Week 3 fantasy flex plays
Overreactions might be natural, but with so much yet to learn this season, they're also, by definition, irrational. No, Victor Cruz's three drops in Week 1 did not prove he was a one-hit wonder. But Chris Johnson's and Michael Turner's awful starts look a lot more like signs of swift and major declines on the horizon. The running back formerly known as CJ2K gets one more week to show something, while Turner is now just a glorified goal-line back likely worth no more than a flex each week. And as for Randall Cobb, whom I pumped up like he was the second coming of Victor Cruz only to feel the backlash on the almighty fantasy scoreboard, he still belongs on a roster in 100 percent of leagues but will require some patience.
1. Brandon LaFell vs. New York Giants - Prince Amukamara (ankle) and Michael Coe (hamstring) are limited in practice this week and questionable for Thursday on the short turnaround. Non-primary receivers Mike Williams and Kevin Ogletree combined for 173 yards and three scores against the Giants' inept reserve corners this season. Now LaFell draws the beaten N.Y. secondary on the heels of consecutive games with double-digit fantasy points and in a week too short for the Giants to fully recover. It could be a career day for one of Cam Newton's favorite new toys.
2. Andrew Hawkins at Washington - For two weeks now Hawkins has looked flat-out uncoverable on underneath patterns. He's too quick for linebackers and his routes are precise enough to shake any nickel corner. With his video-game-like ability to elude defenders after the catch it might not be long until he's a weekly flex in all formats. Facing a Redskins defense that relies on pressuring the quarterback, expect Dalton to frequently look Hawkins' way on hot routes and scrambling dump-offs. If slot receivers Lance Moore and Danny Amendola (21 catches, 280 yards, two scores combined) are any indication, Hawkins could be the sneaky play of the week.
3. Mark Ingram vs. Kansas City - Pierre Thomas is the better all-around player than Ingram. Nevertheless, the Saints seem committed to Ingram, giving him 16 carries last week to Thomas' nine, despite the latter's considerably better production with his runs. So the reason to like Ingram over Thomas this and most other weeks is simple: goal. line. carries. Thomas isn't going to make a habit of churning out 100-plus yards on single-digit carries, so feel free to roll out Ingram against a Chiefs defense that will let New Orleans move inside the 10 plenty.
4. Anquan Boldin vs. New England - Joe Flacco plus no-huddle equals big passing numbers in Baltimore. With a high-scoring Patriots offense coming to town with a defensive secondary that still isn't anything special, Flacco should load his cannon early and often as the Ravens will make sure they put enough points on the board to take down Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As the team's strongest weapon over the middle, Boldin will be heavily involved to keep the chains moving.
5. Kevin Ogletree vs. Tampa Bay - He wasn't quite worth starting last week against an elite secondary playing it's first home game in one of the toughest stadiums in the league, but Ogletree is a good option for Dallas' home opener. The Bucs defense was just shredded by Eli Manning (510 freaking yards!) and also let Cam Newton top 300 in Week 1. With Dez Bryant not playing up to snuff and Miles Austin likely to draw significant attention, Ogletree has the chance to be Romo's best friend again.
6. Donnie Avery vs. Jacksonville - Reggie Wayne is clearly Andrew Lucks's No. 1 target (he's seen 25 in two weeks), and as such he draws a lot of attention in coverage. That's left Avery, who many may forget was the first receiver drafted in 2008, finding himself with consistent single coverage. The speedy receiver has been beaten that to the tune of 12 catches, 148 yards and a score, with at least nine fantasy points each week. As Luck's second-most targeted receiver, he's suddenly resurfaced as a weekly lineup option.
7. Greg Little vs. Buffalo - The Bills have allowed 567 yards and five touchdowns passing to Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel. So why not add Brandon Weeden to the list of ordinary quarterbacks that put up good fantasy numbers on Buffalo? As Weeden's best receiving option, this should create a nice day for Little. Once C.J. Spiller and Co. run up a respectable lead, look for the Browns to sling it enough to post garbage stats a la Cassel in Week 2, with Little doing a poor man's Dwayne Bowe impression.
WEEK 3 FLEX-PLAY RANKINGS
*Check injury status
1. C.J. Spiller BUF at Cle
2. Arian Foster HOU at Den
3. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC at Ind
4. LeSean McCoy PHI at Ari
5. Ray Rice BAL vs. NE
6. Calvin Johnson DET at Ten
7. Victor Cruz NYG at Car
8. Julio Jones ATL at SD
9. *Hakeem Nicks NYG at Car - (Foot) Didn't practice Tuesday, still should play Thursday.
10. Jimmy Graham NO vs. KC
11. Rob Gronkowski NE at Bal
12. Trent Richardson CLE vs. Buf - This is the back the Browns thought that they were getting by drafting him so high.
13. Reggie Bush MIA vs. NYJ
14. Marshawn Lynch SEA vs. GB
15. Doug Martin TB at Dal
16. A.J. Green CIN at Was
17. Steve Johnson BUF at Cle
18. Reggie Wayne IND vs. Jac
19. Brandon Marshall CHI vs. StL
20. *Steve Smith CAR vs. NYG - Tweaked his knee injury in Week 2.
21. Antonio Brown PIT at Oak
22. Vernon Davis SF at Min
23. Darren McFadden OAK vs. Pit - Having a hard time finding running room, though at least he's a big part of the passing game.
24. Adrian Peterson MIN vs. SF
25. Roddy White ATL at SD
26. Miles Austin DAL vs. TB
27. *Wes Welker NE at Bal - Once again limited in snaps, especially early on as Julian Edelman started ahead of him. With Hernandez out, he got more targets though.
28. Jordy Nelson GB at Sea
29. Dwayne Bowe KC at NO
30. Frank Gore SF at Min
31. DeMarco Murray DAL vs. TB
32. Stevan Ridley NE at Bal
33. Donald Brown IND vs. Jac
34. Alfred Morris WAS vs. Cin
35. BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at Was - Had three receptions for 30 yards in addition to his carries. If he could replicate that each week, he'll rise above the rest of the perceived plodders.
36. Percy Harvin MIN vs. SF
37. Andre Johnson HOU at Den - One of many elite receivers that disappointed last week.
38. Vincent Jackson TB at Dal
39. Marques Colston NO vs. KC
40. Danny Amendola STL at Chi - Caught a whopping 15 passes, nearly all early on.
41. Darren Sproles NO vs. KC - Sproles had 14 pass targets, yet no carries.
42. Brandon Lloyd NE at Bal
43. Brandon Pettigrew DET at Ten - Titans have surrendered five tight end touchdowns already this season.
44. Brent Celek PHI at Ari
45. *Andre Brown NYG at Car - Took over the carries after Ahmad Bradshaw got hurt, not David Wilson.
46. Michael Bush CHI vs. StL
47. Chris Johnson TEN vs. Det - Two awful games in a row. Coach Mike Munchak had to give Johnson the dreaded vote of confidence that he wouldn't be benched.
48. *Greg Jennings GB at Sea - (Groin) Expected back this week.
49. Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. Hou
50. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ vs. Phi
51. Malcom Floyd SD vs. Atl - Got robbed of a touchdown on a ruling and review against the Titans.
52. Brandon LaFell CAR vs. NYG - Another productive week.
53. *DeSean Jackson PHI at Ari - Jackson's hamstring injury clearly wasn't an issue - seven catches, 114 yards.
54. Brian Hartline MIA vs. NYJ - Targeted 12 times against the Raiders, turned in a career-high 111 yards.
55. Dez Bryant DAL vs. TB
56. Torrey Smith BAL vs. NE - Targeted just five times in Week 2, and there was some carping about the game plan afterward.
57. Michael Crabtree SF at Min - Targeted seven times Sunday night.
58. Tony Gonzalez ATL at SD
59. Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. SF
60. Dennis Pitta BAL vs. NE - Targeted 15 times against the Eagles, 24 times altogether.
61. Martellus Bennett NYG at Car
62. *Ryan Mathews SD vs. Atl - (Shoulder) Should make his season debut this week against the Falcons.
63. Ben Tate HOU at Den
64. *Michael Turner ATL at SD - Arrested on a DUI charge following Monday night's win over the Broncos.
65. Willis McGahee DEN vs. Hou
66. Cedric Benson GB at Sea
67. *Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. NYG - Wasn't limited in Week 2, but limited in Monday's practice. Short week with the Thursday game.
68. Eric Decker DEN vs. Hou
69. Lance Moore NO vs. KC
70. Mike Wallace PIT at Oak
71. Greg Little CLE vs. Buf - Caught a touchdown after an awful Week 1 game, could have had another but was the target of one of Brandon Weeden's rare misfires last week.
72. Donnie Avery IND vs. Jac - Targeted a whopping 11 times against the Vikings.
73. Mike Williams TB at Dal - Two touchdowns so far, but only eight targets on the season.
74. Santonio Holmes NYJ at Mia
75. Owen Daniels HOU at Den
76. Jason Witten DAL vs. TB - Only four receptions, but had 10 targets.
77. Jared Cook TEN vs. Det - Disappointing day - only three catches, though he was targeted six times.
78. *Daryl Richardson STL at Chi - Took over for Steven Jackson after Jackon got hurt and or got benched.
79. Kevin Smith DET at Ten - Pedestrian game against the Niners, as expected. Now has to deal with the return of Mikel Leshoure.
80. *Shonn Greene NYJ at Mia - Suffered a head injury but returned to the game last week.
81. DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. NYG
82. Isaac Redman PIT at Oak
83. Beanie Wells ARZ vs. Phi
84. Pierre Thomas NO vs. KC
85. *Jeremy Maclin PHI at Ari - Suffered another hip contusion against the Ravens, likely to have a very limited at best practice schedule this week.
86. *Nate Washington TEN vs. Det - (Foot) Played 22 of the Titans' 42 offensive snaps last week.
87. *Donald Jones BUF at Cle - Only one catch last week, but the Bills threw just 19 times.
88. Anquan Boldin BAL vs. NE
89. Laurent Robinson JAC at Ind
90. Aldrick Robinson WAS vs. Cin
91. Andre Roberts ARZ vs. Phi
92. Andrew Hawkins CIN at Was
93. Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. Pit
94. Peyton Hillis KC at NO
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