Fantasy Football Week 4: Fact or Fiction on Week 3's Top Performers

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2013

Fantasy Football Week 4: Fact or Fiction on Week 3's Top Performers

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    More times than not, a breakout performance in the NFL is nothing more than a fluke. It is especially important to separate the two when it comes to fantasy football. 

    Every week, there are one-hit wonders that put together a great showing out of nowhere. While some of them go on to having fantastic seasons, others fade right back into oblivion.

    In order to be a successful fantasy football owner, you have to know which one is which to make sure you have the best team going forward.

    Here is a look at the top players from Week 3, with a breakdown of whether the performances were fact or fiction.

     

    Note: All stats and league info courtesy of ESPN

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    23-of-37, 299 passing yards, one passing touchdown; five carries, 68 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown

     

    Analysis 

    Despite throwing only one touchdown pass, this might have been the best game of Jake Locker's career. He showed poise in the pocket down the stretch and led his first career fourth-quarter comeback on a late go-ahead touchdown to Justin Hunter.

    The quarterback also added a lot of production on the ground, thanks mostly to a 39-yard run to go with a seven-yard touchdown.

    This mobility is for real, but it is still hard to trust him as a passer. Tennessee remains a run-first team, second only to the Seattle Seahawks in rushing attempts this year. 

    Locker simply will not get a chance to shine on a regular basis, which makes him a below-average fantasy option in the immediate future.

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in two percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (vs. New York Jets): No

Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    16-of-29, 331 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions; four carries, 14 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown 

     

    Analysis 

    The Jets and their fans certainly have to be excited about the quality start by Geno Smith. However, he still has a long way to go to get to the level of starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Smith still makes a ton of mistakes, and already has six interceptions on the year. He also needs to raise his completion percentage higher than his current 53.9 percent. These will prevent long drives and eventual touchdowns.

    It is also unlikely the long passes to Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes would have been successful against too many other defenses besides the Bills. These plays greatly inflated his Week 3 stat line. 

    The rookie quarterback still has potential, but there will be many more bad games than good games this year, which makes him too risky of a fantasy play.

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in 3.8 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (at Tennessee Titans): No

Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Stats

    11 carries, 53 rushing yards; four catches, 58 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown 

     

    Analysis 

    While Jason Snelling is technically still the backup with Steven Jackson out, the Falcons clearly have a lot of faith in the veteran running back.

    Jacquizz Rodgers had 20 touches for 93 yards, while Snelling had 15 touches for 111 yards, so each had a strong day against the Dolphins. Still, Snelling was the more effective of the two and should continue to have a bigger role in the offense.

    According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN, Jackson could be out another three weeks with his hamstring injury.

    With consistent opportunities in the offense—including near the goal line—Snelling is worth a spot in your lineup until Jackson returns.

     

    Verdict: Fact

    Add: Yes (Owned in 14.5 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (vs. New England Patriots): Yes

Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    13 carries, 103 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; three catches, 23 receiving yards 

     

    Analysis 

    After going years without a 100-yard rusher, the Packers now have two in as many games.

    This week it was Johnathan Franklin, who took over for the injured James Starks, who took over for the injured Eddie Lacy, who took over for the injured DuJuan Harris (starting to sense a theme).

    While Franklin looked good at times, he will stay at least second, and likely third, in the pecking order when everyone is healthy. That could be sooner than later with next week being a bye to rest and recover all ailments.

    It would not be surprising to see Franklin continue to have some role in the Packers offense going forward, but do not add him unless he truly becomes No. 1 on the depth chart. 

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in 2.1 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4: Bye

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    Nine carries, 66 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; one catch, 12 receiving yards 

     

    Analysis 

    After Knowshon Moreno had the breakout game in Week 2, it was Ronnie Hillman who came back from the dead with a strong showing on Monday night in Week 3.

    Each part of the three-headed monster had a similar number of carries, but Hillman was more effective at 7.3 yards per carry compared to Moreno (3.3 YPC) and Montee Ball (5.5 YPC).

    Unfortunately for fantasy owners, all this proves is that you cannot trust any of them in your lineup on a consistent basis. The Broncos are likely to continue rotating players, and the usage will remain unpredictable.

    The only reason you should keep Hillman on your team is in case of an injury, but you would still need two of them in order to feel comfortable. 

    If I had to pick one player, it would likely be Moreno. He is the best blocker of the group, which puts him on the field more often. 

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in 44.6 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (vs. Philadelphia Eagles): No

Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    Three catches, 53 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns 

     

    Analysis 

    When Cam Newton puts together the types of performances he displayed against the New York Giants, it means big things for people around him.

    Brandon LaFell was the beneficiary in this game, but it could just have easily been Greg Olsen or Ted Ginn. The truth is that no one gets the consistent targets in this offense besides Steve Smith, and even that is hit or miss.

    Combining this with the fact that Newton is just as capable of having a poor game where he constantly misses targets, it is hard to trust LaFell in any standard league.

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in 2.5 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4: Bye

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    Three catches, 41 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns

     

    Analysis 

    Kenbrell Thompkins had a nearly identical stat line to Brandon LaFell, one that is hard to trust. Receiving touchdowns are fickle, and players that only record three catches do not usually rack up tons of yards.

    However, he is part of a much better offense and has the opportunity to gain a bigger role as time goes on.

    Thompkins was targeted seven times in the win and has received at least this many looks in every game. The Patriots have a clear strategy to involve both him and Aaron Dobson in the offense as much as possible.

    Although you cannot count on two touchdowns every time, he is worth an add in all leagues now and could be started in solid matchups like in Week 4. By the end of the year, he should end up being a fixture in your lineup. 

     

    Verdict: Fact

    Add: Yes (Owned in 35.4 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (at Atlanta Falcons): Yes

Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Week 3 Stats

    Seven catches, 141 receiving yards 

     

    Analysis 

    The upgrade at quarterback in Kansas City was supposed to help Dwayne Bowe return to being an elite fantasy receiver. However, everyone seemed to forget that Alex Smith does not throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field.

    That was on display against the Philadelphia Eagles, as Smith continued to complete short, safe crossing passes.

    This helped speedster Donnie Avery, who was able to rack up receptions while adding plenty of yards after the catch with his quickness. Based on the success, you can expect this strategy to continue, since Avery has the skill to make it work.

    On the other hand, it does not take long for NFL teams to figure out a system and do what is necessary to stop it.

    Therefore, he is worth an add in standard leagues, but you might want to wait to see how things work out again before trusting him in your lineup.  

     

    Verdict: Fact

    Add: Yes (Owned in 4.6 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (vs. New York Giants): No

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 3 Stats

    Three catches, 108 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown

     

    Analysis 

    This type of yards per reception does not come around often, but Stephen Hill was available on the deep ball often in the win over the Buffalo Bills.

    On one hand, the receiver's stats were inflated against a poor defense and depleted secondary. However, this was the second strong performance in a row for the former second-round pick.

    With great size and speed, the talent has always been there to succeed. He now has a slightly more accurate quarterback this season to give him a strong chance of being productive.

    As Hill and Geno Smith get more in sync, the receiver's fantasy value will continue to rise. If you have room in your lineup, he is worth a start in the right matchups.

     

    Verdict: Fact

    Add: Yes (Owned in 2.8 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (at Tennessee Titans): Yes

Scott Chandler, TE, Buffalo Bills

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

    Week 3 Stats

    Five catches, 79 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown 

     

    Analysis 

    Scott Chandler has been targeted exactly six times in each of the first three games of the season, although he had very different levels of production in those weeks.

    His 79 receiving yards was 31 more than the first two games combined.

    While it helps to consistently be targeted, his role has mostly been limited to extremely short passes in the middle of the field. Plays like the 33-yard touchdown pass are unlikely to happen many more times this season.

    With so many better tight end options this season, you are better off leaving Chandler on the waiver wire. 

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    Add: No (Owned in 1.7 percent of leagues)

    Start Week 4 (vs. Baltimore Ravens): No

     

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