The Fantasy Fool: Several stars flame out in low-scoring weekend

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How confident would you have felt going into Week 3 with this starting lineup: Colin Kaepernick, C.J. Spiller, Daryl Richardson, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Dwayne Bowe, Jermichael Finley, Phil Dawson and the 49ers defense?

I'm sure you wouldn't have felt invincible; but you must have assumed you could make it to double digits, for crying out loud.

No, that wasn't my lineup; and I don't know anyone that was so scorned by the fantasy gods. But it just goes to show how fickle this passion of ours can be.

Scoring was down noticeably in all three of the leagues in which I play, through Sunday night's games. While there were a few exceptional performances -- Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Jamaal Charles, Antonio Brown and Cameron Jordan come to mind -- the list of zeros far outnumbered the heroes.

Don't get overly worried if your fantasy team turned in a dud this weekend. These things often run in cycles, and Week 3 will be forgotten quickly.

Heck, if Browns fans can have hope after the week they just went through, anybody can!

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch 'em while you can

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. The Jets aren't as bad as we thought they'd be, but we still didn't want any part of their backfield committee. That is, until it turned into a one-man show. Once Chris Ivory left with a hamstring injury, Powell turned on the afterburners. His 149-yard rushing day, albeit against a very soft Bills defense, suggests he could be a viable bye-week substitute in favorable matchups.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns. Apparently his two-week layoff didn't hurt. Nor did the third-string quarterback. Gordon exploited the Vikings' awful secondary for 146 yards and a score while being targeted a whopping 19 times by Brian Hoyer. Suddenly, "Cleveland's passing attack" is no longer a punch line.

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots. Rookie wideouts have a sketchy track record in New England. This year may be different, if only because Tom Brady is more desperate. Thompkins, who was passed over in the 2013 Draft, had already out-performed second-round selection Aaron Dobson during the preseason. After his two-TD performance Sunday, Thompkins is worth a spot on your bench. The upside is obvious.

Don't be fooled

Willis McGahee, RB, Browns. A starting RB is a starting RB. But McGahee is returning from a season-ending knee injury, he'll be 32 next month and he just got off the couch to play for a run-challenged offense. He'll surely improve on his 1.1-yard-per-carry performance against the Vikings, but McGahee's days as a reliable fantasy contributor are most likely behind him.

Johnathan Franklin, RB, Packers. Apparently Green Bay can run if it really wants to. After losing its second starting RB in as many weeks, the third-stringer stepped in, breached the 100-yard mark and scored. Unfortunately for Franklin, the Packers are heading into their bye and fellow rookie Eddie Lacy (concussion) will almost certainly reclaim his starting job in Week 5.

Brian LaFell, WR, Panthers. Every now and then LaFell teases us with a strong outing like Sunday's (53 receiving yards, 2 TDs). Then he promptly returns to the shadows, reminding us why he's rarely drafted in the first place. Don't take the bait.

Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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