5 must-read stats: Don't you dare bench A.J. Green

Happy Week 3 -- the week where I predict a lot of road wins!!

Each week I'll be giving you five stats to think about as you make your Fantasy roster selections. I am also going to give you three high ceiling picks at each position (QB, RB, WR, TE) and a kicker and defense that might be available to stream. I am trying to go outside the top few at each position and find some picks that could deliver exceptional value based on their matchup and opportunity (volume, game plan, projected final score). I'm going to try to avoid listing the players who are too obvious.

My goal is to help you think about edging out your opponents with a strong floor and exceptional upside picks. I should also note that these projections will be more solid in a few weeks after we've seen some actual football that counts. So, the "rules" for this article:

  1. Not super obvious.
    1. As exclusive as possible to this article.
    2. You give me feedback and we evolve it together. Twitter (@cfrelund) is the best for this, unless you are creepy then just stick to rules 1 and 2.

Got all that? Let's go!!!

1. 18

That's how many receptions Jets tight ends combined for last season. Not in one game, not one specific tight end, but ALL of the tight ends in ALL of their games for a total of 173 yards. Why does this matter? Well, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is coming back from his two-game suspension this week and is more than likely available in your league. The Jets face the Dolphins this week who allowed 10 receptions off of 12 targets to tight ends last week and are again missing linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Do I think this is the safest play? Nope. But I do think that if you are in need of a tight end and are looking to take a smart risk with upside, this is a logical one.

Bonus 18:Zach Ertz' target total in the first two games this season (13 receptions). He's another tight end to consider this week. The Eagles face the Giants who have been missing pieces due to injuries on their defense (and offense). Last week, the Lions' tight end Eric Ebron caught all five passes thrown his way, and all five were against different defenders.

2. 13

That's how many first downs Cincinnati has earned so far this season (31st in the league). We already know the touchdown number (zero) and I am aware they face the Packers this week at Lambeau Field. I know I said I wouldn't talk about too many high ADP picks, but I have had/seen people ask if they should bench A.J. Green this week. My answer is no. Big no. Facing the Packers in Lambeau the Bengals figure to be playing from behind. Through two games the Packers defense has allowed an average of 5.13 yards per rushing attempt (fifth-most) but don't let the small sample size results trick you, they will likely end up in the top half in terms of limiting yards earned on the ground again this year (2016 they averaged four yards per carry allowed, 14th fewest). Further, last week two of their corners, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins combined to allow 10 of the 11 passes to be caught for 148 yards. In other words, between needing to pass and facing a defense that is above average against the run, Green is a smart ceiling pick.

3. Zero

That's how many touchdowns the Panthers' defense has allowed so far this season against the 49ers and the Bills. I think this stat changes this week, but a word of caution in this game. While the Saints and Panthers matchup may seem like a huge game for offense, I'm throwing a caution flag here. This one could have a lower score overall than it might seem. Also it's worth noting that if you're looking for a wide receiver, a smart upside pick could be Devin Funchess. Not only will Greg Olsen's targets be redistributed, but deep passes have gashed the Saints. Funchess has two 20-plus yard receptions (of his six total) and played more snaps than Kelvin Benjamin last week. Also, Christian McCaffrey is a big yes for me with a nice median and good upside projection.

4. 100 percent

That's Detroit's red zone touchdown percentage. Through two games the Lions have scored touchdowns on all four drives where they've entered the red zone. This won't last but it's pretty cool, if you like stats and all ... and I do. Last year the Falcons' paced the League in terms of allowing TDs in the red zone (73 percent). This year they have allowed four touchdowns in six red zone drives. (66.7 percent). I pretty much am trying to tell you that this game should be high scoring. Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah have nice ceiling projections (watch Abdullah's injury status closely). Also -- and this is kind of a non-sequitur but I am doing it anyways -- I am not afraid of pass catchers on either side of the ball in the Seahawks-Titans game because I think we see more total points in this one than you might expect.

5. If-thens ...

Adapting post injury-report is one of the biggest keys to fantasy wins -- especially in formats where you have access to all the players each week. DeMarco Murray and sam Bradford are already well-known players to keep an eye on, but here are some more:

 -- If Washington tight end Jordan Reed doesn't play or keeps appearing on the injury report, then Jamison Crowder (who is already a good play) becomes a great player against the Raiders.
 -- If the Steelers' T.J. Watt plays then upgrade both running back Tarik Cohen and tight end Zach Miller. Also, Jordan Howard and Kendall Wright have been limited in practice this week, so these picks are likely good upside candidates even if Watt doesn't play.
 -- If Chargers corner Jason Verrett doesn't play (he didn't practice Wednesday), then Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill's upside increases.
 -- Double and triple check on Rob Gronkowski's status this week. He didn't practice on Wednesday and Houston's defense limits tight end production.
 -- Watch the wideouts in Green Bay (Randall Cobb in particular) and also tackle Brian Bulaga's injury statuses on Sunday.

High Ceiling

QB: DeShone Kizer, Jacoby Brissett, Dak Prescott 
RB: Theo Riddick, Jonathan Stewart, Samaje Perine, Javorius Allen 
WR: DeSean Jackson, DeAndre Hopkins, Rashard Higgins 
TE: Jack Doyle, Austin Hooper,  
DEF: Eagles, Jaguars, Dolphins

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