Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Kevin Hanson@EDSFootballAnalyst IIIOctober 2, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterbacks Vince Young #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles and Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talk at midfield after the Giants defeated the Eagles 29-16 at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Once Week 4 ends, we will be one-quarter of the way through the 2011 NFL regular season. For fantasy leaguers, the percentage will be even greater than that.

It's the only thing I don't like about football—the season goes by way too fast. It seems as though the season just started.

To help you set your fantasy lineups this week, we prepared a sample list of players that you should continue starting or sitting. If you have any questions on specific players not on this list, feel free to submit your start/sit questions in our free fantasy football forum, post them below or send me a tweet.

Players to Start in Week 4

QB—Eli Manning, Giants (at ARI): After a rough preseason and season opener, Manning seems to have righted the ship.

After a solid game in Week 2, Manning threw four touchdowns and no interceptions against the secondary for the "Dream Team." And that was without the team's second-best receiver, Mario Manningham, who was out with a concussion.

With Manningham back and against an ineffective Cardinals pass defense this week, Manning should continue to roll.

RB—Arian Foster, Texans (vs PIT): On the surface, there are a number of reasons why Foster may seem more like a "sit 'em" than a "start 'em." Through three games, he has missed two of them. In the one he didn't miss, he didn't complete.

Talk about "anti-awesomeness."

While Foster was out or not completing games, Ben Tate was racking up yardage as one of five running backs to accumulate 300-plus yards in the first three weeks of the season. Oh, and there's the fact that the Texans face the Steelers, who have ranked in the top three against the run every year from 2003 to 2010.

With all that said, last year's rushing champion was a full participant at practice this week and he is going to be put "back to work full-time," according to coach Gary Kubiak.

RB—James Starks, Packers (vs DEN): Packers running backs Ryan Grant and James Starks have split carries evenly (32 each) this year. While Grant played much better than Starks last week, Grant is out with a bruised kidney, which should mean a full workload for Starks.

As the biggest favorites (in terms of point spreads) this week, the Packers may establish an early lead and rely more on the ground game (i.e., Starks).

WR—Mario Manningham, Giants (at ARI): Manningham closed the 2010 season on a tear. In his final three games, Manningham had 100-plus yards and a score (or two) in every game.

This year, Manningham's start has been slower. He has seven receptions for 105 yards and a missed game (concussion) through three weeks. With his talent and the Cardinals' poor secondary play this year, Manningham should be poised for a big week.

WR—Denarius Moore, Raiders (vs NE): Moore had a monster game in Week 2 with five receptions, 146 yards and a touchdown.

While he was held in check by one of the league's best secondaries last week, Moore and the Raiders get the Patriots, who have allowed a league-high 377 passing yards this season, in Week 3.

Although Jacoby Ford is expected to return to the lineup this week, Moore is the better option and just inside our top 30 fantasy receivers this week.

WR—David Nelson, Bills (at CIN): Like Moore, Nelson was a waiver-wire gem in fantasy football this season.

Nelson is one of only nine receivers to have 60-plus receiving yards in every game this season. Three tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Dustin Keller and Jason Witten) and a running back (Matt Forte) have also done that.

On the season, Nelson has 20 receptions for 233 yards and a score.

TE—Greg Olsen, Panthers (at CHI): On a yards-per-game basis, Olsen had his worst season last year under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. After spending his first four seasons in Chicago, the transition to Carolina has helped his fantasy production.

Through three games, Olsen is averaging 56.3 yards per game, which is almost 20 yards per game higher than his previous career best set in 2009. Even better, Olsen faces his former team, who has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Players to Sit in Week 4

QB—Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs NYJ): In the first three games of the season, Flacco has alternated from great to poor performances.

In Weeks 1 and 3, Flacco has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions in each game. In Week 2, Flacco had less than 200 yards, only one touchdown and two interceptions.

He may be in for a performance similar to that one against the Jets, who have one of the league's best pass defenses.

RB—BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (at OAK): The Law Firm, who has scored two touchdowns this season, hasn't been terribly productive otherwise.

On the season, Green-Ellis has only 34 carries for 122 yards. Last week, Stevan Ridley ran the ball well and more effectively than Green-Ellis.

With Green-Ellis, Ridley and Danny Woodhead all sharing the workload, it's probably best to keep them all on your bench.

RB—Reggie Bush, Dolphins (at SD): The only game in which Bush had a productive fantasy day was when Daniel Thomas was out of the lineup. In his return home to San Diego, Bush, who has 305 career receptions, faces the Chargers without Thomas in the lineup.

That said, Bush has 16 carries for 31 yards and two receptions for 15 yards combined in the past two games. For what it's worth, the Chargers have allowed running backs to catch the fewest passes (12 counting Dexter McCluster as a running back) for less than 50 yards this season.

RB—Willis McGahee, Broncos (at GB): With Knowshon Moreno out of the lineup the past two weeks, McGahee has carried the ball 50 times, which is the most in the NFL during that span. After going over 100 yards in Week 2, McGahee was less productive against Tennessee (22 carries for 52 yards) last week.

This week, the Broncos face another tough run defense in Green Bay, Moreno should be active (although his exact playing time is unknown) and the Broncos could fall behind early and need to pass.

WR—Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, Ravens (vs NYJ): Despite Smith's three-touchdown performance in the first quarter last week, Boldin is the team's clear-cut top option. That means he will find himself on Revis Island. With Revis's ability to take top receivers out of the game, you likely have better options elsewhere on your roster for this week.

Smith, on the other hand, will draw Antonio Cromartie. In the past two weeks, the Jets have not allowed a receiver to go over 34 yards and all Ravens receivers should be considering a "sit 'em" this week.

WR—Nate Washington, Titans (at CLE): Speaking of talented cornerbacks, Cleveland's Joe Haden is someone who may not get the publicity and attention he deserves. The young corner held Brandon Marshall to only 43 yards last week and will likely spend the day covering Washington.

Over the course of the season, Washington, who is tied for third in the NFL in receptions (21), will benefit from Britt being out of the lineup by getting more overall targets. In some weeks (like this one), Britt's absence will hurt as he draws top corners.

WR—Sidney Rice, Seahawks (vs ATL): After missing the first two games of the season, Rice made his season debut with an eight-catch, 109-yard performance in the team's win over the Cardinals.

Before we get too giddy about Rice's performance, let's remember he'll be playing the season with a torn labrum and it's Tarvaris Jackson that is throwing him the ball. If you're in a 12-team league that starts three receivers, Rice is a low-end WR3 but you should not expect similar production to last week's.

TE—Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers (vs IND): Heath Miller had a solid game against the Colts last week, but he was the only tight end to have more than 29 yards against the Colts this season.

Winslow, who has yet to score a touchdown, is averaging four fantasy points per game in standard-scoring leagues.

We have updated our Week 4 fantasy football rankings at, our fantasy section. In addition, our free fantasy football contest for Week 4 is open to all, but registration will close at 12:59 p.m. ET today.

Good luck in your Week 4 matchup(s)!


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