Fantasy Football Week 4 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Sometimes you have to put your fantasy picks where you never intended.
Week 4, the start of the bye season, is time for that—especially with regard to your Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller and the defensive/special teams).
Fantasy has a funny roller-coaster nature to it.
It also leaves you holding your breath, like the owners of Rob Gronkowski (back/arm) and Danny Amendola (groin) might be doing all day Sunday before the nightcap in Atlanta. We prescribe a plan of action on Gronk and avoiding Amendola all together.
We have your starts, sits and updated Week 4 rankings position by position right here in this must-read slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Start Big Ben Roethlisberger in London; Sit Eli Manning
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
You don't need a road map to see how advantageous the Vikings defense is. It made Brian Hoyer look good, so expect Big Ben coming off a 400-plus-yard game against a good Bears defense to have a field day in London.
The return of Le'Veon Bell (foot) and Heath Miller (knee) will only help. It is going to be a big week for your Steelers. Start Big Ben and reap the rewards.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns have only allowed two touchdown passes this season, but Dalton is finally playing a team he can take advantage of. The Bengals have started out with a relatively tough schedule, and they might be engaging in a surprising shootout here. The Browns have a good run defense and will take the run away, while the Bengals will be without three core defensive backs.
Expect this game to bust the over and for Dalton to get sleepers like Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert involved. This is the deepest set of targets Dalton has had yet, and it will be his best week too.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
We are staying stubborn with the player who let so many of us down in Week 3 at Tennessee. The Chargers are back home and facing a potent Cowboys team that can push the score better than the Titans did a week ago.
Rivers passed only six times in the second half because the Chargers were trying to hold on to a lead and grind the clock. That won't happen against the Cowboys, who have been the sixth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks. And they haven't even played a good one yet.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
If this one isn't apparent right now, we have nothing for you. Manning has been a turnover and sack machine behind an offensive line missing three starters. That is a recipe for disaster, and that is what Manning has been.
Oh, the Chiefs just happen to have been a top-10 team in fantasy against quarterbacks through three weeks too.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Everyone was loving Palmer as a sleeper coming into the year, and his Week 1 showcase with Larry Fitzgerald made them look like a match made in fantasy heaven. That hasn't been the case. Now the Cardinals travel to Tampa Bay to face a defense that is hungry and much better than anyone anticipated.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be necessary to say, but Locker is coming off a shocking performance against the Chargers that made him look like Steve McNair, picking up 68 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. He also orchestrated a last-minute comeback.
He has to face an underrated Jets defense now, though. The Jets are the fifth-best team in fantasy against quarterbacks, having frustrated even the likes of Tom Brady. Locker is in for a long, bad day.
|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 III||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||18||+1|
|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||20||-1|
|22||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||at NO||21||-1|
|23||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. Was||15||-8|
|24||Mike Glennon||TB||vs. Ari||30||+6|
|25||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Ten||27||+2|
|26||EJ Manuel||Buf||vs. Bal||23||-3|
|27||Blaine Gabbert||Jac||vs. Ind||35||+8|
|28||Jake Locker||Ten||vs. NYJ||28||0|
|29||Brian Hoyer||Cle||vs. Cin||26||-3|
|30||Matt Cassel||Min||vs. Pit||31||+1|
Running Backs: Start Bernard Pierce, Sit Stevan Ridley
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice (hip) is a game-time decision in the truest sense of the term, according to the AP's Matt Zenitz, but Pierce should be starting in all fantasy lineups regardless of Rice's status. Pierce will get 60 yards and a touchdown even if a ginger Rice starts for the Ravens against a Bills run defense that has given up the second-most rushing yards per game in the NFL through three weeks (155).
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
The 149 yards rushing last week is one thing, but the fact that Chris Ivory (hamstring) is out is the best news for Powell owners. The Titans also have given up the 10th-most points to fantasy running backs through three games. The Jets are going to pound them on the ground with the emerging Powell. Keep him active in all leagues.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders offense has shown a lot more spunk than anyone could have imagined. The Redskins have also been brutally bad on defense. Even if they are a lot better on run defense than they have shown—third worst in fantasy against running backs to date—a healthy McFadden is far too good to sit.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags haven't gotten anything done offensively, but MJD has at least proven healthy in the early part of the season. This should be his best game to the tune of 100 yards and a touchdown. If you cannot start him at home against the Indy run defense, you cannot start him against anyone.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
He will eventually get going for the Pats, but don't expect it to happen here. The Falcons have a very good run defense and are currently fifth best in fantasy against running backs, allowing under 80 total yards rushing per game. You shouldn't feel threatened by the likes of plodder LeGarrette Blount or the spry Brandon Bolden as much as the Falcons as an opponent this week.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
He has been productive in the passing game, so the Bears run defense shouldn't scare you too much. The bad news is Reggie Bush (knee) is expected to play. In an important division game against a rugged defense, expect Bush to do all of the lifting and Bell to be minimized.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
BGE and rookie Giovani Bernard have both been solid performers in tandem for fantasy owners, but don't count on that this week. The one thing the Browns do on an elite level is stop the run, so expect BGE to get gummed up for 14 carries, 35 yards and no scores. You should start Bernard amid his hot start but not BGE here.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
He has gotten a lot more work than anyone expected, and C.J. Spiller (thigh) was banged up in the last game. The Bills' best attack on offense is staying stubborn with the run, but that will be tough against a Ravens defense that is one of only two in the NFL that has yet to allow a touchdown to a running back. Start Spiller through thick and thin, but expect a mere 50 combined yards from Spiller's backup.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jamaal Charles||KC||vs. NYG||1||0|
|2||Adrian Peterson||Min||vs. Pit||2||0|
|3||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at Den||3||0|
|4||Trent Richardson||Ind||at Jac||9||+5|
|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||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. NYJ||14||+2|
|13||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Buf||21||+8|
|14||C.J. Spiller||Buf||vs. Bal||15||+1|
|15||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. Was||10||-5|
|16||Knowshon Moreno||Den||vs. Phi||22||+6|
|17||Reggie Bush||Det||vs. Chi||13||-4|
|18||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Ten||17||-1|
|19||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||vs. Ind||16||-3|
|20||Giovani Bernard||Cin||at Cle||19||-1|
|21||Darren Sproles||NO||vs. Mia||18||-3|
|22||Ryan Mathews||SD||vs. Dal||27||+5|
|23||Lamar Miller||Mia||at NO||20||-3|
|24||Ray Rice||Bal||at Buf||23||-1|
|25||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Atl||24||-1|
|26||Le'Veon Bell||Pit||at Min||32||+6|
|27||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. NE||31||+4|
|28||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||at Cle||35||+7|
|29||Joique Bell||Det||vs. Chi||25||-4|
|30||David Wilson||NYG||at KC||26||-4|
|31||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Cin||39||+8|
|32||Daniel Thomas||Mia||at NO||42||+10|
|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||44||+8|
|37||Brandon Bolden||NE||at Atl||40||+3|
|38||Pierre Thomas||NO||vs. Mia||34||-4|
|39||Ben Tate||Hou||vs. Sea||36||-3|
|40||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Atl||59||+19|
|41||Isaiah Pead||StL||vs. SF||43||+2|
|42||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. NE||29||-13|
|43||Montee Ball||Den||vs. Phi||41||-2|
|44||Kendall Hunter||SF||at StL||62||+18|
|45||Danny Woodhead||SD||vs. Dal||37||-8|
|46||Michael Bush||Chi||at Det||50||+4|
|47||Ronnie Brown||SD||vs. Dal||68||+21|
|48||Jordan Todman||Jac||vs. Ind||64||+16|
|49||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Hou||58||+9|
|50||Bryce Brown||Phi||at Den||45||-5|
|51||Marcel Reece||Oak||vs. Was||46||-5|
|52||Roy Helu||Was||at Oak||60||+8|
|53||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Cin||51||-2|
|54||Jonathan Dwyer||Pit||at Min||54||0|
|55||Felix Jones||Pit||at Min||49||-6|
|56||Alfonso Smith||Ari||at TB||72||+16|
|57||Andre Ellington||Ari||at TB||48||-9|
|58||Mark Ingram||NO||vs. Mia||53||-5|
|59||Knile Davis||KC||vs. NYG||77||+18|
|60||Jackie Battle||Ten||vs. NYJ||67||+7|
Wide Receivers: Start Denarius Moore, Sit Brian Hartline
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
You might think Moore needs Terrelle Pryor (concussion) at 100 percent because they have such a good thing going, but it might not matter here. The Redskins have been the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, allowing a league-high 801 yards and five touchdowns through three games. Moore is coming off a big Monday night performance against a much better Broncos secondary. Get him active in all leagues.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
He has not gotten into the end zone yet, but Joe Flacco's leading receiver is on pace for a career high in catches (85) and yards (1,434). Throw 10 touchdowns onto those numbers, and you have a fantasy superstar. Against the Bills, you might see season highs of eight catches for 100 yards and multiple touchdowns.
The Bills have been the fourth-most generous team to wide receivers in fantasy. Smith is a must-start.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Coming off a huge week against the Bears (nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns), Brown is a must-start. He won't get to those totals again, but the Vikings are missing a starting corner, and they have allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL. It should be a field day for Ben Roethlisberger and Co.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
He is just a second-year receiver, but his second game of the season should be another bountiful one. You have to start him after his season debut, which saw him go for 10 catches, 146 yards and a touchdown. He even helped make Brian Hoyer look capable.
The Bengals have a solid secondary, but they are without three core defensive backs: corner Dre Kirkpatrick, safety Reggie Nelson and corner Leon Hall. Terence Newman (knee) isn't 100 percent either, and Brandon Ghee is coming off a concussion. It could be another surprising week for the Browns passing game.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
He seems to be overshadowed every week, but the good news is Robert Griffin III (knee) and Garcon (foot) are absent from the Redskins' injury report. Also, the Raiders are a bottom-10 team in fantasy against wide receivers. Expect a breakthrough week for your frustrating starter, Garcon.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Everyone is expecting big things out of Andrew Luck against a Jags secondary that has allowed five touchdown passes to wide receivers. Only the Patriots and Seahawks have allowed fewer receptions to wide receivers, but Hilton gets five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown here.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
For those not paying attention, the Saints defense under Rob Ryan is no longer one to take advantage of. The Saints have allowed just 184.3 passing yards per game, good for fourth in the NFL. Hartline is the Dolphins' most frequently targeted receiver (29 targets to Mike Wallace's 21), so expect Ryan to take him out of the equation this week.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Even if Andre Johnson (shin) is out, Hopkins will be a bad play against the Seahawks secondary. It can shut down anyone, especially a rookie receiver having to work with a mediocre quarterback in Matt Schaub.
The Texans' passing success is based off play action, and a tough Seahawks run defense won't have to bite out of the secondary. This will be the leanest week of the season for the emerging Hopkins.
Donnie Avery, Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone is hating on Dwayne Bowe because of Alex Smith's inability to get the ball downfield, and then everyone goes and picks up Avery in all leagues. You can use him against the Giants as a sleeper, but he isn't a starter if you are sitting Bowe. Avery is going to regress into the depths of fantasy receivers once Bowe gets incorporated into the offense. Believe that.
Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
Britt is in the doghouse amid a contract year and has a cracked rib. Wright, Washington and even Hunter (game-winning touchdown catch last week) have had their moments being Jake Locker's rotating favorite receiver. Locker and all of these receivers are going to find things much tougher against Rex Ryan and the Jets, who are annually a great team against wideouts.
|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||15||+7|
|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||12||-4|
|17||Reggie Wayne||Ind||at Jac||13||-4|
|18||Pierre Garcon||Was||at Oak||9||-9|
|19||Roddy White||Atl||vs. NE||32||+13|
|20||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||at KC||25||+5|
|21||Steve Johnson||Buf||vs. Bal||22||+1|
|22||Eric Decker||Den||vs. Phi||14||-8|
|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||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. Was||35||+8|
|28||Dwayne Bowe||KC||vs. NYG||24||-4|
|29||Santonio Holmes||NYJ||at Ten||40||+11|
|30||Vincent Jackson||TB||vs. Ari||17||-13|
|31||Eddie Royal||SD||vs. Dal||34||+3|
|32||Sidney Rice||Sea||at Hou||49||+17|
|33||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. SF||33||0|
|34||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||vs. Sea||31||-3|
|35||Donnie Avery||KC||vs. NYG||50||+15|
|36||Greg Jennings||Min||vs. Pit||42||+6|
|37||Brian Hartline||Mia||at NO||28||-9|
|38||Emmanuel Sanders||Pit||at Min||36||-2|
|39||Mike Williams||TB||vs. Ari||30||-9|
|40||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Atl||29||-11|
|41||Vincent Brown||SD||vs. Dal||53||+12|
|42||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. NYJ||48||+6|
|43||Golden Tate||Sea||at Hou||39||-4|
|44||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. NYJ||63||+19|
|45||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||at Cle||56||+11|
|46||Jason Avant||Phi||at Den||68||+22|
|47||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Ten||43||-4|
|48||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Buf||41||-7|
|49||Andre Roberts||Ari||at TB||52||+3|
|50||Rueben Randle||NYG||at KC||57||+7|
|51||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||at Det||45||-6|
|52||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. NYJ||54||+2|
|53||Chris Givens||StL||vs. SF||37||-16|
|54||Michael Floyd||Ari||at TB||38||-16|
|55||Dwayne Harris||Dal||at SD||73||+18|
|56||Lance Moore||NO||vs. Mia||55||-1|
|57||Robert Woods||Buf||vs. Bal||65||+8|
|58||Ryan Broyles||Det||vs. Chi||44||-14|
|59||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Ten||80||+21|
|60||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. SF||70||+10|
|61||Kenny Stills||NO||vs. Mia||75||+14|
|62||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. NE||66||+4|
|63||Riley Cooper||Phi||at Den||72||+9|
|64||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. Was||51||-13|
|65||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Hou||64||-1|
|66||Marvin Jones||Cin||at Cle||92||+26|
|67||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||at Jac||62||-5|
|68||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Atl||46||-22|
|69||Jerome Simpson||Min||vs. Pit||74||+5|
|70||Robert Meachem||NO||vs. Mia||93||+23|
|71||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Cin||69||-2|
|72||Santana Moss||Was||at Oak||60||-12|
|73||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. NYJ||77||+4|
|74||Keenan Allen||SD||vs. Dal||83||+9|
|75||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Cin||78||+3|
Tight Ends: Start Rob Gronkowski, but Be Sure to Back Him Up
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
The Boston Globe's Ben Volin has a source saying Gronk will play, and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald wrote the "outlook is not optimistic." Regardless, if Gronk gets on the plane to Atlanta on Saturday, expect him to play Sunday night. If he plays, he gets into the end zone—you heard it here first. Get him active.
If you are worried about late bad news, you can back up Gronk with Zach Sudfeld or Miami's Charles Clay, who plays Monday night. If you have waited on Gronk, you have had a second tight end on your roster anyway. Swap him out for Sudfeld or Clay as emergency Gronk replacements.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
The loss of Dwayne Allen (hip) for the season was overshadowed last week by the Colts' trade for Trent Richardson. With Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) out this week, Richardson stands to overshadow the sleeper that is Fleener again. Instead, Fleener will reach the end zone, perhaps even twice, like lowly Zach Miller did a week ago against the Jags.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
This is shaping up to be a coming-out party for the Steelers' Miller. Not only did he prove healthy last week with 35 yards, but he also gets a Vikings team that has allowed the second-most points to tight ends in fantasy through three games. The Vikings made Jordan Cameron look like a Hall of Famer last week, and they have given up six touchdowns to tight ends in the young season.
Brandon Myers, New York Giants
He has gotten off to a decent start, but most of his work has come in garbage time. Eli Manning has been a mess, and the Kansas City Chiefs defense has been good. The Chiefs are the fourth-best team in fantasy against tight ends through three games. Myers is a bad play with so many options emerging at the position.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
The Ravens have been the eighth-worst team in fantasy against tight ends, allowing big numbers to Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron on the young season, and Chandler proved healthy last week coming off reconstructive knee surgery.
The issue we see here is the Ravens are much better against tight ends than they have shown. They were No. 1 against the position last year, so ignore the poor start. They are going to get it figured out sans Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
He is coming off a surprising two-touchdown game against the Jags, but chalk that up to the Seahawks giving other teams things to prepare for inside the five. Those calls are going to be runs in more meaningful games.
The Texans have allowed just seven receptions to tight ends through three weeks. Only the Saints (six) and Jets (five), two Ryan-coached defenses, have allowed fewer.
|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||9||+1|
|9||Vernon Davis||SF||at StL||7||-2|
|10||Coby Fleener||Ind||at Jac||12||+2|
|11||Kyle Rudolph||Min||vs. Pit||16||+5|
|12||Martellus Bennett||Chi||at Det||8||-4|
|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||19||+2|
|18||Tyler Eifert||Cin||at Cle||20||+2|
|19||Scott Chandler||Buf||vs. Bal||17||-2|
|20||Charles Clay||Mia||at NO||15||-5|
|21||Zach Miller||Sea||at Hou||27||+6|
|22||Brent Celek||Phi||at Den||18||-4|
|23||Rob Housler||Ari||at TB||25||+2|
|24||Zach Sudfeld||NE||at Atl||26||+2|
|25||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||at Ten||24||-1|
|26||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Buf||23||-3|
|27||Fred Davis||Was||at Oak||32||+5|
|28||Zach Ertz||Phi||at Den||29||+1|
|29||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||vs. Ind||34||+5|
|30||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||vs. Chi||22||-8|
Defensive/Special Teams: Start Pittsburgh Steelers, Sit Minnesota Vikings
The Steelers have already been an underrated fantasy unit because of their so-so 2012. Their slow start to 2013 has made them even more under the radar. They turn it around here against the Vikings, who were the sixth-most favorable matchup for an opposing defensive unit coming into the week. Now, they are starting Matt Cassel for Christian Ponder (rib), which makes the Steelers even more intriguing.
They have gotten off to a bad start in the post-Ray Lewis era, but the Bills and a rookie quarterback should get them back into fantasy minds as a solid unit to trust. The Bills haven't been really error prone, but they haven't been all that productive either, particularly in the running game. Consider the Ravens a top-eight unit this week.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Giants have been the most forgiving team in fantasy against defenses thanks to the sack- and error-prone Eli Manning operating behind a banged-up offensive line. The Chiefs have been the most productive unit in fantasy too, which makes this "start" almost too obvious.
With so many solid streaming options available, you might not have to dip this deep into the defensive pool, but the Cardinals are playing a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start in Mike Glennon. That is reason enough to consider the Cards D/ST if you have the likes of the Panthers or Packers on bye, the Patriots facing the Falcons or the Dolphins facing the Saints.
Many have jumped on this unit because of the Steelers' struggles. Pittsburgh has been the second-worst team in fantasy against defenses to date. But we expect a Pittsburgh rebound, especially after watching the Vikings turn Brian Hoyer and the Browns into an offensive juggernaut. Ben Roethlisberger is not in Hoyer's league...and we mean that in the good way for Big Ben and the bad way for those hoping to score some points with the Vikings defense in fantasy.
New England Patriots
They have had their fantasy moments the past couple of years despite some issues in the secondary. Those issues have yet to rear their ugly head, but it needs reminding that EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and Josh Freeman aren't exactly Jim Kelly, Joe Namath and Steve Young. Matt Ryan is. It is a bad week to have the Pats defense, and that is not something we plan to say much this season (save for the Denver week).
They have held up nicely thus far, even beating the banged-up Falcons at home last week. Traveling to New Orleans to face Drew Brees in prime time will be a different story. Don't start Miami's defense in any leagues here. There are just too many solid streaming options to dump it for 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||8||+4|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Buf||5||0|
|6||Denver Broncos||Den||vs. Phi||6||0|
|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||10||0|
|11||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||at TB||9||-2|
|12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||vs. Ari||15||+3|
|13||Indianapolis Colts||Ind||at Jac||7||-6|
|14||Minnesota Vikings||Min||vs. Pit||11||-3|
|15||New Orleans Saints||NO||vs. Mia||19||+4|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||Dal||at SD||16||0|
|17||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. NYJ||14||-3|
|18||St. Louis Rams||StL||vs. SF||20||+2|
|19||Washington Redskins||Was||at Oak||26||+7|
|20||San Diego Chargers||SD||vs. Dal||27||+7|
|21||New England Patriots||NE||at Atl||17||-4|
|22||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. NE||22||0|
|23||Cleveland Browns||Cle||vs. Cin||18||-5|
|24||Miami Dolphins||Mia||at NO||23||-1|
|25||New York Giants||NYG||at KC||25||0|
|26||Oakland Raiders||Oak||vs. Was||28||+2|
|27||Detroit Lions||Det||vs. Chi||21||-6|
|28||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jac||vs. Ind||30||+2|
|29||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at Den||29||0|
|30||Buffalo Bills||Buf||vs. Bal||24||-6|
Kickers: Jump Back on Justin Tucker, Avoid Rookie Caleb Sturgis vs. New Orleans
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
The second-year kicker has gotten off to a disappointing start along with the entire Ravens offense, but the outlook is a lot better against the Bills. They have given up the second-most points to kickers in fantasy to date. Tucker is headed for a busy week.
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs' believers are slow to buy into Succop thus far this season. He is owned in just 14 percent of CBS Sports leagues and active in just 8 percent. The Giants have given up the most touchdowns through three weeks and are third worst in fantasy against kickers. It should be another great week for Succop loyalists.
Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints
He is one of those rare kickers who fantasy owners avoid because they are afraid of Drew Brees peppering the scoreboard with touchdowns and mere extra points. Well, the Dolphins have allowed the fourth-most field-goal attempts in the NFL through three games. Only the Eagles, Bucs and Chargers have allowed more. Hartley should get three-plus field goals to go with the touchdowns this week.
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
The rookie has displayed a strong and accurate leg, and the Dolphins offense has been a lot more productive than anyone could have envisioned in their 3-0 start. The problem is the Saints have played a lot better defense this year under Rob Ryan and have allowed the fewest points to kickers this season. It is a bad week to jump on the Sturgis bandwagon, which will get crowded as the season progresses.
Randy Bullock, Houston Texans
The first-year kicker corrected his misses from Week 2 to Week 3, but now the Seahawks defense looms. There is no reason to feel rushed to have Bullock in fantasy right now. He should be available next week off waivers.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
Last week was supposed to make him a star. Instead, it has him left on the scrap heap. Keep him there against the Texans defense, which is bound to play better than it has shown to date. There are too many more productive kickers facing better matchups to be leaving this guy in.
|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||Nick Novak||SD||vs. Dal||19||+8|
|12||Alex Henery||Phi||at Den||12||0|
|13||Robbie Gould||Chi||at Det||13||0|
|14||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||at Jac||16||+2|
|15||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. NYG||15||0|
|16||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||at NO||17||+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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!