It is time to look into my fantasy football crystal ball and see which players will put up the biggest numbers in Week 4. Let’s just hope this crystal ball is better than the replacement ball I had to use last week that told me Philip Rivers was going to toss tons of touchdown passes.
So here my predictions for the top-five point generators at each position for fantasy football for Week 4:
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Foster is a top-three RB play every week, so I am not exactly breaking new ground here. But he is the top dog this upcoming week because he is facing the Tennessee Titans, who in back-to-back games made Jackie Battle and Mikel Leshoure look like Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD has shaken off the holdout rust and is back to being the bowling ball on legs his fantasy owners love. He might not roll for 177 yards again, but he is slated to face the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that has allowed 155 rushing yards per game. .
3. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice has not had a bad fantasy outing yet, as he has rushed for 268 yards, caught 14 passes for 127 yards and scored three touchdowns. The fantasy gravy train should keep chugging against the Cleveland Browns, who just allowed Buffalo’s third-string RB Tashard Choice to run for 91 yards against them.
4. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount’s fantasy value is officially in the negatives. Rookie Martin has been handed the ball 63 times compared to Blount’s seven carries in Tampa Bay’s opening three contests. Martin’s modest 3.4 yards per carry should be improved against a decimated Washington Redskins’ front seven that is without stars Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker.
5. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
On paper this does not appear to be an attractive matchup as McCoy has to find running room against the world champ New York Giants. Philly’s offensive line plus New York’s defensive line equals many tackles for losses for McCoy, right?
But McCoy has rushed for over 100 yards three of the past four times he has faced the Giants, and he is so due for a breakout game, especially when it comes to catching passes. Eleven receptions for 42 yards so far? Head coach Andy Reid will get the ball into Shady’s hands in good spots on Sunday night.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The chances Rodgers goes two straight games without a touchdown, especially when the second game is against the hapless and hopeless New Orleans Saints, are slimmer than Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera doing a concert tour together.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady always tortures the poor Buffalo Bills. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes against them in his last four games against them and should have a 400-pound chip on his shoulder after last Sunday night’s fiasco.
3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Wow, that Carolina Panthers' defense looked fearsome against the New York Giants last week, didn’t they? Sarcasm alert! Ryan’s pinpoint accuracy and total understanding of Atlanta’s new offense has helped him look better than any quarterback at this early point, and the Panthers are in no position to slow him down Sunday.
4. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
RG3's propensity for rushing yards (209) and proclivity for touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) have propelled him towards the top of the fantasy quarterback heap in no time. He next faces a Tampa Bay Bucs team allowed Eli Manning to throw for 510 yards against them, so Griffin should be OK.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans
Brees always has to be used considering he is a weekly threat to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns. He might toss a couple of picks against Green Bay, but it should be a high-scoring affair that New Orleans should lose, so he might throw 50-60 times.
1. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Kudos to Cincinnati and quarterback Andy Dalton for getting Green the ball—and to Green for getting open and hauling in the passes—despite defenses constantly double-teaming him in the early going. I do not see the Jacksonville Jaguars being the defensive unit to hold Green to a couple catches for 30 yards. He should have another phenomenal game.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
One week Fitzgerald is a ghost and catches one pass for four yards. The next week he returns to his Pro Bowl form and catches nine passes for 114 yards and a TD. Expect the latter Fitzgerald this week as he should climb over a below-average Miami Dolphins secondary all day.
3. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Do you realize that Johnson has only had one 100-yard game against the Minnesota Vikings in his six seasons? It is not like the Vikes have been blessed with loads of lockdown corners over that time, either. I believe Megatron is in for a megaweek as he tries to right past fantasy wrongs when he plays Christian Ponder’s posse this weekend.
4. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Bowe is currently second in targets behind only Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne as Matt Cassel has ignored Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston to get the ball to KC’s main man. If only Tyler Palko had this tunnel vision in 2011. Bowe should get open often against a San Diego Chargers secondary that covered no Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday.
5. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson will be running routes against a Tennessee team that has surrendered a league-worst 113 points. Luckily his QB, Matt Schaub, only lost part of his ear and not part of his arm or his eyesight after the hellacious hit he took against Denver. The only thing that can slow Johnson down is if Houston takes a big lead and does not pass at all in the second half.
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronkowski had 15 receptions for 217 yards and four touchdowns in two games against Buffalo in 2011. He might do that in one game against them this week, especially if Buffalo does not double-team him like the Baltimore Ravens did this past Sunday.
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
New Orleans has more problems than Amanda Bynes, but Graham has not been one of them. He has scored in each of his first three games and should make it four-for-four when New Orleans and the Green Bay Packers have a Sunday shootout.
3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
The New York Jets have been infamous in recent history for not being adept at covering tight ends, and now with Darrelle Revis out for the season they might not cover wide receivers, either. Davis has four touchdowns already and should find the end zone a time or two versus the Jets.
4. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick’s pass options these days are Celek, other teams’ defenders and DeSean Jackson, and maybe not in that order. Celek, who has not always been a favorite target of Vick’s (only 42 receptions in 2010), has 258 yards in three games and should keep up the good work against the depleted secondary of the New York Giants.
5. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Gates should be almost 100 percent now that has rib injury has had a couple of weeks to heal. Running around uncovered by Kansas City’s spotty secondary should make him feel healthier.
1. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and his offense are due for an explosion. It should happen this weekend against a sieve-like Saints defense that plays a lot better when they put bounties on opponents’ bodies, so Crosby should have plenty of scoring opportunities.
2. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Tucker has been a rookie revelation, connecting on all seven of his field goal tries and his 11 extra-point attempts. His scoring chances should keep coming against Cleveland.
3. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
New England’s potent offense is sputtering more often in their opponent’s territory, which is why Gostkowski is kicking more field goals and fewer extra points than he is used to. The Pats always put up points against Buffalo, and so should Gostkowski.
4. Nate Kaeding, Sam Diego Chargers
Kaeding has proved his leg strength and accuracy are back after missing the 2011 campaign due to a torn ACL. It is safe to start him against the defensively-challenged Chiefs.
5. David Akers, San Francisco 49ers
Akers showed he is human by getting a kick blocked last week. Do not bank on it happening two weeks in a row. Pencil in Akers for three field goals.
1. San Francisco 49ers
San Fran’s defense should have as much trouble stopping the two-headed monster of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow from scoring as Vince McMahon has stopping CM Punk from smoking. Look for the 49ers to take out their frustrations on the Wildcat offense, Santonio Holmes and even poor Bilal Powell.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The loss of Terrell Suggs has slowed down Baltimore’s pass rush, but something tells me it will not feel like that to Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden this Thursday night. You can pencil in Ed Reed for an interception of the rookie quarterback, too.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona might have the most underrated, unknown defense in the NFL. All the Cards have done is shut down the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. This week the Cards face their least-potent offense yet, a Miami Dolphins unit that might not have Reggie Bush. There has not been a must-play this obvious since Adele put out “Rolling in the Deep.”
4. Houston Texans
Houston has the second-ranked defense in the NFL. The Texans are playing their division rival Titans, who have the 24th-ranked offense, an awful offensive line and has running back Chris Johnson tippy-toeing like a cat burglar. This one is easy to figure out.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Lost in the replacement referee hoopla on Monday night was how Seattle’s defense totally dominated one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL. Seattle sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times, so the Hawks sacking St. Louis’ Sam Bradford five or six this week seems certain.