Week 3 is here and with it comes a bevy of potentially fruitful matchups. These players are my best bets to capitalize on their pairings at the running back and wide receiver positions.
DERRICK HENRY, Titans
It was a struggle in Week 1, but the Titans figured out what to do on offense, now that their talented former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is gone, and that’s to give the ball to Derrick Henry as much as possible. Henry touched the ball 41 times in Week 2, racking up 237 all-purpose yards and three TDs against the Seahawks in a big win for Tennessee. He’ll face an Indianapolis team this week that he scored three TDs against in one of their 2020 meetings, the most he scored in a single game that year.
LATAVIUS MURRAY, Ravens
Murray has scored in both games this season for his Ravens team, despite only touching the ball 10 and nine nines in those two games. It’s a crowded backfield in Baltimore, but Murray’s usage increased from Week 1 to Week 2 from 31% of snaps to 36%, and he should find plenty of room to run against Detroit this week. The Lions were the worst team in the NFL in 2020 at defending their end zone from RBs, and through two games of 2021 they’re the second worst. With a staggering TD dependency of 65.22%, Murray is poised to keep up his scoring streak.
CHRIS CARSON, Seahawks
Carson has been the top option in Seattle's backfield, carrying the ball 13 times in Week 2 against Tennessee and scoring twice. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll get the bulk of backfield touches again in Week 3 against a Minnesota team that’s giving up 110 yards to opposing teams on the ground this season. Carson is running with a TD dependency of 48.39% right now, and Seattle could visit the red zone plenty this week in what could be a high-scoring game.
AUSTIN EKELER, Chargers
Ekeler isn’t known for scoring too many rushing touchdowns, but he’s found the end zone once already this season, and more importantly, he’s facing a Chiefs team this week that’s given up a league-worst seven rushing TDs in only two games. With the backfield behind him in flux from week to week, Ekeler is the best bet to find the end zone for the Chargers in what could be another high-scoring matchup.
AARON JONES, Packers
The Packers have discovered a winning plan in getting the ball to Aaron Jones, after falling flat in Week 1. Jones scored four times against the Lions on Monday night, to give him the league lead, and he’ll go up against a 49ers team this week that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs so far this season. Jones is taking his staggering 63.66% TD dependency into a matchup that is set for him to continue to find scoring success.
MARVIN JONES, Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence has found a safety blanket in Jones, who has been on the field 91% and 88% in the first two games, more than any other offensive skill player. In that time, Jones is averaging 10 targets a game, and he’s scored in both games. His 47.62% TD dependency is highest for any WR with at least 20 targets this season, and he’s in line to find the end zone at least once against an Arizona team that the Jaguars are going to have to score often against to keep up with in the game.
TYLER LOCKETT, Seahawks
It’s a good matchup for Tyler Lockett and the Seahawks in Week 3, when they face a Vikings team that’s giving up 2.5 TDs per game to opposing WRs. They’ve given up the second-most points to WRs overall this season and Lockett has scored three times already in only two games. Leading his team in targets and TDs, Lockett has an excellent chance to score in this matchup.
COOPER KUPP, Rams
Kupp is averaging eight catches for 135 yards and 1.5 TDs in two games this season, and I don’t expect his dominant ways to change this week against a Tampa Bay team that has given up the third-most points to WRs this season. Opposing teams have had to put up points to stay in games with the Bucs. Kupp has a TD dependency of 40.36%, the second highest of any WR with more than 20 targets, so count on him reaching the end zone at home against Tom Brady and company.
MIKE WILLIAMS, Chargers
Williams is hitting his stride as the primary red zone target for Justin Herbert. In fact, Williams has caught both of Hebert’s TD passes he’s thrown this season. No WR with more than 20 targets has a higher TD dependency (40.96%) than Williams this season, and there are few corners who can contest with Williams for the ball when it’s in the air. Even against the Chiefs, who have not allowed many passing TDs this season Williams stands a good chance to score through the air in what will be a high-flying matchup.
ADAM THIELEN, Vikings
Tied for the league lead in WR TDs (three), Thielen is the Vikings' primary target in the red zone. He has the highest TD dependency (57.88%) of any WR with more than 11 targets this season, meaning that he makes his targets count. This week, he’ll go up against a Seattle team that hasn’t yet found its footing on defense and could have a difficult time covering Thielen, Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn all at once. This projects to be a high-scoring game, and QB Kirk Cousins will likely continue to look Thielen’s way early and often in the red zone.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by RosterWatch, www.rosterwatch.com.