Week 4, Your Starters Are Hurt, Now What?

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Week 4, Your Starters Are Hurt, Now What?
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

You really have to feel for the guy who was second in MVP voting last season throwing 3,653 yards and 19 TDs and just 7 INTs. He turned the Dolphins around to help them earn their first division title since 2001 and an 11-5 record after a 1-15 season.

Chad Pennington out for the season after third shoulder injury since '05, is by far the most unfortunate incident on this list.

BALTIMORE RAVENS at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Derrick Mason (12 receptions for 96 yards, TD) was limited in practice with an illness and his status for Sunday is unknown. If out, the surprisingly second ranked offense in yards in the NFL has plenty other options at receiver with Kelley Washington (12 for 167 yards, TD) and Mark Clayton (9 for 132 yards, TD) just below his production. Don’t forget about Todd Heap either, the consistent tight end has 10 catches for 124 yards and two TDs.

They face arguably their toughest test yet against the Patriots sixth-ranked pass defense, but the Pats young secondary could be suspect.

Keep this in mind, if you have any of the Ravens running backs, PLAY THEM. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo did not practice all week and if they do play, they will be limited. Mayo practiced Friday for the first time since the Week 1 knee injury and is listed as doubtful.

Big news from New England is Wes Welker practicing again after hurting his knee Week 1 against the Bills. He was limited all week, but you can never tell with Bill Belichick’s deceiving ways if he will play or not. If he’s out you may want to gamble with Julian Edelman, who has yet to get in the end zone, but caught eight passes for 98 yards in his first appearance against the Jets. That was when he was under the radar. The Falcons shut him down last week (3 REC for 20 yards).

Aside from Randy Moss, TE Benjamin Watson (10 for 123 yards, two TDs) is the most consistent target for Tom Brady, but Chris Baker (4 REC for 50 yards, TD) made his way into the end zone last week too.

BUFFALO BILLS at MIAMI DOLPHINS

Oh Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo. Always presenting a problem for fantasy owners. With arguably the best WR tandem in the league they put a big fat 0 on the offensive end at home vs. the Saints. Fred Jackson (61 for 291 yards) runs for 71 yards on 18 carries and catches 4 passes for 26 yards in week three. “Captain Checkdown” Trent Edwards (56 for 91, 598 yards, four TDs, 2 INT.) gets another receiving RB back with Marshawn Lynch back for his first game. The Bills will likely start Jackson and work Lynch in. On the ground both may be effective as LB Joey Porter did not practice all week and is questionable with a hamstring injury.

The problem is Buffalo’s inexperienced O-line lost another man last week in T Demetrius Bell (groin). Edwards will have to get rid of the ball quick making Josh Reed (10 for 106 yards) a viable option in the passing game. If T.O. (5 for 98, TD) or Lee Evans (8 for 88, TD) are ever going to have a big game, this is it. Historically Buffalo has liked to go deep in the Miami sunshine and one of the two will open the field up.

Chad Pennington is out for the season. The runner-up for the MVP last season behind none-other than Peyton Manning takes his big numbers with him. If he was playing, taking a Miami QB would be a no-brainer with three out of four starters out for the Bills secondary – CB Leodis McKelvin (fibula), S Bryan Scott (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (thumb). If you play anyone in the ‘Fins passing game let it be Davone Bess (17 for 140 yards) or Ted Ginn Jr. (13 for 134 yards), but a rookie QB is always too risky to start in the first game (Mark Sanchez aside). The Dolphins will probably run the wildcat a lot this week. RBs Ronnie Brown (52 for 254 yards, two TDs) and Ricky Williams (34 for 163 yards, TD) may have big days.

CINCINNATI BENGALS at CLEVELAND BROWNS

The Bengals are hurting in the secondary – David Jones (foot), CB Jonathan Joseph (foot), and S Roy Williams (forearm) are all questionable. Williams was limited in practice so he is the only real concern as far as not playing. The question is will Derek Anderson have more success getting in the end zone than Brady Quinn. Their biggest rushing threat RB Jamal Lewis (hamstring) is doubtful, making them one-dimensional. RB Jerome Harrison (19 for 60 yards) will likely replace him. WR Braylon Edwards (10 for 139 yards) has yet to get in the end zone, expect this to be the week against the interstate rival. TE Robert Royal (6 for 80 yards, TD) is the only one to get 6  in the air and WR Mike Furrey (9 for 70 yards) has yet to score.

On the other side of the ball, Chad Ocho Cinco (14 for 234 yards, TD) will be showing off his all-pink gear in support of breast cancer and would love to get a TD for all the ladies. WR Andre Caldwell (14 for 122 yards, TD) will be confident as ever after his finish last week and Laveranues Coles (8 for 54 yards, TD) will also fit in somewhere. Third in yards is RB Cedric Benson (66 for 293 yards, two TDs), and he will keep the defense honest.

DALLAS COWBOYS at DENVER BRONCOS

RB Felix Jones (knee) will be out for the ‘Boys, making RB Marion Barber (thigh) available and high on everyone’s radar. Barber practiced fully Thursday and Friday. Keeping up with the RB in Dallas is hard so sign up for our fantasy football notification service and you'll never miss a beat. Even with his return the Cowboys have decided to go with second-year back Tashard Choice (22 for 100, TD) for this game. Tony Romo (51 for 89, 735 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INT.) has hit his TE Jason Witten 19 times for 181 yards and a TD. Patrick Crayton has eight catches for 183 yards and a TD and Roy Williams has eight for 17 and a TD.

WR Brandon Stokley (thigh) is questionable for the Broncos. The receiver has six catches for 157 yards and a TD. Brandon Marshall (12 for 128 yards, TD) is going to get hot at some point, and Jabar Gaffney (10 for 146 yards) may get in the end zone with Stokley out. The Broncos duo of Correll Buckhalter (31 for 230 yards and a TD) and rookie Knowshon Moreno (46 for 184 yards and a TD) will try to run against a 17th ranked Dallas rushing defense.

DETROIT LIONS at CHICAGO BEARS

DT Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), DE Dewayne White (hamstring), have not practiced and are doubtful and DT Grady Jackson (knee) is questionable. With the big three on the Lions D not 100%, normally I’d say play a Bears RB. But the Bears running game has not been there. This may be the day that Matt Forte (59 for 150 yards) or Adrian Peterson (5 for 28 yards) get in the end zone.

The bears are hurting at LB with Brian Urlacher out for the season. Hunter Hillenmeyer (rib) and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) are both doubtful and LB Lance Briggs (foot) is questionable. Play Lions RB Kevin Smith (55 for 204 yards, TD) if you have him.

NEW YORK GIANTS at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, foot) who ran for 35 and 201 yards so far is the Giants leading rusher. He was out Weds-Thurs. and limited Fri. His probable status might make owners start Brandon Jacobs (58 for 196 yards, TD). Either way the Chiefs have the 19th ranked rushing defense, so Giants backs should be productive.

WR Dwayne Bowe (hamstring) is questionable for the Chiefs. Play WR Mark Bradley (8 for 101, TD) or Bobby Wade (8 for 85, TD) in his place.

NEW YORK JETS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The Jets secondary is missing two key components CB Lito Sheppard (quadricep), and CB Donald Strickland (ankle) leaving fantasy owners ready to throw an air assault with Drew Brees (67-97, 841 yards, nine TD, two INT). Brees has to get back to his form from weeks one and two. The Bills held him to 0 TDs and 172 yards last week. If you care to dare Rex Ryan’s depth in the secondary play any Saints WR other than WR Lance Moore (hamstring) who was limited all week.   

RB Mike Bell (knee) will once again be out, but the emergence of Pierre Thomas gives owners a few options with RBs on the Saints with Reggie Bush on the other side. They have the No. 2 rushing game but will go up against the Jets No. 9 rushing D that allows only 82.7 a game.

OAKLAND RAIDERS at HOUSTON TEXANS

Only real injury concern here is RB Chris Brown (shin) for the Texans who was limited Weds-Thurs. but practiced fully on Fri. His status is probable.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS

LB Shawne Merriman (groin) went from not practicing, to limited, to full in three days. He is probable but can’t be at full strength.

The Steelers haven’t been able to develop a consistent running game and it’s cost them as the Super Bowl Champs are 27th gaining only 81 per game. RB Willie Parker (toe) is doubtful, leaving Rashard Mendenhall (7 for 45 yards) and Mewelde Moore (8 for 27 yards) to carry the load.

S Troy Polamalu (knee) is out once again, and RB LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle) is probable after practicing all week.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The QB situation is shaky with QB Matt Hasselbeck (rib) doubtful, leaving Seneca Wallace (41 for 67, 388 yards, two TD, two INT) to face a hard test against the Colts. Even with S Bob Sanders (knee) out for the Colts this is a difficult job with two of the Hawks lineman missing as well – T Walter Jones (knee), T Sean Locklear (ankle).

WR Anthony Gonzalez (knee) is out once again, but Pierre Garcon (7 for 136 and two TDs) is no secret anymore.

Start ANY and ALL Colts players.

ST. LOUIS RAMS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

QB Marc Bulger (right shoulder) did not play all week and is questionable for the 0-3 Rams. In his place St. Louis is forced to start Kyle Boller (16 for 31, 164 yards, two TD, INT) who played decent in a 36-17 loss vs. Green Bay last week.

Big for the 49ers is RB Frank Gore’s (ankle, foot) absence this week. Behind him is  Glen Coffee (35 for 64) who is averaging only 1.8 yards a carry and Moran Norris (3 for 18 yards). Somebody will have success running the ball against the Rams’ 27th ranked rushing D.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at WASHINGTON REDSKINS

QB Josh Johnson is now the starter for the Bucs. Expect growing pains, but the Redskins are a good opponent for him to start off against. Problem is he might be missing a great receiving threat in WR Antonio Bryant (knee) who’s questionable. RB Derrick Ward (knee) is questionable after being limited all week, and the other two backs Carnell Williams (knee), and Earnest Graham (hamstring) are a little banged up, but are probable.

Tampa Bay is 31st against the run but RB Clinton Portis (calf) is questionable after not practicing all week. His backup is Laddell Betts who has carried the ball 7 times for 14 yards – 2.0 a carry. Then there is Rock Cartwright who scored last week in the receiving game – his only action of the season – catching three balls for 12 yards and that TD. Campbell might just turn into Michael Vick and take off himself as the Skins QB has rushed 9 times for 65 yards himself, a 7.2 average. 

TENNESSEE TITANS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Titans’ secondary is a little banged up with CB Cortland Finnegan (hamstring) doubtful, and S Vincent Fuller (forearm) out. Their pass defense ranks 29th so Play Jaguars WR Torry Holt (12 for 169) or Mike Sims-Walker (12 for 187, TD). Titans will do whatever they can to stop from going 0-3. The best-winless team through four weeks by far, allowed two TDs through the air vs. rookie QB Mark Sanchez last week with Finnegan and Fuller in the game.

Jacksonville’s defense is 32nd against the pass giving up 281.7 a game. Play any of the Titans receivers – Kenny Britt (10 for 166), Justin Gage (13 for 142, TD), Nate Washington (7 for 69, two TDs), or even one of the TEs – Alge Crumpler (10 for 90), or Bo Scaife (5 for 48). Needless to say, Kerry Collins (58 of 105 for 630, 4 TD, 4 int) should have a big game.

This game could be high scoring on both ends but it also has the chance off being a blowout with one team dominating.

GREEN BAY PACKERS at MINNESOTA VIKINGS on Monday night

RB Brandon Jackson (ankle) is out for the Packers. WR Greg Jennings (wrist) practiced fully Thurs. and Fri.

For the Vikings, Favre has a full receiving corps at his disposal as he takes on his old team. G Steve Hutchinson (back) did not practice Thurs. or Fri. but that won’t stop Favre from unleashing against the Packers. That sounds so weird, Favre against the Packers?

Whew, that’s your entire injury report, more to come on the Monday night game on Saturday as they release their full injury report. Don’t expect any surprises there.

As always sign up for the injury notification service from Top Fantasy Football for up- to-the-minute notifications. 

 

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