Risky Fantasy Football Starters: Week 3, 2010

I don't know your league's rules, or your roster, or your opponent. So I am not going to tell you who to start and who to sit or rank players.  Instead, I'll key you in on the relative fantasy football risk levels for key players in each NFL matchup.  Then you can set your starting lineup accordingly.  Remember, if your opponent is likely going to outscore you badly, you may want to swing for the fences with a high-risk starter or two to give yourself a shot to win; if you and your opponent are evenly matched, then try to minimize the risk of your lineup.

Here's your fantasy football risk assessment for Week 3 of the 2010 season:

Sun, Sep 26    

SF @ KC
HIGH RISK: KC passing game aside from TE Tony Moeaki
MEDIUM RISK: Michael Crabtree, Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones
LOW RISK: Frank Gore
NOTES: Gore has been in on all but two of SF's plays from scrimmage...KC running back split will be based on coach's "feel" for game...Alex Smith looked better in Week 2 but still at this point is just a low-end QB2.

TEN @ NYG
HIGH RISK: TEN QBs, WRs aside from Nate Washington
MEDIUM RISK: Nate Washington, NYG WRs, Eli Manning, NYG RBs
LOW RISK: Chris Johnson
NOTES: Can Titan's Vince Young still in an entire game?...Eli has several targets (Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Kevin Boss supposedly returning from a concussion, and Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield.  Nicks is always a potential break-out game but everyone else is risky to an extent...Brandon Jacobs has "accepted" his backup role after losing his temper and helmet in week 2....Nate Washington has had a quietly excellent first two weeks as the Titans' primary (and practially only worthwhile) target.

PIT @ TB
HIGH RISK: TB everything aside from perhaps WR Mike Williams; PIT QB.
MEDIUM RISK: PIT WRs
LOW RISK: Rashard Mendenhall
NOTES: We saw what the PIT D is capable of last week as it stuffed TEN and has propelled a Big Ben-less PIT team to a surprising 2-0 record.  Meanwhile, TB's ground game is struggling and Cadillac Williams might be dinged up...Mendenhall could get some garbage time stats if PIT can get ahead enought of TB.

DET @ MIN
HIGH RISK: anyone on either team not listed below
MEDIUM RISK: Brett Favre, Calvin Johnson
LOW RISK: Adrian Petersen, Jahvid Best
NOTES:  Favre has had a very disappointing first 2 weeks, replete with INTs and WR woes...Megatron will get his looks, but as we saw last season and so far this year, that doesn't always translate into a big stat line...Doing it mostly on receptions, Best has put together two very good weeks so far for his fantasy owners.

ATL @ NO
HIGH RISK: NO WRs, ATL WRs aside from Roddy White
MEDIUM RISK: Matt Ryan, Michael Turner
LOW RISK: Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Roddy White
NOTES: White has seen a huge amount of targets to start the season and is producing nicely...Pierre Thomas should see a lot of snaps with Reggie Bush out and the rest of the Saint RB corps in a state of flux (DeShawn Wynn released, Ledell Betts re-signed, Chris Ivory still out another week or two)...Turner's groin pull is supposedly mild but a tweaked groin is always a perilous thing for an RB...The Saint WRs all cancel each other out, it seems, making each one a risky fantasy play.

CLE @ BAL
HIGH RISK: CLE everything
MEDIUM RISK: BAL passing game aside from Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin
LOW RISK: Ray Rice
NOTES: Looks like another start for Brown QB Seneca Wallace, which could me a decent day for Josh Cribbs, as the two showed chemistry last week...Peyton Hillis has been a pleasant surprise for CLE but faces a rough task in facing the BAL defense.

BUF @ NE
HIGH RISK: Every BUF player
MEDIUM RISK: NE RBs, Aaron Hernandez
LOW RISK: Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Randy Moss
NOTES: Welker's been outstanding so far. Moss much less so and the Bills have a good secondary but look for some improvement from Moss this week nonetheless...NE TE Aaron Hernandez has posted some great stat lines as Brady has looked to his TEs on a steady basis so far.  Can it last?...Who will get the RB carries in BUF?  Will the starting QB be pulled again?  Way too many questions in BUF to make any BUF player worth using in a non-bye week.

CIN @ CAR
HIGH RISK: CAR players not named DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith
MEDIUM RISK: DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith, Carson Palmer, Ocho Cinco
LOW RISK: Terrel Owens, Cedric Benson
NOTES: Ocho has an "oucho" in his ribs but will play...DeAngelo's stat lines have been putrid so far but he's a slow starter (because his team is a slow starter).  CIN's run D is tough so DeAngelo's rebound may not start this week...So far Jonathan Stewart of CAR has been invisible.

DAL @ HOU
HIGH RISK: DAL RBs
MEDIUM RISK: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Dez Bryant
LOW RISK: Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, Miles Austin
NOTES: Bryant is nicked up a bit...AJ hurt his ankle.  He's supposed to play but you never know if he'll be hindered or able to finish.  You start him, of course, unless you are super deep at WR, but hold down expectations a bit...DAL RBs pretty evenly split paltry carries last week, making each fairly worthless as anything more than flex plays...Will Foster get more carries this week?  He didn't get many last week.

WAS @ STL
HIGH RISK: WAS RBs
MEDIUM RISK: Santana Moss, Donavan McNabb, Sam Bradford, STL WRs aside from Mark Clayton
LOW RISK: Mark Clayton, Stephen Jackson
NOTES:  Moss has been steady, but has long been mercurial, so I want a few more steady weeks before I downgrade to "low risk"...Mark Clayton's stats decreased last week but he still put up 2 TDs.  Keep starting him.

PHI @ JAC
HIGH RISK:
MEDIUM RISK: MJD, Michael Vick, PHI WRs, Mike Sims-Walker, David Garrard,
LOW RISK: DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy
NOTES: McCoy's been a stud so far and surprisingly is getting a lot of offensive focus...MJD has posted some disappointing stats and his health still seems to be in question...Garrard plays well at home so that bodes well for him and Mike Sims-Walker, plus the fact that JAC may have to pass a lot to keep pace with PHI...Vick gets the nod at starter.  He should be fine yet again, unless he somehow regresses badly and Kolb comes in (unlikely) or if PHI runs up the score and then tries to run the game out to finish.

SD @ SEA
HIGH RISK: Every SEA player
MEDIUM RISK: SD WRs, RBs
LOW RISK: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates
NOTES: SD rookie RB Ryan Mathews has a high ankle sprain but still might play.  Watch out; he could end up like Michael Turner last year and reaggravate it if he plays.  Also, Michael Tolbert and Darren Sproles will get touches.  What a mess!....Likewise, which SD WR will get the look this week?  In week 1 it was Legedu Naanee but he was invisible in week 2, while Craig Davis appeared on the radar in week 2.  Another mess....Speaking of messes, start any SEA player at your own peril. Hass might be an ok bye week starter but you don't need to use him this week unless you're in a very deep or 2-QB league.

OAK @ ARI
HIGH RISK: All OAK players but Darren McFadden and Louis Murphy
MEDIUM RISK: Louis Murphy, ARI RBs
LOW RISK: Darren McFadden, Larry Fitzgerald
NOTES: It's hard to put McFadden in the "low" range but so far he's playing well and remaining injury-free.  Michael Bush will play but probably not hurt RunDMC's stats in peril yet....Fitz is putting up ok stat lines despite Derek Anderson at QB....Beanie Wells is supposed to play; will he be effective?

IND @ DEN
HIGH RISK: DEN WRs
MEDIUM RISK: IND RBs, WRs aside from Reggie Wayne
LOW RISK: Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Reggie Wayne
NOTES: For both DEN and IND, you just don't know who'll get the looks at WR (well for IND, outside of Wayne).

NYJ @ MIA
HIGH RISK: MIA WRs aside from Brandon Marshall, Chad Henne, Mark Sanchez
MEDIUM RISK: MIA RBs, NYJ RBs
LOW RISK: Brandon Marshall
NOTES: Henne and Sanchez have been up and down...MIA should be able to run decently on the NYJ D, but you don't know ever with Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams will be the one the Dolphins ride...LT is marginalizing Shonn Greene, so we have another dreaded RBBC....Derelle Revis is out, so Brandon Marshall should be a fine play.

Mon, Sep 27

GB @ CHI
HIGH RISK: GB RBs
MEDIUM RISK: Jay Cutler, CHI WRs
LOW RISK: Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers
NOTES: Sounds like GB will run a RBBC and only run enough to keep the D honest...Cutler is playing well but I wonder if this will be a shootout and if in that case we'll see Cutler throw a spate of INTs...which CHI WR will lead the way this week?

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