Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings and Advice
I feel like I’m stuck on repeat. Or at least the NFL is, as this has arguably been the craziest, most backwards three weeks to start an NFL season that I can ever remember. It probably sums up the 2012 fantasy football year so far, as well.
But that doesn’t make any excuse for some slow starts. Well, it does, but we can’t let it bog us down, or it’ll mean the end of our once promising season. You know, the one that started out looking pretty sweet when you had a lineup anchored by Cam Newton, Chris Johnson, and Antonio Gates?
Trust me, no matter the lineup, there is still hope. You just have to make the right pickups, trades and calls. It all starts here at NFLSoup, and if you haven’t started yet, let’s get rolling on the comeback trail with my week 4 rankings.
I finished in the top-10 over at FantasyPros.com last week, so I’m on the comeback trail, myself. Let’s keep it going as I breakdown my favorite and most hated options for week four:
Aaron Rodgers has not been Aaron Rodgers through three games this season. Perhaps getting sacked 8 times in the first half against the Seahawks has something to do with it. Or maybe facing brutal defenses in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago played a hand in it. My guess is both are correct, and facing an awful Saints defense at Lambeau field could be quite the cure. On the flip-side, as solid as Green Bay’s defense has looked the past two weeks, I don’t see how Drew Brees gets denied (at least statistically) as he tries to keep his team from falling to 0-4 in what looks to be a classic shootout on paper.
I love: Peyton Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder this week. Manning has struggled but gets a banged up Raiders defense that is giving up points to everyone they see. Flacco gets a weak Browns defense on Thursday night, Dalton gets a sketchy Jaguars defense that has let no-namers crush them, and Ponder gets a Lions unit that let Jake Locker completely abuse them. All of these guys have their own issues that make them tough to trust, but they should all be top-20 options this week.
I hate: Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Jake Locker and Jay Cutler, among others, of course. These guys are going to slap you in the face this week, either because you should have sat them, or because paper said you should and they still went off. I’m not dropping them all crazy far in my rankings because they carry so much potential, but I am putting up several red flags. RG3 has put up 30+ fantasy points in each start in his young career. I get a feeling week four comes up a little shy against a pretty stingy Bucs defense. Newton has been inconsistent and disappointing. I’m sure he’ll be better than last week, but it can’t be by much against a very tough Falcons team. Vick has been a turnover machine and facing the Giants won’t make that any easier, while Locker and Cutler both have tough matchups.
Arian Foster, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew are already full-blown elite fantasy backs. But they face the Titans, Browns and Bengals this week, respectively. They should all put up disgusting numbers, barring injury.
The only other two backs I “love” for week four are Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore. Lynch faces a Rams defense that can be run on, and we know Seattle will try to run all day. Gore faces a has-been Jets defense that is sans Darrelle Revis. Many owners will be hesitant to use him, but they should freely start him in week four. I also like Willis McGahee against Oakland, as their defense has just been a mess.
I hate: Jamaal Charles, Alfred Morris, Stevan Ridley, Mikel Leshoure and Bears/Bills running backs. Charles was so crazy good in week three that expectations simply won’t be met in week four. Going up against a really good and angry Chargers defense won’t help, either. I like Morris if you need him, but he won’t be huge against a stiff Buccaneers defense. He’ll get a solid load, but he won’t blow up. Leshoure was stellar in his pro debut, but he could hit a wall in the form of the Vikings this week. His value especially lowers if Stafford is out and Detroit’s passing game takes a bit of a hit. Buffalo and Chicago running backs are hard to trust, simply because we can’t be sure of the statuses of Matt Forte, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Their roles also dictate the value of Michael Bush and Tashard Choice. Any of these guys could actually have solid value. Good luck figuring out who.
The Vikings pass defense was solid in week three, but otherwise has been a mess. Calvin Johnson faces them this week. Ditto for the Titans, with Andre Johnson taking them on. Me likey.
I love: Jordy Nelson, Percy Harvin, Greg Jennings, Brandon Lloyd, and Vincent Jackson. Nelson is over-due for a big game. He’ll pop off this week against a terrible Saints defense. Same for Jennings. Harvin has been huge, as we all know, and the awesome train won’t stop against the Lions. Lloyd has been inching closer and closer to a huge game, and I think he finally nails it down against the Bills. Vincent Jackson is the most inconsistent elite WR in the entire league, but this week the consistent side shows up against a suspect ‘Skins pass D.
I hate: Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Danny Amendola and Kenny Britt. I’m not saying not to start/use any of these guys. I’m just warning that their matchup could spell doom. Miami is an underrated defense and it’s hard to trust Kevin Kolb, so I’m weary of Fitz putting up two gem games in a row. Marshall has one elite game on the year, and I find it hard to believe he gets a second with the way Jay Cutler has been playing. Colston is talented, but New Orleans has been struggling and he has under 10 targets combined the last two weeks. Amendola is a PPR machine, but he’s a rough get in standard leagues against Seattle. Finally, Britt isn’t himself yet, and the beastly Texans defense won’t make him feel anymore like a man in week four.
Vernon Davis doesn’t pop off the paper like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, but he’s actually arguably the top tight end in the league right now. Through three games, he has 13 catches for 169 yards and four touchdowns. Don’t expect that production to slow down against the Jets this week.
I love: Martellus Bennett, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Pettigrew. It’s all about targets with Bennett, Pitta and Pettigrew. They’re already huge parts of their respective offenses, and they shouldn’t suddenly drop off the radar this week. Rudolph isn’t a target demon like these guys, but he is very active in the red-zone, as expected. He should be again this week against a weak Lions defense.
I hate: Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, Fred Davis and Jacob Tamme. Finley drops or fumbles everything that comes his way. He’s still going to be targeted heavily, but I just don’t trust him yet. He probably blows up this week, though, just to spite me. Witten isn’t himself, so you can’t put much stock in him right now. Davis came through in week three, but had been a disappointment up until then. He could have it rough against Tampa this week. Lastly, Tamme was supposed to be this huge PPR sleeper, and instead he’s been a huge downer with just 10 receptions through three games. He still has potential with Peyton, but I’m not as high on him as I once was. Backup Joel Dreessen is gaining steam.
I don’t love or hate kickers. They, like the first three weeks of the NFL, are completely unpredictable. I do like Justin Tucker of the Ravens for this week and in general, and Mason Crosby should be plenty busy against the Saints. Oh, and don’t start Phil Dawson (Browns). There, you happy?
The San Francisco 49ers will get back on track versus the Jets this week. New York is a big man short on defense (Revis Island), so now both sides of the ball might stink it up for New York. The 49ers have to be pretty miffed about losing their first game of 2012 to the stinking Vikings. Yeah, they’ll be out for blood.
The rest of the way, it’s matchup city. Roll with your elite defenses unless you have a solid #2 option and the elite squad is up against an elite offenses (ala Ravens vs Patriots last week). Obviously the Seahawks and Cardinals are super hot and should be deployed, while the Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders and Titans have shown you time and time again that they cannot be trusted.
For all the other player rankings and notes, toggle through the positions below: