Fantasy Football Week 3: Start 'Em or Sit 'Em, Do or Die
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Well, here we are. It's Week 3 and, if you're like me, you're sitting at 0-2 and disgusted with the play of the majority of your lineup so far. As you will read in pretty much every fantasy advice column on Al Gore's glorious invention (the Internet), it is still too early to do anything drastic, such as trade away your top picks or bench anyone you took early.
Like a bad tropical storm, we've got to ride this out, people. There may be light at the end of the tunnel.
So, we press on, trying to remain optimistic that our weeks of research and planning and draft day execution will eventually payoff. Something has got to give. Right?
In our Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em, we'll again stray from the obvious. There's no point in telling you to start or sit high profile guys like Ray Rice or Steven Jackson this week. You probably drafted them so high you really don't have a choice in the matter. What we'll try to help you find is those flex starts and even some guys on your waiver wire you could pick up. We hit on roughly 60 percent of our picks last week, so were shooting even higher this time around.
For many of us, Week 3 is do or die.
On a side note, week in and week out this column will NOT follow the standard, let's-compare-fantasy-football-to-some-obscure-pop-culture-reference-or-'80s-movie model, and we will strive to distance ourselves as much as possible from the cutesy Matthew Berry's of the fantasy world. Sure, it makes for a decent read, but it doesn't help you win, and that is our sole purpose.
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1. Jay Cutler, CHI vs. GB: Cutler is reaping the benefits of Mike Martz's arrival in the Windy City. Green Bay's defensive backfield gave up some passing yards in the second half to Michael Vick in Week 1, and facing Cutler on Soldier Field on Monday night looks to be a tough test for the aging Packers DBs.
2. Carson Palmer, CIN @ CAR: The Panthers let Josh Freeman and the Bucs' pedestrian passing attack carve them up last week, so theoretically Palmer should have a huge day against that Tampa Two.
1. Matt Ryan, ATL @ NO: The Saints D has picked up right where they left off last year, forcing turnovers at an obscene rate. Matty Ice has historically had trouble at the Superdome, and Roddy White can only carry this offense on his shoulders for so long.
2. Alex Smith, SF @ KC: Smith actually performed rather well on Monday Night against the Saints, save for his two interceptions, but going into Arrowhead Stadium against a young and athletic secondary could cause a few hiccups for Smith.
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1. LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ @ MIA: LT is looking like the LT of four or five years ago. Enough said.
2. Tim Hightower, AZ vs. OAK: Sure, Beanie Wells returns this week, but the Cardinals would be wise to be cautious with the fragile back. Hightower looked impressive last week, and Oakland has struggled against the run so far this year.
1. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG vs. TEN: Bradshaw will surely benefit from Brandon Jacobs's lengthy stay in coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse as a result of that ridiculous helmet toss on Sunday night. Yet the Titans D shut down a dangerous runner in Rashard Mendenhall last week and look to be one of the premier run defenses this season. This match up does not look good for owners of Bradshaw.
2. Ronnie Brown, MIA vs. NYJ: Coach Tony Sparano will be looking to exploit a Revis-less Jets secondary with Brandon Marshall and the passing game, and Brown's workload will likely suffer as a result.
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1. Jeremy Maclin, PHI @ JAX: Rashean Mathis will likely be blanketing DeSean Jackson all afternoon, so Maclin should benefit from some single coverage and have his 2010 breakout game against the Jags.
2. Dez Bryant, DAL @ HOU: Like his counterpart in Philly, Bryant is a number two receiver in a corps that features a legit number one. He should benefit from Houston paying close attention to Miles Austin.
1. Larry Fitzgerald, AZ vs. OAK: The Cards quarterback situation is dire, and Nnamdi Asomugha will be shadowing Fitz all game. If you have Steve Breaston, this might be a good week to give him a start.
2. Anquan Boldin, BAL vs. CLE: On paper, this matchup looks good. On paper. In reality, a struggling Joe Flacco could mean a whole lot of Ray Rice both on the ground and as a check-down safety valve in the passing game. Cleveland's secondary has looked somewhat decent as well.
1. Dustin Keller, NYJ @ MIA: Braylon Edwards DUI arrest and subsequent benching makes an already thin receiving group even thinner. Keller should see an increase in his targets as a result. A tough circumstance to benefit from, but owners of Keller will surely take it.
2. Jermaine Gresham, CIN @ CAR: Gresham is starting to become a bigger part of this offense with defenses keying on Ocho and T.O. week in and week out. A hobbled Kellen Winslow had a nice day against this same defense last week and there's no reason a healthy Jermaine Gresham can't do the same or better.
1. Owen Daniels, HOU vs. DAL: Even with Matt Schaub throwing for 500 yards last week, Daniels so far has been an after thought in this offense. There's just not enough touches to go around to advocate starting the Texans tight end.
2. Tony Gonzalez, ATL @ NO: The Saints D kept prolific pass catcher Vernon Davis relatively in check on Monday night, and Gonzalez hasn't gotten into any type of rhythm thus far with his quarterback. I'd keep Gonzo on the bench until he establishes a firmer connection with Matt Ryan.
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1. Ryan Longwell, MIN vs. DET: The Vikings offense should finally come alive against the Lions putrid secondary. That means double digit points for Longwell for the first time this season.
2. Neil Rackers, DAL @ HOU: This game should be a shootout for the ages, and the Cowboys kicker could come away with some monster numbers.
1. Joe Nedney, SF @ KC: Arrowhead is a tough place for visiting kickers, and Nedney is off to a mediocre start. Factor in the possibility of some inclement weather in Kansas City and Nedney becomes even more expendable.
2. Dan Carpenter, MIA vs. NYJ: The Jets stalwart D should keep the score low in this one, meaning not a lot of opportunities for Carpenter.
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1. Steelers @ TB: This is a no-brainer, but we had to give this D some love. They harassed the Titans into seven turnovers, and James Harrison's vicious suplex of Vince Young is probably haunting Josh Freeman's dreams all week. You'd be hard pressed to find a surer thing in fantasy than the Steelers D.
2. 49ers @KC: Is this the week that this defense finally lives up to its preseason billing? We saw glimpses of their potential against the Saints, so we'll go on a hunch here and pick San Fran to rack up the turnovers against Matt Cassell and Co.
1. Green Bay @ CHI: Nobody's been able to stop Mike Martz's Chicago reincarnation of the Greatest Show on Turf yet. Should be a lot of points scored in this Monday night contest.
2. Seattle vs. SD: The Seahawks defense had a field day in Week 1, forcing two turnovers and scoring a defensive touchdown. Then, they came back to earth in Week 2, giving up 31 points to the Broncos. This week they head south to face the hot hands of Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates.