Antonio Gates is doubtful for Sunday. Daniel Thomas is out. Frank Gore’s status is a total question mark. The list goes on.
What is a fantasy owner to do—especially if you are trying to claw your way back in a league where you’ve fallen behind the eight ball just three weeks into the season?
Luckily, there are always players who are available who can plug the gap, stop the bleeding and make the winning difference on game day. These players are ones with savory matchups or improved opportunities in their respective offense—or both.
Kendall Hunter, RB, SF
We all know that San Francisco is Frank Gore’s turf. However, Gore has been majorly ineffective so far this season and last week tweaked his ankle. Meanwhile, Hunter, who got just a handful of plays, turned in the game’s only touchdown—the winning hook that led the 49ers to victory.
Gore is now listed as questionable for the Week 4 game versus an Eagles squad that is giving up fantasy points in bucketfuls to running backs. The Eagles linebackers couldn’t stop a blindfolded Betty White from rushing for significant yardage.
Gore’s status will directly impact Hunter’s opportunity, but even if Gore does play, Hunter has carved out at least a time share—something that will lead to respectable numbers against Philly.
Laurent Robinson, WR, DAL
Available in nearly every fantasy league, Robinson recently signed with the Cowboys, but has been quick to move up the depth chart. Tony Romo targeted him five times last week and Robinson responded with a modest 3-for-49 performance.
While Kevin Ogletree is listed ahead of Robinson on the depth chart, Ogletree was totally lost on the field last week and it is pretty obvious that Robinson has become the primary option behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant among Dallas receivers. Austin will miss this game with an injured hamstring and Dez Bryant is looking extremely iffy at the moment with dinged up quadriceps.
Plus, the Cowboys will be playing in a high scoring affair, with the potent Lions offense on tap. Should be plenty of passing in this one.
Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK
Denarius Moore is the Raiders receiver to own at the moment, but he’s available in only 33 percent of Yahoo leagues. If you can still get him, do so as the Raiders look to face a Patriots defense that is giving up receiving stats in chunks larger than the state of Texas.
Ford makes a more intriguing play here. He’s still officially listed as questionable with a hamstring injury—the same injury that has kept him out since Week 1 and has kept him off many a fantasy owner’s radar. However, his skill set is just as explosive as Moore’s and he can be had at a much cheaper price at the moment. He’s owned in just 28 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jason Campbell, QB, OAK
Campbell is owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, but has the matchup to find himself finishing as a top 10 fantasy QB easily this week. The Patriots are allowing a ton of receiving stats and Campbell and Co. will need to air it out to keep up with New England’s potent offense.
Campbell is somewhat dinged up at the moment, listed as probable with a foot injury. However, he should play and play well thanks to a surprisingly good matchup that has made Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Madden All-Pros.
Rex Grossman, QB, WAS
It is so hard to buy into Grossman as a fantasy option, but he’s still available in more than 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. However, he’s quietly put up respectable numbers on average and now meets a St. Louis squad that has struggled to stop the pass.
There is little doubt that Mike Shanahan has found a way to maximize Grossman’s abilities and he should produce a very sneaky-good outing against a Rams team that is still trying to find itself.
Earnest Graham, RB, TB
Remember that we’re looking for players who are widely available, and Graham is just that in many a fantasy league.
And yet, in PPR formats, Graham has actually done quite well, averaging double digit scoring each week so far this season and now faces an Indianapolis defense that isn’t all that great against the run. Sure, they bottled up Rashard Mendenhall last week, but are still a long way away from being an elite run-stopping unit.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, CIN
Turning in a nice 4-for-51 performance last week against a quietly formidable 49ers defense, Gresham has become a favorite target for young QB Andy Dalton.
This week, the Bengals will find themselves in a shootout, needing to air it out to keep up with the surprisingly potent Bills offense.
That bodes well for Gresham, who is available in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment.
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For more Week 4 help, including our soon-to-be-posted positional projections, our weekly buy-low candidates, waiver wire wonders, IDP sleepers to target and favorable matchups to exploit, go to our fantasy football index.