Fantasy Football: 10 to Start, 10 to Sit for Week 3
Matt Damon had it right in the poker movie Rounders: “If you can’t tell the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” Same goes for fantasy football: If you can’t tell if you’re among the contenders in your league after two weeks, then you’re not.
But unlike Texas Hold ‘Em hands, you can improve your odds in fantasy football by making smart decisions at the right moments. So here are 10 to start, and 10 to sit for Week 3.
Start 'Em: TE Brent Celek
Celek is becoming as important to Philly's passing game as LeSean McCoy is to its running game.
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If Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (hip) can’t go this Sunday against the Cardinals, Celek is a must-start at tight end.
He feasted on Michael Vick passes while Maclin was in and out of the lineup against the Ravens in Week 2, and finished with eight receptions for 157 yards. In total, Celek’s got 222 yards receiving to date, tops at TE and good for fourth overall in the league.
Philly’s air attack has really gotten itself in gear, so Celek’s numbers with or without Maclin are trending upward.
Sit 'Em: WR Danny Amendola
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Like the retaliator who always hits back and draws the personal foul penalty, fantasy guys who start an unknown a week after a big game always pay a price.
Opposing defenses noticed Amendola’s 15-catch, 160-yard, touchdown game against the Redskins. They know he’s Sam Bradford’s favorite target. This weekend the dome-friendly Rams are outdoors at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Amendola will get some grabs and yards, but nothing like last weekend.
Start 'Em: WR Steve Smith
Smith's averaging a bullish 21 yards a catch.
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If Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman and Mike Williams can light up the Giants defense in the Meadowlands, what could Smith and Cam Newton get done at home in Carolina?
Smith’s averaging a dazzling 21 yards a catch thus far and ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards with 210. Newton got his offensive game back on track in Week 2, and the Panthers duo should register strong fantasy digits in Thursday night’s showdown.
Sit 'Em: WR Brandon Lloyd
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I guess we’re back to the Not So Good Lloyd. No receiver’s career has waxed on and off like the 11-year veteran’s has. His numbers so far in 2012 (13 catches, 129 yards) aren’t bad, but he hasn’t scored yet. Furthermore, the team just re-signed WR Deion Branch, one day after signing TE Kellen Winslow Jr. after Aaron Hernandez went down.
Bill Belichick is calling in reinforcements, which means the current guys aren’t getting it done. That’s you, Lloyd.
Start 'Em: WR A.J. Green
Green should duplicate this feat against a Redskins defense missing two key starters.
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The Bengals’ top deep threat hasn’t had a breakout game yet (12-128-1). Green is a full six yards a catch off his 2011 average so far, but one of the two games was at Baltimore. This week’s game at Washington should be a different story.
The Redskins’ defense is reeling, having lost both LB Brian Orakpo and DL Adam Carriker to season-ending injuries. This should open up the running lanes for teammate BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which in turn should open things up for Green in the passing lanes. Green is almost a must-start in Week 3.
Sit 'Em: RB Peyton Hillis
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Jamaal Charles’ knee is acting up. That has vaulted the fantasy value of Hillis into the solid RB2 atmosphere. He does have 82 yards on 18 carries so far in 2012, and owners would like to see one of the two Chiefs backs take over as the No. 1 guy. I like Hillis in that role, just not this week at New Orleans.
The Chiefs will likely abandon the run game when they fall behind, and that leaves the garbage time points to guys like Dwayne Bowe, who scored twice late last week.
Start 'Em: RB Michael Bush
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Matt Forte owners everywhere are nervously looking at their Week 3 lineups and asking, “Should I do it? Should I start Michael Bush?” Unless you’ve got a first-round RB sitting on your bench, the answer is yes.
Bush showed in Week 1 that he knows how to find the end zone, and Lovie Smith has complete faith in letting him try. The visiting Rams rank in the bottom third of the league in stopping the run, and Mike Tice’s offensive game plan should be to establish the ground game and take Jay Cutler’s mind off his Week 2 performance at Green Bay.
Bush should run for between 75-100 yards and reach the end zone at least once.
Sit 'Em: WR Eric Decker
Decker hasn't evolved as Manning's go-to receiver.
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Decker is still going to catch five or six balls for 60-75 yards against Houston in Week 3, but he isn’t an end-zone favorite of No. 18’s, at least not right now.
The Texans’ pass defense is tops in the league. Don’t expect a big Decker day, even at home.
Start 'Em: RB DeMarco Murray
Murray is at home this weekend, and that can only help his TD chances.
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Football’s Indiana Jones, the Raider of the Lost Touchdown, may finally be ready to strike gold in Week 3. Murray’s Cowboys host the Bucs, and home is the only place where this running back has scored.
He was shackled at Seattle last weekend (12 carries, 44 yards), and Tampa Bay is a staunch third against the run (2.7 avg.). But if Murray’s going to avoid this touchdown vacuum becoming a national story, he’s got to find pay dirt. And I believe he will.
Sit 'Em: QB Matt Schaub
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There’s a part of fantasy football that comes down to going with your gut. That’s why I’d sit Schaub at Denver in Week 3.
The Broncos are coming off a Monday night loss to the Falcons, and probably feel like a slow start cost them that game. They’ll be ready to get Peyton Manning back in the win column. Furthermore, Schaub (1 TD, 0 INT) has been safer than a school crossing guard with the football so far. You don’t get a 70 percent completion rate throwing beyond the sticks very often.
The Texans will need an old school Schaub performance to win at Denver, and I don’t think they’re going to get it.
Start 'Em: RB Marshawn Lynch
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So much for those back spasms. Lynch is averaging nearly 105 yards rushing, and mauled the Dallas defense for 122 yards and a score in Week 2.
He’s averaging a sharp 4.4 yards a carry, and this weekend the Seahawks host a run-weary Packers D that’s giving up 140 yards a contest. Also, since the start of the 2011 season, Lynch is averaging better than 92 yards a game at home.
This is a recipe, on paper, that bodes extremely well for Lynch owners.
Sit 'Em: Giants Defense
Even the replacement refs know the Giants defense is missing something.
The Giants’ Super Bowl win last season is as passé as yesterday’s paper.
The defense that hounded Tom Brady into submission is nowhere to be found right now. New York is allowing 29 points a game, has just four sacks, and hits the road for a Week 3 showdown at Carolina against the dangerous Cam Newton.
Hit the waiver wire for a substitute defense this weekend.
Start 'Em: RB Trent Richardson
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Richardson’s fantasy arrival finally arrived last weekend.
The ex-Alabama back rolled to 145 total yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Bengals, and gave long-suffering Browns fans something to get excited about. That fan fervor is a big reason I like him to have another solid day in Week 3, as Cleveland stays at home to host Buffalo and its 25th-rated defense (allowing 134.0 rush yards).
He looked like he fed off the crowd energy last week, and the Bills should provide Richardson and his fans another chance for mutual admiration.
Sit 'Em: WR Julio Jones
The Falcons played past midnight Monday, lost a day's rest, and have to fly cross-country to play San Diego. That could impact the contributions of young guys like Jones.
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Atlanta’s taking a LONG road trip to San Diego after Monday night’s win at home. The Chargers have been very sharp defensively in wins over Oakland and Tennessee so far.
The red-hot Falcons offense is a major step up, yes, but consider that Atlanta has to travel three time zones, on a day’s less rest, to take on a 2-0 team. Veterans like Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez play through that kind of challenge. Younger, less mature guys like Jones, in just his second season, can struggle.
Start 'Em: WR Calvin Johnson
Johnson's and Stafford's lives should return to normal Sunday at Tennessee.
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Forget the whispers about Megatron falling victim to the Madden Curse. He’s got 14 grabs for 205 yards (and no touchdowns) so far in 2012, but that’s still seven grabs and more than 100 yards a game. This is the week that he starts breaking the plane of the goal line.
The Titans (20th in pass defense) couldn’t handle Dante Rosario in the red zone; how are they going to deal with Johnson or Matthew Stafford, who looks like he’s going to burst soon if he doesn’t go off?
Sit 'Em: RB Cedric Benson
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Sunday’s game at Seattle feels like one of those games where Benson historically disappears. The Seahawks defense only gave up 10 rushing TDs in 2011, and they’re No. 2 in the NFL so far this season, allowing only 46 yards per game. Benson had a nice bounce-back game against the Bears in Week 2 (20 carries for 81 yards), but Week 3 on the road in the Pacific Northwest has more of a 10-carry, 40-yard effort.
Start 'Em: QB Alex Smith
It took seven years, but nearly all of Alex Smith's doubters are gone.
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I’m officially on board as an Alex Smith Believer. The win at Green Bay put me over the top.
Smith’s got four touchdowns, no picks and a QB rating of 115.9 through two games. This is after a 2011 season where he threw 17 scores against five interceptions. He also tossed five TDs in the playoffs without a pickoff. That’s 26 scoring passes against five turnovers in the last 20 games.
Smith is elite, he’s worthy of QB1 fantasy status, and I like him to post a big number Sunday against a Vikings defense that’s given up an average of 23 points so far to the Jaguars and Colts. A three-touchdown day is not out of the question.
Sit 'Em: RB Adrian Peterson
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The 49ers didn’t allow a single rushing TD at home last season, and only surrendered three in total. They haven’t given up one yet this season. That’s three ground scores yielded in the last 18 regular season games.
The Vikings may be at home Sunday, but they’re in for a three-hour tenderizing offensively. Peterson will be lucky to rush for 50 yards, even luckier to get a shot inside the 5-yard-line.
Start 'Em: RB Darren Sproles
The miniature Sproles will present a mammoth problem for the Chiefs.
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Fantasy owners don’t mind that much as long as overall point production is there, and he’s on pace for 144 catches and eight TDs. That average should rise Sunday, as the Saints host the woeful 0-2 Chiefs.
After a stunning home loss to Washington, and a tough road loss at Carolina, New Orleans should come home and get out a lot of frustration in Week 3. Drew Brees’ favorite target should lead the way.
Sit 'Em: RB C.J. Spiller
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I realize few will listen to me when I advise sitting the NFL’s leading rusher. But Spiller can’t keep up his 10-yard per carry average any longer, and the Browns have been stingy to opposing RBs through two weeks after ranking 30th in that category last year.