While hidden gems are often able to help bring fantasy football teams together, there is no question that early-round picks must produce in order to have success. Those players must be in your lineup on a weekly basis, but there are inevitably times when they fall short of expectations.
Sometimes it is difficult to predict a down week, but there are other times when the writing is on the wall. That usually occurs when there is a tough matchup on the horizon.
Although owners usually realize that their top players could be in for a rough week, they can't possibly sit someone that they invested such a high pick in.
Here are three fantasy studs who figure to have successful season overall, but will look quite ordinary in Week 4 due to some less-than-ideal matchups.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Since bursting onto the scene as a rookie last season, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been one of the best and most-consistent signal-callers in football.
While Wilson's yardage totals are often modest, he is great at finishing drives with touchdowns, doesn't make many mistakes and can do damage with his legs as well. He's a complete quarterback and definitely a fantasy-worthy starter.
With that said, his owners shouldn't expect anything spectacular out of him in Week 4.
Wilson will have to contend with a stout Houston Texans defense on the road. Not only do the Texans boast a strong secondary, but they also generate a consistent pass rush. Defensive end J.J. Watt could be particularly troublesome in terms of getting in Wilson's face as well as batting down his passes.
According to the Seahawks' official Twitter account, Wilson has been the league's most efficient passer since the middle of last season, but that may not be apparent on Sunday.
The impressive thing about Wilson is that he has put up solid numbers without an elite supporting cast. Though Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller are decent pass-catchers, they aren't going to get open consistently against the Texans.
Sitting Wilson may seem risky, but if you actually have a quality backup with a better matchup, it might be worth starting him just for this week.
Week 4 Projection: 173 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, 22 rushing yards
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has been one of the best running backs in the league from a yardage standpoint this season, as he has racked up at least 90 yards on the ground in consecutive weeks, even though he has yet to reach the end zone.
Even so, it seems like it is only a matter of time before CJ2K busts out with a huge performance.
Some may think that it will happen this weekend against the New York Jets—Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean noted that Johnson victimized Gang Green last year—but that won't be the case.
New York's defense last season is not representative of what we have seen from Rex Ryan's teams in recent years. The Jets defense appears to be back in business this year, as it is allowing less than 17 points per game and just 80 rushing yards per contest.
The Jets faced a Johnson-type back in the form of the Buffalo Bills' C.J. Spiller last week and managed to hold him to just nine yards on 10 carries.
Tennessee's offensive line is admittedly much better than Buffalo's—thanks to former Bill Andy Levitre and rookie Chance Warmack—but New York's front seven has been a disruptive force this season.
Johnson is a back that thrives when he gets outside in space. However, those types of runs aren't often available against the Jets. Johnson should still be in your lineup since a short touchdown could salvage his day, but don't expect much yardage on the ground.
Week 4 Projection: 58 rushing yards and two receptions for 16 yards
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald stormed out of the gates in Week 1, with quarterback Carson Palmer throwing him eight passes for 80 yards and two scores.
Fitz has slowed down a bit over the past couple of weeks, with seven grabs for 100 yards and no touchdowns in Weeks 2 and 3 combined.
Fitzgerald is still a top-10 or top-15 fantasy receiver most weeks, but CBS Fantasy Football indicated that he has a couple of things working against him in Week 4.
Fitzgerald was questionable for last week's game after leaving early in Week 2 with a hamstring injury. While he didn't look overmatched against the New Orleans Saints, he obviously wasn't himself.
On top of that, Fitz has to deal with one of the NFL's best cornerbacks this week in the form of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Darrelle Revis. Surviving on Revis Island is difficult enough at full health, but Fitzgerald will have to do it at less than 100 percent.
The Bucs are in the middle of the pack against the pass this season, as they are allowing 237 yards per game. However, those numbers are skewed a bit: They already faced the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, who is capable of throwing for 300 yards against anyone.
Palmer may look in the direction of Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd even more than usual on Sunday with Fitzgerald getting blanketed, so temper your expectations.
Week 4 Projection: Four receptions for 42 yards
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