing numbers in the box, baiting Taylor Heinicke beat them. And the Football Team rushes just 2.04% of the time when opponents have eight or more men in the box, which is the second fewest in the league. Additionally, Washington’s offense has gone three-and-out in 30% of its drives while Buffalo’s defense has allowed just one red-zone touchdown in six opportunities.

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