Week 3 of National Football League seasons often leave fantasy football owners scrambling for waiver wire finds and sleeper players. Injuries are taking their toll on teams and on fantasy football players. The NFL is making headlines this fall more for athletes getting into legal troubles than for action that is occurring on fields.
I truly feel for you fantasy football owners who took Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with the first overall picks of drafts. Peterson is out for the foreseeable future as his child abuse case gets sorted out.
Choosing who to start on your fantasy football teams in Week 3 is largely about filling in gaps created by injuries and other mishaps. This list begins with a running back who has quickly become a favorite among fantasy experts.
Here are 5 must-start and 5 must-sit players for week 3 of the 2014 NFL season.
10 Start 'em: RB Knile Davis - Kansas City Chiefs
Davis is the fantasy football flavor of the week, and it's easy to understand why that is the case. Jamaal Charles will be sidelined for weeks due to a high ankle sprain. The Chiefs don't have a dynamic play-maker in quarterback Alex Smith. Davis is set to be the star of the Kansas City running game and perhaps of the team's offense, in general.
Davis has already produced for fantasy football owners when facing a good defense. He twice found the end zone against the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Davis and the Chiefs will be away to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. The Dolphins have an average run defense that, to its credit, has only surrendered a single rushing touchdown in two games.
9 Sit 'em: RB Terrance West - Cleveland Browns
The rookie running back out of Towson has been a revelation for the Browns in his first two weeks of meaningful NFL football. West has taken over as Cleveland's No. 1 running back with veteran Ben Tate nursing a knee injury, and the first-year pro has averaged 4.8 yards on 35 carries (168 total rushing yards). West scored a rushing touchdown last Sunday in the team's victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy football owners would be wise to be cautious this time around, however, as West won't be running against the Saints in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens have the eighth-best run defense in the NFL, giving up 89 rushing yards per game. Perhaps West and company will show that these truly aren't your “same old Browns,” but this game has letdown written all over it for Cleveland.
8 Start 'em: WR Rueben Randle - New York Giants
Critics and NFL analysts doing quick blurbs on the Giants will point out that quarterback Eli Manning and the rest of the New York offense have been awful in September. What they may conveniently forget to mention is that Manning converted 26 of 39 attempts against the Arizona Cardinals. The two-time Super Bowl MVP also tossed two touchdown passes in the loss to the Cards.
Randle's personal stats for the season don't leap off of computer screens. He has only six receptions and a single touchdown on the year. That he is being targeted by Manning in red zone situations ahead of the wide receiver next spotlighted in this piece is what makes Randle a flex option for Week 3.
7 Sit 'em: WR Victor Cruz - New York Giants
What in the heck is ailing Victor Cruz? Cruz does not appear to be in the same book let alone on the same page as Eli Manning. He is averaging only 3.5 grabs per game. Cruz hasn't yet found the end zone this season, and Manning has apparently moved on to other targets while inside of the red zone.
There are reasons to believe Cruz's lack of production will continue. After scoring three touchdowns in the 2013 regular season debut, Cruz had just one TD catch the rest of the year. His last touchdown occurred on September 29, 2013.
Starting Cruz is a risk for fantasy football owners until he proves otherwise.
6 Start 'em: QB Andy Dalton - Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton is not a No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football leagues. That's fine. Owners could do a lot worse than Dalton for a No. 2, and the Cincinnati starting quarterback is even a decent fill-in for those who are lacking star-power at the QB position.
Kansas City made the Titans look like world beaters on the first Sunday of the regular season. The Titans side that lost 26-10 to the Dallas Cowboys are likely a truer representation of what Tennessee will be moving forward. Dalton probably won't put up monster stats in Week 3, but he is worth a look from fantasy football owners who have an empty slot at quarterback.
5 Sit 'em: QB Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger sure looked ordinary last Thursday night. He completed 22 of 37 attempts for 217 yards. Big Ben didn't register a single touchdown, and he was picked off by the Baltimore Ravens in the 26-6 defeat.
Don't look now, but Roethlisberger and the Steelers have another tough road game ahead of them. The unbeaten Carolina Panthers are one of the best teams in football, and they have a menacing defense. Carolina is allowing 5.0 YPA, and their defense has registered seven sacks and three interceptions.
4 Start 'em: RB Ahmad Bradshaw - Indianapolis Colts
The former New York Giants running back has been a player reborn in 2014. Bradshaw is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He has reeled in 10 of 11 passes. Bradshaw was the player of the game for the Colts in their Monday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, rushing for 70 yards on 13 carries and notching two receiving touchdowns.
There will, of course, be future injury concerns as it pertains to the often banged-up Bradshaw. All indications are that he is fully healthy heading into Week 3. Fantasy football owners no longer have reasons to sit Bradshaw in favor of his Indianapolis teammate Trent Richardson.
3 Sit 'em: RB Andre Ellington - Arizona Cardinals
Ellington has been somewhat of a bust for fantasy football owners. While he has been responsible for several of Arizona's longest offensive plays of the campaign, Ellington has not yet rushed for 100 yards in a game. He has zero touchdowns. Ellington lost a fumble in the season opener versus the San Diego Chargers.
Ellington's fantasy football prognosis gets worse. He has admitted that his foot is not 100 percent. Ellington will be playing against a San Francisco 49ers team that has the seventh-best run defense in the NFL. Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, one of the best backs in the league, managed only 21 yards (1.8 yards per carry) against the Niners.
2 Start 'em: Houston Texans Defense
Eli Manning has not been as bad as some have suggested, but that doesn't erase the fact that the defense of the Texans has a great match-up in Week 3. The New York offensive line is lackluster, at best, and it should present multiple opportunities for the Texans to accumulate sacks. Manning is also averaging two interceptions per game.
Odds are that Manning and his teammates will eventually gel in what is a new offensive scheme. Until you see signs of it happening in games, picking whatever defense is going against the offense of the Giants is a solid fantasy football plan.
1 Sit 'em: Seattle Seahawks Defense
But Seattle has the best defense in the NFL! But the Seahawks are unbeatable when playing at home! But the Seahawks will be playing against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, a team Seattle dominated in the Super Bowl last February!
Beware of the trap, fantasy football owners.
This is admittedly a bold prediction, but it's one that has merit. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers took it to the Seahawks last week, and you can be sure that the older Manning is heavily reviewing tape from that game leading into Sunday. Also remember that this contest will be taking place in Seattle in mid-September and not in East Rutherford, New Jersey on a mild February evening.