Here are some thoughts on games and players for Week 4’s games:
Denver at Kansas City - The Broncos high-octane passing attack figures to keep on rolling this weekend - the big question is whether the Chiefs will be able to muster any semblance of an offense against a Denver defense that has given up lots of points the last couple of weeks to San Diego and New Orleans at home. For the Broncos start QB Jay Cutler, RB Selvin Young, TE Tony Scheffler, WRs Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal (in spite of the latter’s calf injury), and Kicker Matt Prater; then wait for the big numbers to roll in. Damon Huard will start at QB for the Chiefs, but I’d avoid him even against Denver’s defense unless I were really desperate for a bye week replacement. RB Larry Johnson should be started in spite of his recently expressed dissatisfaction with his role in the Chiefs’ offense - it’s put up or shut up time for him this weekend - Jamaal Charles is waiting in the wings. TE Tony Gonzalez and WR Dwayne Bowe should also be started, but I’d stay away from K Nick Novak. Both Defenses should be avoided, especially Kansas City’s.
Minnesota at Tennessee - Two struggling offenses face off against two strong defenses - something’s got to give. With RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor both Questionable for Sunday’s game, the Vikings may be forced to rely on Gus Frerotte’s arm to win the game. If Peterson plays, he’s worth starting, even with his hamstring problem. Hopefully, Frerotte is not your #1 QB, but he should be an adequate bye week replacement if you need him to fill that role. TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WR Bernard Berrian figure to see a number of Frerotte’s passes and are both worth starting, as is Kicker Ryan Longwell. I don’t have as much confidence against Titans’ QB Kerry Collins against the Vikings’ defense, and I wouldn’t start him unless absolutely necessary. Ditto for RBs LenDale White (Questionable with a shoulder injury) and Chris Johnson, who isn’t injured but still figures to have a tough time against the Minnesota defense. I’d also stay away from the Titans’ receivers and Kicker Rob Bironas. Both Defenses are worth starting, especially Minnesota’s.
Cleveland at Cincinnati - Good news for fantasy team owners - both teams offenses should wake up this weekend, even if the final score isn’t quite the 51-45 shootout from Week 2 of the 2007 season. For Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, RB Jamal Lewis, TE Kellen Winslow, and Kicker Phil Dawson should all be starting. WR Braylon Edwards is listed as Questionable with a shoulder injury, but it’s hard to imagine him sitting out this game, and he should be started if he plays. For the Bengals QB Carson Palmer is listed as Questionable with an ankle injury, but like Edwards, it’s hard for me to imagine he would miss this game unless the team doctors chained him to the training table. If he starts for the Bengals, Palmer should be started in all fantasy leagues. RB Chris Perry, WRs T.J. Houshmandzadeh & Chad Ocho Cinco, and Kicker Shayne Graham should all be started, and if you’re desperate for a bye week TE replacement, Reggie Kelly can also be started (funny, no one calls him “R. Kelly” - wonder why). At the risk of stating the superobvious, do NOT start either Defense unless you want to be the laughingstock of your league Monday morning.
San Francisco at New Orleans - Another game where both Defenses figure to be MIA, so keep both out of your fantasy lineups this week (and most other weeks too). This week is last call for 49ers’ QB J.T. O’Sullivan - he’s worth starting this week, but look to sell high on him, if possible, after this week - San Francisco’s schedule gets significantly more difficult starting in Week 5. The Bush-Gore RB showdown figures to get most of the attention in this game from the announcers/commentators desperate to display a sense of “humor” - more importantly, both figure to rack up big fantasy stats and should be in your lineups this week. Other 49ers worth starting include TE Vernon Davis, WR Isaac Bruce, K Joe Nedney, and, if you’re desperate for a bye week replacement, WR Bryant Johnson (listed as Questionable with a hamstring injury - check his status Sunday before gametime). Besides Bush, other Saints worth starting include QB Drew Brees; RB Pierre Thomas (who seems to have usurped Deuce McAllister’s role); WRs Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, and Robert Meachem; and Kicker Martin Gramatica.
Arizona at NY Jets - This game may not be quite the offensive shootout that other games figure to be this week, but I’d still avoid both Defenses. Cardinals’ QB Kurt Warner, RBs Edgerrin James & Tim Hightower, WRs Larry Fitzgerald & Anquan Boldin, and Kicker Neil Rackers should all be started. I’d avoid Jets’ QB Brett Favre if at all possible - I don’t expect him to miss the game and break his consecutive games streak, but coming off a short week and playing on a bum ankle that figures to limit his mobility even more than usual, I’d pass. RB Thomas Jones, TE Dustin Keller (who appears to be the Jets’ best TE fantasy option, even if he’s not starting yet), WRs Laveranues Coles & Jericho Cotchery, and Kicker Jay Feely are all worth starting.
Atlanta at Carolina - This is another week where I’ll say that Falcons’ rookie QB Matt Ryan has great fantasy potential, but don’t bet on his demonstrating it this weekend against the Panthers’ Defense (i.e. - don’t start him). RBs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood should both be starting this weekend, but expect their results to look more like what they were against Tampa Bay than what they were against Detroit and Kansas City. WRs Roddy White & Michael Jenkins, and Kicker Jason Elam should be avoided unless you’re desperate for bye week replacements. For the Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, TE Jeff King, WRs Steve Smith & Muhsin Muhammad, and Kicker John Kasay should all be started. However, I’d stay away from both Panther RBs (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) for different reasons (ineffectiveness and possible injury, respectively). Avoid the Falcons’ Defense, but the Panthers’ Defense is worth starting.
Houston at Jacksonville - This game hinges on whether Texans’ rookie RB Steve Slaton is able to duplicate his results from last week’s game against Tennessee. My bet is that he will, so I would start him and expect him to do well. QB Matt Schaub has been ineffective in the Texans’ first two games, but if you need a bye week replacement, he’s worth starting. TE Owen Daniels, WR Andre Johnson, and Kicker Kris Brown are also worth starting. Jaguars’ RBs Fred Taylor (hand) and Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) are both listed as Questionable, so check on their status again before Sunday. If either of them is in the Jaguars’ starting lineup, they’re worth having in your starting lineup too. QB David Garrard and TE Marcedes Lewis are also worth starting, as is Kicker Josh Scobee. WR Matt Jones makes a decent starter if you need a bye week replacement. I’d start either Defense on the assumption that both will force several turnovers.
Green Bay at Tampa Bay - I expect the Packers’ offense to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Dallas. RB Ryan Grant appears to be healthy, and he should be started. QB Aaron Rodgers, TE Donald Lee, WRs Greg Jennings & Donald Driver, and K Mason Crosby are all worth starting too. If you’re in desperate need of a bye week replacement at WR, consider starting Packers’ rookie Jordy Nelson. For Tampa Bay I’m not sold on QB Brian Griese in spite of his amazing performance last weekend against the Bears - I attribute that more to his familiarity with his former team’s Defense than a sudden increase in his skill level, and I wouldn’t start him this week unless I needed a bye week replacement. RB Earnest Graham is the only other Buc I’d start this week - no, I’m not sold on WR Antonio Bryant either (see previous note on Brian Griese). Green Bay’s Defense is worth starting; Tampa Bay’s is not.
Buffalo at St. Louis - Things figure to go from bad to worse this weekend with the Rams, who appear to be the worst team in the league through the first three weeks of the season. Bills’ QB Trent Edwards, RB Marshawn Lynch, TE Robert Royal, WRs Lee Evans & Josh Reed, and Kicker Rian Lindell should all be started. Rams’ Head Coach Scott Linehan has scapegoated QB Marc Bulger for the team’s horrible start, replacing him with QB Trent Green. It’s doubtful Green will inspire an offensive line that’s yielded 11 sacks in its first three games to play better, and he should not be started. RB Stephen Jackson is Probable with a groin injury, but he’s still worth starting on the assumption that the Rams will rely heavily on their ground game in the early stages of the game to keep the pressure off Green. TE Randy McMichael and WRs Torry Holt should also be started, but I’d avoid Kicker Josh Brown this week due to my doubts that the Rams will score many points. The Bills’ Defense should be started; the Rams’ Defense should not.
San Diego at Oakland - The health of the Chargers’ two primary offensive threats, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates, is still in question, but since both are listed as Probable on this week’s injury report, they should both be started. QB Philip Rivers, WRs Chris Chambers & Vincent Jackson, and Kicker Nate Kaeding should also be started, but RB Darren Sproles should not - he probably won’t see enough touches to make a fantasy impact if Tomlinson is healthy enough to start. Raiders’ QB JaMarcus Russell should be started only by those desperate for a bye week replacement. RB Justin Fargas is out and RB Darren McFadden is once again listed as Questionable with a lingering case of turf toe. I would not start McFadden this week unless I had no other options. However, I would start RB Michael Bush on the assumption he will get the majority of carries with McFadden still less than 100%. TE Zach Miller and WRs Javon Walker & Ronald Curry should also be started against a Chargers’ Defense that has thus far failed to live up to its preseason billing as the league’s top Defense. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is also worth starting. I’d avoid starting either Defense.
Washington at Dallas - While Dallas’ offense has been predictably explosive so far, the Defense has not looked nearly as strong and figures to get another stern test this week from the Redskins’ offense. QB Jason Campbell, RB Clinton Portis, TE Chris Cooley, WRs Santana Moss & Antwaan Randle El, and Kicker Steve Suisham should all be started this week. Their Cowboy counterparts, QB Tony Romo, RBs Marion Barber & Felix Jones, TE Jason Witten,WRs Terrell Owens & Patrick Crayton, and Kicker Nick Folk should all be started this week. I wouldn’t start either Defense in anticipation of a high-scoring game.
Philadelphia at Chicago - Ordinarily I’d be touting the Eagles offensive players as starters, but QB Donovan McNabb, RB Brian Westbrook, and TE L.J. Smith are all nursing injuries heading into this weekend’s showdown with a Bears’ Defense that has faltered after its Week 1 demolition of the Colts. Of these three McNabb is the only one I’d consider a must-start, assuming that he’s healthy enough to play. If you have healthier options than Westbrook with more favorable matchups, I’d keep Westbrook on the bench this week. Smith is listed as doubtful, so I’d avoid him at all costs. WR DeSean Jackson should be started, but I’d stay away from Kicker David Akers. Bears’ QB Kyle Orton should be started only as a last-resort bye week replacement. RB Matt Forte is the only Bears’ offensive player worth starting. Both Defenses should be started in anticipation of a low-scoring game - I’d be surprised if the winner scores 21 points.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh - Two strong Defenses face off against two struggling offenses - I’d expect a low-scoring game here too. I would not start Steelers’ rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall against the Ravens’ Defense, and I’d start the rest of the Steelers offensive players only if I had no other options. That goes double for the Ravens’ offensive players. In fact, the two teams’ Defenses may be the only performers from this game worth starting.
Good luck this week!
Tags: The Sherpa