Hey fantasy fans, the real NFL officials are back on the scene as of Thursday night’s clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. If you’re looking for an excuse for an 0-3 or 1-2 fantasy start, why not pile on and blame the replacement officials. Heck, they were brutal and certain deserve a little more abuse.
Now it’s on to Week 4 of the fantasy season. Some people in standard formats with divisions of four teams each might have played all divisional opponents from Weeks 1-3. Now, it’s time to find out what the other teams in your league have. The games are just as important, and believe it or not, there are just 10 fantasy games remaining in most leagues until the playoffs start. So it’s critical to pick up a win in Week 4, especially if you are one of those aforementioned teams who stumbled out of the chutes. It’s never too late to get on track.
Surprise start of the week: Robert Griffin III, Washington (at TB): RGIII is certainly not a surprise, as everyone knows who he is. And, he is likely rostered in just about every league, especially after his decent start to the season. However, there is still a little trepidation by fantasy owners to start him on a weekly basis, and rightly so. He has really missed his downfield threat of WR Pierre Garcon (foot) over the past two games. The good news is that Garcon has been back at practice on a limited basis, but his status for the game remains up in the air. Still, Griffin should post some decent numbers – perhaps 250 yards and two touchdowns. If your primary option someone like Eli Manning, going up against the league’s No. 3 pass defense at Philly, it might be a good idea to take a hard look at RGIII.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (vs. NE), Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (vs. WAS), Kevin Kolb, ARI (vs. MIA)
Sit of the week: Cam Newton, Carolina (at ATL): Newton and the Panthers find themselves up against a decent Atlanta defense. The Falcons rank seventh against the pass, allowing just 207.7 yards per game through the air. While they haven’t been that stout against the run, the Falcons have allowed only six plays of 20 or more yards through the air, and none for more than 40 yards. If Newton piles up stats, it figures to be on the ground. If the unbeaten Falcons are up in the second half, the run might not even be an option, except as a last resort.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Jay Cutler, Chicago (at DAL), Jake Locker, Tennessee (at HOU), Ryan Tannehill, Miami (at ARI)
Surprise start of the week: Cedric Benson, Green Bay (vs. NO): The Packers are going to be awfully mad after getting jobbed in Seattle Monday night. Look for the Pack to come out with all guns blazing at Lambeau against the winless Saints. If so, expect New Orleans to see a steady diet of Benson, especially in the second half, as the Pack protects a lead. The Saints were gouged for 200-plus yards by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles last week in an overtime loss at home. Benson is no Charles, but he could very well turn in his first 100-yard day as a Packer and make his first ‘Lambeau Leap’ as a home player. The Saints are dead-last against the rush, allowing 215.0 yards per game and six rushing touchdowns through the first three games (all losses).
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati (at JAC), Pierre Thomas, New Orleans (at GB), Michael Turner, Atlanta (vs. CAR)
Sit of the week: Steven Jackson, St. Louis (vs. SEA): SJ39 has been battling a bit of a nagging groin injury lately, and now he’ll have to face a Seahawks rush defense which has had it on lockdown. The Seahawks are allowing just 58.7 yards per game on the ground, while allowing only one running play of 20 or more yards this season. Jackson, even if he were at 100 percent, wouldn’t be a great play because of the matchup. While he should still be used, downgrade him to more of a low-end RB2 or ‘flex’ play for this game.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (vs. SF), Chris Johnson, Tennessee (at HOU), Ryan Williams, Arizona (vs. MIA)
Surprise start of the week: Eric Decker, Denver (at OAK): Decker isn’t on the tip of most fantasy owners’ tongues when thinking about top-notch receivers, but he should have a big week against an Oakland pass defense allowing 271.7 yards per game through the air. The Raiders have been dinged for six TDs through the air in three games. Decker blew up for 136 yards in Week 3 against Houston, a team which previously sported the league’s top passing defense. Another 100-yard day is certainly within grasp, and Decker’s first visit to the end zone would not be a surprise either. In fact, it is expected.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Brandon Lloyd, New England (at BUF), Denarius Moore, Oakland (at DEN), Kevin Walter, Houston (vs. TEN)
Sit of the week: Ramses Barden, N.Y. Giants (at PHI): Barden was a hot addition off the waiver wire after his huge game at Carolina in Week 3. The fact that Hakeem Nicks (foot) is doubtful to play is a good sign for Barden, who will likely be used as the second or third option in the Giants’ vaunted passing attack. However, the Eagles rank third in the NFL in passing defense, allowing just 190.7 yards per game through the air, and a total of three passing scores. If the Giants, and Barden, are to get it done, it will likely be by methodically moving it down the field, rather than picking up chunks of yardage at a time. The Eagles have allowed just one pass play of 40 or more yards this season. Barden won’t likely be completely shut out, but 40-50 yards, a handful of catches and no scores is likely.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Kenny Britt, Tennessee (at HOU), Brandon Marshall, Chicago (at DAL), Lance Moore, New Orleans (at GB)
Surprise start of the week: Brent Celek, Philadelphia (vs. NYG)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville (vs. CIN), Jacob Tamme, Denver (vs. OAK)
Sit of the week: Jared Cook, Tennessee (at HOU)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Greg Olsen, Carolina (at ATL), Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit (vs. MIN)
Surprise start of the week: Josh Scobee, Jacksonville (vs. CIN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Connor Barth, Tampa Bay (vs. WAS)
Sit of the week: Dan Carpenter, Miami (at ARI)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Justin Medlock, Carolina (at ATL)
Surprise start of the week: Bengals DST (at JAC)
Other solid, less- than-obvious fantasy plays: Falcons DST (vs. CAR), Redskins DST (at TB)
Sit of the week: Eagles DST (vs. NYG)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Patriots DST (at BUF), Raiders DST (at DEN)