Injuries have already taken a toll on several players (especially running backs) in the NFL this season. Ineffectiveness has done the same thing to others.
As a result of these developments, roles tend to change and other players are come upon opportunities to make an impact for their football teams and fantasy owners alike.
Below are some players whom I anticipate to be more productive than expected in Week 3, along with a few whom I expect to disappoint their fantasy owners.
Andre Brown (RB) and Martellus Bennett (TE), New York Giants
The Giants will be pretty short-handed on offense when they face off against the Carolina Panthers. Big Blue will be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks on their short-week matchup.
First-round rookie David Wilson hasn’t been getting touches out of the backfield for New York. Brown was subbed in for Bradshaw when he left the game.
A few of the targets vacated by Nicks’ absence should be distributed to Bennett, who has scored in each of the Giants’ first two games.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers
Carolina may find itself without Jonathan Stewart again this week. The Panthers abandoned the run without him in Week 1 and could find themselves leaning on the passing game again.
This is a great matchup to do just that.
The Giants have been getting smoked by wide receivers this year. They’ve already given up 473 yards and five touchdowns to the position due to a lack of cornerback depth caused by a rash of injuries.
If Prince Amukamara is able to make his return to the team on Thursday night, he may be lined up across from LaFell. Cam should target Amukamara a few times just to see if he’s 100 percent.
If he isn’t up to speed, LaFell could make a couple of big plays.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions
The Tennessee Titans have given up five touchdowns to tight ends this season. Pettigrew is averaging seven looks per game from Matthew Stafford.
The Detroit Lions play the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Pettigrew is my No. 1 TE this week.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
I would start this dude over anybody else in the league. He’s been the No. 1 QB in fantasy through two games, and he’s my No. 1 QB this week.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Here’s your friendly reminder to start Andrew Luck’s No. 1 guy. Wayne is second in the NFL with 25 targets and has scored 13 fantasy points in each of the season’s first two weeks.
I see no reason for Wayne’s production to drop off now that he has a heralded quarterback under center again.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
The common opinion about the Dallas Cowboys’ receiving options seems to be that Miles Austin is Tony Romo’s second choice. He leads the team’s wideouts in targets thus far with 13, but Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree are close behind with 12.
The Cowboys will be playing their home opener in Week 3, and after scoring two touchdowns in the first two weeks, Austin should be about ready to really get going in front of a supportive crowd.
Austin has actually scored more often on the road than at home in the last few years. But remember, the visiting Bucs just got 25 points put on them in 15 minutes of play by the New York Giants.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Rivers should have running back Ryan Mathews returning to help him out from the backfield. But the Atlanta Falcons defense was very impressive, especially early on, Monday night against Peyton Manning.
And Manning may very well have better targets than does Rivers. Hopefully tight end Antonio Gates will play (and Mathews can deliver some receiving yards, as well), but Atlanta is playing well enough to force the Chargers quarterback into some mistakes.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
He’s your first-round pick, yes. But he should be a very expensive bench player this week and for the foreseeable future until he has a big stat line.
Cedric Benson, RB, Green Bay Packers
The Seattle Seahawks have allowed fewer rushing yards to running backs this season than even the San Francisco 49ers. And they’ll be at home again, where they buried the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The New York Giants have had major cornerback-depth issues in the early stages of the season. That’s likely why Jackson and running mate Mike Williams each had nice games last week.
Dallas’ cornerback tandem is considerably better than the guys New York out out there. And Jackson has only caught 45 percent of the passes thrown his way this season. He’s a risky play on the road against the Cowboys.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
Britt is supposed to play more this week than he did in his return to the field from a torn ACL. Last week, he was targeted twice. He should do better this week against the Lions (who are in a similar situation as the Giants regarding their defensive backs).
I would still wait to start Britt until we see him playing and contributing for the majority of a game. One catch and five yards on the season is not enough to inspire confidence with so many other potential fantasy starters.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Gonzalez has been impressive this season, scoring touchdowns in each of the first two games and attracting 16 targets from Matt Ryan.
His matchup in Week 3, however, is against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are one of 12 teams in 2012 to so far not allow a touchdown pass to opposing tight ends. They’ve also allowed just 146 yards to the position, aided in part by the inability of their first two opponents to challenge the secondary on the outside.
There’s a chance Gonzalez scores this week. But there are just too many other options I’d rather have at the position in Week 3.
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