Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Football Owners

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystSeptember 22, 2012

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Football Owners

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    It's the third week of the 2012 NFL season, and fantasy football owners are preparing to set their lineups for the final week before the dreaded bye weeks hit and begin sapping available players from their rosters.

    Whether you're a 2-0 powerhouse looking to keep a winning streak going or an 0-2 team trying to right the ship, here's a last-minute look at some lesser-known fantasy options you should seriously consider starting.

    Also included are a couple of stars that might best serve your fantasy team from the bench.

Start: Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (at NO)

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    The 2012 season hasn't gotten off to the start that the Kansas City Chiefs had hoped for.

    Matt Cassel deserves at least some of the blame; he has turned the ball over five times en route to a quarterback rating of less than 80.

    However, Cassel has also thrown for over 550 yards in his two starts this season with three touchdown passes. There's ample reason to think that the eighth-year pro will be in for a productive day Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

    A desperate New Orleans team will all but surely come out firing offensively, forcing the Chiefs to air it out against a Saints defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game this year to opposing quarterbacks.

Sit: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (vs. SF)

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    Given that he tore both his ACL and MCL last December, the recovery of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been nothing short of remarkable.

    Not only was the sixth-year veteran back in the Vikings lineup on opening day, but to this point in the season, Peterson has played well. He has gained 144 yards and scored two touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards a carry.

    However, fantasy owners with other viable options should seriously consider sitting Peterson this week.

    Simply put, the San Francisco 49ers are nearly impossible to run the ball against. The 49ers were the NFL's stingiest run defense last year and have been even stouter this year, allowing a paltry 63.5 yards on the ground per game.

Start: Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

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    If you only look at the stats from Donald Brown's last start, then you may wonder if I had a little too much to drink.

    The fourth-year pro gained only 45 yards on 16 carries last week against the Minnesota Vikings, which isn't exactly the sort of production that inspires confidence in fantasy owners.

    However, this week the Colts face a Jacksonville Jaguars squad that has surrendered nearly 170 yards a game on the ground and has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

    Add to that the fact that this has the makings of a closely played contest where both clubs will try to establish the run, and Brown should see ample opportunities to produce good numbers against the Jaguars.

Sit: Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at DAL)

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson demonstrated why the Bucs paid him all that scratch in the offseason, reeling in five catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the New York Giants.

    However, Jackson may well find the sledding quite a bit tougher when Tampa travels to face the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon.

    A Cowboys secondary that was the weak spot of the team's defense last year is greatly improved this season.

    Jackson could be in for a slow day against a Dallas defensive backfield that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts in 2012.

Start: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (at WAS)

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    Many fantasy pundits tabbed Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham as something of a sleeper candidate entering the 2012 season. They expected the third-year pro to build on a 2011 season in which he had 56 catches for 596 yards and six touchdowns.

    To this point in the season, Gresham's just been asleep, managing only seven receptions for 67 yards through two games.

    The stage would appear to be set for Gresham to thrive this week against a banged-up Redskins defense that has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2012.

    That makes Gresham a viable starter for teams with a hole at the tight end slot.