Fantasy football: What you need to know from Sunday's NFL games

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Sundays during the NFL season are always chaotic. There are always twists and turns that many fantasy football managers might struggle to keep up with. This column is designed to help with that. It will provide you with the storylines you need to know from Sunday's action to kick start your research for Week 4.

Kirk Cousins continues hot start
Sunday vs. SEA: 30-38, 323 yards, 3 TD

Cousins continues to be underrated among fantasy managers. He finished as QB6 through Sunday's games with 25.12 fantasy points. Heading into this week's matchup, Cousins had completed 58 of 81 passes for 595 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception. Since the start of the 2020 season, he's averaged 23 points per game and has finished as a QB1 in half of them. Cousins will continue to have streaming appeal over the next two weeks. The Vikings face the Browns in Week 4 and the Lions in Week 5.

Derek Carr should be taken seriously
Sunday vs. MIA: 26-43, 386 yards, 2 TD, INT

The Raiders had a suboptimal start against the Dolphins. Carr threw a pick-six on the first drive of the game, then the Raiders turned it over on downs on the next drive. Las Vegas was in a 14-0 deficit early in the first quarter, but Carr and the Raiders' offense scored 25 straight points, before the Dolphins rallied to send it to OT. He's averaged 25.7 fantasy points per game this season. In hindsight, Carr's success shouldn't come as a surprise. He's averaged 19.4 fantasy points per game in 32 active games in 2019 and 2020. Carr's matchup against the Chargers in Week 4 will be another litmus test. After that, the Raiders face the Bears, Broncos, and Eagles before heading into their bye week.

The margin of error for Russell Wilson and Seahawks' offense is slim
Sunday at MIN: 23-32, 298 yards, TD; 3 rushes, 7 yards

Wilson averaged 298.5 passing yards and 28.2 fantasy points per game entering Week 3. Unfortunately, the Seahawks' defense continues to be a liability. This was the second consecutive week Seattle blew a two-score lead. The Seahawks defense is allowing an astounding 434 total yards per game. The only other teams allowing more are the Ravens (448) and Chiefs (469). Wilson's upcoming schedule isn't a cakewalk, with games against the 49ers, Rams, Steelers, Saints, and Jaguars before heading into their bye week.

Kareem Hunt had his best day as a Cleveland Brown
Sunday vs. CHI: 10 rushes, 81 yards, TD; 6 catches (7 targets), 74 yards

Nick Chubb out-touched Hunt (22-16), but did not accumulate as many yards (155-84). Were you aware that Hunt's receptions, receiving yards, and targets were season highs? He could continue to be involved as a receiver out of the backfield while wide receiver Jarvis Landry is out with a knee injury. Hunt (33) and Chubb (40) played a similar number of offensive snaps. The Browns' running game should prosper against the Vikings in Week 4.

Raiders lean heavily on Peyton Barber and not Kenyan Drake
Sunday vs. MIA: 23 rushes, 111 yards, TD; 3 catches (5 targets), 31 yards

Looking at the Raiders' backfield from a business perspective, it's easy to assume that Drake would see a high number of touches while Josh Jacobs is sidelined. He signed a two-year, $11 million contract with every single dollar guaranteed. However, that has not been the case, as Barber has been gifted 36 rushing attempts over the past two weeks. He'll continue to have fantasy value as an RB3 if Jacobs is ruled out for Week 4 against the Chargers in a favorable matchup.

D'Andre Swift is thriving in the Lions' dysfunctional offense
Sunday vs. BAL: 14 rushes, 47 yards, TD; 7 catches (7 targets), 60 yards

The Lions were down 13-0 when they finally started getting Swift actively involved. Ultimately, he led Detroit in receptions and had two more rushing attempts than teammate Jamaal Williams. Swift could have had an even bigger fantasy day, as he was tackled twice on the 1-yard line. He has a plus-matchup against the Bears in Week 4 and can be viewed as a high-end RB2. Swift and the Lions face the Vikings in Week 5, followed by the Bengals, Rams, and Eagles before going into their bye week. This schedule bodes well for Swift's outlook.

Melvin Gordon III out-touches Javonte Williams
Sunday vs. NYJ: 18 rushes, 61 yards, TD; 1 catch (2 targets), 21 yards

Gordon (19) finished with more touches than the rookie Williams (15) against the Jets. However, when you analyze the running back snaps and touches so far this season, it's clear Denver's backfield is a committee. Gordon has averaged 16 touches per game. He can continue to be viewed as a weekly RB3 or flex. It will be interesting to observe if Williams will see fewer touches in Week 4 against the Ravens after losing a fumble late in the game.

Alexander Mattison didn't disappoint filling in for Dalvin Cook
Sunday vs. SEA: 26 rushes, 112 yards; 6 catches (8 targets), 59 yards

This performance further solidifies the narrative that Mattison is one of the best backup running backs in the NFL. The third-year back prospers as a runner and receiver for the Vikings. If Cook misses Week 4, Mattison will be on the RB1 radar against the Browns.

Saquon Barkley returns to form
Sunday vs. ATL: 16 rushes, 51 yards, TD; 6 catches (7 targets), 43 yards

From a film perspective, Barkley looked like his pre-injury self. Yet this performance was underwhelming in a plus-matchup against the Falcons' defense. Barkley and the Giants have a daunting upcoming schedule with games against the Saints, Cowboys, Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, and Raiders before their Week 10 bye.

Cooper Kupp has another monster performance
Sunday vs. TB: 9 catches (12 targets), 96 yards, 2 TD

Kupp has stockpiled 25 receptions and five touchdowns so far this season. He is the first player in Rams history with five or more touchdown receptions in the first three games since Elroy Hirsch back in 1951. The chemistry between Kupp and quarterback Matthew Stafford is undeniable. This dynamic duo should continue to prosper when you examine the Rams' upcoming schedule. This week is a mouthwatering matchup against the Cardinals followed by the Seahawks, Giants, Lions, Texans, and Titans.

Cole Beasley leads Bills in targets, receptions, and receiving yards
Sunday vs. WAS: 11 catches (13 targets), 98 yards

It's easy to overlook Beasley. Yet, he's averaging 10 targets and close to eight receptions per game. Last season, Beasley averaged seven targets, 5.5 receptions, and 64.5 receiving yards per game. The positive momentum should continue for Beasley and the Bills over the next three weeks. Buffalo faces the Texans, Chiefs and Titans before their bye week. Beasley can be viewed as an upside WR3 in PPR formats.

Tim Patrick's offensive role continues to grow
Sunday vs. NYJ: 5 catches (5 targets), 98 yards

Patrick has accumulated eight receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown over the Broncos' past two games. Teddy Bridgewater attempted only 25 passes against the Jets, but the Broncos are likely to lean on the passing game more against the Ravens in Week 4. Patrick finished with the third-most targets on the team behind Courtland Sutton (12) and Noah Fant (6). He can continue to be viewed as a WR4.

Calvin Ridley still looking for first big performance of 2021
Sunday at NYG: 8 catches (11 targets), 61 yards

Ridley's per-game averages are underwhelming: 9.6 targets, 6.7 catches and 58.3 receiving yards. He still appears to be adjusting to life as the Falcons' No. 1 receiver. The good news is Ridley faces Washington and the Jets prior to Atlanta's Week 6 bye.

Tyler Conklin needs to become a bigger part of the Vikings' offense
Sunday vs. SEA: 7 catches (8 targets), 70 yards, TD

This game showcased Conklin's hands and his ability to create yards after the catch. He will continue to split targets with wide receiver K.J. Osborn and fellow tight end Chris Herndon. It's worth noting the Vikings have a favorable schedule for tight ends the rest of the way.

Mike Gesicki leads Dolphins in receiving yards
Sunday at LV: 10 catches (12 targets), 86 yards

Gesicki finished second on the Dolphins in targets and receptions, outpaced by only rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle in this conservative pass game. He's seen more targets with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center, which makes Gesicki an excellent sell-high candidate.

Rapid Fire

  • Jets running back Michael Carter had only 12 opportunities against the Broncos. However, his role and opportunity share should continue to grow as the season progresses.

  • Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore caught three of six targets for 22 yards before suffering a concussion. With Jamison Crowder returning soon from a groin injury, the rookie should be held onto only in deeper formats.

  • Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle led the team's receivers in snaps, targets, and receptions against the Raiders. The rookie's role should only continue to grow.

  • Buccaneers running back Giovani Bernard caught nine of 10 targets for 51 yards against the Rams. Tampa Bay surprisingly played from behind and as a result, the veteran led the team in running back snaps.

  • Rams running back Sony Michel had 20 rushes for 67 yards against the Buccaneers. He had also had three receptions for 12 yards. Los Angeles' backfield will continue to operate as a committee once Darrell Henderson Jr. returns. The Rams running game should prosper in Week 4 against a Cardinals defense that was eviscerated by Jaguars running back James Robinson on Sunday.

  • DeSean Jackson caught three of five targets for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' win over the Buccaneers. However, his targets moving forward will continue to be inconsistent behind Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee and Van Jefferson.

  • Seahawks running back Chris Carson rushed 12 times for 80 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Vikings. He dealt with a hamstring injury late in the game. This will be something worth monitoring heading into Seattle's Week 4 game against the 49ers. Carson has accumulated only five targets through three games. He can still be viewed as a solid RB2.

  • Tyler Lockett also went down in the second half with a leg injury. He caught all four of his targets for 31 yards. The good news is that Lockett was able to return to the game. He's in a good spot to bounce back against the 49ers defense in Week 4.

  • Giants receiver Sterling Shepard caught two of three targets for 16 yards against the Falcons, before leaving the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury (he did not return). Darius Slayton also suffered a hamstring injury. With Kenny Golladay also getting reacclimated from his injury, the door could be open for Kadarius Toney to see more targets in Week 4.

  • The Patriots' offensive woes against the Saints negatively impacted running back Damien Harris. He rushed only six times for 14 yards. As a reminder, Harris accumulated 43 opportunities in New England's first two games, in which they ahead or within one score throughout.

  • The Chiefs believe in running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and so should you. He rushed 17 times for 100 yards against the Chargers, and also had two receptions for nine yards and a touchdown. This was his first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 19 of last season. It was also encouraging that the Chiefs stuck with Edwards-Helaire following his fumble.

  • DeAndre Hopkins was questionable heading into this week's game with sore ribs. And while he did play (3 catches, 21 yards), this allowed A.J. Green and Christian Kirk to thrive against a struggling Jaguars secondary. Both receivers exceeded 100 receiving yards.

  • A good rule of thumb is to avoid Lions wide receivers. Detroit's running backs will continue to be heavily involved in the pass game. Jamaal Williams continues to share the backfield with D'Andre Swift, and he finished with 42 rushing yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown. He also added two receptions for 25 yards. Williams can be viewed as an RB3 with upside each week.

  • After dealing with knee injuries last season, A.J. Brown is now dealing with a hamstring injury. This situation is worth monitoring ahead of Week 4. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine led the Titans in receptions (four) and receiving yards (53) against the Colts. He also scored a touchdown. If Brown were to miss games due to the injury, he'd be the beneficiary.

  • Jonathan Taylor rushed 10 times for 64 yards in the Colts' loss to the Titans. He also caught one of three targets for eight yards. Taylor has yet to score a touchdown through three games. His total yards per game have also trended down since opening the season with 116 yards against the Seahawks. It will be difficult to expect anything more than RB2-level production from Taylor in Week 4 against the Dolphins.

  • Odell Beckham Jr. looked very good in his return to action against the Bears in his first game since Week 7 of the 2020 season. He caught five of nine targets for a team-high 77 yards in the win. Beckham played 64% of the Browns' offensive snaps. He can be viewed as a WR3 with upside against the Vikings in Week 4, as he should continue to see a hefty dose of targets while Jarvis Landry is out.