By Cory Stace | @corystace
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Every 2-0 team last week won their games except the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys can’t be much to blame for their loss as they went up against another 2-0 team in the Falcons, and they also lost their franchise quarterback, Tony Romo, during the course of the game.
The New York Jets are a team we didn’t really expect to be 2-0 after two weeks of the regular season, but their loss came against a desperate Philadelphia Eagles team fighting to not go 0-3.
The point it, some teams in the NFL are stretching their lead from the rest of the pack. The Falcons, Bengals, Patriots, Panthers, Cardinals, Broncos, and Packers all find themselves tied atop the NFL standings. Only the Ravens, Bears, Saints, and Lions find themselves in a 0-3 hole, which statistically, isn’t the best place in the NFL.
Another great week of football action is behind us, and it is time for our Fantasy Football Week 4 Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em.
Start ‘Em: Cam Newton- With a depleted wide receiving corps, Cam Newton has somehow still found a way to get it done amongst fantasy circles. How has he done it? His legs. Newton seems to be putting the team on his back through 3 weeks leading the Panthers to a 3-0 record so far this season that no one saw coming.
Cam Newton’s running ability along with Ted Ginn Jr. are becoming the #1 option in the passing attack for the Panthers. Cam has managed to run for 109 yards and 2 touchdown in the past 2 weeks. The Panthers have found their option to make up for the Kelvin Benjamin loss so far, and it looks to continue this week.
Up against the Tampa Buccaneers this week, Newton figures to get it done with both his rushing and passing ability. Tampa Bay hasn’t been bad since week 1 vs Marcus Mariota against opposing quarterbacks, but they have only faced a shoddy Drew Brees and inconsistent Ryan Mallett. Cam Newton is more on a roll, and he should be able to take advantage of the Tamba Bay defense. The Panthers may be 4-0 headed into week 5.
Michael Vick- Yes, I said it. Vick comes in after Big Ben sits out for about a month with a MCL sprain. Although Vick hasn’t had great experience in the last few years, he comes into a friendly situation with Le’veon Bell behind him and possibly the best wide receiver in the league outside. Watch out for some read option that teams didn’t see coming. Vick could find extra success on the Thursday Night Football platform.
Andy Dalton- After watching Aaron Rodgers tear apart the Chiefs secondary on a big Monday Night stage, the Bengals should be licking their chops. Although Dalton is no such animal that Aaron Rodgers is, their still is hope that Dalton coming off of career high numbers with 383 yards along with 3 touchdowns can have success against the 32nd ranked secondary in the Chiefs.
Sit ‘Em: Ryan Tannehill- Tannehill has struggled to find QB1 numbers in fantasy except for in week 2 against a bad Jacksonville Jaguars secondary. Tannehill is coming off of one of his worst performances of his career throwing 3 interceptions in the Dolphins home opener vs a tough Bills secondary.
It doesn’t get any easier this week for Tannehill. In fact, it may get tougher vs arguably the best secondary in the NFL with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. One bright side about the matchup is that it is in Miami, but judging from last week, it looks like Tannehill may be better off away from home.
If you have Tannehill in standard leagues, then you should be able to find better matchups around the waiver wire for this week. Tannehill struggled with pressure last week from the Bills defense, and there will be no shortage of pressure from the Jets defense put on him this week.
Carson Palmer- It’s hard to argue against a guy that as started off the year so hot like Carson Palmer. His matchup isn’t favorable this week though with the St. Louis Rams coming into this game with only giving up 2 passing touchdowns all year. The Rams seem to always create grind them out type of games against opposing NFC West foes.
Colin Kaepernick- By now I wouldn’t be surprised if people were so upset that they sent Kaep to the waiver wire. He still does have his legs, but they didn’t seem to help against the Cardinals last week. He seemed to just throw the ball up and hope that there was a receiver there. The Packers can apply pressure and they have the cornerbacks to matchup with a below-average wide receiving group with the 49ers.
Start ‘Em: Karlos Williams- The rookie has definitely shown his big play ability this season being backup to LeSean McCoy averaging almost 8 yards per carry through 3 weeks, and he has added 3 touchdowns (1 in each of his 3 games) through 3 weeks. At this rate, Williams looks like an under the radar rookie of the year candidate for the Bills.
The even better news for fantasy owners is that LeSean McCoy is likely to miss Sunday’s game vs the Giants because of hamstring issue dating back to the preseason. Williams will likely get a workhorse type of load against a Giants defense that doesn’t seem fit to stop the Bills rushing attack this week even without LeSean McCoy.
Although Boobie Dixon will steal some of the carries away, we all know that Rex Ryan will ride the hot hand coming into the week, and he doesn’t care who that is. This week, the hot hand will go to Williams, and fantasy owners can expect him to take the opportunity and run with it. Even better news, LeSean McCoy could be out next week too.
Frank Gore- Last week against the Titans may be a sign of things to come for the Indianapolis Colts. Frank Gore ran for 86 yards with 2 touchdowns, and in large part, that’s why the Colts were able to get their first win of the season. When the run game is going for the Colts, they can do more things in the passing game with Andrew Luck. The Colts may get out to an early league against the Jaguars this week.
Ryan Matthews- We saw what Matthews could possibly do with a bigger workload in the Philly offense. Murray sat out with a hamstring injury, and Matthews took advantage racking up over 120 total yards and a touchdown. Murray is still dealing with the nagging injury. Even if he does suit up, expect Matthews to get more carries to limit Murray’s workload in order to keep him healthy.
Sit ‘Em: Devonta Freeman- Freeman took full advantage of starter Tevin Coleman being out against the Dallas Cowboys running for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns on 30 attempts. The Falcons fed Freeman the ball in last week’s matchup, and they got involved in a shootout with the Cowboys early.
If you have Devonta Freeman, now is the best time to trade him away at top dollar to someone that judges fantasy players on one week. It’s very unlikely that Freeman will have that sort of game again this week against a strong Texans rushing defense with J.J. Watt on the front line.
Freeman is not a secret anymore, therefore teams will account for him in their defensive gameplans unlike last week when Dallas let him run loose. If you have better running back options on your fantasy team, I would look elsewhere because I just don’t believe Freeman can even come remotely close to following up his performance in last week’s game.
Alfred Morris- I’m sorry fantasy owners, but Alfred Morris may have just been replaced in the Redskins backfield as Matt Jones, the rookie, got his first career start ahead of Morris. Matt Jones did fumble once last week close to the goal-line, but it was on a very close play where he nearly got in. Morris should sit on fantasy benches until the Redskins running back situation is made more clear.
Ameer Abdullah- After week 1, people though Abdullah maybe was the steal of their fantasy draft as he showed his big play ability, and he looked like he would have the starting job for good over Joique Bell. The hype has died down a little bit, and if not for a receiving touchdown last week, Abdullah would have averaged only 3 points the last 2 weeks. Lions backfield in general seems to be a sit.
Start ‘Em: Larry Fitzgerald- It is no longer a fluke. After the week 2 game against the Bears, fantasy owners probably though that Larry Fitzgerald just had one more good game for old times sake, but then he followed up his breakout week 2 performance with another. After 9 receptions, 134 yards, and 2 touchdowns, it seems that Larry Fitzgerald is still the #1 target in Arizona.
Although it’s unlikely for Larry to continue at the pace he is at right now with his production, it isn’t unrealistic to think that he can maintain a WR1 or WR2 status for the rest of the fantasy season. He will possibly have a bad coming soon, but for now, Larry Fitzgerald should stay in the lineup.
The Cardinals will possibly look to pass the ball more than run it in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Rams with a stout front 7. Carson Palmer has had success so far this season, and if the running game can get going at all vs. St. Louis, the passing game will only open up for Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals offense.
Jeremy Maclin- Although fantasy owners shouldn’t expect Jeremy Maclin to put up big numbers every week with a short passing offense with the Chiefs. This week may possibly be an exception. Steve Smith Sr. put up 13 receptions, 186 yards, and 2 touchdowns agains the Cincy secondary last week. Jeremy Maclin is faster and younger, and he could be in the making for a big week.
Amari Cooper- Cooper has managed to put up over 100 yards receiving in two consecutive matchups vs. two talented secondaries with the Ravens and the Browns. This week Cooper faces one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, and you can expect him to continue his hot streak with a lot of targets heading his way as the Raiders look to move to 3-1 on the season.
Sit ‘Em: Rishard Matthews- Often players find themselves on the sit ’em list if they have had good weeks, but I don’t think that they can maintain their play. This is one of those situations. Rishard Matthews has taken even the Dolphins by surprise jumping Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, and Devante Parker to lead the team in both touchdowns (3) receiving yards (262) through 3 weeks.
Matthews has even done himself enough to possibly can some traction from Darrelle Revis that the Dolphins will be going up against this week. Oh wait, that isn’t a good thing for fantasy owners to hear. You never want your wide receiver guarded by the top cornerback in the league, and that possibly will be the case with Revis likely splitting time between Landry and Matthews this week.
Even though Matthews has played well, and I like him moving forward in the season for the Dolphins, I just don’t seem him making moves on Darrelle Revis in the morning on Sunday. If you have Jarvis Landry, you may want to look elsewhere as well.
Travis Benjamin- Let’s try this again. Benjamin was on my sit ’em list last week as well, and the tag would have been true if he didn’t end up getting a 4 yard touchdown late in the 4th quarter. I mentioned last week, I believe that Benjamin goes with Johnny Manziel, and if McCown continues starting, I would try to sell high on Benjamin while you still have a chance.
Golden Tate- Going up against a Seahawks secondary that is always good, and they add Kam Chancellor back into the mix. Richard Sherman stays on one side of the field, which means that the Lions may put Tate on that side Calvin Johnson on the other. Tate is the 2nd option on this team, and overall, I don’t think they will get much of any passing offense going against Seattle.
Start ‘Em: Charles Clay- You may want to listen up fantasy owners because I did pretty well with my Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em tight ends last week. Charles Clay is becoming more a part of the Bills offense as weeks role by. They paid him well in the offseason to come in and produce. He has a big opportunity this week to produce well.
The Giants matchup against a tight end has faired well so far this season as Jordan Reed had a nice 96 yards receiving last week, and he should have had more if not for Kirk Cousins 2 bad throws to him in the endzone. The Giants simply don’t cover tight ends well. On top of the matchup, Charles Clay may get more action this week with Sammy Watkins likely to be out.
After the rushing attack this week, Tyrod Taylor is going to need someone to throw to, and those two players are Percy Harvin and Charles Clay. Clay has found the endzone in both of his last 2 games. I think the trend will continue this week, and he may put up a season-high for yards with Watkins out.
Maxx Williams- This may be a long shot, but here goes nothing. Crockett Gillmore (I didn’t know him either) was the 3rd leading receiving on the Ravens team at the tight end position. Gillmore sustained a injury last week that will prevent him from playing this week. Who is next up in line? Maxx Williams. A second round pick will look to take over what Gillmore had at tight end for the Ravens.
Sit ‘Em: Richard Rodgers- Some people thought with Andrew Quarless being out for the Packers last week, the Rodgers to Rodgers connection would be in full effect. This was not the case Monday Night as Rodgers only managed 13 yards on 2 catches. The Packers seem to shy away from tight ends unless it is closer down in the redzone. Even then, it’s up in the air.
The Packers have too many talented wide receivers outside for Rodgers to get catches moving down the field, and that simply makes him a to
uchdown or bust candidate. Quarless looks to be out for more weeks for the Packers, but I still see Richard Rodgers’ role staying the same within the Packers offense.
Heath Miller- It’s not even so much about the quarterback change from Big Ben to Michael Vick, but the matchup for Miller this week doesn’t look good. Last week, the Ravens held the breakout Tyler Eifert to 0 points, and they have proven they can shut down the opposing teams tight end. Heath Miller was a touchdown or bust candidate anyway, and he doesn’t seem to be fit to score this week.
Start ‘Em: Mason Crosby- My modo is look for the shootout, and it’s hard to argue after the Packers put up so many points last week that they want do the same again this week against the 49ers. Mason Crosby is 6 for 6 on the year, and the Packers could be scoring a lot of points in this game Sunday.
Sit ‘Em: Greg Zuerlein- When it comes to NFC West matchups, I expect them always to be close low scoring games. Both the Cardinals and Rams defenses have the ability to limit points, and this may be first team to 14 wins the game, and I think the Cardinals will get their first.
Start ‘Em: Denver D/ST- It’s hard to deny when a defense has put up 17 points or more in every week so far this season. Denver’s defense is getting after quarterbacks, scoring touchdowns, creating turnovers, and anything else that a fantasy owner wants. If you have the Denver D/St, they may be worth holding onto for the year. Next 3 games: MIN, @OAK, @CLE
Sit ‘Em: Bengals D/ST- Although I like the Bengals defense as a whole, in fantasy terms this week, I think that Kansas City can put up points against them. The Chiefs offense is more explosive than people think with three big play makers in Charles, Kelce, and Maclin.