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Fantasy Starts for Week 3: Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Dennis Pitta

There are a few key fantasy football players that look to earn big fantasy points in Week 3. Here are three players that are must starts.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals QB vs. Washington Redskins

Andy Dalton has a few things working in his favor as a solid fantasy play for Week 3. 

The Cincinnati quarterback gets a Washington defense that has been friendly to quarterbacks through two games this season, lost two of its best pass rushers to season-ending injuries a week ago and has his own defense that has been fantasy-QB friendly as well.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral) and defensive end Adam Carriker (knee) are out for the season — 15.5 sacks gone from the last 18 games — and that should mean more time for Dalton, A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and Co. 

The Redskins have already allowed 63 points, 800-plus yards, two 300-plus-yards passers and six touchdown passes to begin the 2012 campaign. New Orleans’ Drew Brees threw for 339 and three scores in a comeback effort that fell short (40-32) and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford threw for 310 and three scores in a 31-28 Rams win.

Last season, the Redskins surrendered nine passing days of at least 250 yards and allowed multi-touchdown pass games seven times. Dalton, as a rookie a year ago, had five games of 250-plus and six multi-TD games. He is coming off a 318-yard, three-TD performance against Cleveland.

Washington’s defense is not the only reason to give Dalton a look; his own defense helps as well. 

The Bengals have allowed nearly 300 yards passing and two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in each of the first two games (Joe Flacco 299-2 and Brandon Weeded 322-2).

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals RB vs. Washington Redskins

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly the workhorse in Cincinnati, as expected. He has produced probably above expectations thus far in regards to fantasy. The Law Firm has 39 carries for 166 yards and a score and four catches for 34 yards — or 15 fantasy points per game in a PPR. 

Now he gets a Washington team that was friendly to running backs last week, was friendly to running backs a year ago and, as mentioned above, just lost Orakpo and Carriker for the season.

The Redskins jumped out quickly on New Orleans in the opener and only saw 10 rushing attempts for 32 yards. Darren Sproles did get five catches, 35 yards and a score out of the backfield. Last week’s game against St. Louis was a little more traditional, and the Rams rushed 24 times for 141 yards and had two catches for 19 yards. 

Washington was 15th against fantasy running backs last season, allowing eight backs to rush for at least 88 yards. The Redskins were 21st in rushing TDs allowed (12).

Ellis should continue his run as a solid RB2, certainly a flex, for a Bengals team that is defensively challenged itself and might want to run the ball to slow Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense.

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens, TE vs. New England Patriots

There are a number of factors in favor of starting Dennis Pitta against the Patriots. First, he is quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target this season and has been productive with those numbers. Second, New England has seen Tennessee’s Jared Cook and Arizona’s Todd Heap already this season and allowed a combined nine catches on 15 targets for 126 yards from the two tight ends. 

Pitta has 13 catches for 138 yards and a score on 24 targets in 2012 — 15 more targets than Anquan Boldin and 16 more targets than Torrey Smith.

Pitta did go 5-for-41 with a score against New England in the AFC Championship Game last season.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter