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Thursday, 25 September 2014 17:06

Fantasy Football Week 4 Preview

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Week 4 brings obstacles in the form of injuries and six teams on bye. You may have to look a little deeper into your depth chart to set an optimal lineup this time around.

*Teams on Bye*:  Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Arizona, and Seattle

New York Giants at Washington Football Franchise

Hey there Victor Cruz, nice of you to finally show up. The Texans defense struggled horribly on Sunday, paving the way for Cruz to have his best game of the short season. This should give Cruz owners some confidence going into this game against a team that just gave up 100+ yards and a TD to EACH of the Eagles’ main WRs. Eli Manning has had his struggles, but I can’t imagining him struggling here. Cruz is a top-15 WR once again, and Larry Donnell gets a start from me this week.  He still leads the team in targets and receptions, and I see no reason why he won’t be involved. Not much to say about Rashad Jennings, he’s a top-10 RB this week. I’m not worried about how Washington limited McCoy and Sproles last Sunday. I’m also not worried about the Giants preventing Kirk Cousins from having a good day. Cousins should have a great day, and is starter worthy in my opinion. Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and Niles Paul all look good to go as well.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

I still don’t think Eddie Lacy owners need to be afraid yet. Every team the Packers have faced thus far has a good run defense, and the Lions are currently 2nd in the league in that category, so this isn’t entirely his fault. If Lacy can’t do well against the Bears (giving up 144.7 rushing yards per game) then you have reason to fear. Aaron Rodgers had a rough outing last week, but the Bears defense just gave up 316 passing yards to Geno Smith, so you shouldn’t have any doubts about one of the best QBs in the league. The Packers defense did a surprisingly good job against Matthew Stafford, but can they stop the trio of Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey? Forte is another RB that hasn’t looked great so far, but this should be a big game for him. In two meetings last year Forte totaled 235 rushing yards, 101 receiving yards, and 4 TDs. He’s a clear RB1 for me. My Sleeper Selection here is James Starks, you know, just in case Lacy doesn’t get it going. I don’t believe Lacy would get benched for poor play, but Starks had 8 carries to Lacy’s 11 and played better (38 yards to 36).

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans

A week after going for 8 receptions, 117 yards and a TD, Sammy Watkins only finished with 2 receptions for 19 yards. I think this is how his season will go. You can’t rely on EJ Manuel every week to get Watkins the ball (although the targets are there), so he’ll see him hover around Flex/WR2 territory for me. Fred Jackson had a better week than CJ Spiller, and this back and forth between the two will also be a constant this season. I think both can be RB2s this week going against a run defense giving up 141 rushing yards per game. Arian Foster is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and even though Alfred Blue looked good last week, the Bills are very good against the run. Blue is a Flex play, but I wouldn’t expect too much from him. Andre Johnson has WR1 targets, but DeAndre Hopkins is the one producing. Andre gets the WR1 rank and Hopkins is a WR2, but those ranks may swap starting next week if this keeps up.

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

The only person I can start on the Titans offense is Delanie Walker. Kendall Wright is a Flex in PPR leagues, but in standard scoring formats I just can’t confidently place him in my lineup. Walker didn’t exactly light up the box score last week, but I at least know he’s serving as Locker’s safety net. I like the Colts defense this week. They aren’t doing well against the pass, but I’ll take the risk. Andrew Luck is currently the leading scorer in Fantasy Football through 3 weeks and I can’t imagine the Titans slowing him down. You also have to like Ahmad Bradshaw (RB2) here against a team giving up 130+ yards per game. Trent Richardson is getting better each week, but he’s still being outplayed by his backup. Trent is still a bench warmer on my team, even with the bye week. We’re still waiting for T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne to finally score, and I’d be very shocked if one of them doesn’t get their first TD of the season on Sunday. Both are Flex plays, and I’d rather have either in my lineup than the 2 TEs. I’d rank Dwayne Allen the higher of the two, but I’d start neither.

Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens

I was hoping Week 2 was a fluke for Kelvin Benjamin (WR2) and thankfully that seems true. Hopefully Cam Newton can finally get things going, he’s been pretty disappointing fantasy wise over his first two games. DeAngelo Williams looks to be the only RB the Panthers will use as literally everyone else is injured. I don’t normally advise starting Panthers RBs, but Williams is my Sleeper Selection for this game if he’s getting all of the carries. The Ravens are Steve Smith’s team. Torrey Smith is probably droppable at this point, and with Dennis Pitta on IR it looks like Owen Daniels should be owned in all leagues. I’m staying away from this cluttered backfield for this week. I think the Panthers doing so poorly against the run last week was fluky. There’s a chance Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro all get playing time, and John Harbaugh will likely stick with the hot hand.  All three have had their own solid games, so if I had to take a guess I’d say Forsett does the best, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

Detroit Lions at New York Jets

For starters you’re using the Lions DST. Secondly, I’m not afraid to start Matthew Stafford here. Megatron, that’s a lock. The question is do you use your Lions RB? The Jets are 1st in the league versus the run and I think their run defense is very legit. I still think Bell is a better play than Bush, but I’d rank both as Flex plays. The Lions could jump ahead early and use the RBs more in the second half. If you need to start a Jets player it’s Chris Ivory. He’s undoubtedly been better than Chris Johnson and he’s the best bet for a score or decent yardage. The Lions defense has been extremely good over the first three weeks, so I’m not confident in Geno Smith keeping Jeremy Kerley for a second week in a row.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Glennon as back as starter, which hopefully means a revival for Vincent Jackson, but I’m not making any promises. If Tampa couldn’t get anything done against the Falcons what reason do I have to think they’d be effective against the Steelers? VJax is a Flex and so is Bobby Rainey, whose fumbling problem will cost him the starting spot if he keeps it up.  Doug Martin may return this week, but he isn’t been effective in almost a year. The Steelers offense got back on track, and Le’Veon Bell looks like a top-5 back going into this week. LeGarrette Blount gets a Flex nod in deeper leagues (14+), and I also like Markus Wheaton as a Flex play. Sleeper Selection is the Steelers defense. This Tampa offense needs serious work.

Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders

Right now we don’t even know who the starting QB of the Dolphins is. Joe Philbin says it may be Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill is telling the media that he’ll remain starter; good thing is you aren’t starting either regardless. I think Mike Wallace is a WR2 and Lamar Miller is a RB2. Charles Clay can be benched until further notice because he just isn’t being used properly. Oh is this the part where I suggest who to start from the Raiders? Sorry, not happening.

Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers

Will the Blake Bortles era bring anything to the table? I mean, look at this team’s offensive and defensive rankings, he certainly isn’t fixing the defense. He can’t fix Toby Gerhart, and he may bring Cecil Short back to fantasy relevance, but how much can we really expect from Bortles right now? The Chargers defense isn’t great, but they’ve done a pretty good job so far. Shorts is a Flex play at most, but WR is so deep that I can’t see why you’d need to use him. I’m expecting a big game from the Chargers as the Jags have given up point totals of 34, 41, and 44 so far this season. Can Philip Rivers push the envelope to 45+? Keenan Allen has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments thus far, and if he doesn’t do well on Sunday then you should trade him for whatever you can get. With Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead out, Donald Brown, against the Jags, is dare I say, a top-10 RB. I feel dirty typing that (and then reading it aloud to confirm my statement), but he’ll get all (at least 80%) of the carries and the Jags are just atrocious.

Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings

286 passing yards and 3 TDs is certainly a stat line I can see Matt Ryan having for a second week in a row. Roddy White isn’t confirmed to be active Sunday, but if he is he’s a WR1. Julio Jones is clearly the best WR on this team and would be my top ranked WR this week if not for Megatron. I don’t think it’s a good sign that Steven Jackson only gained 54 yards in what was a complete blowout. Mike Smith decided to give Devonta Freeman almost as many carries, so it seems like in even blowout wins SJax isn’t going to be used too often. It’s good that he finally got a rushing TD, but he isn’t much more than a Flex at this point in his career. Teddy Bridgewater will be the starting QB for the Vikings for the remainder of the season (barring injury) and I think he can do well. Hopefully this means more targets for Cordarrelle Patterson; he’s more talented than Greg Jennings and should be featured more. Matt Asiata doesn’t look great, but he’s the starting RB and should do a decent job versus the Falcons; he’s a Flex. My Sleeper Selection is Rhett Ellison. He’s a 6’5” TE and could be a possible red zone fill-in for Kyle Rudolph.

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers offense isn’t looking too good and there’s really no excuse considering Kaepernick has most of his options. He’ll be going against the Eagles who are almost last in the league versus the pass, so he really needs to perform Sunday afternoon. Stevie Johnson rose from the dead, definitely trying to pick up the slack with Vernon Davis out. Davis is questionable, so if he doesn’t play I think Johnson is a Flex. Amid his QB’s struggles I think Michael Crabtree is a WR1, he’s the one guy you can’t count on Kaepernick going to. I wouldn’t worry too much about Frank Gore just yet. The 49ers didn’t run much outside of Kaep, and Gore is still the starter. I think he’ll bounce back this week and I rank him as a RB2. Another RB I wouldn’t worry about is LeSean McCoy. The running game just wasn’t working for some reason last week, and although the 49ers defense is good, I doubt McCoy will be held to less than 50 total yards for consecutive weeks. Foles, Maclin (WR1), and Sproles (RB2) are definite starts, Ertz should have a fine day, and Jordan Matthews’ game was more of a result of what the defense chose to leave open Foles.

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

Welcome to your weekly shootout. We’ve had at least one each week so far and this game is my best bet for this week’s showcase. Both of these teams have been running the ball a lot more than people expected and both QBs have been a concern fantasy wise, but I have a feeling both QBs have great games. Leave the defenses at home. To save the analysis (not much needed) here are my ranks for each position:

QB: Brees (QB1) > Romo (QB1)

RB: Murray (RB1) > Robinson (Flex) > Thomas (Flex)

WR: Bryant (WR1) > Cooks (WR2) > Williams (Flex) > Colston (Flex)

TE: Graham (TE1) > Witten (TE2)

New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

Both offenses are disappointing. The Pats only scoring 16 points at home against the Raiders is a horrible sign. Brady hasn’t looked good and you have to wonder how long it’ll take for things to click. He isn’t connecting with anyone other than Julian Edelman (WR1), and Gronkowski (TE1) is a pure red zone threat for now. Gronk’s usage may go up, and I think it needs to for Brady to be start worthy. I’d bench Brady this week; he just isn’t getting it done fantasy wise. Ridley had 19 carries last week, almost 3 times the amount Vereen (Flex) had. It looks like he’s out of the doghouse, and against the Chiefs run defense he’s a RB2 for me. Alex Smith threw 3 TDs last week, but make no mistake this is a running team. If Charles doesn’t play then Knile Davis is a RB1, otherwise Charles is the RB1 and Davis is a Flex. Travis Kelce is a TE2 for me, wouldn’t feel too confident starting him though as the Pats pass defense is at the top of the league right now. Sleeper Selection for Monday night’s game is Brandon LaFell. It’s nice to see Brady targeted him 8 times on Sunday because I think LaFell can be a valuable part of the offense if used more. Hopefully he’ll convert more of those passes to TDs.

Thanks for reading, and follow me @CLNS_Marc for further coverage.