Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 3
Should owners still start Trent Richardson in Week 3? Is DeAndre Hopkins an automatic start? Our Dave Richard breaks down all of the fringe options.
Texans at Ravens, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
After having trouble navigating against the Browns last week it's hard to expect Joe Flacco to keep the Ravens' chains moving against a good Texans defense. Good except for third corner Brice McCain , who has had a hand in all four of the scores the Texans have allowed to receivers. It makes Brandon Stokley slightly appealing as a deep, deep sleeper.
No-brainers: Arian Foster , Andre Johnson
, QB, Texans: My Projection: 21 FPTS
He obviously is a better start if Andre Johnson is active. Had 256 yards and two scores with no turnovers vs. Baltimore last year and has multiple touchdowns in two of three starts against them. Have to like his chances for another good game.
Flow chart: Sam Bradford > Cam Newton > Matt Schaub > Carson Palmer > Jay Cutler
, WR, Texans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Hopkins proved last week he's a capable outside receiver. He had to have earned the trust of Schaub. Texans could end up picking on cornerback Jimmy Smith , who struggled back in Week 1 against the Broncos' aerial attack.
I'd start him over: Torrey Smith , Antonio Brown
, TE, Texans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Scored on the Ravens for the first time last year (five career matchups including playoffs). Through two games tight ends have been good for at least nine Fantasy points (14 in PPR) on the Ravens. With at least one TD in each of first two games Daniels is off to a hot start.
I'd start him over: Brandon Myers , Tyler Eifert
, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 19 FPTS
Flacco posted two scores on the Texans in the 2011 playoffs but had either one or zero scores in each of his previous two regular-season meetings. Tough to trust him.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton , Russell Wilson
, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Assuming Ray Rice is inactive, Pierce will take on a Texans run defense that's allowed 3.4 yards per carry to running backs this year with no rush touchdowns allowed. The amount of touches for Pierce puts him in the No.2 RB conversation but I wouldn't expect a huge game. Rice was held to 54 total yards last year at Houston; Pierce didn't register a carry in the game.
Flow chart: DeAngelo Williams > Bernard Pierce > Daryl Richardson > Stevan Ridley
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Had 84 yards in 2011 game vs. Houston, 9 yards in 2011 playoff game vs. Houston and 41 yards in 2012 game vs. Houston. Zero touchdowns. Considering the matchup and his slow start despite 21 targets, he shouldn't be a lock to start.
I'd rather start: Tavon Austin , Nate Burleson
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Brown's legit. He's playing a ton, lining up all over the place and becoming a steady second target. The Texans' top two cornerbacks are pretty strong and they'll be on to Brown, so maybe temper expectations this week.
I'd rather start: Michael Floyd , Chris Givens
Cardinals at Saints, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I can't decide if the Saints defense is legit or if their opponents have been just hit or miss. Only four sacks through two games for New Orleans with two interceptions. Matt Ryan threw for 300 yards against them, Josh Freeman barely got over 100. I suspect Carson Palmer will be closer to Ryan and this game should have a pretty high score as the Saints defense continues to lose talent to injured reserve, the latest being cornerback Patrick Robinson .
No-brainers: Larry Fitzgerald ; Drew Brees , Darren Sproles , Jimmy Graham
, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 21 FPTS
With Larry Fitzgerald , a good game is possible. Without him, it could get rough. Palmer was 3 of 8 for 25 yards in the fourth quarter without Fitzgerald last week. Looks like Fitzgerald will play. Palmer is just not quite appealing enough to call a Top 12 or even Top 15 starter.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford , Matt Schaub
, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Mendenhall has looked good, not great. A decent workload each week combined with the Saints allowing at least 12 Fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (and over 5.0 yards per carry) makes Mendenhall a sneaky No. 2 rusher this week assuming he's healthy. The injury definitely hurts his value.
I'd start him over: Darren McFadden , Darren Sproles
, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Michael Floyd , WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Last week was very disappointing, though playing without Fitzgerald sort of put the spotlight on them. As such, they couldn't shake off tough coverage. Non-No. 1 receivers have posted 9 Fantasy points or less on the Saints so far this year. Reel in expectations for these guys.
I'd rather start: Nate Burleson , Jerome Simpson
, WR, Saints: My Projection: 10 FPTS
You're probably starting him but the Cardinals' corners only messed up on one play through two games: A 71-yard catch and run for Calvin Johnson last week. A trend: Colston has needed at least three games to start his engine roaring, failing to put up big yardage in any of his first three games for all but one of his seasons. Colston's had under 70 yards through the first two weeks.
Flow chart: Eddie Royal > Marques Colston > Eric Decker > DeAndre Hopkins
Buccaneers at Patriots, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Bucs have to ride Doug Martin and the Patriots have to ride Tom Brady . In a normal circumstance there's no comparison as to which side will do better, but Brady struggled against a good defense last week and will have trouble this week unless he gets some help. He needs Rob Gronkowski to be over the top as a good Fantasy passer again. The Bucs have allowed at least 13 Fantasy points to tight ends in each of their this season but have held opposing quarterbacks (15.0 per game), running backs (cumulatively 10.5 per game) and receivers (cumulatively 9.5 per game) down.
No-brainers: Doug Martin , Vincent Jackson ; Rob Gronkowski if he plays
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Tough to trust him after bombing out last week. The Patriots secondary is shaky and hasn't truly been tested yet, but how much of a test is Josh Freeman ?
I'd rather start: Antonio Brown , Andre Roberts
, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Normally a no-brainer but because he's not a slam-dunk Top 12 passer this week he deserves some attention. The Bucs did a good job containing Drew Brees last week (sacked him four times) but it was in poor weather conditions. Expect Brady to target cornerback Leonard Johnson (opposite Darrelle Revis ). Brady picked Johnson apart in their preseason meeting.
Flow chart: Matt Schaub > Tom Brady > Carson Palmer > Andy Dalton > Russell Wilson
, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Tampa Bay's run defense is off to a very strong start. Opposing running backs are averaging 2.8 yards per carry and not one has scored or topped 65 total yards. Of course, no back has attempted more than 12 runs against them. Ridley had 16 carries last week, nine the week before and has totaled 86 yards in two games. Hard to give him a ringing endorsement.
I'd rather start: Lamar Miller , Bernard Pierce
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Edelman probably won't see much of Darrelle Revis in the slot. It does mean a lot of rookie Johnthan Banks or Leonard Johnson . Brady's going to like those matchups. Edelman should catch a lot of passes.
I'd start him over: T.Y. Hilton , Marques Colston
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 7 FPTS
It's already bad enough that Thompkins has just six catches on 21 targets. Now he'll get a face full of Darrelle Revis . It's easy to walk away from Thompkins this week, though there's still some potential here for the future.
I'd rather start: Brian Hartline , Golden Tate
, TE, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Looks like he'll have a chance to play on Sunday. If he can hang on to the ball he'll play against a defense that has stunk against Kellen Winslow and Jimmy Graham (at least 70 yards with a touchdown for each guy). So Sudfeld has some decent sleeper appeal.
Flow chart: Charles Clay > Zach Sudfeld > Heath Miller > Jermaine Gresham
Packers at Bengals, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Bengals defense is strong up front -- a problem for the Packers given their O-line issues -- but there are some beatable defensive backs. Jordy Nelson should pave the way here, particularly against Cincinnati cornerbacks Adam Jones and Terence Newman . The battles between Randall Cobb and Leon Hall (assuming Hall doesn't work on Jermichael Finley ) should be fun to watch.
No-brainers: Aaron Rodgers , Randall Cobb , Jordy Nelson , Jermichael Finley ; A.J. Green
, RB, Packers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Starks dominated a terrible Redskins defense last week. He'll face a nasty Bengals defense this week. Bengals have allowed 2.76 yards per carry to running backs, only struggling a bit with Matt Forte out of the backfield. Starks might total 70 or 80 yards.
I'd rather start: Stevan Ridley , Fred Jackson
, WR, Packers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Will Jones be a decoy like he was in Week 1 or a dominator like he was in Week 2? I'd shoot for decoy: The Bengals cornerbacks and safety have the wheels to keep up with Jones. Unless he gets a couple of red-zone targets there's a chance for a letdown here.
I'd rather start: Josh Gordon , Chris Givens
, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Dalton has 280 or so yards in each of his first two games but just three touchdowns. The Packers' secondary isn't great but the pass rush that goes along with it can force Dalton into some mistakes. Expect a productive but sloppy game.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford , Jay Cutler
, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 9 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis , RB, Bengals: My Projection: 4 FPTS
It's only a matter of time before Bernard takes over in Cincinnati but it's a guessing game as to when that will happen. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden says he's close to letting them split carries. That means they could split, and this is a good week for it. Bernard made a bunch of plays last week and the Packers have given up at least 12 Fantasy points to the best running backs on each of the two teams they've played against. Hopefully Bernard sticks and clicks.
I'd start Bernard over: Bernard Pierce , DeAngelo Williams
I'd rather start over Green-Ellis: Danny Woodhead , Chris Ogbonnaya
, TE, Bengals: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Packers have allowed at least one touchdown to the athletic tight end they've faced in each of two games. Vernon Davis crushed them for 98 yards and two scores while nimble Redskins tight end Jordan Reed scored last week with 18 yards. The Bengals should pass a bunch. This could be Eifert's week.
Flow chart: Owen Daniels > Brandon Myers > Tyler Eifert > Kyle Rudolph
Chargers at Titans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I don't think Tennessee's plan of riding Chris Johnson is changing. The Chargers, on the other hand, could try and get Ryan Mathews going a little. Tennessee's front seven isn't a cake walk but they had a hard time containing Arian Foster and Ben Tate last week (6.1 yards per carry). If the Chargers O-line was healthy (right tackle D.J. Fluker looks like he'll miss the game) then I'd have more conviction for Mathews.
No-brainers: Chris Johnson
, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 22 FPTS
The Titans' pass defense is good but not great. They allowed three passing touchdowns in Houston last week, two to tight ends. Rivers has enough weapons to spread out the Tennessee secondary and make some plays. He seems safer than the underachieving "stud" quarterbacks.
Flow chart: Matt Ryan > Andrew Luck > Philip Rivers > Sam Bradford > Cam Newton
, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Tennessee's defense was exposed last week by Houston. You can see that the Chargers want to get Mathews going and he's responded with an improved rushing average. He could fit in as a very low-end No. 2 running back this week.
I'd start him over: Stevan Ridley , Willis McGahee
, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Really like the matchup for Royal on cornerback Coty Sensabaugh if that's how the Titans play it. Last week, Tennessee's cornerbacks were assigned specific players, the week before they split sides of the field. So long as he isn't double-teamed, Royal's increased playing time and a knack for getting open near the end zone could keep him effective in Fantasy.
Flow chart: Julian Edelman > T.Y. Hilton > Eddie Royal > Marques Colston > Eric Decker
, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Titans have some great veteran safeties but even they got served by the Texans' tight ends last week. Gates shouldn't do as well as last week but a touchdown is possible.
Flow chart: Jermichael Finley > Antonio Gates > Coby Fleener > Jason Witten
, WR, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I like him as a sleeper this week. Kenny Britt is falling out of favor with the Titans, Wright leads the team in targets and the Chargers allowed two scores to wideouts last week and have given up a pair of 100-yard games to receivers already.
I'd start him over: Josh Gordon , Marlon Brown
Lions at Redskins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Two teams that don't have much in the way of defense, especially against the pass. It should mean a lot of points and a lot of real nice numbers for Fantasy. Both are among the very worst in Fantasy points allowed to running backs, but the Redskins rank low in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and receivers too. That should be a big hint as to what direction to go in with your Lions players.
No-brainers: Matthew Stafford , Calvin Johnson ; Robert Griffin III , Alfred Morris , Pierre Garcon
, RB, Lions: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Bush practiced Friday and is listed as questionable. If he's active he's a must, even if he doesn't get his usual allotment of playing time. The Redskins defense is atrocious in all facets. If James Starks can humble them for over 160 total yards and a score, what could an 80 percent Bush do?
I'd start him over: Giovani Bernard , Bernard Pierce
, RB, Lions: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Bush's availability will make the decision to start Bell easier. If Bush is active, Bell might not see any more than 40 percent of the snaps and might only be a third-down factor. That could mean only halfway decent numbers against Washington. Of course, if Bush is inactive then Bell is a must-start since he'll see the better part of every snap.
I'd start him over: Ryan Mathews , Fred Jackson
, WR, Lions: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Four receivers have posted at least 15 Fantasy points against the Redskins this season in two games! We know Calvin Johnson is going to get his and will see coverage tilted his way by the Redskins. Burleson should have his best week of the season.
I'd start him over: Tavon Austin , Torrey Smith
, WR, Redskins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
He's a good sleeper this week, if only because the Lions secondary is thin and Moss seems to be johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to aiding in the Redskins passing game.
I'd start him over: Kenbrell Thompkins , Mike Williams
Giants at Panthers, Sun., 1 p.m. ETWith both teams at 0-2, this is effectively a playoff game since it's hard to rebound from an 0-3 start. The Giants' firepower should give them an edge against a Panthers secondary that lost quality safety Charles Godfrey for the year and cornerback Josh Thomas for the week. The Panthers haven't been strong vs. slot receivers or speed receivers so far this season. Victor Cruz should have a great game.
No-brainers: Victor Cruz , Hakeem Nicks
, QB, Giants: My Projection: 24 FPTS
For me, he's a no-brainer. The Panthers secondary is a mess, the Panthers pass rush hasn't been effective (just four sacks through two games) and Manning has come up big in back-against-the-wall games before. Don't be scared to start Manning even though he has seven interceptions through two contests. He also has at least 350 yards per game. So long as the Giants keep Manning protected he should tear up the Panthers.
I'd start him over: Tony Romo , Cam Newton
, RB, Giants: My Projection: 7 FPTS
We're at the point with Wilson where Fantasy owners have to wait to see him get some decent numbers before trusting him. The Panthers' run defense faltered in Week 2 after looking great in Week 1, but Wilson's playing time was down to 24 snaps (30 pct. of the game) vs. Denver last week. That could be because the Giants were trailing; this game seems like it'll be closer.
I'd rather start: James Starks , Joique Bell
, TE, Giants: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Panthers have done well against tight ends, but they've only seen the likes of Zach Miller and Scott Chandler . Myers isn't a tough challenge but he does have at least 7 Fantasy points in each of his first two games. He should make it three in a row, but is 7-9 points still acceptable for a starting Fantasy tight end?
I'd rather start: Coby Fleener , Owen Daniels
, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Newton was smothered by the Giants last season on a Thursday night, held to one rushing touchdown, 6 rush yards, 242 pass yards and three interceptions. Maybe revenge is on his mind against a Giants defense that has allowed 250-plus yards and multiple passing touchdowns in consecutive games. There's just something amiss with the Panthers' offense -- their game plans have been erratic -- so it might be best to look for another quarterback for Fantasy use.
I'd rather start: Philip Rivers , Sam Bradford
, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The matchup is excellent: Primary running backs against the Giants have posted at least 11 Fantasy points per game so far. But Williams had a great matchup last week and even had 22 carries but couldn't bust up the Bills. There are offensive line issues at play here, capping Williams as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy rusher this week.
Flow chart: Giovani Bernard > DeAngelo Williams > Ryan Mathews > Lamar Miller
, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
For all of the Giants' defensive lapses they've been pretty good against receivers. They held Dez Bryant in check with bracketed coverage in Week 1 and kept Demaryius Thomas in check in Week 2. It could be Smith's turn in Week 3.
I'd rather start: Julian Edelman , Tavon Austin
, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Jason Witten and Julius Thomas have hurt the Giants in the end zone so far this season and Olsen should be next. An argument could be made that Olsen is actually the Panthers No. 1 receiver -- he leads the team in catches, yards and 20-plus-yard plays and is one target behind Smith for the team lead. I learned my lesson last week and hopefully you have too.
I'd start him over: Jordan Cameron , Jermichael Finley
Browns at Vikings, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Brian Hoyer vs. Christian Ponder . Scintillating. Expect both teams to establish the run and use it to get an edge on play-action. Both the Browns ( Josh Gordon ) and the Vikings ( Jerome Simpson ) have deep-ball weapons to line up against questionable cornerbacks. But at least we've seen Ponder connect with Simpson -- Hoyer's arm isn't considered big-time.
No-brainers: Adrian Peterson
, RB, Browns: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Vikings have had trouble defending the run. Reggie Bush and Matt Forte tortured them for at least 160 total yards per game. Good info, but trusting McGahee after missing months of football isn't exactly easy to do. The Browns say he's in great shape but after just a couple of practices it's unlikely he'll land a big workload or be supremely effective.
I'd rather start: David Wilson , Bilal Powell
, WR, Browns: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Hoyer is capable of connecting on long passes as he did last year with the Cardinals (he was also intercepted on some long passes). The Vikes allowed a pair of 30-plus-yard passes to the Bears last week. Maybe Gordon's not such a bad play after all.
Flow chart: Steve Smith > Josh Gordon > Chris Givens > Marlon Brown
, TE, Browns: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Vikings have had major trouble against opposing tight ends: Backup Joseph Fauria found the end zone on them in Week 1 and starter Martellus Bennett got them for two scores and 76 yards in Week 2. They might shore it up eventually but Cameron has played well and should do enough -- even with Hoyer -- to be a useful Fantasy starter.
I'd start him over: Jermichael Finley , Antonio Gates
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 4 FPTS
We've pooh-poohed Jennings through two weeks and we're not changing our tune here. We suspect the Browns will open the game with Joe Haden lined up on Jennings. That could change but Jennings hasn't been overly effective anyway. Tough to start him.
I'd rather start: Jerome Simpson , Lance Moore
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Simpson is a big-time sleeper. What do Brian Hartline and Marlon Brown have in common? Both posted double-digit Fantasy points against the Browns. How'd they do it? They weren't covered by Joe Haden . So unless Simpson draws Haden exclusively, there could be a surprisingly good effort from him.
I'd start him over: James Jones , Antonio Brown
, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Rudolph will be the first real test of the season for the Browns from the tight end position. The Browns did a nice job taking Dallas Clark away from Joe Flacco last week and they might do it again once the Vikings get near the goal line.
I'd rather start: Heath Miller , Zach Sudfeld
Rams at Cowboys, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I'm expecting a shootout. Dallas' defense has managed to be decent vs. the run but when it comes to backs, receivers and tight ends catching passes, the unit leaves a lot to be desired. The return of Anthony Spencer could change those results as he'll put heat on Sam Bradford , but the young quarterback is off to a ridiculous start and should spread the ball around to keep the Rams in the game.
No-brainers: Tony Romo , Dez Bryant
, QB, Rams: My Projection: 21 FPTS
The Cowboys are 2-for-2 in allowing multiple touchdowns to an opposing quarterback, something Bradford's done in consecutive games with at least 299 yards in each. He's a good Fantasy quarterback with only limited downside considering the matchup.
Flow chart: Philip Rivers > Sam Bradford > Cam Newton > Matt Schaub
, RB, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
If Richardson were a one-dimensional runner I'd pan him. But because he can be a factor as a receiver, I like him. The Cowboys are allowing 3.5 yards per carry to rushers but 7.6 yards per catch! Jamaal Charles made them pay on a nifty crossing pattern last week. Maybe Richardson could do something similar if not at least rack up a nice amount of yards.
I'd start him over: Stevan Ridley , Trent Richardson
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Feels like Austin's Week 2 was a direct result of how the Falcons played against him, though no one should mind him being a red-zone target. Both of his scores came from 10 yards or closer. Because of his boom-or-bust potential he shouldn't be pegged as anything more than a No. 3 receiver.
Flow chart: Marques Colston > Nate Burleson > Tavon Austin > Eric Decker > DeAndre Hopkins
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Four wide receivers have posted 10-plus Fantasy points on the Cowboys through two games. Three of them have been outside receivers like Givens. But none of them have Givens' speed. He could be a problem for the Cowboys. It wouldn't be surprising to see him produce as he did a week ago.
I'd start him over: James Jones , Antonio Brown , Vincent Brown
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Not necessarily a player to start but definitely a guy to monitor. Pettis had the most reps of any Rams wideout last week and is coming off of a career-best game.
I'd rather start: Kenny Stills , Denarius Moore
, TE, Rams: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Cowboys struggled with Brandon Myers in Week 1 and didn't have to do much to contend with the Chiefs tight ends in Week 2. If the Cowboys scheme to eliminate Cook, they'll get roasted by the other Rams weapons. Hopefully Cook won't be asked to block much against the Cowboys' pass rushers -- Anthony Spencer could be a factor otherwise.
Flow chart: Martellus Bennett > Jared Cook > Jordan Cameron > Jermichael Finley
, RB, Cowboys: My Projection: 10 FPTS
While the Rams have been excellent vs. the run (2.9 yards per carry to RBs this season) they really haven't been tested. Rashard Mendenhall and the Falcons' backups are the primary guys they've faced. Yet they still allowed a receiving touchdown to Steven Jackson before he got hurt and also allowed a Jason Snelling score. Murray has yet to score this season and isn't a bad play.
I'd start him over: Darren McFadden , Darren Sproles
, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Remember Austin's hot start from 2012? It's the absolute opposite this year -- he's averaging a paltry 7.9 yards per catch and has yet to produce a 10-point game in standard leagues. The Rams have allowed big games to great receivers and mediocre games to mediocre receivers. I'm a little nervous Austin could be bordering on mediocre.
I'd rather start: Vincent Brown , Rod Streater
, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 9 FPTS
St. Louis did a nice job taking away Tony Gonzalez last week and has the personnel to contain Witten this week. Not many people can or would sit Witten so just have modest expectations.
Flow chart: Antonio Gates > Coby Fleener > Jason Witten > Owen Daniels
Falcons at Dolphins, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
The Falcons are in trouble. The run game is without its best weapon and facing a pretty strong defense. The pass game is without a healthy Roddy White . The offensive line is going up against a Dolphins front that already has nine sacks this season. The defense is down Sean Weatherspoon , arguably their top run defender. Matt Ryan & Co. will have their work cut out for them.
No-brainers: Julio Jones , Tony Gonzalez
, QB, Falcons: My Projection: 22 FPTS
I'm nervous about him as the Dolphins held Andrew Luck to just one touchdown last week, but the matchup is somewhat in his favor: Miami has struggled against tight ends big time -- Coby Fleener should have had two touchdowns last week and Jordan Cameron crushed them in Week 1. Ryan also has Julio Jones on his side and his running backs can pitch in on the passing game. You'll still start him, but don't be shocked by an average game.
Flow chart: Eli Manning > Tony Romo > Matt Ryan > Andrew Luck
, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Jacquizz Rodgers , RB, Falcons: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Count on a split between the running backs with Rodgers probably starting and seeing a lot of passing downs work while Snelling works on some running downs and in short yardage situations. We've seen enough of both to know neither one is going to be great. They're deeper Flex options or desperation rushers.
I'd rather start: Ben Tate , David Wilson
, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Same drill as last week. White can't be trusted until we see his reps perk up and his performance improve. White's playing time dropped last week to 53 pct. though his targets did bump up to three. Hooray. Be patient with him and wait for that ankle to heal.
I'd rather start: Mike Williams , Jerricho Cotchery
, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 19 FPTS
You might be nervous starting him but you can't deny the matchup.Atlanta allowed 24 Fantasy points to Drew Brees and 32 to Sam Bradford. This is the Dolphins' first home game, they're a confident bunch, Tannehill is playing well (albeit it's not showing up in the stat sheet).
, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Falcons have been very good against the run so far this season but they'll play without linebacker Sean Weatherspoon for a while. Expect the Dolphins to test that front seven. Miller ran much better in Week 2 against the Colts and didn't hesitate much if at all. That's an improvement from Week 1. He's worth a low-end No. 2 running back spot.
I'd start him over: Bernard Pierce , Stevan Ridley
, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 13 FPTS
A groin injury put Wallace on the injury report late this week. It shouldn't keep him from playing but it does mean keeping an eye on him heading into Week 2. I like him if he plays -- the Falcons have allowed four wideouts to land 10-plus Fantasy points along with four scores to receivers already. Hopefully he suits up.
I'd start him over: Wes Welker , Steve Johnson
Bills at Jets, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ETThe key to this matchup might very well be Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, formerly the Jets defensive coordinator. New York has some turnover on the starting unit but the scheme is largely the same as it's been. EJ Manuel should be prepared for what's coming on Sunday.
No-brainers: C.J. Spiller
, RB, Bills: My Projection: 8 FPTS
You can't deny Jackson's productivity through two weeks. He's performed like a Top 12 Fantasy running back! It's been his receiving skills that have put him over the top in Fantasy but the Jets did well against Doug Martin in that department in Week 1. I'm fine with FredEx as a Flex.
Flow chart: Lamar Miller > Fred Jackson > James Starks
, WR, Bills: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Johnson should be a no-brainer but not everyone buys into him ... even though he's scored in both games. Johnson has a nice track record against the Jets (10-plus Fantasy points in three straight) and should be productive even against a team that did a nice job containing Tom Brady in Week 2.
I'd start him over: Anquan Boldin , Reggie Wayne
, RB, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Bilal Powell , RB, Jets: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Dare I say I like both of these guys in Week 3? Ivory has looked pretty good this season as the Jets continue to limit his exposure. Powell scored last week and has picked up a lot of work along with Ivory. They'll hammer away at a Bills defense that I'm just not sold on, even though they did a pretty decent job against DeAngelo Williams last week. Both Jets should be in the Flex conversation.
I'd start him over: Falcons RBs, Saints RBs, Steelers RBs
, WR, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Bills have been whipped by the deep ball -- the Panthers attempted 11 long passes last week and connected on one for a touchdown. If the Jets follow suit then Holmes (or Clyde Gates ) figure to be their best weapons.
Flow chart: Vincent Brown > Rod Streater > Santonio Holmes > Golden Tate
Colts at 49ers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The Colts have had an exciting week but they're on the brink of being a sacrificial lamb in San Francisco. The Niners have never lost back-to-back games while under the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh. This week Harbaugh faces several of his former pupils including quarterback Andrew Luck , tight end Coby Fleener and Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. He's got a real good understanding of what they can do. Advantage: Niners.
No-brainers: Colin Kaepernick ; Reggie Wayne
, RB, 49ers: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Gore's been sluggish to start the year but so has the Colts' run defense. Starters vs. Indianapolis have posted at least 11 Fantasy points per game so far. Gore should be involved and effective.
I'd start him over: DeMarco Murray , Giovani Bernard
, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Expect him to get back on track with more targets, catches and yards this week. He won't have Richard Sherman taking him away.
I'd start him over: Dwayne Bowe , T.Y. Hilton
, TE, 49ers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Davis was called a gametime decision by coach Jim Harbaugh, which isn't what we want to hear. If he's healthy then he should rumble over a Colts defense down safety LaRon Landry. This Colts defense just got beat up by Charles Clay in Week 2 so they have some work to do to contain vertical tight ends like Davis. If he's out, Vance McDonald would be a desperation add off of waivers.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett , Jared Cook
, QB, Colts: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Luck should be obvious to most but some have other good quarterbacks to go with him and need to make a choice. The Niners' pass defense has allowed big numbers to opposing passers in four of its last five overall. Assume at least Luck will play from behind. That should mean some nice numbers.
Flow chart: Matt Ryan > Andrew Luck > Philip Rivers > Tom Brady
, RB, Colts: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The Colts are talking like Richardson will be a sizable part of the offense in Week 3. If he had more time to prepare I'd probably love him. As it stands now the 49ers run defense is probably going to be refocused after getting crushed by the Seahawks last week and even if Richardson is the least bit underprepared it could be a tough week. Think of him as a No. 3 rusher for this week only!
I'd rather start: Lamar Miller , Chris Ivory
, WR, Colts: My Projection: 10 FPTS
After breaking out last week and showing the Colts' coaching staff they can trust him, Hilton should keep seeing a number of targets both short and deep. It's clear the way to attack the Niners defense is through the air.
I'd start him over: Eddie Royal , Marques Colston
, TE, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I'm buying into Fleener on this simple premise: The more Luck throws, the more he'll get targeted. Fleener left a bunch of stats on the field last week and still managed to topple a good Dolphins defense. The coaches love him, the quarterback loves him
I'd start him over: Jason Witten , Owen Daniels
Jaguars at Seahawks, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
This should be ugly. Seattle will likely dominate with the run before ... well, they keep running. Seahawks ex-defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is now running the Jaguars' ship but his defense is really soft, especially vs. the run.
No-brainers: Marshawn Lynch
, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 19 FPTS
Maybe the Seahawks use this game to get Wilson on the same page as, say, Golden Tate , but they don't have to. Wilson was involved in 11 games last year and already one this year where he attempted 25 or fewer passes. In those 12 games he posted 20-plus Fantasy points just five times (many because of his own rushing numbers).
I'd rather start: Tom Brady , Ryan Tannehill
, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Cecil Shorts , WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 4 FPTS
It's an unfortunate matchup for both of these guys. The Seahawks just got done stuffing the 49ers and are sure to be amped to do the same to the Jaguars. Shorts is so talented and maybe garbage time treats him well, but he's a risk. MJD is even more of a risk -- he has an ankle issue and is going to make the trip to take on this tough defense?! If I were Gus Bradley I'd let him rest.
I'd rather start over MJD: Ahmad Bradshaw , Montee Ball
I'd rather start over Shorts: Emmanuel Sanders , Jerome Simpson
Bears at Steelers, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
The Steelers remain in big trouble offensively while they hang in there defensively. Eventually I expect the Pittsburgh offense to put up very good numbers, but I doubt it against this Bears defense.
No-brainers: Matt Forte , Brandon Marshall
, QB, Bears: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Cutler's O-line has kept him upright, his passes have been crisp, his receivers have been helping him out and his offense seems to be agreeing with him after a miserable camp and preseason. This is a tough matchup, but if Andy Dalton could throw a couple of touchdowns on the Steelers, so should Cutler.
Flow chart: Matt Schaub > Tom Brady > Jay Cutler > Carson Palmer > Terrelle Pryor
, TE, Bears: My Projection: 11 FPTS
If you're not auto-starting Bennett you're not paying attention. Yes, the Steelers have been great against tight ends but Bennett is the best they've faced and has proven to be a red-zone fave of Cutler's. You can't sit him at this point unless it's for a supremely talented option.
I'd start him over: Jermichael Finley , Jason Witten
, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Sounds like Brown got upset over his lack of touches last week. This isn't the opponent to get right against: The Bears were gutted by A.J. Green but have otherwise been outstanding against opposing receivers. Brown's in trouble.
I'd rather start: Chris Givens , Marlon Brown
, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
There's a decent chance Miller plays Sunday. If so, he'll give Ben Roethlisberger a much-needed pal in the passing game. The Bears are fresh off of allowing a score to Kyle Rudolph last week and could be in a bind if Miller is active. Still kind of risky to start him though.
I'd rather start: Brandon Myers , Owen Daniels
Raiders at Broncos, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
Denver beat Oakland 37-6 at home and 26-13 on the road last year. In those games Peyton Manning threw for over 300 yards in each, three scores in the home game and one on the road (it was a Thursday game). One would argue the Raiders defense is worse now than it was last year. It will get the first crack at playing Manning without left tackle Ryan Clady , however.
No-brainers: Peyton Manning , Demaryius Thomas , Wes Welker , Julius Thomas
, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 11 FPTS
The Moreno bandwagon is overflowing with people, mainly because he finally showed us something last week. Moreno's outer edge runs for touchdowns against the Giants were clean and quick. He still has some juice in his knees after all. The Raiders have sneakily been good vs. the run (3.5 yards per carry) but Moreno could still come up with 10-plus Fantasy points.
I'd start him over: Rashard Mendenhall , DeMarco Murray , Darren McFadden
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Look, he's cost himself some opportunities through two weeks. He needs to show better hands. He needs to beat up a bad pass defense to re-establish himself with his Fantasy owners. Decker had at least eight Fantasy points last year against the Raiders.
Flow chart: Marques Colston > Nate Burleson > Eric Decker > DeAndre Hopkins
, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 20 FPTS
We'll get an eyeful of how Pryor looks on Monday, particularly in a comeback effort. At Indy in Week 1 he motored his way to a good stat line. Considering how well the Broncos have defended against the run it might be too much to count on Pryor for over 20 Fantasy points.
I'd rather start: Carson Palmer , Andy Dalton
, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Pretty much the only Raider player you can confidently start. Denver's run defense has impressive numbers (allowing 2.01 yards per carry) but it's because no one really gets a lot of chances to run on the Broncos. They build big leads, yet opposing running backs have scored at least one touchdown per game.
Flow chart: DeMarco Murray > Darren McFadden > Darren Sproles > Giovani Bernard
Chiefs at Eagles, Thu., 8:30 p.m. ET
The Chiefs defense will be the toughest the Eagles have seen to date. Andy Reid knows just how dangerous Michael Vick is and also knows the best way to derail his game is to hit him hard. The Chiefs pass rush (nine sacks through two games) will be in Vick's face. Vick cannot get hit if the Eagles want to win this one.
No-brainers: Jamaal Charles , Dwayne Bowe ; Michael Vick , LeSean McCoy , DeSean Jackson
, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 19 FPTS
His underrated rushing ability mixed with his mid-range arm have made him efficient, not spectacular, for Fantasy. The matchup is ridiculously juicy but it's tough to count on Smith for a huge game.
I'd rather start: Terrelle Pryor , Ryan Tannehill
, TE, Eagles: My Projection: 4 FPTS
The Chiefs slammed Jason Witten last week and should be able to handle Celek, particularly after he was shut out a week ago.
I'd rather start: Kyle Rudolph , Zach Sudfeld
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