Fantasy Football: Emergency Pickup and Start Options For Week 4

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2010

Byes, injuries and unfavorable matchups leave you thin at RB? Dig deep and take a flier on Ryan Torain, who is emerging as a viable fantasy back in Washington and faces a cupcake Philly run defense this week.
Byes, injuries and unfavorable matchups leave you thin at RB? Dig deep and take a flier on Ryan Torain, who is emerging as a viable fantasy back in Washington and faces a cupcake Philly run defense this week.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Injuries and bye weeks and matchups, oh my!

Week 4 presents some of the first real trials for fantasy football owners this season. The first four teams of the year are on bye: Dallas, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay players are officially off.

That means you’re without Adrian Peterson, Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and a slew of other typically solid fantasy choices.

And, to add insult to injury, literally, we have some big-named guys who could be missing some major chunks of time this week due to ailments. Pierre Thomas is a game-time decision. Jahvid Best is nursing a turf toe and has a really tough matchup. Steven Jackson is a big question mark.

Not to mention extremely tough matchups. Like Ray Rice vs. Pittsburgh.

So what’s a fantasy owner to do? Need a last-second waiver player who can patch a hole on your starting roster and hopefully keep you in the win column? Try these options:



Bruce Gradkowski, OAK. Has been anointed as “the” man in Raiders-land. Has swagger as a leader and some favorite targets to throw to. Best part? He plays a Texans defense that has been giving up a league-high 27 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks. Of course, you already knew that after checking out our ultra-valuable points-against posts, right?

Kyle Orton, DEN. Playing Tennessee, which has been stingy against the pass this year, but I’m going with gut on this one over logic. Orton has been a machine at QB, and has shown the ability to really spread the ball out to a variety of talented receivers. With the running game a huge question mark, Orton will continue to pass a lot, padding his stats and making him a nice sleeper start.

Running Backs

BenJarvis Green-Ellis, NE. Who? This is the guy I put in this slot last week, and the guy ran for 98 yards and a score. This time around, he has even less competition for carries with ancient Fred Taylor officially ruled out.

For the first time since Corey Dillon made fantasy waves in New England, the Patriots will have a primary back, and he’ll do well against Miami.

John Kuhn, GB. The Packers running game has been anemic since losing Ryan Grant in Week 1. Everyone focused on Brandon Jackson as the heir apparent, but he has yet to impress in the role, even against less-than-stellar run defenses.

However, Kuhn has been quietly producing well behind the scenes. He’s averaged five yards per carry and been the primary threat around the goal line.

This week, the Packers play the Detroit Lions, and Kuhn stands to score at least one TD, and will likely do a lot more.

Ryan Torain, WAS. This one almost slipped me by until an e-conversation with the chinstrap ninjas’ own sockonfl. Torain has become the flavor of the week for Shanahan, who loved the back during his stint in Denver, too.

Clinton Portis has done little to keep his starter role and the Redskins this week play against an Eagles defense that opposing running backs have been carving up to a tune of 23.3 points per game.

Plenty of stats for two backs, and methinks Torain gets the bulk of them.


Wide Receivers

Louis Murphy, OAK. See Gradkowski, Bruce. Murphy is the pet receiver of Gradkowski and stands to explode against a very generous Texans secondary.

Only caution here is to check the injury reports before dialing up Murphy…he’s questionable at the moment, but will explode as long as he gets the start.

Nate Washington, TEN. Never a big fan of any receiver who depends on Vince Young to get him the ball consistently, but Washington has been pretty sweet this season and gets a favorable matchup against the Broncos.

Jeremy Maclin, PHI. If he’s still on your waiver wire, go get him and stash him away. In fact, you could start him this week and be happy. Washington allows plenty of receiver points per week and Maclin already has four TDs through three games.

Tight ends

Aaron Hernandez, NE. A guy available in a lot of leagues yet…even an experts league sockonfl and I are in (until we picked him up)…Hernandez has become a solid option for Tom Brady and should fare well against a Dolphins defense that is generous to opposing tight ends.

Dustin Keller, NYJ. Likely already snagged by someone in your league after his Week 3 breakout, he has become a favorite option for young Mark Sanchez and has a very favorable matchup with the Bills this week.

Need help making the hard sit-start decisions this week? Check out our valuable points-against posts: QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF

Or our start-sit post, ranking the five best to start and sit at each position.

Or, our free game-by-game projections: CIN@CLE | DEN@TEN | CAR@NO | BAL@PIT | NYJ@BUF | SEA@STL | SF@ATL | DET@GB | HOU@OAK | IND@JAX

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