Week 3 recap: CMC goes down

CMC injury fallout, a slew of slow-starters find their grove and Mike Williams vs. Keenan Allen is a real question.

Talk about a gut punch to start the week.

Just over one quarter into what was a great matchup, Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey pulled up with a hamstring injury on an outside run. He was immediately ruled out of the game, crushing the hopes of almost anybody with CMC on their team in Week 3 and casting doubt that he’d be back anytime soon.

It seems he’s avoided a major injury, though, as the team did not put him on the injured reserve list. We’re all guessing at this point (just like the Twitter doctors watching the same replay you and I saw Thursday night), but it seems like he has a real chance to only miss two games.

If that’s the case, crisis averted. If you’re a CMC fantasy manager with a 2-1 or 3-0 record, don’t need to feel like you have to make a panic trade for a running back. Add Chuba Hubbard (more on that below) if he’s on waivers. But I wouldn't trade more than a borderline starting receiver to get him. The CMC fantasy manager is going to be the only person in the league with much interest in trading for Hubbard, a rental who looked OK Thursday night.

If you enjoy reading this newsletter every week, it would mean the world to us if you’d consider subscribing.

It was also a big week for anybody hanging in there with their studs who had struggled early in the season. James Robinson (134 yards and one touchdown), Saquon Barkley (94 yards and one touchdown), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (109 yards and one touchdown) and George Kittle (92 yards) all rewarded fantasy managers’ patience in Week 4.

It’s a good reminder that things change so quickly in the NFL. There is going to be a whole new list of studs we’re concerned about in one month. You just have to ride the ups and downs.

The home for all HPPP links

Real quick, how does Matt Nagy still have a job?

It was either negligence or a truly terrible coaching job in Sunday’s 26-6 loss to the Browns. The Bears had less than 50 yards of offense, Justin Fields was running the Andy Dalton offense — hey, Matt Nagy, the kid is fast. Maybe get him on the move and in some designed runs — and the Bears also hardly ever did anything but send their offensive line to be slaughtered in five-man protections against Myles Garrett and company.

Subscribe to our YouTube

Brutal. As long as you’re still employed, Matt, would you mind giving me my $5 entry fee back on DraftKings where I started Justin Fields?

Waiver Wire Finds

All roster percentages are per cbssports.com. Players must be rostered in 50% or fewer leagues.

Chuba Hubbard, Panthers, 45% rostered

There’s little doubt who the top waiver-wire target is this week with the injury to McCaffrey. Even with the news that CMC isn’t heading to the injured reserve, it’s still very possible he’s out multiple weeks.

Chuba Hubbard played 38 of 52 snaps after the first quarter compared to just 10 for Royce Freeman. So, we think Hubbard is the guy who’s a startable option. I don’t think you can expect the same type of production from Hubbard as we got from Mike Davis last year, though. He looked decent in spurts against the Texans, but it’s the Texans. The offense labored to move the ball without the entire defense keying on McCaffrey. Still, there’s no question that he’ll be ranked as a top 24-30 running back this week, making him the clear top add.

Marquez Callaway, Saints, 50% rostered

Preseason breakout star Marquez Callaway finally showed some life Sunday with four catches and a touchdown. You could do worse for a desperate flex play in Week 4 than Callaway against the Giants. His size makes him a good contested catch guy, which is a good trait to have with an, uh, reckless quarterback in Jameis Winston.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders, 20% rostered

There’s nothing sexy about this pickup, but it sort of feels like Hunter Renfrow has to be rostered at this point. He’s recorded five or more receptions and 50 or more yards in all three games this season and caught a touchdown in Week 3. Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards have both shown flashes, but Renfrow has been the most consistent receiver on their team. The Raiders are going to have to score points to beat the Chargers in Week 4, making Renfrow an intriguing flex option.

Other names to monitor

Tyler Conklin, Vikings, 4%

Peyton Barber, Raiders, 7%

DeSean Jackson, Rams, 4%

Kendrick Bourne, Patriots, 1%


  • AJ Brown is week-to-week with a hamstring strain. So the Titans’ offense is Julio Jones, Derrick Henry, and…?

  • Rob Gronkowski’s X-rays were negative, and he “looks likely” to play Week 4 against the Patriots. And knowing Tom Brady, Gronk is also looking likely to catch a touchdown.

  • Giovani Bernard is day-to-day with a “slight” MCL sprain. Love a guy getting hurt on a garbage-time touchdown.

  • Sean McVay is hopeful that Darrell Henderson will play Week 4 against the Cardinals. He missed Week 3 with a rib injury.

  • Josh Gordon is headed to Kansas City. I would not be the guy to spring out to add him in a standard 12-team league.

  • James White suffered a hip subluxation in Week 3 and is out “indefinitely.” J.J. Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson are dart throw adds if you’re desperate.

Situation Watch

If I were ranking Chargers’ receivers for the remainder of the season, I still think I’d take Keenan Allen over Mike Williams based on Allen’s long track record of success. But man, Mike Williams has been a baller so far this season and is finally producing like we hoped he could for years.

Williams had 122 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns in Sunday’s win at Kansas City, and he has at least 80 yards receiving and one touchdown in each of the first three weeks. Williams isn’t leaving your starting lineup until further notice, especially as long as Justin Herbert is throwing him the ball. And it’s possible he eventually overtakes Allen as the top fantasy option on the team.

It’s not going to be possible to trust a single Tampa Bay running back until one of them is injured and out of the rotation. Despite playing three running backs in Sunday’s loss against the Rams, Tom Brady led the team in rushing with 14 and one touchdown. (No, you didn’t read that wrong.)

Ronald Jones II carried the ball five times for 11 yards and Leonard Fournette had four carries for eight yards. Giovani Bernard was the most productive back without a single rush attempt, as he had nine receptions for 51 yards and a garbage-time touchdown Sunday. Bernard will almost never have a line like when the Buccaneers aren’t trailing the entire game. All three of these guys have to stay on your bench until further notice.

Antonio Gibson’s 73-yard touchdown reception covered the stink of another game with less than ideal usage. Gibson had 12 carries for 31 yards and played just over 50% of the team’s snaps. He didn’t play a single third down on Sunday. J.D. McKissic is still clearly Washington’s preference on third downs and clear passing situations, such as when the team is trialing and in two-minute drills. It didn’t lead to big production for McKissic like in Week 2, but it puts a firm ceiling on what Gibson can do this season if this continues and gives Gibson the opportunity to be a top 30 running back any given week. Unlike the Buccaneers, I feel better saying Washington looks like a team that will be playing in negative game scripts a fair amount this year. That is bad news for Gibson if that continues.

We’re now at two out of three weeks where you’re thrilled to have had either Jamaal Williams or D’Andre Swift in your lineup. Williams had 67 total yards and one touchdown, while Swift had a monster day with 107 yards and one touchdown. The second-year pro may be on his way to a top 5-10 type of season.

Everybody is talking about Big Ben being washed (he is) but Matt Ryan is quietly not too far behind. Sure, the Falcons squeaked by the Giants on Sunday, but you’d think they could put together a better offensive performance. Cordarrelle Patterson continued his clearly sustainable (lol) stretch of play Sunday with 102 total yards, but Kyle Pitts (two catches, 45 yards) and Calvin Ridley (eight catches, 61 yards) are suffering due to Ryan’s limitations. Ridley at least has a solid PPR or half-PPR floor, but he’s not going to have the ceiling you paid for with his current aDOT. Ryan has always been too willing to dump it down when the defense baits him, but perhaps this gets better with time as he learns a new offense. We can only hope, anyway.

Must Reads

  • You know the drill. Go read Matt Harmon. He’s completely back on the Packers, and I can’t say I disagree.

  • Week 3 winners and losers from CBS Sports’ Chris Towers. Odell Beckham wasn’t eased back at all in his first game since tearing his ACL last year.

  • I’ve expressed some Josh Allen concerns early in the season as he’s looked more like his 2019 self than 2020 on The Athletic. It’s behind a paywall, but here’s an interesting look at how Allen and the Bills finally looked like their 2020 selves in a win over Washington. Here’s the part I found most interesting:

A day after the Bills’ 35-0 victory over the Dolphins, the advanced stats showed that Allen struggled with his intermediate accuracy and rarely threw the ball to his right side in two games. Then, after film study of the Dolphins game, it showed Allen wasn’t keeping his feet underneath him and stayed on his first read a bit too long on some plays. As he’s done so many times in his career, Allen showed the remarkable ability to diagnose the problem during the week, take steps to rectify the issue, then implement immediate changes in the next game. On Sunday, the slightly skittish quarterback from the first two weeks was nowhere to be found. Allen exorcised that version of himself and returned to Highmark Stadium as the poised, MVP-level candidate the Bills saw almost every week.

This & That

A positive sign (finally) for Brandon Aiyuk on Sunday night. Not only did he produce a decent fantasy day, but he also appears to be back on the right end of the 49ers’ depth chart. Hopefully, it continues.

I called this one on our Sunday live stream. (Check those out every week, by the way. Dalton will be back this week. Unlike the bigger shows with thousands of people asking them questions, we will actually get to every single start/sit question you ask.) Saquon Barkley continues to trend in a positive direction.

I’m sorry, Jets fans. I really am.

For as good as Darnold has been, Robby Anderson is struggling.

Oh yeah. Did I mention Najee Harris was targeted 19 (?!) times Sunday!?

Washed. Ben is absolutely washed.

Please hurry back, Josh Jacobs.

How else could I end this one?