nfl week 3

The Mundies: Community

“The Mundies” is a bi-weekly column by Scott Rinear, awarding life and the fantasy football winners, losers and mirages, starting here, at the conclusion of NFL Week 3. Now in its second year of publishing, this column presents an optimistic outlook on life and an analytical approach to the game.


Hey, everybody.

For those who know me, it may be disappointing that this is not a column about the television show “Community,” the most underrated comedy of all time. That would be a lot of fun. Maybe someday. This is about community, in the more traditional sense of the word.

I was talking with a neighbor recently who asked how long we have lived at our current residence, a two-story house originally built in 1925 in a neighborhood named Highland Park, about 10 miles southwest of downtown Seattle. 

I answered, “10 years” – an entire decade as of July 1. 

It is the longest I have lived in a single location since moving out of my childhood home to attend college in 1998. You don’t need me to tell you that time flies, but answering questions like this brings a tangible and quantifiable aspect to the vague and general cliché. We have owned this house for a decade, and yes, by “own,” I mean we have made this cool deal with a bank to pay them back for the rest of our lives, but we are technically homeowners. 

Our daughters attend the local public elementary school, my wife is a full-time Instructional Assistant (IA) at the same local public elementary school and my primary place of work (outside of my home office) is only about seven miles south of us. We have “set up shop,” if you will, planting roots in the place we currently call home.

The Roots 

Hey, look at that, another hip-hop reference in one of my subheadings. But much like this column not being about the former NBC comedy starring Seattle’s own Joel McHale, among others, these roots are not the Philadelphia-based hip hop group.

These are familial roots – a foundation that we have been adding concrete to, little by little, over the last 10 years, since before our oldest daughter was born. I mentioned the local public school, and if you have read my previous columns, you know I am extremely pro-local public school. I mentioned my place of work. It may seem like part of the reason we chose this neighborhood was due to the proximity to my current workplace. But that is not the case. When we moved here, I was still with my previous employer, which involved a two-hour round-trip commute, mostly on a jam-packed Interstate 5, to and from Mountlake Terrace north of the city. Not all metaphorical root-planting is planned, and I was very fortunate the job opportunity arose when it did for my current position. But once that happened, it did cause our foundation to get stronger.

I would be dishonest if I told you we have not at least discussed the possibility of bailing on Seattle (and bailing on the U.S., for that matter). Yet, our reasoning for that is based on external forces outside of our control. I don’t like to argue about politics. For one, I don’t know enough to be objective, and secondly, I am terrible at arguing (ask my wife, whom I believe is still undefeated). Over the last 10 years, I have realized that it is possible to exert a tiny bit of control, or better put, have an impact, at the local community level.

Community

I recently wrote about how my family is active in the community. The point here is the beauty of having the ability to be part of a community. For a good chunk of my life, I did everything I could to detach myself from a sense of community and, bluntly put, from reality. At first, the concept was completely foreign and uncomfortable for me. Meeting and talking to new people, let alone building long-lasting relationships, was not my thing (which is an understatement). But slowly over time, I realized it was much better to “be a part of” something. I first learned this in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Putting effort into a local community not only (selfishly) made me feel needed but was an arena fostering the ability to simply help other humans.

Proximity

I realize that this is not possible for everyone. We are lucky we found a neighborhood that we believe in. We’ve made new adult friends for my wife and me and the early childhood friends of our daughters. Two general scenarios allowed the seedlings of new friendships to grow, both essentially revolving around a simple concept: Proximity. 

I still maintain some of the long-standing relationships with my closest and oldest friends. But most of the other humans we spend time with regularly are also in our neighborhood. When the maze of full-on adulthood is busy enlarging at a seemingly exponential pace, proximity becomes a necessity. I would love to drive down to Portland more often to hang out with my close college buddies, but it’s just not in the cards anymore. Even more so once we became parents. 

So, we have made friends with people in the neighborhood, branching out to “friends of friends” in some cases. Also, some new relationships inevitably sprang up based on the connection with other parents, especially those with kids the same age as ours. Now, it does not always work out for the parents of kids who like to play together, but some of our closest friends right now started at a kid’s playdate. 

Give & Give Back

I hesitate to use the phrase “give and take” because the word “take” doesn’t fit. This also took some getting used to for me. My warped view of the world left me assuming everyone, and I mean that in an absolute way, was only looking out for themselves. A “take and take” dynamic is how I viewed the world. I know plenty of people in this world operate in that way, but my earlier “across the board” outlook was more a reflection of my own selfishness. A better description, in this case, is a “give and give back” relationship, anchored in, at least for me, the idea of shedding the expectation of receiving something in return.

Today I ran two errands. The first was taking all the electronics we had accumulated to a free recycling location. A local group had set up an all-day event for people to drop off the electronics the local landfills will not accept. This allowed many to utilize this service who otherwise can’t make it to the established recycling centers during the week. Awesome. 

Then I took the kennel our dog, Douglas Taco, recently outgrew to a local pet store (literally two blocks from our house) and donated it. This is the same pet store that let us use a kennel for free when we first brought Doug home. Give and give back.

And now, The Mundie Awards.

THE NFL WEEK 3 MUNDIE AWARD

The Mundie will be awarded to a player or players who were winners during the previous week(s), whether directly by scoring a lot of fantasy points or from a volume/opportunity standpoint that puts them in a position to score a lot of fantasy points moving forward.

DeVonta Smith (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)

It seems like a long time ago that DeVonta Smith went catch-less on only four targets in Week 1. The typical Week 1 panic and overreaction ensued, but there was slight justification for the concern. After the blockbuster trade made by the Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft to acquire WR A.J. Brown, there was a question about Smith’s fantasy value. 

The Eagles ran the ball over 500 times in 2021, leading to an overall run-pass ratio of 47.3 percent pass plays and 52.7 percent run plays (the lowest pass ratio in the NFL). 55.6 percent of the Eagles’ 2021 TDs also came on the ground, the highest rate in the league. We expected a more balanced approach coming into the season, but still likely a relatively run-heavy attack. 

There was also the question about Jalen Hurts’ abilities as a passer. Would there be enough passing volume and enough passing talent with Hurts to support Smith as a valuable fantasy WR, with the newly acquired Brown likely being the team’s WR1?

nfl week 3
DeVonta Smith is currently the PPR WR18.

Then Week 1 happened. Brown earned 13 targets, catching 10 passes for 155 yards and securing a 44.8 percent target share. Meanwhile, Smith saw only four targets and caught none of them. Hurts was 18 of 32 (56.3 percent completion rate) for 243 yards and no passing TDs. The Eagles rushed 39 times for 216 yards and four TDs, with 54.9 percent of their plays being runs. Even Miles Sanders rushed for 96 yards and a TD. It may have seemed 2021 was on repeat. However, the context of the game script dictated this heavy run scheme. The score was close at the end of regulation after a massive comeback by the Lions. Yet, the Eagles jumped out to an early lead, at one point leading 31-14 early in the third quarter. 

In Week 2, the Eagles again jumped out to an early lead, carrying a 24-7 lead into the half against the Vikings. Once again, the Eagles rushed 34 times for 163 yards and two rushing touchdowns, calling a rushing play 52.3 percent of the time. The key difference in Week 2, relating to the WRs, was Hurts’ performance. Hurts finished 26 of 31 (83.9 percent completion rate) for 333 yards and threw one TD to Quez Watkins. Hurts completed 11 straight passes to start the game. 

So, while both the Eagles’ run-pass ratio and Hurts’ total pass attempts were similar to Week 1, his completion rate was almost 30 points higher. Hurts spread the ball around, with his 31 targets split up amongst eight different pass-catchers. Brown led the way again with eight of those targets, but Smith earned seven, catching all seven for 80 yards. Smith’s target share was still average for a WR at 22.6 percent, but it erased the concern that his Week 1 target share (13.8 percent) represented any kind of new normal.

Sure enough, in NFL Week 3 against the Commanders, Smith went full ham and eggs, catching eight passes on a team-leading 12 targets (35.3 percent target share) for 169 yards and a receiving TD. The Eagagain jumped out ahead early, leading Washington 24-0 at halftime. But in this game, the scales tipped back to the passing side (53.8 percent pass plays) even in a positive game script. Hurts’ completion rate came back down to Earth (62.9 percent) but was good enough to support Smith’s huge day and still leave Brown with eight catches for 85 yards and his own receiving TD. 

Hurts has proven that he is the real deal and can support two fantasy WRs. I believe the Eagles’ offense will go back and forth between pass-heavy and run-heavy depending on the opponent. So there may be games where both Smith and Brown’s fantasy output is somewhat tempered. But despite the nervous start to the season, Smith is a clear NFL Week 3 winner and has the staying power we were hoping for. 

Other NFL Week 3 Winners

James Robinson (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Khalil Herbert (RB, Chicago Bears)
Mark Andrews (TE, Baltimore Ravens)
Marquise Brown (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
Christian Kirk (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, New England Patriots)

THE NFL WEEK 3 ANDY BERNARD WALL PUNCH AWARD

I have already changed the name of this award after only one column. But the theme of this award is overreaction, and ‘The Office” character Andy Bernard said it himself after punching through the wall, “That was an overreaction.” This award will be awarded to a player or players as a warning to not overreact to recent performances or outcomes, either good or bad.

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Miami Dolphins)

Tua Tagovailoa receives this award in NFL Week 3 because I implore you not to overreact to his sub-par fantasy performance against the Bills. Let me preface by referencing Ian Rapoport’s Tweet:

Tagovailoa had a rough fantasy day. There’s no way around that. He only attempted 18 passes, completing 13 for 186 yards and one passing TD. I lost Trey Lance in my home league, and I am rolling with Tagovailoa, so I can tell you that it was only good for 11.4 fantasy points. If you look at this fantasy box score, making decisions for Week 4, there may be an urge to give up and look elsewhere. 

nfl week 3
Tua Tagovailoa is currently the QB6.

I am advising against that. The Bills came into NFL Week 3, giving up the least amount of fantasy points to QBs. Granted, there were injuries in the Bills’ secondary, including an unfortunate season-ending neck injury for safety Micah Hyde. But the Bills are still a bad matchup. Adding up rushing and pass plays, the Dolphins ran only 37 plays. The average plays per game are around 60 per team. Chase Edmonds also ran in two short TDs. This was a strange game for the Dolphins because they ended up winning the game, but the Bills dominated the time of possession, running a total of 86 plays, including 63 pass attempts by Josh Allen. This scenario will not be the norm.  

In Week 2, Tagovailoa set the fantasy universe on fire, leading the Dolphins on an improbable comeback against the Ravens, finishing the day with 469 yards on 50 pass attempts, including six passing TDs. The Dolphins ran 68 plays, slightly above the typical team plays-per-game average. 

Tagovailoa obviously will not put up those astronomical numbers regularly, but he showed how high his ceiling can be. For me, the key to my confidence beyond Tagovailoa himself is the new head coach, Mike McDaniel. I am 100 percent sold on McDaniel as the Dolphins’ head coach with a borderline genius offensive mind. Now through the Bills, the Dolphins do not face another top-tier defense until the 49ers in Week 13.

These are the Dolphins’ upcoming matchups between now and Week 13: Bengals, Jets, Vikings, Steelers, Lions, Bears, Browns and Texans. It’s wheels up for Tagovailoa.

THE NFL WEEK 3 BUFFALO BRANCH AWARD

No relation to the Bills. The Buffalo Branch Award will be handed out to a player or players who were “not great Bob” during the previous week(s) and is representative of the trend rather than the exception for that player.

Travis Etienne (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Let me start by saying I still think Travis Etienne is a very talented RB who will be a highly valued three-down RB in the NFL someday. However, it looks like it will take an injury to James Robinson for that to happen this year. I see him as a flex option moving forward in 2022 with a healthy Robinson. This is unfortunate for those of us who spent relatively high draft capital on Etienne, hoping for a solid RB2. But that’s the risk we all take with players whom we haven’t seen yet. 

Now, I couldn’t be happier for Robinson and the fantasy managers who took a chance on him in redraft formats for the immediate success he’s having. It is one of the more positive stories in the NFL in 2022, as Robinson returned from the dreaded Achilles injury faster than anyone expected and hasn’t lost a step. The unexpectedness of this is a major reason why Etienne’s expectations were so high. But with a three-game sample size, the proverbial writing is on the wall.

Etienne has averaged the following numbers per game so far:

• 8.7 rush attempts for 37.3 rushing yards (zero rushing TDs)
2.7 receptions on 3.33 targets, for 27 receiving yards (zero receiving TDs)
• Target share: 9.3 percent
• RB rush share: 33.8 percent
• Points Per Reception (PPR) Fantasy points per game: 9.8

These are flex RB numbers. And the rushing statistics are slightly skewed because once the Jaguars were up three scores on the Chargers, Etienne mopped up the garbage-time carries. I don’t see this changing unless something happens to Robinson, who was the overall  PPR RB3 on a points-per-game basis entering Week 3 . Robinson then put up another 100 yards and a TD against the Chargers.

Other NFL Week 3 “Not Great Bobs”

Carson Wentz (QB, Washington Commanders)
David Montgomery (RB, Chicago Bears)
D.J. Moore (WR, Carolina Panthers)
Darrell Henderson (RB, Los Angeles Rams)


Thank you so much for reading! As I have moved toward more analytics-based fantasy football content, my goal is to provide that content in a manner that is as easy to digest as possible. Advanced analytics are very useful, and I think can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me to explain more about the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open.

And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.