Fantasy Football: Week 3 Previews
At DallasCowboys.com, I published projections for all of the Cowboys’ primary skill position players against the Bucs.
9 receptions for 153 yards. That’s the stat line No. 1 receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith averaged in the first two weeks against Tampa Bay. Built to play physically in all phases of the game, the Bucs’ secondary is struggling right now. They’ve allowed more passing yards than any team in the league, including the two who have already played three games.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, who shadowed Nicks last Sunday, looks like he’s playing with a lack of confidence. I re-watched the Giants-Bucs game to focus on the Talib-Nicks matchup. Talib played press coverage on almost every single snap. Sometimes he got the best of Nicks, but he also missed on his jam a whole lot, and the Giants made him pay.
Still, a cornerback playing press coverage is probably the last thing the Cowboys want to hear after the Seattle cornerbacks out-muscled the ’Boys with their press in Week 2. There’s a difference between Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman and Bucs cornerbacks Talib and Eric Wright, however. Can you guess what it is? Anywhere between three and five inches of height.
- Final Stat Lines
Tony Romo: 25-for-35, 300 yards, 3 TD
Jason Witten: 4 receptions, 40 yards
Dez Bryant: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 2 TD
Miles Austin: 5 receptions, 90 yards, TD
DeMarco Murray: 18 carries, 105 yards, 3 receptions, 25 yards
Here are your Week 3 fantasy previews at Grantland. Below, I’ve posted my previews that weren’t already published.
Bills @ Browns
Player to Start: Ryan Fitzpatrick
I picked Fitzpatrick last week and he had a modest showing, so I figured I’d continue to choose him until he has a big game and then rub it in your face that I “nailed the Fitzpatrick pick.” The Browns’ pass defense isn’t that bad, but don’t forget that their top player—cornerback Joe Haden—is suspended. In a game that could very well turn into a surprising shootout, 35-plus throws from Fitzpatrick isn’t unrealistic.
Texans @ Broncos
Player to Start: Kevin Walter
Can you start Walter in real life? Well, you could, but if you’re in a position where you’re forced to start Kevin Walter, even in a flex spot, you probably need a whole lot more advice than these little blurbs on Grantland.
This is Fantasy Island, however, so I’m telling you to “start” him in your imagination. The Broncos do a nice job of taking away opponents’ top receiving options (see Julio Jones and his 14 yards on Monday), so I really think Walter could go off this week. Maybe 100 and a touch. If he excels, I told you so. If he doesn’t, you shouldn’t be disappointed because I told you to start him only in your imagination.
Steelers @ Raiders
Player to Start: Darren McFadden
This is just a little reminder to all of you McFadden owners out there. . .the guy is not bench-able. He’s run for only 54 yards and 2.08 YPC, but he’s freakin’ Darren McFadden. If you’re even the least bit tempted to sit McFadden for, say, Andre Brown, well then you, my friend, are a moron.
**Note: This doesn’t apply to TJ Chrusch in my keeper league. You can go ahead and bench McFadden. 2.08 YPC bro!
Bucs @ Cowboys
Player to Start: Dez Bryant
Everyone is off of the Bryant bandwagon after two lackluster weeks, so there’s actually no better time to trade for him. Look for an anxious owner who needs running back depth and throw him a bone by offering Frank Gore for Bryant straight up. When Gore looks more like Al than Frank by the end of the season, you’ll thank me. Meanwhile, Bryant will face a cornerback in Aqib Talib whose confidence is likely at rock bottom after giving up 199 yards to Hakeem Nicks last week.
Lions @ Titans
Player to Start: Jared Cook
Cook owners are upset that the tight end has only 87 yards and no touchdowns through two weeks, but trust your instincts on this one. You have a young quarterback throwing to a young, 6’5’’ tight end whose receptions and yards have increased every year he’s been in the league. It takes time for that connection to develop, but there’s no better opportunity for a tight end to break out than against a Cover 2 defense like the Lions run.
Jaguars @ Colts
Player to Start: Justin Blackmon
The nature of the Colts’ defense has changed in recent years. Gone are the days when you could run all over them but find little success through the air. Indy is allowing only 3.5 YPC thus far in 2012, and the Jaguars are likely to be forced to pass late in just about every contest they play this year. Blackmon’s early struggles are concerning, but look for Jacksonville to make it a point to get the rookie the ball early on Sunday.
Jets @ Dolphins
Player to Start: Reggie Bush
The Jets may very well sell out to stop Bush this week, but I don’t think it will matter. The versatile running back can beat you just as easily through the air as he can on the ground, so if the Jets blitz or stack the box, Bush could get behind them for an easy catch-and-run. Versatile players like Bush (2012 Bush, not 2009 Bush, and definitely not 2004 President Bush) are somewhat slump-proof because they can beat you so many different ways. Plus, running on the Jets D is no longer the equivalent of trying to knock over Rosie O’Donnell, as the unit is allowing 4.8 YPC.
Patriots @ Ravens
Player to Start: Joe Flacco
The Patriots’ porous secondary from a year ago suddenly looks unstoppable, allowing only 5.5 net YPA. It’s an illusion. I don’t know if you guys noticed this, but 100 percent of the Pats’ games have come against the Cardinals or Titans. Combine that with the Ravens’ new forget-Ray-Rice offensive attack, and you have the makings of a 300/3 game for The Flac.
49ers @ Vikings
Player to Start: Percy Harvin
Like Reggie Bush, Harvin can beat defenses in multiple fashions. It might seem foolish to start anyone against the Niners, but they’re actually allowing a half-yard more per play than Minnesota. I think the Vikings really have the potential to pull out a 17-13 type win on Sunday, and Harvin is their best chance to do it. In PPR leagues, Harvin could potentially have only 50 receiving yards but 3,000 points.
Chiefs @ Saints
Player to Start: Marques Colston
The Chiefs are allowing 9.2 net YPA through two weeks. I think they’ll do everything they can to take away tight end Jimmy Graham, leaving Colston singled up on the outside at times. The Saints might try to run the ball more often against Kansas City, but they’ll sure want to get Colston involved after a horrific Week 2 performance. Plus, the Chiefs are just desperate enough to keep this a ballgame long enough for Drew Brees to give Colston plenty of looks.
Bengals @ Redskins
Player to Start: A.J. Green
The Redskins got absolutely torched by Rams quarterback Sam Bradford on Sunday, but I don’t think they’ll be in position to stop the Bengals this week either. With Brian Orakpo out for the season, the Redskins’ already-struggling pass rush took a huge hit. Given time to throw, Andy Dalton should be able to find Green early and often in this one. Only one team has allowed more passing yards than the Redskins.
Eagles @ Cardinals
Player to Start: LeSean McCoy
You’ll be starting Shady anyway, but you can expect big-time numbers from him this week. There’s no way the Cardinals are going to be able to rekindle their Week 2 magic to keep up with the Eagles. This one could get ugly by the third quarter, in which case Arizona will see a heavy dose of McCoy. I expect Shady to run for more yards than Thomas Tyner.
Falcons @ Chargers
Player to Start: Robert Meachem
Is this finally the week Meachem breaks out for San Diego? The recipe is there for a monster game. The Falcons’ up-tempo offense extends games, giving both teams more offensive plays. The Chargers could very well be down in this one, forcing Philip Rivers to air it out to his biggest downfield threat. Plus, with Atlanta’s top cornerback Brent Grimes out for the year, the Falcons could very well shadow Malcom Floyd with Asante Samuel, leaving Meachem to work on the lesser Dunta Robinson.
Packers @ Seahawks
Player to Start: Jordy Nelson
Seattle stifled Dallas’s passing game in Week 2 by doubling Dez Bryant. They may very well do the same to Greg Jennings on Monday night, leaving Nelson singled up outside. Like Miles Austin in Seattle, I think Nelson is a good bet for a lot of targets and a score.
And at RotoWire, I posted an article on a few “buy low” players through Week 2.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
You know who isn’t going to score more points than McFadden this year? Frank Gore. And Stevan Ridley. And Willis McGahee. And Kevin Smith. And Ben Tate. All of those players are ranked ahead of McFadden (16th) in PPR leagues.
The fact that McFadden has given you No. 2 running back production after totaling only 54 yards and no touchdowns in the first two weeks should show you this guy’s potential. Once he gets it going on the ground, which he will, he’s a top-five back.