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NFL Skinny: Week 3 preview

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

In the frantic lead up to the regular season, I forgot to join a pick'em pool. So I'm adding a score prediction to each game module below, if only to further humble myself. Alright, let's dive in …

Week 3 Preview
A snapshot of each Week 3 matchup

WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ DETROIT LIONS

Key Stats: REDSKINS – 4.4 YPC allowed; 184 YPG passing allowed
LIONS – 4.5 YPC allowed; 8 TD passes allowed
What to watch for: Washington's offense has scored the 2nd-fewest points in the NFL (26). Head coach Jim Zorn is feeling the heat this week for what is being construed as suspect play-calling. Count on the Redskins to open things up a bit against Detroit, especially with RG Randy Thomas(notes) lost for the season. As they say, it's easy to mask offensive line deficiencies through pass blocking rather than run blocking. QB Jason Campbell(notes) suffered drops of potential TD passes by FB Mike Sellers(notes) and WR Devin Thomas(notes) in Week 2, and it seems likely that he'll look to lean on the more trusted veteran trio of RB Clinton Portis(notes), TE Chris Cooley(notes) and WR Santana Moss(notes) this week.

The good news for rookie QB Matthew Stafford(notes), who has thrown five picks in two games, is that the Redskins have just one interception in two games. Regardless of that fact, though, the Lions will likely look to ride RB Kevin Smith(notes) fairly heavily once again (he rushed 24 times in Week 2 v. MIN) – the Redskins have allowed a healthy 4.4 YPC. And, of course, they'll take their shots with WR Calvin Johnson(notes) when the opportunity looks ripe. Smith and Johnson remain the only two Lions worth fantasy consideration, and I'd feel comfortable rolling with both this week.

Green Light: Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley
Yellow Light: Washington Defense, Antwaan Randle El(notes), Detroit Defense, Jason Campbell
Red Light: Matthew Stafford, Bryant Johnson(notes), Brandon Pettigrew(notes)
Sleeper: Detroit Defense, Ladell Betts(notes)
Injuries: WAS RG Randy Thomas (triceps) is out for the season; WAS CB Fred Smoot(notes) (rib) missed Week 2 and status is not yet known for Week 3; DET LB Ernie Sims(notes) (shoulder) is expected to miss at least Week 3;
Prediction: Detroit 20, Washington 17
GREEN BAY PACKERS @ ST. LOUIS RAMS

Key Stats: PACKERS – 3.6 YPC allowed; 217 YPG passing allowed; 6 INTs
RAMS – 4.4 YPC allowed; 258 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: Not a bad week for QB Aaron Rodgers(notes) to get well. The Rams have allowed a 66.7% completion rate to opponents and have managed to sack the QB just once. WR Greg Jennings(notes) was held without a catch on five targets last week. Don't be surprised if he's targeted double-digit times on Sunday. The Rams have also allowed 80+ yards to a TE in each of the first two weeks, which is to say, TE Jermichael Finley(notes) (56 yards in Week 2) needs to be strongly considered this week. Expect RB Ryan Grant(notes) to have a very workman-like 20/80/1 type of performance.

The Rams, who have just one touchdown in two games, are dealing with some injury issues on the offense line – C Jason Brown(notes), RT Jason Smith(notes) and LT Alex Barron(notes) could all be either limited or out in Week 3. This could make it tough for the team to run against a GB defense that has allowed just 3.6 YPC. But expect STL to try, and it won't hurt if both Packers starting safeties are out. RB Steven Jackson pounded out 6.1 YPC against WAS in Week 2 and he absolutely needs to be handling the ball in some fashion 25+ times this week. The Rams were fairly equitable in their run/pass distribution last week. They'll shoot for balance once again, and when they go to the air, WR Laurent Robinson(notes) has quickly established himself as QB Marc Bulger's(notes) go-to guy. WR Donnie Avery(notes) looks droppable in shallow and mid-sized leagues. He has just seven catches for 50 yards in two games, and he's lost a fumble in each. The team just doesn't buy Bulger enough time to take advantage of Avery's speed deep.

Green Light: Green Bay Defense, Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver(notes), Ryan Grant, Steven Jackson, Laurent Robinson
Yellow Light: Randy McMichael(notes)
Red Light: Marc Bulger, Donnie Avery, St. Louis Defense
Sleeper: Jermichael Finley, James Jones(notes)
Injuries: STL RT Jason Smith (knee) is likely questionable for Week 3; STL C Jason Brown (knee) is day-to-day; STL LT Alex Barron (thigh) is likely probable for Week 3; GB FS Nick Collins(notes) (shoulder) could be questionable for Week 3; GB SS Atari Bigby(notes) is expected to miss at least Week 3; GB LT Chad Clifton(notes) (ankle) is likely doubtful for Week 3
Prediction: Green Bay 31, St. Louis 13
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Key Stats: 49ERS – 2.7 YPC allowed
VIKINGS – 158 YPG passing allowed; 7 Sacks
What to watch for: We may actually get to see some gun-slinging from QB Brett Favre(notes) this week. He's averaged just 24 pass attempts through two weeks, but the clear strength of the 49ers' defense, so far, has been against the run. Expect RB Adrian Peterson to still see a sizeable workload and he could turn out nice production despite the 49ers' success against the run – SF hasn't faced a dominating, physical running game like the Vikings', yet. Hybrid WR Percy Harvin(notes), in the matter of two weeks, has proven to be a threat that the opposition has to be prepared for. MIN has used him on reverses, quick screens, Wildcat formations and everything in between, and he's scored in each of the first two games. If MIN can buy Favre time, which they haven't been too good at, thus far, the threats of Peterson and Harvin should open up the deep ball for WR Bernard Berrian(notes) for the first time this season. For the record, the 49ers' LB crew is excellent, and they've been a TE-squashing unit since the beginning of last season. Which means TE Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) is avoidable this week.

We know after two weeks that SF is committed to the run. The team does not pass protect well (8 sacks allowed), and the strength of QB Shaun Hill(notes) is his efficiency and game-management skills. Considering how proficient MIN is at getting to the QB, it's going to be business as usual for RB Frank Gore(notes) – he's likely to get 20+ carries even if he's struggling to reach 2.0 YPC like we saw in Week 1, and despite the fact that he's dealing with a mild ankle sprain. With time in the pocket expected to be an issue, don't count on much from WRs Isaac Bruce(notes) and Josh Morgan(notes). But TE Vernon Davis(notes), who has 13 targets through two games, could be a big factor – Minnesota has allowed a combined 100 yards to lesser brand TEs Robert Royal(notes) and Brandon Pettigrew.

Green Light: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Defense, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Percy Harvin
Yellow Light: Brett Favre, Bernard Berrian, San Francisco Defense
Red Light: Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor(notes), Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, Shaun Hill
Sleeper: Sidney Rice(notes)
Injuries: SF RBs Frank Gore (ankle) and Glen Coffee(notes) (hip) are expected to play in Week 3;
Prediction: Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13
ATLANTA FALCONS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Key Stats: FALCONS – 5.1 YPC allowed;
PATRIOTS – 162 YPG passing allowed; 0 INTs
What to watch for: Thanks to the addition of TE Tony Gonzalez(notes) and an added year of experience for QB Matt Ryan(notes), ATL has gone from one of the run-heaviest offenses in '08 to one of the most balanced offenses in '09 (64 rushes/63 passes). But you can still count on 20+ carries from RB Michael Turner(notes) – he's averaged 25 carries this season and has topped 20 carries in 13 of 18 regular-season games for ATL. But even without DE Richard Seymour(notes) and now LB Jerod Mayo(notes), NE has been fairly strong across the board on the defensive side of the ball and you can expect ATL to look to continue the equitable distribution of the pigskin on offense. Something tells me, though, that WR Roddy White(notes) finishes this one with his first 100-yard game of '09.

Tom Brady(notes) has thrown 100 passes in two games, for which head coach Bill Bellichick is unapologetic. While Brady is still trying to rediscover that extreme comfort level in the pocket he was once known for, the passing game is still the clear strength of this offense and a stubborn Bellichick is likely to have Brady airing it out at least 40 times again on Sunday. But pass protection could be a bit problematic as ATL has generated 4 QB sacks from right-side DEs John Abraham(notes) and Kroy Biermann(notes), and NE LT Matt Light(notes) has been taking heat for his diminishing skills (read: quickness). Brady has only been sacked once, but he's been under the gun often this season. If he does get time, Randy Moss(notes) and Wes Welker(notes) (if healthy; if not, Welkian backup Julian Edelman(notes)) could have a field day against the Falcons' suspect corners. Finally, don't be surprised if RB Fred Taylor(notes), who ran with fire last week, receives 12+ carries on Sunday.

Green Light: Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan
Yellow Light: Wes Welker, Fred Taylor
Red Light: Michael Jenkins(notes), Benjamin Watson(notes), Kevin Faulk(notes), Sammy Morris(notes), Laurence Maroney(notes), New England Defense, Atlanta Defense
Sleeper: Julian Edelman
Injuries: ATL RB Jerious Norwood(notes) (head) could be questionable for Week 3; NE WR Wes Welker (knee) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: New England 27, Atlanta 24
TENNESSEE TITANS @ NEW YORK JETS

Key Stats: TITANS – 1.9 YPC allowed; 339 YPG passing allowed
JETS – 3.7 YPC allowed; 181 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: The Jets, like head coach Rex Ryan's former Baltimore flock, love to send 6+ defenders, forcing quick decisions by the QB while stuffing running lanes in the process. But TEN is excellent in pass protection, allowing the fewest sacks in '08 and just two in '09. If the Jets stay true on defense, TEN can think about taking some deep shots downfield – QB Kerry Collins(notes) has the arm and WRs Kenny Britt(notes) and Nate Washington(notes) have the speed. In addition, TEN will certainly check to see if the Chris Johnson dump-off bank is still open – the RB had 9 receptions for 87 yards in Week 2. NYJ CB Darrelle Revis(notes) has shutdown WRs Andre Johnson(notes) and Randy Moss so far, and he'll probably lock up on WR Justin Gage(notes) in this one. It's enough of a concern for Gage owners that they should forget about rostering him this week. You can't start RB LenDale White(notes) at this point, as he's been used sparingly and wasn't leaned on much last season against stauncher run defenses.

TEN is very susceptible in the secondary, as the team has allowed 10+ pass plays of 20+ yards, second-most in the NFL. Inexperience is becoming less and less of a concern for QB Mark Sanchez(notes) each passing week as he proves he's capable and mature beyond his years. Rex Ryan opened things up for Sanchez in the second half of Week 2 vs. New England and Sanchez delivered in spades. No doubt that the Jets will look to see if the running game is viable early, but TEN has allowed just 1.9 YPC this season. If not, look for the team to use TE Dustin Keller(notes) heavily – TEN has allowed healthy yardage to TEs – and get creative with RB Leon Washington(notes) – perhaps a wheel route or two? WR Chansi Stuckey(notes) has been Sanchez's preferred deep option, which is something to consider given how many times TEN has been burned deep.

Green Light: Chris Johnson, Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery(notes)
Yellow Light: Kerry Collins, Leon Washington, Mark Sanchez, Tennessee Defense, New York Defense
Red Light: LenDale White, Justin Gage, Thomas Jones(notes), Bo Scaife(notes)
Sleeper: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Chansi Stuckey
Injuries: TEN TE Bo Scaife (knee) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: Tennessee 17, New York 13
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Key Stats: CHIEFS – 49.3% Comp% allowed
EAGLES – 3.7 YPC allowed; 186 YPG passing allowed; 7 Sacks; 6 INTs
What to watch for: Ideally, you'd prefer to attack KC with a power running game like BAL did in Week 1 (41 carries, 4.8 YPC). But PHI does not have a power running game and has long preferred the aerial route (81 attempts in '09). And to make matters worse, RB Brian Westbrook(notes) sprained his surgically-repaired ankle in Week 2. Expect him to be limited in Week 3, which means rookie backup RB LeSean McCoy(notes) could wind up seeing an upgraded workload and, if so, he's a very intriguing fantasy play. QB Kevin Kolb(notes) loves throwing to TE Brent Celek(notes) and WR DeSean Jackson(notes), and they had a combined 20 targets in Week 2. PHI is always creative in finding ways to get DeSean the ball, and that won't change, assuming he can play through a groin injury suffered in Week 2. By the way, if Westbrook doesn't play, here's a Hail Mary pick for deep leaguers: FB Leonard Weaver(notes)

This should be a long day for the KC offense, with its anemic offensive line going against an athletic, attacking PHI defense. RB Larry Johnson(notes) ran 24 times for 78 yards in Week 2 and, with RB Jamaal Charles(notes) (healthy scratch in Week 2) seemingly in the doghouse, LJ should see extensive work once again, and he's likely to be equally as impotent as he was in Week 2. WR Bobby Wade(notes) signed with KC prior to Week 2 and made an immediate impact for the team, leading KC in targets (9), catches (6) and receiving yards (72) on Sunday. His short-game, possession skills will likely come in handy for QB Matt Cassel(notes) once again in Week 3. WR Dwayne Bowe(notes) has managed to find pay dirt in each of the first two weeks despite just 5 targets in each contest. The likelihood that KC is playing from behind gives Bowe good odds at scoring in his third straight game.

Green Light: DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Dwayne Bowe, Philadelphia Defense
Yellow Light: Matt Cassel, Larry Johnson, Brian Westbrook
Red Light: Kansas City Defense, Kevin Curtis, Mark Bradley(notes), Sean Ryan(notes)
Sleeper: Kevin Kolb, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, Bobby Wade
Injuries: PHI QB Donovan McNabb(notes) (rib) is likely out for Week 3; RB Brian Westbrook (ankle) could be questionable for Week 3; PHI WR DeSean Jackson (groin) could questionable for Week 3
Prediction: Philadelphia 26, Kansas City 14
NEW YORK GIANTS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Key Stats: GIANTS: 6.7 YPC allowed; 157 YPG passing allowed
BUCS: 5.7 YPC allowed; 282 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: NYG had one of the top rushing offenses in '08, but it has struggled to a 3.5 YPC mark through two games. TB has struggled at stopping both the run and pass, 2nd-most total yards allowed (450 YPG), and the NYG has proven that there is more potency in the passing game, thanks to WRs Steve Smith and Mario Manningham(notes), than most anyone expected. That said, I expect NYG really has a desire to try to get the running game well this week. TB has allowed 5.7 YPC and, after watching QB Eli Manning(notes) shred the DAL secondary in Week 2, TB cannot simply decide to sell out to stop the run for fear of a repeat of the field day DAL QB Tony Romo(notes) had against them in Week 1. All of this is to say, RB Brandon Jacobs(notes) gets 20+ carries for the first time in '09 this week. And sure-handed middleman WR Steve Smith likely gets another 6-8 receptions. Because I think the NYG play it a bit more conservative this week, and because he's been the preferred red-zone target, I like Smith a little bit more than Manningham this week, but both are viable options. Heck, all Giants starters are viable options.

Few, if anyone, predicted that the NYG would be the second-worst rush defense (6.7 YPC) after two weeks. DAL shredded a Justin Tuck(notes)-less defensive front in the second half this past Sunday night, rushing for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Obviously, Tuck's Week 3 availability, shoulder injury, will dictate a bit of how TB attacks the Giants. Certainly, TB would like to get the ground game going again after BUF shut it down (57 rushing yards, 3.0 YPC) in Week 2. It would afford them the best chance to stay close early, something the team has struggled with – it fell behind 20-7 to DAL in Week 1 and 17-0 to BUF in Week 2. As a team that wants to run the ball, but has been forced to have QB Byron Leftwich(notes) hoist it 91 times in the first two weeks, this is a tough group to figure out from a fantasy standpoint. TE Kellen Winslow(notes), with 9+ targets in each game, seems the safest option. Everyone else is running under at least a caution flag.

Green Light: Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, Eli Manning, Mario Manningham, New York Defense, Ahmad Bradshaw(notes), Kellen Winslow
Yellow Light: Byron Leftwich, Carnell Williams(notes), Derrick Ward(notes)
Red Light: Tampa Bay Defense, Michael Clayton(notes), Maurice Stovall(notes)
Sleeper: Jerramy Stevens(notes), Kevin Boss(notes)
Injuries: TB FS Jermaine Phillips(notes) (thumb) is out 6-8 weeks; TB WR Antonio Bryant(notes) (knee) appears unlikely to play in Week 3; NYG WR Domenik Hixon(notes) (knee) could be questionable for Week 3; NYG DE Justin Tuck (shoulder) could be questionable for Week 3;
Prediction: New York 34, Tampa Bay 19
CLEVELAND BROWNS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS

Key Stats: BROWNS – 5.6 YPC allowed; 174 YPG passing allowed
RAVENS – 2.2 YPC allowed; 290 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: This is an ugly one for CLE. In fact, you have to wonder if the team will even manage to find pay dirt at all – it couldn't at DEN in Week 2. QB Brady Quinn(notes) has been sacked 9 times in two games and now he has to deal with the blitz-happy BAL schemes. It wouldn't at all be surprising to see an appearance from QB Derek Anderson(notes) in this one, be it because of Quinn's struggles or a Quinn injury. RB Jamal Lewis(notes) has been decent traveling to face his former team the past couple years, but you can't expect more than a grind-it-out 50-60 yard effort in this one. WR Braylon Edwards(notes) is coming off 6-for-92 performance against DEN in Week 2 and he's disappointed his fantasy owners just once in his past six meetings against BAL. It's a scary matchup, but the history card and the struggles of BAL against the SDG passing game in Week 2 makes Edwards a defensible play.

Nobody runs more than BAL. Not last year and not in '09, at least. With CLE allowing 5.6 YPC, there is little reason for BAL to come in planning to let QB Joe Flacco(notes) win this one with his arm. RB Ray Rice(notes) likely gets a lot of carries in this one, with RB Willis McGahee(notes) stealing a dozen carries or more as well as Rice's thunder at the goal line. Worth considering is that CLE allowed just 1 TD to a TE in '08 and has allowed just 5 receptions to TEs in '09. I'd be leery of TE Todd Heap(notes), who had just 1 reception for 9 yards in Week 2. Play-action should be available for Flacco – CLE has allowed 6 of 33 passes completed against them to go for 20+ yards. Don't be surprised if emerging deep-ball specialist WR Kelley Washington(notes) gets the chance to end zone dance once again.

Green Light: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Baltimore Defense, Braylon Edwards
Yellow Light: Derrick Mason(notes), Joe Flacco, Mark Clayton(notes)
Red Light: Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Defense, Joshua Cribbs(notes), Brady Quinn, Todd Heap
Sleeper: Kelley Washington, Le'Ron McClain(notes), Robert Royal
Injuries: BAL CB Fabian Washington(notes) (concussion) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: Baltimore 28, Cleveland 7
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ HOUSTON TEXANS

Key Stats: JAGUARS – 3.2 YPC allowed; 280 YPG passing allowed
TEXANS – 6.3 YPC allowed; 241 passing yards allowed
What to watch for: JAC is just 24th in total yards on offense through two games, so it will welcome a matchup with the league's worst defense. HOU is allowing 6.3 YPC and versatile RB Chris Johnson ate them alive with a heavy mix of carries and receptions in Week 2. Odds are that owners of RB Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) have already stained something with saliva while daydreaming about this matchup. QB David Garrard(notes) has fared well against HOU in recent meetings and he's coming off a week in which he threw 43 times for 282 yards and 2 TDs. It's hard to tell right now if the balance of go-to power at WR will remain with Mike Sims-Walker(notes), or if team target leader Torry Holt(notes) will start making his opportunities count. I'm putting all receiving options for JAC under the caution flag this week – but both should be fine options this week as JAC lost WR Troy Williamson(notes) to injury in Week 2 and cut WR Nate Hughes(notes) after he failed to deliver on a couple crucial opportunities in Week 2. There's not much competition at WR in JAC right now.

Is this the game RB Steve Slaton(notes) finally breaks out? Last season, two of his top six fantasy efforts came against JAC. But that means little right now for a RB that has drawn the ire of head coach Gary Kubiak for fumbling three times in 26 carries through two games. If he drops the rock again in Week 3, RB Chris Brown becomes a nightmare for Slaton owners. Slaton's been called to task, and I expect he'll be motivated and given opportunities early to make amends. You obviously don't sit WR Andre Johnson after a monstrous Week 2 performance, but just beware that JAC CB Rashean Mathis(notes) can be problematic for top WRs, and Johnson has had his struggles with him in the past. Rookie CB Derek Cox(notes), if he plays (concussion) could lead HOU to look WR Kevin Walter's(notes) way often. Walter looks likely to return from a hamstring injury that cost him the first two weeks of the season. JAC has just one sack in two games, so QB Matt Schaub(notes) should have time to find his plethora of receiving talents, and you really have to give strong consideration to the entire Texans stable this week.

Green Light: Maurice Jones-Drew, David Garrard, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels(notes), Steve Slaton, Matt Schaub
Yellow Light: Torry Holt, Mike Sims-Walker, Marcedes Lewis(notes)
Red Light: Jacksonville defense, Houston Defense
Sleeper: Kevin Walter
Injuries: HOU WR Kevin Walter (hammy) is expected to play in Week 3; HOU LG Chester Pitts(notes) (knee) could be questionable for Week 3; JAC CB Derek Cox (concussion) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: Jacksonville 28, Houston 27
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ BUFFALO BILLS

Key Stats: SAINTS – 2.9 YPC allowed; 288 YPG passing allowed; 6 INTs
BILLS – 3.1 YPC allowed; 332 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: It's not hard to imagine what NO has planned for Sunday. BUF has allowed 332 passing yards and have been thrown on 103 times in two games. QB Drew Brees(notes) is averaging 323 passing yards in two games. BUF has allowed the most FAN PTS to TEs (hello, Jeremy Shockey(notes)). Bring on the fireworks! NO has RB concerns anyway, as RB Mike Bell(notes) suffered an MCL injury in Week 2 that should sideline him on Sunday. RB Pierre Thomas(notes), finally over his MCL injury, is expected to take Bell's spot in the lineup. BUF has been stout against the run, but Brees has a way of opening things up for the entire offense, so consider Thomas a solid option. Also, a RB has caught at least 6 passes against BUF in each of the first two games, an optimistic stat for RB Reggie Bush(notes) owners.

The BUF offense has become the property of Fred Jackson(notes). After posting 140 yards from scrimmage against NE in Week 1, he tallied 34 touches and 188 YFS in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. NO has given up plenty of fantasy points through the air this season, but a shootout with Brees is the last thing BUF wants. So look for another heavy workload for Jackson as well as getting WR Terrell Owens(notes) heavily involved – he's had just 8 targets in two games. The 6/62 effort by TE Derek Schouman(notes) in Week 2 looked intriguing following TE Brent Celek's 104-yard effort against NO in Week 2. However, Schouman landed on the IR after the game and now rookie TE Shawn Nelson(notes),dealing with a sore shoulder, or Derek Fine(notes) must step up at TE.

Green Light: Drew Brees, Marques Colston(notes), Jeremy Shockey, Fred Jackson, Terrell Owens, Pierre Thomas
Yellow Light: Lee Evans(notes), Trent Edwards(notes), Reggie Bush, New Orleans Defense, Buffalo Defense,
Red Light: Lance Moore(notes)
Sleeper: Devery Henderson(notes), Derek Schouman
Injuries: NO RB Mike Bell (knee) is expected to be out for Week 3; NO WR Lance Moore (hamstring) is likely to be either probable or questionable for Week 3; BUF TE Derek Schouman (knee) is out for Week 3 as he has landed on the IR; BUF TE Shawn Nelson (shoulder) could be questionable for Week 3; BUF RT Brad Butler(notes) (knee) is out for the season; BUF CB Leodis McKelvin(notes) (ankle) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Buffalo 21
CHICAGO BEARS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Key Stats: BEARS – 177 YPG passing allowed
SEAHAWKS – 7.1 YPC allowed; 147 YPG passing allowed; 7 Sacks
What to watch for: SF RB Frank Gore cutting through the guts of the SEA defense in Week 2 for two runs of 79+ yards had to be heartening for owners of CHI RB Matt Forte(notes). Based on YPC, only HOU (2.4) has been worse than CHI (2.6) on the ground. But no defense has been worse against the run than SEA (7.1). CHI will almost assuredly look to get Forte 25+ touches. SEA has allowed just one pass play of 20+ yards this season, a fact that doesn't bode well for speedy WR Devin Hester(notes). The Seahawks have also fared well against opposing TEs this season. But SEA LB Lofa Tatupu(notes) (hamstring) and CB Josh Wilson(notes) (ankle) are likely to join CB Marcus Trufant(notes) on the sidelines this week, meaning that the pass defense could be more suspect than it has been, thus far, especially if there's a significant shift in emphasis to plug the holes in the run defense. For those reasons, QB Jay Cutler(notes) and TE Greg Olsen(notes) are reasonable fantasy options. And the depleted SEA secondary means that WR Johnny Knox(notes), who Cutler has definitely taken a shine to (9 targets in Week 2) in the first two weeks, could surprise yet again.

It looks as though SEA QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes), who suffered what looked to be a serious Patrick Willis(notes)-induced rib injury in Week 2, might try to play on Sunday. If so, you'd expect the team to be fairly conservative and minimize the risk to Hasselbeck in the passing game. Any quick-hitting passing plan benefits WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes) and TE John Carlson(notes), although CHI hasn't allowed more than 43 yards to a TE in nine straight regular-season games. RB Justin Forsett(notes), a fantastic receiver out of the backfield who is opening eyes with his strength for a player of his size, could continue to see increased reps as an extra safety valve for Hasselbeck. If Hasselbeck can't go, which seems the more likely scenario, QB Seneca Wallace(notes) is an athletic backup who can buy time with his feet. His presence would likely give WR Nate Burleson(notes) a better chance to produce this week. SEA is very beat up on the offensive line (and at fullback), which makes RBs Julius Jones(notes) and Edgerrin James(notes) high-risk (read: forget about it) options.

Green Light: Matt Forte, John Carlson
Yellow Light: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jay Cutler, Greg Olsen, Earl Bennett(notes), Chicago Defense
Red Light: Devin Hester, Matt Hasselbeck, Julius Jones, Nate Burleson, Seattle Defense
Sleeper: Justin Forsett, Johnny Knox, Seneca Wallace
Injuries: SEA QB Matt Hasselbeck (rib) is likely at least questionable for Week 3; FB Justin Griffith(notes) (knee) could be questionable in Week 3; SEA RT Sean Locklear(notes) (ankle) is out for Week 3; SEA LB Lofa Tatupu (hamstring) could be out for Week 3; SEA CB Josh Wilson (ankle) is out for Week 3; CHI DE Alex Brown(notes) (ankle) could be questionable for Week 3;
Prediction: Chicago 17, Seattle 14
MIAMI DOLPHINS @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Key Stats: DOLPHINS – 3.4 YPC allowed; 254 YPG passing allowed
CHARGERS – 4.3 YPC allowed
What to watch for: Despite a loss on MNF, don't expect MIA to stray far from a game plan (conservative runs and passes infused heavily with Wildcat change-ups) that allowed the team to control the clock for 75 percent of the game. SDG has been soft against the run (4.3 YPC) and a bit undisciplined vs. the pass (6 pass plays of 20+ yards allowed). The setup bodes well for RB Ronnie Brown(notes), who was the pilot of a very successful Wildcat on MNF and proved yet again that he simply won't disappoint if given a heavy workload. WR Ted Ginn Jr.(notes) was the target of 16 passes on MNF, and he caught 11 of them for 108 yards (although he probably should have caught 13-14 of them). He looks like a decent play this week given the exorbitant numbers of targets he received in Week 2 and the fact that he had a season-high 7 catches against the Chargers a season ago. In the current setup, RB Ricky Williams(notes) is more a 1B RB option than a backup. He's touched the rock 29 times in two games and is a vital component to the offense, Wildcat or no Wildcat. He'll likely see 12-15 touches on Sunday. QB Chad Pennington(notes) has yet to complete a 20-yard pass this season and he's ill-suited to take advantage of a SDG defense that has given up the deep ball a fair amount, thus far.

SDG might get RB LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) (ankle) back this week, but they'd probably be better off letting him sit another week. RB Darren Sproles(notes) drove home the value of his receiving talents with a 7/124/1 line against BAL in Week 2 and SDG will likely have to pin their hopes on the arm of QB Philip Rivers(notes) once again as MIA has been very good at stopping the run. The TE, however, has given MIA fits in '09, although that's what happens when you face Tony Gonzalez (5/73/1) and Dallas Clark(notes) (7/183/1) in back-to-back weeks. It's not that an owner of TE Antonio Gates(notes) would ever consider sitting him, but it's comforting to know how much trouble MIA has had against the position. WRs Roddy White and Reggie Wayne(notes) were shut down by MIA this season, but I wouldn't worry too much about budding star WR Vincent Jackson(notes) this week. He has five inches on both of those receivers, a fact that will always keep him in business in the red zone.

Green Light: Ronnie Brown, Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson
Yellow Light: Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., San Diego Defense, Darren Sproles
Red Light: Chad Pennington, Davone Bess(notes), Miami Defense, LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Chambers(notes)
Sleeper: Anthony Fasano(notes)
Injuries: SDG C Nick Hardwick(notes) (ankle) is likely to be questionable for Week 3; SDG RG Louis Vazquez (foot) could be questionable for Week 3; SDG LBs Shawne Merriman(notes) (groin) and Shaun Phillips(notes) (groin) could be questionable for Week 3
Prediction: San Diego 23, Miami 17
PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS

Key Stats: STEELERS – 3.0 YPC allowed;
BENGALS – 4.3 YPC allowed; 9 Sacks
What to watch for: PIT is averaging just 3.1 YPC and RBs have averaged just 3.6 YPC against CIN in '09. RB Willie Parker(notes) looks slow and RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes) looks soft (his 39-yard run in Week 2 didn't require breaking any tackles). PIT also has the 8th-fewest rushing attempts (45) through two games, but count on it trying desperately to get untracked on Sunday. Forcing QB Ben Roethlisberger(notes) to air it out again could prove problematic. CIN DE Antwan Odom(notes) has 7 sacks in two games, and PIT struggles in pass protection. The team also starts quality talents at CB in former first rounders James Joseph and Leon Hall(notes). Coming home after a big win at Green Bay in Week 2, CIN should benefit on defense from the motivation of a fired up crowd, and it could prove to make Roethlisberger's day miserable. WR Santonio Holmes'(notes) sore wrist is also another matter to consider. RB Mewelde Moore(notes), a sweet receiver out of the backfield and a key contributor in the no-huddle offense, could see double-digit touches for the 1st time this season. And trusty middleman WR Hines Ward(notes), who has 5 TDs in his past 4 meetings with CIN, should be busy.

RB Cedric Benson(notes) has run like a man on a mission in '09. He was shut down by PIT in two meetings in '08, but he looks a 2.0 version of the back we saw last year, and I wouldn't be surprised if Benson powers his way to a 25/80/1 type of day. Benson gives the PIT defense something to think about in addition to QB Carson Palmer(notes), who emerged last week with 3 TD passes. PIT has just 2 sacks in '09, which is something that should make CIN feel confident about chucking it 30-35 times. WR Chad Ocho Cinco(notes) is the leading candidate to become the 3rd consecutive WR to victimize PIT for 70+ yards and a TD.

Green Light: Hines Ward, Carson Palmer, Chad Ocho Cinco, Cincinnati Defense
Yellow Light: Cedric Benson, Santonio Holmes, Willie Parker, Heath Miller(notes), Pittsburgh Defense, Ben Roethlisberger
Red Light: Laveranues Coles(notes), Rashard Mendenhall, Daniel Coates, Chris Henry
Sleeper: Mewelde Moore
Injuries: PIT WR Santonio Holmes (wrist) could be questionable in Week 3; PIT FS Tyrone Carter(notes) (Troy Polamalu's(notes) replacement) could be questionable this week (thigh)
Prediction: Cincinnati 20, Pittsburgh 17
DENVER BRONCOS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS

Key Stats: BRONCOS – 2.9 YPC allowed; 184 YPG passing allowed; 7 Sacks
RAIDERS – 4.1 YPC allowed; 238 passing yards allowed
What to watch for: DEN is developing a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield with RBs Knowshon Moreno(notes) and Correll Buckhalter(notes). Expect Moreno to regularly get the majority portion of the backfield split like in Week 2 as Buckhalter, given his aggressive running style and penchant for injury, is best used in a more limited manner. The passing game remains a work in progress as QB Kyle Orton(notes) has completed an uninspiring 55 percent of his passes. He's also managed to make No. 3 and No. 4 WRs Brandon Stokely and Jabar Gaffney(notes) the most valuable receiving weapons on the team through two weeks. Until the passing picture becomes clearer it's probably best to stay away from WRs Brandon Marshall(notes) and Eddie Royal(notes) this week against CB Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) and company.

OAK QB currently bests only Jake Delhomme(notes) and Matthew Stafford in QB Rating, but my money is on the other two passing him up soon. Russell has made minimal strides as a decision maker and his intermediate-range accuracy is embarrassing (35.2% Comp%). You can't start an OAK WR this week against a DEN defense that holds opponents below 200 passing yards and has been adept at sacking the QB in '09. DEN has allowed just 2.9 YPC in '09, but RB Darren McFadden(notes) will present a whole different level of speed than what its seen from Cedric Benson and Jamal Lewis, thus far. Expect OAK to try to get a combined 30 carries out of Run-DMC and Michael Bush(notes). And if they don't look to TE Zach Miller more than 3 times (his Week 2 target total), it should be considered a crime. That said, DEN has yielded just 3 catches to TEs in '09, and Miller had just modest production against DEN in '08.

Green Light: Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden
Yellow Light: Correll Buckhalter, Denver Defense, Zach Miller, Eddie Royal, Brandon Marshall
Red Light: Oakland Defense, Kyle Orton, JaMarcus Russell(notes), Louis Murphy(notes), Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes), Tony Scheffler(notes)
Sleeper: Brandon Stokely
Injuries: Oak WR Chaz Schilens(notes) (foot) is likely out for Week 3; OAK G Robert Gallery(notes) (leg) is out for Week 3; OAK FS Hiram Eugene(notes) (calf) could be questionable in Week 3
Prediction: Prediction: Denver 21, Oakland 13
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

Key Stats: COLTS – 4.7 YPC allowed; 139 YPG passing allowed
CARDINALS – 2.5 YPC allowed; 8 Sacks
What to watch for: Don't give ARI too much credit for its 8 sacks. The two teams its faced, SF and JAC, combined to allow 97 sacks in '08. IND has allowed just 16 sacks in its past 18 regular-season games. Expect QB Peyton Manning(notes) to be up for a shootout against what was one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in '08. IND is generating just 3.4 YPC on offense and ARI is allowing just 2.5 YPC, so it's hard to be optimistic about RBs Joseph Addai(notes) and Donald Brown(notes), although Brown had an impressive 15-yard TD run against MIA in Week 2, showing a toughness that could earn him extra carries this week. You're obviously starting WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark, and WR Pierre Garcon(notes) warrants attention in deeper leagues as his 48-yard TD catch-and-run late in Week 2 might have garnered some extra trust from Manning.

WRs have scored just 4 TDs against IND in the past 19 regular-season games. That makes WR Larry Fitzgerald's(notes) odds of scoring in his 9th consecutive game ('08 postseason included) fairly long. That said, Fitzgerald is reportedly a bit grumpy about catching just 4 passes in Week 2 at JAC, and I suspect that ARI might try to appease him this week. In general, though, ARI is likely to be a little more run-focused than usual, and right now that would benefit RB Tim Hightower(notes) more than rookie Beanie Wells(notes). While Wells has averaged a solid 5.2 YPC in two games, he fumbled twice in Week 2 and given Hightower's strong efforts as both a runner and receiver, he has a leg up on Wells for now.

Green Light: Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Larry Fitzgerald, Tim Hightower
Yellow Light: Kurt Warner(notes), Anquan Boldin(notes), Beanie Wells
Red Light: Steve Breaston(notes), Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Defense, Arizona Defense
Sleeper: Donald Brown, Pierre Garcon
Injuries: ARI T Levi Brown(notes) could be questionable in Week 3
Prediction: Arizona 26, Indianapolis 24
CAROLINA PANTHERS @ DALLAS COWBOYS

Key Stats: PANTHERS – 4.9 YPC allowed; 151 YPG passing allowed
COWBOYS – 4.8 YPC allowed; 303 YPG passing allowed; 0 Sacks
What to watch for: If CAR can establish a strong running game early on vs. DAL on Monday, that should open up opportunities for QB Jake Delhomme to take some shots at WR Steve Smith deep – DAL has allowed 9 pass plays of 20+ yards. Smith was targeted 15 times in Week 2 and 13 times in Week 1, and there's no reason to believe the love won't continue. RB Jonathan Stewart(notes) looks like the Achilles injury he dealt with over the summer is no longer giving him much problem. He ran with a lot of life in Week 2, carrying 9 times for 65 yards at Atlanta. If he and RB DeAngelo Williams(notes) combine for 30+ carries, it'll be great news for CAR. That would mean CAR is keeping the score close, not having to live or die by Delhomme's arm – we all know the downside to that.

A quad injury could knock DAL RB Marion Barber(notes) out of action on Monday. If that proves to be the case, RB Tashard Choice(notes) becomes a major beneficiary. Despite being small, he proved his toughness and versatility down the stretch in '08 when Barber missed time. Cannonball RB Felix Jones(notes) would also see an elevated role, but it's likely Jones and Choice would split carries evenly with both getting a low double-digit workload. CAR has done a solid job of shutting down opposing WRs this season, which is mostly a product of teams being able to run on CAR – the 56 pass attempts against CAR is 3rd-lowest in the NFL. That said, CAR CB Chris Gamble(notes) could give DAL WR Roy Williams problems. Expect DAL to heavily attack in the passing game via TEs Jason Witten(notes) and Martellus Bennett(notes). CAR has been brutal in its ability to hold down TEs for going on four straight years.

Green Light: DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, Tony Romo
Yellow Light: Jake Delhomme. Muhsin Muhammad(notes), Dallas Defense, Patrick Crayton(notes)
Red Light: Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Jeff King(notes), Carolina Defense
Sleeper: Tashard Choice, Martellus Bennett
Injuries: DAL RB Marion Barber (quad) could be out in Week 3; CAR DT Louis Leonard(notes) (ankle) is out in Week 3
Prediction: Dallas 27, Carolina 17
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