It may be hard to imagine, but 32 games of NFL football are already in the books. The upside here is that we now have a better understanding of what to expect when each team takes the field on Sundays. The downside is that the learning process is never complete, especially when it comes to fantasy football.
With that in mind, lets take a look at ten players I full expect to produce quality stat lines in Week 3…
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: Week 3 will be a bounce-back game for Flacco, who torched the Steelers for 224 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 before laying an egg last Sunday at Tennessee. The St. Louis Rams are surrendering 21.5 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks this season (12th-most in NFL) and enter Sunday’s showdown on short rest after getting blasted in New York by the Giants last Monday night. Flacco should easily throw for 250+ yards and 2 touchdowns.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans: No craps player in the history of the game has ever walked away from the table in the middle of a hot roll, so why should you bail on Tate in Week 3? He’s the NFL’s third-leading rusher (219 yards), has been given 23 or more carries in each of his first two games and gets a crack at a Saints defense this Sunday that is giving up an average of 20.5 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (12th-most in NFL). The best way to quiet the Superdome is to run the football and keep Drew Brees off the field.
Jeremy Maclin, WR. Philadelphia Eagles: That didn’t take long, did it? After missing the entire preseason with a “mystery illness” and contributing virtually nothing in Philly’s Week 1 win at St. Louis, Maclin busted out last Sunday night at Atlanta with 13 receptions (15 targets) for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a safe play again in Week 3 as the Birds play host to a New York Giants defense that is surrendering an embarrassing 30.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts (fifth-most in NFL). With Vick expected to play, Maclin should definitely be in your lineup.
Evan Moore, TE, Cleveland Browns: The third-year tight end out of Stanford found the end zone in each of the Browns first two games and takes on a Miami defense this Sunday that has been absolutely torched by opposing TEs this season. New England’s Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski posted a combined 189 receiving yards and two scores against the Fish in Week 1, while Owen Daniels scored his first touchdown of the season against this defense in Week 2. We don’t see any reason to believe the trend won’t continue Sunday in Cleveland.
Baltimore Ravens, D/ST: These guys were embarrassed last week at Tennessee. Expect Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to get this unit in check for their Week 3 showdown at St. Louis.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Outside of the Minnesota Vikings, no defense in the league has given up more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Philadelphia Eagles. Cadillac Williams torched them in Week 1, while Michael Turner went buck wild against this inexperienced linebacking unit in Week 2. If you want to limit Michael Vick’s production, you best figure out a way to keep the game’s most dangerous player off the field. A game plan featuring a heavy dose of the run is a good place to start.
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In two games against the Falcons last season, Williams caught ten passes on a ridiculous 25 targets for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Guess who he and the Buccaneers welcome to town this weekend? That’s right, the same Atlanta defense that is giving up an average of 28.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers. After last week’s huge win over Philadelphia, we smell a letdown coming for the Falcons, with Williams leading the charge.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: ALERT! This is only recommended for owners in deeper leagues in need of some QB help. The rookie from TCU is completing 66.1% of his passes this season and threw for an impressive 332 yards last week at Denver. In addition, the San Francisco defense is surrendering an average of 23.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (6th-most in NFL). Don’t be surprised if Dalton and the Bengals are 2-1 when all is said and done on Sunday.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England Patriots: Lost in the blitzkrieg of points that is the Patriots offense is the fact that Green-Ellis has amassed 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Those numbers may not jump off the page at you, but keep in mind that New England travels to Buffalo this weekend to take on a Bills defense that is still very bad against the run. Only three teams (Minnesota, Philadelphia and Kansas City) are giving up more fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, so we feel the Law Firm is a safe play to produce in Week 3.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: The rookie from Alabama has already been targeted 14 times in two games despite taking on some of the better cornerback units in the league (Chicago, Philadelphia). This Sunday Jones heads to Tampa Bay to face a Buccaneers defense that was gashed by Matthew Stafford and the Lions in Week 1. While cornerback Aqib Talib is busy trying to contain Pro Bowler Roddy White, Jones should be free to exploit a Bucs secondary that is giving up an average of 21.9 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers. This kid is due for a breakout game.
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