Though his shoulder is still a little banged up, Cowboys running back Felix Jones fully practiced the last two days and is good to go for Week 4. Many people don’t like his matchup against Detroit’s tough defensive line, but he should be started in all fantasy leagues this weekend. Jones is coming off his best game of the young season, rushing for 115 yards on just 14 carries and also grabbing three passes for another 40 yards before leaving late in the game because of his shoulder, so his confidence is high and Dallas will find ways to get him the ball in the open field. He’s such a weapon out of the backfield with his pass catching ability and is a lock to finish with over 100 total yards in Week 4 barring any setbacks with his shoulder. The Cowboys offense as a whole is pretty banged up so I expect Jones to get at least 20 touches on Sunday and find the end zone against the Lions.
An injury to Knowshon Moreno has helped Willis McGahee become the starting running back in Denver and though Moreno is back, McGahee is still the lead back. He got the start in Week 3 and ran the ball 22 times. He only managed 52 yards against the Titans, but did catch a short touchdown pass so it was a very solid day for McGahee owners. He has started the last two games and has received 50 carries over that span so he’s definitely getting the touches to deserve a start on your fantasy roster. McGahee does have a tough contest against the Packers this Sunday, but the fact that he should see most of the carries once again bodes well for him and his fantasy value. Even if Moreno sees a decent amount of work, McGahee is the primary goal line back and will get all carries inside the five so that adds to his worth as well.
Matt Forte has been a big disappointment in the running game for the Bears through the first three weeks, but he has more than made up for it with his receiving skills. Forte has just 119 yards rushing on 35 carries which is good for a lousy 3.4 average and zero touchdowns, but he’s been very impressive in the aerial attack for Chicago. Forte has managed 22 receptions already for 287 yards and a score. It’s very strange for a first round fantasy pick to only average about 40 yards a game on the ground, but still be a must start every week. After three weeks, Forte is averaging right around 135 total yards per game and though the touchdowns haven’t been there, they should start to come more frequently. He’s got a dream matchup against the Panthers on Sunday so expect Forte to carry the load for the Bears and have a huge day for his owners.
Torrey Smith, WR Baltimore Ravens
Smith became fantasy relevant after his Week 3 performance that included five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. His first three catches of his career all went for touchdowns. He’s instantly a sleeper and should get starts in some fantasy formats, but don’t jump the gun on him quite yet as the big waiver pickup of 2011. His sample size is just one game and you should wait to see a little consistency out of him before starting him every week. Smith will be getting the start in Week 4 since Lee Evans is still battling an ankle injury, but he has a nightmare matchup Sunday night against the Jets. New York’s defense had a bump in the road last week against a hot Raiders team, but they still have arguably the best pass defense in the NFL and no doubt the best cornerback in the game with Darrelle Revis. It’s unclear if Smith will draw Revis or the less impressive Antonio Cromartie so keep a close eye on this situation. Depending on who is assigned to Smith will be the key on whether you should start him or leave him on the bench.
James Starks, RB Green Bay Packers
It appears that Ryan Grant will not be able to play on Sunday with a bruised kidney so Starks will be the featured back for the Packers and get almost all of the workload out of the backfield. Starks started the season great with solid back-to-back efforts, but he was a big letdown last Sunday against Chicago with five rushing yards, nine receiving yards and a lost fumble. He should get back on track in Week 4 against the Broncos primarily because he should see a lot of touches. Denver has been good against the run so far in 2011, but Green Bay’s potent passing game will open up the field for Starks and allow him to find some space to run the ball. Though the Packers love passing in the red zone, Starks will still get his carries and should be started in all formats this weekend on the simple fact that there is no one else in the backfield for Green Bay. He should see close to 20 touches and provide a solid stat-line.
Nate Washington, WR Tennessee Titans
Washington has become the number one receiver in Tennessee by default, but he is still having a sneaky good start to the 2011 season nonetheless. With news early this week that stud wide out Kenny Britt is done for the season with a torn ACL, Washington now steps into a much bigger role for the Titans and should now receive serious fantasy consideration every week. After three weeks he has 21 catches for 258 yards and one trip to pay dirt and though those numbers are impressive enough, they are only going to get better. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been solid thus far in the passing game and will now lean on Washington to make the big plays that Britt made through the first two plus games of the season. He could be a fantasy monster the rest of the way and is a strong play at the WR2 position in all formats. Get him in your lineup this weekend against the Browns. At the very least, he’ll provide a handful of catches and 80 yards with a ceiling for much more.
Lock of the Week
Mike Williams, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After such a brilliant campaign in his first season where he led all rookies in receiving yards and touchdowns, Williams has started his sophomore season in a slump. After three games, the number one receiver for the Bucs has just 10 catches for 89 yards and one touchdown. This more has to do with the slow start out of quarterback Josh Freeman than anything else, but the bottom line is, Williams and Freeman have great chemistry and should figure it out sooner rather than later. Look for the wide out from Syracuse to get back on track Monday night against the Colts. Williams is playing at home and Indianapolis’ secondary is average at best. It’s just a matter of time before he returns to the form he showed in his rookie season where he was a deep threat and touchdown machine. I fully expect Williams to find the end zone at least once in this contest and put up close to 100 yards receiving. Your patience as a fantasy owner will be rewarded in Week 4.