Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Alex Dunlap@AlexDunlapNFLContributor ISeptember 19, 2012

Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

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    Fantasy football is "fantasy football" because the brutal, crushing blows dealt not only on the playing field but among NFL staffs and front offices are far too much for the majority of humans to handle. 

    It's cliche to say that NFL stands for "Not For Long," but sometimes, cliches are cliches for a reason.

    Take a look at Jeff Ireland, general manager of the Miami Dolphins. I saw him at Ryan Tannehill's pro day and asked him what he thought of the workout.

    I don't even remember the canned answer he gave me. I knew that he thought Tannehill put on a show, and I knew that he looked much older than a man his age should. 

    This game can be hard on people—even in the fantasy world. If you are an 0-2 owner (or even a 1-1 owner who got away with one lucky win), at this point, you are Ireland in microcosm.

    You're just hoping for a substantial turnaround from your squad based on one or more major question marks. If you are wrong about these question marks, you will certainly be canned. 

Running Back

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    Most Worrisome

    Darren McFadden, Raiders

    I love Run DMC. When utilized properly, he is the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league. Raiders head coach Dennis Allen thinks so too.

    Coach Allen told a group I was among at the NFL combine that McFadden represented the toughest matchup he had ever faced as a defensive coordinator while with the Broncos. The problem I see is the zone-blocking scheme employed by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

    We've seen McFadden struggle in the zone-blocking scheme under previous head coach Tom Cable. We have also seen McFadden flourish when most recent Raiders HC Hue Jackson came in and catered the line scheme to what McFadden wanted.

    A body on a body and a decision to make at the second level via either a chip block from the line or a lead block from the fullback. If you watch, you will see; it's all right there in front of your eyes. McFadden is at his best when he is almost "stiff" through the first level, then gets sprung through the second.

    McFadden's acceleration, burst and creativity through the second and third levels is what makes people jump out of their seats, and he needs a hard running start for this to occur. McFadden loves a block on the linebacker to bounce off of and get creative.

    He does not like to flow laterally in the backfield and play mind games with safeties before making a "cut-and-go" move. He is far too instinctual.

    If you are a McFadden owner, by all means, do not sell now. But be worried. 

    Best Risky Draft Pick

    Doug Martin, Bucs

    There was never a question that new Bucs HC Greg Schiano loves a lead-horse back, and as of today, there is no question who the lead horse is as Schiano takes the reins in Tampa.

    Doug Martin has more than looked the part, and he's proving himself a fantasy back that would have been worthy of second-round consideration in re-draft leagues. Fantasy owners who took Martin in the fifth and sixth rounds of 2012 fantasy football drafts are feeling like they put on a ski mask and took down the house.

    Tampa Bay RB coach Earnest Byner has overseen two different NFL rushing leaders on different teams in the last three seasons, but for some reason, he keeps getting fired. This seems to be Martin's and the Bucs' gain, judging by how the rookie has looked in NFL action thus far. 

    Byner was axed in 2010 after coaching Chris Johnson to the 2009 title, and he then got the boot in Jacksonville during the Mike Mularkey regime change after MJD put in his 2011 league-leading campaign.  

    Martin was in on 84 percent of Week 2 snaps in an offense that kept up with the defending champions. Arrows are pointing up everywhere. 

    Players Making Owners Most Sick to Their Stomach

    Michael Turner, Falcons

    The guy simply looks slow as molasses and now has a DUI to deal with. If I own both Jacquizz Rodgers and Michael Turner, I am starting Rodgers until further notice. 

    Steven Jackson, Rams

    New HC Jeff Fisher pulled Jackson out of the game for what I thought was a perfectly understandable reaction to scoring a touchdown—spiking the ball.

    Apparently, the replacement officials saw things differently and flagged Jackson like he was a malcontent complaining about a bad call. Whether there is a groin injury here or not, I do not like it that Fisher would feel Jackson is replaceable enough to make this sort of example out of.

    You do not bench your "best player" for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty early in the game. Maybe Fisher doesn't think Jackson is the Rams' best offensive player. 

    Fred Jackson, Bills; Matt Forte, Bears

    What's even worse than the fact that these guys will be out of your lineup for the next critical few weeks is that they both have backup players who may be more effective in their absence than they would have been while healthy.

    You could have drafted C.J. Spiller or Michael Bush in the seventh or 12th rounds of fantasy drafts. It makes me sick to write it, and I don't own either Jackson or Forte in any of my (many) leagues.

    This leads to a very slow "easing them back into the game" mentality from coaches and staff upon returning to the field. This is great for the players' long-term health, but it's horrible for their 2012 fantasy prospects. 

    Most Puzzling

    Chris Johnson, Titans

    What on Earth is going on? The tape doesn't lie, and the tape certainly indicates that Johnson does not care about playing football at a high level.

    That is not good news for many readers. 


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    Possible Draft Pick of the Year

    Robert Griffin III, Redskins

    He's just amazing. You have to be ahead of the curve in fantasy football, and the Robert Griffin III owners this season look poised to be the 2011 Cam Newton owners.

    Congratulations to all who recognized sickness. I certainly did at his pro day. I had to see it in consecutive NFL games, however, to know if things would translate to NFL production and fantasy numbers.

    Now, even the "cautious optimists" such as myself have seen the very tangible upside here. There is substantial value residing on squads that roster RG3. I do not own RG3 in any leagues, but judging by the questions I get on Twitter and my radio show, many who do own Griffin also own a top-tier QB1, such as Tony Romo, Mike Vick or Peyton Manning.

    A league mate of mine owns both RG3 and Cam Newton. I am extremely jealous of him. Now is the time to move one of them.

    Go after the Cutler owner. Find the guy that depended on Jay Cutler as his only QB and now realizes that any given week, against an NFC North opponent, his QB1 can be absolutely and miserably shut down. Make sure to get a premium player in return if you deal RG3 though.

    His stock may get hotter, but it's hot enough now to value him as a top-10 fantasy QB for the rest of the season. Price your trades appropriately and go for swindles. 

    Most Overreactions Regarding

    Matt Stafford, Lions

    Many fantasy owners saw the NFC West on the Lions schedule this season and thought of that as an advantage. The 2-0 Cardinals were supposed to be terrible, and they just beat the Patriots.

    What is going on here?

    Matt Stafford has been less than overwhelming in his first two games, but I predicted this all offseason. The NFC West is full of tougher defensive matchups than people give them credit for. This week, Stafford faces the Titans, who are, by my system, the seventh-best matchup for opposing QBs coming into Week 3.

    He's going to bounce back for you. 

    Most Worrisome

    Peyton Manning, Broncos

    Peyton Manning's arm is not what it used to be—in fact, it's not even close. There was one throw in Monday night's loss to the Falcons that stood out as one he really "put the mustard on." He seemed to make a concerted effort to take a two-step start, plant his foot and unleash it.

    That was on a deep seam route to Eric Decker that almost got picked off. Other than that, he seems to be using too much of his body when he throws. Every time. It's like he is having to thrust his back and go through his delivery at the same time.

    It is the opposite of natural. Manning is the Sheriff, and he is hard to doubt, but I see more picks coming when he tries to force throws that the nerves in his shoulder can't make his arm complete nowadays.

    Best of the Wire

    Matt Cassel, Chiefs; Russell Wilson, Seahawks

    These two represent the best waiver-wire pickups for QBs if you are looking to play the matchup in Week 3.

Wide Receiver

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    Public Service Announcement

    Calvin Johnson is still Calvin Johnson, which means he is still a robot sent from outer space to dominate. If you trade him, you will be hurt badly.

    End of broadcast. 

    Juiciest WR Matchups for Week 3

    1. Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy versus Giants.

    2. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree versus Bucs.

    3. Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin versus Saints.

    4. A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Armon Binns versus Redskins.

    Worst WR Matchups for Week 3

    1. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley versus Texans.

    2. Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts versus Eagles.

    3. Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings (Q), James Jones, Randall Cobb versus Seahawks.

    4. Roddy White, Julio Jones versus Chargers.

    Most Lucky

    Wes Welker owners

    It seems that those who took Welker may be given a small stay of fantasy execution into Welker's seemingly fast-approaching WR3 afterlife. With Hernandez out for four to six weeks, this gives smart Welker owners the time to hopefully get a big game or two out of him before shipping him off. 

    Most Overreaction Regarding

    Hakeem Nicks' foot

    He is fine. He told you 199 times this weekend.

    ***UPDATE: Wednesday, 9-19 3PM CST

    Nicks is out for the Carolina game Thursday, and will have a long week to recover afterward from the setback. Overreaction is still not necessary. We have seen what Nicks can do on a relatively bum foot already.

    Best WR Value of the Fantasy Draft So Far

    Reggie Wayne, Colts

    In standard and PPR leagues, Wayne has been clutch and is poised for a 2011 Steve Smith-esque rejuvenation. 

    Should Be Owned In All Leagues

    Brandon LaFell, Panthers

Tight End

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    Most On-Field Action

    Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

    Rudolph has played every Vikings offensive snap this season. Snatch him up. 

    Tight Ends Who Should Not Be On Your Waiver Wire

    1. Kyle Rudolph

    2. Brent Celek

    3. Dennis Pitta

    4. Martellus Bennett

    Tight Ends You Should Let Go Of

    Jermaine Gresham

    Ed Dickson

    Most Under-The-Radar, Possible-Breakout TE

    Heath Miller, Steelers

    It's beginning to seem like Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller are starting an early-season connection that may be worth monitoring in Pittsburgh.

    We know that Heath Miller has been a reliable cog in that offense through numerous changes in the receiving corps and has had spurts of fantasy relevance/prominence. With the offensive line so absolutely abysmal, we'll see Heath Miller as the hot route often if he doesn't stay in to help block or chip off.

    Most Likely to Develop Into a Fantasy TE Beast

    Martellus Bennett, Giants

    Giants TE coach Mike Pope is widely thought of as the best TE coach alive, and Bennett is a phenomenal natural athlete, the likes of which he has not had the opportunity to coach in many years.

    We saw in Week 1 that Bennett would be used as an offensive weapon as opposed to the blocker he was relegated to while in Dallas.

    In Week 2, Bennett again caught a (very athletic and awesome) touchdown and was targeted 10 times. Bennett is on pace for a top-five season at the position—as crazy as that sounds.