Week 3 Start Em Sit Em: Analyzing Toughest Fantasy Football Lineup Decisions
With two weeks in the books, it's time for teams in many fantasy football leagues to either put up or shut up as an 0-3 start could spell the premature end of a once-promising season.
In order to avoid such a nightmarish beginning to the 2013 campaign, it is of the utmost importance to be razor sharp when it comes to lineup decisions.
Some choices are easier than others, but due to stars struggling and surprise players starting off hot, there are plenty of head-scratchers. One false move could put a team in an insurmountable hole, but scoring with a bold lineup decision could breathe new life into your sputtering team.
Here is a look at some of the toughest lineup decisions facing fantasy football owners leading up to Week 3.
Start: QB Robert Griffin III (WAS)
While the perception is that Robert Griffin III has played poorly this season, that isn't really the case from a fantasy perspective. RG3's rushing numbers are down as he continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery, but he has passed for better than 300 yards in each of his first two games, and he has a favorable matchup in Week 3.
The Detroit Lions are in the middle of the pack in terms of passing yards allowed, with more than 250 per game, but they aren't exactly lauded for their play on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins will be desperate to avoid an 0-3 start to the season, which means that Griffin will rise to the occasion when his team needs him.
Projection: 307 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 65 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
Sit: QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Ben Roethlisberger was considered a steal in many fantasy leagues this season due to the fact that he put up big numbers in 2012 prior to getting injured. The Steelers' offense has clearly struggled without a featured running back and without wide receiver Mike Wallace stretching the defense, though, and Big Ben's numbers have suffered in the process.
With two touchdowns and two interceptions through the season's first two games, Roethlisberger is best off on your bench right now. A matchup against a ball-hawking team like the Chicago Bears doesn't help matters either, as Big Ben could potentially make some big mistakes Sunday night.
Projection: 238 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions
Start: RB Frank Gore (SF)
As a second- or third-round pick in most fantasy leagues, Gore was supposed to be a key cog as a high-end RB2 or low-end RB1 this season. That hasn't been the case, though, as Gore has just 60 rushing yards and one touchdown through two weeks. Gore was shut down by the Seattle Seahawks to the tune of 16 yards on nine carries in Week 2, but Gore should have much more running room in Week 3.
The Niners will face an Indianapolis Colts team that has to travel across the country after a disappointing Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Colts defense has long been weak against the run, and that remains true as they have allowed 136 rushing yards per game. Expect Gore to get back on track.
Projection: 112 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, two receptions for 27 yards
Sit: RB Darren McFadden (OAK)
Now that McFadden finally appears to be healthy, he may very well be ready to reach his potential as a dominant fantasy player. His owners are hoping that he will provide them with excellent value, and he certainly has so far. McFadden rushed for 129 yards against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2.
However, it will be tough sledding in Week 3.
The Raiders will take on the Denver Broncos and their league-best run defense. The Broncos have allowed two rushing touchdowns, but they are surrendering just 40.5 yards per game on the ground. Add in the fact that the Raiders are likely to be playing from behind, and McFadden isn't in line for a sparkling fantasy performance.
Projection: 52 rushing yards, four receptions for 34 yards
Start: WR Dwayne Bowe (KC)
The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the NFL's biggest surprises through two weeks, but they have largely done it with a great running game and a strong defense. Quarterback Alex Smith has done a nice job of steadying the offense, but he has yet to open things up.
That may very well change Thursday night, though, and Dwayne Bowe will be the biggest beneficiary.
Bowe did catch a touchdown in Week 2, but he has just eight catches for 86 yards through two weeks. The Chiefs face a Philadelphia Eagles offense that is allowing 374 yards through the air per game, so Smith won't be able to resist airing it out.
Look for Bowe to light it up just like the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins' receivers have in recent weeks.
Projection: Seven receptions for 126 yards, one touchdown
Sit: WR Cecil Shorts (JAC)
Which player will have the worst fantasy performance in Week 3?
While it's usually a pretty good idea to bench Jaguars players in fantasy football, Cecil Shorts is one of the few fantasy-worthy players on the team. He played well in Week 2 by catching eight passes for 93 yards.
However, he faces the toughest matchup any receiver possibly can in Week 3 as the Jags will face the Seattle Seahawks and shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman.
There is little doubt that Jacksonville be playing from behind as Seattle is a huge favorite, but garbage yards won't be easy to come by. Sherman simply doesn't let up, regardless of how close the game is, so Shorts' ceiling is incredibly low.
Projection: Three receptions for 31 yards
Start: TE Tyler Eifert (CIN)
While Tyler Eifert may not be in an ideal situation in Cincinnati as he has to split time with Jermaine Gresham, quarterback Andy Dalton has found a way to get both of his tight ends involved. Eifert looked excellent against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense in Week 2, as he caught three balls for 66 yards after a five-catch, 47-yard performance in Week 1.
Eifert has adjusted well to life in the NFL, and he seems ready to break out.
Week 3 could very well be Eifert's coming-out party as the Cincinnati Bengals will face a Green Bay Packers defense that has allowed 366 yards per game through the air as well as six passing touchdowns. It's natural to be nervous about starting Eifert since Gresham is bound to steal some targets, but get Eifert in your lineup unless you have an elite player at the position.
Projection: Five receptions for 78 yards, one touchdown
Sit: TE Coby Fleener (IND)
Although Coby Fleener didn't enter the season as a viable starting tight end option in fantasy circles, many owners may have changed their minds after his Week 2 performance. Fleener finally seemed to click with Stanford teammate Andrew Luck as he hauled in four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown with Dwayne Allen out of action.
Even if Allen is out again Sunday, though, Fleener isn't an advisable fantasy play.
The Colts will be playing a San Francisco 49ers defense that figures to be upset after getting manhandled by the Seahawks in Week 2. Fleener could be a very important part of the Indy offense moving forward, but he won't put up big numbers Sunday.
Projection: Two receptions for 26 yards
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