Fantasy Football 2011 Week 3 Game Previews & Predictions
The nationally-televised games aren't as good as usual. The Sunday night game of Pittsburgh at Indianapolis looked great when it was scheduled, but Peyton Manning's absence probably turns that into a blowout. Washington is one of my least favorite teams to watch under Mike Shanahan and plays Monday night at Dallas, which could have its second-string offense on the field due to injuries.
There's also a couple stinkers in San Francisco at Cincinnati, Denver at Tennessee, and Arizona at Seattle and a couple California blowouts when the Jets visit Oakland and San Diego hosts Kansas City.
The good news is that none of that matters, thanks to fantasy football. We no longer care how good or bad the matchup looks because as long as we have a player in the game, we’ll watch.
So here’s what to watch for this week:
Houston at New Orleans: Both these defenses have been trendy plays this year, but I'm not buying either this week. I see a shootout here with both teams combining for more than 80 points. I think Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will hook up for a couple scores and the Texans will run too, but monitor Arian Foster's health before deciding if he or Ben Tate are worth a play. I wouldn't be surprised to see Foster end up inactive and if so, get Tate in the lineup. I expect a big day from Drew Brees and if you have picked up Devery Henderson, ride him out in search of another 100-yard day. I think Mark Ingram has his best day as a pro as well.
New York Giants at Philadelphia: Injury questions all around this match-up so pay attention as the games get closer. I don’t like Eli Manning even if his receivers are all healthy and the only one of the bunch worth a play if healthy is Hakeem Nicks and his value rises if Manningham and Hixon are hurt. I don’t think we will know for sure on Mike Vick until Sunday and like Arian Foster, I think he could be a late addition to the inactive list. You’re still playing LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin if Vick doesn’t play, but neither backup quarterback is worth a risk.
Jacksonville at Carolina: No reason to think Cam Newton’s surprising start won’t continue at home so I wouldn’t bench him yet. Steve Smith won’t keep up his pace all year, but I like him again here too. I also think this is the week that DeAngelo Williams gets a full workload, so he’s a good buy-low candidate now. Carolina’s defense is a sneaky pickup this week. Maurice Jones-Drew is the only Jaguar you want.
New England at Buffalo: I see New England getting out to big early lead with Tom Brady racking up points and then Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick answering with a few touchdowns of his own as the Bills try to catch up. Rob Gronkowski gets the tight end spot to himself this week with Aaron Hernandez out, so Gronkowski becomes a top-five play at that position. Don’t be surprised if Chad Ochocinco becomes more relevant with Hernandez out too. I think Stevie Johnson is your best Bills option this week as Fred Jackson will begin to fade back into an average running back.
Miami at Cleveland: I think Colt McCoy will have a good enough day to be relevant in deeper leagues and Peyton Hillis should be a top-10 running back again this week. I don’t like many Dolphins in this matchup but if running back Daniel Thomas hit the waiver wire in your league after week one, grab him and hang on because he may become a factor in a couple weeks.
San Francisco at Cincinnati: I’m starting to have concerns about Frank Gore. Whether it’s a new coach and his late arrival after a holdout or something along those lines, he just doesn’t look good. I’m giving him another shot this week, but one more bad game and I don’t think he’s a must-start anymore. I like the Bengals defense this week and I think Andy Dalton is interesting in deeper leagues. Jerome Simpson is a sleeper receiver this week.
Denver at Tennessee: There’s a lot to like about the Titans this week as Chris Johnson is due to go off and Kenny Britt is becoming a legitimate No. 2 fantasy receiver and creeping up on being a No. 1, but I’m not buying Matt Hasselbeck just yet. Tennessee’s defense is also a good pick with Denver struggling with injuries at receiver and running back, so I’m staying away from Kyle Orton here.
Detroit at Minnesota: I see a shootout with Donovan McNabb finally getting his numbers up where they should be. Adrian Peterson should be great once again and I think Percy Harvin finds a couple ways to get into the end zone. Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best, and Calvin Johnson will score a bunch too and force McNabb to try and keep up.
Baltimore at St. Louis: The Ravens defense should get in the 15-point range this week and I see Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin hooking up for a couple scores and Ray Rice getting over 150 all-purpose yards. Short week for the Rams and poor Sam Bradford doesn't have any reliable receivers yet, but he seems to spread it around enough to get near 300 yards each week when healthy. Look for a breakout from Mike Sims-Walker here too and I expect Steven Jackson to return, but I'm not playing him yet against the Ravens.
New York Jets at Oakland: I don't like Oakland's no-name passing game to do much here so Darren McFadden is the only Raider you are playing. I like the Jets defense and I also like Dustin Keller to continue to be a top-five tight end here. I think Plaxico Burress could have his best game of the season too for the Jets and Santonio Holmes is steady.
Kansas City at San Diego: Chargers win big, but I think Dexter McCluster becomes a big part of the offense without Jamaal Charles, so pick him up now because he will be the most-added player next week. I think he’ll get 20 touches running, receiving, and returning kicks and score at least once. Also, try to buy low on Dwayne Bowe this week because I think he starts getting more productive. Philip RIvers and Vincent Jackson are finally back to 2009 form and that will continue in a blowout win over the Chiefs. I think both Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert reach double-digit as well.
Arizona at Seattle: Pressure is on Tavaris Jackson after two bad weeks and I think he has a big game back at home against the Cardinals. I could see Jackson getting 20 points for those willing to take a risk and play him. I hope Sidney Rice is ready to play and if so I see him having a good debut. Receiver Golden Tate is my sleeper for deep leagues. Beanie Wells continues his strong season here and it should be a big day for Larry Fitzgerald as well.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: I’m a little worried about Matt Ryan and I don’t think I’ll feel any better about him after a tough matchup here. I think Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez continue their resurgence and you have to play Roddy White, but I’m not as excited about Atlanta’s passing game as I was before the season. LaGarrette Blount quieted his worried owners in week two and he’s a solid play again here. I think Josh Freeman returns to his 2010 form this week as well.
Green Bay at Chicago: I think Green Bay’s running-back committee leans toward James Starks again this week as he could be the full-time feature back at any moment. Aaron Rodgers has another big day and he seems to find a surprising big-play guy each week as Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson have had their days. In that spirit, my sleeper is James Jones to emerge as a big factor this week. Jay Cutler is not a top-15 quarterback right now but Johnny Knox should emerge as his No. 1 target and I also like Matt Forte to have a solid game.
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis: I think you will finally see the Colts put up a fight this week at home, but I’m still playing Pittsburgh’s defense, Roethlisberger, Wallace, and Mendenhall because I think Indy stays close for a while before Pittsburgh eventually gets its second straight double-digit win. This may be the end of Kerry Collins as Curtis Painter is probably on his way, but you don’t want either of them. Owners of Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark just hope whoever is behind center can find their guy, but no other Indy receiver or running back is a reliable play this week.
Washington at Dallas: I think the Dallas defense could be a sneaky play because I don't like the Redskins to continue their winning streak and I see their offense getting slowed down. I'm not playing any Washington players and Dallas' offense isn't as attractive as usual due to injuries. If I've got a reliable No. 2 quarterback, I'm playing him and not waiting to see if Romo will play on Monday night or how effective he is. Dez Bryant should have a huge game if healthy, but he's a risky play on Monday night unless you have Santana Moss as a backup to insert if Bryant can't go.
(September 17, 2011 – Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images North America)
Written by Steve Mims exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Follow Steve on Twitter @nwsportscards
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