The 2016 Fantasy Football season is here, and Jake Ciely (@allinkid) of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive expert Fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com. Throughout the season, Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from Fantasy perspectives, while letting you know which performers will help you take home a championship, or more.*
The Saints come home in Week 3, as they host their first division matchup of the season with a game against the Atlanta Falcons on "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 26.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 263 yards and a touchdown against an improved and strong Giants defense. Brees now has 686 yards and five touchdowns through two games. Last week, the Falcons allowed 299 passing yards and three touchdowns – all on a 115.0 passer rating – to Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders. Brees threw for 312 and 323 yards in the two matchups against the Falcons last season. All of this combined makes Brees a lock for QB1 status this week, as 300 yards is more of a floor than a ceiling for him.
As Brees goes, so do his top receivers. Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead had solid games against the Giants with Snead finding the end zone again. Cooks and Snead both have two touchdowns on the season, and the matchup with the Falcons makes them likely to add to their totals. Rookie Michael Thomas impressed again in Week 2 with 56 more yards. He had 58 in the opener and is now firmly in the WR4 conversation. Deeper leaguers can possibly even start Thomas, as his route running ability and early chemistry with Brees will lead to a touchdown soon. Coby Fleener improved on Week 1 with 29 yards against the Giants. The best news is that Brees is looking his way, and quite often, as Fleener saw eight targets and has 12 on the year. Fleener's breakout game is just waiting to happen, especially with the Falcons having allowed three touchdowns to tight ends through two games.
The Falcons just let Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington average 7.4 yards per carry on just 14 carries between them (103 rushing yards). The running backs also combined for another 44 yards receiving. That all adds up to a potentially big week for Mark Ingram. Through two games, Ingram has 88 rushing yards on a 4.2 yards per carry pace with 46 yards receiving. Ingram is set up to post his first 100-plus yard game of 2016. Travaris Cadet saw plenty of snaps but didn't repeat his touchdown from Week 1. Given the opportunity in this matchup, Cadet has deeper PPR league value, especially with some of the backfield situations in flux this week.
The Raiders have given up the most Fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks by a decent margin on NFL.com: 29.6 per game with Lions in second at 26.0. That makes Marcus Mariota a sneaky upside play this week. In two games, Mariota has 509 yards and four touchdowns and could put up his best game yet. Joe Flacco had a big Week 2 showing, and he can carry that performance over into this week, as the Jaguars are weak against the pass, allowing the fifth most FPPG to quarterbacks.
As with the upside at quarterback, the Titans also have potential for Tajae Sharpe and even Rishard Matthews in deeper leagues with the Raiders matchup. The Raiders have already allowed 35 catches, 564 yards and five touchdowns to opposing receivers. Kenny Britt has quietly put together two solid games. With a matchup against the Buccaneers, deep league owners can plug him in as their last receiver. The Bills defense has given up plenty of opportunities and yards to opposing receivers. This marks a week where all three top Cardinals receivers should be in your lineups. Mike Wallace had a big game and Steve Smith took another step forward on his way back to 100 percent. You should be able to start both in most leagues with the matchup against the Jaguars. Not surprisingly, the Seahawks defense ranks as the toughest for opposing receivers. That makes Torrey Smith and all of the 49ers options risky plays, especially with the game in Seattle.
Sam Bradford made the Vikings offense a unit to take seriously going forward. He boosts the value of Kyle Rudolph a good deal, and Rudolph is working his way into the TE1 discussion. Dennis Pitta is capitalizing on his opportunity. Pitta is showing the talent he has, and his chemistry with Flacco is evident. He too is pushing his name into the TE1 conversation. The Packers have allowed 143 yards and two touchdowns to opposing tight ends already, which makes Eric Ebron a bonafide TE1 in Week 3. Dwayne Allen should remain in your lineups, as he has a chance to repeat his Week 1 performance in a matchup against the Chargers. Both the Bills and Cardinals have shut down tight ends so far, and look, they play each other. There are better options out there than to fish with these teams.
Back to the Colts, they have struggled to stop running backs so far, leading the league with 34.6 FPPG allowed on NFL.com. Next closest is 26.2 by the Redskins. Melvin Gordon looks terrific so far, and with this matchup against the Colts, he could put up RB1 numbers this week. The Chiefs defense is normally a threat to opponents, especially in Kansas City, but it's been weak vs. the run so far, meaning you should have no worries about keeping Matt Forte locked into your lineup. Todd Gurley has started slow but gets his best matchup of the season against the Buccaneers. Do not think about benching a talent like him. However, you can consider selling high after he puts up a big game, as the Rams schedule is fairly tough this year. Frank Gore is a model of consistency, and he will be hard to sit if you own him given the matchup with the Chargers at home. The Titans have been surprisingly strong against the run, which makes DeAndre Washington a risk if you're looking for him to repeat last week. The Packers defense has also been very tough against the run, and with shared touches in Detroit, only Theo Riddick in PPR leagues looks to be trustworthy.
The Rams DST is one of the better groups in the league. The Buccaneers have given up a good amount of turnovers, so keep the Rams defense in your lineup. The Dolphins DST has one good week and one rough one to its name, but it also has five sacks, an interception and two fumbles in two games. The Browns offense is changing again this week, and the team has allowed six sacks and three interceptions in the first two weeks. Those Dolphins make for an interesting defensive streaming option. The Falcons defense has done little so far, and as we know, they face the Saints this week, which keeps them off the radar in Week 3. Wil Lutz has two field goals in each game so far with one in each game coming from 40-to-49 yards. He's a great Fantasy option given the potential for a high-scoring Monday night. Dan Bailey is cruising along, making his case to be Fantasy's best kicker…, and dethroning Stephen Gostkowski. Nick Novak is tied for second so far, and has the matchup with the Patriots on Thursday night. He can give you a good start to Week 3 of the Fantasy Football season.
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