Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Injuries, trades alter lineups
Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (Cont.)
Big trades, big injuries, big Week 3 ahead! Let's look at the shakeout from the Trent Richardson trade, and discuss the injuries situation. Several big-name players were banged up, twisted and knocked around last week, so who's suffering from these injuries, and who may serendipitously benefit from them?
Week 3 also brings us some more interesting storylines, like Chiefs head coach Andy Reid heading back to Philadelphia to play his old team for the first time, Browns wideout Josh Gordon's return from suspension and two star rookie quarterbacks facing off when the Bills meet the Jets.
These Week 3 Start 'em, Sit 'em recommendations are based on standard scoring, non-PPR, 12-team leagues that start 1-QB, 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 1-FLEX, 1-K and 1-DST. I've tried to list most of the possible players at each position, but if you find one missing -- please comment below, and I'll share my recommendation.
• Chiefs: Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe
Through two weeks, the Eagles have allowed 100 rushing yards per game, which means Charles could hit the century mark for the first time this season. The Eagles' defense is highly susceptible to the pass, so Bowe moves back into good-start status after scoring in Week 2.
• Eagles: Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Alex Henery
Vick is coming off a career-high 428 passing yards with a pair of passing touchdowns and a rushing score against the Chargers; however, the Eagles' bad defense has kept the offense on the field more than expected. The upside is that the offense has had many chances to run their new system, but at some point, it's going to take its toll on Vick. A pair of defenders gave him the Malachi Crunch in Week 2, hurting his chest and prompting him to sit out a play before returning. McCoy rushed for only 53 yards, which is about what the Chiefs are allowing on the ground, ranking among the toughest rushing defenses in the league. Shady will get his yards through the air, though. And Jackson had a huge day against the Chargers, even with a 37-yard touchdown catch coming back because of an illegal formation penalty.
• Chiefs: Alex Smith, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano, Ryan Succop, Chiefs D/ST
Smith is a borderline starter in larger leagues for this matchup, considering the Chargers threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns against Philly in Week 2. Smith's proving to be a good game manager, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions so far. The Chiefs' defense has been strong (nine sacks through two games), but they aren't a great start against the Eagles' high octane offense.
• Eagles: Bryce Brown, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Eagles D/ST
Brown comes in once in a while to give McCoy a breather and to dole out some punishment as the bigger back. Ertz appears to be getting more looks from Vick in the passing game over Celek, so watch the rookie in coming weeks. Remember that he's one of Andrew Luck's former tight ends at Stanford, along with Coby Fleener, and he has great hands.
• Texans: Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Owen Daniels, Randy Bullock, Texans D/ST
Foster might not have been as involved in the passing game in Week 2, but once again, he got the bulk of the carries. He received 19 carries, double that of Tate -- even though the latter led the team in rushing with 93 yards. Foster did get goal-line touches, though, and he remains the better fantasy option. While Tate will garner flex status in most weeks, the Ravens are tough on the run (allowing 65 rushing yards per game), and they have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Let's cut Bullock some slack. While he did have three missed field goals, two were from 50 yards out, and the third was after a bizarre string of plays where he made a 51-yarder, only to have the refs tell him Tennessee took a timeout beforehand. Then the next kick was blocked, but the defense was called for being offsides, then another kick was killed by yet another timeout -- and finally, a missed 46-yarder. He remains a good fantasy play, but we'll see if that bad outing messes with his psyche.
• Ravens: Bernard Pierce, Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown
If Rice's injury keeps him out, or even if he's limited, Bernard Pierce will be his replacement. Unfortunately, the Texans have a tough defense, so either player will have difficulty. But a healthy Pierce makes for a better fantasy player than a hobbled Rice. I missed the mark on Brown last week, but it's tough to recommend more than just Smith against a Texans defense that has allowed just 216 yards to receivers through two games.
• Texans: Matt Schaub
While Schaub certainly proved that he has some serious passing weapons around him, this matchup just isn't conducive to a big output by him. Despite the Broncos torching the Ravens' pass defense in Week 1, they settled down in Week 2 and made Cleveland pay, allowing just six points on the day. There are at least 12 better options at quarterback this week.
• Ravens: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, Justin Tucker, Ravens D/ST
Rice suffered a hip injury that cost him some time in Week 2, and the Ravens will be conducting more tests through the week. The Ravens targeted their two tight ends just twice in Week 2. Their defense played like Super Bowl champs against the Browns, but Houston is a much tougher test. The Texans are good in every aspect of the game.
• Lions: Matthew Stafford, Joique Bell, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, David Akers
Stafford could pass for 500 yards in this game, considering the Redskins are allowing 511.5 passing yards per game. Nate Burleson deserves a start as a flex, along with Herman Moore and even Charles Rogers in this game. Bush hurt his knee in Week 2, making him a question mark for Week 3. If he plays, he should have a big game against a team that has allowed an NFL-high 351 rushing yards to running backs in two games. That also makes Bell someone to consider as a flex.
• Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon
If you owned Griffin in a league that counted stats from only the first half of games, you'd likely cut him. But he's turned it up in the second half of the first two weeks, largely because Washington has been behind big and the defense loosens up. Griffin has no touchdowns, two interceptions and just 160 passing yards in two first halves so far. But in the second half, he has 480 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Morris picked up 100 yards last week, and the Lions have already allowed three rushing touchdowns this season. Garcon had his best fantasy game as a Redskins player in Week 2, and will try to duplicate that against a mediocre pass defense.
• Lions: Lions D/ST
While RGIII has had some issues this season, he still has a lot of weapons and he's putting up points late. Figure this is essentially Griffin's third preseason game, and he should be getting closer up to speed.
• Redskins: Roy Helu, Leonard Hankerson, Fred Davis, Jordan Reed, Redskins D/ST
Helu will be a flex option at some point, as the Redskins like to use him in their passing game. If you are dealing with injuries already, consider giving him the nod. Griffin completed passes to 10 different players in Week 2, which isn't a good thing for guys like Davis, Hankerson and Reed. If you could just start the second half Redskins D/ST, then it might be a good idea. But since most teams get up early on this club, then coast offensively by running the clock, the four-quarters Redskins D/ST is one to avoid.
• Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Eddie Royal, Antonio Gates
After Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick, Rivers is most likely the highest scoring player in your league. He deserves a start if you have an underpeforming alternative, even though he's facing a Titans defense that is better than the stats indicate. Rivers and Royal have certainly developed a strong connection, evident in their five touchdowns together.
• Titans: Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright
Most of the damage against the Chargers defense is coming through the air, but Johnson is still a solid starter against them. He was four rushing yards short of 100, and Doug Martin is the only running back getting more than Johnson's 25 carries per game.
• Chargers: Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Nick Novak, Chargers D/ST
Woodhead is a favorite of Rivers, but he just hasn't been able to make much out of his chances. He'll become a flex option in non-PPR leagues once the bye weeks hit. For now, he's PPR-worthy. Floyd's neck injury likely has him out this week -- and possibly more. His targets likely will go to Brown and Royal now.
• Titans: Jake Locker, Jackie Battle, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Delanie Walker, Rob Bironas, Titans D/ST
No team has allowed more passing yards than the Chargers, but it's still tough to make an argument to start Locker. The rest of the Titans will be hit-and-miss from a fantasy perspective. Wright's game-tying touchdown in Week 2 showed signs of life for the sophomore. He led the team with seven catches, too.
• Cardinals: Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald thinks his hamstring will be fine for Week 3, and it's tough to not believe your No. 1 receiver. The Saints are soft against the pass, in spite of what Josh Freeman did (125 yards in Week 2). Palmer should have more success and works well as a borderline fantasy starter this week -- but only if Fitzgerald starts.
• Saints: Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Garrett Hartley
Colston fought through coverage mostly by Darrelle Revis in Week 2 to catch four passes for 63 yards. He should be able to rebound against a Cardinals defense that has already allowed four passing touchdowns. Only nine non-quarterbacks have more fantasy points than tight end Jimmy Graham after two weeks.
• Cardinals: Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Cardinals D/ST
Palmer spread the ball around a lot against the Lions, but with Fitzgerald injured, he needed others to step up. Roberts and Floyd are going to be players to consider in larger leagues. If you're rolling the dice, go with Floyd. The Cardinals' D/ST came into the season as one with potential, but they've only recorded two turnovers and one sack. The Saints' offense will not make things easier for them.
• Saints: Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Saints D/ST
The Cardinals allowed just 311 receiving yards to running backs last season, which was fewer than all but Pittsburgh's defense. They did allow the second-most rushing yards to running backs, though -- second to the Saints. Moore should have been a bigger factor against an improving Bucs pass defense, but he has just eight targets in two games.
• Buccaneers: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams
Martin got back on track with a 144-yard rushing performance against the Saints. There were two reasons for that: 1. The Saints were the worst defense against the run last season. 2. Fullback Erik Lorig returned from a calf injury in Week 1 and opened up major running lanes for Martin. While Jackson didn't score last week, he continues to be a major offensive weapon, with over 230 receiving yards in two games. Williams was surprisingly quiet in Week 2, but if the Bucs get behind big in the third quarter, they'll have to go to the air.
• Patriots: Tom Brady, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots D/ST
Brady showed more frustration over his offense in Week 2 at the Jets, and his fantasy owners likely had similar reactions. The Bucs played Drew Brees tough, but Brady's at home and he has had 10 days to prepare. Thompkins has 21 targets this season, but just six receptions. Brady has little choice but to keep going to his rookies, however. Dobson missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury, but he returned to lead the Pats with 10 targets in Week 2. Unfortunately, they'll be facing Darrelle Revis and a much-improved Bucs defense. These two receivers are WR3s and flex options this week, although Edelman should be fine.
• Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, Rian Lindell, Buccaneers D/ST
Despite the controversy surrounding Freeman in his contract season, he has driven the Bucs to go-ahead scores in the fourth quarters in each of the past two weeks. With that said, he's still not fantasy trustworthy. Lindell missed a 47-yard, game-winning field goal in Week 2. The Buccaneers' defense is aggressive (too much so, according to the referees), and they're opportunistic with turnovers and will make a good bye-week replacement at some point, but not against the Patriots. FS Dashon Goldson's suspension for a hit to the helmet was overturned Wednesday.
• Patriots: Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Sudfeld, LeGarrette Blount
Ridley didn't fumble against the Jets, but he still ran for only 40 yards. While a wet field could be blamed, the Patriots' offense just isn't clicking. And now they face a Bucs team that led the NFL in rushing defense last season and has allowed only 165 rushing yards after two weeks. Ridley is a flex option this week. Gronk is getting closer, but he's still doubtful for Week 3.
• Browns: Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron
The Browns traded franchise running back Trent Richardson to the Colts Wednesday night, leaving Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey as the only tailbacks on the roster. They're expected to bring in veteran Willis McGahee, but it's difficult to make a guess at how much of the offense he'll learn by Sunday. Gordon is back from suspension, and you have to figure they'll get the ball to him early and often. The Vikings have given up three touchdowns to tight ends in the first two weeks of the season. Keep Cameron in your starting lineup.
• Vikings: Adrian Peterson, Blair Walsh, Vikings DST
The Browns do have a stout run defense (ranked in the top five in the NFL), but Peterson and Minnesota's offensive line should be the better bet, once again. Walsh hasn't missed a kick yet. He made all 16 field goal attempts at Mall of America Field last season -- including four 50-plus yarders.
• Browns: Brandon Weeden, Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Bobby Rainey, Greg Little, Davone Bess, Billy Cundiff, Browns D/ST
The Bucs and the 49ers are the only two defenses to hold running backs to fewer rushing yards than the Vikings defense last season. Therefore, none of the Browns running backs are worth starting. With Gordon back, both Little and Bess return to the fantasy scrap heap. Cameron, Gordon and possibly McGahee will be the only regular fantasy starters from here out. Brian Hoyer drew the short straw and will end up starting for the Browns against the Vikings. This is by no means a good thing for fantasy owners.
• Vikings: Christian Ponder, Jerome Simpson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph
Sure, Rudolph has a touchdown catch already, but so what? So do 21 other tight ends. Twenty tight ends have more than his five catches, too. It appears that Jennings will be the unfortunate one to draw Browns cornerback Joe Haden in Week 3.
• Giants: Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Brandon Myers, Josh Brown
Despite throwing seven interceptions in two weeks, Manning has too many weapons to sit against a pass defense that has allowed almost 300 passing yards per game. Nicks dislocated a finger in Week 2, but returned to play. Cruz and Myers both have played consistently well, despite the inconsistency around them.
• Panthers: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, Panthers D/ST
The Giants' defense was one of just five units to allow more than 4,000 passing yards last season, so Newton should be able to put together a nice game here. He's off to a relatively slow start, especially considering his top-five QB draft status, but keep him in there. The Eagles and Saints are the only defenses from a year ago to allow more touchdowns to wide receivers than the Giants (21). Interestingly, the Giants defense was tough against tight ends in 2012, allowing only three scores to them -- fewer than all but two teams. Even so, Olsen has led the Panthers in receiving yards in both weeks of 2013.
• Giants: David Wilson, Da'Rel Scott, Brandon Jacobs, Rueben Randle, Giants D/ST
Even though Jacobs and Scott scored, they totaled just 14 touches for 36 yards. Not a lot went right for the Giants against the Broncos in Week 2. Wilson had as many touches (seven) as he did in Week 1, when he fumbled twice. Newly signed Brandon Jacobs had just as many touches, including a goal-line carry for a touchdown. And Scott also had seven touches, including a touchdown catch. The Panthers aren't great against the run, and last year only two teams were considered worse against fantasy running backs (Saints and Titans). Even so, it's tough to trust any of these guys with one of your starting slots this week.
• Panthers: Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Graham Gano
In spite of LaFell starting across from Steve Smith, Ted Ginn is seeing more targets -- and better stats. Despite Ginn's score in Week 2, neither of these guys is worth starting in Week 2.
• Packers: Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Mason Crosby
Rodgers tied a franchise record with 480 passing yards against Washington, but really, he threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns in the first half before putting it on cruise control. Lacy's concussion allowed Starks to have a big day. However, the Bengals are allowing just 62.5 rushing yards per game.
Bengals: Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green
Monday night's game against the Steelers was Bernard's coming-out party, even though he totaled just 65 yards. His two scores were impressive as he darted behind linemen and shot through small holes. He has great quickness around the edge, and the Bengals are choosing their spots with him, which could end up keeping him fast and healthy throughout the season. You should have drafted him as a flex, and now you should start him as such.
• Packers: Eddie Lacy, Packers D/ST
The Packers' defense has forced just one turnover, to go with three sacks and 54 points allowed. From a fantasy perspective, they rank close to the bottom after two games. That will change, but they're not worth starting right now.
• Bengals: Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mohamed Sanu, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, Mike Nugent, Bengals D/ST
Some might consider starting Dalton because the Packers have allowed a lot of passing yards this season, but much of that came after they went up big on the Redskins. The Bengals fed Green-Ellis the ball throughout much of the second half against the Steelers, but it's doubtful that he'll see 22 carries again in any game this season -- especially with how well Bernard is playing. If you're starting tight end was injured, think about giving Eifert or Gresham a look. Dalton has eyes for both, throwing to each over 10 times in two games. There are just too many borderline starting tight ends out there.
• Rams: Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, Greg Zuerlein
You might be surprised to know that only five quarterbacks have more passing yards than Bradford. Dallas has allowed 313 passing yards per game -- much of which came from Eli Manning in Week 1. Starting him in Week 3 is a gamble, but one that should pay off. This team's short passing game will pay off as they utilize their speed guys more. Richardson didn't have a great Week 2, but the Rams made a point to give him way more touches (15) than Isaiah Pead (3), who returned from suspension. Austin was a big part of the passing game in Week 2, and we'll see more of that throughout the season.
• Cowboys: Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Dan Bailey
Surprisingly, Romo has just three passing touchdowns this season, but let's remember he didn't have Bryant for most of the Giants game. Part of why we're furrowing our brow about Romo is that there are so many quarterbacks doing well right now. Eleven different passers are averaging more than 300 yards through the air after two games. We still like Romo as a back-end fantasy starter. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said Dallas needs to run the ball better -- and run the ball more. The second usually takes care of the first when you have a tough running back like Murray. Don't worry about him. Austin works better as a WR3 or flex this week.
• Rams: Isaiah Pead, Austin Pettis, Rams D/ST
Pettis had a career game at Atlanta, with eight catches and a touchdown, but that will prove to be an anomaly with Austin and Givens on board. Teams are able to attack the Rams defense through the air, and the Cowboys will do that again in Week 3.
• Cowboys: Cowboys D/ST
The Cowboys' defense ranks among the top in fantasy right now, mostly due to their two defensive touchdowns. But the Rams haven't allowed a sack yet, and they've turned it over just three times this season.
• Falcons: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Bryant
A bruised thigh ended Jackson's game early against his former team, and he's out for Week 3, too. Jacquizz Rodgers didn't do much in Jackson's absence, with 11 carries for 17 yards. That should make for a busy day for Ryan, Jones and the Falcons' passing attack. Gonzalez has seven catches for 69 yards so far this season. He had only four games with fewer than 40 receiving yards last season, and he already has two in 2013.
• Dolphins: Lamar Miller, Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline
Miller paid off for those fantasy owners that went against conventional wisdom and started him in Week 2. Atlanta's defense hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown yet, but only the Vikings (239) have given up more receiving yards to running backs than the Falcons (167). Wallace shook off a rough Week 1 to rank among the top-10 fantasy receivers in Week 2. He should have another good game against a defense that's giving up more than 346 passing yards per game.
• Falcons: Steven Jackson, Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Falcons D/ST
White remains a big question mark as he works his way back from a high ankle sprain. This is a four-to-six week injury in most cases, so expect him to start improving as soon as Week 4. Snelling will likely get a bigger load this week, with Rodgers spelling him on passing downs, but neither is start-worthy against a tough Dolphins defense.
• Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Thomas, Charles Clay, Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins D/ST
Tannehill has almost 600 passing yards, but just two passing touchdowns in two weeks. The Falcons should give him more scoring opportunities, but he's still only someone to consider in two-QB leagues. Clay works as an H-back of sorts with the Dolphins, with Dustin Keller sidelined all season, but there are too many better tight ends to consider in fantasy for now.
• Bills: C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson
Spiller hit the century mark for the first time in 2013, and while the Jets have been stingy against the run (allowing fewer than 60 rushing yards per game), you can't sit a playmaker like Spiller. Johnson caught a touchdown in Week 1, and then followed it up with another in Week 2 -- to go along with his first 100-yard game of the season. That's a great fantasy turnaround for a guy who, in the final week of preseason, many expected to be underutilized because of Buffalo's quarterback situation. He had 10 catches for 166 yards and a score in two games against the Jets last season.
• Jets: Bilal Powell, Stephen Hill
Powell continues to take control of the Jets running game each week, and he's an asset in the passing game. Hill, a sophomore that's finally healthy, led the team in receptions and receiving yards last week, and he's building a nice rapport with rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Pick your poison with the running game, but the Bills allowed the second-most rushing yards in 2012, and no defense gave up as many rushing touchdowns (23). Heck, the Jaguars were second-worst, and they gave up just 19.
• Bills: E.J. Manuel, Fred Jackson, Robert Woods, Scott Chandler, Dustin Hopkins, Dan Carpenter, Bills D/ST
Manuel continues to impress, but there are just too many fantasy quarterback options to recommend him outside of a thin week because of byes. Jackson showed that he's going to be worth using in fantasy leagues at some point this season. But the Jets are tough against the run, making Spiller a tough start to begin with.
• Jets: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow
Smith looked like a rookie quarterback on a bad team in Week 2, and the team isn't giving him much of a vote of confidence that he'll be the starter once Mark Sanchez returns from a shoulder injury. He has four interceptions to just one touchdown pass so far, although his last game against the Patriots was in inclement weather.
• Jaguars: Cecil Shorts
After seeing what happened to the 49ers, you should seriously think about sitting all of your Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert's hand might keep him out of this game (would you come back?), and Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) is hurting. Even if he plays, this is a sketchy start for him. Shorts gets consideration for a flex spot alone.
• Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch, Steven Hauschka, Seahawks D/ST
The Jaguars have one of the best pass defenses statistically, but only because they have of one of the worst rushing defenses. Lynch should be in full beast mode by halftime. This Seahawks defense is dominant, which fed from a crowd in Seattle that broke the record for loudest crowd at an NFL game Monday night. The Jaguars are going to have tons of trouble at the line, after the snap, on the sidelines, in the locker room -- it's going to be ugly.
• Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Forsett, Jordan Todman, Justin Blackmon, Ace Sanders
If MJD sits out or plays hurt, Todman or Forsett would see more snaps. Even so, they don't deserve a starting spot in your lineups.
• Seahawks: Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller
The Seahawks' passing game has been all over the place this season, and Wilson has been a disappointment. He also lost his LT Russell Okung to injury. Turbin could be a nice cheap option in weekly leagues, since the Seahawks should go up early and lean on their running game.
• Colts: Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne , Coby Fleener
The Colts acquired Richardson midweek, and we expect him to play a good amount of snaps Sunday, with Ahmad Bradshaw getting a few carries as well. While Luck and Wayne appear to be good starts, even against a tough defense, always beware of a good team coming home after a bad loss on the road on Monday Night Football. Luck isn't a great start, by any means, but this team will be passing the ball a lot this week. Hilton might be on the smallish side, but the speedster was targeted 12 times against the Dolphins and he's quickly becoming Luck's Wes Welker. Fleener also had a touchdown against Miami called back for an illegal shift penalty on the Colts offense. If Dwayne Allen (hip) is out again, Fleener's a good start.
• 49ers: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, 49ers D/ST
The Seahawks defense kindly requests that we all tap the brakes a bit on calling Kaepernick one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He should be fine, however, against a Colts defense that got carved up by Miami's Ryan Tannehill. Despite Gore's bad start to the season, he's still the main running threat on a very good offense. Check Davis' status, as he left Monday's game with a hamstring injury.
• Colts: Ahmad Bradshaw, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Dwayne Allen, Adam Vinatieri, Colts D/ST
While Bradshaw could get double-digit touches as Richardson learns the playbook, it's tough to rely on him in fantasy this week -- especially against the 49ers. DHB has a bum shoulder -- and a Tasmanian devil behind him on the depth chart in Hilton. The Colts D/ST has forced just three turnovers on the young season.
• 49ers: Kendall Hunter, Kyle Williams, Phil Dawson
Hunter is waiting in the wings for when Gore either gets hurt or the Niners feel like they need a change of pace at tailback. That shouldn't happen any time soon, but grabbing him as a handcuff is a good idea.
• Bears: Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Bears D/ST
As much as Cutler looks like an interesting play after his solid 2013 start, the Steelers still own a pretty good defense against the pass. They led the league last season, allowing just 185 passing yards per game, and Andy Dalton had his hands full Monday night. With that said, you have to start Cutler's two favorite passing targets, in Marshall and Bennett. Forte leads all running backs with 17 targets and 15 receptions after two weeks. The Steelers offense is in bad shape, and the Bears are quite excited about that.
• Steelers: Antonio Brown
The Bears' defense is tough all around, and while Brown will likely be kept out of the end zone, you have to like his chances of getting a lot of catches between the 20s. He's catching nearly everything thrown his way, which tells you three things: He gets open, has good hands and he's on the same page with Roethlisberger.
• Bears: Jay Cutler, Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffery, Robbie Gould
Cutler has five touchdowns already this season, but he has also thrown three interceptions -- and that's about what people can expect most games: 2 TDs and an INT. His 72 pass attempts sound high, until you realize 17 QBs have more than that after two games.
• Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Emmanuel Sanders, Heath Miller, Shaun Suisham, Steelers D/ST
Even if Miller (knee) is able to play, remain cautious considering the glut of tight ends producing fantasy points. Once he proves he's healthy and in game shape, he'll be a top-10 tight end, and one of Big Ben's favorite end zone targets.
• Raiders: Darren McFadden
In nine games against the Broncos in McFadden's career, he has averaged 80 rushing yards, with seven total touchdowns. The Raiders are going to have to go to him early and often as they try to keep the ball out of the Broncos' hands.
• Broncos: Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas, Matt Prater, Broncos D/ST
Another 300 passing yards for Manning against the Giants, but just two touchdown passes (ho-hum). Compared to his seven touchdowns in Week 1, that's a big dropoff! In two games against the Raiders last season, Manning averaged 324 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Last week, Decker shook off a rough opener (two catches on seven targets) to catch nine passes (13 targets) for 87 yards. He still hasn't scored this season, which is unusual for the big receiver. He'll get in the paint this week, though. He caught a touchdown last season when Denver hosted the Raiders, also.
• Raiders: Terrelle Pryor, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, David Ausberry, Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders D/ST
How did the Raiders get a Monday night game? Pryor came back to earth in Week 2 against the Jaguars, with just 126 passing yards and 50 rushing yards. But to be fair, the Raiders don't want to lean on his running skills to win. Expect to see more against the Broncos, but you'll also likely see more interceptions, too. Streater has overtaken Moore as the top fantasy receiving threat on this team.
• Broncos: Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball
Moreno has emerged as the big head of the Broncos' three-headed rushing attack, which makes Ball a secondary player and Hillman an afterthought in fantasy play. The rookie might see goal-line touches in the future, but with LT Ryan Clady gone for the season, the Broncos are likely going with the veteran in the backfield. If Manning is on his back, this team's playoff chances are in deep trouble.
David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy football leagues. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter. If you have some good Week 3 Start 'em, Sit 'em opinions, drop them in the comments below.
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