Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown
I've never fought in a war, but I have been playing fantasy football since we had to clip box scores out of the newspaper with good-old-fashioned scissors.
We would use a calculator (that was not an app on a smart phone) to add up our fantasy points. Totals would then be sent to league mates via U.S. Mail.
I'm barely into my 30s. That is how far technology has come. It's amazing and funny and scary at the same time.
It means that I am inheriting, via my experiences, nostalgia. A trait I'd previously viewed as reserved for strictly the old and crotchety.
I have learned this: If fantasy football is a war fought in a series of (hopefully) 16 battles, this week is one in which the enemy generally infiltrates camp between meetings on the battlefield.
Trade proposals are flying in like enemy shrapnel and things are becoming increasingly volatile. Soldiers are being lost to bye weeks, and subsequently, a lottery is being employed to manage the enrollment of their replacements.
You are, in essence, on high alert.
Welcome to Week 4.
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Top 4 RB Matchup Plays for Week 4:
1) Atlanta Falcons RBs at Carolina Panthers
Falcons RB Michael Turner gave his owners a nice performance in the face of a relatively tough matchup in the Chargers last week, as did Jacquizz Rodgers.
If you own Turner, you will likely be starting him as your flex, possibly (regrettably thus far), your RB2.
Turner has looked slow, and it is evident he is being phased out, but the matchup dictates not benching him for a scrub as you may have done last week.
Rodgers should serve as a very nice flex play with considerable upside against a Panthers defense that got burned on the edge by an athlete nowhere near as quick as he is in Giants backup RB Andre Brown last Thursday.
2) Green Bay Packers RBs vs. New Orleans Saints
There is one beneficiary of this matchup, and it is Cedric Benson. Those who drafted Benson have had a reasonably amicable relationship with their RB3, who has averaged just over nine fantasy points per game in standard leagues.
We know that Green Bay will come out angry in this game and will impose its will. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy seemed flustered at not being able to establish the run in the first half of Monday Night's debacle vs. the Seahawks, so he came out in the second half and gave Benson plenty of opportunities to do just that.
I like Benson this week for 65 yards and a touchdown. Get him in your lineups at the flex.
3) Cincinnati Bengals RBs at Jacksonville Jaguars
BenJarvus Green-Ellis looks like a new man in Cincinnati, and I don't know whether it is entirely due to exceptional run-blocking from the offensive line, but it certainly can't hurt.
A runner with forward lean through the line of scrimmage and a physical offensive line can scorch the Jags as we saw in Week 2 when Arian Foster and Ben Tate of the Houston Texans took turns shredding them. I love the Law Firm this week.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars RBs at Cincinnati Bengals
(Indianapolis is truly the No. 4 matchup, but the Colts are on bye this week.)
Maurice Jones-Drew faces the fifth best matchup in fantasy this weekend, and I expect monster numbers. In fact, I expect a top-three overall performance out of Jones-Drew in Week 4.
Rumors of MJD's demise were greatly exaggerated this preseason, and those who drafted him the late-second or early-third rounds of their drafts are smiling today like the cat that ate the canary.
Four Worst RB Matchups for Week 4:
1) New York Jets RBs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Adrian Peterson showed that the 49ers front seven was semi-mortal last week, but make no mistake: Shonn Greene is not Adrian Peterson. In fact, Greene is not even the "other" Adrian Peterson who used to play sparingly for the Bears.
The only worse "starting" RB in the league may be Isaac Redman. Bench Greene at all costs, and I'm very sorry about the slow start your fantasy team has undoubtedly had.
2) St. Louis Rams RBs. vs. Seattle Seahawks
Steven Jackson officially runs like an old man and owners should be worried. You'll likely have to start Jackson as he may be your RB1, and if so, I am sorry. It could be another 3.8 pointer for your friends to laugh at.
3) Miami Dolphins RBs at Arizona Cardinals
Whether Reggie Bush is available to play Sunday, I don't like any runner against the Arizona Cardinals currently. Especially with the Cardinals at home. It is their system and their intensity that are winning them games, and it is fun to watch. We'll wait to hear on Reggie Bush.
I hate a "game-time-decision" version of Reggie Bush in this game and would only start Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller in Bush's possible absence under dire circumstances.
4) Oakland Raiders RBs at Denver Broncos
Darren McFadden is matchup-proof when healthy, and has had absolute monster games in Denver in the past. I worry about his long-term viability in the new zone-blocking scheme employed by offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, but not this week.
The Raiders are riding high on a big win for a Dennis Allen homecoming of sorts. I am treating McFadden as I always do: starting him. It could be a legendary four-touchdown day, or the Broncos fantasy dominance of RBs could prove to be for real.
McFadden's success against the Steelers shows it only takes one play for him to contribute mightily to your squad, regardless of matchup, however. He'll only be healthy for so long, most likely. Roll him out while you can.
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Top 4 WR Matchup Plays for Week 4:
1) Philadelphia Eagles WRs vs. New York Giants
Jeremy Maclin, when healthy, against Corey Webster of the Giants, sometimes looks like this.
The Giants have lost seven of their last eight meetings with the Eagles. I expect a bounce-back game from Michael Vick and some solid fantasy production from both DeSean Jackson and Maclin. I also have a sneaky feeling there could be a Jason Avant TD.
2) Tampa Bay Bucs WRs at Washington Redskins
Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams have both had big weeks for the Bucs this season as fantasy options. The Redskins are a team that likes to get scorched by opposing WRs.
Last week, Andrew Hawkins, A.J. Green and Armon Binns all scored long TDs against Washington. The week prior the Redskins let Danny Amendola go bananas on them in St. Louis. Before that, it was Lance Moore and Marques Colston.
I like VJax as a nice, high-end WR2 this week while Mike Williams remains a high-risk, high-reward flex play.
3) Washington Redskins WRs vs. Tampa Bay Bucs
Pierre Garcon looks to still be out, which provides owners of WRs such as Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery, Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown on bye weeks with the opportunity to take advantage of a good matchup here with players who will be readily available in most leagues.
In situations like this, I always look at the snap counts. In Garcon's absence last week, the distribution looked like this:
a) Leonard Hankerson - 78 percent of snaps
b) Josh Morgan - 75 percent of snaps
c) Santana Moss - 53 percent of snaps
4) Green Bay Packers WRs vs. New Orleans Saints
Great news for owners of Packers WRs who have been underperforming and/or injured. James Jones is available in many leagues and could provide a decent flex option as the player who may screw the Nelson, Jennings, and Cobb owners out of their much-needed TD.
Four Worst WR Matchups for Week 4:
1) Chicago Bears WRs vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas pass rush is becoming dirty and the secondary has done a complete 180 from 2011. I hate this matchup. While Brandon Marshall gets targeted seemingly every other play, it is usually for only two seconds. Then the play gets wrecked, and Jay Cutler cries.
2) St. Louis Rams WRs vs. Seattle Seahawks
I actually like Danny Amendola this week as a sneaky play in PPR leagues, because I believe the Rams will struggle trying to run the ball, and resort to the dink-and-dunk passing game as an extension.
I do not like any Rams WRs this week in standard leagues, and would only consider Amendola as a low-end WR3.
3) Carolina Panthers WRs at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are proving to have a formidable defensive secondary even in the absence of their best defensive back, cornerback Brent Grimes.
In these division games, however, I put little stock in the matchup. Cam Newton will come to Atlanta with a chip on his shoulder, and I would start Steve Smith as usual. Brandon LaFell is a riskier, flex-type play with a low floor and a relatively low ceiling.
LaFell is likely to go for 1.8 points, but in the best case may net you 13 or 14, realistically.
4) New York Giants WRs vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Nothing to see here. Never play the matchup in a big division game. These are the kinds of games where you don't fuss with it. Get Nicks and Cruz in there with confidence.
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Top 4 QB Matchup Plays for Week 4:
1) Philip Rivers at Kansas City Chiefs
Rivers owners could use a bounce-back game this week after he left a smelly lump of coal in their fantasy stockings against the Falcons in Week 3.
2) Peyton Manning vs. Oakland Raiders
This is the kind of game, (and the kind of team) that Manning likes to dissect into pieces. Great matchup for a get-well game in division.
3) Aaron Rodgers vs. New Orleans Saints
No. 1 QB of Week 4. It seems pretty obvious.
4) Matt Schaub vs. Tennessee Titans
The ultimate "game manager" put on a clinic to the tune of four TDs last week, and may be in line to do more damage at home against a terrible Tennessee defense.
Even without the long bombs to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, it is not hard to picture a few Arian Foster or Ben Tate screens going the distance for fantasy passing production gold.
Four Worst WR Matchups for Week 4:
1) Sam Bradford vs. Seattle Seahawks
Thank goodness you're not starting him.
2) Eli Manning at Philadelphia Eagles
As mentioned in the previous slide, I give far less credence to the fantasy matchup in big division games. I will say this. Eli Manning is much more likely to struggle against a pass rush looking to make a statement at home than he is to throw for 500 yards again.
3) Jay Cutler at Dallas Cowboys
In other news, start the Dallas Cowboys if you own them or need a waiver-wire defense this week.
4) Tony Romo vs. Chicago Bears
What a monster MNF game.
Romo could end up under massive pressure. This will likely lead to one of two things occurring:
1) Putting up a stinker and throwing three picks like we know he can.
2) Finding Kevin Ogletree, who like Laurent Robinson, Romo looks to first when getting creative outside the pocket.
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Top 4 TE Matchup Plays for Week 4
1) Houston Texans TEs vs. Tennessee Titans
In on 91 percent of all plays on Sunday, Owen Daniels was targeted five times and caught a TD at Denver. In previous weeks, he was targeted eight and nine times.
2) Minnesota Vikings TEs vs. Detroit Lions
You should be starting Kyle Rudolph above most TEs who were drafted before him at this point. If Rudolph is on your waiver wire, he shouldn't be. I expect another big week.
3) New York Jets TEs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Hard to love Dustin Keller in this one, even if he does play. The matchup doesn't always dictate production. If you are desperate in a 14-team league, Konrad Reuland took 57 percent of TE snaps in Keller's absence last week while Jeff Cumberland only took 49 percent.
4) Atlanta Falcons TEs vs. Carolina Panthers
At home in a division matchup? I can't imagine a better time for Tony Gonzalez to have a top-5 fantasy TE day.
Four Worst TE Matchups for Week 4:
New York Giants TEs at Philadelphia Eagles
Martellus Bennett has not proven matchup-proof yet, but in a tough division game, I'm going with an athletic TE coached by Mike Pope every time.
This is a prime example of why the matchup should serve as a tiebreaker as opposed to a decision-maker.
Tennessee Titans TEs at Houston Texans
Jared Cook may be out, and his owners were lucky to get the one big TD in Week 3. Cook only played in 18 out of 63 snaps, while his teammate Craig Stevens played in 78 percent of offensive snaps. Stevens is more of a blocking TE, but has shown the capability to be serviceable as a receiving option when need be.
Seattle Seahawks TEs at St. Louis Rams
You are in trouble if you are starting one of these guys, regardless of the bad matchup.
Carolina Panthers TEs at Atlanta Falcons
Greg Olsen should be serviceable this week in PPR leagues, and it's hard to ignore that he was targeted 14 times last week in any format. Although the matchup is tough, this is a division game, much like Martellus Bennett as detailed above.
Cam Newton has to throw to somebody besides Smith and LaFell in his big comeback, right?