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Flex Plays: Players to Watch in Week 3

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

I have been bamboozled! Antonio Brown fooled me twice. Dammit.

Just like the Chiefs I took another step back (albeit a small one), finishing 11-21 this week. So much for just Week 1 jitters. Fortunately I can make adjustments and improve. After losing Jamaal Charles for the year, I can't say the same for the Chiefs. In fact, their biggest competition will be with Seattle for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, which considering they don't reside in the NFC West, they should be able to win.

But I digress.

Of my Week 2 favorites, Santana Moss and James Starks came through, while I also hit home runs with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eric Decker. The latter two seem poised for every-week start status. Those that made me look foolish, other than Brown, included Ricky Williams, Jason Snelling and Brandon Pettigrew.

With 16,829 passing yards already thrown for in the first two weeks of the 2011 season, it's clear more than ever this is a passing dominated league. So it's no surprise that my best success rate (7 of 8) has come at picking QB's. It's with that ratio in mind that my locks this week are headlined by two of the next great signal callers, in only their third career starts-Cam Newton (no shock here) and Andy Dalton-while I also like Ben Tate to continue tearing it up in place of Arian Foster. Take those guys to the bank this week and don't be afraid to test-drive the rest of this crop either, as I'm feeling ready for a bounce-back, jitter-free week.

Sunday 9/25/11

Houston @ New Orleans

Ben Tate (RB) for Texans - Even if Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for the game, he's not likely to be as active in the backfield as Tate, who through two weeks leads the NFL with 47 rushing attempts, while posting 100+ yards in each of his outings.

Devery Henderson (WR) for Saints - While it can be scary to rely on any one Saints receiver, so far Henderson has been a consistent downfield threat for Drew Brees and he's sure to get his fair share of targets in what could be a high-scoring affair.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia

Brandon Jacobs (RB) for Giants - The Eagles have now allowed 292 rushing yards at 5.3 per carry. I may have whiffed on Jason Snelling last week, but he is by no means the truck that Jacobs is. He also didn't register a single carry somehow. I'd stake my own fantasy team that the same fate will not befall Jacobs.

Victor Cruz (WR) for Giants - With Domenik Hixon (ACL) heading to IR, a concussed Mario Mannigham possibly out and Hakeem Nicks on Nnamdi Asomugha lockdown, Cruz could become the top option for Eli Manning this one week. It's a big-time risky play, but with so many receivers banged up league-wide, you could do worse.

Jacksonville @ Carolina

Cam Newton (QB) for Panthers - It's not like I'm the first one jumping on the Camwagon, but let me put this in simple terms: start him. Unless he's backing up someone named Brady, Brees or Rodgers, get him in the game. I expect this is the one and only time I'll get to recommend him, and truthfully, I'm a week late.

Brandon LaFell (WR) for Panthers - LaFell has established himself as the clear No. 2 receiver for Carolina, and with Steve Smith earning himself consistent double coverage, he could be Cam's No. 1 this week.

New England @ Buffalo

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB) for Patriots - Since taking over as the starter in Week 3 of 2010, the Law Firm has been a touchdown machine, racking up 15 in 16 regular season games. He may lose touches to Danny Woodhead, but he is the man for the Pats at the goal line.

David Nelson (WR) for Bills - Nelson has nearly matched Steve Johnson target for target so far this season (19 & 20 respectively), and with the way Ryan Fitzpatrick is running this offense, he could become a No. 3 fantasy receiver before the season is out.

Miami @ Cleveland

Daniel Thomas (RB) for Dolphins - Take Thomas' impressive debut, add in the fact that Cleveland's D has given up 248 yards at 4.2 per carry through two games and you have the potential for an even bigger outing for the big rookie back.

Colt McCoy (QB) for Browns - McCoy limited his mistakes and improved his efficiency in Week 2 against a Colts defense built to play the pass. If his receivers show up he should have a nice outing against a Dolphins secondary that has been scorched for nearly 750 yards and six scores in two weeks.

San Francisco @ Cincinnati

A.J. Green (WR) for Bengals - Green and fellow rook Andy Dalton are clearly getting on the same page (evidenced by his 10-catch outing vs. Denver), and with his superior hands and athleticism, it's likely he'll become a fixture in your lineup sooner rather than later.

Andy Dalton (QB) for Bengals - Think the Bengals were taking notes when Dallas torched the Niners' secondary for 427 yards and three scores? So do I.

Denver @ Tennessee

Willis McGahee (RB) for Broncos - Even if Knowshon Moreno is able to play with his sore hammy, McGahee should receive the bulk of the carries. Baltimore abandoned the run versus Tennessee and it cost them. Don't expect a John Fox team to make the same mistake.

Matt Hasselbeck (QB) for Titans - Hasselbeck appears to have found his fountain of youth in the Music City. And that fountain of youth is named Kenny Britt-by far the most gifted receiver he's ever played with. The two combined to put up numbers on the Ravens' D and should have no problems doing likewise to Denver.

Detroit @ Minnesota

Nate Burleson (WR) for Lions - Matthew Stafford has thrown seven touchdowns thus far but has yet to get one into Burleson's hands. Considering Burleson is the Lions' leading receiver in catches and yards, I'd expect that to change soon.

Percy Harvin (WR) for Vikings - The Vikings simply don't have other weapons in the passing game, and unless they are somehow able to slow the Lions' explosive offense (doubtful), they'll be forced to pass more in this game than they'd like.

Baltimore @ St. Louis

Anquan Boldin (WR) for Ravens - After struggling against Tennessee the entire Ravens team will be itching to hit the field in St. Louis. Boldin is the clear-cut No. 1 target for Joe Flacco and should have Flacco looking his way early and often in a big game for Baltimore.

Mike Sims-Walker (WR) for Rams - Danario Alexander may be the Rams' big play threat, but it's MSW that is Sam Bradford's go-to receiver. Against a Ravens' defense looking to reassert themselves after a bad showing versus Tennessee, Bradford will need Sims-Walker in a big way if he wants to move the chains at all.

New York Jets @ Oakland

Dustin Keller (TE) for Jets - Keller is leading the Jets in catches, targets (tied), yards and scores. With his athleticism he is a difficult matchup for any linebacker or safety and the go-to weapon for Mark Sanchez, especially with Santonio Holmes nicked up.

Shonn Greene (RB) for Jets - The last time Greene faced Oakland was his rookie year and he piled up 144 yards and two scores. Sure that was 2009 and the current Raiders defense is much different from a personnel standpoint, but they were just gashed by Buffalo for over 200 yards at 8.7 a clip. Just saying.

Kansas City @ San Diego

Thomas Jones (RB) for Chiefs - No more Jamaal Charles. Dexter McCluster is teeny tiny and has fumbled in two consecutive games. The Chiefs have almost no offensive firepower. Etc., etc., etc. It's Jones' turn to at least see if the old man can spark this offense.

Mike Tolbert (RB) for Chargers - Don't overreact about the down week. Even with a lost fumble, miserable rushing stats and no score he produced six points. Amazingly The Round Mound of Touchdown, as I will forever refer to him, leads the league (yes, I said the LEAGUE) in receptions (17). Keep him active for this tasty matchup.

Arizona @ Seattle

Kevin Kolb (QB) for Cardinals - Seattle has no one who can cover Larry Fitzgerald. Considering the strong rapport Kolb is building with his top target and Kolb's league ranking of 4th in yards per attempt (9.83), another strong performance from the Cardinal QB should be on the way.

Marshawn Lynch (RB) for Seahawks - "Beast Mode" has yet to make an appearance this season, but after the Cardinals defense just allowed the Redskins to rack up 172 yards on the ground, the Seahawks would be wise to let the beast out of its cage.

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

Julio Jones (WR) for Falcons - There's nothing scientific to this, no statistical analysis to suggest a big week, just simply a gut feeling. Jones is a truly elite athlete and that has yet to be on complete display. I think that changes this week.

Kellen Winslow (TE) for Buccaneers - Tampa Bay's slow starts in the first two games translated to an average of 37 pass attempts per from Josh Freeman. With that trend likely to continue this week, and with Winslow leading the team in targets (16), it's only a matter of time until he puts one on the scoreboard.

Green Bay @ Chicago

James Starks (RB) for Packers - Starks is 3rd in the league with an eye-opening 6.8 yards per carry, so even though his touches have been limited, he's still been productive through two weeks. With teams having to focus so much on Aaron Rodgers and the pass, don't count on Starks slowing down anytime soon.

Dane Sanzenbacher (WR) for Bears - In two years in Detroit, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz turned Mike Furrey into a 1,000-yard receiver and had Shaun McDonald go for 943 and six scores. Sanzenbacher is of the same mold as those two, only hungrier. Again, just saying.

Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis

Isaac Redman (RB) for Steelers - The Colts were stampeded by both the Texans and the Browns to the tune of 273 yards and four touchdowns, and I'm sure the Steelers took notice. Redman carried 10 times last week, including a 20-yard score in the 2nd quarter. In this blowout, he may even have the second half to himself, so those numbers could go up.

Antonio Brown (WR) for Steelers - Third time's a charm.

Monday 9/26/11

Washington @ Dallas

Rex Grossman (QB) for Redskins - The 2010 version of the Cowboys let Grossman rack up over 300 yards, four touchdowns and two 2-point conversions WITH their full contingent of corners. At present, with his corners banged up, Rob Ryan has yet to fix the pass defense. Start Grossman with confidence.

Fred Davis (TE) for Redskins - In two games Davis has posted the 4th highest yards-per-catch average (17.4) among ALL players with double-digit receptions. He's also 2nd behind only Steve Smith in grabs of 20+ yards with six. Am I the only one who sees a top-5 tight end in the making?