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Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: 10 Players Who Will Put Up Huge Numbers

Chris ConnContributor IIISeptember 22, 2011

Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: 10 Players Who Will Put Up Huge Numbers

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    Two weeks are in the books, and fantasy owners are beginning to recognize trends on their rosters.

    Certain players like Houston's Ben Tate have shattered expectations, while others like Tennessee's Chris Johnson have yet to live up to their high ranking.

    With a growing knowledge of each team's strengths and weaknesses and an up-to-date injury report, let's take a look at 10 players who are in position to score big next weekend.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots at Buffalo

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    As Rob Gronkowski owners probably already know, Gronk's counterpart, Aaron Hernandez, sprained his MCL last weekend against San Diego.

    To Patriots fans, this is a tough pill to swallow, but to Gronk owners, Hernandez's injury is fantastic news.

    Tom Brady will continue to spread the ball around, but it is inevitable that Gronkowski will see more passes his way with Hernandez on the sidelines.

    Projection: 9 receptions, 114 yards, 2 TDs

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins at Cleveland

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    Daniel Thomas broke out in a big way in his debut against the Houston Texans last week.

    With 107 yards on 18 carries, Thomas not only received three times as many carries as fellow running back Reggie Bush, but he also averaged nearly twice as many yards per carry.

    With a Week 3 matchup against a Cleveland Browns team that hasn't been able to stop the run, Thomas is in a great position to emulate his Week 2 success and perhaps even lead the Dolphins to their first victory.

    If he's on your roster, Daniel Thomas is a must-start.

    Projection: 21 carries, 105 yards, 2 receptions, 11 yards, 1 TD

Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City

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    The former first-rounder is yet to live up to his No.12 overall pick, but perhaps Week 3 is when Ryan Matthews makes a statement.

    Fantasy owners are often hesitant to rely on Matthews, as the Chargers almost always use Mike Tolbert in goal-line situations, but with a matchup against the lowly Chiefs, Matthews is primed to get his fair share of carries.

    Besides, in the Chargers two games thus far, Matthews' yards-per-carry average is more than twice Tolbert's. It may be a bit early to call this a pattern, but these numbers certainly indicate that Matthews can get the job done.

    The Chargers should be able to jump on the Chiefs early, so look for them to sit on a big lead by feeding Matthews the rock consistently throughout the second half.

    Prediction: 17 carries, 92 yards, 5 receptions, 44 yards, 1 TD

Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills vs New England

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    Buffalo's go-to receiver is destined to have a big day with the New England Patriots coming to town in Week 3.

    Though he'd undoubtedly be more dangerous catching passes from his opponent Tom Brady, Johnson's quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is quickly becoming one of the NFL's better passers.

    If the Patriots high-octane offense continues to put points on the board at a staggering rate, look for the Fitzpatrick to resort to the air and challenge a Patriots secondary that is allowing nearly 400 passing yards per game.

    With Roscoe Parrish out, Johnson's stock will only go up, and while I don't expect the Bills to emerge victorious, he should have an extremely productive day.

    Projection: 7 receptions, 102 yards, 1 TD

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys, vs Washington

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    Though many of the Dallas Cowboys have been plagued with the injury bug, Jason Witten remains an elite fantasy option.

    With Miles Austin's and Dez Bryant's battling injuries, Witten may be Tony Romo's only recognizable receiver in Week 3.

    That is, if Tony Romo plays.

    But even if he doesn't, Jon Kitna helped Witten light up the Redskins last season for 10 catches, 140 yards and a touchdown.

    He's obviously a top-tier talent, so if he's on your roster, don't hesitate to start him.

    Projection: 11 receptions, 119 yards, 1 TD

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions at Minnesota

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    The University of Georgia's golden boy, Matthew Stafford has excelled thus far in 2011.

    The former first overall pick has led the surprise Lions to a 2-0 record and shown that when he's healthy he's worth every cent.

    With Calvin Johnson's ankle appearing to be okay, there's no reason to believe that Stafford won't continue his dominance against the Vikings on Sunday. 

    Look for the Lions quarterback to lead the Detroit to their first 3-0 record since 1980.

    Projection: 320 yards, 3 TDs

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis

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    Mendenhall hasn't been great in his first two games of 2011, but I fully expect him to break out for the Steelers in Week 3 against the Manning-less Colts.

    Pittsburgh's stifling defense will likely suffocate the struggling Indianapolis offense, allowing the Steelers to control the pace of the game.

    If this is the case, Big Ben will look to use Mendenhall early and often.

    Don't let his numbers from the first two weeks fool you. Rashard Mendenhall is a legitimate fantasy option.

    Week 3 is when he proves it.

    Projection: 20 carries, 94 yards, 1 reception, 8 yards, 2 TDs

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals vs San Francisco

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    Though the Bengals weren't able to knock off the Broncos last week, A.J. Green gave Cincinnati fans reason to smile.

    The young wideout caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.

    Green is proving to be Andy Dalton's favorite target, and while a rookie-to-rookie connection is never a guarantee, it's tough to deny Green's 14 targets in Week 2.

    With a disappointing 49ers secondary coming to Cincinnati and Jordan Shipley out with a torn ACL, A.J. Green will only continue to build a reputation as a reliable fantasy receiver.

    Projection: 10 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD

Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans at New Orleans

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    As evidenced by his league leading 4,770 passing yards in 2009, Matt Schaub is a certified gunslinger. 

    Though he's not on pace to replicate those numbers in 2011, Schaub and the Texans take on the dynamic Saints offense in what appears to be high-scoring shootout.

    With Andre Johnson at his disposal, the sky is the limit for Schaub.

    Don't be surprised to see the Texans quarterback air it out against New Orleans en route to his best passing game of the season.

    Projection: 346 yards passing, 3 TDs

Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets at Oakland

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    Dustin Keller is quietly becoming a top-tier fantasy tight ends.

    After two weeks, the 26-year-old Keller leads the Jets in receptions, yards, touchdowns, first downs and is tied with Santonio Holmes for the team lead in targets.

    Look for Mark Sanchez to dial up Keller regularly against the Raiders in Week 3.

    Projection: 8 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD

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