Opening sentence that seems random and disjointed.
Start of new paragraph that starts to make sense of the first sentence and establishes theme or (hopefully!) funny premise this week.
That was the plan this week. After not doing an opening for Love/Hate last week and instead writing my "Tweeting in a post-Ray Rice world" column, I desperately wanted to get back to the fun of fantasy football.
Then Adrian Peterson happened and, well, I have some more thoughts in a very different column than the Ray Rice one. Like that column, however, it is presented elsewhere on the site, as the thought is that the subject matter belongs on a different platform than a fantasy football column.
So once again, we will get right to it. The usual caveats apply: This is not a start-sit column. If you want to know whether I think you should play one guy over another guy, please check my rankings. And now I am doing flex rankings as well, so you can compare a tight end to a running back or wide receiver.
This is a column about players I think will exceed or fall short of general expectations. In most cases, they are players I have ranked higher or lower than the consensus of my fellow rankers. In some cases we are all high or low on someone, but it's not a typical rank for that player.
Finally, know that this column (and my rankings) are done with ESPN standard scoring and 10-team leagues in mind. These are leagues where most rosters have very good teams and you are deciding between a lot of good options, especially this week with no byes. I know many people play in deeper leagues or with different types of scoring, but this is by far the most popular version of the game on ESPN.
Let's dive in.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 3
Matt Ryan, Atlanta: I know, he was brutal last week (and was on the hate list, natch), but that changes tonight. Why? Can we just leave it at "he's back home and indoors?" No? You want actual research this early in the article? Fine. He owns the Bucs. Past four, he's averaged 279.5 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game. And I don't see that changing tonight. Through the first two games, the only team allowing a higher completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks than the Buccaneers is the Raiders. That's when you know you have a bad stat: when it starts with "only" and ends with "the Raiders." And you don't need me to tell you to start Julio Jones, but he's a worthy consideration in games like our Eliminator version of Gridiron Challenge. Ryan has thrown for 303 yards on deep passes (15-plus yards downfield), 56 more than any other quarterback. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has allowed opponents to complete 71.4 percent of deep passes, the highest rate in the league. Keep in mind that Tampa Bay has faced Derek Anderson and Austin Davis.
Jay Cutler, Chicago: Make no mistake, I'm a Bitter Berry at the Bears after last week's "Oh, we don't think Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are gonna play and if they do they will be hurt and, oh, it's a Sunday night game and oh, wow, this guy that Jay Cutler didn't even know was going to play until two hours before game time suddenly has three touchdowns while sitting on my bench," but ... dude is gonna sling it. Fourth-most pass-happy team in the league gets an extra day to heal up and face the Jets? You realize no team in the NFL has given up more touchdown passes than the Jets, right? Sign me up for being behind on the scoreboard Monday morning and watching Jay Cutler lead me to a victory on "Monday Night Football" on ESPN and the WatchESPN app. Did I just fit a company plug into my write-up? You're damn right I did, just like Cutler will fit it through defenders and into his receivers' hands.
Kirk Cousins, Washington: Every week, I talk to an ESPN Insider, get their super-deep football thoughts and translate them to fantasy. This week it was with Louis Riddick, and among the topics we touched on was Cousins. In short, ignore last year's numbers. He's a good fit for Jay Gruden's offense and has more weapons at his disposal than Andy Dalton (Gruden's previous quarterback, as Bengals offensive coordinator) ever did. In a game with a lot of expected scoring, Cousins' first game out is against a defense that is top 10 so far this season in most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Have him in the top 12 this week and for the rest of the season.
If you're desperate: Since last season, Ryan Tannehill has averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game at home with only one single-digit game in nine outings. The Chiefs are decimated on defense and have already allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. ... The same number of fantasy points as Colin Kaepernick, two fewer than Drew Brees and three short of Nick Foles; Geno Smith hasn't been great, but he hasn't been terrible either. If you're outside the top 12 or so, you could do worse than rolling with him against a Bears secondary that just lost Peanut Tillman.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 3
Tony Romo, Dallas: With all the craziness off the field this season, we've barely had time to register the craziness on the field, including the fact that Scott Linehan has become a grind-it-out, ground-and-pound playcaller, with only three teams having more rushing attempts than Dallas the first two weeks of the season. Small sample size and skewed by last week, but still. Dallas knows what you and I know: To win with this defense, they need to control time of possession, run the ball and limit Romo's exposure. He used to just fling it deep; in the past three years, only Drew Brees threw more deep touchdowns (15 yards-plus) than Romo did. This season, Romo has yet to throw a deep TD, while throwing two interceptions on deep attempts. The Rams have allowed the sixth-fewest yards on deep balls this season. Now, that's mostly because they've been gashed on the ground -- they've faced just Matt Cassel and Josh McCown -- but still. Why wouldn't that continue here? Lots of Romo handing it off to DeMarco Murray in this one. If you get points for that, start him. Otherwise, not a top-12 play for me.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Once. In his past nine road games, Big Ben has thrown for more than two touchdowns only once. And that was against the Patriots in a 55-31 shootout. The Panthers are definitely weaker without Greg Hardy, but even without him, this is a great defense. Since 2013, only the Seahawks have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Panthers have.
Running backs I love in Week 3
Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay: If you read me at all in the preseason, you know I thought Doug Martin was being overdrafted and that I liked the cut of Charles Sims' jib. Then Sims went down and then I was on Rainey. Whether it's health, talent or something else, Rainey is the best running back Tampa has these days. But this is such a good matchup, even Martin can't screw it up. Probably. If you have him and he's active (you'll want to check the inactives list for this one), you gotta start him. If Martin is inactive, Rainey is a top-10 play. And if Martin is a go, Rainey is a nice high risk/high reward flex play. The Falcons have the worst run defense in the NFL.
Joique Bell, Detroit: Only one team has given up more rushing yards than Green Bay, who is very susceptible up the middle. Bell is The Lions Running Back You Want (his legal name) and will have top-20 success against the Packers in a high-scoring game.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas: A guys who totally owns the Rams (in two career games against St. Louis, Murray has averaged 214 rushing yards per game, including a career-best 253 in 2011), Murray is my No. 1 running back this week. See Romo, Tony.
Stevan Ridley, New England: With the usual caveats that things can always get screwy when you trust a Patriots running back, it probably comes down to whether or not you think the Patriots will win. Since last season, Ridley has been on the field for 292 snaps in New England wins compared with 221 for Shane Vereen. But in losses, Vereen outsnaps Ridley 134-74. Feel the Patriots crush Oakland here, and Ridley is clearly out of the doghouse, so this is a nice spot for him, as the Raiders have allowed the most rushing yards in the league in the first two games of the season.
If you're desperate: When he has gotten a chance, Steven Jackson has actually been decent this season (4.3 yards per carry), but game flow the last two weeks (shootout with New Orleans, losing big to Cincy) has dictated that they didn't go run-heavy. The Falcons are never going to be ground-and-pound, but I could see closer to 15-16 touches tonight than the 11-12 he's been getting, and against Tampa Bay's banged-up defense, that should be enough to be flex-worthy. ... Chris Ivory has scored twice in two weeks, leads the league in yards after contact and gets a Bears team allowing he most rushing yards after contact this season. ... No Ryan Mathews means increased roles for other Charger running backs, including pass-catching Danny Woodhead. The Bills have allowed an NFL-high 20 receptions by opposing running backs this season, and they weren't all to Matt Forte.
Running backs I hate in Week 3
Frank Gore, San Francisco: In his past five against the Cardinals, Gore has averaged just 62 rushing yards per game, including only 14 yards on 13 rushes last year in Arizona. Since last season, the Cardinals have allowed the fewest rushing yards and fantasy points to opposing running backs. And despite the injuries, they are third-best against the run this season, too. Gore has had two cushy matchups this year (Dallas and Chicago) and has yet to top 70 yards rushing in either of them. They are limiting his touches (averaging 15 a game), so you're hoping for a score here. I hate having to hope for a score.
Shane Vereen, New England: See Ridley, Stevan. He could easily go off. And it is the Patriots. Maybe James White gets 30 carries and Brandon Bolden has three scores. Who knows? But last week's usage and the weak Raiders opponent makes me nervous.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh: You probably don't have better options, but no red zone carries last week (the first time since Week 12 of last season) and since last season, the Panthers have allowed only four rushing touchdowns, fewest in the league. Outside my top 10, where he normally sits, so he makes the hate list this week.
Wide receivers I love in Week 3
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay: Last chance to buy low. Crushes the Falcons since joining Tampa Bay, averaging 112.3 yards per game, and he had three touchdowns against them in last year's home-and-home. And stop me if you've heard this before, but Atlanta's defense is not so good. In addition to everything else, the Falcons are tied for the third-most touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona: Say what you want about Drew Stanton (what's your favorite tidbit? Mine is that his dad is named Gaylord), but at least he looks for Larry. Ten targets and six receptions from Stanton last week and came within six inches of a score; now they face San Francisco. Last five games against the 49ers, Fitzgerald has averaged 89 yards a game and scored two touchdowns. This season, the 49ers have allowed the second-most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. Top-20 play this week.
Mike Wallace, Miami: Wanna win a bar bet? Since Week 12 of last season, Eric Decker has nine touchdowns. He's the only one with more scores than ... Mike Wallace. He has six. And he easily could have had more if Tannehill had any chemistry with him at all. Last chance to buy Wallace at below top-20 prices. He's a legit WR2 this season. The Chiefs are banged-up on defense, including the fact that they probably will be without Eric Berry. K.C. has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to opposing wide receivers.
DeSean Jackson, Washington: Think he plays, and that he plays well against his former team. That simple. There are stats, there are trends and then there's pure bitterness and desire for revenge. Go, D-Jax.
If you're desperate: Very quietly, Brian Quick is among the league leaders in receiving yards, receptions and targets. He has a quality matchup with Dallas and he's available in 78 percent of leagues. ... At home, back in the dome, there is no way Marques Colston doesn't have a bounce-back game. ... It's a little dicey because of the hamstring injury, but if Eric Decker is active Monday night, I like him a lot against Chicago in what should be a higher-scoring game than people might think.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 3
Victor Cruz, New York Giants: Dropping passes and complaints, what happened to the confident salsa dancer that would blow by guys on the field? Cruz is on pace for a career-worst 44 percent reception rate. Even last season, when it all went horribly wrong, Cruz caught 60 percent of his targets. Need to see if before I'm starting him.
Wes Welker, Denver: Peyton Manning is a timing guy, and it's been a while since they've been on the same field together. Add to that the obvious bad matchup on the road at Seattle. Since last season, no team has allowed fewer receiving yards or fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Seahawks. Not a top-20 guy this week.
Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh: Love his talent, he'll make a good buy-low after this week, but this is entirely about matchup. Since 2013, only the Dolphins have allowed fewer receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers than the Panthers have.
Tight ends I love in Week 3
Delanie Walker, Tennessee: It's legit. Jake Locker's favorite red zone target, Walker leads all players with 128 receiving yards out of the slot this season, and he has scored a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Bengals have allowed the third-most receptions by opposing slot receivers this season. You could do worse than Walker and probably already have.
Greg Olsen, Carolina: "Cam Newton scrambles ... Greg Olsen covered ... goes through progression, Kelvin Benjamin is double-covered ... uh ... looks back to Olsen. First down, Panthers!" One of only three tight ends with at least six receptions and 70 yards in each of his first two games this season (Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates are the others). The Steelers just gave up two scores to Owen Daniels and have given up the seventh-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends.
Niles Paul, Washington: As mentioned in last week's "Love," Paul isn't Jordan Reed, but he is good. An athletic former wide receiver, this is not a fluke. Gruden's offense uses the tight end a decent amount, you just didn't realize it when he was in Cincinnati because Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert were splitting looks. Second in the NFL in receiving yards among tight ends and top-six in fantasy points, Paul's tied for the team lead in targets (eight) with Cousins under center. One score last week, he actually could have had two, but one was overturned. Good matchup in a high-scoring game: Since last season, the Eagles have allowed the ninth-most yards to opposing tight ends.
If you're desperate: Jared Cook (I know, I know) has had two consecutive weeks of four receptions and 40-plus yards. All three of the passing touchdowns the Cowboys have allowed this season have gone to tight ends. ... Charles Clay is 10th among tight ends in targets so far this season. It just hasn't resulted in big numbers yet. It's mostly dump-off type stuff, but you get enough looks, good things happen eventually. Against the Chiefs and that banged-up defense, he's a strong bet for top-15 numbers.
Tight ends I hate in Week 3:
Jason Witten, Dallas: See Romo, Tony. Quiet all year, I don't see that changing Sunday against a Rams team that, since 2013, has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Defense/special teams I love in Week 3
Indianapolis Colts: Available in 88 percent of leagues, the Colts have averaged a whopping 16.7 fantasy points per game, including two defensive scores. The Jaguars' offensive line made Washington look like world-beaters last week, giving up 10 sacks. That's not a misprint. They've allowed 13 sacks in total. Next-closest team has seven. Dude.
If you're desperate: Not a great matchup, but the Buffalo Bills' defense has been strong this season, including demolishing Miami last week. And they get the ol' 1 p.m. home game against a West Coast team.
Defense/special teams I hate in Week 3
Kansas City Chiefs: Banged up, on the road, in the heat ... this defense has scored a total of two points this season. Two. They played better against Denver than they did against the Titans in Week 1, but I believe Miami bounces back from last week and plays well at home. Not a top-10 play this week.
St. Louis Rams: Averaging only three fantasy points per game and no Chris Long. They have one sack in two games this season, and for all the grief Tony Romo gets about turnovers, since the start of 2013, the Cowboys have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- really wants to write a fun and goofy open next week. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. You may also have heard: He has written a book.