Complete Fantasy Guide to NFL Week 3

Chet Gresham@Chet_GFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2012

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, Detroit LionsRob Carr/Getty Images

Another fake football week is in the books, and we already need to prep for Week 3. Oh, where does the time go?

I blame Gregg Williams for putting a bounty on time and then Jonathan Vilma kicking it to see how high it could fly, and it just kept flying, and now, we all have to age and die. I think that's a Norse myth.

Anywho, let's take a look at some guys you might want to get into your starting lineup in Week 3.

Keep an eye on...

Matthew Stafford: Are you worried about Stafford's two touchdowns and four interceptions through two games? No? Well, that's very mature of you. But if you are, don't be such a baby.

His first two games were against good defenses, and he still has 585 yards passing on the year. And this week, he gets the Titans, who have allowed a league-high 75 percent completion rate and five passing touchdowns to just one interception. That's not all that good.

Oh, and if you think you can trade for Stafford before this game, just go ahead and do that please.

Matt Cassel: Wha? That chump? Yes, that's his name, and he gets the porous New Orleans Saints defense on Sunday. So far, the two quarterbacks to face the Saints have finished as the first and third quarterbacks in fantasy for Weeks 1 and 2, respectively.

The Chiefs defense has put their offense behind in both games this season, and I doubt they'll keep the Saints from moving the ball this week either. Cassel is averaging 280 yards passing and 1.5 touchdowns in those two games. There's no reason he can't produce 300 yards and two to three touchdowns this week.

Michael Bush: The Rams are much better in pass defense than they are in rush defense. So far this season, they are giving up a league-high 5.5 yards a carry to go along with 130 yards and two touchdowns per game.

And the Bears will be looking to keep Jay Cutler upright, so we could see a lot of Bush with Matt Forte most likely out.

Andre Brown: The Giants play the Panthers on Thursday night, so there isn't much time for Ahmad Bradshaw to heal without a Mr. Miyagi slap and rub. We are still pretty much in the dark as to his status after the neck injury, but if he doesn't go, we should once again see Andre Brown, who rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries and also had two receptions for 19 yards.

The Panthers have given up 147 yards rushing a game at a 4.7 yards-per-carry clip. This game has shootout written all over it, and you should see what Brown can do for you.

Pierre Garcon: I don't know the status of Garcon yet, but if he practices and plays, he gets a Bengals team that has given up 323 yards a game to receivers. That's second only to the Buccaneers, who were just torched for over 500 yards by Eli Manning. The Bengals were just torched for 322 yards and two touchdowns by Brandon Weeden!

Brandon LaFell: The Panthers' No. 2 receiver has done well in his first two games as a starter. He has nine receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown and one carry for 25 yards to round things out.

This week, he gets the Giants pass defense, which has given up 275 yards receiving and 2.5 receiving touchdowns per game, so far, and a lot of those yards came from Josh Freeman, who doesn't care to throw the ball over 10 yards in the air. 

Brandon Pettigrew: The Titans gave up 12 receptions, 119 yards and two touchdowns to the Patriots tight ends, which is explainable, but then the following week, they gave up eight receptions, 108 yards and three touchdowns to Chargers tight ends, which might have been explainable if Antonio Gates had been playing.

So, what I'm trying to say here is play Pettigrew and maybe Scheffler and maybe Heller and maybe some other tight end they pick up off the street. We'll call him Jeffery Jeffers. 

Now, some guys who might not do so well:

Peyton Manning: The Houston Texans pass defense is as stout as pass defenses come. It's given up a total of 295 passing yards in two games this season and allowed one touchdown. It's going to be tough for Manning and company to move the ball through the air.

Michael Turner: It's hard to see much hope for Turner this season. He's just not getting it done anymore. If he doesn't get the ball at the 1-yard line on first down, his chances of getting into the end zone are tough. On 28 attempts, he has 74 yards, which is a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. I hear that's not all that good.

The San Diego Chargers are also a tough team to run on this season. They have faced Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson and have given up a total of 62 yards for 2.4 yards per carry and no touchdowns. So, Turner's 2.6 yards per carry is actually better than they give up. Something's got to give!!

Cedric Benson: I like Cedric Benson this season, and he showed well against a tough Bears defense in Week 2 for 116 total yards, but he gets an even tougher rush defense in the Seahawks this week, one which has given up a total of 72 yards rushing in two games.

So, that's the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks to start his tenure as the starting running back for the Packers. But after Seattle, he faces the Saints and the Colts. Trade for him.

Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker: Playing your wide receivers against Houston is much like playing your running back when he faces San Francisco. Both Decker and Thomas can be useful against just about any team, but if you have a coin-flip decision, flip it against facing Houston.

Jermichael Finley: Seattle is becoming a defense I just don't want to run my fake players out against. They've allowed 10 receptions to tight ends on 19 targets and haven't given up a touchdown.


Ryan Mathews: All systems are a go for the Ryan Mathews experience to finally take off. Start him at will.

Matt Forte: His ankle injury doesn't seem to be of the high-ankle variety, which is very good news for his owners. He may not suit up this week, but if Lovie Smith is telling the truth, look for him to be back the following week.

Ahmad Bradshaw: We are still waiting on news regarding his neck injury. The short turnaround for the Thursday night game makes his prospects a little worse to play this week, even if it's not serious.

Steven Jackson: His groin strain doesn't seem to be serious. Coach Fisher said he probably could have gone back in the game, but Daryl Richardson was playing well. This is more of a concern as to how they might use Richardson in the future than it is about Jackson's health.

Jamaal Charles: His knee was sore in the last game against Buffalo, which may of had some bearing into his number of touches. Of course, this is to be expected on a surgically repaired knee, so let's see how things go against the poor Saints rush defense before we get too riled.

Pierre Garcon: We'll have to see him practice this week to really know for sure where his bruised foot is. If he can't go, Leonard Hankerson is my pick of the week.

Jeremy Maclin: He aggravated his hip again and missed a lot of last week's game against the Ravens. I'd be wary of throwing him out there against a good Cardinals pass defense unless he gets a couple days of practice in.

This could help DeSean Jackson, but it also may mean Jackson sees more of Patrick Peterson lined up across from him.

Aaron Hernandez: He has a high-ankle sprain and should be out three to four weeks. This will help Wes Welker  and company see a few more targets but not help you in any possible way at all if you own Hernandez.

Antonio Gates: It was a surprise that he didn't play in Week 2, and it looks like he almost did, so all signs point to him suiting up for Week 3 against the Falcons.

Waiver Wire

Matt Cassel: I like him this week against the Saints, a lot. If you have some scrubs at quarterback, maybe grab Cassel for a spot start.

Andre Brown: If I had to choose between Brown and David Wilson for the rest of the season, I would probably choose Wilson, but at the moment, it looks like Brown is in the catbird seat waiting for Bradshaw's prognosis. Love the one you're with.

Daryl Richardson: He has looked good this preseason, and then again in relief of Steven Jackson. Enough so that he kept Jackson off the field when he could have returned. He is next in line, and there is a chance he starts eating into Jackson's work.

Donnie Avery: With Austin Collie out, Avery has become a favorite target of Andrew Luck's. I am a fan of this passing offense due to the Colts' poor defense and Luck's ability, so whoever is the No. 2 receiver in Indy, he needs to be owned.

Andrew Hawkins: Hawk keeps proving himself week in and week out (two whole weeks!), and if the Bengals defense doesn't start stopping the other team, they may have to keep on passing enough to keep him in the fake football points.

Brian Hartline: The Dolphins are searching hard for a receiver to step up, and this week, it was Hartline. His nine receptions for 111 yards was a nice start. Right now, he is the de facto No. 1 receiver in Miami.

Martellus Bennett: The Black Unicorn cannot be corralled, but you can cyberly put him on your fake team. And you should. Now.

Dennis Pitta: Pitta has become the go-to tight end for Joe Flacco. He now leads all tight ends with 25 targets on the year. Soon those targets will be cashed in for cold, hard points.

Streaming Defense

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys are a much-improved defense with Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in the fold. The rush defense was already strong, but now the pass defense has joined their ranks. They get Tampa Bay at home after losing to Seattle on the road. I expect a good showing.

Arizona Cardinals: We wonder what is wrong with the Patriots since they got beat by the Cardinals at home, but I think we need to start looking at this defense as a real power. It's not an undisputed fact of course, but the Eagles have been turning the ball over at an alarming rate, and the Cardinals have mainly been giving up field goals.

Over/Under the Weather

I am doubling down on the Panthers-Giants game on Thursday night. It's scary to see a bunch of your players go four days earlier than the rest of the league, but these offenses are good and their defenses aren't as good.

And every Saints game this year should have plenty of fantasy fireworks to blow your thumb clean off!


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