BITTER BIRDS
NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings
By James Worthington Week 2 was one of many injuries. Numerous running backs went down, some for the season. Owners everywhere are scrambling to find replacements for their fallen stars. There are also some major producers from last season off to slow starts this season, some being more a cause for concern than others. Week 3 will without a doubt be very interesting! Here are my positional rankings, which do not include players from the Thursday Night game. Quarterbacks 1. Cam Newton, Carolina 2. Drew Brees, New Orleans 3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis 4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay 5. Carson Palmer, Arizona 6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta 7. Philip Rivers, San Diego 8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh 9. Eli Manning, New York Giants 10. Matthew Stafford, Detroit 11. Ryan Tannehill, Miami 12. Russell Wilson, Seattle 13. Derek Carr, Oakland 14. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville 15. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay 16. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee 17. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets 18. Kirk Cousins, Washington 19. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo 20. Joe Flacco, Baltimore 21. Dak Prescott, Dallas 22. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati 23. Alex Smith, Kansas City 24. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia 25. Brian Hoyer, Chicago Cam Newton was fantasy’s No. 1 scorer a week ago, and even against a strong Vikings defense, he tops this week’s quarterback rankings. The following three quarterbacks, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers all had bad performances for their measures in Week 2, but I expect all three to bounce back. Each signal-caller gets a good matchup in week three,so start them with confidence. I expected huge games from Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford a week ago, and both disappointed. I still say start them, but my expectations are tempered given their matchups. I like Manning vs. Washington better, but Green Bay (Stafford’s opponent) has allowed yards through the air this season. Given their offenses, both should be started, but it is worth noting their history of inconsistency. Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all draw difficult matchups this week, so consider benching them for a more favorable matchup. Carr and Bortles are steady producers, but a player like Ryan Tannehill is most likely available in your league and gets a much more fantasy-friendly matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Running Backs 1. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh 2. David Johnson, Arizona 3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas 4. CJ Anderson, Denver 5. Matt Forte, New York Jets 6. Melvin Gordon, San Diego 7. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles 8. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee 9. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay 10. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta 11. Mark Ingram, New Orleans 12. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo 13. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland 14. Frank Gore, Indianapolis 15. Latavius Murray, Oakland 16. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants 17. Spencer Ware, Kansas City 18. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay 19. Jeremy Langford, Chicago 20. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia 21. Jay Ajayi, Miami 22. Theo Riddick, Detroit 23. Christine Michael, Seattle 24. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 25. Matt Jones, Washington 26. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati 27. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta 28. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina 29. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota 30. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville 31. Justin Forsett, Baltimore 32. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati 33. Thomas Rawls, Seattle 34. Matt Asiata, Minnesota 35. Chris Ivory, Jacksonville 36. Derrick Henry, Tennessee 37. Terrance West, Baltimore 38. Fozzy Whittaker, Carolina 39. Shane Vereen, New York Giants 40. Kenyan Drake, Miami 41. Duke Johnson Jr., Cleveland 42. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia 43. Dwayne Washington, Detroit 44. James Starks, Green Bay 45. Chris Thompson, Washington 46. Alfred Morris, Dallas 47. DeAndre Washington, Oakland 48. Jordan Howard, Chicago 49. Travaris Cadet, New Orleans 50. Devontae Booker, Denver DeAngelo Williams tops my running backs rankings for Week 3. He is an absolute monster when he plays, but sadly for Williams owners, Le'Veon Bell returns in week four. Enjoy the 33-year-old veteran’s final week of production, for now at least. Keep him stashed on your bench, because if Bell goes down, Williams is instantly a top-five play. Matt Forte had a huge game against the Bills last Thursday, and his usage rates are far higher than initially expected. While it’s likely the Jets begin using Bilal Powell more in order to preserve Forte, ride this hot streak as long as it goes. What a shame for Danny Woodhead owners, as the PPR stud’s season ended in Week 2. However, are we finally seeing sustained success for 2015 first round pick Melvin Gordon? I believe so, and with a favorable matchup, he is a RB1. Another big Week 2 performer, Isaiah Crowell, draws Miami on Sunday! Quietly, Crowell has become the workhorse back in Cleveland, with Duke Johnson Jr. spelling him in passing situations. Crowell should be started in all formats. The same can be said for Frank Gore. Although he is old and the Colts love to throw the ball, Gore gets a good matchup with San Diego, which should allow for plenty of goalline opportunities. With Jamaal Charles doubtful, Spencer Ware gets an intriguing matchup against the Jets. The Jets have struggled against the pass, but have been fairly solid against the run, so it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs use their dual-threat running back. He will garner plenty of touches, and is a solid RB2 in week three. Jay Ajayi has been announced as the starter for the Dolphins against the Browns. Though Kenyan Drake will get some touches, Ajayi is a solid RB3/Flex play with the potential for much more. Something to note: although Fozzy Whittaker saw most of the carries after Jonathan Stewart got injured, it will be Cameron Artis-Payne who gets the start for Carolina against Minnesota. Whittaker figures to get some touches, but last season when Stewart went down, Artis-Payne was the major beneficiary. Wide Receivers 1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh 2. Julio Jones, Atlanta 3. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants 4. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville 5. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans 6. Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago 7. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay 8. Dez Bryant, Dallas 9. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay 10. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina 11. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets 12. Amari Cooper, Oakland 13. AJ Green, Cincinnati 14. Travis Benjamin, San Diego 15. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona 16. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis 17. Jarvis Landry, Miami 18. Marvin Jones, Detroit 19. Eric Decker, New York Jets 20. Demaryius Thomas, Denver 21. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia 22. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota 23. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City 24. Doug Baldwin, Seattle 25. Willie Snead, New Orleans 26. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo 27. Randall Cobb, Green Bay 28. Michael Crabtree, Oakland 29. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants 30. Golden Tate, Detroit 31. DeVante Parker, Miami 32. Michael Floyd, Arizona 33. Tyrell Williams, San Diego 34. Desean Jackson, Washington 35. Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee 36. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver 37. Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis 38. Mike Wallace, Baltimore 39. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville 40. Victor Cruz, New York Giants 41. John Brown, Arizona 42. Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta 43. Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets 44. Terrell Pryor, Cleveland 45. Tyler Lockett, Seattle 46. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay 47. Kevin White, Chicago 48. Tavon Austin, Los Angeles 49. Torrey Smith, San Francisco 50. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Again the top three are all the same, with Antonio Brown leading the way against a decent Eagles defense. However, Philadelphia has given up some big plays in large part due to the inexperience of its corners, so expect Brown to rebound after a relatively quiet week two. Speaking of the big plays Philly gave up, I expect Alshon Jeffrey to have another solid game in week three. I actually like him better with Brian Hoyer leading the charge, and expect Jeffrey to finally find the end zone. Kelvin Benjamin has been an absolute beast since returning to the field, supporting reports that the third year wide-out looked better than ever in training camp. With Donte Moncrief being out 4-6 weeks, speedy men T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett should see more targets from Andrew Luck. This situation is worth monitoring in case Quan Bray or Chester Rogers are seen to be better fits alongside Hilton. Travis Benjamin looks to be the go-to-guy in San Diego following Keenan Allen’s injury. With Woodhead going down for the season, Benjamin is a WR2 and Tyrell Williams is worth a flex play. Sterling Shepard continued his good start to the season, being heavily involved in the Giants passing game. The Giants almost always lineup in three-receiver sets, and Shepard is beginning to look like a great flex play on a weekly basis with the potential for even better stats. Another young, talented receiver, DeVante Parker had a huge game in week two. He got just as many targets (13) as teammate Jarvis Landry, and piled on 106 yards. While I want to a larger sample size, Parker is a player who could easily breakout this season. For PPR players, if Quincy Enunwa and/or Tajae Sharpe are not owned in your league, grab them now! Tight Ends 1. Jordan Reed, Washington 2. Greg Olsen, Carolina 3. Delanie Walker, Tennessee 4. Travis Kelce, Kansas City 5. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville 6. Antonio Gates, San Diego 7. Jason Witten, Dallas 8. Gary Barnidge, Cleveland 9. Eric Ebron, Detroit 10. Jacob Tamme, Atlanta 11. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore 12. Coby Fleener, New Orleans 13. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis 14. Jesse James, Pittsburgh 15. Clive Walford, Oakland 16. Zach Miller, Chicago 17. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota 18. Charles Clay, Buffalo 19. Trey Burton, Philadelphia 20. Jimmy Graham, Seattle 21. Jared Cook, Green Bay 22. Vance McDonald, San Francisco 23. Jordan Cameron, Miami 24. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis 25. Virgil Green, Denver The top three here are no brainers, as these three have been the only solid tight end producers in the early weeks. Kelce gets the fourth spot, but needs to start finding the end-zone to make his owners happy. Tight end has been extremely shaky to start the 2016 season, and I expect this trend to continue. Antonio Gates should see more targets with both Allen and Woodhead out for the season. San Diego only has so many receivers it can throw the ball to. Gary Barnidge has been a major disappointment for fantasy owners thus far. While many thought he would regress, few expected it to be to this extent. With Corey Coleman injured, maybe Barnidge will see an uptick in targets which should lead to better performances. Clive Walford scored last week and made many owners happy, as it was a late touchdown and may have effected some outcomes! He along with Jesse James are sneaky plays this week. DSTs 1. Seattle 2. Denver 3. Carolina 4. Arizona 5. Cincinnati 6. New York Jets 7. Miami 8. Pittsburgh 9. Green Bay 10. Tampa Bay 11. Baltimore 12. Kansas City 13. Minnesota 14. Los Angeles 15. New York Giants 16. Oakland 17. Jacksonville 18. Philadelphia 19. San Francisco 20. Dallas Seattle, Denver, Carolina, and Arizona are defenses that should be started regardless of matchup. These are elite units, and this week they take the top four DST spots. Rounding out the top five is a talented Cincinnati defense. They get the Broncos at home this week, and with Trevor Siemian at quarterback, the Bengals should be fine in week three. Miami’s defense, although notusually a good play, is a top ten DST this week because of its matchup. Any team facing the dreadful Browns is usually going to be high on the fantasy radar. Tampa Bay and Baltimore are sneaky plays. Kickers 1. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis 2. Dan Bailey, Dallas 3. Justin Tucker, Baltimore 4. Mason Crosby, Green Bay 5. Steven Hauschka, Seattle 6. John Brown, New York Giants 7. Matt Bryant, Atlanta 8. Graham Gano, Carolina 9. Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona 10. Cairo Santos, Kansas City 11. Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh 12. Blair Walsh, Minnesota 13. Matt Prater, Detroit 14. Brandon McManus, Denver 15. Jason Myers, Jacksonville 16. Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay 17. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland 18. Josh Lambo, San Diego 19. Will Lutz, New Orleans 20. Dustin Hopkins, Washington *Insert Kicker analysis here.* No seriously, I have nothing more to say. That wraps up my week three fantasy football rankings, good luck to all the teams this week! Hope this helps you win your games!