XN Sports League of Champions Week 3 Preview

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Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson

Sep 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) rushes the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

As it is with every fantasy football league, Week 3 has arrived. Currently, three teams in the XN Sports League of Champions are sitting undefeated after two weeks with six more at 1-1, and three still searching for their first win. Two of the winless teams have tough matchups today against one of the undefeateds. But there are also two very big games between 1-1 teams. So there is a lot on the line this week, and the XN Sports writers are ready to go, offering their takes on this week’s opponents. To see the teams’ full lineups, just click on the matchup heading.

FANTASY FOUNDATION (Rich Hribar) 2-0 vs. 4TH AND GOAL (Neil Parker) 1-1

Rich Hribar: I recently had a conversation with my son about our team’s performance over the initial two weeks of the season. He asked me why Trent Richardson, our first round pick, was not providing us more points (this is important for children, more is always better, even when you’re winning). I told him about the Browns current offensive line struggles and the fact that Brandon Weeden‘s subpar play has damaged his value just a tad. I also assured him I would see what I could do about rectifying his season.

After an abundance of phone calls, emails, tweets and even one carrier pigeon,, I was able to land a meeting with Colts owner Jim Irsay. A few hours and 80 year aged scotches (he’s a fan) later, I had explained to him that we had a mutual dilemma. You see, Vick Ballard had just gone down for the season earlier that week, and Ahmad Bradshaw had not bounced back from his 374th foot surgery like the team had hoped. He was a very generous host, and said he would do everything within his power to remedy the problem. The next day, Richardson was traded to the Colts for a first round pick and part of high scoring offense.

We won’t need Richardson this week as Jamaal Charles already had 27 points on Thursday night. Those points will likely be more than Neil gets from all of his running backs (and maybe receivers) this week. Don’t discount the power that the Fantasy Foundation wields amongst the powers that be, team Hribar can cause some Hruckus.

BLURRED GOAL LINES (Tony Consiglio) 2-0 vs. DERWOOD #DEGENERATES (C.D. Carter) 0-2

Tony Consiglio: I couldn’t have asked for a much better start from my team. At 2-0 and in second place, I feel very good about where I’m at. On the surface, a matchup against a 0-2 team should be a good thing, but going up against a manager as talented at C.D., nothing’s a given.

That said,  I do like how this stacks up for me. Matt Stafford and Colin Kaepernick anchor my QB spots with at least one stud at every position (Randall Cobb, LeSean McCoy, and Jason Witten) the rest should come down to how the balance of my lineup fares. The only concern I really have about my lineup is whether I’m making the right decisions at my RB2 and flex spots. I’ve decided to go with Rashard Mendenhall and Giovani Bernard and will hope that Marlon Brown, Aaron Dobson, James Starks, and Danny Woodhead don’t make me regret it.

Even though Yahoo! projects me to defeat the #Degenerates, I can’t say I feel safe. He has a deep roster of RBs and WRs with QBs ripe for big games. I like Jay Cutler against a bad Steelers team and Terrelle Pryor is going to be a garbage time fiend when his Raiders lose to the Broncos. I’m not going to worry too much, though. With the 21 spot McCoy started me off with on Thursday Night Football, I’m already off and running. And this undefeated train doesn’t have a scheduled stop at One-Loss Station.

MY BUDDY AND ME (Dave Major) 2-0 vs. @BRYKNO RHINOS (Bryan Knowles) 0-2

Dave Major: This week will all depend on the Rhinos’ only two weapons. Calvin Johnson faces a porous Redskins secondary that was just shredded by “A. Aron” and the Packers.  And Marshawn Lynch will likely have his way with the future Los Angeles Jaguars of Anaheim.  This week may be the best day of the year for “Skittles,” so my hopes are tampered with this matchup.

At the cost of sounding like a broken record (does anyone under 25 use or understand this reference?), my receiving corps will remain my bread and butter.  Perhaps the most undervalued man in this young season is my Julian Edelman, who leads the league in receptions, and is second in targets only to Andre Johnson.  Edelman, T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green, Greg Jennings, and Jimmy Graham will need to carry that weight once again, to lift Darnell Dockett‘s Little Buddy Tigers to a 3-0 start.

For my squad this week, things may be looking as bleak as the front half of a Jaguar helmet. But hopefully the golden backsides of their domes will better reflect the outcome of my Sunday.

Bryan Knowles: Who’s got two thumbs and is going to start 0-3?  This Guy!

OK, it’s not as bad as all that — Yahoo!’s calling it a dead heat — but I just traded away one of my best players for someone not suiting up this week, so I’m a little hamstrung.  Had I known Floyd was going to get hurt…. eh, I’d still have made the trade, but it doesn’t help.

Therefore, the only change I’m making to my starting lineup is slotting in Jake Locker for Josh Freeman — and when that’s your big strategic decision of the week, you’re in trouble.  My main hope is that Seattle throttles Jacksonville so badly that they just run the ball for the entire second half, letting Marshawn Lynch rack up big numbers — and then hoping Oakland somehow slows down Peyton Manning on Monday Night.  I’m afraid it will be another week in last place for me.

FIFTY SHADES OF CATS (Felipe Melecio) 1-1 vs. KEEPIN HEADS RINGIN (Michael Clifford) 0-2

Felipe Melecio: I’ll be honest, I’m really not that concerned with Michael Clifford’s team. Maybe if this were fantasy hockey, I’d be a bit concerned, but it’s not. I do appreciate the fact that every time I see his team name, I think very fondly of Dr. Dre and his contribution to the original Friday soundtrack. But besides the team name and Andre Johnson, there’s very little to like about a team that’s averaged 110 points per game. An easy win against an easy opponent is just what I need after a tough Week Two loss.

Michael Clifford: This is a big week for me after the 0-2 start to the season. If I fall to 0-3, then I’m looking at going 7-3 or even 8-2 the rest of the season to make playoffs, and that’s a hole that is probably too deep to climb out of.

As is the problem with a lot of people, my running backs are a problem. I had held out hope that by now, David Wilson would be a high-upside RB2 and Le’Veon Bell might be my flex. Here we are in Week 3, and they’re both on my bench. I was able to draft some depth on my bench, so all is not lost with Joique Bell and Fred Jackson. That said, you don’t want to go into any week before the bye weeks hit with your RB4 and RB5 in your starting lineup, something I’m forced to do.

My opponent, Fifty Shades of Cats (haha), already had DeSean Jackson go yesterday, so that was one bullet dodged. If I’m going to win this week, I’m going to need my quarterbacks to start playing a little better than they have; I have both Cam Newton and Carson Palmer and they were both outside the Top 20 quarterbacks as the week started. Considering I was hoping to have a Top-5 and Top-14 QB by now, that is backfiring considerably.

They say you can’t win a fantasy league in the first couple rounds, but you can certainly lose them. So far, Cam Newton and David Wilson are proving exactly that. Let’s see if at least Newton can turn things around this week.

STUDFELDSVILLE (Salvatore Stefanile) 1-1 vs. THE WINTER CLASSICS (Chris Blanchard) 1-1

Salvatore Stefanile: In Week 3, Team Studfeldsville will be less studly, with the recent departure of Rob Gronkowski from the squad. Parting of the ways was mutual between team and player, and it’s onto the next battle, which is a Week 3 showdown versus The Winter Classics.

The first two weeks have been nothing but close battles, and the expectation is that will happen yet again in Week 3. The Winter Classics have a solid line-up, from top to bottom. Whenever you’re going against Aaron Rodgers, any WR, in this case, Dwayne Bowe, playing against the atrocious secondary of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks defense playing the Chad Henne-led Jacksonville Jaguars, you have to worry that a loss may be in order.

COCONUT PETE (Tom Fitzgerald) 1-1 vs. MAKE IT WAYNE (Igor Derysh) 1-1

Tom Fitgerald: Week 3 for Coconut Pete is full of questions marks. While Yahoo! has me projected to win by nine points I don’t put much stock into that projection. First of all, I have to keep an eye on Larry Fitzgerald. He’s projected to score 13.09 fantasy points. That’s if he plays. I do think he will play, but to what extent no one knows. The second question mark is Ray Rice. He’s projected to score 11.42 points. That’s if he plays. I don’t think he will. That means I’ll probably roll with BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Bilal Powell and pray for a touchdown. With Green-Ellis in my starting lineup I’m still projected to squeeze out a four point win. Take that for what it’s worth. I think this one comes down to the wire with Coconut Pete scraping by with a one or two point victory and celebrating with a little rum on the beach.

Igor Derysh: After everyone in my lineup disappointed last week, I’m eager to get out on the fake football field and redeem myself against the Bossman. I’m sticking with Tom Brady and Eli Manning after both had tough weeks and I like them over his RG3/Big Ben duo which face tough tests in the Lions and Bears. I’ll take my Adrian Peterson and DeAngelo Williams (vs. NYG) over his Arian Foster and BJGE combo but his Tony Gonzalez certainly has me beat at TE after Brent Celek added a paltry two points for me against the Chiefs. Once again, I’m not thrilled with having to start Mike Wallace, Mike Williams, and Michael Floyd but I have no depth and I have Demariyus as my WR1 so I still have a shot against his Torrey Smith, James Jones, Anquan Boldin, and banged up Larry Fitzgerald crew. It should be a close one and Yahoo has me as a three-point underdog after Brent Celek’s disappearing act but I like my QBs and RBs to carry me to a 2-1 record.

Tony Consiglio is a lifelong baseball fan and has worked for television and radio stations throughout New England.