Top 4 Fantasy Questions of Week 3 for numberFire
As we're coming up on the weekend here at numberFire, it's once again time to take a look at the numberFire questions board. For those fantasy owners who don't have Andre Brown starting this week, it's going to be a Sunday battle. And for those who had Cam Newton starting at QB, that battle resembles charging uphill, in the dark, wearing sunglasses, facing a team of Navy SEALs. Good luck, because you're going to need it. If you have a question to ask of your own, make sure to pop over to the questions board to ask our numberFire community yourself before the rest of the games begin on week 3. But for now, I'm just taking a selection of a couple of questions asked over the past day to look at a little bit more in depth.
Top 4 Four Fantasy Questions of the Week
It may be infuriating right now seeing Brown's first game as a starter, but relax and breathe. You did not make the wrong call. Ray Rice is a must start at all times; he could spend the entire second quarter going to the concession stand to get a crabcake and I'd still take him over 90% of the other starting running backs in the league. Rice does have one of the harder matchups on paper this week going against numberFire's #3 defense, the New England Patriots. Last week, they held Beanie Wells to 44 yards, and the week before, Chris Johnson was able to gain exactly 0.2% of his 2,000 yard goal. But of course, we're talking about Beanie Wells here, and CJ.5K performed just as well against the San Diego defense in week 2. I'm trusting Rice just as much for his work in the passing attack as in the rushing attack. Last week, he was Flacco's second-favorite target and was thrown to a whopping 10 times out of the backfield (24% of Joey F's throws).
And after his performance the first two weeks, you would be laughed out of your league if you decided to bench C.J. Spiller in week 3. So far this season, he's been numberFire's most efficient running back by a large margin, increasing the Bills' chance of scoring on 58.6% of times he rushes the ball (only two other backs are even above a 40% success rate). He might not reach Andre Brown-heights this week, because the Browns defense has been surprisingly solid so far this season. With Joe Haden, their strength is in the secondary, but holding BenJarvus Green-Ellis to under 80 yards rushing last week cannot be ignored. Still, Spiller comes in as numberFire's #7 RB this week, giving you two separate running backs in the top seven of our rankings. I might actually seek a trade for Brown right now while his value is still high, trying to strengthen your other positions to go along with your strong backfield.
Question 2: Philip Rivers (vs. ATL) or Jay Cutler (vs. STL)?
What if I told you that Philip Rivers has been the third-best quarterback in the NFL this season, only behind the guy he's playing against Sunday (Matt Ryan) and the rookie with skills from another planet (RGIII)? Would you believe me? According to numberFire's analytics, it's the cold, hard truth. Chew on this one for a second: using numberFire's favorite Net Expected Points (NEP) formula, which measures the amount of points you gain or lose your team when compared to the average player, Rivers has been more efficient than Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees this season. Every time he drops back to pass, Rivers gains his team +0.39 expected points, with a grand total of 27.54 points gained for the Chargers over what the average player would be expected to bring to the table. He is facing the best defense he has faced so far this year in Atlanta, especially in the secondary with Samuel and Robinson at the cornerback slots. But with the way Rivers has played, you cannot turn against him this week, especially when the alternative...
... is Mr. Cutler. Just for comparison, Jay Cutler's NEP rating is the exact opposite of Rivers' rating. At -0.07 NEP per pass, Cutler is actually losing the Bears an average of .07 points of expected value every single time he drops back to pass. A lot of that has to do with his offensive line - he would have to be the quickest Bear in history to avoid being sacked most plays, even quicker than Yogi running from the Park Ranger. The Rams are an easier defense to face than the Packers, but not by much. In weeks 1 and 2, the Rams' secondary was sneaky good, holding RGIII to 206 yards passing in week 2 and picking off Matthew Stafford three times in week 1. For this week, numberFire has Cutler projected as the #17 QB available, four slots on the rankings and a full fantasy point behind Rivers' projection. Don't overthink the matchup advantage here.
Let's take these one at a time. Jamaal Charles is a sad, sad fantasy case so far this season. I'm going to guess you started him last week as well, so I'll sign you up for the complimentary list of fantasy owners he should send flowers to from the past two seasons. But perhaps I'm a masochist, because I still view him as a good play for this week. First, I wouldn't worry at all about the injury. The Kansas City Star reports Charles did not play much in the second half of last week's game only as a precaution. He should be fine to use this weekend against the Saints. Now, will the Chiefs actually use him? Despite getting the yards last week, Hillis has been incredibly ineffective as a back so far this season; his -0.30 NEP per rush is the third-worst rating in the entire NFL among backs