Every week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com focuses on recent trends and numbers, and tells you how they will affect your Fantasy outlook for the upcoming week.
FEELING THE HEAT:
Players who have positive numbers following them into Week 3.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England
Stat: Green-Ellis has 202 rushing yards in his last two games vs. Buffalo.
Analysis: "BGE" is one of the most underrated RBs in fantasy football. He is not an exciting runner and many fantasy owners are always looking to upgrade over him at RB2. But the production is usually there, most notably with 15 TDs since 2010, second-most in the league. Green-Ellis is dependable and a great finisher for a powerful offense. He'll approach 100 yards and score at least once in Week 3.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina
Stat: In his past nine games vs. the AFC, Williams has rushed for 834 yards (92.7 per contest) and five TDs.
Analysis: Williams has rushed for 43 yards in his first two games of 2011, as the Panthers have looked like a pass-happy bunch. Carolina needs to start establishing some offensive balance, though, so look for them to get the ball to Williams and Jonathan Stewart frequently this week against Jacksonville. Expect at least respectable totals this time from Williams.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati
Stat: Green is shooting for his third consecutive game with a TD reception.
Analysis: Green has been a quick impact player in fantasy football as his QB, Andy Dalton, has exceeded expectations early. Dalton is a smart young QB who does a good job of taking what the defense gives him. Green has already shown he can instantly challenge defenses. The 49ers will have their hands full trying to contain the very talented rookie in Week 3.
Evan Moore, TE, Cleveland
Stat: Moore aims for his third straight game with a touchdown catch.
Analysis:Colt McCoy lacks dependable pass-catchers at WR and his TEs certainly look more reliable. A young passer will always look to his TEs as "safety" receivers as well. Moore is a quality start again this week if you need some help at the position. He is obviously emerging as a consistent red zone contributor and he continues to build on a strong preseason. Also, here's another fun stat regarding another Cleveland TE: Former Patriot Ben Watson has four TD catches against Miami, his most against any team.
Nate Burleson, WR, Detroit
Stat: Burleson has 12 catches for 183 yards (91.5 per game) in his past two games vs. the Vikings.
Analysis: Burleson spent the first three seasons of his career in Minnesota, and you must take note when any player faces a former team, as some guys tend to get extra "pumped" in such situations, no matter how long ago the tenure was. Burleson is a must-start as a WR3, as Matthew Stafford is in a great groove and Burleson benefits greatly from working as a complement to Calvin Johnson.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston
Stat: If Tate rushes for 100 yards against the Saints, he will join Cadillac Williams (2005) as part of an exclusive club of players to rush for more than 100 yards in the first three games of their careers.
Analysis: It looks like a strong bet that Tate will join Cadillac in the 100-yard circle. While the ex-Buccaneer is now in a backup role with the Rams, you do not have to worry about Tate's future right now. Just know he is currently the main ballcarrier on a team that does a terrific job of run blocking and will look to play ball control as much as possible against New Orleans. Lock Tate into your lineup this week.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee
Stat: Hasselbeck has thrown for 621 yards in 2011, third in the AFC behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.
Analysis: Hasselbeck looked razor sharp against Baltimore last week and is showing that he can still be very effective when he gets good pass protection. After carving up the Ravens, a matchup with Denver could seem amusing to the veteran passer. Start Hasselbeck if you are dealing with some QB issues or are unsure about another starter.
Dexter McCluster, RB, Kansas City
Stat: McCluster is averaging 7.8 yards per rush this season.
Analysis: Keep in mind that number is for 12 attempts over two games. If McCluster starts to see an expanded workload, as expected, he is not going to become the next Jamaal Charles. He is not nearly as explosive as Charles as a runner out of the backfield and cannot run effectively in short space like a healthy Charles. McCluster is going to be part of a committee and will be occasionally useful as a flex player. The yards per carry number is sure to go down very quickly.
SEARCHING FOR SPARKS:
These players will look to turn some negative outlooks around in Week 3.
Tim Hightower, RB, Washington
Stat: Hightower has totaled 78 yards from scrimmage in two career games against Dallas.
Analysis: The Hightower 2011 Decline Watch has already begun. Hightower has never been able to consistently sustain a successful outlook, and rookie Roy Helu started to cut into his workload last week. Deal Hightower before the week starts and his value starts to drop more. Helu has more spring in his step and much more upside.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay
Stat: In four career games against the Falcons, Freeman has a 74.2 passer rating, with six TD passes and five interceptions.
Analysis: Freeman threw three of his six interceptions in 2010 against Atlanta. So far in 2011, he has already thrown two picks along with two TD passes. Freeman has not looked like an above-average fantasy QB early this year. Reserve him if you have another similarly ranked passer who has out-performed him so far.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago
Stat: Cutler has thrown nine interceptions in five career games against the Packers.
Analysis: He threw two picks in his last game against Green Bay, and has five TD passes against them. It will not get much easier this week. Cutler has a mediocre receiving crew and the Packers pass defense is looking to rebound after two very disappointing outings to start the season. Cutler is not going to totally implode in a high-pressure rivalry game, but he will throw as many interceptions as TDs, which will not be enough to make you start him in many cases.
Week 3 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em
Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Jets
Stat: We are sure you have heard that Burress was shut out by Jacksonville in Week 2.
Analysis: The Jets will make sure they devise ways to get Burress open more often this week and will make a strong effort to get him the ball. Rex Ryan wants his new WR to be an integral part of the game plan, and Burress will find the end zone at Oakland. Start him as a WR3 this week.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore
Stat: Boldin has 120 receiving yards and one TD in his first two games.
Analysis: He was held to 46 yards on three catches in Week 2 as the Baltimore passing game was stifled by the Titans. Joe Flacco needs to get the ball to Boldin to keep the chains moving consistently via the pass. Boldin will be targeted often this week and should perform well at St. Louis.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami
Stat: Bush only had seven touches for 21 total yards in Week 2.
Analysis: Even with the emergence of rookie Daniel Thomas, the Dolphins need to get Bush more touches if they are to consistently challenge defenses. Look for Bush to play an increased role at Cleveland this week, and he will be a good flex option.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
Stat: Gore is averaging 2.5 yards per carry after two games.
Analysis: You cannot keep a good running back down for long. It has been easy to game plan for the 49ers, as opponents simply load up against Gore and dare QB Alex Smith to beat them. But the Niners will use Gore to offset aggressive pushes by the Bengals front this week and will get him the ball in space. Start Gore as you usually would expect to.
Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona
Stat: Wells has averaged 45.3 yards per game in 12 career outdoor road games.
Analysis: Wells has also managed only four TD runs in those games. Seattle's run defense is much better than the average fan might be aware of. Wells is no lineup lock against the Seahawks. Do not assume he is in for a big day or use him over a much more established or regularly productive starter. Wells is still a good RB2 start, but he is not going to be among the elite at RB this week.
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