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Week 3 Boom/Bust Candidates for Early Games


By now you're likely starting to get a feel for your team, but as the first two weeks have shown, just about everything we think we know is wrong. DeMarco Murray and Andrew Luck have been disappointing, Alfred Morris is being replaced, Jimmy Graham is barely being targeted, Peyton Manning can't throw anymore and Adrian Peterson is still in search of his first touchdown.

All of the preparation and studying in the world is nothing compared to the randomness and unpredictability that is fantasy football. It's the thing that we both love and hate about playing. This weekly boom/bust column is here to help you sort through the unpredictability, using logic and match up trends to determine what will most likely happen.

Full disclosure: I've had mixed results through the first two weeks of the season. In Week 1, I had a 50 percent accuracy, but in Week 2, I guessed almost everything wrong. That's the thing about early season fantasy football - the trends haven't fully taken shape yet, so there's a lot of luck involved. Here is this week's potential booms and busts for the early games.

 

Potential Booms for Week 3

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots:
I bet against the four-time Super Bowl champion last week in Buffalo – I won’t be making that mistake again. At home against the Jaguars is about as favorable a matchup Tom Brady's fantasy owners can have. Ryan Tannehill threw for 359 yards and two TDs in Jacksonville last weekend, so it’s tough to imagine Brady doing any worse playing in Foxborough. Deploy with confidence.

Running Backs

Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys: Anyone who understands the nature of running backs in fantasy football knows that value is all about volume. The more touches a runner has, the better. Without Dez Bryant or Tony Romo for the foreseeable future, an uptick in carries for Joseph Randle is inevitable. They certainly aren’t going to put their trust in Brandon Weeden to go win them games. Atlanta’s defense has been very generous to running backs through the first two games of the season, and has allowed more touchdowns, receptions and receiving YDs to running backs than any other team in the NFL.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: The fact that Latavius Murray is one of the few bellcow, three-down backs in the NFL makes him a great starting option nearly every week. Facing the Cleveland Browns, the worst rushing defense in the NFL (160 YDs per game allowed), only makes Murray a more enticing start in Week 3.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: After the Week 1 dud, Adrian Peterson owners let out a collective sigh of relief when the All-Pro runner got 29 carries and 134 rushing yards in Week 2. San Diego hasn’t exactly been strong in the run defense department, getting shredded by Ameer Abdullah in Week 1 and then Giovanni Bernard in Week 2. At home, fresh off of a win and a big performance, expect a statement game from Peterson in Week 3.

Wide Receivers

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: At this point it seems that Julian Edelman may be among the two or three best slot receivers in the NFL. He’s posted back-to-back weeks of 11 catches and 97 receiving YDs and tacked on a pair of TDs in Week 2. Jacksonville has no answer for Edelman so expect another monster stat line.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets: Through the first two weeks of the season, the Eagles have surrendered three TDs and 362 YDs to wide receivers. Brandon Marshall has been heavily targeted and is the clear top option for Gang Green. At home against a reeling Eagles team, Marshall is a good bet to catch a TD for a third consecutive week to start the season.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: If he plays this week (concussion), fantasy owners of DeAndre Hopkins should be salivating at the matchup against the Buccaneers. Through the first two weeks of the season, receivers have torched Tampa bay for 23 receptions, 344 YDs, and three TDs. Hopkins is clearly the best offensive weapon on the team and figures to receive a lot of targets.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars: After a terrible Week 1, Robinson reminded us all why he was a popular sleeper pick this offseason. Robinson grabbed six receptions for 155 YDs and a pair of TDs in a surprising win against Miami last weekend. New England’s secondary has been highly vulnerable so far and with Jacksonville likely playing from behind, Robinson should be in line for a big day.

Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: Tyler Eifert has been the best receiver in Cincinnati so far this season, even better than A.J. Green. Eifert already has three TD catches and has led his team in receiving yards in the first two weeks of the season. Despite the matchup against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense, Eifert has been too consistent early on to bench.

Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers: Provided he gets the start (concussion), Ladarius Green could exploit a Minnesota defense that has been vulnerable to tight ends in the passing attack. Green also has only two games remaining to put a strangle hold on the starting position before Antonio Gates returns from suspension, so he has even more reason to step up. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Green breaks into the endzone this week.

Defenses

New York Jets: The New York Jets have forced 10 turnovers in two games and the Eagles have turned the ball over five times during the same stretch. Coming into Metlife Stadium on Sunday afternoon against one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles offense getting on track this week.

 

Potential Busts for Week 3

Quarterbacks

Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles: Against the mediocre defensive fronts of the Falcons and Cowboys during Week 1 and Week 2, Sam Bradford struggled mightily, tossing four picks against just two TDs. Now he’s going on the road against a New York Jets defense that is shaping up to be one of the best in the league. No thank you.

Running Backs

DeMarco Murray, RB, Eagles: In two games this season, DeMarco Murray has 11 rushing YDs. If that astonishingly low number doesn’t have his fantasy owners hitting the panic button, the Jets run defense certainly will. The unit hasn’t surrendered more than 69 yards on the ground and still have not given up a rushing touchdown. You most likely have to start Murray if you drafted him, but you may want to prepare for another disappointing outing.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: The Muscle Hamster has looked decent throughout the first two weeks of the season, but still hasn’t reached 80 yards or broken into the endzone. He’ll face a Texans team that hasn’t given up a touchdown on the ground yet this fall and has been pretty stingy with yardage. I wouldn’t trust Martin as anything other than a flex, and even then, you’re probably better off going in another direction.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, WR, Colts: Andre Johnson is starting to look like a fixture on bust list this season. Drafted as a WR2 in most formats, Johnson has looked slow and uninspiring thus far. It appears that WR Donte Moncrief is poised to move ahead of the veteran receiver as well, dropping Johnson to the number four option on offense. Add this to the fact that he’ll be facing a respectable Titans passing defense, and leaving Johnson on the bench this week seems like the smart decision.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: Two words: Revis Island. Not only does the Eagles offense look terrible this season, they’ll be headed to Metlife Stadium to face one of the league’s better looking defenses. Jordan Matthews has had a solid start to the season, so chances are good that you won’t bench him. Just remember that No. 1 receivers facing Darrelle Revis don’t often fare very well. Proceed with caution.

Tight Ends

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: Not only are the Cowboys without star WR Dez Bryant, they’re also without star QB Tony Romo. This leaves Jason Witten as the most seasoned pass catcher and Brandon Weeden as his quarterback. Atlanta has been pretty good against TEs so far this season and despite a good start to the season, going with Witten is risky. There’s just too much going against him to trust he has a good performance.

Defenses

Baltimore Ravens: After a negative fantasy showing against the Raiders a week ago, how can we trust Baltimore to put up big numbers against a better Cincinnati team? It may be a home divisional matchup, but this Bengals team looks more explosive and starting Baltimore is extremely risky.

 

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