Looking back at my Week Three Start 'Em, Sit 'Em post as I begin Week Four, and it was a pretty solid week.
The definite hits: Derrick Mason (start), Brent Celek (start), Denver D (start), Carson Palmer (sit), Ben Watson (sit), Donnie Avery (sit).
The definite misses: Trent Edwards (start), Dallas D (sit).
The ones I predicted relatively well but touchdowns (or lack thereof) skewed value: Steve Slaton (start), Cedric Benson (sit).
All in all, a pretty solid week, and hopefully most of the 157 comments on that post led to sound fantasy decision making for everyone.
And now, it’s time to do it all over again.
As we pointed out in our recently posted NFL Week Four TV schedule, odds, and picks post, the following teams all have byes this weekend: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles. Obviously keep that in mind when you’re setting your lineups.
And remember: I’m trying to avoid the obvious choices here and instead pinpoint guys that folks might be on the fence about. And as we do every week, I will do my absolute best to answer every question that comes through in the comment section.
[Editor's Note: At some point in the not-to-distant future, MSF will be holding special, "members-only" Sunday morning live chats to help you out with all of your last minute fantasy football decision making. We are going to be hosting these sessions at our new MSF community at Explodium.com.
I'll be writing a post at some point soon telling you about Explodium, but it's pretty bad ass. When you click on the link, you do have to sign up, but it's free... and trust me, the benefits are there well beyond our Sunday morning fantasy help.]
Now, onto the Week Four start ‘em, sit ‘em picks:
Week 4 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Start ‘Em: Eli Manning, New York Giants (at Kansas City)
Last week against Tampa Bay, Eli Manning completed only 14 passes for 161 yards but connected on two TD passes. The rapport that he is developing with Steve Smith is awesome for fantasy owners of both.
For the season, Manning now has five TD passes and only one INT, throwing two touchdowns in each of the past two weeks.
Kansas City is 20th in the NFL against the pass so far this year, and that includes one of their three games coming against the inept JaMarcus Russell. After Kevin Kolb torched the Chiefs last weekend, they have now given up five TD passes and intercepted only one.
The Giants are still a run-first team, but Eli will be able to pick his spots and have another solid day.
Eli Manning Week Four projection: 200 passing yards, 2 TDs
Other QBs I like in Week Four: Carson Palmer (@ CLE); Shaun Hill (vs STL); Jay Cutler (vs DET)
Sit ‘Em: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at Pittsburgh)
Philip Rivers was a revelation last season, tallying 4,000-plus yards and 34 TDs. So far in 2009, however, Rivers is only on pace for 16 TD passes. I think Rivers is fine, and I have him as a No. 1 QB in a couple of my leagues, but I don’t like his matchup this week at all.
Pittsburgh is now 1-2 after losing to Cincinnati last weekend. Still, the Steelers held Carson Palmer and a pretty good Bengals passing game to only 183 yards and 1 TD.
At home, with their backs against the wall a bit, I think the Steelers are going to come out and deliver a nasty defensive performance. Without a healthy LT in the backfield—or a rusty one if he returns—to balance out the SD offense, I think Rivers could find the going tough against the Steelers, even with Troy Polamalu still out.
(For the record, I am not sitting Rivers in any of the leagues in which I have him, mainly because I don’t have a better alternative. Remember, whether you start someone or sit them is all relative based on your roster. Just temper your expectations for Rivers this week.)
Philip Rivers Week Four projection: 240 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Other QBs I don’t like in Week Four: Aaron Rodgers (@ MIN); Ben Roethlisberger (vs SD);
Week 4 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Backs
Start ‘Em: Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos (vs Dallas)
It looks like the time may be here to start penciling Knowshon Moreno into your lineups on a weekly basis.
The talented rookie rushed 21 times for 90 yards and a score against the Raiders last Sunday. No, the Raiders are not great at stopping the run, but neither is Moreno’s Week Four opponent, Dallas.
The Cowboys are 17th in the NFL right now against the run, giving up 114.7 yards per game, and I think the Broncos will feed Moreno the ball early and often this week.
In PPR leagues, Moreno’s value is not quite as high, as he has only caught two passes this year. But with 17 and 21 carries over the past two weeks respectively, it looks like Moreno has vaulted over Correll Buckhalter for the No. 1 RB job in Denver.
That makes him worthy of a start in most leagues.
Knownshon Moreno Week Four projection: 85 yards rushing, 10 yards receiving, 1 TD
Other RBs I like in Week Four: Cedric Benson (@ CLE); Matt Forte (vs DET); Whoever starts at RB for the Redskins (vs TB) — check the injury reports on Clinton Portis this week and pick up Ladell Betts if Portis can’t go; Leon Washington (@ NO); Glen Coffee (vs STL)
Sit ‘Em: Fred Taylor, New England Patriots (vs Baltimore)
Fred Taylor was his old, awesome self last week against Atlanta, rumbling for 105 yards and a score. You will be tempted to start him this week, but keep two things in mind:
- Baltimore’s defense is still great even without Rex Ryan, and they are giving up only 51 yards per game on the ground without having yielding a TD this season.
- You never know which New England running back will get the carries in a given week. Taylor has carried 9, 8, and 21 times this season, and still shares a backfield with Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and Laurence Maroney.
Taylor will always be a threat this season to vulture a TD, as he did in Week One, and he is the guy to play from the New England backfield if you have to play one of them this week. But there should be better options out there than a 33-year-old running back in a pass-first offense against the league’s best run defense.
Fred Taylor Week 3 projection: 35 yards rushing, 0 TD
Other RBs I don’t like in Week Four: Steven Jackson (@SF); Reggie Bush (vs NYJ);
Week 4 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
Start ‘Em: Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos (vs Dallas)
After an understandably slow start to the season, considering all his self-created off-field distractions, Brandon Marshall appears poised to reclaim his spot among the top fantasy WRs.
His five-catch, 67-yard, 1-TD performance last week against Oakland should be all the convincing you need to get him back in your lineups and keep him there.
The Broncos may be a fraudulent 3-0, but winning and being in first place have a way of getting even the biggest malcontents to play hard. I still don’t trust Dallas’ secondary (and neither should you, as they are 27th in the NFL against the pass) but, like Josh McDaniels, I am starting to trust Brandon Marshall more and more each week.
Brandon Marshall Week Four projection: seven catches, 105 yards, TD
Other WRs I like in Week Four: Braylon Edwards (vs CIN)—but ONLY if Derek Anderson starts at QB; Chad Ochocinco (@ CLE); Jerricho Cotchery (@ NO); Steve Smith (@ KC);
Sit ‘Em: Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys (at Denver)
Through three games, Roy Williams has only eight catches for 179 yards and one score, which came in Week One against the terrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. And during last night’s Monday night game, Williams let a potential TD pass bounce off of his hands.
With the Dallas running game looking more and more dominant by the week, something tells me Tony Romo will continue to rely on it and be a little more reluctant to take as many shots downfield. That, combined with Williams’ horrible matchup this week—Denver is currently second in the NFL in pass defense and has not given up a TD pass while notching five INTs—make him a worthy candidate to sit if you have decent alternatives.
Roy Williams Week 4 projection: three catches, 34 yards
Other WRs I don’t like in Week Four: Marques Colston (vs NYJ)—but with the caveat that I will probably start him in my leagues, despite the fact that he’s facing Darrelle Revis, who has been superb in shutting down opposing teams’ best WRs; Dwayne Bowe (vs NYG); Ted Ginn Jr (vs SD)
Week 4 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Before I get into this week’s tight ends, can I just pat myself on the back a bit for touting Vernon Davis all year. I picked him as a “start 'em” guy and a sleeper in Weeks One and Two and watched him struggle a bit, but still maintained that this will be the year Davis becomes a star.
Ironically, last week when I picked Brent Celek instead of Vernon Davis, the 49ers’ freak-of-nature tight end went off, catching seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Unless you have another really good option moving forward, I consider Davis close to a weekly start.
Start ‘Em: Dustin Keller, New York Jets (at New Orleans)
Dustin Keller struggled last week against Tennessee, catching only two passes. This comes on the heels of a three catch day against New England. I think it’s fair to say that Keller will have his ups and downs this year, especially with a rookie calling the shots at QB, but he does have a good matchup this week against New Orleans.
Consider the following facts:
- New Orleans is ranked 22nd against the pass this year in terms of yards
- In Week 2, the Saints allowed eight catches and 104 yards to Eagles TE Brent Celek
- In Week 3, the Saints allowed five catches and 34 yards to Buffalo TE Derek Fine
Hence, opportunities should be there for Keller to have a solid afternoon. There are better options for sure, but if you own Celek or Tony Gonzalez, both of whom have byes this week, Keller is a solid fill-in candidate.
Dustin Keller Week Four projection: five catches, 65 yards, 1 TD
Other TEs I like in Week Four: Vernon Davis (vs STL); Owen Daniels (vs OAK)
Sit ‘Em: Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota Vikings (vs Green Bay)
Not only does Shiancoe only have six catches all season, but Green Bay has not given up more than two receptions to a tight end in any game. Even as a bye week fill-in, there are much better options that Shiancoe.
Visanthe Shiancoe Week Four projection: two catches, 17 yards
Other TEs I don’t like in Week 4: Greg Olsen (vs DET); Ben Watson (vs BAL)
Week 4 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Defense / Special Teams Units
Start ‘Em: Cincinnati Bengals (at Cleveland Browns)
This one is pretty easy.
Cincinnati has a much improved defense that is ranked in the top half of Yahoo leagues. This week, they face a Cleveland Browns team that appears to be historically bad.
Don’t overthink it, even though it’s the Bengals. Start ‘em.
Cincinnati Bengals Week Four projection: 13 or fewer points allowed, four sacks, two INTs
Other D/ST units I like in Week Four: San Francisco (vs STL); Buffalo (at Miami); Chicago (vs DET)
Sit ‘Em: Denver Broncos (vs Dallas Cowboys)
The Broncos currently have the No. 1 rated defense in Yahoo. However, remember that two of their games have come against the two worst offenses in football: Cleveland and Oakland.
This week, Denver plays Dallas, which has the best backfield trio in the league. The Cowboys aren’t explosive enough in the passing game to put up huge numbers on Denver, and Tony Romo will probably turn the ball over once or twice, but I wouldn’t expect Denver to keep getting as many sacks or holding their opponents to three points every week.
Denver Broncos Week Four projection: 20-plus points given up, one sack, one INT
Other D/ST units I don’t like in Week Four: New England (vs BAL); San Diego (@ PIT)
And other edition of Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em is in the books. Chime in below to let everyone know which of my picks you agree with or disagree with (remember, you can select more than one option) and then use the comment section to pose your Week Four questions.
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