Fantasy Preview: Week 3

Posted Sep 20, 2013

Week 3 got off to a crazy start when the Browns traded consensus first-round fantasy pick Trent Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first-round pick (in the real draft … it would be weird if they traded him for a pick in a fantasy draft), then got even crazier with the Philadelphia turnover-fest on Thursday night.

By now, the Richardson fallout has settled down. He's the Colts' starting RB and figures to get 12-15 touches this week in San Francisco. Ahmad Bradshaw is now Indy's backup, and Donald Brown is now droppable. The Browns signed Willis McGahee, who eventually figures to start. This week, Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya figure to split carries, though neither is a particularly good play at Minnesota.

Long term, Richardson probably gets a slight bump in value, simply because he's on a better offense. But the Colts' offensive line isn't much better than Cleveland's (if at all), and Richardson still carries some minor injury concerns. Also, the dirty little secret about Richardson is that he really hasn't been that good in his 17 NFL games, at least in terms of running the ball. His career yards per carry is 3.5, and he has just two runs longer than 20 yards and three 100-yard rushing games. Hopefully he finds his groove soon.

And hopefully your fantasy team finds its groove soon, too. We're here to help. Here are some key numbers to know about every game, plus a stud, sleeper, stumbler or injury concern to watch for with a brief explanation why. Note that the “studs” are guys who are either better than most owners realize or established stars who owners might be foolishly thinking about sitting.

Rams at Cowboys

Stat to know: The Cowboys have allowed 313.5 passing yards and three passing TDs per game. On the other side, the Rams are averaging 325.5 passing yards and 2.5 passing TDs. The sample sizes are obviously small, but this looks like a good matchup for Sam Bradford and his receivers.

Stud: WR Miles Austin (Rams allowing 35 fantasy points per game to WRs, third most.)

Browns at Vikings

Stat to know: With Brian Hoyer starting at quarterback and an unsettled running game for Cleveland, the Vikings look like a great D/ST play, especially since they're at home. But Minnesota has just one sack on the season. It's tough to recommend any Browns' players (even TE Jordan Cameron and the recently activated Josh Gordon), but Minnesota might be overrated as a sleeper.

Sleeper: Browns D/ST (Vikings allowing 12 FPPG to D/STs, second most.)

Packers at Bengals

Stat to know: Many fantasy owners likely have the Bengals as their starting D/ST but are afraid to play them this week. The Packers always score points, but they've allowed six sacks and turned it over three times. The sack-happy Bengals aren't a great play, but you don't necessarily need to drop someone for a new defense if they're the only D/ST you have.

Injury: RB Eddie Lacy, concussion (James Starks will start for the Packers even if Lacy is active.)

Buccaneers at Patriots

Stat to know: The Buccaneers have allowed just 3.4 yards per carry and 82.5 rushing yards per game. Stevan Ridley couldn't get anything going last week against the Jets despite getting 16 carries, so it's tough to imagine him doing much better against the Bucs.

Stumbler: WR Mike Williams (Pats allowing just 169.5 passing yards per game.)

Cardinals at Saints

Stat to know: The Cardinals are defending the run well this year (58 yards per game), but the Saints are once again struggling (124 yards per game). Darren Sproles is the only Saints' back worth starting, but you can feel comfortable with Arizona's Rashard Mendenhall, assuming his toe injury doesn't keep him out. If he doesn't suit up, Andre Ellington is a sneaky flex play.

Injury: WR Larry Fitzgerald, hamstring (Expected to play but will likely be slowed again.)

Chargers at Titans

Stat to Know: The Chargers have the worst pass defense (370 yards allowed per game); the Titans have the worst passing offense (136.5 yards per game). Which side wins out? Likely the Chargers, whose numbers are inflated by facing the Eagles. That means you can keep Kenny Britt and Tennessee's other receivers firmly planted on your bench.

Stud: RB Chris Johnson (Second in the NFL with 50 carries.)

Lions at Redskins

Stat to know: The Lions' pass defense has a 2:4 TD-to-INT ratio. So far, Robert Griffin III hasn't shown much ability to produce outside of garbage time. Even with the Lions playing a second straight road game, Griffin is a risky starting option.

Injury: RB Reggie Bush, knee (Questionable; Joique Bell would be a good play if Bush is out.)

Giants at Panthers

Stat to know: The Giants have allowed three TDs to tight ends. Panthers' TE Greg Olsen leads the team in receptions (12) and has just one fewer target (18) than Steve Smith. He's a top TE option.

Sleeper: Panthers D/ST (Giants have allowed four sacks and turned it over 10 times.)

Texans at Ravens

Stat to know: The Ravens are allowing just 3.0 yards per carry. Ben Tate has had at least 11 touches and 6.2 fantasy points in both games, but he's not a good flex option this week.

Stumbler: WR Marlon Brown (Houston allowing just 156 passing yards per game.)

Falcons at Dolphins

Stat to know: The Falcons have allowed 346.5 passing yards per game, and last week, each of the Rams' top three receivers had at least 10.5 fantasy points against them. Miami's No. 2 receiver, Brian Hartline, has averaged 10.5 targets through two weeks. He's a solid WR3.

Sleepers: RBs Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling (Should split carries with Steven Jackson out; both had four receptions on four targets last week.)

Colts at 49ers

Stat to know: It's always scary to play a running back against the 49ers, but San Francisco has actually allowed a rushing touchdown in each of their first two games. It's unclear how many touches Trent Richardson will get in his Colts' debut, but he's at least worth a start as a flex.

Stud: RB Frank Gore (Colts allowing 4.5 yards per carry and 1.5 rushing TDs per game.)

Jaguars at Seahawks

Stat to know: Russell Wilson has averaged just over 16 fantasy points per game – a mediocre number given his lofty draft position. The Jaguars surprisingly have the second-ranked pass defense (142.5 yards allowed per game). That number is inflated by teams running out the clock in the fourth quarter against them, but that could very well happen this week. Wilson always has the potential for a good game, but this isn't as good of a matchup as it looks like on paper.

Injury: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, foot (Expected to play but will likely be limited; Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett will split carries if Jones-Drew is out.)

Bills at Jets

Stat to know: Despite facing Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley, The Jets have shown a dominant run defense this season, allowing just 2.4 yards per carry. C.J. Spiller is the type of explosive back who can overcome that, but Fred Jackson isn't. Keep him on your bench.

Sleepers: RBs Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory (Bills allowing 141.5 rushing yards per game, so both backs could have flex value.)

Bears at Steelers

Stat to know: Pittsburgh ranks 10th in total defense, but they've recorded one sack and zero takeaways. The Bears have turned it over five times, but Pittsburgh's defense doesn't do enough to merit a start in fantasy leagues.

Injury: TE Heath Miller, knee (Expected to play, making him a sleeper against a Bears' defense that struggles vs. TEs.)

Raiders at Broncos

Stat to know: Surprisingly, the Raiders are tied for the league lead in sacks with nine. The Broncos just lost a starting tackle, Ryan Clady, so Peyton Manning might be under a little more duress than usual. If he is, expect a lot of quick slants to Wes Welker and WR screens to Demaryius Thomas, making them the best bets among Denver's many receiving options.

Stumbler: RB Montee Ball (Raiders allowing just 6.9 FPPG to RBs, second fewest.)