Five up, five down for Week 3
Is Joe Flacco a good bet for success against the Patriots? Which big-name Fantasy studs should fine a spot on your benches? Our Nathan Zegura shares his top recommendations for Week 3.
Disclaimer ... Before you start reading, please understand that we are not in the business of stating the obvious and wasting your time (or ours), so you won't be reading here why you need to start Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson or any other top-tier players. We're here to help you make a decision on players you are on the fence about.
Donte Rosario scored three touchdowns in a bizarre Week 2 that saw tons of points put up on the board. Week 3 looks to be equally high scoring and I will try to help you earn a win this week by highlighting five players who should have very good games while pointing out more than a few household names who could struggle.
Get 'em active ...
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (vs. NE)
Current own/start %: 94/16
I'd start him over: Peyton Manning (at HOU), Andrew Luck (vs. JAC), Ben Roethlisberger (at OAK)
Last week I did not like Flacco a ton, but this week against the Patriots I am "Whacko for Flacco." Flacco has multiple passing touchdowns in six of his last eight games, including the 2011 AFC Championship when he threw for 306 yards and two scores (and he should have had three) against these very Patriots. Flacco has produced multiple passing scores in four straight home games and with his new up tempo offense, he should get plenty of chances to have another solid game in Week 3. Torrey Smith (82 yards and a score in the AFC championship) can win the one-on-one battles with the New England cornerbacks on the outside, which will open things up in the middle of the field for Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Boldin went over 100 yards in their last meeting and Pitta scored a touchdown in that game as well. Now, Pitta is doing his best Rob Gronkowski impersonation for the Ravens, leading the team in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns after two games. With all of those weapons at his disposal, look for Flacco to give you a solid 20-point game, making him a solid start on Sunday night.
Michael Bush, RB, Bears (vs. STL)
Current own/start %: 96/54
I'd start him over: Adrian Peterson (vs. SF), Darren McFadden (vs. PIT), Chris Johnson (vs. DET)
Just like an injury created an opportunity for C.J. Spiller to go from backup to Fantasy stud in Week 2, the same thing has happened for Michael Bush in Week 3. Matt Forte is out with an ankle injury and Bush will feast on the St. Louis Rams, who have already allowed four rushing touchdowns, third most in the NFL. The Rams are also allowing a league high 5.5 yards per carry through two weeks and nearly 130 yards per game on the ground. Now, Alfred Morris did not completely live up to the hype last week against St. Louis, but he did finish with 89 yards rushing on an impressive 5.6 yards per carry. The problem for Alf last week was that his quarterback, RG3, stole all of the rushing scores. That will not be a problem for Bush as Jay Cutler is more likely to run into one of his offensive linemen than he is to run in a touchdown. In Week 1, the Lions saw their running backs score three times against the Rams and Bush will be going for his second multiple-score game of the year. Don't forget that in 2011 when Bush took over for Darren McFadden, he finished as the sixth-ranked Fantasy back from Week 7 on, averaging 116 total yards, 0.5 touchdowns and 14.5 Fantasy points per game. He could be the RB Thriller of Week 3 and is an absolute must start over many of the big names on your roster.
Other RBs with favorable matchups: C.J. Spiller (at CLE), Peyton Hillis (at NO), Ryan Mathews (vs. ATL), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at WAS), Alfred Morris (vs. CIN), Mikel Leshoure (vs. TEN), Darren Sproles/Mark Ingram (vs. KC), Andre Brown (at CAR)
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (vs. NYG)
Current own/start %: 82/39
I'd start him over: Brandon Lloyd (at BAL), Vincent Jackson (at DAL), Justin Blackmon (at IND)
The 'Fell -- as he is known in France -- is off to a phenomenal start in 2011, scoring double digit Fantasy points in each of the first two weeks of the season. He will give you the hat trick in Week 3 against what has quickly become the most generous secondary in the NFL. Through two games, the Giants have given up five touchdowns and 75 Fantasy points to opposing receivers, most in the NFL. It has not been a couple of big games by one receiver either, because so far every single receiver who has faced them has been remarkably efficient. Last Sunday, I said on Fantasy Football Today that I loved Vincent Jackson in Week 2 because the Giants had allowed every receiver who faced them in Week 1 to top 10 yards and at least 1.7 Fantasy points per target. That is still the case as Jackson saw 10 targets and produced 18 points in Week 2 and Mike Williams saw five targets and produced 11 Fantasy points. Through two weeks now, every receiver who has seen five targets against the Giants has produced double digit points and that bodes well for both Steve Smith and The Fell. Through two games, Brandon has seen 13 targets and has caught nine of them for 155 yards and a score. That means his two week average of 11.9 yards and 1.6 points per target should mesh very well with the generous G-Men, so get him in your lineups for a Thursday night delight.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs (at NO)
Current own/start %: 100/76
I'd start him over: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. PHI), Danny Amendola (at CHI), Wes Welker (at BAL)
Bowe had a monster Week 2 as he caught a couple of garbage time scores in the Chiefs blowout loss to the Bills. He finished the game with eight catches for 102 yards and the two scores on 15 targets and that could be a preview of what he will do in Week 3 against the reeling Saints. Opposing No. 1 receivers have produced double-digit Fantasy points in seven of the last eight games against the Saints, with Steve Smith and Pierre Garcon both topping the century mark against them in the first two weeks of the season. In fact, in five combined quarters, Garcon and Smith have racked up 213 yards and a touchdown between them against the Saints. Even more impressive is that Smith/Garcon combined to average a ridiculous 26.6 yards and 3.4 Fantasy points per target against the Saints corners. It should also be noted that Aldrick Robinson, who filled in for Garcon in Week 1 once he got hurt, also produced double digit Fantasy points in the final three quarters of that game. Bowe woke up last week and I expect him to stay awake and dance in the end zone against the struggling Saints.
Other WRs with favorable matchups: Jordy Nelson (at SEA), Steve Johnson (at CLE), Michael Crabtree (at MIN), Torrey Smith (vs. NE), Malcom Floyd (vs. ATL), Mike Wallace (at OAK), Pierre Garcon/Leonard Hankerson (vs. CIN), A.J. Green (at WAS), Andrew Hawkins (at WAS)
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (at TEN)
Current own/start %: 100/74
I'd start him over: Jason Witten (vs. TB), Coby Fleener (vs. JAC), Kyle Rudolph (vs. SF)
If we have learned one thing from the Titans in 2012 it is that they are struggling mightily in every respect, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest. No, I am not talking about opening running lanes for CJ1Y (as in one yard per carry), being competitive for more than three minutes of the first quarter or even producing any Fantasy relevant players. I am talking about their complete inability to defend the tight end position. Tennessee has allowed five tight end touchdowns (no other team has allowed more than two) in just two games and in Week 2, Donte Rosario caught three touchdowns against them while filling in for the injured Antonio Gates. Yep, they let Rosario catch more touchdowns in one game than their entire offense has produced in two full games! In Week 1, the Patriots produced 23 tight end points, which is not all that crazy given they had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, both of whom scored. But it is crazy that Rosario, Randy McMichael and Ladarius Green produced 27 Fantasy points in Week 2 on only nine combined targets! Pettigrew himself has at least 60 yards receiving or a touchdown in each of the first two games this year and should have his best game yet against this hapless Titans team. If you are desperate, Tony Scheffler could even find the end zone in this one as I think the Detroit passing game will finally get healthy in Week 3.
Ride the pine ...
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos (at HOU)
Current own/start %: 100/73
I'd rather start: Ben Roethlisberger (at OAK), Robert Griffin III (vs. CIN), Matt Cassel (at NO)
After watching Monday Night Football it is clear to me that Peyton Manning is nowhere near 100 percent in terms of his arm strength. He can get real zip on the occasional pass down the field when he gets to take three steps into it, but his passes down the seam from a crowded pocket float around like the Goodyear blimp. The Steelers lack of overall defensive speed hurt them against Peyton, but the athletic Falcons had no problem picking Manning off three times in their win. The Texans may be the best pass defense in the entire NFL right now and I think a limited Peyton Manning could struggle with them in Week 3. No quarterback has thrown for 200 yards and two passing touchdowns against the Texans in 16 straight games (excluding Week 17 of last year when the Texans did not play their starters). That's a full season of action without a single quarterback throwing for 200 yards with two touchdown passes! In that span, 10 quarterbacks have been held under 200 yards passing and five have gone without a touchdown against the tough Texans. Drew Brees (back in Week 3 of 2011) was the last quarterback to hang 20 passing Fantasy points on the Texans and he was the only one to do so in their last 22 games. I am not abandoning Manning for the year, but I do think that you have to be careful with how you use him and in Week 3, there are many safer options at the quarterback spot.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings (vs. SF)
Current own/start %: 100/89
I'd rather start: Michael Bush (vs. STL), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at WAS), Reggie Bush (vs. NYJ)
Adrian Peterson is a super human and it is scary to bet against him, but the fact of the matter is that the 49ers are on another level when it comes to run defense. Only one running back has topped 100 yards rushing against the 49ers in their last 42 games and that same runner, Marshawn Lynch, was the only one to top 80 yards rushing in the last 20 games as well. The Niners have also allowed only two running back rushing touchdowns in their last 20 games, which does not leave a lot of upside for AP. If Peterson were a bigger factor in the passing game he may have a chance because of the four runners to hit double digits in points against San Francisco in 2011, three of them had at least seven receiving points. Peterson does not even have seven receiving points through two games and has produced seven or more receiving Fantasy points just four times in his illustrious 75-game career. In 2012, the 49ers have allowed just 85 yards rushing to opposing running backs on 31 carries, which is just 2.7 yards per carry. I like AP, but he did not dominate in an excellent matchup with the Colts in Week 2 and I would look for more upside than he can provide in Week 3 when he deals with arguably the best team and best defense in the entire league.
Michael Turner, RB, ATL (at SD)
Current own/start %: 99/57
I'd rather start: Mark Ingram (vs. KC), Chris Johnson (vs. DET), Stevan Ridley (at BAL)
After two weeks it is apparent that Michael Turner is either running in his own personal sand pit or he is definitely wearing ankle weights. Through two games, "The Burner" has been extinguished with only 74 yards on 28 carries, which is just 2.6 yards per attempt. In fact in 2012, Turner has only seven more rushing yards than the Falcons' have points scored, which is incredibly scary when you consider that his team was up by 20 points in both games. Usually a big win means a big day for Turner but he had just three Fantasy points in Week 1 vs. a Kansas City team that just allowed Spiller to hang 28 points on them. On Monday night, Turner did hit double digit points, but considering that he had six thanks to three-straight goal line carries and a touchdown in the first minute of the game, his final tally of 10 was none too impressive. Turner is in danger of entering Mark Ingram territory as a guy who won't rush for more than 50 or 60 yards in a game and has to score to even be relevant. Things could be very tough against a Chargers run defense that has held Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson to a combined 49 yards rushing on 23 carries and has yet to surrender a rushing touchdown this season. Upside and Turner are words you will not find in the same sentence all that often going forward and I would reserve him in Week 3.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets (at MIA)
Current own/start %: 99/54
I'd rather start: Alfred Morris (vs. CIN), Donald Brown (vs. JAC), Mikel Leshoure (at TEN)
Much like bad pizza is only truly palatable when you are hungover, Shonn Greene is only an acceptable Fantasy start when he has an ideal matchup. Last week he was a sit against the Steelers and produced a whopping 23 yards on 11 carries. In Week 3, Greene needs to once again be reserved against a very stingy Dolphins run defense. Now I know that Arian Foster had a good Week 1 against this team with two touchdowns and 19 points, but how he got there is much more interesting to me. Foster and Ben Tate were held to just 85 yards rushing on 31 carries in that game, which is just 2.7 yards per carry. That is incredibly low for the Texans running backs, who just ran for 219 yards and three scores on 4.8 yards per carry against the Jaguars in Week 2. Last week, the 'Fins shut down Darren McFadden, holding the explosive runner to just 22 yards on 11 carries. For the season, Miami is allowing a very Shonn Greene-like 2.3 yards per carry to some of the best backs in the league, who have failed to reach 100 yards collectively on 42 carries. Greene would likely need 50 carries to hit the century mark against Miami and with his lack of involvement in the passing game, you will need a touchdown or two to get to double digit points, so keep him reserved.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals (vs. PHI)
Current own/start %: 100/92
I'd rather start: Brandon LaFell (vs. NYG), Malcom Floyd (vs. ATL), Lance Moore (vs. KC)
Last year I had Larry Fitzgerald as a sit in this very matchup and he went crazy with 146 yards and two touchdowns. However, I am not afraid to put him on the sit list again this week because since that game in Week 10 of 2011, the Eagles have not allowed a single outside receiver to top 60 yards with a touchdown. Furthermore, in their last seven games, no receiver has even hit 65 yards receiving against the extremely tough Eagles defense. We just saw New England completely take Fitz out of their Week 2 game as the star receiver was limited to just once catch for four yards. In fact, Fitz has not produced more than six points in a game in 2012 and that could very well continue in Week 3. With Kevin Kolb expected to start again for the Cardinals, things are truly bleak for Fitz. In his 10 games with Kolb under center, Fitz has just two touchdown catches (none in his last seven games) and has produced double-digit Fantasy points only three times. He has not hit 10 Fantasy points with Kolb at quarterback in six straight games, which is truly eye opening when you consider that Fitz has six touchdowns and 10 or more points in six of his last nine games with John Skelton under center. Fitz and Kolb struggle together and receivers struggle against the Eagles, so this looks like a matchup to avoid in Week 3.
Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Vincent Jackson (at DAL), Mike Williams (at DAL), Robert Meachem (vs. ATL), Brandon Lloyd (at BAL), Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. PIT), Eric Decker (vs. HOU), Jacob Tamme (vs. HOU)
Good luck this week!
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