by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just hours before the start of Week 3 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Jamaal Charles – Running Back – Kansas City Chiefs
If Charles has a “true” high ankle sprain is up for debate, or he’s simply the quickest healer known to man. The bottom line is that he’s practiced this week, even if on a limited basis, and that has thrown all plans to use Kniles Davis into serious question. While Charles is hardly a lock to play, there at least appears to be a shot as he’s listed as questionable on the injury report and is considered a true game time decision.
Of course the Chiefs don’t play until 4:25 PM EST in Miami, so we won’t know until after the bulk of the games are already underway. If you don’t have Knile Davis as a handcuff (or have another late game alternative), trusting Charles is going to be too big of a risk. As for Davis, at least he should play a role regardless of if Charles dresses or not. That makes him usable, though there’s unfortunately more risk. Using him will also truly depend on your alternatives.
Arian Foster – Running Back – Houston Texans
Houston has already said that they plan to reduce Foster’s workload, and his recent hamstring injury is a good indication as to why. Luckily the Texans play at 1:00 PM EST, so we will have a clear answer before kickoff as to what his status is. Alfred Blue appears to have leapfrogged Jonathan Grimes on the depth chart (11 carries to 3 last week), though if Foster is forced to miss the game it’s easy to imagine the team splitting the load.
Monitor the news, just in case, but at this point we’d expect him to suit up. Never the pillar of health, though, Blue is worth stashing in deeper formats just in case.
Eric Decker – Wide Receiver – New York Jets
Coach Rex Ryan can make any declarations or state whatever expectations he wants, as fantasy owners we can’t take that risk. The Jets and Bears don’t square off until Monday night and, considering Decker didn’t practice this week and it is the same injury that sidelined him in the preseason, it’s hard to buy into him playing. If you want to roll the dice make sure you stash Jeremy Kerley, just in case, as there are no alternatives on the other side (the only wide receivers that will post value are Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffery). In most cases you are going to be better off utilizing an option playing on Sunday and avoiding this situation all together.
Bernard Pierce – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens
Listed as questionable, you can read into the Ravens signing RB Fitzgerald Touissant as a sign that they are concerned about Pierce’s availability. It is a favorable matchup, if Pierce plays, as the Browns have allowed the sixth most fantasy points per week to opposing running backs and Pierce is coming off a strong performance against the Steelers (96 rushing yards, 7 receiving yards).
With a 1:00 PM EST we should get some clarity to the situation early in the day, but we have to consider that the Ravens do have alternatives in Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Even if Pierce plays he’s not guarantee and could ultimately share the load given the injury concerns. Consider him a risky FLEX option at this point and as a viable option only if you lack true alternatives.
Niles Paul – Tight End – Washington Redskins
Jordan Reed, as expected, was ruled out early leaving Paul to handle tight end duties. The Eagles are in the bottom half of the league against opposing tight ends thus far, allowing just 9 receptions for 60 yards and 1 TD over the first two weeks.
That said Paul has been impressive over the first two weeks (12 catches for 185 yards and 1 TD) and figures to remain an integral part of the offense. He’s hardly a must use, given the matchup, but he is someone to consider depending on your alternatives. Consider him a low-end TE1 for this week.
Jordan Cameron – Tight End – Cleveland Browns
He’s listed as questionable and could be a true game-time decision. If active Cameron would be the team’s obvious top passing option, but at less than 100% it depends on your alternatives as he could easily be on a snap count (just look at Rob Gronkowski’s early season performance as an example of how this could be a hindrance). At this point, given the depth at the position, fantasy owners can afford to be patient. Barring some news that he’s suddenly at 100%, it would be smart to go with a healthy alternative this week.
DeAndre Hopkins – Wide Receiver – Houston Texans
No injury threat here, just a potential lack of opportunities. Sure Hopkins has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks to open the season, but he draws a tough matchup against the Giants secondary and has been targeted just 10 times. With so few opportunities it’s hard to expect big output, especially with an offensive game plan geared towards the run and Andre Johnson operating as the focus of the passing game. Hopkins is a risky WR3 play this week and probably better suited for fantasy benches.
Michael Crabtree – Wide Receiver – San Francisco 49ers
Obviously many fantasy owners are concerned about Crabtree this week, as he’s set to square off against Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. However, are the concerns justified? According to ESPN.com (click here for the article):
“The feeling around the 49ers’ facility is that Crabtree should be able to add to his already gaudy stat list against Peterson. Most of Crabtree’s 41 catches (his most against any opponent) for 618 yards and six TDs versus the Cardinals have come against Peterson.”
Crabtree is coming off a game where he had 7 receptions for 82 yards and 1 TD against the Bears and should be viewed as a solid WR2 in all formats.
Rashad Jennings – Running Back – New York Giants
According to ESPN.com (click here for the article):
“Week 3 may not be RB Rashad Jennings’ most productive week. Indications I get from talking to Giants staff this week are that they really believe they’re going to need to use Jennings to help in pass protection — either to stay in and block or at least to chip J.J. Watt or another Texans pass-rusher on his way out into his route. The line is struggling and the tight ends aren’t blocking well, so they need the help. Fantasy teams should consider other options this week.”
While Jennings is one of the few every down backs in the league, he’s produced better as a pass catcher (8 receptions for 95 yards) than as a runner (34 carries for 110 yards and 1 TD, a 3.2 YPC). This news is definitely a blow to his potential value, though it doesn’t make him unusable. He’s just better suited as a FLEX option at this point than a RB2 given the potential restrictions.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: