NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Preview
Okay, so you’ve weathered the first two weeks of the 2012 fantasy football season and dropped that rookie running back that you knew you shouldn’t have drafted. Now that early hiccups are out of the way, take your team to the next level by checking out some story lines and players to watch in Week 3.
Story line to Watch: Patriots WR Wes Welker’s Playing Time
Wes Welker’s playing time (or lack thereof) has been, without question, the strangest story of the 2012 season. After catching a ridiculous 122 passes in 2011, Welker has seen his usage rate drop substantially in favor of the Julian Edelman. This trend has given rise to every manner of rumor and conspiracy theory, most notably the strange idea that the Patriots are somehow punishing Welker for complaining about his contract situation during the off-season.
Whatever the case may be, New England’s Week 3 matchup against Baltimore will be crucial in determining Welker’s fantasy value for the rest of the season. Many analysts are predicting a return to his previous levels of production in the wake of last week’s injury to tight end Aaron Hernandez. Still, given No. 83’s past struggles against Baltimore and Bill Belichick’s notorious mind games, it’s anyone’s guess how the situation will shake out.
Lock of the Week: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III Vs. Bengals
Everyone knew that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner could play, but anyone who says that thought he’d be this good after two games is lying. RG3 has been flat out dominating opposing defenses, averaging an absurd 28.22 points per game in standard scoring formats. Griffin has been throwing absolute darts all over the field, but more importantly, he’s been a major part of the Redskins’ ground game. Washington calls a number of designed runs for the rookie, yielding 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first two weeks. In Week 3, Griffin comes up against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that just allowed 322 passing yards to Brandon Weeden and his 5.1 passer rating. Translation: lots and lots of points for RG3 loyalists.
Other Locks: QB Matt Stafford vs. Tennessee, RB C.J. Spiller vs. Cleveland, WR A.J. Green vs. Washington, TE Dennis Pitta vs. New England, San Francisco D/ST
Bust of the Week: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson Vs. 49ers
It’s hard to say anything negative about Adrian Peterson. The Vikings running back has been in top-notch form so far this season, despite the fact that he’s just nine months removed from a serious ACL injury. Still, all the rehab and early success in the world won’t help him against San Francisco’s impregnable run defense. Since the start of the 2010 season, only four running backs have managed to run for 100 yards against the 49ers. To make matters worse, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder hasn’t exactly been stretching opposing defenses in the passing game. Facing a stacked defensive line and San Fran’s accomplished linebackers, Peterson can’t be relied on for a solid fantasy outing.
Other Busts: QB Michael Vick vs. Arizona, RB Michael Turner vs. San Diego, WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Philadelphia, TE Jacob Tamme vs. Houston, Cincinnati D/ST
Sleeper of the Week: Bears RB Michael Bush vs. Rams
Several news outlets are reporting that Bears starting running back Matt Forte suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2, which should allow some quality playing time for Michael Bush. The former Oakland Raider is no stranger to sub duty, having filled in extensively for an injured Darren McFadden during the 2011 season. Given the sorry state of Chicago’s pass blocking, Bush should be in for a heavy workload. According to ESPN fantasy expert Matthew Berry, in the five games that Bush has received 25 or more carries, he’s averaged 136 yards and scored six touchdowns. Throw in the fact that St. Louis’s defense was worked over by a pair of average running backs in Weeks 1 and 2, and you may have a sneaky fantasy stud.
Other Sleepers: QB Andy Dalton vs. Washington, RB Pierre Thomas vs. Kansas City, WR Donnie Avery vs. Jacksonville, TE Jermaine Gresham vs. Washington, Miami D/ST
Under The Radar: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions
The 2011 second-round draft pick has finally battled back from a year of injuries and suspensions, and will get his chance to carve out a role in the Lions offense. Current starting running back Kevin Smith’s production (and health) has been suspect at best, and the prevailing opinion throughout the organization is that Leshoure has the better long-term upside. Detroit’s pass-heavy attack is in sore need of some balance, and Leshoure’s ability to run hard between the tackles will likely allow him to overtake Smith before long. Leshoure probably won’t make much of an impact this week, but he’s definitely worth a roster spot if you can afford it.
Other Players To Watch: New York Giants RB Andre Brown, St. Louis RB Daryl Richardson, Cincinnati WR Andrew Hawkins, Buffalo TE Scott Chandler