Week 3 Fantasy Matchups

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

By Gil Brandt

(Sept. 21, 2005) -- Before we get into the fantasy matchups, here is some information to let you know where your teams stand after two weeks: Seven teams have started the season 2-0, the same number that started 2-0 in 2004. Five of the seven last year made the playoffs. Of the seven this season, four had losing records last year and one (Cincinnati) was 8-8. In the past three years, 12 teams have started 2-0 and failed to make the playoffs.

In those three years, three teams started 0-2 and made the playoffs. One of those was New England, which started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

With the competitive balance we have in the National Football League today, turnover ratio is critical. Of the 14 teams on the plus side after two weeks, none has a losing record. The Bengals lead with plus-7, followed by Chicago and Jacksonville at plus-6. That's one reason why this weekend's Cincy-Chicago game has become so big.

Earlier this season, we told you teams would try to do a better job stopping the run. After two games, the average team rushing output is down 12.2 yards per game, from 114.2 to 102. There were 21 100-yard games after two weeks last season; 12 so far in 2005.

Don't forget that this is the first week of byes in the league -- Baltimore, Detroit, Houston and Washington are all off.

Here are the fantasy matchups to watch this week:

Falcons at Bills: Before you do anything, you have to see if QB Michael Vick is going to play. If Vick doesn't play, then Matt Schaub becomes the quarterback and in Schaub's only start last year, he was 17 of 41. ... It had been very hard to run on Buffalo over the previous 17 games, but Tampa Bay ran for 191 yards last week. I like RB Warrick Dunn -- it looks like he'll get 75 percent of the carries for Atlanta this season with T.J. Duckett getting the rest. It's hard to play anyone else for Atlanta if Vick is out, but TE Alge Crumpler is the best bet. ... For Buffalo, I like RB Willis McGahee. The Falcons are 18th in the NFL against the run, and McGahee is due to break out. ... The Bills play better at home than on the road. You can pass on Atlanta, but I'm not sure that J.P. Losman is the person to do it. ... The first inclination is to not play WR Lee Evans because CB DeAngelo Hall will probably cover him, but the guy that Hall's been on each of the last two weeks -- Terrell Owens and then Darrell Jackson -- has notched over 100 yards.

Bengals at Bears: Their first meeting in Chicago since 1992. ... I like WRs Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They've combined for 26 receptions between them in two weeks. In two games, QB Carson Palmer has thrown for 5 TDs, an average of 308 yards and a 107.0 QB rating. ... You have to be careful with RB Rudi Johnson because the Bears do a good job stopping the run. ... This game pits the No. 1 team on offense versus the No. 2 team on defense. Cincinnati is averaging 32 points per game; the Bears allow 7.5 points per game. ... I like RB Thomas Jones, who has had three TDs in two games. That said, rookie RB Cedric Benson will start to becomes more of a factor -- he had three carries in Week 1, 16 last week. ... I like WR Muhsin Muhammad, maybe to a lesser extent only because he's working with a rookie QB -- even though Kyle Orton has not been bad.

Buccaneers at Packers: Tampa Bay has been playing very well -- it controlled the ball for 38 minutes versus Buffalo last week. The Bucs have lost 12 straight on the road against Green Bay, though. ... I like RB Cadillac Williams here, even though the Packers are better against run this year. ... I like Bucs WRs Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton, in that order. ... For the Packers, I like RB Ahman Green, even though it's been extremely tough to run on Tampa Bay. The Bucs are the only team that has not allowed a rushing or passing TD so far this year. They've allowed a total of only 395 yards and 16 points. That said, I think QB Brett Favre will do well.

Browns at Colts: For the Browns, I like RB Reuben Droughns. QB Trent Dilfer has played very well, but the Colts are very good defending the pass -- they've got nine sacks in two games, and the pass rush will make it tough on Dilfer. ... For the Colts, I like QB Peyton Manning, WR Marvin Harrison and RB Edgerrin James. ... Stat of the week: Manning has played a home game in Week 3 of the NFL season three times. In those three games, he's got 11 TDs, one INT and 1,049 yards. ... It's not unusual for Manning to start slow (he's got two TDs, a 53.1 completion rate and 376 yards). But the Browns are 31st overall on defense and 30th against the pass. Romeo Crennel, while at New England, had great success against Manning -- holding him to nine TDs while intercepting 10 passes in six games.

Panthers at Dolphins: Miami coach Nick Saban believes in taking out the opponents' best player, but he must decide whether that will be WR Steve Smith or RB Stephen Davis. For now, I like both in this game, although Carolina is 16th overall on offense and Miami is good on defense. ... QB Jake Delhomme usually starts poorly, and that's been the case this year, but don't forget how hot he got as the season progressed last year. ... For Miami, I like WR Chris Chambers, WR Marty Booker and TE Randy McMichael, who has 14 catches and two TDs in two games. ... QB Gus Frerotte plays much better at home than on the road, so that translates into better numbers for those guys.

Saints at Vikings: We thought RB Deuce McAllister would struggle against the Giants, and he did, but he should do well here. I also like WR Joe Horn and QB Aaron Brooks. One fly in the ointment is a possible letdown after a short week, and you don't know if and when the Saints lose some of the extra adrenaline they've been playing on. ... You have to like QB Daunte Culpepper here, but he is dead last among starting QBS -- 0 TDs, eight INTs and a 41.6 rating. He does have 12 TDs and a 119.0 rating in four games vs. New Orleans. ... The Vikings are 30th overall on defense, 32nd versus the run, but they play better at home. I like RB Michael Bennett.

Jaguars at Jets: This should be a low-scoring game, but I like Jags RB Fred Taylor and WR Jimmy Smith. It's almost unbelievable what Smith has done as a 36-year-old receiver. ... For the Jets, it's important to see if Curtis Martin plays, but he's gotten off to a much slower start than he did last year. People might be overestimating backup RB Derrick Blaylock based on last year. ... I also like WR Laveranues Coles.

Raiders at Eagles: I like WR Randy Moss and RB LaMont Jordan. I think you can run on Philadelphia, as Atlanta did. QB Kerry Collins is playing better than he gets credit for -- he's got four TDs and zero INTs. ... In saying all of that, the Eagles play very good pass defense -- they haven't allowed a TD yet, with four INTs and seven sacks. ... I like RB Brian Westbrook in this game -- he's got eight straight games with 100 yards from scrimmage. ... You have to like QB Donovan McNabb and WR Terrell Owens. Owens needs one TD catch for 100 in his career. ... The Raiders seem to be playing much better defense this year, but still rank 28th overall and 27th versus the pass.

Titans at Rams: Since 1995 when he became head coach, Jeff Fisher has the best road record in the NFL. ... I like QB Steve McNair -- in 19 career games vs. the NFC West, he's got 28 TD passes and a 15-4 record. ... Check on the health of Titans DT Albert Haynesworth -- without him, the Rams have a much better chance of running the ball. One of these days, rookie WR Brandon Jones is due to break out. ... I keep hearing that the Rams are going to run the ball more, but it hasn't happened yet. If RB Steven Jackson gets the ball more than 20 times, he should have a big day. I like QB Marc Bulger and WR Torry Holt. Isaac Bruce needs 27 receiving yards to pass Michael Irvin for 11th on the all-time list.

Cowboys at 49ers: Dallas RB Julius Jones has never carried less than 20 times a game in his career, averaging 24 carries. He hasn't had a run longer than nine yards this season, but he has become a bigger part of the passing game. This could be his breakout week. ... I like WR Keyshawn Johnson. ... I don't like anyone for the 49ers, but if you're strapped, RB Kevan Barlow or WR Arnaz Battle has a chance to do something. Look for TE Eric Johnson to be active for the first time this season.

Cardinals at Seahawks: I like RB Marcel Shipp, even though the Cards pass more than they run. Shipp is becoming a more active pass catcher. ... WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin might rotate this season in terms of who is the main target from week to week. It's most likely Fitzgerald here. ... Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is better than average at home -- he's thrown 18 TD passes in his last 10 at home. ... I like WR Darrell Jackson and RB Shaun Alexander. Arizona seems to do a good job stopping the run early in the game and then letting up a bit late. So if Alexander doesn't have big numbers early, don't worry. He's got eight career TD runs versus Arizona, his most against any team.

Patriots at Steelers: A rematch of last year's title game. I like QB Tom Brady, WR Deion Branch and TE Ben Watson. It's tough to run on Pittsburgh even though it ranks 17th against the run so far. ... Brady goes for his 50th win in 65 starts. The only QB to reach 50 wins quicker was Kenny Stabler (50 wins in 62 starts). ... For Pittsburgh, RB Willie Parker should be able to run on New England. ... QB Ben Roethlisberger has a 139.0 rating after two weeks, but he'll have a tougher time here because they'll try to confuse him, as they did last year.

Giants at Chargers: For the Giants, I like QB Eli Manning and WRs Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress. Eli has a better rating right now than his brother. Peyton really matured in his second year as the starter, and that could be the same pattern here. ... RB Tiki Barber should have a good, not great, game -- it's tough to run on San Diego. ... San Diego star RB LaDainian Tomlinson has yet to break out, and the Giants are second overall against the run. ... TE Antonio Gates will have a good game, as will WR Keenan McCardell, who has played very well against the Giants. ... WR Eric Parker is starting to become a little more of a factor.

Chiefs at Broncos: For Kansas City, I like WR Eddie Kennison, QB Trent Green and RB Larry Johnson, who has scored a TD in eight straight games. ... Green plays well against Denver -- he's passed for eight TDs and 1,233 yards in his last five against them. ... Chiefs WR Samie Parker is getting into the mix more. ... For Denver, I like WR Ashley Lelie. ... I don't understand why RB Tatum Bell isn't playing more, or why they re-signed RB Quentin Griffin. ... WR Rod Smith has 95 catches on Monday night -- most among active receivers. He also needs 55 yards to become the 23rd player to reach 10,000 receiving yards.
Extra points

If the Bengals win this weekend, they'll be 3-0. The last two times they started 3-0 they made the playoffs: 1988 (lost to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIII) and 1990 (lost to Oakland in divisional round).

Favre and Hasselbeck have passed for touchdowns in 22 and 18 consecutive home games, respectively, the best active streaks for all quarterbacks. Both play at home this weekend.

If Carnell Williams gains 100 or more yards rushing this weekend, he will become the first rookie in NFL history with three consecutive 100-yard games to start a career.

Ryan Longwell has kicked a field goal in 14 consecutive games and needs one for a club record.

Derrick Brooks has started 144 consecutive games -- the most by an active defender.

In two games this season, Dilfer has three touchdown passes of over 60 yards.

The Denver Broncos have won the last seven games they have played at home in the month of September.

The Kansas City Chiefs have won the last three Monday Night Football games they have played on the road.

Since 1990, 17 teams have started 0-2 or poorer and made the playoffs. Two (Dallas in 1993 and New England in 2001) won the Super Bowl after starting 0-2.

Kenny Stabler win 50 games in his first 62 starts as a quarterback. Tom Brady has won 49 games in 64 starts and could be the second-fastest player in NFL history to win 50 games. Danny White of the Cowboys is currently the second-fastest with 50 in 69 starts.