Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 4
Seahawks at Texans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I love the fact that the Seahawks rested their starters for a quarter of last week's blowout win over the Jaguars while the Texans are coming off of a humiliating loss. Houston's been close to losing their other two games -- late rallies against San Diego and Tennessee saved them from an improbable 0-3 start. The Seahawks should have enough resilience on both sides of the ball to eke out a win.
No-brainers: Marshawn Lynch
, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 20 FPTS
The Ravens ravaged the Texans on the scoreboard but the offense totaled all of one touchdown. Wilson naysayers will look to that as their argument against him. I say the Seahawks have just enough weapons to keep the Texans guessing. The Ravens didn't take advantage of a matchup against slot cornerback Brice McCain , perhaps because they don't have a reliable slot guy. The Seahawks do in Doug Baldwin . I expect a good game from the adept Wilson, who should use his mobility to his advantage this week (much like Jake Locker did in Week 2).
I'd start him over: Philip Rivers , Jay Cutler
, WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Sidney Rice , WR, Seahawks: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Rice had two touchdowns last week but we're not feeling a repeat performance here. Of the four scores allowed to receivers this season by the Texans, only one wasn't a pure slot guy. That makes Baldwin a sleeper for me this week.
I'd rather start: Emmanuel Sanders , Nate Washington
, QB, Texans: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Odds say this is a pretty good sit. The Seahawks have allowed just three quarterbacks to total at least two passing touchdowns over their last 19 regular season games (five QBs if you include the playoffs). Schaub struggled last week against a good defense and faces another tough challenge here, potentially without Andre Johnson .
I'd rather start: Geno Smith , Brian Hoyer
, RB, Texans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Foster has put up 8, 13 and 5 Fantasy points through three games while pushing his season average to 4.2 yards per carry last week. Opportunities slipped away from him last week in a blowout loss against a tough Ravens defense. The Seahawks might even be tougher. Seattle allowed two rushing scores last week but they were in garbage time. The 'Hawks have allowed nine rushing scores and three receiving scores to running backs dating back to their last 21 games (includes playoffs). Keep expectations in check with Foster -- if you have the running backs to start over him, go for it.
Flow chart: Le'Veon Bell > Arian Foster > Jason Snelling
, RB, Texans: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Statistically, Tate has played better than Foster on a per-carry basis (6.8 yard avg.). He's also had nine carries and either two or three catches in every game, limiting his potential. Between that and the tough Seahawks defense, this isn't the game to get cute and start Tate unless you're desperate.
I'd rather start: David Wilson , Bernard Pierce
, WR, Texans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
A sore shin and an expected matchup against cornerback Richard Sherman should be all you need to know when debating Joh10nson's merits this week. True, opposing No. 1 receivers have done well in two of the three games the Seahawks have played. One was Cecil Shorts , who put up his numbers in garbage time. The other was Steve Smith , who scored and totaled 51 yards when the Seahawks decided not to have Sherman follow Smith around. Only seven No. 1 receivers have made it to 10-plus Fantasy points in the Seahawks' last 21 games. Johnson has his work cut out for him.
Flow chart: Kenbrell Thompkins > Mike Wallace > Andre Johnson > Steve Johnson > Eddie Royal
, WR, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The difficult matchup combined with how he's done with Andre Johnson on the field makes Hopkins a risk this week. Hopkins' best numbers came when Johnson was sidelined late in Week 2. Everything else he's done has been OK for PPR leagues but not for standard leagues.
I'd rather start: Dwayne Bowe , Doug Baldwin
, TE, Texans: My Projection: 7 FPTS
You saw how Daniels did against a defense with a strong secondary last week, right? Expect another game like that. The Seahawks have allowed six scores to tight ends over their last 21 games.
I'd rather start: Tony Gonzalez , Coby Fleener
Steelers vs. Vikings, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The first of two games in London this season. Pittsburgh's passing game came alive last week -- hopefully it stays that way against a Vikings defense that was clobbered by the Lions, Bears and Browns so far this year. An upgraded ground game with rookie Le'Veon Bell should help out. Pittsburgh should notch its first win facing off against turnover-prone underperformer Matt Cassel.
No-brainers: Adrian Peterson
, QB, Steelers: My Projection: 21 FPTS
This should be a slam-dunk. Opposing quarterbacks against the Vikings have each thrown at least two scores with at least 290 yards passing. The Steelers got a glimpse of how effective their offense can be with Roethlisberger connecting with Antonio Brown . Expect it to continue.
I'd start him over: Michael Vick , Andrew Luck
, RB, Steelers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Minnesota's run defense numbers look improved after last week but that's because it was barely challenged by Cleveland (14 carries). The Steelers should challenge for more with their prized rookie. Considering the attrition at running back -- both with the Steelers and in Fantasy Football -- Bell doesn't make for a bad start.
I'd start him over: Arian Foster , Stevan Ridley , David Wilson
, WR, Steelers: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Brown was a beast against the Bears last week thanks to two factors: The Steelers playing from behind and Ben Roethlisberger finally targeting him a ton. Did the Steelers learn from this? Hope so -- the Vikings have struggled mightily against No. 1 receivers each of their last two games.
I'd start him over: Victor Cruz , Larry Fitzgerald
, TE, Steelers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Eventually the Vikings will settle down against tight ends but through the first three weeks of the year they've allowed six scores to the position (one on a fake field goal). Miller might be the least explosive tight end they've taken on this season but the matchup just can't be ignored. Hopefully he gets more than the four targets and 39 snaps he played last week.
Flow chart: Antonio Gates > Martellus Bennett > Heath Miller > Tony Gonzalez
, WR, Vikings: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Through three weeks, Jennings has 11 catches for 160 yards with no touchdowns. Through three weeks, the Steelers have yet to allow any receiver to get even 9 Fantasy points. Do the math.
I'd rather start: Santonio Holmes , Stephen Hill , Doug Baldwin
, TE, Vikings: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Rudolph needs to score to be a success in Fantasy. The Steelers have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in their last 19 games. I don't like Rudolph's chances.
I'd rather start: Brandon Myers , either Bengals tight end
Bengals at Browns, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Could Brian Hoyer be a hero for the second straight week? Cincinnati's secondary isn't in great shape -- Leon Hall is a question mark for the game as is safety Reggie Nelson . That suits the Browns' top two weapons -- Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron -- just fine. It might mean another big week for Hoyer. Cameron will especially be a test for the Bengals since they haven't taken on a top tight end over the last two weeks (Jermichael Finley got hurt early in Week 3).
No-brainers: A.J. Green , Jordan Cameron
, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 16 FPTS
The Browns pass defense has been better than advertised. Through two weeks, they've allowed two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks. Dalton has not had a great game statistically yet this season, making him tough to trust. Dalton had three scores in each of his two games against the Browns last year, but five of the six defenders who allowed those scores no longer play in Cleveland.
I'd rather start: Joe Flacco , Jay Cutler
, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 12 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis , RB, Bengals: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Last week we saw Bernard win the tug-of-war for playing time, finally passing by Green-Ellis in playing time and touches with 54 pct. of the snaps and 14 touches. Green-Ellis played 41 pct. of the time and had 10 touches. Expect that kind of workload for both guys against the Browns, who have yielded just 2.64 yards per carry to running backs so far this year but have allowed one rush TD per game.
I'd start Bernard over: Trent Richardson , Chris Johnson , Arian Foster
I'd rather start over Green-Ellis: Da'Rel Scott , Brandon Bolden
, WR, Bengals: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Sanu has a favorable matchup in that non-No. 1 receivers have produced against the Browns. That theory was put to the test last week against the Vikings and Jerome Simpson came up short. Sanu's topped five targets once this year and has had either four or five catches in each game with no more than 68 yards. Lacking explosiveness, Sanu's a risky start.
I'd rather start: Stephen Hill , Chris Givens
, QB, Browns: My Projection: 16 FPTS
A gutsy Fantasy owner who believes in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron while also believing in a true lack of running backs for the Browns will consider Hoyer for Fantasy. Yes, he'll spray the ball all over the place and get picked off a couple of times, but in the end his numbers -- even against the Bengals, who have allowed over 240 pass yards per game -- could be helpful. If you're in a pinch, try Heave-Ho Hoyer.
Low-end QB Flow chart: Geno Smith > Brian Hoyer > Mike Glennon > EJ Manuel > Eli Manning
, WR, Browns: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Just in case there's any doubt about starting Gordon, consider this: Top Bengals cornerback Leon Hall did a superb job containing Randall Cobb last week. He got hurt and could miss the game. So while the Bengals have only been beaten up by Brandon Marshall through three games, there is plenty of potential for Gordon to continue his strong play.
I'd start him over: Marques Colston , Larry Fitzgerald , Andre Johnson
Colts at Jaguars, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Colts have been almost perfectly balanced through three weeks, attempting 93 passes and 91 rushes. That's probably going to continue now that Trent Richardson is with Indianapolis. The Jaguars are allowing 5.05 yards per carry through three weeks.
, QB, Colts: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Formerly considered a no-brainer, Luck just hasn't been awesome. Matchups against the Dolphins and 49ers weren't necessarily expected to yield big numbers but he should have done better than the combined 33 Fantasy points he had. And you'd be remiss to forget what happened when Luck played at Jacksonville last season, totaling 18 Fantasy points on a Thursday night (two rushing touchdowns, two turnovers). There is a chance Luck could be limited to 25 or so pass attempts because Jacksonville's offense is sputtering -- he won't need to throw. That still worked out fine for Russell Wilson last week, but Luck only has one game with under 30 pass attempts and over 20 Fantasy points.
Flow chart: Michael Vick > Andrew Luck > Russell Wilson > Philip Rivers
, RB, Colts: My Projection: 14 FPTS
The Colts' trade for T-Rich saved them a lot of trouble -- with Ahmad Bradshaw ruled out the team can feed him a heavy workload and have good expectations. Jacksonville's defense has struggled all the way around and the run is certainly a part of it. If the Colts build a lead in this game they won't be opposed to leaning on Richardson to put the game away. That's what they did last week with 20 running back carries in the second half.
I'd start him over: Ray Rice , Marshawn Lynch
, WR, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Reggie Wayne , WR, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Jaguars' growing pains in the secondary are evident. Rookie cornerback Demetrius McCray has been getting abused and safety Dwight Lowery might not be active for the game. Jacksonville allowed three touchdowns to receivers last week and five on the season. For whatever reason Wayne hasn't scored on the Jaguars in his last six meetings and hasn't topped 100 yards in his last five against them. Even with his foot in a boot Friday, Hilton is the high-upside play.
I'd start both of them over: Any Bucs, Jets, Patriots, Bills, Chargers or Chiefs receiver
, TE, Colts: My Projection: 7 FPTS
True, the Jaguars got burned for two touchdowns last week by Seahawks tight end Zach Miller but have otherwise been efficient against the position. Fleener's an OK start -- if Luck's not throwing a lot it's hard to make an argument for Fleener.
I'd rather start: Heath Miller , Tony Gonzalez
, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 10 FPTS
MJD has not looked so hot this season so consider this week a "prove it" matchup for him. The Colts have allowed a running back to 10-plus Fantasy points in each of their first three games this season. It's safe to assume Jones-Drew can hammer his way there against an opponent he's had an illustrious career against.
I'd start him over: Arian Foster , Lamar Miller
, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Shorts remains the primary weapon in the Jacksonville passing game, something Blaine Gabbert recognized in Week 1 when he targeted him 11 times against a very good Chiefs pass defense. Shorts had just three catches in that game but should do better against a Colts pass defense that has given up 10-plus Fantasy points to two of the three No. 1 receivers they've played.
I'd start him over: Vincent Jackson , Reggie Wayne
Bears at Lions, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Both teams suffered a season-ending injury to their defensive lines: the Lions lost Jason Jones while the Bears put Henry Melton down for the year. Tack on a less-than-100 percent Ezekiel Ansah and it could make for a rather comfortable day for Jay Cutler , who has been sacked just three times this year (11 times through three games last year).
No-brainers: Matt Forte , Brandon Marshall ; Matthew Stafford , Calvin Johnson
, QB, Bears: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The stout Lions D-line that's helped their defense get off to a good start has just six sacks through three games. That's a relief for Cutler, who was bounced around by the Lions for seven sacks over two games last year. The Lions defense has been great against opposing quarterbacks and Cutler hasn't tossed two scores against the Lions since Week 1 of 2010.
I'd rather start: Ben Roethlisberger , Andrew Luck
, TE, Bears: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Detroit has been fine against tight ends -- none have scored on them this year -- but they haven't been tested yet (unless you count the likes of Kyle Rudolph ). Bennett will be their stiffest test to date. He was awful last week and should be able to contribute more here.
I'd start him over: Tight ends playing on Thursday, Owen Daniels
, RB, Lions: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Joique Bell , RB, Lions: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Expect Bush to yield about 30-40 pct. of the snaps to Bell over the course of the game. Chicago has been great against opposing running backs so far -- none have had 10 Fantasy points -- so it'll take a lot of work from both guys to be effective for Fantasy. I'd bank on Bush to exceed 10 Fantasy points, not so much Bell.
I'd start Bush over: Trent Richardson , Darren Sproles
I'd rather start over Bell: Both Falcons RBs, both Bills RBs
, WR, Lions: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Broyles didn't look too fast last week. Maybe that's just him knocking off some rust, maybe it's the effect of having multiple ACL surgeries in consecutive years. If you take away the amazing stats put up by No. 1 receivers A.J. Green and Antonio Brown , no receiver against Chicago has posted more than eight Fantasy points. I'd put Broyles' ceiling there.
I'd rather start: Santonio Holmes , Dwayne Bowe
Cardinals at Buccaneers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The Mike Glennon era begins against a Cardinals defense ravaged by linebacker injuries over the past week. Arizona is looking at a pass rush group of Matt Shaughnessy , John Abraham and Dontay Moch . Combined they have zero sacks through three games. Darnell Dockett has to keep his standout play (3.0 sacks) for the Cardinals to rattle the rookie and avoid a loss.
No-brainers: Doug Martin
, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Palmer's numbers have gone in reverse since Week 1 as his Fantasy production has slipped from 21 points to 13 to 3 last week. His offensive line is getting shredded and his own accuracy has fallen by at least 5.0 pct. per game. No passer has even put up 20 Fantasy points against the Bucs so far this season.
I'd rather start: Brian Hoyer , Mike Glennon
, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Mendenhall didn't even lead the Cards rushers in playing time last week, although it was probably because the Cardinals were chasing a lead. The matchup is a challenge for him -- the Bucs haven't allowed a touchdown to a running back yet. No running back has even 70 rush yards against them. Avoid Mendy.
I'd rather start: Stevan Ridley , David Wilson
, WR, Cardinals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
I've had the most trouble with Fitz this week. I watched his game against the Saints and he didn't look slow because of a hamstring injury. Now it seems like he's over it. Will Darrelle Revis stick to him? We haven't seen Revis follow anyone yet this year. The biggest factor with Fitzgerald is that he has 11 targets in his last two games after landing 14 in Week 1. I still can't tell you to sit him -- he's got plenty of potential and the Bucs are coming off a game where Kenbrell Thompkins stung them for two touchdowns (one came when Dashon Goldson missed a tackle, the other came against rookie corner Johnthan Banks ).
Flow chart: Victor Cruz > Larry Fitzgerald > Reggie Wayne > Mike Wallace > Andre Johnson
, QB, Buccaneers: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Massive, gutsy sleeper for this week. The Cardinals pass rush is non-existent, the Bucs offensive line is as healthy as it's been and there's no way Glennon could be any worse than Josh Freeman . Glennon's preseason was very much hot and cold but with the Cardinals allowing at least 278 yards and two-plus touchdowns per game (and that's with a healthy pass rush), Glennon could be in a position to put up some modest stats.
I'd start him over: Blaine Gabbert , Matt Cassel
, WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Mike Williams , WR, Buccaneers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Obviously I like Jackson better than Williams but both aren't exactly great. Glennon should be a little more accurate than Freeman and should help both of their receiving averages. I suspect Tampa Bay will run a vanilla game plan, which means neither receiver will have a monster receiving average, but with the Cards sagging against receivers over their last two games, there's room for some modest success.
I'd start Jackson over: Andre Johnson , Anquan Boldin
I'd start Williams over: DeAndre Hopkins , Alshon Jeffery
Giants at Chiefs, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
If there's one thing I know about Tom Coughlin, it's that he can find solutions to football problems. He's overcome deficits like the one the Giants have now and he'll do it again. I just don't know if this will be the week because Kansas City's defense is a monster and they're well rested to boot. Andy Reid is familiar with the Giants from his days with the Eagles as well.
No-brainers: Jamaal Charles
, QB, Giants: My Projection: 15 FPTS
I'm not touching him. The Chiefs' pass rush is outstanding and the Giants' offensive line is not only playing poorly, but two starters are hurt. I suspect the Giants will try to make up for their O-line shortcomings with a bunch of quick short passes. That might help Manning's completion percentage but it's going to take a lot of work to turn that into big stats. Manning threw multiple touchdowns in just one of eight road games last season.
I'd rather start: Geno Smith , Brian Hoyer
, RB, Giants: My Projection: 6 FPTS
You can find my take on why the Giants have to use Wilson by clicking here. Edge runs could create some problems for the Chiefs, particularly after LeSean McCoy ate them up with a lot of those plays last week. Then again, McCoy has better blocking. Don't start Wilson unless you have to.
I'd rather start: Le'Veon Bell , Joique Bell , Jacquizz Rodgers
, WR, Giants: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Hakeem Nicks , WR, Giants: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Kansas City's secondary has allowed one score to a receiver in each of the last two weeks, but both of them came in the first quarter. This defense gets tougher as the game goes on, a problem if the Giants find themselves trailing. Cruz was rolling until getting held to 25 yards on three grabs last week; Nicks went catchless last week and has yet to score this year. A short passing attack definitely favors Cruz.
Cruz Flow chart: Eric Decker > Victor Cruz > Colts top WRs > Mike Wallace
Nicks Flow chart: Julian Edelman > Donnie Avery > Hakeem Nicks > Dwayne Bowe
, TE, Giants: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Like his fellow receivers, Myers' stats have sunk to filthy Fantasy pits. Kansas City's defense has the guys to shut tight ends down, including Jason Witten two weeks ago and the Eagles guys last week.
I'd rather start: Delanie Walker , Tyler Eifert
, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 16 FPTS
There's nothing exciting about Smith's game or his Fantasy production, so even with a strong matchup against the Giants I just wouldn't trust him outside of being a replacement for Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton this week. The Giants have allowed big numbers to opposing quarterbacks but they've been superstars. Smith isn't a superstar.
I'd rather start: Joe Flacco , Andy Dalton
, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Dwayne Bowe , WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 8 FPTS
That's right, I'm taking the plunge along with my colleagues that Avery puts up better numbers than Bowe. It's already happened twice this year. The Giants have done a nice job against No. 1 receivers but other wideouts have beaten them up.
Flow chart: Brian Hartline > Donnie Avery > Santonio Holmes > Dwayne Bowe > Mike Williams
Ravens at Bills, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Buffalo is struggling on both sides of the ball while the Ravens are rolling. There's no reason to believe the momentum won't continue for both teams. Joe Flacco has never been a consistently strong road quarterback but he'll have a shot at multiple passing scores in five straight road games going back to the playoffs by facing a leaky Buffalo secondary that was shredded by the Jets last week.
, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Each of the three quarterbacks the Bills have faced have thrown for at least 225 yards and two touchdowns with at least one turnover. Flacco himself has become quite pedestrian after a big Week 1 when he threw playing catch-up against the Broncos. There's a chance a similar situation could present itself here where Flacco won't have to be an active passer. Despite the matchup, Flacco isn't a great starting option.
I'd rather start: Philip Rivers , Jay Cutler
, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 12 FPTS
We're working on the assumption that Ray Rice will either be out or very limited. With the Bills allowing 178.0 total yards per game to running backs (but no touchdowns) I'd bank on Pierce to handle more of the heavy work, particularly to close out the game.
I'd start him over: Chris Johnson , Arian Foster , Ray Rice
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 13 FPTS
This is the week (it better be). The Bills have allowed five receivers to hit 10-plus Fantasy points in three games. Insane! Look for the Ravens to go after left corner Justin Rogers , who surrendered plenty of big plays to the Jets last week. When Torrey is lined up to Flacco's right, you'll know something good is about to happen.
I'd start him over: Victor Cruz , Larry Fitzgerald
, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Of course, Brown could pick up work across from Rogers, too. Two of the three teams the Bills have faced have produced 10-point Fantasy receivers. Brown has two scores in three games and shouldn't be forgotten about just because of his dud last week.
Flow chart: Kenbrell Thompkins > Marlon Brown > Steve Johnson > Kendall Wright
, RB, Bills: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Fred Jackson , RB, Bills: My Projection: 7 FPTS
This has red flags all over the place. Spiller is coming off an injury into what is clearly a timeshare with Jackson against a run defense that's allowing 3.5 yards per carry and 111.0 total yards per game to running backs. Spiller has posted one great game and it's in big thanks to a 46-yard run and a 21-yard run. Everything else he's done has been limited to 9 yards or less. Spiller's had more touches than Jackson (22-17 in Week 1, 19-17 in Week 2, 11-5 in Week 3 before leaving with injury) but he's just hard to trust as a top-tier running back this week. Jackson has the exact same matchup and has the feel of a fill-in, even though he's been pretty decent to this point.
Spiller Flow chart: Bilal Powell > Darren Sproles > C.J. Spiller > Stevan Ridley > Arian Foster
FredEx Flow chart: Lamar Miller > Pierre Thomas > Fred Jackson > Knowshon Moreno
, WR, Bills: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Sometimes Johnson rises to the occasion against tough matchups. Last week he sunk like a rock against a Jets team he's typically destroyed, catching six passes for 86 yards. Really, that's not awful for a guy most people drafted to be a borderline No. 2/No. 3 Fantasy receiver. However, Baltimore has been fantastic against receivers since the Bronco blowout in Week 1. Johnson shouldn't be counted on for much this week.
Flow chart: Marlon Brown > Chris Givens > Steve Johnson > Eddie Royal > Dwayne Bowe
Jets at Titans, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
After watching the Jets game last week, I'd say the prolific passing had a little more to do with the opponent (the Bills) and a little less to do with the talent. It doesn't mean Geno Smith & Co. can't be a strong passing team, but Tennessee has been pretty solid against receivers, yielding just two scores to non-No. 1 options through three weeks.
, QB, Jets: My Projection: 17 FPTS
Geno is far from perfect, but he's making strides. Only one quarterback got to the Titans for multiple touchdowns so far this year and he had help from his tight ends. That's not to say Smith also can't use his tight ends to score, but it's still hard to trust him for Fantasy use.
I'd rather start: Philip Rivers , Joe Flacco
, RB, Jets: My Projection: 11 FPTS
If you've got Powell on your team, use him! Chris Ivory won't play and Mike Goodson is suspended for one more game, paving the way for Powell to rack up a ton of numbers. The Titans have allowed a modest 127.7 total yards to running backs each week with touchdowns to running backs in their last two overall. The Jets rusher has had at least 12 Fantasy points each of the last two weeks. Powell's workload should be big; the stats should follow.
I'd start him over: Maurice Jones-Drew , Arian Foster , C.J. Spiller
, WR, Jets: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Stephen Hill , WR, Jets: My Projection: 7 FPTS
I see these guys as receivers to speculate on and use as bye-week fill-ins, not as reliable weekly starters. Holmes is moving well and Hill has deep speed. The Titans have answers for these guys at cornerback and have allowed over 80 yards to one receiver so far this year (DeAndre Hopkins in an overtime game).
Low-end WR Flow chart: Donnie Avery > Santonio Holmes > DeAndre Hopkins > Stephen Hill > Greg Jennings
, QB, Titans: My Projection: 15 FPTS
We need to see more of Locker before anointing him as anything more than a bye-week replacement. Last week's outing was nice but it's hard to believe he's going to run for 68 yards and a touchdown every game. The Jets have been stellar against every quarterback they've played against.
I'd rather start: Geno Smith , Brian Hoyer
, RB, Titans: My Projection: 10 FPTS
CJ9FPTS is no longer obvious. If anything he's frustrating. He's getting the workload we want from a top-flight running back but the yardage has wound up being between 70 and 96 yards with no touchdowns. You'd assume it would change eventually, but here we are off to another slow start. On the plus side, he has six runs of 11 yards or more, signs that his explosiveness is still there. Last year through three games he had three catches good for 11-plus yards and one carry better than 10 yards. FYI, Johnson has two catches this year, period. Frustrating. The Jets are holding opposing rushers to 3.1 yards per carry so far this season with one score allowed.
Flow chart: Trent Richardson > Bilal Powell > Chris Johnson > C.J. Spiller > Arian Foster
, WR, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Nate Washington , WR, Titans: My Projection: 9 FPTS
These were speculative prospects like the Jets receivers but both carry decent sleeper value thanks to Jets cornerback Dee Milliner expected to miss the game. I like Wright plenty but Washington leads the Titans in targets (22 to Wright's 21) and yards (227 to Wright's 136). With Kenny Britt crashing and burning, expect the playing time for these guys to rise. Hopefully the Fantasy production follows.
Low-end WR flow chart: Eddie Royal > Kendall Wright > Julian Edelman > Nate Washington > Mike Williams
Eagles at Broncos, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
Should be a high-scoring game as two no-huddle offenses face off. Maybe Chip Kelly will get wise and slow down his offense to keep Peyton off the field. Eh, probably not. If there's an edge in the game it's obviously with the Broncos offense, since the Eagles defense has had a hard time containing pretty much everyone they've come in contact with.
No-brainers: LeSean McCoy , DeSean Jackson ; Peyton Manning , Demaryius Thomas , Wes Welker , Julius Thomas
, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Expect Vick to get back in the saddle. The time off should help his body heal up and Denver's pass rush is good, but it's not like Kansas City's. If Terrelle Pryor managed to get to 20 Fantasy points last week then Vick should at least match it.
I'd start him over: Russell Wilson , Colin Kaepernick , Andy Dalton
, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Moreno showed some flash in Week 2 but came crashing back to earth in Week 3 against the Raiders. Facts: Moreno has 34 carries and seven catches this season -- you might expect more than that given his playing time. Of the 34 carries he's had four go for 10 yards or more -- and they all came in the same game against the Giants. He's totaled 65 yards or less in two other games. The Eagles defense isn't scary but Moreno's touches (13.7 per game) and lack of explosiveness in two of three outings makes him a risk.
I'd rather start: Lamar Miller , Danny Woodhead
, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 11 FPTS
You had to figure Decker would break out after a sloppy start and it indeed happened last week. I thought it might have waited until this week against an Eagles defense that has allowed four receivers to post at least 10 Fantasy points over three games. This includes a non-No. 1 receiver in each game. Decker should be an easy guy to start.
I'd start him over: Cecil Shorts , Mike Wallace
Redskins at Raiders, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
These teams have one win combined. Yet both teams are in the top half in total offense (Redskins fifth, Raiders 13th). How does this happen? Easy -- both teams are in the bottom half in total defense (Raiders 17th, Redskins dead last). Might this game really come down to whether or not Terrelle Pryor plays?!
No-brainers: Alfred Morris , Pierre Garcon ; Darren McFadden
Robert Griffin III
, QB, Redskins: My Projection: 23 FPTS
There shouldn't be any worries here. Two of the three quarterbacks the Raiders have faced have amassed three total touchdowns each. The other one was Chad Henne . RG3 looked awful last week against the Lions but there's just too much upside to pass on him another week.
I'd start him over: Michael Vick , Andrew Luck
, TE, Redskins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
If you're absolutely desperate, consider Davis. The Raiders have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in each game this season. Davis has yet to catch a touchdown from Robert Griffin III . With Jordan Reed expected to be out, maybe this is the week Davis rebounds.
Low-end TE flow chart: Charles Clay > Scott Chandler > Fred Davis > Bengals TEs
, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 22 FPTS
If he plays as expected he'll end up against a Redskins defense that has allowed at least 25 Fantasy points to every quarterback they've played. Pryor looked good last week -- let's hope the concussion tests later this week reveal some good news. If it's Matt Flynn the matchup is still juicy but the quarterback is not.
I'd start him over: Michael Vick , Andrew Luck
, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 11 FPTS
With Pryor expected, Moore should do well. He leads the Raiders in targets, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns while being even in the catch department with Rod Streater. Moore is strictly a week-to-week proposition but he's been useful (10-plus Fantasy points) in the two games the Raiders needed to throw. Hopefully this is a third.
I'd start him over: Andre Johnson , Mike Wallace
Cowboys at Chargers, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
The Cowboys found a way to dominate a defense last week by running the football. The re-dedication to DeMarco Murray made life easy for the rest of the Dallas offense. So far this season the Chargers have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and 145.3 total yards to running backs. Expect Dallas to lean on their ground game to help set up the pass again.
No-brainers: Tony Romo , DeMarco Murray , Dez Bryant
, WR, Cowboys: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Miles Austin has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, opening the door for Williams to play. He's a good looking young talent who will go up against a struggling Chargers defense. They seem lucky to have only allowed three scores to receivers this year. Wideouts are averaging 237.3 yards per game against the Bolts.
I'd start him over: Emmanuel Sanders , Alshon Jeffery
, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The combination of Witten's potential in Dallas' offense and the Chargers' iffy ability to shut down tight ends makes him a good start. The Chargers were blasted vs. tight ends in Week 1 and came back to earth since but haven't really been tested. Witten's due to have at least a good game if not a great one.
I'd start him over: Martellus Bennett , Tony Gonzalez
, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Quarterbacks rocked the Cowboys for at least 25 Fantasy points the first two weeks of the season until Sam Bradford laid an egg last week. Rivers himself laid an egg at Tennessee but did so very efficiently, completing 20 of 24 passes for just 184 yards and a touchdown. A score to Eddie Royal got called back, another score to Antonio Gates fell just short of the end zone and the Chargers only ran 24 pass plays to 27 run plays. Chances are the Chargers won't be as balanced and Rivers will throw more. I still like Rivers as a bye-week replacement.
I'd start him over: Jay Cutler , Andy Dalton
, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Ryan Mathews , RB, Chargers: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The Cowboys have been outstanding against the run, yielding just 3.4 yards per carry to running backs and no more than 55 rush yards to any one of them. Mathews has settled into a role as a part-time running downs back, which totally caps any kind of potential he has to be a major contributor. We saw Danny Woodhead equal or outproduce him each of the last two weeks. Woodhead also had more playing time than Mathews. We'll see how long this lasts.
Low-end RB flow chart: Pierre Thomas > Danny Woodhead > Knowshon Moreno > Ryan Mathews > Rashard Mendenhall
, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Call me crazy, but I'm not completely giving up on Royal. He had a touchdown last week but it got called back thanks to a Chargers penalty. He's still able to exploit slot coverage; the Cowboys will likely use Orlando Scandrick there. Note that four of the five touchdowns to WRs Dallas has allowed originated with the receiver in the slot.
I'd start him over: Tavon Austin , Brian Hartline
, TE, Chargers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Don't expect Dallas to shut down Gates. They struggled with Brandon Myers in Week 1 and allowed 10 receptions to the Rams' tight ends last week. Gates is moving a bit better than he did last year and has 10-plus Fantasy points in two straight.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten , Owen Daniels
Patriots at Falcons, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
This is the first real test for the Patriots pass defense: They allowed two touchdowns to EJ Manuel in Week 1 before shutting down Geno Smith and Josh Freeman in consecutive games. Matt Ryan is a whole different animal, one who did just fine last week behind a patchwork offensive line against a tough Miami defense that held him when it counted. Ryan's only start against the Patriots was a disaster, but it was four years ago.
No-brainers: Matt Ryan , Julio Jones
, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Another week without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola means another week without Brady putting up huge stats. The Falcons' pass defense isn't great -- each passer they've faced has thrown at least two scores against them. Two had 350 passing yards. But without reliable downfield threats it's tough to expect Brady to have a great game.
I'd rather start: Robert Griffin III , Ben Roethlisberger
, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The biggest factor working against Ridley isn't the matchup, but his own workload. In a blowout win last week, Ridley had 35 pct. of the snaps, Brandon Bolden had 34 pct. of the snaps and LeGarrette Blount had 31 pct. of the snaps. Maybe that's because the Pats wanted to give Blount some snaps against his former team, but even if that's the case that's not a lot of work for Ridley. He's been reduced to a running downs back for sure and hasn't been a great runner yet this season.
I'd rather start: Bilal Powell , Darren Sproles
, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Julian Edelman , WR, Patriots: My Projection: 9 FPTS
You can tell that the chemistry between Thompkins and Brady is coming along after the two hooked up for touchdowns last week. Thompkins still has a soft target-to-catch ratio (28 targets, nine catches) which needs work. The Falcons have allowed five receivers to land 10-plus Fantasy points through three games. Coverage on them will be easier if Gronk plays as expected. I'd gamble it up on Thompkins in standard leagues and Edelman in PPR formats.
Flow chart: Mike Wallace > Kenbrell Thompkins > Steve Johnson > Julian Edelman > Hakeem Nicks
, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Jacquizz Rodgers , RB, Falcons: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Though they've allowed a rusher to get to 10 Fantasy points in each of three games this year, the Patriots have only given up one score to running backs so far. It's not enough of a deterrent to not start a Falcons running back as a bye-week replacement or low-end option. Snelling played only nine fewer snaps than Rodgers and both were on the field for a handful of plays. Snelling is still the goal-line vulture though.
Falcons RB flow chart: Le'Veon Bell > Jason Snelling > Fred Jackson > Jacquizz Rodgers > David Wilson
, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 5 FPTS
We did see White see an uptick in snaps (66 pct.) and targets (four) but the production remains ugly. No wide receiver has posted 10-plus Fantasy points against the Patriots this year ... though weak quarterback play by their opponents is a factor there.
I'd rather start: Mohamed Sanu , Michael Floyd
, TE, Falcons: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Here's a funny stat: Gonzalez has scored once on a Bill Belichick-coached defense in his career (seven games). The touchdown came during a dominant performance (147 yards) in 2000. Gonzalez had 80-plus yards twice against Belichick's defenses and under 50 yards three times, including when he played them with the Falcons last in 2009. Considering Gonzalez's slow start, the Patriots' hammerlock on opposing tight ends and this information, you might not want to have high expectations.
I'd rather start: Martellus Bennett , Heath Miller
Dolphins at Saints, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
The winner of this game will be an improbable 4-0. I think it's too tough of a matchup for the Dolphins, particularly since they're not running the ball as much as they should. That's a key ingredient to beating a team like the Saints -- running the ball keeps the opponent on the sideline and wears down a defense. Non-quarterbacks have run the ball 18, 23 and 13 times for Miami in the first three games.
No-brainers: Drew Brees , Jimmy Graham
, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 15 FPTS
Tannehill had a good stat line last week but he's still not quite on the cusp of being anything more than a bye-week replacement. The Saints have done a great job against mediocre quarterbacks the last two weeks.
I'd rather start: Brian Hoyer , Alex Smith
, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Miller was one catch away from being back in the good graces of Fantasy fans. A drop on a wheel route that was a sure-fire touchdown would have sealed a Dolphins win and sealed his role as a Top 20 running back. He's still splitting carries too evenly with Daniel Thomas for my liking. The Saints have allowed rushers to get 11 or more Fantasy points in two games so far this young season.
Flow chart: Jason Snelling > Lamar Miller > Knowshon Moreno > David Wilson
, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Brian Hartline , WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Saints have played a front-line Fantasy stud receiver every week: Julio Jones went off for 76 yards and a score while Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald came up short. Doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture for the Dolphins guys, does it? It's worth noting that Wallace has been a massive yardage beast in indoor games over his career and Hartline has been involved in every game for the Dolphins.
I'd start Wallace over: Vincent Jackson , Andre Johnson
I'd start Hartline over: Any Chiefs, Jets or Seahawks WR
, RB, Saints: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Pierre Thomas , RB, Saints: My Projection: 7 FPTS
This matchup isn't so bad for the Saints' backs. Miami is allowing 4.3 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per catch to running backs. New Orleans' use of running backs always flows with how the game goes, but these averages suggest both backs can be useful this week.
I'd start Sproles over: Arian Foster , Le'Veon Bell
I'd start Thomas over: Fred Jackson , Ryan Mathews
, WR, Saints: My Projection: 11 FPTS
This is about the time of year when Colston begins to break out. The Dolphins have yet to allow a touchdown to a receiver but have given up over 115 yards to a wideout in each of their last two games.
Flow chart: Victor Cruz > Cecil Shorts > Marques Colston > T.Y. Hilton > Vincent Jackson
49ers at Rams, Thu., 8:30 p.m. ET
The Rams have a serious shot to rebound here against a Niners defense down pass rusher Aldon Smith and, potentially, linebacker Patrick Willis . Rookie Corey Lemonier and linebacker Michael Wilhoite will replace them, respectively. For a defense that's ranked 29th against the run, has allowed over 130 rush yards per opponent and has just 7.0 sacks through three games, the personnel change in a short week is a problem.
, QB, 49ers: My projection: 19 FPTS
The Rams have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to each of their first three opponents. That's a stat in Kap's favor but his own receiving corps is struggling. Outside of a less-than-100 percent Vernon Davis and back-to-earth Anquan Boldin , there's no one he can trust and the Rams know it. Kaepernick didn't throw a touchdown in a little less than two full games against the Rams last year, doing his damage on the ground. He'll have to thrive there in order to be a reliable Fantasy quarterback.
Flow chart: Russell Wilson > Philip Rivers > Colin Kaepernick > Sam Bradford
, RB, 49ers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he expects a big dose of Gore after only 11 carries in Week 3. It would make a lot of sense -- the Rams run defense crashed and burned at Dallas last week after rushers totaled two touchdowns on them in Week 2. Gore ran for a score with at least 58 yards in each of two meetings with the Rams last season.
I'd start him over: Arian Foster , Trent Richardson
, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The Rams have allowed five touchdowns to wideouts through three games and have yielded at least 9 Fantasy points to four different receivers. That would be the upside projection for Boldin, who has been held in serious check the last two weeks. He had eight targets a week after getting four -- he had 17 in Week 1.
Flow chart: Kenbrell Thompkins > Chris Givens > Marlon Brown > Anquan Boldin > Steve Johnson
, TE, 49ers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Rams might have allowed a touchdown to backup tight end Gavin Escobar last week but they were great at keeping Jason Witten contained. The Escobar TD was just the fifth allowed to a tight end by the Rams in 19 games. Davis totaled 45 yards in two games against the Rams last year and hasn't scored on them since Jan. 3, 2010 ('09 season). He also happens to be entering this game with a hamstring injury. Beware.
I'd rather start: Martellus Bennett , Heath Miller
, QB, Rams: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The Niners were blistered by Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 but didn't allow much to either Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck -- and still lost. Because the Rams' run game isn't considered reliable, expect Bradford to have to work some magic through the air. 49ers opponents are averaging nearly 7.7 yards per attempt against them and Bradford has averaged 47 pass attempts per game this year. You could do worse.
I'd start him over: Jay Cutler , Andy Dalton
, RB, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Isaiah Pead , RB, Rams: My Projection: 4 FPTS
If either of these guys could run consistently well they'd be must-starts. San Francisco's run defense is banged up already but it's been strong offensive lines that have schemed up well to make waves against the Niners. I'm not sure the Rams have the linemen or rushers to truly overpower San Fran.
I'd rather start: Le'Veon Bell , Jason Snelling
, WR, Rams: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Tavon Austin , WR, Rams: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Austin Pettis , WR, Rams: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Jared Cook , TE, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Austin leads St. Louis with 26 targets and 18 catches. Cook and Pettis each have 22 targets and 13 catches, though Pettis' damage has come in the last two weeks. Givens has 19 targets with just nine receptions. The Niners pass defense has settled down over the last two weeks but it's been partially because opponents have been more successful with the run, something that's not expected to happen here. Austin's big-play ability and short-area quickness make him moderately appealing. Cook's welcome will be worn out if he can't attract a lot of passes from Bradford -- the Niners typically use their linebackers to cover tight ends in short space, maybe Cook could exploit Wilhoite.
WR Flow chart: Chris Givens > Eddie Royal > Tavon Austin > Stephen Hill > Austin Pettis
I'd start Cook over: Tony Gonzalez , Owen Daniels