Fantasy Football Week 3 – Injuries and Slow Starts
Two weeks into the NFL season and some big name players are off to a slow start. Raiders star running back Darren McFadden has not had much success on the ground so far. When healthy McFadden has the potential to be a top 5 fantasy running back, but so far he's struggled. Through 2 games McFadden has an underwhelming 54 yards rushing and has yet to find the end zone. Unless you are in a PPR league, McFadden has been a big disappointment and with Pittsburgh coming in to Oakland things don't look great this week either. Despite the slow start expect McFadden to get back on track, but you may have to be patient. So far Oakland has faced two good run defenses in San Diego and Miami. McFadden will continue to see the football and plenty of it, especially in the passing game.
Wes Welker is another player who has yet to produce. Welker was drafted with the expectations of another 90+ reception season in what was expected to be a potent Patriots offense. So far this season the Patriots have shown more dedication to running the football and playing 2 tight end sets. Welker is most effective as a slot receiver and New England's shift in style has lead to a somewhat reduced role for Welker. However, an injury to tight end Aaron Hernandez could give Welker more opportunities in the passing game. A trip to Baltimore this Sunday night in a rematch of last years AFC title game will be the first glimpse of how the Patriots plan to adjust their offense without Hernandez for the next few weeks. Expect Baltimore to try and get pressure on Tom Brady which could open up opportunities for Welker in the short passing game, where he has proven to be an explosive player.
Early injuries are also an issue for many fantasy owners. Bears running back Matt Forte seems to have escaped what seemed to be a much more serious ankle injury. Don't expect him to play this week, but he could be back much sooner than the 4+ weeks that was originally feared. If you have Michael Bush, he is in for an expanded role in the Bears' offense this week in a good matchup at home against the Rams.
The Giants are another team facing injury woes as they travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw have both been ruled out of the contest. Andre Brown is expected to start at running back after putting up 71 yards and a TD after Bradshaw went out of last Sunday's game. Victor Cruz will likely see more targets at wide receiver and expect Martellus Bennett's productive start to the season to continue this week in what could turn into another shootout in Carolina.
For owners facing injury woes early on this season here are a couple players you may find available on your waiver wire.
Dennis Pitta (Baltimore-TE) Pitta has seen significant action in the Ravens' passing game through the first two weeks of the season. Pitta has been heavily targeted by Joe Flacco hauling in 13 passes for 138 yards and a score. Expect Pitta to continue to have a significant role in Baltimore's offense going forward.
Brandon LaFell (Carolina-WR) Starting opposite Steve Smith, LaFell has had a good start to the season with 9 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. The Giants are coming to town Thursday night in what could be a high scoring affair. A banged up secondary could help LaFell continue his hot start.
Andre Brown (Giants-RB) Brown will get the start for a banged up Ahmad Bradshaw this week. Brown will likely see the majority of the playing time at running back ahead of rookie David Wilson. Brown is solid in pass protection and should see plenty of work until Bradshaw is healthy enough to return.
Daryl Richardson (Rams-RB) Keep an eye on Steven Jackson's status heading into the weekend. Jackson went out with a groin injury last week against Washington and despite a late fumble Richardson put up some significant fantasy numbers with 83 yards rushing and a 2-point conversion. If Jackson can't go Sunday, Richardson could continue to be productive for St. Louis.