Top 10 Ranking the Most Important Week 3 Games for Fantasy Football

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In Week 2, fantasy players saw a rookie once again dominate, a Super Bowl MVP lead his team—and fantasy owners, I’m sure—to a late victory and a pair of AFC East running backs absolutely go off on opposing defenses.

I can’t wait to see what we have in store for Week 3.

From a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game to two matchups pitting unbeaten teams against each other, this week is rife with relevant tilts for fantasy owners. Let’s rank this week’s most important games for fantasy and offer a bit of lineup advice along the way.

10. St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears

Fantasy Impact for Rams

You have to at least consider flexing Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, though only in deeper leagues.

I don’t like Sam Bradford this week, though he sure looked like a top overall pick in Week 2, didn’t he?

Steven Jackson’s “groin injury” (cough, cough, benching) shouldn’t be an issue, and you should start him, though if he doesn’t go, Daryl Richardson is the handcuff you want.

Fantasy Impact for Bears

I’m not telling you to start Jay Cutler after his dreadful performance against the Green Bay Packers.

I am saying he should bounce back and put up decent numbers in this one. Same for Brandon Marshall.

Matt Forte apparently doesn’t have a high-ankle sprain (via the Chicago Tribune), but he’s still in doubt for Week 3. If he doesn’t go, Michael Bush becomes an RB1 if you have him.

Start the Bears defense.

9. Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy Impact for Eagles

Yes, Michael Vick has seven turnovers this season. He also has two wins and 36 fantasy points for the year, so both you and the Eagles can live with the giveaways.

For now. LeSean McCoy is obviously a must start. DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Jeremy Maclin (if he plays) and the Eagles defense are all solid starts, as well.

Fantasy Impact for Cardinals

I don’t know what to tell you here, folks. I really don’t.

If you have Larry Fitzgerald, you probably can’t quit on him, but he’s been invisible this year.

The Cardinals defense is a tough call. On one hand, it’s been really good this year and the Eagles turn the ball over frequently. On the other hand, this is an explosive Eagles offense that could put up a lot of points. I might look elsewhere for a defense, but there are worse plays.

8. Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Fantasy Impact for Packers

You should be starting Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings (assuming he plays).

Consider flexing Cedric Benson in deeper leagues, though I think this is a tough matchup for him.

I truly don’t know which Jermichael Finley will show up from one week to the next, but you may not have a better option on your roster.

I like the Green Bay defense, as well.

Fantasy Impact for Seahawks

The only safe starter on this team is Marshawn Lynch.

If the Packers weren’t coming to town, I would tell you to start the defense, but it’s too risky against Rodgers and company.

7. Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins

Fantasy Impact for Bengals

Washington has given up 607 passing yards this season, so Andy Dalton is a nice play. A.J. Green and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are must starts.

Don’t look now, but Andrew Hawkins is making the case as a viable fantasy option beyond PPR leagues.

Fantasy Impact for Redskins

At this point, if you have Robert Griffin III, you have to start him. Put simply, he’s awesome.

Alfred Morris still appears to be the main guy, so flex him or use him as an RB2 in deeper leagues. Start Pierre Garcon if the foot is healthy. Avoid Fred Davis, who has been quiet this year and may miss the game due to a concussion.

If you have a crystal ball and can predict whether Aldrick Robinson or Leonard Hankerson will have the bigger game, one of them may be a flex option in really deep leagues.

6. Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints

Fantasy Impact for Chiefs

Jamaal Charles has not been in charge.

Still, if there was a week for him to bust out, it would be against the league’s worst run defense after the first two weeks.

It turns out the Saints also have the 26th worst defense against the pass, so Dwayne Bowe is a must start, and Matt Cassel is a sneaky possibility in deeper leagues.

Fantasy Impact for Saints

Kansas City has been very friendly to opposing players this season, so definitely roll with Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Marques Colston has been a bust thus far, but I think the fantasy numbers will come.

If you are in deep leagues and find yourself in a pinch, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Lance Moore are at least worth starts.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys

Fantasy Impact for Bucs:

Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson are must starts. Mike Williams is a nice flex. You can do better than Josh Freeman.

Fantasy Impact for Cowboys

Unless you have a better quarterback (or at least one with a better matchup), start Romo.

Miles Austin has been a consistent performer thus far. DeMarco Murray is a must start. Don’t give up on Dez Bryant yet. Jason Witten should be on your bench.

If you happen to see Kevin Ogletree, let me know.

4. Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers

Fantasy Impact for Falcons

Start Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Flex Michael Turner if you have him—he’s lost his RB2 designation in my book.

I might take a chance with the Falcons defense, as well, which has been steady for fantasy owners after two weeks.

Fantasy Impact for Chargers

It’s all about Dante Rosario in this one. Start him and don’t even bother setting the rest of your lineup. Trust me, he’ll will win you the week single handedly.

Well, unless Antonio Gates is back in the lineup, in which case you can resume not knowing who Dante Rosario is.

Philip Rivers and Malcolm Floyd are solid options. If Ryan Mathews returns in Week 3—a distinct possibility (via U-T San Diego)—roll with him as well.

Otherwise, Jackie Battle could be a sneaky flex play this week.

3. Houston Texans at Denver Broncos

Fantasy Impact for Texans

Obviously, you have to start Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, even if the latter fellow made some of us sad this weekend.

I have no idea how to properly judge Ben Tate’s fantasy value at this point, but in deep leagues I can understand the temptation to flex him.

There are better options than Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels out there.

Start the defense.

Fantasy Impact for Broncos

I have a feeling this could be a very rough week for Peyton Manning. I don’t think Willis McGahee will put up 24 fantasy points against the Texans defense. Eric Decker has been a major disappointment this season. Jacob Tamme was a no-show against Atlanta.

The only player I think you have to start is Demaryius Thomas. Other than that, this is a tough test for the Denver offense.

2. New York Giants at Carolina Panthers

Fantasy Impact for Giants

Keep a close eye on Ahmad Bradshaw this week. If you own him, consider adding Andre Brown as a Week 3 handcuff. If Bradshaw doesn’t play, Brown could have a big week.

Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are obvious starts. Martellus Bennett is the real deal.

Fantasy Impact for Panthers

Cam Newton and Steve Smith are obvious starts. Brandon LaFell is turning into a nice flex, especially in deeper leagues.

If you can somehow genetically transform Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert into one NFL running back, start that science project. Otherwise, good luck guessing which one will have fantasy value.

1. New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens

Fantasy Impact for Patriots

The loss of Aaron Hernandez makes Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and even Julian Edelman more valuable. Tom Brady is an obvious start.

Stevan Ridley has been boss for fantasy owners this year, so roll with him as well.

Fantasy Impact for Ravens

Is Ray Rice the only guaranteed safe starter from the Ravens for fantasy owners in this game?

No. Kicker Justin Tucker has 32 fantasy points this season, so you might want to pick him up.

After that, no Ravens have scored double-digit fantasy points in more than one week this season.

The New England defense is improved, but if you are in a pinch, Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones are all (risky) possibilities.

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