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Fantasy Football: Week 3 Trust or Bust

Rich Hribar breaks down the players you should use and the players you should bench this week.

Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell

Sep 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell (35) runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

*Throughout the season I will focus on what I deem as  trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your PPR leagues.  You’ll also very likely see some Fantasy Points Per Route Run (FPPRR) updates make it into the post as we continue to build a larger sample size to work from.

TRUST

Joique Bell @ WAS

Bell has been effective with the snaps he’s been given as a runner and receiver. His 14 targets are tied for fourth in the league for running backs and his 10 receptions rank sixth. He’s also averaged 4.0 yards per carry on the ground on 14 carries with two touchdowns.

The Lions offense has an exceptional matchup this weekend as they face a Washington team that  has allowed a whopping 402 yards on the ground over the first two weeks of the season and are fresh off of allowing James Starks  become the first 100 yard rushing the Packers have had in three years. They also can’t stop the pass at all, as they are at the bottom of the league in completion percentage allowed (73.1 percent) and quarterback rating allowed (135.4).

Bell’s success this weekend isn’t dependent on the availability of Reggie Bush, who is questionable. He’s a strong option to finish as a RB2 this week, but if Bush was to miss the game in dealing with his knee injury, Bell would be a PPR lower RB1 start versus the Washington defense as the Lions put the scoreboard to work.

Rashard Mendenhall @ NO

Mendenhall is coming off of a 15 carry, 66 yard rushing performance versus a very aggressive Detroit front. He also added two receptions for 28 yards and a rushing touchdown on his way to a top ten running back week.

Look for him to continue posting those solid numbers this week as Arizona heads to New Orleans. The Saints are allowing a third worst 5.3 yards per carry as a defense and have allowed two top 14 finishes to backs to start the season.

With Larry Fitzgerald dealing with an injured hamstring, Carson Palmer struggled getting the ball to his wide receivers. He completed just eight of 20 passes to Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts for 91 yards while going 14 for 19 for 157 yards throwing the ball elsewhere. Mendenhall is not a receiving juggernaut, but he should tack on a couple of catches as the Cardinals will be forced to match points to stay in this game.

Andy Dalton vs GB

Coming off of a season where he finished inside the top 12 scoring fantasy quarterbacks, Dalton is off to a steady start while facing two top-notch defenses in terms of stopping the pass. He’s thrown for at least 280 yards in each game versus the bears and Steelers, two teams that ranking inside the top eight a season ago in passing yardage allowed. He’s also added three tosses into the end zone while completing 65 percent of this throws.

Things figure to get a lot easier for him and the Cincinnati passing attack this weekend as they host a Packer defense that has allowed the third most passing yardage over the first two weeks of the season. A week after allowing Colin Kaepernick to throw for 412 yards and three touchdowns, Robert Griffin followed suit with 320 yards and three scores of his own. A bulk of that came trailing big, but if the packers do pull ahead, that only helps Dalton’s scoring chances.

A big part of why Green Bay has struggled is the play of cornerback Sam ShieldsPer Pro Football Focus, Shields has already surrendered a massive 264 yards in his coverage, most for any corner in the league. He’s been targeted double-digit times in both games and allowed over 100 yards in each, so those numbers aren’t inflated by one performance. If A.J. Green finds his way to Shields’ side of the field, Dalton could have a big matchup advantage and be the late round quarterback of the week.

Tony Gonzalez @ MIA

Gonzalez could’ve fooled his owners that he decided to postpone his retirement for one more season. Tony G has just seven receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown to start 2013. His 4.9 yards per target rank 49th out of all tight ends.

This week should correct a lot of those struggles, as Atlanta heads to Miami to face a Dolphins team that has been gauged by tight ends to begin the season. The Dolphins have already allowed tight ends to catch 15 of 24 targets for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Torrey Smith vs HOU

Smith has had a better start to the season than many realize. He ranks inside of the top twenty out of all receivers in targets (21), receptions (11) and yards (177) but hasn’t reached the end zone yet.

He posted a solid line in week two versus the Browns, catching seven passes for 85 yards including four for 46 yards in the clutches of Joe Haden. He also just missed getting a second foot inbounds on a 30 yard touchdown.

The matchup isn’t favorable on the exterior—Houston has allowed only 343 yards passing total to start the season. However, they’ve allowed a wideout to finish inside the top 22 in each week. With Smith’s large volume, and the anticipation of Baltimore’s continued struggles on the ground, Smith should be right in the mix for a WR2 finish or higher.

DeAndre Hopkins @ BAL

It didn’t take long for Hopkins’ coming out party. After a respectable 5 catch for 66 yard debut on Monday night football in week one, he hauled in seven receptions for 117 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime this past Sunday.

Hopkins flourished when the game was on the line, catching all five of targets for 92 yards and that score on the Texans’ final three possessions. He had 13 targets total come his way in the ball game and has 19 on the season.

With Andre Johnson questionable with a concussion, Hopkins could see another high volume day as Houston heads to Baltimore. Ladarius Webb has yet to regain his shut down form as he allowed five receptions for 101 yards in his coverage last Sunday to the Browns. Even if Johnsoon goes, Hopkins will draw lesser coverage from Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham. Either way, Hopkins has already arrived as a third receiver for your fantasy lineups in the Houston offense.

 BUST

Aaron Rodgers @ CIN

It may seem crazy to consider a quarterback that is on pace for 6,500 yards and 56 touchdowns as a possible bust candidate this week. But the law of averages should catch up to Rodgers this week as he heads into Cincinnati to face the Bengals.

The Bengals have been a nightmare matchup for opposing quarterbacks from a perspective over their past 14 games. Mike Zimmer’s defense hasn’t allowed a quarterback to reach 20 fantasy points since week three of last season when Robert Griffin posted 24 points. The Bengals haven’t allowed a 300 yard passer since week two of the last season (Brandon Weeden) and have allowed only two 300 yard passing games over their past 39 games.

Under Zimmer, The Bengals defense hasn’t allowed a top 12 fantasy quarterback in ten consecutive games and has allowed only seven top 12 quarterbacks over their past 34 contests. Over Zimmer’s career in Cincinnati, only 25 (30 percent) of quarterbacks have finished in the top 12 while 36 (44 percent) have been outside of the top 20 in weekly scoring over his 82 games there.

The Packers may be without Eddie Lacy this week due to a concussion, making the Packers even more one dimensional against the dominant Bengals defensive front, letting them get after Rodgers. No quarterback has been sacked more times over the past season plus than the 57 times Rodgers has, and the Bengals defense has the third most sacks (51) as a team over the same time.

Darren McFadden @ DEN

Run DMC is off to a hot start, finishing among the top 12 running backs in each of the first two weeks. His 177 rushing yards are the fourth most in the league and his 4.9 YPC is good for fifth highest out of all backs with at least 20 carries. His four carries of 20 plus yards are also the most in the league to start the season.

Monday night in Denver could pose a new set of problems for McFadden as Denver has held backs to a league low of 2.0 yards per attempt on the ground this season and league low of only 81 rushing yards total.

A big part of that is not only being stout up front with Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe, but the Denver offense has forced teams to abandon the run quickly each week. That doesn’t figure to change this week at home versus the Raiders who have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 70.5 percent of their passes (fourth worst) thus far.

Stevan Ridley vs TB

As we discussed in our follow up to last week’s Thursday night game, Ridley is a guy that needs to find your bench until the Patriots offense returns to full strength.

Not only has he not seen a target come his way yet, he hasn’t had a reception since week six of last season. So there’s no extra incentive of picking up any cheap points through the air.

The Buccaneers have been extremely formidable in stopping opposing backs. In the two games to start the season, Tampa has allowed opposing backs only 119 yards on 42 carries (2.8 YPC). Ridley himself has struggled himself breaking any big gains. 16 of his 25 early season carries have gone for three yards or fewer and 13 of those have gone for only a single yard or a loss.

Marques Colston vs ARI

One of the most consistent fantasy finishers over his career, Colston has been consistently average of his past 18 games. Over that time, he has topped 75 yards only three times, with only two games of six or more receptions over his past 12 games played. So far this season, his 13 targets rank only 50th among NFL wideouts.

Colston has been battling through a lingering foot injury that has caused him to miss practice time in each week to start the season and this week he draws a tough secondary facing the Arizona Cardinals.

The only receiver to top 45 yards versus Arizona to start the season is Calvin Johnson. In fact, all of the other wideouts have averaged just 7.6 yards per reception on 19 total completions. Backs and tight ends have been another story, as they’ve averaged 12.2 YPR on 26 grabs thoughout the first two weeks. Look for Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles to be the focal point of Drew Brees when passing the ball this week.

Martellus Bennett @ PIT

The Unicorn has lived up to the mythical creature he’s nicknamed after on the field over the season’s first two weeks. Bennett has secured 10 of his 15 targets for 125 and three scores to open the Chicago season.

The Steelers are extremely tough on opposing tight ends, allowing on four touchdowns to the position over their past 18 games. Although they allowed the Bengals tight ends on Monday night to 132 yards, they don’t allow much yardage either, surrendering only 46 yards per game to tight ends over the same stretch.

Their safeties, Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu didn’t allow a touchdown in coverage over all of 2012 and had a combined quarterback rating of only 35.0 allowed. Look for the unicorn to be a myth this weekend.

Full Disclosure Week 2:

TRUST

PTS

RESULT

Jay Cutler

18.5

QB11

DeAngelo Williams

8.5

RB34

Daryl Richardson

13

RB22

Cecil Shorts

17.3

WR21

Eric Decker

17.7

WR20

Jordan Cameron

14.5

TE9

BUST

Tom Brady

11.2

QB25

Marshawn Lynch

34.5

RB1

CJ Spiller

16.9

RB12

Dwayne Bowe

15.6

WR22

 

SEASON RESULTS

W

L

%

TRUST

9

3

75

BUST

3

3

50

 

*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com

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