Fantasy Football Week 3: Top Plays at Every Position
This is Bleacher Report's weekly slideshow for the top players of Fantasy Week 3, but we have to lead with a top player who is not a top play at all: Trent Richardson.
The midweek trade of Richardson to the Colts was a shocker and the biggest news of the week, but he heads into a matchup at San Francisco against one of the NFL's premier run defenses. We still rate Richardson as a top-24 running back, but that doesn't mean you should expect immediate rewards. Those are more to come in the long run, now that he is out of the fantasy purgatory known as Cleveland.
We break down all of the rankings, favorable and unfavorable matchups, sleepers and busts of the week by position in this jam-packed slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Stick with Your Starters, Save for Rivers over Luck
- Robert Griffin III
- Tom Brady
- Philip Rivers
- Andy Dalton
- Josh Freeman
- Michael Vick
- Andrew Luck
- Sam Bradford
- Matt Schaub
- Terrelle Pryor
The quarterbacks we classify as the new-wave read-option guys have gotten off to a precarious start this fantasy season. Colin Kaepernick was a bust in Week 2, Cam Newton hasn't performed like a starter yet, Russell Wilson hasn't even performed well enough to be worth owning yet and the media is talking about potentially benching Robert Griffin III?
These guys are still going to help you win this season, so stay patient on them and don't dare sell low. All of them remain starter-worthy in all leagues regardless of the matchup—even if we rank Wilson out of the top 12 below.
Week 3 shootout
Those hating on RG3, just stop it. He is just fine, and he is going to enjoy a productive day against the Lions secondary, if only because Matthew Stafford is going to post huge numbers opposite him. The Washington defense has allowed the most points to fantasy quarterbacks through two weeks, and the 0-2 Redskins are hungry for a victory at home. Expect them to get it, but not without an aerial show on both sides. Consider RG3 a must-start quarterback in all leagues and a top-five performer.
Week 3 benching
If Kaepernick's performance in Seattle taught us anything, it's you cannot trust the non-dropback Hall of Famers (Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are the only ones in that class) in a bad matchup, especially on the road. Next up is Andrew Luck, who has to travel to San Francisco.
Not only is the matchup tough for Luck, but Pep Hamilton's play-calling hasn't been as aggressive as Bruce Arians' was. Luck might no longer be a candidate for 4,500-plus yards this season. He isn't even on pace for 4,000 through two games.
Luck is not going to have fun facing that 49ers defense coming off an embarrassing loss. If you drafted Luck, you did so relatively late and likely got a viable backup option. Use it this weekend.
Week 3 sleepers
Philip Rivers is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy quarterbacks right now. He just doesn't not get enough respect. The Titans have been surprising in the early going, but Rivers has been irrepressible. He is starting in only 16 percent of CBS Sports leagues this week? Incredible.
He is a must-start if you don't have a top eight or nine fantasy quarterback on your roster. Here are the other quarterbacks our rankings below like significantly more than the consensus:
Week 3 duds
Sam Bradford has gotten off to a good start, but a worry here is which of his receivers do you trust in fantasy right now? You cannot trust the Jared Cook roller coaster. Tavon Austin is a rookie. Austin Pettis doesn't start.
There is something to be said for balance and having a multitude of options, but the lack of a true go-to star makes Bradford merely a two-quarterback league starter—albeit one with upside.
Here are the quarterbacks the consensus like much more than us this week:
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. Oak||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||at Cin||2||0|
|3||Drew Brees||NO||vs. Ari||3||0|
|4||Colin Kaepernick||SF||vs. Ind||5||+1|
|5||Robert Griffin||Was||vs. Det||8||+3|
|6||Matthew Stafford||Det||at Was||4||-2|
|7||Matt Ryan||Atl||at Mia||7||0|
|8||Tom Brady||NE||vs. TB||11||+3|
|9||Cam Newton||Car||vs. NYG||9||0|
|10||Philip Rivers||SD||at Ten||18||+8|
|11||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. StL||10||-1|
|12||Michael Vick||Phi||vs. KC||6||-6|
|13||Andy Dalton||Cin||vs. GB||16||+3|
|14||Russell Wilson||Sea||vs. Jac||12||-2|
|15||Eli Manning||NYG||at Car||13||-2|
|16||Carson Palmer||Ari||at NO||17||+1|
|17||Alex Smith||KC||at Phi||19||+2|
|18||Andrew Luck||Ind||at SF||14||-4|
|19||Josh Freeman||TB||at NE||25||+6|
|20||Joe Flacco||Bal||vs. Hou||24||+4|
|21||Sam Bradford||StL||at Dal||15||-6|
|22||Jay Cutler||Chi||at Pit||22||0|
|23||Matt Schaub||Hou||at Bal||20||-3|
|24||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. Atl||23||-1|
|25||Geno Smith||NYJ||vs. Buf||28||+3|
|26||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||vs. Chi||26||0|
|27||EJ Manuel||Buf||at NYJ||27||0|
|28||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||at Den||21||-7|
|29||Christian Ponder||Min||vs. Cle||30||+1|
|30||Jake Locker||Ten||vs. SD||29||-1|
|31||Brian Hoyer||Cle||at Min||33||+2|
|32||Chad Henne||Jac||at Sea||34||+2|
Running Backs: Trent Richardson's Deal Bad for His Owners in Week 3
- Ryan Mathews
- Bilal Powell
- Giovani Bernard
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis
- Chris Ivory
Was that a shocker Wednesday or what? Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first-round pick. It creates some unknowns for lineups this week, leaving a hole in the Browns' starting spot and making Ahmad Bradshaw a lot less intriguing.
Expect Chris Ogbonnaya to be the leader of the Browns' running game this week, if only because he might be used near the goal line. Undersized Bobby Rainey is not a feature back, even if he is listed as the starter. Willis McGahee, who the Browns signed on Thursday, won't be in game shape enough to trust in fantasy this week either.
Richardson is a fringe starter for this week now that he has to deal with the change of teams, a new system and a cross-country road game. Oh, he also has to face a 49ers run defense that is bitter from its Sunday night performance. If you have a good backup running back, use him this week in Richardson's place.
Over the course of the season, the trade is a huge boost to Richardson's value. Despite the slow start and endless injury risk, Richardson might actually prove worthy of his first-round pick in fantasy.
You probably should have planned to sit Bradshaw this week anyway, but now you might not get starter-quality numbers out of him the rest of the season.
Speaking of those 49ers and Colts, you have to feel a lot more comfortable with Frank Gore in Week 3 as he faces the Indy run defense. The Colts have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs through two weeks. Not only will Gore pay you back, but you might even get some viable numbers out of backup Kendall Hunter as well.
12th man is just a few too many
Players against the Seahawks defense are must-avoid in fantasy right now, particularly when Seattle is at home. Not only is Maurice Jones-Drew off to a slow start and dealing with more foot issues, he also has to contend with the Seahawks defense if he does play. It is time to bench MJD and make preparations to get another running back you can count on in the long-term. The Jags look as sunk as the Browns and Raiders.
Week 3 sleepers
If not for a Week 1 performance that opened eyes against the awful Steelers running game, the Titans might qualify as one of the most advantageous matchups for a fantasy running back. This makes Ryan Mathews one of the must-start options outside of the top few tiers this week. Mathews still has fumbling issues, but that Chargers offense has proved potent, and Mathews is going to be a beneficiary of it.
Mathews is among the backs we like significantly more than the consensus this week:
Honorable mention: We have already pumped his name up enough, but Robert Turbin is a sleeper to use against the Jags this week. He was among our Top Week 3 Pickups and Biggest Takeaways from Last Week.
Week 3 duds
No one is going to sit Matt Forte, but that Steelers defense still qualifies as one that will be tough on opposing running backs, despite what the Bengals did to it Monday night. The Steelers are seventh-worst in fantasy against running backs, but Mike Tomlin and company are going to rectify that. Forte is not a no-brainer, even if you have to keep him active.
Here are the other backs the consensus likes more than we do this week:
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Cle||1||0|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Phi||vs. KC||3||+1|
|3||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Phi||4||+1|
|4||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||vs. Jac||2||-2|
|5||Arian Foster||Hou||at Bal||8||+3|
|6||Doug Martin||TB||at NE||5||-1|
|7||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at NYJ||9||+2|
|8||Alfred Morris||Was||vs. Det||7||-1|
|9||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Ind||11||+2|
|10||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. SD||10||0|
|11||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Oak||15||+4|
|12||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Ten||22||+10|
|13||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. StL||12||-1|
|14||Matt Forte||Chi||at Pit||6||-8|
|15||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Atl||19||+4|
|16||Reggie Bush||Det||at Was||18||+2|
|17||Stevan Ridley||NE||vs. TB||14||-3|
|18||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at NO||23||+5|
|19||Bilal Powell||NYJ||vs. Buf||32||+13|
|20||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Ari||16||-4|
|21||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. GB||26||+5|
|22||Darren McFadden||Oak||at Den||13||-9|
|23||Trent Richardson||Ind||at SF||20||-3|
|24||DeAngelo Williams||Car||vs. NYG||17||-7|
|25||Daryl Richardson||StL||at Dal||24||-1|
|26||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. GB||33||+7|
|27||Bernard Pierce||Bal||vs. Hou||25||-2|
|28||Chris Ivory||NYJ||vs. Buf||34||+6|
|29||Robert Turbin||Sea||vs. Jac||47||+18|
|30||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||at Mia||37||+7|
|31||Willis McGahee||Cle||at Min||44||+13|
|32||James Starks||GB||at Cin||29||-3|
|33||Joique Bell||Det||at Was||21||-12|
|34||Ahmad Bradshaw||Ind||at SF||35||+1|
|35||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Ari||38||+3|
|36||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Ind||55||+19|
|37||David Wilson||NYG||at Car||28||-9|
|38||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||at Min||46||+8|
|39||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Oak||40||+1|
|40||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at Sea||31||-9|
|41||Ben Tate||Hou||at Bal||30||-11|
|42||Bryce Brown||Phi||vs. KC||41||-1|
|43||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Atl||50||+7|
|44||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Ten||42||-2|
|45||Felix Jones||Pit||vs. Chi||48||+3|
|46||Da'Rel Scott||NYG||at Car||54||+8|
|47||Fred Jackson||Buf||at NYJ||36||-11|
|48||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||at Car||52||+4|
|49||Roy Helu||Was||vs. Det||58||+9|
|50||Jason Snelling||Atl||at Mia||39||-11|
|51||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Ari||45||-6|
|52||LeGarrette Blount||NE||vs. TB||62||+10|
|53||Andre Ellington||Ari||at NO||51||-2|
|54||Johnathan Franklin||GB||at Cin||71||+17|
|55||Stepfan Taylor||Ari||at NO||85||+30|
Wide Receivers: Surviving the Battle of Attrition
- Dwayne Bowe (already played Thursday night)
- Julian Edelman
- Tavon Austin
- Eddie Royal
- Josh Gordon
- Andre Johnson
- Vincent Jackson
- Steve Smith
- Reggie Wayne
- T.Y. Hilton
The wide receiver position is one riddled by injury right now. Well, maybe the players are just hurt, because if they are hurt, at least they can still play; if they are injured, they can't—a great line from The Program.
Who benefits from the DET-WAS aerial show?
The Redskins are the worst team in fantasy versus wide receivers, and Reggie Bush (knee) is not 100 percent, so you have to consider Nate Burleson among the sleeper starts. Ryan Broyles (knee) is not yet 100 percent after reconstructive knee surgery, so Burleson is hanging onto some value. He is a play against that maligned Redskins secondary, because someone has to get the targets after Calvin Johnson.
The object of Tom Brady's frustrations this week...
Danny Amendola (groin) remains out, and Rob Gronkowski (back) probably won't play, and it hurts. The Bucs have been the second-best team in fantasy against wide receivers through two weeks. It is amazing what a year and Darrelle Revis can do to your secondary. You still have to start Julian Edelman in all leagues, but perhaps the matchup is enough to sit Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson if you have viable alternatives.
Week 3 sleepers
We were skeptical of Tavon Austin proving fantasy-worthy immediately, but Sam Bradford is off to a good start and Austin is not just a high-volume slot receiver. He found the end zone twice last week, too. The Cowboys have allowed the third-most points to wide receivers in fantasy thus far, so Austin is a solid start in all leagues.
If we could only make real sense of the Rams' other targets, we would have been inclined to rank more of them higher. Here are the wide receivers we like more than five spots better than the consensus.
Week 3 duds
If not for a bad Week 1 against the Packers, the 49ers would rate as one of the scariest opponents for fantasy wide receivers. Instead, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb had huge days and the 49ers rate as the middle of the fantasy pack through two games.
Smoke and mirrors. This is a secondary to avoid still. Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey look like bad plays this week.
Here are the wide receivers we like significantly less than the consensus this week:
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||at Was||1||0|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. GB||2||0|
|3||Julio Jones||Atl||at Mia||5||+2|
|4||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. StL||3||-1|
|5||Victor Cruz||NYG||at Car||7||+2|
|6||Brandon Marshall||Chi||at Pit||6||0|
|7||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. Oak||4||-3|
|8||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Phi||16||+8|
|9||Randall Cobb||GB||at Cin||9||0|
|10||Jordy Nelson||GB||at Cin||12||+2|
|11||Pierre Garcon||Was||vs. Det||13||+2|
|12||DeSean Jackson||Phi||vs. KC||8||-4|
|13||Julian Edelman||NE||vs. TB||22||+9|
|14||Wes Welker||Den||vs. Oak||14||0|
|15||Marques Colston||NO||vs. Ari||19||+4|
|16||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||at Car||17||+1|
|17||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||at NO||15||-2|
|18||Andre Johnson||Hou||at Bal||11||-7|
|19||Vincent Jackson||TB||at NE||10||-9|
|20||Torrey Smith||Bal||vs. Hou||24||+4|
|21||Steve Johnson||Buf||at NYJ||26||+5|
|22||Eric Decker||Den||vs. Oak||25||+3|
|23||Tavon Austin||StL||at Dal||32||+9|
|24||Anquan Boldin||SF||vs. Ind||20||-4|
|25||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. Atl||21||-4|
|26||Eddie Royal||SD||at Ten||35||+9|
|27||James Jones||GB||at Cin||27||0|
|28||Josh Gordon||Cle||at Min||37||+9|
|29||Steve Smith||Car||vs. NYG||23||-6|
|30||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at Bal||33||+3|
|31||Mike Williams||TB||at NE||31||0|
|32||Reggie Wayne||Ind||at SF||18||-14|
|33||Antonio Brown||Pit||vs. Chi||28||-5|
|34||Roddy White||Atl||at Mia||39||+5|
|35||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. StL||30||-5|
|36||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||vs. TB||45||+9|
|37||Donnie Avery||KC||at Phi||65||+28|
|38||Nate Burleson||Det||at Was||48||+10|
|39||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Cle||42||+3|
|40||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. Atl||36||-4|
|41||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. SD||51||+10|
|42||Cecil Shorts||Jac||at Sea||38||-4|
|43||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||at SF||29||-14|
|44||Harry Douglas||Atl||at Mia||59||+15|
|45||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||vs. Buf||63||+18|
|46||Marlon Brown||Bal||vs. Hou||44||-2|
|47||Lance Moore||NO||vs. Ari||43||-4|
|48||Andre Roberts||Ari||at NO||46||-2|
|49||Rueben Randle||NYG||at Car||50||+1|
|50||Michael Floyd||Ari||at NO||40||-10|
|51||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. GB||64||+13|
|52||Vincent Brown||SD||at Ten||49||-3|
|53||Sidney Rice||Sea||vs. Jac||55||+2|
|54||Golden Tate||Sea||vs. Jac||47||-7|
|55||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. SD||53||-2|
|56||Chris Givens||StL||at Dal||34||-22|
|57||Austin Pettis||StL||at Dal||73||+16|
|58||Robert Woods||Buf||at NYJ||69||+11|
|59||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||vs. Chi||41||-18|
|60||Denarius Moore||Oak||at Den||57||-3|
|61||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. Ari||66||+5|
|62||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at Pit||52||-10|
|63||Brandon LaFell||Car||vs. NYG||75||+12|
|64||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Cle||62||-2|
|65||Riley Cooper||Phi||vs. KC||89||+24|
|66||Aaron Dobson||NE||vs. TB||56||-10|
|67||Rod Streater||Oak||at Den||54||-13|
|68||Greg Little||Cle||at Min||76||+8|
|69||Keenan Allen||SD||at Ten||81||+12|
|70||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at SF||70||0|
Tight Ends: Play Rob Gronkowski If He's Active
- Antonio Gates
- Jermichael Finley
- Kyle Rudolph
- Jermaine Gresham
- Dallas Clark
- Greg Olsen
- Julius Thomas
- Jared Cook
- Brandon Myers
- Brandon Pettigrew
Rob Gronkowski is doing more in practice and told the Boston Herald's Ben Volin he has progressed "big time," but insiders still rate his odds of playing at 25 percent, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. It is too bad, too, because the Buccaneers have allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends through two weeks, making Kellen Winslow look like his father and Jimmy Graham look like, well, himself or Gronk.
You should play Gronk if he plays, but that doesn't look likely enough right now. We rank him 12th below, very optimistically.
Champs just aren't the same
The Ravens were the No. 1 team in fantasy against tight ends a year ago, but that is because they had Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard as the safeties. Those two are elsewhere, and the Ravens have made Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron look like Hall of Famers the first two weeks. That bodes well for Owen Daniels, who we would rate as a must-start tight end in all leagues, even if Garrett Graham has vultured some touchdowns from him.
Graham is dealing with hip and groin issues, so you cannot trust him, particularly since his usage is circumstantial in the red zone. Even if he was 100 percent, you cannot count on those goal-line throws week to week. Daniels is the clear play against a Ravens defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends through two weeks.
Fleener will rise post-Allen injury
With Dwayne Allen (hip) going down for the season, you have to love Coby Fleener as a breakthrough player at the position. You definitely add him off the waiver wire, but you probably shouldn't activate him in a tough matchup against the 49ers defense.
Andrew Luck and Fleener are going to have the benefit of Pep Hamilton's system and play-calling, but the 49ers defense takes away what Hamilton tries to do. Plus, Trent Richardson will find his sledding tough the first week with his new team.
Week 3 sleepers
We said a week ago in this very space you needed to stay confident with Antonio Gates. He rewarded your loyalty with eight catches for 124 yards. Go back to the well again there. He is a must-start tight end every week, through thick and thin, for as long as he stays healthy.
Here are the tight ends we like considerably more than the consensus:
Week 3 duds
The Giants have given up three touchdowns to tight ends, having played Jason Witten and Julius Thomas through two weeks. While Greg Olsen is a must-start tight end, he is going to be a focus of the Giants' game plan, unlike Witten or Thomas were. Start Olsen, but don't expect a touchdown.
Here are top tight ends we like less than the others this week:
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||vs. Ari||1||0|
|2||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||at Mia||3||+1|
|3||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. StL||2||-1|
|4||Vernon Davis||SF||vs. Ind||5||+1|
|5||Antonio Gates||SD||at Ten||11||+6|
|6||Jermichael Finley||GB||at Cin||9||+3|
|7||Jordan Cameron||Cle||at Min||7||0|
|8||Owen Daniels||Hou||at Bal||10||+2|
|9||Greg Olsen||Car||vs. NYG||6||-3|
|10||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. Oak||4||-6|
|11||Kyle Rudolph||Min||vs. Cle||15||+4|
|12||Rob Gronkowski||NE||vs. TB||14||+2|
|13||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at Pit||12||-1|
|14||Jared Cook||StL||at Dal||8||-6|
|15||Brandon Myers||NYG||at Car||13||-2|
|16||Coby Fleener||Ind||at SF||16||0|
|17||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||vs. GB||23||+6|
|18||Tyler Eifert||Cin||vs. GB||17||-1|
|19||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. Atl||18||-1|
|20||Brent Celek||Phi||vs. KC||19||-1|
|21||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||vs. Buf||21||0|
|22||Dallas Clark||Bal||vs. Hou||25||+3|
|23||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at Was||20||-3|
|24||Fred Davis||Was||vs. Det||22||-2|
|25||Zach Ertz||Phi||vs. KC||35||+10|
Defense/Special Teams: Browns Punted Their Season, so Play the Vikings
- San Francisco 49ers
- Houston Texans
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- New York Jets
- Atlanta Falcons
- Chicago Bears
- New England Patriots
- St. Louis Rams
- Cleveland Browns
- Miami Dolphins
We said earlier in the week the Jets were the No. 1 streaming option for those who love to have a carousel at the position. That was before the Browns decided to sit Brandon Weeden (thumb) for Brian Hoyer and trade Trent Richardson.
The Minnesota Vikings are the most intriguing one-week play now. The Jets actually look like a defense you can trust in future weeks, though.
Saints now living the life of Ryan
You want to take your defense from the worst in the NFL to one that actually might be feared in fantasy? Just add a Ryan as a defensive coordinator. Rob Ryan has the Saints playing much better defense this year, and the error-prone Arizona Cardinals remain in the bottom 10 of fantasy against opposing fantasy defensive units.
This isn't a great week to use the Saints, but you can get value out of them whenever they are at home. This is a contender that can play some defense now.
Packers have better weeks ahead
The 49ers abused the Packers in Week 1 and the Redskins picked up a lot of yards and points in garbage time last week. This is still a Packers defense that will wind up in the top 10 among fantasy defensive units, though. You should not use it against the Cincy this week. The Bengals have been the stingiest team against opposing fantasy defenses through two weeks, because they avoid sacks, turnovers and negative plays.
Week 3 sleepers
Lost amid the slow start by the Steelers (0-2) is a defense that still is No. 1 against opposing quarterbacks and No. 3 against wide receivers in fantasy. They will also play much better against running backs than they showed Monday night.
We understand the decision to bench the Steelers defense right now, but we still rank it as starter-worthy. Here are the other units we like more than the consensus this week:
Week 3 duds
The Browns might be playing decent defense through two weeks, but the expected offensive woes with Hoyer and without Richardson might be too much to overcome. You cannot trust any Browns fantasy options, including the defense now.
Here are the other defenses we like less than the masses this week:
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||vs. Jac||1||0|
|2||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. Oak||3||+1|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||SF||vs. Ind||5||+2|
|4||Chicago Bears||Chi||at Pit||2||-2|
|5||Houston Texans||Hou||at Bal||7||+2|
|6||New England Patriots||NE||vs. TB||4||-2|
|7||Minnesota Vikings||Min||vs. Cle||6||-1|
|8||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||vs. Hou||8||0|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||vs. Chi||15||+6|
|10||New York Jets||NYJ||vs. Buf||12||+2|
|11||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||vs. GB||11||0|
|12||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||at Mia||21||+9|
|13||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. Ari||25||+12|
|14||Carolina Panthers||Car||vs. NYG||17||+3|
|15||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||vs. StL||14||-1|
|16||Green Bay Packers||GB||at Cin||19||+3|
|17||St. Louis Rams||StL||at Dal||13||-4|
|18||Cleveland Browns||Cle||at Min||10||-8|
|19||Miami Dolphins||Mia||vs. Atl||16||-3|
|20||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Ten||27||+7|
Kickers: We're Still Wary of Sebastian Janikowski
- Blair Walsh
- Justin Tucker
- Mason Crosby
- Caleb Sturgis
- Nick Novak
- Dan Bailey
- Alex Henery (already played Thursday night)
- Josh Brown
- David Akers
- Robbie Gould
If you have followed this writer through the preseason and early start to the regular season, you know we have a distaste for Sebastian Janikowski as a fantasy kicker. It was at an unhealthy level last week, particularly since a favorable matchup against the Jags netted him a league-high five field-goal attempts.
Go with a kicker who has a better quarterback, offense and matchup every week—no matter what you think of Janikowski’s leg. You will be better off in the long run.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed the most field-goal attempts—save for the Eagles, who played their third game Thursday night—through two games. Also, the Pats offense has sputtered in the red zone with Tom Brady’s rookie receiver frustrations. It sets up beautifully for Stephen Gostkowski. (Oh, great, he's saying I can play the No. 1 kicker in fantasy. Brilliant).
Kickers have not made a field goal against the Titans through two weeks, but that is because first-year kicker Randy Bullock whiffed three times last Sunday. Nick Novak has gotten off to a hot start and will kick more than a couple field goals against the Titans this week. Consider Novak among the starter-worthy kickers in fantasy now, especially amid Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offensive resurgence.
Week 3 sleepers
There are fantasy owners jumping off the Justin Tucker bandwagon. You should be jumping back on. Tucker is among the kickers we like more than the consensus this week:
Week 3 duds
You probably aren't at the stage of playing roulette with your kicker—that is a bye-week activity—but here are the kickers we like less than the consensus:
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||vs. TB||2||+1|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||vs. Oak||1||-1|
|3||Matt Bryant||Atl||at Mia||3||0|
|4||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. Cle||7||+3|
|5||Phil Dawson||SF||vs. Ind||6||+1|
|6||Garrett Hartley||NO||vs. Ari||4||-2|
|7||Justin Tucker||Bal||vs. Hou||11||+4|
|8||Greg Zuerlein||StL||at Dal||8||0|
|9||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. StL||5||-4|
|10||Mason Crosby||GB||at Cin||18||+8|
|11||Steven Hauschka||Sea||vs. Jac||9||-2|
|12||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. Atl||16||+4|
|13||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||at Den||13||0|
|14||Nick Novak||SD||at Ten||20||+6|
|15||Alex Henery||Phi||vs. KC||10||-5|
|16||Jay Feely||Ari||at NO||21||+5|
|17||Graham Gano||Car||vs. NYG||26||+9|
|18||Josh Brown||NYG||at Car||15||-3|
|19||David Akers||Det||at Was||12||-7|
|20||Robbie Gould||Chi||at Pit||17||-3|
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.