Week 4 of fantasy football is a pivotal week to get into or remain a part of the playoff race.
Sure, there are multiple stud players worthy of a start at each position, but only one can be the best per week.
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is one of those players this week. He faces a weak Detroit Lions defense that just allowed 44 points in Week 3. Peterson has clearly been impressive thus far in 2012, and we can only anticipate this will continue.
That being said, where does Peterson rank among the best starts for this week? Well, let's check out the best of each fantasy football position to find out.
Owen Daniels is one of the NFL's more underrated tight ends.
He is also one of the NFL's best and most complete players at his position.
This does not make him an elite fantasy player, but his impact on the Houston Texans offense is extremely vital to overall production.
In Week 4, Daniels lines up against the Tennessee Titans, who field arguably the league's worst defense.
The Titans rank No. 30 against the pass and No. 29 against the run. Therefore, there is no doubt the Texans will move the rock effectively on Sunday. No linebacker will be able to cover Daniels one-on-one, and he will see an open field off play action.
Provided that Arian Foster slams well on the ground as expected, Daniels will enjoy a field day on home turf.
Despite being 1-2, the Washington Redskins have scored more points than any team through three weeks.
On the flip side, Washington's Week 4 opponent is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been largely inconsistent.
Although the Bucs have given up 67 total points, 41 of them came against the New York Giants in Week 2. Last week, Tampa limited the Dallas Cowboys to just 16 points and are well-versed against the run.
Fortunately for Washington, the Bucs are weak against the pass, but they are solid when backed up inside their red zone. In turn, anticipate more attempted field goals from Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff, who is perfect inside of 50 yards this season.
Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals have every reason to be confident right now.
Still undefeated heading into Week 4, the Cardinals host the 1-2 Miami Dolphins, who are supremely vulnerable against the pass.
Ranked No. 29, the Dolphins are allowing 307 passing yards per game. While they have only given up three scores through the air, they have only recorded a total of three sacks. Therefore, expect the Cardinals to attack downfield early on as they look to force the Dolphins on their heels.
Backed by a strong defense, Arizona's best bet to put this game away early is by attacking fast and forcing a shootout. Fitzgerald is coming off an excellent game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and he's one of the few players capable of consistently beating double coverage.
Regardless of how well Arizona performs on the ground, Fitz will dominate Miami's pass defense against Cover 1, 2 or 3.
If there's one certainty about this game, it's that the Dallas Cowboys will get pressure on Jay Cutler.
Through three games, Cutler has been sacked 11 times and thrown six interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have greatly improved on defense following the 2011 season. Rob Ryan's crew is more than capable of keeping the Chicago Bears out of the end zone. With sack-master DeMarcus Ware on the prowl, Cutler will need to use numerous three-step drops. Otherwise, he will be under constant duress.
Another downside for Chicago is Dallas' upgraded secondary. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne possess the ability to lock down in man coverage, so Cutler will likely target more receivers over the middle.
However, that's where Sean Lee will sink into coverage, and he's one of the NFL's best pass-defending linebackers.
In short, Big D has reliable talent across the board on defense, including numerous playmakers who will feed off Cutler's ill-advised throws from a lack of pass protection.
The Detroit Lions may have improved against the run, but their pass defense remains quite vulnerable.
Although Christian Ponder isn't the most notable gunslinger, he has developed well for the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson.
Ponder becoming a stronger passing threat only helps take pressure off Peterson in the backfield, and it will play a major factor in Week 4.
Last week, the Lions allowed Tennessee's Jake Locker to throw for 378 yards that ultimately cost Detroit the win.
Meanwhile, Ponder played impressively against the San Francisco 49ers, who present one of the NFL's best defenses. Therefore, it's reasonable to expect the Lions will respect Minnesota's passing game, which will only open more running lanes for Peterson.
The Vikings are gradually becoming a complete team, and this balanced attack will explode against Detroit.
Matt Ryan is the best fantasy start of Week 4.
The Atlanta Falcons are arguably the NFL's best team right now, and they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
As we know, the Panthers were blown off their home field by the New York Giants, and they still have question marks on both sides of the ball.
Cam Newton is in a sophomore slump, and the Cats defense, despite slightly improving, has allowed an average of 26.3 points per contest.
Atlanta, on the other hand, averages 31.3 points per game, and the Falcons defense knows how to force turnovers. Matt Ryan will challenge the Panthers in man coverage with his array of reliable receiving targets, and the defense will provide additional possessions.
This may be a divisional matchup, but Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds aren't slowing down any time soon.
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