Week 4 of the NFL season marks the quarter point of the season, and it gives us a good indicator of who is hot and who is not. So far running backs have been a bust, while wide receivers and tight ends have carried teams to victory. I would hold on to those RBs and not trade them for WRs as you will still want to have the best of what the position has to offer. Depth is important for bye weeks, but don’t trade to get deeper at a position and leave points on the bench each week because you simply don’t have enough spots to play all your guys.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about kickers this week and here is my short and dirty answer about them: add and drop kickers about every 3-4 weeks. You can’t truly predict or even project what a kicker will do because his whole fantasy game depends on the offense 1) failing to score, and 2) being close enough for him to kick a field-goal. This week I went through all my teams and looked at the FA list and filtered out the kickers by total points scored so far. If the difference was more than 7-10 total points, I swapped kickers.
Robert Griffin III – QB Redskins: RGIII has looked rusty in his first three games of the season, but his fantasy stats don’t reflect it as he ends up playing from behind and putting up 325.0 YPG this season. The 5-4 TD-to-INT ratio needs more separation for his owners to stop wondering if he is an every week starter this season. The Raiders are giving up 24.4 fantasy points-per-game this season, 10th worst in the NFL.
Tony Romo – QB Cowboys: When you hear the name you almost pencil him in as a fantasy starter, but that isn’t actually true anymore. Despite being owned in 94.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, he is only started in 31.4 percent of them. While it is true he might be without Miles Austin this week, the Chargers are the worst team in the league at fantasy points (FP) allowed to QBs with 32.9 per-game. I actually like him as a top 5-7 QB this week.
Darren McFadden – RB Raiders: After posting 9 yards rushing in week 3 (albeit against the Broncos), and Terrelle Pryor dealing with a concussion, I’ve gotten plenty of emails from owners wondering if they should sit him or start him. The Redskins Swiss-cheese defense has given up 23.7 fantasy points-per-game (FPPG) to RBs so far this season, 3rd worst in the NFL. I’d play McFadden as a high-end RB2 with upside this weekend.
Bilal Powell – RB Jets: After running 27 times for 149 yards last week, Powell’s start percentage on NFL.com went from 2.1 percent, up to 22.7 percent as of Thursday night. While I like Powell this week against a Titans defense that has allowed an average of 16.1 FPPG this season, I also think it is time to sell high on the Jets bell-cow RB. The chances of him scoring double-digit TDs are low, and he has likely hit his season high for yards in a game, making it all somewhat “downhill” from here. That being said, I’d still start him as an RB2 or flex this week.
Denarius Moore – WR Raiders: Let me preface this by saying Moore is more in the flex range than a true starter in fantasy leagues because of his QB. With that being said, the Redskins defense is the worst in the NFL for fantasy WRs, giving up 36.0 FPPG to them this season. Moore is a risk because Pryor did have a concussion in week 3, but he is a talented WR that can put up big numbers in the right situation. This should be one of those situations.
Eric Decker – WR Broncos: Conventional wisdom would say to sit Decker after he put up 8 catches for 133 yards and a TD in week 3 against the Raiders because he can’t continue to put up those kinds of numbers with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker at WR. But, the Broncos have Peyton Manning at QB, and he makes studs out of WRs from #1 to #3 every year. This week the Eagles travel to Denver in what could end up being a shoot-out between the #1 and #2 teams in total offensive YPG this season (486.7 – 461.7). Start Decker as a WR2/3 this week.
Cecil Shorts – WR Jaguars: Some of my readers have been following me for years, and they know that I am not a fan of the Jaguars offense by any means of the word. But, this week the Jaguars host the Colts and after putting up 8 catches for 143 yards against the Seahawks last week, this should be the game where Shorts finally scores this season. I have him as a solid WR3 this week with some upside possible.
Heath Miller – TE Steelers: Miller isn’t someone fantasy owners try and go for in their drafts, as his best football days are behind him. With that said, the Steelers play the Vikings this weekend and the Vikings allow the 2nd most FPPG to TEs (17.5) and have given up 6 TDs to TEs this season, worst in the NFL. Miller is only owned in 17.3 percent of NFL.com leagues, but he should finish with TE1 numbers if he finishes the game on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: Does anyone know who has the #1 fantasy defense this season? That’s right, the Chiefs do. Amazing considering their owned in just 59.1 percent of NFL.com leagues, and were drafted as the 20th defense this year. As we saw before, the Giants play the Chiefs and I like the Chiefs pass rush this weekend against a Giants offense that hasn’t started the season off in sync. It would not shock me at all to see the Chiefs finish week 4 as a top 5 fantasy defense.
Eli Manning – QB Giants: What worries me about Manning is that last week Manning took 7 sacks against the Panthers defense. Add to that you have Hakeem Nicks complaining about his one-target day in week 3. This week the Giants get the Chiefs menacing defense with IDP starters LB Derrick Johnson and DB Eric Berry. I would sit Manning in favor of someone like Pryor if you have to.
Alex Smith – QB Chiefs: Smith would normally never make this list because he is a weak option even in 2QB leagues. But, I see that on NFL.com his start percentage has spiked by 11.3 percent this week (up to 20.9 percent overall) and that is alarming. The 20.9 number is higher than QBs like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton. Smith has arguably the weakest arm strength in the NFL, and the Chiefs are a running team. Starting Smith is truly playing with fire, and you always end up getting burned when you do that.
Bernard Pierce – RB Ravens: Pierce is owned in 69.1 percent of NFL.com leagues and has scored in back-to-back weeks now. But, Rice looks to be ready to return from a hip injury that caused him to miss week 3 and that hurts Pierce’s fantasy value. The Bills run defense isn’t exactly stellar (17.5 FPPG and 13th worst in the NFL), but Pierce shouldn’t be played as anything more than a flex play this week considering he won’t see 24 touches again in this game.
C.J. Spiller – RB Bills: The Ravens are #1 at holding fantasy RBs in check this season (8.5 FPPG), and the Bills offense is led by a raw rookie QB. The truth is that E.J. Manuel is doing what Tim Tebow and engineered late-game comebacks that make him look further along than he is. I think Manuel struggles in this one and Spiller is a victim of the defense.
Arian Foster – RB Texans: Foster has been a huge fantasy bust this season, totaling just 227 yards of total offense and one touchdown through three games. Ben Tate has 206 yards of total offense, but has failed to score. The fact that the yards are so close has to worry fantasy owners, and the Texans’ continue to talk about how much they like Tate which isn’t good news for Foster. Oh, and the Texans play the Seahawks this week, enough said there.
Greg Jennings – WR Vikings: Jennings is owned in 87.4 percent of NFL.com leagues, but he has not been the WR fantasy owners have come to love from previous seasons. The truth of the matter is that Christian Ponder has trouble throwing down-field, and that was Jennings’ bread and butter in Green Bay. So far he has 11 receptions for 160 yards and no TDs this season, and that just will not get it done for a guy people drafted to be their WR3 or flex option. The Steelers are #2 in the NFL at WR FPPG with 13.0; that means Jennings rides the pine for me except in the deepest of formats where he is a WR4 or #2 flex option at best.
Lance Moore – WR Saints: Can you believe that NFL.com has Moore projected to haul in 99 receiving yards this week? Forget that the Dolphins defense is actually #4 in the NFL so far with 14.9 FPPG allowed to WRs; forget that Moore is the #2 WR behind Marquis Colston and #4 option to throw to behind Colston, Darren Sproles, and Jimmy Graham; what about the fact that he has just 3 catches for 44 yards this season? This just goes to show why you should NEVER set your line-ups based on any games projections. Moore is owned in 73.1 percent of NFL.com leagues, and that is far too many based on his early-season production.
Tony Gonzalez – TE Falcons: Gonzalez is starting to look his age (37) on the field, and that has now allowed him to top 36 yards receiving, or 4 catches in any of his first three games in 2013. He did score in week 1, so the season hasn’t been a total bust for fantasy owners, but he was taken on average as the 3rd TE off the board in drafts, yet he ranks 21st in NFL.com standard scoring as of Thursday night. The Patriots are #1 in FPPG to TEs this year with a measly 2.1 PPG, so the smart money is on picking up Miller in Pittsburgh and benching Gonzalez until he either snaps out of the funk, or you can find someone willing to trade for him.
New England Patriots defense: The Patriots may be better known for their offense than their defense, but that doesn’t mean it goes overlooked in fantasy football. The Patriots defense is owned in 95.7 percent of NFL.com leagues and started in 89.7 of them (3rd most for both), but this week they face a Falcons team that features Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, two guys it is next to impossible to shut down. Then you have Roddy White, who looks like he is nearly back to 100 percent on the health meter. This could be a high scoring game, which is disaster for fantasy defenses.
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