Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 3

Here’s a look at who I’m high on and who I’m low on heading into Week 3:

Quarterbacks

IN: Matt Hasselbeck, Titans
Hasselbeck has found the fountain of youth — and it’s in Tennessee. The almost 36-year old has put up solid numbers so far (621 yards, 3 touchdowns) and is building chemistry with some very dangerous playmakers (Kenny Britt and Nate Washington). Last week Hasselbeck took advantage of the Ravens stacking the box and carved the secondary for 358 yards. You have to think that the Broncos, whose defence is scaring no one these days, will employ the same strategy to control Chris Johnson, meaning Hasselbeck will get the opportunity to put up some more big numbers.

OUT: Eli Manning, Giants
It took a while for Manning to get into a rhythm against the Rams, but he finished the night with a respectable 18 fantasy points. Unfortunately, the Giants are running out of receivers after they lost two more wideouts to injury on Monday (Dominek Hixon and Mario Manningham). Less options for Manning against a strong Eagles secondary is not a good combination. Throw in the fact that the Giants QB has struggled against this division rival (six touchdowns and six interceptions combined in the last four matchups) and Manning could be in for a long afternoon.

Running Backs

IN: LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
After a shaky opening week, Blount rewarded his fantasy owners with a terrific game last week against the Vikings (71 yards and two touchdowns) and there’s no reason to think the big fella will slow down against the Falcons. Workload has been an issue however: Blount had just five carries in Week 1 but then 13 in Week 2 (progress!). That number should increase again this week against an Atlanta team that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.

OUT: Cedric Benson, Bengals
Benson’s strong performance in Week 1 (121 yards and a touchdown) put him on my “IN” list last week and he celebrated that by laying an egg (59 rush yards against Denver). It will most likely be more Benson the Bad in Week 3. The 49ers have given up the least rushing yards per game and haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown yet this season. San Fran didn’t play run-heavy teams the first two weeks (Seattle, Dallas) but regardless, those stats are impressive. Benson will be in tough for yardage.

Wide Receivers

IN: Steve Johnson, Bills
Johnson is proving last year was no fluke. He is the 12th-best fantasy receiver through two weeks of the season (162 yards, two touchdowns). Matchup wise he could be in for a big game on Sunday when the 2-0 Bills take on the 2-0 Patriots. New England has the second-worst pass D in the league (allowing an average of 381 yards per game) and that has Ryan Fitzpatrick and company salivating. Yes, Johnson hasn’t practiced this week to rest a lingering groin injury, but that shouldn’t scare you off from starting this dangerous playmaker.

OUT: Reggie Wayne, Colts
The curse of Kerry Collins continues to filter down the Colts’ offense, and now it’s struck the team’s leading receiver. I know it’s difficult to bench a player of Wayne’s caliber, but the Manning-less Colts are taking on the Steelers this week.  Pittsburgh will make life difficult for Indy on both sides of the ball, just as they did against a struggling Seahawks team last week. Wayne could pick up some yardage in garbage time, but I think the risk is too great to play him.

Tight Ends

IN: Greg Olsen, Panthers
It’s really hard to ignore what Cam Newton has done in Carolina so far and as his game improves, so do the stats of his supporting cast. Olsen has been Newton’s security blanket at times this season (112 yards total but only one catch in Week 2 against the Packers), and he has a good matchup this week in against the Jags, who just gave up 32 points to the Jets. With the running game struggling, Newton will take to the air once again on Sunday and I see plenty of completions to Olsen. This play is a bit of a gamble, but I have faith in the power of Cam.

OUT: Kellen Winslow, Bucs
Winslow has been Mr. Consistent so far this season. He’s getting the yards but not making the big plays (and that includes scoring touchdowns). Historically, the tight end hasn’t fared too well against the Falcons: in the last five games against the division rivals, Winslow has averaged under 57 yards per game and hasn’t scored a single touchdown. That is not good for fantasy owners. And even though the Falcons surrendered a lot of points to the Eagles last week, they were effective defending tight end Brent Celek, who finished with just 43 yards. There are better options out there this week.

Kickers

IN: Nick Novak, Chargers
Novak (aka Nate Kaeding’s replacement) is one of the most obvious plays of the week simply because the Chargers are playing the spiraling Chiefs, who can’t seem to stop anyone from scoring these days. In his first start for San Diego, Novak didn’t attempt a field goal (he had just three extra points) but expect that to change in a big way on Sunday — Kansas City has given up the most fantasy points to kickers this season.

OUT: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
How in the world can you bench a guy who hit a 63-yarder in Week 1? When his team is playing the New York Jets. The Raiders scored a lot of points against the Broncos and Bills, but now they face the Jets, and moving the ball effectively won’t come as easily. Janikowski has also been limited in practice this week because of a left foot injury. He kicks with that foot, so that’s bad.

Defenses

IN: Cardinals
Now this is a bit of a weird selection since Arizona has hardly been a force on D this season (allowing 466 yards per game). But this is more about who the Cardinals are playing, and this week it’s the lowly Seahawks. Seattle’s offense has been horrendous this season — they’ve scored an NFC-worst 17 points, have had issues turning the ball over and were held to just 164 total yards (and no points) last week against the Steelers.  Arizona’s D could be a big sleeper pick this week.

OUT: Texans
New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has really turned things around in Houston. The Texans have allowed the least yards, passing yards and points per game this season. They have faced some pretty easy competition thus far (the Colts and Dolphins) but now things get a little more difficult. The Saints are putting up almost 430 yards per game and no one has had much luck slowing them down lately. New Orleans will score and score often, so for one week at least keep Houston’s D on the bench.

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