The Fantasy Football Week 4 Notebook

Eric Mack@@EricMackFantasyFantasy Football Lead WriterSeptember 25, 2013

C.J. Spiller owner: Assume Tim Tebow's prayer position; your first-rounder is going to be just fine (cross fingers).
C.J. Spiller owner: Assume Tim Tebow's prayer position; your first-rounder is going to be just fine (cross fingers).Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

You cannot win your fantasy football season in late September, but you can lose it then. You have to stay patient, particularly with your elite pieces at running back, quarterback and wide receiver.

Owners of Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Ray Rice (hip), C.J. Spiller (thigh), Trent Richardson, Colin Kaepernick, Roddy White and even Stevan Ridley, David Wilson and Dwayne Bowe (see here), heed this advice.

You hitched your wagon to these guys; you have to ride it out.

The fantasy football season tends to be fleeting. We get it. The quarter-pole of the NFL season, Week 4, is actually the one-third mark of the fantasy regular season in many leagues.

Still, run this race like the Kentucky Derby: up, out of the saddle. There is still plenty of time to do the things you drafted those players to do.

They won't do any good for you scoring their rebound points on someone else's fantasy roster. No one is going to offer you the premium you paid for them at this point, and none of their situations are that dire where you cannot expect them to return to their lofty levels.

We understand the awesomeness of talking trade in fantasy. The people who win leagues are those who trade for these guys, not give up on them.

Phew! Spiller is just fine

The lack of news Sunday night into early Monday morning on Spiller's supposed knee injury had to be viewed as a good thing. It was as NFL insider Adam Schefter reported later in the morning. It was just a quad issue, and Spiller told the media he could have returned to the game.

Now, fantasy owners want to know why the Bills are not sticking to their word of running their thoroughbred until he vomits, like they promised this preseason.

Fred Jackson has been flying higher than C.J. Spiller, but he is still a bad play against the Ravens run defense this week.
Fred Jackson has been flying higher than C.J. Spiller, but he is still a bad play against the Ravens run defense this week.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Spiller isn't vomiting—or scoring. It is Spiller's fantasy owners who are sick to their stomachs over his lack of use and production.

One, the Bills have faced some very good run defenses through three weeks. The Pats, Panthers and Jets are better against the run than perhaps anyone predicted they would be.

Two, Fred Jackson has proven a lot healthier and spry than the Bills imagined.

Third, and most important, teams are stacking the box and making the rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, try to beat them downfield. You had to expect that when you picked Spiller early in Round 1. If you didn't, you are not cut out for this fantasy football thing. It was as obvious as not drafting a quarterback No. 1 overall. From the team website, Spiller said:

We're not going to abandon our run. We'll know that going into the game that it'll be one of those one and two-yard gains a lot. Just like going against the Ravens, it's going to be one of those games. These guys are tough, they're the Super Bowl champs and since they started their franchise they've been known for their defense. It's going to be one of those games where we're going to have to take what they give us.

Read: It might get worse before it gets better, Spiller owners.

The Ravens are yet another solid run defense an infantile Bills offense has to try to crack. They are going to load up on the run and make someone other than Spiller beat them. It is up to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to devise a way to get the ball into Spiller's capable hands. Per Spiller:

You'll have to ask Coach Hackett. He'll try to figure out ways to get both of us on the field, get us in the slot or whatever. That's the only other way that I can think of. They're going to come in and try to stack the box. Our offensive linemen those guys they're battling. The Jets just had more guys than what we could block. So knowing that, I just have to take it upon myself, just like the other running backs, to take what we can get.

Regardless of how bleak the situation looks right now, you know he is a threat to pop a big one at any given time.

Once he does, it should be all downhill from there. He just needs to stay in the game longer than he did Sunday:

I've got to make sure that it's ready to go. I have all the faith in my trainers. We'll look at it day to day and as of right now the plan is to see how it feels doing stuff, doing some treatment and everything necessary that I need to do to make sure I'm ready. Come Wednesday and Thursday, ultimately a decision has to be made…more Thursday about if I'll be able to go, but I think I should be good.

Again, owners of Spillers (and others), it has to get better. Trust it will. Buy low on the struggling early-rounders and don't dare sell.

These guys were drafted early because they are potential fantasy game-changers. Those guys from the latter rounds or off waivers are merely stopgaps—for the most part. In fact, you probably already missed their best.

"Rock, Paper, Scissors" trap

One of the best (and worst) fantasy stories of Week 3 was the joke Ronnie Hillman played on us. For the third consecutive week, we thought we had the Broncos running backs pegged; and yet, it was the oft-dropped Hillman picking up the points in garbage time.

That's not the good part of the story. It was how the Broncos decided who would get the one-yard touchdown after Hillman hit a big play on a draw up the middle. We will let him tell it, as told to Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com: "I mean, you definitely don't want to see anybody else go in at that point."

Ronnie Hillman ran the best for the Broncos last week, but Knowshon Moreno is still the only Broncos running back to consider starting in fantasy.
Ronnie Hillman ran the best for the Broncos last week, but Knowshon Moreno is still the only Broncos running back to consider starting in fantasy.Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Who gets the one-yard touchdown between Hillman, veteran starter Knowshon Moreno and fumbling rookie Montee Ball? Apparently the coaches let them decide among themselves. This part of the story is not really believable, but it is some kind of awesome:

They played rock-paper-scissors. Seriously! Maybe.

Moreno was a beat too early, and Ball threw down paper. Hillman chose scissors and got the rock, figuratively speaking.

"Luckily I won," Hillman joked to the team's official website. "So it all worked out."

While this story is great sideline banter, it is maddening for fantasy owners. It will be nearly impossible to project which of the backs will benefit most on a weekly basis.

The Broncos running backs are a trap for fantasy owners right now.

The only thing to do is own and start Moreno, hope the game stays within reason—that's tough to expect with Peyton Manning and his quartet of receivers running so hot right now—and pray the veteran does all of the important lifting. Keep the talented but shaky Ball on your fantasy bench as a handcuff and an impact player down the line. Ignore Hillman on waivers.

Thursday night Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Start 'Em

The Rams showed against Dallas they are not ready for prime time. The 49ers (1-2) are hungry and ticked off. You should feel very confident your 49ers are going to rebound all around and show up here, particularly Gore against a Rams run defense that made DeMarco Murray look like Emmitt Smith.

Sit 'Em

  • San Francisco 49ers: Kendall Hunter, Quinton Patton, Jonathan Baldwin, Vance McDonald
  • St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick, Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks and Rams D/ST

Yes, the Rams are at home and will play better than we expect, but most of the Rams' offensive weapons are marginal starts before the bye weeks get heavy, so don't trust them in an unfavorable matchup against the 49ers defense. You just cannot be sure where the fantasy points are going to come from yet.

If you are looking for deep sleepers in this matchup, it will be interesting to see how much Hunter and Baldwin get involved. Those two are flying under the fantasy radar right now, but Thursday night could give them a huge boost in fantasy pertinence.

Roster trends recap

We've already broken down the top Week 4 waiver pickups, but here is a review of the Wednesday morning run of fantasy football waivers:


Not much is a surprise. Big Ben is a great pickup, particularly with the returns of Le'Veon Bell (foot) and Heath Miller (knee). That offense is going to become a lot more potent getting a shot in the legs to the running game and the dink-and-dunk passing game with a tight end who was top five in fantasy a year ago.

Running backs

Bilal Powell, Joique Bell and Jacquizz Rodgers are the prizes here. Powell won't have to deal with Chris Ivory (hamstring) sharing carries for a few weeks, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini. Rodgers also will have the benefit of Steven Jackson (quad) being out a few more weeks, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. Bell is just getting started.

Wide receivers

We have to admit, Santonio Holmes and Geno Smith look like they are going to do great things together. Also, Denarius Moore, Sidney Rice and Justin Blackmon (returning from suspension in Week 5) are still under-owned. Pick them up, if you have a roster spot. They are going to be important through the bye season that is now underway. 

Tight ends

Things have settled down here, save for Jordan Cameron entering the pantheon of greats on Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski's level. Everyone owns Cameron now. It will be reminded one last time how much offensive coordinator Todd Haley's offense favors the tight end. Miller, we repeat, is back from a knee injury and was a top-five fantasy tight end. He is still under-owned and might even be a must-start right now.

Defensive/Special Teams

The Colts are the surprise here. It should be noted how disappointing that mediocre unit was against the Raiders, a similarly putrid offensive team to the Jaguars. Yes, the Colts can blow that game out, but the better bet is the Jags offense comes alive with Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts providing fantasy-starter numbers.

The Chiefs are the must-have and must-start unit among the streaming options this week, and the underrated Steelers are conspicuously missing. That unit is a better play against the Vikings than anyone thinks.


We admit the Dolphins are a lot better than we gave them credit. Caleb Sturgis' leg is also strong and accurate, and the game in the dome could get loose. We have to warn you, though: The surprising Saints, backed up a Rob Ryan defense, are tied for the best team in fantasy against kickers, allowing a league-low two field-goal attempts. 

Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.


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