John Wooden once said, “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.”

In the world of Fantasy Football, failing to meet expectations, is expecting to fail.  So, when DeAndre Hopkins brought in only 13 receptions in his first three games while nursing a questionable hamstring, I expected my Fantasy Team to suffer greatly, while preparing to fail.

The Las Vegas (Will always be Oakland to me) Raiders let me down as well, as my RB2 running back Josh Jacobs missed game two with a hamstring issue.  I replaced him with his backup Kenyan Drake, a standard Fantasy Football maneuver.

Drake ran for a total of 9 yards on 7 carries.  Again, preparing to fail.

But Fantasy Football is not about one or two men.  It’s about the totality of the team.  Hopkins, Jacobs, and Drake may have let me down, but others came to my rescue.

After just three games, here our ten players that are either saving your season or ruining your season, depending on your roster.


  • Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – McCaffrey is the unquestionable number one pick in every Fantasy Football League. But after missing the last game-and-a-half with a hamstring injury, most of last season with a variety of issues, and the expectation of being sidelined for the next three weeks at minimum.  If you picked McCaffrey as your bread winner, you just got burnt.
  • Ezekiel Elliot (DAL) – Elliot was the fifth-ranked running back according to Fantasy stats. But after just 27 carries in his first two games, and the embarrassment of being outrushed by teammate Tony Pollard. Elliot is costing your teams victories right now.
  • Saquon Barkley (NYG) – It is hard to blame the Giants for putting the often-injured Barkley on a pitch-count. But with only 39 carries after three games, what exactly are the 0-3 Giants saving him for?  Game ten, when they are officially out of the playoff race so they can shut him down for good?

  • Kyle Pitts (ATL) – If you chose Darren Waller (LVS), Travis Kelce (KC), George Kittle (SF), Mark Andrews (BAL), or even TJ Hockenson (DET), you’re probably doing fine. But Pitts was rated as the sixth best TE in a high-octane offense.  Instead, Pitts has just 11 receptions over three games with no TDs.  That’s the Pitts alright.
  • J. Brown (TEN) – I thought that Deandre Hopkins (AZ) and his pedestrian 13 catches while nursing a bad hamstring over three games was the Fantasy killer. But Brown is nursing a bad hamstring and has just 7 receptions.  Low hand wins.


  • Derrick Henry (TEN) – Thank you Captain Obvious. But McCaffrey, Barkley, and Delvin Cook (MIN) have all missed major time due to injury.  All Henry has done over the first three games includes 80 carries, 353 yards, 3 TDs, and another 12 catches for 105 yards.  Since the best ability is availability, Henry should be the first pick next year, the year after, and the year after that.
  • Cooper Kupp (LAR) – I chose two WRs before grabbing Kupp as my Flex in this year’s Fantasy Draft. Who knew that Kupp would have 25 catches for 367 yards and 5 TDs after just three games?

  • Mike Williams (LAC) – Williams was projected as the 42nd best wide receiver prospect in this year’s Fantasy Draft, and I believe he’s the 10th player named Mike Williams to play in the NFL. After 22 receptions for 295 yards and 4 TDs after the first three games, this Williams is making a name for himself.
  • Brandon Cooks (HOU) – Cooks has played for four teams over seven seasons, is rarely the number one receiver, and is about as obscure as the quarterback that is relegated to throw him the ball for this year’s Texans. And yet, the 32nd rated receiver has already caught 23 passes for 322 yards over the first three games.
  • Justin Tucker (BAL) – In Fantasy Football, the kicker is generally drafted in the last round, almost as an afterthought. Here’s to anyone that drafted Tucker a round early.  Especially after his 66-yard field goal won the game on Sunday.  Does a player get more points for a record-breaking FG?  I have no idea.

But it should.


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Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship