Week Two was the week of injuries and suspensions. Major fantasy players like Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Jamaal Charles, and Robert Griffin III all heard the injury bell toll in Week Two and could miss extended time with injuries. Injuries have left many fantasy owners scrambling for replacements, leading to Kirk Cousins and Knile Davis being ranked among the top waiver-wire pick-ups for Week Three. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson took a voluntary paid leave from the Vikings to deal with the legal issues he's going through, leaving many fantasy owners (for the first time ever) fighting over Matt Asiata. Yeah, that one.
If you've made it this far into the season without a major injury or suspension affecting your team, kudos to you, you're much better off than the majority of other fantasy owners. If you have been affected by injuries, yet managed to go 2-0 in your league, you deserve even more respect. Luckily, the two teams in this week's fantasy preview have managed to avoid the injury bug thus far, so the only decisions to be made with these players will be whether or not you should start or sit them, no need to worry about replacing them just yet.
Another change to this week's start 'em, sit 'em: there will no longer be advice on kickers. Kickers are a very small and insignificant part of fantasy football and you're going to be starting whichever one is on your roster, unless they're on a bye week.
The players in this section should appear in your lineups this Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.
QB, Peyton Manning
The stats are staggering, only 14.8 fantasy points per week to QBs in 2013 (the league high was 26.6, league average was 20.8), 28 interceptions of opposing QBs, and just 15 touchdowns allowed. Looking at Seattle's stats from last year alone, it would almost be advisable to leave Manning on the bench this week, especially if you have a viable option to back him up; however, last week's performance by Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers provides some promise, as does the fact that Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. Here are three reasons you can still be confident in starting Manning in Week Three:
1. Philip Rivers, who is a good quarterback (although that's an unpopular opinion on this site), but not nearly as good as Manning, managed to rack up 25.06 fantasy points last week. Rivers' Week Two performance against the Seahawks defense was good enough for third place among QBs last week.
2. Manning's pre-season game against the Seahawks (which meant absolutely nothing, mind you) was phenomenal. In the one quarter that he played against Seattle's starting defense, Manning completed 10 of 13 passes (76.9%), for 78 yards, orchestrating a long, slow drive, much like the Chargers' offensive drives last week, for a touchdown. If you project Manning's stats from that pre-season game over a full four quarters, assuming that he would throw for one-two touchdowns, he would have put up 16.48-20.48 fantasy points in that game.
3. The noise and defense in Seattle are daunting, but the same was the case in Kansas City last season (Arrowhead actually broke CenturyLink's fan-noise record briefly in 2013). Manning's road game in Arrowhead last season? Over 400 passing yards and five passing touchdowns (along with two INTs). The noise is a factor, but nothing that Manning can't handle.
Manning likely won't give you the Star Wars numbers that he usually does, but he is still a player you can start in fantasy week without worry. The Seahawks defense is very good, but so is Peyton Manning.
Prediction: 290 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT- 21.6 fantasy points
Drew Brees (NO), Matt Stafford (DET), Aaron Rodgers (GB), Andrew Luck (IND), Peyton Manning (DEN)
WR, Demaryius Thomas
Thomas, unlike most of last year's Broncos, had a very good game in last year's Super Bowl. Thomas would have absolutely dominated in PPR fantasy leagues, had the game been counted within the fantasy season; his 13 receptions, 118 receiving yards, and one touchdown would have been good for 30.8 fantasy points in PPR leagues, and 17.8 in standard-scoring leagues. In that Super Bowl game, the Broncos took the route of the Packers in Week One of 2014, matching up Demaryius with Byron Maxwell, as opposed to Richard Sherman. Thomas caught four of four targets against Maxwell, including his touchdown reception, for a total of 43 yards. Because Sherman generally stays on one side of the field, the Broncos should be able to manipulate the match-ups they like and challenge Maxwell one-on-on.
That all being said, the Broncos are going to need to rely on Demaryius for a solid game if they hope to win in Seattle. Going up against the Legion of Boom this week, Demaryius is a mid-range WR-1 in all fantasy leagues.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD- 14.5 fantasy points (21.5 PPR)
Jordy Nelson (GB), Brandon Marshall (CHI), Demaryius Thomas (DEN), Antonio Brown (PIT), Randall Cobb (GB)
WR, Emmanuel Sanders
Emmanuel Sanders has not played the Seattle Seahawks in a Broncos uniform; in fact, Sanders has never played against the Legion of Boom in its current form. The last time Sanders played against the Seahawks was in 2011, when he hauled in two receptions on three targets for 44 yards. Sanders plays a similar game to that of T.Y. Hilton, who had immense success against the Seahawks defense in 2013. Emmanuel should be a mid-to-low end WR-2 in fantasy this week.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 90 yards- 9.0 fantasy points (15.0 PPR)
Brandin Cooks (NO), Michael Crabtree (SF), Emmanuel Sanders (DEN), Kelvin Benjamin (CAR), Michael Floyd (ARI)
TE, Julius Thomas
Orange Julius is the fantasy leader for tight ends in 2014 thus far, posting 38.3 points in standard leagues in two weeks. Julius is yet again a must-start against Seattle, as his mismatch potential is just too good to ignore. The Seahawks' three starting linebackers, Malcolm Smith, Bobby Wagner, and KJ Wright all have horrendous pass coverage numbers to date, as does Kam Chancellor, mainly due to the combined three touchdowns allowed to tight end Antonio Gates in Week Two. If the Broncos get around the end-zone, expect Julius Thomas to see targets, and more-than-likely another touchdown or two to add to his total of four on the season.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 70 yards, 1 TD- 13.0 fantasy points (19.0 PPR)
Jimmy Graham (NO), Julius Thomas (DEN), Rob Gronkowski (NE), Dennis Pitta (BAL), Antonio Gates (SD)
RB, Montee Ball
Although the Seahawks defense lowers Ball's fantasy value considerably, he is still a starter in most 2-RB leagues, considering that it's unlikely you have two running backs better than him on your roster. The Broncos' less-than-impressive showing in the run blocking game has to be concerning against a tenacious defense (Tenacious D, if you will) in Seattle, but Ball should still see a considerable number of touches, as well as a chance or two to put the ball in the end-zone, where he truly excels.
Prediction: 55 yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 35 yards- 15.0 fantasy points (19.0 PPR)
Lamar Miller (MIA), Rashad Jennings (NYG), Montee Ball (DEN), Khiry Robinson (NO), Bobby Rainey (TB)
QB, Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson currently ranks eighth in QB scoring for fantasy football in 2014, and the Broncos have allowed the fourth-most points against opposing QBs through two weeks. In other words, Wilson deserves a start in all leagues, and so do most QBs against the Broncos defense, until they can come together and perform like the sound defensive unit they were expected to be.
Prediction: 250 yards, 45 rushing yards, 1 TD- 20.5 fantasy points
Peyton Manning (DEN), Matt Ryan (ATL), Russell Wilson (SEA), Nick Foles (PHI), Jay Cutler (CHI)
RB, Marshawn Lynch
Two weeks into the season, the only top-tier running back that hasn't been affected in some way by injuries is Marshawn Lynch, who is ranked third in fantasy points for running backs heading into the Week Three match-up against the Broncos. Aaaaand, just kidding...
Marshawn Lynch sits out practice Wednesday with a sore back http://t.co/EsvYGYCRgo— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 18, 2014
As the article says, the day off was likely just a maintenance day for Lynch, who has experienced back issues for some time now. Lynch is an absolute must start against a Broncos defense that has not looked good against the run so far in 2014, allowing an average of 19.05 fantasy points to opposing running backs through two weeks. Lynch is a RB-1 in all league forms this week.Prediction: 85 yards, 2 TDs, 2 receptions, 15 yards- 22.0 fantasy points (24.0 PPR)
Lesean McCoy (PHI), Arian Foster (HOU), Marshawn Lynch (SEA), Demarco Murray (DAL), Matt Forte (CHI)
WR, Percy Harvin
After what Harvin did to the Broncos in the Super Bowl last year, and considering how involved he's been in the Seahawks' offense so far in 2014, it's hard to argue against starting him this week. However, fantasy owners be warned, the Broncos defense has been successful at stopping one category of players in fantasy this season-- wide receivers. The Broncos have allowed a mere 16.75 points on average to opposing wide receivers, likely due to the fact that they faced the sorry bunch of Chiefs receivers last week, and their corners have been lights out. Harvin is a WR-2 in all formats this week.
Prediction: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 50 rushing yards, 1 TD- 16.0 fantasy points (20.0 PPR)
Golden Tate (DET), Mike Wallace (MIA), Percy Harvin (SEA), Jeremy Maclin (PHI), Sammy Watkins (BUF)
This start is not to say that Seattle should do exceedingly well against the Broncos; but rather, it's hard not to start Seattle's defense simply due to their turnover potential. Even if they give up yards and points to the Denver offense, the Seahawks are always a threat to create turnovers and earn points for your fantasy team.
Prediction: 20-24 points allowed, 1 INT, 1 sack- 3.0 fantasy points
These are players who would be much better off left on your bench.
The Denver defense has been unreliable and has not lived up to their potential as one of the best defense in the league. Until the Broncos come together as a unit and start limiting opposing teams to less points (increasing their own fantasy points), they're a risky start, especially against Wilson, Lynch, Harvin and Co.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New York Giants
WR, Wes Welker
This may be unpopular advice, but it is still unclear how much Welker will play on Sunday and what sort of role he is going to occupy in the new-look offense with Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas performing the way they have. We have not seen a single regular season snap from Wes, and he's a risky start against the tough Seahawks defense. Consider Welker a potential high-upside WR-3 or flex option if you don't have anyone else who you feel confident starting there.
Kendall Wright (TEN), Brian Quick (STL), Wes Welker (DEN), Anquan Boldin (SF), Terrance Williams (DAL)
WR, Doug Baldwin
As mentioned above, Denver's defense has been stifling against opposing receivers, and Baldwin is already a borderline start in most leagues. Baldwin, and every Seahawks receiver not named Percy Harvin for that matter, should be kept on the bench this week.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $350,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 3's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $30,000. Starts Sunday, September 21st at 1pm ET. Here's the link.