Fantasy Football: 5 Sleepers to Start in Week 4
Determining your fantasy football lineup can be challenging at times for some people.
On one hand, your team could be filled with quality players and your dilemma would be to ask, "Who do I start this weekend?" On the other side of the spectrum, you have players who spend half of the season scouring the waiver wire, looking for the next hidden gem for your lineup.
I would like to think of this as advice for people in the middle. Maybe your lineup is decent, but you are unsure of who to start. Maybe your second- or third-round draft choices aren't panning out quite the way you imagined they would. (People are looking at you, Chad Ochocinco, Chris Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall, among many others.)
The following five slides will show you some players I feel have a good shot at giving you some help in winning your game this weekend. It may not be a list of super-sleepers and many of the players on this list may already be claimed in your league. However, if the players on this list are available or you have them on your roster, this is the week to start them.
I am obviously not telling you to start one of these players over a superstar in your roster. However, if you are looking to fill a spot for an injured or under performing player, these players might just fit the bill for you.
Greg Olsen: Carolina Panthers
The former Chicago Bear has adapted well to new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's playbook and should continue his impressive season play this Sunday, when the Carolina Panthers visit the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
The easy way to say this will be a great game for Olsen is to state the fact he is playing his former team, which traded him to the Panthers during the shortened offseason. However, the main reason why Olsen will have a great game is the fact the Bears' pass-defense is not that great this year.
Chicago is currently allowing 277.3 passing yards per game, which is ranked 26th in the entire league. The Bears will have to account for Cam Newton's mobility and will most likely throw some spy defenses at him during the game. Expect Newton to take advantage of this and utilize Olsen the entire game.
Besides wide receiver Steve Smith, Greg Olsen is Cam Newton's favorite target. As of Week 4, he has hauled in 12 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown, including his 7/57/1 performance against the Jaguars last week. Even more impressive was the fact the game was played mostly in the rain.
Although Brian Urlacher has been performing great in pass defense this year, their whole defensive scheme will change when facing a mobile quarterback. I expect Greg Olsen to catch around seven passes for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Andy Dalton: Cincinnati Bengals
Some may find themselves asking, "Why is Andy Dalton even on this list?" Especially given last week's loss against the San Francisco 49ers, where Dalton was 8-of-13 for 157 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Before the heckling begins, look at the pass defense of the next team the bengals are playing, the Buffalo Bills.
As you have seen and will see with my recommendations, I base many decisions on statistics alone. Obviously there are many factors that determine if a player is successful on a week to week basis, but with my choice in Dalton, I am saying he will put up decent numbers against a Bills defense ranked 24th against the pass with 271.7 yards per game.
Dalton had his best game of the young season in Week 2 against Denver's defense, which is now ranked 13th in the league at 234 yards per game. Dalton threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions in that game as well.
Look for the former Horned Frog to have a great day against a team that allowed Tom Brady to pass for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tom Brady did throw four interceptions against the Bills, but some of them were tipped passes.
I am also not saying Dalton is Tom Brady by any means, nor does he possess the same weapons. However, Dalton has decent options in rookie wideout A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson and Jermaine Gresham.
Just as the last two games have shown, a game against the Bills will be a high-scoring affair. Look for Dalton to have a career day against the Bills, even though I do not expect Marvin Lewis to follow through on his promise to beat them. I expect him to throw for 275 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Jason Campbell: Oakland Raiders
If the last three weeks in the NFL has proven anything, it is that the Patriots cannot defend the pass. As of Week 4, New England has the worst passing defense in the league, allowing an astounding 377 yards per game.
While Jason Campbell isn't known as the most prolific passer in the NFL, he is still more than capable of putting up 300-plus yard games, as displayed in the Raiders' Week 2 loss against the Buffalo Bills, where he threw for 323 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
I have a feeling we will be seeing a shootout in almost every Patriots game this year, and this should be one of them. The Raiders have talent on their young roster, including Denarius Moore (another sleeper for this week) and Darren McFadden, who is just as capable as a receiver as he is a runner.
While the Raiders may not win this game, I have a feeling they will be playing catchup, which bodes well for those who decide to start Campbell. I expect to see Jason Campbell to pass for more than 300 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He might even run it in for another touchdown against the Patriots defense.
Eric Decker: Denver Broncos
Although he was quite the pickup on the waiver wire last week, Eric Decker disappointed some owners who took a shot and started him in Week 3. This week, he should redeem himself when the Denver Broncos visit the Green Bay Packers.
Why would Eric Decker and the struggling Broncos do well against Charles Woodson and the defense of the reining champion Green Bay Packers?
The answer is simple, just look at the statistics. On paper, Green Bay has a terrible pass defense. As of Week 3, the Pack is 31st in the league in pass defense, allowing 359.3 yards per game. However, this is not a fault of the personnel in the backfield. This is because teams simply cannot run the ball against Green Bay, forcing them to essentially give up on the ground game. Green Bay is allowing only 55 yards on the ground per game, good for first in the NFL.
Decker should do better than last week due to the fact the Broncos faced the Tennessee Titans last week, who currently have the No. 2 passing defense in the league at 172 yards per game. What is even more promising is the fact he caught two more passes than he did in his breakout game in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he hauled in five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
I expect the Broncos to give up on the run early, which will allow Decker to shine for those who decide to start him this week. Look for Decker to catch around seven passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Tim Hightower: Washington Redskins
While Tim Hightower may not be considered a sleeper in some circles, he is still often overlooked as the featured tailback for the Washington Redskins. In actuality, Hightower is ranked within the top 15 in the running back position in most fantasy leagues.
Hightower had 14 carries for 41 yards and added five catches for 39 yards with a touchdown Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. However, Hightower and the Redskins will face the league's worst rush defense when they visit the Rams in St. Louis.
St. Louis has allowed opposing teams to bowl their front seven over this year and is allowing 174.3 rushing yards per game. In addition to their lackluster defense against the rush, the St. Louis Rams allow the second most points per game in the league at 32.
With a revamped offense led by coordinator Kyle Shanahan and journeyman "Sexy" Rex Grossman, the Redskins boast a balanced attack which should keep St. Louis from making Hightower's day a tough one.
Look for Hightower to hit the century mark this week and continue to make the St. Louis Rams defense look terrible. I expect Hightower to have around 20 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns against a Rams defense that allowed the Ravens to tally 162 rushing yards against them in Week 3.
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