Fantasy Football Rankings: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 4
Most fantasy football leagues end their season with the championship in Week 16.
That means more than 20 percent (49 games) of the season (240 games from Weeks 1 to 16) is already in the books (or more if you only consider your fantasy league's regular season).
While it seems like the season has just begun (and it has), there is sense of urgency for a fantasy owner that starts the season 1-2 or 0-3 to turn his or her season around.
Therefore, I compiled a list of players that may or may not be worthy of starting this week. Of course, your league settings may mean that a player on the sit side should be a start, or vice versa.
This list is based on a 10-team standard league that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and one flex. Therefore, the running backs and wide receivers included on the start 'em side are inside my top 25 at their respective position.
Here are some players to consider starting and some to consider sitting in Week 4.
QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos (vs. OAK)
Although he completed only 50 percent of his pass attempts, Manning is coming off a season-high performance of 330 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against one of the best defenses in the league (Houston). This week, Manning faces the Raiders, who are one of only three teams yet to intercept a pass and have given up the seventh-most passing yards this season.
RB: Cedric Benson, Packers (vs. NO)
Benson has begun his stint with the Packers by facing three tough run defenses; San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle all rank in the top eight in the league against the run. Things are much more favorable for Benson this week. The Saints rank last in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (215.0) and rushing touchdowns (six).
The Packers have given Benson a total of 37 carries over the past two games, and he could be in store for another heavy workload on Sunday. Surprisingly, Benson also has four receptions in each of the past two games. (He had only 15 receptions in all of 2011.)
RB: Reggie Bush, Dolphins (at ARI)
Despite missing the second half of last week's game with a knee injury, Bush is one of only six players to have 300-plus rushing yards so far this season. Along with Buffalo's C.J. Spiller, Bush is one of only two backs to average at least 100 yards per game and six yards per carry this season.
Practicing with the first-team offense on Friday, Bush is listed on the injury report as questionable. The matchup against the Cardinals, who rank 18th in the league against the run, is reasonable, and Bush is clearly the focal point of the team's offense. After all, the Dolphins are the only team in the league that hasn't thrown a touchdown pass to one of its wide receivers.
RB: Willis McGahee, Broncos (vs. OAK)
Like Bush, McGahee left last week's game early, except with a rib injury. McGahee's injury status going into this week is even better, however, as he participated fully in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday's matchup.
Despite facing three solid defenses (Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Houston) and missing part of last week's game, McGahee is averaging more than 75 yards from scrimmage per game. With a favorable matchup against the Raiders, who allowed 263 rushing yards to Bush, Lamar Miller and the Dolphins in Week 2, McGahee has the potential to have a strong performance this week.
WR: Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers (vs. WAS)
The Redskins have allowed three consecutive 100-yard receivers this season: Lance Moore (120 yards, Week 1), Danny Amendola (160 yards, Week 2) and A.J. Green (183 yards, Week 3). In addition, no team has allowed more passing touchdowns (10) this season.
Although Jackson has the tendency to be boom or bust, this could certainly be one of his "boom" weeks after last week's one-reception game against the Cowboys.
WR: Eric Decker, Broncos (vs. OAK)
Not only should Demaryius Thomas be in your starting lineup, but Decker should be as well. Fantasy owners worried about Decker's relatively slow start got a huge performance (eight receptions for 136 yards) in Week 3. Through three games, Decker has 17 receptions for 243 yards, but he has yet to score a touchdown.
WR: Malcom Floyd, Chargers (at KC)
Going into Week 4, Floyd is inside the top 20 in receiving yards among wide receivers, as he has 13 receptions for 227 yards and a touchdown. While the Chiefs rank 12th in the league in pass defense, they have allowed a total of eight touchdown passes in three games.
TE: Martellus Bennett, Giants (at PHI)
Playing on a one-year deal (and for his next contract), Bennett's season has gotten off to a great start. Finishing with double-digit fantasy points and scoring in each game this season, Bennett has 15 receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns this year.
With Hakeem Nicks downgraded to out, Bennett should see additional targets come his way against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
QB: Jay Cutler, Bears (at DAL)
Throwing for less than 200 yards in back-to-back games, Cutler barely has 300 yards (309) in those two games combined. In addition, he has thrown a total of five interceptions and only one touchdown in those two games.
Cutler is unlikely to get things going in this week's matchup against the Cowboys. With his offensive line woes, J'Marcus Webb will struggle to keep DeMarcus Ware from getting to Cutler, who has been sacked 11 times this year. Not only do the Cowboys have one of the league's best pass-rushers, they have significantly upgraded their cornerbacks and rank second in the NFL in passing defense.
RB: Steven Jackson, Rams (vs. SEA)
Battling injuries, Jackson has struggled to run the ball well this season. Jackson has 58 rushing yards or less in all three games and is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry this season.
He is expected to be a game-time decision due to his groin injury and has a difficult matchup against the Seahawks, who rank second in the league in rushing defense. No running back has exceeded 45 rushing yards against the Seahawks so far this season.
RB: Chris Johnson, Titans (at HOU)
The good news is Johnson set a season high in rushing yards last week on his 27th birthday. The bad news is that season high was 24 yards. Through three games, Johnson has 45 rushing yards on 33 carries (1.36 yards per carry).
Not only does Houston rank fifth in the league in rushing defense, but it has also allowed the fewest rushing attempts this season. If the Titans fall behind early, which is certainly possible as 12-point underdogs, the Titans might be forced into passing mode early in the game.
RB: Matt Forte, Bears (vs. DAL)
After missing last week's matchup with a sprained ankle, Forte has a questionable tag for the Monday Night Football matchup. With Jay Ratliff out another week with a high-ankle sprain, that is good news for Forte if he does play. That said, there won't be many options left for fantasy owners if Forte is ruled out on Monday night.
In addition, a healthy Michael Bush should be in the mix to steal more touches than usual as the Bears work Forte back from injury.
WR: Santonio Holmes, Jets (vs. SF)
Holmes is coming off season highs with nine receptions for 147 yards against the Dolphins last week. That said, the 49ers are much better against the pass than the Dolphins.
San Francisco lost three games last season and allowed a total of only 11 points in its three games after a loss, all victories. Coming off last week's surprising loss to the Vikings, the 49ers will apply a lot of pressure on Mark Sanchez and force him into several mistakes.
WR: Kenny Britt, Titans (at HOU)
Britt did not participate in practice on Friday and is listed as questionable on the injury report. Even if he plays, he has a difficult matchup. The Texans have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and Johnathan Joseph will likely cover Britt.
TE: Fred Davis, Redskins (at TB)
Last week, Davis led the team in receiving yards with seven receptions for 90 yards. While that is certainly possible again, especially if Pierre Garcon misses another game, Davis was not a big part of the offense in the first two weeks of the season.
Considering Robert Griffin III did not target his tight ends much at Baylor either, I'd like to see Davis have two consecutive productive games before putting him inside my top 12 tight ends.
Note: All injury designations and practice participation referenced above are via NFL.com's injury page.
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