QB Case Keenum, Denver Broncos
The Broncos offense was a mess in Baltimore last Sunday, but will now return home for a long week of preparation to face the high-powered Chiefs. Case Keenum will likely fare much better against a Chiefs team that ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense to open the season, having already coughed up 1,088 passing yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception. Eric Berry (heel) is unlikely to play, and the Chiefs may have lost a difference-making pass rusher in Dee Ford (groin) as well. The excellence of Patrick Mahomes ensures that Denver will need to throw late and Keenum is capable of hitting his shifty receivers once they gain separation from the Chiefs weak cornerbacks.
RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
Despite Bears HC Matt Nagy’s public claim to get Jordan Howard the ball more often, Tarik Cohen remained heavily involved with eight touches for 68 yards in a win over the hapless Cardinals last Sunday. That production came despite positive game flow, so he figures to see double-digit touches if the Bears fall behind against a high-powered Bucs offense. Whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston starts, Tampa is capable of hanging points on the board, while their defensive scheme remains vulnerable against opposing backs and tight ends. The Bucs rank 27th in DVOA pass defense against opposing RBs and have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards (207) to the position this year.
RB Chris Ivory, Buffalo Bills
Starting Chris Ivory may depend on LeSean McCoy’s status, but McCoy would require a boost of confidence even if he’s able to play through his rib injury this Sunday. Either back seems destined for a heavy workload in a run-heavy scheme since the game plan should be designed to bleed the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers on the field. The Packers rank 26th in DVOA rush defense this season and were gouged for 166 rushing yards by the Redskins last week. Green Bay lost solid DT Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) for what may be several weeks and will have a hard time stopping runs between the tackles with him out.
WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
The Giants offense woke up against a listless Texans team, and Sterling Shepard benefited with six catches for 80 yards and a TD. Tight end Evan Engram (knee) left that contest and is questionable for a Week date with New Orleans, which is giving up the third-most passing YPG (336.7) in the NFL through three weeks. The Saints may also be without slot CB Patrick Robinson, leaving them vulnerable in the middle of the field and Shepard is going to run even more routes out of the slot if Engram can’t go this Sunday.
WR Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns
The Baker Mayfield era has begun in Cleveland, as the gunslinging rookie will star in Week 4 at Oakland. We’ve often seen backup QB s target the receivers with which their most familiar since they worked with the “twos” throughout most of training camp. That explains why fellow rookie Antonio Callaway saw ten targets in the Browns Thursday night win over the Jets. Callaway is an absolute burner with tons of talent, and he’s shown an ability to make plays down the field for Tyrod Taylor. Mayfield is more likely to throw him open on quick hitters over the middle of the field, but either way, we should see a spike in production from the Florida product.
TE Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
There is no reason to shy away from Austin Hooper now that the Falcons have more weapons to worry about on the outside. Julio Jones has always drawn double coverage, but after rookie Calvin Ridley erupted for 148 yards and three scores in Week 3, Matt Ryan should start to work the middle of the field more often with Hooper and big WR Mohamed Sanu. Hooper has corralled 8-of-9 targets for 82 yards with a TD and a successful two-point conversion over the past two weeks. He would draw far more attention if that conversion was another TD, giving him “Sleeper” appeal in a juicy matchup against a Bengals team that’s allowed 218 receiving yards and a pair of scores to opposing TEs through three games.