Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: The Injury Bug Bites

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It shouldn’t surprise any of us. In a game as violent as football, injuries are bound to happen. Top-5 pick Jamaal Charles is out for season. Miles Austin is out until October 16th. Let’s not even get started on Peyton Manning.  Much like their professional counterparts, fantasy owners need to find ways to fill the void left by their injured players. Included in this week’s rankings, I’ll list some guys that could step in for your injured star this week.

Quarterbacks

Could Impress: Cam Newton. Last week I told you to wait and see how the rookie would fair against the usually strong Packers defense. Well, the returns are in, and apparently Newton is a legitimate fantasy quarterback. Look beyond the four turnovers or his team’s two losses. Newton is the #2 player in all of fantasy football. I did not think I’d ever type that sentence, but it’s true. He’s a rookie, and will make mistakes, but ride the wave while it’s high.

Could Disappoint: Eli Manning. Philadelphia has one of the best secondaries in the game, and Manning has thrown 16 interceptions against the Eagles in the last 14 games. With his receiving corps dinged up, Manning will press to make plays. That’s never a good thing.

Keep an eye on: Jason Campbell. With his best three receivers down, Campbell put up 323 yards and two scores against the Bills last week. He has a touch matchup with the Jets this week, but has weak defenses the four following weeks. Keep him stashed on your bench and reap the rewards if a spot start is needed.

Injury Replacement: Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals have to be happy with the early returns on Kolb thus far. He’s averaging 275 yards and two scores a game. Seattle’s defense doesn’t scare anyone. If you need a spot start this week, Kolb could be your guy.

 

QB Rankings

1. Tom Brady, NE (@ Buffalo)

2. Philip Rivers, SD (vs. Kansas City)

3. Drew Brees, NO (vs. Houston)

4. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. Chicago)

5. Matthew Stafford, DET (@ Minnesota)

6. Matt Schaub, HOU (@ New Orleans)

7. Michael Vick, PHI (vs. New York Giants)

8. Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (vs. New England)

9. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (@ Indianapolis)

10. Cam Newton, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

11. Josh Freeman, TB (vs. Atlanta)

12. Matt Ryan, ATL (@ Tampa Bay)

13. Tony Romo, DAL (vs. Washington)

14. Rex Grossman, WAS (@ Dallas)

15. Kevin Kolb, AZ (@ Seattle)

16. Joe Flacco, BAL (@ St. Louis)

17. Sam Bradford, STL (vs. Baltimore)

18. Jay Cutler, CHI (vs. Green Bay)

19. Eli Manning, NYG (@ Philadelphia)

20. Matt Hasselbeck, TEN (vs. Denver)

21. Kyle Orton, DEN (@ Tennessee)

22. Mark Sanchez, NYJ (@ Oakland)

23. Colt McCoy, CLE (vs. Miami)

24. Kerry Collins, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

25. Blaine Gabbert, JAX (@ Carolina)

 

 

Starks could see a bigger role moving forward

Running Backs

Could Impress: Ben Tate. Despite the return of Arian Foster, it was Tate who carried the bulk of the load against Miami last week. Foster’s hamstring injury flared up again last week and the Texans are likely to air on the side of caution. Tate has two straight games over 100 yards rushing, and should be a key part of the game plan against the Saints.

Could Disappoint: DeAngelo Williams. It’s not surprising that the rise of Cam Newton has coincided with the fall of DeAngelo Williams. In two games, he’s gotten just six fantasy points, and an abysmal 17 carries. Jonathan Stewart is a better fit for the pass-happy offense. At this point, Williams should be sitting on your bench.

Keep an eye on: Dexter McCluster. Thomas Jones is better suited to pick up the tough carries in KC, but McCluster has a skill set closer to Jamaal Charles.  Expect the Chiefs to line up McCluster in many different spots (the backfield, slot, out wide). In a PPR league, he’s a great flex fit.

Injury Replacement: James Starks. Ryan Grant might be the starter, but Starks is the top rusher in Green Bay’s backfield. Coach Mike McCarthy said this week that the team needs to commit to the run.

 

RB Rankings

1. Adrian Peterson, MIN (vs. Detroit)

2. Ray Rice, BAL (@ St. Louis)

3. LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs. New York Giants)

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX (@ Carolina)

5. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (@ Indianapolis)

6. Frank Gore, SF (@ Cincinnati)

7. Chris Johnson, TEN (vs. Denver)

8. Darren McFadden, OAK (vs. New York Jets)

9. Matt Forte, CHI (vs. Green Bay)

10. Michael Turner, ATL (@ Tampa Bay)

11. Beanie Wells, AZ (@ Seattle)

12. Peyton Hillis, CLE (vs. Miami)

13. Ben Tate, HOU (@ New Orleans)

14. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (@ Philadelphia)

15. Jahvid Best, DET (@ Minnesota)

16. LeGarrette Blount, TB (vs. Atlanta)

17. Fred Jackson, BUF (vs. New England)

18. Ryan Mathews, SD (vs. Kansas City)

19. Tim Hightower, WAS (@ Dallas)

20. Steven Jackson, STL (vs. Baltimore)

21. James Starks, GB (@ Chicago)

22. Cedric Benson, CIN (vs. San Francisco)

23. Shonn Greene, NYJ (@ Oakland)

24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE (@ Buffalo)

25. Daniel Thomas, MIA (@ Cleveland)

26. Mike Tolbert, SD (vs. Kansas City)

27. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

28. Willis McGahee, DEN (@ Tennessee)

29. Thomas Jones, KC (@ San Diego)

30. Felix Jones, DAL (vs. Washington)

31. Mark Ingram, NO (vs. Houston)

32. Dexter McCluster, KC (@ San Diego)

33. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

34. Pierre Thomas, NO (vs. Houston)

35. Brandon Jacobs, NYG (@ Philadelphia)

36. Reggie Bush, MIA (@ Cleveland)

37. Marshawn Lynch, SEA (vs. Arizona)

38. Danny Woodhead, NE (@ Buffalo)

39. Joseph Addai, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

40. Ryan Grant, GB (@ Chicago)

41. Roy Helu, WAS (@ Dallas)

42. C.J. Spiller, BUF (vs. New England)

43. Knowshon Moreno, DEN (@ Tennessee)

44. Delone Carter, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

45. Michael Bush, OAK (vs. New York Jets)

46. Cadillac Williams, STL (vs. Baltimore)

47. DeMarco Murray, DAL (vs. Washington)

48. LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ (@ Oakland)

49. Montario Hardesty, CLE (vs. Miami)

50. Arian Foster, HOU (@ New Orleans)

 

Bowe should benefit from KC injuries

Wide Receivers

Could Impress: Dwayne Bowe. With Charles out, Bowe is the last dangerous option left on Kansas City’s offense. The Chiefs will do everything possible to get Bowe the ball, as evidenced by his team high eight targets last week. KC will likely be playing from behind against the Chargers, meaning Matt Cassel and the offense will be forced to pass. Expect good things from Bowe.

Could Disappoint: Julio Jones. Matt Ryan is looking his way, but Jones gave Matty Ice little to work with against.  Julio was targeted eight times, catching just two balls for 29 yards. At times, the rookie looked overmatched against the physical Philadelphia corners. Tampa Bay is 12th in the league in point allowed to wide receivers (just 19 a game), and Ronde Barber could give him fits.

Keep an eye on: Eric Decker. Brandon Lloyd could miss another week and we saw what Decker did filling in for Lloyd last week (5 catches, 113 yards, 2 TD). Even if Lloyd is able to go, the former Gopher has been making plays in the return game. He certainly should be owned in all fantasy leagues.

Injury Replacement: David Nelson. New England’s secondary has been torched the first two weeks, and the Bills’ pass game has been clicking. Nelson was targeted 13 times last week, catching 10 of those balls. He’s a quality option if you need a quick replacement for Brandon Lloyd or Miles Austin.

 

WR Rankings

1. Andre Johnson, HOU (@ New Orleans)

2. Vincent Jackson, SD (vs. Kansas City)

3. Mike Wallace, PIT (@ Indianapolis)

4. Calvin Johnson, DET (@ Minnesota)

5. Larry Fitzgerald, AZ (@ Seattle)

6. Kenny Britt, TEN (vs. Denver)

7. Greg Jennings, GB (@ Chicago)

8. Roddy White, ATL (@ Tampa Bay)

9. Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. Washington)

10. Brandon Marshall, MIA (@ Cleveland)

11. Steve Smith, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

12. Stevie Johnson, BUF (vs. New England)

13. Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@ Philadelphia)

14. DeSean Jackson, PHI (vs. New York Giants)

15. Wes Welker, NE (@ Buffalo)

16. Jeremy Maclin, PHI (vs. New York Giants)

17. Reggie Wayne, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

18. Santana Moss, WAS (@ Dallas)

19. Mike Williams, TB (vs. Atlanta)

20. Santonio Holmes, NYJ (@ Oakland)

21. Dwayne Bowe, KC (@ San Diego)

22. Percy Harvin, MIN (vs. .Detroit)

23. Anquan Boldin, BAL (@ St. Louis)

24. Deion Branch, NE (@ Buffalo)

25. Jordy Nelson, GB (@ Chicago)

26. Mike Thomas, JAX (@ Carolina)

27. Devery Henderson, NO (vs. Houston)

28. A.J. Green, CIN (vs. San Francisco)

29. Robert Meachem, NO (vs. Houston)

30. Nate Burleson, DET (@ Minnesota)

31. Julio Jones, ATL (@ Tampa Bay)

32. Brandon Lloyd, DEN (@ Tennessee)

33. Malcom Floyd, SD (vs. Kansas City)

34. Eric Decker, DEN (@ Tennessee)

35. Johnny Knox, CHI (vs. Green Bay)

36. Mario Manningham, NYG (@ Philadelphia)

37. David Nelson, BUF (vs. New England)

38. Plaxico Burress, NYJ (@ Oakland)

39. Chad Ochocinco, NE (@ Buffalo)

40. Mike Sims-Walker, STL (vs. Baltimore)

41. Denarius Moore, OAK (vs. New York Jets)

42. Davone Bess, MIA (@ Cleveland)

43. Hines Ward, PIT (@ Indianapolis)

44. Lance Moore, NO (vs. Houston)

45. Jerome Simpson, CIN (vs. San Francisco)

46. Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE (vs. Miami)

47. Nate Washington, TEN (vs. Denver)

48. Austin Collie, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

49. Jabar Gaffney, WAS (@ Dallas)

50. James Jones, GB (@ Chicago)

 

Witten is this week's top TE

Tight Ends

Could Impress: Rob Gronkowski. The Gronk was splitting time with Aaron Hernandez the last two weeks, but still was able to put up 10 catches, 172 yards and 3 TDs. Buffalo was the league’s worst team at defending tight ends last year, and the Gronk’s competition for catches, Hernandez,  will likely be out for Sunday’s game.

Could Disappoint: Brandon Pettigrew. While the Lions offense is firing with a healthy Matthew Stafford, his propensity to fire deep is cutting into Pettigrew’s numbers. The Oklahoma State product has just five catches in the first two games, and put up a big goose egg last week.

Keep an eye on: Marcedes Lewis. Surprisingly, one of the top tight ends last year is on a number of waiver wires. Clearly his two catches in two games have a lot to do with that. Still, with the Jags inserting Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, expect Lewis’ numbers to rise. He could be a nice waiver wire pickup.

Injury Replacement: Evan Moore. He splits time with Benjamin Watson, but it’s Moore who gets the looks around the goal line. He’s scored in the first two weeks, and if you need someone to spot start, take a chance on his red zone upside.

 

TE Rankings

1. Jason Witten, DAL (vs. Washington)

2. Rob Gronkowski, NE (@ Buffalo)

3. Jermichael Finley, GB (@ Chicago)

4. Antonio Gates, SD (vs. Kansas City)

5. Vernon Davis, SF (@ Cincinnati)

6. Jimmy Graham, NO (vs. Houston)

7. Dallas Clark, IND (vs. Pittsburgh)

8. Fred Davis, WAS (@ Dallas)

9. Owen Daniels, HOU (@ New Orleans)

10. Kellen Winslow, TB (vs. Atlanta)

11. Dustin Keller, NYJ (@ Oakland)

12. Tony Gonzalez, ATL (vs. Tampa Bay)

13. Scott Chandler, BUF (vs. New England)

14. Greg Olsen, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

15. Brandon Pettigrew, DET (@ Minnesota)

16. Jermaine Gresham, CIN (vs. San Francisco)

17. Evan Moore, CLE (vs. Miami)

18. Marcedes Lewis, JAX (@ Carolina)

19. Brent Celek, PHI (vs. New York Giants)

20. Ed Dickson, BAL (@ St. Louis)

21. Benjamin Watson, CLE (vs. Miami)

22. Jeremy Shockey, CAR (vs. Jacksonville)

23. Tony Scheffler, DET (@ Miami)

24. Jared Cook, TEN (vs. Denver)

25. Zach Miller, SEA (vs. Arizona)

 

 

The Cardinals should feast on Seattle

Defense/Special Teams

Could Impress: Arizona Cardinals. Just keep this as a point of reference for the rest of the season: If a fantasy defense is playing Seattle, it’s a good bet they’ll have a good day.

Could Disappoint: Atlanta Falcons. The Dirty Bird Defense has been surprisingly porous the first two weeks, ranking in the bottom of the league in both pass and run defense. The Tampa Bay offense was really clicking in the second half against Minnesota, and always plays well against the NFC South. This could be a rough day for the Falcons.

Keep an eye on: Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy has good matchups three of the next four weeks, and has forced three turnovers in the first two games. They’re nothing more than a matchup play, but it’s worth keeping an eye on this young Bengals’ defense.

 

D/ST Rankings

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Indianapolis)

2. Baltimore Ravens (@ St. Louis)

3. New York Jets (@ Oakland)

4. San Diego Chargers (vs. Kansas City)

5. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Giants)

6. Detroit Lions (@ Minnesota)

7. Green Bay Packers (@ Chicago)

8. Atlanta Falcons (@ Tampa Bay)

9. Arizona Cardinals (@ Seattle)

10. Tennessee Titans (vs. Denver)

11. San Francisco 49ers (@ Cincinnati)

12. Chicago Bears (vs. Green Bay)

13. New England Patriots (@ Buffalo)

14. Washington Redskins (@ Dallas)

15. New Orleans (vs. Houston)

16. Cleveland Browns (vs. Miami)

17. Dallas Cowboys (vs. Washington)

18. Miami Dolphins (@ Cleveland)

19. Houston Texans (@ New Orleans)

20. New York Giants (@ Philadelphia)

21. Oakland Raiders (vs. New York Jets)

22. St. Louis Rams (vs. Baltimore)

23. Carolina Panthers (vs. Jacksonville)

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Atlanta)

25. Cincinnati Bengals (vs. San Francisco)

 

Stephen Kelley is a contributor at The Sports Bank where he covers Fantasy Sports and Pro Drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_tsb.

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