Fantasy Doctor: Three up, three down

The third week of the NFL preseason is in the books, which has cleared uncertainties for some teams, while unanswered questions still remain for many. Barring any unforeseen injuries or spectacular performances, don’t expect starting lineups to change much before the season opener on Sept. 5.

Here are this week’s biggest fantasy winners and losers:

h2. Stock Up

*Peyton Manning*, quarterback, Broncos

Despite underwhelming performances in his first two games as a Bronco, Manning looked much like his former self in last Sunday’s game against the 49ers. Manning completed 10 of 12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns — both to Eric Decker. The quarterback’s surgically-repaired neck was put to the test on a few big hits, but he was able to get up easily each time. Manning will be a steal for fantasy owners this season if he’s able to stay on the field. He’s currently being drafted in the late third round in most leagues.

*Antonio Brown*, wide receiver, Steelers

Mike Wallace might be back in town, but Brown has had an entire offseason to work with Ben Roethlisberger and is primed for a breakout year. Despite only having two touchdowns in 2011, Brown amassed over 1,100 yards receiving and 69 catches in 124 targets — 11 more than Wallace. And those numbers should only increase this season. With the Steelers running game in turmoil and the reappearance of Wallace, Pittsburgh will have plenty of opportunities to air the ball out this year. Brown’s current average draft position ranks him as the 24th receiver off the board, making him a potential steal in the mid-rounds of the draft.

*Russell Wilson*, quarterback, Seahawks

Pete Carroll announced this week that third-round draft pick Wilson will be the Seahawks starter Week One against the Cardinals, making him the fifth rookie quarterback to be named a starter. Wilson doesn’t appear to be as valuable as other rookie options such as Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but he’s shown he has the ability to run the ball and Seattle does have some offensive weapons at his disposal.

h2. Stock Down

*Maurice Jones-Drew*, running back Jaguars

Jones-Drew isn’t making any friends in Jacksonville; the running back is still holding out for a larger contract after leading the NFL in rushing last year. Despite being the only productive member of the Jaguars offense, a great preseason from Rashad Jennings and the refusal of Jacksonville’s front office to budge in negotiations has put Jones-Drew in a position very similar to the one Chris Johnson found himself in a year ago. Coach Mike Mularkey has said he expects to start Jennings when the season opens; Plus, with no offseason work with the team, Jones-Drew may struggle to return to form.

*James Starks*, running back, Packers

Starks has battled injuries since he entered the league in 2010, and this week coach Mike McCarthy said Starks’ recovery from his turf toe injury has been slow going. With the recent arrival of Cedric Benson and Alex Green also in the mix, Starks faces an uphill battle back into fantasy relevance. In his last three seasons, Benson has rushed for at least 1,000 yards. With defenses struggling to contain Aaron Rodgers, Benson will find plenty of room to run, making him a low-risk pickup in the middle rounds of the draft.

*LeGarrette Blount*, running back, Buccaneers

Issues with ball control and in short-yardage situations have plagued Blount, which has led to Tampa Bay naming rookie Doug Martin as the starter over the two-year veteran. The question remains: How will Blount respond? Will he refuse to give up like when he ran all over the Packers last year, or will he end up punching Martin in the face?

_Kevin is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevinThorn10._