Fantasy Football Week 3 Waiver Watch: Thing 1 and Thing 2

Welcome back for my next installment of Thing 1 and Thing 2. If you followed my advice last week you got comparable (and in some cases better) production from your lesser-owned fantasy players. The lone exception was due to Kellen Winslow’s breakout game and Robert Royal’s disappearing act. You can’t win them all I guess but four out of five ain’t bad. As the weeks go on it will get tougher and tougher to uncover those hidden gems so staying active on your league’s waiver wire early can really pay off as the season wears on. Who should you be paying attention to as week 3 approaches? … Let’s get after it.

Thing 1: A much-hyped rookie coming out of college, this kid has loads of talent but hasn’t looked ready for the NFL early in his career.  He is currently the sexier pick in a RBBC offensive scheme but his production has yet to match his 95% ownership in ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: A career backup that has had some injury troubles but has always done the most with the chances that have been given to him.  He is currently being overlooked as a fantasy contributor but his production on the field warrants much more consideration than his 38% ownership suggests.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Knowshon Moreno and Thing 2 is Correll Buckhalter.  The running back situation in Denver will likely be fluid all season long, but don’t miss out on the cheap production you can get from a guy like Buckhalter, especially early in the season.  Moreno will finish the season with more touches, but I think Buckhalter will score more TDs for the Broncos due to his big play ability and slightly larger build.

Thing 1: This QBs upside is marginal but he does have a talented group of wide receivers and young, imaginative offensive mind calling the shots.  That said, his decision-making has always been a huge question mark and I am amazed that he is currently owned in 78% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This QB came into the season undrafted in all but the deepest of leagues but is steadily making strides toward fantasy consideration.  He does turn the ball over more than he should but early in the season his yardage and TDs are more than making up for it.  He is currently owned in just 12% of leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Kyle Orton and Thing 2 is Byron Leftwich.  Orton is the prototypical “game manager” and has the potential to post more consistent stat-lines than Leftwich, but the upside of the sluggish-armed Tampa QB is intriguing.  He has shown a good rapport with TE Kellen Winslow early in the year and a defense on the decline could have him playing a lot of catchup.  Ask Jay Cutler how that worked out for his fantasy stats last year.

Thing 1: This WR is an extremely gifted route-runner and has some of surest hands in the NFL.  Due to some off-season changes to his supporting cast, his early-season production has taken a major hit.  I still like the kid a lot, and he is becoming a good buy-low candidate, but he is currently owned in 90% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This young WR has blazing speed and his big-play potential has caused his team to try and find more opportunities to get the ball in his hands.  A big jump in his ownership percentage this past week means owners are starting to take notice so this may be your last chance to go get him.  He is currently owned in 20% of leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Eddie Royal and Thing 2 is Johnny Knox.  Royal’s loss this past off-season has been Knox’s gain in the form of Jay Cutler.  A strong-armed QB with decent accuracy, Cutler is able to fit the ball into tight spots for Knox to work those shallow crosses and sideline routes that made Royal a household name last year.  As their chemistry grows expect to see more of the speed merchant from Abilene Christian.

Thing 1: This physical WR uses his body extremely well to make tough catches in traffic.  He has a rookie signal-caller tossing him the rock and over the first two weeks of the season they have shown decent chemistry.  He has yet to get into the end zone, but this productive wideout is currently owned in 96% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This second-year WR won a preseason battle for the #2 role on his team.  Although his play was inconsistent in his rookie season, he has shown flashes of big-play potential and has developed into a good route-runner.  He won’t produce as a fantasy starter every week, but there is value here and he is owned in just 12% of leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Jerricho Cotchery and Thing 2 is Chansi Stuckey.  I like what I have seen from Stuckey and his rookie QB thus far.  Mark Sanchez’s lightning-quick feet and superb vision mean he will be able to keep plays alive longer than his aging predecessor, allowing his receivers to work toward open space.  I think Stuckey has big-time sleeper potential in an offense that looks to be much more balanced than anyone thought heading into the season.

Fantasy Focus: NFL Week 3

Week 3 fantasy football is upon us, and here we are, dancing around some tough plays this coming weekend. The match-ups are in, the staff has been polled, and we have all the predicted rankings heading into Week 3. I’ve taken the top spot (Lucky Lester) each of the first two weeks, but it’s close, and I know I have some guys out to take my crown. Once again, I’ve listed my 4 levels of plays, elites, solids, sleepers, and no-nos, I hope they help. Josh, Papa, Red Red Ryan, and I have our rankings further down the page. I hope you enjoy it all!

Elite Starters: Guys picked early that I love this week…

1. Maurice Jones Drew – I don’t think the Texans can stop MJD, ala Chris Johnson last week.
2. Andre Johnson – That being said, I’m not so sure the Jaguars can stop the Texans either, I’ll take AJ.
3. Drew Brees – He has to come back to earth one of these days, dude can’t throw 72 touchdowns. Not this week.
4. Matt Schaub – Two weeks in a row at the top? You bet.
5. Brandon Jacobs – It’s been a slow start for the beast, enter the Buccaneers as unlucky opponent in Week 3.

Solid Starters: Guys picked in middle rounds that should outplay their ranking/draft position this week…

1. Ray Rice– I think Ray will be the top scoring back on the Ravens team this week against Cleveland.
2. Ryan Grant – The Packers haven’t been dedicated to the run this year, I think that changes this week.
3. Larry Johnson– Questions surrounding Larry, I think he has a nice game this week.
4. Dwayne Bowe – Big nasty receiver going against the Eagles, and I think KC will be down – I like this pick.
5. Braylon Edwards – Drop a couple, catch a couple, he’ll have plenty of opportunities down early.

Sleeper Starters: Guys ranked low, drafted low or not at all, but I still like them this week…

1. Mario Manningham – Yeah, I like what I saw, me and every other guy.
2. David Garrard – I’d take him a lot of weeks, should be real good against Houston.
3. Trent Edwards –Both teams should have lots of snaps and score lots of points. Even in a loss I like Trent.
4.Fred Jackson– If he’s a beast one more week, does he keep the starting job when Lynch comes back?
5. Jabar Gaffney – The Raiders will take away the top guys, but Gaffney should find room. Good sleeper pick.

Sit ‘Em Son: I don’t care where they were drafted, I don’t like these guys starting this week…

1. Joseph Addai – The Cardinals are very tough against the run, shutting down two studs in Gore and MJD.
2. Cedric Benson – His style versus the Steelers is not a good match-up for his fantasy owners.
3. Willie Parker – I don’t know if Willie will have too many more big games, the Bengals are tough on the run.
4. Bernard Berrien – Is he even the #1 receiver anymore, either way, Nate Clements should shut him down.
5. Chris Johnson – Can you sit this guy? Probably not, but if you have other options I’d suggest it.

PS – Don’t start injured or suspended players, it makes you look dumb.

Week 2 Fantasy Rankings

Josh Arsenault	        Ryan Kauffman		Papa Weimer		Lucky Lester


1.Drew Brees    	1.Drew Brees		1.Peyton Manning	1.Drew Brees
2.Tom Brady     	2.Aaron Rodgers 	2.Tom Brady     	2.Matt Schaub
3.Phillip Rivers 	3.Matt Schaub     	3.Drew Brees     	3.Peyton Manning
4.Aaron Rodgers   	4.Peyton Manning	4.David Garrard 	4.Tony Romo
5.Carson Palmer  	5.Trent Edwards 	5.Aaron Rodgers		5.Tom Brady

1.Michael Turner	1.Maurice Jones-Drew	1.Adrian Peterson	1.Maurice Jones-Drew
2.Maurice Jones-Drew	2.Brandon Jacobs	2.Steve Slaton  	2.Brandon Jacobs
3.Adrian Peterson	3.Ronnie Brown  	3.Maurice Jones-Drew	3.Adrian Peterson
4.Matt Forte		4.Matt Forte    	4.Fred Jackson  	4.Matt Forte
5.Clinton Portis	5.Steven Jackson	5.Clinton Portis  	5.Ryan Grant


1.Randy Moss		1.Andre Johnson   	1.Larry Fitzgerald	1.Andre Johnson
2.Larry Fitzgerald	2.Reggie Wayne  	2.Reggie Wayne		2.Randy Moss
3.Reggie Wayne   	3.Randy Moss		3.Steve Smith (NYG)    	3.Reggie Wayne
4.Andre Johnson 	4.Greg Jennings		4.Andre Johnson 	4.Steve Smith (CAR)
5.Steve Smith (CAR)  	5.Santonio Holmes	5.Calvin Johnson	5.Jericho Cotchery


1.Chris Cooley  	1.Jeremy Shockey	1.Dallas Clark  	1.Antonio Gates
2.Tony Gonzalez		2.Tony Gonzalez		2.John Carlson  	2.Dallas Clark
3.John Carlson		3.Dustin Keller		3.Tony Gonzalez 	3.Jason Witten
4.Antonio Gates 	4.Dallas Clark  	4.Owen Daniels		4.Chris Cooley
5.Jason Witten   	5.Owen Daniels   	5.Jason Witten		5.Tony Gonzalez


1.Ravens		1.Ravens		1.Bears 		1.Ravens
2.Redskins		2.Broncos       	2.Steelers		2.Packers
3.Packers		3.Giants		3.Eagles		3.Broncos
4.Broncos		4.Bears  		4.Packers		4.Redskins
5.Vikings		5.Redskins		5.Redskins		5.Eagles


The three other guys would rather kick Lucky than rank kickers, so no dice on the K rankings!

NFL Week 3 Free Football Picks

I’ve had a good start with my free football picks this season, no doubt about it, but now it gets tougher in the NFL. After giving all you readers some impressive picks over the first two weeks, I have a bit of a reputation to uphold, and of course, I’ll do my very best. I had one or two go my way last week, but a couple did me dirty as well. I see some lines looming large in Week 3, I’ll try to get my hands on them and see what I can do. A lot of tight games that could go either way this week, I’ve felt that way and gone 5-11, and I remember feeling that way when I submitted my perfect week a few years back. I’m taking 11 dogs this week, and I’m not sure if that’s such a good thing. I’m not trying to fade the public, even though it looks like that in a lot of instances. I just happen to see some inflated lines because of early season play, and some disrespect for some teams that have played pretty well despite ending up on the wrong side of scoreboards. Week 3 could be huge – going for three big winners in a row… Good luck to all!

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Cleveland Browns (+13) @ Baltimore Ravens: This game will be closer than two touchdowns. I like what the Ravens have done, opening up their playbook for Flacco and company, but I think we’ll get a pretty good performance out of the Browns, as the first two weeks have shown you can find lots of open spaces in Baltimore’s secondary. That should help Brady Quinn and company. Plus, I see the Ravens reverting back to their grind it out style, clock destruction mode, here. That helps this big spread stay covered. We’ll see, but give me the Browns.

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7): There’s no doubt in my mind that the Giants are good, however, they played really poorly last week and won anyway. That’s a red flag for me, as always. They also haven’t stopped the run as well as in the past, another red flag against a Bucs team that runs really well. This game could go either way, but if the Bucs start out running well enough, I don’t think the Giants will take as many big chances. Both teams should run the ball a lot, taking time off the clock, and keeping this one closer to the spread. If Tampa loses they go 0-3, so there’s a lot to play for at home for the Buccos. Tough call, but I have to take the dog in this one.

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) @ St. Louis Rams: Marc Bulger is bad – the Packers put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the Rams are missing their first round pick starting offensive tackle, and they are the worst team in football despite those things. You can run against the Packers, and I see the Rams attempting to do that early and often. But the Packers lost last week, a loss here would put them at a discouraging 1-2 to start the season. More running game, more blitzing, more cowbell – the hat trick puts me on the Packers in St. Louis.

Kansas City Chiefs (+9.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have trouble with big receivers like Dwayne Bowe, just ask Marques Colston. They also don’t play as mistake free without McNabb. The Eagles heavy blitz system should actually be a benefit to Matt Cassel and his quick decision, precision passing style of quarterbacking. If the Chiefs just put the ball in Larry Johnson’s hands early and often, I think they can take full advantage of the Eagles’ porous front 7. These things and that big spread, have me on the Chiefs to cover in Philadelphia. I know the Eagles are the better team, but KC has played two pretty tight games to start the year. Todd Haley will keep these guys competitive.

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots (-4): I think the Patriots come back strong after everyone starts counting them down and out after last week’s loss. They definitely haven’t played well to start the season, and I’m not sure this defense will be right all year, but I like Tom to get better and better as the season goes forward, and Atlanta has shown me that they can’t stop your best pass/catch option, even if they know it’s coming. I think Tom and Randy have a big day, bigger than Steve Smith last week. New England knows how to walk with a chip, and I think they play much better at home this weekend.

San Francisco 49ers (+7) @ Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are good, but they are getting too much love after kicking around 2 of the bottom five teams in the league. The 49ers should be a good test. They are very physical, play mistake free football, and can bring it on both sides of the ball with an effective attack. Shaun Hill somehow manages to limit his mistakes despite locking onto receivers and generally throwing the ball into scary places. I think this game stays pretty low in the scoring department, and a 14-10 contest wouldn’t surprise me. Add that up and you get a cover – either way – I’ll take it.

Jacksonville Jaguars  @ Houston Texans (-3.5): I’ve been a huge Jaguars fan for sometime, I like their style and always think they are about to break out. In fact, I think MJD will be huge this week, but not huge enough. Last week the Texans got pretty lucky to get a late fumble, but they were by no means out of that game, and likely would have forced a kick on a 3rd and long situation. They did get the fumble, then got the field goal, then won the game. If Jacksonville can stay in this game early, it might be tough to Houston to pull away – but Houston is always just a play away from taking it to the house, and I think Jacksonville’s defense could end up on the wrong side of a couple late scores. I know Houston doesn’t play it safe late, going for the jugular when they get the chance – I like that to happen this week in a game that should see lots of offensive action.

Washington Redskins (-6.5) @ Detroit Lions: I want to take the Lions, I really do, but they are still starting Matthew Stafford, and they intend to do so all season long. Should be a long one for Detroit fans. I still like the Redskins despite them getting me a loss last week as they failed to get into the end zone. They have some dynamic players, they have to break through sooner or later. I’m betting on sooner.

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Tennessee Titans (+3) @ New York Jets: Can the Titans keeps losing games by a field goal? I don’t know, possibly yes, but it’s tough to go against them here. I like the Jets a lot, I’ve said that since my season preview came out, but the Titans come into Week 3 winless after playing pretty solid football in Weeks 1 and 2. Going 0-3 is really tough, and I usually see a little extra fight from 0-2 teams, something I’ll expect to see this week from the Titans. A little urgency if you will. The Jets are coming off a huge emotional win against the Patriots, after they invested everything into that game. I expect a little bit of a let down in Week 3, just enough to get the Titans their first win.

New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills (+6): This game is very hard for me. I know, everyone says ride the Saints, but I really don’t think they are as good as they’ve been playing – they are missing Pierre Thomas (or at least he’s not healthy) and the same can be said for Mike Bell. Reggie Bush is not a runner. Now I know everyone thinks that Brees can just throw every down and be putting up 50 points, but what has been so great about the Saints offense this season is that threat to run. They need it to be dominant. So, that being said, I’m going with the Bills. I think Buffalo has the right combination of accurate passing, and a solid rushing attack, and even a defense that is pretty solid. I think the Bills stun everyone and keep this game close. But like every Saints game, this one could get very ugly very fast.

Chicago Bears (-2) @ Seattle Seahawks: Seattle is too beat up everywhere, again. I don’t know what’s going on with the Hawks, the Northwest is a nice place, not too much action to get you injured, not too much sun to get you sunburnt, yet these guys are going down like dominoes. The Hawks do have a couple stud offensive linemen coming back, Walter and Spencer, but I still think the Bears will be too much for them. Defensively, Chicago won’t allow the Hawks to gain too much on the ground, and I’m not ready to count Matt Hasselbeck in on Sunday. This game should be close, not the blowout people are expecting, but I still think Chicago by 3 to 7 points is likely. Anything in that area is a cover, so I’ll take the Bears.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (+4.5): The Steelers’ offensive line is still brutal. The Bengals defense is a lot better than most people give them credit for. Last week’s win over Green Bay wasn’t a fluke, this team is pretty solid. Carson looked good last week, and the Steelers secondary has given up a lot of yardage early in the year, getting thrown on a lot by the Titans and Bears, of all super passing attacks. This is a great rivalry, and I like 4.5 points at home. The Steelers haven’t shown me that they are a team ready to blow opponents out, so giving up that many points on the road seems like great value to me.

Denver Broncos (+1.5) @ Oakland Raiders: I have taken the Raiders two weeks in a row, and they have set me free giving me victory after victory. The problem is, I think the Raiders get a tough assignment this week, a Broncos team that hasn’t given up much on the ground and can really take advantage of some mis-thrown balls by Mr. Russell, a guy that hasn’t completed even 40% of his passes this season. Kyle Orton doesn’t make big mistakes, and while that might be frustrating fantasy owners of guys like Eddie Royal, this isn’t a fantasy column, and I only see wins and losses. Orton can win. He can definitely win against an offense that needs freebies to stay close. The Raiders have a decent rushing attack, but the Broncos have the guys to put 8 in the box and still shut down the pass. I think they go to 3-0, as crazy as that sounds.

Miami Dolphins (+6) @ San Diego Chargers: I don’t know what’s more likely to happen, the Dolphins starting 0-3 or the Chargers falling to 1-2, at home, to a team that has to fly across the US. The Chargers defense doesn’t look like a team ready to shut down the Dolphins rushing attack. Chad Pennington doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, which should keep this game close. The Dolphins should have won last Monday Night in Indy, and while that really means nothing, you might see the ball bounce their way a little more in San Diego. This game should have lots of action, but I think it stays close, giving the value to the team getting nearly a touchdown.

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals (+2): You all know, by now, how I feel about teams that should have lost last week only to pull out a win. Enter Indianapolis. The Colts not only did this last week, but they played like piss only to beat the Jaguars by 2 in Week 1. That’s two weeks in a row where they played mediocre at best, only to be undefeated walking into Week 3. Kurt Warner was back in action last week, completing just about every single ball he threw. I know the Colts don’t give up a lot through the air, but I think Kurt and company find a way to make that work at home this week, handing the Colts loss number one on the season.

Carolina Panthers (+9) @ Dallas Cowboys: It’s Monday Night, and while I think the Cowboys are a good team, I don’t know if they are 9 point favorite good, even against a Panthers team that hasn’t looked up for the test since the season started. Dallas has looked good against the run, but everyone’s been able to throw on them, and a couple big plays from Steve Smith should cover this game right up. Monday Night always seems to have close games, and Dallas really hasn’t looked brilliant in any game this season. Taking the points!