Fantasy Football Week 4: Last-Minute Advice for Every Position on Your Roster
Champions in fantasy football are crowned in Week 16. This means, in the best-case scenario, you will be one-quarter of the way through your fantasy season at the conclusion of this week's NFL action.
Whether your head's in it or not doesn't really matter. This season will go on with or without you. 500 Chinese citizens could care less. Possibly thousands.
Now we must dodge and weave during a huge transition week in the management of our fantasy rosters. As I predicted, you have likely seen a significant uptick in trade activity within your league leading into Week 4. That is the winning owners smelling blood in the water.
If you are a traditionally-losing owner who made a trade this week with a traditionally-winning owner, I don't even have to hear what the trade was. Odds are, you lost.
The time to become reactive in fantasy football is Week 5. That is when I have historically begun to feel completely comfortable basing projections upon the current season's film and statistical study.
Now you can begin to see the forest through the trees.
"Adapt, React, Re-Adapt, Act."
-Michael Scott, Former Dunder-Mifflin Scranton Branch Manager and Filmmaker
This is your last-minute fantasy football advice for Week 4.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
-Quick first bit of advice for Matt Forte owners:
While you should be thrilled that you may have Forte's services back as soon as the MNF matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, do not make the same mistake an opponent I am facing currently has made.
He has Matt Forte in his RB slot and Cedric Benson in his flex. My readers here are very smart, and many of you likely already know why this is a stupid managerial oversight on my opponent's part.
The flex position in this league is available to wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. If you are starting Forte this week, you are taking a risk because the game is on Monday night. If there is a setback during warm-ups or soreness crops up Sunday night or Monday morning, you will need to find a replacement for the Bears/Cowboys game.
You want to have as many options as possible in this scenario, not just running backs.
-Peyton Hillis. Well, what a disaster this has been for fantasy football owners. Many thought that by drafting Hillis they were making a relatively low-risk move at the flex position that could pay off big.
The Kansas City Chiefs were sure to bring Jamaal Charles back slowly from injury, and OC Brian Daboll was going to coach Hillis back up to their shared 2010 form in Cleveland. Now Hillis is throwing his helmet, walking around in a boot and showing explicit signs that owners may have a little more of the 2011 version of Peyton Hillis than they had hoped for.
Hillis is doubtful for tomorrow's matchup at home versus the San Diego Chargers, which puts the cherry on top of this diaper sundae for fantasy owners—especially those who may have very unfortunately drafted Donald Brown of the Indianapolis Colts, who is on bye this week.
If Shaun Draughn is available in your league, pick him up immediately and start him if you feel uncomfortable at the flex and would like to plug in a solid RB option.
I have San Diego as the 13th-best matchup for opposing RBs this week, and we have seen that Draughn is a reliable producer over three games when either Hillis or Charles were limited.
-If you are a Steven Jackson owner and you are not trying like crazy to unload him, you are not doing things correctly.
Jackson runs like old people...well...run. His groin pull is going to limit him once again if he does play against the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow, who represent my second-worst matchup of Week 4 against opposing fantasy runners.
The worst part of this is that it's tough to sell on Jackson right now while his stock is so low. This is a situation where I look for a very uninvolved-type owner as a possible trade partner. These are the hardest types to make trades with because:
1) They think you are better than they are at fantasy. You are more informed, therefore they are obviously on the bad side of the trade.
2) They don't check their trades often or put too much thought into what this move might mean for their overall roster. You are sometimes forced into a position where you must deal with these owners, though. This is one.
I would look for underperforming talent on his roster, or possible injury concerns. The uninformed owner will give high value to Steven Jackson's name recognition, and may be willing to trade an underperforming player he autodrafted and is not familiar with in exchange for him.
Think Jordy Nelson and a "throw in" runner like Ben Tate for Steven Jackson and your best name-recognition bench wide receiver.
Running Backs To Sell High On
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Running Backs To Buy Low On
Lesean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Running Backs To Not Buy Low On
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
Game of the Week For Fantasy RB Production
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
-It looks like two AFC West teams are awfully banged up in their receiving corps:
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (13th-best WR matchup)
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Doubtful, Concussion
Rod Streater: Questionable, Hamstring
Both starting tight ends have been limited in practice all week and are listed as questionable.
Denarius Moore will be covered by Denver Broncos CB Champ Bailey, which can be debilitating at times.
Derek Hagan would serve as the primary beneficiary of missed action by one or more of these players tomorrow.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers (19th-best WR matchup)
Dwayne Bowe: Questionable, Groin
Steve Breaston: Questionable, Knee
Dexter McCluster: Questionable, Elbow
Jonathan Baldwin seems due for a breakout, and I would consider rolling him out as a sneaky flex play in Week 4 if things get desperate.
-Kenny Britt is hurt again, and now it is a new injury. An ankle this time. I have more trouble keeping up with Britt's laundry list of injuries than I do his arrest record, and that's saying something.
Britt's prospects to play Sunday seem more iffy with every report, and his fantasy owners will need to monitor this situation closely up till game time. The matchup is terrible for the Titans anyway, so I would make other plans altogether for this week.
Houston Texans CB Jonathan Joseph has returned to practice, and is expected to play Sunday, so owners of Titans wide receivers who were hoping to face a Joseph-less Texans secondary this week look to be out of luck.
-As long as Pierre Garcon is out, Leonard Hankerson should be the Washington Redskins' primary receiving target from the X. Hankerson is worthy of consideration as a flex play this week should Garcon continue to be bothered by the foot injury, which is beginning to seem more serious than originally speculated.
Hankerson was on the field for the second-most snaps of any non-QB skill player in Week 3, seeing action in 78 percent of plays and leading the Redskins in targets, with seven. The Redskins face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are my No. 3 WR matchup of Week 4.
Wide Receivers to Sell High On
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Wide Receivers to Buy Low On
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
-What do Robert Griffin III, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Christian Ponder, Matt Schaub, Jake Locker and Alex Smith all have in common?
Aaron Rodgers is holding off Kevin Kolb in standard leagues by less than one point overall.
How do we react to this? First, do not sell low on these players. What we are seeing is an effect that many predicted prior to the season. Last year's QB numbers were inflated due to the lockout.
Defensive install schemes took the brunt of a hurried, frantic process to assimilate into regular-season form with little to no preparation time, and we saw what happened: the year of the quarterback.
Over the course of the season, your advantage at having one of these elite QBs will undoubtedly even out. It always has. Expectations were set too high to begin with, though, leaving some feeling very restless.
If you sense this sentiment from a Rodgers or Newton owner in your league, do everything you can to get a deal done without sacrificing the integrity of your starting roster outside of a possible downgrade at your flex position.
-I find Phillip Rivers a bit hard to root for, and I don't think I am alone in this. He seems like the kind of kid growing up that took his ball and went home when he didn't like the outcome of the neighborhood after-school street scrimmage.
I do think he is a terrific NFL QB, though, and Rivers will face the same Kansas City defense that Matt Ryan absolutely bombed in Week 1. Rivers is an up-and-down fantasy QB, and I found via this two-year study that he also has a relatively low fantasy floor.
People say that Mike Vick is not a reliable fantasy quarterback, and Vick gets you at least 15 points in standard leagues over twice as often as Rivers does, over 20 points three times more often and over 25 points around seven times more often.
Vick also has only one sub-10 point game for every two that Rivers racks up. Rivers has not had a 30-point fantasy game during this span, while Vick unleashes this sort of monster 12 percent of the time. Playing the Kansas City Chiefs at home in a division matchup should never be easy, either.
But, if you look at Rivers' career game log, he has never had a bad fantasy game at Kansas City. In fact, he has had a few monsters. Rivers' worst fantasy performance ever at Arrowhead was a game in which he threw for 369 yards and no touchdowns.
Even with the return of Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who has been sorely missed, I can see this being an "up" kind of game for the up-and-down Rivers.
QBs to Sell High On
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
QBs to Buy Low On
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Here are the most targeted tight ends of NFL Week 3:
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers-14
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons-12
Brandon Pettigrew- Detroit Lions-12
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins-10
Heath Miller- Pittsburgh Steelers-10
Jacob Tamme- Denver Broncos-10
Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers-8
Jimmy Graham- New Orleans Saints-8
-I like two tight ends in the Tennessee Titans versus Houston Texans matchup. One you may expect: Owen Daniels, who has been seeing massive snaps, and faces my best tight end matchup of Week 4.
A deep sleeper: Craig Stevens. After Jared Cook went out, Stevens showed that he has a bit of a connection with Jake Locker that could prove useful in garbage time in what will likely be a Texans blowout.