After week three of the football season you start to get an idea of which fantasy football teams are contenders and which ones are pretenders. Fantasy football guru Todd Prinz will is contributing weekly columns on WHAS11.com to make sure you're a contender.
For this column, I think I need to establish a context. The players that I believe will shine are going to usually be guys that aren't considered elite that have great matchups. You should use these players as a flex or use them in deeper leagues. I wouldn't recommend starting Willis McGahee over Maurice Jones Drew. Particularly not week 3 as MJD probably will rush for 150 yards, catch 60 yards, and score 2 touchdowns against Houston. The Texans' defense has Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and DeMeco Ryans. They're missing the other eight starters.
The other section is devoted to every week starters that face such a bad situation that you wish that they were riding the pine. Last week, Tony Romo and Steve Slaton would be could examples of this. Do you give up on them after last week? I hope not. Romo is inconsistent against division opponents. Slaton has faced the 2nd and the 6th overall run defenses in the first two weeks. You could only realistically slide them out of your line-up if you play in an eight person league or fewer.
Let 'em Shine
Felix Jones: With Barber probably out on Monday with a quad injury, Jones is in-line for a cushy opportunity. Panther's defense tackle and primary run-stuffer, Maake Kemoeatu, ruptured his Achilles tendon before the season began. Carolina tried to fill his hefty void by trading for Louis Leonard from Cleveland. Last Sunday, Leonard broke his ankle. This abyss in the middle of Carolina's d-line is the main reason that the Panther's run defense is allowing 168 rushing yards and 4.9 yards per carry. On the flip side, the Cowboys average 184.5 rushing yards per game, 7.0 yards per carry, and 4 rushing touchdowns. The cherry on top is that Panthers have also allowed 2 receiving touchdowns to running backs. Projection: 80 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, and a touchdown.
Dustin Keller: The Purdue product is entering his second year and is probably already the team's best receiver. Keller's 4.5 speed and stickum covered hands will be called upon against the Titans. Tennessee's run defense is the second best in the league allowing just 99 rushing yards and 1.9 yards per carry. This strength doesn't really matter though as they are dead last against the pass. They have already allowing 720 receiving and 5 passing touchdowns. Particular to Keller's position, the Titans have allowed on average 84 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdowns to the tight end. With running lanes clogged, Sanchez will air it out and Keller will be the recipient of most those balls. Projection: 70 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Willis McGahee: He might be backing up Ray Rice most games this season, but the Ravens offense has become so potent that it doesn't matter. Ravens are running the ball on average 37.5 times a game and McGahee has averaged 12.5 carries per game. To put in perspective, Chris Johnson is averaging 15.5 carries per game and Maurice Jones-Drew is 17 carries per game. Also factor in that he has already scored 4 touchdowns and they were all snaps in the redzone. This week, Willis will face a Browns' run defense that has allowed 205.5 rushing yards and 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game. Sometimes being second isn't bad. Projections: 90 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns.
Ride the Pine
Michael Turner: Last year, the Burner was a vital element of surprise Falcons' playoff push. In 2008, he amassed 1,699 rushing yards, 41 yards receiving, and 17 rushing touchdowns. This year, Turner seems to be stuck in second gear as he has only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. He might not have chance to kick it into the fourth against as he faces the Pats defense. New England's run defense isn't great, but Atlanta's secondary is so suspect that Turner won't get that many carries. New England's opponents have averaged 51 offense plays, which is 11 plays less than the average. Brady will dink and dunk down the field and will consume time off the clock. If the Falcons get down by a few touchdowns, Atlanta will have to start passing and Turner's lack of hands will take him off the field. Can Turner have good game? I would say yes, but the Pats' offense play calling make it unlikely. Projection: 70 yards rushing.
Ben Rothlisberger: Big Ben doesn't have much to prove at the ripe old age of 27. He has already won two Super Bowls and one came via a late game drive. That drive also was one of the few last year that wasn't interrupted by a sack. In 2008, the Steelers allowed on average 3 sacks per game. Two games into the 2009 season, Pittsburgh o-line is allowing on average 3 sacks per game. This week, Rothlisberger will probably fall victim to Antwan Odom. He has already accumulated 7 sacks in the first two weeks. I think most will believe that Odom just took advantage of Green Bay's backup left tackle, which maybe is true. On the other hand, Odom has 4 sacks against Chad Clifton and Ryan Harris who are both quality tackles. Also Bengals cornerback, Leon Hall, will probably be defending Ben's go-to receiver, Santonio Holmes, all game. In week 2, the Bengals made Greg Jennings disappear by using Leon Hall with safety help most the game. They will probably deploy the same strategy against Holmes. Projection: 220 passing yards, 2 interceptions, and a touchdown.
Vincent Jackson: Norv Turner has said that Jackson will be considered one of the top wide receiver after this year. After the first two weeks, Jackson is averaging 98.5 receiving and a touchdown per game. I would say that is a good start. Vincent might face a speed bump though in the form of the Miami Dolphins this week. The Dolphins have held Roddy White to 43 receiving yards and Reggie Wayne to 37 receiving yards. Miami's Pro Bowl stopper is surprisingly rookie Sean Smith. At 6'3" and 214 pounds, Smith won't have jump ball problems against the 6'5" Jackson. Also Vincent's 4.38 speed will be contained with Gibril Wilson helping over the top. Miami bracketed Wayne all game Monday night. They will probably do the same to Jackson. Projection: 65 receiving yards.