You’re not going to win many fantasy matchups without making some gutsy predictions before each week’s games play out.
Making the safe pick might get you what you need to keep it close, but there’s also the risk of your star player having a less-than-stellar showing. Picking these weekly studs and duds is not an exact science. You can weigh the matchups and the stats from previous weeks, but ultimately teams game plan differently from week to week.
I’ve taken that into account when drafting up this look at which players should end up on opposite ends of the fantasy success spectrum in Week 3.
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs. Washington
The Washington football team has been porous against the pass this season, giving up a league-high 30 fantasy points per game against opposing quarterbacks. Expect Matthew Stafford to cash in with a big day through the air. Reggie Bush will be limited even if he sees the field, but that won’t hurt Stafford in this one.
QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis vs. Dallas
What’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys defense? Opposing quarterbacks have enjoyed some success and not many are hotter than Sam Bradford right now. Look for him to continue his success through the air as the team continues to struggle moving the football on the ground.
RB Joique Bell, Detroit vs. Washington
I like Joique Bell in this game—a lot. The Skins have been terrible against the run, giving up a league-worst 351 yards on the ground to this point. Reggie Bush figures to be limited in some capacity, making way for Bell to pick up more of the workload and light up fantasy scoreboards.
RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle vs. Jacksonville
I’m not sure this really warrants explanation. Jacksonville has been terrible against the run and Marshawn Lynch proved last week that Beast Mode is very much still a thing. Expect him to go off with a big day in a lopsided affair at CenturyLink Field. Seattle will likely be up big and running the ball a lot on Sunday.
WR Steve Johnson, Buffalo vs. New York (Jets)
A lot can be said about the New York Jets defense that many would have scoffed at prior to Week 1. Their success, though, has largely come in stopping the run. Steve Johnson is clearly EJ Manuel’s best and favorite target through two weeks, and he’ll prove it by having another big game in Week 3.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston vs. Baltimore
Andre Johnson will likely play, but rookie DeAndre Hopkins is going to have a field day against a beatable Baltimore Ravens pass defense that is a shadow of its former self. Matt Schaub is doing more to help the team win through the air than in previous years, and Hopkins is a big part of that shift.
QB Tom Brady, New England vs. Tampa Bay
Rookie receivers are going to have growing pains. Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is going to suffer through that process. Until Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski are back on the field, Brady is a questionable fantasy starter. That’s even more true against a Tampa Bay Bucs defense that hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown to date.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh vs. Chicago
The decline of the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to get turned around that quickly either. Big Ben has a somewhat interesting matchup against a Chicago Bears defense that has uncharacteristically underperformed to this point. But Ben Roethlisberger is going to be one-dimensional without any type of rushing game. That should help the Bears get back on track defensively.
RB Trent Richardson, Indianapolis vs. San Francisco
A running back that’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry who is playing for a new team, against one of the toughest defensive fronts in the game, is no fantasy stud at all. Expect Trent Richardson to eventually be a productive fantasy player again in Indianapolis’ offense, but not yet.
RB DeMarco Murray, Dallas vs. St. Louis
It seems like so long ago DeMarco Murray was a breakout fantasy star. Now, he’s healthy but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and hasn’t found the end zone once in 2013. St. Louis’ defense is allowing just 2.9 yards per attempt to opposing running backs.
WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville vs. Seattle
Wait, you want to start Cecil Shorts against the Seattle Seahawks? I can’t help you.
WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh vs. Chicago
See Roethlisberger above.