Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week 3 Fantasy Football Primer

We are debuting a new weekly blog post for you: the Fantasy Football Primer.  Between this and the post for the weekly NFL picks, this gives you the detail we could not possibly give you on our This Week in Fantasy Sports segment on Sports With The StatMan (Saturdays, 11am ET on BlogTalkRadio).

Ahead are our positional rankings for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and defense/special teams positions.  How is this different than any other prognostication or, for lack of a better term, “guess”?  We break them down into tiers.  We give you a projected amount of points.  Also, for a few of these players, we give a little more information.  Some we talk about on the show, some we do not.

A note on the tiers: if you are in a 10-team league and play two running backs, if you have two tailbacks listed here in the top 20, you are in good shape.  If you have three running backs and you play with a “flex” position, you may want to consider playing your third solid running back at “flex”.  If you see a free agent in the top 20, grab him and don’t look back.

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 20+ pts)
1. Drew Brees NO (vs KCY): 29.32 projected points
2. Aaron Rodgers GBY (at SEA): 24.83 ppts
3. Matthew Stafford DET (at TEN): 24.16 ppts
4. Eli Manning NYG (at CAR): 22.83 ppts (already played, 17 actual points)
5. Tom Brady NE (at BAL): 21.10 ppts

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 18-20 pts)
6. Tony Romo DAL (vs TBY): 19.96 ppts (at home against a team that gave up 500+ yards to Eli Manning last week)
7. Philip Rivers SDG (vs ATL): 19.71 ppts
8. Cam Newton CAR (vs NYG): 18.94 ppts (already played, 9 actual points)
9. Michael Vick PHL (at ARZ): 18.77 ppts (one weapon (Maclin) is out, so look for his running abilities to be on display)
10. Matt Ryan ATL (at SDG): 18.67 ppts
11. Robert Griffin III WSH (vs CIN): 18.00 ppts (if Brandon Weeden can play well against this defense, think of what Griffin can do)

TIER 3 (“MATCHUP STARTS”: Projected Points – 15-18 pts)
12. Jay Cutler CHI (vs STL): 17.66 ppts (I think he bounces back here after rock bottom performance last week against the Packers)
13. Matt Schaub HOU (at DEN): 17.34 ppts
14. Carson Palmer OAK (vs PIT): 16.38 ppts (Palmer threw for 373 yards at Miami last week)
15. Alex Smith SFO (at MIN): 16.09 ppts
16. Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF (at CLE): 16.05 ppts

TIER 4 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – 12-15 pts)
17. Andy Dalton CIN (at WSH): 14.25 ppts
18. Matt Cassel KCY (at NO): 13.28 ppts (the Saints defense have been victimized so far)
19. Ben Roethlisberger PIT (at OAK): 13.04 ppts
20. Mark Sanchez NYJ (at MIA): 12.78 ppts (for the Jets to win, Sanchez has to be a big part of it)
21. Josh Freeman TBY (at DAL): 12.36 ppts
22. Joe Flacco BAL (vs NE): 12.08 ppts (you can throw on the Patriots, but I don’t think he’ll have to)

TIER 5 (“DESPERATE STARTS”: Projected Points – <12 pts)
23. Brandon Weeden CLE (vs BUF): 11.30 ppts
24. Ryan Tannehill MIA (vs NYJ): 9.55 ppts
25. Andrew Luck IND (vs JAX): 9.39 ppts
26. Peyton Manning DEN (vs HOU): 9.14 ppts (the Texans have been murder against opposing quarterbacks so far)
27. Jake Locker TEN (vs DET): 8.76 ppts
28. Russell Wilson SEA (vs GBY): 8.34 ppts
29. Sam Bradford STL (at CHI): 8.34 ppts
30. Blaine Gabbert JAX (at IND): 8.23 ppts 

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 13+ pts)
1. Ray Rice BAL (vs NE): 19.58 ppts
2. Arian Foster HOU (at DEN): 15.88 ppts
3. Andre Brown NYG (at CAR): 15.00 ppts (already played, 20 actual points)
4. Trent Richardson CLE (vs BUF): 14.25 ppts (Richardson had a rushing and receiving score in Week 2, look for his success to continue)
5. Reggie Bush MIA (vs NYJ): 13.89 ppts (Bush is second in the NFL in rushing and he is the only way the Dolphins can beat the Jets)
6. Maurice Jones-Drew JAX (at IND): 13.68 ppts

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 10 pts)
7. Alfred Morris WSH (vs CIN): 12.83 ppts (look for a bounce-back week from Morris against the Bengals, who have allowed 25.5 points per week on RBs)
8. Michael Turner ATL (at SDG): 12.21 ppts (scored 31 fantasy points in a game against San Diego last year)
9. C.J. Spiller BUF (at CLE): 11.28 ppts
10. Marshawn Lynch SEA (vs GBY): 11.17 ppts
11. Doug Martin TBY (at DAL): 10.94 ppts
12. Darren Sproles NO (vs KCY): 10.77 ppts
13. LeSean McCoy PHL (at ARZ): 10.58 ppts (the Eagles will lean heavily on McCoy with Maclin out and Jackson questionable)
14. Willis McGahee DEN (vs HOU): 10.48 ppts

TIER 3 (“MATCHUP STARTS”: Projected Points – 7-10 pts)
15. Kevin Smith DET (at TEN): 9.41 ppts
16. Adrian Peterson MIN (vs SFO): 8.55 ppts (Peterson might get a few points catching the ball because the 49ers run defense is stout)
17. Ryan Mathews SDG (vs ATL): 8.52 ppts (Jackie Battle played well in Mathews’ place, but the Chargers will try to control the clock with Mathews)
18. Chris Johnson TEN (vs DET): 8.48 ppts
19. Donald Brown IND (vs JAX): 8.38 ppts
20. Steven Jackson STL (at CHI): 7.72 ppts (if he plays, he’ll get his yards, but he may be hampered by his groin injury)
21. Jamaal Charles KCY (at NO): 7.63 ppts
22. DeAngelo Williams CAR (vs NYG): 7.19 ppts (already played, 7 actual points)
23. Shonn Greene NYJ (at MIA): 7.16 ppts
24. Darren McFadden OAK (vs PIT): 7.09 ppts

TIER 4 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – 5-7 pts)
25. Isaac Redman PIT (at OAK): 6.88 ppts (Mendenhall is out and Dwyer is questionable, Redman had 12 points in a game against Oakland last week)
26. Mark Ingram NO (vs KCY): 6.46 ppts
27. Michael Bush CHI (vs STL): 6.40 ppts (starting for Matt Forte, he might outperform his ranking)
28. Stevan Ridley NE (at BAL): 6.31 ppts (don’t look for much for a second-year back in Baltimore in primetime)
29. Frank Gore SFO (at MIN): 6.25 ppts
30. DeMarco Murray DAL (vs TBY): 6.08 ppts
31. Ben Tate HOU (at DEN): 5.92 ppts
32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN (at WSH): 5.46 ppts

TIER 5 (“DESPERATE STARTS”: Projected Points – <5 pts)
33. Pierre Thomas NO (vs KCY): 4.17 ppts (which of the Saints RBs will be the top scorer this week: my money is on Sproles with Ingram second)
34. Peyton Hillis KCY (at NO): 4.13 ppts
35. Beanie Wells ARZ (vs PHL): 3.50 ppts (Ryan Williams is questionable, so the door may be open for Wells)
36. Jackie Battle SDG (vs ATL): 3.24 ppts (Ryan Mathews is back in the lineup, so Battle goes back to being a backup)
37. Cedric Benson GBY (at SEA): 2.55 ppts
38. Chris Ivory NO (vs KCY): 2.10 ppts
39. Mike Tolbert CAR (vs NYG): 1.76 ppts (already played, 4 actual points)
40. Ryan Williams ARZ (vs PHL): 1.70 ppts

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 12+ pts)
1. Jordy Nelson GBY (at SEA): 15.67 ppts
2. Calvin Johnson DET (at TEN): 15.23 ppts
3. Victor Cruz NYG (at CAR): 14.12 ppts (already played, 4 actual points)
4. Julio Jones ATL (at SDG): 12.83 ppts (probable with a thigh injury, but he should rebound nicely)
5. Marques Colston NO (vs KCY): 12.39 ppts (if Brees has a big day, Colston will be the top receiver)

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 8-12 pts)
6. Steve Smith CAR (vs NYG): 11.02 ppts (already played, 8 actual points)
7. Percy Harvin MIN (vs SFO): 10.27 ppts
8. Dez Bryant DAL (vs TBY): 8.43 ppts (Dallas receivers look to get hot against the Bucs)
9. Miles Austin DAL (vs TBY): 8.43 ppts
10. Dwayne Bowe KCY (at NO): 8.38 ppts (camp holdout Bowe had a 100-yard week against Buffalo last week)
11. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ (vs PHL): 8.18 ppts (the main man for the Cards in the battle of 2-0 teams against Philadelphia)
12. Brandon Marshall CHI (vs STL): 8.13 ppts
13. DeSean Jackson PHL (at ARZ): 8.13 ppts
14. Malcom Floyd SDG (vs ATL): 8.10 ppts

TIER 3 (“MATCHUP STARTS”: Projected Points – 5-8 pts)
15. Roddy White ATL (at SDG): 7.86 ppts
16. A.J. Green CIN (at WSH): 7.86 ppts
17. Michael Crabtree SFO (at MIN): 7.28 ppts (is Crabtree becoming dependable? He has started the year with 7 and 6 catches)
18. Wes Welker NE (at BAL): 7.18 ppts (Welker will be a larger focal point in the offense with Aaron Hernandez out)
19. Vincent Jackson TBY (at DAL): 6.78 ppts (it could be an aerial assault in Dallas today and Vincent Jackson has the height to go up and get Josh Freeman’s passes)
20. Andre Johnson HOU (at DEN): 6.69 ppts
21. Mike Wallace PIT (at OAK): 6.14 ppts
22. Steve Johnson BUF (at CLE): 6.00 ppts
23. Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK (vs PIT): 5.37 ppts
24. Demaryius Thomas DEN (vs HOU): 5.32 ppts
25. Antonio Brown PIT (at OAK): 5.28 ppts
26. Greg Jennings GBY (at SEA): 5.15 ppts (Jennings is questionable with a groin injury suffered in Week 1 and goes up against a surprisingly tough Seattle defense)

TIER 4 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – 3-5 pts)
27. Brandon Lloyd NE (at BAL): 4.81 ppts
28. Reggie Wayne IND (vs JAX): 4.59 ppts
29. Nate Washington TEN (vs DET): 4.58 ppts
30. Lance Moore NO (vs KCY): 3.96 ppts
31. Dexter McCluster KCY (at NO): 3.94 ppts
32. Laurent Robinson JAX (at IND): 3.61 ppts
33. Justin Blackmon JAX (at IND): 3.10 ppts
34. Denarius Moore OAK (vs PIT): 3.02 ppts

TIER 5 (“DESPERATE STARTS”: Projected Points – <3 pts)
35. Brandon LaFell CAR (vs NYG): 2.99 ppts (already played, 2 actual points)
36. Kevin Ogletree DAL (vs TBY): 2.83 ppts
37. Steve Smith STL (at CHI): 2.73 ppts
38. Torrey Smith BAL (vs NE): 2.42 ppts
39. Randy Moss SFO (at MIN): 2.25 ppts
40. Robert Meachem SDG (vs ATL): 1.96 ppts

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 16+ pts)
1. Rob Gronkowski NE (at BAL): 20.01 ppts
2. Jimmy Graham NO (vs KCY): 17.88 ppts
3. Brandon Pettigrew DET (at TEN): 16.53 ppts (Tennessee has allowed 31 points per game to opposing tight ends)

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 10-16 pts)
4. Vernon Davis SFO (at MIN): 13.95 ppts
5. Antonio Gates SDG (vs ATL): 12.78 ppts (Gates is probable, but I’m sure he wants to get back in there after Dante Rosario scored three times last week)
6. Brent Celek PHL (at ARZ): 12.38 ppts (Celek, an afterthought at fantasy draft time, is pivotal to Vick’s success)
7. Jermichael Finley GBY (at SEA): 11.25 ppts (if he can hold on to the ball, he’ll be valuable in this one)
8. Jason Witten DAL (vs TBY): 10.42 ppts
9. Fred Davis WSH (vs CIN): 10.35 ppts (Davis is off to a slow start, but Cincinnati has allowed 14.5 points per game against opposing TEs)

TIER 3 (“MATCHUP STARTS”: Projected Points – 8-10 pts)
10. Jermaine Gresham CIN (at WSH): 9.13 ppts
11. Tony Gonzalez ATL (at SDG): 9.02 ppts
12. Dennis Pitta BAL (vs NE): 8.68 ppts (Pitta is getting most of the looks in Baltimore at the tight end spot over Ed Dickson)
13. Jared Cook TEN (vs DET): 8.17 ppts
14. Coby Fleener IND (vs JAX): 8.00 ppts

TIER 4 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – 5-8 pts)
15. Martellus Bennett NYG (at CAR): 7.46 ppts (already played, 19 actual points)
16. Owen Daniels HOU (at DEN): 7.34 ppts
17. Kyle Rudolph MIN (vs SFO): 6.20 ppts
18. Scott Chandler BUF (at CLE): 5.88 ppts (25 points scored this season in the first two weeks)
19. Dallas Clark TBY (at DAL): 5.73 ppts
20. Todd Heap ARZ (vs PHL): 5.53 ppts
21. Heath Miller PIT (at OAK): 5.06 ppts

TIER 5 (“DESPERATE STARTS”: Projected Points – <5 pts)
22. Kellen Davis CHI (vs STL): 4.60 ppts
23. Anthony Fasano MIA (vs NYJ): 4.17 ppts
24. Lance Kendricks STL (at CHI): 4.16 ppts
25. Ed Dickson BAL (vs NE): 3.61 ppts
26. Jacob Tamme DEN (vs HOU): 3.44 ppts (the Texans have shut down the opposition’s passing game)
27. Greg Olsen CAR (vs NYG): 3.39 ppts (already played, 16 actual points)
28. Marcedes Lewis JAX (at IND): 3.20 ppts
29. Will Heller DET (at TEN): 3.16 ppts
30. John Carlson MIN (vs SFO): 3.09 ppts

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 10+ pts)
1. David Akers SFO (at MIN): 12.72 ppts (Akers has length, opportunity, and the 49ers will put some points up)
2. Stephen Gostkowski NE (at BAL): 11.27 ppts
3. Justin Tucker BAL (vs NE): 11.13 ppts (a 56-yarder put Tucker on the map, now he gets to prove himself in primetime)
4. Sebastian Janikowski OAK (vs PIT): 10.60 ppts

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 8-10 pts)
5. Jason Hanson DET (at TEN): 9.68 ppts
6. Shayne Graham HOU (at DEN): 9.58 ppts (Graham may benefit from the rarified air in Denver this week)
7. Dan Carpenter MIA (vs NYJ): 9.10 ppts
8. Mike Nugent CIN (at WSH): 8.85 ppts
9. Garrett Hartley NO (vs KCY): 8.71 ppts
10. Billy Cundiff WSH (vs CIN): 8.70 ppts
11. Matt Bryant ATL (at SDG): 8.68 ppts
12. Rob Bironas TEN (vs DET): 8.55 ppts
13. Nate Kaeding SDG (vs ATL): 8.19 ppts

TIER 3 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – <8 pts)
14. Alex Henery PHL (at ARZ): 7.98 ppts
15. Mason Crosby GBY (at SEA): 7.84 ppts
16. Greg Zuerlein STL (at CHI): 7.75 ppts
17. Blair Walsh MIN (vs SFO): 7.69 ppts
18. Jay Feely ARZ (vs PHL): 7.57 ppts
19. Phil Dawson CLE (vs BUF): 7.38 ppts
20. Josh Scobee JAX (at IND): 6.45 ppts

TIER 1 (“ELITE”: Projected Points – 10+ pts)
1.  Bears CHI (vs STL): 10.35 ppts

TIER 2 (“SOLID STARTS”: Projected Points – 6-10 pts)
2.  Texans HOU (at DEN): 6.97 ppts (the Texans D goes up against Manning, but pass defense is their strength)
3.  Packers GBY (at SEA): 6.77 ppts (do you think the Seahawks will put up 27 points again?)
4.  Jets NYJ (at MIA): 6.5 ppts (the defense is hungry against a team with a rookie quarterback)
5.  Giants NYG (at CAR): 6.4 ppts (already played, 20 actual points)
6.  Cardinals ARZ (vs PHL): 6.4 ppts (the Eagles have turned the ball over 9 times in the first 2 games)
7.  Browns CLE (vs BUF): 6.23 ppts
8.  Lions DET (at TEN): 6.16 ppts
9.  Eagles PHL (at ARZ): 6.15 ppts
10.  Ravens BAL (vs NE): 6.02 ppts

TIER 3 (“MATCHUP STARTS”: Projected Points – 5-6 pts)
11.  Falcons ATL (at SDG): 5.95 ppts
12.  Buccaneers TBY (at DAL): 5.81 ppts
13.  49ers SFO (at MIN): 5.76 ppts
14.  Bills BUF (at CLE): 5.68 ppts
15.  Steelers PIT (at OAK): 5.63 ppts (the Steelers shut the Jets down in the second half showing a good offense is the best defense)
16.  Patriots NE (at BAL): 5.56 ppts
17.  Seahawks SEA (vs GBY): 5.19 ppts

TIER 4 (“FRINGE STARTS”: Projected Points – <5 pts)
18.  Chiefs KCY (at NO): 4.85 ppts
19.  Broncos DEN (vs HOU): 4.83 ppts
20.  Redskins WSH (vs CIN): 4.63 ppts

OUT (0% of playing)
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG (neck) (Replacement: Andre Brown)
Matt Forte CHI (ankle) (Replacement: Michael Bush)
Fred Jackson BUF (knee) (Replacement: C.J. Spiller)
Jonathan Stewart CAR (ankle) (Replacement: DeAngelo Williams)
Rashard Mendenhall PIT (knee) (Replacement: Isaac Redman)
Jahvid Best DET (PUP, concussion) (Replacement: Kevin Smith)

Jeremy Maclin PHL (hip) (Replacement: Damaris Johnson)
Hakeem Nicks NYG (foot) (Replacement: Ramses Barden)
Jerome Simpson MIN (suspension, eligible to return in Week 4) (Replacement: Michael Jenkins)

Dustin Keller NYJ (hamstring) – originally ranked #13 among TE (Replacement: Jeff Cumberland)
Aaron Hernandez NE (ankle) (Replacement: Michael Hoomanawanui)

DOUBTFUL (25% of playing)
Rashad Jennings JAX (knee) (Backup to Maurice Jones-Drew)

Pierre Garcon WSH (foot) (Replacement: Leonard Hankerson)

QUESTIONABLE (50% of playing)
Mike Goodson OAK (hamstring)
Steven Jackson STL (groin) (Possible replacement: Kyle Richardson)
Brandon Jacobs SFO (knee)
Taiwan Jones OAK (ribs)
James Starks GBY (toe)
Shane Vereen NE (foot)

Doug Baldwin SEA (shoulder)
Marques Colston NO (foot)
Greg Jennings GBY (groin)
Brandon Lloyd NE (thigh)
Dexter McCluster KCY (shoulder)

Sebastian Janikowski OAK (left groin)

PROBABLE (75% of playing)
QB: Drew Brees NO (ankle), Blaine Gabbert JAX (glute), Mark Sanchez NYJ (lower back)
RB: Jamaal Charles KCY (knee), Jonathan Dwyer PIT (toe), Marshawn Lynch SEA (back), Trent Richardson CLE (knee), Bernard Scott CIN (hand), Daniel Thomas MIA (concussion), Beanie Wells ARZ (knee), Ryan Williams ARZ (knee)
WR: Miles Austin DAL (hamstring), Randall Cobb GBY (hamstring), Austin Collie IND (head), DeSean Jackson PHL (hamstring), Calvin Johnson DET (ankle), Julio Jones ATL (thigh), Greg Little CLE (back), Sidney Rice SEA (rest), Emmanuel Sanders PIT (knee), Mike Wallace PIT (groin), Roddy White ATL (knee)
TE: Antonio Gates SDG (ribs), Heath Miller PIT (abdomen), Dante Rosario SDG (calf), Jason Witten DAL (abdomen)

NOTES: Are you serious?  Sidney Rice is on the injury report for “rest”?  A little more important are the minor nagging injuries to Miles Austin and Antonio Gates.  Also, is Mark Sanchez’s lower back going to open a door for Tim Tebow to step in for the Jets?  Both starting wide receivers in Atlanta are probable and the top two running backs in Arizona are also probable.

(number before player name is this week’s positional rankings)
START: #18 Matt Cassel KCY (at NO): Owned in 33%/Starting in 5% of leagues
SIT: #26 Peyton Manning DEN (vs HOU): 100 O%/60 St% (CBS)

START: #15 Kevin Smith DET (at TEN): 98 O%/51 St% (CBS)
START: #25 Isaac Redman PIT (at OAK): 82 O%/24 St% (CBS)
SIT: #24 Darren McFadden OAK (vs PIT): 100 O%/86 St% (CBS)
SIT: #32 BenJarvis Green-Ellis CIN (at WSH): 100 O%/85 St% (CBS)

START: #17 Michael Crabtree SFO (at MIN): 94 O%/44 St% (CBS)
START: #29 Nate Washington TEN (vs DET): 82 O%/12 St% (CBS)
SIT: NR Danny Amendola STL (at CHI): 100 O%/60 St% (CBS)
SIT: NR Eric Decker DEN (vs HOU): 100 O%/59 St% (CBS)

START: #9 Fred Davis WSH (vs CIN): 78 O%/27 St% (CBS)
SIT: NR Jacob Tamme DEN (vs HOU): 93 O%/43 St% (CBS)

(number before player name is this week’s positional rankings)

Our Week 3 Bargain Bin has a few interesting choices and though all players in the NFL were evaluated, all players this week are on AFC teams.

#16 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF (at CLE): Owned in 63%/Starting in 9% of leagues
#20 Mark Sanchez NYJ (at MIA): 28 O%/2 St% (CBS)

#3 Andre Brown NYG (at CAR): 88 O%/71 St% (CBS)
#38 Jackie Battle SDG (vs ATL): 32 O%/5 St% (CBS)

#32 Laurent Robinson JAX (at IND): 44 O%/5 St% (CBS)
NR Andrew Hawkins CIN (at WSH): 45 O%/20 St% (CBS)

#13 Dustin Keller NYJ (at MIA): 41 O%/1 St% (CBS)
#19 Scott Chandler BUF (at CLE): 35 O%/20 St% (CBS)

#7 Dan Carpenter MIA (vs NYJ): 22 O%/6 St% (CBS)

#7 Browns CLE (vs BUF): 14 O%/6 St% (CBS)

O% - Percentage that player is owned in leagues
St% - Percentage that player is started in league lineups

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