2011 NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Start & Sit
These are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.
Sneaky Start of the Week
Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee vs. Denver
The Broncos allow 30 fantasy points a game to the WR position, and as much as I love Kenny Britt, he won't get all 30.
Washington, a top-25 PPR receiver, has 13 targets and 11 catches for 166 yards so far. Plus, the Broncos, after getting gashed by the Raiders in the opener (30-191), shored up the run D against the Bengals in Week 2 (18-69). And if Chris Johnson continues to get bottled up, Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck will continue to look downfield to Britt and Washington to make the offense go.
Unexpected Sit of the Week
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Philadelphia
The Giants' No. 1 receiver has already battled through knee injuries this season. His No. 2 Mario Manningham is dealing with a concussion. The No. 3 Domenik Hixon tore his ACL for the second straight season. Now it might be Brandon Stokley and Victor Cruz lining up opposite of Nicks this week agains the Giants, and New York still has no viable replacement for the departure of TE Kevin Boss.
So that's just the Giants' end.
Now add in that his QB Eli Manning will have to fend off the Eagles' defensive line and Nicks will have to try and beat the coverage of shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha, and you have a recipe for a low-producing fantasy day.
Cam Newton (CAR) vs. Jacksonville — You can't argue with what he's done through the first two games of his rookie season (64.3 fantasy points), and now he gets a Jacksonville team allowing 22 points per game to fantasy QBs (and that was against Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Sanchez). Many feel this will be the game where the passing slows down and the Carolina RBs are finally involved, but the Jags are fourth-best against fantasy RBs (11.7 PPG).
Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) vs. New England — He is a top-five fantasy QB so far and now the Patriots come to town with an offense that will torch the Bills' defense, and a shoddy pass D that will allow Fitzpatrick to continue to put up the numbers. New England has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs (30.4).
Kevin Kolb (ARI) at Seattle — The Seahawks have actually done pretty well against fantasy QBs so far (13.2 to Alex Smith and 18.7 to Ben Roethlibsberger), but the Cardinals defense, or lack thereof, may mean Tarvaris Jackson could actually keep Seattle in the game. Arizona is fifth-worst against QBs (26.9 PPG), and Kolb should be able to stay at or above his average of 22.15 fantasy points per game he averages thus far.
Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Green Bay — His line is still a mess, and now rookie Gabe Carimi is out. WRs Earl Bennett and Roy Williams are injured, and the Bears have no true "running" attack to help slow down the Packers. You can't just dump it off to RB Matt Forte all the time and hope his production as a receiver helps Cutler as a QB. Sit Cutler this week and bring him back in Week 4 when the Panthers come to town.
Eli Manning (NYG) at Philadelphia — His receiving corps is a mess, he doesn't have a reliable TE (where the Eagles are vulnerable) and the Philly defensive line should give him more than enough trouble. Like Cutler, sit Eli this week and then enjoy him in Week 4 against Arizona.
Jason Campbell (OAK) vs. NYJ — I'm sure you are thinking, 'Who the hell would be starting Jason Campbell?' But he is currently a top-10 fantasy QB (45.62 points). However, he faces a Jets team that has allowed under 10 points per game to opposing fantasy QBs. Campbell's also battling a sore foot. Again, like the other two Sits this week, wait for Week 4 with Campbell when he gets the Patriots' pass D in the Black Hole.
Ryan Mathews & Mike Tolbert (SD) vs. Kansas City — If they are both healthy (Tolbert was battling a calf on Thursday) then they are both good plays against their AFC West rival Chiefs. Kansas City has given up 89 points this season and must try to stop that IN San Diego as the Chargers return home from a road loss against the Patriots. Advantage: San Diego. Tolbert has been targeted 18 times in the passing game for 17 catches 131 yards and two scores; Mathews has 14 targets, 10 catches and 135 yards receiving. That's just in the air. Tolbert is 21-45-1 on the ground; Mathews is 24-109-1. With Antonio Gates (foot) Malcom Floyd (groin) and Vincent Jackson (abdominal soreness) battling injuries this week, look for the Chargers to lean on the run game. Monitor Tolbert's calf, but if both are a go, then they need to be a go on your roster.
Ben Tate (HOU) at New Orleans — Tate has back-to-back 100-yard outings and he will be getting his first start this week. The Texans should be able to run on the Saints, who are allowing 24 fantasy points per game to the position, in order to try and control the game.
Daniel Thomas (MIA) at Cleveland — Either the Reggie Bush experiment as a lead back failed or the Dolphins were just waiting for it to finally click for the rookie Thomas. Well there's no doubting him this week. Thomas is coming off a 107-yard, 18-carry performance against the Texans, and gets a Browns team that allows 4.4 yards per carry. Expect Miami to try and control the game with Thomas.
Joseph Addai (IND) vs. Pittsburgh — Colts are in shambles and it's Pittsburgh. Need any more reasons?
Mark Ingram (NO) vs. Houston — Ingram has not been able to get it going yet after tough match ups against the Saints and Bears, and now he gets a Texans team that is second-best against fantasy RBs so far this season at 10.9 fantasy points per game and no TDs allowed. Ingram should be able to get it going after this week, but I'd sit him one more time.
Willis McGahee (DEN) at Tennessee — The Titans are allowing 22 points to fantasy RBs (middle of the pack), but bounced back from the 97 yards and a score they allowed to Maurice Jones-Drew and held Ray Rice to 43 yards on 13 carries. Rice did get five catches for 53 yards and a score on eight targets, but don't expect McGahee to be able to break off a long run off a screen pass as Rice did. Plus, Knowshon Moreno appears ready to return to the lineup. While I think McGahee is still the better play for the length of the season, I don't think either are strong plays this Sunday.
Jabar Gaffney (WAS) at Dallas — He is the second-most targeted receiver for Rex Grossman and together they get a banged up Cowboy secondary on Monday night. Gaffney has 15 targets, eight catches for 116 yards and a score. If the Cowboys' front can slow down Hightower and friends, Grossman should have plenty of success with Gaffney, Santana Moss and Fred Davis.
A.J. Green (CIN) vs. San Francisco — News of a toe injury certainly wasn't pleasant to hear Thursday afternoon; so monitor that. But the rapport the rookie receiver has developed with the rookie QB in Andy Dalton has been to the tune of 18 targets, 11 caches, 165 yards and two scores so far. Now they get a 49ers team coming to Cincy that allows the most points to fantasy receivers (42.9).
Deion Branch (NE) at Buffalo — No Aaron Hernandez. The Buffalo Bills' pass defense. He only trails PPR machine Wes Welker by four targets (23-19) and he has 222 yards on 15 catches to show for it. The forgotten man sometimes in New England, hasn't been so invisible through two games this season.
Dwayne Bowe (KC) at San Diego — The only Chief worth giving a shot on the offensive side of the ball right now is Dexter McCluster. Bowe is a starting receiver, a No. 1 m and has just 16 targets so far, and the Chiefs have given up 89 points. How do you have just 16 targets when you give up 89 points? Bowe has not scored yet, and seven catches for 118 yards over two games isn't enticing, either.
Devin Hester (CHI) vs. Green Bay — Hester has been the most targeted Bear receiver through two games, garnering 14 of them, but he has caught just four balls for 77 yards. Now the team has injuries to Bennett and Williams, so coverage can roll to Hester even easier for him to do less with less against the Packers.
Mario Manningham (NYG) at Philadelphia — The concussion issue is certainly a problem. The lack of concentration on his catches and drops in the Monday night win over St. Louis was a problem. And having QB Eli Manning under pressure like he should be all game long against the Eagles is the final nail for sitting Manningham this weekend. SUNDAY UPDATE: Manningham is out with a concussion; Victor Cruz could be a sleeper flex play in his spot.
Fred Davis (WAS) at Dallas — Davis is a top-five tight end; Dallas allows the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Seems like a pretty simple play there.
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) at Tampa Bay — He's not done yet, apparently. He's become a good safety valve for QB Matt Ryan as Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas have not flashed yet. Gonzo is the No. 2 overall fantasy TE in Athlon scoring, and should be a good play again against a Bucs team that is middle of the road at 11.1 fantasy points per game against the TE position this season.
Evan Moore and Benjamin Watson (CLE) vs. Miami — The Dolphins are allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends by a pretty good margin (24.4 fantasy points per game to 19.2 for second-worst). The Browns are the third-best scoring team at the position at 18.6 per game, and Evan Moore has been the benefciary, along with Benjamin Watson. In just seven targets, Moore has caught four of them for 51 yards and two scores. Watson, meanwhile, has 11 targets, five catches and 61 yards. Chances are you don't have both on your roster, but if you have either, they are both good plays against the Fins at home.
Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. San Francisco — Maybe it's because he screwed a lot of us last week, but we can't think fantasy with our hearts, right? The 49ers are terrible against WRs and Jason Witten was targeted 14 times to get seven catches for 102 yards last week. That was Jason Witten with Dez Bryant out of the game and Jon Kitna, who loves Witten, subbing in for Tony Romo for a bit. Gresham was targeted just five times against Denver, catching two for eight yards. I think the trend continues again as Dalton won't be able to help himself with the WRs going up against the 49er secondary. HOWEVER, keep an eye on the Jerome Simpson marijuana situation (i.e. he's on the field Sunday and not in jail).
Jeff King (ARI) at Seattle — The Seahawks are allowing just 4.9 fantasy points per game to the position, and that's against Vernon Davis and Heath Miller. Only 10 times in two games has the position been targeted against Seattle, so the Hawks must be doing something right. Plus, King, if you have picked him up, after scoring each of the first two weeks, has just five targets, catching four of them for 97 yards, including the 55-yarder against a blown Panthers coverage in Week 1.
Lance Kendricks (STL) vs. Baltimore — If QB Sam Bradford has time, expect him to look to attack the depleted Ravens secondary. Baltimore has been solid against Heath Miller and Jared Cook, allowing just five catches for 79 yards in the first two games. Kendricks has nine targets, but just two catches for 44 yards to show for it.
John Kasay (NO) vs. Houston — Who's the No. 1 fantasy kicker? The soon-to-be 42-year old that was signed by the Saints at the end of August. He has three field goals and seven PATs and should have opportunities for both against the Texans.
Jason Hanson (DET) at Minnesota — Trailing Kasay by just one point is the 41-year-old Lions kicker. If the Lions keep putting up numbers like they have, might as well use the kicker that already has four field goals, including one of 50-plus, and nine PATs.
Nick Novak (SD) vs. Kansas City — The Chiefs have already given up 89 points and are allowing 11.5 per game to fantasy kickers. The Chargers should be able to pile up points, and if the injuries they are currently battling slow them down, let Novak pick up a few FGs and PATs to help you and them out.
David Akers (SF) at Cincinnati — He could get the field goals and make me look like a fool here as he did in Week 1 with 15 fantasy points, but then he follows ut up with 8 against Dallas. I see a number more like 8 happening again. No Braylon Edwards, an oft-injured Michael Crabtree and a relatively quiet-so-far Frank Gore means the 49ers should have trouble moving anywhere, particularly on the road,
Shaun Suisham (PIT) at Indianapolis — A few PATs is all you should get from Suisham, the 27th-ranked kicker in Athlon scoring. Pittsburgh should move the ball at ease and have no need for a Suisham 3-pointer.
Mike Nugent (CIN) vs. San Francisco — Nugent has five field goals so far, but I don't see the need for 3-pointers against San Francisco. The Bengals perhaps try and pour it on as a Swan Song as this could be the last we see of RB Cedric Benson (pending suspension) and WR Jerome Simpson (the marijuana story) with the team for a while.
Arizona at Seattle — Done laughing yet? The Cardinals are a terrible real defense but a good fantasy defense. They are the 12th-best in Athlon scoring with 21 points. Arizona can get sacks and interceptions against Tarvaris Jackson, and the return game is always dangerous for the Cards; plus Seattle has shown it can allow big plays in the return game (see Ted Ginn for the 49ers). Seattle has given up 26 and 17 so far to San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
San Diego vs. Kansas City — We told you in the preseason that the Chargers as a fantasy DST were on the decline. Scoring seven total fantasy points through two games certainly proves us right. They now get the Chiefs, who are a mess right now and have scored just 10 points this season. San Diego should force Matt Cassel into a number of mistakes trying to make something happen, and the Chargers will be there to capitalize. Buffalo (14) and Detroit (22) have had good fantasy outings against the Chiefs so far.
Tennessee vs. Denver — The Titans have surrendered just 29 points this season and have registered five sacks. The Broncos have allowed seven sacks, good for fifth most in the league. Tennessee is 11th in Athlon scoring with 11 fantasy points per game; it should be good for at least that in Week 3.
Chicago vs. Green Bay — In larger than 12-team leagues you use them, if not, sit them. The Bears are the fifth-best fantasy defense thanks to 25 points against the Falcons in the opener. However, they registered just three points against the Saints last week, and I can't see that improving this week. Fantasy defenses have scored 6 and 3 against the Packers so far this season. No thanks.
Houston at New Orleans — The Texans have been a great fantasy defense so far, like we told you they would. But this is one of the weeks you sit 'em. This week they travel to New Orleans in a game that could be a shootout.
New Orleans vs. Houston — See above and repeat. The last time the Saints were in a shootout at the Superdome was Week 1 when their fantasy defense scored just six points against the Packers. These are two defenses you want to play often, but sit them this week.
Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter