News of the day comes from Detroit where Mikel Leshoure was announced as the starting running back in place of Kevin Smith. Leshoure has yet to play a snap of professional football, as he tore his Achilles tendon last season before playing a game. The Illinois product is a power running back at 230 lbs and given the success of Kevin Smith, who was working as a personal trainer just over a year ago, Leshoure should be able to produce solid numbers as the new feature back against a Titans run defense that’s given up 310 yards over the first two weeks.
Run, don’t walk to see if Leshoure is available.
Marques Colston (NO) – A foot injury has hampered Colston over the last two weeks but he is expected to play today. However, he makes for a very risky play as he will likely see a lot of Brandon Flowers, one of the best cover corners in the AFC. Flowers did not look great last week against the Bills, but that can likely be attributed to shaking off some rust from a heel injury.
Ryan Mathews (SD) – Mathews is expected to make his much-anticipated season debut today against the Falcons after sitting out the first two weeks while recovering from a broken clavicle. Atlanta’s run defence is ice-cream soft, so get him in your lineup. He could have played last week but San Diego decided to play it safe, which means Mathews should be 100 percent. There are reports that he will be limited to 20 or fewer touches but that will be plenty for him to have a productive day.
Steven Jackson (STL) – Stacey Dales of the NFL Network says Jackson will suit up today vs the Bears. He is not an appealing play this week, because apart from the fact that groin injuries often limit running backs, Jackson will be facing one of the best front sevens in the NFL. The Bears rank ninth this season against the run, and they should be loading up the box to take away the Rams’ best offensive player
Austin Collie (IND) – Collie will make his season debut today. Donnie Avery will get the start ahead of him but look for Collie to play at least 20 snaps in the Colts three-wide packages. He had a good rapport with QB Andrew Luck in the preseason, so feel free to deploy him as necessary against a mediocre Jags secondary.
Dexter McCluster (KC) – Dex is active today against the Saints. The Saints have shown they have perhaps the worst defense in football, which bodes well for everyone on KC’s offence. McCluster has been working out of the slot this season and is developing into one of Matt Cassel’s primary targets.
Josh Cribbs (CLE) – Limited all week in practice due to a knee injury, Cribbs is good to go. The Bills’ secondary has not lived up to expectations as rookie Stephon Gilmore has been exposed frequently. However, it sounds as though Cribbs will not be close to full health, which means you should only play him if absolutely necessary.
Brandon Lloyd (NE) – Lloyd and the Patriots are taking on the Ravens in the Sunday nighter, which makes him and his thigh injury a very risky play. The Pats are limited without Aaron Hernandez which might push Lloyd to suit up, but try to avoid the risk of waiting until tonight to find out.
Torrey Smith (BAL) – Smith’s brother tragically died last night in a motorcycle accident. The Ravens have left it up to Torrey as to whether or not he will play tonight. Smith is a home-run threat who could be primed for a breakout this week, as he has yet to really live up to his pre-season hype.
Greg Jennings (GB) – Jennings insists he will play this Monday night against the Seahawks, however waiting until Monday night for the final word is not advisable.
John Skelton (ARI) – Skelton was limited at practice throughout the week and he faces a very tough match-up against one of the best secondaries in Philadelphia. Both he and Kevin Kolb are not strong plays this week.
Pierre Garcon (WAS) – A foot injury will keep Garcon out of the lineup for a second straight week. Leonard Hankerson figures to see a lot of work as the deep threat for Washington.
Brandon Jacobs (SF) – Free agent acquisition Brandon Jacobs will not see the field again in week 3. He has not played a regular-season game after sustaining a knee sprain in the preseason. Kendall Hunter will see a couple more carries as a result.
Matt Forte (CHI) – As we discovered Friday, Forte is out with an ankle injury. Michael Bush will handle the workload in his absence.
Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – A hip pointer that he suffered in week 1 will keep him out this Sunday. He was noticeably limited by the injury in Week 2, despite his TD grab. Jason Avant looks to see an increased role with Maclin on the sidelines.
Blaine Gabbert (JAC) – Gabbert and first-round pick Justin Blackmon have not been able to find the chemistry they built up in the preseason. A match-up with the porous Colts secondary is just what the doctor ordered.
Kendall Hunter (SF) – Hunter has been seeing 6-10 carries while spelling Frank Gore. Going against a tough front four in Minnesota, the 49ers might find more success running the ball to the outside with Hunter’s speed. He also returns kickoffs, which boosts his value.
Lamar Miller (MIA) – The Miami Dolphins are beginning to accept their identity. Behind a bruising offensive line, they have the ability to be a dominant run team. Miller is an electric back with good size and has the potential for five-to-eight carries in relief of Reggie Bush.
Jason Avant (PHI) – The absence of Maclin has put old-reliable Avant back in the spotlight. A possession-receiver who works well out of the slot, Avant has always been a favorite target of Michael Vick, especially on third down. Patrick Peterson should be on DeSean Jackson most of the game, meaning the inconsistent William Gay will be covering Avant.
Leonard Hankerson (WAS) – RG3 has shown an affinity for the deep ball, and Hankerson can definitely stretch the field. He looks to see a big increase in targets this week with Garcon out, and after Josh Morgan lost his mind last week.
Dallas Clark (TB) – Clark and third-year QB Josh Freeman have developed a bit of chemistry through two weeks. Clark is not known for his blocking skills, which means as the season progresses, he should become more involved with Tampa Bay’s passing game.