Some slow starts by the likes of first round picks Matt Forte, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Steve Slaton have left many fantasy squads at 0-2 after two weeks of play, while other fantasy owners have enjoyed the luxuries of big games from the likes of Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Frank Gore, helping to propel then to a solid 2-0 start.
However, whether 0-2 or 2-0, remember, the past is the past. Nothing you can do will change the week one or week two outcomes you’ve experienced, but you do have power over week three, and as always, we’re here to help. This time we do so with our Fantasy Football Week Three Start Ems.
Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) vs. Pittsburgh
Palmer has been hit-and-miss in his first two appearances in 2009. While he has shown flashes of brilliance, he still has not quite been himself throwing for 3 TDs and 4 INTs in his first two weeks. The Pittsburgh defense (which last year meant a guarantee to bench your best players) has not been all that it’s cracked up to be in 2009.
They have given up 233 passing yards and 1.5 TDs a game, and even though those numbers aren’t great, it is important to remember that they were put up by Jay Cutler and Kerry Collins. Palmer has better weapons than either of those two QBs, and he’ll benefit from RB Cedric Benson having a hard time against the solid run defense in Pittsburgh.
Eli Manning (New York Giants) @ Tampa Bay
Eli has been impressive and has done his best older brother imitation by posting almost identical numbers to MVP Peyton. While Eli is known to be unreliable as a fantasy QB, it’s obvious that the Giants’ running game has not been great in the first two weeks.
Tampa Bay’s defense has given up an NFL high 10.1 yards per passing attempt, 282 passing yards a game, and 5 TDs through the air. If Eli can do as his counterparts have done in successive weeks, he will be a great start this week in Florida. He’s developed some solid relationships with WRs Mario Manningham (listed below) and Steve Smith, so look for Manning to keep finding success through the air.
Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) vs. Jacksonville
Perhaps you may not need anyone pushing you to start Schaub after a stellar performance last week against Tennessee. But, just in case you are still uneasy, know that this is a great match-up for Schaub to prove his worth and consistency.
The Jaguars pass defense has given up 559 yards and 3 TDs and looked atrocious while allowing QB Kurt Warner break an NFL record by completing 24 of 26 passes in week two. Schaub should post numbers in the top-five of QBs in week three in this cushy match-up.
Baltimore RBs (McGahee/Rice) vs. Cleveland
In consecutive weeks, both Baltimore RBs have proven that they can both be successful in their RBBC. Ray Rice has put up over 200 total yards and McGahee’s not far behind with 164 (but 4 TDs to Rice’s 0).
The best part about their RBBC this week is that they face the Cleveland Browns’ 31st ranked rush D (411 yards and 5 TDs). This could be one of those games that makes Rice and McGahee both #2 RBs. Heck, even LeRon McClain may see a vulture TD at the goal line.
Tim Hightower (Arizona Cardinals) vs. Indianapolis
In a game that may end up being a high-scoring affair, Hightower should see some serious fantasy points this week. While he hasn’t exactly dominated on the ground this year (87 rushing yards, 3.8 ypc), he’s been a solid overall contributor with 220 total yards and a TD.
Indy’s run defense has given up 353 rushing yards and 3 TDs in the first two weeks, so Hightower could have a field day in this Sunday night match-up. Even if Indy is able to slow down the Cardinals running game, Hightower is as capable as any RB to post significant yardage through the air.
Felix Jones (Dallas Cowboys) vs. Carolina
Much of this start will be related to the health of starting RB Marion Barber. If Barber is unable to go, this instantly becomes a great match-up for Jones. The Panthers run defense is 27th in the NFL having given up 336 rushing yards and 2 TDs in their first two weeks.
In week two, Felix picked up where he left off in 2008 (where he averaged 8.9 ypc) by racking up 96 yards and a TD on only 7 carries. Imagine if he became the No. 1 there, even if for limited time. RB Tashard Choice may see some carries if Barber is out, but expect Felix to carry the majority of the load.
WIDE RECEIVERS—START ‘EM
Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati Bengals) vs. Pittsburgh
Ochocinco has proven that he still belongs in the upper-echelon of WRs after two solid games with 180 yards and a TD reception. We hope that Ochocinco’s days of 2008 are firmly behind him, and that he can keep on with his tear to start 2009.
He faces a Pittsburgh defense that gave up 78 yards and TD to WR Justin Gage in week one and 70 yards and a TD to WR Johnny Knox in week two. Chad is just slightly more talented than those two receivers, so you can expect numbers in the same vicinity as those two guys. Child please, might as well kiss the baby.
Mario Manningham (New York Giants) @ Tampa Bay
The man from the University of Michigan has been impressive in his 2nd year so far. He’s posted 208 yards and 2 TDs in his two games, and seems to have developed a fine rapport with QB Eli Manning.
As Manning is one of our Start ‘Ems, so is Manningham. Tampa Bay has given up plenty of big plays thus far in two weeks, and the Giants will most likely do the same to win this match-up. The Bucs have given up five pass plays of 40 yards or more, so hopefully Manningham can see a few of those long plays that have doomed the Buccaneers this year.
Julian Edelman (New England Patriots) vs. Atlanta
Please note: This is only if Wes Welker is not able to play due to his knee injury.
Edelman was extremely successful in his first ever start at WR posting 98 yards on 8 catches (very Wes Welker like).
If Welker doesn’t see action, Edelman could post another game very similar to that of week two. Atlanta’s pass defense has been average so far this year allowing 459 pass yards and 2 TDs. Keep track of Welker’s status before the game.
Santana Moss (Washington Redskins) @ Detroit
Detroit has been awful so far in 2009 defending the pass, so this is somewhat of a make or break game for Moss and the Redskins’ passing attack. Perhaps roll the dice with Santana if you’re struggling for a better option.
TIGHT ENDS—START ‘EM
Kellen Winslow (Tampa Bay) vs. New York Giants
Winslow has been “Kellen ‘em Softly” this season as he has posted solid statistics with his new team, the Buccaneers. 120 receiving yards and 2 TDs can take you a long way, especially with many drafted-early tight ends struggling in the initial weeks.
While he faces a tough match-up in the New York Giants, he has proven he may be the only reliable receiver that is not lined up in the backfield (Cadillac Williams) for the Bucs. Don’t expect anything gaudy this week, but a tidy 50 yards and a TD could become the norm from Winslow.
KICKERS – START ‘EM
Lawrence Tynes (New York Giants) @ Tampa Bay
While most of our predictions for Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em have been right on, the Kicker category has struggled mightily. In week one, we said Dan Carpenter (Miami Dolphins) had a good matchup. He posted one XP. In week two, Neil Rackers was our Start ‘Em kicker. He posted a meager seven points and missed a FG.
Give us one more shot to redeem ourselves. Tynes has been the best fantasy kicker to date, and yet his availability rates are down there with the likes of Sebastian Janikowski (Y!: 58 percent, ESPN: 83 percent, CBS: 29 percent). This pick-up should be right in Tyne to win your week three battle.
Denver Broncos D/ST @ Oakland
It’s as big of a surprise as any that the Broncos have been successful thus far this season. Even more surprising is that their defense is getting it done by allowing only 13 points in the first two weeks of 2009. Similar to the Rams, start your defenses that are playing against the Raiders.
JaMarcus Russell has been inconsistent at best, so expect at least two turnovers and a couple sacks allowed (plus a low number of points). DE/LB Elvis Dumervil recorded 4 sacks on the Browns last week so look for him to put pressure on QB JaMarcus Russell.
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*THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY JACOB LERMAN*
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