Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
We're now into the third week of the 2012 season, with injuries and depth chart changes popping up left and right. We break down the fantasy implications.
With two weeks in the books, fantasy owners everywhere continue to look for answers on managing their starting lineups. Two games are nearly enough evidence to warrant plenty of roster moves, but the jury is still out on the fantasy value of players all over the league. Let's go ahead and help you out a bit for Week 3 by taking a look at who you need to start for your matchup this weekend, and who you need to stay away from completely.
QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DST | IDP
Alex Smith, quarterback - You won't see Smith's name among the fantasy elite very often, but he's been a solid player through two games this season. He's thrown two touchdowns in each game of 2012, avoiding interceptions altogether. The 49ers take on the a Vikings team that somehow managed to make Blaine Gabbert look like a legitimate NFL quarterback in Week 1. Smith should be in for a solid day, and he's available in a fair amount of leagues out there.
Michael Bush, running back - Matt Forte is listed as questionable, but his chances of playing look slim. Bush takes over the No. 1 back duties with Forte out, and we saw how that turned out last season for him in Oakland. The Bears know how to run the ball, and despite the debacle that was Week 2, they have a decent matchup with the Rams. St. Louis gave up two touchdowns to running backs in Week 1 and plenty of yardage to Alfred Morris last week. Bush is going to be a focal point of an offense once again, so use him while you can.
Miles Austin, wide receiver - This is an extremely easy decision in Week 3. Austin found the end zone in each of the first two weeks of the season, and he's taking on a Buccaneers secondary that gave up 510 yards last week to Eli Manning. Hopefully, for your sake, the Bucs hang close with the Cowboys on Sunday to force another high-scoring affair. Austin looks healthy, helping put to rest some concerns about his hamstrings for now. Do not miss out on him this week.
Brandon Pettigrew, tight end - It's hard to tell if the Titans are even aware this position exists. They've given up a ridiculous total of 227 yards and five touchdowns to opposing tight ends in two games so far, three of those scores to Dante Rosario last week. Who? Exactly. You would be doing your team an injustice by not starting Pettigrew. He found the end zone last week, and you can probably book his reservations for at least another six this Sunday.
Arizona defense/special teams - The Cardinals shocked the NFL by upsetting the Patriots on the road in Week 2. They've allowed the fifth-fewest points and look much better than their 2011 version. Philadelphia can't stop turning the ball over, and if Jeremy Maclin can't play, that's just one more reason to start Arizona's D/ST. This is one of the riskier picks, but with the way things are going in 2012, it's hard not to roll with the Cardinals right now.
Sam Bradford, quarterback - Don't let the outstanding Week 2 performance let you look past Bradford's opponent ahead. He'll take on a Bears defense that just held Aaron Rodgers to 219 yards and a single touchdown, uncharted waters for any defense these days. Bradford has also been sacked six times in two games, and that number is sure to elevate considerably against Chicago. He's playing well. The Bears are just playing better.
Cedric Benson, running back - Speaking of the Bears, Benson actually looked reliable against Chicago. The Packers wanted to establish the run game, and they gave him plenty of opportunities to do so. However, he's taking on a Seattle defense that just held DeMarco Murray to 44 yards on 12 carries, and has been a monster so far against running backs. Benson isn't going to be a great play every week. He hasn't even found the end zone yet, so there's reason for concern playing on the road in Seattle.
Eric Decker, wide receiver - Decker received constant praise in the preseason, looking like he was emerging as Peyton Manning's go-to guy. Unfortunately for his owners, he's taken a backseat to Demaryius Thomas. Decker has nine receptions for 107 yards in two games with zero scores. He's coming off of a shortened week, and playing the Houston Texans is never good for any player's fantasy value. He should find a rhythm as the season plays out, but you might want to avoid Decker in Week 3.
Marcedes Lewis, tight end - Blaine Gabbert isn't going to turn any of his targets into dominant fantasy starters, and even though he showed favoritism towards Lewis in Week 1, we saw how wrong things can go last week against the Texans. Jacksonville takes on an easier defense this time around in Indianapolis, but Lewis hasn't fared well against this divisional foe in the past. Last season, he caught four passes for 32 yards in two games against the Colts. Will he actually catch a pass this week? Probably. Will he make an impact for your lineup? Not at all.
Chargers defense/special teams - San Diego allowed just 24 points in the first two games of 2012, so why would you possibly bench them? Take a deeper look at the level of play before you make any hasty decisions. Oakland looked completely lost in Week 1, and last week Tennessee basically turned to a first-year starter to lead the offense when Chris Johnson continued to prove himself incapable of making anything happen. The Chargers take on a red-hot Falcons team that knows how to score points. Even though their run game looks depleted this year, Matt Ryan and his offensive unit continue to roll through opponents. Atlanta also has yet to turn the ball over. Owners should seek help elsewhere.
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