Rob Gronkowski is a must-start in fantasy if he plays Sunday night, but that status is still up in the air.
We are already at the quarter pole of the NFL season, and we dip into the bye weeks in Week 4. The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers are out of play, which means Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones won't make appearances this week.
You have to replace those guys—along with DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, Jermichael Finley and Mason Crosby—in your fantasy lineups. We have just the resource for you to pick through the options: the top plays at every position.
As an added bonus this week, we analyze three options at each position that are tremendous values in short-term salary-cap fantasy games. For this exercise, we use the salary pricing at DraftDay.com to provide readers with the bargain players. And, best of all, Bleacher Report readers can play in an exclusive free game right here!
So, click through this slideshow and join me in some rewarding fantasy action.
Quarterbacks have carried the days in the early going of fantasy football 2013, and some of your struggling options are due for a breakthrough. Colin Kaepernick already posted two touchdowns on Thursday night, and the likes of Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Robert Griffin III have better days ahead, starting this week.
Jaguars matchup will bring good Luck
Russell Wilson rediscovered his 2012 magic against Jacksonville, so we should expect the Colts' Andrew Luck to do the same. Sure, the Colts are more of a running team under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but no team is more of a running team than the Seahawks. All Seattle did last week was have Wilson throw for four touchdowns.
Luck is going to finally give you elite fantasy numbers, along with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and emerging tight end Coby Fleener.
Bad quarterbacks face the bad matchups
This is a convenient week, because most of the tough defenses against quarterbacks are facing the low-end quarterbacks. It should make for some ugly games, but at least they will come from where we expect them: Matt Cassel vs. Pittsburgh, Brian Hoyer vs. Cincinnati, Jake Locker vs. the New York Jets, EJ Manuel vs. Baltimore, Matt Schaub vs. Seattle and Sam Bradford vs. San Francisco (which was already played on Thursday night).
Week 4 sleepers
Andy Dalton hasn't posted elite starting quarterback numbers, but this week's matchup against the Browns can bring them out of him. Sure, the Browns have a better defense than we are giving them credit for, but that is mostly because of what they do against the run. With the running game a bit less effective, we should see Dalton pass for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
He is among the quarterbacks we like significantly more than the consensus this week:
- Andrew Luck
- Tom Brady
- Russell Wilson
- Andy Dalton
- Joe Flacco
Week 4 duds
The Chargers have been the worst team against fantasy quarterbacks to date, so you should start Tony Romo. You should temper expectations, though. The Chargers have given up a lot on the ground to quarterbacks, namely Jake Locker last week, and that is not something in Romo's game.
Here are the quarterbacks we like less than the consensus:
- Tony Romo
- Michael Vick
- Sam Bradford (already played Thursday night)
- Terrelle Pryor (concussion)
- EJ Manuel
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($13,650)
The Vikings defense made Brian Hoyer look like Bernie Kosar last week, so expect Big Ben and his returning weapons to have their best day yet. Heath Miller (knee) is healthy, and Le'Veon Bell (foot) should make his official NFL debut. This can mean 325 yards and three touchdowns for a quarterback listed at a nice discount.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens ($10,800)
If you like a bargain, go with Flacco against a Bills defense that is in the bottom 10 of fantasy against opposing quarterbacks. Even rookie Geno Smith had a big day against the Bills. Flacco is one of the cheapest options on the board, and his matchup and the questionable health of his running backs should put the game in his hands.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals ($12,800)
For the reasons stated above, Dalton is a nice buy at his price in salary-cap games this week. The Bengals are going to blow the Browns out with Dalton finding A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and his two tight ends for plenty of fantasy points.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||vs. Phi||1||0|
|2||Drew Brees||NO||vs. Mia||2||0|
|3||Andrew Luck||Ind||at Jac||9||+6|
|4||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. NE||5||+1|
|5||Tom Brady||NE||at Atl||8||+3|
|6||Robert Griffin||Was||at Oak||6||0|
|7||Russell Wilson||Sea||at Hou||11||+4|
|8||Matthew Stafford||Det||vs. Chi||7||-1|
|9||Tony Romo||Dal||at SD||3||-6|
|10||Colin Kaepernick||SF||at StL||10||0|
|11||Philip Rivers||SD||vs. Dal||12||+1|
|12||Michael Vick||Phi||at Den||4||-8|
|13||Andy Dalton||Cin||at Cle||17||+4|
|14||Jay Cutler||Chi||at Det||13||-1|
|15||Alex Smith||KC||vs. NYG||16||+1|
|16||Ben Roethlisberger||Pit||at Min||14||-2|
|17||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Buf||20||+3|
|18||Matt Schaub||Hou||vs. Sea||24||+6|
|19||Eli Manning||NYG||at KC||19||0|
|20||Carson Palmer||Ari||at TB||22||+2|
|21||Sam Bradford||StL||vs. SF||18||-3|
|22||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||at NO||21||-1|
|23||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. Was||15||-8|
|24||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Ari||31||+7|
|25||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Ten||25||0|
|26||EJ Manuel||Buf||vs. Bal||23||-3|
|27||Blaine Gabbert||Jac||vs. Ind||34||+7|
|28||Jake Locker||Ten||vs. NYJ||27||-1|
|29||Brian Hoyer||Cle||vs. Cin||26||-3|
|30||Matt Cassel||Min||vs. Pit||35||+5|
We finally got the elite numbers we expected out of Frank Gore on Thursday night, as he abused a Rams run defense that has allowed the most points to running backs in fantasy this season. Now we get to see if the putrid Steelers running game can show some life with rookie Le'Veon Bell against the fourth-worst team in fantasy against running backs, Minnesota.
Both the Ravens, evermore
The Bills made Bilal Powell look like Curtis Martin last week, so the Ravens' running back tandem of Ray Rice (hip) and Bernard Pierce should both be active, assuming Rice plays. He has practiced this week, and NFL insider Albert Breer reports the injury isn't more than a matter of pain tolerance. Judging by Rice's durability over his career, he can handle the pain.
Foster: American for start every week
There have been some Twitter questions flowing into my stream about sitting Arian Foster because the Seahawks run defense is tough. Yes, it is, but no, you don't. The Texans are still a run-first team, and Foster is their No. 1 weapon.
Keep him active through thick and thin, as long as he is healthy. He is going to get into the end zone, and he is better than your alternatives, guaranteed. You drafted Foster to carry you this season. He cannot do that on your bench.
Week 4 sleepers
The Broncos running backs have been a constant headache, but we still see Knowshon Moreno as the only one to trust. Ronnie Hillman scored last week in garbage time, while Montee Ball fumbled again. Moreno is going to be the back who gets all of the important carries for the Broncos, and we have a feeling Chip Kelly's uptempo style is going to be the first that can keep up with Peyton Manning's arsenal.
Moreno is among the backs we like more than the consensus this week:
- Frank Gore (already played Thursday night)
- Arian Foster
- Ray Rice
- Bernard Pierce
- Knowshon Moreno
Week 4 duds
Reggie Bush (knee) is not 100 percent, Joique Bell has shared time with him even when Bush was healthy, and the Bears run defense is a lot better than anyone thinks—they have been fifth best in fantasy to date. You have to start Bush if he plays, particularly in point-per-reception formats, but you should temper expectations in this matchup.
Here are the other backs we like less than the consensus below:
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders ($12,450)
He has a bad offense and a banged-up Terrelle Pryor (concussion), but the Redskins defense has been a sieve. Washington is third worst in fantasy against running backs, and "Run DMC" is going to have one of his rare elite weeks to the tune of 100 yards and two touchdowns. He will be a factor in the passing game, too.
David Wilson, New York Giants ($7,400)
This is a complete shot in the dark, but the downtrodden Giants need a spark, and Wilson is lightning in a bottle. That's some spark. Their bad offensive line and error-prone Eli Manning should force Kevin Gilbride to call more of Wilson's number against a good Chiefs defense.
They should stay stubborn with this back, because after 10 carries for 11 yards, he can pop a 60-yard touchdown. It is time for the Giants to feed their one chance at respectability.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots ($7,600)
This one is definitely not about his recent production or matchup. It is more about how good Ridley can be and how much the Pats need their running game. Ridley will eventually bust some big runs and be a 100-yard, two-touchdown back. It happens this week in a Pats game that finally goes into the big numbers.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. NYG||2||+1|
|2||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Pit||1||-1|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at Den||3||0|
|4||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Jac||10||+6|
|5||Doug Martin||TB||vs. Ari||5||0|
|6||Frank Gore||SF||at StL||11||+5|
|7||Alfred Morris||Was||at Oak||6||-1|
|8||Matt Forte||Chi||at Det||4||-4|
|9||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Hou||7||-2|
|10||Arian Foster||Hou||vs. Sea||12||+2|
|11||DeMarco Murray||Dal||at SD||8||-3|
|12||Ray Rice||Bal||at Buf||20||+8|
|13||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. NYJ||13||0|
|14||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Buf||22||+8|
|15||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. Bal||15||0|
|16||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. Was||9||-7|
|17||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Phi||23||+6|
|18||Reggie Bush||Det||vs. Chi||14||-4|
|19||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Ten||17||-2|
|20||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. Ind||16||-4|
|21||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Cle||19||-2|
|22||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Mia||18||-4|
|23||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Dal||27||+4|
|24||Lamar Miller||Mia||at NO||21||-3|
|25||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Atl||24||-1|
|26||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||at Min||34||+8|
|27||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. NE||32||+5|
|28||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Cle||36||+8|
|29||Joique Bell||Det||vs. Chi||25||-4|
|30||David Wilson||NYG||at KC||26||-4|
|31||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Cin||40||+9|
|32||Daniel Thomas||Mia||at NO||43||+11|
|33||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. SF||30||-3|
|34||Fred Jackson||Buf||vs. Bal||28||-6|
|35||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||at TB||33||-2|
|36||Ronnie Hillman||Den||vs. Phi||45||+9|
|37||Brandon Bolden||NE||at Atl||39||+2|
|38||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Mia||35||-3|
|39||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Sea||37||-2|
|40||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Atl||59||+19|
|41||Isaiah Pead||StL||vs. SF||42||+1|
|42||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. NE||31||-11|
|43||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Phi||41||-2|
|44||Kendall Hunter||SF||at StL||61||+17|
|45||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Dal||38||-7|
|46||Michael Bush||Chi||at Det||50||+4|
|47||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Dal||69||+22|
|48||Jordan Todman||Jac||vs. Ind||64||+16|
|49||Chris Ivory||NYJ||at Ten||46||-3|
|50||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Hou||58||+8|
|51||Bryce Brown||Phi||at Den||44||-7|
|52||Marcel Reece||Oak||vs. Was||47||-5|
|53||Roy Helu||Was||at Oak||62||+9|
|54||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Cin||51||-3|
|55||Jonathan Dwyer||Pit||at Min||55||0|
|56||Felix Jones||Pit||at Min||49||-7|
|57||Alfonso Smith||Ari||at TB||68||+11|
|58||Andre Ellington||Ari||at TB||48||-10|
|59||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Mia||53||-6|
|60||Knile Davis||KC||vs. NYG||75||+15|
A shin injury sounds painful, because getting kicked there stinks. Ask any soccer player. They fold like a tent anytime it happens and act like someone severed their leg at the knee.
Andre Johnson is figuratively lying on the ground writhing in pain over his shin injury, which is convenient because the Seahawks defense is on tap. That is a tough matchup for anyone.
We kid, here. Johnson is not dogging it because of the difficultly of the matchup; we just don't see a bruised shin as a reason to miss such an important test this week. Keep Johnson active, even if he reportedly is a game-time decision. He told ESPN's Tania Ganguli he is going to play.
Expect Moore fantasy points against Washington
The Redskins have been the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, and Denarius Moore has been hot of late. He had a bad training camp, according to Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com, but Terrelle Pryor has injected life into the Raiders offense and Moore. Consider him a solid start in all leagues, especially in this matchup, regardless of whether Pryor plays.
Matchups to avoid
The Seahawks and Steelers are the best two defenses in fantasy against wide receivers. We already said you cannot holster your big Johnson, but DeAndre Hopkins of Houston and the Vikings' Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson are bad plays this week. Hopkins is only an option to you if Johnson sits, which we already said he won't.
Week 4 sleepers
Those early-season struggles with health should be subsiding by now. With that in mind, we advise you to start your banged-up stud receivers like Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring), Johnson (shin) and Roddy White (ankle). Yes, even White. He said it would take a month, and this is four weeks in.
Here are the five receivers we like more than a handful of spots better than the consensus:
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Marques Colston
- Andre Johnson
- Josh Gordon
- Julian Edelman
Week 4 duds
The Eagles have been the third-worst team in fantasy against receivers, so there is no reason to sit any of your elite Broncos receivers. You just cannot be sure which one is going to be a superstar. It is most likely they are all good but not great on a weekly basis. There shouldn't be anyone left behind like Eric Decker was early, at least, though.
The Broncos receivers pepper the players we like less than a handful of spots than the consensus:
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens ($10,800)
Smith hasn't been a high-volume guy yet, but the Bills defense made Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill look like megastars last week. Smith should be good for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns here, which makes him a great buy at this price.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs ($9,050)
Everyone hating on Bowe thus far because of Alex Smith's (lack of) arm strength are either going to love this writer or hate him if you follow this advice. The Giants secondary is not only banged up, it is terrible, too. If Donnie Avery can go over 140 yards with Smith slinging slants and stops, so can Bowe. Andy Reid knows how to get the ball to his top weapons, and rest assured Bowe is still that.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders ($7,800)
He likely needs Pryor to play in order to truly star, but Moore is a great value at this price no matter who plays quarterback. Like we said above, the Redskins secondary has been the worst in fantasy. Robert Griffin III is going to put up big points, so expect Moore to be a frequent target as the Raiders play catch-up.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Julio Jones||Atl||vs. NE||4||+3|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dal||at SD||2||0|
|3||Calvin Johnson||Det||vs. Chi||1||-2|
|4||A.J. Green||Cin||at Cle||6||+2|
|5||Brandon Marshall||Chi||at Det||5||0|
|6||Demaryius Thomas||Den||vs. Phi||3||-3|
|7||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at Den||7||0|
|8||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||at TB||14||+6|
|9||Marques Colston||NO||vs. Mia||16||+7|
|10||Andre Johnson||Hou||vs. Sea||19||+9|
|11||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Cin||18||+7|
|12||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Buf||11||-1|
|13||Wes Welker||Den||vs. Phi||8||-5|
|14||Julian Edelman||NE||at Atl||23||+9|
|15||Victor Cruz||NYG||at KC||10||-5|
|16||Antonio Brown||Pit||at Min||13||-3|
|17||Reggie Wayne||Ind||at Jac||12||-5|
|18||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Oak||9||-9|
|19||Roddy White||Atl||vs. NE||33||+14|
|20||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||at KC||25||+5|
|21||Steve Johnson||Buf||vs. Bal||22||+1|
|22||Eric Decker||Den||vs. Phi||15||-7|
|23||Mike Wallace||Mia||at NO||21||-2|
|24||Anquan Boldin||SF||at StL||20||-4|
|25||Cecil Shorts||Jac||vs. Ind||26||+1|
|26||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||at Jac||27||+1|
|27||Dwayne Bowe||KC||vs. NYG||24||-3|
|28||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||at Ten||41||+13|
|29||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Ari||17||-12|
|30||Eddie Royal||SD||vs. Dal||34||+4|
|31||Sidney Rice||Sea||at Hou||49||+18|
|32||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. Was||35||+3|
|33||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. SF||31||-2|
|34||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||vs. Sea||32||-2|
|35||Miles Austin||Dal||at SD||37||+2|
|36||Donnie Avery||KC||vs. NYG||50||+14|
|37||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Pit||43||+6|
|38||Brian Hartline||Mia||at NO||28||-10|
|39||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||at Min||36||-3|
|40||Mike Williams||TB||vs. Ari||30||-10|
|41||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Atl||29||-12|
|42||Vincent Brown||SD||vs. Dal||53||+11|
|43||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. NYJ||48||+5|
|44||Golden Tate||Sea||at Hou||40||-4|
|45||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. NYJ||60||+15|
|46||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Cle||56||+10|
|47||Jason Avant||Phi||at Den||69||+22|
|48||Lance Moore||NO||vs. Mia||54||+6|
|49||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Ten||44||-5|
|50||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Buf||42||-8|
|51||Andre Roberts||Ari||at TB||51||0|
|52||Rueben Randle||NYG||at KC||57||+5|
|53||Chris Givens||StL||vs. SF||38||-15|
|54||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at Det||46||-8|
|55||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. NYJ||55||0|
|56||Michael Floyd||Ari||at TB||39||-17|
|57||Robert Woods||Buf||vs. Bal||63||+6|
|58||Ryan Broyles||Det||vs. Chi||45||-13|
|59||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Ten||79||+20|
|60||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. SF||68||+8|
|61||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. Mia||76||+15|
|62||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. NE||64||+2|
|63||Riley Cooper||Phi||at Den||73||+10|
|64||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. Was||52||-12|
|65||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Hou||61||-4|
|66||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Cle||93||+27|
|67||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at Jac||62||-5|
|68||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Atl||47||-21|
|69||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Pit||72||+3|
|70||Robert Meachem||NO||vs. Mia||95||+25|
|71||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Cin||70||-1|
|72||Santana Moss||Was||at Oak||59||-13|
|73||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. NYJ||82||+9|
|74||Keenan Allen||SD||vs. Dal||77||+3|
|75||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Cin||75||0|
It has been believed that prime time at Atlanta would mark the long-awaited return of Rob Gronkowski (back, arm) for the New England Patriots and fantasy owners.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is not optimistic, though.
Gronk has been playing Bill Belichick-coy with the media, including The Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young, and the Patriots are always secretive about injuries. It will be tough to trust Gronk to return Sunday night, although missing the plane trip to Atlanta on Saturday could make the decision academic for fantasy owners.
If you hope to have him active, you will need to insure him with Pats backup tight end Zach Sudfeld or perhaps the Dolphins' Charles Clay, who plays Monday night at New Orleans.
It's Miller time
The Steelers have long waited for some good news amid their 0-3 start, and they get it with the return of Heath Miller from reconstructive knee surgery. The Steelers have relied heavily on Ben Roethlisberger in the early going, and Miller returned with 35 yards last week.
He will find the end zone against a Vikings defense that has been second worst in fantasy against tight ends to date, allowing a league-high six touchdowns. Jordan Cameron had three last week, Martellus Bennett had two in Week 2 and rookie Joseph Fauria had one in Week 1. Following the transitive property, that means Miller is going for four in Week 4 (half-kidding)!
Ignore the matchup and keep "Gonzo" going
Tony Gonzalez has gotten off to a disappointing start for fantasy owners, and he has to face a Patriots defense that has been No. 1 in fantasy against tight ends. But you don't sit this guy in prime time, particularly in a potential Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan shootout.
Roddy White (ankle) is not 100 percent, and Gonzo should be a factor in the red zone against a Pats secondary that hasn't faced even a decent quarterback yet. EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and Josh Freeman are two rookies and a guy who has already been benched for a rookie. Yucky!
Week 4 sleepers
Joseph Fauria offers more than just trendy dance moves. After all, you have to get into the end zone to be able to dance in it. He has done that in the preseason and now the early going, which makes Brandon Pettigrew one of the biggest fantasy wastes of space.
Fauria is among the tight ends we like significantly more than the consensus:
- Tony Gonzalez
- Owen Daniels
- Kyle Rudolph
- Joseph Fauria
- Zach Miller
Week 4 duds
The crazy numbers for tight ends slowed a week ago, save for Cameron's pending enshrinement in the Hall of Fame (another half-kidding joke). The early sleepers of Julius Thomas, Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook (who already played on Thursday night) are going to regress to decent but not great fantasy options.
They are among the tight ends we like more than a couple of spots less than the masses:
- Julius Thomas
- Martellus Bennett
- Jared Cook (already stunk it up against the 49ers)
- Charles Clay
- Brandon Pettigrew
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons ($8,700)
His slow start puts him well under value, along with what appears to be the unfavorable matchup. Gonzo will show up in prime time as Ryan and Brady put on a Sunday night show in a game that will get loose. Gonzo is a must-have at this price.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers ($7,350)
The matchup and the Steelers' use of the tight end in Todd Haley's dink-and-dunk offense make Miller a great value if you are short on a few dollars to buy Gonzo. Miller is going to get some of the throws and scores that went to Antonio Brown in his huge Week 3 performance.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts ($7,250)
When Dwayne Allen (hip) went down for the season, Fleener was due to rise to the top 10 among fantasy tight ends. The first matchup sans Allen came against the tough 49ers defense, so Fleener's true value has been hidden for one week. It won't be hidden here. He gets in the end zone twice against the lowly Jags, who made Zach Miller a fantasy name again last week.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||vs. Mia||1||0|
|2||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Cin||4||+2|
|3||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. NE||6||+3|
|4||Jason Witten||Dal||at SD||2||-2|
|5||Antonio Gates||SD||vs. Dal||5||0|
|6||Julius Thomas||Den||vs. Phi||3||-3|
|7||Owen Daniels||Hou||vs. Sea||11||+4|
|8||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at Atl||7||-1|
|9||Vernon Davis||SF||at StL||8||-1|
|10||Coby Fleener||Ind||at Jac||12||+2|
|11||Kyle Rudolph||Min||vs. Pit||16||+5|
|12||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at Det||9||-3|
|13||Jared Cook||StL||vs. SF||10||-3|
|14||Heath Miller||Pit||at Min||14||0|
|15||Brandon Myers||NYG||at KC||13||-2|
|16||Joseph Fauria||Det||vs. Chi||33||+17|
|17||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||at Cle||18||+1|
|18||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Cle||20||+2|
|19||Scott Chandler||Buf||vs. Bal||19||0|
|20||Charles Clay||Mia||at NO||15||-5|
|21||Zach Miller||Sea||at Hou||27||+6|
|22||Brent Celek||Phi||at Den||17||-5|
|23||Rob Housler||Ari||at TB||25||+2|
|24||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||at Ten||24||0|
|25||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Buf||23||-2|
|26||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||vs. Chi||22||-4|
|27||Fred Davis||Was||at Oak||31||+4|
|28||Zach Ertz||Phi||at Den||29||+1|
|29||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||vs. Ind||34||+5|
|30||Anthony Fasano||KC||vs. NYG||28||-2|
This has shaped up to be a good week for the fantasy owners who like to stream defenses. The 3-0 Chiefs have played well in the early going, and they draw the most generous team in fantasy against opposing D/STs, the New York Giants. Thank you, Mr. Pick Six, Eli Manning!
Best of the streaming D/STs
The Ravens, Jets and Steelers—and perhaps even the Cardinals (versus rookie quarterback Mike Glennon), Bucs and Colts—are viable options to fantasy owners.
Send them to the scrap heap
With all of the streaming options available and the fact you should try to avoid sucking up two roster spots with D/STs, you should feel inclined to cut these defenses that shouldn't be active for you this week: New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants.
Week 4 sleepers
The Bucs have made a change at quarterback, so expect them to play a lot more conservatively with the rookie Glennon. It should help a good run defense and much-improved secondary, thanks to Darrelle Revis, to prove fantasy worthy against an error-prone quarterback like Carson Palmer.
The Bucs are among the options we like a handful of spots better than the consensus:
- Houston Texans
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New Orleans Saints
- Washington Redskins
- San Diego Chargers
Week 4 duds
The Bears made Ben Roethlisberger and a Steelers offense look like Terry Bradshaw and the '70s version of the Steelers. It shouldn't keep you from considering Chicago a starting D/ST, but it could be a mediocre week for it against the potent Lions offense.
The Bears are among the units we like a few spots less than the masses:
- Chicago Bears
- Indianapolis Colts
- Minnesota Vikings
- New England Patriots
- Cleveland Browns
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Kansas City Chiefs ($5,700)
You might as well go with the top fantasy defense thus far against the team that has been the most generous against opposing D/STs. This is a middling price for a unit we rank as the best of Week 4.
New York Jets ($5,000)
It apparently is going to take some time for the Jets to earn true respect after last season's debacle. They rank as the second-to-last unit on the price list, but they are much better than that.
Baltimore Ravens ($5,550)
Some poor early-season performances have dragged this unit's price down. The struggling Bills figure to make the Ravens a nice value pick this week.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||vs. NYG||3||+2|
|2||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||at Cle||2||0|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at Hou||1||-2|
|4||San Francisco 49ers||SF||at StL||7||+3|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Buf||6||+1|
|6||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. Phi||5||-1|
|7||Chicago Bears||Chi||at Det||4||-3|
|8||Houston Texans||Hou||vs. Sea||13||+5|
|9||New York Jets||NYJ||at Ten||12||+3|
|10||Pittsburgh Steelers||Pit||at Min||11||+1|
|11||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||at TB||10||-1|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. Ari||17||+5|
|13||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||at Jac||8||-5|
|14||Minnesota Vikings||Min||vs. Pit||9||-5|
|15||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. Mia||20||+5|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||at SD||15||-1|
|17||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. NYJ||16||-1|
|18||St. Louis Rams||StL||vs. SF||18||0|
|19||Washington Redskins||Was||at Oak||26||+7|
|20||San Diego Chargers||SD||vs. Dal||27||+7|
|21||New England Patriots||NE||at Atl||14||-7|
|22||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. NE||22||0|
|23||Cleveland Browns||Cle||vs. Cin||19||-4|
|24||Miami Dolphins||Mia||at NO||21||-3|
|25||New York Giants||NYG||at KC||25||0|
|26||Oakland Raiders||Oak||vs. Was||28||+2|
|27||Detroit Lions||Det||vs. Chi||23||-4|
|28||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jac||vs. Ind||30||+2|
|29||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at Den||29||0|
|30||Buffalo Bills||Buf||vs. Bal||24||-6|
Fantasy owners are giving up on Justin Tucker, but that is a mistake right before he gets healthy against the Bills.
Phil Dawson and Greg Zuerlein both laid eggs on Thursday night, which makes them shaky fantasy options going forward. They were supposed to contend for the top spot at the position. Nope.
Like always, kicker performance is tightly connected to the quarterbacks, and Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford are not setting the world on fire.
Bills matchup comes Justin time
Justin Tucker was a premium pick at the position like Dawson and Zuerlein above, but he stands a much better chance at a turnaround this week against the Bills, who are the second-worst team in fantasy against kickers. Tucker was dropped in many leagues, so pick him back up for this matchup.
Starting 'Fins rookie would be dome decision
Caleb Sturgis has been a pleasant surprise, along with the Dolphins' whole offense, and a Week 4 game in the Superdome looks favorable. Maybe. The Saints have been the No. 1 team against kickers, and Rob Ryan has turned their defensive fortunes around. Sturgis is a low-end play here, barely cracking the starting options in standard 12-team leagues.
Week 4 sleepers
Matt Bryant has gotten off to a slow start, but the Falcons offense figures to press the issue against the Pats secondary in a shootout on Sunday night. That should open things up for Bryant, who has been dropped in many leagues.
Here are the kickers we like better than the consensus this week:
- Matt Bryant
- Blair Walsh
- Justin Tucker
- Phil Dawson (whoopsy!)
- Greg Zuerlein (whoopsy No. 2!)
Week 4 duds
Matt Prater faces the Eagles defense that has allowed the most points to kickers to date. You have to keep him active, though, even if he only kicks five extra points. The Broncos are too potent, especially at home against a bad defense.
Prater leads the kickers we like less than the masses:
- Matt Prater
- Dan Bailey
- Garrett Hartley
- Sebastian Janikowski
- Alex Henery
Three DraftDay.com bargains
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens ($5,500)
His slow start ends this week. He will be good for four field goals and a handful of extra points as the week's highest-scoring kicker.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons ($5,400)
His slow start has him as one of the cheapest kickers on the board. The Falcons vs. Pats game is going to light up the scoreboard on Sunday night, and Bryant will benefit to the tune of three field goals and three PATs.
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs ($5,500)
The soaring Chiefs against the flailing Giants is a matchup made in heaven. Succop is a lot closer to the elite of kickers than most might think.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at Atl||2||+1|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||vs. Phi||1||-1|
|3||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. NE||4||+1|
|4||Blair Walsh||Min||vs. Pit||6||+2|
|5||Dan Bailey||Dal||at SD||3||-2|
|6||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Buf||7||+1|
|7||Garrett Hartley||NO||vs. Mia||5||-2|
|8||Phil Dawson||SF||at StL||9||+1|
|9||Greg Zuerlein||StL||vs. SF||10||+1|
|10||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. Was||8||-2|
|11||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||at NO||17||+6|
|12||Nick Novak||SD||vs. Dal||19||+7|
|13||Alex Henery||Phi||at Den||12||-1|
|14||Robbie Gould||Chi||at Det||13||-1|
|15||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||at Jac||16||+1|
|16||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. NYG||15||-1|
|17||Randy Bullock||Hou||vs. Sea||18||+1|
|18||Mike Nugent||Cin||at Cle||23||+5|
|19||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at Hou||11||-8|
|20||David Akers||Det||vs. Chi||14||-6|
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.