NFL Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag

I came across something yesterday that described the past few weeks better than I ever could.

“Sports is not Sports sometimes.” (WSCR Sports Radio Program Director Mitch Rosen)

Hard to argue. The escape that many of us rely on in sports has become almost as depressing as the Ten o’clock news. Every breaking story has more potential to break your heart as well. Not so good to be the king right now, is it?

I still love football though. I was on my feet, yelling at the top of my lungs in someone else’s apartment while CJ Spiller ran up the sideline against the Dolphins.

I felt my heart drop to my stomach when Jay Cutler was speared in the chest by a San Francisco defender, then punched the air for every touchdown he threw right after. I look forward to doing it all over again this coming weekend, because it is still sports…It’s still an escape.

On the field, Week 2 had plenty of highlights but also a fair share of carnage. Jamaal Charles, Robert Griffin III, DeSean Jackson, AJ Green, Ryan Matthews, and Mark Ingram all suffered significant injuries. Unfortunately, some (RG3) much worse than others.

When you get 1/8 into the NFL season, you start to get a good feel for your team and who you shouldn’t be leaving on your bench *cough*Darren Sproles*. You also get a better feeling for the defenses that your players are facing week to week. Let’s open this week’s mailbag and see what you’re dealing with.

John Filantres on Facebook: “(Eddie) Lacy or (Marshawn) Lynch this week?”

I would hope that since you have both, you could start both on your roster…but I’ll humor you. As an Eddie Lacy Fantasy owner, it’s been a rough 2 weeks to start the season for me. Lacy left the season opener with a concussion, and then was left out of the game plan after the Packers found themselves trailing 21-3 to the Jets. Lacy also had a goal line touchdown robbed from him as Aaron Rodgers faked the handoff and hit Randall Cobb in the end zone instead on play-action. You obviously drafted Lacy high, and I believe you are going to get your due as he faces 3 division opponents in a row starting with Detroit. While the Lions have improved against the run from a year ago, they are still giving up rushing touchdowns…Marshawn Lynch is obviously having a much better start to the season than Lacy, evident from their Week 1 matchup. However, Lynch is dealing with back issues which forced him to exit the game early during a loss to San Diego. At home in a Super Bowl rematch against the Broncos defense warrants a start for Lynch though, if he’s healthy.

Jon Golabek on Facebook: “Andrew Hawkins, (Eric) Decker, DeSean Jackson or James Jones.”

Your two best options, D-Jax and Decker, are dealing with injuries and I would keep an eye on their statuses throughout the week…especially Jackson against the Eagles. He’s itching to get on the field against the Eagles who allowed 306 yards per game passing a year ago, and still haven’t found a way to stop it…Decker is a starting option against a Bears defense that can either be the one who opened the season losing to Buffalo, or picking off Colin Kaepernick like crazy on the road in San Francisco…Hawkins is getting his targets from Brian Hoyer, but he faces a Baltimore defense that has given up the least passing TDs so far this season….James Jones is probably your best option if neither Jackson or Decker can go. He is going to draw coverage from Darrelle Revis though in New England, and that will not be easy for his rookie quarterback on the road. I would prioritize your options 1) Jackson 2) Decker 3) Jones and 4) Hawkins.

Christi Reiter on Facebook: “Tell me about Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey…ESPN keeps encouraging me to play Martin over Rainey but I have no faith…he’s pulled a whopping 0 points so far this season!”

All-Caps will be necessary here…DON’T TRUST DOUG MARTIN. I spent the early part of Sunday watching Red Zone Channel with my friend Jamie, keeping an eye on our players every time they got chances to score. Not too far into the Noon (CDT) games, Jamie received an update on his phone that Martin was ruled out for the game later on. The Buccaneers had Martin listed as playing they day before, and then screwed fantasy owners who had him slotted to start. Even if Martin plays (reports are saying that’s unlikely now), he’s a risky one at that. Only playing 6 games last season, Martin scored just one touchdown total and averaged 88 yards from scrimmage per. He also wasn’t a factor in the passing game…If Bobby Rainey gets the nod, you may be in luck. I have a hard time seeing him denied his touches after rushing for 144 yards last week. Rainey also torched Atlanta for 163 yards last year…I like Rainey > Martin.

Craig Bucy on Facebook: “How do you feel about Welker’s return vs Golden Tate or James Jones?”

It feels set up a little too perfectly, doesn’t it? Welker is reinstated 2 weeks early from his suspension just in time for a Super Bowl rematch against the Seahawks. Welker specializes in the underneath route in Peyton Manning’s offense and that is where the Seahawks have been vulnerable as of late. It’s also the Seahawks at home, where they hardly lose and offenses quake in their boots. I think they’ll take the running game away from the Broncos and force Manning to pass, setting the targets up for Welker’s return…Outside of that, Golden Tate could benefit from what could be high scoring affair with the Packers. If Matthew Stafford isn’t throwing to Calvin Johnson, he’s throwing to Tate and may have to often…Tate may be the safer bet, but I feel better about Welker in what could be one of the better games of the weekend.

Alberto Arreola on Facebook: “Cutler or Big Ben?”

Based on matchup alone, Cutty Does It. Jay Cutler is currently tied with Peyton Manning and leading the league in touchdown passes and the New York Jets are tied for allowing the most scores through the air. Look for the Bears to run a very similar game plan to their Sunday Nighter against San Francisco on the road again. They will test the Jets’ stout run defense and take advantage of the inexperienced secondary, one that allowed the Packers to reel off 28 of the last 31 points of the game coming from behind. The Bears are also 6-1 now in primetime games a year and two weeks into Marc Trestman’s head coaching tenure….Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a brutalizing loss to the Ravens and doesn’t catch a break having to go into Carolina to face a rolling Panthers defense. While their cornerbacks can be had, the Panthers’ front seven are as good as any in football. Big reason for Roethlisberger’s woes last week were the Ravens defensive line and outside linebackers getting to him. Even without Greg Hardy, the Panthers can do the same. Roethlisberger’s saving grace is a pair of receivers, Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, who are terrific after the catch…if he can get the ball to them. Go Cutler this weekend.

Sam Kalmar on Facebook: “If AJ Green doesn’t play: Keenan Allen, Edelman or Torrey Smith? Also, Vereen, Sproles or Rashad Jennings?”

It’s amazing how fluid a player’s injury status can be. Earlier in the week, the word was AJ Green wouldn’t be back on the field until after the Bengals’ bye in Week 4. Now he’s trying to go this Sunday, but that’s neither here nor there…In the case Green does not suit up this week, I like Julian Edleman and I like him a lot. Edelman is clear and away Tom Brady’s #1 target and he’s catching almost everything thrown his way (13 catches on 15 targets). He has averaged 8 catches or more in his last 10 games. If return yards matter in your league, Edelman’s chances on special teams don’t hurt you either.

Solid options for running backs, and here is a rule of thumb when it comes to Shane Vereen: When the Patriots are playing from behind, Bill Belichick gets Vereen the ball every way possible. When the Patriots are leading, it’s all about Stevan Ridley. That will be the case playing the Raiders at home…After two weeks in Chip Kelly’s system, I don’t think you can leave Darren Sproles on your bench anymore. 26 touches, 263 yards, and 2 touchdowns in that time says enough. Washington is very good against running backs in between the tackles, but that’s not Sproles’ game nor Philadelphia’s. Sproles works wonders in space and Kelly knows how to get the ball to him, especially through the air. Washington also has problems giving up pass yards to running backs, four of which gaining 69 yards or more last season against them….Rashad Jennings is also a good option simply because he is the Giants’ ONLY reliable weapon in a hot mess offense. The Texans are relatively soft up front without Jadeveon Clowney playing, and that will likely be the only thing preventing Eli Manning Face this weekend. Go with Sproles, though, until he slows down.

Sean Liam on Facebook: Ellington vs SF, Pierce @ Cle, CJ2k vs Chi, Fred Jackson vs SD,Terrance West vs Baltimore. Pick 2″

Okay. First glance has me picking Andre Ellington first, but let’s delve into him further. Despite the bad foot, Ellington is going to get the touches until his foot comes off with no Dwyer and Carson Palmer dealing with nerve damage. Ellington is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 25-30 touches per game going into a tough matchup against the 49ers, but Demarco Murray did prove they can be had with 143 yards on the ground. Ellington also caught 8 passes and scored against them last season.

Now the question becomes, “who will get starter-like opportunities among the rest?” The Ravens have allowed 100+ combo yards to running backs in each of the first two weeks of the season, and Terrance West is going to get a chance to do the same with Ben Tate unlikely to play. I don’t know how much of an incentive this is or if it matters, but this is also a homecoming game for the rookie running back who played at Northwestern High School in Baltimore….Chris Johnson had a pretty dismal game against the Packers a week ago, and he will likely not be the number one option in the red zone as he has negative rush yards with those opportunities so far. Chris Ivory is still the Jets starter and the more reliable of the two early on, but that point could be moot if they have to play catchup against the Bears passing attack…And then there’s Bernard Pierce. Pierce drew 22 carries to Justin Forsett’s 8 in a drubbing of the Steelers a week ago and the Browns can be had on the ground, giving up 150 yards per game. In Gary Kubiak’s scheme, I like Pierce to take advantage of that stat more than your other options especially if Joe Haden is taking away passing options from Joe Flacco. Play Ellington and Pierce this weekend.

Kirk Clark on Facebook: “PPR Keenan Allen, Golden Tate, Brandon Quick. Then whoever is left over from those and throw in Zac Stacy for flex option.”

As mentioned before, I like Golden Tate against the Packers pass defense if they overcompensate covering Calvin Johnson…Keenan Allen hasn’t had a chance to put up big numbers having lined against two of the best cornerbacks in the game, Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman. The Bills secondary is letting you throw on them though, allowing 295 yards per game, and that could be Allen’s ticket…And Brian Quick proved again to be the top target for the Rams passing game, catching 7 balls on 9 targets for 74 yards. The Cowboys secondary has proven to be bit more formidable than in the past, ranking 10th against the pass. This is where I see Zac Stacy being relied on if the Rams can keep the game close. The Rams have been the best team against the pass in terms of yardage (174 per) but that’s been against Matt Cassel and Josh McCown…I feel best about Keenan Allen and Golden Tate as your options, but keep Stacy in the mix as he may be needed to trade yardage against DeMarco Murray.

Good luck everyone in Week 3. If you have more questions, feel free to Tweet them to me.

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