>Thursday Lunch: Fantasy Football Week 4

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Uncategorized


By Nick Gallaudet
It is week 4, and now things are getting interesting.  Byes are going to shake up lineups, and everyone should be getting a sense of what their team looks like.  Now is a key time to assess your strengths and weaknesses and fill in your roster accordingly before the trade deadline passes.  Before we get to the games, the teams with byes this week are Dallas, Minnesota, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay, so here are my top 3 bye week replacements at each position:
QB: Bruce Gradkowski OAK, Sam Bradford STL, QB Chad Henne MIA
RB: RB Kenneth Darby STL, RB Justin Forsett, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WR: Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK, Jeremy Maclin PHI, Mario Manningham NYG
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF:  With the release of Trent Edwards, the team truly is his and he had a decent showing last week refusing to give up in a high scoring loss to the Patriots.  If you had Kevin Kolb or David Garrard as your QB, Fitzpatrick is a decent option (but Bruce Gradkowski is a better one)
RB Kenneth Darby STL: Steven Jackson went down last week with a groin injury and Darby filled in nicely.  He is going against a stout Seattle run defense this week, but he is still worth a look.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK: He may already be owned in your league, but if he’s not, he is definitely worth picking up as he has clearly matured and is a solid fantasy option with Gradkowski throwing the ball.
Now to this week’s slate of games…
San Francisco: Atlanta does not have the best passing defense, but QB Alex Smith can make bad defenses look great.  Smith only has 2 TDs through the air this year, and won’t get a lot of chances with the Falcons playing keep-away this week with their solid running game.  With Smith at the helm, I just can’t recommend any 49er receivers.
Atlanta: San Francisco has allowed a league high 7TDs through the air this year, and last week QB Matt Ryan again showed that his week 1 performance was a result of the Steelers’ amazing defense and not his own ineptitude.  I like WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez this week.
San Francisco: Atlanta has allowed 5.1 yards/carry this year and that’s bad news when you’re going to face a workhorse like RB Frank Gore.  Gore should be the focal point of the offense again this week and should rack up some pretty good numbers.
Atlanta: RB Michael Turner bounced back last week after an injury 2 weeks ago, and faces a marginal SF run defense.  I don’t think he will light up the scoreboard this week, but is definitely worth starting.
Start ‘em:
San Francisco: RB Gore
Atlanta: WR White, TE Gonzalez
Sit ‘em:
San Francisco: QB Smith, WR Michael Crabtree
Atlanta: RB Jason Snelling
Cincinnati: I think it’s official.  QB Carson Palmer is not good anymore.  He doesn’t have the arm strength he once had and he should not be considered an elite QB.  WR Chad Ochocinco has been able to fare admirably, however, with such little production from Palmer.  I think this week Ochocinco could have a decent game, but don’t look for much more from this passing offense.
Cleveland: The Browns have no real passing threat, and there is no one on this team that really has any fantasy value through the air, especially against a solid Cincy defense, so stay away from all Browns receivers this week.
Cincinnati: Cleveland has yet to allow a TD on the ground this year, and Cedric Benson has not looked especially good this year, so I wouldn’t expect more than a 70 yard game from him and there’s a decent chance he won’t score, and on top of that, he’s banged up, so don’t bank on him this week.
Cleveland: RB Peyton Hillis shredded a good Ravens defense last week and should continue to carry the load this week as RB Jerome Harrison is still banged up.  I think Hillis can put up good yardage and find his way into the end zone this week.
Start ‘em:
Cincinnati: WR Ochocinco
Cleveland: RB Hillis
Sit ‘em:
Cincinnati: RB Benson
Cleveland: All WRs
NY Jets: QB Mark Sanchez has turned in 2 consecutive all-star weeks, but he should come back down to earth this week.  Look for TE Dustin Keller to figure prominently into the offense again this week and for Sanchez to have a serviceable week, getting WR Braylon Edwards into the mix as well.  There are definitely points to be had against a poor Bills defense
Buffalo: One of the more surprising things this season is the fact that the Jets passing defense looks vulnerable, ranking 27th in passing defense.  Look for a rejuvenated Bills offense to put up some sort of fight this week and for WR Lee Evans to finally break through this week.
NY Jets: RB LaDanian Tomlinson looks like anew man in New York.  He looks electric and rejuvenated and should have a good week against a Bills defense that got run all over by less-than-intimidating New England ground game.  I like RB Shonn Greene to get back on track in this game, too, but I think Tomlinson will have the bigger game.
Buffalo: RB Marshawn Lynch appears to be the guy in Buffalo, but don’t expect much from him, or any other Bills back against the immovable Jets run defense, especially since the Bills couldn’t do much on the ground against a poor Pats defense last week.
Start ‘em:
NY Jets: RB Tomlinson, TE Keller
Buffalo: WR Evans
Sit ‘em:
NY Jets: WR Cotchery
Buffalo: RB Lynch, RB CJ Spiller
Seattle: By no means is St. Louis good against the pass, but they did manage to somewhat shutdown the Redskins last week.  I think that the Seahawks will not be as formidable away from Seattle, but QB Matt Hasselbeck has simply found a way to score this year.  I think he could have his hand in a couple TDs this week, but I don’t think anyone in the passing game will be too impressive this week.
St. Louis: Seattle is the 3rd worst in the league against the pass, and with RB Steven Jackson hurt, look for the Rams to let QB Sam Bradford loose a little bit.  I think he and WR Mark Clayton could both have good days, and don’t sleep on WR Danny Amendola, who has also been targeted a lot this year.
Seattle: The Rams are not a good defensive team and are allowing over 5 yards/carry, so look for RB Justin Forsett to have a good game this week, especially if you need a bye week replacement at RB.
St. Louis: After Jackson went down last week, RB Kenneth Darby stepped in and took care of business.  Jackson is questionable this week, so if he’s out, I like a fresh Darby to have a good week against a decent Seattle run D.
Start ‘em:
Seattle: RB Forsett
St. Louis: QB Bradford, WR Clayton
Sit ‘em:
Seattle: WR Mike Williams, WR Deon Butler
St. Louis: RB Jackson
Denver: QB Kyle Orton is 2nd in the league in passing yards, but he struggles when he gets to the red zone.  Tennessee also has a good pass defense, so I don’t think Orton will have a very good day.  He could have a good enough day to warrant a start for WR Demaryius Thomas, however, since WR Brandon Lloyd is banged up, Thomas could reap the benefits and is worth a start.
Tennessee: QB Vince Young is dynamic, without a doubt, but he does have fewer passing yards than Seneca Wallace this year.  Young is simply not a good fantasy QB and his WRs suffer as a result.  Denver does have a poor pass defense, but I just don’t have faith in Young at this point.
Denver: The Denver running game could not produce last week against a really bad Indy run defense, and probably won’t fare much better this week against a good Titans defense.  Right now, with RB Knowshon Moreno hurting and RBs Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney splitting carries, there is no real fantasy value here.
Tennessee: Denver has a solid run defense, but they have not really seen a prolific runner yet, so I expect RB Chris Johnson to continue his dominance and put up good numbers this week.
Start ‘em:
Denver: WR Thomas
Tennessee: RB Johnson
Sit ‘em:
Denver: All RBs
Tennessee: All WRs
Detroit: QB Shaun Hill has been a serviceable replacement for Matt Stafford, but the production hasn’t been astounding.  As a result, WR Calvin Johnson’s production has suffered and I don’t expect that trend to get much better against a Packers defense that ranks 3rd in the league against the pass.
Green Bay: Detroit does not have a very good pass defense, and Green Bay has something to prove.  I think the Packers will make sure they play out of their minds this week after their Monday Night implosion, and I expect TE Jermichael Finley to continue tearing up defenses.
Detroit: Green Bay is less effective against the run than the pass, but I expect the Lions to be playing from behind this game, so I don’t think RB Jahvid Best will do much better than his 7 carry, 26 yard performance last week.
Green Bay: RB Brandon Jackson has not been very good replacing Ryan Grant, and RB John Kuhn looks to get the goal line carries, making both backs poor options this week, but I do think Kuhn will punch one in this week.
Start ‘em:
Detroit: None
Green Bay: QB Aaron Rodgers, TE Finley, GB Defense
Sit ‘em:
Detroit: RB Best, WR Johnson
Green Bay: RB Jackson
Baltimore: QB Joe Flacco finally had a decent fantasy week last week, and WR Anquan Boldin has outperformed everyone’s expectations this year.  It’s too bad they play the Steelers this week, because that means they’re going to have to wait until next week to get back on track because the Steelers defense this year has been impossible to score on, and this week shouldn’t be any different. 
Pittsburgh: It’s starting to look like WR Mike Wallace might be for real, but again, he’s going to have to wait until next week to show off again, because he’s going against the best pass defense in the NFL.  I’d hold out a little more hope if QB Ben Roethlisberger was back this week, but this game will be decided by the defenses.
Baltimore: RB Ray Rice has been struggling this year, he’s a little hurt and he’s going against the Steelers this week…sit him.
Pittsburgh: RB Rashard Mendenhall is the only player in this game that has a shot at making an impact fantasy-wise this week.  I personally wouldn’t start him this week, but if you’re going to start anyone in this game, it’s him.
Start ‘em:
Baltimore: None
Steelers: PIT Defense
Sit ‘em:
Baltimore: Everyone
Steelers: Everyone
Carolina: QB Jimmy Clausen looked like he was not ready for his first NFL start, and I don’t think he’ll be able to do much better against a confusing Saints defense.  His leading receiver last week had 47 yards, so it doesn’t look like there is much fantasy value here, sorry WR Steve Smith owners.
New Orleans: QB Drew Brees had a big week in defeat last week against a solid Falcons defense, so look for him to respond with a similar performance this week, but, as always, who knows who is going to benefit from Brees’ production.  This week, I pick WR Marques Colston.
Carolina: New Orleans has the 3rd worst rush defense in the league, so maybe this will be the week the Panthers RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will break out.  Don’t count on it, but I do think Williams will have a serviceable week and should be started.
New Orleans: Carolina has a decent run defense, but RB Pierre Thomas is a great player and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, through the air or on the ground and should be started every week.
Start ‘em:
Carolina: RB Williams
New Orleans: QB Brees, RB Thomas, WR Colston
Sit ‘em:
Carolina: QB Clausen, WR Smith
New Orleans: WR Lance Moore
Indianapolis: Who leads the NFL in receiving yards and TDs? Randy Moss? No.  Reggie Wayne? No.  It’s Austin Collie.  The 2nd year wide receiver is really blossoming this year and should continue to produce at a high level all year, and is a great start this week against the 4th worst pass defense in the league.  QB Peyton Manning has thrown 3 TDs every week and I don’t see why he’d slow down this week.
Jacksonville: QB David Garrard has led his team to the bottom of the pile in the AFC.  The Jaguars have been awful this year, and I think the Indy pass rush will be too much to handle and there will be little value in the Jaguars’ passing game this week.
Indianapolis: Both RBs Donald Brown and Joseph Addai are dinged up this week, as usual, and I don’t expect much from either this week.  Both are a threat to score, but it’s tough to predict who will get the ball in the red zone.  I would look for other options at RB, but if you need to start one of them, I’d pick Addai.
Jacksonville: This is RB Maurice Jones-Drew’s last chance to prove he’s not a fantasy bust this year.  He is facing a poor run defense and needs to step up and carry his team this week, or the Jaguars’ season is over. 
Start ‘em:
Indianapolis: QB Manning, WR Collie, WR Wayne
Jacksonville: RB Jones-Drew
Sit ‘em:
Indianapolis: RB Brown
Jacksonville: QB Garrard, all WRs
Houston: Oakland has the 2nd best pass defense in the league, and WR Andre Johnson has been slowed by a bum ankle in 2 straight games.  QB Matt Schaub has been up and down this season, and I expect RB Arian Foster to be a big part of the game plan this week, so I’m not too sure what to expect from Schaub.  I do think he’ll have decent numbers, but with Johnson hurt, WRs Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones will need to step up.
Oakland: Houston is dead last in passing defense this year, QB Bruce Gradkowski should have a big game this week, and is my favorite bye week replacement this week.  If WR Louis Murphy plays, he should have a huge game, as will WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, both WRs should be started, as well as TE Zach Miller, who had a good game last week.
Houston: RB Arian Foster had a key fumble last week, but he should bounce back against the Raiders’ rushing defense this week.  I don’t think he’ll have an amazing game, but I do think he’ll put up over 100 total yards, and possibly a score.
Oakland: RB Darren McFadden cannot be stopped.  Before the season, I thought the job would be RB Michael Bush’s, but McFadden was given an opportunity with Bush’s thumb injury and has put up the 3rd most yards by any RB this year.  Houston does have the 2nd ranked run defense though, and I expect McFadden to be bottled up this week.
Start ‘em:
Houston: WR Walter
Oakland: QB Gradkowski, WR Heyward-Bey, WR Murphy
Sit ‘em:
Houston: WR Johnson
Oakland: RB McFadden
Washington: Philadelphia has a top 10 pass defense, and QB Donovan McNabb looked a little shaky against a not-so-good Rams defense last week, that doesn’t bode well for this week in Philadelphia.  WR Santana Moss has had a little resurgence now that he has a decent QB, and should be started this week.
Philadelphia: Washington has the 2nd worst pass defense this year and QB Michael Vick seems to be for real.  He’s carved up defenses for 3 straight weeks and it should continue this week.  Look for WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to continue their hot streaks this week.
Washington: RB Ryan Torain was the leading rusher for Washington last week as he split carries with RB Clinton Portis, but most of his yards came on 1 carry.  No one in Washington seems to know who will get the majority of the carries this week, so I would stay away from Redskin running backs this week.
Philadelphia:  RB LeSean McCoy came back down to earth last week, like I predicted, and he put up numbers you will likely see from him the rest of the season.  This is Michael Vick’s offense and will revolve around him as long as he plays the way he has been, so McCoy is not a good option this week.
Start ‘em:
Washington: WR Moss
Philadelphia: QB Vick, WR Jackson, WR Maclin
Sit ‘em:
Washington: RB Portis
Philadelphia: RB McCoy
Arizona: QB Derek Anderson threw 2 TDs last week, but don’t let that fool you.  He is terribly inefficient and is a poor option against a San Diego defense with something to prove.  WR Larry Fitzgerald was shut down for the most part last week, but he should have a better game away from the solid Raiders pass defense.
San Diego: QB Phillip Rivers leads the league in passing yards, and he and TE Antonio Gates seem to be unstoppable.  I like the San Diego air attack a lot this week and think both WRs Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Nannee should be started this week.
Arizona: RB Beanie Wells is still a little hurt, and I don’t think either he or RB Tim Hightower will have much of a game this week against an angry SD defense.
San Diego: RB Ryan Mathews is probable for this week, but I think San Diego will be more focused on the pass game, so I don’t think he’ll have a great game, but he should still put up a good amount of points.
Start ‘em:
Arizona: WR Fitzgerald
San Diego: QB Rivers, TE Gates, WR Floyd
Sit ‘em
Arizona: RB Hightower
San Diego: RB Sproles
Chicago: In one of the stranger primetime matchups of the season, the Bears will look to continue their undefeated start.  The Giants have a decent pass defense, but they have given up some TDs this year.  I think they’ll come out with a little passion this week after being embarrassed 2 weeks in a row, but Cutler should still have a productive game.  I like WR Johnny Knox to get his points, but not a whole lot else from the passing game.
NY Giants: QB Eli Manning will have to take this team on his shoulder this week, since he won’t get much help from his running game against the solid Bears D.  I think Manning will throw a pick or two, but he should have a decent statistical game, and I just have a feeling about WR Mario Manningham this week, so I would start all 3 Giants WRs.
Chicago: RB Matt Forte needs to get his points through the air, because he certainly hasn’t done anything on the ground this year.  I don’t see much through the air for him this week, so I would sit him.
NY Giants: RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are in for a tough night against this stout Bears defense.  The Bears have only allowed 119 yards on the ground all year, so don’t look for much this week.
Start ‘em:
Chicago: WR Knox
NY Giants: QB Manning, WR Manningham
Sit ‘em:
Chicago: RB Forte
NY Giants: RB Jacobs, RB Bradshaw
New England: QB Tom Brady has earned the right to be started every week, but I don’t feel good about t his week.  I don’t think the Patriots will get too many chances to score, since Miami will try and chew the clock by running all over the bad Pats defense.  That being said, I have trouble calling for WRs Wes Welker and Randy Moss to be benched, so unless you have better options, you kind of have to start the Pats QB and WRs.
Miami: WR Brandon Marshall has more targets than any other WR in the NFL, and the Patriots defense is susceptible to the pass.  QB Chad Henne is a decent bye week replacement, as well as WR Brian Hartline, but Miami may not pass the ball a whole lot so be careful.
New England: Miami ranks toward the bottom of the pack in rush defense, but the Patriots do not really have 1 viable running option.  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis should get the majority of the carries from here on out, but I don’t particularly like this matchup for him this week.
Miami: I think Miami is going to run a lot against New England, and the Patriots haven’t exactly been great against the run this season.  I think RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will both get their share of carries, but as usual, don’t look for either to top 100 yards or score more than once.
Start ‘em:
New England: WR Moss
Miami: RB Brown, WR Marshall
Sit ‘em:
New England: RB Green-Ellis
Miami: None
Starts of the Week:
QB Bruce Gradkowski OAK
RB Frank Gore SF
RB Maurice Jones-Drew JAX
WR DeSean Jackson PHI
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK
WR Roddy White ATL
TE Antonio Gates SD
K Jeff Reed PIT
DEF Green Bay

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