Every week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com breaks down all of the matchups from fantasy perspectives.
San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Niners need to get Frank Gore rolling, and the best way to do that against an aggressive Bengals front seven will be with misdirections, counters, draws and getting him the ball in space. Gore will at least post adequate numbers, and Alex Smith will look for Vernon Davis frequently. It's going to be a mostly uphill battle for the San Francisco QB, though, especially on the road. When Smith cannot get the ball to Davis he will struggle to move the offense, and it will be a mostly frustrating day. The Bengals defense will be a good one-week starting option. Cedric Benson will wear down the defense in the second half and will score at least once. Andy Dalton will take what the defense gives him and will complete a healthy amount of passes to A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. Green is quickly emerging as a top-notch WR3.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers
In the Rookie QB Bowl, Blaine Gabbert simply does not come in with enough weaponry. The Jaguars offense will certainly run through Maurice Jones-Drew, who will still get his numbers even though the Panthers know he will be the crux of the Jacksonville attack. Marcedes Lewis returns to action and is a good start, as Gabbert looks to him as a safety net. Gabbert will simply try to manage the game, he does not have the great protection that Cam Newton enjoys, or a playmaker like Steve Smith, who has risen again as a top 10 fantasy WR. The Panthers, however, will look to re-establish the running game to start developing offensive balance. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both worth consideration as flex starters. Newton will still throw more than enough, though, and expect at least two TD passes. Brandon LaFell is quickly becoming a preferred possession target and will be good for a score.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Do not assume full Detroit dominance here, as this rivalry game could produce some tight results. Still, it's hard to bench any key Lions starters right now. Matthew Stafford will not light up Minnesota like he did Kansas City, but it's hard to envision him throwing less than two TD passes. Calvin Johnson is the premier WR in fantasy right now and Nate Burleson faces his former team, and could still be highly motivated by that factor even though his tenure in Minnesota is now further in the rear-view. Jahvid Best is looking patient and more savvy this year and should post fine all-around numbers. Donovan McNabb will use a short-range approach to try to stave off a furious pass rush, and that could mean lots of flat passes. Adrian Peterson will pad his stats with some catches out of the backfield. The Vikes simply must get the ball in the hands of Percy Harvin, so start him with confidence this week.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
This could be a one-sided affair in favor of the Titans, who are looking sharp and fluid on both sides of the ball. The Tennessee defense is going to clamp down on the Denver running game, and then put Kyle Orton in adverse situations where he is pressured often. It will not be a good week for Willis McGahee, and Orton will finish with mediocre passing numbers. That means you do not roll with Eric Decker this week, and Brandon Lloyd may be the only Bronco you can start. The Tennessee defense will be an outstanding fantasy unit for Week 3. Chris Johnson has a friendly matchup, but is still not running with the expected burst or acceleration, so expect a good, but not great day. Do not be surprised to see another Javon Ringer score as he sees some action to keep the defense off balance. Matt Hasselbeck is looking very good and is a terrific one-week play. He may spread the ball around a lot, as Kenny Britt is dealing with a hamstring problem and should not be overworked. Nate Washington is a sneaky WR3 start for Week 3.
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
The Dolphins have found an offensive focal point in rookie Daniel Thomas, and will feed him the ball often. Thomas is looking much better than he did in the preseason and has become a quality fantasy RB2. The Dolphins must start getting Reggie Bush more heavily involved again to truly challenge defenses, and he will be a good flex start. Chad Henne will have to take what the defense gives him, but he can count on Brandon Marshall breaking tackles and making the most of every catch. Marshall is a must-start, but you can do better than Henne this week. Peyton Hillis will bang through the Miami front seven for another 100-yard rushing day and will be busy as a receiver out of the backfield. Colt McCoy will continue to depend on his tight ends. Ben Watson should produce respectable numbers and Evan Moore is a regular red zone threat. The Cleveland offense may be predictable in terms of who gets the ball, but Miami will not be able to stop them on many key downs.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
The New York passing game is depleted at WR, so the Giants will naturally turn to the running game. Ahmad Bradshaw will be a focal point of the Giants offense this week and is a strong RB2 start. The Eagles LBs are a weak link in the defense, and Brandon Jacobs will rip off some impressive runs as well. Eli Manning, however, will deliver another uneven performance, as he will not have anyone to depend on other than Hakeem Nicks, who will be blanketed heavily. Still, you cannot bench Nicks, who will be outshined by the Philly WRs. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are in for big weeks as it appears Michael Vick may able be to start. The Eagles offense will certainly revolve around LeSean McCoy this week, as he builds a stellar all-around stat line.
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints
Ben Tate is a top start for Week 3, as establishing the running game and controlling the clock as much possible is a prime goal for the Texans. An impressive ground attack will allow Matt Schaub to use play-action well and enjoy lots of time to throw in other instances. He will post at least respectable numbers, and the Saints have little hope of containing Andre Johnson. Owen Daniels will post good numbers as he overworks the New Orleans safeties. Drew Brees will keep pace by throwing often as expected, and will start working Lance Moore back into the flow while also throwing consistently to Jimmy Graham. Robert Meachem will be a TD threat this week, but history has taught us never to rely on Devery Henderson. Darren Sproles should be locked in as a flex player and Mark Ingram should get in the end zone to finish a Saints drive or two.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
This one is easy to scout from the New England side. The Bills had trouble with Jason Campbell, so it will be another great week for Tom Brady. Wes Welker is a top WR1, and Deion Branch is a must-start WR3. Rob Gronkowski looks like an elite fantasy TE right now, and the underrated BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good candidate to score twice. Danny Woodhead has some serious flex appeal this week, and even Chad Ochocinco may get into the act. Expect him to score even if the yardage totals are mediocre. The Bills, of course, will respond with a heavy dose of Fred Jackson, who is running too well right now to be contained by a spotty New England defense. Stevie Johnson is trying to play through a groin issue, so Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to connect with David Nelson more often. Fitzpatrick will have the benefit of a good running game to help him run smoothly again, but if Johnson comes out of the game at any point, he will not be able to generate the kind of numbers he did in the first two games. The Buffalo QB is a quality QB1 start, but do not use him over another top-rung passer.
Baltimore Ravens at St. Louis Rams
It is imperative that the Ravens rediscover stability in the passing game, so look for them to come out throwing, mainly with quick hitters to their most reliable pass-catchers. Anquan Boldin will come through with nice PPR numbers and Ed Dickson will be targeted frequently. Joe Flacco will not be a top fantasy performer this week, yet he will finish with adequate totals. Ray Rice will benefit as the pass sets up the run, and he will soar as an all-around performer again. This is not a good week for the Rams to have serious questions about their RBs. Sam Bradford will have to employ a short and flat passing game to avoid a heavy pass rush. Bradford should not be started, but Mike Sims-Walker and Brandon Gibson will be viable for PPR purposes.
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
The Raiders offense is playing above expectations, but there is simply no way Jason Campbell is going to keep things running smoothly this week. You must reserve all Raiders other than Darren McFadden, who has the moves to make even the most savvy defenders look bad. Denarius Moore has obvious upside, but Campbell needs dependable hands this week to keep the chains moving, and he does not have enough of those. Moore should be benched this week. The Jets are trying hard to get their running game in gear, but Shonn Greene looks unimpressive and LaDainian Tomlinson can only show flashes of the past. So it will be on Mark Sanchez to carry the offense again, and he will oblige. Expect him to throw a minimum of two TD passes, one to Plaxico Burress, who was shut out last week. The Jets coaches and Sanchez will make sure he gets the ball this week. Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller are must-starts against a Raiders pass defense that simply will be not up to the task.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Divisional matchups can sometimes produce surprising results, but not here. The sagging Chiefs will be trying to find their way on offense after losing Jamaal Charles, and they will quickly find they cannot lean on a combination of Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster. Matt Cassel will be harassed and hit hard all day, and only Dwayne Bowe is worth a start on the Chiefs side. Bowe can be an admirable battler who will still get his catches. Ryan Mathews is becoming a nice pass-catching option for Philip Rivers and his versatility will lead to somewhat impressive Week 3 totals. The Chiefs defense will simply spend too much time on the field, and Rivers will take full advantage with a pair of TD strikes to Vincent Jackson, while Antonio Gates also scores.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
The Packers pass defense has been wounded the first two weeks, but Jay Cutler does not have the receivers to present another true challenge. Matt Forte will carry a heavy load for the Bears, and is playing at an elite level right now. Cutler, however, will sputter, and none of his receivers are recommended for optimum fantasy production. James Starks will build a good stat line as he shines in the second half, but this rivalry matchup will be no cakewalk for Aaron Rodgers. The Bears aggressive front seven will bring a lot of heat, and there will be no major outburst from Rodgers this week. Still, two TDs seems like an easy goal for him, and Jordy Nelson will start to display his wares as a PPR player. Greg Jennings' yardage numbers may be slightly disappointing, but Jermichael Finley will score.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Do not look for a big day from Beanie Wells. It's no sure thing. Seattle's run defense is stout, and even if Wells scores, he will frustrate his owners with pedestrian yardage totals. The Seahawks do have the personnel to stay in this one with the Cardinals, and Kevin Kolb will be mediocre overall. Larry Fitzgerald will be doubled and bracketed, leaving Early Doucet open for some key catches. This will be a low-scoring affair, as Tarvaris Jackson either misfires or is too conservative. This may be the week that Marshawn Lynch, resurfaces, though. Seattle desperately needs to revive the running game. You may not see any real respectability from the Seahawks offense until Charlie Whitehurst takes over, though.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The heat can wear down opponents in Tampa Bay, so the Falcons will have to pace themselves. Michael Turner will carry a heavy load, and will ultimately produce RB1 numbers. Matt Ryan will look to get the ball into the hands of Roddy White, who has been disappointing so far. White should be good for a score. Julio Jones has yet to build on his tremendous promise, and should be reserved if you have other quality options. Tony Gonzalez could find the Tampa Bay LBs less vulnerable than Philadelphia's. Do not expect a big week from Gonzalez. LeGarrette Blount will get a lot of defensive attention this week, and will not reach 100 yards even if he scores. Look for a big rebound performance from Mike Williams, who simply cannot be held down for too long. Josh Freeman, however, is displaying little statistical upside right now and you may have better options even if you do not own an elite QB.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
The Steelers ground game will get back into a groove in a big way this week. Rashard Mendenhall will easily come through with his best game of the season so far. Ben Roethlisberger will enjoy another tasty matchup, but should be more productive than he was in an uninspired performance last week. Mike Wallace is easily one of the best WR starts in Week 3, and if you want to dig deep, you can look to Emmanuel Sanders for a TD. Kerry Collins will have to endure throughout another tough week, and the best you can hope for is a TD to Reggie Wayne, who continues to rise above the Indy doldrums. Dallas Clark may also provide decent PPR totals, but there is obviously nothing else to like fantasy-wise from the Colts.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
This may be the week when we see Tim Hightower's value really start to fall off, as he will not be able to get loose against the Dallas front seven. Roy Helu will come and in look more nifty again. Rex Grossman will also start to show us who he truly is again, as he will vacillate between heroics and miscues throughout the night. Santana Moss and Fred Davis are must-starts in this high-level rivalry on the Monday night stage. The Cowboys are so banged up, that if you have other significant quality options at QB and RB, you may have to look elsewhere to assure yourself of not having to deal with uncertainty as the week's last game approaches. This is also true at WR. You can bank on Jason Witten, but even if Tony Romo, Felix Jones and Dez Bryant can go, it remains to be seen how effective they can be. When in doubt, always go with a healthy player.
For more advanced insights and breakdowns, plus live gameday chats, check out the RotoExperts.com Xclusive Edge package, which includes VIP access to all content from Scott Engel, a 15-year Fantasy veteran analyst with sites such as CBS SportsLine and ESPN.com, and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame.