On to Week 3, the last week before bye weeks begin to alter the fantasy and Survivor landscapes. We still only have two weeks’ worth of data to utilize, but trends are beginning to emerge. I will attempt to recover from the Survivor disaster that was the Patriots last week. I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. As always, if you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.
Up: Tony Romo should see lot of opportunities to throw the ball downfield at home against a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. Look for Romo to be a top 5 QB this week. I’d even start him over Aaron Rodgers who has a tough matchup on the road in the Seattle.
Outside of the top 20, I like Andy Dalton against the Washington Redskins even though the Bengals will be on the road. The Redskins haven’t shown the ability to stop the pass and with the recent injuries to Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, I don’t see that improving this week. The potential return of Brandon Meriweather doesn’t offer a lot of help in my opinion. I see Dalton with top 12 potential this week.
Down: Peyton Manning is not in my top 20 QBs for this week. The Texans defense has been stingy versus the pass and with shut down corner Jonathan Joseph basically taking out any receiver in his sights, I think there are far better options than Manning this week.
Up: Donald Brown it is your time to shine. If Brown is going to be valuable to your fantasy team, this is the week he will do so. He’s up against the Jacksonville Jaguars who struggle on both sides of the ball. He’s a top 18 back in my mind this week and I’d give serious thought to starting him over Adrian Peterson (see below), Steven Jackson and Darren McFadden.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions both have very good matchups this week against the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans respectively. The problem is both backfields look to be timeshares. Jamaal Charles is coming of an injury and Kevin Smith is an injury waiting to happen. Peyton Hillis is coming off a good performance and Mikel Leshoure is coming off of suspension. And don’t forget Shaun Draughn in the Chiefs backfield now or Joique Bell in Detroit. All of that said, I think Charles of the Chiefs and Leshoure of the Lions are the two highest scoring backs in their respective backfields this week.
For PPR players, Jacquizz Rodgers has an interesting matchup with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have been fantastic against the run, but gave up 15 receptions in week one to Oakland Raiders RBs.
In deep leagues, monitor Javon Ringer of the Tenneseee Titans. He is back from injury and there is speculation that he will cut into Chris Johnson’s time this week starting with third down duties. Ringer has a chance to take over the lead gig at some point this season as Chris Johnson doesn’t seem to have the ability to overcome the Titans poor offensive line play.
Down: Adrian Peterson is still recovering from last year’s knee surgery. The 49ers run defense is not a place to succeed. You likely don’t have a better option to start over him (unless you drafted C.J. Spiller late), but do not expect top 20 RB scoring from Peterson this week.
Steven Jackson was “hurt” last week against the Redskins which gave Daryl Richardson the chance to shine. Jackson has missed practice time this week and now has Richardson in his rearview mirror. Jackson falls out of the top 25 RBs this week as he runs up against a tough Bears D and father time.
Oh, you can cut Michael Turner at your earliest convenience. He is D-U-N done.
Up: Miles Austin is a top 10 WR this week against the Bucs. I see him scoring more than his counterpart Dez Bryant (who has been up and down for his entire career) and I’d start Austin over Larry Fitzgerald as well.
No Joe Haden means Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills should have a field day against the Cleveland Browns. Johnson is a top 15 WR this week and I’d start him over the slightly injured Marques Colston, Greg Jennings and Dez Bryant.
The WR2 roulette in Cincinnati takes on a bit more importance as they face the Redskins this week. I’d say that Andrew Hawkins is a WR3 this week (a solid flex play) and Armon Binns is a play in deeper leagues.
Don’t be scared off by Percy Harvin’s matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers haven’t been great against WRs and the Vikings will make every effort to get the ball into Harvin’s hands in any way possible.
In deeper leagues, Leonard Hankerson is a solid play and could pick up 75 yards and a TD as he likely will sub in for Pierre Garcon. In the Redskins offense, the Garcon (now Hankerson) position is the most important WR spot on the field and Robert Griffin III will look early and often for Hankerson.
Last, but not least, Greg Little should have room against the Buffalo Bills. He’s been targeted 11 times in the first two weeks. I can see a top 30 WR this week and he’s a flex option in many leagues.
Down: Brandon Marshall goes up against the St. Louis Rams and more specifically Cortland Finnegan. Marshall is ranked highly and the Rams have been average against WRs, but Finnegan can still shut down WRs. I see Marshall around the top 20 of WRs this week.
Demaryius Thomas will likely face off against the Houston Texans’ Jonathan Joseph . Joseph is paid to shut WRs down. I’d drop Thomas out of the top 30 this week against this defense.
Austin Collie looks to be back for the Colts this week, but the Colts face a tough Jags passing defense. And with Donnie Avery around, neither Avery nor Collie are likely worthwhile starts in anything, but the deepest of leagues. I think Avery still has more long term value based on Collie’s lengthy injury history and Andrew Luck’s reliance on Donnie Avery.
Up: Brandon Pettigrew. Playing the Tennessee Titans? Check. In your lineup? Should be. He’ll be a top 5 TE this week.
For as stingy as the San Francisco 49ers defense has been this year (and last), they have struggled against the TE this year. The 49ers have given up TDs to TEs in each of the first two weeks. Kyle Rudolph is certainly a matchup play in deeper leagues and I like him over Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley and Jason Witten.
I’m not a huge Jermaine Gresham fan, but if you are going to start him, this is the week to do so. He may be freed up a bit from blocking with the injuries along the defensive line for the Redskins and the Redskins have been relatively friendly to TEs.
Down: If you’ve been excited by Heath Miller’s TD explosion so far, temper those feelings. He’s going up against a Raiders team that has allowed a total of 64 yards in two games to TEs.
Dustin Keller is out for the New York Jets this week. None of his potential replacements intrigue me in the slightest.
Up: If Alex Henery doesn’t perform this week for the Eagles it’s time to drop him. The Cardinals have given up the seven FGs in two games.
Down: Both Sebastian Janikowski and Matt Prater have tough matchups this week and if you have other options, I’d look for them thought I don’t advocate backup kickers. Just know that you can’t expect a great deal from either one this week and may want to take a risk in other places on your roster.
Up: The Arizona Cardinals this week and beyond. Take a look at their schedule after the turnover prone Philadelphia Eagles – Miami, St. Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota. Not too shabby at all. They are a top eight defense this week and beyond.
Down: The Pittsburgh Steelers may be living on reputation this week as they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders. I don’t see them as a top 10 defense this week as the Raiders have enough weapons to pierce the Steelers curtain.
I won’t cover a lot of IDPers every week as the player pool is too vast, but I will try to give a couple of ideas for everyone.
DL – Get Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints in your lineup this week and expect at least one sack against the porous Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.
Does Henry Melton have one more week of magic left for the Chicago Bears? I’d say give him a start as well against the Rams. The Rams are still struggling to piece an offensive line together from the pieces left over after the injury bug struck them.
LB – Wesley Woodyard continues to play well for the Denver Broncos and should be an IDP factor until D.J. Williams returns from suspension in Week 6. There is always the possibility that Woodyard keeps the starting job, but that is unlikely. Ride Woodyard while he is hot.
Look for Stephen Nicholas to have a big game for the Atlanta Falcons against the Chargers as San Diego will likely try to establish the run to keep Atlanta’s offense off the field and get Ryan Matthews back up to speed.
DB – Michael Griffin and Alterraun Verner have a great matchup this week against the Detroit Lions who don’t like to run the ball a great deal. Griffin has 18 solo tackles through two games. Verner is more of an interception/turnover play for those looking for upside.
Survivor Pool – Week 3 selections – Updated
Last week was a bloodbath as around 40% of all survivor entrants were wiped out with the New England loss at home to Arizona. This week as not shaping up as an easy one as the largest favorite on the board is the 0-2 New Orleans Saints at home. Updates are in bold.
Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of late on Friday night:
Office Football Pool
ESPN Eliminator Challenge
|1||New Orleans Saints||34.90%||1||Chicago Bears||
|2||San Francisco 49ers||17.10%||2||San Francisco 49ers||
|3||Chicago Bears||16.50%||3||New Orleans Saints||
|4||Dallas Cowboys||12.60%||4||Pittsburgh Steelers||
|5||Pittsburgh Steelers||5.60%||5||Dallas Cowboys||
|6||Indianapolis Colts||2.90%||6||Green Bay Packers||
|7||Detroit Lions||2.80%||7||Detroit Lions||
|8||Washington Redskins||1.50%||8||Buffalo Bills||
|9||Green Bay Packers||1.30%||9||Indianapolis Colts||
|10||Buffalo Bills||1.30%||10||New York Jets||
The Saints are moving up in both pools and I’m taking them out of my top three selections. I just cannot trust them at this point in the season. They have to outscore ever opponent and Kansas City is getting healthier on defense.
The top 3 are the same, but in a much different order which represents the concerns over the Saints as a heavy favorite even though they haven’t shown much in the first two weeks. My initial thoughts on my top 3 picks for the week:
- Chicago Bears – The Bears have had a nice long layoff from their last game and enough time to incorporate Michael Bush as the starting RB in the lineup. St. Louis is coming off a hard fought win at home against the Redskins and has questions in their own backfield. I give the Bears a 71% chance of winning.
- Dallas Cowboys – I noted in my earlier column that you might see Dallas bump the Saints out of the top three. They do and they move the 49ers down a notch as well. This is the Cowboys home opener. They played poorly at Seattle, but looked good against the Giants on the road. I think the Cowboys get up for the game and can take advantage of a porous Tampa Bay pass defense. I give the Cowboys a 70% chance of winning. They are my pick this week as I’ve already used the Bears.
- San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have been the best team over the first two weeks of the season. They go on the road to a Minnesota Vikings team coming off of a tough loss to the Colts. The 49ers are clearly the better team and have the defense to handle Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin as well as confuse young Christian Ponder. I give the 49ers a 68% chance of winning.
- New Orleans Saints – I’ll grudgingly go with the Saints as the fourth choice. They have not looked good on defense over the first two weeks. They are likely still adjusting to their third string head coach and the continued “Bounty Gate” news has to be a distraction. I’ll give the Saints a 60% chance of winning. But, when the final column comes out don’t be surprised to see the Dallas Cowboys sneak into this spot.
If you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each teams “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.
This is a tough week and the bye weeks are on the horizon which means it will only get tougher.
As for the avoid list, I’d lean away the Green Bay Packers. Seattle is a tough place to play and the Packers certainly haven’t looked in sync on offense. The Packers defense will likely cause enough havoc to rattle Russell Wilson and the lead the Pack to the victory.
If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look no further than last week’s surprise winner the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals defense is legitimate and Michael Vick gets confused easily. The Cardinals have a great shot to cover and a decent shot to win.
Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.