Week 4 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Evaluating the Value of Last Week's Breakout Players

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets warms up before the start of the Jets game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

Fantasy football owners don't want to invest too much stock into one amazing outing, but they also fear missing out on more brilliance to follow.

It's a tricky Catch-22 for fantasy managers who want to remain rational, but at the same time would hate to stand pat as someone becomes this year's breakout star who wins leagues for countless gamers with a quick trigger.

Quite a few unexpected players delivered behemoth performances in Week 3, leaving owners wondering if the efforts were flukes or signs of brighter days ahead.

Let's take a look at some of the weekend's most unlikely top point producers at each position to make an informed call.


QB Geno Smith (at Tennessee Titans)

Weren't the New York Jets supposed to be the laughingstock of football?

Wasn't tossing rookie Geno Smith under center supposed to yield catastrophic results in an offense devoid of any talent? It seems like 331 passing yards and three touchdowns is pretty good.

That's what Smith did against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, resembling a quality NFL quarterback already much better than the injured Mark Sanchez. He started the year with a solid, 256-yard outing to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Is Smith now usable in fantasy formats?

Despite his success, Smith has made his fair share of rookie mistakes, completing just 53.9 percent of his passes with six interceptions. But he has developed a deep rapport with Stephen Hill that has led him to generate 7.85 yards per passing attempt.

Smith may be we worth rostering as a No. 2 QB, but don't play him against the Tennessee Titans, who rank 11th with 206 passing yards allowed per game.

He'll show flashes of brilliance, but it's not worth getting burned with another three-interception outing.

Verdict: Sit


RBs Ronnie Hillman/Montee Ball (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Ronnie Hillman #21 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball past Corey Graham #24 of the Baltimore Ravens in the third quarter during the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 5, 2013 in Denver Colorado. (Photo
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

So it's going to be one of those years for Denver's running backs.

Several Knowshon Moreno owners (ahem) entered Monday night needing some points from the Broncos' new starting running back to win the week's matchup. The game against the Oakland Raiders promised a user-friendly formula of Denver breaking the bout open through the air and ending it on the ground.

That's exactly what happened, except John Fox decided to give his younger rushers the touches instead. Well isn't that just fantastic.

Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball received a combined 20 carries, totaling 127 yards and a Hillman score. Those stats would have looked awfully nice next to Moreno. Just saying.

Where does that leave us next week, when Denver faces a Philadelphia defense that has permitted 4.0 yards per carry? Honestly, I'd be lying if I said I knew.

Denver seems content with testing out all three of its backs once Peyton Manning blows the game out of proportion, which makes perfect sense for the actual team. For fantasy managers, it's a messy situation.

One of Denver's running backs will probably have a nice game, but it's hard to start any of them without the slight idea of which one gets the nod that day.

Verdict: Sit


WR Antonio Brown (vs. Minnesota Vikings, at Wembley Stadium, London)

It's about time.

Last week, I discussed Brown's inability to produce eye-popping numbers as the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 1 receiver. He's a safe bet for five or six catches with some yards, but rarely does Brown lead you to victory.

But he did just that on Sunday, catching nine passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including the highlight grab as seen in the video above.

Just like that, his 20 catches and 324 yards on the season look great, and owners should feel less fidgety about his status in Pittsburgh after receiving a team-high 13 targets from Ben Roethlisberger.

Brown will travel across the pond to face the Minnesota Vikings this week. These are the same Vikings that allowed 321 passing yards to Brian Hoyer, so the Steelers should continue to restore their offense.

Owners should confidently start Brown as a solid No. 2 wideout. 

Verdict: Start


TE Jordan Cameron (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)

Sep 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) catches a touchdown pass against Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) during the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Browns defeated th
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Since it was otherwise a quiet week for tight ends, let's take the time to declare what many predicted would happen before the season started: Jordan Cameron is a stud.

The tight end caught three touchdowns against the Vikings to up his season tally to four. His 20 catches and 269 yards are both second among all tight ends after Jimmy Graham, the only other man with more fantasy points at the position.

Norv Turner helped Antonio Gates strive in San Diego, and the 6'5", 245-pound Cameron showed similar leaping ability in the end zone during the preseason. 

This is a case where owners can totally buy the hot start. Don't go trading Marshawn Lynch for him, but Cameron should finish as a top-five tight end, quite possibly second or third depending on when Rob Gronkowski returns.

The Bengals aren't the best matchup after completely shutting out Jermichael Finley, but Cameron has reached the level where he is too good to sit.

Verdict: Start