Sep 30, 2011
The injury bug seem to be affecting more players than usual this early in the season, and has caused quite a few headaches for fantasy owners. Let us hope it is a little less ugly out there in Week Four.
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears
The Bears are throwing the ball a ton, yet it’s not worth starting any of their WRs. It’s Matt Forte or bust in Chicago, and even Jay Cutler knows nothing is going to change. The way he’s getting hit, I’m officially worried about him becoming shell-shocked to the point that he turns into Marc Bulger in his final years in St. Louis. Bulger didn’t want to play football by the time he was done in St. Louis and why would Cutler want to keep going when it’s probably not going to get any better. Thanks for ruining a great talent, Mike Martz. The Carolina backfield continues to be a total conundrum and probably won’t be any easier to figure out after playing this tough Bear run defense. Let’s throw out Cam Newton’s performance in the monsoon last week. Can he get it done against this defense? I have my doubts, but it will be an interesting watch.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
Believe in the Bills. Do it. It’s fun. Think of the amazing story that is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s life. He came from nothing (Harvard) to become a good starting QB in the NFL. Imagine what six-figure job he would have had to fall back on if this football thing didn’t work out. Ok, seriously, it’s been a fun group to watch and they have lots of fantasy value. Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson, and probably even David Nelson are weekly starts, but they could be challenged this week by a Bengal defense that’s played surprisingly well. There’s not a Bengal I feel good about starting each week, and the poor play of their OL has really hurt Cedric Benson.
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
Matt Hasselbeck looks rejuvenated playing behind a real OL, as opposed to whatever you called the five guys the Seahawks were throwing on the field in his last few years there. Unfortunately, the loss of Kenny Britt is a killer for Hasselbeck. He’s shown some chemistry with Nate Washington, but you’d have to believe this opens the door for Jared Cook to be more involved in the offense. It would be nice to think that Chris Johnson will get more touches, but based on what we’ve seen from him and what I’ve heard from those close to the situation, it’s more of a mental issue right now and until we see him produce consistently, I’m not buying into him as a reliable, high-end fantasy option. If you’re a Peyton Hillis owner, the worst thing to see was Montario Hardesty running well in Hillis’ absence last week and then receive lots of praise from the team in the days leading up to this game. I’d officially be worried about a sharing situation here.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys
I don’t know if you heard, but Tony Romo is gritty. He’s also a gamer. And I believe he’s considered tough, too. All that translated into him finishing 26th at the QB position last week. There’s still talk of Romo getting injections before playing a very dangerous Lion front this week and we know he’ll be without Miles Austin, but Dez Bryant’s injury woes may keep him out as well. Without Bryant, you can forget using Romo this week. Calvin Johnson looks to become the only WR besides his harshest critic, Cris Carter, to catch 2 TDs in four straight games. I say he does it. That would probably put him in the elite category, even by Carter’s ridiculous standards. While I’ve loved what the Lion offense has done through the air, there are some concerns with the lack of production from their rushing attack. Keiland Williams is still learning the offense, but he may end up playing an important role for them at some point this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
Last week’s performance by Matt Schaub and the Texan offense wasn’t surprising because they are one of the few teams that can explode like that in any given week. The Saints couldn’t stop them, and while Pittsburgh may be a better defense, they looked far from dominant against a terrible Colt offense last week. Arian Foster appears to be line for a start and return to action, but HC Gary Kubiak never seems to stick to whatever he tells the media, so I’m pretty much prepared for anything and nothing from Foster this week. The Steeler OL looked like a turnstile during rush hour at the Port Authority last Sunday night and they’ll have their hands full again facing a pretty good Texan pass rush. They’ve also struggled to block for Rashard Mendenhall, who has unfortunately exhibited some of the happy feet traits we’ve seen out of Marshawn Lynch in recent year. I think it can be fixed, but it may not happen this week. While Mike Wallace has proven to be the only reliable fantasy WR in Pittsburgh, I’m keeping a close eye on Antonio Brown, who has 23 targets to Wallace’s 27 on the season.
New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert, meet the evil defensive mind of Saint DC Gregg Williams. When the Saints go up big in the game, and they will, Williams will tee off on Gabbert with the intent of getting to him by any means necessary. I’d lower expectations for all Jaguars, although the only one worth playing is Maurice Jones-Drew. The return of Marques Colston is a bit surprising, and while I think he’s a solid start, HC Sean Payton did make a point to reference Colston probably not seeing a normal amount of snaps, so don’t let expectations get too high. Darren Sproles has proved me wrong, as it’s apparent the Saints want to get him involved, and more importantly, have put him in a position to succeed. He’s a viable #2 fantasy back until further notice.
Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs
Adrian Peterson, Dexter McCluster, and Dwayne Bowe are the only reasons to even check in on this game. Peterson doesn’t seem to be worried about his calf issue and should run all over the Chiefs. McCluster looks like he’s going to be a solid option the rest of the way, and can stay involved as a receiver if they fall behind. I’m not excited about Bowe at all, but he is the team’s best receiver if that means anything. Let’s move on, I’m getting depressed talking about these terrible teams.
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
It’s been an interesting disconnect between the comments of Jim Harbaugh and Frank Gore this week. Harbaugh continues to say Gore will be active, but Gore has seemed skeptical and obviously worried about his ankle injury. My guess is that he’s active, but rookie Kendall Hunter will get the majority of the snaps AND perform well against an Eagle defense that has struggled against the run thus far. I’m not paying too much attention to Gore’s contract when I say that Hunter will be in the mix for the rest of the year if he comes through for the Niners on Sunday. Michael Vick hasn’t played well this year, and will face one of the best front sevens in the league so it could be another struggle. However, he should have Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) active and joining DeSean Jackson to face a bad 49ers secondary. IT wouldn’t shock me to see the 49ers keep this close, but if the Eagles perform like they’re capable of, it should be an easy victory.
Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams
DeAngelo Hall proved once again on Monday that he’s nothing more than a legend in his own mind and apparently whoever decides the Pro Bowl roster. Luckily for the Redskins, the rest of their defense is pretty good and that has me weary of starting any Ram in this game unless I was forced to this week. Jabar Gaffney and Santana Moss are very good plays against a Ram secondary that made Torrey Smith look like a star last week in his first NFL start. Chris Cooley’s involvement has made those who picked up Fred Davis justifiably frustrated, but considering how badly Cooley moves, I still think Davis will finish the season as a fringe fantasy starter.
New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals
I’m still not sold on the Giants after they got receiving TDs from Brandon Jacobs and Victor Cruz (TWICE!). Those plays were a bit too fluky to me, but we did see Ahmad Bradshaw featured and that’s a trend that needs to continue. The Eagles played as bad of a game as they could and the Giants took advantage. They can probably handle business much the same against a terrible Cardinal defense. I’d be thrilled to have Hakeem Nicks or Mario Manningham in my lineup this week. Beanie Wells will probably have a rough go of it if he plays and I expect the Giants to roll lots of coverage at Larry Fitzgerald since no other Cardinal has emerged as a reliable threat for Kevin Kolb.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
Matt Ryan looked awful last week, and if he can’t do something against a shaky Seahawk secondary, maybe people will start to realize he’s not that good. To be fair, the Falcon OL has been atrocious and the team is looking to shake things up, but Ryan should still be able to produce this week. In fact, it should be a good week to start any Falcon players, although I’m still not totally solid on Julio Jones just yet. Sidney Rice returned last week and appeared to be the player Tarvaris Jackson was waiting for, as those two actually connected quite well. I still have trouble trusting anyone relying on Jackson, but it was a good start.
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers
In a move that should surprise no one who subscribes to this site, the Broncos will reportedly stick with Willis McGahee as their starter over Knowshon Moreno, who should return to action after not taking a snap in the last two games. The Bronco rushing attack needs to be more consistent, and that could be tough against a good Packer run defense that gave up almost nothing to Matt Forte last week. Brandon Lloyd has been limited by a condensed passing attack, which he and Kyle Orton have acknowledged, and that might not be changing much under John Fox. Eric Decker is a solid player, but let’s see what he does against Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson. Keep an eye on rookie Alex Green this week with Ryan Grant out. He disappointed in the preseason, but remember he played with the team’s backup OL during those games. He could provide a spark out of backfield.
New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders
Will a miserable week for New England continue? If I own Denarius Moore, I sure hope so. The Raiders haven’t been shy about getting him involved in whatever way it takes to get the most out of his dynamic ability and I love it. New England’s defense has shown no pass rush, poor blitzing, and puts too much pressure on a still developing and beat up secondary. Jason Campbell may not be the best option to take advantage of this situation, but I trust Raider HC Hue Jackson to put his offense in a position to do some damage. Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker should continue to dominate, but besides them and Tom Brady, I have a tough time trusting any other player in the Patriot offense. Steven Ridley found his way into the team’s RBBC last week and I don’t think he’s going anywhere. New England has no problem using whatever back gets the job done, which is why I avoided BenJarvus Green-Ellis even after a solid 2010 season. He can be replaced.
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers had some injuries pop up, but it looks like the only Antonio Gates is definitely not playing. Malcom Floyd, who was surprisingly active last week, and Vincent Jackson look questionable, but practiced Friday, which is a great sign. Ryan Mathews’ owners were not happy to see him miss two practices this week, but it appeared to be more than a precaution and he’s probable after going on Friday. With Vontae Davis out, you hope Jackson and Floyd can go because they should be able to do some damage against a defense that hasn’t lived up to expectations. Philip Rivers has battled a sternum issue since Week Two, but I’d expect him to get back on track this week. Even with Daniel Thomas out, I’m not excited about Reggie Bush and after his two fumbles last week, I don’t think the team is too happy with him.
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
As I mentioned earlier, Torrey Smith had a monster game against a bad Ram secondary last week. If the Jets put Darrelle Revis on Anquan Boldin and Smith gives Antonio Cromartie (if he plays) or Kyle Wilson problems, I’d expect Revis to see some time on Smith. Boldin is not the same player he once was and doesn’t necessarily need to be covered by Revis all game. Joe Flacco played well last week, but I doubt he keeps it going against a Jet defense that will come angry after being embarrassed by the Raiders. The Jet offense is going through an identity crisis right now because their OL problems have prohibited them from running the ball like they want to and their passing game is never crisp with Mark Sanchez under center. There are rumblings that Santonio Holmes is not playing healthy right now and his performance last week showed that. I still think he can be a solid fantasy option since Baltimore’s secondary is a big weakness of their defense.
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nothing says Monday Night Football like Curtis Painter. He might know the offense better than Kerry Collins, but I’m still staying far away from any receiver not named Reggie Wayne in this offense, and he’s not even a weekly start any more. The only player performing well for the Colts is Joseph Addai, and that could be because he’s in the midst of a year-long audition for his next job. Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t been very good this season and that’s because Josh Freeman hasn’t been on his game. He won’t have to be great in this one, as I expect a bunch of carries for LeGarrette Blount as he takes advantage of the lack of size Indy has up the middle as well as the many injuries they’ve already suffered this year.
Please leave any questions or comments down below or get me on Twitter @TheMattCamp. Good luck to everyone in Week Four!