NFL FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK 3 TIPS

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Another week, another major disappointment for Chris Johnson, who was likely drafted in the top 5 in nearly every fantasy league across the nation. The question many owners are asking themselves right now is whether or not it’s time to cut bait on Johnson and move on, or should they hang on to him and wait for the eventual explosion? Unfortunately, I honestly don’t have a good answer for you right now. I’ve watched both of his games thanks to a very handy DVR and the free NFL Sunday Ticket promotion, and he’s been very hard to read this season. Yes, he looks far more tentative than he has in years past, and that certainly isn’t a good sign. However, it doesn’t answer the deeper question of why. It could very well be that because of his lengthy holdout, Johnson isn’t yet up to game-speed, and will need a week or two more to regain his old form. On the flip side, he could simply be in a mental funk that may take several weeks, or even a full season to sort out. And in the worst case scenario, the huge number of touches from the last 2 seasons could be taking a physical toll and he just doesn’t have the same explosion that he did in the past. For my money, I’d bet on option 1, but it’s certainly a scary scenario for his owners. With that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s go to the week 3 tips.

Quarterback

BEST:   Tom Brady, NE

-I know, I know, I sound like I’m copping out with this pick and just taking the hottest quarterback in the league. But that honestly isn’t the case, some real research went into this pick. Of course Brady’s recent hot streak plays a significant role in his being the number 1 option at quarterback this week, but perhaps more importantly, his history against the Bills plays into it as well. In his last 6 games against the Bills, Brady has thrown for 18 touchdowns and 1,569 yards. That’s an average of 261.5 yards and 3 touchdowns per game against the Buffalo. And to make it better, several of those games were played in incredibly difficult cold weather, something that shouldn’t present itself in week 3. I fully expect Brady to throw for at least 3 scores and somewhere near 400 yards. The hot streak has to end eventually, but it won’t be this week.

WORST:Â Aaron Rodgers, GB

-This is a really hard week to find a “worst” quarterback, as most of the quality starters have at least decent matchups. Sure, I could have made it easy on myself and gone with a guy like Jason Campbell, a top 10 QB in fantasy points in most scoring systems by the way (Hint, hint, pick him up), who faces a tough Jets defense.  But according to Yahoo, he’s only owned by 15% of owners, so that advice would mostly fall on deaf ears. Anyway, back to Rodgers. He’s been great against nearly every team in the league, except the Bears who seem to have figured him out to an extent. In fact, he’s only thrown 7 touchdowns against the Bears in 6 regular season games. Since TDs are where quarterbacks make their money in fantasy, I don’t expect huge things from Rodgers this week. ExpectGreen Bayto employ a more balanced rush/pass ratio than usual againstChicagothis week, and that should eat into Rodgers’ numbers.

Running Back

BEST:   LeSean McCoy, PHI

-He looks absolutely electric so far this season, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that he would find his way to the “best” spot eventually. He’s averaging an outstanding 6.58 yards per carry this season, and has found the end zone 4 total times between his rushes and receptions. All of those things on their own should be enough to warrant expecting big things from McCoy, but this week he goes against a banged up Giants defense. Sure, the Giants have been pretty good against the run this season, giving up only 66.5 yards per game on the ground. But that doesn’t take into account that McCoy has the G-Men’s number. Last year McCoy rushed for 175 yards on only 24 carries against the Giants. That comes out to an average of about 7.29 yards per carry. Even better, he also caught the ball 9 times in those two games. Look for McCoy to be a huge part of the offense this week, gaining around 100 yards on the ground, 40 through the air, and finding the end zone at least once.

WORST:Â Frank Gore, SF

-He’s getting the carries, but the biggest problem is that the holes just aren’t there right now. Any football aficionado can tell you that even the best running backs are only as good as the line in front of them. I’m not sure what is wrong with the 49er offensive line right now, but it certainly doesn’t look good. The good news for Gore owners is that Jim Harbaugh seems dedicated to feeding his star back, giving him 21 carries per game thus far. But for these carries to keep coming Gore’s way the offensive line will need to figure out its problems, and quickly. Things don’t get much better this week as the Niners take on the Bengals who, although giving up 107 yards per game to opposing rushers, have only given up one rushing touchdown on the year. I expect Gore to gain about 75 yards and not find the end zone this week. Of course, if his offensive line clears some holes for him, Gore could be a big point-getter this week. All of Gore’s owners should keep an eye on the 49ers offensive line this week, and watch them very carefully. If they continue to look lost, it’s time to trade Gore and capitalize on his name value.

Wide Receiver

BEST:   Stevie Johnson, BUF

-Usually players think that when a player is facingNew England, as Johnson is this week, that means he has a bad matchup. And those players, at least so far, would be dead wrong. I’m not sure if this is an aberration or not, but the Patriots have been absolutely pitiful against the pass this season. New Englandhas given up 381 yards per game, and have let 4 passing touchdowns get by them so far. Those are ugly numbers, and up to this point Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick have looked like a very good combination. I think that will continue this week and Johnson should get around 100 yards again this week and find the end zone.

WORST:Â Brandon Marshall, MIA

-I generally like Marshallsignificantly more than most fantasy prognosticators, but this week I think he’s due for an off week. He faces the Browns in week 3, who possess a very underrated defense. In fact, 2 weeks into the year the Browns rank 2nd in the league in pass defense, giving up a mere 165.5 yards per game so far. He’s been great so far, but I think that Chad Henne will have some difficultly against the Browns this week, and that means reduced production forMarshall. Look for him to be around 50 yards receiving with no scores this week.

Tight End

BEST:   Rob Gronkowski, NE

-He has 3 touchdowns in 2 games, racked up 86 yards in both week 1 and 2, and is immensely talented. As if that wasn’t enough,New England’s other talented tight end, Aaron Hernandez, appears to be out for a significant period of time. I expect Grownkowski to get several of the targets that would have otherwise gone to Hernandez, and should capitalize with a big week. Expect him to be around his numbers from the last two weeks, and has one heck of a chance to surpass those numbers. His best case scenario is somewhere around 120 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. However, I expect more along the lines of 90 yards and 1 score. Either way, that’s great production from a tight end.

WORSTDallas Clark, IND

-He’s too good to not be getting the ball more than he is, but that’s what happens when a team has zero contingency plan for the injury of its franchise quarterback. Clark did manage to find the end zone last week, but it’s clear to anybody that has watched the Colts’ games this season that he just doesn’t have the chemistry with Kerry Collins that he had with Manning. That should hurt him all season, and this week will be especially bad. The Steelers’ defense has righted itself, and should take out some left-over aggression on the Colts struggling offense this week. I expect Clark to have 30 yards receiving and no touchdowns. If you have a more viable option, keep him stashed on your bench. Or better yet, trade him to a sucker owner who will bite on name value.

Defense

BEST:    Detroit Lions

-Yup, two weeks in a row. How long has it been since Lions fans have been able to say that? This was really a no-brainer this week. The Vikings offense just plays right into the hands of the Lions. Detroitis very stout against the run, and that’s really the only solid part of the Vikings game. Donovan McNabb looks slow, inaccurate, and indecisive this year, and the Lions’ mean defensive line should take advantage of that. Adrian Peterson will get his yards, but I think the Lions should score a ton of fantasy points this week by getting to McNabb early and often. Remember people, sacks and turnovers are what make a winning fantasy defense. There should be plenty of those this week for the Lions.

WORST: Green Bay Packers

-Nick Collins is gone for the year, and the status of their best cover corner, Tramon Williams is up in the air for week 3. If Williams plays and is 100% Green Bay probably won’t warrant this “worst” categorization, but the loss of Collis will certainly be felt. He was their second best defensive playmaker in the secondary behind Charles Woodson, and is one of the best ball-hawks in the league from the safety position. I think his loss will be felt all season, and several balls that would be intercepted by Collins will probably now fall harmlessly incomplete. Look for the Bears to try and pick on Collins’ replacement this week, and should have some success. Green Bay will probably give up 21 points this week, and depending on the pressure they apply to Jay Cutler, could end up zero turnovers. I can’t tell you to sit the Packers, because there is too much potential there, but just don’t expect huge numbers.

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

-Dexter McCluster, KC

With Jamaal Charles out for the year, that leaves McCluster as the Chiefs’ only big play threat in the backfield. I think that Thomas Jones will probably see the bulk of the carries this week, but McCluster is the real game breaker. Right now he’s currently owned in less than half (48%) of all Yahoo fantasy leagues and only 28.9% of all ESPN leagues. Now is a great time to pick him up and see what his role will be in the Chiefs’ offense going forward. I have a feeling he’ll be used in a manner similar to the way Reggie Bush was used in New Orleans. He has the potential for a lot of big plays if the Chiefs can get it together, and if he pans out could be a nice flex option going forward. Take a shot on him.

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