Apple's NFL Fantasy Projections: Week 3

After two weeks, it appears the 2011-12 season is going to be the year of the quarterbacks. Players like defending Super Bowl Champion Aaron Rodgers are expected to perform at high levels every week, and he is projected to score 24 fantasy points in Week 3 (Photo from Creative Commons, user Mike Morbeck).

In what has been a wild and turbulent start to the NFL season, one thing is for sure: it is the year of the quarterback. New fantasy superstars like Matthew Stafford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cam Newton, have arisen from the QB position and have put up unprecedented numbers.

Also, returning studs, including Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, have continued to put on electrifying performances in the early going. Brady is on pace to have perhaps the greatest season of all time; if you are an owner, consider yourself lucky. Having the right QB in your lineup can certainly lead your team to the Promised Land (a.k.a. the fantasy football championship).

In addition to great individual achievements, there have been shocking team performances, both positively and negatively.

The Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills are sitting pretty at 2-0. Those three teams combined for just 16 wins one year ago. Yet the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks, all of whom made the playoffs last season, find themselves in a early 0-2 hole.

Can Rex Grossman and the Redskins stay hot in Dallas? Can Tom Brady and the Patriots continue to light up the field against the undefeated Bills? And can Cam Newton really break the 400-yard mark three weeks in a row?

Those questions and much more are answered right here in my NFL Fantasy Projections: Week 3 (point projections are based on standard ESPN leagues).

Player Points Opponent
1. Tom Brady (NE)- Brady has passed for 517 and 423 yards in his two games so far. Enough said. 27 Bills
2. Phillip Rivers (SD)- Rivers has had a solid start to the season, going over 300 yards in each of his first two games. Now he has the pleasure of facing a Chiefs team that has looked awful. 25 Chiefs
3. Matthew Stafford (Det)- After two weeks, it is clear Stafford and the Lions are legitimate contenders this year. He has thrown for seven TDs in two weeks and, as long as he stays healthy, should have a breakout year. 24 Vikings
4. Aaron Rodgers (GB)- Drew Brees and the Saints had no trouble passing against the Bears last week, so this week it is Rodgers' turn. He has gone for over 300 yards in both games so far and don't expect that to stop. 24 Bears
5. Michael Vick (Phi)- It was just announced that Vick will start Sunday, despite the concussion he suffered last week against Atlanta. So be sure to put him in your lineup, especially against an injured Giants defense. 22 Giants
6. Drew Brees (NO)- Brees has had a great start with six TDs and no turnovers, and has a favorable matchup against the Texans. 22 Texans
7. Cam Newton (Car)- Did anybody see this coming? The rookie has now thrown for 422 and 432 yards in his first two career games. I don't expect another 400-yard performance, but he is certainly a top-10 fantasy option. 21 Jaguars
8. Matt Schuab (Hou)- He has had a slow start, but in a matchup against the Saints, expect a high-scoring shootout, meaning points for Schuab. 20 Saints
9. Matt Ryan (Atl)- Down late against the Eagles last week and about to fall to 0-2, Ryan carried his team to victory in the fourth quarter and looked like the QB he has been expected to be. Look for the momentum to carry over to Week 3. 19 Bucs
10. Tony Romo (Dal)- It is still uncertain whether Romo will play this week, but I expect him to be on the field Monday night against the Redskins. Just like most of the other QBs on this list, he has gone over 300 yards in each of his first two games. He may not be able to win a playoff game, but he can still put up good numbers. 18 Redskins
Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buf)- He has carried the Bills to a 2-0 start, throwing for seven TDs in the process. With all of the Bills hysteria lately, maybe it's not even fair to list Fitzpatrick as a sleeper. It will be interesting to see if the early-season magic continues against the Patriots. 18 Patriots
Running Backs
Player Points Opponent
1. Adrian Peterson (Min)- AP is coming off a week in which he had 25 carries for 120 yards and 2 TDs. He is the best running back in the NFL and the Vikings will be relying on their running game this season. 25 Lions
2. LeSean McCoy (Phi)- With Vick banged up, it is likely the Eagles will use the ground game a little more in Week 3. McCoy already has three TDs in two weeks and has looked almost unstoppable. 24 Giants
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac)- MJD gets 20+ carries a game and is always a reliable source of fantasy points, especially against the Panthers defense. 24 Panthers
4. Ray Rice (Bal)- The Rams have struggled defending the run so far this season and Rice is the Ravens' top-option both on the ground and in the air. 22 Rams
5. Darren McFadden (Oak)- Run DMC has had over 20 carries in each game so far and is without question the Raiders most talented palyer. Plus, with how good the Jets' secondary has been, the Raiders may opt to run the ball more. 22 Jets
6. Michael Turner (Atl)- He has passed the century-mark in both games, and the Bucs have struggled stopping the run. 21 Bucs
7. Rashard Mendenhall (Pit)- He has had a very quiet start to the season, but he still deserves to be in your lineup. Expect his numbers to gradually rise throughout the year. 20 Colts
8. Chris Johnson (Ten)- His holdout has certainly held him back, and he has had mediocre numbers so far. However, he is one the top-three RBs in the NFL, so he will continue to get touches and will break out soon. 19 Broncos
9. Matt Forte (Chi)- He is the Bears' number one option in both the running and passing game, meaning he will be getting the bulk of the work offensively. 18 Packers
10. Peyton Hillis (Cle)- Barring a Madden curse, Hillis is set for a big year. He had 27 touches and two TDs last week against the Colts; expect more of the same against the Dolphins. 18 Dolphins
Sleeper: Beanie Wells (Ari)- He struggled mightily last season, but he seems to be a new man this year. With Tim Hightower out of the picture in Arizona, he is the Cardinals' primary back, and he has performed well so far with a TD in each game. 17 Seahawks
Wide Recievers
Player Points Opponent
1. Calvin Johnson (Det)- With a healthy Matthew Stafford, Megatron will be number one on this list every week. He is incredibly talented and already has four TDs in two weeks. 23 Vikings
2. Andre Johnson (Hou)- He is a 100-yard and a touchdown machine. Every week he is somewhere around the century mark in recieving yards and always seems to find the end zone. Make sure he finds your lineup. 22 Saints
3. Larry Fitzgerald (Ari)- The Cardinals have gone through an abundance of QBs lately, but one thing has been constant: Larry Fitzgerald. He will be getting most of the targets every week. 21 Seahawks
4. Greg Jennings (GB)- He has a TD in each game so far, and is Aaron Rodgers favorite target. He hasn't been spectacular yet, but he is still a top-five fantasy WR. 20 Bears
5. Roddy White (Atl)- Despite his three catches for 23 yards last week, Roddy is still the main-man in the Falcons' passing game. And the Bucs' secondary doesn't quite compare to that of the Eagles. 20 Bucs
6. Vincent Jackson (SD)- He was the most outstanding WR from Week 2, amassing 172 yards on 10 catches and two TDs. Phillip Rivers likes to throw the ball, and he loves throwing it to Mr. Jackson down the field. 19 Chiefs
7. Mike Wallace (Pit)- He has gone over the 100-yard mark back-to-back weeks and is Big Ben's favorite target. And, as bad as the Colts have been, Wallace should have a field day. 19 Colts
8. Steve Smith (Car)- Smith has had a resurgence this year with rookie Cam Newton under center. So far he has 178 and 156 yards recieving, and now he gets to face a weak Jags' secondary. 18 Jaguars
9. Brandon Marshall (Mia)- The Dolphins don't always throw the ball, but when they do, they prefer Brandon Marshall. Look for him to go off against the Browns. 18 Browns
10. DeSean Jackson (Phi)- He is always a wild card, but is a must-start due to his big game potential. Vick may not be 100 percent, but don't shy away from DeSean. 17 Giants
Sleeper: Kenny Britt (Ten)- He has gone over 130 yards in each game and has three TDs already. With Chris Johnson having a slow start, Kenny Britt has become their main weapon. 17 Broncos
Tight Ends
Player Points Opponent
1. Antonio Gates (SD)- He did not catch a pass last week against the Patriots, but he is still the best TE in the league and is Phillip Rivers' most reliable target. 15 Chiefs
2. Rob Gronkowski (NE)- Any tight end in New England will be successful the way they spread the ball with Tom Brady. Gronkowski has three TDs in two weeks, a rare accomplishment for a TE. 14 Bills
3. Jason Witten (Dal)- With two 100-yard games, it is clear Tony Romo is looking to give his TE touches. Plus, Miles Austin is listed as questionable, meaning more work for Witten. 14 Redskins
4. Vernon Davis (SF)- He has had mediocre numbers so far, but he is just about all the 49ers have offensively. 13 Bengals
5. Dustin Keller (NYJ)- Keller has caught a TD pass in both games so far, so expect Mark Sanchez to continue looking his way in the red zone. 11 Raiders
6. Fred Davis (Was)- He has replaced Chris Cooley in Washington as the Skins' number-one TE, and has had a great start. 11 Cowboys
7. Jimmy Graham (NO)- Drew Brees loves to spread the ball around, and he has been looking for Graham in the red zone, which is crucial for a fantasy TE. 10 Texans
8. Jermichael Finley (GB)- He is one of the best TEs in the league and has the pleasure of playing in the Packers' spread-it-out offensive attack. 10 Bears
9. Tony Gonzalez (Atl)- This guy just doesn't age. He was the most impressive player for the Falcons last week outside of Matt Ryan, catching two TD passes. 9 Bucs
10. Dallas Clark (Ind)- With Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark is a top-three fantasy TE. Without him, he barely cracks the top-10. He is yet to reach 40 yards in two weeks, but who else does Kerry Collins have outside of Reggie Wayne? 9 Steelers
Sleeper: Brandon Pettigrew (Det)- His numbers so far have been underwhelming, and he had just one catch last week. But, with Matthew Stafford running the Lions' offense, Pettigrew is a solid start and will get some looks in the red zone. 8 Vikings

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