NFL Week 3 – Matchups to Exploit & Avoid

Welp, the injuries happened sooner than expected with Keenan Allen and Adrian Peterson both likely done for the season, but everyone who’s played a lick of fantasy football knows that injuries happen…often. What doesn’t surprise people? How quickly the running back category is thinning out. So far through two weeks, we’ve seen Adrian Peterson and Ameer Abdullah go down for a significant amount of time and we have large number of backs that are severely underperforming; Jeremy Hill, Jeremy Langford, Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram, and Todd Gurley to name a significant handful.

With these running back struggles and injuries, the door for opportunity has opened for a number of backups, creating some intriguing match-ups both for Week 3 and the rest of the season. While I will not be highlighting the backups with their arrows pointing up for the rest of the season in this article, there are a number that have favorable matchups and could warrant a spot start in DFS formats, and if you’re desperate, in season-long formats.


Quarterback

Exploit – Matt Ryan @ New Orleans Saints

Much to the surprise of many, Matty Ice is actually the highest scoring fantasy QB through the first two weeks and that should remain the same after Week 3. While the Giants-Saints game was a let-down to many (especially Eli and OBJ owners), Matt Ryan should have no problem picking apart the Saints vulnerable secondary. Eli Manning still managed to throw for 368 yards last weekend and was the victim of too many turnovers, so as long as Matt Ryan can keep up the composure he’s had this season, expect a third straight 300+ yard performance and another week atop the quarterback rankings.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER – ANDREW LUCK VS SD, RYAN TANNEHILL VS CLE
Avoid – Kirk Cousins @ New York Giants

I don’t expect many to be on Cousins anyways, but some might be attracted to him strictly because of how bad the Giants secondary has been in recent years. This year, that’s not the case. The Giants have actually given up the 5th fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks through the first two weeks and with such a mediocre offensive line, I don’t see Cousins having a very productive game.

OTHERS TO AVOID – ANDY DALTON VS DEN, TYROD TAYLOR VS ARI

Running Back

Exploit – DeAngelo Williams @ Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup doesn’t really matter at this point for Williams, as he notched a career high 32 carries last weekend against the Bengals at age 33, but it is enticing nonetheless. While the Eagles defense has surrendered the 11th fewest points to running backs this season, they have yet to face an offense as dynamic as the Steelers, and after piling up 303 total yards and 3 touchdowns in the first two weeks, Williams shouldn’t have any problem this weekend. Expect him to receive another ton of carries, especially when the Steelers are ahead.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER – DAVID JOHNSON @ BUF, MELVIN GORDON @ IND
Avoid – LeSean McCoy vs Arizona Cardinals

The production for McCoy has been disappointing this season along with the entire Buffalo offense and it only gets tougher this weekend against one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. The Cardinals have allowed the 5th fewest amount of points to running backs through the first couple of weeks and McCoy hasn’t topped 60 rushing yards yet. The Cardinals have already recorded 5 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries through two weeks, causing McCoy to be in an extremely unfavorable spot this week.

OTHERS TO AVOID – JEREMY HILL VS DEN, JEREMY LANGFORD @ DAL

Wide Receiver

Exploit – Julio Jones @ New Orleans Saints

Much like my brief write-up on Matt Ryan, Julio should have absolutely zero problem exploiting the New Orleans secondary on Monday night. The Saints have yet to record an interception and have allowed 45 points through two games (35 in week 1 to the Raiders). Even though they only allowed 10 points to the Giants in week 2, they also surrendered more than 350 passing yards. It took Julio Jones 5 targets to eclipse 100 yards last week…expect his targets to double and his yardage to potentially skyrocket against such a depleted secondary.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER – TY HILTON VS SD, TRAVIS BENJAMIN @ IND
Avoid – AJ Green vs Denver Broncos

Obviously you aren’t going to bench AJ Green in any season-long format, but I would strongly advise you to avoid him in daily formats. He was an utter disappointment last week (2-38-0) against a Steelers team that he has a history of torching and the matchup gets a lot worse this Sunday. The Broncos are the second-ranked secondary in the NFL so far this season and the Bengals have allowed the 13th most fantasy points to opposing team defenses. While Green is an other-worldly talent, Chris Harris isn’t going to give him any room to operate and I would expect a rather low scoring game, and a quiet game for the Bengals’ primary wideout.

OTHERS TO AVOID – DEMARYIUS THOMAS @ CIN, RANDALL COBB VS DET

Tight End

Exploit – Delanie Walker vs Oakland Raiders

I really hope you took my advice and exploited Walker’s matchup last week as he posted a 6-83-1 game and looks for more this weekend. The Oakland Raiders are notoriously terrible against opposing tight ends and have given up the 5th most fantasy points to the position through the first two weeks. The Raiders are also allowing an average of 93(!) yards per game to opposing tight ends. If Walker is able to overcome his hamstring injury and suit up on Sunday, don’t be surprised if he’s the highest scoring tight end of the week.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER – ANTONIO GATES @ IND, JORDAN REED @ NYG
Avoid – Martellus Bennett vs Houston Texans

Aside from Gronk likely making his return tonight and the Patriots relying on a third-string quarterback, a matchup with the Houston Texans solidifies Bennett as an unattractive play tonight. Houston has allowed the 4th fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season and should absolutely dominate this game against the Patriots on primetime television tonight. Fade Martellus Bennett in all formats and thank me later.

OTHERS TO AVOID – COBY FLEENER VS ATL, GREG OLSEN VS MIN

Defense

Exploit – Dolphins D/ST vs Cleveland Browns

This should be a given. The Browns are without Corey Coleman and Josh Brown and are now relying on third-string rookie QB Cody Kessler to lead their offense. Lol. Roster the Dolphins and don’t look back.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER – TEXANS D/ST @ NE, SEAHAWKS D/ST VS SF
Avoid – Eagles D/ST vs Pittsburgh Steelers

The Eagles D has impressed through the first two weeks recording 6 sacks, 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries, but I want absolutely no part of them this Sunday. You should be weary of deploying a top defense like Carolina or Seattle against a team like the Steelers (who are averaging 31 points per game), so there is absolutely no reason to even consider playing a middling defense like the Eagles against them.

OTHERS TO AVOID – PATRIOTS D/ST VS HOU, BENGALS D/ST VS DEN

Thank you for reading my weekly matchup breakdown and feel free to shoot me questions on Twitter @JMetz34 or tweet at our main account @FanForecast!

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