September 21, 2011
Each week the Noise highlights seven somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. For those playing the Flames home edition, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues to qualify. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the revamped scoring system shown here . If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 3 Flames in the comments.
Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), Buf, QB (Week 3 Noise QB Rank: 7, 21-percent started)
Matchup: vs. NE
Raise a pint of Guinness, gamers. Based on his early season performance, the grossly underappreciated Fitzpatrick deserves a toast. Currently the sixth-best quarterback in Fantasyland, the Wonderlic wunderkind — his 48 out of 50 score in 2005 was slightly better than Vince Young's(notes) six the following year — carved up the Chiefs and Raiders totaling 472 yards and seven touchdowns while chipping in an additional 26 rushing yards. The impressive trend should continue this week against New England. Exposed by Chad Henne(notes) and Philip Rivers(notes), the Pats secondary, giving up 8.9 per attempt, is once again Bill Belichick's achilles heel. Corner Devin McCourty(notes) has especially been brutalized. To take advantage of David Nelson's(notes) 6-foot-5 frame and Stevie Johnson's(notes) shiftiness, look for Chan Gailey to spread the field in an attempt to draw one-on-one matchups against the troubled DB. More importantly for Fitz's fantasy prospects, the Bills will likely play from behind. Buffalo allowed a whopping 323 yards to Jason Campbell(notes) last week, which suggests Tom Brady(notes) has strong odds of throwing for at least two Newtons by halftime. In what could be a lopsided affair, Fitzpatrick will be a pot 'o points at the end of the rainbow.
Fearless Forecast: 30-49, 313 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, 15 rushing yards, 28.2 fantasy points
Ben Tate(notes), Hou, RB (Week 3 Noise RB Rank: 9, 22-percent started)
Matchup: at NO
Words cannot express the torment the Noise has experienced dealing with Arian Foster(notes) and his sensitive hamstring. Crushed Rolling Rock cans litter my office. Gray hairs have become more visible. And the 'uplifting' Smiths tune "How Soon is Now?" has played nonstop on my iPod. In a desperate attempt to help ease the pain, I went to a club. Stood on my own. Left on my own. Went home. Cried. Felt like I wanted to die. Nothing has helped. … With the reigning rushing king temporarily in the rearview mirror, Tate, as Gary Kubiak discussed Monday, is expected to tote "most of the load" over the foreseeable future. The Auburn product deserves it. Over the first two weeks, he's averaged a potent 4.7 yards per carry, racking the fifth-most yards after contact among qualifying rushers in the league. His plowing style and overlooked versatility will prove problematic for the Saints. The acquisition of Shaun Rodgers has done little to improve New Orleans' run defense. Through two weeks, the Saints have allowed 4.4 yards per carry, two touchdowns and 144.5 total yards per game. In what should be a shootout, look for Kubiak to control the clock by deploying Tate early and often. If the Houston offensive line, which has performed outstandingly thus far, can continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and pick-up Gregg Williams' array of exotic blitzes, the second-year back should have no problem surpassing the century mark. Consider him a top-10 play in Week 3.
Fearless Forecast: 25 carries, 119 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 23.3 fantasy points
Daniel Thomas(notes), Mia, RB (Week 3 Noise RB Rank: 21, seven-percent started)
Matchup: at Cle
Thomas, who attacked the hole with little zeal during the preseason, left his tap shoes in the closet running with considerable power and assertiveness last week. Against a much improved Houston defense he eclipsed the century mark. Look for him to carry that momentum into Week 3. Cleveland has looked like a pack of lazy chihuahuas against the run so far this season. Against a pair of mediocre offenses, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, the Browns have surrendered 4.5 yards per carry and 124.5 rushing yards per game to RBs. Though Reggie Bush(notes) touched the rock just seven times last week, a surprising revelation days after Tony Sparano noted the workload split between the two was going to be 70-30, Bush-Thomas. But after the rookie's breakout performance, the head coach hinted his backfield has evolved into a hot-hand situation. Because of Cleveland's struggles containing straight-forward backs, Thomas has sound odds of tilting the scale in his favor. Plug him in at the flex or RB2 slot in deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 74 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 10 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.9 fantasy points
A.J. Green(notes), Cin, WR (Week 3 Noise WR Rank: 9, 31-percent started)
Matchup: vs. SF
Through two weeks of play, A.J. stands for "Absolute Juggernaut." The first-round pick from Georgia has not only lived up to the hype, he's greatly exceeded it. Practically unstoppable against the Browns and Broncos, he totaled 11 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns, a line good enough for a top-12 WR ranking in standard formats. The phenom and fellow rookie Andy Dalton(notes) have established quite the chemistry (nine targets per game). Green is the definition of a complete receiver. He has the size, speed and athleticism to emerge victorious in almost any battle, even when doubled. Without a doubt, he's the finest receiving talent to enter the league since Calvin Johnson(notes). Expect his legend to continue to grow this week against the visiting Niners. Corners Tarell Brown(notes) and Tramaine Brock(notes), both standing at 5-foot-10, are little match for the 6-foot-4 Green. The pair played poorly Week 1 against woeful Seattle and 10 levels below atrocious a week ago against Dallas, yielding 14 catches for 289 yards and three scores to Cowboys WRs. Expect Dalton to pick on them early and often. Green, like Cam Newton, is not only must-start material this week, but almost every week moving forward.
Fearless Forecast: 8 receptions, 98 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 21.6 fantasy points
Dexter McCluster(notes), KC, WR/RB (Week 3 Noise WR Rank: 30, nine-percent started)
Matchup: at SD
The Charles-less Chiefs may make the Seahawks look like the 2007 Patriots, but McCluster is one KC player who won't be a fantasy buster. Versatile, explosive and feisty, the diminutive dual-threat could become the AFC's version of Darren Sproles(notes). Unquestionably, Thomas Jones(notes) will be deployed between-the-tackles and in short-yardage situations, but because McCluster is a superior receiver he will command looks on all passing downs. Last week, Jones played 27 snaps, McCluster 33. That near 50-50 split should be expected over the remainder of the season, especially with the Chiefs' inefficiencies on defense. On paper, the Chargers are a daunting foe. They have not allowed a rusher to eclipse 100-yards on the ground at home since Week 13 of 2008, a span of 19 games. Obviously, McCluster's odds of reaching the century mark exclusively on the ground are akin to the Noise outracing Chris Johnson on rocket-powered skates, but he could flirt with 80 total yards and 5-6 receptions in what will surely be a very one-sided game. Keep in mind, in his short career he has averaged a terrific 6.6 yards per touch. If you're in a PPR league, find a way to employ the "Psycho Killer" this week.
Fearless Forecast: 9 carries, 50 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 12.6 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Mike Kafka(notes), Phi, QB (Week 3 Noise QB Rank: 12, zero-percent started)
Matchup: vs. NYG
The unexpected twists and turns over the course of a season is what makes fantasy so great. Value can crop up from the strangest of places. This week, Philadelphia could be that location. If Michael Vick(notes) is forced out of action, Kafka, the third-string QB on the Eagles' depth-chart entering the season, could be the biggest surprise sensation of Week 3. After Vick was felled by a concussion late in last week's thriller with Atlanta, the former Northwestern standout stepped in and stood out. Unfazed by the hostile crowd or pressure-packed situation, he completed seven of nine attempts for 72 yards (8.0 ypa), executing on a variety of tough throws. Kafka doesn't possess the strongest arm, but he's a highly intelligent and accurate system quarterback who is capable of exploiting defenses in the short-to-intermediate field. With a bevy of weapons around him, he may do exactly that against a wounded Giants D. New York, missing key players just above everywhere on defense, has surrendered 8.0 yards per attempt, three touchdowns and 318 yards per game to passers so far this season. It may seem like a stretch, but if Vick sits and Young's hamstring doesn't heal in time, Kafka could be quite the one-week wonder. Believe.
Fearless Forecast: 24-36, 257 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 12 rushing yards, 22.0 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 3 FLAMES
Image courtesy of Getty
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