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Fantasy Football Midweek Update: Early Season Stars

With 3 weeks in the books, we have seen a handful of mostly undrafted players dominate the scoring at their positions. Who are these upstarts, and what can we expect going forward?

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

This week we highlight a few players who have drastically outperformed their preseason projections – at least after three weeks, in fantasy football perspectives.

First we will shine the spotlight on three popular waiver wire pickups at the running back position – Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis, and Karlos Williams.

Rush Yd Rush TD Rec Yd Rec TD Pos Rank
Devonta Freeman 184 4 115 0 2nd
Dion Lewis 146 2 179 0 6th
Karlos Williams 186 3 16 0 11th

Devonta Freeman had done little before a massive 141 yard, three touchdown outburst in Week 3. It’s likely that he has already had his best game for the season, but if he can claim the clear top running back spot in Atlanta, he can be a solid RB2 or Flex going forward.

Dion Lewis has been the beneficiary of a good deal of receiving yardage – totaling almost 60 yards a game through the air. Lewis also got a good early boost in rushing production due to LeGarrette Blount’s absence. With Blount back, Lewis will likely see a drop in his rushing totals. Going forward he will have decent value in PPR leagues as a Sproles or Vereen type of running back. But it’s highly unlikely he retains his top 10 positional ranking he currently holds.

Karlos Williams has scored a touchdown in every game. Those 18 fantasy points have helped push him to 11th overall in the running back rankings. While he will still get some touches even if LeSean McCoy is healthy, Williams’ value as a fantasy starter is going to be highly dependent on LeSean McCoy’s health.

At the Wide Receiver spot, we highlight a pair of pass catchers who went undrafted in almost every fantasy league: Travis Benjamin and James Jones

Rec Yards TD Pos Rank
Travis Benjamin 10 249 4 4th
James Jones 12 219 4 8th

Benjamin has only caught 10 balls in 3 games, but has turned that into 249 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is averaging 24.9 yards per catch, and almost 5 fantasy points every time he touches the ball. He has been the beneficiary of a few deep bombs which have turned into touchdowns.

To put in perspective just how unrealistic Benjamin’s rate has been, for the year he is on pace to rack up 1,328 yards and 21 touchdowns – on only 53 receptions.

It is incredibly unlikely that Benjamin keeps up that rate. He may get the 53 receptions, but the 1,328 yards seems unlikely, and the 21 touchdowns is just not going to happen. Going forward, he is probably going to be a feast or famine type of player for fantasy purposes.

Jones has a top quarterback, and has a proven track record in Green Bay. He's not so dependent on a long touchdown bomb to produce points for your team. Looking to the rest of the season, he is likely the better option. But like Benjamin, his numbers are inflated by a gaudy number of early touchdowns. He has a chance of finishing as a top 20 fantasy wide receiver, but it’s unlikely that he remains in the top 10 – especially if Davante Adams can get healthy and take away some of those touches.