Fantasy Football: The Comfortables, The Cautions & The Casualties: Week 4
In this week’s installment of “The Fantasy Gods Hate Me”…
After Week 1, Mike Wallace complained he wasn’t getting the ball enough, so the Dolphins appeased him with a monster Week 2 performance, when I happened to be playing against somebody who had him. After Week 2, Antonio Brown did the same thing, and I had to play him in TWO leagues, and he had a SUPER DUPER MONSTER performance, single-handedly costing me the game in each league. Of course, had I started RG3 instead of Eli Manning, I would have won regardless, but I’ll get to the Giants much more in-depth later. In one of my big money leagues, I’m 0-3 despite scoring more points than half the people in the league, but I just happened to be playing either the top scoring person for the week or the second-highest scorer. Thank goodness I’m not playing against anybody who has Hakeem Nicks next week, because he was the newest to complain. However, this week I’m playing against LeSean McCoy and Anquan Boldin in three out of my four big leagues, so considering how much the fantasy gods despise me, I’m sure they’ll be the top scorers.
Interesting to note that this week, all four NFC East teams are away at AFC West teams. Suddenly the NFC East looks pitiful with two 0-3 teams, and the AFC West looks like a power conference with two 3-0 teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AFC West got a clean sweep over the NFC East at home. Yes, even the Raiders.
On to Week 4!
San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Tavon Austin, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Chris Givens, Vernon Davis (if active), Jared Cook, St. Louis Defense
Casualties: All Backups
Is it time to panic on Colin Kaepernick yet? One bad game on the road in Seattle, the toughest place to play in the league, is one thing. But he was home against a decent but unspectacular Colts team who made him look pedestrian. I say roll with him one more week before I really hit the panic button. It is a Thursday night game and the Rams don’t have enough time to formulate a true game plan for him. As I mentioned previously, I’m playing against Anquan Boldin in three leagues this week, and he was kept quiet last week, so of course, I’m expecting him to blow up this week and torpedo all three of my teams. Let’s say 250 yards and 2 TDs? So I’m going to have to start Kaepernick so I can at least get those passing TDs on my team. DeMarco Murray torched the Rams last week, so you have to feel good about Frank Gore’s chances this week. The only Ram I’d feel comfortable starting is Tavon Austin.
Prediction: The Niners avenge last year’s 0-fer against the Rams with a big road win on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Comfortables: Adrian Peterson, Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Defense, Minnesota Defense
Cautions: Ben Roethlisberger, Christian Ponder, Le’Veon Bell (if active), Emmanuel Sanders, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph
Casualties: All Steelers Running Backs Not Named Le’Veon, Toby Gerhart, Jericho Cotchery
Sleeper: Heath Miller
Early Le’Veon Bell drafters (coughcough), rejoice! The once-touted rookie looks like he will make his season debut after a scary possibility that he would be out for the year with a Lisfranc injury. So that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Steelers offensive line is putrid and hasn’t produced a good running game among the three-headed monster that was Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones. The Vikings don’t have anything to be proud of after last week when the Browns, who are PURPOSELY TANKING THIS SEASON, came into their house and embarrassed them. I only trust Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh’s offensive side, but those who are desperate at Tight End could roll the dice with Heath Miller. I like both defenses this week as well, even Minnesota’s. I think they know what to expect from Ben Roethlisberger when Brian Hoyer took them by surprise last week.
Prediction: Pittsburgh’s bad luck run ends and they squeak by Minnesota in London.
New York Giants vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Jamaal Charles, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Kansas City Defense
Cautions: Eli Manning, Alex Smith, David Wilson, Dwayne Bowe, Reuben Randle, Brandon Myers, New York Defense
Casualties: Brandon Jacobs, DaRel Scott, Knile Davis, Travis Kelce
Sleeper: Donnie Avery
The Giants, man. I don’t know. Where to begin? The horrible offensive line? The lack of any kind of running game? The easily gashed defense? Last week they were supposed to put the whoopin on Carolina but instead they got whooped on. Eli didn’t even throw a single touchdown, producing a putrid four fantasy points (I started him and lost by one. Even a single TD from Eli would have put me over the top). I do think Eli will have a bit of a bounce-back game and won’t produce four points, but I don’t expect him to put up 20 either. Eric Berry and the KC Defense grounded the high-flying Philly offense, so I expect them to pick Eli a few times. As I mentioned earlier, Hakeem Nicks cried about not getting involved in the offense after last week’s game, so the squeaky wheel will get the grease this week. Start Nicks with confidence. I don’t like Dwayne Bowe in an offense where Alex Smith is constantly checking down.
Prediction: I’d say the Giants because this week is a must-win game. But LAST week was a must-win game and they didn’t win, so fuck it, the Chiefs.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns
Comfortables: Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, AJ Green, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Willis McGahee, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Cleveland Defense
Casualties: Chris Ogbannaya, Brian Rainey, Mohammad Sanu
Sleeper: Brian Hoyer
Here’s how you know the Browns are tanking this season. They already traded their best player, and now they’re putting their third-best player on the trading block. By the time I post this, Josh Gordon might not even be on the team anymore. Jordan Cameron is the truth, though, and is a must-start. Unfortunately, in two leagues, I have to choose between him and Julius Thomas. Stash but don’t start McGahee for another week to see what he can do. The Bengals are a tough defensive unit. Only the bold, or those who have Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers on bye, should start Brian Hoyer, but he has an opportunity to prove that last week wasn’t a fluke.
Prediction: Lightning can’t strike twice for the lowly Browns and they get steamrolled.
Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush (if active), Joique Bell, Matt Forte, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Chicago Defense
Cautions: Jay Cutler, Michael Bush, Ryan Broyles, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Pettigrew, Martellus Bennett, Detroit Defense
Casualties: Kellen Davis
Sleeper: Patrick Edwards
This is one of those strange games that could be all about offense, all about defense, or both. I’m erring on the side of offense with Chicago possibly getting a pick six or fumble recovery for a touchdown. Reggie Bush says he’s ready to start, and he was even ready to start last week as well, but in either case, Joique Bell still remains a comfortable start, especially in PPR formats. Nate Burleson broke his arm in a car crash, so both Ryan Broyles and Patrick Edwards get bumps up from Casualties to a Caution and a Sleeper respectively.
Prediction: Chicago forces enough turnovers to beat the Lions at home.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills
Comfortables: Ray Rice (if active), Bernard Pierce (if Rice is inactive), Fred Jackson (if Spiller is inactive), Torrey Smith, Stevie Johnson, Baltimore Defense
Cautions: EJ Manuel, Joe Flacco, CJ Spiller (if active), Marlon Brown, Scott Chandler, Buffalo Defense
Casualties: Tandon Doss, Robert Woods, Dallas Clark
Sleeper: Sweet Pea
Both Ray Rice and CJ Spiller are questionable for this game, freaking out tons of fantasy owners who took either in the first round. That’s the way injuries roll sometimes. Even if Spiller were active, I wouldn’t trust him in a starting role this week. Baltimore’s D bottled up a hobbled Arian Foster the week prior. My Sleeper of the Week goes to Sweet Pea, the stripper who cracked Jacoby Jones over the head with a champagne bottle on a party bus. Get her in the lineup!
Prediction: Baltimore stifles Manuel and Buffalo for a big road win.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Comfortables: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson (if active), Mike Williams, Larry Fitzgerald (if active), Arizona Defense, Tampa Bay Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler, Arizona Defense
Casualties: Ryan Williams, Stephan Taylor, Alfonso Smith, Peyton Hillis, Andre Roberts
Sleeper: Mike Glennon
What do you do with this game? You’ve got the Bucs who are 0-3 with a new quarterback and a hobbled Vincent Jackson and you have the Cardinals who are 1-2 with a hobbled Larry Fitzgerald. At this point, you cancel out the two and say that this week is the week Doug Martin finally breaks out. He’s due for a big game, and Arizona, while tremendous in the secondary, doesn’t impress me with their run D. Tampa’s been so close to a win, and they’re home against a not-so-good team. I think it happens this week.
Prediction: Tampa Bay finally wins a game on the back of the Muscle Hamster.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton, Cecil Shorts, Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Defense
Cautions: Chad Henne, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jacksonville Defense
Casualties: Donald Brown, Jordan Todman, Darius Heyward-Bey, Any Jaguars Pass-Catchers Not Named Shorts
This might sound hypocritical coming from a Giants fan, but the Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL right now. I don’t think they’ll win another game this year. They might as well sign Tebow to get some ticket sales, and maybe back-door their way into a win or two. I’m still going to start MJD and Cecil Shorts because I benched them last week and they went off in garbage time, and I realized that real suckiness does not translate into fantasy garbage. Maybe the Jags can get it close enough where MJD can punch it in from short yardage again. Oh yeah, start all your Colts. I think Richardson gets more carries this week now that he’s had a full week to practice for the Colts. Temper expectations on Bradshaw. I don’t think he’ll have another monster game again.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Houston Texans
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Andre Johnson, Seattle Defense, Houston Defense
Cautions: Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Any Starting Seattle Pass-Catcher, DeAndre Hopkins, Owen Daniels
Casualties: Seattle Backup RBs, Garrett Graham
The Seahawks are firing on all cylinders, but as I mentioned last week, trying to figure out who’s going to be catching the touchdown passes from Russell Wilson will be maddening. I can’t wait until they get Percy Harvin back so we know who they’re going to throw the ball to. All systems are go for Wilson, Lynch, and the Seattle D. On the Houston side, I can’t say I’m excited about ANYBODY but it’ll be hard to bench Andre Johnson. All expectations for the running game have to be tempered, especially against Seattle. I’m not fully ready to buy into DeAndre Hopkins until he faces a softer defense.
Prediction: Seahawks continue to roll.
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers
Comfortables: Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Eddie Royal, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Dallas Defense
Cautions: Ryan Mathews, Miles Austin (if active), Vincent Brown, Malcom Floyd, San Diego Defense
Casualties: All Backup Running Backs
Sleeper: Terrance Williams (if Austin is inactive)
Okay, so Eddie Royal didn’t have a multiple TD game, or a TD at all for that matter, last week. I still think he can contribute in PPR formats. Surprise! Miles Austin is hurt! Terrance Williams might be a nice little fill-in if you’re in a deep league and have a Packer or Steve Smith on a bye. DeMarco Murray gashed the Rams last week, and while I don’t expect a repeat performance against an underrated Chargers D, I think he’ll be serviceable. Romo to Dez all day everyday.
Prediction: San Diego shocks Dallas and picks up a big home win.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, LeSean McCoy, Knowshown Moreno, DeSean Jackson, Demariyus Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Denver Defense
Cautions: Brent Celek, Ronnie Hillman
Casualties: Montee Ball, Riley Cooper, Andre Caldwell, Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Defense
Sleeper: Bryce Brown
As I mentioned before, I’m playing against Shady McCoy in three different leagues. More than likely he’ll be a key contributor to all three losses. Hopefully Denver can bottle him up, but they’ve actually been pretty generous to running backs this year, giving up rushing TDs in three straight games. I guess we don’t have to worry about too many mouths to feed in Denver. From the quartet of Thomas, Thomas, Welker and Decker (the new Law Firm?), everybody seems to get theirs and Peyton is more than willing to share the wealth. Against a Philly defense which is generous themselves, I expect Manning to continue his record-setting start to the year. Dude’s on pace to throw more than 60 touchdowns, and I think he can do that easily.
Prediction: Peyton throws 15 touchdowns.
Washington Redskins vs. Oakland Raiders
Comfortables: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, Pierre Garcon, Denarius Moore
Cautions: Terelle Pryor (if active), Washington Defense, Oakland Defense
Casualties: Matt Flynn (if Pryor is inactive), Roy Helu, Marcel Reese, Washington Pass-Catchers not named Garcon, Oakland Pass-Catchers Not Named Moore or Streater
Sleeper: Rod Streater
Even with Matt Flynn at the helm, I like Oakland’s chances here. RG3 is not himself coming off the torn ACL, and he’s a detriment to his team while he’s out there. He gets his stats. Darren McFadden could be throwing passes for the Raiders, considering he threw a TD pass last Monday night. With Flynn in there I like Denarius Moore. If Pryor can pass the concussion tests and play, then Streater becomes a nice PPR plug in.
Prediction: Oakland shocks the world and pulls off the clean sweep of the AFC West over the NFC East.
New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans
Comfortables: Geno Smith, Bilal Powell, Chris Johnson, Stephen Hill, New York Jets Defense, Tennessee Defense
Cautions: Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Kellen Winslow, Delaine Walker
Casualties: Alex Green, Jackie Battle, Kenny Britt
Sleeper: Shonn Greene (if active)
The Jets? THE JETS? 2-1??? All my Jet friends are bragging which is ridiculous considering they were a personal foul call away from losing in Week 1 and had no business winning a game in which they produced 20 penalties. From a fantasy perspective, some things have been made clearer. You can start some Jets now. Geno Smith becomes an intriguing bye-week fill in, and I’m popping him in for Cam in a 2-QB league that I’m in. With Chris Ivory hurt, the backfield belongs to Bilal Powell, who will get a ridiculous workload. I don’t get the Titans…none of them are fantasy relevant (Chris Johnson MAYBE) but they keep finding ways to win.
Prediction: Um, Jets?
New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Julian Edelman, Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski (if active), Tony Gonzalez
Cautions: Stevan Ridley, Jacquizz Rodgers, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Tompkins, New England Defense, Atlanta Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Roddy White, Zach Sudfeld
Sleeper: Jason Snelling
Gronk! Gronk! Gronk! I’ve been sitting on him for three weeks, and finally we get to UNLEASH THE BEAST! At least…I hope. If I wait until Sunday night I have no other option if he’s a surprise inactive. But I think he’ll play, and play well. You can’t trust any New England back, but if you drafted Ridley you probably don’t have a choice. It’s not like he has/needs a handcuff. I wish Shane Vereen was still around. Start LeGarrette Blount or Brandon Bolden at your own risk. On the other side, you can consider either Rodgers or Snelling as a starting back. I think they’ll be serviceable. Roddy White is unstartable until he puts in a good game. I’m not taking the bait on Kenbrell Tompkins. We may have already seen his best game of the season, and his red zone targets are going to go to Gronk. Still, with the Falcons home, you gotta like their chances, especially Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.
Prediction: Atlanta hands New England their first loss in the Georgia Dome.
Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Lamar Miller, Darren Sproles, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Thomas, Brian Hartline
Casualties: Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram (if active), Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Charles Clay, Miami Defense
Sleeper: Kenny Stills
What’s this? A good Monday Night Football matchup? Wow! I don’t think the schedulers could have ever figured that both teams would be 3-0 and this would have game of the week potential, but it does! I’m not quite sold on Miami despite the fact that they came back against the Falcons last week. That was more on mistakes the Falcons made. The Saints are firing on all cylinders, maintaining their potent offense but now complementing it with a stout defense led by coordinator Rob Ryan. I definitely think the Saints would make for a good plug-and-play this week. No real surprises here with regard to starts and sits. Kenny Stills is worth monitoring and could take one deep. Lance Moore is completely off the radar, replaced by Jimmy Graham as the possession guy.
Prediction: Brees and company end the Dolphins’ unbeaten streak in the Superdome.
That's it for this week. Good luck in Week 4, and pray for me.