Top 50 Fantasy Football Big Board for NFL Week 3

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2012

Top 50 Fantasy Football Big Board for NFL Week 3

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    Who will be Week 3's C.J. Spiller?

    Buffalo's electrifying running back leads all running backs in fantasy scoring through two weeks, with Reggie Bush hot on his heels. One of them has a nice matchup, while the other's opponent wants to slather him in hot sauce

    Who should you start? Find the answer to that and much more in this week's big board.


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    20. Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Cleveland)

    The Browns are still without Joe Haden. C.J. Spiller will get a ton of work.


    19. Josh Freeman (at Dallas)

    These rankings are not a mirror image of last week's, I promise.


    18. Andrew Luck (vs. Jacksonville)

    He bounced back nicely against the Vikings.


    17. Alex Smith (at Minnesota)

    He might not be lighting up fantasy scoreboards, but he has become one of the more reliable quarterbacks, thanks to avoiding turnovers. The Vikings should be a nice matchup for him.


    16. Andy Dalton (at Washington)

    The Redskins just made Sam Bradford look like Kurt Warner circa 2000. Alright, maybe Bradford wasn't that prolific, but Washington's pass defense is suspect.


    15. Joe Flacco (vs. New England)

    He has bounced back from losses nicely throughout his career.


    14. Ben Roethlisberger (at Oakland)

    Oakland is dealing with injuries in the secondary—a big reason why Ryan Tannehill looked so good against them last week. Roethlisberger has a bit of a better arsenal.


    13. Matt Schaub (at Denver)

    Schaub didn't throw any touchdowns last week against the Jaguars because he didn't have to. Arian Foster and Ben Tate did the heavy lifting.


    12. Matt Cassel (at New Orleans)

    Cassel will have to continue throwing the ball quite a bit as long as the Kansas City defense is playing poorly. The Saints are a great matchup for the Chiefs quarterback.


    11. Philip Rivers (vs. Atlanta)

    Tennessee was a nice matchup for Rivers, but Atlanta is a bit tougher. Just ask Peyton Manning.

10. Peyton Manning (vs. Houston)

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    It was a rough start on Monday Night Football for Manning and the Broncos, but he slapped on some Icy Hot and warmed up as the game wore on.

    It is a tale of two realities for the future Hall of Famer against the Texans. On the one hand, Manning has had little trouble against his former division rival throughout his career. On the other, these aren't your daddy's Texans.

    Houston has not given up a touchdown pass in this young season. That will eventually change, though, and Manning is a good bet to end that streak.

9. Michael Vick (at Arizona)

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    Despite some more turnover issues, Vick had a nice bounce-back game against the Ravens. His fantasy output might have been a bit more pedestrian had it not been for a last-gasp touchdown plunge at the goal line, though.

    The Cardinals, meanwhile, completely shut down dynamic rookie Russell Wilson and held Tom Brady in check on the road. This is not going to be an easy matchup.

8. Jay Cutler (vs. St. Louis)

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    Yes, yes, Jay Cutler looked like the second coming of Ryan Leaf last week against the Packers. He has never played well at Lambeau Field, though, and it was not the first fantasy catastrophe of his career.

    The Rams had a tough time against Robert Griffin III after doing a decent job on Matthew Stafford. Cutler might be in for another turnover-laden day, but he should have at least a couple of touchdowns and good yardage to offset.

7. Tom Brady (at Baltimore)

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    It doesn't get much easier for Brady a week after getting bottled up at home by Arizona, as the Patriots head to Baltimore in a rematch of the AFC Championship game.

    Will losing Aaron Hernandez hurt even more, or will Bill Belichick pull all the right strings and get Brady back on track?

6. Tony Romo (vs. Tampa Bay)

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    Eli Manning just got done throwing for 510 yards against the Buccaneers. 

    The Cowboys will not necessarily be throwing the ball that much, but this is a fantastic matchup for Romo and the 'Boys.

5. Matt Ryan (at San Diego)

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    So far, the San Diego defense has done a pretty good job against opposing quarterbacks, allowing just two touchdown passes.

    Of course, those quarterbacks were Carson Palmer and Jake Locker, not Matthew Stafford or Drew Brees.

    Matt Ryan will be their first big test of the season, and he appears to be hitting on all cylinders with his receivers right now.

4. Aaron Rodgers (at Seattle)

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    This makes three tough tests in a row for Rodgers.

    He gets a good Seattle defense on the road after facing San Francisco and Chicago at home. Rodgers had fine fantasy days in the first two weeks of the season, but the matchup is not conducive to predicting a huge week from the reigning MVP.

3. Robert Griffin III (vs. Cincinnati)

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    Not only has Robert Griffin III been a great fantasy quarterback thus far this season, but the Bengals have given up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season.

    They just got done making Brandon Weeden look like a stud.

    Griffin will put on a show in Washington's home opener.

2. Matthew Stafford (at Tennessee)

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    Will the real Matthew Stafford please stand up?

    Much like Aaron Rodgers, Stafford has had two tough games in a row to start the season—although St. Louis' three-interception game was a bit unexpected.

    Unlike Rodgers, Stafford gets a tasty matchup to help heal his woes.

1. Drew Brees (vs. Kansas City)

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    If there is one defense that has looked worse than New Orleans' through two games, it is Kansas City's. Brees has not been a bad fantasy quarterback to start the year, but he should have a spectacular game against the Chiefs at home in a must-win situation.

Running Backs

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    20. Chris Johnson (vs. Detroit)

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This ranking might still be too high after the first two weeks CJ0K has had. He blames his offensive line—he is getting hit behind the line on average, so there is some truth to that—but he needs to step up his own game if he is going to avoid being an utter bust.


    19. Darren Sproles (vs. Kansas City)

    Sproles had a spectacular PPR game last week despite not getting into the end zone. It was a nice standard scoring output as well, but his value will always be limited by Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram.


    18. Adrian Peterson (vs. San Francisco)

    Word to the wise: It might not be a good idea to talk smack about your run offense to an opposing defense that has allowed one regular-season rushing touchdown to a running back over the past 18 games.


    17. Michael Bush (vs. St. Louis)

    Bush will get a chance to shine as the lead back, while Matt Forte sits with an injury.


    16. Jamaal Charles (at New Orleans)

    The Chiefs held Charles out of the second half last week as a precaution after he had some knee pain. He is a full go this week, and hopefully he can finally get going against the Saints.


    15. Frank Gore (at Minnesota)

    Gore has been great for the 49ers, defying his preseason detractors thus far.


    14. Stevan Ridley (at Baltimore)

    The Ravens are going to be a big test for the second-year running back.


    13. Ryan Mathews (vs. Atlanta)

    It's tempting to rank Mathews higher given his role on the offense, but he just as well could have an awful fantasy day if he is not all the way back from his broken clavicle.


    12. Alfred Morris (vs. Cincinnati)

    Two weeks and he has made me a believer. Awaiting Shanahanigans.


    11. Darren McFadden (vs. Pittsburgh)

    This is truly banking on talent eventually winning out.

    McFadden has been bottled up by two stingy run defenses in San Diego and Miami. Part of the problem is the new zone-blocking scheme (ZBS) that offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has installed.

    It's still a work in progress.

10. Reggie Bush (vs. New York Jets)

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    Has Bush entered the land of the elite running back?

    He certainly has the look of one after two weeks. He ripped the Raiders to shreds last week, earning himself the top spot among fantasy backs and AFC Player of the Week honors.

    The Jets have a good defense, but they have not been terribly stout against the run. Miami figures to rely on Bush; a strategy for which New York is sure to be prepared.

9. Marshawn Lynch (vs. Green Bay)

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    Marshawn Lynch had a nice fantasy day against the Cowboys last week, doing it on a respectable 4.7 YPC.

    The Packers come into town next, having allowed Frank Gore, Matt Forte and Michael Bush to run well against them thus far this season. 

8. Doug Martin (at Dallas)

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    Speaking of bell cows, Doug Martin is the man in Tampa Bay.

    Unfortunately, the man is averaging just 3.7 YPC. He had a nice day against the Giants last week, but he could be rendered useless rather quickly if the Bucs fall behind early in Dallas.

7. Trent Richardson (vs. Buffalo)

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    Two games into his career and Trent Richardson already looks like a far better draft pick than his predecessor at Alabama, Mark Ingram.

    Richardson exploded against the Bengals, notching the week's third-best fantasy day behind otherworldly performances from Reggie Bush and C.J. Spiller.

    The Bills have not done a bad job against running backs thus far, but they don't exactly have a world-beating defense right now. 

6. DeMarco Murray (vs. Tampa Bay)

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    Murray got lost in the shuffle in Seattle as the Cowboys fell further and further behind, but he remains Dallas' bell cow back.

    He has been on the field for three times as many snaps as his backup, Felix Jones, and that does not look like it's likely to change anytime soon.

    Tampa Bay may have given up 510 yards passing to Eli Manning last week, but they also gave up 90 total yards and a touchdown to Andre Brown after he came in for injured Ahmad Bradshaw. This is a pretty good matchup for the Dallas offense all around.

5. Ray Rice (vs. New England)

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    Despite failing to score against the Eagles, Rice racked up over 150 total yards and wound up the ninth best fantasy back last week.

    He gets another tough test against Vince Wilfork and the Patriots this week.

4. LeSean McCoy (at Arizona)

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    A year removed from scoring 20 touchdowns, McCoy is sitting on only one through two games.

    The Cardinals are no pushovers either, holding Marshawn Lynch and Stevan Ridley in check in the first two weeks. Will McCoy be able to crack that Arizona defense, or will they have another improbably good day?

3. Maurice Jones-Drew (at Indianapolis)

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    In 12 games against the Colts throughout his career, Maurice Jones-Drew has rushed for 1,212 yards at a 5.27 YPC clip and nine touchdowns. He has also caught 38 passes for 320 yards and another three touchdowns.

    Of course, history can only show so much, and the Colts didn't do a bad job against Adrian Peterson last week. Still, you figure if MJD is going to really heat up in 2012, it'll be against the Colts.

2. Arian Foster (at Denver)

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    There are two things standing between Arian Foster and a No. 1 ranking this week: Ben Tate and Denver's defense.

    The Broncos are not exactly the 49ers, but they are giving up the fifth fewest fantasy points against running backs this season.

1. C.J. Spiller (at Cleveland)

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    One week could have been a fluke. Two weeks? This is starting to look like the norm for C.J. Spiller.

    The dynamic back remains a fantastic fantasy option as long as Fred Jackson is out with injury. He might not relinquish the job when F-Jax returns.

Wide Receivers

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    20. Malcom Floyd (vs. Atlanta)

    No Brent Grimes. Shootout coming. Plan accordingly.


    19. Antonio Brown (at Oakland)

    The Raiders are hurting in the secondary. 


    18. Brandon Lloyd (at Baltimore)

    He is nursing a thigh injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday night's game. That makes him a risky start, but when was the last time the Patriots were forthright on injury reports? 

    Lloyd remains the target leader among receivers in New England with 21. With Hernandez out, his average could go up.


    17. Miles Austin (vs. Tampa Bay)

    Austin has been producing closer to his 2010 levels after an abysmal 2011. He should continue to do so against a leaky Bucs defense.


    16. Demaryius Thomas (vs. Houston)

    Thus far, Thomas has been Peyton Manning's favorite target. He is the biggest and fastest receiver in Denver's corps, so that should not be terribly surprising.

    Houston has allowed just one touchdown pass this year, but Thomas is the best bet to catch one from Manning.


    15. Reggie Wayne (vs. Jacksonville)

    The Jaguars have not allowed any touchdown passes this year, believe it or not. That has been more because teams have beaten them on the ground than anything else, though, and Donald Brown is no Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster.


    14. Steven Johnson (at Cleveland)

    Joe Haden remains suspended; a reprieve for any fantasy owners going up against the Browns.


    13. Jordy Nelson (at Seattle)

    With Greg Jennings looking unlikely to play again, Nelson will once again be Rodgers' favorite target.


    12. Mike Wallace (at Oakland)

    See No. 19.


    11. Percy Harvin (vs. San Francisco)

    The 49ers are not going to be an easy defense to face, but the Vikings have found ways to get Harvin the ball in space. 

10. Roddy White (at San Diego)

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    It was a vintage performance for Roddy White last week, as the Broncos gave Julio Jones fits.

    It might be too much to have two receivers ranked in the top 10 along with a top-10 tight end, but Atlanta's offense can produce those kinds of numbers.

    It helps that Michael Turner has the YPC of a starfish.

9. Marques Colston (at Kansas City)

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    Colston has had a bit of bad luck thus far in 2012. Most notably, his goal line fumble turned a potential six points for his fantasy owners and his team against the Redskins into a negative play.

    The Chiefs should be good medicine for Colston and the Saints offense this week.

8. Andre Johnson (at Denver)

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    Johnson had a quiet Week 2 thanks to Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

    It could be another down week for different reasons as Johnson faces off against Champ Bailey, but the Texans might be forced to throw more by virtue of facing a better run defense.

7. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Philadelphia)

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    It is a sad state of affairs for Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona right now.

    The uber-talented receiver put himself in quarterback purgatory during the prime of his career by signing a big contract there, though the Cardinals at least took a mighty swing when they overpaid for Kevin Kolb.

    Unfortunately, Kolb doesn't seem to like to throw the ball to Fitzgerald nearly as often as John Skelton, which surely infuriates many of his fantasy owners.

    The fact remains that Fitzgerald possesses elite talent and can go off at any time. He keeps slipping in these rankings and the Eagles are not a good matchup, but he is too good to keep down all year.


6. Dwayne Bowe (at New Orleans)

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    Kansas City's best receiver went nuts against the Bills, though perhaps the Chiefs' incredible early deficit for the second week in a row had something to do with it.

    New Orleans has not been able to stop anyone either, making this a tantalizing matchup for fantasy owners all around. 

    Of course, now that I have said that, the final score will be 17-10.

5. Dez Bryant (vs. Tampa Bay)

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    Bryant has yet to heat up this year, while teammates around him have been popping off with big games. This should be the week he finally gets it going.

    The Buccaneers allowed an incredible amount of fantasy points to Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz last week. That doesn't necessarily mean Bryant will have a huge week, but he is due for one and certainly has the talent.

4. Brandon Marshall (vs. St. Louis)

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    The Packers had Jay Cutler on the run and Brandon Marshall under the covers last week, turning a promising fantasy matchup into a nightmare.

    Cortland Finnegan is a pretty good cornerback, but the Rams are not as good as the Packers defensively, and Chicago is back home. This should be closer to Week 1's performance for Marshall.

3. Julio Jones (at San Diego)

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    Champ Bailey clamped down on Julio Jones last week, allowing Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White to capitalize. It didn't help matters for his fantasy owners that Jones was off the field for chunks of the game, seemingly due to drops.

    The Chargers are not a fantastic matchup—particularly on the road—but Jones has the talent to bounce back in a big way.

2. A.J. Green (at Washington)

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    The Redskins have had some serious trouble in pass defense, and they just lost two key pass-rushers for the season in Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker.

    If Danny Amendola can go for 15 catches, 160 yards and a touchdown, what might Green do?

1. Calvin Johnson (at Tennessee)

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    The 49ers were able to keep Megatron out of the end zone, and he has been shut out in consecutive weeks.

    That ends this Sunday against the Titans.

    Granted, Tennessee has been horrific covering tight ends, which would indicate Brandon Pettigrew will have a nice game, but that doesn't preclude Megatron from getting his.

Tight Ends

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    20. Anthony Fasano (vs. New York Jets)

    Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie could give Brian Hartline and Davone Bess headaches, which could be a boon for tight end Fasano.


    19. Kellen Davis (vs. St. Louis)

    He is the No. 1 tight end for Jay Cutler, and he should continue to be a beneficiary of defensive attention being paid to Brandon Marshall.


    18. Scott Chandler (at Cleveland)

    He has scored two touchdowns in a row. Does this mean we can expect more fantasy consistency out of the fourth-year tight end?


    17. Jermaine Gresham (at Washington)

    Gresham has just 67 receiving yards through two weeks.


    16. Jared Cook (at Detroit)

    It was an ugly game against the Chargers last week, and Cook had just 23 yards.


    15. Jacob Tamme (vs. Houston)

    Tamme was on the bench for long stretches against the Falcons. Was he injured, or was it a sign of things to come?


    14. Kyle Rudolph (vs. San Francisco)

    In case you didn't know or have not been made aware, San Francisco's defense is pretty good. Fortunately for Rudolph, they have given up a fair number of fantasy points to opposing tight ends.


    13. Dennis Pitta (vs. New England)

    Pitta has done such a good job that he has ascended to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.


    12. Coby Fleener (vs. Jacksonville)

    Dwayne Allen essentially vultured a touchdown from Fleener, who would have had a great fantasy day if he had gotten into the end zone last week. 


    11. Fred Davis (vs. Cincinnati)

    Pierre Garçon is doubtful again this week, and Fred Davis should be back from his Week 2 concussion. His stock has slipped tremendously after two disastrous weeks, but this could be his time to finally shine in 2012.

10. Jermichael Finley (at Seattle)

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    If Finley could just hang onto the ball, Aaron Rodgers might trust him enough to make his tight end a fantasy stud.

    It worked out in Week 1, as Finley had a nice fantasy day before Rodgers started ignoring him. Week 2 was not as kind to Finley, who saw fewer targets and a fumble. 

    He is a big, talented target who is a threat on any given Sunday, but he is simply not trustworthy enough to deliver a top-five score on a weekly basis. That he is on the road against a good Seahawks defense this week is also an impediment.

9. Owen Daniels (at Denver)

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    Tony Gonzalez ran amok against the Broncos last week. 

    It helped that the Falcons' run game was its usual plodding self and Denver had to worry about Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Daniels is in a pretty good offense himself.

    The Broncos are currently the fourth worst fantasy defense against tight ends. Daniels is Matt Schaub's second-best option in the passing game.

    This is a recipe for a nice day.

8. Brent Celek (at Arizona)

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    Celek is quickly becoming a big-time fantasy commodity, particularly in PPR leagues.

    The big tight end has become a favorite target for Michael Vick, whose receivers have been dealing with injury all season. The matchup against Arizona is not as tantalizing given their defense, but they did give up 65 yards and a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski last week.

7. Tony Gonzalez (at San Diego)

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    Gonzo continues to be an integral part of the Falcons offense as a safe option for Matt Ryan. That makes him a solid start on any given week, especially considering the attention defenses must pay to other players on that offense.

6. Jason Witten (vs. Tampa Bay)

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    He is now over a month removed from rupturing his spleen and a few weeks back into game shape.

    Witten has a nice matchup against a Bucs defense that just got torched by Eli Manning. Manning threw one of those touchdowns to his tight end, Martellus Bennett.

5. Brandon Pettigrew (at Tennessee)

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    The Tennessee Titans have given up five touchdown catches to tight ends in two games.

    Three of those came to unheralded Dante Rosario in the best game of his life. Brandon Pettigrew is slightly better than Dante Rosario.

    You get the picture here.

4. Vernon Davis (at Minnesota)

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    Alex Smith has the San Francisco offense humming, and Vernon Davis is the grease man.

    While Smith does have good options at receiver for once in his career, Davis has been his typically good self through the first two weeks of the season. That should be the case for the foreseeable future.

    The Vikings are a middle-of-the-road matchup for Davis and the 49ers.

3. Antonio Gates (vs. Atlanta)

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    Gates burned us—OK, me—last week with the late-game scratch, and he is still dealing with that injury to his ribs, so this should be taken with a good-sized grain of salt.

    If he plays, though, he should have a good day. It is pretty clear Philip Rivers likes to throw to his tight ends, as evidenced by Dante Rosario's inferno last week.

2. Rob Gronkowski (at Baltimore)

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    Aaron Hernandez's absence can only help Gronkowski's fantasy value, right?

    It depends on how the Ravens tackle the big fella. He had a pretty good game against them in the AFC Championship last season, catching five passes for 87 yards with no touchdown.

    Perhaps the Ravens will bracket Gronk, allowing Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd to have a big game. Even then, the giant tight end is always a threat to score.

1. Jimmy Graham (vs. Kansas City)

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    Drew Brees' favorite target will remain pegged at the No. 1 tight end spot until further notice.


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    15. St. Louis Rams (at Chicago)

    St. Louis picked Matthew Stafford off three times in Week 1. They might not have been so successful against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins last week, but they visit interception-machine Jay Cutler. Even if they give up some points, they could make up some ground on turnovers.


    14. New Orleans (vs. Kansas City)

    Yes, the Saints look like they couldn't stop a leaky faucet right now, but this is the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills utterly shut them down until garbage time.


    13. Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay)

    Are the Bucs going to put up 34 points on the Cowboys on the road? No.


    12. Miami Dolphins (vs. New York Jets)

    This might seem ludicrous, but Miami has a pretty good defense. It held Darren McFadden and the Raiders to 10 points last week, and New York's offense is arguably less talented.


    11. Baltimore Ravens (vs. New England)

    Few teams would make Baltimore fantasy owners quiver like the Patriots. Of course, if they play like Arizona, all bets are off.

10. Buffalo Bills (at Cleveland)

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    The Bills rebounded from a woeful performance against the Jets in Week 1 to contain Matt Cassel and the Chiefs until garbage time was officially declared.

9. New England Patriots (at Baltimore)

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    This is no easy matchup, but the Patriots have done a fine defensive job for the first two games of the season. Joe Flacco is not exactly Aaron Rodgers, but he is no Kevin Kolb either.

8. Detroit Lions (at Tennessee)

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    Which version of Jake Locker will show up? The highly accurate quarterback from Week 1, or the erratic, mistake-prone one from Week 2?

    The Lions hope to harass him into Week 2's iteration.

7. Houston Texans (at Denver)

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    The Falcons managed to pick Peyton Manning off three times before the Broncos could get on the board, and that was without Brent Grimes.

    Houston's defense is on a roll.

6. Green Bay Packers (at Seattle)

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    The Packers have quietly been the league's best fantasy defense through two weeks—at least in most standard scoring formats.

    Part of that has been facing Mr. Interception, Jay Cutler, in Week 2. The pass rush has been markedly improved from 2011, however, and it is showing up on the stat sheet.

    The Cardinals did a nice defensive job on the Seahawks when they pressured Russell Wilson.

5. New York Jets (at Miami)

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    The Jets breathe a sigh of relief as they get their best player back this weekend.

    Darrelle Revis is a game-changing cornerback, and despite illogical questions about whether the Jets should sit him against the "lowly" Dolphins, he increases their chances of having a good fantasy day.

4. Philadelphia Eagles (at Arizona)

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    Arizona has a man named Kevin Kolb playing quarterback. That should be good for a few fantasy points on defense alone.

3. Chicago Bears (vs. St. Louis)

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    Danny Amendola single-handedly ran over the Redskins last week, but the Rams get a much tougher test against the Bears on the road this week.

    Interception-machine Tim Jennings will be waiting.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (at Oakland)

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    The Steelers are still without Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, but their defensive sting is not gone. Just ask Mark Sanchez.

1. San Francisco 49ers (at Minnesota)

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    At last, the 49ers top the defensive fantasy rankings. 

    They had a couple of tough matchups in the first two weeks against the Packers and Lions, but they did a fine job and finally get a favorable one in Week 3.


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