Due to unfortunate injuries, poor play, Brett Favre’s karma, and various other roster-crushing reasons, Week 3 of the NFL season has become an excellent time for unexpected heroes to emerge. We’ve picked 10 possible risers, as well as 10 starters due for a fall. Plus, there may or may not be an excellent recipe for apple pie at the end.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Look for Vick to take advantage of a favorable match-up against a weak defense. The Jaguars are currently 29th against the pass, and 20th against the rush. Expect Vick to make a statement in this high-pressure game.
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer has thrown the ball 85 times in his first two starts and shown a propensity to go deep at least twice a game. With a rough start last week against Baltimore’s vaunted defense behind him, look for Palmer to bounce back with a big day against the Carolina Panther’s 19th-ranked pass defense.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings
Well, since it can’t get any worse for people who drafted him, why not give him one last chance against the Lions? With Percy Harvin seemingly back and a couple games under his belt, this may be the breakthrough day Favre needs.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
It’s hard to imagine McFadden eclipsing his first two starts (he currently sits seventh amongst fantasy running backs), but with a game against the Arizona Cardinals’ 31st-ranked rush defense, he seems primed for his biggest start yet this Sunday.
Lawrence Maroney, Denver Broncos
With Knowshon Moreno out this week, expect Maroney to get a huge increase in carries against Indianapolis’ league-worst rush defense.
Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins
After Donovan McNabb’s hot start, teams are going to start keying in on the Redskins’ passing game. Expect Portis to take advantage of this, starting Sunday against the Rams’ 30th-ranked rush defense.
Through two weeks, only four other receivers have been targeted more times than Terrell Owens. Logically speaking, if he sees the ball this often against the Panthers, he’s bound to rack up a few more receptions than he did in tough outings against the Patriots and Ravens.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones and company should be in for a shootout against the Houston Texans and will need Witten to step up if they have a chance to win. This bodes well for Witten, as the Texans have given up two huge performances to opposing tight ends to open the season.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense
The chance to start a defense playing against Jimmy Claussen in his first-ever career start? Yes, please.
Oakland Raiders Defense
Arizona Cardinals fans are calling for Max Hall at starting quarterback. Any time you can get a defense playing a team with a “Start Max Hall” campaign, you jump on it.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After two great starts, Freeman should come back down to earth against a talented Steelers defense that isn’t allowing anybody to get into their end zone.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Following a stellar performance against the Patriots in Week 2, Sanchez could be in for a rough day against a Dolphins defense that picked off Brett Favre three times last week. Not to mention the distraction – and subsequent demotion – of Braylon Edwards and his fancy new DUI.
Maurice Jones Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jones-Drew has been limited in practice this week and may see his carries diminished because of it. He’s still worth starting, but may not help fantasy owners as much as he has in previous outings.
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Chris Johnson wasn’t able to crack 50 yards against the Steelers' defense, what are the odds Williams will come anywhere close?
Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
The hottest new waiver wire running back went wild against the Cardinals’ 31st-ranked run defense last week with Michael Turner on the shelf. This week, Snelling will face a tougher test against the Saints and the possibility of Turner coming back to eat up carries.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Nicks has had two straight weeks of solid fantasy football production, but may struggle Sunday against the Titans’ top ranked pass defense.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
After notching touchdowns in each of his first two games, Smith enters week 3 with a difficult match-up against the Bengals imposing defense and a nagging thigh injury. It seems like a possible stumbling week for the fantasy workhorse.
Kellen Winslow Jr., Tampa Bay Buccaneers
See: Josh Freeman and Cadillac Williams.
Atlanta Falcons Defense
Sadly, you don’t get to play the Arizona Cardinals every week. Sometimes you end up with the New Orleans Saints on your schedule.
Green Bay Packers Defense
After last week’s big day against the Buffalo Bills, the Packers defense should come back down to earth when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears. Expect Cutler, Forte, and company to make things a little more difficult for the league’s third-ranked defense.
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