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Friday, September 22, 2023

Fantasy Football Week 3 buy or sell: Puka Nacua, Zack Moss

There are good first impressions, then there’s what Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua has done his first two games.

In the opening week, he shocked the Seahawks with 10 catches for 119 yards. It came out of nowhere for the fifth-round pick — on an offense that struggled last season, on the road against a pass defense and with an offense that was without its top weapon (fellow WR Cooper Kupp) to distract coverage.

Probably just an anomaly, right? Sure. Maybe it was unusually low production, because in Week 2, Nacua torched the stellar 49ers defense for 147 yards on 15 receptions.

Heading into Monday, only Tyreek Hill had outscored Nacua among WRs this season. I mean, wow. Rather than a fifth-round rookie, that is more in line with the production of, say, a Cooper Kupp.

That’s right, for his first impression, Puka is doing an impressive Cooper impression. But what happens when Kupp comes back from his hamstring injury?

Puka Nacua
Puka Nacua

Well, there is reason for continued confidence in Nacua. First, apparently he is pretty good at being a wide receiver, so there’s that. Also, Kupp will command defensive attention, because he’s been a dominant force for years and Nacua for just weeks. That attention will make it even easier for Nacua to get open.

Say, Nacua’s WR teammate Tutu Atwell has done pretty well through two games — averaging 16.6 in PPR so far. We would imagine, upon Kupp’s return, that type of production would become Nacua’s floor. And Atwell becomes what Van Jefferson has been (mostly invisible), and Jefferson would then become actually invisible.

So things are looking just swell for Nacua the rest of the way. But how does that impact Kupp’s season-long outlook?

Consider: In the 2019-20 seasons, when Kupp was part of a dynamic WR duo with Robert Woods, Kupp averaged 15.5 fantasy points per game in PPR. In 26 games since, as the unchallenged top target, he averaged 24.7.

Puka Nacua

Kupp was drafted in the top half of the first round this fantasy season based on his 24.7 potential. But he might return to the lineup with a roster that delivers closer to a 15.5 outlook.

That’s terrible news for those who drafted Kupp. But here’s a silver lining: We don’t think Kupp is going to be awful. Plus, most fantasy managers don’t think like the Madman, so they might still have dreams of “24.7 Kupp.”

Shop Kupp around before his return, but don’t dump him for peanuts. You want to get back a similar value as the draft capital you spent to acquire him— a top-tier player. Anything less, just ride it out with Kupp.

Conversely, if you missed out on Nacua on waivers, also aim to cash in on the Kupp-return anticipation. Reach out to the manager who has Nacua and see if you can get him on the cheap, playing on fears of a dramatic decline in production.

Those kind of savvy fantasy moves could leave quite an impression on your league, a trophy-shaped impression.

Shop talk

Anthony Richardson QB, Colts

He has played two games and left for injury for at least some time during both. Now he is dealing with a concussion. Find out what he could yield in a trade.

DeAndre Swift RB, Eagles

Fees like his Monster Week 2 should solidify him as top dog in the Philly backfield, but we’re not certain it will, once Kenneth Gainwell returns. If you can get someone to overpay for Swift, do it now.

Jahmyr Gibbs RB, Lions

Ride him while David Montgomery is out, then put him on the block when it looks like D-Mont is nearing a return. Gibbs’ volume will take a dip after that.

James Cook RB, Bills

He could be fourth in line for goal-line work — behind Latavius Murray, Damien Harris ansd Josh Allen. Sell high.

Grab & go

Zack Moss RB, Colts

We didn’t think Deon Jackson would disappear, but he did. Moss is the Colts’ super-bell cow RB (he is the only one who got any Week 2 carries) at least until (if) Jonathan Taylor returns.

Betting on the NFL?

Colts running back Zack Moss (21) in action
Zack Moss? Go get him.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Matt Breida RB, Giants

Luckily, it looks like Saquon Barkley might have avoided a serious ankle injury, but it would be shocking if he plays Thursday vs. the 49ers. Breida is the short-term solution while Barkley is down.

Nelson Agholor WR, Ravens

He led the Ravens in Week 2 catches and targets. With Odell Beckham Jr. dealing with an ankle problem, Agholor could benefit.

Hunter Henry TE, Patriots

Through two weeks his targets, receptions, yards, scores and fantasy totals have been remarkably consistent. Fantasy managers need only for that consistency to stay consistent.

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