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Thursday, 18 September 2014 18:00

Fantasy Football Week 3 Preview

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Week 2 of the Fantasy Football season was filled with deactivations, injuries and surprises across the NFL. Wipe those tears away, time to figure out how you’ll combat your setbacks for Week 3.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Neither team played well on Sunday, with each team only having one player that performed well. Julio Jones is an every week starter, but the Bobby Rainey is a bit more complicated. He will surely receive playing time even once Doug Martin comes back, but the questions are what will his usage be and when will Martin return? If Martin is out (expected to be) I think Rainey is an RB1 against a horrible Falcons running defense, and if Martin does play Rainey should at least be a Flex play. Ryan shouldn’t have much difficulty against the Bucs so don’t be scared to start him, the Bengals defense was just that good. Steven Jackson isn’t more than a Flex at this point, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he got his 1st rushing TD of the season here. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are going to have breakout games at some point, and I think this week is a good chance for that. Josh McCown has struggled, but he has no excuse this week against the Falcons.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Minnesota fans were chanting Teddy Bridgewater’s name on Sunday and they did for good reason. Matt Cassel looked horrendous against the Patriots, which negatively affected Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings. Kyle Rudolph had some opportunities, but he had a few pretty inexcusable drops. The Saints defense has looked very suspect through two weeks, and I doubt they can contain someone of Patterson’s skill level. I think Patterson is a WR2, and Rudolph is a low end TE1, with Jennings as a bench player for now. Matt Asiata had a pretty good 1st quarter, but after that he didn’t do much. I think he’ll be a solid RB2 against a struggling Saints defense. Speaking of struggles, COME ON BREES!! His first two games have been very uncharacteristic, but he’ll be at home this week and should have a much better performance. Marques Colston went without a target last week and I can’t see that happening again. Outside of Colston (Flex), Jimmy, and Cooks (Flex) I’m sitting the Saints receivers. Pierre Thomas should have a solid day with Mark Ingram now out for a month, but I think the real RB to look for is Khiry Robinson. Robinson is my Sleeper Selection as he’s the bigger back and will most likely get the goal line carries. Thomas will have more catches, but Khiry should have more carries and scoring opportunities.

Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots

The Patriots defense was great vs the Vikings and I think they should play similarly against the Raiders. Derek Carr hasn’t been bad, but he could make some mistakes trying to force the ball to James Jones, who is quietly becoming a solid WR on this team. I doubt Jones goes for 112 receiving yards and a TD against Darrelle Revis, but he’s Carr’s main target and a Flex play for me this week. Darren McFadden may have scored a TD, but he didn’t look that good. I’d bench McFadden this week; there are plenty of other options that you could use at RB. One such option is Stevan Ridley, who was out of Bill Belichick’s doghouse and finished with 101 rushing yards and a TD. Shane Vereen shockingly didn’t get many opportunities, but it seems like Bill didn’t want people to forget Ridley exists. He was a very good RB for this team in the past, but his fumble troubles kicked him out of Belichick’s good graces. I think Ridley and Vereen are high-end Flex plays here. I love that Julian Edelman is picking up right where he left off last year, but it would be nice if Tom Brady spread the ball around more. He followed up Week 1’s 56 attempts with only 22 last week. I can’t imagine Brady throwing less than 30 times again, but he’ll be going against a team that’s last in the league against the run and if the Pats go up big early we may not see Brady throwing too much. I like Edelman and Gronk, but Brady hasn’t played well enough to make any other receiver start worthy.

San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills

The Antonio Gates era in San Diego is still very much alive and well, so I feel bad for anyone who came into the season expecting big things from Ladarius Green. I think Green is droppable right now, he just isn’t involved in the offense at all. Keenan Allen has had a rough two weeks, but I think he gets on the right track Sunday against the Bills. He’s been targeted 15 times in the first two games so the looks are there, he’s just unfortunately been against two really good defenses. The big news other than Antonio Gates tearing up the Seahawks is that Ryan Mathews has a sprained MCL and will be out for 4-5 weeks. You may think “oh crap Woodhead is going to start”, but I think you should turn your attention to Donald Brown. Brown is my Sleeper Selection, as he hasn’t done much so far, but he’ll be the main RB on the Chargers now. Woodhead will certainly catch passes as usual, but I believe Brown will truly fill Mathews’ role. I’ve been skeptical of Sammy Watkins, but he was EJ Manuel’s favorite (only significant) target. He’s definitely a Flex for me, but that’s it for the Bills receivers. For the 2nd week in a row CJ Spiller has scored a TD in an unexpected way, this time being a 102 yard kick return. Although I think Fred Jackson is the better RB right now, FJax didn’t do much to prove my point (12 attempts for 24 yards). The Chargers have done well versus the run so far, so I’d have to say both RBs are Flex plays, with Spiller the higher of the two.

Dallas Cowboys at St. Louis Rams

The Cowboys have finally learned that they have a top RB and need to run the ball to ensure their victories (not leaving it up to Tony Romo). DeMarco Murray is a top-5 RB going forward if the Cowboys continue to give him 20+ carries and he can stay healthy. The running will free up the passing game, keeping Dez at an elite fantasy WR level.  The downside here is that Romo will throw the ball less, lowering his value and that of Jason Witten and Terrance Williams. Witten is still being targeted quite a bit, so hopefully his first two games are just outliers on what should be a great season. Terrance Williams has big play potential, but I think Romo throwing less will affect him the most. The Rams secondary still needs to prove to me it’s a solid bunch as they’ve only faced Matt Cassel and Josh McCown this far. I’m ranking Williams a Flex off of potential alone. For the Rams I think Zac Stacy will have a solid day (RB2), but I’m not sure about anyone else. Austin Davis was efficient, but he didn’t score and I don’t think he’ll light up the Cowboys. The Boys’ defense looked horrid against the 49ers, but since the second half of that game they’ve played well. My Sleeper Selection is Brian Quick, who has been targeted 9 times in each game and is averaging 86 receiving yards. If anyone in the Rams’ offense other than Stacy is going to do anything, I think it’ll be Quick.

Washington Football Franchise at Philadelphia Eagles

Washington tore apart the Jaguars and the Eagles defense hasn’t looked too great. Alfred Morris is coming off of a 2 TD game, which can’t be expected every week, but the Eagles just gave up 149 rushing yards to Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson (ugh).  Morris is a clear RB1 this week, and I think you can make an argument for his QB to be starter worthy. The Eagles haven’t done a great job against opposing QBs, so I think Cousins is a top-10 sleeper. I’ll leave Garcon’s stat line as a fluke, and I think DeSean plays, so both should be in your starting lineups. Niles Paul looks real, so I hope you grabbed him this week. Not much to say for the Eagles. I like Maclin (WR2), McCoy (RB1) and Sproles (RB2) here, and I think Foles (QB1) comes out of the gate strong.

Houston Texans at NY Giants

The Texans defense still looks good and Eli Manning is still throwing INTs, you know what to do here. Arian Foster has 55 carries in his 1st two games, so he’s clearly putting the offense on his back. The Texans don’t seem to want the game in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hand, but both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins have had back to back solid games, so I advise starting the two WRs. I’m still not putting much faith in this Giants offense outside of Rashad Jennings (Flex), but I have warmed up to Larry Donnell. Through two games he leads the Giants in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, and after seeing Victor Cruz drop passes on Sunday it looks like Eli may trust Donnell the most. I like Donnell as a TE2, borderline TE1 in PPR leagues.

Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals

The Titans followed up looking great in Week 1 with looking horribly in Week 2. The only player that looked good in both weeks is Delanie Walker, who I think is also the only Titan that warrants a start. Yes the Bengals defense is great, but Jake Locker relied on Walker a lot when they were down, so that bodes well for this week. Seeing Giovani Bernard with 27 carries was a shock to me, and not something I would expect to happen multiple times this season, but he is the best player on this offense with AJ Green hurt. Even if Green does play this week, Bernard is still a top-10 RB. Mohamed Sanu is the WR to own (Flex) if Green is missing, but the better Flex play would actually be Jeremy Hill. The Bengals became a running team on Sunday and I think that’s what they’ll do once they get the lead this week. Bernard is getting plenty touches on the ground and through the air, so he’ll need rest at various points in the game and Hill is certainly capable of picking up the slack.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

Is the Torrey Smith era in Baltimore already over? Steve Smith has quickly come in and already taken the title of #1 WR, and to make matters worse both TEs are already doing much better than Torrey. Torrey is currently tied for 4th on the team in targets with Justin Forsett, and against a good Browns secondary I’d have to say you can’t start the younger Smith on Sunday.  I wouldn’t bite on Owen Daniels; I still think Dennis Pitta is the TE to own on this team. For the Ravens I like Steve Smith (Flex), Pitta (TE), and Bernard Pierce (Flex). Pierce had 22 carries to Forsett’s 8 against the Steelers, so I have to go with the guy getting the opportunities. The Browns didn’t do much offensively, but they surprisingly did enough to beat the Saints. Andrew Hawkins has looked very good as a Flex over the 1st two weeks, so he’s earned Flex consideration from me this week. I can’t ignore 22 targets in two weeks, and this Ravens defense is vulnerable against the opposing team’s top WR. I wouldn’t feel too confident using a Browns RB this week as the Ravens have been great against the run. Jordan Cameron is still questionable, so be sure to check on his status leading up to the game. Other than Hawkins, I think your best play from the Browns is the DST; they are my Sleeper Selection for this matchup.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Rodgers showed how elite he was last week and I think that continues in Detroit. The Lions secondary isn’t as good as their line, and I definitely think Rodgers can exploit them. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are WR1’s here, and Eddie Lacy is a RB1. Don’t let Lacy’s play scare you away, he’ll still get a bunch of carries plus some catches out the backfield. I’ve seen Davonte Adams’ name come up as possibly the new #3 WR in Green Bay, but I’m not jumping to grab him yet unless I’m in a deep league. Reggie Bush is the starting Lions’ RB in name only. Joique Bell was far more involved and had more carries for a 2nd week now. I think Bell is an RB2 and Bush is a Flex play. Eric Ebron hasn’t done much in two games, so I’d keep him on the bench for now. Golden Tate is a Flex play in PPR leagues, but outside of Megatron the Lions aren’t really offering any fantasy-worthy receiving options.

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

Although the Colts are 0-2, Andrew Luck is still performing very well. He’s a definite QB1 against the Jags this week. Trent Richardson looked the best he has in a very long time, but he still only averaged 3.8 yards per carry, fumbled twice, AND was outperformed (again) by Ahmad Bradshaw. I’m *this* close to dropping Trent, and in my mind this is his last game to prove he deserves a spot on my roster. Ahmad Bradshaw looks like the better play to me, and I’d use him as a Flex this week. TY Hilton had another decent game, so he’s a Flex as well. I still think Reggie Wayne is the top WR for the Colts, so Wayne is a WR2 for me, and finishing up the Colts I have both TEs on the bench with the DST as a starter. For the Jags, well, ummm…no one. There are too many options across other teams to risk using a spot on a Jags player.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

I’m not sure what to think of the 49ers defense, but I can’t see Drew Stanton doing a lot of damage. I’d start the 49ers defense, along with Colin Kaepernick (QB2), Frank Gore (RB2), Michael Crabtree (WR2), and Anquan Boldin (Flex). I realize the Cardinals have a great run defense so far, but they haven’t faced anyone like Gore yet. Vernon Davis hasn’t been practicing and was on crutches at the end of Monday night’s game, so things aren’t looking good for him this week. For the Cardinals I’m not too optimistic about anyone other than Andre Ellington. Yes he still has foot pains, but he’s still running well and I’m not so sure Bruce Arians keeps the ball in Stanton’s hands to get the win. Larry Fitzgerald got a lot of looks from Stanton, and I expect that to continue this week. He’s a Flex for me (WR2 in PPR), and his counterpart Michael Floyd is a Flex as well. Last week was discouraging to see for Floyd owners, but he did have 6 targets so hopefully more of those can be converted to catches this time around. I like the Cardinals DST here as I don’t expect this to be a high scoring game.

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

This Super Bowl rematch shouldn’t look like the Bowl did. I can’t see the Seahawks scoring so many points against an improved Broncos defense, and the Broncos should (SHOULD) be able to put up some numbers Sunday. The Seahawks couldn’t contain Antonio Gates, so I have plenty of doubt that they’ll contain Julius Thomas. Montee Ball hasn’t been impressive to me, so going against the Seahawks defense I think he’s a Flex. We’re still waiting for him to have a breakout game, and I’m not too sure it happens this week. He’s averaging 3.6 yards per carry and I don’t think he does much better than that against Seattle on the road. Russell Wilson is a top-10 fantasy QB through two games and I think he’ll stay up there after Sunday.  He doesn’t make mistakes and remains efficient in (and outside) the pocket. Percy Harvin remains a top-15 play here, and I like Marshawn Lynch on the ground if he can play. He’s reportedly suffering back spasms which have been a recurring thing throughout his career, but if he can play I think he’s a top-5 RB. If Lynch can’t play then Robert Turbin will likely be the starting RB, but I wouldn’t feel confident starting him. I would be scared to start either defense here.

Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins

The Chiefs don’t look good, but they still have a running game. If Jamaal Charles can’t play then you better start Knile Davis if you have him. The Chiefs are a running team and should remain as such because no one in the passing game is getting things done. The revival of Mike Wallace continues, and I think he’s a WR2 this week. With Knowshon Moreno out Lamar Miller will get the start, who I think can have a solid Flex day with RB2 upside. Charles Clay was able to catch 7 passes, but somehow only came out with 31 yards. He’s going to be featured heavily in this offense, but I need to see him actually score or get a reasonable amount of yards to warrant a start. I like Clay, but I’m benching him this week. Sleeper Selection here is Brian Hartline. Ryan Tannehill isn’t going to throw the ball 49 times a game, but 8 targets last week is closer to what I think the norm will be for Hartline. He was a big part of the offense last year and I can’t see why this year would be any different.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers

I expect a low scoring game here. I’m not sure what was wrong with the Steelers defense last week, but the Panthers aren’t exactly a top offense in the NFL. Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Cam Newton, Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin look good to me here, but I’d be wary of anyone else. Benjamin dropped a few passes last week, but I don’t expect that to be a common issue. I love the Panthers defense in this matchup, and I’d actually put the Steelers DST as a Sleeper Selection. This team is good against the pass, and I don’t think the Panthers RBs are going to be taking over this game.

Chicago Bears at NY Jets

Brandon Marshall. Man. I don’t care whether he practices this week or not, I’m not sitting him after last week’s performance. Alshon Jeffrey is the one to worry about here, and you’ll have to keep an eye out for his status leading up to the game. Martellus Bennett had another solid night, so you should feel good starting him. Jay Cutler may have himself another top-10 QB week on the horizon, he’s a risky play, but I like him for Monday night. Matt Forte is being started if you have him, don’t worry about his play. For the Jets I like Ivory and Johnson as Flex plays. I’m not touching the Jets defense, and if Eric Decker is out due to his hamstring injury then I’m not touching Geno Smith either. Sleeper Selection = Chicago Bears DST. Geno Smith with no Eric Decker means more forced passes and more opportunities for the defense. That Jets running game is scary though.

Thanks for reading, and follow me @CLNS_Marc for further coverage.