Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Daniel Stack@@stacdemonContributor IISeptember 24, 2013

Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

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    We’re three weeks into the fantasy football season and things are finally starting to stabilize. Injuries are also starting to take their tolls, making lineup decisions that much harder. This week, we also have to deal with the bye weeks, as Carolina and Green Bay are off.

    In this slideshow I will break down every major fantasy spot and give the top-20 options at each position/unit.

    So, let’s dive right in and breakdown the matchups and trends in this week’s position rankings.

    Disclaimer: These lists are just for this week and do not reflect any seasonal value.


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    1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: There seems to be no stopping Peyton Manning these days, as he and his teammates are clicking on all cylinders.
    2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: A game at home (vs. Miami) for Drew Brees? Yes please!
    3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: The Patriots (Atlanta’s Week 4 opponent) have not faced a quarterback the caliber of Matt Ryan and he should take aim on this vulnerable secondary. Plus Ryan will be back at the comfort of playing at home.
    4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: The Falcons (the Patriots Week 4 opponent) can be beat through the air and if somehow Tom Brady can get back Rob Gronkowski, he can go off in this affair. Regardless, Brady is still a must-start.
    5. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions: We know Matt Stafford loves to sling it, but he’ll have to be careful when the aggressive, ball-hawking Bears come to town this weekend.
    6. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo should be a recommended start this week, considering the Chargers (the Cowboys Week 4 opponent) allow 340.7 passing yards per game.
    7. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: In what should be another shootout, Michael Vick will no doubt rack up the numbers when the Eagles visit Denver in Week 4.
    8. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: If Andrew Luck can go into San Francisco and escape a winner, surely he’ll have no trouble going into Jacksonville (who just let Russell Wilson pass for 202 yards and four touchdowns) and lighting up the scoreboard.
    9. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: In real life, Robert Griffin III is struggling, but somehow, someway, RGIII is piling up the stats for fantasy purposes. And a game with the Raiders should allow RGIII to keep putting up crooked numbers.
    10. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick is battling his first real slump—he's passing for 150 or less in his last two games—and a game in St. Louis is no walk in the park.
    11. Phil Rivers, San Diego Chargers: While he took a step back this past week in Tennessee (184 passing yards and one touchdown), Phil Rivers will be back at home facing a Cowboys team that can be thrown on (Dallas has given up 274.7 passing yards per game—22nd in the league).
    12. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: If Geno Smith can throw for 330 yards and two touchdowns against the Bills, Joe Flacco should be licking his chops at playing in Buffalo this week.
    13. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: The matchup (vs. San Francisco) is not the best, but if the Rams have any idea of winning this game, they will have to air it out. And with the game at home, Sam Bradford could be a sneaky pick.
    14. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: An away game in Cleveland is not ideal, but Andy Dalton has enough weapons to be a low-end No.1 QB this week.
    15. Eli Manning, New York Giants: You’ll have to take a huge leap of faith to trust the slumping Eli Manning, but eventually he’ll get out of his rut. A matchup in Kansas City may not be the ideal game to do so, though.
    16. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill is quietly putting together a solid season (827 passing yards, four touchdowns and just two interceptions). And a game in New Orleans could give him ample opportunities to sling the ball.
    17. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler has the Bears 3-0 and he is making good decisions with the ball. Look for that momentum to continue in Detroit this week.
    18. Alex Smith, Kanas City Chiefs: Did you see what Cam Newton (and for that matter Tony Romo and Peyton Manning) did against the Giants? While you shouldn’t expect the type of numbers Newton, Manning and Romo put up against the Giants, Alex Smith should still have his way with a battered Giants secondary.
    19. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: The matchup is not great, but there is a chance that Russell Wilson may have to pass the ball late in the game to play catch up at Houston.
    20. Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders: Terrelle Pryor did a solid job in Denver on Monday (281 passing yards and a touchdown; 36 rushing yards) night. And with Washington (the Raiders Week 4 opponent) dreadful against the pass (30th in the NFL in pass defense-allowing 333 yards per game), Pryor should be solid QB to trust. However, Pryor will have to be cleared first, since he suffered a concussion late in the game at Denver.

Running Back

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    1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: No matter the opponent, Adrian Peterson is a must-start stud. Even against the vaunted Browns rush defense, Peterson still ran for 88 yards while also corralling in six catches for 27 yards. The Steelers, who are breaking down, should be no match for AP in London. Cheerio!
    2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: The Giants (the Chiefs Week 4 opponent) are a beaten and broken down team and they’ll offer little resistance to Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs this week.
    3. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts: After getting adjusted to his new surroundings, Trent Richardson should really hit his stride when the Colts visit the anemic Jaguars this weekend. The Jaguars rank dead last in the NFL in rushing defense (167.7 rushing yards allowed).
    4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy should get his numbers despite Denver sporting a solid run defense (allowing 40.5 rushing yards a game prior to Monday night). Just remember an ankle injury is hindering him, though.
    5. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Like McCoy, Doug Martin is still a must-start regardless of the matchup. And Martin does have a tough matchup against Arizona, as they have held teams to 73.3 rushing yards per game.
    6. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: The matchup in Houston is less than ideal, but then again we said the same thing when Marshawn Lynch went up against the 49ers in Week 2 and he delivered with 98 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.
    7. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: After rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown against the Rams on Sunday, DeMarco Murray is starting to get into a groove, and a matchup in San Diego against the Chargers (who allow 130 rushing yards—28th in the NFL) should allow Murray to keep running free.
    8. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: If Ray Rice is cleared to play—and that’s a big if—he’ll be an outstanding start, since he and the Ravens will go up against a futile Bills rush defense, which allows 155 rushing yards per game (30th in the NFL). Bernard Pierce, with or without Rice in the lineup, also deserves strong consideration.
    9. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: The multi-faceted Matt Forte could have a field day against the Lions in Detroit. Expect Forte to accumulate both the rushing and receiving yards in this game.
    10. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: While Darren McFadden struggled mightily against the stout Denver rush defense, a home game against the Redskins who allow 155 rushing yards (second-to-last in the NFL) will make McFadden a reliable No. 2 RB option this week.
    11. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins: Although, he is not off to the start he had last year, Alfred Morris should still be trusted enough to be a solid low-end No.1/high-end No.2 running back. And running on the Raiders should not present much of a problem this week.
    12. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills: With his recent injury (which shouldn’t be too serious) and the fact that Fred Jackson is emerging as a threat in Buffalo, C.J. Spiller’s stock has fallen. Don’t give up hope yet, though.
    13. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions: Reggie Bush’s ranking solely depends on his health. If he doesn’t suit up, place the versatile Joique Bell in his stead here. Regardless, whoever the main back in Detroit is, the matchup against the Bears is less than perfect, as the Bears rank ninth against the run (88.7 yards per game).
    14. Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Although he is splitting carries with Ben Tate, sooner or later the Texans will give Arian Foster more of the load. However, a matchup with Seattle is not the week to trust Foster as a No. 1 back.
    15. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: While Kaepernick is struggling, Frank Gore has been a rock for the 49ers. If the 49ers have ideas of winning on the road and snapping a two-game losing streak in St. Louis, they'll have to feed Gore the ball a lot.
    16. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins: Slowly but surely Lamar Miller is starting to get going, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Miller should be able to rack up more than a few yards in New Orleans on Monday night.
    17. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew got off the schneid and had a touchdown against the Seahawks on Sunday. This week, he’ll have an easier time with the Colts coming to town.
    18. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: Going up against the New York Jets (who are sixth against the run—79.7 rushing yards per game) makes Chris Johnson nothing more than a low-end No. 2 RB this week.
    19. Bilal Powell, New York Jets: After erupting for 149 yards on 27 carries against the Bills on Sunday, Bilal Powell has emphatically seized control of the Jets backfield. That said, he makes for a great No.2 or flex play for his game at Tennessee.
    20. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals: The rookie out of North Carolina is finally getting more run in Cincinnati with three total touchdowns in the last two games. And eventually Giovani Bernard will be cut loose, diminishing the value of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the process.

Wide Receiver

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    1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: No matter who the opponent (even if it’s the Bears) is, you have to keep Calvin Johnson at the No.1 spot.
    2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: With Roddy White still struggling, it’s the Julio Jones show in Atlanta. Don’t expect that to change with New England coming to town this week.
    3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Although he's not 100 percent healthy with a gimpy back, Dez Bryant should have no trouble racking up the yardage in San Diego, who allows 340.7 passing yards per game.
    4. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: Demaryius Thomas is rolling along just like his quarterback is and as Peyton Manning’s main man, Thomas should be counted on for big production this week when the Eagles visit Denver.
    5. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears: While Brandon Marshall had a subpar effort—at least by his standards—in Pittsburgh, when he had five receptions for 52 yards, Marshall should get back on track in Detroit this week.
    6. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals: While being matched up against Joe Haden and the Browns will be no picnic, A.J. Green is still delivering the results (249 receiving yards and three touchdowns) this year for him to be considered a no-brainer No.1 receiver.
    7. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Coming off a subpar effort in New England (three receptions for 34 yards), look for Vincent Jackson to snap back with the Cardinals and their 26th ranked pass defense (allowing 297 passing yards per game) traveling to Tampa Bay this weekend.
    8. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: With Vick healthy and DeSean Jackson excelling under Chip Kelly’s new offense, Jackson is moving toward No. 1 wide receiver status. A trip to Denver and its vulnerable pass defense makes Jackson a must-start this week.
    9. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos: The PPR-beast Wes Welker had another seven catches for 84 yards on Monday night and he is as dependable as solid gold—no matter the matchup.
    10. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: While he’ll more than likely be matched up with Darrelle Revis, Larry Fitzgerald still has to be considered a must start when the Cardinals take on the Bucs on Sunday.
    11. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts: With a trip to Jacksonville looming, Reggie Wayne should be good for a lot of fantasy points this week.
    12. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: A Monday night matchup at home with the Dolphins makes Marques Colston a very reliable No. 2 wide receiver. After all, the Dolphins do allow 263.3 passing yards per game (20th in the NFL)
    13. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens: While he hasn’t scored yet, Torrey Smith has been very consistent, going over 85 yards receiving in each game this season. A matchup in Buffalo may allow Smith to score this week.
    14. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos: After a shoddy opening week (two receptions for 32 yards against Baltimore), Eric Decker has come alive with 17 receptions for 220 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last two games. He’s now regained must-start status and it may get even better with Philadelphia up next on the schedule.
    15. Victor Cruz, New York Giants: When Eli Manning slumps, so will Victor Cruz. And that was the case on Sunday when Cruz only hauled in three catches for 25 yards at Carolina. But Cruz is too talented to sit, even with a tough matchup in Kansas City.
    16. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots: With the Patriots down a lot of their weapons, Julian Edelman has been Tom Brady’s most-trusted target, and Edelman has rewarded him with 27 receptions for 201 receiving yards and two touchdowns thus far. Edelman should continue to reel in the receptions this week in Atlanta.
    17. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: At the moment, Andre Johnson is day-to-day with a bruised shin, so the chances he plays are pretty good. However, a matchup with the feared Seahawks pass defense awaits.
    18. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins: Just like his quarterback RGIII, Pierre Garcon is putting up the fantasy points in spite of the Redskins rough start. Expect that trend to continue in Oakland (Washington’s Week 4 opponent) this week.
    19. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: After a ho-hum start, Antonio Brown erupted for nine receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears this past Sunday night. While he may have a tough time with the Vikings in London, he has to now be considered at least a No. 2 wide receiver.
    20. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars: If Cecil Shorts can explode for eight receptions and 143 receiving yards at Seattle, surely he can do well at home vs. the Colts.

Tight End

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    1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: Again, a no-brainer here. Jimmy Graham is by far the best tight end option in the league.
    2. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns: While he’s not in the same breath as Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron now has to be placed in the elite ranks of tight ends after scoring three touchdowns in Week 3 against the Vikings.
    3. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos: There is no doubting this Thomas anymore, as he has been good for a score each week. And when the Eagles come to town this Sunday, it could very well be four straight weeks with a touchdown.
    4. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: While he’s been mortal the last two weeks, eventually Jason Witten will go off again. A game against the Chargers just might get him going.
    5. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: The old man has been pretty pedestrian so far, but you’ll know Tony Gonzalez is due for a big game one of these days.
    6. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams: Just like Witten and Gonzalez, Jared Cook has slowed down in the last two weeks (six receptions for 54 yards), after going nuts in Week 1. Have no fear, he’ll be fine moving forward.
    7. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Check his health leading up to his Thursday night game against St. Louis, but if he plays, Vernon Davis should get back to being a reliable tight end to trust.
    8. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans: The matchup (against Seattle) is not ideal, but there are few red-zone scoring threats as imposing as Owen Daniels.
    9. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Antonio Gates has been solid in the last two weeks (179 receiving yards and a touchdown) and Dallas (the Chargers Week 4 opponent) can be beaten in the middle of the field.
    10. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: While he had awful day against the Steelers (two receptions for 10 yards), Martellus Bennett (who's scored three touchdown thus far) should get back on track against the Lions on Sunday.
    11. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: Another player to keep your eye on when it comes to the injury report is Rob Gronkowski. If he suits up, you got to play him, as he has transcendent skills at tight end.
    12. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts: Start all your significant Colts in their game at Jacksonville. Coby Fleener’s size and strength should be no match for the Jaguars this week.
    13. Brandon Myers, New York Giants: Even with Eli Manning struggling, Brandon Myers should still be a good option, since he could be playing in garbage time and that’s where Myers flourishes.
    14. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: Not off to the best of starts, Kyle Rudolph is still always a threat to score and even with the game in London against the Steelers, Rudolph is a recommended start.
    15. Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens: Not the sexiest of options out there, but if you want to play it safe, Dallas Clark is your man. Besides, Buffalo has a defense that can be exploited.
    16. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: Coming off a bad game (one reception for seven yards) against the Packers, many people will now sour on Tyler Eifert. However, his athleticism should be put to good use soon and a trip to Cleveland may get him on the right track.
    17. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins: Charles Clay is still a bit under the radar, but he’s put up some solid stats thus far (14 receptions for 203 yards) and there are not many better options than him out there. Besides, a matchup in New Orleans makes Clay a stealth play this week.
    18. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: After returning this past week after an ACL tear he suffered last year, Heath Miller will need some time to catch up to speed. However, with the Steelers lacking playmakers, Ben Roethlisberger may just look to Miller more than expected when the Steelers take on the Vikings in London.
    19. Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks: Don’t sleep on Zach Miller. Apparently the Jacksonville Jaguars did on Sunday and Miller made them pay with two touchdowns. While a repeat in Houston will be tough, Miller is a nice safety blanket for Russell Wilson.
    20. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals: While he has to share time and targets with Eifert, Jermaine Gresham has not become a forgotten man in Cincinnati. His experience with the Bengals cannot be dismissed and he makes for a good streaming option when the Bengals travel to face the Browns this week.


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    1. Stephen Gostowski, New England Patriots: Kicking indoors at Atlanta in what could amount to a shootout makes Stephen Gostowski a great option at kicker.
    2. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons: What was said about Gostowski, can be applied to Matt Bryant here as well.
    3. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos: In a game where the teams will be marching up and down the field, Matt Prater should be an obvious start.
    4. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys: There could be a lot of points put on the board in the Chargers vs. Cowboys game, and Dan Bailey should be very busy in this affair.
    5. Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings: Walsh is building on his fine rookie campaign and is as trusted a kicker as there is in the game. Kicking in London (vs. the Steelers) could be a concern, though.
    6. Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams: Just like Walsh, Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein is having a fine sophomore campaign. The Rams could have trouble finishing drives against San Francisco on Thursday night, making Zuerlein an effective kicking option this week.
    7. Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints: Playing at home against a team like the Dolphins should allow the Saints to put points on the board, making Garrett Hartley a safe choice.
    8. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders: The Redskins defense will likely offer little resistance to the Raiders and this is a game where Sebastian Janikowski could be used early and often.
    9. David Akers, Detroit Lions: The Bears could limit the Lions in the red zone, and that could make David Akers a reliable kicker to bank on this week.
    10. Randy Bullock, Houston Texans: The game between the Texans and the Seahawks could be a low-scoring, field-goal deciding game and that makes Randy Bullock a safe bet for points.
    11. Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles: What makes Prater a good selection this week, also makes Alex Henery a solid selection this week as well.
    12. Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers: Eventually the 49ers will go back to putting points on the board, and it might just be this Thursday night against the Rams, which would make Phil Dawson a solid play.
    13. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens: Justin Tucker has been fairly reliable thus far and with the Ravens visiting Buffalo this week, Tucker should get plenty of scoring opportunities.
    14. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears: In a game that will be played indoors and has a high probability for lots of points, Robbie Gould could go off in Detroit.
    15. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts: A trip to Jacksonville should keep the veteran Adam Vinatieri very busy this week.
    16. Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans: The game between the Titans and the Jets in Nashville this week could depend on the leg of Rob Bironas, as both teams seem to fizzle out near the red zone.
    17. Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins: Caleb Sturgis is having a heck of a rookie campaign and his run of good fortune should continue in New Orleans on Monday night.
    18. Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Succop should be a trusted option with the reeling Giants coming to town this week.
    19. Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills: The Bills do a solid job moving the ball, but have trouble finishing off drives and that makes Dan Carpenter a good selection.
    20. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers: Viewed as an afterthought on draft day, Nick Novak has kicked his way into the top-10 for scoring among kickers. A game against the Cowboys should make Novak an active kicker on Sunday.

Team Defense/Special Teams

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    1. Houston Texans: The Texans game with the Seahawks should be an all-out war in the trenches with neither team exchanging many points on each other.
    2. Seattle Seahawks: See Houston.
    3. Baltimore Ravens: While they got shredded against the Broncos in Week 1, the Ravens have since got back on track and they are a must-start this week when they take on the Bills.
    4. Cincinnati Bengals: While the Vikings got lit up by Brian Hoyer and his crew, don’t expect the Bengals to allow the Browns to that this weekend.
    5. San Francisco 49ers: Eventually this talented defensive unit will get their act in gear and they should do well enough in St. Louis on Thursday.
    6. Chicago Bears: The Bears once again lead the league in defensive touchdowns (three) and this group shows no signs of slowing down. Although a trip to Detroit could get dicey.
    7. Dallas Cowboys: With 13 sacks, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns, Dallas has become a must-start defense. Playing at San Diego could prove to be a bit burdensome, though.
    8. Kansas City Chiefs: No one has surged up the defensive rankings quite like the Chiefs have. With the Giants being shut out in Carolina, the feeling is the Chiefs should do just as well against a reeling New York squad.
    9. Tennessee Titans: The Titans are an overtime loss to the Texans away from being 3-0. They are getting it done with defense and with the Jets up next, they should feast on the Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
    10. New York Jets: Just like the team they are playing this week, the Jets are getting it done on defense and the Jets-Titans affair has all the makings of a grind-it-out defensive affair.
    11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs have been one of the pleasant surprises thus far (at least in piling up defensive points) and after playing New Orleans and New England in back-to-back weeks, the Bucs should have it a lot easier with the Cardinals coming to town.
    12. Pittsburgh Steelers: This is not your father’s Steelers defense, but they are still a usable unit—especially when playing the Vikings in London this Sunday.
    13. Minnesota Vikings: The game between the Vikings and the Steelers should be a gritty defensive affair in London and the Vikings could be great option at defense this week as well.
    14. Cleveland Browns: While good against the run, the Browns can be exploited in the air. That said, the Browns make for a meddling selection this week when they host Cincinnati.
    15. Denver Broncos: While the Eagles may put up some points against them, the Broncos could force Michael Vick into some turnovers.
    16. St. Louis Rams: With the 49ers coming to town and them struggling on offense, St. Louis is a sleeper pick to roll with this week.
    17. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have been decent, but a matchup with New England—even if it’s at home—is not the ideal game to expect much from them.
    18. New Orleans Saints: The Saints have been a work in progress under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, but slowly but surely they are getting better. And the Dolphins are no world beaters despite being 3-0.
    19. New England Patriots: The Patriots have done a good job limiting the Jets and the Buccaneers at home the last two weeks, but going to Atlanta, well, that’s a whole new set of challenges.
    20. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have been a solid option, but this week they could be risky start considering they are playing at New Orleans.