Wide receivers: can't live with them, can't live without them.
Nobody can ruin a Sunday in fantasy football quite like an inconsistent wideout, who frequently switches from headlining the game to hiding in the shadow. How often do owners watch their highly valued receiver catch two passes for 20 yards a week after snatching 12 for 120?
So what do betrayed owners do with the guys who depressed them with an uneventful Sunday? Benching them runs the risk of watching as they amass two weeks' worth of points. No wonder why fantasy football drives so many participants crazy.
Let's take the best crack as how these inconsistent performers will fare during Week 4.
Dwayne Bowe (vs. New York Giants)
Alex Smith is no superstar, but he's a massive upgrade over anyone Dwayne Bowe has played with before. Andy Reid also loves to pass, so the new regime was supposed to skyrocket the receiver's fantasy value.
Except Bowe caught one pass for four yards last Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. So maybe Bowe isn't a perennial No. 1 receiver now. What do you think, Jeff Erickson?
He started the season with a dud, catching four passes for 30 yards, but he gave owners a nice line with 56 yards and a touchdown during Week 2. What do we make of a guy who once caught 15 touchdowns in 2010?
We probably paid too much stock into the changing environment when the notoriously inconsistent Bowe has averaged 69 catches per season throughout his career behind questionable quarterback play. You'll never be able to trust him every week, even with Smith behind center.
But impatient owners who bench Bowe could be sorry for doing so against the Giants.
New York's defense has only sacked the quarterback three times, so Smith, who isn't exactly a strong downfield passer, will have more time to locate his No. 1 threat and could find a big play or two in this one. Cam Newton shredded them through the air even after Steve Smith got hurt, and the Giants have allowed at least two touchdown passes in each of their first three games.
Bowe is a good bet to find paydirt and put up respectable numbers.
Projections: 6 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD
Anquan Boldin (Thursday at St. Louis Rams)
Anquan Boldin is the best wide receiver on planet Earth. The Baltimore Ravens made the worst trade in the history of mankind by practically donating him to the San Francisco 49ers. All hail Anquan Boldin.
Wait, I didn't catch the last two of San Francisco's games. How did he do?
Since dismantling the Green Bay Packers for 208 yards and a touchdown to start the season, Boldin has only registered a combined six catches for 74 yards during the past two games. So does that mean Joe Flacco isn't Satan for shackling Boldin's fantasy value in Baltimore?
That's not to write off Boldin's Week 1 performance as a complete fluke. He'll offer some big weeks, but don't expect it routinely from the 32-year-old.
The Rams have allowed 288 passing yards per game, allowing 300 total yards and four touchdowns against Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. Take that as a tendency to allow big games to the No. 1 receiver, or count that as three of the game's premier wideouts doing their thing.
Boldin is a solid flex player, but not much more. It's a short week, and San Francisco hits the road after a disappointing home loss. Add in the fact that Jeff Fisher has played the 49ers very tough since arriving in St. Louis, and there's a strong chance the Rams keep Boldin out of the end zone at home.
Projections: 7 catches, 65 yards
Mike Wallace (at New Orleans Saints)
The Miami Dolphins gave Mike Wallace the big bucks to show up once every three games.
Miami's big free-agency signing started the season with one catch against the Cleveland Browns, but showed why he warranted his contract with nine catches, 115 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.
All better? Nope, he had two catches for 22 yards against the Atlanta Falcons.
Following the over-simplified pattern would suggest he's set for another mammoth week at the Superdome, but don't be certain.
Once upon a time, by which I mean last season, facing the Saints would amount to a must-start scenario for opposing wideouts. Things are different now, as the passing defense ranks fourth with 184.3 yards allowed per game.
Take an unreliable receiver, add a difficult matchup under the microscope of Monday Night Football, and you get a player not worth starting.
Projections: 4 catches, 40 yards
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