RotoWire Partners

Position Units: Strong Plays for Week 3

Chris Bennett

Bennett covers baseball, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. Before turning to fantasy writing, he worked in scouting/player development for the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos. He's also a fan of the ACC.

Wagons' west as you look toward Week 3! Ultimately, it's another week with virtually too many matchups worth exploiting, and every mismatch comes with the caveat that things can get out of hand quickly, and thus wreck any trend you think you're playing. Sifting through a schedule with very few matchups of Top 25 schools, it's a certainly a time to play a hunch or a hot unit while waiting for conference play to set its course. Rushing attacks appear set for huge weeks across the nation, and passing attacks are ready to go off west of the Rockies. If you're looking for some high-scoring, late-night football, Week 3 has plenty to offer.


Buffalo (vs. Stony Brook) -
Running back Branden Oliver has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments both this year and in 2012 after posting a near 1,400-yard season as a sophomore. His struggles in 2013 have been solely related to the opponent, as the Bulls fell behind early to Ohio State and Baylor. A matchup with Stony Brook is just what the doctor ordered to right the ship. Players like Oliver, provided they stay healthy, always get their numbers by season's end. Games like this are how.

Ole Miss (vs. Texas) -
The Longhorns allowed 550 yards rushing last week to BYU, and subsequently fired their defensive coordinator. Ole Miss averaged just 2.27 yards per carry a week ago against Southeast Missouri State. Something has to give.

Bowling Green (at Indiana) -
Running back Travis Greene has jumped right into the fold as he replaced Anthon Samuel, totally 233 yards on 46 carries through two games. Indiana was gashed for 444 yards last week against Navy's triple option, but still surrendered 131 yards in Week 1 to Indiana State. Don't be scared by the MAC-BiG Ten matchup.

Navy (vs. Delaware) -
This seems like an appropriate week to remind fantasy owners that our armed forces play football. And most of them don't like the forward pass. The Midshipmen rushed for 444 yards last week, and should hit 300 this week against the Blue Hens because that's what they do. They run. You lose a little upside due to the quarterback's yardage, but not enough to worry this week.

Air Force (at Boise State) -
See above. Air Force isn't well versed in the forward pass, and the Broncos defense has surprisingly struggled against the run, allowing 420 yards and four scores through two games.

Middle Tennessee (vs. Memphis) -
The Blue Raiders may possess one of the more underrated offenses in the country. Turnovers and stalling inside the red zone cost them last weekend at North Carolina, but they still amassed 158 yards on the ground while playing most of the game from behind. In their season opener, MTSU ran for 270 and four scores, and this week's tilt with Memphis should offer at least the average of those two.

Alabama (at Texas A&M) -
Perhaps lost in the hoopla of this match is how terrible the Aggies rush defense is. Facing Rice and Sam Houston State, Texas A&M allowed 546 yards and four scores on the ground, bad enough to be 117th in the nation (of 125 teams) against the run. Alabama didn't show well in the season opener against Virginia Tech, but expect them to pound out chunks at a time and keep the Aggies potent offense on the sidelines.

Rutgers (vs. Eastern Michigan) -
Last week, Eastern Michigan allowed a struggling Penn State rushing attack to gain 251 yards and score five touchdowns. In Week 1, the Eagles allowed Howard to go for 202 yards on the ground. We don't know much about Rutgers' intentions after playing just one game, which became a shootout at Fresno State, but look for the Scarlet Knights to be the latest team to exploit this defense, and expect to see Eastern Michigan opponents often in this column.

Arkansas (vs. Southern Miss) -
New Hogs coach Bret Bielema has wasted little time implementing his pounding, Big Ten style into the SEC. Facing Louisiana-Lafayette and Samford through two weeks, Arkansas rushed 104 times, totaling 625 yards. Freshman Alex Collins (303 yards) looks like a star, and Jonathan Williams (277 yards) is no slouch either. Against another inferior defense (Southern Miss ranks 82nd nationally in run defense, and gave up 285 yards last week to Nebraska,) expect the Razorbacks to continue resembling Bielema's old Wisconsin teams.


Washington State (vs. Southern Utah) -
While it may not be wise to lead off the wide-receiving units with a hunch, the Mike Leach air raid simply has to right its ship against Southern Utah. The Cougars have been a fantasy nightmare since Leach arrived, possessing countless talented receiving options, and marginal results. Quarterback Connor Halliday has 559 yards through two games, but just one touchdown and five interceptions. The thinking is that ratio is closer to even come Sunday morning.

Utah (vs. Oregon State) -
Quarterback Travis Wilson appears to be one of the budding starts early in his sophomore campaign, completing 66 percent of his passes for 566 yards and five touchdowns. The receiving corps is led by Sean Fitzgerald (8-166-2), but features three receivers who've already topped the century mark on the young season. A Beavers defense comes to town ranked 111th against the pass, allowing 309 yards per contest.

Mississippi State (at Auburn) -
Auburn's defense has simply been awful, allowing 344 and 272 yards through the air to Washington State and Arkansas State respectively. Enter a Mississippi State team that should welcome back its senior signal called in Tyler Russell. The Tigers have only given up one touchdown through the air, however, so this play comes with some risk. But it feels like a shootout as two second tier SEC teams battle it out.

Colorado (vs. Fresno State) -
The Buffs passing game is vastly improved, largely thanks to the return of wideout Paul Richardson, who missed 2012 due to injury. It's likely a huge surprise that Colorado averages 370 yards in the air through two games, and with the aerial assault Fresno State brings to town, expect quarterback Connor Wood to sling it around Saturday.

Wyoming (vs. Northern Colorado) -
Quarterback Brett Smith is proving his breakout 2012 season was no fluke, averaging almost 343 yards through two contests. Led by Robert Herron (214 yards) and Rominic Rufran (181 yards,) the Cowboys have four wide receivers who have at least 94 yards on the year and six total touchdowns. Little resistance is on the horizon.

Utah State (vs. Weber State) -
Weber State was just gashed for 70 points against Utah, and now get to face a prolific Aggies offense led by talented and little heralded quarterback Chuckie Keeton. The passing game ranks 14th nationally through two contests, averaging 337 yards in the air, and another field day should be expected.

Fresno State (at Colorado) -
The Bulldogs get an obligatory mention until they find any semblance of a running game. Colorado has been respectable against the pass (240.5 ypg), but quarterback Derek Carr has eight touchdowns through two games and should finish Saturday with three or four more.