Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 4: Debating Difficult Fantasy Football Lineup Decisions

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2014

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo yells on the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Tom Gannam/Associated Press

The worst part of being a fantasy owner is that evil burden of knowledge. When you see a player do something, even if it's just one time, you convince yourself that he can do it all the time. That's also when you get yourself in trouble. 

Knowledge isn't always a bad thing to have. It's the way you absorb the information that determines how successful you are on a week-to-week basis. To save you from yourself, we are going to offer our best answers for Week 4's biggest questions. 

This isn't merely to tell you that Calvin Johnson is good, or DeMarco Murray is going to run over New Orelans' soft defense. No, we are going to talk about players you actively debate all weekend before setting your roster. 

Here are our calls on whom to start and whom to sit in the fantasy football realm for Week 4. 

Start 'Em: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Oh, we are going there. We are buying into the matchup and last week's second half against St. Louis to tell you that Tony Romo should be your No. 1 quarterback in Week 4 against New Orleans. 

The funny thing is, Romo has been very good when you take out the first half. He's got four interceptions this season, all in the first 30 minutes of games. His four touchdown passes have come in the second half, including two last week against the Rams. 

There are also numbers suggesting that Romo may be getting back to full health after the back issue that ended his 2013 season. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his completion percentage in Week 4 was the highest since 2012:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Tony Romo completed 78% of passes in Cowboys win, his highest completion percentage in game since 2012 Week 13 vs Eagles (81.5%)

ESPN's Numbers Never Lie also tweeted out that Romo is a virtual lock to throw at least one touchdown pass every week:

His And Hers @HisAndHers

For those who are always clownin Tony Romo... He now has 31 straight games with at least 1 touchdown pass.

Making Romo even more attractive is the matchup with New Orleans' inept defense. Through three weeks, the Saints have allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL

No one is expecting a defensive struggle in the Sunday night matchup. Dallas is allowing 360 yards per game going against Drew Brees, so there will be a lot of fantasy points for everyone. But on the list of questionable players to start, Romo is a definite play this week. 

Sit 'Em: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws the ball during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

At some point, at least a portion of the blame for New England's offensive woes has to start falling on Tom Brady's shoulders. He hasn't looked right for a long time, dating back to 2013, but especially this season. 

Through three games, Brady has 31 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues, according to ESPN.com. Kirk Cousins had that before Thursday's game against the Giants, and he didn't start playing until five minutes passed in the first quarter of the second game. 

You can't say that Brady has faced tough competition because Miami, Minnesota and Oakland weren't projected to be playoff teams or even in the top tier of defenses. He isn't getting a lot of help from the offensive line, but the problems are deeper than that. 

According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Brady's on pace for the worst season of his career in three key fantasy categories:

Michael David Smith @MichaelDavSmith

Tom Brady stats: 82.9 passer rating, 5.5 yards a pass, 58.8% completion, 1 TD per game. All career lows.

Going against Kansas City on Monday night, Brady has to prove himself a worthwhile fantasy quarterback again before you start him without thinking about it. This isn't the week to take a chance because the Chiefs' biggest problem on defense has been stopping the run, so expect a lot of Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley

Start 'Em: Donald Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Donald Brown #34 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

It wasn't a great first week for Donald Brown as a No. 1 running back in San Diego. He did have 31 carries, which is encouraging, but just 62 yards against Buffalo and eight fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. 

So why do we love Brown this week?

Jacksonville is on the schedule!

Those are the five best words fantasy owners can hear, because the Jaguars defense has been dreadful. They rank 23rd in yards allowed per attempt (4.7), tied for 24th in touchdowns allowed (four) and last in rushing yards allowed per game (160). 

It's also nice when you hear Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers talking about how Brown's 36 touches against the Bills isn't going to be a one-time thing, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune:

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Philip Rivers on Donald Brown's career-high 36 touches: "He's going to get the load of it for the next while."

Even when the game turns into a blowout—and it will—the Chargers' best course of action will be to turn around and hand the ball off. That gives Brown plenty of opportunities to pick up cheap yards in garbage time and maybe even an extra touchdown. 

Sit 'Em: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

I was one of the people who got sucked into the Bobby Rainey vortex two weeks ago, only to be left stranded on an island after he couldn't hang onto the ball last week in the disastrous game against Atlanta. 

With Rainey's uninspired performance, Doug Martin figures to get back in the rotation this week now that he is a full participant in practice again, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Bucs Doug Martin (knee) practiced fully today, according to the practice report. Um, if you’re interesting for fantasy or real reasons.

Even with Martin back in Tampa Bay's running back rotation, he's still someone you want to avoid like the plague. Fantasy owners keep waiting to see the guy who ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie, but that was two years ago. 

Martin hasn't been a No. 1 running back in almost 20 months. Here's how little trust I have in Martin: He's going up against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed 390 yards on the ground through three weeks and I'd still keep him on the bench. 

The one game Martin was able to play this season, against Carolina, he had nine yards on nine carries and no fantasy points. 

Start 'Em: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after a first down catch in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisc
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Even though Jordy Nelson has gotten more attention for his fast start this season, Randall Cobb has been Aaron Rodgers' go-to guy for touchdowns so far. The Packers quarterback has five touchdown passes this season, with Cobb on the receiving end three times. 

Green Bay's offense has gotten off to a slow start overall, but there are reasons to like where things are headed. Seattle, New York and Detroit are three of the most physical teams in the NFL and make it difficult to move the ball around. 

The Packers are entering a stretch where they play Chicago, Minnesota, Miami, Carolina and New Orleans. For the purposes of this discussion, the Bears are all that matters. Teams have been able to exploit that secondary, only saving face by capitalizing on turnovers. 

Last time Cobb played the Bears, he only had two catches for 55 yards but both were for touchdowns, including the one that knocked Chicago out of the postseason in the final minute. 

With Nelson getting all the attention on the outside from Kyle Fuller, Cobb will have plenty of room to move around and create those elusive yards after catch that have been missing this season, per Bleacher Report's Zach Kruse:

Zach Kruse @zachkruse2

An overlooked aspect of Randall Cobb's slow start: his surprising lack of YAC. Averaged 5.8 in 2012, 5.9 in '13. Only 2.6 so far this year.

If Cobb and the Packers offense can't get it going this week, then it is time to panic. For now, though, the star receiver looks like a strong fantasy play in Week 4. 

Sit 'Em: Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 16:  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to the crowd after his TD catch against the Miami Dolphins in the first half at Raymond James Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride
Cliff McBride/Getty Images

We are picking on Tampa Bay again, but through three weeks there isn't a bigger disappointment in the NFL. The Buccaneers were supposed to put things together with a unified locker room under Lovie Smith. 

Instead, Greg Schiano might as well be running the team again because things have somehow gotten worse on the field. The Buccaneers have scored 45 points in three games and have the worst passing offense by yards in the NFL. 

Vincent Jackson, who is supposed to be the No. 1 receiver on the team, has just 10 receptions for 102 yards and one touchdown so far. The disastrous play at the quarterback position certainly isn't doing him any favors. 

The best thing to be said about Jackson is whether the quarterback is Josh McCown or Mike Glennon, they are looking his direction. He's been targeted 25 times through three games, but the 10 receptions isn't getting it done. 

What everyone loved about Jackson was his ability to create big plays, as you can see in this stat via ESPN's Numbers Never Lie:

His And Hers @HisAndHers

Most 20+ yard receptions in NFL since 2011: Calvin Johnson: 48 A.J. Green: 42 Vincent Jackson: 39 Brandon Marshall: 37

Unfortunately, Jackson picked a bad situation to go to when he signed with Tampa Bay after 2011. He's only got one reception of at least 20 yards this season.

There's no consistency from Tampa Bay's passing game right now, so you can't risk a valuable fantasy spot on a player who isn't getting the touches or creating the big plays necessary to score big points.

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