Fantasy Football Week 3 Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Nick McAndrews@@NickMcAndrewsCorrespondent IIISeptember 25, 2011

Fantasy Football Week 3 Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

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    The Green Bay Packers face off against their arch-rival Chicago Bears in a rematch of the NFC Championship game on Sunday afternoon.

    Before that game, though, football fans will have to sit through the opening act: the Detroit Lions at the Minnesota Vikings.

    Though these two teams have always been the "little brothers" of their division, they are both credited with some of the most valuable fantasy football players in the NFL. I guess losing for so long has its advantages.

    Between the two teams, one could assemble a fantasy football squad that could squash your every-day competition.

    Here are my fantasy football predictions for the Week 3 matchup between the Vikings and the Lions.


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    Matthew Stafford

    Detroit's newly-proven star is an exciting pick-up for most fantasy owners this season.

    Many players would avoid drafting a guy like Stafford, unless absolutely necessary, given his track record with injuries.

    That being said, for those of you that did have faith in Stafford, I commend you on your lack of fantasy football common sense and incredible luck.

    In all seriousness, Stafford is averaging 23.5 points per week and is ESPN's fourth ranked QB.

    In Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stafford threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns for a total of 22 fantasy points (in the average league). Tampa has a pretty decent defensive secondary, but given the way Donovan McNabb torched them in the first half of Week 2, I think there might be something wrong with that team that we might not know about yet.

    Week 2 was even better for Stafford owners as the QB slung the ball for 294 yards and four touchdowns—a total of 25 fantasy points.

    The Vikings defensive secondary is not really known for being strong against the pass (and that is the biggest understatement I will ever publish in an article), so Stafford is looking pretty good so far.

    With the return of Kevin Williams to Minnesota's defensive line, Stafford will likely be forced out of the pocket a little bit more than he has been, feeling the pressure of a still dominant defensive front-four that includes two All-Pros.

    Overall, I don't think Stafford will have a problem producing offensively. The Vikings haven't proved that they can play a solid four quarters of football. That being said, with a revitalized defensive front, Stafford might feel the Vikings pressure a little bit more than he has in weeks past. In reality, the Vikings are better than the two defenses Detroit has seen so far.


    ESPN Projection: 18

    Nick's Projection: 21


    Donovan McNabb

    I don't think many fantasy owners were looking too seriously at Donovan McNabb as their starter—and if you did, I feel sorry for you.

    Over two games, McNabb has only racked up 267 passing yards and a single touchdown. So much for Minnesota's veteran option, right?

    McNabb has less than a third of the points that his Week 3 opponent has scored.

    The Vikings have gotten off to good starts in both of their games so far, but because of no momentum whatsoever, they lose steam going into the second half and their offensive production is nearly non-existent.

    Detroit's defensive secondary is nothing special, but because Minnesota's offensive line is so pitiful, Ndamukong Suh and the Lions scary front-four will likely limit McNabb a little bit (OK, a lot).


    ESPN's Projection: 11

    Nick's Projection: 10

Running Backs

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    Adrian Peterson

    Chances are, All Day went No. 1 overall in your fantasy draft, so I'm not going to waste your time telling you how good he is. You already know.

    Peterson had a big week against Tampa Bay, scoring two touchdowns on 120 rushing yards. Tampa Bay's defensive line was considered to be pretty strong, but with the exception of some shoe-string tackles, they couldn't touch Purple Jesus.

    Right now, Peterson is averaging 17.5 fantasy points per week. This week, however, his average will rise because the Lions defense has always struggled to contain this running back that is more of a god-send than anything else.

    Peterson is sick of getting tackled by his shoe-strings, he will start running through defenders more and show exactly why he deserves to be the most expensive RB in the NFL.


    ESPN's Projection: 24

    Nick's Projection: 29


    Javid Best

     I can't really call this a "breakout" season for Best, simply because we already knew he was good. Best showed a lot of promise last season before going down on an injury.

    The young RB is an integral part of Detroit's offense and will be very useful against the Vikings.

    As you will read on my next slide, Calvin Johnson will be relatively ineffective against the Purple because the Vikings do an excellent job of taking away teams' No. 1 receivers. That being said, however, they completely fail at covering secondary options, particularly screens and short throws to running backs—just like Javid Best.

    Best is up to 34 total fantasy points so far this season, and will likely add to that total by the number of points he is averaging so far this season: 17.


    ESPN's Projection: 18

    Nick's Prediction: 17

Wide Receivers

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    Calvin Johnson

    With Matthew Stafford playing as well as he is lately, Calvin Johnson has been great to his fantasy owners as well.

    Unfortunately, this week might show a bit of a gap in his fantasy production.

    While the Vikings defensive secondary is pretty weak, their physical corners have traditionally done a pretty good job taking Megatron out of the game.

    In their two games so far this season, the Vikings corners have pretty much shut down Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, and Mike Williams—three very talented receivers.

    I may sound like I don't know what I'm talking about to most fantasy owners, but believe me: this game will be closer than all of you think.

    Johnson will still have a decent day, but he won't light up the Vikings like he did the Chiefs and Buccaneers.


    ESPN's Projection: 20

    Nick's Projection: 14


    Percy Harvin

     Percy Harvin has been completely misused by the Vikings coaching staff.

    The explosive play-maker needs to have the ball in his hands a lot more than he has gotten it so far.

    Producing under 10 points in both of the last two weeks has me thinking that Harvin is due for somewhat of a breakout week for the season.

    Harvin's versatility will be tough for a very traditional Lions defense to adapt to. Though he is listed only as probable for the match up after an undisclosed illness, I say Percy shows up to play.

    The Minnesota Vikings coaching staff is sick of explaining itself to the media. I think they will be taking more chances this week simply because Detroit's defense it so much better than theirs. Taking more chances means more touches for Percy Harvin, and with the ball in his hands, there's no telling the kind of fantasy production is waiting to be had.


    ESPN's Projection: 15

    Nick's Projection: 15

Tight Ends

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    Visanthe Shiancoe

    The extent of Shiancoe's production can be measured by dropped passes and missed opportunities.

    I don't know if his hamstring injury is still bothering him, or if he and McNabb just aren't on the same page, but it all adds up to the fact that Shiancoe just isn't a good fantasy TE any more.

    Shiancoe's only got two points so far, and that's actually what he's projected to score this week as well.

    Hold on to your hats folks! That means he's doubling his production this week!

    Well if that excited you, you probably haven't had your morning cup of coffee yet, but in all seriousness, I think a projection of two points is actually pretty generous to Shiancoe at this point. I mean the guy hasn't done a damn thing yet.

    The Vikings keep saying they want to incorporate their TEs more in their offense, but I'll believe it when I see it.


    ESPN's Projection: Two

    Nick's Projection: Zero


    Tony Scheffler

    Scheffler is a new name to many fantasy owners, but he's played pretty well so far.

    Stafford has connected with the TE for two touchdowns this season and likely will continue to do so.

    Minnesota played well against Antonio Gates, but he was a different type of TE. Gates is the kind of player used to stretch the field, while Scheffler will primarily be used in underneath routes and in the red zone.

    That Being said, the Vikings defense is terrible with both of those things, so I don't think Scheffler should have much of a problem against this secondary.


    ESPN's Projection: Zero

    Nick's Projection: Nine


Defense/Special Teams

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    The Lions have a pretty intimidating defensive front, but beyond that, the Motor City Kitties are very average on defense.

    Yes, I know that they put up 20 points against Kansas City last week, but did you know that Jamaal Charles was injured? I'm not impressed—yet.

    The Lions D/ST is projected to score about eight points, which is pretty fair considering the lack of production from the Vikings this season.


    ESPN's Projection: Eight

    Nick's Projection: Eight



     The Minnesota Vikings defense has played extremely well in the first halves of both their games thus far. But because of a serious lack of depth, they don't have the endurance to make it through four quarters of football.

    The return of Kevin Williams will likely help the defense as a whole as pressure is taken off the linebackers like Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway.

    The Vikings defense are projected to squeak out one lousy point against the Lions. I think that the Vikings are a little bit underrated in this category with their ability to prevent anything down the field from happening and limiting opposing offenses to short gainsthough many, many of them.


    ESPN's Projection: One

    Nick's Projection: Five


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    Did you really expect me to deeply analyze the kickers? They're playing in a dome for Christ's sake.


    Ryan Longwell


    ESPN's Projection: Three

    Nick's Projection: Six


    Jason Hanson


    ESPN's Projection: Nine

    Nick's Projection: 11


    Thanks for reading and enjoy the game!


    Follow me on Twitter @MCNick92