Week 3: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
Only a third of fantasy owners started Robert Griffin III last week and it's okay to admit we were all a bit skeptical after two weeks. Although he didn't lead the Redskins to victory last week, he's performed at a very high level. Depending on your scoring system, he should be close to the highest-scoring QB in your league in fact. After recommending the former Baylor signal caller in each of the past two weeks, I'm going back to the well for the third time. RG3 is here to stay, ladies and gentlemen. He's passed for 526 yards and run for another 124. He's thrown three TDs and ran it in twice. He's completed over 70-percent of his passes and when he goes up against the Cincinnati Bengals defense next week, he's facing the third-worst fantasy defense against QBs in the NFL.
After two games, Matthew Stafford has underwhelmed the masses. A near-loss to the St. Louis Rams and a uncompetitive thumping from the San Francisco 49ers have Stafford's statistics in a serious lull. While he has passed for 555 yards, he's also thrown four picks. Thankfully for Stafford and his team's sake, he'll face Tennessee on Sunday. The Titans have allowed quarterbacks to pass for 520 yards and five touchdowns. If Stafford can't get his season back on track against them, it is going to be a long season. Fantasy owners will have to hold firm with Stafford, although there are at least 20 other QBs around the league performing better. Nobody thought we'd all need a pep talk convincing us to keep Stafford in our fantasy lineup, but that's why the players play the game.
Last week I recommended Donald Brown, and I'm doing it again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, hopefully it doesn't happen again. The Colts are playing the league's worst fantasy defense against running backs...also known as the Jacksonville Jaguars. Are these numbers skewed? Well Jacksonville faced Adrian Peterson in Week 1 and Arian Foster and Ben Tate, a true two-headed monster, in Week 2. In that span, they allowed 311 yards and five TDs to RBs. Nothing is guaranteed in life (certainly not in fantasy football either), but this matchup is as favorable as it gets. Jacksonville's offense is putrid and will hardly even be on the field, which will allow the Colts' offense more time and more opportunities to put up points. Exhibit some cautious optimism with me as we give Brown another shot to prove us wrong.
Not only is Michael Bush a sleeper (we here at FFToolbox consider him one in our "Sleepers of the Week" article), he's now at the forefront of the Chicago Bears' backfield. RB Matt Forte is sidelined with what may or may not be a high ankle sprain. Head coach Lovie Smith says it isn't a high ankle sprain, but all we know for sure is that Forte is questionable for Week 3. Should he not play, Bush is going to see almost every snap and handle almost every carry. The Rams have allowed Detroit RBs to score three TDs in Week 1; and last week, they allowed Robert Griffin III to rush for 82 yards and two scores. With that in mind, there should be plenty of opportunities for Bush to find pay dirt all while accumulating fantasy points on the ground and through the air.
There's no shame in admitting you took a pass on Malcom Floyd. San Diego and Philip Rivers struggled at times last season. They added Robert Meachem, and Floyd's injury-prone status probably pushed him down draft boards. Yet after two weeks, he's played very well. He's grabbed 10 passes for 175 yards and a score. These numbers don't jump out to you, but he's firmly entrenched as a Top 15 WR right now which should place him as a WR2 across all formats. Rivers threw three touchdown passes to TE Dante Rosario last week. How often do you think that happens? Those red zone targets will eventually find their way to Floyd and his status as San Diego's WR1 will really take off. Rather than wait around for him to have a big week against an overachieving Falcons' secondary, make him active for Week 3.