Week 3 Sit-Start Where to Put em

Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm ET

fantasy football rankings
Where to Put 'em is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.

This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson, or Ray Rice. Where to Put 'em takes a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

Put 'em In The Game: Tony Romo
After a so-so week in Week 2, fantasy owners may be questioning Romo's ability to produce. That will change this week when Romo and the Cowboys face the Buccaneers who are literally bleeding passing yards after two weeks. In fact, no other defense has given up more yards through the air so nice, double-digit fantasy points are definitely in Romo's future.
Put 'em In The Game: Ben Roethlisberger
What do you get when you combine a poor running game with the fact that Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill just embarrassed the Raiders secondary? The answer is a great fantasy day for Ben Roethlisberger who has historically had success against Oakland. Pittsburgh's familiar ground attack has been missing the first two weeks so Big Ben has shouldered the offense. The fact that Tannehill had his way with the Raiders should bolster your confidence in Roethlisberger this week.
Put 'em In The Game: Robert Griffin III
There is tremendous excitement in the air for Washington this year. RG3 has been delivering for the Redskins, the fans, and fantasy owners. Looking at the FFN Defensive Dossier, Griffin will face the Bengals who have allowed both Brandon Weeden and Joe Flacco to do well against them. Expect Griffin to continue his fantasy dominance this week - easily a WR1!
Put 'em In The Game: Joe Flacco
Having seen the movie The Replacements about a dozen times, I always want to holler "Go Falco" whenever I see Flacco on the field. This week he should be able to put up Falco-like numbers against New England. Remember - the Pats had one of the worst secondaries last year and they really haven't been challenged this year (c'mon - Jake Locker and Kevin Kolb). Expect Flacco to take several successful shots downfield.
Put 'em In The Game: Michael Bush
With Forte out, Michael Bush has been promoted from opportunistic vulture to high-end fantasy starter, particularly in PPR formats. Bush and the Bears will face the St. Louis Rams who have been embarrassed by Kevin Smith and RG3 in the first two weeks. The Rams are giving up 5 and a half yards a carry and have let opponents run into the endzone four times already. I'd be very surprised if Bush didn't see another 2-score day.
Put 'em In The Game: Ryan Mathews
Ryan Mathews could probably have played last week if he pushed it. One more week was just what the doctor ordered so we're expecting his return against Atlanta. Keep in mind that before he broke his clavicle in the first preseason game against Green Bay, Mathews was being drafted in the first round. Everyone, including FFN, expects 2012 to be his breakout year. That should start this week. Plug him into your lineups!
Put 'em In The Game: Alfred Morris
It has become fairly common knowledge that Mike Shanahan hates fantasy football - he is seemingly out to mess with us each week. If it weren't for RG3 rushing into the endzone last week, Morris would likely have been in there again like Week 1. Morris is hot right now and that means that you'll have to play him. He's clearly the main back and should see a solid fantasy day in their home opener.
Put 'em In The Game: Donald Brown
If there was a week to play Donald Brown, this is it. Andrew Luck has shown that he can move the ball through the air which keeps the run game an option, particularly this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville hasn't been putting up much of a fight when opposing RB's take all the fantasy points that they want. In fact, they're giving up the most fantasy points to opposing RB's.
Put 'em In The Game: Danny Amendola
We've been guilty of referring to Danny Amendola in the past as the poor-man's Wes Welker. What a difference a year makes! Amendola was touted as PPR gold during last year's drafts only to lose his season in Week 1. He was phenomenal last week in all formats but even more dominating in PPR formats. Don't expect 15 receptions again, but do expect him to be a focal point in that offense. Sam Bradford may struggle against the Bears D, but Amendola should see the lion's share of the targets. A few more weeks like this and we'll be calling Wes Welker the poor-man's Danny Amendola.
Put 'em In The Game: Dwayne Bowe
What happened to the New Orleans Saints? They have been a shell of the team that we had all expected the first two weeks of the season. They have been very generous in fantasy points allowed and you can bet that Dwayne Bowe is going to be getting his this week. Until the Saints D truly comes marching in, we're putting opposing skill players into our lineups.
Put 'em In The Game: Dez Bryant
The Buccaneers put pressure on Eli Manning last week for much of the first half. The second half they imploded and Eli and company had monster, monster days. Tony Romo should be able to go to the air heavy this week against the statistically terrible Bucs secondary. We don't expect Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to mimic the performance from Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, but they should put up some very attractive numbers.
Put 'em In The Game: Dennis Pitta
No other tight end saw more waiver wire activity than Dennis Pitta which shouldn't come as a surprise to us now that we can look at the stats and see that Pitta has been the most targeted TE in the NFL (24 targets in 2 games). Statistically, the Patriots are fairly tough on TE's, however they've only faced Todd Heap and Jared Cook. Flacco is obviously very comfortable with Dennis Pitta, so fantasy owners should be as well.
Put 'em In The Game: Brandon Pettigrew
After a rough start, we are expecting Matthew Stafford to finally let loose this week. The Titans have been so generous to opposing TE's after two weeks that it seems unfathomable for Stafford and Brandon Pettigrew to not have big days. This is a great matchup destined for some big points.
Put 'em In The Game: Dan Bailey
Expectations for Dan Bailey were much higher than what he has produced so far. The Cowboys shouldn't have too much difficulty moving the ball this week against the Buccaneers so Bailey should see more opportunities to score.
Put 'em In The Game: Chicago Bears
What's not to like about the Chicago Bears defense this week? Just as San Francisco did before them, the Bears held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in check. Sam Bradford is not Aaron Rodgers and the St Louis offense (with the exception of Amendola) is suspect. At home in the windy city, the Bears should bring a ton of pressure and keep the St Louis offense off the field.
Put 'em On The Bench: Peyton Manning
There are going to be plenty of other weeks to plug Peyton Manning into your lineup so resist the urge this week. Houston's Defense has been fantastic and we saw some of the shine come off Manning in Atlanta. His arm strength has been called into question after watching the Falcons pick him off three times. The Texans are pretty brutal on QB's (fewest fantasy points allowed to them) and J.J. Watt has stated publicly that he wants nothing more than a Manning sack. Expect Peyton to be pressured a lot this week making him a very risky play.
Put 'em On The Bench: Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford had a fantastic fantasy day last week against the Redskins, but don't let those numbers entice you to start him this week. As we alluded to earlier, the Bears defense did a fantastic job keeping MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in check. Expect a ton of pressure from Julius Peppers and company this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman has been the horse that just doesn't seem to ever pay off. The Bucs upgraded their receiving corp by adding Vincent Jackson but the Cowboys upgraded their secondary with the addition of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. The Cowboys have allowed an average of 12 fantasy points to opposing QB's in their first two games and Freeman doesn't have a good history against Dallas.
Put 'em On The Bench: Michael Turner
It would appear that Turner the Burner has run out of gas. He has become an after-thought in that high-powered Atlanta offense. Watching Turner on Monday night try 3 separate times to get into the endzone from one yard out was painful. Looking at the FFN Defensive Dossier, it's hard to get excited about a matchup with the Chargers who held RunDMC and CJ2K to pathetic numbers.
Put 'em On The Bench: Steven Jackson
Steven Jackson has had injury concerns over the past few years, and if the groin injury is true, that trend continues. A healthy SJax could struggle against the Bears, but a sore, injured SJax with a questionable offensive line will likely find it tough going. If you have a safer option to play this week, you should consider it.
Put 'em On The Bench: Cedric Benson
The Packers got Benson involved frequently last week enabling him to post decent fantasy numbers. I wouldn't want my week to come down to a Monday night game where Cedric Benson has to face the Seahawks in Seattle, particularly considering the fact that the Seahawks held DeMarco Murray in check last week and Benson is no Murray.
Put 'em On The Bench: Eric Decker
Like Peyton above, we think Decker will be a great fantasy play this season...just not this week. Decker is second on that team to Thomas and this week's matchup against Houston will be very difficult. The Texans haven't allowed a wide receiver to score yet, and if the Broncos do score through the air, it will likely be with Thomas or Tamme. Too much risk - too little upside this week.
Put 'em On The Bench: Vincent Jackson
The VJax/Freeman connection is clearly nothing like the Rivers/VJax connection. The rapport isn't there. The timing isn't there. Vincent Jackson may have gotten a fat payday, but he didn't get an equal boost in production. It's tough to like Jackson this week for the same reasons that it's tough to like Freeman. The Cowboys held the dynamic duo of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in check. They'll do the same to Jackson.
Put 'em On The Bench: Fred Davis
We had all expected bigger things out of Fred Davis this year, but he just isn't producing. Even if Davis is able to suit up this week (concussion), the disconnect between him and RG3 is clear. Garcon is supposed to be back, and if Davis couldn't produce in Garcon's absence, what makes us think that he'll produce with him back?
Put 'em On The Bench: Greg Olsen
Just like Fred Davis, the expectations that we had for Greg Olsen have been inconsistent with his actual production. He should have seen an uptick in targets and scoring opportunities but that hasn't materialized and we don't see that happening anytime soon. The Giants have been tough on TE's after two games and Olsen, averaging 3.5 receptions and 35 yards per game, just isn't as integral to that offense as we'd like to see.
Put 'em On The Bench: Rob Bironas
Unless a guy is able to kick consistently from more than 50 yards out, a kicker won't score you points if the offense can't get him into decent range. That's the problem with the Titans. Rob Bironas is a good kicker, but he can't put up points if Locker, Britt, and Johnson can't get him into field goal territory - a prospect that is unlikely to happen often against Detroit.
Put 'em On The Bench: Denver Broncos
We've watched the Broncos play dominating defense in Week 1 and saw flashes of brilliance against the Falcons. Future HOF'er Champ Bailey anchors a very solid secondary, but they'll have their work cut out for them when they face Houston and its very potent offense. Andre Johnson can take them long and the combination of Foster and Tate can take them short. Houston is rolling and defenses are having a terrible time stopping them.

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