Week 3 Fantasy Tips from the Playbook War Room – Part 1

Fantasy Tips, Inside the Game, Playbook War Room

Last week, more clarity emerged throughout the NFL.  A lot of teams and players that impressed in season openers were able to continue their success into Week 2.

Week 3 poses a lot of intriguing matchups not only for the NFL, but for some of the players who have been putting up big numbers through the first two weeks.  From our film study sessions of this week’s matchups, here are some players we at NFL Playbook think will be fantasy standouts in Week 3, and some others we think might struggle.


  • Last year as a rookie, Rob Gronkowski scored three touchdowns in his two meetings with the Bills. Buffalo has yet to face a TE as talented as Gronkowski. Their LB core will struggle to keep up with him in pass coverage and in the redzone.
  • Fred Jackson ran for over 100 yards again last week. We have seen on film that the Bills OL has not been dominant in the trenches, but Jackson’s elusiveness and ability to get yards after contact has been a key to his success. If Buffalo wants to keep Tom Brady and co. off of the field, they will need to use a ball control offense with Jackson as the focal point, rushing and receiving.
  • With Aaron Hernandez likely sitting this week out, the Patriots will use more 3 WR sets. Look for Chad Ochocinco to see more opportunities against Buffalo.


  • On film San Francisco has looked like the most physical DL in the league.   They hold a unique ability to control the OL at the point of attack.  We saw them doing a great job of anchoring against double-teams and pulling guards, rarely giving up push to opposing O-Lines. Look for Cedric Benson to struggle in the yardage department.
  • Vernon Davis has been extremely frustrating to owners this season and that frustration will continue until the 49ers offense improves. Davis has been getting open down the field, but Alex Smith has either not had the time or the patience to stand in the pocket to deliver. The Bengals struggled to contain Cleveland’s TEs and have not been great at rushing the passer. That combination should help Smith see Davis down the field more this week.
  • San Francisco has struggled in the secondary. With the running game being all but taken away, the Bengals will have to throw often. Andy Dalton has started to develop chemistry with A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson, look for that to continue this week.


  • Cleveland’s lack of physicality, specifically on the right side of their OL, has stood out on film. Miami possesses some very talented and physical players in their front 7, so Peyton Hillis should not expect the same running success that he had against a smaller Colts Defense.
  • Evan Moore has emerged as Colt McCoy’s favorite target in the redzone. The athleticism of the Patriots’ and Texans’ TEs created havoc against the Dolphin defense. Moore’s athleticism has stood out on tape and he should get a good number of looks in the redzone.
  • Brandon Marshall has been getting a lot of looks from Chad Henne the past two weeks. Cleveland does not have a shutdown corner that can not only shadow Marshall the entire game, but has the ability to control his size and physicality. As long as Henne keeps looking his way he will continue to generate a healthy number of catches.


  • Both the Raiders and Bengals have had success running the ball against the Broncos. We’ve seen on film that Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil are not strong at the point of attack and have struggled to control the edge. Chris Johnson should be getting his legs under him as the season goes on and this game will be a great opportunity for him to have success running the ball.
  • Kenny Britt is emerging as a top fantasy WR simply because of the attention he gets from Matt Hasselbeck. On film, Britt‘s combination of speed and size make him difficult to defend. Against the Ravens he was able to beat man to man coverage and is smart enough to find holes against a zone defense. Even if Champ Bailey plays, Britt should have success.
  • There is a lot of uncertainty with the Broncos backfield heading into this game. Knowshon Moreno has been banged up and it is unclear if he can play or if he will be healthy. Willis McGahee filled in great for Moreno and should see a lot of touches. It is unclear which Tennessee defense will show up; the one that MJD was able to run all over, or the one that limited Ray Rice to just over 40 yards. McGahee should get enough touches to warrant a starting spot.


  • Against Buffalo, the Oakland WRs excelled at attacking the ball in the air. On film, Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie stand out with their ability to control the WRs and then make plays on the ball. Do not anticipate the Oakland WRs having nearly as much success as they did last week.
  • The Jets possess one of the league’s most physical run defenses. Last week, Buffalo was able to limit Darren McFadden running the ball as the game continued, but got torched by him out of the backfield catching the ball. Look for McFadden to have some success running, but more success catching the ball.
  • The Raiders D runs a lot of man to man coverage. We saw on film that Buffalo WRs started to use their size to get off the line, but also utilized bunch and stack formations to get their WRs more free releases. If the Jets are able to do the same, Santonio Holmes should have a good day.


  • Kansas City really struggled to run the ball after Jamaal Charles went down. Until a running back emerges, stay away from any Kansas City back.
  • The Patriots’ game plan going into their game against the Chargers was to take away Antonio Gates. They double and triple teamed him at times and Gates clearly was frustrated all day because of it. On film, the Chiefs simply have not shown that they can shut down a player like Gates.
  • Vincent Jackson owners should salivate at the fact that KC’s secondary has problems against physical WRs. The film shows that they are collectively slow, do not play the ball in the air well or prevent the WRs from doing the same.


  • The Colts Offense will struggle all around. The Steelers physicality up front will not only limit their ability to run the ball, but will also create havoc for Kerry Collins. When Collins does not feel comfortable in the pocket, he tends to get errant with his passes.
  • Peyton Hillis was able to use his size and speed combo to take advantage of a weak Colts run D. Rashard Mendenhall possesses similar traits. The Steelers should be in control throughout the game, and because of that Mendenhall should see opportunities to put up fantasy points.



  • Carolina’s front 7 has struggled to stop the run in the past two weeks. We’ve seen on film that their DL has struggled to get off of blocks and they get moved easily. With season ending injuries to Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, Carolina is missing the physicality that its top two LBs add up front.   Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville OL should have a lot of opportunities and success running the ball this week.
  • Steve Smith has been the focal point of the Carolina offense and has been targeted often by Cam Newton. Jacksonville is a zone heavy team, so look for Smith to be able to find some soft spots throughout the game.
  • Even though Blaine Gabbert is starting this week, do not expect any different results from the Jacksonville WRs. They lack a true star receiver and will utilize their rushing attack to help Gabbert in his first NFL start.

Check back to TCIPF for Part 2 of our Week 3 breakdown.

Send your questions and comments to the Playbook War Room Team at playbook@nfl.com and on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

For more All-22 analysis watch NFL Playbook: Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm ET only on NFL Network.

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