Fantasy picks: Week 3

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In Week 3 of the Home Team Challenge, the free fantasy football game with great prizes on HoustonTexans.com, the winning player will take home a Texans mini-helmet autographed by Dunta Robinson.

Here's my weekly fantasy advice, with a few players I like and a few players I don't:

PRICE IS RIGHT RB Frank Gore, SF, 43 points (vs. DET): With Mike Martz calling the plays for the 49ers this season, Gore has become the centerpiece of the offense. Gore is averaging 78.5 yards and a touchdown per game and with Detroit's defense giving up an average of 220.5 rushing yards, he should find plenty of room to run this week. On top of that, Gore is valuable as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Through two games this season, he has 93 yards receiving, and that should improve this week.

VALUE PICK WR Brandon Marshall, DEN, 30 (@ NO): The way that Denver's quarterback Jay Cutler is throwing the football and the fact that Marshall had 18 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown last week makes me wonder how he only costs 30 fantasy points this week. He should be open all afternoon against a suspect Saints secondary this Sunday. Even if he only puts up half as many points as he did last week, he'll be well worth the cost.

NOT WORTH IT QB Peyton Manning, IND, 68 (vs. JAC): Manning is one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in the NFL and is always a threat to have a huge game. But he has not played up to his normal standards so far this season, which could be because of knee surgery that caused him to miss most of training camp. Since he's the most expensive fantasy player this week, I wouldn't pick him as my quarterback. He needs to prove he's worthy of those 68 points before I commit to spending that much on him.

RB Steven Jackson, STL, 38 (@ SEA): The main thing here is that the Rams have not played well on the offensive side of the ball. They rank 30th in the league with only 104 rushing yards through two games. Seattle is a division opponent with a decent run defense and could take an early lead on the Rams. If that happens, St. Louis could be forced to abort the run game and throw the ball more than they'd like. Jackson will get at least a fair amount of carries and probably a few receptions, but for the price tag, there are better options.

SLEEPER SPECIAL WR Steve Smith, CAR, 26 (@ MIN): Carolina has been a run-first team so far this season but with Minnesota being more than capable of stopping the run, the Panthers could air it out this week. Smith is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and at only 26 points, he is a potentially excellent start. The one deterrent here is that Smith has missed the first two weeks of the season due to a suspension, which could affect he and his quarterback's timing. Look for that not to be too big of an issue, however, and take a chance on Smith. This should be the lowest cost for Smith all season from here on out.

A LITTLE BIT EXTRA
Spend a little bit extra on one of the top-tier tight ends. Taking a top-three tight end is basically like having another receiver in your lineup and can be the difference between winning and losing. Jason Witten of the Cowboys, Kellen Winslow of the Browns and Antonio Gates of the Chargers are all great picks and well-worth the high cost. These players are more like the second receivers on their teams and are targeted more than most tight ends around the league, especially near the goal line.

TEXANS FANTASY START OF THE WEEK Andre Johnson, HOU, 37 (@ TEN): In three games against Tennessee under head coach Gary Kubiak, Johnson has averaged 8.3 catches and nearly 90 yards per game. Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game and will be healthy and ready to play after an unexpected bye in Week 2.

To register for the Home Team Challenge, click *here. Make sure to set your lineups by Sun., Oct. 21 at 10 a.m.*

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