Thursday Night Football
Kansas City @ Philadelphia
The 2013 Eagles are going to give gamblers weekly headaches. Their offense is capable of taking over games, and their defense is capable of giving them away. It's outstanding for fantasy owners, of course, because the games should be almost unfailingly high scoring. Thursday night's Chiefs-Eagles tilt has a 51-point over-under, which is the highest of Week 3. You'll want to start guys in this one. ... The No. 3 overall fantasy QB through two games, behind only Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick should be treated as an elite every-week starter until he stops producing like one. With Rodgers visiting Cincinnati, Drew Brees (vs. ARZ) and Peyton (vs. OAK) are the only two quarterbacks I'd rank ahead of Vick for Week 3. ... I discussed this extensively in August, as it was becoming apparent the zone read was indeed not "figured out" by defensive coordinators, and as we got more of a stranglehold on the intricacies of Chip Kelly's NFL offense: DeSean Jackson is going to make defenses pay. Kelly's scheming and run-oriented philosophy get Jackson single coverage on the perimeter, and he's making defenders miss in space on bubble screens. Tied for fifth in the NFL in targets, Jackson leads all receivers in fantasy scoring. Jackson figures to be followed by Chiefs top CB Brandon Flowers in coverage, although Dez Bryant dog-walked Flowers en route to nine catches for 141 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. Flowers is also listed as questionable with a knee injury.
Kelly's voluminous, run-based juggernaut also has LeSean McCoy atop the fantasy running back scoreboard through two weeks. Keyed by unblockable NT Dontari Poe, Kansas City poses a far tougher run-defense matchup this year, but McCoy looks every bit matchup proof. He leads the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. ... Make sure Bryce Brown is owned in your league as an ideal lottery-ticket stash. Brown has only 13 touches and 39 yards on the year, but he'll be an RB1 if McCoy goes down. And Shady is getting tons of work. ... Vick's target distribution through two games: D-Jax 24, Jason Avant 10, Riley Cooper 9, McCoy 7, Zach Ertz 5, Brent Celek 4. ... Beyond Vick, McCoy and Jackson, Philly's skill positions are manned by role players unworthy of Week 3 starts. Celek and Cooper are primarily blockers in the run game. Avant is a slow-twitch slot receiver. Ertz is an intriguing Dynasty hold, but lacks re-draft value.
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Jamaal Charles' fantasy owners would be smart to roster rookie No. 2 back Knile Davis, at least for the short term. Charles is playing through a quadriceps injury he originally suffered in Kansas City's opener. An all-purpose dynamo so far under new coach Andy Reid, Charles ranks second in the NFL in running back targets -- 16, behind only Matt Forte (17) -- and is fourth in non-PPR points. Charles also has room to improve, seeing as he's only averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Just keep an eye on that quad. ... Kansas City is another hot-starting team offensively, as Alex Smith quietly sits tenth among fantasy quarterbacks through two weeks. The Philly defense is getting dissected by the pass. A left-for-dead Philip Rivers and hobbled Robert Griffin III combined to light up the Eagles for 66-of-96 passing (68.8%) and a league-high 748 yards with a 5:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Philadelphia has managed four sacks among 100 opposing quarterback dropbacks. Smith is a worthwhile two-quarterback league start and viable desperation streamer in standard leagues.
Per PFF's Mike Clay, Dwayne Bowe has so far played 84% of his snaps at outside receiver, 10% in the slot, and five downs lined up at in-line tight end. Reid would be smart to increase Bowe's usage inside, where noodle-armed Smith has a better chance of connecting. I charted Bowe's Week 2 targets, and Reid is at least doing an effective job of using him on high-percentage routes like comebacks, drags, and quick curls. Bowe's 12-yard touchdown in Week 2 came on a shallow cross in the fourth quarter, and he danced into the end zone untouched. Although Bowe ranks 38th in fantasy receiver scoring to this point, he has a great matchup versus burnable Eagles CBs Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher in a projected high-scoring affair. He's a strong WR3 play in fantasy. ... Smith's two-game target distribution: Charles 16, Bowe 14, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster 9, Anthony Fasano 7, Anthony Sherman 4. ... So it's Charles and Bowe, and then everyone else in Kansas City's passing attack. Avery and McCluster are not incapable of the random productive game, but can't be trusted as weekly starters before the bye weeks hit.
Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Chiefs 23
Thursday Night Football