A full slate of 16 games are ahead for Week 3 and a lot of injuries have hit star players. Who can you use to fill in for your hurt Fantasy Football studs? Let’s get right into my Week 3 preview.
Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
The Chiefs have done a great job limiting opposing offenses so far, so it’ll be interesting to see what this Eagles offense can do against its first defensive challenge. For the KC side I would have to bench the defense just because the Eagles have been starting games strong and aren’t turning the ball over nearly as much as they used to. Jamaal Charles had 10 targets last year, making him more involved in the passing game than Dwayne Bowe. Bowe did get a TD last week, and the 8 targets are encouraging. He’s a Flex with WR2 upside. DeSean Jackson is tied for the top highest scoring WR so far and his battle with Brandon Flowers will be interesting to watch. LeSean McCoy didn’t register a lot of ground yards, but with 100+ yards receiving he kept his fantasy owners happy. Michael Vick is a start-able QB here, but he may get hit a lot in this game, and he’s already gotten banged up a couple times this season. Overall I think the Eagles offense can thrive, but they may burn out by the second half. My Sleeper Special in this matchup is Alex Smith, who has 2 TDs in each of his first two games. Philly is giving up 360 passing yds a game and 5 TDs so far. Smith shouldn’t have any issues against them on Thursday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Both of these teams are coming from poorly played games, in which both offenses couldn’t get much going. First off I want to say this Buccaneers defense is nothing like it was last year. I expected vast improvement over their league worst pass defense and so far they’re doing that. Drew Brees was able to throw for 322 yards, but only 1 TD. Tom Brady doesn’t have the options that Brees has, so he’s honestly in line for a bad game. The Bucs aren’t in the clear either, as the Pats have been very good on defense. I think Doug Martin will be the highest scorer here, and look for the Pats defense to give Josh Freeman a difficult time. Sleeper Special is Aaron Dobson. Dobson had 10 targets last week, and I doubt he’ll drop so many passes again. Amendola is still out and Gronk is questionable at best, so Dobson will still be involved.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
The big story here is Larry Fitzgerald’s health. Hopefully his hamstring won’t bring too much difficulty this week, but it was bad enough to take him out of the game last week. It’s hard to suggest starting him this week, especially since it’s an obvious issue and the Saints defense has been much tougher against the pass. A limited Fitz doesn’t bode well for Palmer, so I’d bench him for this week. Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd get a bump due to Fitz’ injury, but the only one I’d play here is Roberts. The Saints offense didn’t play as well as normal last week, but they should bounce back this Sunday. Not much to say for them other than Colston may be limited due to his matchup with Patrick Peterson. Peterson had a bad week against Megatron, but come on, that’s Megatron. Sleeper Special goes to the Saints DST. Rob Ryan is getting this defense in line, and the Cardinals offense really hinges on the health of Fitz.
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
I didn’t need to say much about the Saints, and I don’t need to say much about the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is reminding everyone how great his offense is and the only thing that needs to be said is James Starks will be a decent Flex fill-in for Eddie Lacy, as I assume Lacy will have to take at least one week off. The Bengals run defense should limit Starks, so I wouldn’t toss him in the lineup just yet unless you really have no other RB to play. The Bengals offense on the other hand isn’t impressive other than AJ Green. Giovani Bernard’s 2 TDs are nice, but he’s still only getting about a third of the carries Law Firm is getting. I expect the Bengals to need to throw more to keep up, so both Bengals RB’s may not be very useful. Sleeper Special is Jermaine Gresham. 9 targets on Monday shows he’s still highly involved, even with the addition of Tyler Eifert. Again I think the Bengals will need to throw more, and Dalton will need someone other than Green to throw to.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys
Is it time for Tavon Austin to be unleashed? 12 targets and 2 TDs later, I’m led to believe that we’re going to see the rise of Tavon soon, and he should be a nice Flex against the Cowboys. The Cowboys defense is playing well, but Bradford has been on a tear and I’m not sure how much they’ll limit him. Daryl Richardson had a bad week against the Falcons and I doubt he’ll do much better against the Cowboys who were able to limit Jamaal Charles to 55 yards in Week 2. Romo struggled against the Chiefs last week, but Dez Bryant didn’t let that stop him. In general this week should be a shootout as both teams are bad against the pass. DeMarco Murray’s inclusion in the passing game so far keeps his value up as the Cowboys are looking to use him even if he isn’t being handed the ball. Sleeper Special for this game is Austin Pettis. 6 targets first week seemed fluky, but it’s hard to ignore the follow up of 11 targets and a TD. This should be a shootout people.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans
Earlier I mentioned DeSean Jackson is tied for #1 Fantasy WR. Who's he tied with? Yep, I think Eddie Royal is real. 7 receptions off 8 targets for 90 yards and 3 (!!) TDs, following a week where he had 2 TDs. Add in the Malcom Floyd will be missing some time, and Royal should be involved even more. At this point, Royal should be owned in all leagues, and is a definite starter. You can owe Royal’s success to the revival of Philip Rivers. Looks like this offense will rely on Rivers to throw in order to win games, as Ryan Mathews hasn’t really proved himself as shouldering much of the offense yet. Kendall Wright had a solid bounce back week for the Titans, but he isn’t more than a wait and see guy for me. Still not much faith in Jake Locker, and the offense hasn’t been good overall. Sleeper Special is Danny Woodhead. He was targeted 2nd on the team last week and can be very useful in PPR formats.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings
The Browns traded Trent Richardson and have made Brian Hoyer starting QB. This team is clearly in rebuild mode, and until they formally sign Willis McGahee, Jordan Cameron is the only start-able player. Adrian Peterson will shoulder the load (as always) as the Browns defense should have a fun day with Ponder. Greg Jennings had a decent game, but he’ll be facing Joe Haden next and probably won’t hit 84 yards this week. The Browns DST gets my Sleeper Special pick for this game, as I think they will somewhat contain AP and cause a lot of trouble for Ponder.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
And on this day, Megatron conquered once more. The Redskins defense is abysmal. Matt Stafford and Megatron should dominate, handily. Reggie Bush’s injury concerns are legitimate, but he should still put up good numbers even if he is limited. Joique Bell is a good Flex here as well. For the Redskins, RG3 hasn’t played great, but when they’re down he puts up enough to still be a starting QB in fantasy leagues. Alfred Morris and Pierre Garçon should do fine, but that’s about it for the Redskins. Sleeper Special is Ryan Broyles. Not sure if he’ll be back this week, but if he does get in, expect big things. If he doesn’t play then it goes to Brandon Pettigrew because…well…Stafford can’t only throw to Megatron can he? (Don’t answer that)
NY Giants at Carolina Panthers
Stay away from the Giants RB situation. David Wilson is stuck in the doghouse and no one else has really taken charge of the #2 role. Eli Manning should be a good QB2 for this week and Victor Cruz is Victor Cruz. If you’re playing Hakeem Nicks you should feel good about him as a Flex or WR3. He’s yet to score and I feel like Cruz and Brandon Myers are more likely to reach the end zone. Cam Newton played better, but we’re expecting more from him than just 229 passing yards and 2 TDs. The Giants defensive backs have been poor thus far, so Steve Smith and Cam should have good days. Greg Olsen should also be fine to start at TE. Sleeper Special here goes to Ted Ginn Jr. I don’t like to ignore targets and he’s had 8 last week, tied for 2nd on the team. If you need to gamble, here you go.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have actually been good against the run, but that shouldn’t matter for Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Foster will still get most of the carries, but Tate has been more effective and can be used as a Flex in most leagues. Matt Schaub didn’t do poorly once Andre went down, connecting with DeAndre Hopkins 7 times for 117 yds and a TD. Andre should be back, but Hopkins still has value here as the Ravens are bad against the pass. Sleeper Special is Garrett Graham. He followed up his 4 catch, TD performance in Week 1 with a 3 catch TD performance in Week 2. Yes, he doesn’t get many targets nor does he gain a lot of yards, but he is getting looks in the red zone.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
So much for Julio Jones being hurt. He truly capitalized on Roddy White’s injury last week and he’ll do it again this week. White isn’t near full strength and Julio is far better than everyone else on the offense. With Steven Jackson reportedly out for 2-4 weeks, Jacquizz Rodgers will probably get the start, but Jason Snelling played much better than Rodgers did last week. The Dolphins have a good run defense, so I wouldn’t start either RB here. Lamar Miller had a good game last week and should follow that up against the Falcons. The Falcons are ranked well against the run, but their first two opponents weren’t running teams. Although I’m hesitant, I’d have to rank Mike Wallace as WR2 here. His chemistry with Tannehill is definitely building, and although Brian Hartline isn’t going away, Wallace is on his way to being the true #1 WR in Miami. Sleeper Special for this game is Charles Clay. His 7 targets made him the 3rd option, and with TE being so thin this year I not ignoring 108 yards and 1 TD. He’s listed as FB, but he’s clearly involved in the passing game.
Buffalo Bills at NY Jets
EJ Manuel’s 1 TD was a last second toss to a wide open Steve Johnson. The Jets defense has been very solid these first two weeks, and I don’t think the Bills offense is good enough that you’d start anyone other than CJ Spiller. Things are definitely a timeshare in Buffalo, and Fred Jackson is likely to vulture a goal line TD. The Jets’ offense is bad, really bad. Although Chris Ivory is a better runner, Rex Ryan still feels the need to primarily use Bilal Powell. Stephen Hill looks like he’s the #1 WR on the team, and that makes him my Sleeper Special. Santonio Holmes wasn’t that impressive to me and Geno seems to be more comfortable throwing to Hill.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
THE COLTS HAVE TRENT RICHARDSON! Too bad his first game as a Colt will be against the 49ers. Marshawn Lynch ran for 2 TDs against the 49ers, but Trent most likely won’t do the same. Personally I’d still start him as he’ll be involved in the passing game and is due for his first TD this season. Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and TY Hilton should all benefit from the addition of Trent, so play them as normal. Colin Kaepernick wishes he could take Week 2 back, and this offense should have a big bounce back game. Kaepernick, Boldin, Vernon and Gore should be used as normal as well. Play the 49ers DST as well, as no one on the Seahawks managed to do much outside of Lynch. Sleeper Special for this game is Coby Fleener. He capitalized off of Dwayne Allen’s absence with 69 yds and a TD, but temper your expectations against the 49ers.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
You hear that? That’s the Jaguars offense against the Seahawks. Silent. MJD has been horrendously ineffective and Cecil Shorts isn’t beating Richard Sherman. The Seahawks DST will score more than anyone on the Jaguars. I’m not fond of any of the Seahawks WRs, but at least one of them has to stand out here and I think it’ll be Sleeper Special Doug Baldwin as he’s been the best out of the group the first 2 weeks of the season. Oh, and Beast Mode does what Beast Mode wants.
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
In the left corner we have a stout defense plus an improved offense that actually manages to keep its QB upright for the first time in God knows how long. In the right corner we have a diminishing defense with an offense that is so far an embarrassment to call such. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t bad in PPR leagues, but in standard formats they’re Flex plays at best. The Bears are forming a nice offensive core with Marshall, Forte and Bennett, and they should make anyone starting the Steelers DST very uneasy. Sleeper Special goes to Heath Miller. He’s been practicing this week and there’s a good chance he plays. He was Big Ben’s best option last season before his injury, and although he’ll take time to get back to his usual self, it’s not like there are many options for the Steelers.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Next Denver’s demolition tour are the Raiders. The Broncos are 1st against the run, and if they could limit Ray Rice, why would I have any faith in Darren McFadden? The Raiders barely even scored against the Jaguars. I say this game is a complete blowout, so roll out your usual Broncos and laugh with glee as Peyton Manning and his offense leads you to another victory. Eric Decker finishing with the most targets surprised me, and even if the WRs do shuffle week to week, they’re all still serviceable this Monday. Sleeper Special is Montee Ball. He split carries with Knowshon, and he shouldn’t have any running problems against the Jags. His blocking is still an issue, but it’s not like the Raiders have much of a pass rush anyway.
Follow me @CLNS_Marc for more updates as we come closer to Week 3's games.