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Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons - Steve Smith
Cam Newton‘s top target has been very busy in the yardage department. Smith went for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games and contributed a respectable 86 yards against the New York Giants in their Week 3 loss. But after three games, Smith still has a big old goose egg in the touchdown box. Newton has been looking for Smith often to get the offense downfield and then turns to the running game inside the 20-yard line. Smith needs to either create massive separation for a long touchdown here in Week 4 or be on the receiving end of a short in cut route for a score.
No matter how he does it, the point is that Smith needs to re-familiarize himself with the end zone. If we don’t see a patented Smith celebration in Week 4, that’ll mean that a quarter of the season will have gone by without a single touchdown catch. Smith could go from an unquestioned No. 1 receiver to a high end No. 2. The Falcons are going to put up points in bunches in this one so the Panthers will be playing from behind for most of the game. Newton needs to regain his passing dominance and hook up with Smith for six.
New England at Buffalo Bills - Brandon Lloyd
The Patriots need to get back into a full offensive rhythm sooner rather than later. The Patriots are 1-2 for the first time in about a decade and a lot of that blame rests on the offense. Tom Brady’s yardage has been good, but four touchdowns is not what most had expected after three games. The Patriots are seemingly still reeling from the loss of tight end Aaron Hernandez. Two positive things that fantasy owners can take away from Week 3 are the re-emergence of Wes Welker and the first 100-yard game from Brandon Lloyd.
The offense made strides between Weeks 2 and 3 in regards to establishing more consistent weapons. They need to build upon that chemistry, and the Bills offer up a punching bag of an opportunity to do so. The Bills are going to be flying in at Brady hard, though. Their defensive line is superb and they’ll be bringing additional pressure in an attempt to mirror the successes of Arizona and Baltimore.
While he hasn’t looked it as of late, Brady is still one of, if not, the best quarterbacks at blitz pick up and firing quickly to the free receiver. Lloyd could find himself one-on-one during blitz packages on several occasions. He’s going to get a few chances to break the game wide open for New England. Welker and Lloyd should complement each other nicely as Welker will take away the middle of the defense while Lloyd opens up the top of the secondary. Back-to-back 100 yard games would move Lloyd north up the charts, back closer to where he was ranked in the preseason.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions - Adrian Peterson
The numbers that Peterson has posted this season are nothing short of amazing. Given that it looked as though he may miss the entire year at one point, the fact that he’s out there and producing is simply ridiculous. Looking at Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers, it’s doubly impressive that he had such a solid outing with 107 total yards against the best run defense in the league. The only disappointing thing to take away from Week 3 was the series where he had three carries from the 1-yard line where he failed to break the goal line. But again, it was San Francisco and All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman knew exactly what the play call was before the offense even lined up.
This week, Peterson gets the Lions defense. The Lions did just wrangle in
Chris Johnson in Week 3, but holding Johnson to extremely limited yards is not the measuring stick it used to be. Every week the amount of carries has increased for Peterson. He’s pretty much back at full throttle now and should begin to feel more and more comfortable as each week passes. The Vikings are on cloud nine right now after knocking off San Francisco in a huge upset. With the team playing confident football and getting back to its roots with a heavy dose of Peterson, we should begin to see him climb back up the rankings. A 100 total yard game against the 49ers is enough to earn Peterson a Top 10 weekly projection here. Let’s hope he doesn’t disappoint or we’ll be stuck waiting another week for him to reach full beast mode. (Side Note: Could Peterson have been any more open for a receiving touchdown last game? Ponder completely ignored his progressions and locked onto his tight end, throwing into tough coverage for a score. It was simply mind boggling.)
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs - Philip Rivers
Yikes! That one hurt a bit. Philip Rivers‘ owners took a Matt Schaub type of a hit in Week 3, getting their helmets blown off and ears left bleeding. Rivers finished the game against the Atlanta Falcons with just better than 170 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The quarterback is perhaps the most valuable piece to a fantasy team given the current nature of today’s NFL. We can’t afford to check the stat sheet and see numbers as low as this. Many fantasy teams lost Week 3 by a just a few points, points that Rivers should have been able to provide. Granted, not every game is going to be gang busters, but Rivers was quietly putting up really good numbers to start the year.
His value certainly took a step back in Week 3. But the beautiful thing about football is that there is always a chance for redemption. Just ask Adam “Pac-Man” Jones. The Chiefs pulled an upset on the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 and in doing so handed New Orleans an 0-3 record. But in that game quarterback Drew Brees was able to attack the Chiefs and put up top tier numbers. While the yardage is relatively modest at 240 yards, the three touchdowns certainly picked up the slack. Rivers will be playing with a chip on his shoulder against a defense that just allowed three passing scores the previous week.
Rivers will either regain his footing, picking up where he left off climbing up the ranks, or he’ll fall out of favor with owners. A sub 200-yard, scoreless game could mean bench duty for Rivers and a large amount of trade inquiries.
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