Ranking the Most Important Week 3 Games for Fantasy Football

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2012

Ranking the Most Important Week 3 Games for Fantasy Football

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    In Week 2, fantasy players saw a rookie once again dominate, a Super Bowl MVP lead his team—and fantasy owners, I'm sure—to a late victory and a pair of AFC East running backs absolutely go off on opposing defenses.

    I can't wait to see what we have in store for Week 3.

    From a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game to two matchups pitting unbeaten teams against each other, this week is rife with relevant tilts for fantasy owners. Let's rank this week's most important games for fantasy and offer a bit of lineup advice along the way.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS

     

    Fantasy Impact for Jaguars

    Start Maurice Jones-Drew. You may now proceed to the Colts portion of this slide.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Colts

    I like—not love, mind you, just like—Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, Donald Brown, Coby Fleener and Donnie Avery this week. I'm not saying they'll win you the week or anything, but as spot starters in Week 3, they should produce.

15. New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS

     

    Fantasy Impact for Jets

    Start the defense. Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene are at least worth your consideration. If you're going to start a wide receiver from the Jets—though I'm not sure why you would feel compelled to do so—Santonio Holmes would be the guy.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Dolphins

    Reggie Bush has proven to be a viable fantasy stud as the starting back in Miami. Brian Hartline is a guy to keep an eye on but not one to start just yet.

    We're done here.

14. Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Bills

    It's all about C.J. Spiller. He'll have another big game.

    I like the Bills defense in this one, as well, and Stevie Johnson is a nice flex option. Scott Chandler looks like a pretty good play at tight end. Ryan Fitzpatrick should put up decent numbers. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Browns

    So that Trent Richardson kid is pretty good, huh?

    If you think the Bills will turn the ball over, you can roll with the Browns defense, but I think there are better options out there.

13. San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX

     

    Fantasy Impact for 'Niners

    You should start Alex Smith as your fantasy quarterback this week.

    I wrote it and, darn it, I meant it! Never thought you'd see that, huh? Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and the 49ers defense are obvious starts. I like Michael Crabtree as a deep-league flex option.

    And yeah, you might want to pick up that David Akers guy if he's available in your league, as well. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Vikings

    The 49ers have become one of those "don't start your fantasy players against them" defenses. While there is probably a law somewhere that states, "Thou shalt not sit Adrian Peterson in fantasy football if he is healthy," this might be the week to become an outlaw. I'd avoid Percy Harvin as well, unless you're in a pinch.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 4:25 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS

     

    Fantasy Impact for Steelers

    Oakland has been pretty stingy against the pass this year, but Ben Roethlisberger has looked really good thus far. I'd roll with Big Ben, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and most definitely the Steelers defense this week.

    I'd avoid the running backs.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Raiders

    If they keep playing like they have after the first two weeks, Chris Berman is going to have to gargle his trademark "Tha Raaiiiidddggghhhheerrrsss" in falsetto.

    You can't give up on Darren McFadden yet, but you don't need to start him this week, either. Carson Palmer has been quite good for fantasy owners, but I wouldn't trust him against the Steelers defense.

    Avoid the Raiders, fantasy owners.

11. Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Lions

    Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Kevin Smith and the Lions defense are all excellent options this week. Until a second receiver emerges, skip Titus Young and Nate Burleson.

    Heck, even Jason Hanson should be up double-digit points.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Titans

    There are 70 players in the NFL that currently have more rushing yards than Chris Johnson, who is tied with Aaron Rodgers with 21. That list includes 11 quarterbacks and five wide receivers.

    Yes, that includes Tim Tebow.

    In other words, bench Chris Johnson until he can prove he's a better runner than Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel this year.

    Other than that, I can't recommend you start any Titans. If you believe in Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, I guess you could risk it, but for now, the Titans are a dead zone for fantasy options.

10. St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX

     

    Fantasy Impact for Rams

    You have to at least consider flexing Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, though only in deeper leagues.

    I don't like Sam Bradford this week, though he sure looked like a top overall pick in Week 2, didn't he?

    Steven Jackson's "groin injury" (cough, cough, benching) shouldn't be an issue, and you should start him, though if he doesn't go, Daryl Richardson is the handcuff you want.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Bears

    I'm not telling you to start Jay Cutler after his dreadful performance against the Green Bay Packers.

    I am saying he should bounce back and put up decent numbers in this one. Same for Brandon Marshall.

    Matt Forte apparently doesn't have a high-ankle sprain (via the  Chicago Tribune), but he's still in doubt for Week 3. If he doesn't go, Michael Bush becomes an RB1 if you have him.

    Start the Bears defense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 4:05 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX

     

    Fantasy Impact for Eagles

    Yes, Michael Vick has seven turnovers this season. He also has two wins and 36 fantasy points for the year, so both you and the Eagles can live with the giveaways.

    For now. LeSean McCoy is obviously a must start. DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Jeremy Maclin (if he plays) and the Eagles defense are all solid starts, as well.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Cardinals

    I don't know what to tell you here, folks. I really don't.

    If you have Larry Fitzgerald, you probably can't quit on him, but he's been invisible this year.

    The Cardinals defense is a tough call. On one hand, it's been really good this year and the Eagles turn the ball over frequently. On the other hand, this is an explosive Eagles offense that could put up a lot of points. I might look elsewhere for a defense, but there are worse plays.

8. Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

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    When: Monday, September 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET 

    Watch: ESPN

     

    Fantasy Impact for Packers

    You should be starting Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings (assuming he plays).

    Consider flexing Cedric Benson in deeper leagues, though I think this is a tough matchup for him.

    I truly don't know which Jermichael Finley will show up from one week to the next, but you may not have a better option on your roster.

    I like the Green Bay defense, as well.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Seahawks

    The only safe starter on this team is Marshawn Lynch.

    If the Packers weren't coming to town, I would tell you to start the defense, but it's too risky against Rodgers and company.

7. Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Bengals

    Washington has given up 607 passing yards this season, so Andy Dalton is a nice play. A.J. Green and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are must starts.

    Don't look now, but Andrew Hawkins is making the case as a viable fantasy option beyond PPR leagues.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Redskins

    At this point, if you have Robert Griffin III, you have to start him. Put simply, he's awesome.

    Alfred Morris still appears to be the main guy, so flex him or use him as an RB2 in deeper leagues. Start Pierre Garcon if the foot is healthy. Avoid Fred Davis, who has been quiet this year and may miss the game due to a concussion.

    If you have a crystal ball and can predict whether Aldrick Robinson or Leonard Hankerson will have the bigger game, one of them may be a flex option in really deep leagues.

6. Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS

     

    Fantasy Impact for Chiefs

    Jamaal Charles has not been in charge.

    Still, if there was a week for him to bust out, it would be against the league's worst run defense after the first two weeks.

    It turns out the Saints also have the 26th worst defense against the pass, so Dwayne Bowe is a must start, and Matt Cassel is a sneaky possibility in deeper leagues. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Saints

    Kansas City has been very friendly to opposing players this season, so definitely roll with Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Marques Colston has been a bust thus far, but I think the fantasy numbers will come.

    If you are in deep leagues and find yourself in a pinch, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore are at least worth starts.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX

     

    Fantasy Impact for Bucs:

    Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson are must starts. Mike Williams is a nice flex. You can do better than Josh Freeman.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Cowboys

    Unless you have a better quarterback (or at least one with a better matchup), start Romo.

    Miles Austin has been a consistent performer thus far. DeMarco Murray is a must start. Don't give up on Dez Bryant yet. Jason Witten should be on your bench.

    If you happen to see Kevin Ogletree, let me know.

4. Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 4:05 p.m. ET

    Watch: FOX

     

    Fantasy Impact for Falcons

    Start Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Flex Michael Turner if you have him—he's lost his RB2 designation in my book.

    I might take a chance with the Falcons defense, as well, which has been steady for fantasy owners after two weeks.

     

    Fantasy Impact for Chargers

    It's all about Dante Rosario in this one. Start him and don't even bother setting the rest of your lineup. Trust me, he'll will win you the week single handedly.

    Well, unless Antonio Gates is back in the lineup, in which case you can resume not knowing who Dante Rosario is.

    Philip Rivers and Malcolm Floyd are solid options. If Ryan Mathews returns in Week 3—a distinct possibility (via U-T San Diego)—roll with him as well.

    Otherwise, Jackie Battle could be a sneaky flex play this week.

3. Houston Texans at Denver Broncos

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 4:25 p.m. ET

    Watch: CBS

     

    Fantasy Impact for Texans

    Obviously, you have to start Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, even if the latter fellow made some of us sad this weekend.

    I have no idea how to properly judge Ben Tate's fantasy value at this point, but in deep leagues I can understand the temptation to flex him.

    There are better options than Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels out there.

    Start the defense. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Broncos

    I have a feeling this could be a very rough week for Peyton Manning. I don't think Willis McGahee will put up 24 fantasy points against the Texans defense. Eric Decker has been a major disappointment this season. Jacob Tamme was a no-show against Atlanta.

    The only player I think you have to start is Demaryius Thomas. Other than that, this is a tough test for the Denver offense.

2. New York Giants at Carolina Panthers

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    When: Thursday, September 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET

    Watch: NFL Network

     

    Fantasy Impact for Giants

    Keep a close eye on Ahmad Bradshaw this week. If you own him, consider adding Andre Brown as a Week 3 handcuff. If Bradshaw doesn't play, Brown could have a big week.

    Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are obvious starts. Martellus Bennett is the real deal. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Panthers

    Cam Newton and Steve Smith are obvious starts. Brandon LaFell is turning into a nice flex, especially in deeper leagues.

    If you can somehow genetically transform Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert into one NFL running back, start that science project. Otherwise, good luck guessing which one will have fantasy value.

1. New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

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    When: Sunday, September 23 at 8:20 p.m. ET

    Watch: NBC 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Patriots

    The loss of Aaron Hernandez makes Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and even Julian Edelman more valuable. Tom Brady is an obvious start.

    Stevan Ridley has been boss for fantasy owners this year, so roll with him as well. 

     

    Fantasy Impact for Ravens

    Is Ray Rice the only guaranteed safe starter from the Ravens for fantasy owners in this game?

    No. Kicker Justin Tucker has 32 fantasy points this season, so you might want to pick him up. 

    After that, no Ravens have scored double-digit fantasy points in more than one week this season.

    The New England defense is improved, but if you are in a pinch, Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones are all (risky) possibilities.

     

    Hit me up on Twitter—you've got fantasy questions, I've got opinions. And research. And, you know, sympathy when things go wrong.

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