Bradshaw should shine for fantasy owners in Week 3

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at weekly matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert features a player who's under the radar and could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a player who's a regular fantasy starter but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Ahmad Bradshaw at Eagles: The Eagles might have one of the league's top defensive backfields, but this unit can't stop the run. In fact, the Vikings are the lone team that's allowed more fantasy points to running backs after two weeks. That makes Bradshaw a solid option in what will be an important NFC East battle. He's a terrific start across the board.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Matthew Stafford at Vikings: Unless you have an elite quarterback on your roster, there is no reason not to start Stafford -- this kid is that good, and the Lions are throwing the ball a ton. He's fourth in total fantasy points at his position, and this week's matchup against the Vikings won't be enough to cool Stafford's white-hot start.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots: Fitzpatrick has started the season on absolute fire, throwing for a combined seven touchdowns while getting the Bills off to a 2-0 start. Next on the schedule is a date with the Patriots, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That makes the Harvard man a legitimate starter in most leagues.

Cam Newton vs. Jaguars: OK, I admit it -- I was dead wrong about Newton after two weeks. The unbelievable rookie sensation is second in fantasy points and has quickly emerged into a very legitimate fantasy starter across the board. This week he'll face a Jaguars defense that's allowed an average of close to 16 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Matt Schaub at Saints: Is it just me, or does a Texans-Saints matchup at the Superdome just scream shootout? You know, the kind of game where the scoreboard operator is waving the white flag? That's precisely the reason I like Schaub, who faces a New Orleans defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers after two weeks.

Rex Grossman at Cowboys (Mon.): I might have been tripped up on Newton, but I have been on the Grossman bandwagon for several weeks. I'll continue to enjoy the ride on Monday night, as he'll face a banged-up Cowboys defensive backfield that will be ripe for the picking. If you don't have an elite signal-caller, pick up Grossman now.

Sleeper alert - Colt McCoy vs. Dolphins: If you're in a deeper league or are required to start two quarterbacks, McCoy is well worth a look as a spot starter this week. The Texas product faces the Dolphins, who have surrendered an average of over 26 fantasy points per game to signal-callers. I can see him scoring around 15-18 points in this contest.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Jay Cutler vs. Packers: How is Cutler a sit against the Packers and their weak pass defense? Here's two reasons: First, Cutler's offensive line is going to get him killed as bad as it's been. Second, Cutler has averaged 218 yards with a combined four touchdowns and nine interceptions in his last four starts versus this NFC North rival.

Eli Manning at Eagles: It could be a tough week for Manning, who faces one of the league's best pass defenses in front of a hostile crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have allowed an average of 12.63 fantasy points to quarterbacks after two weeks, and Manning has rarely had big games against them in his career with Big Blue.

Chad Henne at Browns: Which Henne will we see in Week 3 -- the one who put up huge numbers against the Patriots in the opener, or the quarterback who was mediocre more recently against the Texans? Time will tell, but his upcoming matchup isn't favorable. After two games, the Browns have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to signal-callers.

Kyle Orton at Titans: Much like we suspected, Orton is off to a much slower start from a fantasy perspective without former coach Josh McDaniels at the helm. He's just 24th in fantasy points after two weeks, and a road matchup against the Titans is far from favorable. Their pass defense has allowed an average of just 6.94 fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Jason Campbell vs. Jets: Some owners might be tempted to start Campbell after he went off for 323 yards and 25.22 points against the Bills last week. But the Auburn product has a better chance of seeing pigs fly than repeating that performance against the Jets in Week 3. Their defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to signal-callers.

Owners beware - Tony Romo vs. Redskins (Mon.): Romo has a cracked rib and a collapsed lung. Let me repeat that. Romo has a cracked rib and a collapsed lung. Also, he'll be without Miles Austin and will be playing with Dez Bryant and Felix Jones at less than 100 percent. Romo is also going on Monday night, which just makes him even more of a risk.

Running backs - start 'em

Fred Jackson vs. Patriots: He's not Thurman Thomas, but Jackson is proving to be a damn good running back -- both on the field and in fantasy circles. On pace for better than 1,600 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns, the Coe College product figures to find continued success against a Patriots defense that's been questionable against the run.

Beanie Wells at Seahawks: Wells has been solid out of the gate as the lead running back for coach Ken Whisenhunt. He's rushed for 183 yards and equaled his entire touchdown total (2) from 2010. Now he gets the advantage of facing a porous Seahawks defense that was ripped by Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman in Week 2.

LeGarrette Blount vs. Falcons: Did you freak out over Blount's poor stat line in the opener and sit him in Week 2? Hopefully not, as the Oregon product rumbled for a pair of touchdowns in a comeback win over the Vikings. Next on the schedule is a matchup with the Falcons, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2011.

Ben Tate at Saints: It's not a surprise to see a Texans running back among the league leaders in rushing yards after two weeks, but it is a surprise that it's Tate, not Arian Foster. The Auburn product will be the main back for coach Gary Kubiak while Foster's ailing hamstring heals, so don't be afraid to start him as a No. 2 back or flex option.

Sleeper alert - Ryan Mathews vs. Chiefs: I'm not sold on Mathews taking over a greater role in the Chargers offense just yet, but he did look a lot better than Mike Tolbert in last week's loss to the Patriots. Both backs should be considered nice option against the Chiefs, who have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to running backs so far.

Running backs - sit 'em

Felix Jones vs. Redskins (Mon.): Jones' fantasy stock has started to slide, due in large part to the separated shoulder he suffered in Week 2 that could lead to more work for Tashard Choice and Demarco Murray. While Jones is expected to face the Redskins and their tough run defense, he's a major risk for fantasy owners on Monday Night Football.

DeAngelo Williams vs. Jaguars: I'm officially worried about Williams, who has done a Houdini act in the first two weeks of the season. He hasn't rushed for 100 yards in his last 11 games and has one touchdown since Nov. 8, 2009. (No, that's not a misprint). I'd keep him on the pine against the Jaguars, who have been good against the run in 2011.

Mark Ingram vs. Texans: Ingram has major upside and should eventually become a fantasy factor, but right now it's tough to trust him as a true starter. He's rushed for a mere 91 yards and is third in points among Saints runners behind Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. The Texans have been tough on the run as well, so bench the rookie if possible.

Cedric Benson vs. 49ers: The 49ers might be bad at a lot of things, but this team has one heck of a run defense. After two weeks, LB Patrick Willis and his mates have surrendered the fewest fantasy points (15.1) to the opposition's running backs. While Benson is better than Marshawn Lynch (Week 1) and an injured Jones (Week 2), he's still a risk.

Joseph Addai vs. Steelers: It's been a tough road for Addai, who lost Peyton Manning and is now sharing some of the workload with rookie Delone Carter in the Colts backfield. Now comes a tough matchup against the Steelers, who will be difficult to run on despite allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to backs after the first two weeks of the year.

Owners beware - Steven Jackson vs. Ravens: Jackson missed last week's loss to the Giants with an injured quadriceps, but all signs point to him being back in time for Week 3. That might not be a good thing, though, as he'll go up against the Ravens and their stout run defense. They've allowed an average of just 11.80 fantasy points to runners.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Steve Smith vs. Jaguars: Who would have believed that Smith's fantasy value would have been resurrected so quickly with Newton at the helm? The veteran is back on the radar, averaging a league leading 23.9 yards per catch average on his 14 receptions. With a matchup against the Jaguars and their weak back four up next, Smith should remain active.

Gary Wiepert/Associated Press
The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about Steve Johnson and other players who have become must starts in all leagues. (Click image for further analysis.)

Steve Johnson vs. Patriots: Johnson is proving that he was no one-year wonder, ranking 12th in fantasy points among wideouts after two weeks. His success should continue against the Patriots, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to the position. As long as Johnson's groin injury doesn't worsen, he's someone to keep active across the board.

Santana Moss at Cowboys (Mon.): Moss is off to a nice start in 2011, ranking 23rd in fantasy points among wide receivers on NFL.com. He should add to his status against the Cowboys, who are playing with a patchwork defensive backfield. Moss has also thrived against the Boys from Big D, averaging better than seven catches in his last eight games against them.

Jeremy Maclin vs. Giants: What mystery illness? Maclin looked like the picture of health against the Falcons in Week 2, scoring 29.20 fantasy points on NFL.com. He'll remain a solid option against the Giants, who allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts. Maclin also ripped them for 16 catches and two touchdowns in two games last season.

Deion Branch at Bills: Despite the addition of Chad Ochocinco and the fact that he hasn't scored a touchdown, Branch is still 19th in fantasy points among wideouts. He's also the 10th-most targeted player at his position, which speaks volumes about his relationship with Tom Brady. Consider Branch a nice third option against the Bills.

Sleeper alert - A.J. Green vs. 49ers: Green went from being 25th in fantasy points among wideouts in Week 1 to ninth after a 124-yard, one-touchdown explosion against the Broncos. While he might not put up those same totals this week, Green does have a terrific matchup against a 49ers defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to wideouts.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Dwayne Bowe at Chargers: It's tough to sit a player of Bowe's caliber, especially when he's the lone legitimate option in the Chiefs entire offense. Just keep in mind that in his last five games against this week's opponent, the Chargers, Bowe has recorded a combined 16 receptions for 142 yards. That's an average of just over three catches a game.

Mike Williams vs. Falcons: Don't look now, but Williams might be in the beginning stages of a sophomore slump. He's hauled in just five passes, and 29 wide receivers have more targets to this point. What's more, Williams has just one more target than Preston Parker. The Falcons aren't great against the pass, but Williams' lack of targets is worrisome.

Percy Harvin vs. Lions: Here's a disturbing little nugget from Week 2: Harvin, the top wideout in Minnesota, played in just 44.1 percent of his team's snaps against the Buccaneers. 44.1 percent! If that's not enough to bother fantasy leaguers, also keep in mind that this week's opponent, the Lions, have allowed the fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Mike Thomas at Panthers: Remember when Thomas had some major sleeper appeal in the preseason? Well, that was back when David Garrard was at the helm of the offense. Now it's rookie Blaine Gabbert, who'll no doubt be facing a ton of pressure from the Panthers front four. If you have Thomas, it's a good idea to keep him out of your lineup.

Denarius Moore vs. Jets: There weren't a lot of players more targeted off the waiver wire than Moore, who put up 146 yards and one touchdown last week. Of course, that was with the Raiders two starting wideouts out and came against the Bills. Even if Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey aren't back, you want nothing to do with Moore against the Jets.

Owners beware - Hakeem Nicks at Eagles: It is almost impossible to bench Nicks in most leagues. In fact, he'll be active far more often than not. Just keep in mind he'll be going up against one of the top cover corners in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha and an Eagles defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.

Tight ends - start 'em

Rob Gronkowski at Bills: If you haven't been paying attention, Gronkowski has developed into one of the top tight ends in fantasy football. And with Aaron Hernandez out of action, he could see even more targets in the Patriots pass attack. Here's another little nugget -- Gronkowski scored three touchdowns in two games against the Bills in his rookie year.

Jimmy Graham vs. Texans: Graham, a preseason sleeper on NFL.com, has more than met expectations. After two weeks, he's among the 10 most productive players at his position. With Marques Colston out and a possible shootout against the Texans up next, it's going to be tough to keep Graham out of your lineup into the foreseeable future.

Vernon Davis at Bengals: Davis has been a disappointment for owners, ranking 27th in points among tight ends on NFL.com. Heck, he doesn't even lead the Niners in fantasy points at the position -- that's Delanie Walker. Still, this week's matchup against a Bengals defense that has struggled to stop tight ends makes Davis worth starting.

Sleeper alert - Fred Davis at Cowboys (Mon.): It's official -- Chris Cooley is now playing second fiddle to Davis, who continued to put up solid numbers in Week 2. In fact, he's sixth in fantasy points at the position and in a great spot to improve that status against the Cowboys and their vulnerable pass defense. Davis should be active in most leagues.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Kellen Winslow vs. Falcons: Winslow has had an unspectacular start to the season, scoring a combined 11 fantasy points. And if his past numbers against the Falcons are an indication, he's not likely to put up huge numbers this week. In five career games against the Dirty Birds, Winslow has averaged a mediocre 56.8 yards with no touchdowns.



Watch NFL Fantasy Live on weekdays at 1 p.m. ET and on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Ed Dickson at Rams: Dickson followed up a solid Week 1 stat line with a stinker against the Titans, catching two passes for 25 yards in a 26-13 loss. Next on the schedule is a date with the Rams, who have been very stingy against tight ends this season. In fact, only the Titans have allowed fewer fantasy points to the position over the first two weeks of the year.

Marcedes Lewis at Panthers: Lewis was one of fantasy's top-scoring tight ends in 2010. But that was then, and this is now. The U.C.L.A. product no longer has David Garrard under center, which has sapped the offense of any firepower it might have had. That means fewer opportunities for Lewis to score in the red zone and a major decrease in his overall fantasy appeal.

Owners beware - Brandon Pettigrew at Vikings: With two weeks in the books, Tony Scheffler, not Pettigrew, is the top-scoring tight end on the Lions roster. What's more, 27 tight ends have scored more points than the Oklahoma State product. While a matchup against the Vikings isn't necessarily unattractive, Pettigrew is too much of a risk.

Kickers - start 'em

John Kasay vs. Texans: First it was Garrett Hartley. Then came along John Carney. Now Kasay is the latest kicker to benefit from playing behind the Saints offense. After two weeks, the old veteran out of Georgia leads his position in fantasy points and is back on the radar. He's a solid option against the Texans in what could be a barnburner.

Robbie Gould vs. Packers: The sixth-highest scoring kicker in fantasy land this season, Gould put up 12 points in his first home game in a win over the Falcons. Next on the schedule is another battle at Solider Field, this one against a Packers team that is tied for fourth in allowing the most fantasy points to kickers. That makes Gould a nice option.

Jason Hanson at Vikings: Kasay isn't the lone older kicker who has seen his value rise. Hanson, 41, is coming off a 14-point performance against the Chiefs that pushed him into the top three in fantasy points at his position. With the Lions offense clicking on all cylinders and a matchup against the Vikings up next, Hanson should remain a starter.

Sleeper alert - Nick Novak vs. Chiefs: With Nate Kaeding out for the season, Novak is the No. 1 kicker for the Chargers. He's a nice sleeper for owners in Week 3, as the Chiefs have allowed more fantasy points to kickers than any other team in the league. If you don't have an elite option at the position, consider Novak as a one-week fantasy option.

Kickers - sit 'em

David Akers at Bengals: Akers is the second-highest scoring kicker in fantasy football, but his recent success could hit a roadblock in Week 3. The Bengals have allowed an average of just 5.50 fantasy points to kickers this season, and they'll be able to focus on stopping Frank Gore and the run -- that will limit Akers' opportunities to produce for owners.

Billy Cundiff at Rams: Ranked 14th in fantasy points among kickers this season, Cundiff hasn't been more than a low-end option. His status won't improve in Week 3, as he goes up against a Rams defense that has surrendered an average of 5.50 fantasy points per game to kickers. Even on the turf in St. Louis, Cundiff should be benched.

Alex Henery vs. Giants: Henery has the potential to be a No. 1 fantasy kicker, especially playing behind an explosive Eagles offense. But after two weeks, he's just 21st in fantasy points at his position. Couple that with a matchup against the Giants, who have been tough on kickers, and Henery clearly becomes someone to avoid in Week 3.

Owners beware - Sebastian Janikowski vs. Jets: It's not easy to bench Janikowski, who has the leg strength to hit long field goals and pile up big fantasy points on a regular basis. Just keep in mind that the Raiders could struggle to move the ball against the Jets, who have surrendered a mere 11 fantasy points to kickers so far.

Defenses - start 'em

Chargers defense vs. Chiefs: If you've paid attention to the first two weeks of the season, you've seen that the Chiefs offense is in absolute shambles. Jamaal Charles is out for the season, and Matt Cassel has been unable to move the football. That's good news for the value of the Chargers defense, which should be active in all leagues this week.

Lions defense at Vikings: It's like a bizarro world when it comes to the Lions -- their offense is loaded with fantasy weapons, and their defense is third in fantasy points at the position on NFL.com. With a good matchup against Donovan McNabb and a lackluster Vikings offensive attack next on the schedule, these top cats need to be active.

Redskins defense at Cowboys (Mon.): The Cowboys offense is so shot full of injuries that we might see Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson lining up during Monday night's NFC East game against a Redskins defense that has been solid for fantasy owners. Even if Romo plays with his multiple injuries, it's still hard not to like the Skins in fantasy land.

Sleeper alert - Cardinals defense at Seahawks: Last season, any defense that faced the Panthers was considered to have a great matchup. Now it's the Seahawks, who have no semblance of an offense and can make any defense look like great. This week, the Cardinals have the pleasure of visiting the Great Northwest, so don't be shy about starting them.

Defenses - sit 'em

Texans defense at Saints: Coordinator Wade Phillips has quickly turned the Texans defense into a legitimate fantasy option, though games against the Peyton Manning-less Colts and the Dolphins haven't exactly been difficult. That won't be the case in Week 3, as the Texans face Drew Brees and the Saints in what could be a shootout in the Big Easy.

49ers defense at Bengals: The Niners might be ranked second in fantasy points among defenses, but that's due in large part to Ted Ginn's two touchdown returns. Take those 12 points away, and this unit is tied for 13th in points -- and that's with a game against the Seahawks in Week 1. Clearly, there are better options out there in most leagues.

Vikings defense vs. Lions: There was a time when the Vikings defense ranked among the elite units in fantasy football. But that's no longer the case, as this team is a mediocre 17th in fantasy points after two weeks and is looking a brutal matchup against Stafford and a high-powered Lions offense right in the face. Keep this team on the pine.

Owners beware - Bears defense vs. Packers: Bears CB Chris Harris told me on NFL Fantasy LIVE that he'd start the Bears defense against the Packers, but I have to disagree. Defenses facing Aaron Rodgers and his crew have scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points after two weeks, so starting these Monsters of Midway is a real risk this weekend.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15